Valentino’s Dolce Vita

After years of giving Vanity Fair readers an insider’s gaze into the personal lives of the rich and infamous, Matt Tyrnauer steps behind the camera for his first documentary film, the compelling Valentino: The Last Emperor.

BY Michael Joseph Gross

February 02 2009 12:00 AM ET

1024 VALENTINO'S DOLCE VITA PORTRAIT X390 (TALAYA CENTENO/WWD/CONDE NAST/CORBIS) | ADVOCATE.COM) | ADVOCATE.COM  

Though Valentino’s is the name above the title, Tyrnauer sees his movie as “a story about two people. I’m very interested in friendship and how people survive together, which is becoming more relevant with each passing month in this country, as we’ve been struggling with gay marriage and Proposition 8. People are in the streets shouting for something. They’re asking for the right to conform, and that’s perfectly legitimate, but there are other ways of making the journey, and I think this film shows one way of doing it, even though it might never be copied or reproduced.” Smiling, he adds, “Maybe the film should come with a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning.”

Matt Tyrnauer Valentino: The Last Emporer video promo 02 x300 (grab) | Advocate.com

Tyrnauer, a Los Angeles native (his father produced Murder, She Wrote, among other TV shows), studied film at Wesleyan University and worked in politics on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis before becoming a writer, first for Spy magazine, then The New York Observer and Vanity Fair, all under Graydon Carter’s leadership. He had no distinct coming-out experience (“Declarations of homosexuality to friends and loved ones always seemed slightly neurotic to me. If you want to bring a boy or a girl around and introduce them, do it,” he says), and he identifies with Gore Vidal’s evasive aphorism, “I never said I was anything. I’m ecumenical” -- although “it’s very time-consuming to take that stance now. It’s much easier to say, ‘Yes, I’m gay.’” (Vidal, Tyrnauer’s “dear friend and mentor,” will be the subject of his next documentary; he edits Vidal’s articles for Vanity Fair, and he is also the literary executor of Vidal’s estate.)

Tags: film

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