Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Boys Behind the Candelabra

Michael Douglas as Liberace
Wladzia Valentino Liberace was born 16 May 1919 at 23:15 in West Allis Wisconsin (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector: Steinbracher) with Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Leo. With Jupiter in Cancer, he was a well known Mummy's Boy and his shows always featured members of his family.

Saturn in Leo may seem odd for a man who became known for his stage persona--but he guarded his "real" character very carefully indeed. This was a man who clearly understood his strengths and weaknesses and knew exactly which side to face to the cameras. As I wrote in "Growing Pains": 

"Saturn in Leo children quickly learn where their strengths are — be it verbosity, sporting prowess, knowing who their allies are or understanding the weaknesses of their enemies. Once the battle has begun, there’s no stopping it until the metaphorical dead bodies are carried away." Saturn in Leo can also be extremely touchy about their hair: beneath his wigs, Liberace was completely bald. 

Interestingly, not only was he born with a caul but he was also a twin (the twin died at birth). He began playing the piano at his first Jupiter trine (in Scorpio) and commenced formal lessons at his first Saturn square (also in Scorpio) at the age of 7. His talents were obvious from the earliest stages.

Perhaps one of his most intriguing astrological features is Venus/Pluto conjunct his descendant.* The descendant tends to be the first signals the native puts "out there" and can in turn be the type of people they draw to them. Venus/Pluto is magnetic indeed; some people might even say hypnotic. His legions of female fans were perfectly fine to disregard his blatant homosexuality and focus on his flashy showmanship. He allowed fans to visit him backstage to touch his piano, his clothes and his jewellery. And he wasn't afraid to let his fans touch him through handshakes, kisses, hugs and caresses. His ostentatious costumes were worn so he could be better seen on stage (though one wonders how he managed to play the piano with so many clunky rings).  And no one could take their eyes off of him. Part of his charm may have also been due to his ascendant in Capricorn: his fans loved it that he was a midwest boy who worked hard and made it big.

Liberace also had a Sun/Mars conjunction on the "dreaded" fixed star Algol in the 5th house. Intensive entertainment indeed! A further example of the power he had over his fans.

As a musician, Liberace was highly criticised for altering compositions to suit his personal style "like showmanship topped with whipped cream and cherries." He flounced through Chopin, slaughtered Debussy and chopped up Beethoven and made them his own.

In 1956, a London newspaper implied Liberace may not have been the straight ticket. The exact words to describe him were: "…the summit of sex—the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. Everything that he, she, and it can ever want… a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love". Transit Uranus had just passed over his natal Neptune in the 8th house along with transiting Venus and Saturn. His response? "What you said hurt me very much. I cried all the way to the bank." He won the libel case. Liberace continued to mask his sexuality by fostering "romantic" links with famous women. As Saturn opposed Neptune's natal position 26 years after the libel suit, his male lover sued him for palimony.

Liberace's final television performance was 2 November 1986 at New York's Radio City Music Hall. A pre-recorded interview with Oprah Winfrey was re-leased on Christmas Day 1986. A final bow is  significant and how utterly charming Uranus was transiting his natal Moon and Neptune was crossing his ascendant when he said his public good byes to his still adoring fans. He died a few months later on 4 February 1987 with transiting Saturn exactly conjunct his natal Moon.

On 26 May 2013, Behind the Candelabra, a movie about Liberace's life starring Michael Douglas was released to a disbelieving audience. Michael Douglas was born on 25 September 1944 at 10:30 am in New Brunswick New Jersey (Rodden Rating: AA; Collector: Steinbrecher) with Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Gemini.

How would the ageing lothario portray the legend that was Liberace?

Well considering Douglas had his South Node within a few of degrees of Liberace's Venus/Pluto conjunction (and ascendant/descendant axis), he didn't do too badly at all. Michael's Moon opposed Liberace's Neptune and his Saturn opposed Liberace's natal Moon. It was a total role reversal for Michael. 

In his posthumous chart, Pluto had crossed over Liberace's ascendant and Neptune had transited his natal Uranus and transiting Uranus passed over his natal Chiron as filming took place. Perhaps most tellingly, transited Saturn had passed over his natal MC. Behind the Candelabra was a light-hearted glance at the life-long work of a man who used his Saturn in Leo to disguise his true self.

* Although not much of a television fan at any point in my life, I was enthralled by Liberace as a kid: my natal Mars is bang on his Venus/Pluto.

About the Astrologer

Alex Trenoweth is an MA graduate of the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology course at Bath Spa University (2007) and has gained recognition as an outstanding schoolteacher for her tireless and innovative education of adolescents. Her unique expertise in both astrology and teaching, coupled with ground-breaking research, led her to her write Growing Pains, a book aimed at helping parents and teachers support and guide young people into maturity. Alex’s articles have appeared in astrological magazines across the globe and in addition to her many writing accomplishments, she was voted “Best International Astrologer, 2015” by the Krishnamuti Institute of Astrology in India for the energetic presentation of her original and thought-provoking investigation into astrology and education. As of October 2015, Alex is on a world tour, lecturing on a variety of astrological topics and is enjoying meeting other astrologers from different cultures.  "Mirror Mirror" is a work in progress and will be published in 2016. All rights reserved.

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