Saturday, June 23, 2007
JOHN Travolta really enjoyed dressing up and pretending to be a woman for his latest film role in Hairspray.
The devout Scientologist has made a return to musicals after almost 30 years, in the role of Edna Turnblad in the cult classic.
And Travolta fills the screen – literally.
"I wanted (Edna) to look like Sophia Loren if you added 200lb," says Travolta. "I wanted her to be a sexy bombshell who was fun to look at."
"The criteria for Edna was it had to be a woman, it could not be a man dressed up as a woman, and that meant big breasts, big ass, little waist and a full prosthetic where you really visually believed there was not a man in there," he told the Daily Mail.
The film's other stars include Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Christopher Walken (as Travolta's husband Wilbur Turnblad).
"I showed the screen test to other people and I didn't tell them it was me. I showed about 10 people and I said, 'Tell me what you think of this broad that they're thinking about playing one of the parts in 'Hairspray',' and I'd play them the DVD and they said, 'Woah, she's something.' About five minutes in, I'd say, 'You know, that's me'."
The role also gave Travolta the chance to learn to appreciate the daily struggle women face to look feminine.
"Being Edna was fun, but becoming Edna was not fun," he says. "I loved the effect the look had on people when they would see me on set as Edna, but I did not love the process involving the prosthetics and the fat suit. It was very hot.
"I knew from Robin (Williams, who starred in Mrs Doubtfire) and Martin Lawrence (from Big Momma's House) that it was hell on wheels! It was like wearing seven layers of very uncomfortable clothing and I remember thinking I would never want to be a woman if that was the case.
"I know my mother had a girdle, bra and sometimes a cinch, but, wow! How do they endure stockings and high heels? The discomfort level was astonishing, but losing the suit was like coming out of a prison. . . .
I used to flip when called sir, but now I like muddying the sex spectrum
The cashier hands me my change , gives me a wide grin and lays on that old familiar sign-off. "Thank you, sir," she says brightly.
There was a time when such mistaken identity would make me apoplectic.
"What's your problem?" I would ask. "Don't you have eyes? Are you so messed up by sexual stereotypes that you can't tell the difference between a man and a woman, even a woman who wears a D cup? Gimme a break."
Nowadays I'm finding that I just smile back. Except for those times when I'm hassled on my way into the women's bathroom, I don't even correct the offender.
Does this mean I've lost my feminist edge? I know I still believe that women have the right to female-only spaces and I'm still super-proud of my dykedom and my lesbian motherhood. But at the same time, I'm warming to the idea of my gender fluidity.
It's not an entirely new thing. I've rejected the butch label for years, even though people make all kinds of yawn-inducing assumptions about where I fit on the butch-femme spectrum.
The truth is, the more experience I have, the more I see myself as ever-morphing. I change depending on who I'm with. In the company of an über-butch I become a little more femmy, but give me a high femme and I can do butch with the best of them. . . .
OK, not exactly opera bu relevant nonetheless, and Opera Chic has a soft spot for the first transgender Congressperson in Italy's (and Europe's) history (the New Zealenders have already elected the first transgender member of Parliament EV4R111), the honorable Vladimir Luxuria (and, to be fair, with the exception of a shameful incident provoked by a center-right, Catholic colleague, Luxuria's tenure in Camera dei Deputati has been so far free of ugly incidents of discrimination, a credit to Italians and a testament to this very strangely Catholic nation, so easily outraged by smalltime stuff but also so basically tolerant at the same time).
Anyway the honorable Luxuria, a human rights activist and a former actress, after undergoing what seems to be a nice amount of plastic surgery (the old nose really HAD to go, girl) -- and pretty good surgery by Italian standards at that -- is now cranking up the awesome on stage, too, not just in politics.
Luxuria will appear tomorrow night at 930 PM in Trieste, at Teatro Romano, in a production of Euripides Helena, Giuseppe Rocca director and author of the translation into Italian.