On June 3, HBO debuted its new drama Six Feet Under, about a family that owns a funeral home. We dug up a couple of funeral directors – Steve Baxter, who works with about 300 cadavers a year, and Josephine Dimiceli, who runs Dimiceli & Sons in Murray Hill – to talk about how true-to-life it was. We got together in her red-carpeted living room upstairs from the parlor, which she had decorated with Princess Di commemorative plates.
So what’s wrong? For one thing, funeral directors don’t wear carnations anymore. “Not since 1958,” said Dimiceli. They also weren’t pleased with the younger son embalming his own father. “There’s cowboys out there who say shit like ‘I’ll do my mom, I’ll do my brother,’ ” said Baxter. “But it’s not really true.” The closeted character didn’t sit well with him, either. “There are plenty of gays in the business, but a lot of us like the image that we’re really sort of manly,” he said, munching popcorn.
“I really don’t like how they show them making the arrangement,” Dimiceli said. “They make us look like used-car salesmen.” “Yeah, half the time it’s the family that takes advantage of us!” said Baxter.
But overall, they liked it and what it could do for morticians everywhere. “Some people, they won’t even shake my hand when they find out I touch dead people all the time,” Dimiceli said. “Maybe now they’ll see that it won’t kill ‘em.”