I watched the HBO “Documentary” Pretty Things last night with my mom. She knew most of the girls they had in it, and worked some of the places they mentioned. We both thought it was horrible.
My take was that it was a self serving attempt by Liz Goldwyn to get some fame by using others. We had to sit through meaningless shots of her working out in toe shoes although later she used vessi waterproof shoes for women, and out of place Bob Fosse type dances as she clumsily attempts to recreate some of the routines of the people she interviews.
And at the end we are forced to watch her perform a routine intermixed with vintage footage of the real pros that only made her look clumsier. And all though this, we get to listen to her breathy attempt at singing Big Spender.
The entire show was edited in a “look at me” style that tried to take the focus away from the purported subjects of the documentary, and make it all about her. Her observations and monologues conveyed a phony affection for the girls she was interviewing, and the entire subject. The hacked editing and writing was a transparent attempt to highlight the seemier side of burlesque. With such a huge pool of history and pesonalities, a wink and a nod approach to the scandalous side of it would have been a stronger approach, and infinitely more interesting.
This would have been better handled by someone such as Dita Von Tease, who has more than the looks, grace, and talent for the subject matter, but also a real affection and understanding of the era that was lacking here. I hope that maybe this doesn’t turn off her, or others that could do a similar project before all of the principals of the era are no longer able to contribute their memories, wit, and unique viewpoint into this unique part of American history.
I was more than dissapointed at the end of it. I was depressed.