1991, NR, 103 min. Directed by Reno Dakota. Starring Jeffrey Strouth.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., March 26, 1993
Perched like a queen on her throne -- here, the back seat of a 1957 Cadillac -- Jeffrey Strough gives a royal performance in American Fabulous. Blessed with the gift of gab, the twentysomething Jeffrey prattles on about his life as a gay man with white trash roots as if the whole world were listening to his monologues. It's not an ego thing. Indeed, Jeffrey is not so much in love with his own voice as he is with the thought of entertaining others with it, something he does without fail in this funny little movie. Some of his tales try the limits of credulity, particularly one involving a punk rock lesbian, a Tupperware party, some potato salad, and oral sex. But these stories are so unbelievable that you have to believe they're true; nobody could make this stuff up. Although American Fabulous is unquestionably a testament to Jeffrey's picaresque life, there's little sentiment here. Whether he is recounting episodes from his dysfunctional family life during childhood or talking about the promiscuity and drug use of later years, his attitude is je ne regrette rien. The highlights of American Fabulous are those moments in which Jeffrey reminisces about the cast of demimonde characters he's known: the toothless “Mith Earl” who loved to watch Roller Derby, eating pizza with one hand and wiping her mouth with a roll of toilet paper in the other; the 400-pound drag queen Angie Marie, who had mismatched nostrils and a passion for polyester leisure suits; the tiny, wrinkled Marie, the waitress at the Golden Kettle restaurant “attached to a giant red hairdo”; and his dear ex-friend Nita Peters, a female illusionist who hasn't spoken to him since he accidentally burned her house down, “along with all her wigs.” Since the filming of American Fabulous, which was released in 1991, Jeffrey -- like so many others like him -- has succumbed to complications from AIDS. Consequently, American Fabulous is his legacy to the world, a world that didn't always treat him well but one that never ceased to amuse him.