After a spot in the West Coast production of Hair and a virtually ignored album with his band Pidgeon, Jobriath was a down-and-out nobody. Everything changed when Jerry Brandt, Carly Simon’s first manager, heard a demo tape and vowed to make him a star, but an over-the-top publicity push including everything from full-page ads in Vogue to a huge billboard in Times Square quickly turned into an Icarus move. (Flying too close to the sun also meant burning out before anyone could properly acknowledge his glow.) By the time his 1973 debut LP came out, everybody already seemed to have had enough of Jobriath.
It didn’t help that his shows were often sloppily put together, or that the album’s baffling overproduction buried Jobriath’s voice. Retiring in 1975 after a mere three years in the business (“emotionally damaged and flat broke,” as the documentary puts it), he would reinvent himself as cabaret singer Cole Berlin in early ’80s New York, before dying from AIDS-related complications in 1983. Jobriath AD is a tragic, loving, and intimate tale of how damaging overhype can be, and a deserved tribute to one of glam’s best kept secrets.