Legendary songstress Connie Francis appeared in Fort Lauderdale last Friday to promote Memorial Day Weekend events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of her classic and cult beach flick, Where the Boys Are.
Ms. Francis—an American and malt shop icon—has had a love affair with her gay fans and admirers for decades. She has even been quoted as saying that the Boys movie is,“The gay national anthem.”
Her youthful and tender recordings are a time capsule of bittersweet teenage romances.
For gay men, songs such as, “Where the Boys Are,” “He’s My Dreamboat,” and “Who’s Sorry Now,” are as compelling today as they were when they premiered.
Mr. John McLaughlin, who is producing the event for Connie has been spending weeks in South Florida preparing for the event. A friend of Ms. Francis for 20 years, he was contacted to promote the Memorial Day Weekend festivities.
Stated McLaughlin: “I have met with the Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, and we are all gung ho to celebrate the anniversary of the movie.”
One of the forthcoming events will be a Connie Francis look alike contest. Ms. Francis has used that vehicle in the past to support GLBT issues.
Yes, we loved seeing Ms. Francis return to Fort Lauderdale Beach in a hot pink Cadillac, surrounded by even hotter male models, in vintage attire.
The boys were sponsored by Hot Spots Magazine, and the only thing missing was the Marlin Beach Hotel, the internationally famous gay hotel where many of the movie’s scenes were filmed. The Marlin Beach Hotel closed sometime in the 1990’s.
The event will nevertheless be a boon for South Florida’s gay tourism venues.
Joseph A. Van Eron, who among other things is owner of the Liberty Suites, developer of the first GLBT Task Force for Florida Tourism, and president of the Dania Beach Tourism Council has long believed that, “to attract a gay market you need to understand the culture and history of the gay community.”
Mr. Von Eron served on the New Jersey Tourism Commission from 92-95, and “had the opportunity to meet Connie there.”
The main event, sponsored by Fort Lauderdale over the Memorial Day Weekend, will be Connie Francis’ Great American Beach Party. This event, according to both Mr. McLaughlin and Von Eron, will be “more nostalgic” of an experience.
Fort Lauderdale, which has spent the last decade trying to distance itself from its Spring Break past, is now celebrating its former glory as a mid-century destination with this event.
Ironically, Where the Boys Are, is the film that brought Fort Lauderdale from a sleepy, beachside community to Spring Break heaven.
Asked how it feels to be back in Fort Lauderdale, launching a commemorative party for her film’s anniversary, Francis beamed that “It feels great; Fort Lauderdale is home to me and I am happy to be back here.”
In addition to the Great American Beach Party, Von Eron indicated that more gay specific events will be announced in the coming months, which tie in to the big planned party.
These events, Von Eron promises, will bring, “Gay heads to gay beds, and gay dollars into our gay businesses, while reinforcing that Fort Lauderdale is the premiere gay destination in the United States."
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