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  1. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    by Rhonda Hansome

    I certainly know how to ruin a perfectly good sunny, summer day.  It was a not hot or humid Sunday copping a coy, “I’m just waiting for September”, late August attitude.  Brunch was a quintessential New Yawk Lower East Side experience.  As I entered Katz’s restaurant, a burly security guard warned of the $50.00 penalty for losing a ticket, yes a restaurant with tickets!     

    I passed through the turnstile. Yes this restaurant with tickets had a turnstile!  I joined the teeming swarm forming the surreal New York facsimile of a line, in front of a block long counter.  Behind the counter a muster of sandwich soldiers, “cutters”, worked ceaselessly to satisfy the demands of the hungry hoard shouting orders for corned beef, brisket, and roast beef sandwiches. 

    The expansive L shape room was abuzz with tourists and natives, giddy from the delicatessen aromas of sauerkraut, pickles and franks on the grill intoxicating the afternoon air.  I swooned with anticipation as I slid into a chair under the Where Harry Met Sally sign.     

    I surrendered to the orgy of pastrami mocking the rye bread’s feeble attempt to contain it.  Then in a most fastidious and lady like manner, I licked my fingers and slurped the last of the root beer before me.

    In a pastrami induced stupor I exited, into the glinting sun of East Houston St., making my way westward. The peculiarly named Rockwood Music Hall is a postage stamp size bar with a stage slightly bigger than a maxi-pad. The 3:00 PM show was my multi-talented girlfriend Rashmi. This actress, (whom I directed in an AUDELCO Award nominated role) screenwriter, (whose Urban Film Festival Finalist screenplay I directed in a reading) dancer, would today play guitar and sing her original songs.  At the bar I ordered a hot tea, in an attempt to coax my pastrami on its merry way. Sipping my tea, I enjoyed the light playing off the pane glass view of double decker tour buses and the offbeat fashion spectacle moseying along Allen St. until Rashmi, her guitarist and drummer began the show.

    Rashmi’s set was delightful and thoroughly appreciated by the (apparently central casting) ethnically diverse audience filling the space.  Hugs, kisses and praises were offered until we had to make way for the 4:00 PM performer.

    With the sun valiantly clinging to the sky I accepted an offer to watch the IFC 1953 comedy classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Since I’d recently seen the Encore! City Center concert presentation of the Anita Loos, Joseph Fields script, (starring Megan Hilty from Smash) this would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast.  And this is how I ruined a perfectly good sunny, summer day.

    I watched the story of the engaged gold-digger Lorelei, her smart- ass chaperone Dorothy and their transatlantic adventure to get Lorelei married to her trust fund fianc√© without his parent’s interference.  It’s not difficult to enjoy this silly, titillating romp graced by the abundant charms of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.  Of course all the double entendres, form fitting costumes, and muscular Olympic team members are amusing; but absolutely nothing has the impact of the Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend number – Jane Russell’s version!

    Marilyn’s often imitated Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend is an ostentatious number, brimming with chorus boys and forty carat rhinestones. This iconic collective memory is so expertly choreographed by Jack Cole I almost missed the fact that Marilyn didn’t dance a lick.  Marilyn didn’t dance!!!  She is manipulated and carried about the sound stage by her adoring gaggle of tuxedoed suitors waving their “diamond” bracelet offerings to their golden object of affection.

    So what ruined my day you ask, oh reader of mine? Ok, here’s the kicker, so to speak.  Later on in the film a bewigged Jane Russell disrobes, sings and DANCES, nearly nude, in an attempt to convince a court room she is Lorelei.  Jane flings off a fur coat and shakes her money maker like her life depends on it!  Her famously Howard Hughes supported breasts shake, her shapely hips shimmy and her fabulous leaps, lunges and jumps leave the court in chaos, as she’s hauled off by a bevy of bailiffs!

    Now I love Marilyn Monroe as much as the next man. She is an undisputed truly luminous screen-goddess worthy of her stature in the pantheon of all-time film stars. But how the hell did Jane’s gyrations get left in the dust? I can’t explain why I felt a personal affront and sat shaking my head in disbelief.  How was I ignorant of Jane’s, “show me what you working with” eleven o’clock number?  I was suddenly dispirited with the realization that Marilyn’s breathy posing version of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend trumped Jane’s exuberant – Josephine Bakeresque – blatantly sexual, full bodied anthem. I still haven’t gotten over it.  A perfectly good sunny, summer day ruined because everybody, not just gentlemen may prefer blondes.

  2. 4 comments:

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.
    2. You are funny. I love the stage-the-size-of-a-maxipad line. And loving Marilyn Monroe as much as the next man. The humor in general. LOL

    3. Unknown said...

      Am I wrong, or are non of these ladies a real blonde?

    4. loislane911 said...

      I think it's the vunerability factor that folks prefer in their gals (as opposed to strength and broad shoulders), not so much the peroxide -- which might be an even sadder statement. But there's always great comfort to be found in pastrami, yum.

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