Slick photographs make actors bigger than life

Fame wouldn't be as potent a drug without the shiny, happy art of magazine photography. The images by such pop photographers as Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts and Matthew Rolston empower slick magazines to make actors into idols, to elevate a pout into an attitude, to turn greasy, clumpy hair into the rage. With their styles and colors and poses and props, these pictures help to define American cultural moments, not to mention sell a few products.

Performers such as Demi Moore, Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Marky Mark have benefited from thecovers, Ms. Moore's reputation might be more as a working actress and box-office draw, and less as a movie star. Marky Mark, now doing business as actor Mark Wahlberg, has also gained an following the


More drag

In the April Details, following the footsteps of Howard Stern, Mr. Wahlberg does the that old drag thing, donning a blond wig, heavy red lipstick and cockeyed fake lashes. Even if it isn't cutting edge anymore, drag is still a sure attention-getter, a visual magnet, especially when the wearer is so butch he has a prison record and a history of rolling " Irish construction workers who'd just gotten paid" in Boston. In the article, Mr. Wahlberg, who refers to himself as "The Kid," is typically candid with writer ,, Erik Hedegaard, sharing his disgust for a certain sexual act and his fascination with certain bodily functions.


Also quotable from Details: Eric Roberts praises his younger sister, Julia. "She's an OK little broad," he concedes.

Wide angle

Vanity Fair is magazine photo royalty, of course, and it can make even the most transient stars look pretty happening. The April issue features a huge photo essay on Hollywood '96, which is similar in breadth to recent VF portfolios on British actors and TV stars then and now. They are a pretty lot, with fun concept shots of Dustin Hoffman as Salvador Dali and Gene Hackman as a pirate, as well as a reunion of cast members from the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." Also, topless views of Nicolas Cage and Antonio Banderas, as well as an oddly bodiced Faye Dunaway.

Martin at mid-life

Esquire for April has some creative shots of a lovelorn 50-year-old Steve Martin, including one of the comedian inside a Hopper painting called "Excursion Into Philosophy." The piece, by Martha Sherrill, dwells almost obsessively on his mid-life crisis, with the divorced Mr. Martin musing endlessly about "the whole man-woman thing," his attraction to women who are sweet and kind, and his immersion in pop-psychology books like "Getting the Love You Want" and "How to Survive the Loss of a Love."

At home with the stars

The quintessential Hollywood dream may be a photo of a star posing in the den of an epic home, or by a decadent swimming poolis a "Hollywood at Home" issue, catching celebrities past and present where they live, which may or may not be where they really live since stars' homes look more like furniture showrooms, don't they? Anjelica Huston's stark Venice, Calif., abode, which was designed by her husband, sculptor Robert Graham, seems to have just fallen from the moon.

Ms. Huston's spare structure makes a strange contrast to the more elaborate star homes of yesteryear. Jayne Mansfield's pink palace on Sunset Boulevard, for instance, is an embarrassment of kitschy cool. The television room has copper-lame curtains and an alarmingly large bear rug, and the heart-shaped bathtub is quite a kick. Ms. Mansfield's "Red Leather Office" would make you bleed at the eyes, with its red-leather walls, red carpeting and red ceiling.


Pub Date: 3/24/96