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Hollywood isn't just a place or an industry -- it's a fantasy that unfolds in the minds of moviegoers the world over. And talking about "who's gay in Hollywood" has always been the most socially acceptable way of talking about homosexuality period.But times have changed for gays and lesbians inside Hollywood and in the culture at large. Ellen DeGeneres "came out" to a world quite different from the one that allowed Marlene Dietrich to "stay in." And while Rupert Everett may be called "the gay Cary Grant," the real Cary Grant would never have described himself as gay -- even though he was.So what has it meant to be gay in Hollywood, not just as a star but behind the scenes as well? How homosexual actors and actresses came to define straight America's sexual self-image is only one of the paradoxical and provocative questions explored in Open Secret, a revealing cultural chronicle of gay Hollywood. From the silent era to the age of the multiplex and beyond, homosexuality has been a fact of life in the film industry, and scores of important personalities -- stars, writers, directors, producers -- have enjoyed long and spectacular careers on both sides of the camera, despite mainstream America's professed bias against gays.
Part social history and part Tinseltown expose, this entertaining book spans seventy years, painting knowing and vivid portraits of many of Hollywood's foremost gays and lesbians, often in the words of eyewitnesses or the principals themselves. Veteran entertainment journalist David Ehrenstein traces the gradual transformation from an era when gays and lesbians had no public profile in "polite" society to the modern era when many top entertainment figures are not merely comfortable with their sexuality but actually celebrate it -- and are in turn celebrated for it. In the process, he presents a unique reflection of American society as a whole and its ever-changing attitudes and values.
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If David Ehrenstein's Open Secret says that somebody is gay, you can safely assume that he or she is (which is why the chapter on Tom Cruise reveals nothing more than reasons why people believe--or want to believe--he might be gay). Interviews with contemporary "out" stars, writers, and studio execs are balanced against the reminiscences of those who spent Tinseltown's golden age in the closet. This reveals how open Hollywood's tolerance of its gay and lesbian members has become, but it also shows the lack of similar progress in how the press deals with potential celebrity queerness. There isn't much difference, for example, between the scandal sheet Confidential's 1955 exposé of Tab Hunter's bust at a "pajama party ... for the boys" and the 1997 "Kevin Spacey Has a Secret" cover story in the ostensibly more respectable Esquire.
Open Secret flits from a visit to the set of the Ian McKellen-Brendan Fraser film Father of Frankenstein (based on the novel by Christopher Bram) to an analysis of Ellen DeGeneres's protracted coming-out process, from an overview of the impact of AIDS on the entertainment industry to the story of how Gus Van Sant almost made a movie of Randy Shilts's The Mayor of Castro Street. But the intersection of queer sexuality and Hollywood admittedly covers a lot of territory, and Ehrenstein does an admirable job of providing an overview. One bit of advice: skip over the very brief prologue, which tries a bit too hard to convince readers of the book's seriousness, and allow the informative and entertaining stories here to speak for themselves. --Ron HoganAbout the Author:
David Ehrenstein is a journalist who has covered the entertainment industry for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety, Los Angeles Magazine, and Cabiers du Cinema. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Book Description William Morrow, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0688153178
Book Description William Morrow, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110688153178
Book Description William Morrow, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0688153178