Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Man Burns in 7 Days

WHAT AM I DOING IN THE DEFAULT WORLD? Thinking and missing all my friends who are on the playa right now - living the art and welcoming atmo of the way we truly could treat one another - at Burning Man festival.
For more info and photos from past trips and times to the festival, click on the Burning Man tag below. For more info and photos from 2012 -- come back next year!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Top Ten (Culturally) Gay Films

Dear Young Gay Man,

Here's a list of the ten movies you must watch, if you haven't already.  They are like family, you have to know them. You will be dealing with them forever.
I asked this question on Facebook: which are movies that are not gay - but which say something about or speak to gay men. I've culled the 96 responses into the top 10. You may not like all these movies, but you cannot deny they are with us - almost preternaturally. These are the films most referenced, more often quoted, and passed down from generations. I remember the older man I was dating (he was 27) who, clutching pearls, gasped: "You haven't seen Auntie Mame!?" and then swiftly educated me.

For whatever reason, this is the collective gay experience.

The list, in a more-or-less particular order of importance:

1. Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell version, duh!)
2. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
3. All About Eve
4. Mommy Dearest
5. The Women (1939 version!)
6. Steel Magnolias
7. Valley of the Dolls
8. Sunset Boulevard
9. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
10. Postcards from the Edge

Notice a trend? All strong, often camp, mostly-deluded… women!  What IS that? Who cares, I love it. And so do you! 

Honorable mentions: Beaches, Showgirls, Suddenly Last Summer, Death Becomes Her, Wizard of Oz, anything by John Waters and for a Bette Davis trifecta: Now, Voyager. 

Feel free to object or offer your own suggestions in the comments. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Renaissance Woman!

I just finished NOMAD, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. This followed up her heroic Infidel. I especially relate to Hirsi Ali because, in my own way, I'm also an infidel and a nomad. She is now in the US, still under 24-hour guard, simply because she dares to speak the truth. She's not only an inspiration to the power of the mind to overcome the clutches of implacable culture, but she's overhauled my own thinking on how to handle immigrant Muslim populations in the West.
In Nomad, she recounts more stories of her upbringing - mixed with stories of relatives who made it to the West and who, mostly, have not assimilated. She talks about her own refugee claim in Holland, how officials asked her all about her history of abuse and suffering - but never about what she planned to do once accepted into Holland. Her thesis here: How do we make citizens out of refugees?

The top ten refugee nations - are all Muslim. So why then, when Muslims arrive in the West - are they allowed to continue traditions that clearly have not worked?

The Quran is "perfect scripture" not to be questioned and among its injunctions: kill the infidels, take their property, convert them by force, kill the homosexuals and adulterers, condemn Jews and treat women as chattel. Women under Islamic law cannot travel, work, study, marry or leave their home without permission. They don't choose with whom they have sex, (or, once married, when and whether to have sex), what to wear, whether to work or to walk down the street.

Such traditions are allowed to continue in host countries in the West - and it's here Ali posits:

"Well meaning Westerners, eager to promote respect for minority religions and cultures, ignore these practices in the name of religious sensitivity - or to stop society stigmatizing Muslims - they deny countless girls the right to wrest their freedom - and thus fail to live up to the ideals and values of a democratic society. "

I used to think what's the fuss? Let 'em wear the hijab, the birka (I look rather ravishing in one) 
I used to think they should be allowed to cover up in a birka and nudists should be allowed to run around nude. I still think the nudists should be given free range flesh, but now I'm not sure about the other bit. It's like the way I feel about my own circumcision: I lacked choice in the matter. I hadn't thought about the implications a cage has for a woman - her mind and her humanity. 

Nomad is a call to wake up and get real. To expose and address the prime delusion - that transitioning to the West can happen without choosing between values. One side wants to better their circumstances without changing; the other side is too mamby pamby to force assimilation. Assimilation into citizens.

Hirsi Ali is not short on solutions. She calls upon three institutions which could ease the transition to civilization:

1. Public Education: Keep critical thinking alive and don't gloss over the facts for the sake of sensitivity - no matter how impolite the truth may be.

2. Feminist Movement: 2.0! Feminists (men and women) should make the plight of women their own. Why haven't they awoken to gendercide?

3. Moderate Christians: Compete for the hearts and minds of Muslim populations with a religion that is not so whacked.

Hirsi Ali an atheist so this last suggestion is perplexing. However, she allows that some people are unable to live without a spiritual anchor and that the community of Christian churches offer a more moderate view and a more loving prophet in Jesus Christ. This suggestions has even opened my mind (which is, once opened, now mostly shut to the idea that religion can be good for anyone...) not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Christianity is (at least today) the lesser of two evils.

For her views, Ali has been branded conservative. She finds this odd, seeing as conservatives want to retain the status quo and she most definitely wants to enact change. Nomad is an alarming call to action - and a must-read for anyone interested in helping to solve a problem that is not going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All over Clover!

Bam and I entered Aussie politics volunteering for Lord Mayor Clover Moore's re-election campaign. A friend asked us to help out, and Clover's politics are progressive and gay-friendly and most importantly independent - but little did we know she is the notorious politician responsible for too many bikelanes in struggle-free Sydney! Gasp!

On the day, we handed out flyers to voters in Woolhara- and Clover graciously stopped by the polling station and even snapped a photo with us.  Little did we imagine that after winning re-election, we would land on the cover of her newsletter in all of Sydney's box! It's kind of exciting - what other politician would want to be seen with us, let alone featured on their widely distributed junk mail?  And I'm not even a constituent!
It's a Clover sandwich
She won re-election, BTW!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teaser for my new thriller film

Into the Lion's Den! It's coming soon and looks bloody awesome ;)
Check out the teaser trailer here.

Things may not have ended very well for us in the film, but we sure had fun on set.  There were lots of Liza Minnelli impressions. And my poor pal Ronnie had some really bad grass cuts, as you can see.
blood can be sexy!
Click on the "Into the Lion's Den" tag below for more posts on the film and behind-the-scenes on set. Click here to LIKE the film's page!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How Norway got its Cherry Popped

Lie down with mammals, rise up with mass murder. One month on and I’m still sad about it.  

While the rest of us all muddle about in medieval middle earth, there's lofty Scandinavia riding so high above us all.  A place like Norway has until now defied the laws of evolution – it's like they skipped gradualism and macroevolved into an entirely different species. One that is truly holy - intelligent, just, civilized, compassionate (read: godless).  Then a massacre happens by one of their own and Norway is yanked back, yolked to the beastliness of the homo sapien.

Norway’s innocence has been punctured, much to their surprise. Police took 90 minutes to arrive at Utoeya island where at first 10 were reported dead, then 86, now 69. They were so confounded they forgot how to count. But the biggest shock as the gunsmoke settled was the global sigh of relief: It wasn’t the Muslims.

That’s what everyone assumed, even peace loving Muslims. But then shhhhh Jesse - you can’t say that! The media hushes these truths – because they don’t want to be labeled assumptive, Islamophobes, “religiously intolerant”. So they’ll say it in other words, like these, in virtually every report: “The killer is a blonde, blue eyed…” 

Nope, not a Muslim!

In 2006, none of the media, not even New York Times, that showed the Danish embassy burning in Beirut (torched because of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed) –dared to show the cartoons themselves. Yes, we’ll show the destruction radical Muslims caused, but we won’t show the cartoons which caused it. Religion gets a free pass even in the “free” press.

Why is religion allowed to hijack the truth? His government’s similar “handling” of the 2006 cartoon violence is one of the arguments Norway’s killer Anders Behring Breivik was making in his screed against Muslims and “cultural Marxists” and political correctness. 

This topic is not going to go away – and it raises very important questions that beg for even more important answers. Answers that are being bandied about by people branded conservative, people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see my post on her bestseller Infidel). Her latest, “Nomad” has changed my thinking on assimilating refugees to host countries in the West; into creating “citizens” and yes this may mean dropping our tolerance of the hijab and our unwillingness to call an honor killing an honor killing.

According to this conservative essay I’m not supposed to agree with, PC is deadly serious and totalitarian. Or consider this teacher in Florida who was suspended last week for calling gay marriage a “cesspool” not in his classroom or on school time, but at home on his own Facebook page. Where does the first amendment end and thought crime begin? Wouldn’t you rather someone show their true colors than have them pretend they’re not a bigot? It's not as if he’s the only homophobic teacher in our schools.

So Breivik is Norwegian, a right wing Christian. But now we’re not supposed to say that because Christians take offense. He’s not one of us, they shout. Someone who believes in Jesus wouldn’t do that! So screeches Bill O’Reilly.  

 And then you have the Guardian saying that he’s not Christian - he just hates Muslims.

But Breivik is Christian, if only because he says so.  It’s the same conclusion the Austrian government recently came to when it finally relented and allowed a staunch believer in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a “pastafarian”, the religious exemption to wear his religious headgear (a colander) in his driver’s license photo

Pastafarians have been touched by His noodly appendage
Nevermind that Breivik calls himself a Christian, and wrote the word “Christian” over 2000 times in his rambling manifesto.  What’s odd to me is instead of espousing love – Christians distance and deny. They don’t gather for love or against fear and hatred, but hundreds of them (joined by a few Jews, together again –for the first time!) marched in New York the very same weekend of the Norwegian massacre– shaking their bibles and ranting because the state allowed gay people to marry.

Are they not Christian, but just hate equality?

Another fact, avoideded mention again for reasons of “sensitivity” is that these Christians were mostly minorities – which is the marriage (minorities against civil rights!) most resembling a cesspool I've encountered. Instead of uniting for peace or against murder (or even divorce!) the religious find common ground in advocating division. And when this turns to suicide or bashing or murder or civil war – they cry victim. We only provide the atmosphere, we don’t push the madman over the brink – we love him. We said hate the sin, not the sinner! Don’t question my faith!

"We have just enough religion to hate, but not enough to make us love one another"
- Jonathan Swift

I wish people would look inside to find their gods. I wish instead of reading Neitzche and deciding to become an overman like Hitler or Breivik – that they would read it and rise above their homo sapien tendencies and be their own gods with mantras like the golden rule coupled the sentiment of Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stolberg, who said this about his holy land following the massacre:

Evil can kill a person, but never conquer a people.

More, please!  Alas, the mammals would rather march vs. marriage equality in New York and further divide. They even distance themselves in their rally from Westboro Baptist Church protestors holding signs like “God Hates Fags”. They said as much to them: You are not one of us – we can’t look at you because you are the manifestation of our love! I prefer Westboro because, again, show me your true colors – Westboro doesn’t disguise the truth that their god hates.

Their god kills and likes it. As does the god championing an end to “cultural Marxism” when he kills kids in Norway. And the god invoked with Allahu Akbar yesterday when the towers tumbled, today in Syria and in tomorrow’s honor killings. No matter what the media or peace-loving Christians may tell you, Brehvik is Christian, same as Al-Qaeda is Muslim.

The religious must absorb radicals as their own because at the end of the day, no matter how born into and brainwashed you are, religion is and will remain a choice. It’s whether or not you say you forgive - or what mood you decide you’re in right this moment. Religion is what you’re going to eat for dinner. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My First Gaga Post!

I was lucky enough to see her and her disco stick at the Highline Ballroom before she blew up. It was her debut CD release party where she not only dove into the crowd and surfed, she went to the back of the stage to get a running start! In her underwear! We all felt it - both her ass, and the fact she was going to blow up.

What I don't understand is all of those calling her a copycat and a rip-off artist. She's postmodern pastiche - with something to say. I imagine that it's the latter which drives people nuts. She has something to say and says it. If you have nothing to say, you'll skate through life like a contended goldfish. But realize you're inside a fishbowl and - whoa! Dare to have opinions and express them artistically, you can expect a backlash of bile from anonymous predators who can only ever critique, never create.

What's most baffling is that never before has a pop artist been so vocal and active in the fight for equal rights, and never before has a segment of gay men been so vocal against her - and lesbians largely indifferent. What is that about? I love her work and what she stands for. I don't call myself a Monster but she can if you like.

Have you seen the video for You & I? It's not at all my favorite song on the album (despite my fondness for country music), but the video is a stunner. And, as usual, all over the place: Gaga in (very convincing) man drag, crop circles in cornfields, barns, mermaids in bathtubs:

It's fun to hear fan takes on the symbols and metaphors - "Gaga realizes her boyfriend is changing her into something other than what she is, and at the end she's someone he wants to love but can't!".

It's also fun to hear what she says about it herself:  it's not meant to be an answer video; it's meant to be a profuse number of questions.

On how you can have sex with a mermaid:  You can't! Sometimes in love you can't make it work. There's this giant boundary between you and someone else.

On the ice cream truck at the beginning: When going down the road of life, the memories of destruction of youth get in the way...

Or...we can stop analyzing and just be arrested by the art!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We hope you aren't squeamish!

Here's the latest promo poster for my upcoming film, Into the Lion's Den!  Things do not go very pretty for me in this one. But that doesn't mean there aren't pretty people people in it - porn stars, too!

Click poster to make it bigger.  Click the link above to like us on FB!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Too Edgy, Too Out There? You Judge.

What are you doing this hump day?  Out Professionals is hosting a benefit screening of Half-Share at The GLBT Center in New York.  Afterward, a panel of media pros will discuss the state of television and the difficulties of selling an original scripted series like ours in 2011.

Come drink, network and laugh your ass off at Half-Share!


Moderated by fabulous Editor-in-Chief of Edge Media, Steve Weinstein - the panel will be graced by my co-creator Sean Hanley as well as US Weekly Senior Editor Bradley Jacobs and pals Josh Rosenzweig - host of "Just Josh" and SVP of Programming and Development at Here Media; and Chris Willey, Logo TV's head of East Coast Development and Production, now overseeing the A-List series and Be Good, Johnny Weir.

This incredible line-up of insiders will discuss a range of topics and answer questions on the state (and economics) of TV today, the reality phenomenon, and how the industry is managing with the growth of other viewing platforms siphoning audience.

Admission is $15 ($10 for OP members). Also along for the screening ride are cast members Kyle Spide, Kevyn Morrow, and the scene-stealing drag queen Anita Spinoff!  And did I mention there's Bulldog Gin?! The cocktail is ALWAYS half-full! Drinks kick off at 6pm Wednesday at The Center.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Feast upon the 'Lime Parfait'

also known as "best reason NOT to select a paint color based on its name":
The 'Lime Parfait' looked good on paper!
The 'Sassy Scarlet' looks good in the bedroom and 'Fairy Dust' lavender is fabulous - but the Lime Parfait? Yikes, I mean...yum! Bam says it's alien poo. I say rather more like Predator blood:

Bam had the opportunity to buy another color at the hardware store this wekeend but says we're keeping the Lime Parfait. Not because it's growing on him, but he says he wants to have something to rant and rave about for as long as we live here. He calls the wall "Jesse's Folly".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Are you a word freak?

If you surf Urban Dictionary (or write its entries) or just love language and the way English never ceases to evolve (or, sadly, devolve) then you'll get a kick out of the neologisms below - and hopefully sprinkle your conversations with them.  Got any of your own to add??

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

1.. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent
                            for an indefinite period of time.
2.. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
3.. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4.. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5.. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.
                       The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6.. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7.. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
8.. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9.. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right?
                           And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido : All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through
                                     a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning
                            and cannot be cast out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's the death etiquette?

Not that I'm partial to etiquette - but it's a question I explore in this essay in the Advocate.

Some commenters argue it's just not gay enough, which is the first time in my LIFE I've heard that criticism. But you got what you wanted, integration, and now the whole world knows homosexuals cope with life and death and digital age moral dilemmas same as other humans! Click below to read:

Op-ed: One Final Status Update

Photo (and Photoshop!) credit to Kevin Hees
Dead Facebook Friend credit to Arron, Mark and Anthony. I miss you. And Arron, really?  That last status update - did you catch the hilarity on your computer screen as you strangled to death?
Content credit: my thoughts mixed and influenced by Facebook friends after a status update.
Thanks to Matt Breen and the editorial staff at The Advocate.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Fire Island Then and Now

Fire Island has a storied modern history, once the reputed home of smugglers and pirates. It grew, slowly, beginning in Cherry Grove - to become an artist enclave.  The "hamlet" of Fire Island Pines became a homo haven over the wishes of its earlier inhabitants, who were not happy about the influx - putting up signs like: "Welcome to Fire Island Pines: A Family Community". I think they should put a sign back up today: "Welcome to Fire Island Pine: A Family Community of Smugglers and Pirates!

Learn more about the history, legend and lore of Fire Island from this well researched blog post by my friend Elisa Rolle. She talks about the early influences and notables such as Auden and Isherwood and artist collectives - including notable experts in the lost art of egg tempera paint (with egg yolks!) such as Jared French and Paul Cadmus.
Point of View, Paul Cadmus, 1945
It makes me want to know more - about the arrival by sea plane of Halston (which I read about in the hauntingly poignant novel, Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran), or what it was like on the island during the early 80's AIDS decimation as was touched on in the powerful must-read And the Band Played On, or the history of Water Island - at the end of the island - without any store, just a few homes and accessible to only a select few, or even the storied legend that continues today of the men's only castle known as Belvedere Guest House, still successfully run by my pals in Cherry Grove. 

Elisa shares a few books to read up on the island, and (on a lighter note!) she ends with (thanks, Elisa) our comedy pilot, Half-Share, which is making its LA debut on Tuesday at the ITVfest! Get tix here!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

From 1959

A message to the future from philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell.

Next up, his essay "Why I Am Not A Christian" (because religion is based, primarily, on fear)