LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WATCH IT!: "The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary" Movie Review

XAVIERA HOLLANDER: Confessions of a Happy Hooker
 

(Xaviera, then and now)
 

     A true sexual pioneer, Xaviera Hollander is destined to be known for the rest of her life as "The Happy Hooker".  That was, of course, the title of Xaviera's hugely bestselling (20 million copies) 1971 book.  Just as revolutionary as her pride and joy with her career choice was Hollander's unapologetic attitudes about sex, which may still be considered rogue even today.  Hollander believed in sexual equality for women as well as the unashamed pursuit of sexual pleasure for all.  Robert Dunlap's exhilarating new documentary, "The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary", explores Ms. Hollander's wild life, from childhood to this very day.  Raised in Dutch Indonesia and The Netherlands, Hollander became aware of her sexual awakenings at a young age (Her story about how her mother discovered her diary, complete with her budding erotic reflections, is priceless.).  In the film, Hollander recalls having her first lesbian encounter at age 17, and often having a girlfriend "on the side" even when she started dating men.  Xaviera moved to New York City in 1964, and he rest is history. In case you were too young to remember, there was a sexual revolution going on at the time.  The film makes it a point to enlighten the audience as to how the invention of The Pill, the burgeoning gay rights juggernaut, and women's lib movement contributed to this new freedom.  Propelled by both a huge sexual appetite as well as a quest for a "good man", Xaviera in New York City was like a little girl in a candy store.  She knew what the men wanted, and soon put her talents to good use-- becoming a call girl and then a madam.  Later, she found a lucrative second career as a writer with "The Happy Hooker" book as well as an advice column for "Penthouse" magazine: a gig which lasted 35 years.  Nineteen other books would eventually follow.  Hollander even had an acting role in the quasi-autobiographical 1975 movie "My Pleasure is My Business", although other actresses would play Xaviera in the three movies based on her book.   It wasn't all pretty.  After getting busted, Xaviera was deported back to her native Holland.  It's worth noting that her legal troubles only only helped make the book's profits grow even larger. 

     Throughout this vivid documentary, Hollander's fun personality and positive energy come through in a big way.  In addition to lots of vintage footage and photos (including an interview with Larry King, as well as endless pics and video clips of an often naked Xaviera back in her sexual heyday), the doc features many interviews with noted sexologists such as Candida Royalle and Annie Sprinkle.  Sprinkle praises Xaviera for introducing the concept of "Whore Pride".  Now 66 and happily married to a handsome younger guy, Ms. Hollander is busier than ever.  She's got a new book named "The Happy Hooker's Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex: 69 Orgasmic Ways to Pleasure a Woman", and there's even talk about a "Happy Hooker" musical.   She's also a patron of the arts-- mostly the erotic arts-- and she owns a bed and breakfast in Amsterdam.  



     On Monday, November 16th, "The Happy Hooker: Portrait of a Sexual Revolutionary" was screened at New York City's GLBT Center, with a special appearance by Xaviera Hollander herself.   Wearing a T-shirt that said, "Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians", the sex star posed for pictures with fans, autographed copies of her books, and fielded Q+A with the audience.   That audience included her husband, sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, and Veronica Vera, Founder of Miss Vera's Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls.  Both Queen and Vera were featured in the movie.  Out of the many funny and  provocative things that Xaviera Hollander said that night both in the movie and afterward , the one which everyone likely went home with was when Ms. Hollander declared herself as "tri-sexual": meaning, she'll try anything once.  Now, that's my kind of woman!

      For more info on Xaviera's documentary and book, visit www.XavieraHollander.com

NOW HEAR THIS! CANDYE KANE "Superhero"




     Los Angeles native Candye Kane is a truly self-styled, multiple award-winning juggernaut of a jump blues singer.  Her talents as a performer-- specifically, her powerhouse voice and her larger-than-life persona-- have often competed for attention with (and were sometimes eclipsed by) her truly amazing life story.  Through her decades in the public eye, Kane has also been an advocate for the GLBT community and for sex workers, a poster girl for the beauty of bigger women, and an adult film star.  She has no regrets about or apologies for any of the so-called "controversial" aspects of her past careers. But back to the music... and Kane's tenth album "Superhero"  is some very fine music indeed.  Her sassy, bold persona comes through in a big way on this disc.  Candye's delivery is hard-hitting, and her energy level is truly infectious. Blues may be her affinity, but Kane's punk, rock, cabaret, and American pop influences really make the whole musical picture. The album's opener and title track, "Superhero", emerges an an anthem of empowerment for all of us. This song is actually one of a trio of tunes on the album which was written about Kayne's own struggle with-- and triumph over-- pancreatic cancer.  But then again, every song on this album is a bona fide, all-out performance.  The deliciously dark "I Put a Hex on You" is a true gem, a bad girl's companion piece to Screamin' Jay Hawkin's classic "I Put a Spell on You".  Revenge never sounded so sweet as the song pairs seductive rythms with lyrics like:
"I got a voodoo gris gris,
And a piece of your hair;
I said an incantation,
You ain't got a prayer;
I burned your picture,
with a black cord knot;
Stuck a needle in a doll,
That looks like you a lot..."


     Kane's thick-as-molasses blues version of "I'm A Bad, Bad Girl" is an homage to her notorious past, as well as a prime showcase for Kane's belting abilities.  "Ik Hou Van Je" (Dutch for "I Love You") is one of the album's many high points: a piano-driven, high-energy romp where Candye declares variations of "I love you" in at least 16 languages.  She musically summarizes with "The words are universal, and one thing is true; In every corner of the world, we all say 'I love you!'".  There's no cool down period after this track; she moves right ahead with the immortal question "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?"  Kane gives us a smart, snappy, wild ride take on the oft-redone classic by Jack Temchin and Bobby Whittlock, featuring exceptionally dynamic guitar work.  Flanked by some heavy rock guitar, Ms. Kane roars like a true goddess of rock 'n' roll for "You Need Love" (Astute listeners will note that this is the song which largely inspired Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love".), "Till You Go Too Far", and "You Can't Stop Me from Loving You".  Who can sing these songs with more conviction than this renegade artist? "I Like 'Em Stacked Like That" is a duet with smooth-voiced blueser Mitch Kashmar.  He praises voluptuous women, she praises brainy guys... and by the time their joyous synergy reaches a climax with both of them crooning "I like 'em stacked like that!", the listener will want to grab the nearest thing resembling a microphone and join them.  Kane reinvents herself as cool 1950's chick with the malt-shop flavored "I Didn't Listen to My Heart" and "Throw It In the Trash Can Love".  Think of this pair  as the greatest songs which never made it onto the "Grease" soundtrack.  "Superhero" closes with "I'm Gonna Be Just Fine", an unadorned song also inspired by Kane's own fight for survival.

     Whether or not blues is your musical genre of choice, this superbly produced deserves to be noted as one of the best of 2009.  It's a hot, sweet time!

     Visit www.CandyeKane.com

Thursday, November 19, 2009

JOEY STEELE: INTERVIEW WITH THE SEX STAR



JOEY STEELE: INTERVIEW WITH THE SEX STAR

     In person, the 6'2" Joey Steele makes a striking appearance.   However, his long hair, slender physique, absence of tattoos or piercings, and a persona that seems more European than American doesn't strike one as being the "look" of a porn star in a biz that's currently dominated by twinks and "bad boy" types.  Nevertheless, Mr. Steele is one of the busiest performers in the adult entertainment biz today.  More than just performing in videos, he's also a prolific producer of erotic video and photo work.  Steele travels all over the country for photo shoots and live appearances at clubs, events, and adult bookstores.  When we met on a mild Sunday night in Manhattan, he had just come back from a special appearance at SBNY, where he was one of the original "shower dancers" years earlier when the club was still Splash.  As a model, Steele also does a great deal of mainstream photography.  In all his projects, he's serious about the aesthetic and artistic qualities of the work, revealing some provocative as well as hilarious insights. We may laugh at how supermodels talk about how "hard" their work is (standing for hours, burning under hot lights...), but there's a partial truth to it.  It only looks easy!  Steele recalls one photo session where he was being shot while climbing up a water tower in downtown NYC, naked.  That shot meant hanging-- not just hanging out-- all day to get that beautiful image just right. (See photo.) But, as Steele recalls, the end result was worth it.   Joey and I spoke about his career and his upcoming appearance in Chuck Cannon's "Homo Erotics"-- a "gay porn choreopoem with music", in New York City's Crowne Theater on December 6th.

JR: Hi Joey!  Congratulations about the upcoming show.
JS: Thanks!

JR: One of the first things I noticed about your career is that you don't work with the major adult film studios.
JS: I used to... and, every once in a while, I'll still do a studio project. But, I learned a long time ago that the real money is in owning your own material.  For example, in terms of print photo material, I own tens of thousands of photos of myself from shoots that I've either bought outright or have negotiated the rights for.  What I'm concentrating on now is producing my own material, my fan membership sites, distributing it through the web, and selling it to other sites.  DVD's and videos are dead anyway.  You can download everything!  Distribution that way is very expensive, and the market keeps shrinking.  That's happening with print media too.  Everything's digital, everything's online.  So if you're not doing that, and not out there online, and not producing for the web-- whether it's still photos or live action-- then you're not gonna be anywhere.  But the one interesting thing is what I call "multiple leverage" in terms of being across the web.  Once you create material, it can grow legs, and you can re-sell that material on and on and on... whether it's clips, feature length, stills, print, or what have you.  So, that's what my interest is right now.  Look at the example of a certain performer who has a lifetime contract with a Falcon Studios.  He doesn't own his material.  He's basically a slave to the DVD production and what not.  Falcon is slowly but surely moving to the web.  Slowly!  But, they're all gonna have to do that.  Because, no one is really gonna be going to a video store.

JR: I still do! (Laughs)
JS: In a few years, they're gonna disappear.  It's like "Playgirl".  "Playgirl" is online now. "Men" Magazine is online now.  I mean, no one is buying the actual magazine as much anymore.  That's all gonna disappear.  I do a lot of artistic projects too.  I generally get shot for fine art or fine art photography.  I think it's almost like a novelty-- an up-and-coming thing for more and more porn stars: appearing on runways or other kinds of shows, and putting in personal appearances.  There's a real interest in doing portraiture of adult film stars.  It's a big seller, and it's very lucrative to sit for portraits.  I'm usually hanging in a few galleries upstate and in Canada. (Laughs)  But that's primarily where my focus is now, and of course I still do events constantly.  I'll look at anything anyone sends me, just to see what it is.  I do find that the days of shooting video for DVD distribution and all those kinds of things pretty much is dead.  I remember shooting five films in two days once.  It nearly killed me!  But, that's all going away.  Performers need to adjust to that, and certainly need to take control of their own material.  On my site, I own everything.

JR: You also recruit models for photo and video work, right?.
JS: I work with a stable of pros, including Diego Santana and a few other professionals. I also do recruit new talent.  The thing that I find is that people are trying to get into the industry need to be worked out and trained.  I've had a lot of people go through me that have ended up going on to other labels.   Michael Lucas and I have shared a number of people! (Laughs Brandon Aguilar started with me, then went on to Lucas Entertainment, then he's gone on to other things.  Kyle Douglas is another one.

JR: What do you look for in the guys that come to you?  Is it a specific look, or personality, or that they have a big dick...? (Laughs)

JS: I'm actually not a size queen! (Both laugh)  Sanity helps!  That's one thing.  But generally, I look whether there's something about him where the whole look works together, and there's something interesting and different about him.  The thing that's been true of my career, and of anyone that's gonna make it in the industry, is that you have to be different.  If you're the blond bodybuilder type and surfer boy... they're a dime a dozen.  You'll get some work.  But I'm more interested in getting somebody who has more of a unique look or something about them that might actually have longevity.  All the people who have been around a long time are very unique.  Mike Dreyden is a good example.  He's not like every other guy who's out there.  That's the thing I look for.  Because, the other thing is: What people are looking for in terms of my fan base, they want to see me with something different every time in some way.  What is it about this guy that's different?  I've shot with Gary Plenty like six times over the past five years or so, and he's primarily a straight performer.  What's unique about him is that he's black but he's "carypso"-- from the Caribbean.  So, he's a little bit different. Very ripped body and that kind of thing... but what makes him unique is that I'm the only gay performer he performs with.

JR: That must be a big turn-on for the audience, because it blurs that line of sexuality. He's straight but he performs with men.

JS: Absolutely.  Another one is Joe Unity.
JR: "Joe Unity"?  He sounds very all-American.
JS.  You're right.  He's a totally straight performer.  And yet I've fucked him on film.  So, I look at what's different, what's got an edge.  Also, I generally pay better than most of competitors.  I go out and actively try to recruit people.  I'll look at any and all talent that submits.  I do interview heavily before I actually work with someone.  You want to feel out their motivations for doing this.  A lot of people have a fantasy of doing it, which is very different from reality.  Some people just want to be like, "I want to do a porn film to say 'I did that!'"  That's something they probably fantasize about when they're watching a video.  So, that's something you have to sort out.  I really only want to work with people who at least have some kind of career motivation, even if it's only for a short time... but not like a one-time fantasy thing.  Generally, what I find in that case is that the shoot's not gonna be good.  I've been lucky.  I've worked with a lot of good people, a lot of good photographers and videographers.  Right now I actually have a couple of newbies who might have some potential.  We'll see.  I do screen them.  I just interviewed one.  He's 21, straight, wants to have a modeling and porn career, very good "look"... but he has an arrest record! (Both laugh)  You get all kinds.  We'll see...

JR: I'm sure that would be a big turn-on for some!  He's got "street cred".  While we're on the subject of looks, it struck me that you have a very unique look yourself.  Do you feel that there's a certain "look" that's popular in porn and that you break away from it?

JS: There's a certain standard look that I call "the turnstile look".  It's a revolving door of what they think people want.  That could be the "jock next door" look or whatever you want to call it.  But, just as we've seen happen in the industry, we have more interracial, more fetish and all that kind of thing.  Anyone who lasts has something different about them.  For example, with my look, or even in the case of Manuel Torres or someone... you'll stand out because you don't look like everyone else.  It will take a little bit longer to build up that type of fan base, but I've learned that there's much more of an interest in you by photographers.  In Europe, I'm actually quite big.  The market's a lot wider than it used to be because of the web.  So, you can have global appeal if you have a look that appeals beyond a certain segment.  I'll pick on them a little bit: Catalina Video.
JR: Are they still making movies?
JS: Sort of! 
JR: I remember how in all their ads, all their models no body hair, and they all oiled themselves up.  So, when I hear "Catalina", I think of guys with very greasy bodies.
JS: Now, name any of their performers...
(I really think hard but can't think of any names, then finally one name comes up...)
JR: I do remember one... "Beau Beaumont" was his name.  Don't tell me you knew him!...

JS: (Laughs)  I don't know Beau Beaumont.  But that is a lot of it.  You need to be memorable.  Jake Deckard-- I've known him for years.  He's got a great body and decent face and everything, but he's not somebody that fits a norm or stereotype as a "porn star".  But, he's been around and has had name recognition for decades.

JR: Wow!  So, what is more satisfying for you-- still photography or video?
JS: Creatively, it' s still photography... because you can actually create something that's more "capturing the moment."  Video sells... and it's fun!  But photography is really more where the creativity is.  You're setting up the shot, and getting a certain thing.  Generally, whenever I shoot film, there's always a certain amount of still photography mixed in.  Even on my fan site, there's always a photo gallery as well as video-- never just one or the other.  Will still images, you get something much more interesting than you do with video.  Plus, you can do a lot of things with photography to get a certain image: body paint, or a special effect...  That's always been where my passion has been.  I'm lucky that through all these years, a lot of photographers seek me out and want to shoot me... and they usually pitch some kind of idea or concept.

JR: What do you feel has been your biggest contribution to the adult film business?  Or, put another way, what makes Joey Steele different from the other performers: Is it your look, your persona, your attitude towards sexuality?...
JS: That's a very interesting question! My God, I'm gonna sound like Dustin Hoffman, but here it goes: I've been told that I've been the "porn star for porn stars".
JR: Really?
JS: I think that's mostly just because I do tend to try to take it up a notch in terms of artistry.  I do focus more on photography.  I think that the body of work that I have out there just in terms of images is enormous, compared to a lot of guys in the business.  They have their centerfolds, spreads, publicity shots, videos, and stuff... but they haven't actually cultivated and pro-actively tried to create a large portfolio of photographic material, or worked with a lot of different photographers.  They just haven't done that.  I think that I'm one of the few that has a body of work out there that is significant.  I hope more guys in the industry do that.  I've gotten to know Peter Berlin, which has been very flattering.  That was his thing... creating an iconographic body of work.
JR: He liked to photograph himself, right?
JS: Yes.  I don't photograph myself, at least!  I'm also much more of a regular on the club circuit than the other guys.  I think I'm much more approachable than most of the people in the business.  I'll do things for charity, I'll be out and about, I still do a lot of mainstream stuff.  But, I think that's the thing that's so different about me: the body of work.    

JR: What can audience members expect from the upcoming "Homo Erotics"?

JS: For me, it's almost like a return to what male burlesque used to be, a part of New York that's gone away.  It's taking it back to what it was, when there were a lot of live sex shows.  That was "so New York" at one time.  It was really thumbing our noses and really putting people's face in it, back to the days of "We're here, we're queer" and that bkind of thing.  Live sex shows were a big part of that: pushing the envelope.  So for me, a lot of it is seeing me back doing something I used to do.  But hopefully, it may start to open the door to bringing that whole part of New York gay life back.  Personally, I love Grant (Grant Philipo, a former New Yorker who launched a "Gaiety"-style male burlesque in Las Vegas), but we shouldn't let Vegas have all the fun! Come on! New York's always been the firebrand city.  The fact that we don't have these things anymore is a little strange!

Joey Steele can be seen live in "Homo Erotics" at the Crowne Theater on December 6th

Homo Erotics
A Gay Porn Choreopoem with Music
Sunday, December 6th
2PM, 4:30PM, 7PM
The Crowne Theater at The Producer's Club Theater
358 W. 44th St.
$30
For reservations call (302)224-0598
or e-mail Chuck at chuckcan2002us@yahoo.com
(Note: This show contains nudity and sexual situations.  21 and over only!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WATCH IT! THE MISSING PERSON: Movie Review


THE MISSING PERSON
Nouveau Noir


     "The Missing Person" marks the first starring role for Michael Shannon since the actor was nominated for the "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar ("Revolutionary Road") earlier this year.  Shannon can definitely carry a leading role, even if his character John Rosow, P.I., doesn't strike the viewer as any kind of hero... at least at first.  His character is a hardened,  hard-drinking, retired NYPD officer who's pushing middle age, and living in rather unappealing conditions in Chicago.  It's puzzling, at first, why anyone would even hire him as their detective.  He doesn't even have a camera on his phone, for cryin' out loud!  Nevertheless, Rosow gets hired to to find the titular "missing person"-- a nondescript looking guy (Frank Wood) who's traveling with a young Mexican boy (Why?).  Later on, Rosow must also return the "missing person" back to his eagerly waiting, long-suffering wife.  The detective's contact is a young woman named "Miss Charley" (Amy Ryan).   Rosow's assignment takes him to L.A., and then to Mexico.  Along the way, the movie is populated with a variety of colorful characters that you'd expect to to find in a movie like this.  The final stop is New York City.  It's in The Naked City where revelations are revealed, true motivations (the lead character's as well as the others') are uncovered, and the movie is transported into a very real slice of urban life: the aftermath of some very real New York City modern history.

     While the film's unadorned tone is more grit than glamour, "The Missing Person" is definitely a throwback to 1940's-style film noir, even featuring many of the characteristics of that genre: jazz music, endless cigarette smoking, characters with cryptic pasts and unknown agendas, voice-over narration by the leading man... and, even a garter-wearing (Garters?!  Do women still wear them?) femme fatale named "Lana" (Margaret Colin).   Shannon's character and the settings he populates indeed seem to be from another era.  When his John Rosow runs into a dim, scooter-riding mall cop who threatens him with a ticket (for smoking as well as walking in the "wrong" area), it's something of a jarring effect: two time periods colliding.  Like the classics of the genre which inspired it,  "The Missing Person" moves at a deliberate pace, and may come across as a bit too slow-moving for the popcorn crowd in 2009, where movie-goers' attention spans have collectively diminished through the years.  But with the movie's many twists and turns, the payoffs for the audience is definitely worth it... if that audience is willing to hold out for them.  At the risk of giving away any of the ending(s), let's just say that a new side of John Rosow, P.I. emerges-- a much more complex and appealing side than the alcoholic detective who grew on us throughout the film.  We're eager to see more.  The same can be said of the talented Michael Shannon.

"The Missing Person"
opens Friday, November 20th.  Visit www.MissingPersonMovie.com for more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

MIKE DREYDEN The Big, Long (But Still Cut) Interview!


MIKE DREYDEN The Big, Long (But Still Cut) Interview!

     It's hard to believe that Mike Dreyden has only been making XXX movies for less than two years.  He's already one of the most recognized faces and bodies in the biz, conveying an image that's both unmistakably masculine yet youthfully playful (He's been affectionately called a "porn pup".)... and full of sexual enthusiasm.  Dreyden was the envied poster boy for The New York Gay Erotic Expo 2008. His films "Bad Conduct" (Titan) and "Rear Delivery"(Raging Stallion) have been big sellers.  Dreyden has just finished shooting "Jock Park" with Raymond Dragon and Joe Gage.  In addition to making movies, Dreyden is also committed to spreading the word about safe sex, appearing in person at the New York City sex clubs to encourage guys to get tested for STD's and HIV.  Despite his being an object of desire for so many men, Dreyden confesses to me that he will still get a schoolboy-type crush on a cute guy at the gym, or even on some of his peers in the adult film biz.  He reveals that his personal preference is for big, hairy, masculine men... and he expresses interest in working with actors as diverse as Buck Angel and Brad McGuire (Although Dreyden says that McGuire is off limits, 'cause Brad only does bareback porn...). But his biggest confession is that he's a "big comic book geek"-- and Dreyden outs his XXX peers Diesel Washington and Logan McCree as comic book collectors as well.  Dreyden and I meet in the West Village, where the is just leaving his gym (Natch...).  At lunch, he orders a grilled chicken sandwich but carbo-phobically discards most of the bun.  "I shouldn't be having onion rings," he tells me.  "But I've been wanting onion rings for days!"  I promise not to tell anyone... Oops, too late!

JR:  What's the hardest part about being an adult film star in 2009?
MD:  Well, I can only base my experience on the last year and a half that I have been doing movies.  I would think that the hardest thing for the industry these days is competing with the Internet.  I have seen a lot of blogs and a lot of news articles about that.  The studios are competing with them and trying to make their sites more user-friendly and more along the lines of something like an X-Tube, or where you can download movies directly from the site and stuff like that.  I know that Titan's been doing that.  Raging Stallion does that with their HairyBoyz.com site.  So, I think that that would be the hardest part.  As a performer, I think the hardest part for me-- living in New York-- is getting work that's based on the West Coast.  It's expensive to get us out there, supply us with what we need to be on the set-- whether it's cleaning supplies, makeup, whatever.  Sometimes, depending on the project and who's doing it, I'll foot the bill to get there and back.  I feel the more you work with the studio and make it a collaborative effort on that end, they're really easy-going they are about it.

JR: What would surprise most people to know about the biz?  I'm sure a lot of guys think it must be the best job in the world: You're getting paid for sex, and sex is fun, and so you're getting paid to have fun!
MD: Well, the final edit-- what you see-- is just a portion of what's gone on throughout the day, whether that was a four or five or eight hour shoot.  Sometimes it can go longer, depending on different problems like lighting issues, performance issues, or any number of things.  And it's just like a regular gig, I'd say.  I come from a theater and film background to begin with.  I have the familiarity of working on a set.  I already go into it with a knowledge of what could happen, what might happen, what shouldn't happen-- so, I sort of have that preparation behind me.

JR: A lot of guys may think "Any guy can do this"!
MD: No!  It takes a very strong work ethic.  You have to have a huge...
JR: Yeah?!  
MD: A huge sense of exhibitionism!  (Laughs) And a huge sense of professionalism, and wanting to have a good time.  But a lot of guys, from what I heard, don't have a good experience: whether it's that their co-star wasn't very nice and just went there for a paycheck and that's it; or the director or producer wasn't very patient with them because it was their first time, or stuff like that.  I think ultimately that anyone going into the business has to realize that this is something that will travel around with you for a long time... and, you have to be wiling to be open and work with the situation-- go with the flow.  'Cause anything can happen.  It can change, it can end at the last second, anything...

JR: Right!  A lot of time the chemistry may not be right between the two guys.  I would guess that you'd have to remember that you're an actor playing a part to make the scene look good.  Because people are investing their time, their money... and in cases like yours, you're name and reputation is at stake too.
MD: If a guy can go into it looking at it that way, then that's all the better.  Because you are playing a character, you're playing a role in a scene, you're creating this fantasy world for the viewer.  So, a lot of guys can do it.  Everyone I have worked with and partnered up with, it's been a great experience. We've connected on different levels: We've stayed friends to this very day, we've exchanged ideas, and played around with different positions... It becomes collaborative.  So, again: going into it, you have to be open and willing to go with the flow and see what happens.  Kent Taylor at Raging Stallion, when I did my first film with them, was just very giving in that we sat down and we talked about how the day was going to progress.  He was clear: "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do or something that makes you uncomfortable.   Let us know.  Or, if there's something you want to, let us know.  It's about you and your partner and a larger project... and you are a part of it."  That made me feel incredible.  So, when I got to do the scene, I was doubly excited because Logan McCree was my scene partner and I felt like I wasn't just the bottom for Logan McCree.  It was Mike Dreyden and Logan McCree creating this fantasy... and it was great.  And they let me play with some of my own acting skill, whether it was fantasizing about the poster that comes to life, or how the scene would open, and positions, and stuff like that...

JR: In a lot of your scenes, you have a lot of real sexual enthusiasm!  
MD: In my own personal sex life, I get horny, I wanna get off, I wanna fuck.  Me and my partner have a great time doing that. When I'm on a set and I'm being Mike Dreyden in a scene, my senses are really heightened.  Generally, a guy is instructed not to have an orgasm at least two or three days before a shoot, which intensifies the orgasm and the cumshot.  In that moment, once you get there, and the connection is great and you have this chemistry, you're sexuality and that instinct in you comes to life.  I enjoy being watched, and want to put on a really good performance.  I totally close out what's going on around me, which is called the fourth wall... I forget what's going on outside of me and the guy I'm doing the scene with.  So, the enthusiasm is completely genuine.  Aside from being completely horny and into the guy, I really am thinking about my performance as well.  What would I like to see happen when I'm watching porn?  Because, I've always loved watching porn.  What don't I like?  And what do the fans like?  On my blog, I'm always asking, "What do you want to see?  Who would you like to see me do it with?"  I'm always getting all kinds of requests and everything.  So, I think about it.  Some guys really like piss. I like watersports.  I try to get as much of that into a scene as possible.  Or spitting.  Or really roughhousing.  Or...
JR: Smoking?!
MD: Smoking?  Yeah!  With Smokinghunks.com.  I do a lot of work with them.  And that's a tough shoot to do.  Because, we're smoking cigars and cigarettes on the set for hours!   When getting into character, my enthusiasm intensifies, because I know that I'm there to do this scene for the viewer and and for the person who identifies as my fan-- what they like to see.  There are a lot of guys who want to see me get fisted, but that's truly just not my thing.  I don't understand the psychology, where the actor who is doing it is... whether they're topping or bottoming.  I understand the sensation of being filled and opened.  For me, it's not about length.  It's about girth.  And, if I can feel it that way, that really gets me off.  Length, not so much... 'cause I'm very cavernous! (Laughs)  So, I can understand that aspect of it.  As far as fisting, I wouldn't mind really sitting down with someone who does it and try to understand it with them, but that's about it.

JR: Gotcha!  So, what's your secret to staying in such great shape?
MD: I tell ya, am VERY strict on my diet.  .
JR: Are onion rings your vice?
MD: That's by biggest vice.  Onion rings.  Preferably, Burger King onion rings.  Haagen Daaz frozen yogurt with the granola in it.  I could eat a pint of that in, like, 10 minutes!  But I've been good so far.  I have a whole new fitness goal that I set for myself. Me and the guy from the gym started this competition to see who could tighten up the most, lose the most weight.  But I'm trying to put on at least ten more pounds of  muscle weight. I've been 150 pounds for the past two years; I haven't been able to break that mark.   It's a little bit harder for me than for someone who's 20...
JR: (Laughs) I guess.   Is knowing that you're going to be seen on print, or on the screen, or in public appearances, enough to motivate you to want to look good?
MD: Yeah!  It's always a part of the industry, whether it's the mainstream or the adult industry.  You always wanna look your best, you always wanna put on a good show or performance.  So, looking your best is absolutely part of it.  My friend Lucky Daniels-- we only met recently-- he's young and beautiful and in incredible shape.  When I was his age I didn't look anything like that.  I am inspired to be as toned as he is.  That's a tall order for me!  However, I try to just be true to myself and listen to my body and what it's saying, how I look and what I want to look like.  We can all fantasize and wish to look like the guy next to us, but I know what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are.  I try to eat as well as I can, because when I was younger I used to eat everything under the sun and I just didn't care.  Now I realize it does matter... especially when I'm in a G-string on a box dancing in public and all the lights are on me!  And, it's true when they say that the camera adds ten pounds when you're filming.  Oh my God!  I know what looks good and what doesn't, and I know how I look... and I try to be the best that I can.

JR: Do people have a hard time distinguishing Mike Dreyden the porn star from Mike Dreyden the person?
MD: I don't begrudge anyone doing what they do, but the response I got since I started doing film is that right away, a lot of men think that I'm an escort or that they can hire me to do whatever.  That's not what I do.  A lot of times, when I'm out, or hanging out with friends, or having dinner, or at a club or whatever, they think, "Oh that's Mike Dreyden.  He does porn, maybe I'll have a chance with him."  Or they'll come on to me or be very aggressive.  If I don't invite that, I don't expect you to invade my space that way... because I am a human being after all.  Would you do that to Angeline Jolie if you were dying to go down on her?

JR: (Laughs)  How true!  So, what do your think your best work is?
MD: Hmmm... Each one is very different in what they offer.  My second film, "House of Leather"... yeah, you definitely want to see that one.  I got a GayVN Nomination for "Best Cumshot" for that one.  That's a huge deal because of (1) being new to the industry, and (2) being my second movie.  Not many people get that.  It was a big deal for me.  So, if you want to see an Award-nominated, incredible cumshot, see that! 

JR: I will!  You've also used your role as a sex star to promote safer sex too... encouraging guys to get tested for HIV and STD's at the New York City gay sex clubs.
MD: That was a great experience, I gotta tell ya...  My friend Demetre Daskalakis is a physician.  He started this program in cooperation with the City and the bathhouses to offer HIV and STD testing for free at the bathhouses.   Every year at the Gay Erotic Expo, I looked around to see what, if anything, is giving back to the community-- and they receive the "Mike Dreyden Outstanding Community Service Award".  There's no real award, but I blog about it and put it on my MySpace and Facebook pages. I give them a lot of publicity and get their info out there.  So, this past year, The Men's Sexual Health Project was at The Expo.  They had a really well-done booth and when you came in it, was one of the first things you saw.  I thought, "This is new.  This is interesting."  What really moved me was that they offer this service in a place where a good percentage of the time, guys will become infected or hook up with someone who doesn't know their status.  They don't know what else they have or could contract or what have you.  Being there, they can get a referral for service, or they can just go if they want to get tested without having to fill out paperwork or sitting and talking with a counselor.  All of that can come later.  But you can sit down one-on-one and talk with the guys that administer the test.  They make you feel very comfortable.  They listen to you and talk to you about whatever issues you have. They don't look at you as a number or by what your test results are; they talk to you on a very one-on-one, personal basis.  And when I saw them there, I was blown away.  To offer testing is one thing.  To do it in a place where people end up contracting some sort of STD or HIV or whatever, was phenomenal to me.  So, I gave them a shout-out on the stage, I put them on my blog.  Then they contacted me to figure something out on how we could collaborate on something.  I said, "The best thing I can offer you is... me.  I can be at an event or sign autographs, or they can get a free DVD of my movie 'Return to Fire Island' from Lucas Entertainment".  I did a raffle, and a few guys won the deluxe edition of the movie.  A lot of guys were like, "Oh my God, I've never seen a porn star at a bathhouse before!"  I was in a towel, carried on, took pictures...  It made the day for a lot of guys.  A lot of guys who had never been to the East Side or West Side Clubs before came not only to or see me, or meet me, or get an autograph, but to get tested.  I mad it a point that if you come down to the bathhouse and get tested, I will give you something.  A photo, a movie, or whatever.  To me, aside from knowing your status and practicing safer sex, testing is very, very important.  I know how I am about it.  When I was 17, I got my first STD, and it freaked me out.  Whenever I got tested after that, I always had that panic.  I start thinking about all the people I had been with, and everything I did, and what was safe, and what was not so safe, and what was pushing the line... and it freaked me out about that.  I know it's like that for a lot of guys, and a lot of guys will not go get tested because of that.  Steve Cruz, another friend in the industry is a huge advocate for safer sex and started his own safer sex campaign, and I think it's phenomenal what he's doing.  What's never really talked about is the testing process: Where to go to get tested, what you can expect, what kinds of things to test for or look for...you know, those kinds of things.  You can go to the Board of Health, where some rude woman from somewhere making minimum wage who doesn't give a shit about you says, "Here, fill this out, piss in a cup, give us your blood, goodbye."  On the other hand, with Men's Sexual Health Project, you sit down and they're with you throughout the whole process.  And, say you do have an STD or you test positive for HIV, they will sit there with you until you go through whatever you need to go through, or they will find the services that you need so that you can go forward.  At the West Side Club and East Side Club, there's a separate area for testing.  You don't have to buy a membership or pay a fee to enter.  You can just say you're there for the services.

JR: Yeah, the atmosphere that
people get tested in can make a big difference.  While we're on the subject of safer sex, how do you feel about the rise in bareback porn?
MD: There are many in the industry who shun bareback porn. I understand their philosophy and I understand why they think the way they do.  My personal view is this: For someone who is 17 or 18 or 22, they do not know what it was like for guys our age when all of this hit our lives.  I mean, the very first cases that started hitting the news in 1983 or '84; I was, I think, 14 or 15.  By the time 1987 came out, it was just out of control.  Friends that I saw the week before were physically changed, drastically, one week later... and then the next week they were gone.  These were close friends who died in a matter of months, before there were any medications or anything.  I saw what the disease has done to the community, and then when it started affecting the straight community and mostly people of color, it really frightened a lot of us.  Now, I do not begrudge or judge anyone for what they do.  However, I think that the bareback industry needs to be aware that someone who's 20 years old is going to see this.  A lot of guys who you see in these movies are adults in their late 30's or 40's... so we all know where we come from and what this means for us.  I'm sure 99% of them are HIV positive, and it's not talked about.  I just think that the industry needs to be very mindful of young people who have no clue as to what's going on in that moment... and it will affect their judgment as far as, "Well, they're doing it.  They look fine.  I'll be OK."  And these guys have their medications, they have their medically-given steroid regimens, but they have all made a decision-- since they are in a certain stage in their lives-- to do these kinds of films.  (Sarcastically) Which is great.  I honestly live vicariously through them.   I like to watch.  I fantasize about it.  My partner and I have our own way of having sex and we click.  It's our way.  We're both negative.  To me, it's just basic algebra.  Two negatives can't make a positive.  A positive and a negative will become a positive.  I've tested that theory, I've lived that theory, and I'm still HIV negative all these years.  I've had close calls: One too many drinks, too many party drugs, and I was like "What the fuck did I do?"  And I just will not do that outside of a committed relationship where we have gone through the testing process and we're ready for that.  I don't think that they (the bareback industry) should be shunned so much for what they do.  It's a very slippery slope as far as: If they're being very mindful about the effects it has on the young generation, it would be great to hear that from them, because I don't ever see anything in the films except for that disclaimer at the very beginning.  It could be a little bit more.  But, as far as the industry as a whole, they are good quality films in how they're produced and how they're done, and the fantasy of a gang bang or whether two guys meet at a restaurant or what not.  They're fun quality.  But in this day and age, they just have a very powerful influence.  I'm sure they know that, but I would just like to see more of that in their advertising or in their presence.  I personally will never, ever, ever ever ever do a bareback film.  They can never pay me enough.  However, if they wrote me a check for $50 million and it cleared the next week or so, I would consider it! (Both laugh)  But right now, never.  They couldn't pay me enough.

(I mention about how at Folsom Street East a few months before, Chi Chi LaRue-- who states that condoms should always be used in porn-- was MC'ing on stage; At the other end of the event was a booth for Treasure Island Media, who make bareback porn.)

MD: I've sat down and talked with Chi Chi one time at last years Grabby's/IML Weekend in Chicago, and I asked her, "Aside from the obvious, why do you feel about bareback porn the way you do?"  She said, "It's wrong."  She just does not think it's the right thing.  A lot of Chi Chi's projects involve little twentysomethings.  A lot of these guys don't understand.  In that aspect, she's trying to encourage them to explore their sexuality in a safe, responsible manner.   I think that's the reason why I like her a lot. There really isn't a guidance as far as that.   She'll be the first one to say, "You want to do THAT?  Then this is what's gonna happen to you for the rest of your life.  You want to do it THIS way, not only will you have some fun now, but you'll be around for the next 50 years and you won't be strung out on medications."     

JR: Yeah!  So, what would surprise most people to learn about Mike Dreyden?  And please don't tell me that it's that you're a nice guy, cause every celebrity says that!
MD: But it really is that I'm a nice guy! (Laughs) Whenever I'm dancing, and someone puts a dollar in my jock or whatever I'm wearing, I'll say thank you and I'll bend down and kiss them on the forehead, and dance with them a little bit and make them feel special.  Or, when I'm walking down the street and they recognize me and ask me for my autograph... you know, to this day that still bugs me the fuck out.  Why are they stopping me?  Why do they want my autograph? People generally like me, and I'll stop and chat with them and take a photo with them, sign something for them, whatever it is.  'Cause, it's gonna make their day.  A the end of the day, your fans are everything, whether it's the mainstream film industry, or modeling industry, or adult film industry.  If you have people who like you, it just comes back to you.  Another surprising thing to know about me:  I'm not ultra-Orthodox, but I am part Jewish and I wear my yarmulke like I'm wearing right now.  Although I have not worn it in any of my films, I've been asked  a few times to wear it in a scene.  But I do not want to fetishize my religion.  I grew up in a very eclectic family.  We were raised Catholic with Jewish tendencies.  My mom made sure I that we were very aware of who we were and where we came from, and what makes us unique.  I identify with my Judaism.  I identify with my Catholicism.  Especially in this day and age, I feel like I owe it to myself and the world to really make that statement.  I never wore my yarmulke outside of the house for Shabbat or the holidays, but when my grandmother passed, I started feeling all these things about who I am and how I identify with the world, and I started wearing it. But I think the first time I wore it out in public, people didn't really know.  They asked me, "Did you convert?" I said, "No, I always was."  It blew a lot of people away at the Grabbys this year.  I wanted to wear it to the GayVN's, but I was just nervous.  I didn't know how people would react to me.  I was up for a Nomination.  I wanted it to be about the Award, and not about me being Jewish.  But at The Grabbys, because of the reaction of everyone at the GayVN's, I felt comfortable.  I'm like, "I can wear my yarmulke around these people.  They will know and understand that this is who I am."  And so Sister Roma, when she interviewed me on the red carpet, said, "I never met a Jewish porn star."  I said, "You probably have!"  I'm sure there are a lot of them.  I've made a lot of new friends-- writers, directors, producers, models, who were like, "Oh my God, I can't believe you're wearing it. Mazel tov.  Thank you for doing that!"  I didn't think it would be that kind of reaction.   I presented for the first time at the Grabbys and wanted it to be a special moment for me... and it was that.  So much so that so many times I got stopped, I got hit on, I got asked out... and even Jason Ridge who I've known for a long time-- we flirted on line-- singled me out when he was presenting.  And he's Jewish! (Laughs) So yes, most people do not know that  that's part of me.  I am Jewish, I identify with that.  But I don't speak Hebrew at all.  Spanish, Greek, Italian, but not Hebrew!

Whatever language you speak, you can see Mike Dreyden live at the following fun events:

MIKE DREYDEN'S CASTING CALL

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 8PM-3AM
Paddles
250 West 26th St. at 8th Ave
AN OPEN CASTING CALL FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN BREAKING INTO THE ADULT ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY!
Hosted by Grab Ass
Join us when Grab Ass hosts Mike Dreyden's search for the next top porn star. It could be you!

MIKE DREYDEN'S BOOTY COOL

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 8PM-3AM
Paddles 
250 West 26th St. at 8th Ave. 
Hosted by Grab Ass

www.MikeDreyden.blogspot.com

WATCH IT! "ANTICHRIST" Movie Review


ANTICHRIST
Art or Gore-nography?

     With its title alone, acclaimed director Lars von Trier's new film "Antichrist" was guaranteed to get some notice... but it was the movie's explicit juxtaposition of sex and violence that got this dark, adults-only fairy tale of sorts a lot more attention.  Like a lot of independent movies that come along with a big buzz attached, this flick has had a polarizing effect on viewers-- audiences and critics labeled it either brilliant filmmaking or pretentious, overrated crap.  With "Antichrist", von Trier was definitely trying to say something provocative about women, or evil... or evil women.  But it's not clear just what that provocative statement is... or, for that matter, what place this truly unsettling film will have in the history of cinema.  What IS clear is that many of the images in the last third of this film-- two scenes in particular-- would have never made it past the realm of heavy underground snuff-porno shit into mainstream cinema if not for "Antichrist"'s big budget, the filmmaker's legitimate credentials, and the movie's two respected actors at his disposal. Those actors are Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who won the Award for "Best Actress" at Cannes for the film.

     "Antichrist" opens with black-and-white, slow-motion footage of Dafoe and Gainsbourg (The characters are not given names.) having sex to opera music.  While they make love, their adorable blond son wanders from his crib and falls out the window into the snow.  The husband, a psychotherapist, encourages his grieving wife to eschew pharmaceuticals for a Gestalt-style therapy, including a trip to their cabin in a forest called Eden to work out her "unspecified fears".  Bad move.  Ever so slowly, Gainsbourg's character starts to resent the husband's somewhat condescending treatment ("I've never interested you until now that I'm your patient!" and "You're indifferent as to whether your child is alive or dead!" she throws at him.) and eventually becomes delusional and violent.  Who, or what, has gotten into her?  It seems to be more than just severe post-grief psychosis.  Is she the movie's titular antichrist: the embodiment of the Christian devil in the form of a dark-haired, earthily attractive woman? Or is it, as her husband hypothesizes, that she unknowingly starts to embody the persona that a gynophobic society has attributed to females en masse through the centuries?  Disturbing imagery (such as a talking fox who states, "Chaos reigns!") and tepid allusions to the persecution of women throughout history (with its accompanying maladies, like the burning of witches) lead up to "Antichrist"'s most notorious scenes of torture and self-mutilation.

     The cinematography of "Antichrist" is absolutely stunning, and the two leads both give bold, intense, vanity-free performances.  Gainsbourg is definitely an enigmatic presence: she appears young in some scenes and middle-aged in others; and similarly, she's stunning in some scenes and downright menacing in others. As the less established actor than Dafoe, I'm curious to see what she'll choose next-- It's gonna be hard to top this level of intimacy with the viewer.  However, as for "Antichrist" as a whole: At the risk of admitting that I'm not smart enough to "get" this movie, I just don't understand what the director, or the movie as a whole, was trying to say. It's tempting to think of the film as endorsement for psychiatric medication... or maybe a warning against the dangers of heterosexuality. Any movie worth its value in celluloid is supposed to make us think.  But all I could think when I saw this film, come the final third, was "Ewww!"...

     "Antichrist" is now playing.  Visit www.Antichristthemovie.com for more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WATCH IT! "PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire" Movie Review


"PRECIOUS: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire"
Welcome to Her Urban Jungle...  


     In 1987 Harlem, a morbidly obese, illiterate 16-year old black girl named Claireece, nicknamed Precious (Gabourey Sidibe), finds herself expecting her second baby-- by her own father.  She lives in a decaying apartment with her seriously abusive, welfare-dependent mother (Mo'Nique).  At school, things aren't better.  In a chaotic, crowded classroom, Precious is teased by her restless peers who aren't capable of concentrating on what's on the blackboard-- or, equally likely, just don't care.  The girl's escape is via music video-style fantasies where she imagines herself as a model, a movie star, a singer, etc.  Despite being trapped in a body, a home, and a noisy neighborhood which she can't escape from, we know that Precious is smarter than that.  For one thing, she's interested in math.  A shred of hope comes when Precious gets gets a rare chance to go to an "alternative school" with small classes, led by an attractive, smart, dedicated teacher (Paula Patton) who we learn, later, is a lesbian.  The audience moves along with Precious through her s-l-o-w struggle to learn to read-- often one letter at a time-- and through the delivery of her second baby.  For the first time ever in the movie, we start to see some emotions on Precious' mask-like face.  Unfortunately, not all those emotions are good ones: The movie's titular character continues to deal with many serious issues, not the least of which is a newly-diagnosed HIV status.

     The performances from all the actors in "Precious" are stunning.  Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz play (excellently) against their artistic personas, as a social worker with wash 'n' wear hair and wardrobe to match; and a charismatic male nurse, respectively.  Mo'Nique's character is such an unrepentant monster that her performance borders on camp: sort of a ghetto "Mommie Dearest". (At one point she carries on that she can't eat her pigs' feet because Precious didn't make collard greens to go with them.)  Despite the dark themes of abuse, teen pregnancy, incest and more (And make no mistake: This is NOT a kid's movie.), "Precious" has many life-affirming scenes, and the film is not without some levity.  The girl's high-spirited classmates, who become her surrogate family, offer some really funny moments.  There are even a couple of "in jokes": Oprah Winfrey, who co-produced, is mentioned by name and is seen on one of those ubiquitous '80's "READ!" posters; and Precious questions Mariah Carey's character about her race. This movie may be fiction, and most of the people reading this will never know the kind of life that girls like Precious live.  However, the main character's feelings of being helpless, unloved, and isolated have hit all of us at times.  The silver lining of the movie is the palpable feeling of hope running through.  "Precious" packs a wallop.

     "Precious: based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" is now playing.   


Picture 1: The "Precious" teaser movie poster
Photo 2: Gabourey Sidibe as Precious

Photo 3: Mariah Carey as Ms. Weiss 

THE UNDER-SIDE OF THE ECONOMY


(These Nasty Pig "Fighting Shorts" (top) will set you back $80 a pair, while this Hanes 6-pack (bottom) will give you change for a $20!)

THE UNDER-SIDE OF THE ECONOMY

     Hey guys!  Betcha didn't know that those boxer-briefs that you stepped into this morning (or got tore off you last night) are, according to some economists, an important marker of the financial state of our nation.  According to a theory by former Chairman of the Federal Reserve  Alan Greenspan, the sale of men's underpants remains steady and strong when our economy is stable.  But in tough times, sales go down as men tend to keep their undies for as many more months (years?!) as they can, rather than buy new ones. Therefore, men's underwear sales are an important reflection and possible predictor of the economy.  This is not exactly a "new" theory.  It was actually hypothesized by Greenspan back in the 1970's.  But the "Greenspan Underwear Theory"( A pretty picture indeed, huh?!)  just keeps being revived and re-analyzed again and again, most recently in an article by David Coleman in "New York Magazine".  Apparently, in the beginning of 2009, it was expected that men's underwear sales would be down for the first time in years-- down as much as 2.3%.  Meaning, more guys would be holding on to their boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, and jocks for longer periods of time. Instead, according to retail sales monitor NPD Group, men's underwear sales went up an impressive 4.8 percent for the first half of 2009: a sign that maybe the economic outlook was looking more positive.  But greater analysis showed some interesting stats.  The sole reason that sales of “underwear” are up this year is that sales of tops (undershirts) are up 18 percent. Bottoms-- briefs, boxers, boxer-briefs, etc.-- are down 1.5 percent.  Why are tops rising and bottoms going down? (Please don't get homo-political on me, guys!)   Is the classic American undershirt (AKA wifebeater) becoming a rogue alternative to the overpriced designer T-shirt? Are more men are going commando? Are undershorts becoming less of a necessity and more of an accessory or fetish item?...

     ...which makes me wonder: Are gay guys willing to sacrifice their designer undies in tough economic times?   Granted, compared to a pair of Prada shoes or Emporio Armani sunglasses, a pair of always-reliable Calvin Klein briefs at $22 to $50 a pair is a bargain.  But remember, kids, you gotta get a week's supply.  Versace will set you back $39 to 60 a pair, while Dolce & Gabbana will cost you about $60 a pop.  Ed Hardy, who's wildly popular among the kiddies, sells his skivvies for $39 and up.  Prada, incidently, does not yet make men's underwear, but Nasty Pig makes a "fighting short" made of lightweight stretch rubber for $80 a pair.   At those prices, 2(x)ist and Andrew Christian seem like steals, at $16 to 35 a pair.   But what price can you put on an item that can give you such a lift (pun intended) on an ordinary day?  And how would you feel if you finally meet your future husband, things get hot and heavy, and he pulls down your pants to reveal... Old Navy? (3 pack for $9.99) Then again, for some, cheap tighty whiteys may be the ultimate fantasy.  To each, his own... But one piece of advice will always be the same: Guys, change your underwear!

(EX) MISS CALI-FORNICATION, CAUGHT ON TAPE!


(EX) MISS CALI-FORNICATION, CAUGHT ON TAPE!

      After card carrying homophobe Carrie Prejean embarrassed the The Golden State during the 2009 Miss USA Pageant on April 19th, she found a new role, along with Sarah Palin, as prime masturbation material for the American far right.  (At last!  An attractive female right winger!!)  Those who kissed her oft-exposed ass thought they finally found a role model they could exploit for their anti-gay agenda.  Wrong.   After a couple of tumultuous months which included semi-nude photos, she was removed from her position on June 10th.  Persistent on blaming the gays for her troubles (always the desperate backup plan of right wingers...),  Prejean sued The Miss California USA pageant, claiming that it was her stance on gay marriage and "religious discrimination" that got her fired.  In actuality, it was her well-documented inability to meet the responsibilities of her title that got her booted.  On November 5th, the media learned that there is a Carrie Prejean sex tape floating around.  Faster than you can say "Satan was trying to tempt me!", Prejean dropped her suit against the Miss California USA producers when confronted with the X-rated video. The vid is supposedly so graphic that even the usually bold TMZ.com can't or won't play even a few seconds of it, either online or on TV.  Sex tape or not, it's Prejean's very un-American prejudices that will ultimately melt this Wicked Bitch of the West.  The GLBT community, used to being judged for our sexuality, is almost unambiguously forgiving of stars who face sex scandals.  But Prejean's persistent homophobia makes it impossible to feel even a little bit sorry for this bona fide bimbo. She makes Anna Nicole Smith look like Woman of the Year.  But look on the bright side, kids: Carrie Prejean's filmed sexcapades, which will inevitably come out on DVD (I can't wait NOT to see it.), will make a great gift for all those horny Republican hetero guys in your life.  It's guaranteed to make them PRE-cum in their JEANs even more than Sarah Palin's book!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SEE IT! HOT BABES IN TOYLAND Theater Review








HOT BABES IN TOYLAND
Nutso in the North Pole...


     Every so often, a new holiday-themed musical comes along that re-warms our hearts, re-inspires visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads, and reminds us again of the real meaning of Christmas!

     “Hot Babes in Toyland”, directed by Jeremy X. Halpern, is not that musical. Tis true, many of our familiar “North Pollacks” are here: Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, and the elves.  However, this singing and dancing Christmas cracker of a show is more in the tradition of the infamous "Spirit of Christmas" South Park episode rather than the annual Claymation holiday cornfests you remember as a kid.  We get introduced to "Hot Babes in Toyland" with some standup comedy of sorts from a trash-talking Rudolph (Michael Zartman), self-proclaimed “star of screen big and small”.  This Rudolph has a thick Brooklyn accent with attitude to match.  He refers to his boss-- not affectionately, I might add-- as “Santa Fucking Claus”.  Rudolph proceeds to give the audience a punk-flavored anthem of angst called “Christmas You Piss Me Off”.  Then it's on to the story, boys and girls: We meet Sprinkles, a seriously neurotic elf (played by Alena Acker, who looks eerily like late XXX film star Linda Lovelace, right down to that same "all-American girl gone bad" look) who's got he serious hots for Santa Claus (Kelly Johnston).  Sprinkles serenades Santa with “All I Want for Christmas is O”-- “O” as in orgasm.  But Saint Nick resists her advances, instead working on his new endeavor: replacing all his elves with-- supermodels!  One of them is a stacked sexpot named Heavenique (Sierra Carrere), and the other is a dark-haired beauty named Serendip (Maia McCann) who is, shall we say-- "more than a woman" (Think "The Crying Game").  Oh, the drama!  Will this island of misfit toymakers get their act together in time to deliver the goods on Christmas Eve?  Will Sprinkles snare Santa?  Will this taboo-busting Christmas tale at least have a happy ending?  You'll find out... but along the way, the term "biscuit" (a little person with a big schlong) enters the audiences' lexicon, and we also get to hear more future holiday-themed hits.  These include "Santa Claus is Coming Again", as well as “Rudolph the Alcoholic Reindeer”, sung by Mrs. Claus (also played by Maia McCann, who reinvents Santa's spouse as something of a New Jersey housewife with very distant family ties to da mob).  

     With its (deliberately?) cheesy set pieces and costumes, along with outrageous and occasionally blasphemous dialogue and situations, this reviewer concludes that if filmmaker John Waters ("Pink Flamingoes", "A Dirty Shame") created a Christmas special for TV, it would probably look a lot like "Hot Babes in Toyland".  There's no shortage of raunchy fun, but the show is hampered just a bit by its brevity (Its running time is just under an hour long.) and some gaps in production values (Couldn't the producers get a bona fide little person to play Elfis the Elf?  Or maybe a real short guy with a big schlong to play the "biscuit"?).   "Hot Babes in Toyland" is not
recommended for anyone who considers jokes at the expense of Jesus, Santa, Christmas, or Mariah Carey's music to be "off limits".  It is, however, recommended for anyone who prefers their holiday-themed entertainment to be more naughty than nice!

     "Hot Babes in Toyland" runs through December 17th at The Player's Theatre Loft (115 MacDougal St.), with The Ned & Kat Duo, Jessica Delfino, Kiki NYC as Mae West, and Dirty Martini appearing as special guests throughout the run. Visit www.Theatermania.com for tickets!

Jed Ryan


Photo 1: Director Jeremy X. Halpern & Actor/Assistant Director Michael Zartman
Photo 2: Alena Acker, Sierra Carrere, & Maia McCann at Opening Night afterparty at Wicked Willy's
 


Saturday, November 7, 2009

SEE IT! “PETER-WENDY”: Neverland in New York City


“PETER-WENDY”: A Review
Neverland in New York City

 
    There's a priceless moment in "Peter-Wendy", Jeremy Bloom's avant-guarde vision of the classic fairy tale, where Wendy Darling (Heloise Darcq) asks Peter Pan (Christpher Heijl), "How old are you?"  Peter (Not to get too familiar too quickly, but “Mr. Pan” just doesn't seem appropriate.) answers, innocently, "I don't know...."  Granted, asking an audience to suspend their disbelief is a staple of theater; but for that moment, the attendees of “Peter-Wendy” no doubt viewed the actor on stage as being truly ageless; We were transported away from the unyieldingly concrete “real” world where age is a persistent obsession of our society.  It made this reviewer ponder how great it would be if, beyond the world of theater, all of us could just “forget” our ages at least temporarily-- and not be bound by the tyranny of a numerical value.

     That’s part of the essence of Peter Pan: The boy, raised by fairies, who refused to grow up. The literary character who spawned three movies (A silent version in 1924, the Disney animated film in 1953, and a live-action British film in 2003), as well as frequent stage revivals and innumerable references in pop culture.  At the foundation of Jeremy Bloom's new reinterpretation of the familiar story is J.M. Barrie's text.  Bloom is completely faithful to the author's original literature, incorporating prose from Barrie's 1911 work "Peter Pan and Wendy" as well as "The Little White Bird", the 1902 adult novel where Peter Pan originally appeared.  The text holds up remarkably well, including some truly riotous (judging by the audience's reaction) dialogue where Captain Hook laments his own villainous reputation (Specifically, Hook bemoans how children never want to be Hook when they "play Peter Pan”...).  The timeless words, recited by various members of the cast throughout, is bolstered by artful lighting, occasional songs and dance-like movements, and original music by The Books which plays throughout the performance.  Bloom also features some renegade casting: Wendy is played by Heloise Darcq, a French actress with a thick accent to prove it.  Captain Hook is portrayed by actress Joyce Miller, who gives the audience her lines with a menacingly deadpan-- and often hilarious-- delivery.  Eschewing the traditional green tights and feathered hat that Peter Pan wore in the Disney movie (and on the peanut butter jar), Bloom's vision of Peter wears tight red PJ's.  The entire cast, in fact, wears pajamas or nightgowns.  More importantly than what they wear, however, is that the actors of this large, multi-ethnic cast are all clearly in touch (make that very, very in touch) with their child inside.  Audiences will likely undergo a similar reconnection after seeing "Peter-Wendy".  The characters are pretty much the same as we remember them, as is the plot.  Although two guesses won’t be necessary as to who will emerge victorious in the showdown between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, what’s less clear is Wendy’s climactic decision: Will she go with Peter to live in Neverland, or will she return home, knowing she'll eventually have to become an adult? 

     While clearly over the age of 18 (A renegade decision of sorts, since Peter Pan on stage was often played by an adult woman...), Christopher Heijl as Peter is appropriately boyish; and, cocksure as his Peter Pan is supposed to be, his character is magnetic.  Heloise Darcq, by contrast, comes across more as more of a woman-girl-- simultaneously adult and child-- which suits her take on Wendy extremely well.  It's been long-debated as to whether Peter and Wendy had some type of romantic feelings for each other; or if Peter saw Wendy as a mother figure, or if there may have been some combination of both (Can you say "Oedipus complex"?).  Intentionally or not, the verdict is simmeringly undecided, especially with the physical attributes of the two leads.  You’ll have to decide for yourself!

      The most striking aspect of “Peter-Wendy” is how the piece moves so smoothly.  Bloom's intertwined spectacle of drama, comedy, movement, and music flows together like a well-choreographed dance.  At its heart (a big one, at that) is a celebration of the power of childhood and how all of us need to revisit innocence once in a while.  In the play, Peter Pan instructs Wendy that to fly, we need a combination of pixie dust and happy thoughts.  While most of us living in the urban jungle we call New York City may be skeptical of pixie dust (as well as fairies, mermaids, and Lost Boys...), it's clear that happy thoughts can ALWAYS lift us up... even outside of the fantasy world of theater.

     "Peter-Wendy" is playing at Walkerspace at 46 Walker Street through November 8th.  Showtimes are Saturday and Sunday at 3PM and 8PM.  Tickets are $20 and are available at www.BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door.  Visit www.PeterWendyNYC.com for more. 

Jed Ryan

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SEE IT! THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN: Theater Review


THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANKENSTEIN
Debauchery in Deutschland!

     Germany, 1945.  In a top secret laboratory tucked deep within the Bavarian Alps, demented Nazi scientist Gustav Frankenstein (Joseph Beuerlin) and his childlike assistant/nephew/creation Fritz (Geoffrey Borman) are hard at work at two rogue projects.  One of them is the creation of an ultra-Caucasian "Anne Frankenstein"-- "the very first instance of supreme female perfection".  At first, it seems like a success: Anne (Mimi Imfurst) comes off the lab table with blonde hair, pale white skin, and breasts "like two snow-specked hilltops each sprouting the first rosebuds of summer".  However, this perfect specimen of a woman also has... shall we say, a little something "extra"!  Horrified at their cross-gendered creation,  Anne gets shut away in an attic.  Her sole companion is a talking, singing diary (Lavinia Co-Op) who continuously offers Anne some fairy godmother-style advice.  Anne may be locked in an attic, but fear not, kiddies: This isn't the last we'll see of our hermaphrodite heroine.       

       Meanwhile, the "wurst" is yet to come!  Our nutso Nazis are working on their sinister second project:  finding the perfect body to attach to Adolf Hitler's head (Ryan Feyk), which has been kept alive in a jar (a la "The Brain That Wouldn't Die").  Opportunity knocks-- literally-- when an pair of stranded American tourists come to stay the night: narcissistic movie star Sylvia Beasley (Jessica Caplan) and her henpecked, blandly attractive husband Paul Perrit (Eric Jaeger).   Dr. Frankenstein wants Paul's body... to attach to Hitler's head.  Her sexual appetite awakened, Anne Frankenstein also wants Paul's body... for different reasons.  In turn, Paul falls hard for the blonde Franken-tranny in what's truly the most unorthodox love story to hit the stage in years.  The plot thickens... and sickens.  Will Paul leave his shrewish wife for Anne Frankenstein?  Will forbidden love triumph?   Will Adolph Hitler's wretched soul rise again?

     "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein" self-indulgently combines elements of Mary Shelley's timeless classic with traces of  "Alice in Wonderland" (One of the main characters is a talking book, after all!), "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", and a good dose of filmmaker John Waters' sick and twisted style of humor.  Indeed, Mimi Imfurst's Anne seems at times to be an antecedent to Divine in Waters' 1970 shocker "Multiple Maniacs".  The entire cast are over-the-top cartoon characters come to life, and all perform with gusto.  Joseph Beuerlin, as the seriously demented Gustav Frankenstein; and Lavinia Co-Op, as the Diary, are especially excellent.  Co-Op's two musical numbers are standouts.  In the title role, Mimi Imfurst proves herself to be a talented, in-your-face comedienne.  Combine the high-energy cast with Ilya Sapiroe's hilariously raunchy dialogue and outrageous situations, and you have a "Diary" that's off-off-Broadway's best kept secret.  Tell your freunde!

     "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein" is now playing at the 13th Street Rep at 50 West 13th St. (between 5th and 6th Aves,) through November 29th.  Showtimes are Thursdays and Saturdays at 9PM, Sundays at 7PM.
Tickets are $22.50, available at 212-352-3101 or www.TheaterMania.com.

     Visit www.TheDiaryofAnneFrankenstein.com for more info. 
     And join Under the Pink Carpet TV as they go to the show and behind the scenes,, at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V20Pyl09NXk
 


Photo 1: Under the Pink carpet's Tony Sawicki interviews Mimi Imfurst
Photo 2: "The Diary of Anne Frankenstein"'s Geoffrey Borman and Joseph Beuerlin