“Halston” (Netflix)

I have not yet seen the documentary about Halston, so I have no points of comparison, but this new mini-series about the iconic fashion designer probably has a different slant. I have mixed feelings about it, so today’s review is a dialogue between me and contributing reviewer friend, Bruce Pierini. As usual, I am so curious as to your responses, so puhleeze, comment!

Susan: Bruce, when I first asked you to watch Halston, I had viewed two episodes. I thought it was so over the top and so bad it was good. But I didn’t tell you that. You loved it! I’ve completed the series and my opinion has changed only slightly. So let’s start by your telling me what you loved about it.


Bruce: My husband,Wayne, had no interest.  “Why would I want to waste my time watching a film about this guy?” I couldn’t easily explain to him why I did like it….enjoyed all the superficiality, 80s glam, etc…and it was a look into the life of a creative narcissist, self-made man and a real “bitch”. It was a good reminder of the way capitalism works ( ie manufactures desires for sexual display of women and how feverishly many women respond. )The gay sex scenes were so explicit and nailed (no pun intended) the promiscuity of this years. I enjoyed insight into the creative artistry that went into his work and conversely how he’d say something he’d worked on was “shit”. I also thought the actress playing Liza was great

Susan: I guess I was cringing at the Flaming Bitch stereotype that Halston seemed to be representing.  I hope in 2021 most people know that he’s not representative of the majority of gay men. But I have to add that the other designers were also grouped together as flaming bitch narcissists. I wanted to hide my eyes at the photo shoot at the airport. Your thoughts? And then let’s talk about the sex scenes.

Bruce: Ah, you were seeing him as portrayed as a kind of stereotype….he did have a style (as did others) that a number of gay men adopted…..a kind of bitchy, hurt-them-before they-hurt you reflexivity…..it was a level of gay life that I never aspired to but who wouldn’t be fascinated by living one’s artistic dreams in couture up high in the Manhattan skyline?  Drugs were just part of that scene (but remember heteros were doing much the same thing re sex/drugs….)

Susan:I have never been a big fan of explicit on-screen sex (regardless of “preference”) When I was younger I always felt a little squirmy about it, unless it was porn which had no pretensions about being anything else. And mostly to laugh at.  But in a mainstream movie it feels too invasive and unnecessary for the plot. Now that I’m old, sex scenes bore me and I usually fast forward. That said, it is really quite wonderful that graphic sex is no longer limited to heterosexuals on mainstream television. So kudos, I guess, in that department.  I think my main problem is that the series did not go much beyond the superficial aspects  of his life. The  sad little boy in (Indiana??) BTW–Excuse me he did NOT grow up in Indiana. He  was reared in Des Moines, Iowa.  Why would they change it to Indiana? Ask my pal, Del Rae who moved there last year. Del Rae conjectures that Iowa politicians pressured Amazon to make it Indiana because they did not want clean cut Iowa to be associated with the likes of him. Sorry, I digress. I don’t think that his designs were done justice and really, that  should be the focus. We are told over and over again by various characters that he is a Genius, but the designs are not truly showcased in the way they should be.  I plan to watch the documentary about him which I have heard is quite good. and really does give insight into his work.  I suppose “Halston” isn’t that different from other Tell-All bio pics.  The true essence of the work that has established the Subject as Genius takes a back seat to the gossipy, lurid details of the private life.  And that is fascinating in its own cheesy way.  And, I have to admit, kept me glued in spite of my high falutin ‘tude.

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