Friday, October 30, 2009

Donnie Skiff Scholarship Fund

As many of you know, Don, (one of my readers here) lost his son Donnie earlier this year to a brutal and senseless murder. Don has remained very strong, recently facing his son's killers--and sitting through agonizing testimony about how Donnie was killed---in order to ensure that justice will be served in this case.

I am totally pulling for him, and so is his Pennsylvania community. They have organized a celebration of Donnie's life in a benefit concert on November 13. Since Donnie was a musician, all proceeds will go to the Donnie Skiff Wyoming Valley West Music Scholarship Fund....which will provide a scholarship to a young high school musician. If you can donate to this fund, please help make something positive out of this painful random act of violence.

You can make checks out to:
"Donnie Skiff Scholarship Fund"
care of:
Darce Lesko
404 Vine Street
Larksville, PA 18651.

Pumpkin Carving out of Control!

Hit the Boiler Room last night with Bam and Crazy Dan to carve some pumpkins for Halloween. People had been there since 4pm carving their hearts out and at 8pm they still were going strong. The more serious contestants brought in their own props. One guy had wood-carving tools and another had super glue. "He's put up a scaffolding around his pumpkin!" said Bam Bam, and I must say it was an intimidating sight!

It was also very sweet to see the whole neighborhood there. You know it takes a village when even the local drug dealer is carving pumpkins with you. Crazy Dan ended up making a very ethnic pumpkin with big hoop earrings he named "Sha-ne-ne". And when all the Jack-o-Lanterns were lined up for judging, and we witnessed the virtuoso carving skills of the masters, Crazy Dan whimpered, "Does this mean Sha-ne-ne is out of the running?"

The lineup beginning. I'm not even telling you which was mine!
Of course the wood-carving "lobotomy" pumpkin master took home first prize. The deep sea, pumpkin-seed scaled fish took home 2nd place, and they gave a special "honorable mention" to this guy named Joel. Joel had mixed feelings about his pumpkin's win. "Honorable mention?" he asked me. "Isn't that kind of like...Most Improved?"

Who cares? He got a free bar tab! Happy Halloween!

Gay News Show

My friend Mike has been putting together a website which acts as a portal for all sorts of organizations within the gay community of new york city. It also offers services for those recently diagnosed with HIV. He asked me to come in and do a news show for the site, so here's a Halloween edition.

I think it's way too much of me, and Mike got carried away with the green screen images but here's some fun things to do around the city and also a cameo with adorable fag hag Margret!

Let us know your thoughts and how we can improve!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SATC 2 photos from set!

Sex and the City 2! Let's just say I'd love to tell you all I know about the script and plot but they made us sign confidentiality agreements. Of course I signed mine LOUISE BROOKS, but I had such a fun time on set and the cast and the writer/director were so awesome I actually don't want to give anything away!

But here are a few photos. There were hundreds of extras for the gay wedding scene shot at Steiner Studios. It's this sprawling studio in nowhereseville, Brooklyn. Right on the east river. Next to some derelict military facility. Steiner Studios is huge and we spent many, many long nights there. It began to feel like home.

Kohl, SD, and me
The beautiful Romina!
Some gorgeous boys on set. These 2 played waiters. The one on the right was so sweet, we had a lot of laughs. Also most of young Broadway was on set---so it was not an unhappy set to be on!
Sometimes they kept us like cattle out in the tent. I couldn't have made it without my whacky new family: here with Kohl, Amanda, and SD who taught me all about life as a FTM tranny. We had so much fun together!
This old woman cracked me up. I thought she was this very hoity-toity lady but then one night, around 5 or 6 in the morning we're on set and I hear her say "Who do I have to fuck to get sent home?" And before I have the time to process these words coming from her mouth, she adds, "Is it the same guy I had to fuck to get this job?"
I loved her after that.

Look at those legs! This photo was taken around 7 am. We had been there about 17 hours and we had to get the shot done because the cast was leaving for Morocco the next day. Oh yeah. It is ALWAYS glamour on a movie set!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Masculine Halloween costumes for your Effeminate Son

This parody from the Onion is so spot on. And I agree with Dan Savage--it's somehow heartbreaking.

The author of "Actually, he's a boy"...offers tips on how to butch up your fem son at Halloween.

"If you want your child to pick a male-dominated profession, be careful not to pick one that has been co-opted by the gay community like a fireman, a cop, a cowboy. Otherwise they'll just end up looking like a stripper."

Check it out.

I suppose I should have ended up with the robot suit, "for the prancer" who skips delicately instead of walking. Funny thing is, I am going as a robot for Halloween this year. A hooker robot. A ho-bot. A prancing ho-bot!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aspiring Novelist?

My friend turned me onto this site--we're only days away---called NANOWRIMO. It's National Novel Writing Month! It begins November 1, and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. With a ton of other people from around the world who are doing the same thing! Who wants to write a novel?

From their homepage:

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

Apparently, they do it every year and every year it grows. It's totally free. From my personal experience I've found publishing a novel was not lucrative, but I do need a new creative project. What do I have to lose? So I consider....their goal works out to just over 2,000 words a day which is - if you don't know word count -- a bit more than double the length of my columns in OUT. Per day. Hmm. What would I write? Why would I write it? Dayum, I need a sponsor.

Or a kick in the pants.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hair on Broadway! Does it melt your butter?

Good hair day! What took me so long? I first heard about this production when it ran last summer off-Broadway, at the outdoor theatre in Central Park. On opening night, near the end, clouds opened up and pissed down rain just as the cast began singing "Let the Sunshine In". I know this because I bumped into some random guy who saw it and said it was the most spiritual experience he'd ever had. I love that!

So what took me so long to get up to 45th street? It's funny how living in NYC, I often get numb to all the truly amazing stuff going on here. I've been feeling kind of down and despondent, so a musical was just the lift I needed. Big thanks to my friend AJ who swept into town and took Bam and me out on the town to see HAIR!

The cast was excellent. Will Swenson brings quirky fabulous, utterly uncivilized things to the role of sexy Berger. Then of course is the openly gay Gavin Creel, who makes a fabulous Claude even though for the life of me I'll never understand the whole Manchester, England song. Like, why? Of course we forgive him that one, and also for the fact that I think both these boys are supposed to be...teenagers?

Ok---quick side story---when I was at the equality march last weekend, the whole cast of HAIR actually went down to DC to march as well (the show went dark last Sunday--how awesome are they?) and along the march I filmed this group of drag queens from Richmond, Virginia, who were taking a break right right in front of the White House. One of them, in her made up face and heavy southern drawl, hollers to my camera, "Gavin Creel....from the cast of HAIR? HE MELTS MY BUTTER." The secret service agrees.

In the show, probably the most beautiful song (if not the most exuberant) for me is Shiela's (Caissie Levy) lament "Easy to be Hard":

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who care about evil
And social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

It's super strong and poignant, and she sings it about her boyfriend Berger who's kind of a hypocrite to the hippie cause. In the movie, I think (do I remember right?) she is pregnant and comes home and he rejects her and the pregnancy. Good motivation to sing! He's so shitty!

But in the play she is not pregnant. Instead,she comes back and gives Berger this gift of a yellow polyester shirt. He tosses it around, and ends up ripping the thing in half. Then she launches into "Easy to be Hard". Hey writer, give this girl some motivation! I'm unsure (help me out?) if this is the way the show was originally written, maybe it's done to make Berger look not so shitty---but the movie definitely upped the stakes to lead naturally, beautifully into the number. Busting your gut with a heart-wrenching showstopper just because he tore up the yellow poly/rayon blend? Not so much.

Otherwise I really enjoyed it. Half the time of course I had no idea what was happening onstage, and though it's not 1968 and there is no draft (or hippies), of course there are parallels with today's wars (will we ever learn?) and just--damn--the not wanting to fit in. It made me think of so many tangential things such as the bizarrely ironic fact that so many hippies ultimately turned into money-grubbing conservatives. And how if that odd leap continues to hold true, I am gonna be one frickin' rich asshole if I ever get old.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Libra-Time

I'm not a big believer in astrology, but for some reason I've got a lot of Libras in my life. The ones I know are not so balanced as...easy going! Last week Cooldan celebrated his birthday, together with fellow Libras Sean and Jean-Manuel.

Happy Birthday, Boys!
Easy on the guyliner!
"Sexy". She's a party animal.
Sean monkeys around. Crazy Dan looks for an exit. I wear my sunglasses at night. At far right is another Libra. Chad's bday is today! HBD,C!

For some reason, the party this year was less populated than the last year's when we had a virtual party for Cooldan who wasn't even there! But it's nice to have him around, and listen to all his retarded wisdom. Out recently, he met this super-duper hunky model-handsome man who was too pretty to meet anyone. This led Cooldan to conclude: Ugly people and beautiful people both don't meet anyone when they go out, so they should just call it a day and hook up together.

Another year older, another year...full of it! Happy Birthday, Cooldan!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

DC - the equality march

I've heard from friends in Europe that yesterday's Equality March in DC got lots of coverage. Not sure how much we got here at home, but the thing was huge! I ran into so many people I knew, I caught up with friends who came all the way from Arizona, California, and Wyoming. Even the Screen Actors Guild was marching!

On Saturday night, I went out to a club that ended up being some kind of big bear party (?) The music was great, and even Lady Gaga appeared on a balcony at one point, bobbing around in her blonde weave and John Lennon glasses. She was also at the march, a very vocal supporter! One thing I kept noticing over and over was that this really was about "equality" and not just one aspect, like marriage. I also noticed more (and have been noticing more over the years) straight supporters. People with signs like, "Proud to be an ally" or "I won't get married until you can."

I was shooting video for, so I didn't get a lot of photos. Sorry!
Our Nobel Peace-Prize winning President gave another mesmerizing speech at the HRC gala the night before. How many times can he give a speech? How many times are we placated with a speech not followed up with hard action? I heard a very apt quote from someone in DC who told me something along the lines of, "The mark of a successful politician is the ability to disappoint their supporters at a rate they can absorb."

Oh, and did you hear what Barney Frank had to say? While I have my own doubts as to the real efficacy of demonstrations, he said it was a waste of time and that we should be lobbying our lawmakers instead. He said our march was only "putting pressure on the grass." Ha!

The march was more than a couple of miles, which is not recommended in cowboy boots!

My favorite sign had to be this one:
Show me some full federal! We passed right by the White House.
I'm not sure why the organizers couldn't organize to have us on the mall, but we ended instead at the capitol steps. There's only so much screaming from a podium I can cope with, but I did hear many of the speakers. One of which, Judy Shephard, echoed Barney Frank in saying that the President can't do this alone. The only difference is, she's doing both! Why can't we all show solidarity in a march, as well as pressure our lawmakers? Here's how:

Legislation has been introduced now to repeal DOMA, and also they're still trying to pass ENDA, which would make it illegal to fire someone because of their sexuality, and/or gender identity. Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your Representative. Then leave a message with your name, city, and say that you support the ENDA bill and why, and that you'd like to see DOMA repealed and why. Go on, do it!

Afterward, we went up to the deck of the W hotel with my friends Mich, Stephen, Bam and Cooldan for drinks and some incredible views of the city.

Obama lives right over there!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Equality or Bust!

This weekend has a great many men and women faced with a giant conondrum: go to the capitol for the National Equality March, or stay in New York City and see Kylie Minogue in her first US concert tour!? Yikes, what an unfair choice to be made!

Sorry Kylie, I'm headed to DC! Events in my own life in the last week have certainly made me more disenfranchised from this country; more fearful of the distance between its ideals and its reality. I look forward to marching for a reality in step with what our constitution has to say about individual liberties. Though I'm not sure what can or will be gained from a large scale demonstration (we saw how those stopped the Iraq war), it's going to be great to stand with so many others in solidarity. Let's see if Obama stands with us.

I hope to see you there!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Euthanasia is a RIOT!

If you think this is a re-post, you're almost right---but I've got exciting new details (and video!) from our would-be right-to-die patient, Jodi!

Worked last night on Sex and the City 2 set...and I wish I could spill the details, but they've muzzled us with confidentiality agreements. Let me just say that they've got a truly fun guest superstar in this scene! So since I can't dish on the film, let me dish on the life of a film "extra":

There's this one woman on set, Jodi, who cracks me up. She's in her 40's, and one of the extras (aka "Background") in this film. She's playing a lesbian, "Is it because I have short hair?" she wonders. On set, she kept muttering the following phrase, "Give me the GAS..."

Turns out, Jodi auditioned for a small part in an upcoming film called "You Don't Know Jack", which is a film about the suicide doctor, Jack Kevorkian being played by Al Pacino. And Jodi had the grand opportunity to audition for the illustrious part of one of Jack Kevorkian's dying patients. The one line she needed to utter, the last words to leave this character's body, were: "Give me the gas", whereupon the always accommodating doctor would promptly euthanize her.

Jodi went on and on about this part. She was perfect for it! She could play dying patient like no other. Imagine--euthanized by none other than Al Pacino! Caressed as she lay sucking the gas by none other than Susan Sarandon! It was the best part in the film---well certainly the best lines. In the lead up, her character bargains with the doctor, "God had his chance to take I'm going to him. Give me the gas..."

She wore no makeup to the audition, she dressed in just a white sheet. She almost shaved her head for it but thought that may be going overboard, and when she walked into the audition room, mopy and gaunt, to utter the immortal lines, "Give me the gas!" she was told by the casting director, "try it again with...less emotion", and so Jodi did.

Give. Me. The. Gaaaas...

The possibility of getting the gas from Al Pacino has Jodi breathless. She was on set yesterday mumbling all forms and intonations of:

"Give ME the gas"
"Give me THE gas"
" the gas"

...until at last I ask when this audition was? "Two months ago," she says flatly.

When I give her a look that says it may be time to stop dreaming, she says, "Yeah, my husband says I won't believe I didn't get the part until I watch the movie and don't see myself in it."

Jodi takes a moment before adding, "Isn't the life of an 'extra' pathetic?"

Actually, not at all. Jodi totally made my day.

UPDATE: We surprised Jodi on set yesterday, and begged her to give us another reading or two of the role that should be hers! Give her the gas! Watch it here:

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Moving On

Still feeling totally freaked out after last weekend. I think I will feel this way for a while. I'm really thankful for the organizations, elected officials, bloggers, and friends helping me out. I'm still trying to get the surveillance video from that night. Then there is the (always "anonymous") contingent of commentators who automatically assume I'm lying, or that I deserve violence for having mouthed off. Ugh.

Had to get out of the city! Bam and I went up to Bear Mountain with our friends Chad & Scott to check out the leaves, and do some apple picking. It was the best day of the year; not hot, not cold.

Look at them apples!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Police Brutality - New York's Finest!

Now I can add arrested in Grand Central Station to my resume.

UPDATE, APRIL 2010: Both disorderly conduct charges against me have been dismissed!

UPDATE October: thanks for all the response here, and also for the blogs who have linked here. From what it seems now: turns out this was not the NYPD. It was the MTA police department. Who knew, the MTA had a police force? I'm being helped by Erik at the office of speaker Christine Quinn. One of the main reasons I spoke up is because other people have spoken up in the past, so for future reference--if something like this happens to you in NYC, please contact:

Erik Bottcher
LGBT Community Liaison
HIV/AIDS Community Liaison
Speaker Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council
(212) 788-5646

Also the Gay & Lesbian anti-violence project: (212) 714-1184
Also the NYCLU, which advocates for your civil rights in NY.

On Friday night, I was walking back to the subway with my friend Stace, about 1:30 in the morning after a friend's birthday party at the Grace Hotel. We cut through the giant main room of Grand Central, and it was really empty so I did a cartwheel. The police called me over, and gave me a ticket for "disorderly conduct". A cartwheel! Are you gonna give every 9 year-old who does a cartwheel a ticket?

It was so unbelievable, and I let them know it. But when they were done issuing me the citation, I start walkinig toward my friend Stace who was waiting nearby. Facing him, not the cops, I utter an expletive about the cops, and next thing I know I'm being tackled by several policemen from behind.

The cops wrench my wrist back, handcuff me, and one of them has my head and is pounding it into the cold hard cement. I was not resisting, I was not fighting. I didn't even see them coming. They were simply going to teach this faggot a lesson! While my brains are being dashed, all I can think (besides, this shouldn't be happening!) was that this kind of injury is exactly how Natasha Richardson died. And here's the thing about having your arms behind your back and your head being smashed repeatedly into the floor of Grand Central Station by the very people who are supposed to protect you: the only thing you can try to do is move your neck from side to side -- so that the blunt force will cause more trauma to your head, than to your face. I blacked out.

Next thing I know I'm in a jail cell in my underwear. Why was I in my underwear? Why wasn't I fingerprinted, booked, or charged? My clothes are outside of this cell and I'm in there thinking if the cops can get away with this, they could make me disappear into one of those CIA web of prisons. I thought I was more in the Ukraine, than the USA. And worse, if I were a black person? I might have been shot.

In the past, I've called the NYPD a couple of times for help, and here's what happened: Once, outside my apartment on Avenue D, I was rushed by a gang of about 5 men trying to get into the building and, I presumed, rob me silly. I managed to get between the two entry doors to my building, put my back against the second door and smash the first door closed on the gangbangers, smashing one of their hands in the process. When the police came after I dialed 911, they told me these kids didn't want to rob me, they probably just wanted to "get onto my roof". That's what the NYPD told me! At the very moment they told me this, another guy walks by and says he was robbed by a gang of 5 guys at the entry of his building, and he described them to the police as I just had. So I ask the officer, "You still really think they were just trying to get to my roof?" And the officer says, non-chalant, "When they couldn't get onto your roof, they decided to go do something else."

Another time I called the NYPD after getting beaten in the West Village. When the cops arrived, they said no arrests could be made--no report filed, because my injuries would have had to have been much more serious. "We're talking lying unconscious in the street," one of them told me.

When there is no arrest made, when there is no report filed...there was no attempted robbery, there was no beating. No "incident" means it did not happen. Which means that NYC is so safe. Which means more tourists. Which means more happy re-elected mayor, more dollars.

But heaven help you if you do a cartwheel in Grand Central Station!

They let me out of jail at around 3:30 in the morning. I had two summons for disorderly conduct and a piece of paper saying I needed hospital treatment but refused. I learn later that my friend Stace was told by the cops to "get lost, or you're going in too" when he saw them take me down.

Once I'm out, I'm hysterically on the phone to Bam. There are cuts to my face, bruising on both sides of my head, ears, and wrist, and though I'm sure there must be good cops out there, the men who tackled and beat me down are the worst kind of thugs.

I can't help but think what they did to me was illegal. That maybe I still retain rights against such excessive force? And that every inch of Grand Central Station is covered by surveillance cameras.