We will return in 2018 with a new look, mission & direction. Stay tuned as we develop our online destination that celebrates contemporary & retro pop culture as well as body, mind & spirit!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

'80s Sitcom Siren-Turned-Talk Radio Host on Sarah Palin, Gay Marriage, TV's New "Porn Era"

Retroality Cover Story on "Too Close for Comfort" star (and frequent '80s Aaron Spelling TV guest star)-turned-political blogger and talk radio host Lydia Cornell: www.Retroality.TV , www.Retroality.TV/features.html and www.Retroality.TV/RetroHotLydiaCornell.html

On Sarah Palin:
"(E)lecting Sarah Palin would be like electing William Hung as Vice President. It seems like the message is this: if you look pretty, love guns, kill endangered species, and are against women’s rights —you are fit to be Vice President!"

"I think she takes pride in willful ignorance. That’s different than being dumb; one you are born with—the other is a choice. I can’t sympathize with her because I am horrified at her lies and propaganda about Barack Obama. How unpatriotic to smear a fellow American in such a hateful way! I feel we are in the Salem witch trials, and Palin is judge and jury."

On gay marriage:
"My sister is gay, and she never made a choice, but that’s beside the point. The marriage contract is a private contract between two individuals. How does it hurt anyone to let two souls honor their monogamy by allowing them the dignity of marrige, as other human beings have a right to? Isn’t this in the Bill of Rights? I am heartsick at the bigotry I see in America today. I can’t believe my sister may never have the same rights I have!"

On "belligerant" Ann Coulter and Hollywood's bimbo factory:
"Here is where I agree with Ann Coulter: There are very few parts for women who are not 18, and even fewer parts for black actresses who don’t look like Halle Berry. Hollywood needs to stop manufacturing bimbos for us to worship. As a recovering bimbo, I should know.
But if Coulter thinks liberals are responsible for Britney Spears’ bellybutton taking over our airwaves for the past 5 years, or Paris Hilton’s porn tape on the Internet—she’s been drinking too much Kool-Aid...
Why blame Democrats for what big corporations advertise in magazines, movies and on TV? Who are the culprits selling products that seduce us? I love American capitalism, but at this point it’s over-kill. All this soft-porn immorality comes from free enterprise run amuck. Our system lavishes Paris Hilton with more fame and nightclubs just because she is a 'bad, rich girl.' Isn’t this more dangerous to society than allowing monogamous gays to sanctify their union by getting married?"

On TV's new "porn era" and her cleavage past:
"In the porn era we’re in now, with shows like Gossip Girl and 90210—I think it would be refreshing to see a TV character get shocked at stuff like this and to see a parent actually snoop on their kids like I do. Just kidding, Jack (my son)! I’m not a prude but I’m sick of 9-year-old girls dressing like hookers!
Let me just get this out of the way: I am bitterly sick of cleavage. I’m not spiritually evolved enough to stop dressing like a hooker, but at least I tried on a turtleneck the other day. Somehow wearing death-defying cleavage is supposed to make us more employable or marriageable. And since the only valuable women in our society are teenage, wombless, buttless, mutants — I can’t just quit cold turkey. So I’m in withdrawal from cleavage. I mean you can’t get a job in Hollywood without 'lap dancer' on your resume—and I’m talking about the writers, not the actors."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why Jeff Probst Suddenly Has a Headache

What do "Survivor" and "Three's Company" have in common, aside from a pre-incarcerated Richard Hatch and pre-sensitivity training Rudy Boesch's Jack Tripper-Mr. Roperesque gay old time?

And, of course, Jeff Probst's unmistakable Don Knotts swagger?

Yes, the 1977-84 sitcom banished Chrissy to its own Exile Island, where her impassioned speeches into a dead phone receiver made her as potent as Elizabeth Hasselbeck in a Barbara Walters "View" smackdown.

And, yes, Larry's chest hair saw more bush than "Survivor: Africa."

But we're talking a force much more powerful here. A connection so sublime that "Survivor: Gabon" should immediately erect a thatch-roofed Reagal Beagle in homage.

We're talking Mrs. Helen Roper. The Leader of the Sex-Starved Landladies. The Queen of the MuuMuu Tribe. The Fertility Goddess of Junk Jewelry. The Mother of all TV Torch Holders.

And the grandmother of the next "Survivor" all-star, Matty Whitmore, whose grandfather is equally esteemed actor James Whitmore.

The late, great Audra Lindley, the class act behind Mrs. Roper's crass act, is no doubt guiding her grandson on the Gabon battlefield. Though she sadly passed on in 1997 -- and after a valiant fight with leukemia at age 79 -- Audra epitomized the Hollywood survivor. She began her career as a movie stand-in, then proved her mettle as a stunt double before landing a contract with Warner Bros.

Quite simply, the woman kicked ass.

A pioneering spirit and mother of five, Lindley conquered late-'50s live TV, Broadway and feature films, not to mention long-running roles on "Another World" and "Three's Company" (and its spinoff "The Ropers"). In her final years, she played Cybill Shepherd's mother in the CBS sitcom "Cybill" and Phoebe's grandmother in "Friends."

Of the latter role, Audra told me, "Now my grandkids think I'm hip."

Though Matty has said he had no showbiz desires -- a "Survivor" producer discovered the personal trainer at a Whole Foods store in Santa Monica -- he's destined to outplay, outlast and, most importantly, outwit his competitors.

If Grandma had the power to lure some lovin' out of Norman Fell, no physical, mental or emotional challenge is too big for Matty.

And no immunity necklace is too gaudy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Attack of the As-Seen-On-TV Mushroom Heads-- The Sad, Secret Downfall of Former Child Stars

MacKenzie Phillips is out of jail and back in rehab. Gary Coleman is out of patience and backing into pedestrians. And Michael J. Fox's tow-headed "Family Ties" brother, Brian Bonsall, is out of luck and on the lam with a rap sheet longer than a VH1 celebreality marathon.

Sure, we should blame the obvious pernicious influences: the darkness of drugs and alcohol, the poisons of bad parenting/career-managing, the "shocking" pitfalls of turning a talented and tender young soul into Hollywood's newest moneybags. But there is another, equally damning black cloud that quietly hovers over and ultimately destroys the lives of nearly every troubled child star. It's an evil so unspeakable that America refuses to whisper any of its names.

It's the dreaded Mushroom Head. The Bowl Cut. The Dorothy Hamill Wedge. The Pageboy of Darkness. The Beezl-bob.

There, I said it. Be gone evil hairdo! By the power of Supercuts and the Season 2 winner of "Shear Genius," be gone at once!

If only it were that easy. If only we could rewind time to 1973 and obliterate all bowls bigger than a preschooler's skull.

Brian Bonsall's moppety mushroom head popped up from nowhere when his character, Andy Keaton, instantly transformed from a nearly-hairless infant to a full-on, bowl-cut imp. No doubt reviled by the show's crinkly-haired former quipster--a man known simply as "Skippy"--Bonsall's face-framing Smurfhouse lulled audiences into a false sense of comfort and complacency. But isn't that how evil works? Could an impossibly smooth, geometrically-perfect half-sphere placed gingerly atop a small child's noggin merely mask a shapeless void that dwells within?

Cousin Oliver, anyone?

And look what Adam Rich's Beezl-bob did to the cast of "Eight is Enough." Only Willie Aames' career could be revived, and only then through the healing, straight-to-video powers of Bibleman.

Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges both fell prey to a pint-sized wedge-head during the 437th season of "Diff'rent Strokes." When Conrad Bain hooked up with Dixie Carter, what but grim-reaping darkness could prevail? And did it ever, in the form of an overly-white, red-headed little Southern twit named Danny Cooksey. Pushing poor Arnold and Willis out of the laugh-track-laden spotlight, this 'shroom-skulled Howdy Doody ruined an otherwise quality program while snuffing out the promising careers of its preternaturally gifted young stars.

But the follicle geyser didn't always spring from the head of Damien himself. After all, women reclaimed the wedge when the otherwise lovely Dorothy Hamill lopped her locks on her way to Olympic gold in 1976. But nearly a year before this fashion tragedy reared its ugly head, the mother of all mushrooms clouded the TV and American landscape.

Bonnie Franklin, TV's toadstool-tressed Ann Romano, the Superbowl Herself, took life One Bad Hair Day at a Time. She muddled through, and eventually survived her tragic 'shroom. Sadly, MacKenzie Phillips hasn't fared so well. Not only did she adopt her TV mom's ill-fitting bowl cut in the mid- to late-'70s, she clearly became obsessed with mushrooms in every way. Imagine, having to stare at the otherwise vivacious Bonnie Franklin's orange, half-globe hair every day of your life (save hiatus). Who wouldn't want to smoke her 'shroom 'do, if only to release its toxic soul back into the netherworld from whence it sprouted? Evil cannot be destroyed, but thank heavens it can change forms.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Was Retro When Retro Wasn't Cool

With individual apologies to Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (including the woefully underrated and misused Irlene), growing up in rural Oklahoma in the '70s and '80s, I was retro when country wasn't cool.

Timeless talents like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson excluded, when our country apparently thought B- and C-list country music *was* cool circa 1981 for about an hour and a half -- a period in Tulsa that passed as quickly as Abe Vigoda's half-life -- my retroality was as uncool as being named "Jimmy" in the Osmond, Baio and McNichol households. We're talking seriously not cool here.

But I embraced my love for all LA-influenced things pop culture and fifteen minutes ago. I had to. My survival depended on it. When a gaggle of 10-year-old rural Oklahomans began systematically chanting Eddie Rabbit's "Drivin' My Life Away" during every lunchtime recess, I knew I had to escape to a safe place within. A place where the Captain and Tennille taught me that Love Will Keep Us Together. A place where Carrie Fisher's carefully-wound cinammon-bun hairdo would forever warm the contents of my soul. A place where Jack Tripper, Weezie Jefferson, the "Facts of Life" girls and other TV "city folk" flourished, and where sleeping single in a double bed wasn't a white-trash calling card but rather was a sophisticated plot device allowing characters as culturally diverse as Mr. Roper, Mr. Bently or Tootie to spin a few mixed drinks and a case of mistaken identity into sitcomic gold.

Pop culture was my Charlotte Rae of light during my rural Oklahoman darkness. This could possibly explain why I named my orange, fuzzy-coiffed pencil topper "Mrs. Garrett." Or why I tried subverting my sixth-grade schoolmates' endless ennui by falling over my desk a la John Ritter. Or why I cryptically scribbled the phrase "Beans don't burn on the grill" inside my second-grade pencil case.

Years (if not decades) before loving the '70s, '80s and '90s became VH1-approved, I was touting the virtues of retroality. Quietly. To myself. Inside my pencil case. But still, touting nonetheless. And before the late-20th-century decades again become forgotten, we will do our best at Retroality.TV to document and make sense of this era when, to quote "The Jeffersons"'s galvanizing "Movin' On Up" theme, "fish don't fry in the kitchen."

Make that "kitschin.'" That's what we'll do here. We'll "kitsch" about everything retro, much as one would "smurf" about mushroom villages and the like. I'll probably kitsch a lot about how Irlene Mandrell was robbed by her no-talent, kitsch sisters. Not that kitschin' is necessarily a negative expression. At Retroality.TV, kitschin' will be the act of giving all worthy things retro a resounding voice.

In closing, perhaps Alan Thicke's words resounded best in the closing stanza of "The Facts of Life" theme:

It takes a lot to get ‘em right
When you’re learning the facts of life. (learning the facts of life)
Learning the facts of life (learning the facts of life)
Learning the facts of life.