Sunday, 17 June 2012

425: Pinklisting

Saturday Night Live, 9 November 1985

This sketch, in the first SNL episode of autumn 1985, is in the context of Rock Hudson’s death the previous month. To America’s shock, the long time heart throb and Hollywood leading man had announced on July 25, 1985 that he was suffering from AIDS contracted from homosexual encounters. Two and a half months later he died on 2 October 85. In the wake of Hudson’s revelation there was much concern that in his kissing scenes with his co-star Linda Evans on “Dallas” he might have transmitted AIDS to her. On Oct 31, 1985, the New York Times reported that “Because of the fear of AIDS among its members, the Screen Actors Guild is requiring the 7,000 producers and agents with whom it has contracts to notify performers in advance of any scenes that require open-mouth kissing. The guild has sent a letter describing such scenes as ‘a possible hazard to the health of actors in light of the lack of clear and consistent medical opinion as to how or in what manner this disease is communicated’.''

Supposedly the light falling into the pool was an accident and Sweeney’s panicked cry was genuine, but in the context of the sketch both make sense. If not the first episode, then this was one of the earliest episodes that Sweeney performed in. He had been a writer for the show for a number of years, and was already “out”, therefore becoming the first gay performer on the show. So here you have a gay man pretending to be gay, as stereotypes of masculine and gay behavior and interests are played off each other. Hence the Judy Garland headline, and occasional shrieking sissiness and effeminate mannerisms. Although it’s all in the aid of a larger sympathetic satirical point about being forced back into the closet.

Madonna as Melinda Zoomont
Randy Quaid as the Director
Terry Sweeney as Clint Weston
Joan Cusack as Make-Up Girl
Jon Lovitz as Censor


Rolling Captions and Announcer: "In the early 1950's, a dark shadow descended upon Hollywood. Caught up in the mass-hysteria of the McCarthy era, the entertainment industry turned against its own, blacklisting innocent artists and craftsmen. Banned from their chosen occupations, these blacklisted individuals fell victim to hearsay, its ugly accomplice innuendo, and their unattractive sidekick, guilt by association. And now in 1985, Hollywood again is gripped by paranoia, this time provoked by the tragic AIDS outbreak. Actresses refused to do scenes with unknown actors. Gay actors are forced back into the closet, leading double lives, wearing wedding bands, riding motorcyles - living in fear that they will fall victim to: PINKLISTING"

[ dissolve to movie set, as actress Melinda Zoomont storms in ]

Melinda Zoomont (in a terrible stilted posh English actress accent): Art, are these the pages? Because if they are, it's all wrong. I thought the love scene with the new character was out?

Director: Sweetheart, we decided that we had to establish your relationship with Lionel, because four or five scripts down the line, you're gonna have his baby and he kidnaps you.

Melinda Zoomont: But I told you, I don't do love scenes with actors I don't know!

Director: Take five, everybody!

(Stagehands groan]

Melinda Zoomont: I hate that this is happening to me, because it places me in the role of the bitch. And I hate that, because I'm not a bitch.

Director: Melinda, Melinda.. no one thinks you're a bitch. You’re a professional. We all are. We've got a job to do. Now, you may not know Clint Weston, but I do. And I can tell you that there's not another more masculine, heterosexual actor on 24-hour call in this town!

Melinda Zoomont: Well.. maybe I'll do the scene - but not until I meet the man face-to-face.

[sound of motorcycle can be heard ]

Director: That sounds like Clint's Harley.

Clint Weston (appears, punching shoulders of other men in palsy fashion) : Damn those helmet laws - who needs 'em, huh? Heads up (as he throws helmet to stangehand)

[everyone is happy to see Clint as he enters the set, Clint shakes hands, give high-fives, almost goes to shake hand with female stangehand ]

Director: Hey, Clint! [ they shake hands ]

Clint Weston: (over emphatic, with stilted macho movements ala John Wayne, rolling shoulders pulling at shirt and adjusting belt buckle) How about the gazombas (cups hands) on that make-up girl, huh? Boy, I know the old wife wouldn't be pleased with that comment (flaunts wedding band on hand) , but hey - just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can't look at the menu, right guys? [ notices Melinda ] Oh . . . uh . . . excuse me. Just a little guy talk there!

Director: Clint, this is Melinda Zoomont, your leading lady.

Melinda Zoomont: How do you do?

Clint Weston: Oh, how do you do? You don't have to introduce me to television's sexiest star!

Melinda Zoomont: Well, uh.. I think we're running a bit late. Shall we do the scene?

Director: Right you are, Melinda. We'll knock this off as soon as you get out of make-up, Clint.

Clint Weston: Okay, right-o! [approaches the make-up chair, sits down ] Hey, how about handing me the paper, huh? I want to check the stats on my Raiders. (on front page of paper held to audience away from him, headline reads: “Judy Garland Bio: Liza Unwanted" Clint flips papers around so he notices article). (in more effeminate emotional tones, clasping hands to face) Oh, my God! Why doesn't she leave the poor woman alone! (crying)

Make-Up Girl: Are you alright?

Clint Weston: (pulls himself together) Of course, I'm alright! It's just that Raiders secondary! Last week they leaked like a sieve

Make-Up Girl: Who's the secondary?

Clint Weston: Oh, uh.. those are the guys that, uh . . . go . . . uh, uh . . . both ways. [gets up, returns to the set ]

Director: Uh.. you got your dialogue?

Clint Weston: Uh.. yeah, yeah.

Director: Alright, come on over here, we'll just talk you through this. Okay, now, Clint, you propose a toast to your little scheme, you share a glass of wine, you gaze into each other's eyes, you kiss passionately . . . then you take off your clothes, and you get into the hot tub. Got it? Uh, can we hear that hot tub!

Stagehand: Hot tub!

[hot tub starts bubbling]

Director: That's 180° in there, so you two should be quite comfortable.

Clint Weston: Can you believe we're getting paid to do this!

Melinda Zoomont: Another day, another $10,000.

Clint Weston: [ laugh] (almost camply:) Stop it! We've got a scene to do!

Director: Could we get a censor in here? I've got a question about this kiss here?

Censor: [enters set ] Yeah, what can I do for you?

Director: Oh, Ted, hey how you doing? Uh, listen, Ted, how passionately can we make this kiss? Uh.. we got sweeps coming up, I need a little help here.

Censor: I tell you, there hasn't been much kissing lately, so.. just about anything is okay with us. Now, as long as we don't see any tongue; a little bulge in the cheek [ demonstrates ] or this, that's alright. But we can't see any of this (tongue waggling)..

Director: Okay. Thanks, Ted, I owe you one, buddy! Okay, let's rehearse this - Clint, Melinda, from the top! Alright, roll it.

Voice: Speed.

Voice: Sound.

Director: Action!

Melinda Zoomont: My husband has the same routine every day. If you follow my instructions, it should be child's play.

Clint Weston (huskier): Angel, I want you to know - I'm not just doing this for the money..

[a light falls from the set, crashing into the hot tub, Clint camply shrieks and panics ]

Melinda Zoomont: Wait a minute! You're gay!

Clint Weston: Yes, I'm gay! And now you all know. Art, you can fire me if you like, but I can't go on living a lie.

Director: Clint, I admire your guts. And I think you should know that.. I'm gay, too.

(All the other stagehands shout they are too, and two wrap their arms around each other)

Clint Weston: [ to Melinda ] Living out this little charade, you know, was not our choice. It was a matter of survival! But I suppose you wouldn't know anything about that!

Melinda Zoomont: Well.. actually.. I do have a confession to make. And I do understand you. [ long pause as she slowly stalks to centre stage, stand still, collects herself, then proclaims] I'm an intravenous drug user.

[everyone groans with disgust and horror]

Director (pats he comfortingly, understandingly): Well, shall we do the scene, then?

Melinda Zoomont: [ considering ] Alright.

Clint Weston: Wait a minute! No way am I gonna kiss an intravenous drug user! Get my agent! (charges off stage, his hand waggling high)

Director: Take five, everybody! Clint!

[As the camera pulls back the two stagehands with their arms around - one of whom I think is Anthony Michael Hall - begin kissing each other]

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