Paul Lynde made me the fag-hag I am today!
I'm only talking about the "classic" show, hosted by Peter Marshall, with Charlie Weaver, Rose Marie, Wally Cox, an assortment of fabulous stars ranging from Roddy McDowell (who I fell in love with on Hollywood Squares, another sign of my impending status as a Fruit Fly) to Vincent Price to Alice FREAKIN' Cooper. Old Borscht Belt comics, deadpan cop show stars, wacky sit-com leads and pop singers. Fur coats from Dicker and Dicker of Beverly Hills. (Talk about something we'll never see again.)
And most important Paul Lynde in the center square saying and getting away with subversive, perverse, kinky, hilarious gay innuendo, every weekday and once a week in prime time. And even when he wasn't being all that filthy, his whole personal was screamingly gay. I realize it's not the most PC or Social Justice approved depiction of gay people, but it clearly hit my early developing ID to the point that I still want my on screen slash to have a bit of Paul Lynde about it. To be sly and dirty, instead of mushy and sincere. (And let's not forget all the snark and innuendo being delivered by the other stars.)
This is a show I remember watching in the afternoons with my mother, sitting on the couch in our apartment in Washington Heights, so it might have been when she was working part time or maybe when she was going back to school to get her Masters so she could go back to work. So there's me and mom, watching all these fabulous stars being all cute and funny and apparently spontaneous, (even if "the stars are briefed to help them with their bluffs) and at the same time I'm getting the early seeds of my life as a slasher and someone who to this day is never more comfortable then when surrounded by a group of bitchy, campy, gay men. Plus I was learning stuff about politics and old movies and just weird trivia, making myself the Trivial Pursuit pain the ass that I'd become in the 80's.
Watching the clips now on Youtube, I'm getting the same feeling that I get now from the British panel shows like QI and Would I Lie To You, that the celebrities are genuinely having fun, and the the people involved, both the stars and contestants were actually intelligent people.
Thank you, Mommy for being home so we could watch it together and thank you Paul. I still miss you.