Colman Domingo pays homage to fabulous friend
Among the things delayed by the pandemic – vacation plans, the Olympics – have been mourning rituals. There were Zoom Shivas, IOU funerals. The tombstones were not visited, the ashes were not scattered. The reopening allowed late rites. This was the reason for a recent detour to the Lower East Side by actor Colman Domingo. The main purpose of his trip to New York – he was from Los Angeles, where he lives with her husband – was fabulousness. At fifty-one, Domingo has established himself as a fashion plate: evidenced by his bright pink Versace suit at this year’s Oscars. In New York, he attends the premieres of “The God Committee”, in which he plays a priest, and “Zola”, in which he plays a pimp. (Later this month, he’s in the horror movie “Candyman,” as a mysterious laundromat worker.) “They sent me this outfit, and I was, like, Sweet Jesus!” he told the Bowery Hotel, pulling a photo of his “Zola” outfit from the day before: Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print suit, rhinestone shoes. “I felt like it was a homecoming outfit in NYC. Everything tells a story, right? And that story was: concrete jungle. I don’t look tasteful anymore. I have to look like to a crystal ball.
Domingo is six feet two inches tall, with a growling voice that can range from soulful to sinister, an asset he uses to shape shift in films like “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “My Rainey’s Black Bottom”. He was wearing a navy blue jumpsuit and white Nike. “I’ve always strived to be effortless chic,” he said. He grew up in Philadelphia, where his stepfather sanded floors, his mother worked for a bank, and he wore his older sister’s Pro-Ked roses. He moved to New York City in 2001 and left for LA fifteen years later, after a shoot in Mexico for the zombie-apocalypse series “Fear the Walking Dead” left him yearning for the Pacific. (“I got soggy.”) He hadn’t been back east since COVID, and the city felt different – more like the ’80s, when he came back from Temple University and wandered the streets barefoot at night. “You just do shit like that when you’re young,” he said.
One of the reasons the city was different was that it no longer contained Ari Gold, the downtown gay pop artist and DJ, who died of leukemia in February at the age of forty-seven. He and Domingo became friends in 2008, when Domingo was on the Broadway show “Passing Strange” and Gold came to the stage door. “Immediately we could tell we were meant to be soul mates – bashert,” recalls Domingo, walking down Chrystie Street. In 2019, Domingo was in town to shoot “The God Committee” while Gold was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for a bone marrow transplant. Things were hopeful. Gold, whose aesthetic was disco-maximalist, decorated his hospital room with garlands. “Everything was gold and wings and sexy and weird,” Domingo recalls. Gold talked about starting a podcast, and Domingo suggested they start it right there, becoming the first guest on “A Kiki from the Cancer Ward.” Domingo saw Gold in person one last time in November, but his health had deteriorated. Their last conversation was on FaceTime: “I said, ‘Ari, when you’re ready to let go, it’s good'”
Domingo reached a brick building on Grand Street, where Gold had lived for twenty years. He wanted to pay him homage; also, Gold had left him ten percent of his “personal belongings.” “Maybe we’ll go shopping today,” Domingo said with a laugh.
Outside Gold’s unit, an old man with provisions saw him knocking on the door. “They were good people,” said the neighbor. “We met RuPaul through him.”
A woman in a bathrobe opened the door: an artist and former designer by the name of Delicia Glam, who had been Gold’s close friend and, towards the end, his caregiver. She had kept the decor intact: sequined cushions, gold mirrors, a wall of Wonder Woman figurines. “It’s just like he’s on a trip,” Domingo said, hugging her tight. He looked at a dazzled gladiator’s helmet and sighed. “My husband did this for him. “
“I’m always afraid to touch anything,” Glam said.
“There will be a time,” Domingo assured him, and he stroked a plastic crown resting on a Greek styrofoam chest. On his phone, he played one of Gold’s dance music videos singing, “You better bring your weather forecast with you.” . . lightning, glow and sparkle. . . . “
Glam cried. “How is he no longer there, Colman?” They entered the bedroom: Wonder Woman slippers, bracelets, a transparent Lucite canopy bed. “I used to say, ‘It’s a queen-size bed, honey,’” Glam said. “These pillows have not been washed.
Domingo rubbed one and inhaled, “I can feel it.” As he walked out he thought about what he might want as a legacy. “One of his flashy helmets, or a hat. Or a piece of jewelry, such as a bracelet or a ring. Something I can have on my person, ”he said. In this way, Gold’s fabulousness would increase his own. He ordered an Uber. “I’m probably going to have a loud scream later,” he said. ??