Most people would agree that a woman looks her best on her wedding day. Not because she’s finally caught a man, but because all the attention is placed squarely on her. As gay men, we can’t help but be jealous. What could be better than being the bride?
The glories of bridehood will be the focus of the Slice network series Brides of Beverly Hills
, a Canadian show made by a Canadian broadcaster about Americans in Los Angeles. “Slice has always been a destination for viewers seeking outrageous wedding content,” says the network’s senior vice-president of content, with no trace of embarrassment. The show stars Renée Strauss and Kevin Lee. Renée runs the most fabulous bridal-gown boutique in Beverly Hills, called Renée Strauss for the Bride. Kevin is a floral designer and event coordinator. Both were in Toronto recently on a press junket to launch the show, which airs Thursday nights at 9:30pm.
“I call Kevin and I ‘Sigmund and Freud’ instead of ‘Siegfried and Roy’ because so much psychology comes into play,” says Renée as we coo over expensive bridal gowns at Sarah Houston’s eponymous shop at 25 Hazelton Ave. We gawk at one magnificent dress. Sarah says the most expensive dress she ever sold was $18,000. “Isn’t that a lot to pay for something you wear only once?” I ask.
“But what a once!” Renée interjects. “As for the groom, he can show up in his underwear.” That Renée. She’s full of good ideas. In her 30-year career, she’s dressed hundreds of brides and worked on TV and movies as well. Celebrity clients include Paula Abdul, Shannen Doherty and the Jenny Craig family, but she says celebrities generally don’t spend as much and expect to get things free.
Kevin’s claim to fame is that he was the model for Martin Short’s flamboyant wedding-planner character in Father of the Bride
. Twenty years ago he started his company LA Permier and his floral designs are really quite spectacular. I hope they will be showcased later in the season, as he doesn’t do much on the first episode except catch a bouquet and shout “Fabulous!” Other than weddings, he’s designed arrangements for the Emmys, the Oscars and Frank Sinatra’s funeral. He tells me that the most expensive wedding he’s ever worked was $8 million, but if he ever were to get married, he would spend more than that.
Sarah’s Yorkville shop is not featured on the show, and more’s the pity, as it is gorgeous, particularly the white wood floors imported from Germany. “My mother would not allow me to buy Barbie doll clothes,” Sarah explains. “She just gave me fabric and said, ‘Start making them yourself.’ So I also made my graduation dress, and all my friends’ graduation dresses, and then all their wedding dresses.” As a designer, Sarah is inspired by the textiles. “It’s not just the purity of white or ivory, but also the silks.”
To be honest, TV shows like Brides of Beverly Hills
are not my cup of tea. There aren’t any real emotions — or real faces — just a lot of vulgar rich people. The brides and their bridesmaids and maids of honour are all hideous, with those plastic-surgery duck-lips on endless display. When I watch it, I want to set everyone on fire. But I know a lot of gay men love divas and train wrecks and overspending, so some of you may enjoy it. Which brings me to the next logical question: will Brides of Beverly Hills
ever feature gay couples? “Not this season,” says Renée. But she herself once did a lesbian wedding with 11 bridesmaids! As I admire one of Sarah’s magnificent gowns, the organza and bling blinding me, I wonder aloud why two drag queens have never decided to get married wearing such stunning outfits.
Now that would be an episode of Brides of Beverly Hills
Photos by Drasko Bogdanovic