Sylvester is too big for 15 minutes. Sylvester is too big for an hour. Sylvester commands a mini-series – a 10-part 10-hour Netflix series with cameos from Dolly Parton and Paul Stanley is the only storytelling vessel that could contain a human being like Sylvester.
But in the meantime, 15 minutes is what we get and this short film about the dynamic singer and performer and LGBTQ icon is available free right now on YouTube.
“Love Me Like You Should: The Brave and Bold Sylvester” is a short film from filmmaker Lauren Tabak and writer/consulting producer Barry Walters and released by Amazon Music.
In the briefest way possible, Tabak and Walters spectate Sylvester James being brought up by his grandmother and “fabulous” mother, remembered by his sister Bernadette Baldwin. The main focus here, however, is on the socio-political meaning of Sylvester – a queer black pop star who ascended to the top of American culture in a way that, as Billy Porter notes, has never been done again (not least of all because of the backlash).
Given the staging, it looks like at least a few of the on-camera interviews were shot during the pandemic – among the people interviewed include Martha Wash, James Wirrick (a highly unsung producer, musician and writer and co-writer of “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”) and more. The vintage photos and film are eye-popping.
Being presented by Amazon Music, it could wind up yanked and dropped in the mothballs at any moment so if you want to watch this you should probably watch this now.