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|Chicago area residents, especially those living in the Loop may long have been familiar with the
colorful sight of Vincent P. Falk, the man known as “Riverace” who is to be found every spring through
fall at his post in the middle of one of the Chicago River bridges, garbed in his signature, vivid suit
twirling and waving his jacket over his head to tourists on the myriad of passing tour boats.
What led this middle aged gentleman to engage in this simple act that has delighted thousands day
after day for so many years? Where do those suits come from? How can he afford them? Most
important, what makes a guy like this tick? Director-producer Jennifer Burns, a Chicagoan making
her filmmaking debut, presents a lot of answers in the delightful documentary Vincent: A Life In
Color. The film is a light hearted portrait of a true individual – one who has dealt with an array of
daunting physical and social challenges growing up (a legally blind orphan, raised in an Irish Catholic
household who also happens to be gay) and who emerged blissfully triumphant.
The film, however, is a tad heavy on the local media’s embrace of Falk as their eager mascot
(especially in their repeated musings about why Fashion Man does what he does) and a tad light on
explanations from the man himself. Nor does Vince reveal what decisive moment led to his one man
fashion shows or much else of a personal nature. We see lots of co-workers, the boss, a few friends
and neighbors, who discuss the public Vincent but of the private individual, not so much (and when
the fashion shows stop along with the tour boats for the year, so do the cameras except for a brief
glimpse of Vince on his balcony – what does he do with his time all winter we wonder?). His gay
sexuality (revealed late in the film when we discover his past as a DJ at various Chicago gay bars)
was a source of conflict with his adopted parents but we learn nothing of his private life today.
Given the dearth of personal detail offered by the subject himself in Vincent: A Life In Color it’s no
surprise that the movie begins to feel repetitious but it may have been part of Burns’ intention to
purposely omit these explanations and allow an air of mystery to continue to surround this
effervescent, yet elusive oddity whose very presence on those bridges day in and day out in his hot
pink, tamale red, lime green, or fuchsia colored suits is a testament to individuality and
The film opens Friday, May 7 at the Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State St.) for a one week run.
Burns and Falk will be present for post screening Q&As throughout the opening weekend and will also
attend an after party at Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse (318 N. State Street) which includes cocktails
and hors d’oeuvres following the Chicago premiere of the film on May 7 (Tickets for the gala
screening/after party are $100).