Tony Curtis was an icon.
I can see him now, bold as brass in his stilettos and fur. I felt euphoric at the ending of Some Like It Hot, flushed with surprise when he got into that boat with Jack Lemmon and chugged off into the sunset. That’s what queer is isn’t it? Subverting our expectations. Don’t get me wrong. I love that guy. But he’s not mine.
Marilyn Monroe was an icon.
I can’t quite cope with how beautiful she is, how fucking alive she looks, even though I know she died, centuries ago, in a shower of pills and drink, with rumours of suicide. It’s what queer is, isn’t it? The tragic loss of a beautiful soul. She takes my breath away. I want to drink her in and smell her scent. I want to look under her skirt, blowing, billowing. But she’s not mine.
Marlene Dietrich was an icon.
Oh God when I see her smoking I want to be that cigarette, pushed between her scarlet lips I want her to suck me dry to blow me, and then stub me out, forgotten, used, before she stands up to sing. It’s what queer is isn’t it? Fetishising our desires. Marlene, Marlene objectifiying all our hearts. But she’s not mine.
Jodie Foster was my icon.
She beguiled and transfixed me with her boyish looks and girlish charm. The way she could turn on her sex appeal like a light switch, each time she did it shocked me to the core. She played a whore when she was only a kid, and a gangster’s moll, a wild child. I loved her like Travis Bickle loved her, with awe and sadness. I didn’t know if I wanted to be her friend or her lover or her protector or her killer. It’s what queer is, isn’t it? A scary, confusing masquerade. Jodie taught me about performance, that you have to fake it if you want to survive. But fake it with all your heart, so you mean every word, every gesture, every look. She made it seem so Easy. Jodie helped me decide that the show was worth a shot.
Jodie is my icon. I never told anyone any of this before. It’s what queer is, isn’t it? A secret we don’t know how to tell or how to keep. It’s there hidden in the backs of our minds, written plainly on our faces. An invisible mark that everyone can see. We have to be lost to find ourselves. We can’t be real, unless we pretend.
Jodie. Annabel. Tallulah. Iris. Me.