Thursday, October 4, 2007

Marlene Dietrich - An Affectionate Tribute

schetch of Marlene DietrichMarlene - movie star, cabaret artiste, war hero, atheist – and lesbian!
Come and explore the many aspects of the greatest gay icon of them all.

Terry Sanderson will use generous clips from Dietrich's campest films, examine rare archive material of her medal-winning war work and then show a complete performance on the big screen of her famous one-woman show, with which she toured the world. Recorded in Sweden in 1963, this is Dietrich at her peak, accompanied by Burt Bacharach and his orchestra. A very rare opportunity to see this sizzling performance.

Organised by the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association.

Marlene Dietrich - An Affectionate Tribute
Saturday 6 October, 2007
Marlborough Theatre, Princes Street, Brighton. 3pm
Tickets £10.
For more details and booking information visit
By post: send cheque made out to GALHA to
Marlene, PO Box 130, London W5 1DQ
phone 020 8998 1519


Paul Patrick said...

Marlene was the ultimate icon and rumours throughout her life suggested that she had a somewhat more personal and intimate knowledge of the lifestyle. It transpired that she chose men for show and women for love, lust and fun. She was a film star when film stars were film stars – idealised, untouchable and aloof. This, in complete contrast to the real woman, who was happier on her hands and knees cleaning a kitchen or, equally likely, her dressing room. She didn’t like dirt and she didn’t like mistakes. She was a perfectionist and, when Joseph von Sternberg, her early director and mentor (The Blue Angel, Morocco, The Devil is a Woman etc.), would not relinquish control to her, she gave him up. In a time when Hollywood was run by men, she, like her contemporary Mae West, stood for none of it.
Once on a picture she would have to ok the lighting, check for herself the sound and she learnt so much that when she reinvented herself as a cabaret performer, she would always make sure everything, including the dressing room floor, was up to her exacting standards.

She was also unspeakably beautiful, helped in the early days by von Sternberg’s cinematography, and after that by, well, whatever it took.

And there were some amazing performances – none more so than her appearance as a nightclub singer in white tie, top hat and tails – she loved wearing men’s suits – in the film Morocco. She enters and begs a flower from a woman in the audience who has it in her hair. Once she receives it she rewards the woman with a full of the mouth kiss. Lesbian, nay any, erotica was ever more erotic. She then precedes to share her favours with Gary Cooper.

She was abandoned by Germany, her country of birth, before the war because of her very public anti-Nazi stance and she spent most of the war entertaining the Allied troops often on the front line.

When the war was over she reinvented herself as a cabaret artist, possibly the greatest of them all. The artificial beauty, that husky, non-singing voice and a commitment to hard work saw her at the top of this profession until a very few years before her death. Despite being welcomed back to Germany after the war, she no longer felt comfortable there and settled in Paris. She became a recluse except for a few close friends and the occasional (female) sexual partner.

She always recognised her fan base – ending her cabaret show on Broadway in the very dangerous fifties, with the words, “Please try to be gay tonight as I know it is so difficult to be gay in the morning.”

Marlene Dietrich, anti-fascist, gay icon, lesbian, star! What more could you want?

Anonymous said...

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