LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Friday, April 30, 2010

THE STORY OF O… Kitty Kelley on Oprah Winfrey’s Sexuality… oh, and Her Life Too.

THE STORY OF O…
Kitty Kelley on Oprah Winfrey’s Sexuality… oh, and Her Life Too.
 
 
     Is she or isn’t she?  In Kitty Kelley’s latest celebrity biography, ”Oprah”, the author explores the larger-than-life pop culture phenomenon that is Ms. Winfrey.   Whether you view Oprah as everyone’s plus-sized big sister, or roll your eyes at how she’s over-celebrated as something of an American empress, no one can deny the diva’s enduring appeal through the decades.  It’s hard NOT to be impressed.  She’s a self-made billionaire who owns many “firsts”, including being the first black woman to own her own film studio, and the first black woman to successfully host her own daytime talk show on national TV (although, before you trivia queens jump in, Della Reese hosted a daytime variety show from 1969 to 1970) .  In short, she’s the American dream come true in a big way.  Kelley, who unambiguously calls her subject “the most influential woman of her generation”, documents Opie’s rise to fame, her influence, and her lifestyle--as much as she can-- in a very entertaining way.  The authoress is not above throwing in a few guilty pleasures, such as writing about deets about Oprah’s famous food binges.  Possibly the worst thing she can say about the star is that her public persona, broadcast on TV every day, doesn’t always match the “real” Oprah.  Really?!  In that case, it’s unfair to single Oprah out from any other celeb, whether big or small. 
 
     However, that one lingering question about her sexual preference seems to be the one that we want to know the answer to.   Are Oprah and Gayle King--her best friend and constant companion— in a lesbian relationship?  Is her boyfriend Stedman Graham (himself the subject of gay rumors, by the way…) just Oprah’s beard to make her appear “heterosexual” to the masses?    Kitty Kelley doesn’t shy away from the subject.  It’s touched upon MANY times, from “expert” opinions to jokes by comedians.  The author devotes a great deal of Chapter 16—11 pages—to the gay rumors, which reached a fever pitch back in 1997.  It seemingly all started after Ellen DeGeneres’ infamous “coming out” episode, where Oprah played the role of Ellen’s supportive therapist (a role, apparently, that Oprah  took much heat for, despite that “Ellen” episode receiving huge ratings…).  Two days before the coming out episode, Liz Smith wrote a blind item in her column in which she implied that a major star was going to come out of the closet, and it would be an event that would dwarf the “Ellen” outing.  Oprah immediately issued an official statement that she was NOT that star, and she was NOT a lesbian.  However, her relationship with Gayle still has people questioning to this day.  As one commentator noted, “There was no foundation for the rumors of a lesbian relationship (with Gayle), except for their constant togetherness and Oprah’s bizarre teasing of the subject.”  By the end of the book, we’re more puzzled than before.  This doesn’t mean that Ms. Kelley’s book is a letdown.  In contrast, by profiling Oprah, the book offers a keen survey of both pop culture and American mores through the past 25 years-- and society’s changing views on the GLBT community is a big, big part of that.   As proof, Kelley lists 30 of Oprah’s shows in which GLBT  issues or interests (with titles like “Homophobia” in 1986 to “Gay Around the World” in 2007) were the subject… and Kelley points out that the list is not even complete.   In a 1987 episode, when AIDS hysteria was at its peak,  Kelley recalls an episode of “Oprah” where the talk show host was faced with a virulently angry, homophobic, AIDS-phobic audience.  Oprah threw the audience’s self-proclaimed religious “values” right back at them: “I hear this is a God-fearing community.  Is that right?  So, where is your Christian love and understanding?”    Oprah is in unique position: She has not only watched pop culture from the outside, but was also firmly entrenched in it as well.  Whether or not Winfrey “is or isn’t”, and whether or not you still religiously tune into her show every afternoon, one cannot deny that Ms. Oprah Winfrey is one of our most under-appreciated gay icons. 

“‘GLEE’: THE MUSIC: THE POWER OF MADONNA”: AS GAY AS IT GETS! Music Review

 “‘GLEE’: THE MUSIC: THE POWER OF MADONNA”:
 AS GAY AS IT GETS!
 
       As sung by Lea Michele (“Rachel”) and other “Glee” cast members, the Gleed-up version of the 1989 Madonna hit  “Express Yourself” has the same escapist, “get up and dance” vibe that marked the Queen of Pop’s earliest hits.  Ms. Michele also has the same breathy, girlish, coquettish quality in her voice that the young Madge had back in the day.  “Express Yourself”, the kickoff track of “’Glee’: The Music: The Power of Madonna”, reminds of the reason why we fell in love with Ms. Ciccone back in the ‘80’s.   It’s just … fun!  As any of her fiercely loyal fans will tell you, Madonna has always been notoriously protective of her music.  At the same time, she has always had her finger on the pulse of pop culture.  It’s no mystery why the Mother of Re-Invention would want to jump on the “Glee” juggernaut.  Madonna’s music and the hugely popular TV show  have shown to be an impressive match; as evidence, Jane Lynch-as-Sue’s TV performance of “Vogue” has no doubt been one of the most watched, shared, and analyzed videos over the last few weeks, with the latest guilty pleasure being to examine Maddy’s version and the ”Glee” version side by side.  Almost all of the seven songs on “The Power of Madonna” work well, mostly because the diva’s music is so deeply engrained in our consciousness, and because the melodies stay the same-- never drifting too far from the original radio-friendly pop originals.  To put it another way, don’t expect the boys and girls of William McKinley High School to experiment too much.  That said, there are some nice creative touches on this EP.  The second track is a cute, youthful mash-up of “Borderline” and “Open Your Heart”, with vocals by Lea Michele and Cory Monteith (“Finn”).  For “Vogue”, Jane Lynch gives us a sassy and cool “So what?” kind of re-working.  She even throws in a couple of “Glee” in-jokes during the song’s emblematic rap segment. The kids’ energetic, high-spirited “4 Minutes” takes on a slightly harder edge than the 2009 original, and listeners will no doubt agree that the Gleesters even take it one step beyond the Madonna/Justin version.  “What It Feels Like for a Girl”, arguably the most under-appreciated song on the 2000 album “Music”, is done by the five boys in the cast.  The effect is, dare I say it, quite sincere and heartfelt.   The only moment I had issues with came with “Like A Virgin”.  The song, so perfect for Madonna back in 1984, strikes me as just a bit too ripe for these seemingly unblemished high school students to sing, especially in the ‘Rah! Rah!” kind of style they perform it in. (Am I being horribly naïve?) Having it redone with both male and female vocals is an interesting touch, however.   The CD ends with “Like A Prayer”, which I’ve always believed was Madonna’s most beloved hit.  Again, the kiddies do it justice.
 
     As you may have guessed, both Madonna fans and Gleeks (and, especially, the sizable overlap between) will eat this music up.   But what does Madonna think?  You’ll have to ask her yourself, and to my knowledge, the superstar hasn’t commented yet.  But I have no reason to believe she wouldn’t be impressed.  Whether or not she’d agree, the cast of “Glee” are part of her growing brood of spiritual children.   

DEEP INSIDE MARILYN MONROE Sex Symbol's X-Rays Up For Auction


DEEP INSIDE MARILYN MONROE
Sex Symbol's X-Rays Up For Auction

     Did you get a good tax return? Well, here's a good way to invest (or blow...) some of it: Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions stated last week that several items of the late sex goddess and gay icon Marilyn Monroe will be auctioned off in June during the Hollywood Legends Auction at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino Las Vegas. The highlight of the auction is a couch that the star of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "Bus Stop" laid on while she was receiving psychotherapy in the early '60's. Other items include never-before seen photos from her much-beloved 1959 drag classic  "Some Like it Hot", and (drum roll please…) an X-ray of Monroe's much-beloved chest and pelvis. Say WHAT? Julien estimated the value of the X-ray to be up to $1,200. Marilyn's X-rays are up for auction? Come on now! When I was a kid I had a major bonethrob for swimmer Mark Spitz in his Speedo, but that doesn't mean I would spend over a week's salary on his kidney ultrasound... or head CT... or printouts of his lab work. Just what would I do with them? I am bust-ing to know what kind of perv would pay over a grand for radiologic pin-ups of ANYONE—even Marilyn, Elvis, Jimmy Dean, etc. Some fans apparently want to get deep inside the world’s most famous blonde—but not in the usual straight guy way!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

THEATER REVIEW: “666”: YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!

Pic 4: Fidel Fernandez, Juan Ramos Toro, & Joseph Michael O'Curneen
Pic 5: Jed Ryan, "666"'s Fidel Fernandez & Juan Ramos Toro, actor Michael Zartman ("Hot Babes in Toyland"), & "666"'s Joseph Michael O'Curneen
 
“666”: YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!
 
     Ready to spend a night in prison?  “666”, the off-Broadway debut of Spanish comedy troupe Yllana,  ain’t no ordinary jail story.  From the too-cute-for-words little white police dog sniffing around to the hardcore sounds of the German band Rammstein that greet us, we learn very soon that this ain’t no ordinary theater experience either.  Meet the men of “666”: four prisoners in orange jumpsuits separated from the audience by a very angry electric fence.  The quartet of inmates treat us to ten death row-themed vignettes—from the aptly-named “Electric Musical Chairs” to the ballet-inspired (really!)  “Guillotine Dance”.  With a nonstop parade of cartoonish violence and scatological sight gags, “666” is lewd, crude, and rude … and funny as hell. (Think HBO’s “Oz” on nitrous oxide.)  “Sweet Dreams”, for example, is a comedic dream about going on a random shooting spree (Admit it now, haven’t we ALL had that deep-down forbidden fantasy from time to time?).  In addition to the shocking bits, the boys show us some impressive tricks: The segment ”Hanging Out” will have you  wondering just how the Hell (ahem…) the guys did their seemingly gravity-defying antics.  For the finale, “Inferno”, the men behind bars exchange their orange prison outfits for devil horns and two-foot-long dildos that seemingly have a life of their own.  It’s about time I warn you that the electric fence separating the guys from the audience will NOT necessarily protect you any longer.  The last scene makes “Puppetry of the Penis” look like “The Little Mermaid”.  Be afraid.  Be VERY afraid!
 
     The four actors of “666” (Raul Cano, Fidel Fernandez, Joseph Michael O’Curneen, and Juan Ramos Toro) are comediantes de expertos: Their slapstick skills are superb, and the intimacy of  The Minetta Lane Theater allows us to really appreciate the guys’ endlessly elastic range of facial expressions. These boys work really hard to make us laugh, and they succeed.  True, the attendees may feel just a li’l bit guilty about finding such antisocial behavior –like the men splashing urine on each other-- seem so hilarious.  However, “666” reminds us that the job of comedy is to provoke, shock, and sometimes even offend … as well as to make us laugh along the way.  And, in case you’re wondering about that little white dog at the beginning of the play, rest assured: No dogs were harmed in this production.  We can’t say the same about the poor (or lucky?!) little white lamb…
 
      “666” actor Joseph Michael O’Curneen gave an exclusive interview to  Jed Ryan:
 
JR: Welcome to New York, and congratulations on the positive buzz about the show.   “666” seems to be the show that everyone’s talking about.
JMO: Not many companies do what we do.  It was so neat to discover that New Yorkers would enjoy something like this.  I think that one of the strong points is that it’s comedy.  It’s not just physical theater, or drama, or tragedy.  It’s comedy, and it’s very similar to what the Americans used to do way back in the early past century, with silence and a lot of sight gags; It’s very slapstick.  That’s what we do.  We do very slapstick theater.  It’s very fast, very quick, and one gag after another.  We’re discovering that we have an audience for that.
JR: The buzz is getting around, that’s for sure!
 JMO: We hope this is something fresh, and something that people would look forward to coming and seeing it.  The reviews are good.  Some are very good.  We just hope that will make people come and buy tickets, and extend our stay.  One other important characteristic of the show is that it is a theater based on bouffons.  Were not “clowns”, we’re “bouffons”.  In other words: clowns to an extreme!  So, what you’ll find on stage is rather outrageous because that’s what bouffons do.  The contents of the show tend to be quite extreme.  We have no fear about being indecent or obscene on stage… but it’s got to be very funny!  And this a very fun show.  You don’t find many bouffons around.   We claim our level of indecency and obscenity; that’s part of what a  bouffon will do.  We always take on those aspects of human behavior, and just put it on stage, and revel in it!  We had to claim it back from the politicians and the military.  We say, “Hey, this is OUR territory!” But we do it on stage.  It’s not life-threatening or damaging.   We have clergymen being indecent...! (Laughs)
JR: No…! (laughs)  So, out of all the vignettes of “666”, which one has gotten the craziest reaction? Which one gets the crowd really going?
JMO: Well, the end is one that is pretty outrageous, because these criminals turn into devils… but they’re kind of “tripod” devils.  They have two legs and a two-foot penis. (Laughs) They make wonderful sound effects--kind of like a “Lion King” effect, with really deep voices and strange sounds.  You feel this "indestructiveness".  So, these guys are coming to death row, and society attempts to kill them by various means… but what happens is they turn into these diabolical characters based on Priapus, the Greek mythological figure.   Of course, we’re ridiculing ourselves, which is great fun... and I think people have a wonderful time seeing that we do that on stage.  We also laugh AT the audience, because that’s what bouffons do.  You laugh at clowns, but bouffons laugh at the audience.  So, that‘s one of the most outrageous numbers, because we’re almost naked with these huge phalluses on.  It’s just good fun.  There are a couple of others.  It’s hard to pick the most outrageous one!
JR: No doubt!  So, has any audience member totally gone nuts yet… like, fainted or run out screaming?
JMO: We might have had some people walk out.  It’s a show that challenges not only our limits on how far we’ll go when it comes to making people laugh, but it’s also a conscious effort to see how far we can go as comedians.  Can we make people laugh at guys on death row?  Can we make people laugh at guys just throwing urine at each other because they had no other place to pee besides the urinal? That, for us, was a challenge.  We’ve been doing the show for ten years, and we felt that it has happened.  The audience reaction is almost like “bend forward, bend backwards”.  It’s not "rolling down the aisles".  They bend forward,  then bend backwards with outrage and squeamishness with what they see on stage!   So, that’s what happens.           
JR: Do the men and the women in the audience react differently?
JMO: (Laughs) I think the women really enjoy themselves.  The men do as well, but the women really enjoy just seeing four guys just really killing themselves and making fun of themselves.   One critic described us as being “impressively uninhibited”!  Another review came out yesterday that said the show was “viciously funny… a live action cartoon”.  And it’s exactly that.  It’s not Chekov, it’s more Looney Toons: guys doing tomfoolery onstage!   So, I think that women just really have a wonderful time.  They are just outraged at what’s going on.  I think they have a much better sense of humor than the men! 
JR: Wow! The press release said that “666” is Yllana’s “most dirtiest and most demented show ever”.
JMO: “Ever”?  What a complement!
JR: Which makes me wonder: Can Ylanna top “666” in terms of outrageousness?
 JMO: Actually, we haven’t topped the outrageous content, but we have done 16 shows.  We’ve done lots of shows throughout the year.  We’ve done children’s shows—all comedy!  For us, every show can become a challenge.  One of our shows, "PaGAGnini", will be The New Victory Theater in May, and that one has nothing to do with “666”.  It’s a quartet playing classical music and rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s a very family show, and it’s wonderful.   But, we didn’t find the need to top “666”!  Most of our shows are similar to “666” in that we don’t use words and we’re still bouffons.  Our latest show was similar in the genre of the kind of theater we do, but instead of four convicts on death row, it’s four brokers on Wall Street.  So, they’re just as bastards, but they’re rolling in lots of money and wealth and just have no scruples!
JR: (Laughs) You mentioned that you have been performing the show for 10 years.  Without giving too much away, do you have any new surprises this time around for New Yorkers?  
JMO: For us, being here is a dream come true… and beyond that.  As New Yorkers, you know how important New York is in the world of theater because you live here.  We live abroad, and to be able to bring the show to off-Broadway is something big.  “666” is our first show here, and we’re very, very pleased to be here!    
JR: Lastly: What word of advice would you give for anyone coming to see the show?
JMO: Bring a raincoat if you’re sitting in the front!  And, leave your inhibitions at home or at the door.  Come with an open mind.  If you are going to see indecency or obscenity anywhere, it’s gotta be on the stage.  That’s what we defend.  So, if you’re gonna buy a ticket, the theatrical experience is to have your mind open and to expect anything.  The stage is really a true place of freedom.  Otherwise, you can just go to the temple of political correctness and virtue.  We should encourage that you come with an open mind to get your prudishness and your convictions challenged.  That’s my advice.   If you’re gonna be offended, then stay home!  
“666” is playing at The Minetta Lane Theater at 18 Minetta Lane.  Showtimes are Tuesday through Friday at 8PM, and Saturdays at 5PM and 9PM.

See more at www.666Comedy.com!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WATCH IT! "PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER"

PORNOGRAPHY: A THRILLER

     It’s 1995.  Adult film star Mark Anton (Jared Grey), praised for his “boy next door” image,  is retired from the jizz biz.  He’s now going to college and has settled down with a boyfriend.  Despite this, he still needs to make ends meet by turning a trick from time to time.  After all, a boy’s gotta eat!   A sleazy porn producer arranges Anton a high-priced ($40,000) meeting with a fan.  The star believes will be his last sex-for-money episode  before finally leaving his life as a porn stud/escort behind for good.  Indeed, it does turn out to be the “last time”… but not the way it was anticipated.  The porn star known as Mark Anton disappears, becoming the fodder for all kinds of rumors and speculation in gay XXX lore.  Fourteen years later, we meet  Michael and William, a cute couple who just moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn.   Michael (Matthew Montgomery) is working on a book about the history of gay male pornography from the past few decades.  (Now, that’s a man after my own heart!) He spends most of his time tracking down retired performers from that era and watching vintage XXX-rated films for some insight, recruiting the help of a video store clerk who’s an expert on porn.   By accident, Michael soon discovers that the couple’s fantastic new apartment was used for shooting porn years ago.  He also discovers a “snuff film”—a film that depicts actual (not simulated) violence.  The man in the movie?  Mark Anton!   Michael starts receiving mysterious pictures in the mail, and soon his video store clerk friend disappears.  Just what is going on here?  In David Kittredge’s highly stylized film “Pornography: A Thriller”, we suspect that there’s something dark, almost  metaphysical, brewing underneath the surface... even before the sinister things start happening.  This is due in part to the film’s moody, ominous, probing soundtrack… as well as the tense atmosphere that the director creates from the beginning. 
     

     in the first scene of the movie, one of the characters states, “Pornography is important because it lets people fantasize.”  In porn, the sex is real…  but the situations and actors’ personas are fantasy. The sex scenes last only a few minutes, but the movies themselves last forever.    Like porn itself,  “Pornography: A Thriller” blurs the boundaries of reality/fantasy and past/present as well.  The movie progresses like a voyeuristic probe inside a schizophrenic mind, where what’s real and what’s make-believe become indistinguishable.  Director Kittredge doesn’t feel the need to mark each character as a “good guy” or “bad guy”, or to uncover their true motivations too deeply.   As a result, we continuously wonder if the characters are really who they say who they are… and/or if the situations are really what we see at face value.  In the third segment of the movie, we meet a porn star named Matt Sterling (Pete Scherer), who wants to transition from being a star to being a writer/director.  The name of his screenplay?  “The Mark Anton Story… a Porno Thriller in Three Acts”.   By the time Matt starts filming his big project and more eerie things start happening, the audience will likely be climbing the walls wondering what the hell is gonna hit them next.

       “Pornography: A Thriller” is smart, suspenseful, and VERY sexual, complete with some explicit, well-shot “behind the scenes”-style sex and a generous amount of  full-frontal nudity.  It also makes some smart reflections on pornography in general, offering some answers to the question, “Why do we watch it?” Kittredge even injects some humor into this bona fide thriller: When someone asks Matt Sterling, “You’re versatile, right?”, he responds, “Not on camera!   The adult film biz may be the backdrop that brings these characters and the story together, but David Kittredge’s film is more than just a probe into the world of erotic films.  Through atmosphere, just the right directorial touch, and a good dose of creativity, he shows us the RIGHT way to bring on some big screen thrills.  “Pornography: A Thriller” is a also a cautionary tale about how, perhaps, some “urban legends” are better left alone…

     "Pornography: A Thriller" opens at Manhattan's Cinema Village on Friday, April 16th.  Visit www.PornographyAThriller.com for more!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

WATCH IT! "IN MY SLEEP": (Sleep)Walking in L.A.


IN MY SLEEP:
(Sleep)Walking in L.A.
     Talk about a “wet dream”!  In the opening scene of Allen Wolf’s “In My Sleep”, hunky L.A. massage therapist Marcus (Philip Winchester) wakes up covered in dried blood with a guilty-looking knife by his side.  He is completely unaware of what happened.  Apparently, 40 days earlier, Marcus had woken up in the middle of the woods, in only his boxer briefs.  He not only doesn’t know how he ended up there, but is also faced with the humiliation of having to walk home nearly naked.  We learn that Marcus has a long history of “parasomnia”, a rare but fascinating condition which, according to his doctor, can cause a person to do “just about anything while sleepwalking”.  For Marcus, this “anything” soon includes having sex with his best friend’s wife (Kelly Overton)… and not remembering it.  Plagued with guilt, the ladies’ man suspects he may be a sexual addict (How timely!).  He joins a support group and also tries out some stronger sleeping pills.   But no 12-step meeting or drug can help when one of Marcus’ sexual conquests turns up murdered… and this ladykiller is seriously looking like… a lady killer.  Did Marcus murder this woman while sleepwalking?  Even he doesn’t know.  Plagued with the stabbing question of “Did I or didn’t I?”, the often shirtless somnambulist tries to solve the mystery himself.  He sets up a video camera (a la “Paranormal Activity”) to record his nighttime activity.  He recruits his way-too-perky neighbor and former fling (Lacy Chabert) to handcuff him to his bed at night.  He visits his cold, estranged mother (Beth Grant), trying to find some clues stemming from his childhood.  Marcus even allows a fellow 12-stepper (Abigail Spencer), an attractive female doctor and potential love interest, to test a sample of the blood from those telltale sheets.  As “In My Sleep” progresses, the goings-on grow increasingly strange-- with more twists and revelations than half a season of “Law and Order” (albeit with much more attractive scenery than that TV show…).  
      “In My Sleep” manages to blend comedy and thriller quite well.  In one laugh-out-loud scene, Marcus’ best friend Justin (Tim Draxl) plans a surprise party for him, and he mistakes Marcus’ “little black book” for his address book when planning the guest list.  The result is an almost all-female party made up mostly of Marcus’ sexual conquests.   In contrast, there’s the scene where two policemen pay Marcus a post-murder visit… and the on-screen tension is so palpable that it’s guaranteed to keep the theater in an edgy silence.  Some of the plot twists of “In My Sleep” require a good deal of “suspension of disbelief” on the part of the viewer; unfortunately, it occasionally asks a bit more than we can give-- especially the scene when the identity of the killer is finally revealed.   In addition, some of the directorial touches drift into horror movie cliché and may inspire more giggles than gasps from the audience.   Any glitches of “In My Sleep” are made up for in a big way by the performance of the intensely charismatic Philip Winchester, as the intensely charismatic Marcus.  Even with the character’s sexual restlessness (When his friend asks him, “What happened to that girl you were with?  She was cute.”, Marcus retorts, “We’re in L.A.  They’re all cute!”)  and his possible “dark side”, the women in the movie can’t help but be charmed.  Audiences watching Winchester will likely undergo the same feeling.
    “In My Sleep” opens April 23 in L.A. and April 30 in New York City.  Visit www.InMySleep.com for more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

MALICE IN GAGA-LAND Will Lady Gaga’s fame monster bite her?

MALICE IN GAGA-LAND
Will Lady Gaga’s fame monster bite her?

      She’s the lady who commanded us to just dance, challenged us to read her p-p-p-poker face, requested to take a ride on your disco stick, and made bad romance sound oh-so-good.  The woman formerly known as Stefani Joanne Germanotta is on top of the pop culture world, with an upcoming summer tour, omnipresent media exposure, and a video that may be the most controversial mini-movie since Madonna’s “Justify My Love” was banned from MTV back in 1991.  Ms. Gaga reminds the new generation of artists that it’s their job not just to make music, but to break the rules while doing it.  Even with all the goings-on in Gaga-land, the gay icon found time to set a new record: The Lady became the first artist to have her videos streamed over a billion times.  Yep, it seems like ages since you actually had a chance of bumping booties with Gaga on the dancefloor of a downtown club. (Good luck even scoring a ticket for her upcoming tour!) But not everyone is worshiping at the Church of Gaga.  Late last month, the singer’s former boyfriend/creative collaborator Rob Fusari filed a lawsuit asking for at least $30.5 million under the terms of a contract the star signed in 2006.  Fusari, who is credited as co-executive producer on her album “The Fame” (He also co-wrote three of the songs on the CD.), claims that he was the one who encouraged her to change her musical style as well as her looks.  He even takes credit for her name-- claiming that “Lady Gaga” was a corruption of a text message he sent her, when he was using the Queen song “Radio Gaga” as a code.  (Let’s be thankful he didn’t have Hanson’s  1997 novelty song “Mmm Bop” on his mind at the time…) Indeed, a photo in the April 2nd issue of “Entertainment Weekly” shows a brunette Gaga, with Fusari, looking more like a cast member of “Jersey Shore” than the blonde fashion rebel she is today.  Fusari claims that after the relationship ended, he was denied his share of the fruits of Gaga’s exploding fame.  Experts speculate that who wins the suit will come down to “He said, she said” … or, more accurately, “His people said, her people said”.  His people state that he was Gaga’s creative and business partner, while not actually being her agent (Fusari is not a licensed agent.)  Her side states that the 2006 contract is invalid.   In the same week, gossip blogs were buzzing about how “down to earth” Gaga is, using as evidence her "concert rider" (AKA her post-concert requests).  Her list reads as followed:  “a roast chicken, a plate of cheese on ice with a tray of assorted meats, low-fat milk, salsa dips, and whole-wheat bread and crackers.”  She apparently also eschews booze for ginger ale,  water, hot tea, and decaffeinated coffee."  And… honey.  A music industry source told the press, “Despite her out-there image, this rider proves that Lady Gaga is actually quite down to earth and normal compared to the diva-like demands of some pop stars."  Now, personally, I don’t like my gay icons to be “down to earth”.  I want them to be wild, crazy, and over the top.  Here’s how I would have wanted Gaga’s list to go: “Five impossibly stacked, buff men (One of each race); one sexually adventurous blonde, willowy woman; an open bar with lots of Diet Coke; some post-concert Advil and Xanax, and a night’s worth of top shelf sex-cessories from Babeland.  And… honey."  Food?  Who needs food?!

MUSIC WITH A MISSION: Tom Goss and Matt Alber sing OUT against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”…

Pic 1: Tom Goss
Pic 2: Matt Alber
 
MUSIC WITH A MISSION:
 Tom Goss and Matt Alber sing OUT against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”… 

     Two out-and-proud musicians, one great cause!  Singer-songwriter buddies Tom Goss and Matt Alber teamed up to record the song “Who We Are”, an anthem of protest against the prejudicial military policy “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT).   Tom Goss, who lives in Washington, D.C., is busier than ever.  He has a new album, “Back to Love”, and is currently on an intense national tour which will include an appearance at New York City’s landmark cabaret hotspot The Duplex on Thursday, April 8th.  Goss was recently nominated for two Pride in the Arts Awards, one for  “Favorite CD” for “Back to Love” and another for “Favorite Male Musician”.   Matt Alber, who lives in Los Angeles, was a soprano of the elite classical men's acapella ensemble, Chanticleer.  The group recorded seven albums, two of which won Grammy Awards.  Alber’s latest solo album, “Hide Nothing” (described as “enchanted pop”), yielded the song “Monarch”-- the video of which has been seen on LOGO.   Goss and Alber also created an accompanying video for “Who We Are”, which features appearances by discharged servicemen Mike Almy and David Hall.  The two handsome artists/activists are offering the song as a free download in return for a donation to The Service Members Legal Defense Network, the organization on the frontline to repeal DADT.  Goss and Alber gave an exclusive interview with Jed Ryan about their current collaboration and other recent endeavors:

JR: Hi Tom. Congratulations on the new CD and your musical collaboration with Matt for equality. So, many independent GLBT artists have a cause that they have an affinity for, like HIV/AIDS awareness, or gay youth, or something else. Is the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” your chosen cause now? How did your interest in this issue come about?
TG: As a general rule, any social injustice is of interest to me.  For the majority of 2009, my main focus has been equality of love and more specifically, marriage equality.  DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) falls along those lines.  I will always fight for the right to love as madly and deeply as possible without negative repercussions.  Many in our military, who have served honorably and bravely, have been punished for loving another.  Honestly, that idea is something I can't even comprehend.
JR: I agree.  Congratulations on your new CD “Back to Love“. What  song on the CD are you most proud of… or, which one should everyone reading this interview rush to download first?
TG: Hahaha, good question.  Without a doubt, "Till The End" is the song that touches people instantly.  There are a lot of love songs on "Back To Love" and that one is the most universal.  "Back To Arkansas" and "Lover" are also songs I would recommend giving a listen.  Afterward, you might as well download the rest...
JR:  True!  What, have you found, has been the hardest thing about being an independent musician in 2010?
TG: Leaving my partner Mike.  Touring is a lot of fun, but it's hard leaving someone you love for weeks or months at a time.
JR: Speaking of which, that’s quite a busy tour you have in store for April! You plan to be in Portland, Maine on April 7th and then in New York City on the 8th, and then Pittsburgh the next day? Wow! It doesn’t look you’ll get to spend much time in The Naked City…
TG: Yeah, I told myself that I wouldn't go overboard this year but I apparently lied.  I just booked a show in Appleton the day after my Nashville show (11 hours) and that doesn't count the stop in Chicago for a midday interview with the folks of Feast Of Fun.  That will probably be my longest day, wish me luck.
JR: Well, good luck!  Will we get to hear “Who We Are” at The Duplex? Or is it an unwritten rule that you can only perform it with Matt?!
TG: If requested,  I will be happy to play it.  I feel a little lonely without Matt but the message is more important than any two people!
JR: In 10 words or less, what do you want to tell everyone out there about Tom Goss?
TG: “I'm much shorter in person”… or, “I'm someone who still believes in the power of love.”
JR: Thanks Tom!  So, Matt: Greetings from New York City! Where does YOUR passion on the issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” come from?
MA: My good buddy Paul Dodd is a retired military chaplain from the Pentagon.  Years ago he explained to me what was happening-- gays being rooted out and witch-hunted from the military.  He founded The Service Members Legal Defense Network in D.C.  It is exciting to see all of this forward momentum in the country, so I wanted to do my part.
JR: Gotcha!  How has the reaction been so far: from people that have heard it, from the media, yada yada yada…?
MA: We've gotten letters from active-duty service members, their partners and those who have retired.  Some of them were honestly a little leery of a song about DADT-- I guess there are some cheesy protest songs out there-- but all of the responses have been overwhelmingly positive (except for the HRC who we heard didn't want to publicize it for some reason…)
JR: That’s THEIR loss!  Now, from your impressive body of work, what songs are what you would call “Essential Matt Alber”?  Let's pick three.
MA: Well, if you're a gay teenager, I'd play you "Fieldtrip Buddy,” “Beotia,” and “End of the World."
JR: (Sigh!) Sadly, I’m a long way from the teenage years, but I’ll definitely listen to them anyway!  What’s the hardest thing about being an independent musician in 2010?
MA: I think it's always been hard.  Guys like Tom Goss inspire me ‘cause he really took the plunge and went for it. It gets tricky lugging a keyboard around… have you ever tried to check a Yamaha?  It's like a million dollars.
JR: (Laughs) I’ll bet!  Any plans to come to New York City soon?!
MA: I'm making plans to come sing in New York in mid-June to sing a solo show.  Working on the venue now!
JR: Great!  So, in 10 words or less, what do you want everyone out there to know about Matt Alber… presuming, of course, that they are not already a fan!
MA:  I would want them to know that I'm a choir-geek at heart, that I love to sing more than anything else, and that I'll never have it all figured out.
JR: Thanks Matt!

See more about these two artists at:
Learn more about The Service Members Legal Defense Network at:
 
Watch the video for "Who We Are" here!
 
 

THE WILD WILD WORLD OF MR. (HARD) G...

THE WILD WILD WORLD OF MR. (HARD) G... 

Pic 1: Gerald McCullouch
Pic 2: Gerald & Daniel Reichard ("Jersey Boys")
Pics 3-4: Village People cowboy Randy Jones & Gerald
Pic 5: Gerald & friend
Pic 6: Gerald & uber-promoter Chip Duckett
Pic 7: Filmmaker Doug Langway (left), actor Jesse Archer (right) & friend
Pic 8: Chip Duckett, DJ Corey Craig, Gerald McCullouch, Joe Mode, Armando Marrero, & photographer/nightlife guru JJ Mack
Pic 9: XXX film star & producer Michael Lucas & Jed Ryan
Pics 10-11: The Naked Cowboy & friends, good from both sides
Pic 12: Jed Ryan & Gerald McCullouch
Pic 13: Vinny Petrosini, Tracy Utley, & Doug Langway
Pic 14: Michael Lucas (2nd from left), Chip Duckett (right) & friends
Pic 15: Michael W. Connor & Corey Craig
Pic 16: Jamison Stern, Dan Via, & Jeff DeKorte
Pic 17: Jym Benzing & Brandon Ruckdashel
Pic 18: JJ Mack, ADD (actor/dancer/DJ) Jonny Mack, Randy Jones, & Brandon Ruckdashel
Pic 19: JJ Mack & Jonny Mack
Pic 20: Promoter extraordinaire Keith Collins & actress/artist Teresa Galeani
Pic 21: (clockwise from top) Rick Naughtin, Jonny Mack, Michael W. Connor, & JJ Mack
Pic 22: The Naked Cowboy & friend
Pic 23: Rick Naughtin & Gerald McCullouch
Pic 24: Teresa Galeani, Keith Collins, The Naked Cowboy, & Gerald McCullouch
Pic 25: Scott Reed, Gerald McCullouch, & Chris Horsman

On Tuesday, March 30th, actor/NYC man-about-town Gerald (That's Gerald with a hard "G") McCullouch--on TV in "CSI", on the stage in Dan Via's off-Broadway play "Daddy", and soon to be on the big screen in Doug Langway's "Bear City"-- celebrated his B-Day in a big way, at the one-of-a-kind Manhattan hotspot Johnny Utah's.  It gave all of his friends and fans the chance to ride the mechanical bull... and gave me the chance to share with my readers some great pics!  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

THE NIGHT OF 1,000 GOWNS: Grandeur, Glamour, & Gaiety!


Pics 1-5: Crystal Waters
Pic 6: Uber-promoter Mark Nelson & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 7: Paparazzi Michael Alexander & Jeff Eason (Wilson Models)
Pic 8: Queen Mother of the Americas Panzi & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 9: ICNY President of the Board of Directors, Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte
Pic 10: Singer/songwriter Sir Ari Gold, Lady Clover Honey, & singer/songwriter Kelly King
Pic 11: NYC socialite Anu Singh & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 12: Lady Clover Honey, journalist Samara LaRiviera, & friend
Pic 13: Under the Pink Carpet TV's MeliMel Reyes
Pic 14: Audra Fox, Zondra Foxx, & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 15: Zondra Foxx & her men
Pic 16: XXX film star Donnie Russo & friend
Pic 17: Jed Ryan, Lady Clover Honey, & Anu Singh 
Pic 18: Drag legend Rollerina & Jed Ryan
Pic 19: Rollerina & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 20: Jed Ryan & Ari Gold
Pics 21-28: Miscellaneous pics
Pic 29: Lady Clover Honey & the boys of Broadway Bares
Pic 30-31: Miscellaneous pics
Pic 32: Two boys from Broadway Bares
Pic 33: Samara LaRiviera (left), Lady Clover Honey (right), & friend
Pic 34: The newly crowned Emperor Jack & Empress Farrah Moans
Pic 35: GLBT music guru Tym Moss & Lady Clover Honey
Pic 36: Under the Pink Carpet  TV's MeliMel Reyes, Lady Clover Honey, & the boys and girls of Broadway Bares 
Pic 37: Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut Imperial Crown prince Nick DeSabella & ICNY Emperor His Majesty XVI Craig Hollywood

THE NIGHT OF 1,000 GOWNS
Grandeur, Glamour, & Gaiety!
     On Saturday, March 27, The Broadway Ballroom of The Marriott Marquis Hotel was the most grand, most glamorous, and definitely most gay place to be in New York City. At the risk of sounding clichéd, I’ll say that it was an event fit for a queen… and king too. Or, more accurately, for an Empress and Emperor. It was the highly anticipated Twenty-Fourth Annual Night of 1,000 Gowns, produced by the Imperial Court of New York. Founded in 1986, ICNY has events all year long-- from fundraising performances to marching for equality in Washington, D.C. This night is widely known as the crown jewel of ICNY’s tiara. The Court currently has 170 members, and boats celebrity Honorary Chairs from Dame Joan Rivers to Michael Feinstein. Pageantry meets philanthropy, community spirit meets fierce individuality, and great reverence for the past meets an eye on the future. As President Gary Cosgrove/Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte defines it, it’s an “over-the-top night of glamour, glitz, and fun“. Old school “high” drag was heel to heel with ensembles that blurred the lines of gender and era altogether. There were no rules except to be, at the risk of sounding clichéd again, fabulous! This might have been the night of 1,000 gowns, but it wasn’t just, as Kool and the Gang put it, “ladies’ night“. The guys of The Imperial Court get into it too, with some of the most elaborate wardrobe you can imagine-- from S&M-flavored gear, to the classic tuxedo, to fashions influenced by royalty of centuries past. Even the most jaded Manhattanites, used to big spectacles in Greenwich Village on Halloween every October and Gay Pride every June, are still amazed by the level of creativity-- matched only by the colorful personalities underneath. This was truly a “Who’s Who” of New York City nightlife: many of the City’s most well-known movers and shakers, and the people who love them. I mean, some of the poor young guys and gals there were so intimidated that they eschewed costumes altogether and were practically naked… Oh, no wait! Those were the Special Guest performers from Broadway Bares. Yep, there were guys in jockstraps and fantasy athletic wear, competing for tastiness with the event’s famous late night Viennese dessert tables. The Imperial Court likes to mock the medieval monarchy system, but when it comes to raising money, these guys and gals are serious. To date, the organization has raised and shared well over $1 million by their own estimation. This year, the beneficiaries of The Night were God’s Love We Deliver and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
     In addition to performances by the members of ICNY, the event featured an impressive roster of stars, the hands-down highlight being diva Crystal Waters. The gay icon performed three of her most iconic singles, including the ageless dance hit “Gypsy Woman”. Drag personality Sherry Vine was DJ for the night, and other celebs in attendance included Village Voice columnist Michael Musto; singers Kristine W., Kelly King, and Terri White; drag artists Jesse Volt and Coco Peru; some of the show-stealing ladies from “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, and Ari Gold, who left as “Sir Ari Gold”-- he was knighted by ICNY that evening.  Emperor XVI Craig Hollywood said about the festivities, “The best thing about the evening is that everybody seemed to have a great time. Everybody enjoyed themselves. The Imperial Court of New York really knows how to put the ‘fun‘ back in fundraising.” Empress XXIII Anne Tique added, “We had a tremendous year. Jack and Farrah Moans (the newly crowned Emperor and Empress) have some big shoes to fill… but they’re gonna be fine! They’re fabulous!“  After midnight, it was time for the Farewell Walk of reigning Emperor XVIII Tony Monteleone and Empress XXIII Anne Tique, and the Coronation Ceremony of Emperor XIX Jack and Empress XXIV Farrah Moans. Particularly memorable was the Empress’ ”Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Couture Style” theme, which featured a procession of dozens of fictional icons of pop culture through the decades (from Disney princesses to superheroes to "Star Wars" villains) -- with grand, operatic music to match. It climaxed with Farrah Moans seemingly exploding from a huge illuminated white box. It was fantasy come to life on stage-- much like The Night of 1,000 Gowns itself. I asked Emperor XIX Jack what ICNY had in store this year. He responded, “So many surprises!  A lot more fundraising, a lot of parties, functions, and community events-- and it all starts tomorrow morning at victory brunch!”  Indeed, all those who was there that night left with more than just fabulous gift bags. Everyone who attended this night of a thousand gowns went home with over a thousand memorable moments… 
     Visit www.ICNY.com for more!