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Monday, June 23, 2008

Thing 115: The Hillwood Estate and Museum

Where was I for Pride weekend? Why, at the parade, of course! Huddling under an umbrella, cheering Fenty’s smart car, and applauding PFLAG along with everyone else. The rain put a, er, damper on things, but as usual it was a gay time, in both the new and old meanings of the word.

But the highlight, oh the glorious great part of Pride weekend for me was a showing of Straight Jacket , starring the silver screen diva herself, Joan Crawford, outdoors on the lawn of the Hillwood Estate & Museum as part of their LGBT "Divas of the Screen" series.

First of all, I think we all know how much I love an outdoor movie.

Second of all, the Hillwood Estate is an absolutely gorgeous place to watch a movie outdoors. Far less crowded than the Mall, and much smaller so that you can really see well no matter where you sit. If you can locate and arrive at the place (which I had a lot of difficulty doing…it is near the Czech embassy, but not quite its neighbor) you are treated to a pristine lawn, old growth trees, an expansive view of the sky, and ample manicured gardens with fountains and koi fish and small bridges that lead over ponds.

Third of all, they supply you with FREE (!) bug spray. So long, West Nile Virus!

Of course, the best part is that you get to watch a movie with 300 of your closest gay girlfriends. There was a contest for the best picnic spread, judged before dark, so the spreads were queer-eyed-out. We're talking candelabra, floral arrangements, cake plates with decorated cupcakes, and enough gourmet cheeses to open up a specialty shop. In comparison, our spread of chickpea salad, tatziki and grapes was downright sad. There was also a Joan Crawford lookalike contest, which was won by a rather skeletal version of the lady. And, if things weren't gay enough for you yet, there was a proposal, on the lawn in front of the crowd, with one man down on one knee asking for the other's hand in marriage! A perfect, picturesque setting for a declaration of love, including plastic axes in the background as an homage to the flick we were about to see.

And what a movie! Joan Crawford, in all her glory, is an ax wielding murderess! The heads pop off like champagne corks! She makes an entrance, and the crowd goes wild! (And not a few shout "No! Wire! Hangers!"). The plot, in a nutshell, is that Joan Crawford murdered her husband and his mistress in a really gruesome/campy ax murderer/diva way, and then 20 years later is released from the asylum to rejoin her daughter who is living a wholesome life on a farm in California. Hilarity/horror ensues, and even though it is one of the campier movies I've ever seen, I did at one point whisper to my companion "I understand this movie is terrible, but darn it, I'm nervous! Don't go in there!" and then inevitably, the good natured doctor would walk into a dark room and the door would close and the glint of the ax would shine.

The other movies in the series were great too, How to Marry a Millionaire and Funny Face. Keep an eye out for this series next summer, and have yourself a gay old time.

Join me over at the Cork & Knife to read about a new social networking site for locavores.


adrienne said...

Soooo... it WAS you at Hillwood! I think I was a blanket or two over from you. I told Margaret that I thought you might be dc365 b/c we do all know you love an outdoor screening. Still, I wasn't sure... I thought you had long hair, but the girl I saw had short hair. Maybe it wasn't you. I should've asked if you were you, but I guess I'm shy and not quite sure how to address someone known only through the blogosphere.

Anyway, that place is amazing...and you'd never even know it was there if they didn't do programs like this. Did you go in the house? We didn't, but plan to go back at some point.

Dare I say it felt slightly better than Screen on the Green? (gasp!) I didn't have bumpy, rocky soil poking in my back or litter at my toes. It was lush (!) with a perfectly manicured lawn (!) and shade (!) and WINE (!!!) and contests (!) and... and.... Of course, you pay a price for admission, but I'd definitely say it's worth it. :) I look forward to it next year when I'll know better than to bring old towels to sit on. That spread with the candelabras put us all to shame!

dc365 said...

Adrienne - it WAS me (my hair is short now)! And I cracked up when I read you post because Sarah Fisher keeps telling me to introduce myself to Margaret at WF, and I always get too shy and weirded out by this whole blogosphere thing. So maybe one of these days, we can actually meet each other!!

Oh, objectively it was absolutely better that SotG. The free bug spray alone put it over the top, if the contests, quality of movie, quality of soil and quality of companionship hadn't done so already. But HBO dance. So SotG will always have a special place in my heart.

You should join us this year! (So we can meet!) And don't worry, there will be wine.

Margaret said...

Sarah's right!! You BETTER stop by the cheese counter sometime and introduce yourself to me! No need to be shy...just come up and ask for me if you don't see me back there. And I might even give you some cheese to nibble on!

Seriously, it would be nice to officially meet you! By the way, what's your name?