Doug McCorkle is a married accountant who always wanted to be a rockstar. He just decided one day, he was going to pursue that dream and when he reached retirement age, dumped life savings and pure willpower into it and dived in headfirst. It doesn’t matter that when the mostly sedate narrative about Doug and his transformation doesn’t lead him into worldwide fame. What matters is that most of us spend our lives doing things that don’t make us insanely happy. We indulge in the ho-hum doldrums of a nine to five job. We put our biggest desires on the backburner or on a bucket list that is never checked off. Doug is the type that spent his working life crunching numbers day in and day out. His wife, who he adores, battles with her mental health. I’m an Electric Lampshade takes you on a trip, because “everybody wants to be somebody.”
“Age is Not the Limitation You Think it is”
His coworkers smile in a bemused kind of pitying way when news of his mission is laid out. There is little fanfare during his first performance that is neither good nor bad. It’s just that middle-of-the-road type of thing similar to when you see someone at karaoke who isn’t half bad.
Doug hits the gym, loses a few pounds and it’s easy to say this is purely to begin raising the self-esteem that has been stifling this dream for some time. He talks to a voice coach who tells him to practice and he’ll have the range that makes him stand out. Then he goes to Mexico City.
Written and directed by John Clayton Doyle, I’m an Electric Lampshade tunes into that “road less traveled” ideal. Doug has chosen an unconventional and surprising journey to embark on. The documentary hybrid takes liberties with formal conversation mostly in the form of Doug’s thoughts and feelings. There is a brief encounter with a gig for an advertisement about honey yoghurt as he learns the ropes of what being in the industry is really like when you first start out. More importantly, Doug immerses in the culture with people like himself. People who are simply passionate about performing and for one reason or another haven’t made the cut.
Let Your Hair Down
Doug takes drugs and begins a weird eclectic bypass of his initial form as a clean-cut rock music singer. I’m an Electric Lampshade is almost like his motto for being and he slowly emerges from rebirthing his identity. Despite the inherent dorkiness of watching a 60-year-old man try out several different types of on-stage persona, the film is riveting most of the time. Doug is a straight man but grasps onto the LGBTQ+ bones of his core and runs with it. His ability to seamlessly transform into a myriad of looks, movements, and performance art was awesome to watch transpire. The messages, sentiments, and heart truly shows through in this film.
The final show is a bizarre concoction of what Doug builds up along the way. He pulls a large crowd, changes his look many times to highlight what he is all about. There is even an incident of a crazed fan who ambushes him on stage. Whether this moment is pre-planned or not doesn’t really matter. It’s the moment he has lived for his entire life.
I give I’m an Electric Lampshade
4 you’re never too old to do what you love out of 5
Screening throughout Sep/Oct in New York (Sep 23) City, Mammoth Lakes (Sep 23), and San Diego (late October)! For more information, the official movie page.