MY ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE
By Bruce Vilanch
Publishers Weekly, September 2000
Vilanch is known as the man who made Bette Midler funny, who made Billy Crystal
beloved as Academy Award emcee and who cracks wise with the best on Hollywood
Squares. In this collection of 26 humorous essaysAmany of which have appeared
in the AdvocateAVilanch takes aim at the Academy Awards, Donny and Marie Osmond
and the Super Bowl. He is a crack shot with these easy targetsAas a writer for
an Osmond special, he considered it a "personal triumph" when he had
Marie sing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"Abut too often the pieces
resemble occasional journalism rather than anything substantial. An interview
with Robin Williams while walking around the Castro, San Francisco's gay mecca,
raises a few smiles that evaporate quickly. Vilanch is more interesting when he
uses humor to address more serious issues: his meditation on why Lana Turner died
the same day Hugh Grant was arrested for picking up a working girl is smart and
savvy, and his remembrance of actress Elizabeth Montgomery's life and career is
moving. His essays on the lack of gay representation in movies (which makes witty
use of the Titanic) and the importance of gay pride are also intriguing. But Vilanch
has trouble reconciling his funny and serious sides in print, and these pieces,
while the most ambitious in the collection, show both his talents and his limitations.
Dan Strone, William Morris Agency. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information,
First things first--this is not a book about the skin trade.
Vilanch confesses the title is an attention-getting device in the introduction.
Having got our attention, Vilanch, a leading supplier of speeches for the Academy
Awards show, assaults our sensibilities by disclosing that "everything you
hear on [the] Oscar-cast has been written, rewritten, re-rewritten," etc.
No! All that gush is, in fact, scripted? Obviously this guy is "out there,"
which is good, as far as this book is concerned. In addition to disillusioning
us about Hollywood once again, Vilanch takes on the Motion Picture Association
of America; Branson, Mo.; and even gay pride. And he reflects on the speechwriter's
life. Regular readers of Vilanch's column in the national gay magazine, The Advocate,
will flock to this collection, and chances are readers new to him won't be disappointed,
Mike Tribby, Copyright © American Library Association.
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