American Fabulous

A film by Reno Dakota  

Anonymous in Mandate magazine
April 1993

The hands and feet dangling out of the window of this gunboat Cadillac belong to Jeffrey Strouth, the flamboyant, chain-smoking star of American Fabulous. The film follows this master raconteur as he spins his recollections of a whirlwind past, while sitting in the back of a big-finned Caddy and occasionally visiting the sites he's describing.
And what a harrowing, quirky, hilarious tale he has to tell! Raised in a chaotic family dominated by a brutal, alcoholic father (a mobile home salesman and part-time Elvis impersonator), Strouth learned to survive by turning tricks as a teenaged hustler in Ft. Lauderdale. His first gay friend was a toothless transvestite named Miss Earl. Another friendship- with a four hundred pound drag queen- was lost when, high as a kite, he "accidentally" smashed a speeding car into her apartment building and burned it to the ground.
Nothing in Strouth's tales is ordinary, and some of it is extremely moving. For example, his detailed account of funeral preparations for his sister, a suicide. He coiffed, gowned, and made her up like a movie star, strewing rose petals in the coffin, thus delivering an elegant touch of comfort that had eluded her in life.
Strouth's reminiscences are fascinating because they are honest and truthful, yet gilded with wicked humor. American Fabulous is, in fact, a celebration of the rare, lost art of storytelling. And of Jeffrey Strouth himself. Characterized by the New York Times as "a tough Southern queen who takes no prisoners," Jeffrey Strouth died of AIDS on Gay Pride Day, 1992. Director Reno Dakota's award-winning film serves as a raucous, loving memorial. It'll leave you warmed by it's magic- like the burning glow of a stiff shot of bourbon.





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