Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Fair Lady

Saturday night I stumbled across an airing of My Fair Lady, which was part of a Lerner and Lowe movie showcase on the TCM channel. For some unknown reason I don't have this movie in my dvd collection, so I took the opportunity to watch it again at this time although I have seen it many times before. The musical is one of my favorites going back to when I was a kid.

I was reminded of a scene from the movie Jeffrey where a priest, played by Nathan Lane, explained God to Jeffrey. The priest showed Jeffrey the original cast recording album of My Fair Lady with the Al Hirschfeld drawing on the cover (below) and said, "Here's how you see god. He's a Columbia recording artist. You got your idea of God where most gay kids get it: My Fair Lady - Original Cast." He went on to indicate that God was personified by Lerner & Lowe and that he could feel the presence of God when listening to a great Broadway musical.

I don't how much that resonated with other viewers of Jeffrey, but it struck a chord with me because of how much I loved the album as a kid - the same LP that Nathan pointed to. I was surprised to hear it being referenced in a movie as being an important part of gay culture. I was too young to know about any of that at the time of course. I only knew I like to play the songs and memorize the words. I wonder if my family on the other hand had an inkling of what it might mean that a little kid was doing a complete rendition for them of Why Can't The English? and Just You Wait.

The musical itself has a lot of things in it that gay men can relate to. For starters, how about the song A Hymn to Him (why can't a woman be more like a man?) Then there are the "confirmed bachelors", Higgins and Pickering. And of course, the whole nature of transformation where a person is plucked from a lowly life to become part of fabulous and fashionable society.

For gay kids who aren't sure of why they feel the way they do, the words of I Could Have Danced All Night share this uncertainty. "I'll never know what made it so exciting. Why all at once my heart took flight. I only know when he, began to [insert boyish activity here, e.g. wrestle, play ball, go swimming] with me, I could have [done it and him all night]."

The longing for male affection is expressed poignantly with "Someone's head resting on my knee. Warm and tender as he can be. Who takes good care of me - oh, wouldn't it be loverly?"

Lastly, there are the expressions of stalker Freddy, wandering around Professor Higgin's neighborhood hoping to see Eliza. I have also felt the heart flutter from just knowing that you are near someone you are attracted to. Oh those wonderful halcyon days before the advent of restraining orders.