IMITATION OF LIFE: Trump Impersonates a Man


Those thinning lips, once pouty and plump… the wisps of brittle hair, colored and sprayed, teased and coiffed just so… the tailored jackets no longer concealing the pear-shaped torso balanced on ample thighs…

A light bronzer applied over a pancake of make-up layered on once-soft now-crinkled skin… sagging cheeks becoming one with the folds beneath the eroding chin… pruned and plucked eye brows, died to an unreal shade of blond, with a light eyeshadow to lighten the dark hollows with those squinty eyes..

Carefully lit for videos and rallies, but harshly revealed in daylight and by the cable paparazzi … the voice once cutting and forceful, now shrill and annoying… midnight ramblings of an uncensored Twitterer… the sniffles, the mispronunciations, the circuitous sentences and requiring prophetic interpretations from his minister of propaganda….

Like a falling star holding on to that image from long-ago, of power suits, charity balls, yachts and jets, gossip columns, champagne and cocaine, casino lights and disco nights…

We’ve seen the aging Diva many times in our lives. The Great Plains farm girl who became Lana Turner. Lucille LeSuer, working at the family laundry in San Antonio, who clawed herself into Joan Crawford. The Detroit Catholic school girl reinventing herself time after time after time, decade after decade, dancing away, our Madonna… .

Now it is Donald Trump, impersonating a man.

Almost gone as a candidate, Trump is now just another cliche for comedy, a character to be impersonated and derided in drag, like Charles Pierce as Bette Davis, or Charles Busch’s Chicklet, the Gidget-esque surfer girl gone bad in Psycho Beach Party.

Where it all began…

Once upon a time there was an insecure soft-skinned round-faced child with teddy-bear ears, a Clara Bow pucker and a buck tooth grin.

He had no identify, the forgotten second child in a paternal power family.

And there was the brother, 8 years older, dark, tall, handsome, the namesake Junior to the domineering patriarch, the one who got all the attention — grooming, schooling, cajoling, reprimanding, and humiliation. The oldest son in accordance with Aryan tradition, was to follow Meine Vater Frederick and lead the family enterprises to the end of the century.

There’s good attention and there’s bad attention. But worst of all for a child is no attention.

So the forgotten Donald became a 10-year old obnoxious, uncontrollable bully, the terror brat of the nuveau riche Tudor-facaded houses of Jamaica Estates.

He was sent to a military disobedience school and became more obnoxious.

Family wealth bought his admission to Wharton, and then it was off to Daddy Fred’s business, where government subsidies, middle income tax breaks, and non-union labor transformed the old Commodore into the Grand Hyatt, and built Trump Tower out of poured concrete. Baby brother Donald would taunt his older brother as he won the father’s respect.

Frederick Trump Jr., the family disappointment, was eventually driven from the firm. He died at age 41, an alcoholic, of suicide. When Frederick Sr. passed away, nothing was left for his oldest son’s family — an omission in the will allegedly inserted by Donald.

And the second son created himself in his own image. The hair, the suits, the trophy wife, the brassy and gawdy lobbies, the pout, the shout, the “art of the deal.” Donald gazed in a mirror and was pleased with what he saw. The image and the brand was cast in 1975.

Flamboyance, oversized casinos and under-occupied hotels, an airline grounded in debt, a football team bought and lost, the tacky Trump magazine suitable for a hotel lobby, wheelings and dealings and quagmires of bankruptcies took the Trump Organization from a successful family enterprise to a shady public offering and then to a series of bankruptcies It was slowly and quietly seized by debt holders, and survived as a closely-held corporation owned by secret multi-national and overseas investors.

Still, the Donald Trump Brand sells condos, golf clubs, gated communities, timeshares and glitz, mostly to new money and to those seeking safe places to hide. Throughout the bankruptcies, Trump continued his self-promotion as a dependably vulgar guest on raw radio and exploitation television. Someone dreamed up a comedy disguised as Reality TV, and sarcastically cast the bankrupt Trump as a successful businessman who fires them all on The Apprentice.

Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist. Sex is power. Love is not a question of affection but of possession. The trophy spouses come and go, like short-term investments, and after depreciation at age 35, the wife is divested to herself with alimony and a house and a social position as the Former Mrs.

The 1970s moved forward, but the image stayed there. The dashing disco hair-do became a byzantine barbering of lengths and comb-overs that conceals bald spots, implants, and those every growing ears.

As with the Father, so goes the Son. Donald Trump’s first three children were groomed and bred into three Mini-Me’s.

Donald Trump showed no interest in their childhood — that was the mother’s responsibility to groom and train her brood. As the first Mrs. Trump acknowledged, she raised her children to age 21, and turned them over to the man she may have once loved.

From there, the father taught his children the posture, the frown, the pouty lips and the speech intonations associated with the Trump Brand.

Never served in the military or done a day of manual labor. Never changed a spark plug or put oil in a car. Never climbed a mountain or jogged through a park, and never seen on a horse or shirtless on a beach.

No affordable homes, community centers or homeless shelters bear the Trump name in gaudy brassy letter .

Yes, he renovated Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park, but it was close to his real estate interests, while the Lasker Rink at 110th in Harlem languished.

So there he is, after nearly two years, still hawking himself, the biggest snow job of the century. His only visible supporters are a disgraced and bloated Governor, and a former Mayor who lost his grasp on reality.

Even the three Mini-Me’s, like back-up singers at the end of the show, are slowly stepping away from the spotlights before the final curtain.

The aging Diva stands alone before the cameras, to sing the swan song, cursing those who dared to ridicule, calling the critics and the awards ceremonies rigged, smiling benevolently at the few believers who still heckle below the footlights.

It’s a familiar parting scene… Close-up of Rita Hayworth dying from Orson Welles’ gun shot at the end of The Lady from Shanghai. Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall singing After You’ve Gone. Marlene Deitrich, age 72 and still glamorous, carefully lit in an almost transparent gown, alone on a grand European stage softly singing La Vie en Rose…

And Gloria Swanson… Norma Desmond, dressed in the evening gowns of her yesteryear, destroying her lover, and then she descends the stairs for her final close-up…

And this image from Florida… The tired 70 year-old Trump waves and slowly exits stage right. On the way out, Trump opens his arms and smiles, as if to embrace a loved one. Only it is a solitary US flag and flag pole. He wraps his arms around the flag, holds it closely, almost kissing it, and for a moment it seems he may begin to lead the flag into a slow dance…

The show is over. Let us pray, dear lord, that this show is over.
Tim Gay was an early Chelsea Boy circa 1980-2014. His writings on politics, gay life and society have been published in Gay City News, The Villager and other publications for two decades. Tim Gay and his husband, Bob Gibbons, go from Chelsea to a cabin in the Catskills, somewhere west of Mombaccus Mountain.

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