On my very first tour, in the ancient time of 1995, ‘Sunset Boulevard’ (the musical version) played a big part in inspiration and wardrobe. The drama-heavy themes of Norma Desmond, her unrequited love for Joe Gillis, and her insatiable love for herself, were a necessary training ground for campy excess and histrionic emotional warfare. On the surface, it was a diva’s delight – sumptuous costumes and accessories, fringed lamps, and a car upholstered in leopard – but going deeper there was a fractured and highly-sensitive soul tortured by the ticking of time, and the cold-uncaring eyes of “a world that passed her by.” Those eyes included those of Mr. Gillis, and for my last tour (soft opening August 1!) I am revisiting the Boulevard, only this time I’m not playing up the role of Ms. Desmond… not yet.
Sunset Boulevard, twisting boulevard
Secretive and rich, a little scary
Sunset Boulevard, tempting boulevard
Waiting there to swallow the unwary
Dreams are not enough to win a war
Out here they’re always keeping score
Beneath the tan the battle rages
Smile a rented smile, fill someone’s glass
Kiss someone’s wife, kiss someone’s ass
We do whatever pays the wages
Sunset Boulevard, headline boulevard
Getting here is only the beginning
Sunset Boulevard, jackpot boulevard
Once you’ve won you have to go on winning
This will be a full-circle tour. Back in 1995, I was very much obsessed with Ms. Desmond and her glorious staircase at 10086 Sunset Boulevard. At the time, I felt an affinity with Norma and her pining away for a man who didn’t love her, someone who was doomed by her own delusions of grandeur, yet frightened and scared of the world at the same time. She exhibited a brittle fragility somehow bound with steely strength and determination, and a belief in herself and her own charm that carried her through the long years of being left alone. It could not have been a happy life, but it certainly held a note of fascination, dark and morbid and hopeful all at once.
This time around I’m channeling Joe Gillis, who always paled in comparison to Norma’s fierce spotlight-seeking heat, but who carried his own tale of disillusionment and dashed dreams. In fact, his story may have been a little sadder – at least Norma reached those heights once in her life – Joe never got that chance to soar.
Sunset Boulevard, frenzied boulevard
Swamped with every kind of false emotion
Sunset Boulevard, brutal boulevard
Just like you, we’ll wind up in the ocean
She was sinking fast, I threw a rope
Now I have suits and she has hope
It seemed an elegant solution
One day this must end, it isn’t real
Still I’ll enjoy a hearty meal
Before tomorrow’s execution
Sunset Boulevard, ruthless boulevard
Destination for the stony-hearted
Sunset Boulevard, lethal boulevard
Everyone’s forgotten how they started
Here on Sunset Boulevard!
Back to Blog