Ahoy there! Is it me, or does Johnny Depp look exactly like John Galliano, the designer for maison Christian Dior? I’m referring specifically to Mr. Depp’s über -camp performance as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean . As I watched the lovely, kohl-eyed, foppishly costumed Johnny mince and mug through this fabulously diverting movie, I half expected Gisele or Naomi to vamp past him down the gangplank.
Mr. Depp, in an interview in the August issue of GQ , names the charismatically shriveled Keith Richards, not Mr. Galliano, as the inspiration for his hilarious, movie-salvaging characterization. I saw a soupçon of the Stones lead guitarist in Jack Sparrow, but far more of another, less well-known performer. Does the name Tommy Cooper mean anything to you? Probably not, unless you’re British.
Mr. Cooper, who died onstage of a heart attack in 1984, was a low-rent but hugely popular comedian across whom Mr. Depp might well have come during his tempestuous relationship with skinny scallywag Kate Moss.
The memory of his sweat-drenched performances lives on in the hearts of every English person and supermodel. His slurred working-class delivery and endless repertoire of startled facial expressions, so brilliantly aped by Mr. Depp, brought tears to the eyes of postwar Britain. The Cooper schtick consisted of bumbling magic tricks-he wore a Turkish fez -interspersed with hilariously bad jokes reminiscent of those classic one-liners that New York artist Richard Prince has been slapping on his paintings for the past 15 years or so, e.g.:
“A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only Clingfilm [Saran Wrap] for shorts. The shrink says, “Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts.”
“Two prostitutes standing on a street corner. One says to the other, ‘Have you ever been picked up by the fuzz?’ The other replies, ‘No, but I’ve been swung around by the t*ts a few times!'”
“Police arrested two kids yesterday; one was drinking battery acid, the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off.”
For more Tommy Cooper thigh-slappers, log onto www.mincedchicken.co.uk/tommy.shtml.
Back to pirates: My own personal obsession with those scurvy-riddled anti-heroes goes back some 20 years. I’m talking about the now incomprehensible New Romantic movement of the early 1980’s. Remember Bow Wow Wow, Steve Strange, Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant et al.? Needless to say, I climbed the rigging with the rest of these fashion freaks, embracing what came to be known as “The Cult With No Name.” U.K. friends knew they were assured of free board chez moi in Los Angeles if they bought me a garment or two from Vivienne Westwood’s pirate-themed store on the King’s Road.
I flaunted my extensive swashbuckling wardrobe at various L.A. haunts with names like the Veil, the Fake Club and Club Lingerie. Surprisingly, nobody beat me up. Au contraire , my ensembles caught the attention of a casting directrice, who gave me and a chum starring roles in Kim Carnes’ now-seminal “Bette Davis Eyes” video. On the day of the shoot, I and my excited prancing partner, whose name was Pinkie Braithwaite, got too drunk and loony to follow direction and were relegated to the back of the chorus. We can be seen slapping each other rhythmically in a couple of scenes, and it is my gloved hand, I’m proud to say, which beckons sinuously in the opening shot. Shiver me timbers!
Before you write me off as a tragic fashion fag, know this: The Met Costume Institute now has my Westwood pirate ensembles stored in flat files and acid-free tissue paper. Those brocade pants, voluminous lace-front blouses and tassled scarves are really valuable! The year I donated them, I got such a whopping tax deduction I was able to make the down payment on a co-op. So there .
Re piratey attire: Whatever you do-no matter how much you enjoy Johnny Depp’s performance-don’t try and dress your bloke up as a pirate, unless you want him to look like one of those goofballs from International Male . Talking of which, this month’s IM catalog has a great pirate shirt for $39.99, reduced from $54.99-a great beach cover-up for toi! Wear with Janice Savitt’s 18K yellow gold skull and cross-bones earrings ($700; call 1-800-3-SAVITT) and a lashing of “bad gal” kohl, $16 from Sephora.
Let’s end with an inspirational Tommy Cooper joke:
“So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me, ‘Can you give me a lift?’ I said, ‘Sure. You look great, the world’s your oyster, go for it.’
Smooth sailing, ye belly-crawling wharf rats!