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Activist Spencer Cox Remembered 05 The London Stage 16 Scalia’s Marriage Conundrum 04 “Let My People Go!” 15

A baker's dozen things to watch for in the year ahead Page 12


January 2, 2013 |


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A baker's dozen things to watch for in the new year

2012’s Top 10 Films

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January 2, 2013 |


A Challenge to Conservatives BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


n his 2003 dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, the US Supreme Court case that struck down sodomy statutes in the 13 states that still had such laws, Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice, excoriated the majority for undoing the justification for many laws. “Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation,” Scalia wrote, citing the decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 US Supreme Court decision that upheld the sodomy laws then in force in 24 states. “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices.” This spring, the court will hear a challenge to the section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and will also review a 2010 federal court ruling that struck down Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot initiative that eliminated the right of gay and lesbian couples to wed in California. An appeals court later upheld the 2010 ruling. While few expect Scalia to rule for gay marriage in either case, how does a justice who admits that the central justification for disfavoring homosexuality is gone argue for continuing to disfavor homosexuals?

“[T]here is a certain logic to the syllogism that (1) Scalia criticized Lawrence for repudiating precedent; (2) that Scalia said the logic of the majority opinion in Lawrence left no principled argument for rejecting gay marriage; and (3) therefore, Scalia must vote in favor of gay marriage,” wrote Michael J. Klarman, a law professor at Harvard University, in an email. “[T]here is no chance he will do so. Indeed, he has publicly stated on more than one occasion that the constitutional case for gay marriage is ‘absurd.’” Scalia’s Lawrence dissent has been cited by proponents of same-sex marriage and by judges who ruled for those proponents. “We’ve seen a number of judges make this observation,” said Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, a gay rights law firm. “It will be very interesting to see how Justice Scalia reconciles what he said in his Lawrence dissent with his quite obvious reluctance to accord any protections to same-sex relationships.” Scalia, or any US Supreme Court justice, is not required to follow prior decisions nor must he be consistent. He could argue that by ruling against the gay community in both cases, he is being consistent in that he still believes that homosexuality should be legally penalized. “It seems very unlikely that Justice Scalia would accept that Lawrence is precedent he has to agree with,” wrote Paul M. Smith, a partner at Jenner & Block, LLC, a Washington, DC law firm, who argued for the winning side in the Lawrence case. “If he does not, then the problem created by his dissent goes away.”


Marriage cases may make justices examine — and perhaps ignore — prior decisions and federalism

Justice Antonin Scalia faces the prospect of abandoning his own pronouncements in order to get the position he’s committed to on marriage by same-sex couples.

His Lawrence dissent is not the only potential obstacle for Scalia. Justices on the court have repeatedly asserted that the federal government is limited in its power to direct the states. DOMA is the only example of the federal government refusing to recognize legal marriages that are sanctioned by state governments. That refusal is due solely to the spouses being gay or lesbian. Prior to DOMA’s enactment in 1996, the federal government relied on state licenses to determine who was married and it did not have its own definition of marriage. In a separate lawsuit that is not being heard by the US Supreme Court, Massachusetts charged that DOMA requires it to violate its own laws and asserted that the federal government lacks the legal authority to do that. “I think there is much in the argument against DOMA which should appeal to

Justice Scalia, and we will have to wait and see how he responds,” wrote Gary Buseck, the legal director at the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, in an email. “I think both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia have specifically spoken to the question of where the federal government intrudes on matters of traditional state sovereignty such that they believe the Court takes a careful look at the federal government’s asserted justification for its actions.” From the vantage point of liberal justices on the court, the marriage cases could stir as much controversy as some civil rights cases caused in the 1950s and ‘60s, and they may fear that. Justice Elena Kagan may have been referring to this at a December 13 appearance at a Washington, DC synagogue. “One’s sense of what to do as a judge is bounded in some way by the society in which one lives” Kagan said, according to “One does think long and hard as a judge, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in this position… before you do something that you think is required by law that would be incredibly disruptive to society, and that’s where great wisdom is called for.” The conservative justices may be forced to examine and perhaps defend some of their core beliefs. The DOMA case “may actually have some of the conservative justices joining based on state’s rights” arguments, said Mitchell Katine, a partner at Katine & Nechman, LLP, a Houston law firm, and the local counsel on the Lawrence case. “Scalia and Thomas and the other conservative justices do believe in that and they should invalidate DOMA based on that,” Katine said.

Year-End Spate of LGBT Court Rulings State, federal panels consider marriage, free speech, HIV, and ex-gay therapy BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


tate and federal courts released a flood of new LGBT -related opinions in the last few weeks of 2012. The most significant among them are detailed below: The Montana Supreme Court divided 4-3 in a December 17 ruling over whether it could issue a declaratory judgment on a claim made by a group of same-sex couples that the statutory structure of Montana law unconstitutionally discriminates against them. Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote for the majority that the

trial judge correctly ruled that issuing the declaration would “run afoul of the separation of powers” because it would “likely impact a large number of statutes in potentially unknown and unintended ways.” Montana has a state constitutional amendment that provides that only the union of a man and a woman can be a valid marriage in that state. The plaintiffs, seeking all the rights and benefits associated with marriage — though not the name itself — based their claim on their right to equal protection of the law, required by the State Constitution.

While the majority of the court was unwilling to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, they were also careful not to decide whether the plaintiffs might have a valid claim concerning any particular statute. The case was sent back to the trial court, and the plaintiffs have the opportunity to file an amended complaint attacking particular statutes as violating their equal protection rights. In a separate opinion, one member of the majority, Justice Jim Rice, argued such an action would be unsuccessful because of the anti-gay-marriage amendment.

The majority’s action stimulated a lengthy, passionate dissenting opinion by retiring Justice James C. Nelson, who noted this was his last opportunity to rule on gay rights. He insisted the majority was mistaken and that the court should declare sexual orientation to be a “suspect classification” under Montana law, which would make all unequal treatment of same-sex couples presumptively unconstitutional. He also suggested the state marriage amendment is itself a violation of the Montana Constitution. The

COURT RULINGS, continued on p.24

| January 2, 2013



Spencer Cox, Leading HIV Treatment Activist, Dies at 44 BY PAUL SCHINDLER


hen news surfaced on December 18 that Spencer Cox, one of the most important HIV treatment activists going back more than two decades, had died of AIDSrelated causes at a Manhattan hospital at the age of 44, a haunting video clip of the Georgia native soon surfaced on Facebook. In an outtake from “How to Survive a Plague,” David France’s recent widely acclaimed documentary about treatment activism in the years leading up to the introduction of protease inhibitors in the mid-1990s, Cox spoke about the dramatic shift the success of those drugs created not only in the health of people with HIV, but also in their emotional well-being. "What I learned from that is that miracles are possible,” he said. “Miracles happen, and I wouldn't trade that for anything… You keep evolving and you keep progressing, you keep hoping until you die. Which is going to happen someday. You live your life as meaningful as you can make it. You live it and don't be afraid of who is going to like you or are you being appropriate. You worry about being kind. You worry about being generous. And if it's not about that, what the hell's it about? That’s what I’ve learned.” For Peter Staley, Cox’s fellow treatment activist at ACT UP and in launching the Treatment Action Group (TAG) in 1992, those comments were made by Spencer the activist, someone drawn to offering inspiration to a generation of gay men who were scarred by — but had survived — the worst years of the AIDS epidemic. Others have also commented on the joy that often informed Cox’s activism. Mark Harrington, TAG’s executive director who, like Cox and Staley, was there from the start, described his friend as “charming” and “witty” and said spending time with him at a screening and Q&A for France’s film reminded him that Cox “was a lot of fun to work with.” France said, “The word that came to me about Spencer was his generosity” — a spirit, he said, indivisible from his activism. The filmmaker recalled a discussion with Cox years ago about the politics of AIDS vaccine research. France was struck not only by Cox’s insight that an understanding of the science was necessary in assessing the political realities, but also his recognition that France didn’t yet understand that science. Cox, France said, patiently backed

up and said, “Well, this is what you need to understand…” Cox’s surviving sibling, Nick, who is four years younger than Spencer, in a email conversation with Gay City News, also pointed to his brother’s “charm and intelligence.” Those strengths, Nick acknowledged, also had flip sides. Cox wrestled with drug resistance, depression, and anger over the continued stigma he encountered as an HIV-positive man, even in the gay community. There were also periods in his life when he used crystal meth and times when he went off his AIDS medications — those latter decisions likely leading to three hospitalizations in recent years for AIDS-related illnesses. None of those close to Cox have a good understanding of the interplay among all those factors. “Spencer was a difficult personality even to his friends and family,” Nick said. “He had many sides to his personality, some of which even contradicted each other. We are still trying to process his death and put some of these pieces together but he was enormously adept at letting you see the parts he wanted you to see.” Cox’s death, Harrington said, “just left me with a whole lot of questions.” An activist who worked so hard for treatment breakthroughs that saved millions, Staley said, was “evasive” in talking about the treatment decisions he was making for himself. Cox, however, kept none of the underlying issues he juggled a secret, and his death became an occasion for very public speculation about what it meant. Henry Scott, the former publisher of Out magazine, wrote on his WehoVille. com blog that it pointed up the dangers that crystal meth continues to pose for gay men. Laurie Garrett, a well regarded AIDS writer, was blunter, saying online, “I am angry at Spencer for falling down the meth rabbit hole that is claiming the sanity of tens of thousands of gay men in America, making them careless about their own health and callous about the well-being of others.” Benjamin Heim Shepard’s stinging blog response to both of them was a reminder of how often sexual practices and drug use have become fodder for bitter divides over issues of prevention, health, and stigma in the gay community since AIDS’ earliest days. France also expressed concerns about stigmatizing Cox’s life and those of other gay men, but shared the view of Nick Cox, Staley, and Harrington that even those closest to him did not know all the details of Spencer’s final months. None knew of any recent meth use, and France thinks it’s likely Cox had


In an era of impatience, his commitment to science-based drug approval contributed to shift in AIDS fight

Spencer Cox, 1968-2012.

not used since recovering from grave AIDS complications in 2009 that cost him sight in one eye. Similarly, they are aware that Cox stopped his medications some weeks before his final hospitalization but don’t know when he was last on his regimen. How depression or drug resistance played into the equation is similarly unknown, though both Staley and Harrington recall him being upbeat and optimistic when they saw him recently. “He was witty, charming, and lucid,” Harrington recalled about recently seeing Cox. “He didn’t seem like someone planning his imminent demise.” Acknowledging it was hard to understand how someone who knew the need for treatment adherence as well as Cox did would go off his meds, Harrington noted he had survived earlier such episodes and “maybe he thought he could dodge it again.” Debates over how Cox died, of course, threaten to obscure his remarkable achievements in life and the fact that he was not just a dedicated activist but that he was a singular activist who brought very specific insight, energy, and commitment to the fight against AIDS. The New York Times obituary for Cox quoted Dr. Anthony S. Fauci saying, “Spencer pushed for data-driven decisions. He wanted the facts and was always very meticulous about getting good data rather than just screaming for getting something approved.” In 1992, when TAG was launched, that idea was controversial. For four years, ACT UP had demanded that the government move faster. The disillusionment with the inadequacy — and toxicity — of the earliest treatments led activists like Cox to regroup. He was the first to engage the statisticians among federal health officials on questions of clinical trial design, according to Harrington.

Referring to the clinical trial of ritonavir, one of the first protease inhibitors approved for use, France said, “The trial design was specific to him. He wrote that up, though it was not his exclusive thinking.” Cox had the insight to look outside the virology field and examine drugs trials for cardiovascular treatments, France said. The ritonavir approach, Harrington and Staley explained, allowed trial participants to stay on medications they were already taking and increased the percentage who would receive the trial drug itself rather than a placebo — both of which factors eased ethical concerns regarding people who were very sick. “Spencer definitely was almost religious about his belief in good science,” Staley said. Patrick Spencer Cox was born in Atlanta, and after his parents divorced at age five, he and his brother were raised by their mother. He came out at 15 and was engaged in acting and creative writing into college, but arrived in New York after three years at Bennington College “as an activist in search of a cause,” according to his brother, who recalled that Spencer helped found an underground newspaper in high school and forestalled punishment for that from administrators by threatening to go to the ACLU. Cox’s first job in New York was working in the press and policy department at amfAR and he later helped Dr. Joseph Sonnabend found the Community Research Initiative on AIDS. He worked at TAG from 1992 until 1999, during which time he and the other early treatment activists were “virtually inseparable,” Harrington recalled. According to France, by 1998 Cox’s virus was breaking through despite a protease regimen. “He was constantly fighting multi-drug resistance,” France said. “His HIV was never fully under control.” About a decade ago, friends learned of Cox’s first decision to suspend his drug regimen, and he soon landed in the hospital with AIDS-related pneumocystis pneumonia, which afflicted him again half a dozen years later. After his 2009 hospitalization, he returned to Georgia to live with his mother for what his brother described as a period of “healing.” It was in Georgia where France filmed the interview with Cox he posted on Facebook. In 2005, Cox launched an effort he called the Medius Institute for Gay Men’s Health, which he said would take a holistic approach to the needs of men

REMEMBRANCE, continued on p.6


January 2, 2013 |


Steven Goldstein Leaving Garden State Equality for Rutgers Post Troy Stevenson, a top deputy, steps in, pledges marriage equality override in 2013 BY PAUL SCHINDLER


teven Goldstein, who has served as chair and chief executive officer of Garden State Equality (GSE) since founding the New Jersey LGBT advocacy group in 2004, is stepping down from his post to become associate chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark. More than 200 LGBT civil rights measures — including a highly regarded school anti-bullying statute as well as statewide antidiscrimination protections for the transgender community and a broadening of New Jersey’s hate crimes law — have been enacted in Trenton and in counties and municipalities across the Garden State during Goldstein’s tenure. Still, his impassioned goal of enacting marriage equality there has remained elusive — thwarted first by the State Senate’s refusal in January 2010 to pass the measure in the waning days of Democratic Governor John Corzine’s administration, when it would have been signed into law, and last year, when Republican Chris Christie vetoed the bill after its passage in the Senate and Assembly. Goldstein, who is 50, will be replaced at GSE by 36-year-old Troy Stevenson, who for three years held the number two spot at the group as managing director before taking time off last year to work on the Obama campaign’s Pennsylvania effort. Stevenson, whom Goldstein said he “groomed” for the top spot, is a native of Oklahoma City and earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and a law degree from London’s University of Westminster. In a pr ess r elease announcing the change in leadership, Stevenson pledged, “We will win marriage equality through an override in 2013.” Last year, the bill passed 24-16 in the


in the community. Depression, he told Gay City News at the time, would be an early priority for Medius. “Despite the key role that depression and other mental health issues play in influencing risks of HIV and other preventable diseases, gay men’s mental health needs have gone tragically unaddressed,” Cox said. “We have this enormous, terrible thing that happened to us that we have not confronted at all.” Harrington said he read two research papers Cox produced through Medius and found they both showed the activ-

State Senate, where 27 votes are needed to override a Christie veto, and 42-33 in the Assembly, where 54 votes are needed. The bill — which had never before gotten a vote in the Assembly — had only 14 supporters in the Senate when first brought to the floor in 2010. The Assembly currently has 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans, while the Senate has a 24-16 Democratic edge. A year ago, gay marriage had the support of a couple of Republicans in each chamber. The executive committee of GSE’s board of directors approved Stevenson’s appointment in a teleconference on January 2. Stevenson will assume his new post on January 21, two days before Goldstein steps into his new role at Rutgers-Newark. “Working by my side, Troy is the person I someday wanted to take my place, which you bet he can,” Goldstein said in a release following the board’s action. “So many of you know and love him. He is an extraordinary field operative, political talent, and all-around human being.” Stevenson responded, “Steven has been a mentor to me and to thousands of others. He has not only founded an organization that has led the way for some of the most important civil rights laws of our time, but he has also inspired a new generation to get involved and change the world. I will work night and day to continue his legacy seamlessly.” Goldstein’s founding of GSE in 2004 came one year after Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit seeking equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, an effort that led, in 2006, to a unanimous State Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples deserved all the rights and benefits of marriage. Only a minority of that united court, however, found that the State Constitution required that the name marriage be given to such unions. The State Legislature quickly adopted a civil union law to comply with the court’s decision.

As GSE’s leader, Goldstein seemed at times to be everywhere at once, taking a highly visible role in both official settings and public demonstrations across the state and returning reporters’ phone calls with uncanny speed. One of the best known advocacy efforts GSE took on was the fight waged by Ocean County Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester to win pension benefits for her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, during the last year of her battle against cancer. Hester prevailed just days before her death in a videotaped appeal from her hospital bed, and her struggle was told in a 2007 film “Freeheld,” which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject Documentary. The group also fought a high profile — and ultimately successful — battle against the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group, which had barred a lesbian couple from using a boardwalk pavilion near the beach for their civil union ceremony even though the group routinely rents the space out as a public accommodation and has earned an environmental tax break for making the outdoor venue publicly accessible. None of these efforts — or even the enactment of the school bullying law, for which Goldstein praised Christie’s leadership — rivaled the effort he put into the marriage equality cause. When named to a state commission to evaluate whether the civil union law was succeeding in delivering the equality mandated under the state high court’s ruling, Goldstein proved instrumental in that commission issuing a harshly worded report saying it was instead a failure. That report in hand, he and other GSE members lobbied Trenton legislators to embrace full marriage equality. The commission’s report has also played a critical role in deliberations by state courts and legislatures nationwide in weighing whether civil unions are an adequate remedy for the discrimi-

nation same-sex couples face. Goldstein’s friendly relations with Christie smacked into a stonewall last February when the Republican governor told legislators not to waste their time on a marriage equality bill that he would veto. He instead urged advocates to try to enact gay marriage through a referendum, saying, “I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.” Cory Booker, the African-American mayor of Newark and an ally of GSE, shot back, “I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states.” Civil rights veterans from around the nation joined Booker in stinging criticism of Christie. Even as GSE presses the effort to win enough votes for an override of Christie — and Stevenson talks of victory this year — Lambda is back in state court making both New Jersey and federal constitutional claims that the civil union statute violates the rights of same-sex couples. In a message to the group’s nearly 125,000 members, released the evening of January 2, Goldstein pledged to remain visible in its fight for equality, saying he would accept the title of founder and honorary chair. As associate chancellor for external affairs at Rutgers-Newark, he will be responsible for the university’s government relations and communications. In a press release issued by the school, its interim chancellor, Dr. Philip L. Yeagle, said, “Steven has long been among New Jersey’s most compelling voices and steadfast leaders for the public interest. His political savvy and legendary tenacity have made him known in Trenton and across the state for making big things happen.”

ist’s characteristic disciplined approach toward policy recommendations. During this period, Cox also wrote an article for POZ magazine’s blog detailing both the dangers meth use poses to those who are HIV-positive and effective steps for “kicking crystal to the curb.” Cox was unable to secure sufficient funding to keep Medius operating, and Staley said he had the impression that meth got in the way of that effort. Cox’s brother said he heard concerns about Spencer’s meth use during his 2009 hospitalization. Those closest to Cox, however, agreed that meth was a symptom more than a

cause of the challenges he faced. France said with his persistent struggles to contain his HIV illness, “Spencer was really soldiering on alone.” Saying he sees the stigma facing HIVpositive gay men as worse than it was before the mid-‘90s treatment revolution, Staley pointed to “not just the moving on, but even the aggressive shelving” of AIDS as an issue of concerns among gay men, and said, “We all wanted to live in happier times. The veterans from that period really felt like we were coming home and there was not embrace, no recognition.” He added, “Whether we are admit-

ting it or not, we are all struggling with depression. We need to start dealing with these issues. A lot of us are talking about restarting Medius somehow.” Harrington recalled that on a panel following a screening this past fall of “How to Survive a Plague” at the IFC Center, Cox credited France’s film with “showing how much fun we had. If it stops being fun, then something’s wrong.” In addition to his brother Nick, Spencer Cox is survived by his mother, Beverly. A celebration of his life is planned for Sunday, January 20, from 3-6 p.m. at the Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street.


| January 2, 2013

Clarke Cooper Sings New Tune as Log Cabins Blast Hagel Gay group brings together LGBT and neocons’ critique of potential Pentagon pick BY PAUL SCHINDLER


ix days after former Senator Chuck Hagel’s apology for 1998 comments in which he decried a Clinton administration ambassadorial nominee as “openly, aggressively gay” was met with conciliatory responses from two leading national LGBT organizations, the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) came out swinging against the possibility the Nebraska Republican will be President Barack Obama’s choice as the next secretary of defense. “Wrong on Gay Rights. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Israel,” read a full page LCR ad published in the December 27 New York Times, less than two weeks after the group’s executive director offered strong praise for Hagel, who at press time seems headed for nomination, perhaps as early as January 7. Headlined “Chuck Hagel’s Words,” the ad opened by quoting the ex-senator’s reaction to President Bill Clinton’s nomination of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. “They are representing America [as ambassador],” the ad read, citing an interview Hagel gave to the Omaha World-Herald at the time Hormel’s nomination was being considered. “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay…” The LCR ad closes by urging readers to “Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party.” In a press release announcing the T imes ad, R. Clarke Cooper, LCR’s executive director and an Iraq War veteran, said, “Chuck Hagel’s weak record on preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, lack of confidence in our ally Israel as well as an aggressive history against the LGBT community is a no-go combination for a secretary of defense nominee.” Among many neoconservatives and other supporters of Israel, Hagel’s criticisms of the Jewish State and advocacy of diplomacy over threats of military action against Iran have been fodder for intense criticism in the days since he was first mentioned as a possible nominee at Defense. His use of the term “Jewish lobby” to describe Israel’s US supporters has drawn particular fire, but his record on Iran is also a target at a time

when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough talk on Iranian nuclear ambitions has won strong support among American foreign policy hawks. On January 1, another gay conservative, James Kirchick, writing in the New York Daily News, argued that Hagel’s views on gays “disqualify him from helming the Pentagon.” When news of Hagel’s comments about Hor mel sur faced the week before Christmas, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) immediately denounced them as “unacceptable.” Hagel, in turn, told the Washington Post, “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.” Chad Griffin, HRC’s president, then issued a statement saying, “Senator Hagel’s apology and his statement of support for LGBT equality is appreciated and shows just how far as a country we have come when a conservative former senator from Nebraska can have a change of heart on LGBT issues. Our community continues to add allies to our ranks and we’re proud that Senator Hagel is one of them.” OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for LGBT members of the military, was also conciliatory. “We are pleased that Senator Hagel recognized the importance of retracting his previous statement about Ambassador Hormel and affirming his commitment to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and LGBT military families,” said OutServe-SLDN’s executive director, Allyson Robinson. “We look forward to learning more about his commitment to full LGBT military equality as this nomination and confirmation process unfolds.” Retiring gay Congressman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat was having none of Hagel’s apology, saying, on December 31, “I cannot think of any other minority group in the US today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major presidential appointment.” Cooper was similarly unforgiving, though he voiced other objections to Hagel, as well.

HAGEL, continued on p.24

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January 2, 2013 |


Lost Down the Memory Hole Kafka is alive and well when it comes to righting old wrongs BY SAM OGLESBY

Dear Mr. Oglesby, Let me thank you for reaching out to us about your concerns. We take the issue of fairness very seriously, and today's State Department has strict policies prohibiting discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation. In looking into the issues you raised, we learned that the Department's employment records from the 1960's HAVE BEEN DESTROYED, IN ACCORDANCE WITH FEDERAL GUIDELINES. This means we cannot review personnel actions from the time when you worked with the Department. I know this must be disappointing news, and I hope that if you have further concerns that you feel free to reach out to me again. Sincerely, Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources

Here is my story: It was 1968, and the war in Vietnam had escalated to a ferocious crest of destruction. As a Foreign Service offi-



n today's post, I received a letter from the US Department of State. Emblazoned on the envelope in bold letters so that no eyeglasses were needed to read it was: AN EQUAL OPOPOR TUNITY EMPLOYER. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. In 1968, I was terminated from my job as a Foreign Service officer without being told why. Years later, I learned it was because I was gay. In my teens and 20s, I had studied and worked with one goal in mind — to become a foreign service diplomat following in the footsteps of my father whom I greatly admired. Achieving my goal, I was sent to Vietnam where I worked in perilous combat conditions, proving my mettle to my colleagues and superiors who recommended me for a promotion. Then suddenly I was dismissed. This termination nearly destroyed me, but I pulled my life together and moved on. Earlier this year, more than 40 years after my dismissal, prompted by the need for closure and with a sense that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would give my case a fair hearing, I wrote to the secretary and here is the reply I got today:

Sam Oglesby, USAID/ State Department officer, in An Loc, South Vietnam in November 1967, standing before a display of local election results, one of the American programs to promote democracy during the war there.

cer embedded with the American military, I was part of a “nation-building” team that had been dispatched to survey the damage we had wrought and recommend ways to “win back the hearts and minds” of the farmers whose village we had just obliterated. My translator and I walked up to an old man standing in front of what had been a house, now a heap of scorched bamboo. When we asked him how we might provide help and what did he need, he stared at us in dazed silence before pointing to the carcass of a dead buffalo in a nearby rice paddy. “My buffalo is dead and I need a new one,” he said. “I can’t survive without this animal. She plows our fields, pulls our cart to market, and provides us with fuel.” My translator and I looked at each other and stammered an apology, unable to help. Later that evening, after I had flown back to base camp and was unwinding at the Army officers’ club dur ing happy hour, I told my GI buddies about my afternoon visit to the village. When I mentioned the dead buffalo and the old farmer, they fell silent. As I was speaking, somebody started passing a hat along the bar, and before I knew it, I was handed a fistful of cash, nearly $500. The next morning, I helicoptered back to the village and presented the old farmer with the previous night’s collection. Weeks later, I heard that he had acquired another animal and was rebuilding his house. An Army buddy of mine, a fellow American I had nicknamed Flaps because of his protruding ears,

accompanied me to the village and took a photo of the farmer and his new buffalo. Later, Flaps thumbtacked the picture to the bulletin board at the officers’ club. The GIs nicknamed the buffalo Big Bertha, and she became the club mascot. Sometime later, I heard that the village was hit again. Somehow, I didn’t want to know what happened to Bertha or her owner. As time passed, both the war and my personal life nosedived into crisis. Communist forces launched the Tet Offensive, crippling South Vietnamese bases; I broke off my engagement to a beautiful FrenchVi e t n a m e s e w o m a n a n d t o l d m y buddy Flaps that I thought I was gay. Flaps told me my sexuality had been an open secret for months. He drove me to the airport for my flight back to the States, and we promised to stay in touch. I reached the nation’s capital the day after the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and found myself in another war zone, with buildings aflame and helicopters hovering in the sky. Still jet-lagged and traumatized by the war I found in my hometown, I proceeded to headquarters for “de-briefing” and what I assumed would be reassignment. According to my performance reports and commendations, I had served with valor and diligence, “beyond the call of duty.” I had worked for nearly a year in a rubber plantation area sprayed with the toxic defoliant Agent Orange. As I headed down the polished corridor to the State Department’s personnel office, I assumed I would be congratu-

lated on my outstanding service, promoted, and offered another challenging assignment. The interview lasted less than a minute, during which time I was sacked, not lauded. The woman behind the desk informed me that my service had been ter minated. Shocked, I asked why I had been fired. Without establishing eye contact, she mumbled, “I don’t know the reason,” and motioned me to the door. The career I had worked so hard for was over in a flash. What had I done? After my termination, I had a ner vous breakdown. But over time, I regained my footing. In fact, I found another job, excelled professionally as a senior United Nations officer, and built a loving relationship with a life partner. Vietnam and my unexplained discharge disappeared down the memory hole — until one evening 42 years later, when I learned the reason I had been fired. That night, I was celebrating my 71st birthday in Mr. Smith’s, a bar in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. I was surrounded by friends and overcome with the feeling that life was good. As I lifted my glass to join in a celebratory toast, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see the smiling face of my old buddy Flaps. We had seen each other off and on over the years. He gave me a hug and in a few words that indicated the extent of Washington’s Beltway grapevine, whispered, “That was a real bummer, your getting fired because you were gay.” It turned out that a fellow Foreign Service officer, whom I knew from Vietnam, had seen my file and spilled the beans; later it was confirmed to me. My firing was based not on per formance but discrimination. With an incredible sense of relief, I realized that I had done nothing wrong. But now as I re-read the State Department's letter to me, I am overcome by a sense of disappointment and bitterness. I have become a nonperson. My files have disappeared down a memory hole, conveniently absolving my former employer of any wrongdoing, obviating their responsibility to tender to me an apology for an action that nearly ruined my life. Now that Big Brother has destroyed my files, I am learning the full meaning of the word STOICISM. Sam Oglesby is a New York-based writer, whose fourth book, “Wordswarm,” was just published.


| January 2, 2013


Seabra Gets 25-to-Life in Grisly Castro Slaying Aspiring actor makes no reference to


insanity claim in apology for Portuguese journalist’s murder

— Paul K.




alling the murder of Carlos Castro a “chilling example of the manifestation of man’s inhumanity to man” that was fraught with “sadism,” a judge sentenced Renato Seabra to 25-years-to-life in the 2011 slaying. “The sentence will be — not in knee-jerk fashion, but considered — 25-to-life,” said Daniel P. FitzGerald in Manhattan Supr eme Court on December 21. Moments before, David Touger, who represented the 23-year -old along with co-counsel Ruben M. Sinins, told the judge that the law allowed a range for second-degree murder from a minimum of 15-to-life to the 25-to-life maximum and asked that Seabra be given 18-to-life. The sentence Seabra r eceived means he must serve 25 years before he is eligible for parole. Touger cautioned the judge against a “knee-jerk” maximum sentence. During the two-month-long case, the defense argued that Seabra was insane when he strangled, beat, and castrated the 65-year -old Castro in a Manhattan hotel room and so was not legally responsible. The defense presented two experts and thousands of pages of medical records. Seabra said he believed he was acting on instructions from God when he committed the murder. The prosecution, which was handled by Maxine Rosenthal and Jun Park, two assistant district attorneys, argued that Seabra was using Castro for money and to advance his modeling career. The younger man killed Castro in a rage when the older man told him their relationship was over and they would be returning early to Portugal, the prosecution said. In an unambiguous rejection of the defense theory, the jury deliberated for roughly a day before finding Seabra guilty on one count of second-degree murder on November 30. Despite the verdict, Touger argued that FitzGerald should weigh Seabra’s state of mind. “There is only one way that Renato could have done this act and that is if he was in the throes of a mental illness or defect,” Touger told FitzGerald.

Renato Seabra and his victim, Carlos Castro, the week of the gruesome murder.

Seabra addressed the court before sentencing. “I just want to request the opportunity to ask for forgiveness from Carlos Castro’s family and friends,” he said through a P o r t u g u e s e i n t e r p r e t e r. “ I k i l l e d Carlos Castro. That’s not anything I want to prove differently… I accept any time the judge will tell me because I committed the crime.” S e a b r a ’ s m o t h e r, w h o l i v e s i n Portugal, attended many of the pretrial hearings and the trial, and was at the sentencing. She wept openly during the sentencing, as did Castro’s friends and family. Seabra did not revisit his defense. “I was never aggr essive befor e,” he said. “I never had any fight with Carlos… That day I don’t know what took over me.” Rosenthal told FitzGerald that Seabra was “a dangerous man” and “an angry man capable of extreme violence” and asked for the maximum sentence. “This defendant who so viciously took another life should spend the r est of his life behind bars,” Rosenthal said. Rosenthal read a letter from Castro’s family that described Castro’s early life in Angola, where he was born, to his success in Portugal as “a prominent figure in the cultural and artistic scene.” Castro was a TV personality and writer, and was active in the gay rights movement in Portugal. He was also well-traveled. “His favorite place in the world was New York City,” the family wrote. “Carlos Castro was in love with this city.”

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January 2, 2013 |




CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Christopher Byrne (Theater), Susie Day, Doug Ireland (International), Brian McCormick (Dance), Dean P. Wrzeszcz

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Erasmo Guerra, Frank Holliday, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Pauline Park, Nathan Riley, Chris Schmidt, Jason Victor Serinus, David Shengold, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal





There are good reasons — given his votes and statements on LGBT issues as well as a woman’s right to choose — to oppose former Nebraska S e n a t o r Chuck Hagel’s p r o b a b l e nomination as secretary of defense, particularly since open military service by gay men and lesbians is still a new phenomenon. As Gay City News goes to press on January 4, the Los Angeles T imes is reporting that White House sources say an announcement could come as early as January 7, which is not really so surprising. Opposition to Hagel, fr om the right and the left, has mounted for weeks, but President Obama has practical considerations for wanting to move forward. He backed down to Republicans over a prospective appointment of pp UN Ambassador bassa a do dor Susan Rice as secretary of state, was

reminded during this week’s fiscal clif f farce about the GOP’s intentions to fight him at every turn, and must face them down again by the end of next month over the nation’s debt ceiling and spending cuts. It’s unfortunate the president started down this road, but my guess is this is something he feels he needs to win. Hagel earned a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, he opposed a federal constitutional amendment barring gay marriage before he voted for it, and he stood against expanding hate crimes protections to cover violence motivated by sexual orientation bias. HRC, however, didn’t initially speak out against the prospective nomination, instead leaving it to OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to raise the obvious concerns. Surely, HRC knows that if the administration doesn’t hear noise from them, it feels its back is covered in the LGBT community. y When HRC did come off the bench, it was over

something Hagel said, not did. Responding to Bill Clinton’s 1998 nomination of out gay James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg, the Nebraskan said, “They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay openly, aggressively gay…” HRC termed that statement “unacceptable,” and Hagel promptly apologized, adding he was committed to ensuring the success of open service and also to the needs of LGBT military families. OutServe-SLDN wisely was guarded in acknowledging the statement but saying it looked forwar d to hearing more during any confirmation process. HRC crowed is was “proud” to welcome Hagel as a new ally. Bar ney Frank of Massachusetts, who retired from his House seat this week, did not take such a rosy view, correctly noting there was not another “minority group… where such a negative statement… would not be an obstacle to a major j presidential appointment.” It’s certainly not

serendipitous that the other major opposition to Hagel comes from neocons who thump their chest over their devotion to Israel as a way to attack the former senator’s alleged softness toward Iran. Hagel would have been wise never to have uttered the phrase “Jewish lobby,” but I cringe at the prospect the Hagel nomination will become an opportunity for the right to demand irresponsibly belligerent action against Iran. What’s most regrettable, though, is the posture of the Log Cabin Republicans in the matter. The man who would days later announce his resignation as executive director declined to comment to Gay City News on Hagel’s anti-gay record, but, speaking for himself, lauded his foreign policy and military acumen. Two weeks later, the group mounted a full-page attack in the New York Times against Hagel over his posture toward Israel and Iran. Oh yeah, and they faulted him on gay rights, too. LCR, like all of us, is free to judge political figures on issues other than LGBT rights. It ain’t kosher, however, to take its orders from its party’s right g wing g and then layer y over its argument a veneer of civil il rights umbrage.




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How to Avoid Being Labeled an Enemy Combatant BY SUSIE DAY


emember when P r e s i d e n t O b a m a p r o m i s e d to close the Guantánamo detention camp? Remember when he didn’t? Years later, we grow old and decrepit and there remain some 166 detainees at Guantánamo in much worse shape. One hundred of these men have not been charged with a crime, and all of them will probably remain at Gitmo without trial.

This is largely because Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which not only prevents transfer of prisoners out of Guantánamo, it also specifies that anyone, including US citizens, can be indefinitely detained anywhere without trial. In case you thought the year was starting out too pleasantly, Congress just passed the NDAA again for 2013, in pretty much the same version, and President Obama signed it. Given that Guantánamo won’t close for

years now, and that many law-abiding people stand a greater than ever chance of being labeled “enemy combatants,” it becomes necessary to forgo lofty “human rights” ideals and make altruism work for us. Here, then, are some tips on proving to the feds that you are not the enemy: 1 . B E C O M E A FA M O U S M O V I E S TA R . H o l l y w o o d c e l e b r i t i e s r a r e l y , i f e v e r, spend years in Guantánamo without charges, sur rounded by barbed wire and

vicious dogs. Their movies never may ma y bomb,, but they ey n eve ev er do, thanks to the virulent Red Scares that purged the motion picture industry of all terrorists, with the possible exception of Mel Gibson. When you become a famous movie star, you will receive: a dazzling smile, affordable health insurance, and a rock-hard sense of self-esteem that comes from millions of greedy free-mar ket consumers knowing who you are. Push comes to shove and you are sent to a detention camp, guards will treat you better. "Hey, isn't that Angelina Jolie on that gurney? I loved her in ‘Girl, Interrupted.’ Maybe I'll let her call her attorney."

SUSIE DAY, continued on p.11


| January 2, 2013


cal campaign that left little time or integrity for the creation and implementation of long-term plans. Hence the preponderance of cliffs. Fiscal and otherwise. That means nothing to CEOs who all have golden parachutes cushioning their landing on the bankrupt beach. On New Year’s Day, the LA Times had a story about the young revolutionaries in Egypt. Two years ago in February, they took to the streets and in a political heartbeat saw Mubarak's entrenched corrupt authoritarian government fall. Thirty years gone, kinda. An authoritarian military government took its place until the recent elections, when generals were succeeded by Islamists apparently determined to put another repressive lid on things. Anyway, the kids are depressed and pissed that there hasn't been a total transformation, that the evolution of their country isn't up to the speed of the Internet. While the stakes in Egypt are h i g h e r, t h e y r e m i n d e d m e o f a l l the queer demos after Prop H8 got passed in Califor nia — the media declared a new movement, Stonewall 2.0, and all these kids (briefly) discovered the joy of the street, waxing lyrical and grateful before disappearing from view. Probably for a lot of reasons, chief among them that

you have to have a mix of short and long-ter m tactics, short and longterm goals. Social change is a lot of work, though there's a future in it. The Occupy movement spawned by the Arab Spring faced much of a similar morass of entrenched, complicated problems. And they've likewise largely disappeared except for Occupy Sandy in New York, which seems to have done as much as FEMA in areas like Coney Island. They're good in a pinch. Enthusiastic. Ephemeral. Like most activists, great at calling attention to problems. Not so much at getting a handle on them. The thing is human societies have more in common with the earth we walk on than the devices in our bags. Rivers sometimes flood and change course, but mostly they dig their old bed deeper. Then lie in it. Raspber ries, when they take over a field, persist nearly forever in the margins, regrowing thorny tangles every spring. Even those rapidly evolving birds that change their beak size every generation don't suddenly abandon wings or grow teeth. In America, we've gotten used to corporations running around hand in hand with congresspeople. We absolve ourselves of our absence from the pavement with year -end

donations to professional groups. Queers hit "add" on the automatic petition pr ograms denouncing another dyke murder in South Africa, another governmental pogrom in Uganda or wherever. I propose we pause for a minute. Take a couple of Alka-Seltzers and reconsider the calendar. Days are okay, pretty much inescapable with the matter of lighting. We can keep weeks, too, because without them there's no weekend. But I think we should resolve to skip the year in favor of the decade. Demote the celebration at the end of 365 days to something more like a super -duper Friday night with an extended happy hour, the two4one's coming all night long. Only head out to Times Square once every ten years. U r g e n c y i s s o l a s t y e a r. I s u s pect we ignore intractable problems because they can't be solved immediately, wiped from the balance sheets. Though they're urgent as anything. Like housing queer youth. They still comprise a huge chunk of homeless kids out on the street. And for that matter, LGBT seniors (and even straights) all deserve safe, clean, respectful homes, too. I'm still traumatized every time I enter one of those long-term care facilities, for merly called nursing homes, and see make-up slathered on the old ladies, no matter how butch. That'll be me soon. When time is really money and I'm all out.

problem is stuck-up, egghead Secular Humanists! Secular Humanists have caused every major disaster for the last 5,000 years — and it's our duty to stop them before they TAKE OVER THE WORLD! FACT: These intellectual malcontents have tur ned fr om God and home-schooling to the golden calf of "Humanities!" FACT: Since the Crusades, Secular Humanists have stood at the center of a vast, Satanic plot to STOP God-ordained conquest and unite humankind through Logic, Science, and Enlightenment! FACT: Much of our US Constitution was written by these depraved, happiness-pursuing, library-cardholding "Enlightenati!" Would you want one of these "created equal" degenerates to marry your sister? Labeling these people terrorists and getting them sent to Guantánamo will guarantee that you will never be sent there. Let's show the world that the only way to prevent another Third Reich is with another Inquisition.

4. DEVELOP AGORAPHOBIC CATATONIA. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." A wise man said that in the 18th century — a wise, stupid man. This man never looked ahead to the 21st century, to see that doing nothing would become the apogee of cutting-edge activism! Remember the Afghanistan invasion? The Iraq invasion? All those meetings and lectures you went to, where you became "infor med" and had "doubts" about WMD and al Qaeda connections? All that peace marching — once, with 10,000,000 people all over the world, so the destruction of millennia-old cultures and the slaughter of innocents wouldn't happen? It happened anyway. It happened because you left the house. To prevent further mayhem, it is necessary to effect social change at home, by nonviolently reading your email. Uh-oh: look at all those listserves on torture and drone

attacks and indefinite detention. They force you to devise a new a c t i v i s t s t r a t e g y : Yo u m u s t p l a y "Minesweeper" and "Angry Birds" for the next four hours. Now, for direct action! Using psychological skills honed at your computer, it is time to emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually "shut down." This allows you to do radical civil disobedience while lying on your couch. As you r emain in staunch protest, just let global crises wash over you. While they are washing, turn on the TV. Look, there's a “Law and Order” rerun. Regard the state-ofthe-art world of us vs. them; good vs. evil. Isn’t it comforting to see that cop punch that wino’s face in? Weird how Puerto Rican independentistas and Occupy activists are portrayed as unstable and dangerous. No matter. All good. Now, try to picture some Gitmo interrogator w a t e r - b o a r d i n g S a m Wa t e r s t o n . You can't. At last: you have ef fected social change.



hank God the holidays a r e o v e r. I u s e d t o b e freaked out by the whole psycho happy family display. Now, it's the ode to the passage of a dozen short months that drives me nuts. Seriously, who but farmers organize their projects in convenient twelvemonth bundles with sparklers that go of f at the end? Most of us ar e lucky if we clean the house a couple times, do a weekly load of laundry. Get our monthly bills paid. One year is much like rest. Not that I'm sad to see the back of 2012. It was so unusually crappily full of natural disasters, illness, and death, I haven't come close to finishing my to-do list yet. Or maybe I'm just inadequate, pathetically slow in an age when info arrives instantaneously on your smart phones and events are livestreamed. Pretty soon, we'll know about things before they happen. Get texts before they're conceived of. The present is officially obsolete. I knew it was over when the four year election cycle in the US began s p e e d i n g u p . We g o t 2 4 m e a g e r months of gover ning. Then a twoyear blur of nonsensical whispers presaging the full-blown hysteri-

SUSIE DAY, from p.10

2. EMIT NOXIOUS FUMES. No one will ever accuse you of Islamofascism as you proudly stand in solidarity with our great multinational corporations and spew harmful chemical, radioactive, and industrial waste into our ecosystem. By polluting rivers, the air, and low-income neighborhoods, you'll garner lots of gover nment perks, too, including military contracts and tax breaks you could only dream of as an ordinary, "stop-global-warming" citizen. Best of all, your carcinogenic emissions will increase chances that, among the thousands of Americans who die each year from environmentally-caused cancer, one or two will be terrorists. 3. SCAPEGOAT SECULAR HUMANISTS. Stuck-up, egghead Secular Humanists like Chris Hayes and Katrina vanden Heuvel say that Islamic extremists are not the real problem. They're right! The real


January 2, 2013 |

BY PAUL SCHINDLER New York Could Elect Its First Openly Lesbian or Gay Mayor

Quinn, of course, enjoys a deep reservoir of affection among LGBT voters, as evidenced by the enthusiastic response she receives over and over again at community events. It’s worth noting, though, that those events tend to draw insider-y crowds, and the speaker is not without critics among queer New Yorkers; in fact, she often faces LGBT picketers at public appearances.

A Spirited, Two-Candidate Fight to Succeed Quinn on the Council

Given the storied political tradition of Greenwich Village, one might expect that the end of a 14-year tenure in the Third City Council District would set off a political free-for-all among many contenders. Instead, barring the jolt of an unexpected entry into the race, it seems to be playing out as a contest between two candidates who have worked hard in recent years to establish their own visibility in New York politics. Civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland, in 2009, mounted what some viewed as an audacious challenge to a sitting Council speaker when she ran against Quinn in the Democratic primary. Garnering a third of the vote in a three-person race, she succeed in keeping Quinn’s share to just over half, a humbling performance for the speaker given the usual pattern of incumbents reliably being returned to the Council year in and year out. Since her last run, Kurland has stayed in the public eye — fighting the closure of St. Vincent’s hospital, defending the rights of Occupy Wall Street protesters to stay in Zuccotti Park,


The speaker is aware of the risks she faces from defections by progressive voters. She successfully surmounted one challenge from labor when she negotiated a compromise on living wage legislation to require contractors receiving city tax breaks or subsidies to meet at least a baseline level of employee compensation and benefits. Two other

and organizing Superstorm Sandy relief efforts, all the while doing a weekly radio show. Corey Johnson has also hustled to build a political profile. A member of Community Board 4, which serves Chelsea and Hells Kitchen, since 2005, he became its chair in 2011. The community board route, linked as it is to the City Council and the Borough President’s Office, offers a contrasting path to Kurland’s, which has more often been that of a citizen outsider demanding change from institutional players. Johnson, to be sure, has not always eschewed his own outsider role, twice, for example, publicly confronting now-jailed ex-State Senator Carl Kruger for voting against marriage equality while refusing to acknowledge his own homosexuality. Even as a grassroots activist, though, Johnson has won over gay community establishment figures, as evidenced by endorsements from heavy hitters locally and across the nation. Johnson and Kurland will duke this one out to the end.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in a June 2012 interview with Gay City News.

major challenges still facing her are demands for paid sick leave legislation covering most private employers and measures aimed at making the


Whoever wins the Democratic mayoral primary — which will take place either in June or in September — could face a spirited contest with a Republican. It’s certainly plausible that either Joe Lhota, who ran the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the past year and served former Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a top deputy, or billionaire John Catsimatidis, who built his fortune as owner of Gristedes and Red Apple supermarkets, could mount a credible run at the job.

Will New York, at Long Last, Enact Transgender Civil Rights Protections?

More than a decade after New York State’s gay rights law was enacted, the transgender community still does not enjoy basic civil rights protections in law, but with marriage equality, a hate crimes statute, and a school anti-bullying law in place, the Empire State Pride Agenda has made passage of GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, its top priority. Passed repeatedly in recent years by the heavily Democratic Assembly, GENDA has never received a floor vote in the Senate. LGBT advances in Albany have always been bipartisan — at least to some degree — and gay marriage, gay rights, and hate crimes legislation all advanced in Republicancontrolled Senates. Still, Republicans have not shown any public enthusiasm about transgender rights. In 2010, under Democratic control, the Judiciary Committee was expected to advance the measure to the floor for a vote after a brief discussion — a plan thwarted when every GOP committee member, several of whom had privately voiced support, joined with Bronx Democrat Ruben Diaz, Sr., an implacable

foe of LGBT rights, in tabling the bill. All things being equal — though, in Albany, they never are — advocates see a Democratic majority as far more likely to advance an LGBT rights measure, but Democrats will not control Senate this year. They captured 32 seats in November, while the Republicans won, for certain, only 30, with the 63rd seat also likely to go to them. But immediately after winning his first Senate run, Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder, also hostile to gay rights, announced he would caucus with the GOP. Another five Democrats also decided to support Majority Leader Dean Skelos for reelection. Though those five, especially Staten Island’s Diane Savino, are LGBT rights supporters, in a recent meeting with LGBT activists Matthew McMorrow and Melissa Sklarz, Savino indicated no assurances on a GENDA vote had yet been discussed with Skelos, McMorrow told Gay City News. So, as with marriage, gay rights, and hate crimes, advocates face the challenge of winning on GENDA in the face of a party not generally friendly to that cause.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act Goes Before the US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has agreed to review a New Yorkbased Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down DOMA’s ban on federal recognition of otherwise valid same-sex marriages. The case involves the claim by Edie Windsor — who lost her spouse Thea Speyer in 2009, two years after their marriage in Toronto — that an inheritance tax of more than $360,000 (which would not be owed if her late spouse were a man) violated her equal protection rights. The high court signaled it may yet decide that the Republicans in the House of Representatives — defending DOMA given the Obama administration’s refusal to do so — do not have the legal standing to defend the law (and that the Justice Department also lacks standing since, while seeking review, it

is not arguing on its behalf). In that event, Windsor would prevail and a precedent might be established in the states within the Second Circuit, but the issue of DOMA’s constitutionality would remain unresolved nationwide. If the case is judged on the merits, the Supreme Court will decide whether this law treating gay people differently is subject to heightened scrutiny — under which the government must show a compelling public purpose unachievable without it — or to the more typical “rational basis” review, where the government need merely rebut the plaintiffs’ claim there is no reasonable argument for the discrimination. In the Windsor case, the Second Circuit found that her claim merited heightened scrutiny, but the First Circuit,



NYPD accountable for its stop and frisk policies. Advocates seem upbeat on police reform measures pending before the Council, but the speaker has so far shown no sign she will move paid sick leave legislation — an issue that could spark harsh criticism from labor leaders.

The criticism she draws is the flip side of her visibility — both are products of her close relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Expect her Democratic rivals, who have their own bona fides on LGBT issues, to play on progressive impatience with some parts of the Bloomberg legacy. And also with lingering resentment over the critical role Quinn played in allowing him a third term — and giving herself four more years to build her public profile.


Christine Quinn, who has represented Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen since early 1999, has made skilled use of her perch as City Council speaker since 2006 to raise her citywide profile. She leads the Democratic pack in early polling in the mayor’s race, but the advantage of her daily visibility may diminish as the race accelerates.

Edie Windsor at a City Council LGBT Pride Celebration.

hearing a suit from same-sex couples who married in Massachusetts, struck down DOMA even applying the more lenient rational basis standard.

The court is also likely to examine the federalism issue as it was raised by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — in an accompanying First Circuit suit — that DOMA forces that state to discriminate against same-sex married couples in certain joint federal-state programs in contravention of its own laws. Federalism arguments typically find favor among conservative judges. Constitutional scholars contacted by Gay City News, including the newspaper’s own legal correspondent, New York Law School Professor Arthur S. Leonard, voiced cautious optimism that DOMA could fail before the high court. A verdict on merits would come by June.


| January 2, 2013

The 2008 voter referendum that stripped samesex couples of the right to marry recognized earlier that year by the California Supreme Court finally makes it to the high court in Washington in March. As with DOMA, there is a question of standing — one likely to be more difficult to sort out. The State of California has not defended DOMA in federal court — that has been left to a group known as the referendum’s Official Proponents. The Supreme Court must first decide whether they have the legal right to bring an appeal in the case. If they don’t, the plaintiffs would win by default, restoring marriage equality in California. If Prop 8 is heard on the merits, the high court could consider the narrow Ninth Circuit decision that struck the referendum down on the grounds that California had no legitimate



California’s Proposition 8 Goes Before the US Supreme Court

House Speaker John Boehner has no interest in moving the decades-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act providing job protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Advocates in the past several years have instead pushed President Barack Obama to issue an executive order requiring businesses with federal government contracts to comply with nondiscrimination regulations. When the White House last spring said the administration was not moving forward on such an order, some advocates, particularly Tico Almeida from the Freedom to Work Advocacy Fund, were harshly critical. Almeida, though, agrees with the assessment of other advocates like Mara Keisling, leader of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who believe that with reelection behind him, Obama will act this year. Support for administration action has become the consensus position among congressional Democrats — due, no doubt, in no small measure to the fact that they lack the power to get the job done themselves.

non-discriminatory basis for depriving gay and lesbian couples of a right they already enjoyed. The original district court decision by was more sweeping — finding that gay people have a right to marry under the US Constitution’s equal protection and due process provisions — a finding that would give marriage rights to all same-sex couples in the US if affirmed. Many observers believe the high court will decide the case using the narrower frame — and may allow a ruling that applies only to California to stand. Should the Supreme Court take on the bigger question, there is far less comfort that the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the case, bet correctly on delivering five justices prepared to say such a constitutional right exists.

A Real Opportunity for LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform

Meaningful reform of the nation’s immigration system has been stalled since President George W. Bush’s second term. After the Republicans’ abysmal performance with Latino voters last year, however, advocates hope both parties in Congress may now be willing to act.



After the election, the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, in announcing principles guiding its reform push, called for legislation that “protects the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of bi-national, same-sex couples.” According to Immigration Equality, which advocates on behalf of LGBT and HIV-affected individuals, 36,000 couples are impacted by the inability of Americans to sponsor a same-sex partner or spouse for US residency. DOMA’s demise would enable couples who marry in states where it is legal to protect an immigrant spouse, but those who live elsewhere would still face obstacles to staying together. Even though the Obama administration already includes LGBT families under the definition of “family” when applying “prosecutorial discretion” to focus deportation efforts instead on criminals and security threats, nobody believes there is any adequate substitute for permanent statutory reform.

Manhattan Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who his pushing for LGBT-inclusive immigration reform and the repeal of DOMA.

A Prospective Executive Order on Federal Contractors



President Barack Obama in Grant Park, Chicago the night of his first White House win.

Will Republicans on the National Stage Step Up for Equality?

When marriage equality passed in the New York State Senate, four Republicans joined 29 Democrats in pushing the measure over the top. In fact, the bill only got a vote because the GOP majority allowed it to advance to the floor, something those in control of either the Senate or Assembly in Albany rarely do when their side opposes legislation. When marriage equality opponents attempted to repeal New Hampshire’s marriage law after Republicans gained overwhelming control of the Legislature there, the effort didn’t even gain majority support, never mind the amount needed to override a certain veto by Democratic Governor John Lynch. Republican politicians and their families off the public stage — like former Vice President Dick Cheney and Laura Bush and her daughter Barbara — have come forward in support of marriage equality, and even Newt Gingrich recently signaled he could live with it DOMA’s original sponsor, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, long ago recanted that law. Even major donors to right-wing politicians — hedge fund manager Paul Singer and billionaire industrialist David Koch, among them — have funneled big bucks into the marriage equality cause. And, of course, the Republicans’ favorite Supreme Court litigator, Theodore Olson, has for nearly four years been one of two lead attorneys on the challenge to Prop 8.

So where are the GOP officeholders in Washington? The threat of Tea Party primary challenges seems to spook nearly all Republicans in DC — and the recent experience of two GOP state senators in New York who supported marriage equality being defeated and a third choosing not to contest his primary likely is not helpful in changing their minds. Still, an upstate New York Republican, Richard Hanna from the Utica area, recently became one of several GOP House members who have moved on gay rights, throwing his support to Manhattan Democrat Jerrold Nadler’s bill to repeal DOMA, which previously enjoyed the support of only one Republican — Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of South Florida. Hanna has also signed on to another of Nadler’s bills — the Uniting American Families Act, which aims to correct the immigration inequality facing same-sex partners. UAFA formerly had the support of only one Republican — Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Like Hanna, Charlie Dent, an Allentown, Pennsylvania Republican, now co-sponsors UAFA. The Log Cabin Republicans also trumpeted the recent endorsement for DOMA repeal by Congressman Charlie Bass. The New Hampshire Republican, however, lost his reelection bid in November. The challenge facing LCR and the LGBT community at large is to prevail on Republicans in Washington to step up while still in office.

LUCKY 13 continued on page 23

A baker's dozen things to watch for in the year ahead


January 2, 2013 |


Ten Signs that Cinema Lives


Amidst renewed anxiety about medium’s demise, stand-outs from 2012

Fran Kranz in Drew Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods.”

BY STEVE ERICKSON n 2012, cinema died. At least that’s what many think pieces would have you believe. David Denby, David Thomson, and Andrew O’Hehir all wrote articles lamenting the death of cinema — or in O’Hehir’s case, the death of film culture. This is nothing new. The birth of cinema was followed by pronouncements of its death as soon as the talkies were invented. Technological changes, such as the advent of television and the VCR, have always led to apocalyptic predictions. In this case, the switch from an analog, celluloidbased technology to digital projection — a source of anxiety reflected in films as different as “The Artist” and “Holy Motors” — has led to much hand-wringing, some of it justified. I have nothing against seeing new films in DCP — digital cinema package — since they were meant to be shown that way, but I worry that film history is getting lost or distorted. The warmer textures of 35mm do more justice to the cinematography of classic Westerns than digital video does. There’s one more factor at play, which Denby touches on. Mainstream movies have become a medium aimed at teenage boys. Hollywood rarely releases films aimed at adults before the final three months of the year. For film critics who review mainstream releases, cultural literacy now means playing video games and reading comic books and YA novels. As O’Hehir’s essay shows, cinephiles have a tendency to romanticize the ‘60s and early ‘70s, as though the whole country was discussing Godard and Bergman films with Susan Sontag


over cocktails. The days when films like “The Godfather” and “Chinatown” could be instantly acclaimed and hugely popular are well behind us. TV shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “Louie” have given that medium a new respectability and a share of the adult audience that Hollywood tapped into in the era between “Easy Rider” and “Jaws.” However, art films continue to be made and distributed. All the same, the kind of eclectic cinephilia that values bleak Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr and the video gamederived bloodbaths of Paul W. S. Anderson equally seems to be an increasingly minority taste. The film audience is fragmenting into niches. How many people saw both “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Resident Evil: Retribution”? It’s too soon to tell if this development is entirely negative, but it’s at the heart of the changes in American film culture. In addition to my top 10 list itself, I’d like to salute two films without American distribution, both of which received one-off screenings courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center — Adam Curtis’ “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” and Radu Jude’s “A Film For Friends.” Curtis’ three-hour documentary, made as a BBC mini-series, examines the ways in which ideologies ranging from Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism to Ayn Rand’s libertarianism have promised freedom and turned out to be traps. Jude’s hour-long film, most of which consists of a single shot from a video camera, starts out as the epitome of Eastern European miserabilism and ends up repudiating it.

CINEMA LIVES, continued on p.22


| January 2, 2013


But Is It Good for the French?

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Gay, Jewish stereotypes burst in sunny Parisian comedy BY GARY M. KRAMER fabulous and very funny Fr ench far ce, “Let My People Go!,” directed and co-written by out gay Mikael Buch, opens with the previously happy gay couple Ruben (Nicolas Maury) and Teemu (Jarkko Niemi) splitting up. When Ruben, a Frenchman working as a postman in Finland, comes home one day with nearly 200,000 Euros, he explains to Teemu that the intended recipient of a registered package containing the money — who may now be dead — aggressively rejected it and insisted the postman keep it.

LET MY PEOPLE GO! Directed by Mikael Buch In French, with English subtitles Zeitgeist Films Opens Jan. 11 Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St.

Teemu jumps to the conclusion that his boyfriend is a lying, thieving murderer and kicks him out of their house. To cope, Ruben returns to his dysfunctional family, headed by his overbearing Jewish momma (Carmen Maura), in Paris for Passover. Ruben’s relationship troubles, however, are the least of his problems after he arrives in France. He soon becomes embroiled in various family crises — extramarital affairs, impending divorce, and bad health among them. Ruben must also fend off the lecherous advances of Goldberg (Jean-Luc Bideau), an older lawyer who fancies him. In a recent Skype interview, Buch explained how he came to make “Let My People Go!” “The starting point for the film came from some short films that starred Maury,” he said. “We created a character — a farcical Jewish gay boy — who was a little bit like me and a little like Maury. I liked the character and wanted to continue exploring his adventures.” A series of wacky encounters with relatives includes Ruben’s father, Nathan (Jean-François Stévenin), insisting his non-athletic son play tennis with him. The episode leads to Ruben experiencing a hilarious meltdown, but also provides a pretext for Nathan to introduce his mistress to him. The scene, which is funny before



Nicolas Maury and Carmen Maura in Mikael Buch’s “Let My People Go!”

it turns emotional, also serves Buch’s aim of defusing stereotypes. “I wanted to play with gay and Jewish stereotypes in the film because they play a role in how we love,” he said. “We have an image about what a Jewish mother is, or how they should act, or how a gay son should act. The father and his mistress is something that doesn’t fit in the family. The father is unhappy because he doesn’t know how to play the part of a good Jewish father.” As for puncturing queer stereotypes, Teemu generates a hearty laugh — and perhaps a gasp — when he utters one priceless post-coital comment. Buch, whose mother is from Morocco and his father from Argentina, draws on his gay and Jewish identities to create “Let My People Go!,” but he acknowledged, “There are as many differences as there are similarities.” The 29-year-old filmmaker grew up in Barcelona in a small Jewish community, which he described as being “like a big family.” There, he watched many films starring the iconic Spanish actress Maura. “She is a queen!,” Buch gushed. “When you are a gay teenager who loves cinema and actresses, you can only love her.” He enjoyed casting Maura against type as a Jewish mother, especially one who was quite different from his own. “Carmen Maura was so important to my childhood — she was like a godmother,” the filmmaker explained. “She felt like family. In the end, she’s halfway between my mother and a kind of Bette Davis.” Maura developed what Buch described as a “maternal relationship” with actor Maury on the set. She is a film veteran, and “Let My People Go!”

FRENCH FARCE, continued on p.18

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National Treasures on Parade in London Fry and Bennett back on West End stage along with other shining stars BY ANDY HUMM he crown jewels and Magna Carta are two of the most famous national treasures on display in London. But there are also uniquely British people who are valued in much the same fashion — not because they led a battle or won Olympic gold, but for epitomizing something about being British that the public cherishes. Two of them, who just happen to be gay men — playwright Alan Bennett and actor and writer Stephen Fry — are represented on the West End stage along with (pardon my superlatives) three of the greatest actors in the Englishspeaking world: Simon Russell Beale, Frances de la Tour, and Mark Rylance. This is not to mention two of the greatest directors — the National Theatre’s Nick Hytner and former Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, who now has his own company. The rest of my theater during a rainy Yuletide wasn’t too shabby. And if you’re not headed for London soon, several of the shows from the National will soon be shown in cinemas worldwide through its NT Live transmissions. Bennett’s new play, directed by Hytner, is “People,” with de la Tour in great form at center stage as the Lady of an historic house built in 1465 that is coming down around her ears. The drama is about the house’s fate — National Trust? Corporate HQ? Simply allowed to decay? — but the play is a thoughtful exploration of the valuing, even fetishizing of old objects over living people. It is funny and illuminating, often at the same time, full of Bennettian aphorisms and declarations about contemporary English culture. This is “Grey Gardens” not with crazy people, but with those who decidedly do not love people who — it is suggested — have a way of spoiling Things. “People” (on stage through Apr. 2) will be shown in cinemas worldwide at part of NT Live in late March. Visit for a full schedule. Bennett himself is being portrayed at the National in two short curtain-raisers in the Lytteleton by the estimable Alex Jennings in “Hymn” (through Mar. 17) and in the one I saw, “Cocktail Sticks” (through Mar. 30), about his parents and his youthful embarrassment at their ordinariness. Jennings deftly steers through keen observations and interactions acerbic, comedic, and heartbreakingly touching. A treat.

Barber) that I’m not sure works. The audience cheered it and I won’t soon forget it. “Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!,” Cinna (Carolina Valdés) shouts when Caesar falls — realities in short supply in ancient Rome and absent entirely in gaol.

Stephen Fry is ubiquitous in Britain as a writer, tweeter



John Lithgow and Joshua McGuire in “The Magistrate,” directed by Timothy Sheader, at the National.

“Privates on Parade” may sound like a porn film, but while the humor is low the quality of the work is high in this revival starring Simon Russell Beale and directed by Michael Grandage for the maiden production of his new eponymous company’s season at the Noel Coward Theatre. Peter Nichols sends up his tour of duty in the Malay Peninsula in 1948, when Britain was losing the peace after winning the war. He tells this seriocomic talewith-music through a troop/ troupe of soldier-performers partial to drag and led by Beale’s campy captain. There is much banter about “bum boys” and “homos,” some gratuitous bare bums, and some gay and interracial romance. While I was expecting non-stop hilarity, I got more of a lesson in history — political, social, racial, and sexual. And Beale’s bit as Noel Coward is a gem amidst his broader takes on female icons. (Through Mar. 2.)



I got another lesson in British history — this time literary

Stephen Fry as Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” at the Apollo.

with millions of followers, social commentator, director, panel show host, and emcee of big award ceremonies. He makes a rare stage appearance as Malvolio in the all-male, Elizabethan “Twelfth Night” transferred from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Apollo in the West End. Mark R ylance, who alternates at the Apollo as “Richard III” — a lacerating production I saw at the Globe this past summer — here reprises his hilarious turn as Oliviaby-way-of-Elizabeth I that I saw some years ago. Tim Carroll directs both, giving us at least the feeling Elizabethan audiences might have had seeing these masterpieces for the first time. This “Night” (through Feb. 9) is blessed by a super funny Sir Toby Belch (Colin Hurley) — a drunk just shy of Foster Brooks — and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Roger Lloyd Pack). But Fry as Malvolio is the most r ecognizably human

Holly Dale Spencer as Lois Lane and Alex Garcia as Bill Calhoun in “Kiss Me, Kate” at the Old Vic.

character on stage — not overplayed to earn our contempt or our enjoyment at his downfall. We feel for the bullying he endures.

Phyllida Lloyd’s “Julius Caesar” at the Donmar is about as far from Elizabethan as you can get, not because of the all-woman cast who play the text straight right down to the pronouns (save for a few well-placed F-words) but because this is “Caesar” (through Feb. 9) in a modern prison — a provocative concept that I’m still conflicted about, especially after being confined with this strident group for just under two hours without a break except for some ear-piercing rock music. H a r r i e t Wa l t e r, w h o s h o n e o n Broadway in “Mary Stuart,” makes a noble Brutus, but there’s an emphasis on youth among the Senators who take down Caesar (a pugnacious Frances

— from “The Dark Earth and the Light Sky” by Nick Dear, who gave us the hit “Frankenstein” at the National last season, and directed by Richard Eyre, a distinguished former artistic director of the National. At the Almeida, they bring to life the short life of poet Edward Thomas (in an unflinching and unsettling performance by Pip Carter) — hitherto unknown to me — a writer whose criticism established Robert Frost (Shaun Dooley) prior to World War I and whose relationship with Frost sparked a couple of years of what is regarded as remarkable poetry by Thomas himself, a man who loves Nature and seems to hate People, despite being married with kids. This is no walk in the country, but a slog over the dark earth that constitutes the playing field of Bob Crowley’s design. We learn the tragedy of Thomas’ life early on: he volunteered for the front in France in the war — even though he did not have to serve — and he died there, delivering a final cruel blow to his wife Helen (Hattie Morahan, who well handles the challenging role of someone who loves too much and is repaid with indifference). It is not an easy drama to watch, but it did make me want to read Thomas’ poetry

WEST END, continued on p.22


| January 2, 2013


Another Seven Years, Another Look “Up” Michael Apted’s documentary series follows group of Brits born in late ‘50s into their 50s

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Neil and Peter at 14 (below), and Peter with his bandmates at 56.

BY STEVE ERICKSON ichael Apted’s documentary “56 Up” is being released theatrically in the US, eight months after its premiere on British television’s ITV, the commercial broadcaster that produced it. The “Up” series, which began in 1964 with a group of seven-year-olds and has since tracked them at seven-year intervals as they grew into men and women, may be the second longest-lived “franchise” in film history after the James Bond movies. For viewers who’ve followed the films as they’ve come out every seven years, it’s arguably a form of interactive cinema — we age along with the subjects. Notably, the subjects of “56 Up” refer to it as a TV program, rather than a film or simply a documentary. If “7 Up” were begun today, it would more likely be a reality TV concept instead of a film, although TV showrunners would undoubtedly grow impatient with the gap between seasons. But “56 Up” brings something valuable to the table, a dimension rarely seen on reality TV — a self-critical edge. Several of Apted’s subjects decry the impact his films have had on their lives. In “28 Up,” Peter, then a teacher, delivered criticism aimed at the Thatcher government, for which he was attacked by the tabloid press. Infuriated, he dropped out of the “Up” project. He rejoins it with “56 Up,” but does so largely for self-promotional reasons. He and his wife are now members of a country/ folk band called the Good Intentions, and he hopes the film will give the group some publicity. (“56 Up” includes clips of them rehearsing, as well as a brief glimpse of a music video.) Peter seems secure that


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this time around he’s being represented on his own terms. He also refrains from saying anything politically provocative. The most troubled person in “56 Up” is Neil Hughes, a small-town politician who’s spent long periods of his life homeless. Despite finally earning a respectable place in society — he’s now also a lay preacher — he’s barely scraping by financially and has never had a successful long-term relationship. Not surprisingly, his desperate appearances in previous “Up” films touched viewers, but he complains about receiving mail from people who think they know exactly how he feels. He insists the films have captured only a small amount of his emotions and personality. This man clearly hasn’t benefited from his time in the spotlight, brief as it may have been. “56 Up” often introduces its subjects by showing their childhood or teenage selves pontificating about love and marriage. Inevitably, their youthful cynicism or idealism is contradicted by the facts of their adult lives. The people who scoff at marriage wind up tying the knot in their early 20s, while those who long to join the institution are divorced by 35. There’s an element of cheap irony to this technique, but Apted’s device of constantly switching back and forward

56 UP, continued on p.21


January 2, 2013 |


Crazy Opera Dames! Varla Jean Merman stars in Menotti opera; Italo Montemezzi’s “Ship” buffeted by Sandy BY ELI JACOBSON sycho dames and damned psychics stirred up a whole lot of operatic trouble in October and November. Drag diva Jeffery Roberson aka Varla Jean Merman crossed over into operatic divadom, assuming the title role in Menotti’s “The Medium” in a three-week engagement at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater a few blocks from Lincoln Center. Roberson/ Varla scored a success as Baba in Provincetown this past summer and moved with the production to New York. Casting a man in travesti always adds an element of subversive humor and irony to opera — but “The Medium” is a straightforward chiller without an element of camp despite Menotti’s homosexuality. Though Baba is a grotesque and flamboyant figure, Menotti asks the audience to take her descent into paranoia, fear, and finally murder very seriously. The part requires a real operatic voice despite the conversational vocal writing. What might work for the Witch in “Hansel und Gretel” or Baba the Turk in “The Rake’s Progress” creates the wrong tone for “The Medium”. The discomfort was evident within moments of Roberson’s entrance, when Baba upbraided the mute gypsy boy Toby for “touching her things.” Roberson sang the line “Look at you dressed with silken bangles like a woman” and then looked askance at the giggling audience as if to say, “Yes, I know...” The largely gay male audience was hungry for a camp fest, and born comedienne Varla was ready, willing, and able, but Menotti’s story demanded playing it straight. Also, Varla’s parody falsetto singing voice fits the contralto range of Baba but lacks real chest tones. When the angry paranoid Baba needed to belt it out with the dark force of an operatic contralto,


FRENCH FARCE, from p.15

was the actor’s first feature. Buch appreciated the bond they forged on set, and scenes between their characters are among the film’s warmest. Maura’s appearance as well as the candy-colored design of this highly stylized film will likely lead many to draw comparisons to filmmakers such as Pedro Almodóvar, with whom Maura has worked for years, and Buch’s fellow French director François Ozon. Buch said he deliberately aimed to be seen in that company.

Roberson only had diffuse shaky head tones. If he sang with too much force, he’d break into his natural male voice. Softer lyrical or conversational tones in the middle range worked best. Roberson was similarly constrained in his dramatic portrayal. If this Baba became too aggressive in her alcoholfueled attacks on Toby, Baba’s feminine façade would break. This performance was neither fish nor fowl — not funny enough for camp nor forceful enough for serious drama. The dramatic and musical values were high. Stefanie Izzo, though looking too mature as most Monicas do, sang with a rich, clear lyric soprano that soared in “Monica’s Waltz.” Adorable twink Edmund Bagnell was a touching Toby who also added some violin obbligato to the piano accompaniment (he is the first violinist of the hunk string quartet Well Strung). It is my theory that Toby is the genuine medium in the opera and is actually channeling the manifestations that terrify Baba. Music director Elizabeth Hastings performed the piano accompaniment used for student and amateur productions with the right dramatic touch. Donna Drake’s production was simple and effective. The surreal sloping angles of the set decoration would have been more effective if the lighting were not so flat and bright. The hour-long opera was performed as a stand-alone piece with an intermission added after the first séance scene.

Teatro Grattacielo’s 21st century resurrection of Italo Montemezzi’s opera “La Nave”(“The Ship”) scheduled for October 29 was canceled. “La Nave” (1918) was composed when World War I’s conclusion found Italian nationalism and military fervor at its peak. The opening night at La Scala coincided with a major Italian military victory. “La

Nave” was viewed as a pièce d’occasion with a brief shelf life — later productions found little favor. After a Rome revival in 1938, the work disappeared. During World War II, allied bombs destroyed the orchestra parts at Casa Ricordi’s warehouse and it went unperformed and unrecorded for 74 years. Grattacielo founder and artistic director Duane Printz commissioned new parts from Ricordi, which had kept the autograph orchestral score in safekeeping. Montemezzi’s ship was set to sail again but was scuttled in stormy waters along with much of New York City. The opera in concert was rescheduled on Halloween night, and the performers onstage at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall likely outnumbered the audience members who were able to attend. Gabriele D’Annunzio’s abstruse and pretentious libretto in an invented antique Italian dialect is set in sixth century Byzantine Venice. Two families vie for control of the ruined city. Vamp Basiliola seduces both ruling Gràtico brothers, inciting Marco to kill brother Sergio. However, we see very little of this develop — D’Annunzio presents

a series of exotic and bizarre tableaux while central plot points and conflicts are obliquely referred to in passing. We watch bad-for-bad’s-sake Basiliola dance with torches, take out a pit full of prisoners with bow and arrows, before she is crucified as a human figurehead on the prow of the titular ship. Supposedly a patriotic parable about Italy reemerging as an international naval power, it plays like a Theda Bara silent with several reels missing. Montemezzi’s score is a heady mix of post-Romantic impressionism a là Debussy, high Romantic bombast i n t h e Wa g n e r i a n m a n n e r, a n d haunting neo-Classicism in the style of Respighi. The orchestral interludes are thrilling, as are several choral episodes. The vocal parts are pure tuneless declamation with no melody and no arias. The singers are asked to power drive forte high notes incessantly over a heavy symphonic orchestration. Spinto soprano T iffany Abban (Basiliola) floated lush head tones, missing Basiliola’s fierce diva dementia but never forcing her gorgeous instrument. Erstwhile character singer Robert Brubaker (Marco) pushed his firm but unglamorous tenor mercilessly, turning red with neck muscles bulging. One admired his tenacity and resilience while flinching before each high note attack. Daniel Ihn-kyu Lee and Ashraf Sewailam did what they could with dramatically and musically undeveloped supporting roles. Conductor Israel Gursky wielded the baton expertly, but both orchestra and chorus needed one or two more rehearsals. Montemezzi considered “La Nave” his masterpiece, but political hindsight reveals disturbing fascistic undertones. The libretto and vocal writing are empty bombast. But its orchestral beauties cannot be dismissed and deserve a fitter vessel.

“Like those filmmakers, I have similar appreciation for Douglas Sirk and Stanley Donen and the idea of cinema that is bigger than life,” said the young French director, who confessed, “I am a total drama queen, like Jane Wyman’s character in ‘All that Heaven Allows.’” “Hitchcock said he didn’t want to do slices of life, but slices of cake,” Buch added. “I relate a lot to that idea — giving pleasure to the audience. Making people happy with a film, but not in a superficial way but one that would make you braver or more daring

to face life. That’s what I love about queer cinema.” Buch then referred to another Hollywood giant, Billy Wilder, saying, “If you’re going to sell the truth, be funny or they will kill you. When I want to talk about serious issues, it’s better to do comedy rather than be didactic. It’s a way of talking about real issues in a lively way.” “Let My People Go!” is largely concerned with issues of family, relationships, and the misunderstandings that crop up among lovers, siblings, parents, and children. A particularly

amusing moment in the film comes as Ruben asks Goldberg for legal advice while the attorney is blowing him. The scene is a good example of how Buch wanted sex to come across in the film. “What was important to me was that the sex scenes were lively and joyful, and not raw,” he said. “In Europe, queer cinema has a tendency to show sex as gloomy. I wanted to show sex as playful.” This sunny comedy of fers many moments that viewers are sure to treasure for their playfulness.

Hurricane Sandy found itself another victim when

Jeffery Roberson aka Varla Jean Merman as Baba in Menotti’s “The Medium.”

| January 2, 2013



Of Divas and the Depression Terrence McNally goes to the heart, while “Annie” just goes to the dogs BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE pera features prominently in the work of Terrence McNally, and while it’s often used for bravura effect (notably in “The Lisbon Traviata” and “Master Class”), his new play “Golden Age” is, for all the surface histrionics of the deliciously over -the-top characters, a delicate play about loss, love, and forgiveness that is consistently engaging, thought-pro-

little girls. Lapine seems to have absorbed the growing hesitancy of showing kids in real danger in a show — even when there’s a happy ending — and so has directed Kate Finneran to be a cartoonish drunk and no real threat at all. Finneran’s Miss Hannigan makes no sense. Where is the anger and resentment over her life? Finneran makes one of the great comic villains of all time just plain boring. Without that — and lacking a show-stopping rendition of “Little Girls” — the



New York City Center 131 W. 55th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $85; Or 212-581-1212

Palace Theatre 1554 Broadway at 46th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun at 1 & 6:30 p.m. $99-$119; Or 866-448-7849



Lorenzo Pisoni, Lee Pace, Will Rogers, and Bebe Neuwirth in Terrence McNally’s “Golden Age.”

voking, and ultimately moving. It is 1835, the opening night of Vincenzo Bellini’s final opera, “I Puritani,” and we find ourselves backstage at the Théâtre-Italien in Paris. Bellini has brought four of his favorite singers to perform at the premiere, and as the show begins, they are in a flurry of ego, anxiety, and dishing about — among other things — their careers, their talents, and Bellini’s rival composer Donizetti. But there is plenty of drama to go around. The baritone Antonio Tamburini is padding his pants with vegetables to incr ease his sex appeal. Luigi LaBlanche, the bass, bemoans the fate of all basses, while Giulia Grisi, the soprano, frets about her performance — and her bitter rivalry with another Bellini favored soprano, Maria Malibran, who just happens to show up backstage. Meanwhile Bellini is increasingly ill and his attentive lover, Francesco Florimo, looks on, while the tenor Giovanni Rubini pines for Grisi, who in turn is smitten with Rubini’s rival. Rubini vows to win Grisi by singing the F above High C, something no tenor has yet achieved. (It is also a turning point in “I Puritani,” but you don’t need to know that to appreciate Rubini’s torment, or any of the play for that matter.) All together, the story is enough to make one’s head spin, and if this were a kind of opera world “Noises Off,” that might even be enough. However, don’t let the theatrics fool you. The center of this play is ultimately an intimate look at

how we each must confr ont that point of no return when we become fully cognizant of our limitations and our mortality. It could be the end of a career as with Malibran, the demise of a dream of love for Rubini, or death in the case of Bellini, but it comes to us all, and if we survive, for a while at least, we are irretrievably changed by it. It is the dichotomy between the life we manufacture for public consumption and the darker places within our private selves. In talking about the creation of the opera, Bellini says near the end of the play, “No one will know what it cost me.” If we are conscious, each of us knows what creating our lives has cost, and we alone can judge if it was worth the price. Walter Bobbie’s powerful direction brings the world to life and balances McNally’s sharp, contemporary language with a sense of period, ably assisted by the wonderful costumes of Jane Greenwood and Santo Loquasto’s set. The cast, too, is outstanding. Lorenzo Pisoni as Tamburini is both swaggering and insecure. Ethan Phillips as LaBlanche is a stabilizing influence, an older man who has made his peace. Eddie Kaye Thomas as Rubini and Dierdre Friel as Grisi are both perfectly self-centered and youthful. Lee Pace is excellent as Bellini, and Will Rogers as Florimo is a passionate outsider to this world in a touching and moving

portrayal of love in the face of artistic temperament. Bebe Neuwirth gives an extraordinary and underplayed portrayal of Malibran, a woman who knows her career is nearing its end and yet is not quite ready to yield the spotlight. The subtle tension in her portrayal between the proud diva and the apprehensive woman is a highlight of the evening. McNally has brilliantly upended the backstage story to ask the bittersweet question whether the “Golden Age” is before or after we understand the transitory nature of, well, everything.

I t ’s h a r d n o t t o l i k e “A n n i e , ” the aggressively infectious, Depression-era ragsto-riches story of the little orphan who ends up adopted by Oliver Wa r b u c k s . T h e M a r t i n C h a r n i n , Charles Strouse, and Thomas Meehan musical has been a staple for more than 35 years. It’s got an unforgettable score, a strong book, and several sure-fire peak moments. So it’s unfortunate that the Broadway revival is such a disappointment. Director James Lapine and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler have tur ned in a watered down production that looks flashy but never catches the heart. A major problem is the approach to the quintessential meanie, Miss Hannigan, the woman who runs the orphanage and terrorizes the

show has no tension, becoming a bland predictable kind of comedy that “Annie” has always risen above. This is also a show that should spring to life in the dances. Blankenbuehler has gone long on the props and short on the tap shoes to create numbers that have almost no energy whatsoever. One of the reasons we love to see “Annie” again is for those precocious little orphans dancing their hearts out to “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile,” or the evil exuberance of “Easy Street” with Miss Hannigan, her br other Rooster (the miscast Clarke Thorell), and his moll Lily St. Regis (the tepid J. Elaine Marcos). In this production, the numbers fall flat, as does “NYC,” by the way. Lilla Crawford as Annie has the kind of voice that could cut through t h e h u l l o f a f r e i g h t e r, w h i c h i s absolutely obligatory for the role, and she’s cute and plucky. The high point of the show, though, i s A n t h o n y Wa r l o w a s D a d d y Warbucks. He’s got a magnificent baritone and just the right level of discomfort with Annie, which ultimately turns into parental love. David Korins’ set is another bright spot in the evening as it unfolds like a pop-up book and plays wonderful visual tricks with scale and perspective. Despite its juvenile theme, “Annie” can be a sophisticated show. It’s unfortunate that the producers and creative team have served us cold mush — no better than what Miss Hannigan serves her long-suffering orphans.


January 2, 2013 |


The Aggies of 2012 Award-winning performances, especially at 54 Below BY DAVID NOH ith imperiously crossed arms and a dramatic toss of the head, Endora-style, we are once again giving out our annual Agnes Moorehead Awards for the best of 2012. Theater-wise it was, frankly, pretty abysmal, with the worst Broadway season in years — which is really saying something — beginning with the wholly unnecessary revival of that community theater warhorse “Harvey” and the inane musical “Bring It On” kicking things off last summer. “One Man, Two Guvnors” was, therefore, a real godsend, smashingly directed and acted, especially by its hilariously protean star James Corden, whose performance could easily qualify as “legendary.” “The Best Man” simply screamed luxury, from its stellar cast to its lavishly galvanizing production and, especially, the late Gore Vidal’s powerful script, which, powered by some ferociously good acting, emerged as trenchant and relevant as it was in 1960. That “Mad Men”-era guilty pleasure stage adaptation, “The Best of Everything,” was an Off-Broadway gem, marvelously entertaining — funny and moving — and done with a perfect sense of period. The Paper Mill Playhouse production of “The Sound of Music” was handsomely done and excellently cast, proving again what a very strong, cannily crafted, surefire crowd-pleaser this schmaltz-fest is. And I want to give a special shout-out to Laura Osnes, who illuminated the Carnegie Hall concert version of it, proving herself an eminently worthy line successor to Mary Martin and Julie Andrews. Di Capo Opera’s “The Most Happy Fella” was another spiritedly good revival, sparked by the electrifying talent of Lauren Hoffmeier, who simply needs to be seen by anyone interested in the future of musical comedy.

D a n c e - w i s e, I a d o re d “The Jack Cole Project,” an ultra-generous, lovingly done tribute to this incredibly influential, but not celebrated enough, choreographer. Kudos go to the multi-media happening that was “Art Takes Seoul” at the wonder ful Knox Gallery in Harlem. It was an utterly unique collaboration between artists Mira Gandy and Ahrum Claiborne. Out, proud lesbian Gandy’s words and visual art vividly evoked growing up





Jennifer Lewis, Maurice Hines, and Tituss Burgess provided highlights on New York’s performance scene this year.

in the 1970s and all the iconically undying inspirations of that era, from Michael Jackson to Kurtis Blow. Her childhood, as the daughter of pioneering black female Broadway publicist Irene Gandy, was spent romping among the stars at Sardi’s opening nights, and couldn’t have been more different from Claiborne’s. The Korean-American playwright, for her part, gave a riveting account of being chased by the police for selling jewelry on Harlem streets as a child, after being abandoned by her mother — who turned out to be her grandmother — in front of Macy’s once the cops began to close in.

After all these years, I finally saw Judy Collins, at Town Hall, and was swept away by her timelessly sweet talent, rich personality. and uncannily war m audience rapport. T ituss Burgess’ release concert at New World Stages for his self-penned CD, “Comfortable,” totally rocked, with the kind of joyously interpreted, soulful songs that stuck in your head at their first hearing, in a good way. For me, the most exciting cultural event of the year was the opening of 54 Below, the perfect, elegantly designed (John Lee Beatty) performance haven, created by a group of men who truly love cabaret — free of any anachronistic taint. The club has really helped Manhattan sparkle again and gave me more unforgettable moments in 2012 than anything else. Patti LuPone delivered a spectacular opening night — everything and more than one could wish for. She’s been followed by thrilling performers like Jenifer Lewis, whose

uproarious, take-no-prisoners Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman-created show evoked Bette Midler in her flamboyant 1970s heyday (and, indeed, had the Divine Miss M. in attendance, literally weeping with joy). Telly Leung delivered the very model of what a cabaret show should be for our day — hiply funny, personal, touching, and sparked with a ravishing musicality that had his audience (especially when he did a meltingly slow version of Katy Perry’s “Firework”) gagging. And then there was the ageless phenomenon of our time, Leslie Uggams, who has played Lena Horne in a show that absolutely must come into New York. I’ve always considered Horne’s “The Lady and Her Music” probably the greatest solo show I’ve ever seen, but every time I see Uggams, her radiantly undiminished grace and voice and total performer’s generosity convince me she is, indeed, La Horne’s equal.

Maurice Hines — re s p l e n d e n t i n s t r i p e d A r m a n i , the price of which should have included a trip to Rome, he confided — closed out my live per for mance year with his triplethreat dazzle, backed by the all-female Diva Orchestra. In his Sinatra tribute, recalling the great years with the Rat Pack in Vegas, they all did full justice to the famous Nelson Riddle arrangement of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” probably the greatest song setting of them all (closest rival: Mort Lindsey’s for Judy Garland’s “Come Rain or Come Shine”). Hines sang “Get Me to the Church on Time” as an ode to gay marriage, and told me, “I was in LA, teaching at Debbie Allen’s school, when they

wouldn’t pass it. This buddy of mine said, ‘I’m going up to Schwarzenegger’s house and I’m gonna tell him off.’ I said, ‘He’s the Terminator, baby, he gonna terminate you!’ ‘I don’t care. I got something to tell him: I’m getting married in the morning!’ “This is my second appearance at 54 Below. I came to see my friend Ben Vereen and just fell in love with the room because my brother Gregory and I opened for Ella Fitzgerald at the Flamingo Hotel and this looked exactly like that room, only smaller. “ I g o t v e r k l e m p t . M y b r o t h e r, father, and mother have all made the transition, and I thought, ‘I’ve gotta work this room!’ I sold out, and all my friends said, ‘Maurice, what happened? You’re always good, but you were on another level!’ “I said I was channeling my family, and it was emotional, tapping through my life, showing pictures of them. I do a number as if Gregory was right next to me, with a spot, and people came up to me crying.” Hines has been performing since he was five, and had an act Hines, Hines & Dad, in which he was featured with his father and brother: “Johnny Carson was the one who really made us. We were doing the Playboy Club in Chicago and he saw us and said we were fabulous and he was going to put us on. We did five shows, and on the fifth one he brought us over to the couch to talk. If you made him laugh, that was it. You were made, and we were booked everywhere after that. “Our dancing style was different — close floor work, which was what the African-American tap dancers did. John

IN THE NOH, continued on p.21


| January 2, 2013

Bubbles was the one who really made that, and Savion [Glover] does it. It bothers me that there’s only one style of tap on Broadway, up in the air and airy. That’s fine, but for some reason, Savion can’t get his show on and neither can I with ‘Sophisticated Ladies.’ Maurice and Gregory both sparkled in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club”: “I had this scene where my brother gets the solo number. Francis said, ‘I don’t want you to cry. Let the audience cry. Can you just well your eyes up?’ I said, ‘I’ll try,’ and I did it, although I’d never done a movie before. He was so proud of me and called me Marlon Brando Hines. I said, ‘Oh, don’t start!’ but he said when I made a mistake, I did it in character, like Brando. “Richard Gere said to my brother, ‘Boy, Maurice is good! I’m gonna ask him how he did that.’ Gregory said, ‘Richard, don’t play with Maurice. Maurice does not play. I play around, but Maurice is very serious and nervous about the movie.’ Richard said, ‘I’m gonna mess with Maurice.’ ‘Well, go ahead!’ Richard came over and said, ‘How did you do that?’ I said, ‘I used motivation.’ ‘Oh yeah, what motivation?’ ‘I just thought about what you were making for this movie and what I was making, and I automatically started crying.’ He had to laugh at that, and Gregory said, ‘I told you not to mess with him. He’s my older brother. I don’t know him!’ About being gay, Hines said, “My mother always told me to ‘Be careful.’ I said, ‘Why? I’m a gay man and happy to be gay, from the minute I discovered it, by myself. I never wanted to hide it. If you want to, that’s fine, but I am happy being gay.’ “I never had to officially come out because I thought anybody who doesn’t know I’m gay must have had

me from Las Vegas, and I said I was powdering her with Johnson’s baby powder: ‘Oh, she’s loving it!’ She asked, ‘How much powder are you putting on that child?’ ‘Oh, mother, she’s so happy! Her little arms are waving!’ ‘Let me ask you, can you see her vagina?’ ‘No, but she’s loving it!’ ‘Too much!’”

IN THE NOH, from p.20

56 UP, from p.17

between his subjects’ youthful and middle-aged selves is genuinely powerful — and often unnerving, as is the contrast between black-and-white 16mm film and color digital video. Several of Apted’s subjects say that “7 Up” was intended to demonstrate that a Dickensian class system persisted in ‘60s Britain, a thesis with which they disagree. “56 Up” seems to have no such didactic purpose. It’s clear that the 14 subjects of “7 Up” were supposed to be a representative cross-section of England, but the gap between that goal and reality is now glaring. All but one are white, and although the original filmmakers couldn’t have foreseen this when selecting the children to feature, all are straight. When cab driver Tony simultaneously notes that he makes much more

And my ten best films of 2012 (in no particular order) are:


Mira Gandy and Ahrum Claiborne, who starred in “Art Takes Seoul” at Harlem’s Knox Gallery.

a lobotomy, because of the way I come off. Gregory used to say, ‘Maurice is Maurice. You can label him if you want, but he’s gonna be himself.’ “I always loved being who I was. That’s why I was never good at acting — I didn’t want to be other people. I once ran into Laurence Fishburne in DC, and he said Francis wanted me to be in this film, playing a guy who’s at the Plaza Hotel. I said, ‘I don’t wanna do it. I’m in this show with Jennifer Holliday.’ He said, ‘You don’t like acting, do you?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t wanna be other people.’ I want to be happy in my life. Acting is great and my brother loved it, but he said, ‘Maurice just loves being himself.’ “Gregory used to tell [the deeply closeted] Luther Vandross, ‘Luther, you got to be more like Maurice! Come on, life is too short! Maurice always says that.’ I was with somebody for 16 years. We raised his sister’s daughter. She’s getting her master’s in Washington. I just met someone new and he’s a wonderful man, evolved, and he kissed me for the first time last night. It’s wonderful — very new and sweet.

money during Ramadan and complains about immigrants altering the neighborhood where he grew up, the film recognizes the ways in which Britain has changed since the project began. If “56 Up” shows a welcome — though possibly self-serving — willingness to criticize itself, it lacks edge in other respects. Few of its subjects’ lives have changed in dramatic ways since “49 Up.” The recession and Britain’s reign of austerity have hit a few of them hard, but most seem to be living a comfortable middle age. Fortunately, the structure of “56 Up” is complex enough to add layers of distance and irony to its subjects’ present-day stories. As it reminds us, no one’s life turns out quite like they planned it, even for relatively happy people. This truism takes on new power when we get to watch people age before our eyes.

“I was happy with my former lover for years, and we just went our separate ways. But we’re still great friends and love each other. I loved raising our daughter. My mother once called

“Zero Dark Thirty” “How to Survive a Plague” “Django Unchained” “Farewell, My Queen” “Consuming Passions” “Any Day Now” “King Kelly” “Sleepwalk with Me” “North Sea Texas “ “Pitch Perfect” Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol. com and check out his blog at http://

22 WEST END, from p.16

and re-read Frost’s — a compliment to all hands. (Through Jan. 12.)

E.V. Crowe stunned with foul-mouthed ten-year olds in “Kin” at the Royal Court, where she is back with “Hero,” also directed by Jeremy Herrin, in which the bad seed kids — gaybashers this time — are off stage, as adults grapple with the problem of being out as a grade school teacher. But what seems like a straightforward issue play about the consequences of what is still a rare — but not disallowed, as one character suggests — thing to do, is an intriguing dissection of an ostensibly s t r a i g h t m a r r i e d t e a c h e r, J a m i e (Daniel Mays of Mike Leigh film fame), coping with gay envy. Jamie’s mania is contrasted with the centeredness of his gay colleague Danny (a winning Liam Garrigan), as they each spar with their respective spouses (Susannah Wise and Tim Steed). The Royal Court has produced some hit gay-themed plays out of this little upstairs Jerwood Theatre — “The Pride” and “Cock,” which both enjoyed solid New York runs. “Hero” (just closed) may well follow in their footsteps.

After taking in Martin C r i m p ’s n e w “ I n t h e Republic of Happiness,” I boarded the District Line to Barking

CINEMA LIVES, from p.14

My choices for the best of 2012 are: 1. “The Cabin in the Woods” (Drew Goddard) A comedy about the codes of the horror genre, drawing on everything from Michael Haneke to H. P. Lovecraft, “The Cabin in the Woods” critiques slasher films’ puritanical attitudes about sex and pot while still offering up their pleasures. It’s every bit as smart and clever as it thinks it is, and quite unpredictable to boot. 2. “Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson) Who’d have thought the year’s most touching love story would take place between two 12-year-olds? “Moonrise Kingdom” rests on the border between total ridiculousness and aching sincerity — and is all the stronger for it. 3. “The Color Wheel” (Alex Ross Perry) The protagonists of “The Color Wheel” are a brother and sister who can’t stand each other, so naturally they go on a road trip together. Inspired by Jerry Lewis and Philip Roth, Perry creates an abrasive comedy in which love turns out to be the most twisted joke of all. 4. “Holy Motors” (Leos Carax) Appearing under 11 different guises, Denis Lavant delivers the performance of

thinking about a play that didn’t amount to much more than that. While Bennett knows how to craft a thoughtful drama out of the everyday, the random thoughts put in the mouths of his able cast playing a dysfunctional family do not a play make. Echoes of Pinter and Beckett remind us that they knew what they were doing and Crimp does not. I say all this despite having my surname invoked about 50 times in the last scene. Hearing scatological terms emanate from cultured Grandma earns the occasional titter, but it is not worth being abused for almost two hours sans interval. (Through Jan. 19.)

Kudos to the National for trying to breathe new life into old comedies. They scored big with “One Man, Two Guv’nors,” based on a 1745 Goldoni play, and Boucicault’s 1841 “London Assurance” with Beale. “The Magistrate” (1885), by Arthur Wing Pinero, gets the full National treatment on the big rotating Olivier stage — direction by award-winning Timothy Sheader and big inventive design by Katrina Lindsay, with one of our great comic actors, John Lithgow, imported for the title role. It’s a funny situation — a woman keeping the age of her 19-year old son a secret (he actually believes he’s 14) to hide her real age from her new, older husband (Lithgow). The kid (Joshua McGuire) is the best thing in it, bursting out of his kids’ clothes and constantly

reaching for the nearest drink, smoke, and woman. But it rarely achieves the hilarity such farce must to succeed. You can judge for yourself. “The Magistrate” (on stage to Feb. 10) will be shown as part of NT Live in January, including several venues in New York on Jan. 12, 18, 25, and 27.

welcome (though some will not want to replace the memory of Brian Stokes Mitchell in 1999). Every other number is a showstopper — an embarrassment of riches, especially considering how little some shows deliver these days.

I capped off the week

with Kristin Scott Thomas and Rufus Sewell at the Pinter (Jan. 12-Apr.6); “Our Country’s Good” at the St. James (Jan.30-Mar. 9); Betty Buckley at the Charing Cross Theatre (Feb. 4-Mar. 13) doing Jerry Herman’s “Dear World”; Helen Mirren retur ns to playing Elizabeth II in “The Audience” by Peter Morgan, who wrote the movie “The Queen” (Feb. 15-Jun. 15); Arthur Wing Pinero’s “Trelawny of the Wells” at the Donmar (Feb. 15-Apr.13); Jonathan Harvey’s gay classic “Beautiful Thing” at the Arts (Apr. 13-May 25); and Michael Grandage’s company follows “Privates on Parade” with “Peter and Alice” with Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw (Mar. 9-Jun. 1), then Daniel Radcliffe in “The Cripple of Inishmaan (Jun. 8-Aug. 31), “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Sheridan Smith (Sep. 7-Nov. 16), and, finally, Jude Law’s “Henry V” (Nov. 23-Feb. 15, 2014). For more information, visit

Coming up in the West End: Harold Pinter’s “Old Times”

with a pilgrimage to the Old Vic, where Kevin Spacey is winding up a creditable stint as artistic director, to see its hit “Kiss Me Kate” (through Mar. 13), directed by Trevor Nunn, the king of big musicals. Spacey notes that this "is our first musical" (I assume for this season since the theater goes back to 1818) and what a one to pick — Cole Porter's 1948 comeback in a production that is sheer theatrical joy. While the show may come "out o' a hat," as Porter's lyric has it, the inspired sets by Robert Jones spring from small boxes on the stage. Hannah Waddingham and Alex Bourne excel in voice and acting as the dueling divorced leads, Lilli Vanessi and Fred Graham, but this is a show where many supporting roles take center stage — from the deadpanning gangsters (brilliant Clive Rowe and David Burt) to Wendy Mae Brown as Miss Vanessi's dresser, Hattie. Throw in great dancing by Adam Garcia as gambling Bill Calhoun and Holly Dale Spencer as the comic Lois Lane (the lovers who can't behave) and you've got a show Broadway should

For complete information on these shows and others running and upcoming in London, visit

the year. It’s easy to say that the activities of his role-playing, limo-riding character are a metaphor for acting, but that doesn’t resolve the mysteries of “Holy Motors,” a film that seems torn between an excitement about cinema’s remaining possibilities and a weariness about the end of celluloid. 5. “Abendland” (Nikolaus Geyrhalter) Politically suggestive but far from didactic, Geyrhalter’s style combines the icy gloss of Haneke with the observational technique of Frederick Wiseman. His documentary observes Western Europe at night, finding immigrants doing menial labor and getting deported while the locals are busy calling suicide hotlines and keeping the Oktoberfest emergency room occupied. 6. “Attenberg” (Athina Rachel Tsangari) Tsangari’s film tracks a young Greek woman’s first encounters with sex and death. “Attenberg” does so in a refreshingly light style that flirts with Sundance quirkiness but backs away from treating its heroine as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. 7. “Compliance” (Craig Zobel) The most contentious film on my list, “Compliance” was widely accused of being an exploitative peep show, even though it only offers a few brief glimpses of nudi-


January 2, 2013 |

Ariane Labed and Evangelia Randou in the opening scene of Athina Rachel Tsangari’s “Attenberg.”

ty and keeps rape entirely offscreen. Based on a true story of a phone “prankster” who commits sexual assault by proxy, it allegorizes the loss of civil liberties during the Bush and Obama administrations. 8. “This Is Not a Film” (Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb) When does a video diary become an act of political resistance? When the man in front of the camera is under house arrest, banned from filmmaking — hence the title — by the Iranian government. “This Is Not a Film” wears its poverty of means — part of it was shot on a cell phone — as a badge of honor.

9. “How To Survive A Plague” (David France) In the wake of Occupy, France’s documentary about ACT -UP, taken mostly from archival footage shot by AIDS activists in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, is a reminder of the value of streetlevel activism. Its ending may be overly optimistic, given that millions of people still can’t afford medication to treat HIV, but who can blame the ACT UP members whose lives were saved by protease inhibitors for their cheer? 10. “Django Unchained” (Quentin Tarantino) At long last, Tarantino has put his sadistic streak to good use in this spaghetti Western/ blaxploitation mash-up, which carries an unexpectedly potent strain of horror. Extremely violent and filled with humor, the latter never trivializes the former. “Django Unchained” replays American history as a sick joke with real victims. Runners-up: “Chronicle” (Josh Trank); “Crazy Horse” (Frederick Wiseman); “The Day He Arrives” (Hong Sangsoo); “Keep The Lights On” (Ira Sachs); “The Queen of Versailles” (Lauren Greenfield); “The Raid: Redemption” (Gareth Huw Evans); “Searching For Sugar Man” (Malik Bendjelloul); ”Tabu” (Miguel Gomes); “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” (John Hyams); “The War” (James Benning).


| January 2, 2013

Films the LGBT Community Will Talk About

“Yossi” is the sequel to “Yossi and Jagger,” a heartbreaking 2002 Israeli film about a pair of soldiers secretly in love. Yossi is now a cardiologist who comes to terms with himself — and may even find a new lover. (Jan. 25) Filmmaker and frequent Warhol collaborator Paul Morrissey appears at a Film Forum Q&A after the Jan. 26 5:30 p.m. screening of “Trash.” “Women in Revolt” is also on that day’s program. And check out “Scorpio Rising” and “My Hustler” along with “The Queen” on Jan. 25. “Koch,” a documentary on the former New York


“300: Rise of an Empire” is a prequel to 2007’s “300.” Buff, beefy, and nearly naked gladiators will fight about something, but it's all Greek to us. Hunky Brazilian Rodrigo Santoro, who camped it up in the first film, returns — and that may be enough. (Aug. 2)

Out filmmaker Su Friedrich’s documentary “Gut Renovation” shows how Williamsburg, once a haven for artists, has become unaffordable thanks to gentrification. (Mar. 6) Lesbian filmmaker Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) remakes “Carrie,” the classic horror film based on Stephen King’s novel, starring queer favorite Julianne Moore in the juicy role of the mom from Hell. (Mar. 15) The third film by young, gay Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan, "Laurence Anyways," concerns the title character (Melvin Poupaud) telling his girlfriend he would like to live as a woman. (Spring)

Ohad Knoller and Oz Zehavi in “Yossi.”

“Elysium” is Neil Blomkamp’s new sci-fi flick about immigration and class differences on the title space station, and it sounds like a knock off of his “District 9.” But because it stars Jodie Foster, we’re interested. (Aug. 9)

Joao Pedro Rodrigues, one of the world’s most talented gay filmmakers, gets an American release for “The Last Time I Saw Macao,” an adventure in discovering a city and one’s one childhood memories. (Summer)

The astonishing out gay Cannes-winning Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” and “Tropical Malady”) returns with "Meekong Hotel," an exploration of moviemaking that mixes drama and documentary. (Release TBA)

Upcoming on the Stage

“Kinky Boots,” a musical based on the 2005 British film of the same title, has a score by Cyndi Lauper, a book by Harvey Fierstein, is directed by Jerry Mitchell, and stars Billy Porter and Stark Sands. Forced to step in to save his family’s shoe factory, Charlie Price gets help from the unlikeliest angel — Lola, a fabulous drag performer. (Al Hirschfeld Theatre; previews Mar. 5; opens Apr. 4) Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Nance,” stars Nathan Lane stars as Chauncey Miles, a burlesque performer who plays the stock stereotypically camp homosexual character on stage, even as he navigates the dangerous underground gay world of 1930s New York. Jack O'Brien directs. (Lyceum Theatre; previews Mar. 21; opens Apr. 15) “Far From Heaven” is Richard Greenberg, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie's musical based on the


mayor, scorned for his early inaction on AIDS and his resolute refusal to come out, is searching in its examination of his life, but will not put to rest every question. (Feb. 1)

Fiction You May Want to Keep an Eye Out For Todd Haynes film about a woman and her closeted gay husband in 1957 suburban Connecticut. Michael Greif directs. (Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater; previews May 18) "Hit the Wall" is Ike Holter's rock-infused drama about the birth of the gay rights movement at the Stonewall Inn. (Barrow Street Theater; previews mid-Feb.; opens Mar.) “Breakfast At Tiffany's” is Richard Greenberg adaptation of the Truman Capote novella. Set in 1943 New York, we revisit good time girl Holly Golightly (Emilia Clarke) and hope that her friend Fred (Cory Michael Smith), a young “writer” from Louisiana, will not be the gigolo to older women he was in the film adaption, but rather the homosexual of Capote’s original intent. Sean Mathias directs. (Cort Theatre; previews Mar. 4; opens Mar. 20)

Nonfiction Reading on the Way

In “White Girls,” Hilton Als examines an expansive category of public figures that, for him, includes Truman Capote, Louise Brooks, Malcolm X, and Flannery O’Connor. In the process, we learn a lot about Als. In “Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story That Inspired ‘The Children's Hour,’" Lillian Faderman examines, with impressive original research, an early 19th century case in which a Scottish girl accused her school mistress of having an affair with another woman. The book has a lot to say about how class and gender have historically marginalized women. “Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir” is Nicole Georges’ account of what happens to you when you are raised in a family of secrets, and what happens to your brain — and heart — when you learn the truth from an unlikely source.

“The Best-Kept Boy in the World” is Arthur Vanderbilt’s biography of Denham (Denny) Fouts (1914-1948), the 20th century’s most famous male prostitute — a boy who grew from humble Florida origins to enchant gay social lions including Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood, and Somerset Maugham.

In Alex Espinoza’s “The Five Acts of Diego Leon: A Novel,” a young man, escaped from his war-torn home in Mexico, finally arrives in Hollywood in 1927, when “Latin lover” types were sought out — and looked down on — both in front of and behind the camera. Angelina Anderson’s “Bright Like Neon” is the story of Jody Louden, a 17-year-old aspiring roller derby star experiencing her first crush on a girl — the DJ at the roller rink. When a classmate goes missing, Jody and her friends are forced to reckon with adulthood sooner than they hoped. Man Booker-shortlisted author Philip Hensher has now released his novel “Scenes from Early Life” in the US. It’s the story one family and a nation — Bangladesh — narrated by a young boy born into a brutal civil war. "Astray” is full of fascinating characters who roam through Emma Donoghue's stories — emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new — all of whom have gone astray. From Puritan Massachusetts to a Toronto highway, Donoghue lights up four centuries of wanderings.


Manil Suri’s “The City of Devi,” set in a Mumbai emptied under the threat of nuclear annihilation, follows Sarita, a 33-year-old statistician, as she searches for her lost physicist husband, Karun, accompanied by Jaz, nominally a Muslim, but whose true religion has always been sex with other men.


Chris Colfer, the out gay star of “Glee,” writes and stars in “Struck By Lightning,” a high school comedy-drama about an ambitious teen who blackmails his fellow students — including a pair of secret gay lovers — into writing for his literary magazine. (Jan. 11 release)



“Tongue in Cheek” is a collection of JC Etheredge's sexy, funny, charming, and outright provocative drawings that fill the book with absurd situations, hilarious anecdotes, and romantic dreams. Lesbian comedian Kelli Dunham's "Freak of Nurture," is a collection of serio-comic essays.

Festivals to Look Out For — In a Good Way, Of Course

Tribeca Film Festival, Apr.17-28;

“L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,” is Annie Rachele Lanzillotto’s story of becoming a poet, a lyricist and vocalist, a solo theater artist at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville, and a teacher in theater outreach at Sarah Lawrence College.

Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Jun. 13-23, Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center & IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.;

B. Ruby Rich, who branded a new film genre, the New Queer Cinema, in a 1992 Village Voice article, presents her new thoughts on the topic in “New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut.”

Fresh Fruit Festival of LGBTQ Arts & Culture,

NewFest, New York’s LGBT Film Festival, dates TBA, Lincoln Center; or

Jul. 8-21, The Wild Project, 193 E. Third St., near Ave. B.; HOT Festival, the NYC Celebration of Queer Culture, Jul., Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts.; hotfestival. org or The New York International Fringe Festival, Aug. 9-25;

A baker's dozen things to watch for in the year ahead

24 䉴

HAGEL, from p.7

In an email message, he wrote, “Our ad run today was not just about an old confirmation hearing.” Then after reiterating LCR’s critique of the Nebraskan’s views on Iran and Israel, he wrote, “While he may have recently apologized for his anti-gay comments to save his possible nomination, Hagel cannot walk away from his consistent record against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist radical regime in Tehran.” Cooper’s statement was at stark odds with an assessment of Hagel he of fer ed to the newspaper two weeks earlier — before news of the Nebraskan’s comments about Hormel surfaced. Asked about Hagel’s history of opposition to gay rights — which ear ned him a rating of zero from HRC, based on his votes in favor of a constitutional amendment barring marriage by same-sex couples and against hate crimes protections for LGBT Americans — Cooper responded by focusing instead on the for mer senator’s military background and


two other dissenters were not willing to go so far, and wrote separately to endorse most but not all of Nelson’s opinion.

In Wisconsin, the Court of Appeals, an intermediate bench, issued a more favorable decision, on December 20, in a lawsuit involving the rights of same-sex couples. Wisconsin also has a marriage amendment, but this one goes farther than Montana’s, providing that the Legislature may not create a “legal status” for samesex couples “substantially similar” to marriage. A few years after the amendment was enacted, the Legislature passed a Domestic Partnership Registration Act, which established a status of “domestic partner” and amended several state laws to provide that domestic partners be treated equally with married couples for specified purposes. A group of proponents of the marriage amendment filed suit against that statute. Affirming a circuit court ruling, the Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs failed to show that the new domestic partnerships are “substantially similar” to marriage, noting the law provided a list of rights for domestic partners that fell significantly short of conferring all the rights of marriage. Based on a review of the amendment proponents’ statements during the campaign to enact it, the court also found they had explicitly disavowed any intent to block the state from recognizing same-sex partners for specific purposes, instead intending only to prevent “Vermont-style” civil unions.

January 2, 2013 | foreign policy credentials. Emphasizing he was speaking on his own behalf, not for LCR, Cooper, in an email message, wrote, “I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms. But despite his criticisms, Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad. As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him.” C o o p e r, i n h i s r e s p o n s e t o G a y City News on December 27, did not specifically address the reasons for of fering two such disparate views on Hagel, but he did note that LCR has been on record in favor of tough sanctions against Iran since early in his tenure as the group’s executive director. The following day, Cooper announced he would be leaving the group effective December 31. The Washington Blade

confir med his statement that he told an LCR group in late October he planned to step down at the end of the year. His replacement, however, New York State LCR chair Gregory T. Angelo, was named only on an interim basis. Responding to widespread media and online speculation that LCR ran the Times ad at the behest of Republican neo-cons — and with their financial support — Cooper told the Blade that it was paid for by members of the group. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, responding to a query from the newspaper for its December 14 article about Hagel, voiced strong concerns not only about his record on LGBT rights, but also his views on a woman’s right to choose and on issues of concern to communities of color. Stacey Long, NGLTF’s director of public policy and gover nment affairs, wrote in an email, “Despite former Senator Chuck Hagel’s early criticism of the war in Iraq after voting to authorize it, we are gravely concerned about his track record on

civil rights and opposition to LGBT equality while a member of the Senate. Cabinet choices help set the tone for an administration, and we believe it is critical that those members support the values of respect, inclusiveness, and the belief in a level playing field for all — and that includes for LGBT people and women in general. We are very concerned that someone with such a poor record on these issues is under consideration to become secretary of defense.” Neither HRC nor Hagel responded to Gay City News’ request for comment at that stage in the public discussion of his possible nomination. Pundits handicapping Hagel’s chances of actually being nominated have typically distinguished between criticism on the right — about Israel and Iran — and that from the political left, where gay rights, women’s rights, and other issues have been emphasized. The LCR ad is the first public volley against Hagel that has merged the two lines of critique, and its ad was featured prominently on the conservative Weekly Standard’s blog.

Federal appeals courts also issued some notable r u l i n g s l a s t m o n t h . On

been retained after making public statements in conflict with those policies.

December 17, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, upheld a ruling in favor of the University of Toledo, which had discharged its associate vice president for human resources, Crystal Dixon, after she published an anti-gay op-ed article in the Toledo Free Press. In an editorial criticizing the university’s failure to extend domestic partnership benefits to employees at a newly merged medical campus, the Free Press compared the gay rights movement to the push for black civil rights and disability rights. In a response, Dixon wrote, “As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’” She went on to talk about “thousands of homosexuals” leaving “the gay lifestyle” through “Exodus International,” while defending the university’s benefits policy. Apparently appalled, the university’s president suspended and then discharged Dixon and published a statement disassociating the school from her remarks. Dixon claimed that her First Amendment rights were violated, but the court held that the university was free to discharge a person in her position for making public statements contrary to its policies. The court also rejected her equal protection argument, finding she could not show that another employee with her responsibilities — enforcing the university’s civil rights policies — had

The US District Court in Alabama issued a notable ruling

leaving the “father” space blank. DPH argued its job is to maintain “accurate and complete records and statistics,” and that listing Jennifer as “father” would make the record inaccurate. The court disagreed, accepting Lambda Legal’s argument that under the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous marriage decision, same-sex marriages are to be treated the same under state law as different-sex marriages. The right of both parents to be listed on the Certificate, it found, would not compromise the accuracy of the Department’s records.

on December 21, finding that changes in medical knowledge and treatments for HIV infection put that state Department of Corrections policy on inmates living with HIV at odds with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the 1990s, the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a similar claim challenging the policy of strictly segregated housing for positive inmates, but District Judge Myron H. Thompson pointed out the prior decision was based on medical knowledge at the time. The world of HIV in prisons has moved on, he found, noting that inmates compliant with their treatment regimens presented little risk of HIV transmission to others. The state was given the opportunity to propose a program to comply with the ruling, rather than having a solution imposed on it.

The Iowa US District Court, on December 12, ruled in favor of Lambda Legal’s claim that the state Department of Health (DPH) should not have refused to list both members of a married lesbian couple, Jessica and Jennifer Buntemeyer, as parents on the Certificate of Fetal Death issued when Jessica gave birth to a stillborn infant. The women married in Iowa in 2010, and their child was stillborn in October 2011. Indicating that the couple was married, the women submitted a Certificate listing Jessica as “mother” and Jennifer as “father.” DPH removed Jennifer’s name,

In a further development in the challenges to a new California law that bans health care providers from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” on minors, its opponents gained a temporary victory when they persuaded the emergency appeals panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to block the ban from going into effect on New Year’s Day. The court is considering an appeal of District Judge Kimberly Mueller’s December 4 ruling that the ban does not violate the First Amendment rights of health care providers The appellate panel issued its order on December 21. Another judge in the same district court, William Shubb, ruling December 3 on claims brought by a different set of plaintiffs, had issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing the new law against those specific three plaintiffs, though not any other health care providers. The Ninth Circuit’s consideration of the merits in the appeal of Mueller’s ruling may render Shubb’s proceedings superfluous.


| January 2, 2013




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January 2, 2013 |

That’s Amore! Emmy Award-winner Sonia Blangiardo ("One Life To Live, "As the World Turns") directs a revival of Anthony J. Wilkinson’s “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” with original music and lyrics by David James Boyd and original choreography by J. Austin Eyer. Wilkinson and Daniel Robinson (“Hairspray”) star as the grooms with recording artists Kim Sozzi ("Feel Your Love") and Judy Torres ("No Reason To Cry") alternating the role of Aunt Toniann. Groom Anthony Pinnunziato’s mother will only bestow her blessing if groom Andrew Polinski’s estranged mother does so as well — and they find a Catholic priest to perform the vows! And, of course, an ex-boyfriend shows up to blow the whole deal up. St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St. Through Feb. 23. Tickets are $39.50-$99 at or 212-239-6200.

a “McLaughlin Group” style discussion of hotbutton issues of the day. Women’s National Republican Club, Library Room, 3 W. 51st St. Jan. 10, 7:30-9 p.m. Dinner and drinks will precede the formal program from 6-7:30 p.m. The discussion is free, with dinner and two drinks at $25; dinner only at $12; and drinks only at $8, $15 & $20 from one to three drinks. RSVP to

January 10: Morgan Black at P*rno Bingo.

PERFORMANCE Because of the Wonderful Things He Does “The Wonderful Wizard Of Song” is a musical revue celebrating the compositions of Harold Arlen and featuring “Stormy Weather,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Paper Moon,” “Accentuate-The-Positive,” “Let’s Fall in Love,”


and the tunes from “The Wizard of Oz.” The show stars the Three Crooners — George Bugatti, Marcus Goldhaber, and Joe Shepherd — who are joined by Antoinette Henry. After a national tour of 18 cities and a month-long run in Las Vegas, the show, directed by Gene Castle, is in previews, in advance of a January 10 opening, at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St. Mon., 7 p.m.; Wed., 2 p.m.; Thu., 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50-$69.50 at or 212-239-6200. For more information, visit

CONCERT Americana Music Authentically Rendered

Melodeon is an ensemble that performs music from 19th and early 20th century America using period antique instruments from keyboardist Artis Wodehouse’s collection. Baritone George Spitzer and soprano Marti Newland join Wodehouse for the concert, which features the premiere of a new arrangement of music taken from Scott Joplin’s ragtime opera, “Treemonisha,” as well as works by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Arthur Farwell, and Charles D’Albert. Church of the Epiphany, 1393 York Ave. at 74th St. Jan. 6, 4 p.m. Tickets are $20; $15 for students & seniors at or at the door.

DANCE The Men Who Move — & Move Us Inspired by a sold-out successful run last summer at Jacob’s Pillow, “The Men Dancers” come to New York for four nights. The cast includes former NYC Ballet principal dancers Jock Soto and Charles Askegard, master choreographer Lar Lubovitch, “Billy Elliot” star Trent Kowalik, Tony-winning “Fosse” creator Chet Walker, and acclaimed dance figure Gus Solomons jr, among other celebrated dance artists. Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th St., btwn. First & Second Aves. Jan. 10-12, 8 p.m.; Jan. 13, 3 p.m. Tickets are $30; $20 for students & seniors at bawym5z or 800-838-3006, ext. 1; except for Jan. 10 gala opening, for which tickets are $125.




European-based curator Peter Weiermair, a specialist in the field of the male nude who is particularly knowledgeable about gay photographers working in Italy, has selected work by 11 such artists from different generations whose work ranges from documentary to conceptual. The exhibition he brings to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, consisting of 60-70 photographs and one video, is titled “Diaries: An Anthology of Photography from Italy,” and he writes, “The unifying theme of the work is the male nude, its beauty, Eros, and sexuality.” 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. Through Feb. 3. Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m. More details at



GALLERY The Eros of Italy

The Log Cabin Republicans of New York City presents an evening of political chat, featuring Manhattan Media publisher Tom Allon making the case for his GOP mayoral candidacy, Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, discussing her group’s legislative priorities in the new year, and a “run the table” panel that will present

COMEDY Quips from Queens A Long Island City LGBT laugh-fest is headlined by Ophira Eisenberg (straight, but at least Canadian) from Comedy Central's "Premium

THU.JAN.10, continued on p.27


| January 2, 2013



WEDDINGS Expo in Brooklyn


The Brooklyn Community Pride Center presents a Wedding Expo, full of vital vendors, hosted by Borough President Marty Markowitz. Live entertainment includes performances by Kirsten Holly Smith from “Forever Dusty,” drag divas Peppermint Gummybear and Strolling Tables, and cabaret singer William Blake, plus a special appearance by Angela “Big Ang” Raiola of the hit VH1 reality series “Mob Wives.” Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St. at Court St. Jan. 13, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit

THU.JAN.10, from p.26

Blend" and Vh-1's "Best Week Ever.” And the queer quotient heads off the chart with be Adam Sank (NBC's "Last Comic Standing”), MAC Award-winner Danny Cohen (Comedy Central's "Premium Blend"), Cara Kilduff (HereTV's "Hot Gay Comics" and co-host of Queens Public Television's "Talking About”). "Biggest Loser" champ Poppi Kramer is the evening’s mistress of ceremonies. Laughing Devil Comedy Club, 4738 Vernon Blvd., near 48th Ave., LIC. Jan. 10, 8 p.m. Admission is $15, plus a two-drink or munchie minimum. For reservations, visit

Upper West Side Shtick "Problem Children 2" is the second edition of a new Upper West Side monthly comedy showcase. Tonight, the line-up features Jessie Geller, Lori Sommer, Tom Ragú, Julia Scotti, Mick Diflo, Nicky Sunshine, Dick & Duane™, and Kevin Medlin. Stage 72, 158 W. 72nd St., just off Bway. Jan. 10, 7 p.m. Admission is $10, plus a two-drink minimum. For reservations, call 212-239-3590.

PERFORMANCE Anti-Slam After a five-month hiatus, the Anti-Slam, where pros and amateurs alike share the stage, with both given equal respect and a place to try out new things, is back. As always, “It Elf” Reverend Jen hosts and performers — of comedy, poetry, music, interpretive dance, primal scream therapy, prose, genius, or stupidity — are given six minutes of stage time and a perfect score of 10. AntiSlam’s new home is Pyramid Club, 101 Ave. A, btwn. Sixth & Seventh Sts. Every Thu., 7-9:30 p.m.

NIGHTLIFE Witti Repartee Oils the Wheels Will Clark is MIA, so Witti Repartee steps in as host of “P*rno Bingo,” an evening of Xs, Os, bawdy prizes, performance artist Beardonna, new Lucas Entertainment model Morgan Black, and the tunes of DJ Chauncey Dandridge. Proceeds from the evening benefit Cycle for the Cause, the BostonNew York AIDS ride that supports the HIV work of the LGBT Community Center. The Ritz, 369 W. 46th St. Jan. 10, 7-9 p.m.


DANCE David Parsons Premieres

FILM A Window into Obsession

New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute and the Friends of the Abraham A. Brill Library present a screening and discussion of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic "Rear Window," starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr. NYPSI's Dr. Peter Dunn, a psychoanalyst, leads the discussion, which will explore the film's themes of voyeurism, obsession, and stifled desire and consider them in the context of the psychoanalytic concept of the “Primal Scene.” New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute, Marianne and Nicholas Young Auditorium, 247 E. 82nd St. Jan. 11, 7 p.m. Admission is $10, and RSVP is encouraged at

PERFORMANCE Distorted on Parade “Distorted Diznee” is Las Vegas-style parody revue of some of America's most beloved animated classics, featuring drag stars Dallas DuBois, Holly Dae, Bootsie LeFaris, Pixie Aventur, and Shenea DeDranke. You may come away from the show remembering moments of Cher, Patti LuPone, Idina Menzel, and Rihanna — at no extra charge. Laurie Beechman Theater, inside the West Beth Café, 407 W. 42 St. Fridays, from Jan. 11, 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 at or 212-352-3101, plus a $15 food & drink minimum.


PERFORMANCE Twinkies Never Die at 92Y

Proving that downtown is not the only place for fun and frolic, the 92nd Street Y hosts a series of burlesque shows. In the Jan. 12 edition (at 8 p.m.), the 92Y Harkness Dance Center, the Bishop of Burlesque, and the New York School of Burlesque present “Hot Geeks: A Nerd-lesque Review,” for those who prefer brainy men. 1395 Lexington Ave. at 92nd St. Tickets are $25 at Future shows include “Burlesque is LOVE!,” a celebration of romance, where sweethearts are welcome, on Feb. 9, 8 p.m.


MUSIC For Brunch: Yiddish With a Twist Metropolitan Klezmer, which adds all manner of flavors — from hip-hop to swing — to a beloved Yiddish musical tradition, presents a Sunday brunch performance at City Winery. The ensemble’s sister sextet, Isle of Klezbos, performs several of its own numbers. 155 Varick St. at Vandam St. Jan. 13; band sets are from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Brunch seating begins at 10 a.m. Admission is $10; free for children under 13. The restaurant has a full brunch menu and bar, but there is no minimum order. Reservations at 212-608-0555.

David Parsons and Parsons Dance present a two-week season that debuts two new works — Parsons’ “Dawn to Dusk” and “Black Flowers” by former Parsons dancer Katarzyna Skarpetowska — as well as the choreographer’s 2005 Mozart-inspired “Wolfgang,” the company’s “In the End,” with music by the Dave Matthews Band, and Parsons’ masterwork “Caught.” Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St. Jan. 15, 16, 22 & 23, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 17-19; Jan. 19 & 26, 2 p.m.; Jan. 20 & 27, 1 & 5 p.m. Tickets are $10-$59 at or 212-242-0800. The Jan. 26 matinee is a special family program.


THEATER Gay-Married to the Mob

Out Professionals present Joe Pantoliano ("The Matrix,” “The Fugitive”) and Mario Cantone ("Assassins," "Love! Valour! Compassion!," “Sex and the City”) in a staged reading of Arje Shaw’s comedy/ drama "Moolah.," which explores love, money, and sexuality in a tale of two con men who fall out of favor with the mob. Charles Messina directs. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Jan. 13, 6-8:30 p.m. Admission is $20; $13 for OP members at

An Afternoon of Horns Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music presents “The Horn: From the Forest to the Concert Hall,” with selections from Beethoven, von Weber, Glazunov, Messiaen, Atkinson, Amram, and Tippett. The string ensemble Brooklyn Rider is joined by featured hornists Michael P. Atkinson, soloist with the Knights; Patrick Pridemore, who performs regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Knights; David Byrd-Marrow, who performs with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and Orpheus; and Chad Yarbrough, who appears regularly with the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orpheus, and the American Symphony Orchestra. Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 85 S. Oxford St. at Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Jan. 13, 3 p.m. Tickets are $20; $10 for students at the door. For more information, email or call 718-855-3053.


BOOKS A Decade of Careening

Kathleen Warnock kicks off the tenth year of “Drunken! Careening! Writers!” with readings by Kaylie Jones, whose most recent work is a memoir, “Lies My Mother Never Told Me”; Dael Orlandersmith, a poet, playwright, and performer, who is best known for her play “yellowman,” for which she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and Bob Smith, the first out gay comic to appear on “The Tonight Show” and have his own HBO special whose most recent novel, “Remembrance of Things I Forgot,” was an Amazon pick for top ten gay and lesbian books of 2011. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jan. 17, 7 p.m. Free admission.


January 2, 2013 |




CHAD GRIFFIN President, Human Rights Campaign

To purchase tickets call 800.494.8497 or visitямБce Please visit for more exciting news of our Entertainment and Awardees.

GAY CITY NEWS, JAN 2, 2013  


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