Sunday, May 26, 2013

Darden Asbury Pyron

Darden Asbury Pyron is a history professor at Florida International University in Miami and author of a 2000 biography titled Liberace: An American Boy.

Spurred by the release of Behind the Candelabra, a new film about Liberace by director Steven Sodenbergh, Randy Dotinga of the Christian Science Monitor interviewed the biographer. Part of the Q & A:

Q: I'm sure some people think of Liberace as a joke today. Why do you take him seriously as a performer?

A: All of his contemporaries did. Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, all of these guys admired him enormously.

He is the absolute consummate performer, the definite article. He's extremely intelligent, and besides being intelligence, he has a sixth sense about what appeals to people, how far to push things.

He calculated that if people couldn't get things, he'd get them and he'd fulfill them, give them this sense of being in a different world, of getting a brief chance at being rich.

When I was working on the book, I was at my local bank in Miami and talked to a woman about what I was working on. Liberace had been dead for years, but she looked at me with this faraway look and said, "Oh, I always wanted to have a candelabra."

Q: What did he think about his style of performance?

A: He himself talks about how people see art, not just in his performance but art in general, as a way of transcending their own limitations. Art is about introducing you to another kind of world.

Nothing was realistic about him, nothing. He didn't believe in realism or naturalism. His sense about performance was something entirely different. I've never talked to anybody who saw him perform – straight, gay, men, women – who didn't come away just delighted.

Q: Wasn't he corny, though?

A: Someone said that he does the same act all the time and tells the same jokes. When was he going to do new material? His response:...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue