MTV's The Real World is often credited with giving birth to the reality genre, but that honor actually goes to PBS's late, pioneering documentary series An American Family (not to be confused with PBS's new fictional Latino drama). The 1973 saga followed a middle-class Santa Barbara clan the Louds through the mundane and sometimes terrible days of their lives. The second episode unexpectedly made television history when flamboyant Lance leapt out of the closet and declared that, yep, he was gay.
Well, on Dec. 22 after 18 years with HIV and 10 years with hepatitis C Loud died at the Carl Bean hospice in South Central Los Angeles. This past weekend, about 160 of Hollywood's trendiest gathered at Chateau Marmont for an outdoor memorial venerating the 50-year-old gay icon. Family, friends and fashion mavens focused on Loud's irrepressible exuberance and caustic wit.
Loud pal and current gay icon Rufus Wainwright flew down from Canada to perform several tunes at the service, including "Over the Rainbow" and a duet with his mother, Kate McGarrigle, on her big hit "Mendocino." "Lance supported and encouraged me," Wainwright told TV Guide Online. "He was a beacon. He did almost everything I ever wanted to do.
"He lived a crazy life," Wainwright added of the onetime crystal meth addict, who spent his later years toiling as a freelance journalist. "So I saw the road I could go down but he'd done it for me. It was a very valuable lesson. Now I see how important it is to take care of myself and do my work."Also attending the memorial were American Family creators Alan and Susan Raymond, who revealed that Loud asked them to film him during the last two months of his life. "He wanted to show what a truly loving family he had," said Alan, who plans to turn the footage into a PBS documentary. "It [will be] all Lance, all Loud... hopefully give people an idea of the kind of person he really was."