by Jack Nichols
This documentary rightfully
revels in fatuous frivolity, therefore, creating a faaaab foray into what
happily comes off as an unassuming, unrehearsed cultural phenomenon.
Its focus is on shameless in-character comedic cavorting erupting with
utter ease on turfs of pure camp. Its about Halloween night, kids, and
the spooks are flouncing about in force, winding in a seamless stretch
along West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard.
Halloweenies is a work of near-genius. Ernie Potvin removes every too-serious
veil from Gaydom’s famed realm of inventiveness.
Potvin’s classic was showcased
in May on a lazy Simi Valley Sunday afternoon immediately following the
celebration of the life of Jim Kepner and of 50 years of the Gay and Lesbian
Rights Movement at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences.
pioneer of the movement himself, one who launched Puerto Rico’s first gay
and lesbian activist group, Potvin is a multi-faceted artist working in
a variety of venues. After laboring unceasingly to make the historic Kepner
celebration a success he told his peer-pioneer guests he was going to treat
himself to a much-deserved afternoon nap.
But before he snoozed, Potvin
inserted his 1996 West Hollywood documentary into a VCR, so as to make
his guests witnesses to the kind of magical theatrics to which only a town
like West Hollywood, on its very gayest night, gives rise.
There’s a hootiness in this
documentary that invites more than mere amusement. Gay and lesbian Halloween
costumes are world famous for their flair. A far-out costume is, after
all, a tribute to one’s love of show biz and to our nation’s best-loved
Homosexual Holiday. But West Holly Halloweenies offers more than tribute.
the expert camera work of Tony Gomez, Ernie Potvin, both as the documentary’s
Santa Monica Boulevard interviewer and as producer of this extraordinary
film, has opened new dimensions into Fairydom’s forays that reach beyond
the bewitching autumn holiday’s far-flung festivities.
A feeling of happy-go-lucky
community permeates West Holly Halloweenies. Potvin has bequeathed an extraordinary
extraterrestrial evening extravaganza, a display of those delicate and
delicious dips into gay and lesbian flashiness. His unsparing eye captures
each poignant yet insanely silly spectacle, the antics of a folk who’ve
embraced not only Halloween’s craziest joys but who, quite obviously, revel
in giving onlookers easy peeps into a farcical picture frame that appears
to surround the whole of life itself.
To those who are hip to frivolity’s
higher heights and who are appreciative of all shades of camp, including
even the blackest sort; to those who delight in quick, slick unrehearsed
repartee; to those who’ll sit still enough to consider incontrovertible
evidence of how gay imaginations reign supreme in the human community,
West Holly Halloweenies downloads the goods.
There’s the sad-faced Miss
Laguna Beach, rich to the hilt, her tiara cocked sideways on her fallen
hairdo, a bourgeois damsel saved from one of those interminable hillside
fires, looking forlornly for her insurance adjuster.
There’s Frankenfairy, a fey
Frankensteinish fairy fop, waving a wand and flirting with Ernie. “Are
you married? You remind me of my 45th husband.”
There is Wonder Woman, keeping
proper order in the streets. There are hysterically funny nuns running
in packs as well as princely warriors chanting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
Contingents of dancing, singing groups, all identically dressed, give high-kicking
demonstrations of happy gay and lesbian solidarity.
street-wide scores of handsomely-shaped male and female bods sometimes
inspire while, for an extra treat at the film’s end, there’s a rear-view
parade of rear ends.
This shrewd video should
be part of every library. Its quick and lively interviews make perfect
fodder for friends and visitors or for any public audience. Thrill to exactly
what it is that Halloween evokes in our subculture. Watching outlandish
lovelies and lavender loonies is better by far than tee many martoonies.
To Order: $19.95 each plus $2.50
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Galore Productions: UncErnie@aol.com