Valley of the Dolls
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My mother read the novel.
I never will. Nor had I planned to watch the movie. But I was sent a copy of the remastered DVD. Certainly a handsome product: well made, pretty packaging, lots of extras.
Skimming the web I see Valley of the Dolls referred to as a “camp classic.’ Well, one person’s camp is another’s … ?
Not that there’s anything greatly amiss with the movie: it is a competently assembled, glossy soap opera. Well produced, lovely color, nice clothes and sets: easily seen in the nice new DVD.
For me the supreme moment of camp was probably George Jessel presenting a Grammy.
Gay men have typically enjoyed stories of women and their relationships with men. How, I wondered might Valley of the Dolls fit into queer popular culture.
It isn’t hard to project Patty Duke’s over the top hysterics onto some diva boy whose taste of success spins him off into insane arrogance. Though I’d like to think most gay boys would know how to get more fun out of their drugs than Patty did. Her life wasn’t a White Party.
Sharon Tate as a woman whose beauty was her chief asset might’ve fit many a pretty boy but it never went to her head or left her cold and calculating. Anything but. If anything she was a paragon of idealism.
Fatalism as well. When she realized that her lovely breasts - the source of her success - would be cut off she decided to escape and swallowed enough pills to end her life. I can remember sweet soft boys who had their face been marred might have opted to leave fleshly life feeling that they had nothing left to offer anyone and their future would be nothing but rejection and lonliness.
And there was the star. The nice girl from the small town who just wanted to be loved. I knew many naïve, romantic boys: I was one of them.
But when she walked away from the man she loved after he finally realized he wanted to marry her I couldn’t help but think she was a dolt. Not could I imagine a gay man rejecting the one he’d long hoped would become his partner.
As camp or as a bizzaro mirror image of queer life Valley of the Dolls lacks a key element: promiscuity.
You couldn’t help but feel that at least one of these women should’ve had serial partners: handsome men with glistening muscles.
But those days were more prudish than people nowadays might remember.
It is a pretty movie, with pretty women, pretty sets. The newly remastered DVD release is flawless.
But, my queer male readers, does any part of your life match Valley of the Dolls or is it even for you a classic on any level of any sort?