Broadway Gay Shockers From The Golden Years


I was skimming through the memoir Original Story By Arthur Laurents for some more insight into the back-on-the-boards classic West Side Story, which Laurents wrote the book for, and I found some real eyebrow-raisers.

It turns out the show’s legendary director/choreographer, Jerome Robbins, had a not very sensitive way of directing the guy who played Tony, Larry Kert. According to Laurents, Robbins would continually yell at Kert, “Faggot! Do you have to walk like a faggot? Can’t you move like a man, you faggot?” And I guess that’s how self-loathing Broadway magic was born.

But when I turned forward a few pages–just to get away from that particular horror–I found a whole other lavender legend I didn’t know about. Apparently the real-life Mama Rose–who inspired the lovable monster at the heart of Gypsy, also scripted by Mr. Laurents–was a big, old lesbian! How do you like them eggrolls, Mr. Goldstone?

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 23, 2009

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