THE MOVIE LOVER by Richard Friedel


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Sexual orientation is only one aspect of homosexuality, which is really a personality, a sensitivity. A spirit."" So says narrator Burton Raider, whose spottily amusing memoir (up to age 25 or so) is indeed little more than a celebration of that most familiar, stereotypical homosexual personality: the bitchy, effete, snobby, nostalgic, sensitive sort who loathes all women except Mom and aging movie stars. Suburban-bred son of a TV executive, Burton tells us about his precocious, above-it-all childhood (when TV's Captain Dodo visits, ""I thought I would retch""); about his teenage sexual initiation and highschool crush on heterosexual buddy Roman; about his college years (""it is simply amazing how much prejudice can be generated by wearing a silk Chinese bathrobe and wooden sandals into a shower room""). And then there's a reunion and one-night stand (""I felt immortal"") with Roman--now a repressed bisexual who flees from Burton in self-disgust. So would-be screenwriter Burton moves on--to Manhattan, where he gets a writing job on a TV morning show (nasty digs here, a few of them funny), explores the bath/bar scene, finds a live-in lover (""golden boy"" Winston), and has a fateful chance encounter: he sees old star Marietta (Hedy Lamarr) shoplifting, helps her avoid arrest, and persuades her to star in Resurrection and Denial, with Burton himself as writer-producer. Plus: a crude, cartoony subplot about a crooked, anti-homosexual revivalist whose son is revealed to be gay; and a soap-opera subplot about Button's boss, a repressed homosexual who commits suicide. All this adds up, of course, to an inconsistently styled, virtually shapeless mishmash-with a limp fadeout (Burton and Roman ""together at last"") and, throughout, Burton's sneering comments on such topics as department stores, babies, and heterosexuals. Still, there are sizable smears of movie/TV gossip here (some with real names, some à clef), and Burton does earn a few good nose-in-the-air laughs. So, for fellow ""spirits"" and Hollywood mavens, this largely self-indulgent pastiche may provide intermittent merriment and titillation.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1981
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan