By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com May 18 2010 1:40 PM ET
It's virtually impossible to keep tabs on all the reality shows on T.V., but there's one currently on the WE network that separates itself from the pack, if only for the fact that its stars aren't overly tanned dimwits south of 50.
Sunset Daze focuses on a group of seniors living life to the fullest in an Arizona retirement community, and has produced a breakout star with Gail, a former singer/actress with hair as big as her heart. The former New Yorker is thisclose to her gay son, Cary Liebowitz, a hairdresser constantly rolling his eyes at her diva-like antics and her insistence on not changing her Ann Margaret-esque hairdo (which he constructs). Cary managed to convince Gail to attend a gay rodeo event, complete with oversize drag queens, and the only thing she took offense to was the treatment of the animals. Between perms and blowouts, Cary got on the horn with The Advocate to talk about his 70+ celebrity mom.
The Advocate: Is your mom really as fun as she comes off on the show?
Cary Liebowitz: She is a lot of fun — a little nuts, maybe, but fun.
She's always been gregarious?
When I was a child I used to go to department stores with her and she loved to embarrass me — she would talk to the mannequins and I would just die. She would walk down the street with me and all of a sudden just break into song. But she was always a lot of fun.
Did she have the same hair back then?
She's had the same hair, I hate to say it, since 1966. Different colors and different lengths, but same style.
Did you see her perform live when you were a child?
She was always performing, whether it was community theater or other performances. She did different functions; weddings and bar mitzvahs and things like that. And then for like 13, 14 years she sang with a big band at one of the restaurants on Long Island. So, I've always seen her perform.
Has your mom been single for awhile?
She's been single since she's been divorced [in 1966]; she's dated though.
Were you involved in show business
like your mom?
Yes. When I was 9, I was in the Metropolitan Opera
children's chorus, and then she got me enrolled in a theatrical school.
So, with that we used to have a, what they call the young vaudevillian
troupe, where we'd go to the Catskills and the Jersey Shore and
different places in Long Island and the City. A whole group of teens and
pre-teens would put on this vaudeville show. It was wonderful and I did
that until about 17, 18.
live in Surprise?
No, I live 67.3 miles from my mother's house. I
live in Chandler and work in Scottsdale.
What kind of clients do you have at your
I have clients from toddler to seniors, men and women,
From your experiences
in Surprise, are the seniors as gay-friendly as your mom?
ones I met, yes. I haven't encountered anyone being uncomfortable.
It looked like your
mom managed to have fun at the gay rodeo.
Much to her surprise she did have a good time. I didn't really know what
to expect; she was more concerned with the treatment of the animals
more than anything else. But once she saw that they were cared for, she
was fine. She really enjoyed herself.
Do you think you'll ever convince
your mom to change her hairstyle?
She'll have that hairstyle
until she dies. That's her signature.