SF 360



Lulu Gets a Facelift (Marc Huestis, USA, 2006) Oh Lulu, you aren't the city treasurer, but you are a city treasure, whether writhing around in bed in your zebra Roberto Cavalli briefs explaining why it's better to be a bottom or joking about a look you didn't ask for (I'm not repeating it here) after surgery. In between the relevant Sunset Boulevard and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? quotes and a brilliant use of Billie Holiday's "I'm a Fool to Want You". Huestis's doc leaves room for at least one of Lulu's friends to criticize her decision. It also steers clear of the bloody surgery footage and "cosmetic surgery is only for delusional people" cliches of shows such as MTV's I Want a Famous Face. By the end, when a baby picture socks viewers in the gut and a "40- to 60-year-old" Lulu has outed herself as an unashamedly youthful 54, this movie has gone more than skin deep into everyday issues that only seem shallow on the surface. Fri/16, 6 p.m., Victoria. (Huston)



LULU GETS A FACELIFT- This rollicking world premiere is a hot ticket. Who would have thought that a film about an aging drag queen's crow feet would inspire. But Marc Huestis, Frameline's co-founder, has made a film about his friend Lulu's adventure in the world of nip tuck that is way more than a hoot. Of course, it helps when your star loves the camera almost more thaan yourself. Lulu's wit, humor and sly honesty make the film sing. The drag icon who has blessed San Francisco's stages since the seventies, muses on getting older and why she wants tto go under the knife. Like Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD it's high time for Lulu's "return." However not all her friends are willing to get on-board including Esmerelda who honestly and forthrightly expresses her doubts in a well crafted letter. But Lulu goes through the lift. As a testament to true friendship, when Lulu is first out of surgery, Esmerelda is right there holding her hand and taking care of the wounded warrior of beauty. But recovery is just round the corner and filmmaker Huestis chases Lulu in her bandages and veils throughout the Castro and the girl is a sight to behold. The mayhem climaxes two years later in a truly transformational performance at Trannyshack- Erica Marcus- BAY TIMES



Of the festival's documentaries, Lulu Gets a Facelift has the most entertainment value. Directed by San Francisco's Marc Huestis (impresario and founder of the LGBT Festival) and starring talkative drag performer Lulu, the doc shows what happens when the veteran artiste decides he's getting a little too veteran, and opts for plastic surgery - sort of a how-to for aging cross-dressers, culminating in a "Plastic Surgery Disasters" night at the Trannyshack club. It's shown with 4 Beauties, a hectic live-action-cartoon short with drag stars (including Lulu) in overdrive, backed with generic '60s music. Kelly Vance - East Bay Express



Tuesday, June 20, 2006


It's Pride Week, and the whole darn city is bustin' its buttons. Having breakfast at Cafe Flore last week, Randall Koll overheard one customer ask another: "What's a frittata?'' "I think all of his rainbow flag privileges should be revoked for at least a week,'' says Koll.

By 6 p.m. Friday, when Marc Huestis' "Lulu Gets a Facelift'' screened in Frameline30's San Francisco LGBT Film Festival, just about every seat in the Victoria Theatre was taken, many by men with women's names: Heklina, Juanita More, Cookie Dough and the star of the movie, drag queen Lulu.


Huestis, familiar on the local showbiz scene, produces Castro Theatre evenings in which classic stars appear at showings of their movies. Some are a little, well, showing the patina of age by the time they hit the Castro. It happens; we all get old. And "Lulu Gets a Facelift'' is a movie about a fit middle-aged man's decision to use all his resources to battle that inexorable process.


There's not lots of footage of cutting and stitching; there is lots of Lulu debating whether to take the plunge into artificial rejuvenation. The operation is successful. But near the end of the movie, when all the swelling's gone down, the bruising healed and the face wrinkle free, handsome Louis/Lulu says "nothing has changed'' in her social life. So what's the use of it all?


During the question-and-answer period, the answer came into emotional focus in talk about scenes shot at Lulu's bedside. The unusual thing for gays, says Huestis, was to see bedside scenes "where friends were not taking care of other friends with AIDS. ... It was a blast to shoot that hospital scene -- and kind of liberating. Somebody's not dying, and from their point of view, they're improving themselves.''


Huestis said that many gay men had spent years holding the hands of friends who weakened daily and whose former good looks were ravaged by Kaposi's sarcoma. Lulu's decision was a positive response: "I'm going to do something for beauty.''


Charlotte and George Shultz took Nancy and Henry Kissinger to dinner at Tommy Toy's over the weekend. And the foursome -- never mind political differences -- showed up to literally throw rose petals over Dianne Feinstein, who was celebrating her birthday in the banquet room of the Big Four.


SF 360

Marc Huestis and a wrinkle in time (Jun 13, 2006)
By Susan Gerhard



If the Hollywood Walk of Fame could talk, it might sound something like Marc Huestis's answering machine. That's Jane Russell, cooing "Bye bye darlin'," and Sylvia Miles barking "Why didn't you tell me you were in New York?" There's Carol Lynley, rendering a complete "Happy Birthday to You," and I think I recognize that next voice to be Shelley Winters, slurring something about a person upstairs? The halls of San Francisco's Redstone Building (built in 1914 as the San Francisco Temple of Labor) have stories of their own; but Huestis's Outsider Productions office has managed to cram in a couple hundred more with his archives of the shows he's recently produced for a cavalcade of aging A, B, and Z-list stars at the Castro theater.
With his latest project, a film he directed, Huestis features the very true story a local diva whose playful vanities may rival any of Huestis's feted femmes of yesteryear. This time, it's local drag celebutante and Huestis friend Lulu getting the lifetime achievement tribute, at the very same time he receives some fundamental restructuring in "Lulu Gets a Facelift." For Huestis, it seems the Golden Years could stretch from 30 to 100, though: Age has played no small part in any of Huestis's non-fiction features, from one he made 20 years ago, "Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age" (1987), to "Life Begins at 40" (1995, or your best guess). This latest take on the topic premieres Friday at the SF International LGBT Film Festival, which, coincidentally, traces its roots back to a shoestring production Huestis himself engineered back in 1977, with help from filmmaker friends who frequented Harvey Milk's photo shop in the Castro. I talked recently with Huestis about time, and what it's telling us.


Huestis: Turning 40 was really the worst.

SF360: [laughs] Why?

Huestis: Vanity.

SF360: But you look great....

Huestis: You let go of a lot of that stuff that you hung on to. I never thought of myself as a cute young thing, but now I look back at pictures of when I was young and I see that I really was a cute young thing. I'm dealing with my dad now, who's turning 80. It's really tough on him. It doesn't get any easier. Everything for me is also counterbalanced by the whole HIV thing, which I survived, so there you go. I like it that there was a vanity issue when I turned 40, even though I was HIV positive. HIV was a lot less important to me than my wrinkles were.

SF360: And you know, you don't really have wrinkles.

Huestis: I think you can really direct your aging process. If you maintain some spark, or fire within. It's something that overrides the aging thing. We shall see.

SF360: Thanks for giving me the press release from the first Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in San Francisco.

Huestis: Isn't it cute?

SF360: It's a little apologetic. Like, I'm sorry to bother you.... Let me read from it: 'For your own information, I would like to describe briefly what happened at the last festival. It took place at 32 Page Street.... About 200 people crowded into a room normally holding 126. About 100 other people were turned away... many of whom suggested another showing. Therefore we think it important that this information be gotten out as soon as possible.'

Huestis: Right now! Breaking news!

SF360: Who were you writing this to?

Huestis: That's the thing; I don't even remember who we were writing that too. You know how we got the word out, mainly, was the B.A.R. [Bay Area Reporter]. God bless the B.A.R. Mostly it was putting posters up on lamp posts. I used to go to Buena Vista Park and staple posters to trees in the cruising area -- which is not very environmentally correct [laughs]. And I actually got arrested once on Castro Street for putting up posters. That's how it got out. It was word of mouth. I really hate when people romanticize the '70s, but it was really a golden period in terms of the energy on Castro Street. There was a lot of stuff happening. Our group of filmmakers used to get our films developed at Harvey Milk's photo store. There was such symbiosis within the gay community. That's how I met Danny Nicoletta -- he worked with Harvey. We'd get our little discounts and we'd all be happy. Everybody did it because they had to do it. I really don't think something like this could happen again in this town because of the reality of living in San Francisco. We were all on welfare. We all lived with 20,000 people in collectives with dirt cheap rent. Everybody lived on a dime and a prayer. Being gay was being gay from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to sleep -- and you usually went to sleep late at night. Back then I was involved in Angels of Light. And the Angels energy -- which was the Cockettes energy -- shifted and changed.... It was just really amazing time. Even Film Arts was starting around the same time. It was a cauldron for arts. The American Independent film movement started shortly thereafter. You can see on the press release, these were all Super 8mm films. None of them had synch sound. We showed them on a rinky dink projector onto a bed sheet. Lulu actually put up the bed sheet, so he was there, too. The splices would break in the middle of it. There was a real embrace of seeing ourselves without any filter. And even then, there were kernels of what gay filmmaking would become. There was animation, there was computer generated stuff, drag stuff, documentary. It was the birth of what was going to be independent gay film.

SF360: In your wildest imagination, did you see where this was all headed?

Huestis: The only thing I'm connected to right now is myself, making a living, and being able to survive. What we did was important, but when Michael Lumpkin came in about two years later, he really made it what it was. He had the organizational skills and vision. This whole movie was made because Lulu loves the festival. Most of these movies are never gonna see the light of day.