Sunday, October 01, 2006
My all-time favorite Onion article, I think:
Denver Optometrist Not Sure Why He Has Gay Cult Following
"It's very nice of them, and I have nothing against anyone, but I just don't feel comfortable being the focus of all this attention," Podrewski said. "I don't mean to snub people, but I have my own life. Between my career and family obligations, I'm extremely busy. I'm sure John Galliano is a very talented designer, but I have a church potluck to attend the day of his runway show."
Podrewski may be mystified by the attention, but Rod Martinez is not. The author of two unauthorized biographies of Podrewski, Gene!: The Eyes Have It and Gene!: The Eyes STILL Have It, Martinez said he has a keen grasp of Podrewski's cult appeal among gays.
"It's difficult to explain to straight people," said Martinez, seated in his San Francisco apartment below an oversized, wildly colored silkscreen print of Podrewski's face. "Gene is adorable, sure, but it's not really sexual. It's more because that man has been to hell and back. He's no saint, and he has a lot of self-destructive impulses, but he's dealt with his personal demons with courage and a wicked sense of humor. He's a survivor in the truest sense and an inspiration to the gay community, which has seen its own share of pain, misunderstanding, and heartbreak."
Martinez was alluding to the many tragedies and heartaches to have befallen Podrewski over the course of his life. At age 6, it was discovered that Podrewski was allergic to penicillin. When he was 12, his family relocated from Estes Park, CO, to nearby Glen Haven, a move that traumatized the boy for several weeks. In 1981, he received a graduate degree in optometry, but that triumph was tainted by a broken engagement with radiologist Kathy Hearn and a recurring sinus infection...
For the past two years, Fagatha Christie, a Los Angeles-based lounge singer and drag queen, has honed his Podrewski impression, which he performs along with those of Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli. Christie said impersonating Podrewski is harder than it looks.
"A lot of Podrewski impersonators mean well and have a lot of enthusiasm," Christie said, "but doing Gene just doesn't work unless you have the right props onstage. You absolutely need a T-type applanation tonometer. Period. That's the kind Gene uses at work. And what's with the cheesy 1940s-era doctor forehead reflectors some of these queens use? Gene has never, ever worn one. Hel-lo?"