Queering the Burbs is a weekly-ish distillation of pop culture, politics and queerness written by Joe Erbentraut. If you like what you see, please consider subscribing (it’s free!), liking or sharing this piece.
I remember the first time I became aware of Hollywood actress Dakota Johnson. She was (to me) a previously unknown actress starring as Anastasia Steele opposite Jamie Dornan in the Fifty Shades film series. Given her illustrious family tree — she is the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and the granddaughter of Tippi Hedron — I assumed Johnson had landed the high-profile role (over more established names like Shailene Woodley, Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Olsen) more for her family ties than her actual talent.
The years that have followed that completion of the Fifty Shades series, however, have caused me to walk back that assertion. I am fascinated with this woman. While Johnson could have continued to collect massive checks doing Hollywood shlock, instead she took on the lead role alongside Tilda Swinton in Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria arthouse-y remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic. The movie was deemed a box office flop, but the project proved that Johnson has ambitions beyond the bottom line.
While Johnson’s acting credits since Suspiria haven’t exactly moved me in the same way as Johnson ascending to Mother Suspiriorum in the incredibly graphic and bloody closing scene of Suspiria, I’ve been intrigued instead by the 32-year-old Libra star’s clear willingness to troll the very concept of celebrity every chance she gets.
As previously discussed in this space, Johnson admitted last year that she had previously lied about “loving limes” when she was featured in Architecture Digest’s “Open Door” YouTube series (she’s actually allergic). And, of course, who could forget Johnson’s famous assertion of “that’s not the truth, Ellen” when the beleaguered daytime talk show host claimed that she was not invited to Johnson’s birthday party?
Drew Barrymore (who had her own awkward on-air moment on Ellen’s show back in 2015), that’s who. Johnson joined Barrymore for a taping of Barrymore’s own chaotic daytime talk show last week and participated in the show’s most chaotic segment — “Drew’s News” — while promoting her upcoming film with Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter.
In the segment, Barrymore asks Johnson to describe what her neighbors are like, to which Johnson mentions that she lives next door to late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who has “a lot of parties but they don’t invite me.” Then, the powerful exchange of dialogue proceeds like this:
Barrymore: Is this for real? Because, you know, people have gotten in trouble for claiming not being invited to your parties.
Johnson: Oh my gosh (laughing).
Barrymore: That was amazing, by the way. Like, amazing.
The audience of about 20 people who agreed to stand outside in the rain on New York’s The High Line to witness history in the making burst into applause. Then, the conversation moved on to Johnson’s well-documented bush-trimming drama with the non-Kimmel neighbors (who, according to Twitter investigators who responded to my tweet on the subject, are not themselves celebrities but did once have one of Johnson’s cars towed).
From there, Johnson revealed she doesn’t have a towel rack in her home (wait, what?) and endorsed Barrymore’s (writers room’s) rebrand of “tramp stamps” as “butt crowns” (huh, OK!). Later in the episode, Johnson then offered a tasteful, incredibly gay trio of selections to a movie/TV curation segment Barrymore calls “Drew’s Little Yellow Book” — Paris is Burning, I May Destroy You and Portrait of a Lady on Fire — and then she called it a day. Chef’s kiss, no notes, etc. etc.
So why am I spilling all this digital ink about Johnson and the Malibu home she shares with the former Mr. Goop himself, Chris Martin? What is it about Johnson and her branding and casting choices that make her feel more relatable to me, a jaded 30-something queer person who will never see a tenth of her generational wealth? What does it all mean about celebrity in general? What does it say about changing your mind on a long-held belief? Isn’t this blog called “queering the burbs” so shouldn’t I be writing about queer things in the ‘burbs?
Honestly, those are all fair questions I don’t have answers for at the moment — I’m just trying to get back into the rhythm of writing here more consistently after a rough couple of months. If you’re still reading, sharing and commenting on these, I deeply appreciate your support! There will be much more — interviews with fellow local queers, personal essays, spooky shit — to come in the weeks ahead.
LOCAL QUEER HAPPENINGS:
It’s officially spooky season of course, which is basically queer Christmas, and the Fox Valley region is home to several upcoming events to celebrate.
On Friday, October 22, Batavia’s own poet witch Annie Hex is presenting a queer Halloween prom at Soma Studio Batavia. I’ll be DJing the party and seriously cannot wait for some under-the-disco-ball, ‘80s vibes. The event is 18+ and tickets for the limited-capacity, masks-required party cost $25 and are available here.
The following week, on Friday, October 29, Geneva Pride is hosting a trans and queer Halloween party at Peck Farm Park. The event is 13+ and features “pizza, costumes and s’mores, oh my!” A $5 donation is suggested, and you may RSVP for the event here.
HERE ARE THE LINKS (What I’m reading, watching, listening to and thinking about this week):
Shakira took to Instagram Stories late last month to say that she and her 8-year-old son were attacked by a pair of wild boars in a park in Barcelona. The boars stole her bag before heading back into the woods. The BBC notes that boar attacks are up in the Catalan capital. Separately, Shakira was just named among a group of public figures also including Elton John, Tony Blair, Jackie Chan and others in the leaked Panama Papers for allegedly relying on offshore investments to reduce their tax burdens. Coincidence? Doubtful.
Lindsay Lohan is selling a fursona NFT (non-fungible token) and the furry community is extremely unhappy with this development. According to the Rolling Stone, furry artists believe the NFT is too human and “avoiding animal traits on purpose,” in addition to being a poor representation of furry art in general. I still don’t fully understand what NFTs are (despite being an editor for a tech publication) and I’m certainly no expert on furries (though I’ve previously reported in some depth on the topic) so I don’t quite know what to make of all this — but I suppose this gives La Lohan plenty to discuss on her just-announced new podcast.
Andrew Lloyd Webber recently explained in a Variety interview that he was so “emotionally damaged” by the recent Hollywood adaptation of his musical that he obtained a therapy dog. Better yet, he even had to offer this explanation to an airline employee.
Sometimes when you say something awkward, it’s truly best to just not explain yourself. Case in point, Meghan Trainor. Last week, Trainor said that she and her husband Daryl Sabara have side-by-side toilets in their home. Which is… odd, but then she tweeted the below. Stay losing, Trainor.
Christy Carlson Romano is a former Disney Channel actress (Even Stevens, Kim Possible) who I have not given one thought to, until I recently stumbled upon her YouTube channel with videos like the recent “How Psychics Scammed Me Out of $60,000” and “What I Know About Britney Spears.” Pop an edible, send up thoughts and prayers to whoever is being forced to film these while walking backwards, and enjoy.
In news that shouldn’t exactly shock anyone, Candace Cameron Bure just announced she is opposed to getting a Covid vaccine, er, I mean, “pro-medical freedom” on her Instagram account. Great great great…
My favorite new Twitter follow is called, very simply, “SNL Hosts Introducing the Musical Guests,” and this account offers up everything you might guess from that title. Here’s Bernadette Peters saying the words “female rockers.”
Gorgeous gorgeous girls love soup. Soup girls are the most popular girls in… the chicken coop.
This post’s featured bop isn’t new, but it’s new to me, via singer-songwriter Caroline Rose and the Spotify algorithm. This song, off Rose’s 2018 album Loner, hits just right for this seasonally inappropriate early-fall weather we’re experiencing in the Midwest lately.