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Sunday, July 31, 2005

What, Me Worry?



On the surface Andrew Sullivan is not unappealing. He is an intellectual in the tradition of William Buckley except that he is an openly gay man. In fact in the last election he supported Kerry-Edwards. He also accepts and openly promotes legislation to legalize gay marriage. As a political animal there is no doubt that he accepts individual rights. The politics espoused here also accept and encourage the rights of the individual. The conclusion was reached that among the rights of individuals to be supported is also the right to be stupid, even if one is an intellectual. People have every right to be stupid.
Here is what Mr. Sullivan recently wrote:

Not Dead Yet
An Apology

"People are in such denial about how serious HIV is. Unfortunately, the best prevention is seeing people die." - Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.


I¹m sorry. It has taken me a long time to say this, but it's time: I'm sorry.

It's been almost 12 years since I became infected with HIV, and I haven¹t died yet. I haven't even had the decency to get sick. I am a walking, talking advertisement for why HIV seems not such a big deal to the younger generation ‹ and indeed, many in my own age bracket. I know this is a terrible thing, and I promise in the future to do better. As gay activist Michelangelo Signorile recently told The New York Times, "If everyone in your group is beautiful, taking steroids, barebacking, and HIV-positive, having the virus doesn¹t seem like such a bad thing."

I'm sorry. At the tender age of 41 ‹ a year longer than I once thought I would live ‹ I have never felt better. HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality.

I'm sorry. I¹ll try to do better.

Yes, I take testosterone and human growth hormone, and I now weigh 190 pounds. I discovered a couple of abs in my midsection the other day. I'll try to disguise them. Do they sell burkas online? I've even enjoyed sex more since I became positive ‹ more depth, more intimacy, more appreciation of life itself. Sorry.

I look physically and mentally healthier than ever. Sorry again. I know that by just going daily to the gym, walking on the beach, or dancing at the occasional circuit party, I am the cause of more people getting infected with HIV. I have helped persuade them by my very existence that HIV isn't such a curse, that it can be survived, that it can be treated effectively, that you can live well and long with HIV if you look after yourself and stay alert and informed. I'm sorry. I'm almost as bad as those damn drug ads showing people with HIV triumphing over adversity.

In the future I'll try to look sicker. Or I'll stay home more. Promise. I'll try to get depressed. I won't work out. I'll stay off TV. I will never tell anyone that treatments are far less onerous than they used to be (and I went through medication hell for several years in the 1990s). I'll even repeat the lie that HIV transmission rates are exploding because of people like me, even though the latest solid data show HIV rates to be stabilizing or even declining in many cities. (A decline in infection rates in New York City last year! Sorry again. I shouldn't have told you that. It will make you less scared.)

If all else fails, I'll tell people I may have gotten "super-AIDS," an old, extremely rare, now debunked viral strain that is being successfully treated in one gay man in New York City. Promise.

I'd even be prepared to stop taking my meds if that would help. The trouble is, like many other people with HIV, I did that three years ago. My CD4 count remained virtually unchanged, and only recently have I had to go back on meds. Five pills once a day. No side effects to speak of. I know that others go through far worse, and I don't mean to minimize their trials. But the bottom line is that HIV is fast becoming another diabetes.

You can see the symptoms. Far fewer gay men are dying of AIDS anymore. Sometimes local gay papers have no AIDS obits for weeks on end. C'mon, pozzies. You can do better than that!

Do you have no sense of social responsibility? Young negative men need to see more of us keeling over in the streets, or they won¹t be scared enough to avoid a disease that may, in the very distant future, kill them off. You know, like any number of other diseases might. They may even stop believing that this is a huge, escalating crisis, threatening to wipe out homosexual life on this planet.

What are those happy HIV-positive men thinking of? Die, damn it.

Of course, we could always be thrilled that so many people are living longer and better lives with HIV. We could celebrate our reclaiming of sexuality after years of terror. We could even try new strategies for risk reduction among gay men ‹ strategies that emphasize positive ways to care for our health rather than negative ways to scare the bejeezus out of everyone. But then we'd have no more people to scapegoat and blame, would we?

July 5, 2005, The Advocate.
copyright © 2000, 2005 Andrew Sullivan


Some time thereafter an email was sent to Mr. Sullivan via his website asking him to disabuse us of the notion that he encourages unsafe casual sexual encounters. It was also pointed out to him that there were other STDs that might be transmitted if not necessarily as fatal.

Willy nilly Mr. Sullivan is a public openly gay figure and as such has a responsibility.

It is to be lauded that his HIV+ “health” exists and that he allegedly feels so well. There are those who take issue with his statements: those who know him from the ‘neighbourhood.’

There was much made of Sullivan’s alleged ad on www.bareback.com and it begged the question how one would know. Sullivan was given the benefit of the doubt. He has done nothing to erase those doubts.

Mr. Sullivan has made himself an issue, but it is much bigger than even his apparently rejuvenated life. Who knew that being HIV+ could actually improve one’s life?

Of course, there are HIV+ individuals who are flourishing, but at the same time there are many who are not. All need to live each day as it comes. Ill or not to be sure stupidity should not be part of the equation. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone has a right to be stupid. Remember the British headline following Geo. W. Bush’s reelection? However, the right to be responsible far outweighs the right to be stupid. When stupidity encourages death as Sullivan virtually does in his “apology” perhaps it should be a right that one does not need to take advantage of. It just might be superseded by life affirming statements. Unless, of course, an HIV+ individual dislikes the idea of others not having the same affliction. Do not misunderstand anything here. It is an affliction. By the way, Diabetes is an affliction and often fatal. AIDS which very often is the result of being HIV+ is, more often than not, a fatal affliction. So sorry, Sully, you are sick. But, please, don’t encourage others to be the same.

Sully has been known to play fast and loose with statistics as he did on Maher’s show. Shortly thereafter he went looking for stats where he stores them [as pictured]. AIDS worldwide is a huge problem. People are dying.

No, no one should scare the be-jesus out of anyone. But, perhaps younger HIV- people should be led into a different kind of positive direction: a life affirming safe sexual encounter direction.

No one should want anyone to die before a well allotted time. It’s good that Sully’s alive. It should follow that he wants the same for others.

Compassion

Saturday, July 30, 2005

You Are What You Listen To


Those who inherited the mantles of the 50s teen idols during the Beatle Era 1963-1970 were three very talented young men with a very eclectic approach to music. All three had some connection to Country in varying degrees but could cross the river into more or less soulful territory in varying degrees. All three have a connection to Burt Bacharach’s music in varying degrees. All three endure professionally to varying degrees.

During the 60s Gene Pitney, B.J. Thomas and Bobby Vee carried on in spite of Beatlemania or, as some might say, because of it. The adage goes something like: huge record sales for one artist or band are good for everybody in the business. Is that why the 60s are a kind of Renaissance for Popular Music? It probably began in 1956, but the message here is that technological advances coupled with new musical advances gleaned from an artistic reservoir for who knows why gave the World something new that enriched its cultural life. It may be a very long time before something like that happens again. The Beatles and Elvis were indeed pioneers; not without influences from the world around them. That they were catalysts may also be part of that equation.

Pitney, Thomas and Vee have their female counterparts in the likes of Jackie DeShannon and Dusty Springfield. DeShannon and Springfield were given the Wexler-Dowd-Marin treatment: “the sound is Memphis, a pop-country-soul blend that comes about as close as you can get to defining the mainstream in contemporary music.” [Stephen Holden] Only one of the three talented men came close to achieving those heights in a similar artistic endeavour. Column started a section entitled Neglected Masterpieces on the main site, inspired by Rolling Stone’s reviews of days gone by. It might also be called “Unpopular Music,” because it isn’t necessarily populated by commercially viable recordings, or even existent recordings. Dusty in Memphis was a commercial flop, although “Son of a Preacher Man” did manage to make it as a single. However, it is now a classic recording and has afforded the extremely talented, albeit insecure Springfield a bona fide place in the annals of Rock/Pop history. B.J. Thomas, who incidentally did a duet with La Springfield on a TV Show theme no less, has given us a similar opus which was the last recording he did for Scepter Records, Billy Joe Thomas, containing the top twenty hit, “Rock and Roll Lullaby.”



What makes this kind of music essential if not quintessential is that all the elements are there. It’s not Lennon-McCartney or Brian Wilson but it is a great bouillabaisse of the musical sea that is American Pop. The intense search for a review from Rolling Stone was to no avail, but AMG gives us this positive review:

Michael Ofjord, All Music Guide
This 1972 album shows B. J. Thomas in good form, capable of intelligently handling a lyric, especially when given worthy material. One of the highlights of the album and Thomas' career is the hit "Rock and Roll Lullaby," which approximates some heavenly Beach Boys-type harmonies to give a subtle yet powerful reading to the tale of a young unwed mother. Adding some fine touches to the well-thought-out production is Duane Eddy on guitar and the Blossoms [Darlene Love's group] on backup vocals. Another cut worthy of special mention is Jimmy Webb's "A Song for My Brother." Thomas delicately sings about the lost innocence of youth, accompanied only by Webb's classically inspired piano playing. It is an intelligent, evocative song, and both singer and player complement each other perfectly. "The Stories We Can Tell," written by John Sebastian, is also an excellent number given special treatment by Pete Drake's subtle and effective steel guitar. There are a few weak moments on the album, such as the beginning of "Happier Than the Morning Sun," a Stevie Wonder tune that starts off dangerously close to MOR until being paradoxically saved by a Wonder harmonica solo. "Are We Losing Touch" also comes close to schmaltz territory, without much lyrical variation on the obvious theme. However, most of the songs are first-rate and arranged skillfully. Thomas himself has a gift for singing soulfully without apparent effort, swirling around lyrics with emotion yet rarely overstating or becoming excessively dramatic. That talent, along with the high quality of material and musicians presented here, makes for a highly listenable pop album.


These days most of Wonder’s classic material would be considered MOR perhaps. Wonder’s MOR is assuredly more listenable than much that is being produced now. “Rock and Roll Lullaby” takes the listener to a place that tells a story and creates an enduring musical recipe for the discernable palate. Not without additional analogy to handmade pasta, it is delicate yet ultimately satisfying. Thomas’ achievement in no way diminishes the music produced by Pitney and Vee. It actually gives it perspective. Both of those men have unique achievements and a rich history all their own. Billy Joe Thomas is a landmark recording that is worthy of attention even after 30+ years.

Anyway, once again it is hoped that Rhino Handmade is paying attention.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Ain't Nothin' But Love



The inclusion of Ilene's recipe for Salmon in the most recent Soap Opera Digest might have at least made mention of the food for the soul that she served up at the Triad. The first person that evening to jump to her feet for a standing ovation was none other than Robin Strasser. The room was filled with people who were obvious fans of this worthy entertainer.

It was a performance full of life even when Ilene sang a song she wrote in honor of her lovely departed colleague and friend Nancy Addison-Altman. Kristen is all about life and going forward with life.



"Heat Wave" has never been rendered in the way that Ilene Kristen renders it. But that doesn't happen until you are treated to a genuine mini concert from someone who knows music and can move like nobody's business.

Thank you, Lovely Ilene! Oh, and here's to a long and continued creative existence. Happy Birthday on July 30th!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Astoria



…rarely sleeps, especially if one's bedroom is on the street side.

There is a diverse population there now, but it seems that Italians, Irish and Greeks make up the early immigrant population from the last century.

Around the corner from Steinway St. there's an Irish Pub, The Rover, where there are bartenders who speak in brogue. Apparently, that wave of immigration continues. Down the street there's a Mosque which attests to a new wave of immigration.

There is also Rizzo's in the other direction where they make something very similar to what real Sicilian square pizza is all about: delicate and the cheese is kept to a minimum. Watching two male descendants of Sicilian immigrants behind the counter validates that working pizza dough keeps the biceps in the shape that pleases. Enjoying the wonderful taste treat they create while Bonnie Raitt is singing, “Mighty Tight Woman" is a unique experience before topping it off with the drink at the Irish Rover. Astoria is one of the few places where Spanakotiropita is fast food, too. The Greeks have given the world something other than very masculine men.

These days, however, on the street side where there tends to be much activity from the newer wave if immigration, it is quieter than usual. Astoria is one of those unique places where many different people live sharing the same goals and, therefore, where feeling safe and secure is not uncommon. The safety and security is based on common goals not on common culture.

The nightly noise is as welcomed as the diversity: both are indicative of feeling safe.

Let there be noise. There is no God but God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Any Wednesday Tower Lincoln Center


1961 Broadway at 66th

Philip Chaffin is an accomplished artist and Tower Records Lincoln Center has got him for Any Wednesday, the in store Cabaret created by Tower’s impresario Bart Greenberg.
Greenberg has provided showcases for other quality performers., namely Ann Hampton Calloway, Bobbie Eakes and Boulevard East. Like the above, Mr. Chaffin's music is everything a grown up New Yorker could want.

Mr. Chaffin will be accompanied by his spouse,Tommy Krasker but perhaps it is better to hear from them. Before that, however, let it be said that these are attractive, talented men. You can learn to appreciate them by coming out Wednesday at 6 PM. It's everything you could want in accomplished, grown up music:

We were in Los Angeles in late September meeting with our distributor, Image Entertainment, and one of the newer members of the sales team, after hearing about our plans to record The Frogs, asked how long PS Classics had been around. And we did the quick calculation in our heads and responded that 2005 would mark the start of our fifth year in business. And then we looked at each other, and went, "FIVE YEARS?!?!"

As anyone knows who's read these "About Us" columns (which we only get around to updating about once a year), PS Classics didn't start with grand dreams and long-term strategies. We just wanted to put out a few CD's we'd dreamed of making, and for Tommy, the freelance record producer, and Philip, the actor and singer, it seemed simpler to release them "in-house" than to peddle them to record labels that were busily downsizing. Our plans were so small we even spelled our company NAME in all lower-case. (We stopped doing that when we got tired of seeing "ps classics [sic]" in print.)

From there, things just took off. We both had ideas for CD's we wanted to make, but as neither of us had any experience running a business, the first few years -- behind the scenes at least -- were a combination comical and chaotic. (In one of our first negotiations, we realized halfway through that we'd structured a deal worthy of Lucy and Ethel, where the more CD's we sold, the more money we lost.) But as wonderful artists sought us out, or proved receptive to ideas we pitched, or took a chance on us, we started to find our footing. And as we struggled to learn a whole new set of disciplines, extraordinary kind people who believed what we believed -- that great singers should be heard, that albums should flow from some kind of passion, that playing it safe can be a little dull -- signed on to help us, content to put in whatever hours they could for whatever we could afford to pay that week. We owe so much to all of them: the performers, the songwriters, the interns and the many collaborators. And we owe so much, as well, to our passionate and loyal customers.

Four years ago, our online colleague Bill Jennings likened us to the proverbial "little engine that could," dubbing us "the little record label that could," and that description probably still applies. Today, with nearly two dozen CD's in release, and two Grammy nominations, we still sit and scratch our heads occasionally and go, "How did we GET here?" We're not much bigger than we were when we started, but we just keep plowing along, working to share with our customers all sorts of music that moves us, and trying to provide a home and a showcase for artists and projects we admire.

— Tommy Krasker & Philip Chaffin, December 2004

Tommy Krasker, Executive Producer for PS Classics, can be reached at tkrasker@psclassics.com.
Philip Chaffin, A&R Director, can be reached at pchaffin@psclassics.com.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ilene's Brand of Music


Furnished with disarming charming honesty, Ilene Kristen is at once childlike and worldly. The actress, who is a Soap Opera Superstar via the unique character of Delia Reid Ryan Ryan Coleridge she helped create on Ryan’s Hope and the equally entertaining Roxanne on One Life to Live will be bringing another aspect of her multi-talented personality to the Triad Theater on Thursday, her music. Believe it or not, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Puente are part of Ilene’s musical pedigree which started to reach fruition when at the age of 19 she began to write songs. Laura Nyro and Kenny Rankin are also part of the same musical family tree she has created.

Kenny Rankin has a special place in her heart for when she was a troubled teen his music touched her and inspired her so much that she eventually made it a point to seek him out. One can only imagine Rankin’s reaction when confronted by the sprightly Kristen. Ilene is inviting and without wax. She is a pleasure.

There is so much to this diminutive power house that it is impossible to focus on one aspect of her personality as definitive. Following Thursday’s performance, many of the spaces will be filled. Still it will only be one small part of her artistic life.

A musical conversation with her can touch every frontier of the territory. She speaks with great warmth of Phyllis Hyman, Priscilla and Rita Coolidge, Booker T. and the years she has spent in the New York Scene. She considers herself a true denizen of Manhattan although she began her journey in Queens. It was a compliment to her to say that she embodied New York in her mannerisms and personal culture.

It is difficult to pin her down on the precise nature of her music. On Thursday those in attendance will be treated to a musical set consisting of original music written in collaboration with David Spinozza, Jon Werking, Terry Silverlight and Andy Brian. These four very talented gentleman create a unique pedigree all their own. Werking has done some music for One Life to Live. Anyone who has heard Ilene sing can testify to the richness of her voice -- not unlike the quality of her unique speaking voice. Thursday’s show promises to be an eclectic approach to a smooth, funky kind of music to which only Ilene can give one life.

Ilene performs at the Triad on 158 W. 72nd St at 9PM near Broadway and Columbus on Thursday July 28 -- two days before her birthday. Come, Celebrate with Ilene and friends.

CALL 212-362-2511 for reservations

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sweet Baby


This week promises to have at least two very interesting performances from two very interesting women both of whom seem eternal: Lesley Gore and Ilene Kristen. Both are blessing the Big Apple with their presences. More reasons to remain committed to New York. Both were born here and both have a lot of talent to expend. Later on this week a story we did with Ilene will be published prior to her appearance at the Triad. In the meantime we will wax on about Ms. Gore.

“You Don’t Own Me” was actually written by two men but it would take a woman to give it the proper send off and very well Ms. Gore did indeed. With the advent of that song to her repertoire gone were the adolescent humiliations of “It’s My Party” and the weeping that ensued. There is a new version of “You Don’t Own Me” on her new album, Ever Since which has been critically acclaimed. Her shows at Joe’s Pub 425 Lafayette St in New York are sold out. They are adding two more there in August.

When the much loved Dusty passed on in 1999, Lesley wrote a eulogy for Time Magazine which said just as much about its author as the subject:

I met Dusty Springfield in 1963 on the BBC-TV show Top of the Pops when I was promoting “It’s My Party.” Her talent was obvious the moment she opened her mouth – a sound so unique that she could take someone else’s song and make it her own. She sang live with the band and sounded totally awesome …

Our Paths crossed again in Los Angeles in the 70s. We both enjoyed watching women’s tennis and developed quite a friendship … When she recorded a song I wrote, “Love Me By Name” Dusty knew exactly what she wanted. She handpicked the musicians and worked with the arranger for weeks. When she went into the vocal booth, put on the headset and closed her eyes, she reached down into the depths of her soul and made magic. As Dusty is wailing and the record is fading she ad-libs two little words: “sweet baby.” She reserved this phrase for songs she most loved. It was the Springfield seal of approval …

La Springfield’s ad lib may very well have been referring to the author of the aforementioned song. It comes from an album of the same title that Gore released in 1975 under the guiding hand of Quincy Jones. It, too, was a critically acclaimed album of Gore originals. There was a terrific duet that popped in the 80s with Lou Christy, but Lesley tells us that for the most part she’s been practicing for the last 30 years. Looks like practice makes perfect..

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Datalounge


There was a time when the Gossip Forum on Datalounge was a particularly entertaining cyberspace, much like a funny Joan Rivers routine. In the last two years it has become painful to read some of the posts there. There is, however, one rather entertaining thread that has been kept alive off and on since February, it is entitled:

What gossip-related things do you actually know from first hand experience

(here are some edited entries)… Daniel Travanti is still known as Miss Hoo-hoo by members of the Hill Street Blues crew. Kevin Bacon is totally straight, sweet, and has the thinnest body west of Biafra. Robert Blake is guilty. Paul Newman has had his share of men. His wife has had her share of women. … Keanu Reeves is great in bed--with anyone. …I dated Craig Sheffer once (now on One Tree Hill). He talked alot about how spiritually unenlightened Sam Champion was... Craig had some interesting beliefs about how DNA double helixes in humans were mutating in a way that would allow us to contact spiritual entities. Very intense, a little off putting. There was no second date. …Met JC Van Damme and he was with a boy toy, very kissy kissy. Giggles like a girl when he's high and happy and HATES Hollywood but loves the attention. Van Damme owns a castle in Europe. When JCVD left for the bathroom (to take a hit), his boyfriend told me about it. Said there is a "torture chamber" in it but that it was all for fun because it's pure white with nude pictures of JCVD and other men all over the walls playing bongos (??) and beach shots. I asked about the castle when Damme came back and he slapped his boyfriend and screeched "YOU TOLD." He wasn't mad it was just play because he was laughing. The impression I was left with was that Damme is a nice man but has hyperactive tendencies not to mention he's a bit queeny. … Robbie Williams, thus far straight, flirts with men to the point of passionate French kissing …Matthew McConaughey is bi, but only when stoned (which can be often), and only with white very "masculine" ("straight") guys. he seems to think sex with "straight" guys is not gay sex. …Vin Diesel is indeed gay, and very kind, sweet, un-intelligent and uper-ambitious. He is surpisingly insecure and not happy about his sexuality, but kisses men (platonically) in public and plans on eventually coming out. …Jesse Metcalf is gay. Out with friends and family. Now? Terrified. …Two people (at least) on "Entourage" are men who have experienced, recently, same sex oral-loving. One will really surprise you. Clue: Very hairy ass. …Rob Lowe was hated and celebrations ensued when he quit "West Wing" (was forced out). …Mark Consuelo used to be a straight stripper, but "gay for pay". …I met a b-movie actor named Craig Chester (he was the blonde roommate in Trick - I think) who was a friend of my boyfriend's. He spent three days with us over New Year's. He showed me pictures of his best friend Parker Posey and himself the night before at a cafe. She had sausage in her mouth, feigning fellatio with it and being a total nut. He also said that he is close to Dolly Parton and that she is a lesbian, that everyone knows it in her circles, and that she has a sham marriage. I have no idea if it is true, but it is first-hand what he told me.

Publishing the favourite excerpts here is in no way a validation of truth. Although it seems that “Column” tends to dance around the issue, but it is important to state that ‘coming out’ is strongly encouraged. Should it be a source of whispered gossip, a.k.a. “the dirty little secret”? Absolutely not. Otherwise let it fly.

On that note, viz. the one that sounds "dirty little secret" and not necessarily coming out, we would like to encourage the ubiquitous Colin Farrell not to fret about the existence of the videotape. “We love your bum, C!” Also, if a young woman of dubious reputation has panic attacks because Mr. Farrell leaves a risqué message or two for her perhaps it is not financial compensation she should be seeking but ethical rehabilitation. Hey, C., there are people who would let you call them for free.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hairspray


There are great singers it has been said, and then there's Darlene Love. As if Hairspray needed another shot in the arm, it has acquired one of the greatest and most acclaimed vocalists in Rock 'n' Roll. Darlene's voice will become that of Motormouth Mabel until December 31st of this year. Ms. Love has achieved respect in the music business almost through no fault of her own. Her talent is easily equal to that of Aretha Franklin's and but for lack of an appropriate production team or record company there but for the grace of Aretha's gods she has not gone. However, those who know and care about these things know and care about Darlene. Visit "Column's" music section to read more about her.

Interesting that the press today connects her to "Da Doo Ron Ron" which actually has the lead vocals of the very talented Lala Brooks, Darlene's were over dubbed by the controlling malevolent Phil Spector. In My Name is Love she recounts how Spector became angry with her and erased her voice to replace it with Brook's. Be that as it may, to know Darlene is to love her and Hairspray's glory on the great white way can only be enhanced by her presence. She is no stranger to the ways of Broadway having participated in Leader of the Pack where she earned Tina Turner's envy and enmity by performing the song meant for her that is now associated with Turner, "River Deep Mountain High." Love's talent goes that deep and that high, and it appears that she will go on forever.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Come Out! Come Out! Whoever You Are!

1975 on Polk Street in San Francisco, perhaps at Buzzby’s, Cal Culver (aka Casey Donovan) Peter Berlin or Jack Wrangler might have made an appearance. All were well known as being especially gifted porno stars which meant a bit more in the days before the vhs/dvd crazes. Those who met Cal or Jack generally described them as very nice, unassuming guys. Cal married, in a way, out gay actor/author Tom Tryon. Jack shortly thereafter “married” singer Margaret Whiting 22 years his senior. Research has turned this up:

After attending Northwestern University, John Stillman had some early work on the stage and as a model and dancer, before appearing in a male strip show in the mid-70s under the name "Jack Wrangler … His autobiography, "The Jack Wrangler Story" ... was released in 1984.

In 1976 Jack met 1940s singing sensation Margaret Whiting when she attended one of his one-man erotic shows in New York, and a relationship developed which became marriage in 1979. Jack was 33; Margaret was 55. When Jack confided to Margaret that he was gay, Margaret's response was 'only around the edges, dear.'Jack soon retired from porn and devoted his time to his first love, musical theater. A fan of Johnny Mercer, Jack was one of the co-producers of the cabaret' Dream' which featured songs by the composer and included Margaret in the cast. Other performances he has written and produced include 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: the Jazz Concert', ' The Valentine Touch', 'The First Lady and Other Stories of Our Times', and 'Irina Abroad!' In 1998, Jack and his wife filed a mutli-million dollar suit against the city of New York when Margaret broke her hip after tripping over loose pavement. The media quickly pounced on the fact that their suit cited loss of sexual relations as one of the damages incurred from the accident. Both still remain visible in the New York theatrical scene and are highly active in supporting and promoting AIDS charities. But Jack Wrangler's main claim to fame remains his years as a gay porn star, not only because he set the stage for other masculine, rugged, and athletic performers that followed, but also because many gay men in the 70s and 80s cited Jack as an integral part of their coming out process, as his against-the-stereotypes onscreen persona helped to show them that a man can be gay and still be a man.

Jack has come to mind because of this blind item in the NY Daily News today in Rush & Malloy, their version of Page Six:

Some Famous older gay men have reason to quake, now that one of Hollywood’s top hustler-wranglers is peddling his story to the tabs. But will he get his tale past the lawyers? …

While blind items if not definitely despicable are annoying, this one brings about a very relevant issue even if it isn’t about Jack. Is it ethical to inform the public about the sexual proclivities and orientation of figures in the public eye especially if one is being remunerated for the information? It may only be ethical or just to out those who fit into the Roy Cohn paradigm. It is good for the general gay population to know who is of like kind, especially if it eases social acceptance. We welcome public gay figures, especially if it chips away at ill conceived notions of what gay men and lesbians are.

Whoever it is, the guest appearance on The View should be most interesting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

He's got what it takes

If you look hard enough you can find a theme running through the recent posts on the blog - Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Meloni, and a little bit further back, Matt Battaglia. All straight actors who have taken on gay roles and, equally as important, have done so without apology. Time was when playing gay could have meant the death knell to an acting career. That's not to say that there may not be risks, but truly talented actors know that if you don't take risks you stagnate.

And that brings me to Daniel Petronijevic (petroh - NEE- vic). A name most of you will be unfamiliar with, but, trust me, one you should get to know. Daniel is only in his early twenties, but he has been in the business a while. Probably best described as a journeyman, he hasn't had many big roles – except a standout as Thad Guerwitcz in Playmakers, the one-season football drama that ran on ESPN in 2003 (if you're in Canada, it's running on Showcase now).

The Guerwitcz character is in many ways a precursor to Battaglia's "Drew" on QAF. In the closet, dating women, sleeping with guys. But Playmakers takes you deeper into the macho, generally-homophobic world of professional sports. Petronijevic makes Thad Guerwitcz tough yet vulnerable, tender yet vicious, self-assured yet completely lost. After struggling through trying to come to terms with himself, being outed to his team-mates and realising how much he has to lose, he has a magnificent moment of triumph that Petronijevic plays perfectly. But, as in real life, a moment of triumph is just that and Petronijevic skilfully takes Thad from exhilaration to glum resignation.

Ultimately, how an actor gives a memorable performance is by finding a way to attune the character to his audience. The most successful portrayals don't leave you wondering how it was done. And that's where Daniel Petronijevic has succeeded. Gueriwitcz is a character you can love because he's gay, hate because he's knowingly self-deceiving, admire because he has guts, pity because he's never happy. Petronijevic makes him all that and more – he makes him completely believable. What else can you ask for. I only hope he gets future roles deserving of his talent so that he can delight me again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Emmy Lou and the Northern Lights


From the premature to the retrograde: hearing Emmy Lou Harris sing “If I Could Only Win Your Love” today at the Lincoln Center Tower was to return to Northern California 1975 the time and place that was the site of Nude Gay Beaches on the Russian River, Champagne brunches that followed rough riding Tequila soaked Saturday nights , relatively safe sex and the sounds of what was then Cool Country, mostly from Emmy Lou and the Outlaws, viz. Waylon, Tompall, Willie, Jesse Colter and Dianne “Mountain Mama” Davidson. The skies and the music were more than just the background and the soundtrack, often they were the goal of creative fun.

Love Is A Force of Nature


A favorite BLOG in these parts "Towleroad" initiates today with Brokeback Mountain and related links. Go visit --->>>>>>> link to the right.

Premature as it may be, let's make a fuss and keep our fingers crossed. Thank you, Heath. There is much gratitude that Mr. Gibson didn't rub off on you, so to speak.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Music! Music! Music!


Emmylou Harris Live at Lincoln Center! - 7/19/2005 12:30 PM Tower Lincoln Center (1961 Broadway, New York, NY ) Spend lunch with Tower Records as we welcome Emmylou Harris to a special afternoon acoustic performance! The legendary singer/songwriter will play songs and sign copies of her new greatest hits collection- Heartaches & Highways: The Very Best of Emmylou Harris.
Don't miss your chance to see one of the true icons of alternative country up close and personal!

Ms. Harris has blazed more than one trail down the musical highways. Many will point to 1995’s Wrecking Ball as her capolavoro, but most will agree that from the very beginning with Pieces of the Sky she made her mark.

We'll Keep A Candle Burning in the Window



While there is much ado about the Killing Club killer on One Life to Live and the prospect of Ron Walsh being Hayes’ accomplice looming large from internet rumours, it comes to mind how sorely underused Timothy Adams has been since his character, the fetching Mr. Walsh, the older brother of the shrill Marcie showed up in Llanview.

There were a number of slots that Mr. Adams might have filled on the canvas, but at that point in time fleshing out Marcie’s history was welcomed. There were intimations that he might have been paired off with various female characters and many were looking forward to seeing him more often. Rumours abounded concerning a co-worker who brokered to keep his appearances to a minimum. The political maneuvering and the missed opportunities, not to mention the constant revelation of what is going to happen in the “press” only made the viewer the loser. At the very least, Mr. Adams would have provided a welcomed distraction to the relentless ennui that is supposed to be suspense.

Ah, young Tim, we hardly knew ye.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Queer As Folk



Any television show that refers to the “asshole in the White House” within the first three minutes of an episode can’t be all bad. As a matter of fact it might be more than not bad. It certainly can draw the viewer in above and beyond political commentary. Actually the thread of political issues woven into the fabric of the lives of the community of fictionalized Pittsburgh has made this a more than worthy Soap Opera.

Homosexuality as a societal scapegoat is nothing new. Terrorism is more than a timely topic. Rampant homophobia depicted in Senator Rick “Forrest Gump with Attitude” Santorum’s home State is more than appropriate. It can only be hoped that it gets the message across that religious and political rhetoric can lead to violence. Let's hope that people actually care that this kind of violence is very possible. The ghost of Timothy McVeigh should teach the same lesson.

All the elements were there and, for the most part, well done. Subplots that seemed unnecessary can be forgiven and Ted's new agoraphobic boyfriend might have been funny given the situation were it not for the distractingly bad hair and those of the ensemble whose line delivery was off beat can be forgiven because of the timeliness of the bigger picture and the emotional output that eventually draws the viewer further into what's happening.

Once again QAF respects its viewers. The next three episodes, and the finale on August 7, deserve some respect in return.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx's captivating short story is coming to the screen.

Brokeback Mountain
click for a larger image
is set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live as they have done for generations. Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar are two ranch hands – 'drop-out country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, tough spoken' – glad to have found each other's company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for, something deadly. In twenty years they grab just a few desperate meetings, grace only in the memory of 'that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.'

The film stars Heath Ledger & Jake Gyllenhaal. The premiere is scheduled for the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Wider release in the US is scheduled for December.

It should be interesting to see how much the gay content is toned down. It may be fine to do that with Alexander, since his sexuality, while important, is not the core of the story. But to do so with Brokeback Mountain would destroy it.

While Ang Lee, the director, was apparently considering major cuts to make it "more acceptable" recent quotes from Ledger indicate it may remain at least partially intact.

Unperturbed about the flack over the gay romance that hit Alexander last year Ledger says Brokeback will push the envelope. Especially one scene with Gyllenhall.

"The great thing was that we decided - well, he grabs me and he slams me up against the wall and kisses me.

"And then I grab him and I slam him up against the wall and I kiss him. And we were doing take after take after take."

Jake remembers it a bit differently. He says that Heath was so rough he nearly got a broken nose.


Of course, the question remains how this will impact the distribution of film. It looks like it will initially do the festival circuit where audiences are much more open-minded, but how will it play in Peoria? My guess is it will end up as a limited release. But then again, an unfortunate truth - no one going into this project could have thought it would be widely-accepted material.

A bit of advice before you see the movie. Buy the book, read it and, if you're the least bit moved by the written word, prepare yourself for a damn good cry.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Heart of A Man


When Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana were filming their short lived, albeit excellent, television series, The Jury Mr. Levinson had to step into the judge’s shoes when the original portrayer, Sidney Lumet, had to step aside. Well, if anyone could possibly fill a top notch director’s shoes it would be another top notch director. Once again it seems that Mr. Levinson is going to fill Mr. Lumet’s shoes by taking on Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge. Anthony LaPaglia will reprise his theatrical triumph from 1998 as Eddie Carbone in Mr. Levinson’s upcoming film (2006). In the meantime theater goers in Dublin, Ireland at the Gate Theater on July 28 will experience Mr. Christopher Meloni in the impassioned role.

Mr. Lumet’s 1961 film with Raf Vallone was a study in working class sexuality and male identity. The right actor with the right intensity and control just might be able to pull all those elements together. Those who are familiar with Mr. Meloni and his work find this a stroke of casting genius.

One of Meloni’s favorite novels is Christ in Concrete and there are some parallels in the telling of these Italian-American working class tales. Most people know Mr. Meloni from the small screen and in many instances the passion required for his literal and figurative voyage into the heart of American Drama can be seen there. Chris Keller (OZ) and Jimmy Leary (NYPD Blue) in particular were Christopher Meloni’s acting manifestations that evidenced his acting coglioni, which is Italian for heart.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Sunday Will Never Be the Same



There are more than enough reasons to watch Footballers’ Wives when BBC America airs it on Sunday at 9PM without making reference to the Desperate ones of the same time slot. David Bianculli in today’s Daily News may have been fair in saying that BBC is taking advantage of the inevitable comparisons and the mutual demographics but there was no mention that FW predates DH by three years. Trio TV gave a great preview last year of the first series/season. One definite reason to tune in is for Cristian Solimeno and his bad boy – very bad boy – footballer, Jason Turner. Another reason, especially for fans of Eastenders, is Gillian Taylforth as Jackie Webb, who is actually a footballer’s mother among other things. Ms. Taylforth brings naturalness to her interpretation that makes it easy to watch her whether she’s being good or bad.

Footballers’ Wives is one great, bawdy TV show. The desperation here emphasizes camp. Another Daily News article last Sunday gives us this: “the mix of male eye candy and Dynasty-style divas has attracted a big following among women and gay men.” The UK has had four series/seasons already. Zoe Lucker, who plays Jason’s wife Tanya is quoted in the same article with that what her character wants is “to maintain her status…and she wants the best for her husband, whom she really does care for. And true, she wants massive amounts of beauty treatments. And cocaine.” The article goes on to tell us that she plays her over-the-top character with a straight face. Well, that's the only way camp can work, n'est-ce pas?

BBC America has added another juicy show to watch and follow with great interest this Summer in addition to Rescue Me on Tuesdays and Six Feet Under on Sundays and Mondays. Sunday nights with QAF’s final episodes as well as Footballers’ Wives promise to make the Lord’s Day more than restful. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and pass the eye candy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Arianna and the Turd Blossom Express


There was a time when Arianna was the wife of a conservative Republican candidate for the Senate. She was married to Michael Huffington who lost his California Senatorial bid to Dianne Feinstein by a hair in 1994. Four years later he declared himself a bi-sexual (why do people have to come out of the closet in increments?) Mr. Huffington is now a gay activist, while Mrs Huffington, often thought to be the "brains behind the man" when they were married, is now a progressive political pundit with quite an interesting BLOG, "The Huffington Post."

This once ambitious conservative Republican political wife is relentlessly attacking Mr. Rove, aka turd blossom. This may mean that there is hope that people can change positively. Of course, Michael simply revealed his true identity with some drama but certainly with good effect. Perhaps he should have applied for consulting jobs in New Jersey or on One Life to Live.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

They Know Something and We Don't


In Tuesday’s Daily News it was reported:

FIELDS OF NIGHTMARES? Star Jones has acquired a scary lawyer. She was so ticked off about Philadelphia shock jock Patty Jackson's recent column claiming that Al Reynolds visited L.A. gay bars after the BET Awards that she sicced Hollywood pit bull Bert Fields on the hapless Jackson - who immediately issued a retraction and apology. So are Fields and Jones the new match made in heaven? Yesterday Jones' flack, Brad Zeifman, E-mailed Lowdown: "When Star needs to make important decisions in her professional or personal life, she hires the best people in the business to advise her. There is no question that Mr. Fields falls into that category."


This item is simply chock full of information. It really doesn’t put anything to rest about Al Reynolds’ sexuality but reaffirms that Ms. Jones is now scary two times over. Who will she hire to advise her on achieving good taste and erasing people’s memories? It also begs the question: Does Star Jones actually live in the real world, or even in New York? Lawyers and such cannot -- in the end -- kill the truth, whatever it may be as the great unwashed know. In fact it begs even more questions. Yelling "Not so!" at the top of your lungs convinces no one.

At least it wasn’t a blind item as noted in the current Soap Opera Weekly:

This front-burner soap newcomer got a little too friendly with a same-sex producer after a party, causing some tension and awkward moments on the set the week after.

Blind items are too frustratingly cute. The Daily News at least mentioned Al Reynolds by name and although some may say it virtually fanned the flames, so to speak. The coyness of the piece, since it even alludes to Jones and Fields being the heavenly match rather than Jones-Reynolds, gives its readers some food for thought, albeit food with empty calories.

SOW’s item from their “Buzz” column only serves to reinforce unfounded opinions of readers in either the positive or negative veins of the “gay issue.” Most intelligent people know that things like that happen. Then there are those people who are vexed by the we-know-something-you-don’t attitude. With an item like that at least three people for each reader will come to mind. Get off the pot, SOW, if you are not ready to divulge who is or isn’t gay.

The true vexation is that both items speak as if homosexuality is still a dirty little secret. It is time for all the people involved to understand that homosexuality is a fact of life.

It occurs. It happens. It is what people are. It is what people do. In many cases it is a blessing.

It is not an accusation.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Music! Music! Music!





Back when I Am Shelby Lynne was released in 2000, Out Magazine touted its release by comparing it to Dusty Springfield’s best efforts. Like Dusty who is much loved in these parts Shelby defies definition. Both artists approach (ed) their material from different perspectives, but both end (ed) up in the same authentic place.

I Am Shelby Lynne is a blue-eyed rhythm and blues album with a dash of real blues thrown in for good measure. The music is Dusty Springfield sprinkled with Bonnie Raitt.

Lynne's vocals are what makes all of these self-penned tunes special. Her voice suits this material perfectly. She can coo like a kitten on "Black Light Blue" or wail like a blues queen on "Life Is Bad." The latter comes complete with a very bluesy slide guitar and vocal style that indicates she may have listened to early Raitt. "Your Lies," which opens the album, sounds just like a good 1960s Top 40 song by the late Springfield. If released as a single back then it most certainly would have been a hit.


Springfield's "Some of Your Lovin'" penned by Carole King is the closest in kinship to this unique sound. It was the late Dusty's favourite recording.


"Gotta Get Back," "Thought It Would Be Easier" and "Leavin," are all enjoyable low key R&B songs. The Springfield influence is prevalent on all. The closest Lynne gets to her country roots is on "Where I'm From," her tribute to her home state of Alabama, but even that tune exhibits enough blues touches so as not to be considered a true country song.

If you like your female vocalists to sing with feeling but not sound like one of the many melodramatic divas that have gained notoriety over the last decade, I Am Shelby Lynne is for you.

(From the ‘Net: Rambles – a Cultural Arts Magazine)

Shelby Lynne will be performing at Tower Records Lincoln Center New York this coming Wednesday July 13, 2005 at 6PM in anticipation of her performance at Central Park’s Summer Stage on July 15, 2005. Shelby is here to enhance our musical lives with a new album on Capitol, Suit Yourself. It hearkens back to her milestone opus, I Am … for which she received much acclaim. The recent article in Next Magazine paints what seems to be an accurate picture of the independent artist.

Experiencing Lynne on stage at the Ryman in Nashville some years back was a unique experience. It was the distinct pleasure of experiencing a performer who loves her craft and approaches it in a no nonsense way.

*****


The same evening upstairs at Tower Lincoln Center’s Any Wednesday Cabaret Bart Greenberg brings to us another top notch act, Boulevard East. Bart has been diligently playing their disc in Tower’s Vocal Section and, therefore, his regular customers will probably be familiar with their sound:

Combining their unique personalities and shared love of standards, Christopher Howatt, Dana Merritt and Beth Covell deliver a fresh interpretation of many of the enduring songs you love. From Cole Porter to Hoagy Carmichael...from Nat King Cole to The Andrew Sisters...from bluesy ballads to Broadway, "Boulevard East" sings the best of the best!

This coming Wednesday promises to be one of Tower’s most promising evenings. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Gratitude


To Queer As Folk for giving its following among other things scenes they'd like to see. The series is going out with style, social consciousness and viewer satisfaction. It respects its audience.

Teaching Us Not to Care

Main Entry: 2care
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): cared; car•ing
intransitive senses
1 a : to feel trouble or anxiety b : to feel interest or concern
2 : to give care
3 a : to have a liking, fondness, or taste b : to have an inclination
transitive senses
1 : to be concerned about or to the extent of
2 : WISH
- car•er noun
- care less : not to care -- used positively and negatively with the same meaning


Soap Opera Weekly has actually put it all in perspective. The news is that story does not matter. If a favourite character dies, no need to worry, they will soon be resurrected. If the so-called Soap Opera Press reports that there was ill will with the departure of a well loved actor, pay it no mind.

The news was also served up with Ms. Hinsey’s interview with Brian Frons whose message to the public boiled down to this: if you are uncomfortable with a story, don’t worry we’ll rewrite it for you. If the Network needs to cut back on the Daytime budget, perhaps Mr. Frons’ salary might be a focus. How much does a person like that make? Why does that person need to micromanage individual shows to the point of rewriting them? Take the money being paid him and invest it in the shows that need competent teams.

The major focus of the issue virtually encourages the viewer not to care. Point taken.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ilene Kristen Rox On

Veteran's Day on One Life to Live





Yesterday’s episode of One Life to Live was noteworthy in that the TV screen was graced with the presence of Ilene Kristen as Roxanne Balsom an occurrence that doesn’t occur often enough. The character of Roxanne is one of the best parts of Gary Tomlin’s dubious legacy, one which bears reevaluation in retrospect in relation to regimes that have followed.

When Ilene as Roxanne entered the precinct yesterday it was as if all three of her co-stars became her supporting players. This is not to say that she is not a generous scene stealer, but she is a scene stealer nevertheless.


Her presence and recalling Gary Tomlin only serve to remind what might have been if subsequent producing/writing teams had been allowed to serve up with all the fixin's the burgeoning quirky love story between Max Holden, the very talented James DePaiva, and Roxanne. (It also makes one wonder why the entire Holden clan was sent off into that great Soap Opera black hole in the sky.) In addition to being Mrs. Holden, Roxanne was one of the characters that saved the “Mitch Laurence debacle” from being completely avoidable. The great example of what this multi-layered character is all about is that when push came to shove and she was confronted by the moustache twirling Laurence she saved both of her “fake daughters.” It was of the stuff that was making Max fall in love with her. It is of the stuff that makes many fall in love with Ilene Kristen’s skillful portrayal.

Perhaps now that Rex Balsom, Roxanne’s son, as portrayed by the very talented and affable John-Paul Lavoisier, is being rehabilitated into a sort of anti-hero a la Luke Spencer the viewer will be treated to more of his quirky, morally challenged mother.

It is the wholesale discount of talented veterans like Ilene Kristen, who is now off-contract, that spell for many the demise of the daytime drama. Let’s be clear, Soap Opera, i.e. continuing drama with a long story arc, is not dead. No need to recount the instances in which it thrives. On the other hand the daytime drama in its current format does not look like a survivor. It sometimes seems as if someone or some people are systematically trying to destroy it.

The only other way to explain it is, as in other media, those in charge are trying to lure very young viewers in order to beef up the ratings and the demographics. In the last six months the ratings for the two ABC shows followed here have fallen .5 which is a big number where the pickin’s is slim.

Listen up, executives, producers, writers and viewers; (1) please remember that this is afternoon network television on whose prairies the hip and young do not deign to roam at this point in time (2) there is no substitute for talent, young or old, (3) do not speak to viewers as if they have heads that screw off and on (4) speak to viewers as if they get nuance and experience. It may not get you elected President of the United States, but it will create Art and if you create it they will come.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hasta Siempre

There were good things to talk about except all the joy went out of the day when daylight began. The sadness is enhanced in that this was done in the name of religion. There is not much more to add that there are those who live by the religious sword and actually turn it on themselves. There is not much difference between God and the Devil in this case. If the God one believes in encourages and desires the death of innocent people then that evil perpetrated is on par with the evil associated with Satan. Disbelief reigns at the end of the day.

What makes it even sadder is that political opportunists all over the world will use this to further their own agendas.

Those who survive will go on and will very quickly find enjoyment in daily living yet life has forever changed.

No need to worry, RuPaul



Although it is not the first time that Lee Tergesen fans have seen their favourite actor in drag, it was quite fun to observe him in the last episode of Rescue Me all decked out so to speak. While there may not be anything wrong with that it was a welcomed respite from the darkness that this very well done episodic drama can be.

Tergesen’s interpretations of Sully gave the viewers a distraction that pointed toward a surprise ending that would bring Tommy back to where he belonged. Tergesen/Sully did not disappoint. It was amusing, but also reminded the audience how flawed the weekly characters to whom they may be attached are.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Good News ...

... is that Tower Lincoln Center has a lot planned this month: Shelby Lynne, Emmy Lou Harris and Tommy Krasker's lover, Philip Chaffin. Next Wednesday the public gets two for the price o' one: Ms. Lynne as well Boulevard East.

The bad news is that Any Wednesday is on a sabbatical for this week.

This is what New York City is all about: the accessiblity of Art. There will be much more here about the last Any Wednesday and future events at Tower Records' best store venue. It's the most entertaining way to spend your money.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Right to Life

How grand to view the display of fireworks celebrating freedom and independence. There is a lot more to the story and most people who live in the United States live in that very awareness.

There are those who consider being part of this Pax Americana as a calling to some kind of global superiority. There are those who consider themselves the messengers of morality not only for Populus Americanus but the rest of the world as well, the good news of the straight and narrow – narrow being the operative word here.

The shots of smiling couples watching the skyward show while the orchestra serenaded the viewing public with patriotically inspiring music almost, just almost kept the matters at hand an arm’s length away.

Court appointees, insurgencies, and denied rights were more than likely not on the minds of this Republic’s founders. It is to be hoped they were on the minds of some modern day citizens.

It is the right to life that should be foremost on all citizens’ minds this day of days for a nation is nothing if it does not encourage and nurture the same.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

To Thine Own Self Be Drew

Dave Kopay did it in the real world and now Drew Boyd is going to do it in fictional Pittsburgh. What makes Drew Boyd’s story on Queer As Folk relevant is that he didn’t consider himself gay because his sexual activity didn’t involve affection. When he admits to Emmett that he wanted to kiss him and that he had feelings for him, he, therefore, admits that he is gay. Coming attractions indicate that Drew will come out on television news. Would that football players livin’ on the down low in the real world follow suit. Matt Battaglia garnered some positive attention on the pages of our forum last year for obvious reasons when the character he plays, Drew Boyd, took up with Emmett. Happy days for the viewer that Drew has returned to deal with his feelings: he returned to Emmett after being blackmailed and deciding not to give in to the extortion. Emmett exhorts him to be honest with himself. Tune in next week. Same time. Same station. It is obvious for the most part where this is going. Thank you for going there.

Happy Birthday Gay America

Gay People have been a part of this Republic since the very beginning and noting that one good soul on Datalounge linked up to the article on July 3, 1981 in the New York Times reporting on the cases of Kaposi's Sarcoma found in young gay men in New York and California.

It seems appropriate to reprint an article from Oasis on one Gay American admired by many:

Larry Kramer 'Just Says No' to being angry anymore

by Jeff Walsh, Oasis Editor

Larry Kramer has been a lightning rod for controversy since his fist novel Faggots blazed into bookstores and parodied the way gay men were living their lives. The novel ended up being far too prescient, and a few years after its release the AIDS crisis would begin.
The crisis changed Larry Kramer's main role from writer to activist. He founded the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the first agency to help gay men deal with the AIDS crisis in its infancy, and also founded The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (better known as ACT UP), which would become the height of gay activism in the 1980s, with its theatrical demonstrations underscoring the plight of a dying community.
During the 1980s, Kramer wrote "The Normal Heart," a play about the infancy or the AIDS crisis, channeling his rage into lead character Ned Weeks. The movie version of theplay has always had huge names attached to it, such as Barbra Streisand and ER's Anthony Edwards, but is still too much of a political hot potato for name actors to sign on to it.
Kramer also wrote a play entitled "Just Say No" in the 1980s which lampooned the Reagan years, but that play was savaged by the second-string New York Times theater critic. The play just began a revival run in Chicago and plays through July 4 at the Bailiwick Theater.
In a recent phone interview during rehearsals in Chicago, Kramer said the current political climate will allow for a play lampooning a presidency, which wasn't the case in the 1980s.
"The difference is that now we had Bill and Monica. In the time of the Reagan years, we weren't allowed to criticize them for all the shit they laid on everybody," he said. "And, I have no doubt that AIDS was allowed to happen because of Nancy Reagan's sex life and Ed Koch's sex life and the perception that Ron Reagan Jr. was gay. All their sexual secrets and hypocrisy."
The show has gotten a lot of attention, thanks to Greg Louganis playing the role of Ron Reagan Jr., and Alexandra Billings, a transgendered woman, playing Nancy Reagan. The couple was on the cover of The Advocate and featured on Entertainment Tonight, which is a much different role than the media played for the play's initial run.
"The New York Times critic hated it and he really creamed us," Kramer said. "He was angry and said the play was in bad taste. What was in bad taste was the Reagans and their path to suppress AIDS and try to kill us. That was in worst taste."
Kramer has rewritten the play and has made it funnier and more outrageous, in the hope that it would have a life beyond the Chicago production. There are currently offers from other cities to bring the Chicago cast to other cities after the run finishes there.
Kramer's other media blitz recently came when he spoke at a queer youth conference in Madison, Wis., and instead of writing a second speech to deliver, he decided to test out a chapter from his forthcoming book "The American People." The chapter dealt with Abraham Lincoln being gay, and a journalist in the crowd wrote a story which was then picked up by the wire services. Kramer said the story becoming a big deal (as evidenced by a recent Salon article) was never the plan.
"I didn't expect it to get out," he said. "The thing in Madison was spur-of-the-moment and I didn't want to write another speech, since I was booked to do two speeches. So, occasionally I read a section of the book somewhere just to see how it goes, and I decided to read the Abe Lincoln stuff."
Kramer said he was pleasantly surprised by the historians that have been quoted in stories questioning Honest Abe's sexuality.
"None of the historians that [Salon] talked to actually said I was wrong. They just wanted proof," he said. "No one said 'Larry's crazy' or 'He's off the wall.' They're saying, 'that's very interesting.' It's like everyone knows it's there."
Kramer had previously been critical of Gore Vidal's biography of Lincoln, which didn't mention the questions about his sexuality. Kramer found that odd, considering Vidal is openly gay.
"I was angry with him. I interviewed him in 1987 for a gay magazine and I told him, 'why didn't you put the gay stuff in,' and he made an excuse," Kramer said. "That interview is actually coming out from Clies Press in a book called Sexual Writings."
Kramer's book still doesn't have a publication date. It's at about 1800 pages so far, and he wants it to be published in one volume, despite its size. He said it will be published "when it's finished, which will probably be when I die."
"It's a history of being gay in America, and it's the history of America, the history of a plague, of disease. It's very ambitious," he said.
The other ambitious project has been the never-ending fight to bring "The Normal Heart" to the screen.
"The movie thing fell apart again. Last week, actually," Kramer said. "The problem has always been that we can't get any stars to be in it, and the people who put up the money insist on names. Barbra couldn't get anyone to be in it, and now Anthony Edwards couldn't get anyone. He's the one that had it last, and it fell through last week."
The movie has previously had stars attached, such as Kevin Spacey, Sharon Stone and Helen Hunt, but they never end up doing it.
"Kevin Spacey said he would do it, but then backed out at the last minute. We thought he would do it, because he's gay," Kramer said. When reminded that Spacey isn't openly gay, Kramer scoffs and just said: "Well, it's certainly been said enough places."
Kramer said the problem isn't unique to Normal Heart, noting that Tony Kushner's award-winning Angels in America is having the same problem.
"Tony hasn't been able to get a movie going. That's been on-again, off-again as much as Normal Heart."
Kramer said few, if any, major movies have dealt with AIDS in a realistic manners.
"If you find any homosexuality in Philadelphia, you'd have to be Sherlock Holmes," he said. "I was against that it was so homogenized. I do believe Normal Heart can be a commercial movie with two names in it, but we can't get two names."
Whenever Kramer writes an essay for The Advocate or delivers a speech, he ignites debate. The word anger is most attached to describe him.
"Why, I'm such a soft-spoken nice person?" Kramer wonders, when asked about his reputation. "The media made me into this angry person, and it suited the media and it suited me for a while, because it made people listen to me. It made people afraid of me when I had to negotiate things about drugs and clinical trials, so it served it's purpose. I'm a little bored with it now."
I then told Kramer how important his words and the words of Michelangelo Signorile shaped my coming out and activism in the early 90s, when both were columnists at The Advocate. Playwright David Drake was also touched by Kramer's words so much after seeing The Normal Heart that he later called his one-man show The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me (soon to be a movie!), after the metaphoric kiss he received in the theater that night. Kramer said he does know that people support him, but the negative feedback gets more play.
"It goes like a pendulum, sometimes I hear the praise and most of the time I hear the attacks, mainly because that's what makes publicity. I'm 64, and I'm getting on here, and I'm beginning to feel it more than I have before. I'm sad that there isn't any real activism anymore, like ACT UP. I miss that a lot. I miss that constructive energy that changed things."
Kramer said he is upset by the disappearance of the activist culture in the gay community.
"I think one of the most disheartening things is everyone seems to have forgotten the plague, and not just young people, but older people who lived through it," he said. "It's almost like it didn't happen and everybody thinks it's gone away. That's hard to take. It changed my demeanor a lot. I'm not as angry as I used to be. I'm much more resigned. The only think I want to do is finish my novel, which will be my major piece of work, and then I'm ready to die. The novel will say it all.
"I'm tired of fighting the world, and I'm tired of the fights with people like Ed White and Eric Rofes and people who I just think are wrong. But, I've said it so many times, there's no point to say it anymore. My book will say everything, it will be between two covers for anyone who wants to read it, and I'll just live my life with my friends."
Kramer said he doesn't know why people are so complacent anymore.
"I really don't know what's happened, whether it just goes in cycles whereby there's a generation of activists and then a generation that's conservative and quiet," he said. "And then, you hope there will be another active one. Considering we have so many battles to fight, it's perplexing so much passivity is visible."
Kramer said the main ingredient needed for successful activism -- fear -- doesn't exist as much anymore.
"For activism to be successful, people have to be afraid and I don't think people are afraid anymore," he said. "The two organizations I helped to start were started when people were really afraid. And ACT UP was started when people were terrified."
I then asked him what kind of activism was happening in the gay community before the AIDS crisis.
"Before AIDS, it wasn't complacency, it was invisibility," he said. "A lot of people out in one way or another, you couldn't deny to yourself that you were gay if you had to deal with the potential death, so it brought a lot of people out. And it's interesting how many of the activists in both organizations must have suspected they were going to get infected and die, because a lot of them did die. They fought to save their lives."
Kramer's role in activism was recently discussed in the scholarly "We Must Love One Another Or Die: The Life and Legacies of Larry Kramer," a book for which Kramer has mixed feelings.
"I know it was an honor, but 'I'm not dead yet' was my reaction," he said. "Embarrassing isn't the right word, but it was strange. Some of the things I liked, some of the things I didn't like, but I'm used to that."
When asked if he has any specific advice for today's queer youth, Kramer said he would have to say "all of those terrible things that old men say to younger people -- it's your world, your future and your life out there now."
"It's exciting to see so many more people visible now, but people have to find their own ways, gay or straight," he said. "And it doesn't get easier as you get older, kids. You don't want to hear that but it's true. They don't tell you about all the aches and pains."
Kramer said he's happy with the life he's lived. But he says he's happiest now, in a relationship, quietly writing and living in the country.
"I'm happy just being a writer and a novelist in the country, where I don't have to deal with anybody," he said. "I enjoy that the most."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Go Forth and Multiply

A honeymoon in Sunny Spain one of Holy Mother Church’s dearest daughters would do the hearts good of many a vibrant homosexual not to mention having the marriage sanctioned there.

The United States’ neighbour to its North and more than one of its neighbours across the ocean seem bent on affording the rights to same sex couples that are afforded to those of mixed marriages. Perhaps the gods – or God as the case may be -- do smile on the alternative brethren from time to time.

That being said and accepted, let it also be said that perhaps the Federal Government of any nation has no business sanctifying anybody’s marriage. Yes, if mixed marriages are to be sanctified by a civil government then all marriages should of necessity be sanctified by the Government.

However, it is not the Government’s business to sanctify any union whatsoever. It is the Government’s business on the other hand to nurture and encourage households of whatever nature as long as those households in turn nurture and encourage the productive lives of its citizens.

Let the Churches debate what they need to debate. If a homosexual Church somewhere in the world doesn’t want to bless mixed marriages that’s its matter and only its concern. It is no concern of the Government’s.

Even Holy Mother Church, the one that Ratzinger heads, has always taught that the ministers of the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony are those who are entering into the Holy Contract. Not the priest.

It should follow that the Federal Government has no business administering a sacrament to anyone.

Still, let every homosexual male and female alike enter the Ark of same sex marriage and when the waters have subsided let them go forth and populate the Earth.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Marcie! Marcie! Marcie!

If only the Killing Club guy had kidnapped Marcie, then those folks who actually took the time to watch wouldn’t have to be subjected to Kathy Brier’s mugging without it being put to good use. Anymore it seems that One Life to Life is the textbook for how to murder a character.

Not all that long ago when Marcie was making the transition from antipathy to sympathy the character had the attention of the viewing audience. That capital seems to be squandered by now. Marcie has gone from insecure camp follower who would do anything for a crumb of friendship to a 4 point student who saves a drug addict to grieving hallucinating "widow" to a failing student who writes a successful novel to a shrieking civil rights activist to a blubbering guilt ridden heroine with no clue, literally.

It is impressive that Kathy Brier can weep on cue and has a powerful singing voice and that she can act her way out of a paper bag. She has achieved status because she is every woman and “every woman” is cheering her on. If Marcie is to be all things to all women, perhaps it is time to start reaching out to that subtle woman inside all of us.