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Disco queens act their age


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Disco queens act their age

The Sun-Herald

They're older, they're bolder and they're very, very sexy. Welcome to the brave new world of Forty and Fabulous - the revolution has begun and it's being televised every Monday night.

Channel Seven's Desperate Housewives has broken down the gates of the Beverly Hills Home For (Alleged) Old Hollywood Hags and shown its inmates to be just as sexy as young starlets. The show is rewriting the rule book on how Hollywood sees women of a certain age and turned ageing stars like Teri Hatcher, once thought to be box office poison, into born-again sex symbols.

Of course, the marketeers already have a quirky name for this glamorous subgroup: DISCO women. They're Discerning, Increasing years, Stylish and Comfortably Off. Who wouldn't want to be in their gang?

"It's not just about the bright young things any more," says model agency boss Peter Chadwick. "It's all about the Fab Forties now. These women are in the prime of life and there's room for both. "[Desperate Housewives] is changing everyone's perceptions of what to expect from a 40-year-old woman."


Liz Hurley

Next month marks the latest addition to the DISCO dance floor, Liz Hurley. Sit down now. Breathe deeply. That's it. Liz. Hurley. 40. If it's hard for you to believe, think how it must feel for her. "I'm having a bit of a midlife crisis," she admitted recently. The very personification of modern-day glamour is growing old - but in a glamorous Gucci-and-Versace kind of way, natch dahling.

Hurley has no plans to hide herself away, nor cover up those curves that made her famous in that dress 10 years ago. She's now designing swimwear - and modelling it, of course.

Even just a couple of years ago, the idea of a quadragenarian in a bikini would have horrified Hollywood.

Yet despite a combined age of almost two centuries, Desperate Housewives' Hatcher and co-stars Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Nicolette Sheridan and Eva Longoria just did a raunchy swimsuit cover for Vanity Fair magazine. "These women would be beautiful at any age," says Australian casting consultant Ann Fay. "It's fantastic. But women these days are looking much better for their age than they ever used to. "It really annoys me when people say it's all over once you hit 40. Go to the gym and eat well and you can carry on forever. Forty is just a number."

As the Che Guevara of this revolution, Hatcher is the hottest thing in Hollywood, but she candidly admits she's no spring chicken any more. There's no wrinkle rancour though.

When she recently found what turned out to be a harmless cyst under her eye, she proudly reveals: "I was asking my doctor how I got it and finally he just said, 'Teri, it's just a barnacle of age'."


Teri Hatcher.

Hatcher wears her years like a badge of honour and challenges viewers to find fault. She regularly lays herself bare for scrutiny in the show with nothing but skimpy lingerie or a handful of leaves to hide the signs of ageing. "It's brave of her to do those scenes, but she looks a million bucks and she knows it," adds Fay. "She's very confident about her body, and with good reason."

Elle Macpherson and Madonna, founding members of the DISCO club, blazed the trail for others with their willingness to show off the flesh other women their age try to disguise. Even at 42, The Body Corporate recently admitted she would still happily get her gear off to pimp her lingerie line - and there's not a single bloke who wouldn't be grateful for that. "She still looks amazing," admits Chadwick, her former agency boss. "She's incredible and really she's the poster girl for the 40-plus generation. I am sure the industry attitude to women of that age is going to change. These women have a certain maturity that makes them very sexy indeed. Desperate Housewives has come along at a good time when there are a lot of women in that age group. They are very attractive, well-groomed and stylish, and I am sure they would love to see women like themselves on the catwalks and on screen."

And there's an impressive queue of celebrities waiting to join the figureheads of the Forty and Fabulous club.

The line-up of A-list 40th birthday parties this year is staggering. (The TV in 1964 must have been rubbish. Or was it a really cold winter?)

Linda Evangelista, Diane Lane, Brooke Shields, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Famke Janssen are among the year's many other Big Four-Oh birthday girls.

Sandra Bullock, who turned 40 last year, proved she is a bigger crowd puller now than ever with the success of Miss Congeniality 2, Evangelista still headlines fashion shows and even Brooke Shields is doing huge business starring in the stage version of Chicago.

Lane just scored her biggest box office hits yet, Janssen starred in the blockbuster chiller Hide And Seek and Davis has five projects under way including a major new TV series. Meanwhile, Sarah Jessica Parker is still talking to herself in a really annoying way.

In previous years, they would have given it all up a long time ago. Before Desperate Housewives, there were only desperate actresses wasting away on Hollywood's scrap heap. "There was a very definite cut-off to an actress's career," says Fay. "You could have men in their 50s or 60s, but their romantic lead would be in her 20s."

Once an actress hit 35, they were pulled from view and destined to a future of cartoon movie voiceovers. After the plastic surgery scars faded, they might hope to land a role as a loveable granny.

Even in the 1990s, sex siren Sharon Stone's career ground to a halt when she hit her late 30s. Despite critical acclaim for Casino, she never landed another lead role in a major movie. But Stone was just one of the many casualties who crashed into Hollywood's actress age barrier. History is littered with them.

Now Desperate Housewives has caused a sensation and the future for actresses apparently reaching their end of days has been transformed. "You can see it's changing already," adds Chadwick. "Look at Revlon - they've just signed up Susan Sarandon to front their latest ad campaign and she's 58."

It's all just a reflection of society, though, it seems. If you thought Desperate Housewives was just another TV show, you were wrong. It's a sociological sensation, apparently.

"The 21st century is going to be a revolution in dealing with ageing in our lives and society," explains Professor Vincent Minichiello of Armidale's University of New England. "It's not surprising that Hollywood has latched onto the idea. There's a huge and growing market out there that simply isn't interested in 18- or 19-year-olds. "We have to reclassify all our ideas about age. Life expectancy has increased dramatically and if you're 60 with another 30 years of life ahead of you, then you're not old.

"What might have recently been regarded as middle-aged is now not. Forty really is the new 30. Huge advances in technology, cosmetics and health mean we can stay looking and feeling younger for much longer. We are in the middle of something that is completely reshaping our society."

For some, though, the change has come too late and the ageing process has been harsh. Debbie Harry, 60 this year, was already secretly near her show-biz death age by the time Blondie hit the big time in 1979.

When she tried to stage a comeback a few years later, the one-time sex symbol was savaged for being fat, old and sweaty.

It drove her to desperation at the time but now Harry is more philosophical. "Some people are really concerned with getting old, and other people are really concerned with getting on with living. What do you think is most important?" she said recently. "Growing old sucks. But you can either let yourself get miserable about it or you can find something that makes you feel good. When you see somebody in the street that's older and got that spirit, I think it's a turn-on, right?"

Finally, Hollywood agrees.

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  • 3 weeks later...


There cannot be a Diva thread without my idol, Tina. And Thank heavens She does Not act her age! I want to be like Tina when I grow up:-) Or at least LQQK like her when I am her age. Have you ever seen a 66 year old look this good?! WOW.


When I am asked who I would most like to meet, my answer is always " Tina Turner. She is my Diva".

She was born Anna Mae Bullock to tenant farmworkers in 1939 and escaped poverty only to become a victim of domestic abuse by her husband Ike. Today she is living a very serene and happy life in France. She has recently released a double cd "Tina" and is better than ever. Long live Tina!

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Guest ranster627


Tina is one of my all time faves! I love all of her music and I love her zest for life!

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I literally ran into her at the Dallas Airport! I had one baby in my arms and 2 hanging onto a luggage cart and we ran into eachother! She was so apologetic.. I felt guilty for upsetting her. She ended up carrying the baby for me to my gate. Uhmm my brush with fame:-)I was speechless and only after she had left did I utter the first words other than.."Its ok..really its ok.. I mean it is ok.. really..really ..ok..ok?"

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