Tony Curtis: The Original Heartthrob

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis wasn’t just good-looking.  He was ridiculously good-looking.

The jet-black, spit-curled hair.  The piercing blue eyes.  The tight, athletic body.  The brilliant smile.  The Bronx bravado and machismo.  They were all there.  He wasn’t just a matinee idol.  He was a great actor in a beautiful shell.

I remember the first time I saw Tony Curtis in a film.  The film was “Houdini,” and it was one of the many films featured as “Family Classics,” presented by WGN TV in Chicago by the legendary Frazier Thomas.  I spent many Sundays  with my family, watching classic movies like “Old Yeller,” “When Worlds Collide,” and “My Friend Flicka.”  “Houdini” was one of my favorites though, mostly because of the story of Harry Houdini, but especially because of the impossible-to-resist Tony Curtis in the lead role.

Cover of
Cover of Houdini

I was a pretty clever kid back in the day.  I paid attention to details, like actors’ names and directions to my relative’s homes.  It’s a trait that has stuck with me to this very day.  I knew the name “Tony Curtis,” and as I grew older, I would seek out films featuring stars I had seen that I had liked.   Tony Curtis was one of those stars.  Sure, I knew he was much older than me, but I didn’t care– I knew that he was good-looking and a good actor.  That’s all that mattered to me.

One of my favorite films was “Trapeze.”  It featured Curtis and Burt Lancaster, with the sultry Gina Lollobrigida in her first American movie role.  It was a tense, sexy movie that featured Curtis and Lancaster in all forms of skimpy attire.  My young gay self could hardly stand it.

Tony CurtisIt would be years before I finally caught all of the incredibly funny “Some Like It Hot,” with Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in the hilarious cross-dressing camp classic.  It quickly became one of my all-time favorite films– featuring someone I had admired for years, even though I never really had the chance to know how good he was at comedy as well as drama.

I could go on about his later years:  the crummy movie choices, the multiple wives, and the bouts with drugs and recovery– but I really prefer to remember Tony Curtis for the man he was at the top of his game.  I wanted to be him.  I wanted hair like his, lips like his, eyes like his.  He was the man every woman (and many men) wanted, and the man every man wanted to be.  He was, for me, my original heartthrob.

I Try (A Lyrical Parody)

Cover of "I Try Pt. 2"
Cover of I Try Pt. 2

I was just going through some old papers and found this parody lyric that I wrote while I was working at Crate & Barrel (it’s on Crate stationery) in probably 2000 or 2001. Pretty funny. It wasn’t finished so I added some more lyrics. Of course, given my current weight loss/diet status, this is not exactly true. I’m doing quite well, thank you!

(To the tune of Macy Gray’s “I Try”)

Weight gainin’ again
Can’t seem to lose it now
When will it stop?
I believe that fate
Chose me to be
Bigger than an elephant… elephant!

I burn it off but I gain it all back
I lose my cool ’cause I’m dreamin’

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide it, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

I may appear to be sane
But I’m just a prisoner of my glut
I may seem alright, and smile when I eat
But my smiles are just a front
Just a front

I eat it all while I’m dreaming of you
My pants are so tight that I’m dizzy

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide but, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

Food is my obsession
When I’m in possesion
I love it so much
Candies, cakes and such
With all my might I try
But I just can’t deny
Deny….

I burn it off but I gain it all back
I lose my cool ’cause I’m dreamin’

I try to drink Slim Fast but I choke
I try to walk a mile but I stumble
My clothes may try to hide but, but it’s clear
I’m too weak for a diet, I fear

I tried out Jenny Craig but I quit
I tried Seattle Sutton but I’m broke
Weight Watchers wouldn’t take me, it’s clear
I’m much better off fatter my dear.

New York City, 1994

The year was 1994.

My sister and I, still enjoying our first computer and the friendships we made through Prodigy (a precursor to America Online and the Internet as a whole), decided to travel to New York to visit our new friend Tony.  He lived on Long Island at the time with his parents, and the plan was to visit New York City for a day, and then see the Elton John/Billy Joel concert on another day.  We also planned a trip to New Jersey to visit the Six Flags Great Adventure park, since my sister and I both worked at Six Flags Great America at the time.We did all the touristy things while in New York– the Empire State Building, Macy’s (back when Macy’s was a novelty), taking the Subway, and visiting some of the neighborhoods.

But the highlight was what we did at the end of the day– we went to the World Trade Center.

Our visit happened only a year after the bombing that occurred in the parking structure beneath the towers.  I remember being a little nervous about that– not terribly so, but since it was still so fresh, I couldn’t help but think about it.  By the time we arrived at the WTC, it was late in the day.  It had been muggy all day, and the evening haze was setting upon the city.  That didn’t hinder the views from the top, however– they were spectacular.I took photos from that trip and scanned them a while ago (this was, of course, before digital cameras were around).  Here is a slide show of photos I took that day, including those from the World Trade Center.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Looking at these, it still seems so hard to believe they are gone. Every year as September 11 rolls around, I find myself re-living the moments of that terrible day in 2001. And we should remember those moments– as horrible as they were.

But sometimes it’s good to recall what life was like before September 11, 2001.  We remember what we once had, and of course, we remember those who were lost that terrible day.  Hopefully, nothingd like it will never happen again.

Just Say NO!

Just Say No

I’m just a boy who can’t say no.

OK, stop looking at me like that.  I don’t mean it that way.  Really, I don’t.

What I mean is, if someone says they need help with something, or asks for assistance, I have a hard time saying “No, I really can’t commit to that right now.”

I’m the type of person who likes being involved in things, and get to the heart of how things work.  I’m not one of those people who sits idly by and lets other people do everything.  I dig in, hands-first, and help out.

That’s an admirable trait, isn’t it?  Sure.  But it has to have its limits.  I can’t allow myself to get so over-extended that I have no time to do things that I really enjoy.  I have enough trouble over-extending myself financially.  I can’t afford to do the same with my time.

Problem is, I really do love being involved in things– especially things that matter to me and to the community as a whole.  The sad– some would say crazy– thing about all that is, I wish I could do more.

I don’t do these things for glory or for kudos– although that’s nice, if you get it.  I do them because I can’t help but think that if I don’t do them, I’m not sure who will.  The important thing is to not let myself get burned out– or for that matter, burned.  Because if that happens, you can be sure I won’t lend my hand anymore.

In the meantime, I enjoy keeping myself busy and my plate full.  But I’m looking very much forward to an emptier plate.  Just so I can fill it up with something else, I’m sure.