Monday, 11 July 2011

Man is the Hunter

"I don't care whether people like me or dislike me. I'm not on earth to win a popularity contest. I'm here to be the best human being I possibly can be."

Tab Hunter - movie icon, poster-boy-hunk for a whole generation of teenage girls and closet queens, latterly cult character actor and now out, gay and proud gay man - was born on 11th July 1931.

As we wish Mr Hunter (aka Arthur Andrew Kelm) a happy 80th birthday, it is worth highlighting the fact that the former teen idol starred in not one, but two of the campest films ever made, and both are well worth entering in the Museum.

He played the cinema owner (and love interest) "Todd Tomorrow" alongside Divine's troubled housewife "Francine Fishpaw" in John Waters' 1981 "Odorama" masterpiece Polyester:

From The New York Times:
Francine worries helplessly about household odors, and does her best to make sure her suburban house is furnished with all the velour, gilt and brightly colored plastic her family could want. Polyester is a movie that can get laughs out of a dinette set simply because it is a dinette set. The props, all through the movie but particularly in Francine's lovely home, are priceless. Mr. Hunter is certainly endearing, playing a man who runs an art-house drive-in, one with champagne and caviar at the refreshment stand and a Marguerite Duras triple bill on the screen. Divine, lovestruck and trying hard to please, is seen poring bewilderedly over a copy of Cahiers du Cinema.
From Prince Planet Movies site:
The biggest inspiration for Polyester comes from one of John Waters’ idols, the great Douglas Sirk. If you can imagine one of Sirk’s sumptuous Technicolor melodramas from the 50s but with a 300-pound drag queen as the female lead, you have an idea of what to expect.

Mr Hunter, evidently by now entirely comfortable with playing love scenes with a very large tranny, went on to appear once more against Divine (and that other archetypal self-parodist Lainie Kazan) in Paul Bartel's 1985 camp spoof Western Lust in the Dust:

From the film's sleevenotes:
Gold fever has struck the wild western town of Chile Verde, where hard-living cowboys and hot-blooded wenches all lust for wealth and each other. But when mysterious gunfighter Abel Wood and defiled singer Rosie Velez (Tab Hunter and Divine, reunited from "Polyester") come together with saloon owner Marguerita Ventura (Lanie Kazan), fiery passion and unbridled greed turns the town upside down. Do these two wanton women share the secret to a fortune in buried treasure? And how far south of the border will desperate men have to go to uncover it?

Not bad for the boy who sang Young Love. [Read my blog on Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle about Mr Hunter last year.]

Mr Tab Hunter, we salute you!


  1. Polyester is one of my alltime fave films. I am however ashamed to admit that I still havent seen Lust In The Dust, even though I have been meaning to for years...

    Happy birthday Mr Hunter!


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