LORELAI: Okay, I think we just found the first room in the history of the world that would’ve made Liberace say, “Whoa. Step back. No one’s that gay.”
Władziu Liberace, known professionally as Liberace (1919-1987) was an American pianist, singer, and actor. A child prodigy, he had a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television and film. At the height of his fame, from the 1950s to the 1960s, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world, with residencies in Las Vegas, and an international touring schedule. He was known for his flamboyantly excessive lifestyle, earning him the title “Mr. Showmanship”.
For years, Liberace denied allegations he was homosexual, successfully suing publications that hinted at his sexuality (hence his famous catchphrase: “I cried all the way to the bank”.) He continued denying them, even when his chauffeur and former lover sued him for palimony (it was settled out of court). He died of AIDS, having been diagnosed as HIV positive 18 months previously, with other of his lovers dying of the same illness.
LORELAI: Hey, whatever happened to Xuxa?
Xuxa – pronounced SHOO-sha – is the stage name of Maria da Graça Meneghel (born 1963), a Brazilian television host, singer, dancer, model, and businesswoman. She began modelling as a teenager, and became known in the US during the 1980s as a Playboy model.
Xuxa became a highly successful children’s television entertainer in Brazil in 1986, and by 1991 she was on the Forbes Rich List – the first Brazilian to join the list. Her albums were best-sellers through Latin America, Europe, and North America, and in 1993 she hosted an English-language version of her show called Xuxa on US television. Although the show was sold around the world, the taping was gruelling, and Xuxa withdrew due to stress-related illness.
Because she disappeared from US television in the mid-1990s, Lorelai wonders what happened to her. However, Xuxa has continued her career, and is still very successful; she is the richest t female entertainer in Brazil with a fortune of over one billion, and the second-highest selling female Brazilian singer. Twice winner of the Latin Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album, she is known as “The Queen of Children”.
RORY: Why don’t you go to a wedding dress place and try a real veil on?
LORELAI: No way.
LORELAI: Too much taffeta, it gives me cotillion flashbacks.
Taffeta is a smooth plain-woven fabric made from silk. It is considered a luxurious fabric suitable for ball gowns and wedding dresses.
In American usage, a cotillion is a formal ball, often for presenting debutantes to society. However, Lorelai is most likely talking about cotillions as a class for younger girls, perhaps aged 10 to 13, to prepare them for their future debut in society. Such classes teach social etiquette, followed by a formal party where they put what they’ve learned into practice. We later learn that Emily teaches these classes, and probably taught Lorelai when she was younger.
LORELAI: Everything about me repulses that man [Luke]. My coffee drinking, my eating habits. Remember when I called him Ranger Bob last week? He hated that!
Lorelai may be referring to Forest Ranger Bob Erickson (Jack De Mave) from the family television series Lassie, which follows the adventures of a long-coated collie dog, and aired from 1954 to 1973.
The show was inspired by the 1943 movie Lassie Come Home, about a dog who travels from Scotland to Yorkshire to be reunited with the boy she loves (Roddy McDowall), based on the 1940 novel of the same name by Eric Knight. Sequels followed, and so did appearances by Pal, the dog who played Lassie, at fairs and rodeos throughout the US in the 1950s. All the subsequent Lassies were played by Pal’s descendants, and like Pal, they were all male.
Ranger Bob was from the years between 1964 and 1970 where Lassie helped the US Forest Service, with Bob Erickson becoming part of the show in 1968 as one of Lassie’s carers. Ranger Bob worked alongside Forest Ranger Scott Turner (Jed Allen), but it would be perhaps too self-referential for Lorelai to call Luke “Ranger Scott”, as Luke is played by Scott Patterson. Calling Luke “Ranger Bob” may have been referencing his healthy outdoor lifestyle and love of camping.
Reruns of Lassie were shown on Nickelodeon from 1984 to 1996, and the show is still on American television today.
LORELAI: You are not sleeping through this.
RORY: Through what?
(Lorelai walks over to the bed and leans over her.)
LORELAI: The freaking Blue Man Group is outside our house!
The Blue Man Group is a performance art company founded in Manhattan in 1987 by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. What began as a series of “street disturbances” by a group of men wearing blue masks became a series of shows combining music and art held in small clubs, and eventually a full performance at the Astor Theatre in New York in 1991, which is still on-going.
The Blue Man Group have gone on a number of concert tours, and released several albums. At the time this episode went to air, The Blue Man Group were booked to play live in Las Vegas, which continued until 2005. The Blue Man Group eventually went international, and in 2017 were bought by Cirque Du Soleil.
Interestingly, Nathan Wetherington, who played Dean Forester in the original Pilot episode, was the drummer with the Blue Man Group for two years.
RICHARD: The girl [Rory] obviously needs some peace.
EMILY: How do you know that?
RICHARD: I can tell.
EMILY: Oh, you’re a mind reader now, how nice. We’ll get you a turban and a little booth by the train station.
Emily may be referring to coin-operated fortune telling machines, which display an animatronic figure in a glass booth which dispenses fortunes, either on a little card, or in a recorded voice. Her description of a turbaned figure sounds rather like the Zoltar fortune teller which appears in the 1988 film Big, starring Tom Hanks. Although created for the film (and based on the real-life Zoltan fortune telling machines), since then there have been Zoltar machines made to resemble the one in the movie.
Fortune teller machines are usually in amusement arcades or at fairgrounds, but in times past there were sometimes machines designed to tell your fortune at railway stations (often combined with weighing you at the same time). No doubt the idea was that people hanging around waiting for trains had time to kill, and spare change. These kind of fortune teller machines are still widely available at train stations throughout Asia.
LORELAI: Rachel invited me … to look at some pictures … And go through your underwear drawer.
LUKE: Where is she?
LORELAI: Freezing your bra.
Wetting a girl’s bra and putting it in the freezer overnight is a common prank that girls might play on a sleepover.