WRANGLER: ANATOMY OF AN ICON
Director: Jefrey Schwarz
Stars: Jack Wrangler, Margaret Whiting, Bruce Vilanch, Christine Ebersole, Gino Colbert, Jerry Douglas, Candida Royale, Samantha Fox, Joe Gage, Jamie Gillis, Chi Chi LaRue, Sharon Mitchell and Gloria Leonard
Available on DVD - order here
Review by Matthew Rettenmund
This movie is a very straightforward bio of the very gayforward Jack Stillman, a self-conscious towhead from Cali who grew up to be a legendary gay and straight pornstar, not to mention hardcore’s first bona fide brand (who doesn’t remember those Jac Pack ads?).
The film is largely narrated by Jack himself, who at 62 is still handsome if markedly less rugged than his on-screen, Marlboro Man-light image. If anything bothered me about the film, it was just how much of it came out of Jack’s mouth and the linear order in which it came out—it is the kind of film that starts with “I was born…” and ends with “I am now…” But this is a minor quibble.
Despite a flurry of full-nude still photos and some quick seXXX-rated clips, the story of Jack Wrangler is most interesting in that he met and fell in love with my fellow Michigoose Margaret Whiting, a celebrated songbird (and one of the Four Girls Four) old enough to be his mother. The pair have been together for 30+ years despite the fact that Wrangler explicitly admits he is a gay man in the film, detailing their at first “uncomfortable” (but important for her) and later non-existent lovemaking. That’s right, he’s gay—not ex-gay, not bi, but a gay man who has chosen to abstain out of respect for the woman he loves.
Because of this unusual relationship, Whiting’s daughter Debbi becomes a key figure in the film—she is the one voicing the feelings of the audience, asking what these two see in each other. Her tart remembrances of battle lines drawn are a riot, and it’s very sweet to see that she has now been somewhat won over. She appeared at the screening and did confess there is still some tension, but it would appear that she has reconciled with the fact that Jack has been good for her mother. She also points out the common denominators between the seemingly disparate spirits, both of whom are children of showbiz. (Whiting’s father was the noted composer of songs like “Ain’t We Got Fun” and “On The Good Ship Lollipop,” Wrangler’s dad was a movie producer.) It’s kind of great that an old broad would not be fazed by a young hunk taking it up the ass in movies, and would instead be proud to be “his lady.” I mean…what would Rose Marie say?