As I’m sure that several of you read recently, Meshach Taylor passed away from cancer at the end of last month. I’m sure many people’s initial response was that Anthony Bouvier had gone to join Julia Sugarbaker in that great design firm in the sky. The first words out of my mouth were “Oh, no, Hollywood Montrose died.”
To anyone who isn’t certain who exactly that might be, Hollywood was the flamboyantly gay window dresser Taylor portrayed in the 1987 cuh-lassic movie Mannequin. Of course, I use the term classic in a very subjective way, since I know that this movie: a) isn’t everyone’s particular idea of entertainment; b) is now incredibly dated in that uniquely 80s “how on earth did this ever get made?!” kind of way; and c) will always make me laugh no matter what kind of mood I’m in or how many times I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen it quite a few times, denizens. Because Kim Cattrall.
Okay, so Cattrall was the reason I wanted to watch the movie in the first place, but she’s not the only reason I ultimately fell in love with it. I know it’s ridiculous and doesn’t make sense and the adult me sometimes takes over while I’m watching it and points out all the absolutely nonsensical parts of the script that make her cringe…but the kid who fell in love with this movie all those years ago promptly regains control and just goes along for the ride, whether by motorcycle, hang-glider, or Hollywood’s fabulous car…
Which brings me back to Hollywood. I wrote this about the character elsewhere, but here it is again:
I know Hollywood was horribly cliched and stereotyped as only an 80s-era movie could do with minority characters. But even with as campy as he was, Hollywood was still integral and important to the story. He was Falstaffian, yes, but he was also one of the heroes. That meant a lot, especially since for years movies felt compelled to portray gay characters as anything but heroic. Unnatural, yes. Evil, yes. A good character? Never. Also, Hollywood was hilarious. And that car. And those glasses. And…oh, man, I loved Hollywood.
Yes, Hollywood was stereotypically gay, but he also got to help save the day…and wield a big effing fire hose while doing it. And, in the end, he stood by the hero’s side when he finally “got the girl” in true cliched style. It might be small by today’s inclusive standards, but showing Hollywood as important enough that he remained right to the very end of the final reel, right by the hero’s side? Good times.
Beyond all that, though, this movie is just a bundle of 80s WTFery in all its big-haired, big-shoulder-padded, glitzy, goofy, shiny, “I think they’re implying that he’s having sex with a store dummy, but let’s just ignore that and listen to this Jefferson Starship song really loudly” style.
Okay, wait, fan-made video break:
Complete it all with Andrew McCarthy in his first appearance with a non-responsive human co-star (personally, I would choose a dummy over a dead guy, dude), Estelle Getty (picture it: Sophia Petrillo, running a department store in Philadelphia) and James Spader in probably the most un-James Spader role he’s ever played and, again I say, cuh-lassic.