Pop Culture

Behind the Candelabra: The Movie About Liberace You Didn’t Know You Needed

Bottom line: The is the best and saddest and sparkliest and most sexified Behind the Music… EVER.

The made-for-HBO film Behind the Candelabra debuted this past weekend and, if you’re able, I beg you to go watch it. Two thumbs up while wearing sequined gloves, Persephoneers. It stars Michael Douglas – yes, that Michael Douglas – as Liberace and Matt Damon as his long-time lover Scott Thorson. They are both amazing. And I bet you never thought you’d get to see Damon giving it to Douglas. Hey, if my dreams are haunted, so should yours be.

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I’m not gonna recap it so much as share some stats.

Terribly Scientific Facts About Behind the Candelabra

Sexy houseboys: 1

Number of times I’ve hence Googled, “How to get a sexy houseboy cheap”: None. Of course. Why are you looking at me that way?

Number of times I thought Damn, gay 70s Matt Damon is shockingly feathered, and also shockingly hot: 843598890.

Things my husband exclaimed: “How’d they do that?” (Regarding the amazing shots of Michael Douglas “playing” (?) the piano at about a million miles an hour. Seriously, it was amazing.

Number of sequins murdered to make Liberace’s outfits: Too sad a number to count. RIP sequin monsters. You died for vain.

Number of Emmys Michael Douglas deserves: At least 1.

First thing Liberace says directly after sex: “Let’s go shopping tomorrow!”

Best response when Scott told Liberace he was bisexual: “Well, good for you!”

Things I laughed at for a solid minute: The above. It was so cheery and sincere.

Best transformation of an actor: Rob Lowe as Liberace’s overly-plastic plastic surgeon. Wow. Just wow. It’s so good that Michael Douglas as Liberace is only in 2nd place.

Best diet: The California Diet, which consists of three different pill bottles. And I don’t think they were vitamins.*

* The California Diet is not endorsed by Persephone Magazine. Don’t do drugs, kids!

Number of people surprised when a nasty coke habit reared its sweaty head: 0

Scott Bakulas: 1, and his mustache was a thing of great and terrible beauty.

Surprising things with glitter/and or sequins on them:

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  • Liberace’s hair
  • A Santa hat
  • Matt Damon’s Speedo swimsuit (two different ones!)


Jumpsuits: 3

Caftans: 4

Jacuzzis: 3

Unfortunately ugly polyester pants I wished I owned: 4

Men clad in towels: 6

Top WTF moments:

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  • When Liberace wanted to perform a plastic surgery makeover on his lover Scott (Damon) to make Scott look more like young Liberace. No, for real. I guess it’s true what they say: Sequins corrupt, but sequin jumpsuits corrupt absolutely.
  • When Liberace wanted to adopt his lover. ADOPT. As in, adoption. With courts and such.


Best Liberace lines:

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  • “I’m gonna put you in charge of my wigs. I only do that with people I trust.”
  • “I was the first person in television to look directly at the camera.”
  • “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”
  • “I look like my father in drag!”
  • [After plastic surgery] “Can I close my eyes?” “Not entirely.”


Dream sequences of Liberace as an angel, complete with dancers bedecked in feathers: How I want to be remembered, except adding a unicorn.
photo credit: gwen via photopin cc

By Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull is a novelist, humorist, parodist, and all-around geek. Her new venture is THE SHITTIEST PRINCESS, a series of un-fair-y tales right here on Persephone. You can check out her sexy, fun romantic comedies at

11 replies on “Behind the Candelabra: The Movie About Liberace You Didn’t Know You Needed”

I’ve been considering unplugging cable and couldn’t even make the phone call until after this aired.

It was excellent. So good.

“After cooking and sex, I think shopping is the reason to get up every day.”

It was so straightforward, so truthful, so uncampy campy, so wonderfully unapologeticly queer – I just…I didn’t even delete it from my DVR because I know I want to watch it again.

Love. Just love.

Looking forwards to seeing this one, it’s getting a cinema release in the UK. I dunno if true but I heard that it wasn’t actually made for HBO, just Hollywood thought it was too gay too go on general release and that’s the reason it ended up straight to video/TV in the US.

This movie was 1000% flawless. I don’t even know where to start– the hair? The sequins? The casual dog shit-in-the-house lifestyle of Liberace? DEBBIE MFING REYNOLDS?

I admit that I am a little disappointed in not seeing Cheyenne Jackson and Michael Douglas hook up, but other than that, it was AMAZING.

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