Lance and his Christmas pup featured on the Christmas day issue of the Eugene Register-Guard, Oregon, 1956.
The Loud family en route to Calgary, Canada, for a business trip with Bill, where a complete display
of Steifl stuffed animals were on display in the hotel lobby, Lance's favorites.
Lance Loud launched to stardom as America’s first reality TV star when PBS kicked off their groundbreaking 1973 show An American Family, today considered one of the twenty most important television programs ever broadcast. The pioneering, twelve-episode series documented the daily, Southern-Californian life of the Loud family over a span of two years, during which oldest son Lance came out as gay. His sexual orientation became a topic of national controversy and media scrutiny, but Lance didn’t shy away from the limelight. Positive and grateful feedback from the gay community led Lance to embrace his role as a reality star and gay icon with passion, flamboyance, and self-deprecating wit.
After the show aired, Lance moved to New York City and met lifelong friend Christopher Makos. It was Makos who conceived of the project that has resulted in Lance Out Loud (Glitterati Incorporated), a poignant collection of Lance’s mother Pat’s extensive photographs, writings, and artworks by Lance himself, along with recollections from many of Lance’s closest friends—David Keeps, Rufus Wainwright, Cherry Vanilla, and even Andy Warhol—creating a unique visual biography of a time, a family, a man. Lance Loud was a joyous and beloved individual who not only came to represent the gay community, but also embodied the creative spirit that fueled contemporary art, music, and literature. Short as Lance’s life was, it is one that continues to resonate to the present day.
The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has acquired the papers of Lance Loud and the Loud Family, which contain photographs, publicity material, and clippings field-related to An American Family, personal papers, writings, and some correspondence. To celebrate the acquisition, Timothy Young, Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts and Kathryn Lofton, Professor of Religious Studies, American Studies, History and Divinity, will host a conversation with Pat and Delilah Loud on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 4:00 pm at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511. The event, which is free and open to the public, will cover some of the background of PBS’ An American Family, talk about Lance’s life and career, and discuss how the television show continues to be a touchstone for so many people.
Considering Lance Loud's immediate and lasting appeal across generations, Victoria Graves explains in the book's afterword, “Lance is distinguished because he was a paradox, beautiful and ugly, superior and humble, a loner and social butterfly, ultra-private and a world-class gossip, an oozing, sweaty, romantic and bitter-acid realist, an avant-garde, a misfit, yet traditional in so many ways. He was lighthearted and free, yet deliciously melancholy and morbid—until that got boring, or the phone rang.
"I believe only a person of paradox truly embodies the real essence of life with all its contradictions and complications. We all have them, of course, it's just that Lance would invite you to share and bare his soul as he modeled his newest 'fave' outfits--music blarin'. The picture that appeared in The New York Times Magazine, where we are dancing wildly, says it all. I laugh, thinking how Lance would have laughed that our picture was huge when Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell's pictures looked like a footnote in an era they epitomized.
"Lance loved a good laugh. I remember when Lance and I went to the dreaded Studio 54 once to attend Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' party. We were late and did not go in the VIP door as instructed. We just went instead to the front door. When we got there the doorman stopped us and told us to wait. The crowd yelled out to Lance, 'Tell them who you are! Tell them who you are!' But Lance didn't budget and the now concealed doorman tried to stop us from leaving, yelling out, 'Hey, wait, who are you?' Lance just beamed one of his fuck-you-Cheshire-cat grins and as we got into the cab to race back downtown, I heard someone say, 'That was Lance Loud!'"
Indeed, it was. Because there was only one Lance Loud, and his presence and energy touched so many lives. Pat Loud aptly describes Lance as “The Master of Mischief." In the book's introduction, she writes, "Lance was a gift. Difficult and unpredictable, he did everything I told him not to, do. Yet, being with him was usually such great fun that I’d forget that he was the master of mischief. His interests were many and varied and the enthusiasm he brought to each was contagious. Explaining him is like trying to capture the will-o’-the-wisp.
“Alanson Russell Loud was born on June 26, 1951 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California. He immediate made his arrival known with high-pitched, ear-splitting wails that prompted one nurse to say I named him well because he had a voice that pierced like a lance. That voice was never really stilled until his death on December 22, 2001. Of course I hear it now and always, always will.
“When Lance was four, he wanted a horse for Christmas. He was a dedicated fan of the TV show ‘Davy Crockett.’ His favorite clothes were a Davy Crockett suit and a coonskin hat. All he needed was the horse. For us, this was an impossible request, so we got him a kitten instead. He promptly named the kitten Horse and was as happy with that cat as if it had been a seventeen-hand destrier. Then there was the time just before Easter that he told his weeping brothers and sisters that the Easter bunny was dead.
“Lance loved his family and friends, all music except disco, with a special passion for rock and roll and Rufus Wainwright’s music. He loved Andy Warhol, thrift shops, wind chimes, yard sales, Doris Lessing, and talking on the telephone. He collected records and books. He loved Latin men. He loved cats and cloths and riding on his motorcycle. He loved to sing and eat and knew every taco stand in Los Angeles County. He loved movies and pop culture. He was a gifted swimmer and juiced piles of fresh vegetables every day.
“When he became ill, someone asked him if he believed and anything. He replied that yes, he believed In baked goods. I think that what he was really saying is that he believed in life itself. Like many gifted people, we was pursued by his own demons and turned to drugs to keep them away.
“It seems to me now that he had a premonition that his would be a short life because he crammed so much into it. He simply jumped into the world with fearless enthusiasm and disregard for his own life. He liked living on the edge. He had a quick wit and engaging charm that drew people to him. He was highly opinionated, not always right, and possessed a huge vocabulary that served him well. If there wasn’t a word for it, he’d make one up. He once told me that he hoped I wouldn’t become ‘hagular’ in my old age.
“He could be and often was witheringly sarcastic. His riotously funny sense of humor saved him from being overbearing. He was so beautifully human and courageous. He is still a forceful presence in our lives. Lance Loud was a gift. All mothers see their children as exceptional, and I do too. However, in my case it happens to be true. Parents are not meant to outlive their children. I miss him every day and always will.”