Arts & Entertainment
4 min

Webstar: Joan Crawford

A bitchy good time

'WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?' Joan Crawford Best

Nothing says crazy like Joan Crawford. What a gal. Her thick eyebrows, glorious deep-set eyes and football-player shoulders are the stuff of legend. She can be a great actor one minute (The Women, Rain, Mildred Pierce) and — in a thoroughly enjoyable way — a truly awful one the next (Johnny Guitar, Beserk!, Trog).

Joan Crawford Best (Joancrawfordbest.com) is an extensive encyclopedia of all things Crawford. You’ll love her even more (if that’s even possible). There are several categories to choose from including Photos (1925-’71), TV, Movies, Magazines, Letters and Collectibles.

The amount of photos to savour is astonishing. There are hundreds and hundreds. Seeing her morph from a dazzling ingénue into a cartoonish exaggeration of her former self is sad and poignant and, well, a bitchy good time.

My favourite part of this site is reading her letters to friends, fans and film executives (1920s-’70s). You can just hear her saying the stuff. On Jun 14, 1926, she writes to fan Daniel Mahony: “I just found out a picture I made over a year ago called I’ll Tell The World has been released under The Boob. I’m so sorry I made such a dreadful mistake. Will you forgive me?”

On Apr 11, 1977 (a few months before her death) she writes to her fan Vivienne: “My very dear Vivienne, thank you for your adorable Easter card with the bunny rabbit in the basket, and holding the little umbrella over her head, so femininely protecting herself from the sun.”

A class act till the very end.

WEBSITE
Lars Stephan

Lars Stephan is one of those weird evergrowing Internet phenomena (Flickr.com/photos/larsnyc). If you’re cute, people will find you and make you a cyber star. Stephan is a German photographer living in New York, who also happens to be one hot fucking piece of dudeness. Besides taking pics of his artist friends or his partner Stu, this gay man also loves taking naked pictures of himself and sharing them on his Flickr photo stream.

Every gay site is talking about him. They salivate over his shaggy bed-head, muscular torso and inviting treasure trail. There’s a new hot gay man to obsess over, and the forum geek boys couldn’t be happier. Go to any gay forum (like Famous Male or Dreamcaps) and they’ll be sharing his vast number of full frontal poses that have since been taken down from his Flickr sets (BTW, it’s big and uncut).

His posing is slightly silly and his “porn” face is camp on top of camp. But he’s still altogether pup- tent worthy. I dare anyone to pose in a simple red T-shirt and black work boots, with your naked hairy ass pointing straight up in the air and looks as classy as he does. He’s like Peter Berlin and Farrah Fawcett by way of American Apparel, all rolled into one hot hilarious package.

MUSIC
Grace Jones

With Pride upon us, you need Grace Jones’ 1981 classic Nightclubbing. There’s something about this album that draws me back again and again. There has been talk of a double-CD reissue for the last year but it has yet to materialize.

Grace Mendoza was born May 19, 1952 in Spanish Town, Jamaica. She was the daughter of a preacher man, who escaped the confines of her strict upbringing into a glamorous world of modelling, drugs and Warhol superstardom. Her andro-gynous look, height (five feet, 10 inches), square-cut hair and angular padded shoulders were a visual threat. At the time, they defied everything the world found attractive and proper. She fucked shit up. When people say “fierce” I always envision Grace Jones.

Through the late ’70s Jones was a dance-club sensation for homos. With her gold record headdress, black tulle disco dress and mono-tone talk-sing styling, she was a new Dietrich for the modern age. Singing “La Vie en Rose” to a disco beat cemented the love.

Nightclubbing is her greatest achievement (okay, her performance in Conan The Barbarian is pretty damn close). This is when she and creative partner (and then husband) Jean-Paul Goude sharpened her look. She was so slick and icy that her stare could cut you like a knife. The music was anything but.

The album was recorded in Jamaica and expertly produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin. Reggae legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare lead the rhythm section. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Her song choices were a masterstroke. Included here are her brilliant covers of The Police’s “Demolition Man,” Iggy Pop and David Bowie’s “Nightclubbing” and Bill Withers’ “Use Me.”

But the two standouts are Flash And The Pan’s “Walking In The Rain” and her own classic “Pull Up To The Bumper” (cowritten by Jones, Koo Koo Baya and Dana Mano).

“Walking In The Rain” starts with a clippie high-hat, then a menacing bass line and electro tremors join in; it’s a forceful reggae rhythm. When she sings, “Summing up the people/ Checking out the race/ Doing what I’m doing/ Feeling out of place,” we relate. And when she sings, “Feeling like a woman/ Looking like a man,” well, that just hits home, doesn’t it?

There can’t be a sexier more-realized queer anthem than “Pull Up To The Bumper.” It speaks to everyone about the joys of sexuality — the fun of it all. It dares to be upfront. It’s a riot.

The mix of sporadic car horns, synth sounds (that Prince and The Talking Heads stole with great success), proud and determined backup chants and outrageously sexy guitar work are classic.

“Pull up to the bumper, baby/ And drive it in between,” Jones sings, “Pull up/ To it/ Don’t drive/ Through it/ Back it/ Up twice/ Now that/ Fits nice.”

It plays like the best dream, but it’s a reality. Just like Pride.

Nightclubbing
Grace Jones
Island Records
$12.