Friday A/V Club

When Robin Leach Met John Waters

Friday A/V Club: Lifestyles of the Rich and Strange


The tabloids have always run on a mixture of envy, aspiration, resentment, and sheer camp. So when a tabloid veteran named Robin Leach started a gleefully garish TV show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, that's the sensibility he brought to his series. Well, maybe not the resentment—but if you were inclined toward that yourself, he'd give you plenty of material.

Leach just died at age 76, and I find, looking back, that I have much more vivid memories of seeing him spoofed on Saturday Night Live than I do of his actual show. (This is known as "the Tom Snyder phenomenon.") So I don't have much to say about the man's work. But I can show you the camp side of his program in full self-conscious bloom, with a segment he did on the filmmaker John Waters:

Waters gamely plays his decadent part, coming across as a combination of Andy Warhol and Vincent Price. But when the talk turns to Baltimore, he slips in a little Norman Rockwell hometown pride. "Hollywood's a great place that's built on insincerity and fake glamour and everything I believe in," he says. But "I live here because I'm inspired here….I wish everybody stayed home where they grew up. Think how great America would be. You'd go to Indiana to be on David Letterman, you'd go here to be— It would be much more fun, instead of just going to two cities."

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)