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The Essentials

August 9, 2010

Reader asked for my list of “essential” things. Here is a round up.

[This is a donor requested post. I’m in the middle of a beg-a-thon with a match on the table. If I raise 1/2 the desired amount (that works out to $750) by Wednesday, reader Adrian will match the rest. It’s a HUGE opportunity and I’m $400 bucks way. Let’s make it happen! Thanks to everyone who has donated. If you want me to blog about a particular topic, donors, let me know!]

Essential Theme Song – “Street Life” by The Crusaders

Nobody leans, bitchez!!!

Essential Book – Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez

Flaming Iguanas is my literary bible. In between its covers houses a portable MFA program, writer’s workshop, self-help book and spiritual guide. Erika Lopez is one of my literary heroes and this book showed me I could write my truth, which is often funny, and there would be people in the world who would “get it”. Flaming Iguanas is a smart, sharp piece of pop culture analysis; tackling race, class, sexuality, gender and the arts in a way I’d never seen before – or since. It’s a one-of-a-kind book and it is my absolute favorite.

Essential Karaoke Song – “Unknown Stuntman” by Lee Majors

I started doing this one a couple of months ago and I totally SHUT IT DOWN. It’s like my favorite song to sing around the house. I talk-sing it like Lee Majors too. And make people clap along. I’m the unknown stuntman that made Redford such a star!

Essential Style Icon – Auntie Mame

For me the fashion inspiration isn’t merely what she wears in the film – though the clothes are spectacular – but rather the attitude and self confidence she has has about her style. It’s so permissive and inclusive. It’s all very, of course you wear sequins around the house darling, good heavens if not here then where? and very affirming. You feel silly doubting yourself as you step into a pair of hot pink sequined platform maryjanes and a floral satin raincoat for a quick jaunt to the Jiffy Mart for a bag of Doritos.

Essential Music Genre – Disco

For me, disco is more than merely historical cheese. Disco is the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality and culture. It is movement and music of the truly disenfranchised – the queer, the working class, the gender variant, the people of color. John Travolta might have made it mainstream and therefore utterly divorcing the sound from its roots, but I know the truth. It is the music of my soul. Disco is my church; it is the soundtrack of my struggle.

My favorite “hymns”:

Essential Movie – The Wiz

Sorry about the bad quality. This is the only video on YouTube of the incomparable Lena Horne as Glenda the Good Witch.

Essential Dance Scene – “Machine Gun” in Boogie Nights

Look at Cheadle, Guzman and Wahlberg dancing it OUT. LOVE THIS.

Essential Broad – Elaine Stritch

I had known of Ms. Stritch most of my life, but it wasn’t until I was flipping through channels at my parents’ house did I stumble across her amazing one woman show Elaine Stritch At Liberty. It is the most perfect show, talking a musical theater journey through the highs and lows of her life. She is so badass. Zip is my favorite part – even better than her musing about falling for Rock Hudson, “And what a bum deal that turned out to be!”

Essential Designer – Norma Kamali

Many of my childhood style icons – from the costuming in The Wiz to The Weather Girls – had one thing in common: Norma Kamali! Her clothes are classic, sassy and generous in cut and fabric. Even though I LOATHE Wally World, I was thrilled when she designed a line for them. I would say the bulk of my stretchie pant/drapey top wardrobe pieces are from Kamali’s Wally World line. She’s so terry cloth disco fabulous.

Essential Scent – Angel by Thierry Mugler

So the bottle is a gorgeous little star. It’s a conversation piece for a girl who’s never needed one. A friend picked up the bottle, “Ooh, what’s this?” and SPRAYED A MUSHROOM CLOUD in the air and took one sniff. Frantically, I lept in the air trying to get the cloud to come into contact with my skin. I wanted to run that chick over with my car.


On my way to the refilling station I paused at the Angel display, furtively I took a tester and doused myself in it. While waiting for the clerk to refill the star I demanded all manner of samples and testers. Like a junkie in a shooting gallery, which the Angel counter most definitely resembles.

and still more…

Angel is a polarizing scent. There’s nothing delicate about it. It’s known to give migraines and skin rashes and the occasional allergy attack. It’s sickeningly sweet to the point of being gag inducing. It’s vanilla and chocolate and carmel and amber and hippie stink and something note I can never remember. Starts with a B. It’s like the kind of chem experiment that blows up the lab, in a bottle

Essential Musical – Chess

A show with everything, but Yul Brenner.

Essential Bad Ass – Samuel L Jackson

I have no idea what Sam L Jackson is like in real life, but I sure admire the way many of his characters navigate the world. Not really feeling the excessive violence or the Pacino like shouting, but I do enjoy the indignation and the decisiveness in his responses to mellow harshers. There’s a whole lot of chow chow in our culture about politeness and decorum. Lots of noise about “not making a scene” or “stepping on toes” and all kinds of colorful ways in which folks get told to “suck it up”.

trigger warning

Essential Rainy Day Move – Wag the Dog

“Oh fuck the world! Try a 10am script meeting, coked to the gills and you haven’t even read the TREATMENT!”

Dustin Hoffman’s riff on Mr. The Kid Stays in the Picture himself – Robert Evans is hilarious.

Essential TV show addiction – Simon & Simon

AJ and Rick Simon. Oh gosh. Can we talk about the foxiness that is Gerald McRaney? I love this show. It’s freaking cheesy and awesome. I’m gobbling up the seasons in Netflix.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2010 1:32 am

    I’m going to read/watch/listen to this post more carefully but I just had to say that I feel like I could stare at the picture of Donna Summer forever. It’s mesmerizing.

  2. August 9, 2010 1:36 am

    I know, right? That hair, make up and styling. I’ve been chasing that look my entire life. It’s so fabulous.

  3. Lani permalink
    August 9, 2010 10:45 am

    I wanted to say the same thing about the Donna Summer picture. It’s amazing!

    I am also very intrigued by the Flaming Iguanas book. I’m going to try and find myself a copy, for sure!

  4. August 10, 2010 10:23 am

    I really have to see The Wiz already. Also that book sounds excellent, I’ll check it out!

    Aaaaand I’m glad you like musicals so much!

  5. August 10, 2010 12:34 pm

    I really have to see The Wiz already. Also that book sounds excellent, I’ll check it out!

    Yes! It’s Lumet! Think about it that way. It takes away some of the sting. Also Joel Schumacher wrote the screenplay!

  6. Octavia permalink
    August 11, 2010 5:36 am

    Cheryl Lynn has now taken up a place of honour on my gym playlist, where she should have been for a while. The shame! I hope disco can forgive me.

    I remember the Angel post! I seem to remember that being the first post of yours I ever read… I think? It’s on my mental list to smell because I want to know what it’s like, but I’ve never seen it anywhere. Fairly sweet scents work best on me, including scents that smell too sweet pure. My me-ness mellows them out a bit. I find more mellow (or ‘older’ as they like to say) scents smell a bit cat-pee-ish on me. I wear Chanel Mademoiselle.

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