Top Ten Divas, #8
8. Liza Minnelli
Like many people, I discovered Liza through the movie "Cabaret". I think I was thirteen, and my exposure to homosexuality was slight. I knew it was bohemian and slightly sinful, but it was a foreign land to me still, one I didn't want to visit. And then I saw Liza in this movie, watched the scenes with Sally and Brian and Maximilian rambling the streets and laughing, and even I knew something was going on between them that wasn't being said outright. And when they get to that scene in the car when Brian, tired of the complexities of this triumvirate says "Screw Maximilian", Sally responds "I do" and he finishes the conversation with "so do I"...an alarm went off. Just a faint ping, but it was there.
But mostly, I remember Liza. Her recklessness, her languid sexuality, her cockeyed optimism... It's that abandon, that need to give full out and make all of it (even the sad parts) sparkle with the light of a thousand sequins in your eyes, that encapsulates Liza Minnelli for me. There's no shame in her. She'll shimmy, kick, flail, open that mouth wide and let it all out in the name of giving a good show. It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be full out committed, and it always is The clip above captures perfectly her gift for building a scene through song and her for taking the audience on a journey so we'll believe everything she does even when it strays into the territory of "over the top". She's the poster child for dreaming big, and I always listen to her when I want to perk up my spirits or hear that voice in my ear saying "Yes, you can."