FREE VOLUME THIRTEEN, ISSUE FOUR FEBRUARY 19 - MARCH 4, 2014
March 12 Doug Ireland Memorial 13 Bridges Over Troubled Water 24 Ugandan President to Sign Anti-Gay Law 06 Pussy Riot Olympics 05
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De Blasio Budget Offers AIDS Rent Cap, Homeless Youth Funding BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ith the support of Gover nor Andr ew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, AIDS groups believe they can win long-sought legislation that would cap rent at 30 percent of income for people with AIDS who receive housing assistance. “I’ve believed in this rent cap for a long time,” de Blasio said in a February 12 speech announcing his city preliminary budget, which funds the rent cap for the city’s 2015 fiscal year. Cuomo issued a February 13 press release endorsing the rent cap. “It’s a tremendous step forward in this process, but nothing is done until there is a signature on the budget bill,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district runs from 72nd Street to the West Village and from river to river in Manhattan. The de Blasio administration will spend $4.3 million in the current fiscal year and $17.4 million in the 2015 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, to pay for the rent cap. The city is paying twothirds of the cost and the state is funding the rest. In 1969, Congress enacted the Brooke Amendment, named for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, that capped rent payments for people living in federally funded housing at no more than 30
percent of their annual income. People with AIDS who are clients of the HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA), a unit of the city’s Human Resources Administration, receive a package of benefits with only some funded with federal dollars. The HASA rental assistance is paid for with city and state cash so it is not subject to the Brooke Amendment. AIDS groups have been fighting for nearly a decade to change state law to apply the cap to housing assistance for people with AIDS. In 2010, the rent cap passed the State Legislature as a standalone bill, but it was vetoed by then-Governor David Paterson. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who held City Hall for 12 years until this year, consistently opposed the legislation, seeing it as an entitlement that the city could not afford. “I would say the biggest single change was de Blasio’s election,” said Sean Barry, executive director of VOCALNY, an AIDS advocacy group. “Everybody was on board with it except Mayor Bloomberg and he kept bringing it to a screeching halt.” Ginny Shubert, a principal at SBPA, a public policy consulting group, said that Cuomo, who took office in 2011, probably would have supported the rent cap earlier but for Bloomberg. “Bloomberg was just absolutely opposed,” Shubert said. “I think it might
ROB BENNETT/ OFFICE OF MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO
Mayor, governor agree on housing assistance solution sought for more than a decade
Mayor Bill de Blasio presenting his fiscal year 2015 preliminary budget on February 12.
have happened earlier under [Cuomo] had it not been for the opposition of the Bloomberg administration.” Bloomberg made significant donations to the state Republican Party to keep the GOP in control of the State Senate, which doomed the rent cap legislation since 2011. The legislation to enact the rent cap will be part of the state budget as opposed to a stand-alone bill. The budget is must-pass legislation so that greatly increases the likelihood that the rent cap will be enacted. “We haven’t seen the language for how the state will accommodate the mayor’s
program,” Hoylman said. “We’ve had very positive conversations all along.” Also in his preliminary $73.7 billion budget, de Blasio acted on a campaign promise to eventually spend $12 million a year to fund programs for homeless youth, including queer youth. Calling homelessness among youth a “growing problem that has only been partially addressed by the city,” de Blasio said, “This is a commitment I made last year that we’re going to steadily increase the funding.” The de Blasio administration is constrained by an economy that is only slowly improving and by a budget gimmick that the prior administration used to balance its budgets. Bloomberg left office without closing new contracts with any city unions, which saved him roughly $7 billion. The de Blasio administration has to negotiate 150 contracts. “This is the first time a mayor has entered office with all these contracts open,” he said. “It’s both the sheer number of open contracts... and the reality that these contracts have been unresolved for years and years.” At the February 12 press conference, de Blasio said his administration was funding “relatively few new spending initiatives” that reflect its progressive values. “We’ve kept the choices to a few distinct areas and we’ve kept the choices quite modest,” he said. “We’re being very cautious in the preliminary budget.”
Despite Mayor’s Firm No, St. Pat’s Activists Persevere Arguing city cannot lend endorsement to discriminatory event, effort to end uniformed participation continues BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
hough Mayor Bill de Blasio quickly refused a request to bar uniformed city employees from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, saying those employees had a right to march, organizers of the effort to win the ban are continuing their work. “We don’t feel like the conversation is done because we still want and need him to direct the Police and Fire Departments to uphold the Human Rights Law,” said Emmaia Gelman, a member of the group that is organizing the effort. On February 3, activists published an open letter in Gay City News, which was also a signatory, that was signed by more 200 individuals and groups that asked the city to bar uniformed employees and city employee groups with ban-
ners that identify them with the city from the parade. The parade, which takes place in Manhattan every March 17, has barred openly LGBT marchers and groups since 1993. The activists’ legal argument is that associating city employees with what organizers say is little more than an anti-LGBT parade sends a message that the city personnel “do not respect the lives and safety of LGBT people,” the open letter said. “The essence of this is an employer... has the power to regulate the use of its uniforms,” said William Dobbs, a gay civil rights attorney. “The parade is flat out discriminatory, it’s a flat out antigay parade. The response to that is you want to have an anti-gay parade, the city shouldn’t be endorsing an anti-gay parade. The mayor has already gotten the message.” The mayor said on February 4 that he
would not march in the parade, becoming the first mayor to skip the event since David Dinkins. De Blasio has not marched in the parade for years. Activists say that city employees can march, but not in their uniforms or behind banners that associate them with the city. “There’s a legal basis for this,” Gelman said at a February 12 meeting held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “They have the right to march as individuals.” De Blasio clearly wants to avoid the difficult political problem that would result from banning city employees from marching in the parade in uniform. The organizing efforts have been complicated by the refusal of some out gay elected officials to sign the open letter. That makes it appear that the community is not speaking with one voice. City Councilmen Daniel Dromm,
Jimmy Van Bramer, and Carlos Menchaca have not signed, nor have Deborah Glick and Danny O’Donnell, two members of the State Assembly. It is not clear if all these elected officials have been asked to sign, though Dromm and Van Bramer were. Neither of the Queens councilmen returned calls seeking comment. Elected officials who support de Blasio’s progressive agenda and feel some loyalty toward a fellow Democrat may be declining to sign in order to give the mayor some political cover. “It’s weird and frustrating that they haven’t signed on,” Gelman said. “They are both in new positions of power in a world with a new progressive mayor. We know that when people with a history of activism get closer to power, they pull back from making demands.”
ST. PAT’S, continued on p.15
| February 19, 2014
The Pussy Riot Olympics Feminist rockers act in the face of a language of lies
BY KELLY COGSWELL
WORDS WILL BREAK CEMENT: THE PASSION OF PUSSY RIOT By Masha Gessen Riverhead Trade $16; 320 pages
Unfortunately, instead of standing atop a podium, three of the five landed in jail, tried and convicted for “hooliganism inspired by religious hatred.” Yekaterina Samutsevich was given a sus-
IGOR MUKHIN/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
f activism were an Olympic sport, Pussy Riot would have taken the gold for their 2012 punk prayer per for mance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Central Moscow, asking, “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, chase Putin out, / Chase Putin out, chase Putin out...” They picked the perfect target, sent a clear message, and got so much global media attention, they deserved a perfect score.
Pussy Riot’s punk prayer performance in Moscow caught the world’s attention.
In her new book, “Words Will Break pended sentence on appeal, but Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova and Maria Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot,” Alyokhina served nearly their complete journalist Masha Gessen transforms two-year sentences in penal colonies their now familiar story into an imporbefore they were released in the recent tant exploration of rebellion itself, espeamnesty for prisoners — Putin’s gambit cially the role played by protest art and direct action when language no longer for improved PR just prior to the Sochi T:9.381” serves. Olympics.
Unlike many progressive activists who see history as an arc with a pot of gold at the end of it, Gessen refreshingly asserts that it’s a miracle Pussy Riot emerged at all. It’s not enough to be an outcast to make protest art, she writes, “One also has to possess a sense that one can do something about it, the sense of being entitled to speak and to be heard.” And the Russia that gave birth to Pussy Riot was placid with oil money, nearly mute in the face of an electoral system, judiciary, and media overwhelmingly controlled by Putin. Trying to see what made them different, Gessen looked to their biographies and found the three jailed Pussy Riot members had quirky families and more than one winter of discontent. They were curious, rebellious, avid readers, and despite the anti-feminist culture surrounding them, mostly encouraged by their families to speak their minds. Nadya aspired to be a journalist before she was admitted at 16 to the philosophy program at Moscow State University.
PUSSY RIOT, continued on p.15
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Ugandan President to Sign Draconian Anti-Gay Bill Yoweri Museveni responds to global outcry with promise of "a war with the homosexual lobby in the world” BY ANDY HUMM
CHATHAM HOUSE/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
efying Wester n critics and worldwide demonstrations, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will sign a harshly anti-gay measure into law. The bill, passed in December, dropped death penalties from what had been dubbed the “kill-the-gays-bill” and substituted long prison sentences, including life in prison for contracting a same-sex marriage. In a speech before a raucous crowd of supporters of the anti-gay measure, Museveni vowed, “We shall have a war with the homosexual lobby in the world.” Passage of anti-gay legislation in Russia and Nigeria in recent months has sparked vigilante violence against LGBT people and there are signs of that in Uganda, as well, as LGBT people are identified as scapegoats for a wide variety of social ills. The maximum penalty for homosexual relations in Uganda was already life in prison. The new law mandates seven years to life for sexual touching and five to seven years for “aiding and abetting” others to commit homosexual acts, a provision that UK gay activist Peter Tatchell said can include “membership and funding of LGBT organizations, advocacy of LGBT human rights, supportive counseling of LGBT persons, and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people.” The new law also dictates three years in prison for failing to report within a day those who violate other provisions of the law. In addition, it applies to Ugandan citizens abroad — subjecting them to extradition to Uganda for punishment — and foreigners living in Uganda.
Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini.
The professionals also advised Museveni that “homosexuality is not a mental illness,” which is not what he wanted to hear. He obviously listened to quacks in the end. In a February 14 tweet, Ofwono Opondo, Museveni’s spokesman, called the law “a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants.” He also wrote that “14 medical experts presented a report that homosexuality is not genetic but a social behaviour.” The following day, the Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper, reported that the president also supports a constitutional amendment to deny bail to those arrested of sodomy as well as to “rapists and defilers.” The Ugandan president — echoing concerns voiced by other officials about
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irregularities in the parliament’s passage of the bill — had originally hinted he would either not sign the bill or try to mitigate its worst provisions. He then wrote to the parliament, “Homosexuality and lesbianism, if not mercenary or out of social frustration (for sexually starved women), is an abnormality and must be treated as such” and not criminalized. He said he wanted scientific proof that it was “not genetic” before signing it. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights organized 200 scientists and mental health professionals to write
a February 3 letter to Museveni on the nature of sexual orientation. “For the vast majority of people, homosexual and heterosexual, sexual attractions emerge spontaneously without any prior sexual experience, exposure, or recruitment,” the letter stated. “Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice.” The professionals also advised Museveni that “homosexuality is not a mental illness,” which is not what he wanted to hear. He obviously listened to quacks in the end. Uganda is 85 percent Christian, mostly conservative Catholics (42 percent) and Anglicans (36 percent), with a rising number of Pentecostals (five percent). Scott Lively, the American head of the right-wing Abiding Truth Ministries, is alleged to have played a major role in crafting the anti-gay legislation in Uganda. He is being sued in US federal court over his actions by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the leading LGBT rights group in that nation, through the Center for Constitutional Rights in US federal court. There was a Global Day of Action Against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on February 10 after Ugandan activists from SMUG called upon Western supporters to take the gloves off and publicly demonstrate against the bill as Museveni’s decision about its fate neared. In New York, the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), led by its president Ruth Messinger, a longtime LGBT rights supporter who was accompanied by 40 people, delivered a letter to the Ugandan Mission on East 45th Street early that day urging Museveni to veto the bill. The letter was signed by 500 rabbis, including Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the
UGANDA, continued on p.7
| February 19, 2014 UGANDA, from p.6
city’s LGBT synagogue, Messinger, whose work often takes her to Uganda, said AJWS, since 2009, has helped fund SMUG, a group that now has to operate largely underground in Uganda. Messinger’s group is also helping fund the suit against Lively. Messinger, a former Manhattan borough president, said that the anti-gay bill has been kicking around for years “and was never put to a vote” until parliament unexpectedly took it up at the end of last year. “I think action in India [where the high court reinstated anti-sodomy laws] and Nigeria [where an even more draconian anti-gay law just went into effect] made them feel it was OK,” she said. Despite Museveni’s stated intention to sign the bill, AJWS continues to encourage emails to President Barack Obama urging him to pressure Uganda not to enact the law. In a statement released by the White House on February 16, Obama said, “The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice, and equal rights. As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda.” On a bitter cold evening February 10, about 20 stalwart LGBT activists picketed Uganda House, also on East 45th Street. The target of several LGBT demonstrations in recent years, including one responding to the murder of that nation’s leading gay activist, David Kato, three years ago, Uganda House no longer bears the large letters of its name over the door. Nadia Swanson, who organized the action with SMUG and recently returned from working in Uganda, said that in recent years some police in Uganda had become more sensitized to the issue of anti-gay repression, so that if an LGBT person were arrested, SMUG “could call one of their allies to intervene.” All that may now be illegal under the new law. Employees leaving Uganda House ignored chants of the demonstrators calling on Museveni to veto the bill and would not speak to Gay City News. One man who did respond to questions was Dr. Francis M. Deng, who identified himself as South Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations. Asked what the situation was for gay people in that nation which became independent less than three years ago, he responded, “The problem has not arisen.” He is described online
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Protester outside of Uganda House on East 45th Street the evening of February 10.
as “an expert in US-Africa relations and conflict management” and was appointed by the very pro-gay Ban KiMoon, secretary-general of the UN, as his special adviser on the prevention of genocide. Museveni, 69, has been president of Uganda since 1986. While he for a time allowed one of the more rational approaches to fighting HIV/ AIDS in Africa — bringing infection rates down from 11 percent in 1997 to seven percent in 2001, rates have gone up about 50 percent since then, especially among married couples due to sex outside their marriages. In Nigeria this past week, Gay Star News (GSN) reported, a mob of 40 in the village of Gishri near Abuja, the capital, attacked 12 gay men with sticks spiked with nails right in front of police, who did nothing to protect them. The vigilantes then attempted to set fire to their houses and drove the gay men from the village. The police announced that all gay people have 48 hours to leave the village. Nigerian activist Bisi Alimi told GSN, “The increasing attacks and witchhunting of LGBTI people in Nigeria is now proving the silence of the international community is not golden anymore.” He called on the UN, the US, the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union, and the African Union “to take a stand in the defense of vulnerable LGBTI people in Nigeria.” In the lobby of Uganda House, there is a big banner promoting Ugandan wildlife protection. Veteran gay activist Glen Leiner said, “They are promoting their diversity of animal life for ecotourism. If only they would cover gay people in their concern for life. Human rights seem to be last for them.”
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Nevada Drops Its Defense of Gay Marriage Ban
BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n a sharp change of course, Nevada’s governor and attorney general announced on February 10 they would not defend the state’s ban on samesex marriage in a case pending before a federal appeals court. A US district court earlier upheld that ban, and an appeal by Lambda Legal on behalf of eight plaintiff couples is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco. This turn of events has an interesting backstory. On January 21, State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, filed a brief responding to the plaintiffs’ arguments on appeal. In late 2012, District Court Judge Robert C. Jones found that Nevada had a “rational basis” for denying same-sex couples the right to marry. He also wrote that the US Supreme Court’s refusal in 1972 to hear an appeal from a Minnesota gay couple seeking the right to marry, finding there was no “substantial federal question” at stake, bound him to not rule for the plaintiffs. In her January brief, Masto challenged the plaintiffs’ contention that the state’s ban had no rational basis and was purely discriminatory and that last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the Defense of Marriage Act case rendered the 1972 court action in the Minnesota case moot. The very same day Masto filed her brief, however, a three-judge appellate panel of the Ninth Circuit, in a case involving a pharmaceutical company’s “peremptory
challenge” to a gay juror hearing an antitrust lawsuit regarding AIDS medication pricing, ruled that claims of sexual orientation discrimination must be subjected to “heightened scrutiny,” a tougher level of judicial review that the “rational basis” test Judge Jones applied in the Nevada marriage case. Under a “heightened scrutiny” standard, a discriminatory policy is presumed to be unconstitutional unless the state can show it substantially advances an important government interest. Most legal observers agree that same-sex marriage bans cannot survive such scrutiny. A few days after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the gay juror case, Masto announced she was considering withdrawing her brief in the marriage case, and after several days’ discussion with Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, she moved to do so, a decision the Ninth Circuit accepted. Both Sandoval and Masto agreed the marriage ban was not defensible given that the Ninth Circuit had established heightened scrutiny as the standard of review for gay discrimination claims. Defense of Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage is now left to the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, a conservative organization that backed the antigay constitutional amendment enacted in 2002. That group’s brief focused on arguments, discredited by research, about the best circumstances for raising children and predicted, in essence, the collapse of civilization as we know it if same-sex couples are allowed to marry. Nevada’s withdrawal from the case leaves the tantalizing possibility that a Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of the
GOP governor, Dem attorney general agree 2002 amendment can’t survive tougher judicial review standard
Nevada Republican Governor Brian Sandoval agreed with the state’s Democratic attorney general that the state’s ban on gay marriage can no longer be defended in court.
plaintiffs would go no further, since the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage — like the group that defended California’s Proposition 8 — clearly would not have constitutional “standing” to seek Supreme Court review. That’s an ironic outcome, since it’s not a certainty that Nevada would fail if it chose to defend its marriage ban before the Supreme Court. The Ninth Circuit may now be applying “heightened scrutiny” in gay discrimination cases, but the Supreme Court, in last year’s DOMA ruling, did not say it was using that same standard. The Ninth Circuit’s gay juror decision concluded that “heightened scrutiny” was in fact at the heart of the DOMA decision. If the Nevada ban is struck down by the Ninth Circuit, it’s certainly possible that Governor Sando-
val — who is a Republican, after all — would conclude the state should petition the Supreme Court with the argument that heightened scrutiny was not the correct standard in this case. One other twist in this case is that the Ninth Circuit has given Abbott Laboratories, the defendant in the gay juror case, 90 days to petition for a rehearing by a larger appellate panel. If such a petition were granted, the heightened scrutiny standard used in that case would be suspended and therefore not binding on a different appellate panel if it heard the marriage case during that period. So the timing in the two cases is also a factor. The plaintiffs and organizations filing briefs in support of them have until February 25 to reply to the Coalition’s brief. At that point, the schedule for oral arguments will be announced, though the Ninth Circuit has already accepted Lambda’s motion for expedited hearing in the case. In other pending marriage suits, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will hear oral arguments in the Utah case on April 10 and in the Oklahoma case on April 17. The February 13 marriage equality ruling in Virginia means there may also soon be an appeal pending in the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit. A district court judge in Kentucky on February 12 struck down that state’s ban on recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Kentucky is in the Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit, where the court of appeals is already hearing a case where a district court ordered Ohio to recognize an out-of-state same-sex marriage for purposes of approving data on a death certificate.
In Recognition Case, US Judge Strikes Down Kentucky Ban District court builds on post-DOMA pattern in suit brought by couples married elsewhere BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ne of the first federal court decisions to apply last June’s Supr eme Court DOMA ruling came quickly the following month, when US District Judge Timothy S. Black ordered Ohio to recognize a Maryland same-sex marriage in approving data on a death certificate. That order was followed up by a detailed opinion in December finding that Ohio’s refusal to recognize
same-sex marriages performed in other states violates the 14th Amendment, which requires states to provide “equal protection of the laws” and protects the right of married couples to “stay married” when they cross state lines. Now a second federal judge, John G. Heyburn II, of the Western District of Kentucky, has followed Black’s lead. On February 12, Heyburn ordered that Kentucky recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states and Canada. And, on the same day Heyburn ruled, married same-sex couples living in
Missouri and Louisiana filed their own lawsuits, seeking to have their state governments recognize their marriages from elsewhere. In none of these cases are the plaintiffs seeking a ruling that unmarried same-sex couples in their states have a right to marry. However, most of the same legal arguments would be relevant in cases seeking the ability to marry outright. Judge Heyburn left little doubt how that would be resolved. “The Court was not presented with the particular ques-
tion whether Kentucky’s ban on samesex marriage is constitutional,” he observed. “However, there is no doubt that [last summer’s DOMA ruling] and this Court’s analysis suggest a possible result to that question.” Louisville attorneys Dawn Elliott and Shannon Fauver represent the four plaintiff couples, two of which are raising children together, and on February 14, Valentine’s Day, the two attorneys filed suit on behalf of two gay couples hoping
KENTUCKY, continued on p.29
| February 19, 2014
Virginia Marriage Equality Ruling the New Normal — and a Big Deal Federal judge explicitly links plaintiffs’ case to the struggles against miscegenation laws and slavery BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
AMERICAN FEDERATION FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
US DISTRICT COURT/ EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
ince the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal recognition to same-sex marriages, every judge in federal and state courts ruling on motions for summary judgment has concluded that bans on performing or recognizing same-sex marriages violate, as a matter of law, the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. In that sense, there is really nothing new about US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s February 13 decision finding Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The ruling falls within what is now the mainstream of a growing body of trial court decisions issued by judges of just about every political stripe. On the other hand, each of the decisions issued so far — by federal judges in Ohio, Utah, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and now Virginia – presents its own particular perspective on the issue and a unique brand of eloquence. Wright Allen, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2011, prefaces her decision with a lengthy recent quote from Mildred Loving, who with her husband Richard won the 1967 Supreme Court case against Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. The high court ruled that the miscegenation law was an unconstitutional interference on the right of individuals to marry the partner of their choice — not only because it enacted racial discrimination but also because of marriage’s fundamental role in society. “I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry,” Loving said on the 40th anniversary of her victory. “Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others… I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving (the case), and loving, are all about.” Wright Allen also quoted a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote as he contemplated his 1860 run for president, stating, regarding the case against slavery, “It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just the same thing – fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.” The gay marriage plaintiffs, Wright Allen wrote, “and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court’s power, they and all oth-
Timothy Bostic and Tony London, one of the two plaintiff couples in the Virginia marriage equality case.
ers shall have.” Represented by Ted Olson, David Boies, and the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), who litigated the Proposition 8 case, the two plaintiff couples are challenging a constitutional amendment adopted in 2006 as well as a law forbidding marriage by same-sex couples. Timothy Bostic and Tony London were denied a marriage license by the clerk in Norfolk, while Carol Schall and Mary Townley were married in California in 2008 but Virginia refuses to recognize that marriage. As the case headed to court, the defendants in the case were the state’s registrar of vital records as well as the Norfolk Circuit Court clerk, whose office denied Bostic and London a marriage license. The Prince William County Circuit Court clerk was allowed to intervene as a defendant. When Democrat Terry McAuliffe took office last month, he and the new attorney general, Mark Herring, announced the state would no longer defend Virginia’s marriage ban, and the solicitor general joined the plaintiffs at a hearing several weeks ago to argue the policy was unconstitutional. The two clerks’ offices were left to defend the antigay ban and are represented by attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that opposes marriage equality and other gay rights gains using religious liberty arguments. As have other US district court judges — as well as the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in its ruling on Edie Windsor’s challenge to DOMA that eventually prevailed at the Supreme Court — Wright Allen dispensed with the defendants’ argument that the high court’s refusal in 1972 to hear a marriage case brought
by two gay men from Minnesota, finding it did not present a “substantial federal question,” was binding on the court. “Doctrinal developments since” then, she wrote, compelled the conclusion that the Minnesota precedent no longer applied. Focusing first on the question of whether the plaintiff couples were denied their due process rights, she concluded, in line with the Loving miscegenation ruling and subsequent cases, that the right to marry is a fundamental one that cannot be abridged by the state without a narrowly-tailored law justified by a compelling state interest. The fact that only now are gay couples able to marry in some states, she wrote, “fails to transform such a fundamental right into some ‘new’ creation. Plaintiffs ask for nothing more than to exercise a right that is enjoyed by the vast majority of Virginia’s adult citizens.” Noting that same-sex couples have “the same capacity” as heterosexuals “to form, preserve, and celebrate loving, intimate, and lasting relationships,” Wright Allen wrote, “Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices — choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference.” Since the case involved a fundamental right, Wright Allen asserted, the defendants’ arguments must be examined using “strict scrutiny” to determine whether the marriage ban is a narrowly tailored solution meeting a compelling state interest. Assertions that limiting marriage to different-sex couples is demanded by tradition, the need to encourage “responsible procreation” by heterosexuals, or the goal of guarantee-
US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.
ing “optimal child rearing” in society all failed that scrutiny in the judge’s view. Her analysis followed along the same lines as other recent federal marriage rulings. And, like other federal judges, Wright Allen used Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s words against him, drawing from his DOMA dissent, where he wrote that the majority’s conclusion was based on the view that the 1996 law “is motivated by ‘bare… desire to harm’ couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.” Wright Allen also rejected arguments based on Virginia’s sovereignty under federalism principles. Deferring to the judgment of the state’s voters and legislature, she wrote, “disregards the gravity of the ongoing significant harm being inflicted upon Virginia’s gay and lesbian citizens.” Discriminating against same-sex couples regarding a fundamental right, the judge concluded, also violates their rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Wright Allen quoted from a famous equal protection ruling by the Supreme Court from 1938 in asserting that “there are reasonable grounds to suspect ‘prejudice against discrete and insular minorities which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities’” — in the conduct, for example, of former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in trying to force state colleg-
VIRGINIA, continued on p.29
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
A Half-Century of Love and Commitment Lee Zevy and Lucy Ianniciello, married after 46 years, devoted decades to building Identity House rom the moment they met at Chelsea’s old French Hospital, 46 years went by before Lee Zevy and Lucy Ianniciello finally got married this past October. For much of that time, the two women were making an indelible mark on the city by helping to found and sustain Identity House, its oldest continuously operating, allvolunteer LGBT organization. The year was 1967, and Zevy, a 25-year -old from the Bronx, had recently finished college and was working as a secretary at the West 30th Street hospital — a position she gained through her mother, who’d been on staff there for some time. Queensborn Ianniciello, 37 at the time, had by then worked her way up the ranks to lead the hospital’s nuclear medicine laboratory. And one day, Zevy’s mother introduced them to each other, quickly igniting a spark that has never gone out. “We still don’t know if my mother knew exactly what was going on,” said Zevy, 72, with a laugh, sitting next to her wife, now 84, in their longtime home on West 17th Street. “But she definitely set us up, and my mother was a party girl from Brooklyn, so she probably had some idea.” One thing that was never in doubt was the connection between the two women, which cut through the forced secrecy and pervasive prejudice of the day. “I just started flirting, and she didn’t know what hit her,” said Zevy, flashing another smile. Ianniciello had a house upstate in Peekskill at that time, and within a year Zevy took the leap and moved in with her. They both commuted into the city — Ianniciello remaining at her hospital post and Zevy beginning her career in earnest as a caseworker for the Department of Social Services. It was during her time at the city agency that, in 1971, Zevy and a male co-worker decided to come out to each other. “Even that was dangerous back then,” said Ianniciello. But the experience had a deep effect on Zevy — who would soon go back to school to get a master’s degree in social work — and made her want to help other closeted men and women who were in personal crisis. She learned more about how counseling, originally through phone hotlines, was helping struggling gays and lesbians, and she
COURTESY: LEE ZEVY AND LUCY IANNICIELLO.
BY SAM SPOKONY
This past December, Lee Zevy and Lucy Ianniciello cut the cake celebrating their marriage after 46 years together.
heard about people working to create new walk-in counseling centers at which otherwise frightened people could share their feelings and their stories with trained peers. Psychotherapist Ralph Blair had already founded the Homosexual Community Counseling Center, the first of its kind in New York, which was run in a clinical setting, not based on peer counseling. Therapist and gay activist Charles Silverstein — Chuck, as Zevy calls him — worked for Blair at that group, but later changed course. “Ralph was kind of autocratic, so Chuck eventually split with him,” said Zevy. “And then Chuck got together this group of humanistic and gestalt therapists, with the idea of setting up a new, different organization to counsel gays and lesbians.” Zevy was there for the first meeting, alongside Silverstein, to establish what would become the revolutionary organization called Identity House. Initial planning sessions took place late in 1971 and into 1972 at the West 16th Street office of gay therapist Patrick Kelley. Overseen by licensed therapists, the new group would allow gays and lesbians to counsel their peers in a more intimate, non-medical setting. While continuing her own job, Zevy volunteered as one of the first counselors, and Ianniciello took some time
away from her medical career to do much-needed administrative work for the group. In its early years, Identity House was somewhat nomadic, holding walk-in sessions in the basement of the Church of the Holy Apostles, at the corner of West 28th Street and Ninth Avenue, and later back in Kelley’s office. “These people had never actually talked to anyone about being gay before, and they’d walk up and down the stairs, up and down, before getting the courage to come up to the office and talk,” Zevy recalled of those early years at Kelley’s office. “And after having the one-on-one counseling, we also started men’s and women’s groups, where they could talk to each other about what it meant to be gay, about going to the bar or dating, and really about any topics they wanted to discuss.” Attendees talked not only about their emotional struggles, but also at times about the scars of physical attacks they had suffered. “People changed after their very first meeting,” said Zevy. “They gained selfesteem, optimism, hope. They learned about each other and formed their own friendship groups. It was everything we wanted.” But by the end of 1973, Silverstein, in pressing for therapists to take
charge at Identity House, replacing the peer counselors, set in motion an organizational schism. Though Zevy was on her way to becoming a licensed psychotherapist herself, she and others resisted. “It was a major split, a huge conflict,” she explained. “He basically wanted to exclude the peers from doing counseling, but there was this revolution in response, because those of us who were not yet therapists wanted to keep doing what we were doing, since it was so successful and the clients didn’t want it to change.” Silverstein ended up leaving, and put his ideas to work by founding the Institute for Human Identity, a non-profit psychotherapy center that, to this day, remains based near the corner of West 26th Street and Eighth Avenue. His effort to take the name Identity House with him, Zevy explained, was thwarted by Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love — feminist co-authors of the 1972 book “Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism” — who “drove right up to Albany to make sure we could reserve the name, before Chuck could take it.” When Identity House moved to second floor offices on Sixth Avenue, between West 14th and 15th Streets, the larger space allowed the group to expand its programming to include workshops, conferences, and parties. “The value of those parties was that they weren’t the bars, which had really been the only places to meet other gay people at that point,” said Zevy. “We wanted to provide a more neutral, nonalcoholic setting for people.” As AIDS emerged in the early 1980s, Identity House worked closely with groups like the newly for med Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the staff of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital to deal with new sources of fear — even as close comrades fell victim. One particularly deep blow to the organization was Kelley’s death. “It was a horrible death,” said Ianniciello. “Pat was so sick that the doctors could guess it was HIV, but nobody really knew what it was.” Some of those in the Identity House family lost to AIDS provided endowments that continue to support the organization’s efforts to this day. From the late ‘90s until 2006, the group occupied space on West 14th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, until a massive rent increase occasioned a move to the LGBT Com-
IDENTITY HOUSE, continued on p.11
| February 19, 2014
Idaho Co-Parent Can Adopt Partner’s Children State Supreme Court finds no bar to lesbian’s petition, despite marriage ban BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
he five-member Idaho Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that state law allows for secondparent adoptions, reversing a magistrate judge’s dismissal of an adoption petition on the grounds that the petitioner was not married to the children’s legal mother. The February l0 ruling overturning a decision by Ada County Magistrate Judge Cathleen MacGregor -Irby — who had dismissed Darcy Drake Simpson’s adoption petition because she is not the legal spouse of Rene Simpson, whom she married last year in California — is based on a literal interpretation of the Idaho adoption statute, which provides that “any adult” at least 15 years older than the prospective adoptee can file an adoption petition. Although Justice Jim Jones’ opinion for the court uses pseudonyms, the two mothers were identified by the Idaho Statesman newspaper. The couple held a commitment ceremony in Boise in 1997, formed a Vermont civil union in 2002, and married in California last year. Rene gave birth to their first son in 1998 and she adopted a second son as an infant in 2001. The Idaho Constitution bars state recognition of either the couple’s marriage or their civil union. After the women’s marriage last year, Darcy petitioned to adopt the two boys
IDENTITY HOUSE, from p.10
munity Center on West 13th Street. Identity House remains there, though for the past two years it has also maintained space at the Washington Square Institute, another nonprofit based near the corner of East 11th Street and University Place. Ianniciello retired from her medical career in the late 1990s when she was in her late 60s, and also gave up her administrative responsibilities at Identity House. Zevy remains the group’s supervising therapist, continues her private practice, and serves as president of the New York Institute of Gestalt Therapy. Identity House holds two nights of counseling per week at both the LGBT Center and Washington Square Institute, and also hosts other related workshops and programming. The couple’s decision to marry took some time to work out after New York’s enactment of marriage equality in
parent. MacGregor-Irby dismissed that motion, as well. The Supreme Court found that the lack of a hearing violated Darcy’s right to due process of law, since Idaho’s adoption law provides that an adoption petitioner is entitled to one. Darcy, Justice Jones wrote, “had no
that she be married to Rene in order to adopt the children. Though the statute mentions “spouse” and “married” several times, those terms are not used in a way to suggest the petitioner must be married to the legal parent. Perhaps mindful of the way in which the court’s ruling could be miscon-
strued in news reports and adverse political reaction, Jones wrote, “This is not a case dealing with same-sex marriage. Rather, it is strictly a case dealing with Idaho’s adoption laws. Those laws, including the issue of who may adopt, are set by the Idaho Legislature. The Legislature has imposed no restrictions that would disqualify Jane Doe from seeking to adopt Jane Doe I’s children, and the Court will not imply any such restrictions based upon Idaho’s marital statutes. We emphasize that Jane Doe’s sexual orientation was wholly irrelevant to our analysis.” The Supreme Court sent the case back to MacGregor-Ibry to determine whether the adoptions would be in the best interests of the children. In a concurring opinion, Justice Joel D. Horton offered one cautionary note. The Idaho statute requires that a parent consenting to an adoption must simultaneously consent to the termination of their rights. “The takeaway is simply this,” wrote Horton. “Parents wishing for a new spouse or domestic partner to adopt must offer to consent to the termination of their parental rights and hope that the judge doesn’t accept the offer.” For a judge to accept such an offer, of course, would be absurd in this type of situation, where a couple plans to continue raising the children as a family. Lisa Shultz, Nate Peterson Law PLLC, and Mauk & Burgoyne, all Boise attorneys, represent the Simpsons.
2011. “We didn’t see any point in doing it,” said Zevy. “We’d never wanted to get married, since neither of us was particularly enamored with the whole idea of it.” However, when Ianniciello suffered a heart attack last July and was hospitalized for two months, practical concerns surfaced. The experience involved a lot of paperwork headaches made much more difficult by their lack of any legal relationship to each other. So, in decidedly low-key fashion, the two women exchanged vows in a ceremony at the city clerk’s office on October 23. But they also had a party to celebrate — in December. “What we never realized until the party was that a lot of people we know were holding their breath, waiting for us to finally get married,” said Zevy, with a laugh. With decades of peer counseling behind her, Zevy is happy that younger counselors have stepped up to grab the reins of program design at Identity
House. She acknowledged that they bring fresh ideas to bear, particularly regarding the needs of the transgender community and the goal of integrating gay men, lesbians, and trans folks into the same group sessions. “The truth is that this isn’t our world anymore,” said Zevy, looking over at her wife. “Lucy and I are dinosaurs compared to where the kids are at, especially when it comes to using the new technology. Things don’t matter to our community’s young people in the same ways they mattered to us back then because they have access to information and connection in a way that’s totally foreign to us. So the young people are going to create things that are totally foreign to us, but as long as they still know the history, that’s okay.” But some things never really change, and Zevy emphasized that the direct connection of peer counseling — the in-person, conversational, and deeply
personal element that can sometimes be forgotten in a digital age — still has the same effect it did more than four decades ago. “A lot of these young people come to us and they want to be counselors, and they’re often very accomplished because they’ve been driving themselves to work hard in school or to build their careers,” said Zevy. “But before an orientation, before we train them at all, we ask them how they feel. And it’s still a sort of revolutionary thing, because you see that the young people are starved for the connectedness, for the humanity. “This is what makes our organization function,” she explained. “At school or at work, people are worried about completing tasks, but here, we’re worried about how you feel. So, yes, a lot of our peers have, and will, go on to become therapists, psychiatrists, or lawyers — but now they really have a heart. We send them off with a heart.”
and Rene gave her written consent. A professional home study found that Darcy has been the boys’ primary caregiver while Rene provides the family’s main financial support. In spite of that, MacGregor-Irby dismissed the petition — without holding a hearing — stating that “the petitioner must be in a lawfully recognized union, i.e. married to the prospective adoptee’s parent, to have legal standing to file a petition to adopt that person’s biological or adopted child.” Darcy filed a motion for the judge to reconsider her decision since no hearing had been held and Idaho’s adoption statute does not require that a petitioner be married to the child’s legal
notice that her petition could potentially be dismissed because there was no opposition to it. Rather, the magistrate court acted unilaterally in dismissing it.” The high court also found that MacGregor-Irby misconstrued the adoption statute in writing that there was no express provision for such adoptions and they were not consistent with “legislative intent.” Courts generally only look to legislative intent if a statute has ambiguity in its wording, and here the Supreme Court faulted MacGregor Irby for failing to determine whether that was the case. The unanimous court agreed with Darcy that state law does not require
“This is not a case dealing with same-sex marriage. Rather, it is strictly a case dealing with Idaho’s adoption laws.”
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
Jennifer@communitymediallc.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER & CO-FOUNDER TROY MASTERS
Discrimination and a Tale of Two Cities BY PAUL SCHINDLER
EDITOR IN-CHIEF & CO-FOUNDER PAUL SCHINDLER
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Christopher Byrne (Theater), Susie Day (Perspective), Doug Ireland (International), Brian McCormick (Dance)
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With his progressive agenda for governing New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is aiming for big things. His plan for providing per manent funding for pre-K education asks that the wealthiest New Yorkers step up to pay a modestly higher share of the overall tax burden. He is also trying to win approval in Albany for a higher minimum wage than the state’s $8 an hour. Amidst those ambitious goals, the mayor, in his first preliminary budget, also delivered on promises he made to the LGBT community dur ing last year’s campaign. He announced that he and Gover nor Andrew Cuomo have agreed to increase support for New Yorkers with AIDS receiving housing assistance so that their rent will not exceed 30 percent of their income — a goal long sought by advocates. De Blasio also put the city on course to establish $12 million as the floor for funding programs serving homeless youth, a disproportionate share of whom identify as LGBT. Those progressive ambitions, however, are not matched by the mayor’s posture on two key discrimination issues. Less than a day after an open letter signed by hundreds of New Yorkers asked
that uniformed city personnel be barred from participating in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue so long as that event keeps out openly LGBT participants, de Blasio responded, “I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to, and I respect that right.” He then made clear that the discussion was over. The mayor’s handling of the matter no doubt displayed canny political instincts. At the same time that he let stand the status quo, under which police and firefighters have long marched in uniformed contingents, he expressed his own opposition to the parade’s discriminatory policy, saying he himself would not participate. Unfortunately, that hedge misses the point. The parade’s organizers have the First Amendment right to exclude whatever messages they choose — that principle has been upheld by the US Supreme Court. The city, however, bound by its human rights law, cannot participate in that discrimination. The presence of uniformed municipal employees lending the city’s stamp of approval to the parade is inappropriate, perhaps even illegal. And the message that uniformed cops and firefighters in that parade send to the LGBT community, raising doubts about their even-handedness in carrying out their duties, undermines faith in law enforcement. City personnel, of course, have the right to march in the parade. Wearing their uni-
forms, however, should only be appr oved if the parade organizers are willing to end their longstanding anti-gay policy. De Blasio, in shutting down the debate, is missing an opportunity to use his bully pulpit to chart a new course for the parade in which gays can march openly along with uniformed police and firefighters, all of them showing off their Irish pride. That win-win would end a stalemate of more than two decades. The mayor also misses the mark on another question of discrimination. Department of Education policy has for years barred the use of school facilities for religious worship services, but that prohibition remains unenforced pending the outcome of one congregation’s federal court challenge. The Bloomberg administration defended the school policy, with a Law Department spokesperson telling Gay City News two years ago, “Public school buildings, which are funded by taxpayers’ dollars and used primarily by the city’s diverse public school children, should not be used as houses of worship or to subsidize worship.” Some of the congregations holding worship services in the schools while the issue is in the courts — including the Bronx Household of Faith, which brought the lawsuit — preach explicitly anti-gay doctrine in their services. Last year, the City Action Coalition PAC, a group pressing to undo the school’s policy barring religious
services, spent $50,000 to defeat five City Council candidates, including three who are openly-LGBT — the Lower East Side’s Rosie Mendez, Carlos Menchaca from Brooklyn, and the Bronx’s Ritchie Torres. Asked about the Education Department’s policy, however, de Blasio as public advocate and a mayoral candidate said that “common sense and fairness” trumped concerns over separation of church and state. The incursion of worship services, including ones with homophobic messages, into publicly-funded school space, he said in a written statement, “is hardly a transgressive one.” De Blasio’s City Law Department will likely soon face the question of whether to continue defending the school’s principled stand barring worship services — and the mayor’s past statements leave little room for hope. What I find most frustrating about de Blasio’s position on both these issues is that I suspect he “gets” the problem raised by uniformed cops marching on St. Patrick’s Day and by anti-gay congregations getting bargain-priced space in the public schools. Taking on the organizers of the parade, the uninformed police and firefighter groups that traditionally march, and congregations that may have strong support in specific neighborhoods could be viewed as a distraction for a new mayor with an ambitious agenda. But I am in no way minimizing the significant and laudable goals de Blasio is pursuing to say that the city must also be vigilant in making certain that its resources and legal and moral authority are not used to enable discrimination.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR THIS “SUCKS” February 16 To the Editor: It was dismaying to see the word “sucks” used by Gay City News in its pejorative sense, as it was in the headline above David Noh’s delightful column on character actresses (“Character Actresses: Golden, Simard, York, and Harris on why being a leading lady sucks,” Gay City News, Feb. 5). Although the word has attained wide usage as a mark of disdain, please consider that nearly all of your read-
ers probably suck. We of all people should be mindful of the homophobic and misogynist roots of using “suck” as an insult. An abbreviation of “sucks a big one,” the term implies that anyone or anything that sucks is “less than” or contemptible, like women and gay men. Let’s not support the hateful abuse of this wonderful word. I, for one, upon hearing “That guy really sucks,” would like to think he may be someone I’d enjoy getting to know. Steven Rosen Brooklyn
DON’T BE DIVERTED February 7, 2014 To the Editor What an ignorant and repulsive piece of journalism (“Critics Worry Marriage Fight Diverting Community Energy,” by Duncan Osborne, Feb. 5). Marriage equality opens up a hugely important life option for all LGBs. It can positively impact everything from mental and emotional health to income, to the prospects
LETTERS, continued on p.14
| February 19, 2014
Doug Ireland to Be Remembered March 12 BY PAUL SCHINDLER
oug Ireland, a journalist whose political instincts and engagement were honed during the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, will be remembered at a memorial service planned for Wednesday, March 12, 6 p.m., at the CUNY Grad Center’s Proshansky Auditorium at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. Ireland, who was 67, died at his East Village home on October 26 of last year. Ireland’s fierce commitment to his work — both in politics and journalism — was a hallmark of his entire life. After joining the Students for a Democratic Society as a teenager, he worked with labor unions and Democratic candidates throughout the 1960s. In 1968, Ireland joined the anti-war presidential campaign of Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and later managed the successful bid by anti-war Democrat Allard Lowenstein for a Long Island congressional seat. Two years later, he ran
iconic feminist Bella Abzug’s insurgent and winning campaign for a House seat from the West Side. In 1976, Ireland headed up Abzug’s US Senate campaign, in which she was narrowly edged out by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Democratic primary. Those who knew Ireland during this period recall a cigar-smoking political operative who knew everyone on the local scene and was sought out for his advice and know-how. His journalism career began in earnest in the mid-1970s and lasted until his death. Over the course of nearly four decades, Ireland was a contributor to the New York Post (in its old liberal days), New York magazine, the Nation, the Village Voice, POZ magazine, LA Weekly, and French publications including the daily Libération and the online Bakchich. Ireland’s history in politics served him well as a journalist. Micah Sifry, his editor at the Nation in the 1990s, said, “He was probably the most knowledgeable person I had encountered on the ins and outs of New York politics and national politics. I was
COURTESY: DIANA MARA HENRY
CUNY Grad Center event will honor tireless journalist, political strategist, Gay City News contributor
Doug Ireland with Bella Abzug, whose US House and Senate campaigns he managed.
always learning at his knee.” During the 1980s, Ireland lived in France, where he reported on global human rights issues. It was there that he met his lover Hervé Couergou, who died of AIDS in the mid-1990s. During his last eight years — while he suffered chronic pain, at times debilitating, and frequent hospitalizations related to diabetes, kidney disease, severe sciatica, and weakened lungs and progressive muscle deterioration caused by childhood polio — Ireland served as the international contributing editor at Gay City News, demonstrating his skills as a dogged political reporter and uncompromising human rights advocate as well as an insightful book critic on an astonishing range of topics. Among those remembering Ireland on March 12 will be his New York magazine editor John Berendt, author of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Pete Hamill, a former columnist at the Daily News, the Post, and the Village Voice, author, actor, and activist Malachy McCourt, and composer and conductor David Amram.
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Even as arrests in Sochi, Moscow, and St. Petersburg demonstrated the Putin regime’s determination to squelch protest — particularly regarding Russia’s harshly anti-gay law enacted last year — through the remainder of the Sochi Winter Olympics, activists around the world are focusing their sights on addressing the homophobia there and at future Olympics after this year’s Games conclude on February 23. Queer Nation, which has led New York street protests against Russia since last summer, is calling on the New York State and New York City comptrollers to put pressure on a Russian telecommunications company — in which state and city pension funds hold stock — whose principals control a social media site used by neo-Nazis and other vigilantes to promote and carry out anti-LGBT violence. And All Out, which organizes for global LGBT equality through social networking, and Athlete Ally, which works to end homophobia and transphobia in the sports world, are demanding that the International Olympic Committee apply the nondiscrimination provision of its charter to ensure that future venues for the Games do not have discriminatory laws like those of Russia. Last June, Russia enacted legislation that essentially outlawed public discussion of homosexuality — under the pretext of preventing the dissemination of information about gay life to young people. Since that time, that nation has been swept by a wave of anti-LGBT attacks, including kidnappings, torture, rape, and murder, some of those crimes brazenly boasted about on videos that have circulated. In Sochi on February 18, the world media lit up with reports that two members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were among a group of more than a dozen arrested in central Sochi, about 30 minutes from the Olympics site, in connection with a theft at a local hotel. USA Today quoted Alexander Popkov, an attorney for the two punk band members, saying the women were beaten by police before his arrival at the police station. According to CNN, the women were meeting with journalists at the time of their arrest. TheGuardian.com, a British news organization, reported that the arrestees were released several hours after being taken into custody, with no charges filed. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova served nearly two years in penal colonies after a 2012 demonstration and performance in Moscow where they mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin. The women charged that their release in December, as part of a general amnesty, was intended to pump up Putin’s image on the world stage in advance of the Olympic Games. The New York Times reported that among those arrested with the band members in Sochi was Semyon Simonov, a Russian activist who provided legal assistance to immigrant laborers brought into Russia to work on Olympic construction sites. “These targeted arrests are clearly another effort by Russian authorities to prevent voices of dissent from being visible in and around the Olym-
LETTERS, from p.12
for home ownership, to the rearing of children. And it places all LGB relationships in the mainstream of American life. It is easily the most important battle we fight. And 100,000 same-sex couples, with tens of thousands of children, have already married, a statistic absent from this report. If it is true that “only” 21 percent of LGBs in Massachusetts have married, in just 10 years, with the option never having been available before that and with the law in jeopardy for two to three years, that only shows how important the issue is for so many people and the potential as the law endures. If Mara Keisling and others have more important issues, no one is stopping them from working on those issues. In 2006, a bunch of activists actively attempted to undermine the marriage equality movement by signing a statement proclaiming a series of radical alternative objectives, including state recognition of friendships and adulterous relationships. Did they actually do anything to further any of those objectives? Did they form groups, raise money, go door-to-door? Of course not. Not one signatory did anything to make that statement a reality. They just wanted to rage and vent and take shots at marriage equality. Eight years later, more of the same. Dave Saunders
QUEER NATION NY
WITH RUSSIAN OLYMPICS WINDING DOWN, ACTIVISTS LOOK FORWARD
The bloody Olympic flag outside Manhattan’s Russian Consulate on February 6.
pic Park,” said Shawn Gaylord from the Washington-based Human Rights First, who was on hand in Sochi over the past week. “The Russian authorities’ relentless efforts to shut down freedom of expression, particularly when it is coming from the LGBT community, is further proof that Russia is more interested in creating a climate of fear for its citizens than allowing for the free exchange of ideas that characterize modern nations.” In the two days prior to the Pussy Riot arrests, Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender former member of the Italian Parliament, was twice apprehended by Russian authorities, first for holding up a sign in Olympic Park reading “Gay Is Okay” and later for wearing rainbow-colored headwear into the hockey arena, according to the Washington Post. In the days leading up to the Games’ opening on February 7, small groups of LGBT demonstrators were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg. On February 18, Queer Nation, in a written release, said it had learned that public pension funds controlled by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and City Comptroller Scott Stringer own shares in MegaFon, a major Russian telecommunications company. According to the group, Ivan Tavrin, MegaFon’s CEO, and Alisher Usmanov, the company’s major investor, own just over half of the social media site vk.com, which Queer Nation said is used by Russian right-wing ultranationalists to encourage and carry out anti-LGBT violence. The group linked more than 1,500 kidnappings and beatings by Neo-Nazis and other vigilantes to activity on the site. The state and city pension fund holdings, discovered through a Queer Nation Freedom of Information Law request, were first reported by John
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, IN UNIFORM February 8, 2014 To the Editor: The issue of “freedom of speech” for uniformed police and firemen is more complex than for other citizens (“Barely Taking a Breath, de Blasio Says ‘Nyet,’” by Paul Schindler, Feb. 5) Their right to “protected speech” is limited to speech that does NOT interfere with the harmonious functioning of their services. This especially applies to police officers, who are considered to be paramilitary, not civilians. There is a strong prohibition against the military voicing political opinions, a limitation designed to prevent military coups, which are a regular occurrence in many other countries. One of the types of speech that is most clearly included in “unprotected” speech is racism. Even privately expressed racism, such as posts on Facebook, by police officers is considered unprotected speech and may result in dismiss-
Arovosis on AmericaBlog.com. Queer Nation is calling on DiNapoli and Stringer to press Tavrin and Usmanov to remove the anti-LGBT material from the vk.com site. Last year, DiNapoli faced pressure from elected officials, including State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, and City Councilman Daniel Dromm, all out gay Democrats, to divest the state pension funds of Russian holdings. In response, the state comptroller joined by Stringer’s predecessor, John Liu, instead issued a call for major US Olympic sponsors to speak out against the anti-gay legislation in Russia. Stringer’s offices declined comment on the AmericaBlog story and the Queer Nation demand, while DiNapoli’s office did not immediately respond. Also on February 18, All Out and Athlete Ally in tandem with out gay former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis called on the International Olympic Committee to apply Principle 6 of its charter, which states that discrimination is inconsistent with the spirit of the Games, to its screening of future host cities. "Hosting the Olympic Games is an honor," said Hudson Taylor, Athlete Ally’s executive director. "It should only be bestowed upon countries that demonstrate a commitment to human rights and the principles of the Olympic Games." Both Queer Nation and All Out were active in New York City in the days leading up to the Games in keeping a spotlight on discrimination in Russia. On February 6, Queer Nation turned out a crowd it pegged at more than 100 at the Russian Consulate on 91st Street on the Upper East Side, some wearing masks representing President Vladimir Putin, several of whom dumped fake blood on an Olympic flag. “The whole world is watching — literally,” said Queer Nation member Ken Kidd in a press release from the group. “Putin can’t hide his pogrom behind the sports page.” Queer Nation member Scott Wooledge took a lead role last month in hijacking McDonald’s #CheersToSochi Twitter hashtag, which critics of the Sochi Games used to demand that Olympic sponsors denounce Russia’s anti-gay law. Since then, he and other activists created a parody site, CheersToSochi.org, to lampoon McDonald’s CheersToSochi.com. Nearby the consulate, members of the Axios Eastern Orthodox Christians group, also on February 6, brought their message of opposition to Russia’s new law to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia on East 93rd Street. “Realize that we are your children too,” one sign read. “Speak up against the violence against LGBT people.” On the evening of February 5, All Out organized events around the world, also calling on Olympic sponsors to take on their Russian hosts. Outside a McDonald’s in Times Square, several dozen demonstrators held up signs with insignias from the hamburger chain and Coca-Cola that read “Olympic Sponsors Speak Out Now.” — Paul Schindler
al because it destroys unit cohesion and the harmonious functioning of the service. While not technically illegal, officers voicing bigotry risk their employment. Bigotry against LGBT people should be included in the category of “unprotected speech” as would hate speech and exclusion of any other minority group. This should especially apply to officers in uniform, representing their service. Behavior in uniform should be impeccable, as it expresses group stance on an issue, not an individual opinion — a major distinction. De Blasio should carefully re-evaluate his knee-jerk “respect” for the rights of uniformed officers to march with a group that is clearly, overtly discriminatory. If uniformed officers marched in their units with a group of hooded KKK members on Fifth Avenue, would that pass muster? I think not. Jay Kallio Manhattan
WRITE US! Please send letters to the editor, of 250 words or less, to: Editor@GayCityNews.com or mail them to 515 Canal Street, Suite 1C, New York, NY 10013. Gay City News reserves the right to edit letters for space or legal considerations.
| February 19, 2014 PUSSY RIOT, from p.5
She was disappointed by the other students, whom she quickly dismissed as mediocre and stupid, all except for Petya, a student a few years ahead who would become her boyfriend and collaborator. Disgusted by Russian politics and society, the two didn’t write radical treatises or create new schools of philosophical thought, but joined another couple to form the art group Voina (War), which took over public spaces like the subway to hold performances. Gessen finds this unexpected move into art and direct action nearly inevitable, considering the legacy of the Soviet era that still echoes through everything from the surreal justice system to the glut of ex-KGB officers in lofty places — from Putin to his pal Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the case of the two students, it was the Soviet impact on public rhetoric that made any other engagement impossible. “Voina faced a challenge that perhaps exceeded challenges faced by any other artist in history: they wanted to confront a language of lies that had once been effectively confronted but had since been reconstructed and reinforced, discrediting the language of confrontation itself,” Gessen writes. “There were no words left.” Gessen is onto something here, though it’s not just Russians who have turned to performance art and direct action when language fails — for whatever reason. Queer Nation and the Lesbian Avengers held actions in public spaces. ACT UP even disrupted a service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And as Gessen herself noted, art and activism were blended in the Riot Grrrls. They, in part, inspired Pussy Riot, when Nadya and other female members of Voina turned more and more toward feminism and LGBT issues. The marginal always struggle to have a voice, find a mode of expression. It’s often a radical act for us just to plant our bodies in public. As a writer, I suspect even Gessen had to consider how best to communicate the Pussy Riot story to an Anglo-American audience not only
ST. PAT’S, from p.4
The Empire State Pride Agenda, the statewide gay lobbying group, issued a statement praising de Blasio when he said he would not march in the parade and then its executive director, Nathan Schaefer, signed the letter. An alternative, inclusive parade that was organized in Queens by activist Brendan Fay beginning in 2000 has become the go-to St. Patrick’s Day Parade for politicians who want to march, but not in the Manhattan parade — though during his years in office, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched in both. The St. Pat’s
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unfamiliar with Russian life and Russian politics, but often dismissive and sneering when confronted by performance art or direct action. Her effective solution was to rely on anecdotes and details, making this world familiar. The prologue, for instance, begins with the simple phrase, “Gera wanted to pee.” And Gessen describes what it’s like for a four-year old girl, Gera, her dad, and granddad to go visit her now infamous mother, Nadya, in a Russian work camp. We see the squabbling and irritation. The car of German journalists behind them. Then the penal colony with its endless rules for prisoners and the rare visitors. Details work the same way bodies do. When Gessen starts to write about Maria and Nadya’s life in the penal colonies, details make their experience concrete and keep the two from blurring into a generalized image of human misery. With “Words Will Break Cement” Gessen furthers the trend of what I’ll call postSoviet realists, like Yoani Sánchez in Cuba, who employ a similar strategy of understated description. Not only bearing witness to unforgivable conditions, the book also illuminates the tools of resistance and social change.
For All parade will be held on March 2 this year, beginning in Sunnyside and marching to Woodside. Activists have had success organizing in Ireland. Some senior officials in the Irish government who will be in New York City on March 17 have said they will not march. “Even though we have more work to do... the homophobia of the parade is still front and center,” Gelman said of the activists’ progress to date. The city’s Fire Department and Police Department did not respond to requests for comment. The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade also did not respond to an email seeking comment.
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February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
on a flawless show, how did you feel revealing your vulnerable side, like battling hypoglycemia, forgetting lyrics, or lying in a hospital bed? ES: It made me feel relaxed and open. Like [my co-star] Pam Meyers said in “Company,” “Every son of a bitch is my friend.” I always thought, what a great line.
ou don’t have to be a musical theater geek to be charmed by “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me,” the hilarious and heartwrenching documentary by Chiemi Karasawa.
ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME
Elaine Stritch has no secrets in a new bio-documentary shot in the past couple of years.
IFC/ SUNDANCE SELECTS
The film, which opens this Friday at the IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza, was shot during the last couple of years that Elaine lived in New York, at the Carlyle Hotel, before she hightailed it back to her hometown of Birmingham, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, to be closer to her family and catch her breath. Truth be told, the award-winning filmmaker was not so familiar with her subject at first, which proved an asset. The film reveals Elaine’s achievements and gutsy personality bit by bit, mirroring Karasawa’s own joyful process of discovering just how phenomenal the legend really is. Karasawa became intrigued with the present as well as the past, the frailty as well as the ferocity. Eschewing the traditional linear approach, she wisely chose a verité style following the then 87-year-old actress through the paces of her everyday routine. And what a routine. We see an alternately giddy and enervated Stritch during rehearsals and performances for various shows, like her farewell cabaret stint at the Café Carlyle. We watch her fight to stabilize glucose levels (she has Type 1 diabetes), visit the optometrist, and inspect a studio named in her honor at the Stella Adler acting school, where she once studied. Of course, there’s plenty of archival footage from her 2002 Tony and Emmywinning “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” and
IFC/ SUNDANCE SELECTS
Directed by Chiemi Karasawa IFC/ Sundance Selects Opens Feb. 21 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at 63rd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
Stritch performed at the Carlyle until early last year and says she’ll be back on the New York stage.
snippets of candid interviews with awed co-stars. Alec Baldwin, who played her son on “30 Rock,” appears in the film and is credited as an executive producer. A rambunctious Stritchie, who c e l e b r ated her 8 9 th b i r thd ay on February 2, spoke with Gay City News about the film and why, in the words of Sondheim, after “the good times and bum times” she’s “still here.” DAVID KENNERLEY: First of f, congratulations on the astonishing new documentary. I confess I left the screening misty-eyed.
ELAINE STRITCH: That’s terrific. Everybody’s been flipping over this film. DK: Why did you agree to let them make it? Didn’t you find it intrusive? ES: I learned a long time ago that secrets are dangerous. As soon as you’ve got a secret, something’s bound to go wrong. What are you afraid of, for Christ’s sake? I don’t care, I’m not afraid of anybody. I want to follow my truth. I’ve been there, done that, and got a million T-shirts. DK: As a performer who likes to put
DK: The scene where you’re in the studio struggling to record “Ladies Who Lunch” shows your fierce work ethic and quest for perfection. How did it feel to watch? ES: Awful. But, still, not awful. It was like, goddammit, I’m gonna get this right if it’s the last fucking thing I do in this world. I don’t care who knows because I think it’s a triumph. It’s wonderful to feel that way about your work. That you’ll do anything to get it right. Besides murder. DK: I think it came across in a positive way. ES: I’m glad you noticed it, David, because I noticed it. I have not so happy memories about recording “Company.” But wow, when I finally got that right and it satisfied Steve [Sondheim], that son of a bitch…Oh my God, what a tough guy he was to work with. But I was pleased as punch that he’s a perfectionist. He would say, “You are going to do this as well as I think you can, Elaine, or we’re not going to do it.” DK: The film is full of wit and wisdom. You recall a quote from your husband, “Everyone’s got their own sack of rocks.” What is your sack of rocks these days? ES: My illnesses and the falls that I’ve had. I’ve got a serious operation ahead of me. That’s a sack of rocks I’d rather not play with. I’m going to say my prayers — whichever religion I have yet to hang onto — keep my fingers crossed, and hope for the best. I want to live as long it takes to do everything I have to do on this earth before I leave the building. DK: Wonderful people in your life, like Nathan Lane, Alec Baldwin, Cherry Jones, Stephen Sondheim, among others, all appear singing your praises.
STRITCH, continued on p.26
| February 19, 2014
Return of the Well-Made Play
PLAY DINE UNWIND
Charles Busch and Ken Urban craft excellent, terrifically entertaining plays
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Julie Halston and Charles Busch in Busch’s “The Tribute Artist.”
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
harles Busch is up to his gender -bending tricks again, and the result is an absolutely delightful screwball comedy, “The Tribute Artist,” now at Primary Stages. Busch has penned — and stars in — a comedy reminiscent of the great classics of Kaufman and Hart with a little bit of the Marx Brothers thrown in, not to mention Busch’s own comic sensibility, which is in top form here. As distinct from some of his more antic earlier works, “The Tribute Artist” is a tight, finely crafted comedy (more like his first mainstream comedy, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”), and there are belly laughs and excess aplenty in both the writing and the performances.
THE TRIBUTE ARTIST Primary Stages 59 E. 59th St. Through Mar. 29 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $70; ticketcentral.com or 212-279-4200 2 hrs., 15 min., one intermission
The plot concerns Jimmy, a Las Vegas drag queen… errr, “T ribute Artist,” who has found that demand for his tributes to Judy and Liza no longer resonate with audiences who want Beyonce and Rihanna. So, he seeks sanctuary in New York with his acid-tongued, aging friend Adriana, who lives in a luxurious Greenwich Village townhouse. Along for the ride is Jimmy’s former improv comedy partner turned real estate broker, Rita.
When Adriana dies suddenly, Jimmy and Rita cook up a scheme to sell the house and get rich by, as you probably guessed, having Jimmy become Adriana. Of course, trouble ensues — when the real heirs show up and another visitor from Adriana’s past arrives. It’s all deliciously ridiculous, and part of the fun of most Busch pieces is anticipating where he’ll go next — and what movie references he’ll pull in. Busch shines as Jimmy, and his longtime co-star Julie Halston is just marvelous as Rita. The two of them are a flawless comedy team, completely at home in the world of the play. That, in fact, is why this piece works so well. For all its inanity, the play has an internal integrity that invites you to go along for the madcap ride without questioning the logic. Cynthia Harris is divine as the short-lived Adriana, and Mary Bacon, Jonathan Walker, and Keria Keeley round out the company exquisitely. The lovely set is by Anna Louizos, and the inspired costumes are by Gregory Gale. To say more would be to give away too much, but under the sure-handed direction of Carl Andress, Busch’s longtime collaborator, the result is a perfect romp and a classic in the making.
To p a r a p h r a s e S h a k e s p e a re, the course of
staging a play never runs smooth. It’s more like, to paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, climbing over a rocky mountain. Thank God, then, there are companies like Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, which is constantly taking a chance on new plays — often where
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WELL-MADE, continued on p.24
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
IN THE NOH
Movie Costume Designers Get No Respect
VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSUEM, LONDON
Deborah Landis sets the record straight, Annaleigh’s boogie fever, a new “Thérèse Raquin”
The “Hollywood Costume” exhibition curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis features the clothes worn by 130 iconic film characters, including Blues Brothers Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, costumed by Landis herself.
BY DAVID NOH
t’s Oscar time again and, with it, red carpet fashion fever, and an intense focus on who’s wearing what. Someone who has long been a serious champion of fashions we actually see on the screen is Deborah Nadoolman Landis. Married to director John Landis, she is a designer herself and author of a number of books on film costuming, including her sumptuous latest works, “Hollywood Sketchbook,” the first compendium of drawings by the great movie costumers, and “Hollywood Costume,” the catalogue for the magnificent exhibit she curated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. This dazzling show of 130 costumes broke attendance records, just wrapped up an engagement in Richmond, Virginia, and will next go to the Phoenix Art Museum on March 26. Originally from New York, after graduating from UCLA in 1975, Landis immediately went to work, designing for television on the same Paramount and MGM studio lots, in the same offices, as her idols Travis Banton and Adrian, who, along with Warners’ Orry-Kelly, form the big three of great Hollywood Golden Age designers. As such, she sees herself as a bridge from the last gasp of the studio days to the present time and, like me, decries the perpetual lack of credit for members of her profession. “Sometimes I feel like I’m building a church, “ she told me, “because somehow my field is so gendered that sometimes it doesn’t even feel like we’re in the building. This is outrageous — the Directors Guild of America Magazine, for any film, still doesn’t list the costume designer, although the production designer, editor,
and cinematographer are credited. Whatever we do, whether it’s working in textiles, fashion theory, anthropology, it’s a gendered thing, and always considered women’s work. The study of dress — all dress — has been marginalized throughout modern history.” It’s a question of sexism as well as age-old homophobia, she said, “which was acute, men had to be deep, deep in that closet, and although it’s true that a number of men were heads of the studio costume departments, they were supported by a mountain of women, female designers who — unlike Adrian, who only dressed the top stars — did the second leads and everybody else, and were never recognized, like Dolly Tree.” Landis has been responsible for some immortal, iconic looks in film herself, such as John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in “The Blues Brothers.” “John and Danny had established their characters on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and used to wear any black sunglasses, hat, and suit they could find,” she recalled. “John Landis said they should look good, like Laurel and Hardy, even if John’s character was disheveled. Those were bespoke suits I made for them, 10 for each, and their hats were made by Dobbs in Ohio. They had stopped making the Wayfarer sunglasses I thought were the right shape and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I was fitting both of them on the ‘SNL’ set and went up to Harlem to every drugstore until I found 10 for each of them. ‘Risky Business’ was shooting in Chicago right after us, and we gave them the rest of our Wayfarers for Tom Cruise, and suddenly they were back in style. “I went to fit Aretha Franklin for the first time when she was recording. I
walked into the studio and she was wearing a hot pink spandex unitard with heels, and the confidence of that broad! For me, to put her in a stained waitress uniform and torn slippers was quite courageous on her part because that’s not who she is, the star of her life and your life too! But she was so about the acting and happy to be there, not a natural actress, but she wanted to be that character.” I told Landis that I considered her “Thriller” to be “The Wizard of Oz” of music videos: “Oh, that’s the best thing ever said. I’m gonna quote you now! The difference is we were making a movie, not a music video, with very serious filmmakers. We did a 30th anniversary panel on Halloween, and the only people missing were Michael Jackson and Michael Peters, the choreographer [who died of AIDS in 1994]. “Jackson had no preconceived notion of his costume. I wanted something very plain, with one color all the way down to verticalize him and I also wanted to sexualize him. It was really the first time he was interacting with a woman on screen and John [Landis] cast Ola Ray who had been a Playmate. Seeing it again, what was so incredible wasn’t the zombie dance, but their walk from the movie theater where she’s scared and it’s so witty, with so much flirting going on. Putting him in red worked, it allowed him as an African-American man to be really seen in what otherwise would have been a very dark environment, because he popped and contrasted with the night. I had a license for those big shoulders because of the 1980s. I wanted him to have that superhero silhouette, that machismo he needed help with, and as you so beautifully expressed, the magic
is in the freshness and innocence of the beginning of a love affair.” Zombies, I mentioned, will never look the same again after “Thriller.” “Well, they had to look like they emerged from the ground, had to be funny-scary, never meant to be scaryscary,” Landis said. “A theatrical exaggeration. It was always meant to be a Busby Berkeley Broadway voodoo number.” Although Adrian’s praises are constantly sung, I consider Travis Banton to really be the greatest costume designer. His work for Marlene Dietrich alone merits this, introducing the male tuxedo for women and encasing her in feathers, fur, and fringe in a spectacular six films for Josef von Sternberg, as well as a beaded number in 1937’s “Angel,” the most opulent movie gown of all time, forever defining glamour. Banton was rarely guilty of Adrian’s sartorial missteps (“Chained,” “Two-Faced Woman,” “Susan and God”), and could gloriously re-imagine an entire ancient historical era into Deco terms, as with “Cleopatra,” “The Scarlet Empress,” and “The Devil is a Woman.” Landis agreed, saying, “I feel the same way. I’ve worked hard because this is my passion, but certainly more can be done. Perhaps when we finally have the Academy Museum, we can do a spotlight on Banton. “There is a serious documentary about Orry-Kelly in the works by Gill Armstrong. He was from New South Wales, the Australian government is funding it, and they’re going to start shooting this spring. But can you imagine what I’ve seen and touched
IN THE NOH, continued on p.26
| February 19, 2014
A Powerful, Provocative and Timely New Drama
A Second Shot for Hannibal’s Second Take Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Mads Mikkelson return to NBC February 28
The 20TH BROADWAY PRODUCTION by FOUR - TIME TONY WINNER ®
TERRENCE MCNALLY Star ring TONY AND SIX - TIME EMMY WINNER
PHOTO BY MARY ELLEN MARK.
Mads Mikkelson returns for a second season as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC on February 28.
BY STEVE G
annibal” is the best new drama on network television that you’re not watching. You should be. The NBC series that revives the infamous serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter premiered last year to low ratings but the network wisely commissioned a second season. It begins on Friday, February 28.
HANNIBAL NBC Fri. at 10 p.m. Beginning Feb. 28
It’s unfortunate that “The Following” on CBS — a similarly themed show — has done so well. That show, which stars Kevin Bacon, is poorly written and wretchedly acted. The amazing thing about this illogical mess is that bad as each episode is, its seems to be topped the very next week with another ridiculous story development. Bacon delivers the worst “brooding” acting of his career. “Hannibal,” on the other hand, did everything right out of the gate. The acting by Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne as FBI criminologists and Danish actor Mads Mikkelson as Lecter is uniformly top notch. The supporting cast includes Gillian Anderson, Eddie Izzard, Raúl Esparza, Ellen Greene, and
Now in Previews • Opens March 24
Scott Thompson, each of them bringing great work to the table. The show was created by Bryan Fuller, who formerly developed “Heroes” as well as “Pushing Daisies.” The writing and direction, subtle and smart, qualify for the feature film league. Gory at times (well, most of the time) to be sure, “Hannibal” also has wit to spare. And the show is art directed to a T. This is not your “Silence of the Lambs” Hannibal. Anthony Hopkins put an indelible stamp on the role and Mikkelson wisely does not try to duplicate his take on the character. There is no scenery chewing going on here. This Lecter is one who hides in the shadows; he’s evil behind the scenes. Mikkelson’s is a subtle and even sexy star-making performance. Bravo to NBC for giving “Hannibal” a second season, even if the network continues dropping the ball as far as promotion goes. By now, the first season should be on Netflix or Hulu and, sadly, it’s not. You can check it out, though, on Blu-ray or DVD. In the snowy weeks before the second season roll-out, pick up a copy, grab a glass of your favorite Chianti, and binge-watch this delicious show. The second season’s guest stars include Cynthia Nixon and Amanda Plummer, and rumor has it that David Bowie will also play an important role. If you like thrillers and intelligent risktaking drama, “Hannibal” is worth your time. It’s dark, moody, sexy — and scary as shit.
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February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
In the Belly Of the Beast BY ELI JACOBSON
AM celebrated Benjamin Britten’s centenary (this past November 22) in lavish style by importing Glyndebourne’s production of his 1951 opera “Billy Budd,” adapted from the Herman Melville novel. Two of the opera’s creators, composer Britten and co- librettist E.M. Forster, were gay but the homoerotic elements are only indirectly suggested. The sense of repressed sexuality emerges more powerfully from this “closeted” angle. Michael Grandage’s Glyndebourne staging was critically lauded at its 2010 premiere and successfully revived last summer. “Billy Budd” has been performed at the Metropolitan Opera since 1978 in a production by the late John Dexter considered by many to be definitive. It was fascinating to compare the differences between Grandage’s and Dexter’s take on the work and how Britten’s opera plays in the more humansized dimensions of the BAM Howard
Gilman Opera House. In Dexter’s production, William Dudley’s set exploits the huge expanse of the Met stage by setting the entire multilevel ship the H.S. Indomitable in a black existential void. In this vast setting, the characters seem lost on the cruel sea of fate, pawns of forces beyond their control. For Glyndebourne’s intimate house, Christopher Oram designed a wooden framework hull that spans the height and width of the stage. It resembles a cage-like prison from which there is no escape or a huge wooden spider web with Claggart as the spider and Billy the succulent fly. That image is evoked in the first act curtain tableau after the old Dansker warns Billy that “Jemmy Legs is down on you,” with Claggart looming upstage center on the upper level while Billy stares out uneasily downstage below him. There is no world visible beyond this ship and no heaven above looking down on its inhabitants. The characters’ moral and existential struggles are brought front and center as they
“Billy Budd” in all its visceral intensity, humanity from Glyndebourne at BAM
Mark Padmore (top) and Jacques Imbrailo in the Glyndebourne production of Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd” at BAM.
fight for life in the belly of the beast. The sense of oppression and looming mutinous rebellion is palpable, the relative intimacy of the playing space heightening the intensity. Glyndebourne rehearses productions for months and Grandage’s detailed direction has been polished over two summers of per for mances. Each theatrical and musical element was fully realized and came together as a total aesthetic experience. While the Metropolitan Opera has fielded some glamorous voices in the three leading roles over the years, the Glyndebourne performers were more modestly endowed but their total artistry and seamless ensemble work created a whole greater than the sum of the individual parts. The most established name was veteran baroque tenor Mark Padmore (remembered from his appearances with William Christie’s Les Arts Florissants at BAM) in uncharacteristic repertory
BAM, continued on p.26
Martyrs and Tartars
Fine encounters with Handel and Borodin BY DAVID SHENGOLD
CORY WEAVER/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
he first time I went to hear Handel’s oratorio “Theodora,” I assumed I would be seeing lurid tales of the Byzantine streetwalker turned empress. Hardly. This extremely sober, extremely beautiful work concentrates on — thank you, Amanda Wingfield! — Christian martyrs in ancient Antioch. The February 2 Carnegie audience seemed to appreciate the high quality of both the score and the performance they were hearing. This “Theodora” represented the second in Harry Bicket’s three-season series of touring Handel stage works. With City Opera gone and the Met condescending to the baroque repertoire — which has a huge American public that will travel for quality offerings — with the badly scripted pastiche “Enchanted Island,” Carnegie having a first-rate Handelian conductor like Bicket bring through these well-cast touring attractions is wise and salutary. Carnegie has also latched on to the excellent German soprano Dorothea Röchmann, whose lovely voice of a somewhat reduced range is perfectly
Ildar Abdrazakov in the Met’s new “Prince Igor,” directed by Dmitri Tcherniakov.
suited to most Handel heroines. She was memorably expressive and dulcet as the upstanding Theodora, punished for her resistance by an imperious pagan overlord. Didymus, the secret Roman convert to Christianity who loves Theodora, made David Daniels into a star in Britain at the Glyndebourne Festival’s 1996 production. He still performs it movingly and tellingly, even if in the first part he took some time to warm up. The legato sections were exquisite, particularly the ravishing duet
with Röchmann’s heroine that ended Act Two. These two star singers make a wonderful team. Anyone who has seen that Glyndebourne show on YouTube has Lorraine Hunt’s towering performance as Theodora’s co-religionist Irene etched on their brain. Sarah Connolly, while a proficient singer alert to the needed stylistic approach, did not obliterate those memories. She is a fine, conscientious artist but rather a cold one — the timbre is exciting but lacks
repose, and there’s a touch of truculence about her demeanor. Kurt Streit, as the sympathetic Roman officer Septimius, made every single word clear, and though his career has moved beyond the purely lyric roles he took on two decades ago, it still moves with astonishing ease and could sustain soft passages without any problems. Neal Davies, an excellent Handelian stylist, sounded a bit bottled up at first as the hissable baddie Valens, but (like Daniels) improved markedly as he went along, certainly articulating the yards of coloratura well. Pretty much a top-drawer cast, but the afternoon’s real miracles came from Bicket’s superb English Concert, just on fire, and Julian Wachner’s Choir of Trinity Wall Street, who rose to the exalted level of their colleagues — and the music. Bicket’s next Car negie Handel will be the wondrous “Alcina” on October 26 with Joyce diDonato and Alice Coote — calendars out!
The Met’s bracing new “Prince Igor” (seen February 6)
represented a successful gamble by
TARTARS, continued on p.23
| February 19, 2014
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February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait
BY GARY M. KRAMER
the show. Suddenly, the standby’s name is on the poster. But will this opportunity be his big break? Aléna Watters is the film’s featured female standby. She understudied “Annie” as a young performer and was bit by the acting bug. She recalls, in one anecdote that sums up the life of those in her job, that she was once a standby for Maria in “West Side Story’ for two and a half weeks. However, had she been standing by the Saturday performance after her contract ended, she could have gone on stage. Such is Aléna’s luck. When she gets an audition to be a Harlette, one of Bette Midler’s backup singers, Aléna weighs money versus dreams, most performers aspiring, however uncertainly, to the Broadway spotlight despite the benefits of a regular paycheck. After several nerve-wracking turns, she gets the job, only to soon be recast as a swing — a standby who must know all the parts in the show to fill in anywhere. Such versatility, Aléna suggests, is valuable, but it is also exasperating to learn multiple roles and never have a chance to perform them. Her way of dealing with career disappointment is to work on a onewoman show. Merwin Foard rounds out the documentary’s subjects. He has been performing as a standby for three decades, and describes the countless sacrifices he has made for his family by waiting in the wings. At the time “Standbys” was filmed, he was in the green room waiting to replace Nathan Lane as Gomez in the musical “The Addams Family.” He too, gets a solo number in the film, singing “Happy/
n the Broadway world, arguably one of the most difficult jobs is that of a standby. Not an understudy, who plays a small role in an ensemble and might take over a bigger role in a pinch, a standby is someone whose job is specifically to wait in the wings during every performance, prepared to take over a lead part if an actor cannot go on.
STANDBYS Directed by Stephanie Riggs Sunchaser Entertainment Opens Feb. 21 Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com
Stephanie Riggs’ celebratory documentary “Standbys” honors these unsung heroes of the theater, showcasing three performers as they experience success and failure. The film follows a typical showbiz arc, one that harks back to the plot of that musical theater chestnut “42nd Street,” as each actor/ singer is given a chance at greatness. How they handle it is where the film’s dramatic tension lies. Ben Crawford is introduced first. Standby for the title character in “Shrek: The Musical,” he plays video games waiting for his chance to take the stage. Ben has the pipes to perform, and “Standbys” features him singing a soulful rendition of “New York State of Mind.” He finally gets his chance to wear the green makeup when headliner Brian Stokes Mitchell decides to leave
Stephanie Riggs’ backstage documentary examines pros who keep the curtains raising on time
Ben Crawford sings “New York State of Mind” in Stephanie Riggs’ “Standbys.”
Sad” from the show and proving he could hold his own on the stage if given the chance. Merwin has accepted his career niche. He enjoys running lines with his daughter, but also misses his kids’ school plays and other activities. Still, the money he earns “not working” supports his family. “Standbys” emphasizes that the job is a lonely one, respected by theater folks but underappreciated by audiences. There are several nice moments in the film where Ben, Aléna, and Merwin sit together and chat about their work. One big unpleasantness is hearing audiences groan when they are told a name star is being replaced by a standby. Merwin talked about being confronted by audiences “wondering how Nathan [Lane] would have done that bit.” Another downside is the reluctance
of stars to give up the reins, even when they really should. Exercising her contractual rights, Christina Applegate performed “Sweet Charity” with a broken foot, much to her standby’s chagrin. Like a chorus performer’s dance number, too much of this documentary is step and repeat. Over and over, the three actors express their frustration that they never know if or when stardom will happen. Will they build a career as a standby, as Merwin has? When Ben is asked to audition for the role of “Shrek” in the national touring company, it is an insult to his work as a Broadway lead taking up from where Mitchell left off. But the chance he is given is one that his own standby, Eric Peterson, covets. The film also includes wry observations from Broadway veterans, including “The Addams Family” star Bebe Neuwirth, who describes the “waves of hatred” from audiences when the celebrity is not performing. David Hyde Pierce makes a wonderfully apt observation that standbys are like soldiers “waiting to die suddenly” until they are “thrust into the line of fire.” And Jonathan Groff has a funny story about being a standby, which appears in the film’s closing credits. “Standbys” will resonate with actors and other theater professionals who respect the hard work it takes for these performers to do what they do. If this documentary is a little too inside baseball, it still humanizes the hard work and heart that go into achieving success. When one of the standbys makes it in the film’s end, it is gratifying to see the effort they put into their dreams pay off.
A Mother Revealed
Luminitta Gheorghiu is standout in Calin Peter Netzer’s shaky feature BY STEVE ERICKSON
f “Child’s Pose” is the Romanian New Wave’s latest triumph — and I think one can say it is — it’s one of performance and writing over style. Director Călin Peter Netzer’s visual style resembles an arthouse version of the techniques some have dubbed “chaos cinema” in the action movies of Michael Bay and Paul Greengrass. He’s fond of shakycam, sending it bobbing and weaving around the actors like a boxer ducking punches. The effect is derivative, evoking the Dardenne brothers and some of Lars von
Directed by Călin Peter Netzer In Romanian with English subtitles Zetigeist Films Opens Feb. 19 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.com
Luminitța Gheorghiu in Călin Peter Netzer’s “Child Pose.”
Trier’s films but without their rigor. None of that, however, can keep Luminitța Gheorghiu’s star turn from making an impression. As a character who seems like a villain at first but eventually reveals an inner humanity without ever becoming particularly sympathetic, she shines.
Cornelia (Gheorghiu) is a wealthy Bucharest architect who lives with her doctor husband Aurealian (Florin Zamifirescu). Her son Barbu (Bogdan Dumitrache) dates Carmen (Ilinca Goia), whom Cornelia dislikes. One night at the opera, Cornelia gets a message on her cell phone and learns Barbu has been in a car accident. The young man isn’t injured, but he ran over and killed a 14-year-old boy. Cornelia and a friend head to the police station. Upon release, Barbu goes back to the family home, although he doesn’t seem comfortable
MOTHER, continued on p.29
| February 19, 2014
Betrayal’s Thin Line Hany Abu-Assad’s thriller explores the intensely personal stakes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict BY STEVE ERICKSON
OMAR Directed by Hany Abu-Assad In Arabic with English subtitles Adopt Films Opens Feb. 21 Angelika Film Center & Café 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com Lincoln Plaza 1886 Broadway at 63rd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
Omar (Adam Bakri) frequently climbs the West Bank’s separation walls in order to more easily meet his girlfriend Nadia (Leem Lubany). But at home, the baker takes up arms against the Israeli occupation. He and two of his friends, Amjad (Samer Bisharat) and Tarek (Iyad
TARTARS, from p.20
Peter Gelb — the first American work commissioned from controversial director Dmitri Tcherniakov. Working with Gianandrea Noseda (who conducted honorably if tamely), Tcher niakov fashioned a re-ordered edition of the (disparate) score materials, privileging material actually written by Borodin and not his posthumous “collaborators” Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov. Tcher niakov concentrated on a psychological study of the title hero and not the conventional “clash of cultures” underpinned by orientalist trappings. The great hall of Igor’s citystate Putivl’ took the form of a very spacious, white-walled structure with a gallery, the architecture as well as Elena Zaitseva’s fine costumes evoking several Russian epochs. The steppe, the realm of the nomadic Polovtsy — whom Igor has foolishly engaged in battle — was a seemingly limitless blue-skied field of red poppies; the entire musical hit parade that is the
hree friends commit an act of violence that will have repercussions on the rest of their lives. That’s the basic plot setup of Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s “Omar.” That could describe any number of films noir, but “Omar” gains political resonance from the fact that the protagonists are young Palestinian men and the man they kill is Israeli. The stakes in betraying your friends are higher when you consider yourself a “freedom fighter” and much of the world would instead call you a “terrorist.” “Omar” threatens at points to become a simple genre film, but the context won’t let it.
Waleed F. Zuaiter and Adam Bakri in Hany Abu-Assad’s “Omar.”
Hourani), shoot an Israeli soldier one night. Omar is captured and tricked into saying, “I will never confess,” which is apparently as good as a confession. Upon meeting with agent Rami (Waleed F. Zuaiter), he weighs his options and decides to take a chance by working for the Israeli government. However, his highest priority is reuniting with Nadia. To make matters more complicated, she’s Tarek’s sister. “Omar” is a highly physical film. Its first scene shows Omar climbing a rope over a West Bank separation wall. After landing on the other side of the wall, Omar’s hands are bloody. That sets up a pattern for the rest of the film: the character is used as a punching bag. He’s tortured by Israeli cops — although the worst of this is suggested rather than shown — and hit on the nose by Israeli soldiers. Even
Palestinians take aim at Omar’s face. While Abu-Assad isn’t a master of spatial continuity, he stages several action scenes in which Omar goes on the run. But violence breeds violence, and when Omar has a chance, he responds in kind. T h e We s t B a n k l a n d s c a p e s o f “Omar” are filled with billboards touting aspirational messages. This is a bitterly ironic joke — often, they overlook areas resembling garbage dumps. The Palestinian locations here remind one of the views of a devastated Italy, shot just after World War II, in Vittorio de Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves” and Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome, Open City” and “Paisan.” The whole West Bank may as well have an “under construction” sign hovering over it. The presence of the separation wall, although not necessarily a barrier to the
Polovtsian Act clearly arose in the dreams of an Igor wounded on the battlefield. The first act’s black-andwhite video projections proved striking: Ildar Abdrazakov’s face as Igor — studied iconically in the manner that Sergei Eisenstein presented Nikolai Cherkassov’s — and random soldiers. In this r ealistic black-and-white “war” world, his son Vladimir (Sergey Semishkur, decent if lacking legato) was killed and we saw Igor shutting his eyes and weeping disconsolately. The production had two serious weaknesses. Simply put, Itzik Galili’s choreography for the Polovtsian Dances was terrible — like jazzercise routines at a Club Med, free not only of ethnicity but also of any of the music’s sensuality. Also, virtually all of the “steppe” music took place in Act One. After those beautiful poppies and remarkably effective video projections, it became visually dull for Act Two to be an almost entirely traditional replaying of domestic events — three separate scenes in which Prince Vladimir Galitsky’s misdeeds
impinge on the female modesty his sister Jaroslavna embodies. Psychological complexity returned only in Act Three, set in a ruined, postapocalyptic Putivl’ Great Hall. War caused detritus (fires in barrels, torn out walls and ceiling beams, a leaking water pipe) evokes both cinematic roots in Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” and previous Tcherniakov work, like his Mariinsky “Kitezh.” Igor’s internal drama here — visually evoking Parsifal — became that of redemption through rebuilding. Like Stefan Kocán’s mediocre Kontchak, consistently underpowered vocally, Ildar Abdrazakov at least phrased and acted Igor with considerable distinction. Mikhail Petrenko fared solidly as Galitski. Oksana Dyka, fullvoiced yet shrill, made a more equivocal debut as Jaroslavna, whose lovely music needed more dynamic variety. Anita Rachvelishvili’s vocally raucous Konchakovna reprised her exuberantly brazen Carmen performances. “Igor” — a “don’t miss” show — runs through March 8.
characters getting around, only makes matters worse — it’s ugly, covered in graffiti, and usually surrounded by rubble. Abu-Assad has a flair for closeups of faces, but his greatest achievement as a director may be making the West Bank look so expressively scarred. “Omar” is bound to be misread by some as an ode to murdering Israelis. I don’t think that’s what the film is attempting to say at all, but it conveys the complexity of violence without reducing its characters to good guys and bad guys. Omar, Amjad, and Tarek don’t question the legitimacy of armed resistance to the Israeli government. One can sympathize with their anger at the daily humiliations it puts them through and still balk at their decision to kill a soldier. Rami emerges a full human being, with a family and problems of his own, although curiously, he, the only major Israeli character in the film, is played (quite well) by a Palestinian-American actor. Abu-Assad first came to international prominence and wide American distribution with “Paradise Now,” a 2005 film about two Palestinian suicide bombers that played like an introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Omar” is a superior film because it’s more complicated. In the end, it’s more original than it seems. Recreating the struggles of “On the Waterfront” or Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Le Doulos” on the West Bank is a way of both honoring those models and expressing the vast differences between them and present-day Palestine.
On February 8, Christine Brandes joined the fine Brentano Quartet at the 92nd Street Y — how nice to hear classical singing there again! The accomplished (and out) soprano brought her dark lyric sound, which retains its freshness, to Haydn’s pleasant but unmemorable “Arianna a Naxos,” in which she partnered the string players with remarkable musicianship. The ensemble then introduced Eric Moe’s “Of Color Braided All Desir e,” a quartet of accomplished love poem settings of lesbian author May Swenson (191389). Moe required much ostinato playing from the Brentano. His Barber -like prosody deftly handled Swenson’s many internal rhymes and required some pinpoint dynamics and wide leaps by Brandes. It was a fine performance, followed by the quartet alone in Mendelssohn’s irresistible “Opus 44, No 1.” David Shengold (email@example.com) writes about opera for many venues.
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Bridges Over Troubled Water Iconic love story about a farm wife and a stranger revamped for the stage
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
n the 1990s, “The Bridges of Madison County” emerged a kind of a cultural juggernaut. The shamelessly lovey-dovey novel by Robert James Waller, on the New York Times bestseller list for three years, sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. The film, starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood (who also directed), was a huge hit. Record albums, coffee table books, T-shirts, a fragrance line, and other tie-in merchandise soon followed.
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
Even Oprah Winfrey filmed her show on location from the covered bridge in Iowa where the fictional story was set, proclaiming the novel “one of the most romantic, stirring tales of true love I’ve ever read.” Sales skyrocketed. Despite it’s massive popularity, critics were at loggerheads over the merits of the work. Some felt the story, about an Italian-born farm wife who has a steamy four-day tryst with a roving National Geographic photographer while her husband and teenage kids are away at a State Fair in 1965, was farfetched. Many dismissed the novel, with its contrived dialogue and vapid characters, as sentimental slush with literary pretentions. Others hailed it as a masterwork that distilled timeless themes of passion, second chances, loyalty, and regret. The film expunged certain mawkish elements, but not all of them. So the hotly anticipated arrival of the musical “The Bridges of Madison County” on Broadway begs the question — did book writer Marsha Norman (“The Color Purple”) and director Bartlett Sher (“Golden Boy”) succeed in locating the authentic, churning passion and circumvent the sappiness?
WELL-MADE, from p.17
others fear to go. Its latest venture, “The Correspondent” by Ken Urban, is part thriller, part romance, and completely engrossing and entertaining. Urban explained the current production grew out of a reading at Rattlestick nearly three years ago. “Other, more established theaters had passed on it and given me specific notes,” he said. Notes, he added, designed, in the minds of their authors, to make it more “marketable.” Urban, however, in our conversation — and in published essays — pointed to the challenges and pitfalls playwrights
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Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown’s adaptation of Robert James Waller’s novel “The Bridges of Madison County,” directed by Bartlett Sher.
Believe it or not, the answer is a resounding yes. The bittersweet, operatic character study, now playing at the Schoenfeld Theatre, is a winner on every level. The key, of course, is getting the casting just right. And the leads, the superb Kelli O’Hara as Francesca, the unfulfilled wife, and hunky Steven Pasquale as Robert, the desultory photojournalist searching for something more, with their powerhouse vocals and well-honed acting chops, fit the bill rather nicely. What’s more, the appealing couple has the requisite smoldering chemistry that erupts at crucial moments. Sure, these characters are younger than in the book and film, but now it’s more believable that Francesca might ditch her family to forge a new life with Robert. Bottom line: they completely draw us in and fiercely express the thrill, doubt, and turmoil that an illicit love affair can bring.
face when they self-censor their work to improve its chances of being produced. Finding the balance to “stay true to what the play wants to be” is the trick. “It’s worth sticking to because it’s a battle that never goes away,” he said. Along with Rattlestick, Urban explained, the Flea and Soho Rep have been companies instrumental in supporting his work. With “The Correspondent,” the playwright’s efforts have yielded a fascinating piece that deals with love, loss, self-recrimination, and hope. It was inspired by a site Urban came across — afterlifetelegrams.com — that matches dying people with others
That’s quite a contrast to their recent outing together in “Far From Heaven” Off Broadway, where the duo played an unhappy husband and wife torn apart. Not only were their pained characters disconnected, but so was the audience from the drama unfolding onstage. The supporting cast in “Bridges” is fine as well. Hunter Foster, as the overworked, underappreciated farmer husband, reveals notes of vulnerability beneath a crusty exterior. Cass Morgan’s Marge starts out as the standard pesky neighbor, spying on Francesca and the “hippie” stranger who asked directions to a covered bridge he’s assigned to photograph, but evolves into a supportive friend, even an accomplice. As portrayed by Caitlin Kinnunen and Derek Klena, the children are more than just bickering brats. Both actors handily convey the plight of being stuck doing farm chores in the middle of nowhere and wanting to strike out on their own while honoring their parents. The lush, gorgeous score, by Jason Robert Brown (“The Last Five Years”), is brimming with soaring, plaintive ballads and some upbeat numbers as well, like a hootenanny. The thunderous, emotionally fraught duet “Falling Into You,” sung by Robert and Francesca, is a knockout, and Robert’s 11th-hour power ballad assessing what really matters in his life, “It All Fades Away,” will send chills down your spine. But what really keeps this heavy tale of midlife crisis and lost love from collapsing under its own weight is Sher’s agile, inventive direction. Scenes and time periods overlap unexpectedly. Minor characters break into surprisingly affecting songs. In fact, the entire enterprise is peppered with unpredictable, complex counterpoints and incongruities that amp up the emotional power. This ain’t no “Kinky Boots.” And while there are no traditional song-anddance numbers, the scene changes, handled by cast members, are impressively choreographed. This underscores the fantasy-like quality and keeps the pace moving at a fast clip, imperative for a show that runs two-and-a-half hours with intermission. Michael Yeargan designed the handsome yet skewed set, which combines elements of a realistic, homey 1960s farmhouse kitchen and bedroom with a surrealistic dreamscape. The covered bridge, for
THE CORRESPONDENT Rattlestick Playwrights Theater 224 Waverly Pl., btwn. Perry St. & W. 11th St. Through Mar. 16 Mon., Wed.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $55; ovationtix.com or 866-811-4111 90 min., no intermission
hoping to send a message to a loved one on the “other side.” He was immediately intrigued by “what would make a desperate person reach out for anything to do with hope.” In Urban’s play, Philip finds Mirabel, who says she’ll take his message to
BRIDGES, continued on p.25
his wife who was killed in an accident, when she, Mirabel, dies. But when mysterious letters ostensibly from Philip’s wife start to arrive, things get complicated. To reveal any more would wreck the fun. There are fine performances by the three-person company — Thomas Jay Ryan, Heather Alicia Simms, and Jordan Geiger — and Stephen Brackett’s direction makes the most of the human story within the surreal plot twists. Like “The Tribute Artist,” this is a strong, well-made play, something that’s too rare these days. And to quote Shakespeare, “When they seldom come, they wished for come.”
| February 19, 2014
Hunger And Rage, Heat And Glare Kimberly Bartosik and collaborators with hearts on sleeves and hoodies BY BRIAN MCCORMICK
IAN DOUGLAS/ NEW YORK LIVE ARTS
ost-production blues, the period of reflection/ depression following the creation of a work, is particularly acute in the performing arts because the life of the piece — often after years of development — is so short. It’s complicated in the dance world by a set of principles sustained by the press, funders, and presenters that creation is an annual process, in which success is meted out by a handful of tastemakers and taskmasters.
KIMBERLY BARTOSIK “You are my heat and glare” New York Live Arts 219 W 19th St. Feb. 26-Mar. 1 at 7:30 p.m. $20; newyorklivearts.org Or 212-924-0077
Kimberly Bartosik had reached this point at the end of 2011. After two years of developing and exploring and briefly showing works for Crossing the Line Festival, she was “coming from rock bottom.” She didn’t feel burnt creatively, but was distressed by “all the other things.” “Why,” she exclaimed, “would I ever want to do this again?” Instead, she found herself liberated to make work “unattached” to external factors. She began with her collaborator and husband, the award-winning lighting designer Rick Murray. Entitled “duet for light and body,” Bartosik told Gay City News that the piece, “creates a space where a lot of stuff comes up.” It’s like a moving visual art installation, where both artists are demonstrating their craft — sensuously, passively, and aggressively. “The first month was so much fun,” Bartosik shared. “It was amazing to feel able to make decisions about art, then to bring in people to show the work and get their response. Then I realized, ‘It’s becoming something.’” F r om th is b e g i n n i n g, B a r t o s i k developed three duets. “There are three male female conversations,” she
BRIDGES, from p.24
example, is suggested by a simple framework, allowing us to use our imagination to fill in the rest. Perhaps the biggest revelation in this touching and lyrical “Bridges” is the selective use of levity. Awed by her astounding luck that Robert happened to appear out of nowhere in
Debate and emotion went into the decision to use hoodies in Kimberly Bartosik’s new dance, “You are my heat and glare.”
explained, “expressing this idea of going through different landscapes with different people.” The structure of the piece comes from Anne Carson’s “The Anthropology of Water,” which consists of three stories about male-female journeys. “I was reading her when I started,” the choreographer said. “I’m much more influenced by literature and visual art than dance, in terms of images and language.” “I gave the book to my collaborators to read,” she added. “Carson’s writing is so specific, but it has all this room around it to create your own narratives.” This is particularly important in the duet between Marc Mann and Joanna Kotze. “This is the emotional core of the piece,” Bartosik declared. “I’m really committing myself.” She added, “After a period of total rejection, I felt like I needed to take specific risks. I’m pushing my art form. I want something to keep living.” She explained, “I’ve worked with both of these dancers for a while. I really wanted to explore the idea of identity. The black/ white, male/ female binaries are so obvious, so charged. I wanted to abstract these things, to let go of the story in the body of the person, the clichés.”
her driveway, Francesca wonders if “the Patron Saint of Iowa Housewives sent you to me.” O’Hara delivered the line with finesse and it brought the house down. Not so much because it was a great joke, but because it was such an intense scene and the audience was so invested in the moment, the line offered a welcome burst of comic relief.
During their first residency in 2012, Bartosik had the idea to cover up their identities with oversized hoodies. At the same time, Trayvon Martin’s murder became national news. They debated using the hoodies, which brought
forward very emotional outpourings. “We stuck with it,” Bartosik said. “We created improvisations, gestures of violence, slowed down so we could really look at them for a long time — without any contact. They aren’t miming. And it isn’t about anger. But it is an emotional 10 minutes of improvised, specific violence.” “Between Rick and I and Marc and Joanna, it’s a pretty emotional evening,“ Bartosik said. “We need some break, some kind of relief, some more lightness, something beautiful.” Enter the singers. “I met the singers [Gelsey Bell and Dave Ruder] when I was working with [composer] Robert Ashley. I was in awe of the way sound moved through space — the idea of sound as motion, sound as a dance.” The singers offer three “little breaks,” at the top of the show, between the two other duets, and at the end. “They provide words, poetry, beautiful voices singing, and a less complicated relationship with the audience,” Bartosik promised. “It’s clear what they’re providing — they bring lightness to everything.”
STRITCH, from p.16
Are you still close now that you’ve left New York? ES: Of course. There isn’t anybody in that film who isn’t exactly as they appear. The first time I saw it, I went nutsy-cuckoo. I cried a bit. It kills you when someone openly discloses how they deeply feel about you. It’s like a great love story. DK: In a recent interview in the New York T imes Magazine, when asked about having two drinks a day after being sober for 20 years… ES: 25 years. DK: Excuse me, 25 years. ES: I lived ‘em and I want ‘em counted right. I discovered I could control alcohol. It was such a relief. I had depended on it too much. DK: You said you like going out with the rich ladies in Birmingham and you “can’t enjoy them sober.” Did that comment piss them off?
IN THE NOH, from p.18
doing all my international research? I worked on the last ‘After School Special’ shot on the MGM back lot before they tore it down, in Esther Williams’ tank, and did fittings in Adrian’s fitting room, which was still there with all the mirrors covered in sheets like they were sitting shiva. I saw his beading sample books with Mrs. Getson, who did all of his beading. I started at 25, designing a TV pilot with Maureen Stapleton and had Banton’s Paramount office. I am only 61, but do feel like a bridge to the past. When I first stepped on to that MGM lot — never thought I’d be on it — I doubled over in tears because to me that was the dream factory and I was there. I always knew I should keep it in my head and wait for the moment to write about it.”
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com ES: [Laughs.] I can’t really enjoy anybody sober. I don’t want the ladies in Birmingham to take all the blame. I love the ladies in Bir mingham. I say things like that with love and understanding. I hope you can clear my name.
DK: It’s been roughly a year since you returned to Michigan. I was surprised to hear you don’t miss New York. Is that true? ES: I don’t miss places, I miss people. I can get along very well without New York. I love it when I am there. I rise to the occasion. “Everybody Rise!”
DK: Are there many of Sondheim’s fabled “Ladies Who Lunch” in Birmingham? ES: You bet. There are ladies who lunch absolutely everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They get bored in Birmingham. They get bored in Poughkeepsie. They get bored in Toledo. We’ve all got dreams. We want to go places and do things. And I’m one of ‘em. I found a way to get through those long lunches and a couple of drinks will do it every time.
DK: One of my favorite moments is during the closing credits when you forget your very famous co-star’s name from “A Little Night Music” and call her Nanette instead of Bernadette [Peters]. Has she seen the film? ES: Oh my God, yes. She saw it with me and we both joked about it. I’m an honorary member of the Lotus Club, where I stay in New York. I did a speech there at a dinner given for me and… what’s her name — Bernadette — was there. And boy, she took me over the coals. She’s the funniest girl in the world. And she is not like the ladies who lunch.
DK: I understand you like to drink Cosmos. When you go out, do you ever order a Vodka Stinger, just for fun? ES: No, I don’t think I ever have. I think subconsciously it scares me to death.
Carrying on the glittering costume tradition, herself, was
Annaleigh Ashford who, at her debut engagement at 54 Below, “Lost in the Stars” (February 3 ), came on swathed in a borrowed white fur that covered a silvery disco ball ensemble, part of which she claimed came from a mail order catalogue and was meant to be a skirt, which she wore around her neck. Her performance truly sparkled, as well, as she successfully evoked Studio 54’s wanton heyday, with a Donna Summer medley, wielding a giant spoon in homage to the club’s infamous cokesnorting crescent moon trademark, and on-the-spot reminiscences she’d culled from acquaintances. Two of the juiciest came from the crew over at her “Kinky Boots,” which, incidentally, she was much the best part of. Her dresser, a former Rockette,
DK: As fascinating as the biographical nuggets are, for me, the film’s true power lies in your indomitable spirit,
recalled performing for Liz Taylor’s birthday in a room filled with food, drink, and a punchbowl filled with cocaine, while a male pal remembered going into a toilet stall just after Liza’s departure, seeing her pubic hair on the seat and debating whether to keep it as a souvenir. With her all-out comic, raunchy verve and sensational pipes, Ashford evoked nothing less than a baby Bette Midler, reincarnated and shamelessly working the bathhouse circuit again, and this was one very special gig, awash in merriment and nostalgia.
If you want a good film
to sink your wintry teeth into, Charlie Stratton’s “In Secret” more than delivers. An excellent adaptation of Émile Zola's oft-filmed “Thérèse Raquin,” this is a Second Empire film noir, grippingly suspenseful and psychologically
BAM, from p.20
as the conflicted Captain Vere. Padmore has a firm warm tonal core in the middle register that projected Vere’s humanity while his control of softer dynamics suggested the captain’s sensitive, introspective side. Surprising power was summoned in more declamatory passages. In the title role, South African Jacques Imbrailo’s modest slender baritone with its bright tenorial edge in the upper register movingly suggested Billy’s naïve boyish eagerness to please others. Less of a selfconsciously glamorous matinee idol than some recent interpreters (no shirtless beefcake displays), Imbrailo’s sailor seemed more a real person rather than a symbol of beauty or goodness. Brindley Sherratt’s bald-headed, gimlet-eyed John Claggart bore a striking resemblance to Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice.” His mediumsized black bass with its snarling insinuating edge had
which I found life affirming. I don’t mean to sound sappy… ES: No, my God, are you kidding? I’m thrilled to hear you talk like that. Thank you for that beautiful compliment. DK: If you had to shoot the documentary all over again, what would you do differently? ES: Nothing, because that’s the way it was. DK: Can we expect to see Stritchie gracing a New York stage anytime soon? ES: Absolutely! I’m doing a couple of readings. I certainly intend to find a new play, God willing. If I’m in good shape healthwise, I’m yours. Operations can be scary. The last time at Lenox Hill Hospital, they wheeled me into the operating room and I looked around and said, “There are so many gays in this room, I feel like I’m in a musical.” And they all went wild. The anesthesiologist, who was gayer than any of them, had the power to shut me up. And he did. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
unsettling. The period details are as superbly done as in “The Invisible Woman” (high praise, indeed) and there are smashing performances by Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton and, especially, a mesmerizing Jessica Lange who, perhaps recalling her own similar turn in “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” is just as ferociously good in an older, character part.
Finally, I can only add my plaudits to the magnificent Michael Grandagedirected “Billy Budd” from Glyndebourne Festival Opera at BAM. This is how opera should be and so rarely is. I could have stared at the set, alone, for hours. Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol. com, follow him on Twitter @in_the_noh, and check out his blog at http://nohway. wordpress.com/.
one color but exactly the right one for this character. Peter Gijsbertsen as the ill-fated Novice has a fuller lyric tenor than we usually hear in this part. It was a nice touch having the angry crewmen turn on the informant Novice after Billy’s execution. Excellent supporting turns by Stephen Gadd as Mr. Redburn, the vibrant John Moore as Donald, burly Duncan Rock as the Novice’s Friend, and Jeremy White’s seen-it-all Dansker filled out a faultless all-male ensemble backed by the sonorous Glyndebourne Chorus. Sir Mark Elder elicited swirling intensity out of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, its dramatic propulsion never flagging. Britten’s music too often merely provides cinematic underscoring to the action, but Elder understood every nuance and built up the sparer sections while fully gauging the breadth and beauty of the ensembles. Britten’s score emerged more powerfully than I had ever heard it before while Melville’s struggle between good and evil had visceral dramatic impact.
| February 19, 2014
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February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Eric Holder, at HRC Gala Here, Spells Out Next Steps in Complying with DOMA Ruling As DOJ makes clear all US courts to recognize gay marriages, administration mum on jobs order BY PAUL SCHINDLER
S Attorney General Eric Holder used the occasion of an address to the Human Rights Campaign’s annual New York City gala to announce a number of new Justice Department policies expanding on the federal government’s efforts to ensure that married samesex couples have the same rights as different-sex couples. At the February 8 dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Holder said that members of same-sex couples will have the right to decline testifying against their spouse in criminal and civil court proceedings, they will be treated just like differentsex couples in bankruptcy proceedings, inmates will be eligible for spousal visits from a same-sex spouse and have the right to furloughs for a spousal emergency or death, and same-sex spouses will be able to participate in federal benefit programs such as the September 11th Compensation Fund. These changes are part of a government-wide response since last June’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act barring federal recognition of
Frankie Alvarez and Murray Bartlett from the new HBO series “Looking” were among those on stage at HRC’s New York gala.
legal same-sex marriages. Although the Obama administration, and Holder’s Justice Department in particular, moved aggressively after the June 26 DOMA ruling to see that federal agencies accorded appropriate recognition to legal same-sex marriages, Holder’s speech billed the changes he was announcing as big news. The New York Times, relying on excerpts released by the DOJ hours ahead of the speech, ran a story published before the dinner
opened with the headline “More Federal Privileges to Extend to Same-Sex Couples.” Holder, in prefacing the details of the memorandum to come, reviewed earlier LGBT rights advances during the Obama years — including a federal hate crimes law, reauthorization of an LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, and the Justice Department decision in 2011 to no longer defend DOMA in court. “For Presi-
OBAMA PRESS SECRETARY SAYS HE DIDN’T CALL EXECUTIVE ORDER “WRONG APPROACH” Responding to the characterization of an exchange between White House press secretary Jay Carney and the Washington Blade — details of which were picked up by other media, including Gay City News — the White House said Carney did not intend to describe a potential presidential executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination by government contractors as “the wrong approach.” The exchange occurred on January 31, when the Blade pressed Carney about whether the president would consider making use of the same mechanism he is utilizing to ensure that government contractors pay their employees at least $10.10 per hour. The exchange in question read as follows: BLADE: The Washington Blade reported this week that Speaker Boehner told the LGBT Equality Caucus there’s no way the Employment Non-Discrimination Act can get done this session. Given that forecast from the speaker, is it time for the president to sign an executive order to protect LGBT workers from discrimination? MR. CARNEY: Well, I would simply say that that is the wrong approach, and the president strongly supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He believes strongly and knows that it’s the right thing to do. I would suggest that there have been occasions when leaders in the House have declared something won’t happen and it happens anyway. And we certainly hope that’s the case here. A February 5 City News editorial stated, “On repeated occasions, the administration’s response to questions about a nondiscrimination executive order has consisted of simply pointing to Obama’s support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In fact, in a recent exchange with the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, who has done exemplary work in bringing this
issue up at White House briefings, press secretary Jay Carney was more than a bit petulant, saying, ‘Chris, you know, we’ve talked about this a lot’ — ‘this’ being something Carney insisted on dismissing as ‘a hypothetical executive order for LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors.’ An executive order, Carney said ‘was the wrong approach.’” In a February 9 email to Gay City News, Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, quoted the original exchange between Carney and Johnson and wrote, “As you can see from the exchange below, Jay said that the Speaker’s statement that Congress will not move forward was the wrong approach.” When Gay City News responded that its original reading of the exchange seemed the more straightforward one, Inouye forwarded the following Twitter exchange between Carney and Chris Geidner, a Buzzfeed reporter: Chris Geidner @chrisgeidner Jan 31 So, I think for the 1st time, @PressSec today called the LGBT fed contractor EO “the wrong approach.” http://bit.ly/1a8ci1A Jay Carney (EOP)Verified account @PressSec Jan 31 .@chrisgeidner Think you misunderstood. I was referring to the Speaker saying ENDA wouldn’t get done this year as “the wrong approach.” Asked by Gay City News if Carney does not view a nondiscrimination executive order as “the wrong approach,” what does that say about his view of it, Inouye responded, “I think that’s a topic that Jay’s covered quite extensively. We continue to urge Congress to pass ENDA.” On the same day as Carney’s exchanges with the Blade and Buzzfeed, John Podesta, recently named a counselor to the president, asked about a nondiscrimination executive order, told Bloomberg News, “The order that you’re talking about is under consideration at the White House. We’re looking at that.”. — Paul Schindler
dent Obama, for me, and for our colleagues at every level of the administration, this work is a top priority,” he said. The attor ney general also noted that administration actions since the DOMA ruling had already extended spousal benefits to federal employees in same-sex marriages, recognized gay marriages for federal taxes purposes, and ensured that same-sex immigrant spouses of American citizens can gain permanent residency and citizenship on the same basis as different-sex spouses. Still, Holder listed the new policies to be implemented in ringing terms. “In every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States — they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” he said. The attorney general emphasized a key element of the Obama administration’s response to the DOMA ruling — that wherever possible, the federal government will look to the state where a same-sex couple married as opposed to where they live in determining their eligibility to have their marriage recognized, which means that such recognition is not limited to the 17 states that currently allow same-sex couples to marry. The attor ney general closed his speech by linking the struggle for gay rights to the history of the battle for African-American equality, but challenged the audience to see the two causes as one. “You must be our partners in this effort. Everyone in this room, and everyone in the LGBT community, must be committed to ending all discrimination — discrimination based not only on sexual orientation, but also on race, gender, ethnicity, and national origin.” Holder’s lofty rhetoric in spelling out new steps in a process well underway for the past seven months came in contrast to his silence on an issue in which the administration is facing increased pressure from LGBT advocates — the demand for a presidential executive order requiring contractors doing business with the federal government to have nondiscrimination employment policies protecting LGBT workers. The community’s impatience on that issue — based on the bleak prospects that the long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act can get a vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives — was reinforced by Obama’s recent decision to use precisely the same mechanism to increase the wages
HRC, continued on p.29
| February 19, 2014
KENTUCKY, from p.8
to marry in Kentucky. The lawsuit already decided challenged a 1998 law and a 2004 state constitutional amendment, both denying recognition to same-sex marriages. The constitutional amendment, part of a nationwide strategy by the Bush re-election campaign to pull conservative voters to the polls, passed with just under three-quarters of the vote. For Heybur n, the amendment’s popularity was irrelevant, because the constitutional issue was clear and easily resolved in light of recent federal and state court rulings on mar riage equality. “Nine state and federal courts have reached conclusions similar to those of this Court,” he wrote. “After the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court led the way by allowing same-sex couples to marry, five years later the Connecticut Supreme Court reached a similar conclusion regarding its state constitution on equal protection grounds. Other courts soon began to follow. Over the last several months alone, three federal district courts have issued well-reasoned opinions supporting the rights of non-heterosexual persons to marriage equality in similar circumstances. Indeed, to date, all federal courts that have considered same-sex marriage rights post-Windsor [the DOMA case] have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage rights. This Court
VIRGINIA, from p.9
es and universities to roll back their gay rights protections. The judge concluded, however, that it was unnecessary to decide whether sexual orientation qualified as a “suspect classification,” which would also impose a higher burden on the state in justifying any discriminatory treatment, since the marriage ban could
MOTHER, from p.22
around his mother. Meanwhile, a witness, Mr. Laurentiu (Vlad Ivanov), tries blackmailing Cornelia. Cornelia thinks that perhaps the dead boy’s family can be dissuaded from pressing charges if she pays for his funeral. The script of “Child’s Pose” was co-written by Netzer and Răzvan Rădulescu, the screenwriter of Cristi Puiu’s “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu.” It’s
HRC, from p.28
of government contractors’ employees to $10.10 in the face of the GOP’s resistance to increasing the minimum wage, currently languishing at $7.25. When Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior US senator, spoke later in the
joins in general agreement with their analyses.” Heyburn, nevertheless, took a conservative route to his conclusion. While conceding the case might demand “heightened scrutiny” — under which sexual orientation is considered a “suspect classification” for which any discriminatory policy must be backed up by a compelling justification — he was penned in by two facts. As recently as 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, to which his decision would be appealed, ruled that sexual orientation discrimination claims are not subject to heightened scrutiny. And the Supreme Court, in last year’s DOMA case, did not clearly say it was applying heightened scrutiny and thereby superseding the Sixth Circuit precedent. Those obstacles did not matter, the judge found, since Kentucky’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages was not supported by any constitutionally acceptable justification. Despite the fact that the DOMA decision acknowledged that states have the primary authority to establish marriage laws, its “reasoning establishes certain principles that strongly suggest the result” in the Kentucky case, Heyburn concluded. Whether Kentucky’s ban on recognizing legal same-sex marriages “demonstrates animus against same-sex couples may be debatable,” he wrote, but it is clearly aimed at discriminating against them. The Supreme Court’s DOMA
“analysis would seem to command that a law refusing to recognize valid out-ofstate same-sex marriages has only one effect: to impose inequality.” He continued, “From this analysis, it is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them. Absent a clear showing of animus, however, the Court must still search for any rational relation to a legitimate government purpose.” In that search, however, Heyburn turned up empty-handed. The only justification presented by Kentucky officials was “preserving the state’s institution of traditional marriage,” which Heyburn found totally insufficient, pointing out that many traditional laws have been invalidated by the courts in the name of equal protection, citing as a prime example the 1967 Supreme Court ruling that struck down laws against interracial marriage. Moral disapproval, the Supreme Court has held in three gay rights rulings dating back to 1996, is an impermissible basis for discriminatory laws and government policies. Heyburn noted that the state hadn’t even bothered to make arguments that marriage encourages “responsible procreation” by heterosexuals and “optimal child-rearing” in society — though an amicus brief from a right-wing group did. “The State, not surprisingly, declined to offer these justifications, as each has failed rational basis review in every court
to consider them” in the wake of the DOMA ruling and by most courts prior to it, the judge wrote. In fact, Heybur n observed, the Supreme Court, in the DOMA case, found that children of same-sex couples are “humiliated” by the government’s denial of marriage rights to their parents. Heyburn seemed well aware that many Kentuckians might be uncomfortable with his ruling. Regarding religious objections to marriage equality, he wrote, “Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons. The beauty of our Constitution is that it accommodates our individual faith’s definition of marriage while preventing the government from unlawfully treating us differently.” Nothing in his opinion, he noted, would require churches or other religious institutions to marry any particular couple. And, he wrote, the state had provided no evidence about how recognizing same-sex marriages would “harm opposite-sex marriages, individually or collectively.” Heyburn also challenged the notion that he was a single judge arbitrarily dictating on a matter of widespread public interest. Instead, he was applying principles that had been developed over decades by numerous judges and courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court in the DOMA case.
not even be defended as rational. “Virginia’s Marriage Laws fail to display a rational relationship to a legitimate purpose,” she wrote, “and so must be viewed as constitutionally infirm under even the least onerous level of scrutiny.” Ruling that Virginia must stop enforcing its marriage ban, Wright Allen, at the same time, acknowledged the Supreme
Court had stayed a similar ruling regarding Utah’s ban in order to allow the state to appeal, so she stayed her order pending appeal to the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Unless that court acts with extraordinary speed, it is unlikely it would rule prior to the Ninth and Tenth Circuits acting on appeals regarding, respectively, a Nevada marriage equality lawsuit and
the rulings in the Utah and Oklahoma cases. Olson and Boies got involved in the Virginia case with the explicit goal of taking it to the Supreme Court, but as of now it seems more likely that the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is now involved in the Utah case, or Lambda Legal, which represents plaintiffs in the Nevada case, may get there first.
more conventional than that film, which combined kitchen-sink realism with spiritual allegory as it told the last hours of a dying man in Bucharest’s emergency rooms. Still, Rădulescu couldn’t have found a better showcase for his dialogue than “Child’s Pose,” the last hour of which consists almost entirely of lengthy conversations. The dialogue isn’t showy, but it lets the characters gradually reveal themselves. In lesser hands, Cornelia could’ve
become a misogynist’s caricature. Instead of turning her into a femme fatale, “Child’s Pose” explores the paradoxes of her character. She dotes on her son, but the child she loves seems to be a fantasy creation as much as a real person. When Cornelia and Barbu see each other, you could cut the tension with a knife. Despite her devoted role in keeping him out of jail, he tells her that he doesn’t want her calling him again. She orders him to quit smoking, yet
she puffs away herself. The car accident appears to bring to the surface her dependence on her son. From a beginning that merely sketches the outlines of Cornelia’s upper-class existence — she could be a contender for “The Real Housewives of Bucharest” — “Child’s Pose” takes on mor e emotional substance as it develops. I just wish Netzer had realized that sometimes less visual pizzazz is more.
gala’s program, he “urged” the president to issue to such an order regarding nondiscrimination, which he said would affect as many as 16 million workers. Currently, 29 states offer no private sector employment protections for LGBT workers. Another six, including New York, provide only protections based
only on sexual orientation, not gender identity. Holder’s appearance included one gaffe that left many in the audience puzzled. The attorney general acknowledged the members of Congress in attendance, including Manhattan Democrat Carolyn Maloney. In
mentioning her, Holder spoke glowingly of her contributions in Washington, which he said would be missed when she retires at the end of the year. Unfortunately, he had the wrong Carolyn — it is Long Island Democrat Carolyn McCarthy who plans to leave Congress at the end of this term.
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com 2012; writer Dan Bernitt, whose solo performances include “Phi Alpha Gamma,” “Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface!,” and “Yelling at Bananas in Whole Foods,” which runs Feb. 21-Mar. 9 in the Kraine Theater as part of Frigid New York (frigidnewyork.info); Robin Cloud, a New Yorkbased comedian, actor, writer, college speaker, and advice columnist for Dapperq.com; and Rebecca Mills, an actor and writer whose “Warning: Don’t Laugh at the Natives” is a comedic memoir based on a decade of misadventures in New York, excerpts of which she has performed in a one-woman show, “Charmed,” at the Peoples Improv Theatre. KGB Bar, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Feb. 20, 7 p.m. Admission is free.
Talk About Sex, Talk About Love
“Sex, Relationships, And Sometimes… Love” is Joelle Arqueros’ 2003 GLAAD-nominated raw and delicate examination, in monologues, of sex and love among men and women, transgender and cisgender, gay and straight, which has played in cities across North America and Ireland for the past dozen years. Directed by Brian Remo. Snapple Theater Center in the Jerry Orbach Theater, 1627 Broadway at 50th St. , third fl. Thu. evenings, 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 at ticketmaster.com or 212-921-7862.
MUSIC Reprising the People’s Opera
Seventy years ago today, New York City Opera showcased Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” at the historic City Center. The beloved company went on to launch the careers of luminaries including Beverly Sills, Placido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Maralin Niska, Shirley Verrett, and Jerry Hadley. Tonight, in celebration of 70 years of what Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia called the People’s Opera, the New York City Opera Orchestra, conducted by former music director George Manahan, presents performances by singers Lauren Flanigan, Joélle Harvey, Jennifer Rivera, Ryan MacPherson, Mark Delavan, and Sidney Outlaw. The concert features selections from “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” “Candide,” “Carmen,” “L’etoile,” “Giulio Cesare,” “Malcolm X,” “Martha,” and “Die tote Stadt.” City Center, 131 W. 55th St. Feb. 21 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$250 at nycitycenter.org or 212-581-1212. Proceeds benefit the New York City Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund, which provides aid to musicians in dire need.
THEATER Spoofin’ Alive & Kickin’
FEBRUARY 24: Aaron Lazar kicks off "The Broadway by the Years Series."
HEALTH HIV’s Continuum of Care
In commemoration of Black History Month, Gay Men’s Health Crisis hosts “Understanding the Gardner Cascade: A Tool to Help End AIDS in the Black Community.” The HIV care continuum — created by Dr. Edward Gardner — consists of HIV diagnosis, linkage to care, staying in care, getting antiretroviral therapy, and viral suppression. According to the CDC, only 25 percent of people living with HIV in the US have achieved viral suppression — a key to longevity as well as dramatically reduced infectivity. African Americans are the least likely to be in ongoing care or to have their virus under control. Lynnette Ford of GMHC’s program services and evaluation department moderates a panel that includes Dr. Michelle Cespedes of the Mount Sinai Hospital Icahn School of Medicine, Ingrid Floyd from Iris House, Dr. Julie Myers, from the city health department’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, Demetrius Thomas from GHMC’s public policy department, and Manny Rivera and Stephanie L. from GMHC’s Consumer Advisory Board. GMHC, 446 W. 33rd St., seventh fl. dining room. Feb. 20, 6-7:30 p.m.
CABERET Nellie With a Z
Hailed by the New Yorker as “funny and touching, ceaselessly clever and scarily talented,” songwriter and performer Nellie McKay makes her Café Carlyle debut in “Nellie with a Z,” an evening that includes solo voice, piano, and ukulele. 35 E. 76th St. Feb. 20-21, 8:45 p.m.; Feb. 22, 8:45 & 10:45 p.m. The cover charge is $50-$60 at the bar; $70-$130 seated at thecarlyle.com or 212-744-1600.
READING In Love With Words
In the latest installment of “Drunken! Careening! Writers!,” Kathleen Warnock hosts “In Love With Words,” featuring playwright Johnna Adams, whose “Gidion’s Knot” won a 2013 Steinberg/ American Theatre Critics Association Citation and premiered at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival in Shepherdtown, West Virginia in
PERFORMANCE Undie Rock
The Skivvies, the undie rock, comedy-pop duo of Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, don’t just strip down their musical arrangements, they literally strip down to their underwear to perform their distinctive mash-ups and eccentric originals for cello, ukulele, glockenspiel, melodica, and a surprising array of other under-used instruments. Tonight, their guests are Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Heath Calvert, Lauren Zakrin, Lauren Worsham, Jason Tam, and Jason Michael Snow. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Feb. 21, 11 p.m. The cover charge is $25-$35 at 54Below.com or 866468-7619, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum. On Mar. 15, 11 p.m., the Skivvies welcome Laura Benanti, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Rob Morrison, Mark Price, Aaron Lazar, and Leslie McDone.
One Hot Mess Goes West
Combining old-school glamour and salacious scandal galore, the Hot Mess Drag Revue — fronted by Lady Bunny, Bianca Del Rio, and Milan — helps establish new traditions at the newly launched 42West, at the former site of XL Nightclub. Tonight, they’ll be joined by Sugga Pie Koko, Skyla Versai, and Jada Valenciaga. 514 W. 42nd St., Feb. 21, 9 p.m. Admission is $30-$50 at bit.ly/1bWpvX5.
THEATER Two Gifts from Monica Bauer
“The Gifted Series” is a pair of solo shows written by Monica Bauer. The playwright stars in “The Year I Was Gifted,” a love story between a future playwright (Bauer) and a future acclaimed gay cinema director, the late Bill Sherwood (“Parting Glances”), in which a young boarding school scholarship student in 1969 is confronted by the challenge of whether or not to stand up for her precociously gay classmate. Carolynn Lad directs. “Made for Each Other” is a comedic drama Bauer wrote for John Fico, inspired by the new era of marriage equality and Bauer’s experience caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s. Vincent, an acerbic, witty, closeted science teacher in his mid-50s, meets Jerry, a down-to-earth nurse who cares for Vincent’s mother in an Alzheimer’s ward. John FitzGibbon directs. Stage Left Studio, 214 W. 30th St., sixth fl. Fri. evenings through Mar. 28, 7 p.m. (“The Year I Was Gifted”) & 9 p.m. (“Made for Each Other”). Tickets are $25, $35 for both performances at StageLeftStudio.net.
Edward Albee Meets Bessie Smith
“The Death of Bessie Smith,” first produced in 1959, is an early work by Edward Albee about the effects of racism and repression in 1930s America. Jim Furlong directs a cast that includes Jessica Mermelstein, Lufthansey Josa, Christopher Grazul, Juwan Stone, Theresa Kwechin, and David Vincent Brooks. Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 W. 26th St. Feb. 21-22, 8 p.m.; Feb. 22, 2 p.m.; Feb. 23, 3 p.m. Hudson Guild works to bring theater to underserved communities, so admission is “pay what you wish.” Reservations at 212-760-9817.
Since 1982, Gerard Alessandrini’s “Forbidden Broadway, has lampooned the Broadway shows and stars of the day. On hiatus the past 10 months, Alessandrini said he knew it was time to get back to work when he heard “Les Miz” is headed back for a third Broadway run. The new show will take on, as well, “Pippin,” “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda,” and “Motown,” and as the season unfolds, “Rocky,” “Cabaret,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” and “Aladdin.” Davenport Theatre, 354 W. 45th St. Tue.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; Wed. & Sat., 2 p.m. Tickets are $29-110 at telecharge.com or 212-239-6200.
GALLERY Getting Under Their Skin
Israeli-born, New York-based artist Nir Ariel presents his debut exhibition of photographs, “Inframen,” consisting of 13 black and white infrared images of male dancers. The technique allows the artist to examine below the skin, to reveal the blemishes, scars, stretch marks, sun damage, and other traces of wear that lie below the surface of men who express themselves with their bodies, at once pushing their physical limits and maintaining beauty in their appearance and movements. Daniel Cooney Fine Art, 508 W. 26th St., Suite 9C. Through Mar. 8, Tue-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. More information at danielcooneyfineart.com.
THEATER By the Year, By the Quarter Century “The Broadway by the Year Series,” which for 14 years has showcased top Great White Way tunes from specific seasons between 1915 and today, takes a new turn in 2014. In four shows, the series, created by Scott Siegel, looks at each of the quarter centuries from the past 100 years. Tonight, the series kicks off with “The Broadway Musicals of 1915-1939,” featuring Tonya Pinkins, Beth Leavel, Carolee Carmello, Stephanie J. Block, Karen Akers, Emily Skinner, Aaron Lazar, Julia Murney, Kerry O’Malley, Lari White, Noah Racey, Camille Saviola, Howard Fishman, and Carole J. Bufford. Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. Feb. 24, 8 p.m. Tickets are $47-$57 at TicketMaster.com or 800-982-2787. Season information & tickets at TheTownHall.org.
ACTIVISM Post-Sochi: Next Steps
With the Winter Olympics in Sochi winding up, the New York City Bar Association hosts a panel discussion about the deterioration of LGBT rights in Russia, the responsibilities of world sporting organizations like the International Olympic Committee in upholding standards of human rights, and the best ways for activists and advocates to ensure that a Sochi situation not be repeated. K. Scott Kohanowski, a staff attorney at the City Bar Justice Center, hosts a panel that includes Nikki Dryden, an immigration and human rights attorney at Fragomen, Del Rey,
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| February 19, 2014 MON.FEB.24, from p.30
Bernsen & Loewy and a two-time Olympic swimmer; Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch and editor of “China’s Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges”; James N. Green, a professor of Brazilian history and culture at Brown University and author of “Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentiethcentury Brazil”; and Gleb Vakrushev, an activist and member of RUSA LGBT, a US-based, Russian-speaking network that fights for social justice for LGBT people in the former Soviet Union. 42 W. 44th St. Feb. 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m. This event is free, but space is limited so register at bit.ly/1f4HVuh.
COMMUNITY It’s All About Riverdale Now LGBT folks from the Bronx and Beyond gather monthly for the Out Riverdale Mixer. An Beal Bocht, 445 W. 238th St., btwn. Greystone & Waldo Aves. Feb. 25, 6-8 p.m. Check out the Out Riverdale Facebook page for more information about other events coming up.
PERSONAL FINANCE Planning Within an Ongoing Legal Patchwork
Despite last June’s Supreme Court DOMA ruling, same-sex couples, married and unmarried, continue to face a confusing array of rules regarding their relationships. The estate planning group at Amato Law presents a seminar providing a comprehensive overview of how best to approach estate planning — especially in the event you plan to move to a state that doesn’t currently recognize same-sex marriage or other forms of partnership. NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development, 133 E. 13th St., second fl. Feb. 25, 7:15-8:45 p.m. The event is free, but seating is limited. RSVP at email@example.com or 212-355-5255.
WED.FEB.26 HEALTH Living With HIV
The AIDS services and research group ACRIA continues its series of “Living with HIV” workshops with “Understanding Lab Results: What You Need to Know” (bring a copy of your latest lab report). 575 Eighth Ave. at 38th St., Suite 502. Feb. 26, 1-3 p.m. To register, call Elizabeth at 212-924-3934, ext. 234. Metrocards and snacks provided. Future topics will include “HIV Transmission and How Treatment Can Prevent It”; “HIV Disease: What Is This Virus Doing To My Body?”; “How To Talk To Your Doctor and Get The Care You Need”; “Drug Resistance: How To Keep Your Meds Working”; “HIV and Hepatitis C: You Can Live With Both”;” Aging With HIV: A Long, Healthy Life.”
PERFORMANCE Bad Influences from Canada
Since 2010, Canuck Cabaret, a group of Canadians led by queer comedic performer Paul Hutcheson, has appeared at New York’s Frigid Theatre Festival. In
its fifth and final appearance, the ensemble includes talented queer Canadian performers such as the Specials, a sketch troupe, CJ Sawchyn, a Specials founder (Feb 26-Mar. 1), drag beast extraordinaire Fay Slift (Feb 28-Mar. 1), and rock/ pop icon Light Fires (Mar. 5-8), as well as New York talents such as writer and performer Mike Albo, avant-garde musicians the Swimming Pools (Mar. 7), 79-year-old bi comic D’yan Forrest (Feb. 28), comedic musician Ben Lerman (Mar. 5), and “Dykes of Hazzard” producer and stand-up comic Kristen Becker (Mar. 7-8). Under St. Marks Theatre, 94 St. Marks Pl., btwn. Ave. A & First Ave. Feb. 26-Mar. 1, Mar. 5-8, midnight. Tickets are $5 at SmartTix.com. More information at frigidnewyork.info.
A MESSAGE FROM NANCY PLOEGER
& THE MANHATTAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
NIGHTLIFE Happy Birthday, Will!
After nine years, 457 shows, and a quarter of a million dollars raised for local LGBT and HIV organizations, Will Clark calls the last round of his “P*rno Bingo.” Clark, a lifelong leatherman who was Mr. NE Drummer in 1997, celebrates his 50th birthday with guests Dowager Empress Witti Repartee, Reverend Roger Yolanda Mapes, and Boylesque producer Matt Knife. Tonight’s beneficiary is the New York City AntiViolence Project. Uncle Charlie’s, 139 E. 45th St. Feb. 26, 9-11 p.m.
NIGHTLIFE Oscar Night at 54 Below
Located downstairs in the space once occupied by the legendary Studio 54, 54 Below has become one of the city’s premiere cabaret venues, attracting the very best of Broadway talent. Tonight, the club hosts an Oscar Night party with big screen TVs, food, and drink. 254 W. 54th St. Mar. 2, 7 p.m. There is no cover charge, but space is limited so reserve at 54below.com. The party has a $25 food & drink minimum.
COMEDY Relentless Laughs
It’s Ash Wednesday, so give up that sad face for Lent and join Kevin Meaney at “Homo Comicus” as he hosts a gaggle of gay and gay-friendly comics, including Robin Cloud, Jim David, and LA’s Sandra Valls. Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St. Mar. 5, 8:30 p.m. The cover charge is $20, with a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212-367-9000.
Thank you for attending our MCC Anniversary Celebration! We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did. MCC would also like to thank Con Edison for hosting this celebratory event and we again congratulate our MCC Platinum Partners Con Edison, Wells Fargo and MetLife and thank them for their support of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
February 19, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com