Monday, 22 February 2016

Valentino: Pink Powder Puff

It began with an editorial in the Chicago Tribune, a spiteful piece of writing that manages to be both racist and homophobic. The writer declares himself outraged to find a face-powder dispenser in a men’s bathroom, and places the blame on a movie star. Valentino had turned America’s women on to sex, and now, allegedly, he had turned America’s men on to male grooming. “Homo Americanus! Why didn’t someone quietly drown Rudolph Guglielmo, alias Valentino, years ago? … Hollywood is a national school of masculinity. Rudy, the beautiful gardener’s boy, is the prototype of the American male. Hell’s bells. Oh, sugar.”

Valentino responded with an angry letter to a rival paper “You cast doubt upon my manhood … I defy you to meet me in the boxing … arena.” He saw the “pink powder puff” attack as racist in its motivation, because he was a foreigner working in the US. When the writer, who it turned out was sick with TB, failed to respond, Valentino flexed his muscles by decking a couple of stooges in exhibition matches in New York and Chicago instead. Ken Russell’s version of events is naturally far more dramatic, with Nureyev squaring up to a beefy hack played by Peter Vaughan and tackling a drinking contest as a sequel to the bout...

The Guardian.

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