Monday, November 23, 2009
Dreamgirls...at the Apollo! Chester Gregory as James "Thunder" Early was awesome, and wow, what an Effie! Moya Angela knocks it out of the park as the indomitable headstrong, hurting ex-Dream. The rest of the production felt like a national tour (I am sure it's about to become one), and I wasn't wild about the costumes, the panel set, or the new song "Listen" (from the film version) which they turned into a duet bringing Effie back to Deena and the fold.
The audience seemed to like it, though, and I must say anything is better than that, "When I first saw you, I said..oh my" tune that keeps on coming back like a bad smell. It's amazing to see this or anything at the Apollo Theatre ("The bastion of African-American Culture and Achievement") where Ella Fitzgerald won one of the first "amateur nights".
My black culture on-stage education continued with FELA on Broadway. This show officially opens tonight, and follows AfroBeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was a musician and activist from Nigeria. I've never seen such incredible color and dancing. Sahr Ngaujah as Fela has the charisma and stamina to pull off what must be the most exhausting role on stage today.
I could've done without the audience participation, and the set felt more House of Blues over the bayou than actual Nigeria. Fela also isn't quite sure if it's a concert or a historical biopic (they either need to add more story or remove it all), but for a message of continuing the struggle and the sheer exuberance of a music and dance that's never been to Broadway before - check it out.
Carrie Fisher in her one woman show, "Wishful Drinking". I read the book in half an hour, so I was thrilled to see it come to Broadway. Carrie is a self-deprecating riot, beginning with the tale about waking up in bed next to her gay friend who was dead. She goes hysterically on about her family "After the death of her husband, my father rushed to Elizabeth Taylor's side, and quickly worked his way to her front", fame "Celebrity is just obscurity biding its time", and Star Wars, "Princess Leia couldn't wear a bra in Star Wars, because George Lucas told me: There is no underwear in space". Couldn't get enough of her. I may even see it again.
I've seen some films recently, too. Oh I've been busy!
Food, Inc: So now I can't even eat soy? Shit!
Up: Loved this film, what took me so long to see it?
Bruno: I'm so glad I waited til it came to video. I laughed maybe twice.
Loggerheads: This is maybe the best gay (okay, gay-adjacent) films I've ever seen. It was so beautiful and heartfelt and lots like life: searching, searching, searching. Highly recommended!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
What insane rage that allows another human being to so wickedly kill another human being? In the case of an anti-gay crime, the rage is fueled in part by legislation and policies that reinforce a homosexual's status as a second class citizen. They don't know whether they're going to charge his murder as a hate-crime? The police officer in charge of the investigation has suggested Jorge Mercado had it coming...because of the way he lived his life?
What is with this re-victimizing of the victim?
Jorge's mother posted this message on Facebook about her son:
"When my son told me he was gay, I told him, 'Now, I love you more.' I want to tell the world that hatred is not born with human beings, it is a seed that is planted by adults and is fostered creating a climate of intolerance and violence. We must change our ways and understand that anyone could have been my son. And I want everybody to know that Jorge Steven was a very much loved son."
Where is hatred born? May I argue against religion for a second? I presume the officer who has blamed the victim is religious. I also presume Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado's killer is religious. He has been apprehended and in the capture photo, a long crucifix dangles around his neck.
I wish I were one of those people that could just accept that religion is a good, helpful medicine that makes some people better. But how much is religion to blame for these kind of crimes? If not for the crimes, then in part for the political/social climate in which they are perpetrated.
When the topic of religion comes up, I get instinctively combative. Not enough to lop anyone's head off, sever their limbs and burn their corpse, but it makes me angry. Like when I meet a Catholic and know that the pope is liable for so many lives for refusing to condone the use of condoms. Not to mention Catholic accountability for its refusal to do or say anything against people such as...Hitler.
All religions make me angry because they put superstition before humankind. I met a guy the other night who told me he was a Mormon. I have Mormon friends and they are sweet but they don't listen to logic, just faith and scripture. So the first thing out of my mouth to this man is:
"How can you believe that? Nobody ever saw these golden tablets Joseph Smith supposedly transcribed."
And you know what he says to me?
"Nobody ever saw AIR, either."
At this point I totally lose it because---that's your argument? Sophistry?
I love how believers mix specious reasoning with ("you can't see molecules!") science to make their point. As if I had written morality into air, like that charlatan did into invisible tablets. Nobody ever saw fire-breathing dragons either, but there are so many stories about them it gets confusing! All it takes to twist an otherwise sane, intelligent person into a nutcase? Blind faith.
If you are told that you're in danger of losing the planet you're to inherit upon your passing, you would not think twice about voting against my equal rights. How much farther does that logic extend before you are willing to take my life? Muslim honor-killers consider it a duty!
It's no coincidence that locations where all of society is under the stranglehold of religion (Africa, Middle East, Latin America) are the same places it is so much more mortally dangerous to exist outside of rigidly enforced gender roles. I'm surprised anyone leaves their house! Living on the *brink*, how do any of us stay sane and not spiral into paranoia? Seriously, how do you do it? Because that's where it feels like I'm headed.
Of course, it's not all religion's fault. Some people are just sick puppies. My favorite part is when an alleged killer is arrested, and relatives and friends are ALWAYS flabbergasted! The 8 year old girl, killed after being sold into prostitution by her mother last week? Mother's sis speaks up, "My sister could never have done that! She would have done anything for her little girl!" The father of the Fort Hood shooter, "It wasn't my son. My son loved the USA!" A man decapitates a rider on the Greyhound bus in Canada, and friends and neighbors all chime in together, "He's the LAST person you'd suspect could do this kind of thing!"
I am starting to want to be the FIRST person you would suspect of doing this kind of thing. In this world, that is harmless! How do we tell right from wrong? How long have we been subverting fact in favor of denial? What the hell is real? I can't even see the air I breathe.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
This is turning into a very amateur variety show. In upcoming episodes, we hope to offer more guests and segments. Take a look and please give advice and feedback to help us make it better!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
But less about me and more about Shirley Q. Liquor----the new spokesperson for The Price is Right. "Hop up and holler, honey--you just won some merchandise!"
This may just make your day:
Monday, November 16, 2009
At the event I was doing some filming for OurSceneTV and got to interview some amazing people including Mad Men's Bryan Batt, those three adorable actors who play gay on One Life To Live (I love Nicholas Rodriguez), Joel Grey, even writer Edward Albee-- a funny old man!
I didn't know how to pronounce his name (it's Ahhhlbee, not Al-bee), and he wouldn't tell me what he's writing now, but he did give gossip on his masterpiece "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". He saw the title (what would be the title) scrawled on the wall of a gay bar back in 1950 ("I was young then") and filed it away. Ten years later, he pulled it out of storage. Guess we can't say graffiti never served any good! I also asked if George and Martha ever adopted? "They would never do that!" he said.
Here I'm talking to artist and the night's "Out in Art" award recipient Ross Bleckner. In the middle is his friend, Academy Award winning actor Joel Grey.
Vanessa Williams was slated to be there, too. She ended up being a no-show which was SO disheartening because I was dying to ask the former beauty queen her take on Carrie Prejean!!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Now he's finally taken a video-camera to capture his nocturnal adventures. Michael, what took you so long? Check out (Tony Fornabaio and Brandon Voss') Club 57, with La Dolce Musto:
Did I mention Michael has a cameo in Violet Tendencies?
Friday, November 13, 2009
So when the opportunity came to see him perform in this—and with his young co-star Scott Kerns (both fully frontal to boot) who could say no? Off Broadway is always hit or miss and you can usually tell right away what fix you’ve got yourself into. I knew from the first few lines that this was a winner. It’s got the catty humor and rapacious wit “My virus is older than you!” and the complex psychology to back it all up.
They got the nudity out of the way right off the bat so we could get right into what the playwright had to say. And it's loaded! --uncensored, un-PC, and remarkably artificial-free.
The play's not perfect---the set looked like a dorm room, which was confusing because it was supposed to belong a 47 year old gay guy. With…pennants on his wall? The ups and downs, the happy/upset seemed sometimes to flow too easily into each other, but the writer (Elliot Ramon Potts) is so gifted—it’s his first play—and its issues are so exactly what it’s like to live as a gay man today, so sickly relevant, that I couldn’t help wishing for that fabulous day when it will be dated; old fashioned and irrelevant as Fred Astaire.
I found myself identifying much more with the older character. The jaded one, the one with the biting humor, who railed against trying to legislate acceptance: “We didn’t fight to fit in!” I kept wondering why he put up with that idealist kid. That bleeding heart liberal who wanted to know what kind of role model he was talking to: “What are you teaching me? Get old, get bitter, get even?”
And then I felt a little bit guilty for that. I’m in the middle age-wise and I see both sides of the arguments. It felt exactly like I was watching the fights I have inside my own head. The audience was totally there emotionally, witnessing all that truth up on the stage - and the pain beneath that truth. Are we perpetuating the pain we inherit onto the next generation? What are we turning into?
The message is clear: the most destructive threat we face comes from within our own ranks. We are our own worst enemies. For that message, and for the reminder that we do have the power to forgive ourselves and to choose better --- LOADED should be required viewing for every last gay in the land.
LGBT people are invisible in the census, which is THE survey that is designed to accurately reflect the diverse reality of America's population. The data collected has a direct impact on issues that are critical to every American – issues like health care, economic stability and safety. When LGBT people are not counted, individuals, families and communities suffer.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit that The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is my all time favorite film. It's not at all complex. It's a deceptively simple story, some would say silly. I mean, the frames are so colorful that the wallpaper should be considered another character (in one scene, her dress is made of the same pattern). A very young, supremely exquisite Catherine Deneuve stars, it's all in French, and did I forget to mention that it's not a musical---and yet every single last word of dialogue is...sung? There is nothing like it, before or since.
I have no idea how this rare thing somehow slipped through the cracks of any system and managed to get made at all. Perhaps it is the honesty. Life doesn't turn out the way you expect it to. Choices come with consequences that must be lived with. There is no Hollywood ending.
Instead, there is only that crushingly bittersweet finale at the Esso gas station in the snow. Oh my god just even thinking about it I. Can't. Hardly. Go. On.
Monday, November 09, 2009
They're all terribly apocalyptic, one in particular: "2012" -- about the Mayan predicted end of the world. There are earthquakes, explosions and all sorts of hellfire and it looks of course exactly like another movie, Independence Day, not surprisingly directed ALSO by Roland Emmerich. As the apocalypse all plays out, Jimmy turns to me and says, "Wouldn't it be cool if the world really did end in 2012? I'm kind of over it." He pauses before adding, "Do you think my unemployment will last til then?"
Friends are the best thing when you're in a funk. They make you feel not quite so alone in your thinking. They also make you feel better about your own situation because theirs is often worse, and yet they somehow turn misery into something wildly entertaining. Life would be tragic, if it weren't so damn funny.
A close friend who shall remain (I can't believe I'm not calling him out!) anonymous---had a hemorrhoid operation. He was all distraught about his ass being broken because it's his best feature. "My ass is out of commission," he went on and on. "It's like Einstein losing his brain!"
So my friend has the operation, and he can't hardly even sit (we like to say his ass is "closed for maintenance", and of course he likes to add, "It's being rejuvenated!"). Anyway, first night after his operation, he stands up to take the bandage and diaper off, sees his own blood all over it and immediately faints, crashing to the floor...and breaking a finger in the process!
Then there's my friend Trent - who came home a couple weeks ago to find his Chelsea apartment had been broken into and robbed, his camera and laptop stolen. You can imagine the horror at having your computer and all your files disappear, especially if you're a writer like Trent--but it gets better! The thieves had rummaged through his drawers, looking for goodies, and on the table where his laptop once sat was....Trent's DILDO! Yes, they had left him a little message, a final: You got screwed!
Which, Trent writes, "You have to admit is pretty hysterical."
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I needed a lift, so we went to check her out at Birdland, where she opened for my friend Jim Caruso, who hosts an always fabulous Monday night. To tell the truth, we weren't sure how to react and you can't help feeling a bit of a racist for going. Does she even know what the words mean? Do I laugh? Cry? But there ain't no shame in Wing's game!
Hey--know your niche and work it! At Birdland, Wing looked like she was having a grand old time, and the audience was totally with her. It ended up feeling something like a rock concert.
Here's WING covering Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" :
That was not me laughing. It was Chad! But I did lose it when she sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and trilled out, "If happy little brue birds fry, why oh why can't I?"
Things went wild when Wing covered AC/DC. Here she performs "Highway to Hell":
Did you know Wing was featured on an episode of South Park? For more of her novelty, and to buy the CDs....find WING here!
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
There are a ton of these pools around the city --all WPA projects--. During lap swim, the pool clears out and I frequently paddle past snack wrappers, clumps of hair, used Band-Aids. This sign is always a good reminder: Urinating, Discharge of Fecal Matter, Spitting or Blowing the Nose in the Pool is Prohibited! You know that they wouldn't have created that sign if e) all of the above had not been committed in the public pool! I used to think this sign was only hysterical, disgustingly hysterical!
But the general public is being allowed to vote on my rights and your rights! The sickening vote yesterday in Maine (prop 8, round 2) took away marriage equality in that state. If Loving vs. Virginia had been put to a vote, Obama would be a bastard child. If the Civil Rights act had been put to a vote, our President would be in the back of an Alabama bus. How is it that today equal civil rights are being voted on by majority/mob rule?
These are mammals who have to be told not to shit in the swimming pool.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Priceless. I can't wait to show you the promo video when it's out!
I've also started volunteering with God's Love We Deliver, which is this amazing organization that delivers free meals to people living with AIDS and other deadly diseases. They opened a branch near me, so I'm their Friday delivery guy. They make really amazing full course meals which always make me really hungry. Most people just have me deliver to their doorman, but there is one man who seems really genuinely happy to see me each week...yes, there is that one man.
I have also been volunteering with GLAAD---on the curatorial sub-commmittee for their annual Art Auction benefit!
In the last few weeks, we whittled down the submissions to the top 100 pieces of art to be auctioned at the event. I convinced CoolDan to submit some of his zany photoshop art to see what happens. He calls it his "Fartwork" (see exhibit A for a sample of his fartwork)
This piece is not the one he submitted, but one of his pieces did get selected! Since I was part of the curatorial committee, he thought for sure I had something to do with it---really, I didn't--but when it was announced he will be included, I got this message:
They accepted my fartwork at the GLAAD auction!! How many blowjobs did you have to give?
Several dozen. I owe you.
The star-studded event is on November 15, and we're in the final push for ticket sales. If you're an art lover, admirer, or just want to support this organization for all the work it does to promote positive GLBT messages in advertising and the media...please help and buy a ticket here!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
For once we didn't do the Halloween parade (a good thing--it rained!) and instead hit the Highline Ballroom to check out the Frankenstein show. Only it wasn't a show. It was a reading! I can't believe you'd put on Frankenstein--on Halloween night no less---and not dress up. I wanted costumes and makeup and sets!
Instead, a narrator came out...actually reading from her script. Thankfully, there were some big Broadway belters in the house! And alcohol!
Danny! And our sexy host...The Ho-Bots head home.
Cooldan manages to keep his cigarettes, and phone. I had lipstick, phone, and a camera in mine. Sadly, my cup size was too small because my phone fell out. Right now it's lost between two house parties and home. So if you're trying to call me and some stranger answers, tell them to send me an email!