"It still strikes me as strange that anyone could have any moral objection to someone else's sexuality.
- River Phoenix
It's like telling someone else how to clean their house."
In 1996 a short series of loving documentaries were produced by director William Parry that looked at certain famous people from the point of view of the gay community. In this series, that is collectively titled Celluloid Icons, one such progam is devoted to River.
In it, members of the public talk openly and honestly about their feelings towards River and the effects they feel he has had on their lives. Clips from the movie My Own Private Idaho are used to illustrate the program throughout and those interviewed describe their feelings for the movie and what it means to them.
Also, revealing a unique insight into the life of the show's subject is Abby Rude. She talks for the first time since River's death about her job as his personal assistant and describes just how River felt about a number of issues including gay-rights and sexual prejudices.
"The fan-letters that I would show him, especially the ones to do with Idaho, from people who had 'come out', were just very, very touching and really quite emotional and River was very touched by them and found it quite moving. The ones I remember were just saying, 'Thank you. I've come out. It wasn't as hard as I thought and you gave me the confidence to do that and my life has changed. Thank you.' "
- Abby Rude
Also interviewed is co-star from My Own Private Idaho, and inspiration for the character River played, Mike Parker. Smoking heavily and coming across as perhaps a little nervous, he recalls his memories of filming the movie in Portland during that winter of 1990. He also talks about his own life as a former street-hustler and how his experiences were used by River to create the character of Mike Waters.
Finally, the program looks at River's death and what impact the event had on those who are interviewed in the show.
The show itself only lasts about half an hour, but even in that short time, it becomes abundantly clear just what an important movie My Own Private Idaho is and what a pillar of support, strength and inspiration it has become to such an large number of people.