In his new solo show, Justin Sayre: I'm Gorgeous Inside, writer-performer Justin Sayre celebrates the bad girls who, throughout the history of media, influenced the person he became today. It's also about women who were unapologetic in asking for and getting what they wanted during a time where such women (and persistence) were thought of as "dirty."
In advance of the show's September 22-24 run at Joe's Pub...at the Public Theater, Sayre gives us his top five "bad girls" and some pretty badass honorable mentions.
Bad girls have always been my favorite — rough, determined women with a story to tell and action to get. Whether it's Jean Harlow, Susan Hayward, or Bette Davis, or even Joan Crawford wielding an axe, these strong, confident women taught me how to be a powerful person in the world. There are too many fabulous and fierce bad girls to name, but I picked a few that inspired me while writing this new show. So here they are in no particular order. (I'll let them fight it out for themselves.)
1. My favorite bad girl of all time: Dawn Davenport as played by Divine in John Waters's Female Trouble. Dawn kills and thrills in this look at fame culture and the things we all do to be "pretty pretty." In this amazing scene, Dawn ruins Christmas because she doesn't get her cha-cha heels.
2. One year for Christmas, my parents got us HBO. The Legend of Billie Jean used to play on a loop. She was a bandit and teen idol, accompanied on her crime spree by the vocals of the amazing Pat Benatar. I used to think there was a connection between this Billie Jean and the Billie Jean in the song by Michael Jackson. In my young mind, this movie was Billie Jean's revenge for being denied by Michael.
3. Maybe they're a little sanitized, maybe there are worse things they all could do, but to me, the Pink Ladies still rule the school. Rizzo, Frenchy, Marty, and Jan all knew who they were. Plus I love the jackets.
4. No list could be complete without my namesake, Elizabeth Taylor ["Elizabeth" is Sayre's middle name]. She often played bad girls, but my favorite, and Liz's least favorite, was her spin as a high-end escort with the perfect slip, Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8. In this scene, Gloria tells her gentlemen friend she can be paid but she can't be bought. After this, she drives off a cliff. It's a great movie.
5. And finally, nobody, and I mean nobody, slays it like Foxy Brown. Pam Grier kicks so much ass and always looks great doing it. She crashes a plane into a building and survives. Foxy Brown for the win!
Honorable mentions: Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones, Susan Hayward in I Want To Live!, Chloe Webb in Sid and Nancy, Holly Woodlawn in Trash, and Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest (I side with Joan).
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