×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel

Ostensibly based on an autobiographical "true story" and the like-titled play by author-thesp Leslie Jordan, "Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel" emerges far more redolent of composite fiction cliches -- running the gamut from Tennessee Williams to Hubert Selby Jr. -- than it does credible experience. The fault lies somewhat with execution that remains stubbornly theatrical, despite some game performances and design contribs; but even in a more fluid package, this mix of camp comedy and bathos would seem artificial. Prospects are slight for what plays like a retro tears-of-a-gay-clown vanity project; in any case, pic's stagy nature is better suited to the small screen.

With:
Storyteller - Leslie Jordan Miss Make-Do - Erin Chandler Tripper - Mark Pellegrino Nico - Carlos Gomez Young Storyteller - Luke Eberl

Ostensibly based on an autobiographical “true story” and the like-titled play by author-thesp Leslie Jordan, “Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel” emerges far more redolent of composite fiction cliches — running the gamut from Tennessee Williams to Hubert Selby Jr. — than it does credible experience. The fault lies somewhat with execution that remains stubbornly theatrical, despite some game performances and design contribs; but even in a more fluid package, this mix of camp comedy and bathos would seem artificial. Prospects are slight for what plays like a retro tears-of-a-gay-clown vanity project; in any case, pic’s stagy nature is better suited to the small screen.

The framing device finds Jordan’s protag (unnamed beyond “The Storyteller”) whisked away by ambulance, having OD’d. Waking in a small, all-white room, he proceeds to brief God (a single spotlight) how he came to this sorry end. A brief childhood flashback shows a precocious lad (well played by Luke Eberl) already in lust with the local “bad boys,” to his parents’ distress. The narrative then skips forward three decades, when Storyteller — now a swishy, pint-size, middle-aged drama queen evidently self-modeled on Truman Capote — finally left his family home for 1976 Atlanta, whose exploding gay culture then pegged it as the “San Francisco of the South.”

Kicked out of a bar for typically soused and stupid behavior, Storyteller finds himself cooling heels alongside a fellow misfit he dubs “Miss Make-Do” (Erin Chandler). A vivacious blonde on the run from a debutante past and frosty socialite mother (Michelle Phillips), Miss M. broadens protag’s substance-abuse palette to include a vast array of recreational drugs. Their supply bankrolled by her stripping gigs, the duo become inseparable partymates, sharing a room in the titular Chelsea-like hotel otherwise populated by hustlers, drag queens and miscellaneous outcasts.

This idyll, such as it is, grows shaky when Miss M. takes up with a coke-dealing boyfriend (Carlos Gomez) as possessive as he is paranoid. Tossed out, Storyteller finds his own unstable protector in the form of Tripper (Mark Pellegrino), a classic rough-trade type — ex-con, sometime pimp, uneducated, tattooed, muscular, heroin-addicted, gorgeous, violent, etc. — who’s hetero yet treats protag as “my little doll.”

Their platonic-soulmate relationship, played out in what appears to be a basement garage, slows already talky, indulgently paced narrative to near-stasis, until mutual overdose on “bad dope” sends Tripper to the morgue and Storyteller to the hospital.

“My God, why has thou forsaken me?” he cries to the spotlight-deity, who must be pretty bored by now. However faithful to personal experience this saga may be, Jordan badly overestimates the interest and sympathy his alter ego’s whiny victimhood can generate. We’re meant to find Storyteller bright, charming and sensitive, but neither writing nor performance is winning.

Before it collapses into protracted postures of drug-addicted and unrequited-love despair, pic is tolerable, if seldom inspired, as another trot through ’70s lifestyle excesses.

Chandler, doing a Teri Garr number as vulnerable ditz Miss M., infuses so-so material with considerable comic spark and nuance; Pellegrino works hard to make Tripper more than a one-dimensional Outlaw Stud fantasy. Supporting perfs are variable, with most guest names (John Ritter as a priest, shrill Sheryl Lee Ralph and amusing Kathy Kinney as two pushy nurses) limited to brief, broad turns. Faring better are thesps playing the Hotel’s eccentric denizens, yet promised down-and-out ensemble comedy never develops.

First-time feature helmer Julia Jay Pierrepont II gives lenser Sacha Sarchielli leeway to super-saturate the lighting, and even move the camera once in a while. That aside, “Hotel’s” rhythmless pacing, attenuated scenes and derivative, theatrical verbiage seem barely translated from stage to screen.

Production design and costumes do eke considerable ’70s-kitsch mileage within an otherwise stilted low-budget package. Dan Gilboy’s routine synth score is abetted by some great rock tunes — including Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done” and the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for My Man” — that nonetheless underline action in the most obvious manner possible.

Popular on Variety

Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel

Production: A Pierrepont Prods. and Pershing Point Prods. presentation. Produced by Julia Jay Pierrepont II, Erin Chandler. Co-producers, Grant Gilmore, Elizabeth Carney. Directed by Julia Jay Pierrepont II. Screenplay, Leslie Jordan, based on his play.

Crew: Camera (color), Sacha Sarchielli; editor, Ila von Hasperg; music, Dan Gilboy; music supervisor, Jonnie Barnett; production designer, Cecil Gentry; costume designer, Chantal Thomas; set decorator, Alyssa Coppelman; sound (Dolby Digital), Al Sameul, Derek Luss; assistant director, Grant Gilmore; casting, Lisa Paldone, James Paldone. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, May 31, 2000. (In S.F. Lesbian & Gay Festival, Seattle Film Festival.) Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Storyteller - Leslie Jordan Miss Make-Do - Erin Chandler Tripper - Mark Pellegrino Nico - Carlos Gomez Young Storyteller - Luke EberlWith: John Ritter, Marilu Henner, Michelle Phillips, Kathy Kinney, Arthur Hiller, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Patrick O'Neal, Kris Kamm, Jesse Petrick, Adam Wylie.

More Film

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes. When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had [...]

  • Jonathan Van NessLos Angeles Beautycon, Portrait

    Jonathan Van Ness Reveals HIV Diagnosis, Former Drug Addiction

    “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness is getting vulnerable in his new memoir “Over the Top.” In a preview of his book with the New York Times, Van Ness opened up about his early struggles with sex and drug addiction as well as his experience with sexual assault, revealing that he was abused by an older [...]

  • 4127_D022_00003_RC(l-r.) Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Dominating 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo' With $31 Million Opening

    “Downton Abbey” is heading for a positively brilliant opening weekend after scoring $13.8 million in domestic ticket sales on Friday. If estimates hold, the feature film version of the popular British television show should take home approximately $31 million come Sunday, marking the biggest opening ever for distributor Focus Features and beating previous record holder [...]

  • Gully Boy to represent India in

    'Gully Boy' to Represent India In Oscars Race

    The Film Federation of India has chosen Zoya Akhtar’s “Gully Boy” as its entry in the Academy Awards’ international feature film category. The picture, a coming of age tale about an aspiring rapper in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum premiered at the Berlin film festival in February before opening to a wave of acclaim at home in [...]

  • Lucy-Lost

    Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

    TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number. Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose [...]

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content