LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Monday, August 26, 2013

WELCOME TO JACK AND CHARLES' BOOK CLUB:Open Wide! (Your Book, That Is!)







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 jackandcharlesbookclub@yahoo.com
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!

BEARDONNA: THE VIRGIN INTERVIEW!






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 www.Beardonna.com.  You can catch "Two Fags and a Hag" at Blog Talk Radio at www.blogtalkradio.com/twofagsandahag, with new shows live every Friday morning at 10AM EST.