Sunday, December 29, 2013

DVD Review: "MR. ANGEL" Buck Naked: Body AND Soul

DVD Review:
Buck Naked: Body AND Soul

So, you wanna be an adult film star?  Well, the first requirement is... you gotta get naked!  That means naked for the world to see at the press of a "play" button or the click of a mouse.  But no matter how much of their anatomy a man or woman in "the business" shows on the screen, it's still only skin deep.  We may never know the "true" person staring back at them from a computer screen or behind the glossy DVD cover.  Buck Angel, the subject of Dan Hunt's bold new documentary "Mr. Angel", gained fame, notoriety, and a good helping of controversy as a renegade adult film star and producer.  With his shaved head, muscular body, tattoos, and rugged demeanor, Mr. Angel has indeed provoked many carnal desires.  But what makes Buck different from other male porn actors is that he was born female, and still has a vagina.  "Mr. Angel" tells Buck's saga, and it's an understatement to say this is a truly one-of-a-kind and amazing life story.  It goes without say that Buck hasn't been shy about baring his body, but in this intimate documentary, he truly bares his soul for the world to see.

Filmed over six years, Hunt's film chronicles the story of a spunky, strong-willed tomboy from California who would morph into porn's most well-known female-to-male transsexual-- the star of such films as "Even More Bang For Your Buck" and "Buckback Mountain".  With amazing candor, the 41-year old Award-winning triple X star speaks about what seems to have been the two major challenges in his multi-faceted life: (1) coming to terms with being a male trapped in a female's body, and then (2) dealing with the double-edged sword of notoriety from being branded porn's "Man With the Pussy".  Director Hunt had at least part of his hard work cut out for him, because it seems Buck was a very efficient archivist of his own life.  The audience sees dozens of photos and videos (some quite eye-popping) of Buck through his turbulent years: as a child, as a striking female model, and in various stages of his transition. For a performer who appears so empowering and commanding in his films, he shows his vulnerable side in "Mr. Angel" many times, speaking with great openness and emotion about his rebellious childhood, addiction, homelessness, and struggles for acceptance by his family.  On the subject of family, there are also equally candid interviews with Buck's mother, father, and sister-- all of whom he is now on good terms with.  We also meet his wife Elayne Angel, an equally colorful artist who wrote the book on body piercing-- literally. It's fascinating stuff, although some viewers will no doubt be challenged with just HOW much Buck is willing to share.  (For examples, the camera follows us into Buck's visits with his doctor after a health scare, and the viewer also gets to see vintage footage of the preparation for Mr. Angel's "top surgery".) Some will find it fascinating (as well as a superb education about sexual identity and transgenderism), but others may find it "too close for comfort".  Buck also speaks about the ongoing challenges he faces with the seemingly "anything goes" world of adult film: Many people-- even his fellow porn kin-- still define him first and foremost as a "sexual oddity", to paraphrase the Tyra Banks TV show which Buck had once appeared on.  As a result, despite his impressive cult popularity, he has had a difficult time finding distribution for his movies in the United States. 

"Mr. Angel" packs a lot of titillation and awe into its running time.  Buck Angel fans will be no doubt be delighted. Yet even potential viewers who have never and may never plan to see one of Buck Angel's X-rated videos will likely relate to "Mr. Angel" for its emotion and humanity alongside the aforementioned titillation and awe. This is the intimate story of a man who did it HIS way, simply because there was no other way to do it.  It's truly "Buck naked"-- body AND soul.

"Mr. Angel" is now available on DVD.  Visit for more info.

Read a vintage interview with Buck Angel here.

Read a vintage interview with Elayne Angel here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"LEATHER" MAN... An Interview with Filmmaker Patrick McGuinn

An Interview with Filmmaker Patrick McGuinn

Patrick McGuinn's
new film "Leather" begins with a scene of two young boys, Andrew and Birch, going fishing in a lushly idyllic country setting of the Catskills.  Fast forward 25 years, and these childhood friends are now grown men leading very different lives. Andrew (Andrew Glaszek) is now a handsome New York City native who's partnered with Kyle (Jeremy Neal), an amiable but sometimes childlike fashion magazine writer.  When Andrew learns that his father passed away, he and Kyle (along with their pet lop-eared rabbit) travel to that aforementioned picturesque upstate New York setting of Andrew's boyhood... and find a grown-up Birch (Chris Graham) now living alone in Andrew's isolated childhood house, far removed from the technology-obsessed city life.  (Birch tells Andrew, "I don't do electronic mail!")  Birch, now a rugged and bearded but equally handsome man (As one of the characters later says, "Birch is hot... in a 'Little House on the Prairie' kind of way!") is living a simple life working as a leather craftsman.  We learn that Birch was a drifter for years but had returned to Andrew's old home and became something of an apprentice and eventually a nurse to Andrew's aged, ill father.  The reunion of Andrew and Birch cause some strong (and surprising) emotions to emerge, as well as some questions.  Just what was the true relationship between Birch and Andrew's father?  How will the reappearance of Andrew, the rightful heir to the house, change Birch's life?  And how will the lives of all three characters be affected by this surprise reunion?  Surrounded by the simple, bucolic beauty of the country setting that surrounds them (with just a touch of fantasy thrown in...), the three men's lives take a journey which cumulates in an unexpected and somewhat romanticized conclusion.

"Leather" is the latest movie by the 47-year old McGuinn, a New York City independent filmmaker and musician, whose previous full-length feature was the horror film "Eulogy for a Vampire" in 2009.  The new film clearly falls into the genre of romantic drama, but like its cinematic predecessors, McGuinn's new film doesn't shy away from unapologetic homoeroticism which was seen in his other works.  In addition to showcasing the natural beauty of the Catskills, "Leather" also features some beautifully filmed scenes of man-to-man lovemaking.  Patrick McGuinn took the time to meet with me in his native East Village, New York City, to discuss "Leather", life as an independent filmmaker and his next project, already in the works...

Hi, Patrick!  Thanks for speaking with me.
PM: You're welcome!
JR:  The last time we spoke, you were telling me about your experience with "Eulogy for a Vampire", your full-length feature film prior to "Leather".  You told me that the experience of making "Eulogy" was something of an exhaustive and sometimes difficult experience.  At the time, "Leather" was still very much only in the "idea" stages.  What gave you the renewed energy and inspiration to dive right into the movie-making process again?
PM: I go through cycles, I guess.  There are stories which really inspire me.  At the time of "Eulogy", I was looking to do something supernatural after doing "Sun Kissed", which was sort of a metaphysical thriller.  After doing "Eulogy for a Vampire", I just felt like going back and doing something very pure, simple, and "back to nature".  The cycles are what inspire me.  It's not so much the act of filmmaking, but rather that filmmaking is the means to telling a story or communicating some form of a story.  In this case, going back to work on what became "Leather" started out as very fundamental.  The  landscape had to be a very pure, remote place.  Where it was going to take place was much simpler and less confined than where I previously set a movie-- at a monastery with all kinds of horrible, supernatural things going on!
JR: Yes, I remember! (Laughs)
PM:  Also, there were some childhood resonances that I wanted to explore.  I'd say a good portion of "Leather" has some autobiographical components to it.  For the screenplay, written by Greg Chandler, I provided some background scenario for him to take conceptually and flesh out.  I was happy to have found the things that I sort of figured out...  He took them and fleshed them out in ways that were very rewarding to me, just from a personal standpoint.  I identify with a lot of what the characters are going through.  In "Leather", all three characters have things in one way or another that I identify with.

JR: That's interesting to hear, because I was going to ask you if "Leather" was inspired by or based upon a real life story or real life people...
PM: Yes!  Greg is kind of savvy to and privy to a lot of things that I've been through.  We've been friends a long time, and we've talked about certain aspects of life or whatever... and with this story, I suppose one thing we both aimed for was that there was something about being away from an urban environment that has a "purification" effect on oneself.  That was something that we both experience a lot when we go to remote places.  So, we wanted to create a kind of "call to arms": Get away from your cell phone or Smartphone, and away from the Internet, and find some kind of connection or idea of what life might have been like before that technology was so accessible.  There's something sort of magical about it that I felt strongly about and wanted to embrace-- yet at the same time, I am completely an urbanite, relying on all my technology-- especially with filmmaking, which is so technologically driven!  There's almost something of a conflict within oneself: where you have technology so easily accessible, and yet there's almost something like an unsatisfied hunger with it-- you're always using it, but does it bring us true satisfaction?  I'm not sure it does.  I feel that there's something about taking a break from it that's important in life.  I think that's what "Leather" has organically developed into: the idea that through the voices of these different characters, the audience can see or feel different attitudes toward the modern world that we live in.  Greg had some very rich material in the screenplay that involved literature-- which is another aspect of culture that has diminished quite a bit.  People still read, but there's more of a "pop culture" consumption with books.  The character of Andrew is a student of American literature, and there's a connection where Birch is reading this old literature as well, and they connect from that perspective.  That was developed quite a bit in some scenes which wound up being cut in order to shorten the running time.  But they are in the "Deleted Scenes" on the DVD.  So, the connection to literature is there. I think that the movie's running time is perfect, but the deleted scenes give you a richer sense of how good the original screenplay was, and more about the character's motivations as well.

JR: You mentioned the term "magical".   Is there a general magical or fantastic element to the film?  There is a fantasy sequence in there, which I won't reveal-- but in addition, do you think that the choices the main characters choose to make at the end, romantic as they are, are realistic for the audience to believe?
PM: Greg wrote two very different drafts in the early stages of the development of the story.  One draft was very light and happy, almost like a Wes Anderson movie.  And, like a Wes Anderson movie, it had a sort of magical realism-- which is a tradition in Latin American cinema, where things happen almost magically and there's a slightly supernatural or spiritual resonance with the storytelling.  I thought we needed to bring it "back down to earth" a little bit, so I gave him my critiques with that draft of the script.  He came back with a totally different draft.  It was actually very dark, and sad, and had a very dramatic, gritty quality.  I thought, "Wow!  It's great but it's in a whole other direction now."  I decided that I really just wanted a synthesis of the two styles.  Working with Greg, I took both drafts and took the best parts of each one and made a composite of the two different styles, and smoothed it out in a way that made it cohesive.  There are still vestiges of the magical aspect of the first draft.  I'd say that the film skews more towards the Wes Anderson style of filmmaking as opposed to the more dark, dramatic side. That will certainly sit with certain kinds of people a certain way.  There will be people who love that kind of style and there will be some who don't. (Laughs) But with regard to the magical or supernatural or spiritual,  I always had in mind the moments in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", where the characters are in the woods and lost, and fairies are governing their experiences without their knowledge... and that is the kind of model that we were going for with regard to being in the woods at night and being with fairies, whether you believe in fairies or not!  There was also a reliance on "Harvey's Wonder Tonic", which is this green potion in the woods.  A viewer will see in the deleted scenes that there is a lot more in the Harvey's Wonder Tonic played up as a reason for what is happening .  I think it's a rich storyline, in how it's fleshed out.  But it was just too much footage to put into the story, so we had to turn it down.  But I think that the deleted scenes are very enjoyable in their own way. 

JR: No doubt!  Speaking of enjoyable scenes, "Leather" contains a generous amount of nudity and sexual situations.  

PM: I hope you liked it!
JR: Yes, very much so! (Laughs) I know that you are an uninhibited filmmaker!
PM: I try to be!
JR: How were the actors with the nude scenes?
PM: It's a commonly asked question: "How do actors deal with nudity in films?"  Nudity seems to be more taboo today than violence, and parents shelter their children from the human body... yet they will let their children see a PG-13 rated movie where hundreds of people are massacred with automatic weapons.  So, I think that is really criminal in a way that the human body is not celebrated the way violence is celebrated.  So, for me, another aspect of this movie is that sexuality is very fluid and very beautiful.  Early in the production I even said to Chris Graham, who plays Birch, "The sooner you can be comfortable being naked in front of lots of people, the better off we'll all be!"... because this is a film about Birch, who doesn't give a damn about being naked on a hot summer day... and I personally embrace that myself.  I think that being naked on a hot summer day is fantastic. No so much on a day like today, where it's 30 degrees out! (Laughs)  I think that the idea of "back to nature" was a major component of this movie, as well as the idea that Andrew and Birch sort of collide at first, because Andrew has more of this uptight, "cover up" attitude about his body, and he's also inhibited by his true feelings for Birch.  In the end, sexuality was to be embraced.  That was one aspect of my approach with the actors:  that they felt felt comfortable with the idea that this was going to be about this natural experience in the woods, and ultimately this mutual attraction... and how they explore it.  When it comes to filming these scenes, it's great to have that psychological background with the philosophy of the movie.  Because then, it's not gratuitous nudity; It's MEANINGFUL nudity.  So, filming becomes a real natural experience.  Of course, I like to respect the fact that when you're filming actors who in the nude, you have a very minimal crew.  In this case, it was just me and the cinematographer and the actors.  In that sense, it becomes an intimate experience between the FOUR of us in the woods!  I always feel that later on, there are things I would have done differently... but I am very pleased with how the love scenes came out.
JR: I thought the love scenes were very nicely shot... and very hot too!
PM: One of my inspirations was the Kenneth Russell movie "Women In Love", where the two men wrestle each other in the nude by the fire, which I thought was a tremendously beautiful scene.  I tried to capture those same flesh tones and earth tones.  Originally we were going to have a campfire in the movie, but then we realized from a bunch of perspectives that it wouldn't really be possible with setting a fire in the woods... so we settled for lanterns!  We didn't have money in the budget for a pyrotechnician!
JR: Gotcha!  You happen to be a very prolific filmmaker.  Is "Leather" your favorite movie to date?
PM: I've been asked that question at Q&A's, and yes, "Leather" is my favorite, possibly because of the autobiographical elements that resonate so much for me... but also the fact that it was such a rich and rewarding development process to create the film with Greg... and with Chris Graham and the other actors.  It felt like such an organic experience.  Even with the crew.  It was a very special shoot.  We were in this remote setting altogether.  Upstate New York in the summer is such an an inspiring setting to be in.  It was a long development process.  We were going to film in the summer of 2011, but there was a terrible flood from Hurricane Irene.   A lot of towns were decimated up there, and among them was Prattsville, New York where I filmed this movie.  I was a week away from filming, and it was a really challenging time because some friends who were going to work on the project had to rescue their homes, and we were right in the midst of that.  Plus, we lost a lot of props and costumes that had been painstakingly acquired over the previous year.  I think this setback was actually beneficial, because it changed the mission of the movie.  It became a labor of love to stay with the project another whole year, to develop and to finesse the story.  It was definitely a question in my mind of whether to get back on the horse that threw me!  But I am glad I did.  I think that all the love that the actors and crew felt while making the project shows on screen.
JR: It does!  Now, to leave off, tell me about your next film, "I, Scorpio".
PM: It's in the process of being edited.  It was shot in the desert.  It is very experimental narrative about a Mexican hitchhiker who is picked up by a drug dealer in 1974.  It's an idea that I have had for a while.  I thought that there might be some time-traveling elements to it, but the budget didn't allow for that.  I originally thought of setting it in 1874 and then make it go into the future, 1974.  But it is what it is, and I am very pleased with the results.  It was a very spontaneous project that emerged on a recent trip to Arizona, and I am very pleased with the results.  I think you'll like it!
JR: I think so too!  I look forward to finding out!

"Leather" is available on DVD. See more at  See the trailer here. 

See also "Out At the Movies: An Interview With Patrick McGuinn" from 2010

Friday, December 20, 2013

"CHRISTMAS IS..." Candice Corbin, Teresa Fischer, and Andrew David Sotomayor: A Review

Candice Corbin, Teresa Fischer, and Andrew David Sotomayor
A Review

"Christmas Is..."
is a new holiday collaboration of three self-styled New York City-based artists: Candice Corbin, Teresa Fischer, and Andrew David Sotomayor.  Throughout the album, each of them contribute their own unique musical and creative talents for a collection that honors traditional Christmas memories, yet frequently adds a generous dose of fresh and fun originality.   The singers often take turns with lead vocals, but also provide background vocals for each other: a supreme example of three diverse voices coming together as one for a truly unique sound. Like a Kris Kringle party, there are lots of surprises on this 12 track CD.

"Christmas Is..." opens with "This Endris Night", a 15th Century carol which immediately establishes the trained vocal skills of the all three singers. Champagne-voiced and soulful Candice Corbin takes the lead with the second track, the underappreciated classic "That Spirit of Christmas". She hits some impressively complex notes with her effervescent yet smooth voice, minimally adorned with Andrew David Sotomayor's piano.  Beyond Corbin's amazing delivery, the song's lyrics are a reminder about the true meaning of Christmas, which is sometimes lost in the sadly rampant  commercialism and materialism of the modern holiday season. Corbin does similar justice to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" later on in the album, delivering some truly intoxicating moments for this timeless favorite (Give it a listen and you'll know JUST what I mean!). As for her version of "O Holy Night", let's just say that Candice shows just how it SHOULD be done.  If you are gonna attempt this song, your voice better reach for the sky!  The listener will be left speechless.

Teresa Fischer is a praised cabaret singer known for her sassy, often hilarious delivery as well as her ability to unearth some lost musical gems just dying to be heard again.  For her blending of two Yuletide favorites ("Still, Still, Still/Silent Night"), the Titian-haired diva proves that underneath her affinity for the humorous side of music, she's still an accomplished vocalist.  Later on, she gives us another unsung hero of a holiday classic, "The Christmas Wish", delivered with a childlike, wide-eyed awe and showing respect for decades of Christmas-inspired lyrics throughout the decades before her.  But fans of Fischer's sassy style won't be disappointed: One of the original tracks is " Please Don't Make Me Sing a Christmas Ballad", co-written by Fischer and Sotomayor about Teresa's own experience as a cabaret artist.  It's quintessential Teresa (The title should be enough of a teaser...), a mirthful showcase for her idiosyncratic style.  

Andrew David Sotomayor is Musical Director of "Christmas Is...", and he also provides the album's piano work.  He also wrote or co-wrote four of the tracks, all of which deserve to become new holiday classics for a new generation.  The first of these original gems, the pop-flavored "Christmas Boo", is youthful, fresh, and fun, with an infectiously catchy rhythm.  You didn't have to be at the CD release party to visualize Candice and Teresa in the background, adding some glamor girl-style background vocals for some deliciously decadent adorment.  The second Sotomayor original, "My Epiphany", is an original, smart, and hilarious (and, dare I say, "educational"!) musical gem about the often overlooked Christian feast day which traditionally falls on January 6th. 

Like a stocking that hangs from the chimney, "Christmas Is..." is stuffed with all kinds of treats. Corbin's interpretation of George Michael's emblematic "Last Christmas" is flawless.  If Michael's original was provocative, this version is quietly heartbreaking-- and the percussion, courtesy of Hiroyuki Matsuura, is a particularly nice touch. Fischer gives us a nicely naughty treat with the deliciously demented "Pretty Little Dolly", a song originally performed by voice-over artist Mona Abboud on "The Tonight Show" in 1966 (!).  And, everyone who listens to the CD will be inspired by a standout lyric from the album's original title track, courtesy of Mr. Sotomayor: "No matter the way you choose to believe, The love of the season is yours to receive..."  This is a holiday soiree you don't want to miss!

"Christmas Is..." is available from I-Tunes and CD Baby.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

THIS COULD GET HAIRY! Meet BearScots, the Bears of Scotland!

Meet BearScots, the Bears of Scotland!

Founded in 2000, BearScots is the most well-known and active group for Bears and their admirers in Scotland. When most Americans think of the land of the Scots, they think of the scenery, bagpipes, golf, and... men in kilts! Graham Malcolm, President of BearScots, agrees: "Scotland has plenty of men in kilts! I own two kilts myself and they are great for partying in! But it is rude to ask a man if he is a true Scotsman, until you maybe buy him a drink!" What would most Americans be surprised to know about Scotland...and Scottish men? Malcolm tells me, "You will find Scottish men full of banter and wit. They often have a touch of the ginger gene and are well known for enjoying a wee dram". (I learned that means "a shot of Scotch Whiskey"!.). As for scenery (other than the hairy guys), there’s plenty of that too: "There are plenty of historic houses, castles and rolling hills to see in Scotland. It has some very dramatic scenery. We have some fine distilleries to sample the national drink. That could be whisky or the popular soft drink of Irn Bru! It’s well known to help with the indulgence and the hangover from the night before!"

If you've never been to Scotland, this fall may be the time to go, as BearScots promise plenty of indulgence (and maybe hangovers!) with their annual BearScotFest 2013, in Edinburgh from October 18 through the 20th. The weekend will include many hot and hairy parties, tours, brunches, and the famous Mr. BearScots 2014 Contest. And (drumroll please...), there WILL be men in kilts! After speaking with the the BearScots President, I’m ready to buy my plane ticket. After reading this, you may want to join me!


JR: Hi Graham! Thanks for speaking with me. So, it looks like the Bear Scots have established themselves as a very visible presence in Scotland's Bear scene. How was the group founded?
GM: BearScots was founded by a few like minded souls just over 12 years ago, and started its life of as a wee social gathering in Edinburgh. The monthly gatherings attracted Bears from around Scotland and very soon regular meetings for the Bears happened. Within a year the group set up BearScotFest for a big party in October. This annual event has gone from strength to strength and is now one of the biggest social Bear gatherings in the UK.

JR: Sounds GRRR-eat! So, what are some of the fun events you have going on throughout the year?

GM: The group currently runs monthly events in Scotland’s two major cities with Bears in the West in Glasgow, and Bears in the East in Edinburgh. These are informal pub nights for guys to meet and chat. We are always on hand to join in the banter and hand out sweeties or candy to the punters. BearScots take an active role in Pride with Bears marching behind the banner and some fun pre-pride party activities. This year we were joined by the lovely Mr. BearScots, Jason Green for our march in Edinburgh. In October we have over 600 Bears, Cubs, Chubs, and their admirers descend on the beautiful historic city of Edinburgh for BearScotFest. It is a popular and friendly event which people love to come back to. It includes club nights, tours of the city, brunches and the highlight of the weekend is Bears at the Caves which happen in the depths of the city in an atmospheric old vaulted space.

Our weekend has the Mr. BearScots competition with many hopeful guys appear on stage in hope of winning the title. Jason, who won this year, has relished the role with marching for Pride, promoting the group and making a very popular Santa at our Christmas parties. It is hard to resist sitting on his knee!

JR: I agree. I've seen pictures of him! So, there are a lot of Bear Clubs out there. What makes The Bear Scots unique?

GM: BearScots is unique in that it that it is a Scottish group and not just based in one city or event. We are continually looking to expand what we can offer and try of offer events out with Edinburgh and Glasgow. We work closely with other events and organisations in Scotland and further a field. BearScots are proud to have a close association with Gay Men’s . GMH are a Scottish based charity who work with gay and bisexual promoting their health and well being and support men with HIV. Each year we fundraise for the group and are always amazed at the support people give.

JR: I haven't been to visit Scotland yet, but it's on my list! What is the gay scene like in Scotland? I imagine life would be different in big cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, versus the country. While we're on the subject: What are some of the essential places to go or things to see when someone visits... especially our Bear brothers?

GM: Scotland is a small country with its gay scene mainly based around the larger cities. The Bears and events are focused around Edinburgh and Glasgow. Glasgow is the biggest city in the country and has a lively gay scene with the Bears tending to hang out in the Underground Bar, Waterloo, and for late night drinks at Speakeasy. Edinburgh has a well established nightclub, CC Blooms which has a great chill out bar for day time drinking and late night opening for dancing. The Bears tend to hang out at the New Town Bar with its male-only downstairs bar which opens up at the weekend.

For chilled out drinks you can head to the Regent for real ale and chilling or head to Nom de Plume for food and afternoon coffee.

JR: Real ale, food, and afternoon coffee... I’m partial to all three! (Laughs) "CC Blooms"... Margaret Cho paid tribute to that bar in her show "Notorious C.H.O."! Lastly, without giving too much away: What are some of the surprises that you have in store for us at Scots Bear Fest 2013?

GM: This year will see the Bears splashing about as we have exclusive use of the beautiful Victorian baths of Glenogle. This event has already sold out, but we know that guys will have fun swimming and splashing about.

JR: I always had a fondness for Bear soup! Thanks, Graham!

You can find out more about BearScots and register for BearScotFest 2013 at and visit them on Facebook at

THE JINKX MYSTIQUE: America's Next Drag Superstar Takes New York City by Monsoon in "The Vaudevillians"!

America's Next Drag Superstar Takes New York City by Monsoon in "The Vaudevillians"!

Just where did Jinkx Monsoon come from? Put most simply, Jinkx is the unique creation of 25-year old performer Jerick Hoffer from Portland, Oregon. But the road to becoming America's newest drag darling was much more complex. Jinkx Monsoon, as his creator has stated, is "all about contrasts": sophisticated yet street-smart, classy yet sassy, and showing great reverence for the American celebrity icons of decades past while providing a new cutting-edge sensibility as we approach 2014. The Jinkx persona was inspired by a multitude of real-life and pop culture characters, starting off with the name. "Monsoon", as you may have guessed, is an homage to deliciously decadent gay icon Edina Monsoon from "Absolutely Fabulous". The star's other inspirations include such funny girls as Lucille Ball, Maria Bamford, Deven Green, and Sarah Silverman; the larger-than-life Disney villianesses; and... Hoffer's own mother.

The man behind Jinkx Monsoon has been an accomplished performer for 10 years, with his resume including such juicy roles as Moritz in "Spring Awakening", Angel in "RENT", and Hedwig in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". On May 10, 2013, Monsoon's status was cemented in the public consciousness forever after being named the Season 5 Winner of "RuPaul's Drag Race", going home with the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar." Since then, Monsoon has been busier than ever. The last few months, Jinkx has been a LONG way from Portland, Oregon: 2897 miles, to be exact. Monsoon is currently performing at New York City's Laurie Beechman Theater in the musical comedy "The Vaudevillians". As performer "Kitty Witless", Monsoon is one half of a married cabaret duo from the 1920's who were frozen alive after being buried under an avalanche of snow while touring Antarctica. However, thanks to modern-day global warming, Kitty and her husband "Dan von Dandy" (played by Major Scales, AKA Richard Andriessen) thawed out and returned to pick up their career where they left off... with (needless to say) hilarious consequences. "The Vaudevillians" has garnered a lot of praise, including accolades from RuPaul himself, who stated, "Triumph!...Saw 'The Vaudevillians' last night and I'm still laughing!"

America's sweetheart took the time in between shows to talk about the making of Jinkx Monsoon, New York City,  "RuPaul's Drag Race", and ... why you should rush out and see "The Vaudevillians"!

JR: Hi Jinkx! So, first off, congratulations for all the praises for "The Vaudevillians". What's been the most rewarding moment of the run of the show so far?
JM: I think the most rewarding moments have been when we've had the chance to perform for some of our favorite artists and entertainers. It's intimidating, but exhilarating to perform for your idols, and meeting them and knowing they saw your work... That has been truly surreal, and very exciting.

JR: No doubt! How has New York City been treating you? Have you found a new favorite hangout spot?
JM: It's been great. A bit overwhelming at first, but awesome. We haven't had much time to find our favorite "hangouts", but we had dinner at Beauty and Essex, which was one of my favorite restaurants I've ever been to. We also spend a fair amount of time at the Chipotle around the corner from our place.

JR: Bumping into Jinkx Monsoon at Chipotle... Now THAT would make my day! In interviews, you've spoken about some of your own icons who have inspired your Jinkx persona: Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, the Disney villianesses, and... your own mother. Are there any famous (or infamous) personalities who you'd ever like to portray-- or pay homage to-- in a future performance piece?
JM: I would LOVE to portray Lucille Ball one day. Her life story is such a fascinating one, and her impact on American culture is immortal. I also would love to a portray a famous Monarch, like Queen Elizabeth I, or Mary Queen of Scotts, or Elizabeth Bathory, the alleged, "Countess of Blood."

JR: That would be fun! So, drag has really come a long way from when it was almost always about lip-synching and mimicking a larger-than-life female gay icon (Not that there's anything wrong with that!). "RuPaul's Drag Race" has played a huge role in raising the visibility of the "new" drag. What direction do you see the art of drag moving to as we head towards 2014?
JM: Well, I believe that the kind of drag RuPaul's Drag Race is exposing audiences to (live performance, comedy, character portrayal... etc) has always been around. It just kinda fell out of the mainstream of drag. What I do as a drag queen is not new. My drag idols, like Varla Jean Merman, Lady Bunny, Coco Peru, Joey Arias, RuPaul, Peaches Christ, Jackie Beat, Craig Russell... All of these ladies have been doing live singing, comedy, and characterizations for as long as I've been alive, and they inspired me to take that track with my drag. But RuPaul's drag race IS doing something special, by exposing the artist behind the queen. Letting us get to know the real people who create these drag personas... Making celebrities out of drag queens. Nowadays, there is no limit to what we, as queens, can do. Ru girls appear on TV shows, release top charting albums, have all kinds of merchandise franchises, they even have sold out Off-Broadway shows. Ru has blown the door wide open for us to accomplish our goals and live out our dreams in a way I don't think was possible before Drag Race. By exposing the many talents and multifaceted nature of these talented queens, our community is embracing drag with a whole new open mind and respect. I love it.

JR: That makes two of us! Lastly, why should everyone who's reading this interview drop their cocktail (or remote control, or whatever...) and buy tickets to see "The Vaudevillians"?
JM: The Vaudevillians has everything that a modern audience is looking for in a show. A new, fresh concept, a hilarious conceit, well rehearsed, professionally executed songs, pop culture references, and a little bit of heart and human emotion. It's a very easy show to watch; you order a cocktail, maybe some pasta or some French fries, and just let the show take you by surprise. But I think what makes it the most exciting for some audience members is that both Major Scales (the co-creator and the music director for this show) and myself really love doing this show. It's been our dream for years now to perform this show in New York, and here we are. So I think our passion rings clear throughout the show and audiences pick up on that.

JR: Sorry, I have to add one more! Inquiring minds want to know: Is there anyone, shall we say, "special" in your life right now?!
JM: There is some one I miss terribly... But life on the road only allows for so much one on one time. It's best just to keep things on a simmer. But they know who they are, and they know I can't wait to see them again.

JR: Thanks, Jinkx!

You can visit Jinkx Monsoon's official website at "The Vaudevillians" runs through October 29th at NYC's Laurie Beechman Theater407 W 42nd St. in Hell's Kitchen.  Buy your tickets to "The Vaudevillians" at

Monday, August 26, 2013


Hot and hirsute duo Jack Lundy and Charles Langnehs were recently named "Louisville's Newest Bear Couple"... but this handsome pair actually met over 30 years ago, when they were both 17.  Fast forward to 2013, and the two are as hopelessly devoted as ever: not just to each other, but to the furry fraternity at large.  Jack and Charles have found an innovative and (dare I say?) intellectual way to get their fellow Bear brothers off their couches and to socialize more-- with an alternative to the bar or Bear run.  In April 2013 they created Jack and Charles Book Club Quarterly, a four-times-yearly meeting where friends, both new and old, meet to socialize and discuss books.  Jack and Charles spoke to "ALL BEAR"'s Jed Ryan about their Book Club, how they met, and what to do when you're visiting their native Louisville, Kentucky.  These two prove that yes, Intelligence is sexy!

JR:  Hello guys! Congratulations about the new book club. So, what made you decide to start this social group?
Jack: It occurred to me that a book club would be a fun thing to do, and I mentioned it to Charles. Charles loved the idea and started to think about the shape of it.  Charles and I brainstormed and were able to establish the structure of the club. We then bounced the idea around others, and they also thought it was a great idea! That was when I knew we were on to something great!
JR: Jack, when we first met in Kentucky back in February, you stated how you wanted to initiate an event that would get some of the local Bears out of their houses and socialize more.  Is that how the idea came around?
Jack: Yes, this is something that branched off of that original thought. So many functions are at bars or Bear runs or leather events. There isn’t anything wrong with those venues, and I believe that everything has a time and a place. I felt there needed to be something that men who really aren’t into the bar scene can get involved with and meet with other men. This is more on an intellectual level. Hopefully this can reach many people that wouldn’t normally seek out the bar scene.

JR: That sounds GRRR-eat!  So, how has the response been so far?
Charles: The response for the book club has been great! We had 12 members at our first meeting and 26 people ‘like’ our Facebook page. At the first meeting we had drinks and dinner, which was nice, but the discussion was phenomenal. Our secretary, Bruce Lafontaine, lead our first discussion by summarizing the book and giving his opinions and views of the story and author. The discussion then took on its own synergy and the group took over. It actually gave me cold chills. We were afraid that we would not be able to fill up enough time with the discussion but before we knew it almost an hour passed before we adjourned. The comradery was awesome. People we see out are telling us about what they are reading for the next meeting, asking when the next meeting is, and have many suggestions. People that weren’t even at the meeting are telling us they are planning on being at our next gathering. To add to the closeness of the group, we send each member a birthday card and plan on sending a Christmas card. The five or six people who have received birthday cards so far have all expressed their gratitude and how nice it is to be a part of a group that cares enough to send them a birthday card.
JR: So, what books are you two reading now? Is there any book you really recommend to your bear brothers?
Jack: The second meeting the idea arose that everyone has differing tastes with reading material. We decided at this time that everyone can choose a book that they want to read and describe it at the second meeting. Some people like bibliographies while others like fiction or sci-fi. This will give everyone an opportunity to shine in their area that they are comfortable in. It will also open up new ideas as to what direction the book club should go in. I am revisiting some Ann Rice material in keeping with the vampire theme.

JR: Nice!  Recently a local magazine declared you two "Louisville’s Newest Bear Couple". Inquiring minds want to know: How did you two first meet?
Charles: Jack and I met over 30 years ago in a holler in Knob Creek, Kentucky. I grew up with some of Jack's family and they invited me over for a sleigh ride. Jack was in town and that’s when we met. We were both 17 at the time. We saw each other again on a Bear web site and met a few times but it wasn’t until November of 2012 that we realized who each other were. The rest has been great ever since!

JR: Thirty years ago?  Wow!  That's what I call a LONG courtship! (Laughs)  So, when you’re not participating in the book club events, what else do you like to do for fun?
Jack: Charles and I have been getting to know one another better by doing several things. We love going camping, which is something that Charles has more experience in doing. We also go to a local lake and pontoon with family and friends. We like to hang around the pool this summer at a local men’s camp called Stag Run. Wednesday night is our date night and we meet with a local Bear group of friends for cigars and then it’s off to Teddy Bears, a bear bar that has Karaoke, for drinks and singing. I just like spending time with Charles-- even if it is just catching up with old episodes of "Dr. Who" or watching movies that Charles hasn’t seen... which are a great many! Setting on our Old Louisville front porch together is one of our favorite things to do.
JR: Living in crowded old New York city, that sounds pretty heavenly!  Now, if someone is visiting Louisville, Kentucky-- particularly a fellow Bear-- what are some essential things to do and see?
Charles and Jack: Of course the obvious thing our city is known for is Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The week of Derby is one big party for the city. The Derby brings so many celebrities and famous people here. The races are fun, even when it’s not Derby time. The Derby Museum is open year round; it a must see! The Louisville Slugger Museum is excellent as well as many others on what is called Museum Row. For many years, Connections and Triangles were the city’s premier gay bars. However, recently, many bars have sprung up throughout the city including Big Bar, Chill, and No Where. The city is also known for its selection of restaurants.

JR: If some guys want to be a part of the Jack and Charles Book Club but don’t live in the Louisville area, how can they participate?
Charles: We have a Facebook page and would love for people to ‘like’ us and follow along with the discussions. Its Jack and Charles Book Club Quarterly on Facebook. We have had a few friends of ours in other cities ask us how they can start a Jack and Charles Book Club. We had never thought it would be so popular but are excited to think that we might be able to help others start their own. We developed a starter kit for anyone interested in starting their own chapter of the Book Club and we would be happy to send it to interested ones. All they have to do is contact us at
JR: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
Jack and Charles: We are both amazed that, although we have only been "out" for less than three years, we have met so many interesting and talented people. We live in such good and exciting times for gay people. We are so thankful for the brave people that have done so much so that we can enjoy the rights and freedoms that we have. Thank you!

JR: You are welcome... and "WOOF!" to both of you!


As we enter 2014, it's safe to say that-- for better or worse-- the gay male's decades-long love affair with fifty-something Madonna Louis Veronica Ciccione is NEVER going away!  With her endless parade of emblematic "looks" through the years,  Madge has also been one of pop culture's most imitated women.  If imitation is indeed the most sincere form of flattery, then it's also safe to say that no one flatters Maddy quite the way that Beardonna does.  If you've been to the gay mecca Provincetown for the infamous Bear Week in July, or hung out at the annual outdoor Urban Bear Fair in New York City in May, you've no doubt met  the New York City counterculture star known as Beardonna-- or at least SEEN the hirsute and hot-to-trot performer.  No, boys, it was NOT a hallucination brought on by the combo of the cheap beer and hot sun.  Beardonna is real... and is coming out in a BIG way!  Lock up your sons and daughters-- and your Twinkies!

Underneath his Blonde Ambition-inspired ensemble (complete with cone-shaped bra...) is Beardonna's male persona, Rob Donadio.  Donadio, who also has a popular character named Wonder WoBear (It's EXACTLY what you think it is!), proclaims to be first and foremost a fan of The Mother of Reinvention, with an affinity for her classic pop tunes: "I'm a bigger fan of her classic music.  I like her new stuff-- I like ALL her stuff-- but my favorites are the older ones.  They are the ones I parody now.  I'm not really making fun of her.  It's a show of my love for her: my fandom... my 'ho-MADGE' to her!"  Donadio is also a proud Bear.  He tells me, "Bear Donna is not a 'he' or a 'she'... It's just 'BearDonna'!  So people who refer to me as a drag queen, I'm really not.  I'm a performer who's a Bear in real life.  My chest is extremely hairy.  I don't think it's all that hairy, but you can pull this ('This' being his chest hair!) out to seven and a half inches--- which is not the world record, by the way.  The world record is nine inches!  I've always been hairy.  I dreamed about being hairy when I was growing up.  I come from a family of hairy Italian men.  I enjoy the masculinity of being a Bear, and I like hairy men myself.  The whole Beardonna thing is just for laughs.  We need a Bear 'mascot'!"

 Even when not singing his notoriously NC-17-rated parodies of Madonna's hits and other songs,  Beardonna knows how to get attention!  Although the occasional small child may run away,  both the guys and the girls always flock to him, usually asking for pictures or requesting to pinch one of those dangerously sharp-tipped dollar-store breasts.  Since the first public appearance of Beardonna, the performer has performed at many NYC and New Jersey hotspots, including many events for charity.  On August 14th, two days before Madge's 55th birthday, Beardonna and I met in New York's Times Square just after Beardonna's latest video shoot.  Beardonna more than held his own with all the other larger-than-life characters hanging out in the area, including a new, mediocre incarnation of The Naked Cowboy, the Naked CowGIRL, and the new Naked Indian (Sorry to be so politically incorrect, but "The Naked Native American" just doesn't sound right... and I've never thought of tight black Calvin Klein briefs as being bona fide Native American costume.  I was ready to start a riot!).  We make our way from Times Square to a  24-hour eatery in Chelsea, one of New York City's last remaining gayborhoods, stopping for photo-hungry tourists along the way.  We meet up with Beardonna's friend Anthony Calcara, his co-star on the radio show "Two Fags and a Hag"... and then proceed to talk about "important" issue: like why the restaurant doesn't have any banana cream pie on its menu.  Now, THAT'S something worth starting a riot about!

JR: Hi Beardonna.  Thanks for speaking with me!  So, just when did Beardonna, shall we say, "bust out" onto the nightlife scene?
BD: I think that the first time Beardonna "struck a pose" was at the Urban Bear Festival, May 2012.  That was the first time I stepped out as Beardonna... So it really hasn't been that long!
JR: Ah yes, that's where we first met!  So, what has been your most outrageous Beardonna moment... so far?
BD: Hmmm... I think the most exciting story I have to tell is when I had a "wardrobe malfunction".  I was in the street after an event, and I had a costume on that didn't have too much "support" to it, which I found later on!  I was taking pictures with people in the street, which I am always happy to stop and do.  A friend noticed something: Just like some female celebrities have "nip slips", I had a "ball fall"!
JR: Oh, no!
BD: Yes.  One of my boys was striking a pose all on his own!  I was wondering all along why people were looking at me funny.  I think that was the reason...
JR: (Laughs) Wow!  So, we can't talk about Beardonna without bringing up that OTHER icon who inspired him... I forget her name!  So, at the risk of getting too deep here, I have to ask a philosophical question!
BD: Uh oh!
JR: Yes!  So, just how relevant is Madge in GLBT culture as we approach 2014?
BD: Well, I feel that she's still VERY relevant.  She's still a trailblazer-- maybe not as much as when she first came out-- but she's certainly done a lot of good for our communtiy.  She's got some real kick-ass music as far as I'm concerned.  I still love it!  Still love HER.  I love that she doesn't bow to anybody and still does what she wants and gets what she wants-- and she's happy with what she does!  That's the way all of us should be.  Right?
JR: Absolutely!  Have you ever met any Madonna fans who, shall we say, didn't have a sense of humor about Beardonna?
BD: I have to say that I have not!  I haven't had any negative incidents or feedbacks about BearDonna.  They either don't say anything and they move on, or they stop and hug me... which I think is great.  And I'm happy with that!
JR: Madonna fans can be REALLY hardcore.  They WILL kill you for a "Ray of Light" promo henna hand painting kit or something like that.
BD: Yes, they can be!  But they are open enough to accept the humor of Beardonna, which is really all it is: having fun and making people smile.  Nothing too deep!
JR: Well, Madonna's music was always about having fun and making people smile... and it was never too deep either!  (Laughs)  But the boys still love her!  A lot of these guys in their 40's still act like it's 1985 and "Lucky Star" is still on the radio!
BD: Yeah!  But I still enjoy hearing all of her older stuff.
JR: I like hearing her classic music too.  It reminds me of when I was (SIGH!) much younger... So, while we're on the subject: Out of all Maddy's best-loved songs, which do you feel is quintessential Madonna?
BD: "Vogue".  My favorite.  I never tire of listening to that song!

JR: What's the hardest part about being a "starving artist"... or, to be more politically correct, an "independent performer" in this day and age?
BD: Starving? (Looks down at belly) YEAH! (Both laugh) Fortunately, I'm NOT starving!  It's just about getting people to accept what you do... and get them to come to your shows or have you show up at their events ... and get them to PAY you!  I'll do charity work for a cause... but this shit ain't free!  I need new cones sometimes!  I'm not just doing it for the money.  I'm having a great time doing it.  I don't know where it's gonna go, but for now it's fun.  But to be compensated for what you do, as "art" or "work", would be nice!
JR: Yes, I'm a firm believer that no one in this day and age should work for free... unless it's for charity! So... where are some of your favorite hotspots to hang out?
BD: I like Industry, Therapy, Rockbar, Stonewall, The Duplex... I've performed at a lot of these places.
JR: So, besides Beardonna(!), who are some of your favorite nightlife personalities?
BD: I LOVE Sherry Vine.  You gotta love Sherry! Sherry Vine has been very supportive in getting Beardonna out there.  Who else?  Lady Bunny: a legend.
JR: You and Sherry both have a very similar sick and twisted sense of humor!
BD: Yes!  Sherry did kind of inspire me to start this.  I was friends with her for a couple of years before, and the idea to do this came out, and she introduced me to a lot of cool people.  So yes, Sherry is a big part of Beardonna.
JR: She also knows the importance of getting out there and being seen!  She's been a part of New York nightlife for a long time. 
BD: Oh yeah! 
JR: So, what do you like to do for fun when Beardonna is not performing?
BD: When I'm not performing, There's a radio show...
JR: Ah yes!  Rumor has it that your, ahem... "twin brother" Rob Donadio is part of a radio show...
BD: Yeah, he's a nice guy!  Very misunderstood! (Laughs)  The show is called "Two Fags and a Hag", and it's with my two best friends in the world: Anthony (my "fag") and Drew (my "hag").  Anthony and I have been friends for 34 years now!  Our best friend Drew lives in Florida.  She's our "straight anchor" to our show.  She's married and has a family.  So, we have three different opinions.  I'm pretty much the whore on the show. 
JR: Well, someone's gotta be!
BD: Anthony is a little more sedated, and Drew is a straight woman!  So, we have three different opinions!  It always makes for an interesting conversation.  It's just a lot of fun.  We have a blast every Friday morning at 10AM.  We talk about a lot of different things.  Never anything too serious.  We want to try and keep it light and happy, and touch on some important issues, and have special guests.  We just try and have a good time.

JR: Sounds great!  So, on to one of my favorite subjects: Does Beardonna want to spill any beauty secrets?
BD: Oh, God!  You'll have to wait for the book!  Beauty secrets?  It's all from the dollar store!
JR: Don't be dissin' the dollar store!
BD: I'm not!  I wouldn't be here if we didn't have them! "Beauty on a budget"!  All my costumes are made on a dollar store budget and a glue gun... and "LOOK OUT"!

JR: You know, I've been asking a lot of really trivial, skin deep, silly, pop culture questions.  It's time for a very serious question now: How do you feel about Hostess Twinkies making a comeback?
BD: THANK GOD!  (All laugh.) Because I'd have to change one of my songs if they didn't: my "Papa Don't Preach" parody, called "My Belt Don't Reach": all about my love of snack cakes-- Twinkies, Ring Dings, Ho Ho's... That video is all about how I got my voluptuous figure.  Sherry Vine plays my mother, Bear Mama... and in the video we see how she gives in to my addiction for snack cakes... and how I drove her to drink.  It's quite funny. And, it was shot in 3-D.
JR: Really?!  I can't wait to see it!  So, where can we catch Beardonna live?
BD: I hope to have a show at The Duplex by the holidays. I would love to do some parodies of the holiday classics: of course, mixed with poop and sex!   Hopefully, I'll also be doing something on a regular basis at Rockbar.  Wait and see.  You'll just have to keep following me!

JR: I can't wait!  So, I have to throw one more question in: Let's say we leave here and out on the street you see...Madonna!  Let's say she's walking down the street in sunglasses and talking on her phone, yelling something like, "Damnit, Lourdes!  I told you NO POT SMOKING IN THE HOUSE!"  or something like that.  What would you do?
BD: I think I'd vogue on over to her and just say "Hello!"... and she what she says!  And throw in, "Our resemblance is mind-boggling, isn't it?!"

Can't get enough Beardonna?  Catch him on Facebook (Bear Donna) and at  You can catch "Two Fags and a Hag" at Blog Talk Radio at, with new shows live every Friday morning at 10AM EST.