Here’s my fabulous column from the 06.12.2013 Arkansas Weekly:
Don’t be surprised if the next time you see me, I am rocking a pompadour and wearing a rhinestone-studded suit with a matching flowing cape.
It’s going to be my new look.
Yes, dear reader, after watching the HBO film, Behind the Candelabra, which is a docudrama based on the love affair between the flamboyant pianist and Las Vegas legend, Liberace (played in the film by Michael Douglas), and his much younger boyfriend, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon, who – like me – looks fantastic in a bejeweled Speedo).
Now I know what you’re thinking. What? Liberace was gay? I know. I had no clue either. But, apparently he was flaming – which not only suited him but also fueled his fabulous style.
First, he had an amazing head of hair. I’m sure Elvis was quite envious of Liberace’s glorious pompadour. Yes, it was an elaborate toupee, but what a toupee it was: a brownish, hair-sprayed bundle styled in a swirl so perfect it would look at home on top of a delectable sundae. Damn! What a hairstyle he had! So, I’m currently in the process of growing my own hair. When it gets to the length where my barber can do the pompadour thing, I’ll probably also add a hint of color because -- and I know this will be as hard to believe as the fact that Liberace played for the other team -- but I do have a little silver in my mane.
Next, his wardrobe. I would bet money that when Liberace and Elvis hung out, they probably talked about clothes. They both had truly spectacular outfits, covered in glittery jewels. They both wore capes. And just about each of their fingers had shiny gold rings so big that one could probably see them from Skylab.
Naturally, if I’m going to being mirroring the style of Liberace, I’m going to have to save some money. I might even have to resort to my former career as a provocative male model, selling topless photos of myself lathered in baby oil to the local ladies. (Ladies: For more info, give me a call. The eight by tens start at $5. Color glossies begin at $10.)
But of course, Liberace’s style wasn’t all glamour and expensive glitz. As the film shows, Liberace had a simply lovely personality. When he glided into a room, he owned it with his charming smile, his energetic mannerisms, and his seemingly natural curiosity about others that would make them feel like they were the most interesting person in the room.
For instance, let’s pretend I met Liberace for the first time back in the mid-‘70s.
“Hi, Mr. Liberace,” I would have said. “I’m Rob Grace.”
“OH! LOOK AT YOU!” he would have replied with a wave of his wrist. “I absolutely love the color of your hair! What do you use?”
“Well, actually, Mr. Liberace, it’s my natural color.”
“What?!? Nooooo!” he would have said as he feigned shock. “I can’t believe it! It’s so unique! If it had a name, I would call it ‘arctic blonde.’ And if it had a personality, I would describe it as…let’s see…Oh, I know -- vivacious!”
See how Liberace made me feel as if I was special person? I think if we all had such a gracious attitude toward each other, the world might be a better place.
Finally, the film also shows Liberace was an avid lover of baths. I would estimate he is portrayed lounging in his beautiful Jacuzzi with a glass of champagne at least 47 percent of the movie’s running time. By sheer coincidence, I, too, am a fanatic about my bath time. It’s unfortunate I have to come to the office every day because I think I would be much more productive if I could work from the tub while sipping some champagne. Obviously, I could not take most visitors while I worked from my bath, but the phone would be right there next to my champagne glass.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the men from the mental institution are waiting outside my office. Apparently, I’ve missed a few electro-shock sessions over the past two or three weeks, and they’re ready to recalibrate things with a few volts.