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Lesbian chic, part deux.

We've arrived. The postmodern lesbian: not totally butch d not totally lipstick chic but definitely demographically desirable--and Showtime's banking on it, big time. It's called The L Word. That's right, folks, L for lesbian--say it loud, say it proud. We're about to become as common as that household phrase Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

An entire show of gay ladies--not just dykes-in-training like Buddy, the tomboy in Family (Kristy McNichol, 1976) or the plain-Jane middle child (Jan Brady--c'mon, with those braces and a closer relationship with Alice than with her own mother?). And let's not forget the network fiasco of trying to convince us that Ellen was straight before making TV history by allowing her to come out.

Trust me, The L Word makes it all look like an early Wang computer. We're talking a full hour of real characters, real situations.

As a television writer and practiced party crasher, I've gone to premieres before, but the party for The L Word last month felt different. From the minute I walked down Wilshire toward the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I felt the energy of something big. As I passed the block-long queue of shiny black limos, I saw people hurriedly making their way up the stairs. Usually the "premiere walk" is more of a cool saunter, but these folks seemed excited, giddy.

And yes, Showtime pulled out all the stops, even providing the traditional red carpet. It was a little Astroturfy and short, but it was jungle red and lined with the flash of paparazzi as the show's stellar cast began to arrive. I could've sneezed and exposed a hundred agents, managers, and studio execs to nay post--New Year's cold--a lesbian dirty bomb.

Wait a minute: "Deja vu," you say. "What about the early '90s?" Yes, a decade or so ago "lesbian chic" was on the cover of New York magazine, and Vanity Fair dared to put Cindy Crawford shaving k.d. lang on the cover. So haven't we been through tiffs already?

Yes, we have. But that was then, this is now. We have to remind people how cool we are if they're not actually hanging out with us. You know, out of sight, out of mind--"don't ask, don't tell." Which reminds me: I'll bet ray last dollar that President "Don't Ask" Clinton will be watching this show. Try to keep up, Bill, because I'm telling: Finally, in 2004, television--the cash cow of media--has found a way to harness lesbian chic in a new show about life, love, laughter, and a lot of beautifully shot sex scenes.

But, you may ask, is it all just a ploy to pick the pockets of straight guys with the lure of two women in bed together? If so, how is that promoting our so-called gay agenda in a positive way?

Believe me, I too thought about this as I sat watching those love scenes on the big screen ha a capacity crowd of the Hollywood elite all of them so engrossed you could've heard a pin drop. Even I, a 20-year lesbian veteran, was impressed. Those Showtime folks did it right. They hired executive producer Ilene Chaiken to create an honest show, and then cast a bunch of talented actors.

Say it reaches, like, a million viewers. Maybe one of them will be my brother the youth pastor, who hasn't spoken to me since I've been out ... or my father, who prays every day that I will come back to Jesus.

I say kudos to Showtime for such a provocative venture. Sure, there'll be naysayers claiming that it's just an updated version of the stereotype of two blonds with bad perms and Lee Press On Nails having sex the same story with better hair and shorter nails. If that's what works for you, fine, because there's also a lot of depth to Otis show, mad whoever chooses to tune in, for whatever reason, will get more than they bargained for. Humanizing us can only help disarm prejudice.

The L Word tsunami is coming. And you'll either balk and dive under it or paddle like a crazy person and catch it all the way into shore. Lesbian chic or lesbian geek, bring it on. I'm ready for my close-up.

Nielsen has written for The Naked Truth, Brother's Keeper, and other TV shows.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:my perspective
Author:Nielsen, Kate
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 17, 2004
Words:723
Previous Article:Corrections.
Next Article:Rants & raves.
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