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Sharp Advocate Divide in Bronx, Queens
Charlie Rangel Goes Ugly in Bronx Senate Race BY PAUL SCHINDLER
| September 04 - 17, 2014
imum wage increase than was enacted, and campaign finance reform — were blocked by the Senate’s Republican leadership. As were a long-stalled transgender civil rights measure — the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) — and a bill that would bar mental health professionals from providing so-called “reparative therapy” (known in the legislation as “sexual orientation change efforts,” or SOCE) on patients who are minors. As Democratic senators struggled to get votes on these issues this past spring, they and the measures’ advocates regularly excoriated IDC members for enabling the Republican resistance to progressive change. It’s a sign of how familiar that refrain has become that Kathy Hochul — Cuomo’s pick for lieutenant governor who is scrambling to quiet criticism among progressives about her brief time in Congress — has now taken aim at the IDC for blocking the Women’s Equality Act. In the Bronx, Klein is facing off against Oliver Koppell, a former member of the City Council and the State Assembly who served for a brief time in the early 1990s as the state’s appointed attorney general. The district includes Riverdale in the northwest Bronx, a thread of territory across the borough, and then communities bordering the Long Island Sound from the South Bronx up into Westchester. For months Koppell, who is 73, has talked about Klein’s role in leading the IDC as “an outrageous betrayal,” and in comments to Gay City News this week broadened his attack on the incumbent, characterizing him as “the king of pay-to-play politics” for his ties to special interests, especially in the real estate world. Significantly, in a race where Klein has most of the major endorsements, Koppell enjoys the backing of Michael McKee, a leader in the city’s tenants’ rights movement. Klein, who is 54, has not responded to Gay
City News’ requests for comment — either during the legislative session or now as the primary campaign is winding up — but in a recent debate on NY1 defended his progressive credentials by pointing to his key role in enacting the governor’s new gun control law early last year and in funding pre-K education this year. He also noted that he’s won endorsements from Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. In Queens, Avella, a 62-year-old former City Council member, is also facing a well-known challenger — former City Comptroller John Liu, who served on the Council during the same years the incumbent did. Avella first went to the Senate — representing a district including neighborhoods from Flushing, College Point, and Whitestone to Fresh Meadows and Little Neck — in 2010, when he beat longtime Republican Senator Frank Padavan, a social conservative, on a platform endorsing marriage equality, a year before that became law with just one more vote than the minimum required. Liu, however, is also employing the term betrayal to characterize Avella’s lack of fidelity to the Democratic Party and, therefore, progressive issues such as the Women’s Equality Act, a more generous minimum wage, and permanent funding for de Blasio’s pre-K initiative in the form of higher income taxes on the wealthiest city residents. Those goals as well as GENDA and the SOCE legislation would have been law long ago had the IDC not defected, Liu, who is 47, told Gay City News. Avella offers a different assessment of what has been possible to date in the Senate. A Democratic majority, he noted, is not the same thing as a progressive majority. Two Democrats, the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., of the Bronx, and Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder (who in any event
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein and his primary opponent, former City Councilman Oliver Koppell.
SENATE SPLIT, continued on p.10
hen veteran H a r l e m Democratic Congressman C h a r l i e Rangel faced stiff — but ultimately unsuccessful — primary opposition from State Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat, in both 2012 and 2014, State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who represents portions of Rangel’s district in the Bronx, endorsed the challenger. So when Rivera drew a challenger in the September 9 State Senate primary, the 84-year-old lion of the US House of Representatives may have figured it was just old-fashioned political payback to support Rivera’s foe. But wait — welcome to the 21st century. That challenger is not just any old Bronx pol. True, Fernando Cabrera, who is 50, has been a member of the City Council for the past four years. But he is also the senior pastor at New Life Outreach International in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. Cabrera has used that perch to stand guard against what he has called “the cultural shifters going after our young people.” In a remarkable video he made in Uganda that is posted on YouTube (tinyurl.com/mykxrlf), Cabrera described the “cultural shifters” throughout history as a despotic rogues’ gallery — Communists, Nazis, the North Korean government. And those pushing for marriage equality. Cabrera’s “war for our children” led him to lead a 2012 march over the Brooklyn Bridge demanding that the Department of Education end its policy barring church congregations from meeting in public schools. It took him to anti-marriage equality actions, including an 11th hour rally at City Hall just days before the state gay marriage law was enacted. And it has taken him to events organized by the Family Research Council, a stridently anti-gay organization that has been condemned as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. FRC spokes-
ncumbency means a lot in the New York State Legislature, so it’s not often that voters encounter a serious primary election challenge to a sitting member of the Senate or the Assembly. There are exceptions, though — two years ago, three of the four Republican senators who supported the 2011 marriage equality law faced Tea Party-style challenges and two of them fell. This year is one of those exceptional times among State Senate Democrats — with a Bronx incumbent, Jeff Klein, and one in Queens, Tony Avella, facing well-known opponents in the September 9 primary. What’s perhaps more unusual is that among the four candidates in the two contests, all have strong pro-LGBT voting records and community advocates are strikingly split in their endorsements. More typical is the fact that these two battles are about a lot more than simply one district that snakes, gerrymander-style, through the Bronx and captures a bit of Westchester County, too, and another that hugs the northeast corner of Queens. Though this is a primary within the Democratic Party, at heart these contests are arguments about loyalty to the notion that Democrats should be in charge of the Senate. And they are also battles about priorities within the State Democratic Party and, perhaps as well, about the relationship between the Senate and New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo. More than any other reason, Klein and Avella face challenges because in the legislative session just ended the two did not lend their votes to giving the Democrats control of the Senate. Instead, they were part of a five-member faction of Democrats, led by Klein and known as the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), that governed in coalition with the Republicans. With scandals and recent vacancies, the relative strength of the two major parties in the Senate has shifted around a bit during the two years since the last election, but at no time during that period did Republicans have enough votes to govern as a majority on their own. In other words, the IDC bloc was critical in giving the lead role in the Senate to Long Island Republican Dean Skelos, though Klein served as the junior partner in the chamber’s governing coalition. For other Democrats and many progressives among the party’s rank and file, the IDC’s desertion grated. Goals high on the progressive agenda — Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act, a larger min-
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
Harlem Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel.
Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera.
people at one time or another have endorsed criminal penalties for homosexual conduct and praised Uganda’s move toward harsh punitive measures against the LGBT community and its supporters. Amidst a worldwide furor over proposed legislation that, in its early drafts, earned the moniker “Kill the Gays” bill, Cabrera himself turned up in Uganda, praising its leaders as “the righteous.” Rangel, though bruised in recent years by scandal and two political near-death experiences at the hands of Espaillat, remains a towering figure on Capitol Hill and is perhaps the most powerful African-American to ever serve in the House. A tireless civil rights advocate, he was one of only 67 with the gumption to vote no when the Defense of Marriage Act came up in 1996 — versus 342 who embraced the anti-gay measure. How did Rangel, then, reconcile himself to endorsing Cabrera? A week after news of his endorsement came out, his office was offering the same explanation it gave the New York Post in the announcement’s immediate aftermath.. “The congressman has always been and will continue to be a champion of civil rights and the LGBT community,” said Hannah Kim, Rangel’s communications director. “He will work with current and future local elected leaders to join him in this effort.” That language initially came in response to a letter from LGBT community organizations and
elected officials challenging Rangel’s choice in the primary. The August 28 letter noted Cabrera’s opposition to marriage equality and said that he “has continued to express discriminatory and regressive views on marriage, protections for the transgender community, and women’s rights.” It also pointed to his ties to the Family Research Council and the American Family Association. “Council Member Cabrera has made it clear that he does not stand with us,” the letter stated, before concluding with a unambiguous spanking of Rangel: “Congressman, your endorsement in this race tarnishes your long history of supporting LGBT rights and illustrious record of supporting progressive candidates for office.” The letter was signed by the Empire State Pride Agenda, seven out LGBT elected officials — Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Danny O’Donnell, and Councilmembers Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres, and Jimmy Van Bramer — the Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats, and the Bronx Rainbow Independent Democratic Association. The letter also took the opportunity to make the case for incumbent Rivera, noting his support for marriage equality, the long-stalled Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, and Hoylman’s bill to bar mental health professionals from subjecting patients who are minors to
“sexual orientation change efforts” — so-call reparative therapy. The 38-year-old incumbent, first elected in 2010, also advocated for an end to the use of condoms as evidence in prostitution arrests and repeal of the ban on using Medicaid funding for gender transition-related health care. Rivera is an advocate for women’s reproductive rights, the letter noted, in contrast to Cabrera’s outspoken anti-choice stance. After working in New York politics in a variety of City Council and state legislative campaigns and on the staff of US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Rivera came on strong four years ago, defeating Democratic Senator Pedro Espada, long a target of criminal investigation and now serving a federal prison term for theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a health care non-profit he controlled. Ethics was a big part of Rivera’s appeal — and at a recent Manhattan reelection fundraiser, he joked that all three of his predecessors in the Senate seat he holds ended up in jail. Rivera is also a key figure in a surging progressive movement finding its feet in the Bronx. As Councilman Ritchie Torres campaigned last summer to become the first out gay elected official from the borough, he credited Rivera as a mentor. Should the Democrats gain control of the Senate next year, Rivera will become chair of the Health Committee, a vital post in his view for addressing the health disparities facing many poor communities in his borough. He would be the first person of color and the first senator from the Bronx to head up that committee. Not shy about bringing a little elbow into the game, Rivera is taking on the incumbent Democratic senator in the adjoining district, Jeff Klein, over his defection from the rest of the conference and leadership of a five-member rump faction that caucused and shared power with the Republicans in the past two years (see story, page 4). Rivera’s endorsement of Klein challenger Oliver Koppell led Klein’s
BRONX, continued on p.9
“Systemic” Change Goal of Staten Island Protest LGBT groups join call to weed out “bad apples,” promote more just policing BY GERARD FLYNN
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
tenant governor candidate. The crowd included LGBT contingencies from groups including the New York City Anti-Violence Project and FIERCE, a membership-based organization that advocates on behalf of youth of color. Studies, statistics, and widespread anecdotal evidence have shown that the queer community, particularly young people of color and transgender women, are often targeted by stop and frisk and broken windows policing. Sharpton reminded everyone that while nearly 25 years have passed since he was stabbed in a rally in Bensonhurst in 1991 while protesting the murder of Yusuf Hawkins, a black youth slain by a white mob, the fight for social justice is far from over. Sharpton was joined onstage by Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, who said she was “overwhelmed” by the size of the crowd, and Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, who was killed in a 1999 shooting by four New York City police officers in the Bronx. The police officers involved in her son’s death “did wrong” and “need to be punished,” Carr said, tearfully. Echoing Sharpton, she stressed that the rally was not a condemnation of the NYPD, but a call for systematic change. Capturing the mood of the crowd, which replied with resounding cheers and applause, Sharpton thundered, “If you have a bag of apples and there is a rotten apple in the bag, the only way to protect the other apples is to take the bad apple out. Most police do their jobs, but those who break the law must be punished.” How responsive the current mayor will be to calls for a systemic overhaul remains to be seen. Congressman Jeffries, for one, was both insistent and hopeful. “Broken windows,” the policy that targets low-level violations in order to curb more serious crimes, “has to be revisited,” he said. The theory, going back to the 1980s, has come under fire from critics who say the approach STATEN ISLAND, continued on p.15
The New York City Anti-Violence Project joined the August 23 protest in Staten Island.
Members of FIERCE marching in Staten Island.
lege, not to return home. “I don’t think coming back to a neighborhood where I live is going to be best for them because they are instantly the target of constant police stops because they are African-American males,” she said. Cleveland said that history and aggressive mayoral strategies over the past 20 years play a role in explaining why blacks and Latinos have been the target of such police policies. But she also faulted what she called the disconnect between community members and white cops from far-off suburbs. Despite the dire warnings, the Saturday protest along Bay Street, which got off to a late start around midday, was peaceful, with no arrests. It drew several thousand people calling for the prosecution of the police officers involved in
Activists, advocacy groups say one LGBT contingent is not enough
n a surprising development that apparently caught activists and elected officials off guard, the organizers of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue announced that a gay-identified group will be allowed to participate next March 17. Out@NBCUniversal, an LGBT employee group at the media company, has been invited to march under its banner, according to the September 3 statement from New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Inc. The group’s announcement noted that the company’s New York broadcast affiliate, WNBC, has been a longtime partner in televising the parade. Response to the announcement from LGBT community groups varied — with all acknowledging the progress the NBC group’s participation represents, but a number raising concerns that the inclusiveness applies to only one group in the first year. “We welcome this cracking of the veneer of hate, but so far Irish LGBT groups are still not able to march in our community’s parades,” the activist group Irish Queers said in a statement. “The fight continues.” IQ has been a leader in pressing for an end to the parade’s exclusionary policy. This past March, the group unsuccessfully lobbied Mayor Bill de Blasio to go beyond his boycott of the event and bar city personnel, like police and firefighters, from participating in their uniforms. Responding to the parade organizers’ pledge to welcome other LGBT groups to the 2016 event, IQ stated, “The parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not ‘in subsequent years’ but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our applications before.)” The Empire State Pride Agenda echoed IQ’s concerns and noted the history of activism aimed at changing the discriminatory policy. “While this development is long overdue, inviting one group to march at the exclusion of all oth-
ven before it began, the media was suggesting that the August 23 rally in Staten Island to protest the death of Eric Garner in a police chokehold on July 17 would bring trouble, presumably a repeat of the images witnessed earlier in the week in Ferguson, Missouri. A flier from the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce sent to North Shore business owners went so far as to warn that since “there is no guarantee that everyone in attendance will act sensibly,” precautionary measures should be utilized. Some storeowners concurred and shuttered down like there was a tsunami on the way. But their fears, said T. Elzora Cleveland, an African-American mother of three taking the Staten Island Ferry over from Manhattan, were unfounded. She was deeply offended by the actions of the Chamber of Commerce, which, she said, need not be so concerned “because a bunch of black people are coming.” Alarmist fears weren’t the only issues on her mind, though. The practice of “stop and frisk” and the “broken windows” policing strategy — which brought Garner to the attention of the New York Police Department in the first place — she feels, need to be reformed. While she sees stop and frisk as necessary, the NYPD should target legitimate criminals, she said, not simply members of the black and Latino community, who made up the vast majority of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers stopped by the police in 2011. “Reasonable cause is not because a gentleman was exiting the subway station and was heading for his home,” she said. Mayor Bill de Blasio has scaled back stop and frisk significantly from its prior level under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Considering what has happened to others like Garner, who was targeted for arrest for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, she wants her two sons, currently away in col-
St. Patrick’s Day Announcement Met With Caution
Garner’s fatal arrest and chanting “No Justice! No Peace!” and “I Can’t Breathe.” Led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, the protesters promised not to stop until a systematic overhaul of police practices is achieved. The event drew support from city councilmembers as well as Congressmen Jose E. Serrano, from the Bronx, and Hakeem Jeffries, from Brooklyn. Former Governor David Paterson also made an appearance, listing the names of the many African-Americans who have died at the hands of the police. In 1942, he said, his father, Basil, was pistol-whipped by the police. The elder Paterson, who died earlier this year, went on to become a state senator, deputy mayor, and an unsuccessful Democratic lieu-
ers and continuing to refer to our vibrant community as ‘gay’ when it is in fact lesbian, gay, bisexual ,and transgender, is a far stretch from the full inclusion we deserve,” ESPA’s executive director Nathan Schaefer said in a written statement. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation took the occasion to note that after “outreach” to parade sponsors, asking them to reconsider their participation, both Heineken and Guinness this year withdrew their longtime roles in the parade. Even as it suggested its hand in forging the organizers’ new stance, GLAAD qualified its enthusiasm for the announcement. “As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me,” the group’s president, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a written statement. “Until then, parade organizers must be held accountable to ending this ban once and for all.” GLAAD also highlighted a message it received from Irish Queers making clear that “our struggle” for a fully inclusive parade is not over. The Washington-based Human Rights Campaign offered the most unambiguous praise for the organizers’ move, with the director of its religion and faith program, Sharon Groves, saying, “We are pleased that the changes proposed by the parade committee will finally make it possible for LGBT Americans — including Irish-Catholic LGBT Americans — to officially march under their own banners.” NBCUniversal issued a statement welcoming the organizers’ invitation for its LGBT group to march, but offered no insight into the specific role — as the parade’s broadcaster — it played in the change of policy. Frank Comerford, the chief revenue officer for the NBC stations group, is a part of the parade committee. De Blasio, who was the first mayor since David Dinkins to boycott the parade but also faced criticism from some activists for not blocking uniformed city employees from marching, showed no signs
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ST. PATRICK’S, continued on p.9
Seventh Circuit Roughs Up Defenders of Indiana, Wisconsin Marriage Bans State officials appealing federal marriage equality rulings face unfriendly panel of judges BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
CHENSIYUAN/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner took a very tough approach to arguments by the States of Indiana and Wisconsin in defense of their same-sex marriage bans.
did not discriminate based on sexual orientation, seemed to throw Fisher into a panic by suggesting the state was therefore conceding that its marriage ban was based on a sex classification. Federal courts are divided on whether claims of sexual orientation discrimination are subject to heightened judicial scrutiny, but claims of sex discrimination are held to this standard under the Equal Protection Clause. Virtually all judges seem to agree that if heightened scrutiny is applied to bans on same-sex marriage, they are doomed to fail. Samuelson, the Wisconsin assistant attorney general, did not fare much better in his argument. A number of courts have ruled the right to marry is a fundamental right that, under the Due Process Clause, cannot be denied to samesex couples without a compelling rationale. But Samuelson contended that the Due Process Clause is a source of negative rights but not positive rights. He asked the court to consider whether Wisconsin is required to have a marriage law at all and argued that all the prior Supreme Court marriage cases — as with interracial marriage bans — were concerned with negative rights, not affirmative rights, in that the high court was striking down instances in which the state interfered with existing marriage rights. The judges did not seem
impressed by this argument, giving it short shrift. At one point during Samuelson’s argument, Posner truly cut to the chase. As the assistant attorney general went on at length about tradition and “Burkean values,” Posner finally asked, “Isn’t this based on hate?” and referred to a history of “savage discrimination” against gay people, including discrimination by government itself. Samuelson countered by pointing out that Wisconsin was the first state to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Posner shot back, “Why draw the line there?” When Samuelson responded that this was a matter of “legislative policy,” Posner said, “Give me a rational basis for that legislative policy.” Samuelson could not. The key thing that distinguished the Seventh Circuit arguments from the approaches taken by the Fourth and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals, which ruled in favor of marriage equality earlier this summer, was that the judges here seemed more inclined to treat this as an equal protection case rather than one about a fundamental right to marry. They pressed the plaintiffs’ attorneys — Lambda Legal’s Camilla Taylor, the Indiana ACLU’s Kenneth Falk, and the National ACLU LGBT Rights Project’s James Esseks — to articulate some principle that would set limitations on any purported constitutional right to marry. How would laws that forbid first-cousin marriages, incest, or polygamy fare under such an approach? Esseks came back with the strongest answer, pointing to Justice Kennedy’s description of the liberty encompassed by the Due Process Clause in his opinion in the 2003 Texas sodomy case. Kennedy listed the right to select a marital partner as one of the fundamental rights within the scope of constitutionally-protected liberty and commented, to the outspoken chagrin of Justice Antonin Scalia, that gay people had the same liberty interest. Scalia’s dis-
SEVENTH CIRCUIT, continued on p.15
BRONX, from p.5
Independent Democratic Conference to consider embracing Cabrera, but at the end of the day its members said he failed certain “litmus” tests. Rivera, though, is sticking with Koppell, who joined him at the recent Manhattan fundraiser. “I made an endorsement and I see know reason to back away from it,” Rivera said, even as he hastened to emphasize, “I am focused on my race.” In spite of the intra-Bronx battle with Klein, Rivera has the support of Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and is reporting about $175,000 in available campaign funds versus just under $40,000 for Cabrera. Taking nothing for granted, Rivera makes certain to underscore the radical right nature of his opponent, who did not respond to Gay City News’ phone and email requests for comment.
GAY CITY NEWS
panel of three judges of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, gave a very rough time to attorneys representing the states of Indiana and Wisconsin during oral arguments in marriage equality appeals from those states. The August 26 hearing involved three district court rulings out of Indiana and one from Wisconsin that all found the bans in both states on marriage by same-sex couples and recognition of valid marriages from elsewhere unconstitutional. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher and Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy C. Samuelson probably anticipated tough questioning from the panel’s two Democratic appointees. Ann Claire Williams was nominated to the appeals court by President Bill Clinton, though she originally won a seat on the federal bench due to a Ronald Reagan appointment. David Hamilton was named to a federal district court seat by Clinton and nominated to the Seventh Circuit by Barack Obama. One suspects, however, that Fisher and Samuelson did not count on getting the sort of tough cross-examination they got from Richard Posner, the most senior member of the panel who was appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan in 1981. Posner, a father of a school of legal analysis known as the law-and-economics movement and a devoted empiricist, actually mocked the arguments he was getting from the state attorneys, though observers following the trend of marriage equality decisions over the past year might have predicted this result in light of his record of relentlessly pursuing facts and logic in his decisions. Referring to data showing that about 250,000 children nationwide are living with gay adoptive parents — about 3,000 of them in Indiana, he noted — Posner pressed Fisher to explain why Indiana would deny those chil-
dren the same rights and security of having married parents that are accorded to the adopted children of married couples. The Indiana solicitor general could give him no real answer. Wouldn’t it help those children, Posner asked, if their parents could marry? What’s better for the welfare of these children — that their parents be allowed to marry or be prevented from marrying? Posner’s insistent questions followed up on Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s comment in his opinion in last year’s Defense of Marriage Act case about the way denial of marriage to same-sex couples humiliates their children, who are being told by the state that their families are second class and not worthy of marriage. In what was essentially the only justification offered for Indiana’s marriage ban, Fisher insisted on a state interest in making marriage available to different-sex couples so their children would be tied to their biological parents in stable families. But, having conceded that the state’s interest extended to the families in which children are raised, he could not satisfactorily answer questions from all three judges about how excluding same-sex couples from marriage advanced that interest. If you let gay people adopt, asked Posner, why not let their children have the same benefits? Fisher’s response — that samesex couples can only have children by intentionally setting out to do so and don’t need to be “nudged” into marrying — seemed puny. Posner pointed to the large number of children in foster care who needed adoptive parents and asked whether letting same-sex couples marry would lead to more adoptions. Fisher said he did not have knowledge on that point, but Posner, the law-and-economics expert, suggested it is less expensive for married couples than unmarried couples to adopt precisely because of all the benefits that accompany marriage. Judge Hamilton, seizing upon an argument in Indiana’s brief claiming that the state’s marriage statute
brewed in NYC
State Senator Gustavo Rivera with City Councilman Ritchie Torres, the Bronx’s first out gay elected official.
“To be anti-gay and anti-choice is one thing,” he told Gay City News. “But having ties to and relationships with organizations like the Family Research Council, which is involved in all kinds of atrocities, like sending people over to help develop the Kill the Gays bill in Uganda…” Then, translating a phrase from Spanish, Rivera added, “Telling me who you walk with tells me who you are.”
ST. PATRICK’S, from p.7
on September 3 that he expected the change in policy. Asked how the inclusion of a single LGBT group would affect his decision on whether to march next year, the mayor said, “I’ve got to be honest with you — we heard this just a few hours ago — I want to hear directly from the parade organizers before I assume what their position is. I want to talk to community members. But I know it represents progress. I know this is a good day for New York City, and it’s a step forward for inclusion. But I need to know more before I can decide what I’m going to do in March.” One striking detail about the NBC LGBT group marching next year is that the parade’s grand marshal will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan. In a statement from the Archdiocese, the cardinal expressed his continued “confidence and support” for the parade, but insisted that neither he nor his predecessors “have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade… but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage.” Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who as the city’s leading out LGBT elected official
had tried to broker an end to the parade’s ban, noted that Dolan had in recent years sounded a friendlier tone on the question of participation in the event. “I know that there are thousands and thousands of gay people marching in this parade,” he said. “And I’m glad they are.” While acknowledging Dolan’s religious resistance to LGBT rights advances, Quinn said about his serving as grand marshal in 2015, “I don’t think Dolan wanted to participate in an event marred by controversy… It’s a matter of the cardinal being somebody who wants to be of New York.” The former speaker said she appreciates the reservations activists have about the organizers’ announcement. “I understand why people would be concerned and would be mistrustful,” she told Gay City News. “It didn’t happen with everyone sitting around the table. We don’t know who said what to who and when.” There is no turning back, though, for the organizers, she said. “Then they’re not just bigots, they’re deceitful lying bigots.” In Quinn’s view, “All of the activists, allies, and corporate leaders who have boycotted over the past 25 years should be proud of ourselves.”
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caucuses with the Republicans separate from the IDC) are hostile to LGBT rights, and the recent indictments of two former Senate Democratic leaders still in office — Malcolm Smith of Queens and John Sampson of Brooklyn — recall in Avella’s mind and others’ the dysfunction that beset the Senate when the Democrats last had control, in 2009 and 2010. In comments to Gay City News, Avella argued that his role in the IDC was the most constructive route open to him in the Senate, allowing him to get 17 bills passed, most of which would have died but for the governing coalition he was part of. In the final days of this spring’s legislative session, he told this newspaper he hoped to see action on the SOCE legislation, which he believed had a stronger chance of passage than GENDA, but his later laying the failure of that happening at the Republicans’ feet sidesteps the central critique Liu makes of his record. The intensity of the attack Liu is waging against Avella — and Koppell against Klein — was blunted significantly in late June, right after the Legislature adjourned, when the IDC announced it had reached agreement with the Democratic Conference to return to the fold come January. More than a few observers have asked whether the rationale for those challenges is now moot. Liu pushed back hard against that assumption. “That’s the thing about betrayal,” he told Gay City News. “It’s hard to take back. Especially since there’s a clear alternative.” Koppell, meanwhile, took credit for the IDC announcement. “I achieved a considerable amount,” he said. There would be no talk of Klein leaving Skelos’ side, he argued, “if I hadn’t been in the race.” Still, he is mistrustful of the IDC’s ultimate intentions, noting that its members have no plans to abandon their separate conference and that Klein aims to share power with the Democratic leader, Westchester’s Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in the same manner he currently does with Skelos. “That is the most undemocratic way to act,”
Queens State Senator Tony Avella and challenger John Liu, the former city comptroller.
Koppell said. “He and four colleagues will have the same power as 28 Democrats?” Despite Koppell and Liu’s arguments, however, there is clear evidence the IDC’s change of heart has shifted the dynamics in both races — though to varying degrees. As the legislative session was winding down, Nathan Schaefer, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), was careful not to tip his group’s hand regarding the fall elections and took pains to credit the efforts of several IDC members, Avella included, for trying to move the GENDA and SOCE legislation. Still, he was clearly frustrated at how the existing leadership configuration had stymied his group’s top goals. “There is no reason why these two bills critically important to the lives of LGBT New Yorkers did not pass in the Senate this session,” Schaefer said after it concluded, adding, “There certainly is cause to see a need for a change in the composition of the leadership. The current leadership isn’t allowing LGBT bills to get to the floor.” Now that the primary is at hand, ESPA is banking on Klein and Avella playing a constructive role in a prospective Democratic majority next year. Explaining the group’s endorsement of the two incumbents, Schaefer said, “With the IDC returning, we are very optimistic about
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the success of both the conversion bill and GENDA.” Asked whether the group is confident that Klein and his fellow IDC members will remain true to their pledge, he said, “We are very hopeful that they are going to keep their commitment,” while explaining that ESPA’s candidate criteria is based on public “commitment to our issues.” “We don’t get into the political allegiances,” Schaefer said, even while conceding the IDC’s “caucusing with the Republicans was not conducive to getting the bills through.” Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, an LGBT group, was scornful of that analysis. “It’s beyond me why any gay organization would support Klein when he was the key to our not getting GENDA or the conversion bill,” he said. Jim Owles is supporting Koppell with a major mailing on the weekend leading up to the primary, and originally endorsed Liu as well. The club has since fallen out with him over what Roskoff described as the former comptroller reneging on a commitment to support a September 6 rally outside Cuomo’s Westchester County home demanding that the governor
SENATE SPLIT, continued on p.11
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consider clemency appeals from certain state inmates. Liu does, however, enjoy the support of both the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. Stonewall, like Jim Owles a citywide club, has also endorsed Koppell. Noting that its endorsements reflected the votes of roughly 300 members, Eunic Ortiz, Stonewall’s president, told Gay City News, said, “The LGBT community has come together and said we want to see a change, and the vote reflects the view that ‘Enough is enough.’” For some in the community, she said, marriage equality was the main goal, but many others see a big agenda ahead “to reach full equality.” According to Gotham Gazette, Klein faced “hostile questioning” when he appeared at Stonewall the night of the group’s endorsement vote. The website reported that in a “testy” exchange, the senator told former Stonewall president Melissa Sklarz, a transgender activist who sits on the ESPA board, that Democrats had failed to line up the votes for GENDA. This week, Sklarz disputed Klein’s vote count and reiterated that activists, including the Pride Agenda, had demanded an up or down vote in the Senate on GENDA — which has been blocked for a dozen years — regardless of the outcome. Supporters of the SOCE measure, who also pressed for a vote, voiced strong confidence they would have won on the Senate floor, with sponsor Brad Hoylman, an out gay West Side Democrat, pointing to public support for the measure from Republicans. Other leading pr ogr essive groups were apparently more forgiving than the gay Democratic clubs. Early in the campaign year, the Working Families Party announced it would support both Koppell and Liu. After the IDC mended fences with the rest of the Senate Democrats, however, the WFP pulled those endorsements and is now neutral in both races. The WFP’s about-face came just weeks after it had changed | September 04 - 17, 2014
course in the governor’s race. Cuomo forestalled the potential embarrassment of that party endorsing his Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, after hurried negotiations that resulted in the governor pledging to put his shoulder to the wheel in electing Senate Democrats. Klein’s subsequent announcement that the IDC would cross back over the aisle advanced that same agenda. But Liu and Koppell retain other support beyond the LGBT Democratic clubs. In fact, Liu is the county organization’s candidate in the primary, and the former comptroller said, “I have the support not just of some of the local elected officials, not just of most of them, but of all of them.” Liu, who has roughly a four-toone advantage in campaign funds on hand, also won the endorsement of the New York T imes, though the incumbent has the support of the mayor. Koppell, despite also having won the Times’ nod, would seem to face longer odds. His $113,000 in campaign funds on hand pales in comparison to the $1.2 million war chest held by Klein, who also enjoys strong party support locally and city- and statewide, in part by having 0disarmed the Democratic Senate Conference in agreeing to return to the fold. Still, Koppell has the endorsement and financial support of Klein’s Manhattan colleague Liz Krueger — who is also backing Liu in Queens — as well as Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera, a hard-charging progressive and relative newcomer who knocked off scandal-ridden incumbent Pedro Espada four years ago. For a time, the IDC had considered retaliating by supporting Rivera’s stridently anti-gay primary challenger, City Councilman Fernando Cabrera (see story, page 5), but in the end concluded that was a bridge too far. A week out from the primary, Koppell remains upbeat, saying he is well-received even in portions of the district that he never represented while on the Council or in the Assembly. “I have the support of the activist Democrats,” he told Gay City News. “They are the ones who will turn out to vote in a primary.”
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In a recent New York Times article, which was titled “Hillary Clinton’s Gay Rights Evolution” and explored her connection to and, to a lesser extent, her detractors among LGBT voters, longtime activist David Mixner got the last word. Arguing that lesbians and straight women were among the most committed activists during the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic, Mixner — who was once close to the Clintons but also had a famous break with them early in Bill’s presidency — asserted, “There’s a very strong bond between the feminist community and the gay rights community.” He then added, “It’s a real symbiotic relationship and it diminishes it to say we’re supporting her in some Judy Garland way.” Well… yeah. How this statement found its way into a story about a politician might be explained in part by the fact that it ran in the newspaper’s Fashion & Style section. But it may also be an appropriate closer for the article because some of the highest profile people quoted seemed to suggest something uncomfortably close to precisely that. To be sure, the article cites the difficulty Clinton had explaining to NPR’s Terry
Gross the way in which she “evolved” on marriage equality and away from some of the Clinton presidency’s black marks — including the Defense of Marriage Act and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And it cites critics of Clinton, such as blogger Andrew Sullivan, on those points. But much of the article is given over to praise for Clinton — and it often doesn’t reflect well on our community’s political savvy. “People see her as a survivor and someone who despite her many, many gifts and blessings, survived some personal and political setbacks and persevered in the face of them,” said Richard Socarides, who was a Clinton White House hand. Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is quoted saying, “The LGBT community is, in some respects, very forgiving. We’ve seen our own family and friends evolve around us so it’s not out of context to see a politician evolve as well.” Most cringe-worthy, though, was the statement from the Human Rights Campaign’s lead spokesman, Fred Sainz: “We get her like we get our moms. We’ve seen the travails she’s been through and the fact that she’s not just a survivor but a conqueror.” If Hillary Clinton is our next president, it won’t be important if she has suffered as we have or if she reminds us of our mom or some other family mem-
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Crackpots — The Alley’s Lousy With ‘Em BY ED SIKOV More from the inane and appalling front: Charla de la mierda: Spanish Senator Luz Elena Sanín recently claimed the country’s economic problems were caused by “subsidies for NGOs and homosexuals” — you know that latter term; NGOs are non-governmental organizations,
ber. The global human rights vision she laid out at the State Department will. That she now supports marriage equality will. And whether she would push for comprehensive nationwide civil rights protections for every LGBT Americans is a question we must have her answer before November 2016. This other stuff is trifling BS. For several weeks after the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, Clinton failed to say anything publicly about it. Last Monday, the Reverend Al Sharpton called her out on that silence, something I know about because Doug Robinson, a longtime New York gay activist, alerted me that he was putting his earlier support for Clinton on hold pending her response. Three days after Sharpton spoke up, Clinton herself did. There’s no doubt that if Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Sharpton would prefer her to any of the Republicans who might possibly run against her. But you won’t hear him talking about how Bill, with all his Southernisms, was really “the first black president.” Or how when Hillary suffered a head injury late in her tenure as secretary of state, it reminded him of an aunt who bounced back after a fall. If we expect to be taken seriously as a political constituency, we have to stop addressing politics like it’s all about feelings and wonderful moments of personal identification. We need to focus on all the business that remains undone, despite our recent successes. And we might think about not answering questions from Fashion & Style reporters about the most powerful office in the world.
burger, the last thing they want to be thinking about is two guys having sex.” Those who follow anti-gay crazies will immediately recognize this quotation as coming from Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association goofball whose obsession with gay sex is boundless. With the burger quote, Fischer was responding to Burger King’s fabulous Pride Whopper, served up by one of the fast-food chain’s San Francisco locations. Visitors to the Bay Area already know that the city boasts many Pride Whoppers that have no connection to hamburgers whatsoever but are still quite popular with gay men.
Cuomo, Teachout, and Missed Opportunities
BY NATHAN RILEY
overnor Andrew Cuomo won the hearts of the LGBT community when he marshaled the powers of his office to give New Yorkers marriage equality in the first six months of his term. Not incidentally, he won the affection and respect of many other voters. The positive reaction from queers is hardly surprising, but it was a breakthrough that others were thrilled as well. The public at large knew gay marriage is a good thing, They were pleased New York had done the right thing. But a leader who does one good deed doesn’t pass through the gates of Heaven. The accounts aren’t settled so quickly. Cuomo is now facing this reality. Next week’s primary election isn’t merely about his next term, it’s about his ambitions. There is general agreement he is the most qualified among this year’s gubernatorial candidates, but there is also widespread unhappiness with the job he has done and the way he does it. For many voters, the trick is to return him for another four years without rubberstamping his ambitions to serve three terms — a standard of success established by his father Mario more than two decades ago.
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Re-Reading Sarah Schulman’s “After Delores” BY KELLY COGSWELL
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.14
hese days I mostly read to entertain myself and kill time, though books are still what I turn to when I need to understand my own life or try to lend it meaning. After I gave up on the Bible, I obsessively read “The Black Unicorn,” Audre Lorde’s collection of poetry. Later on it was James Baldwin’s essay “The Fire Next Time.” Both helped me survive in a world that hated queers, black ones especially, but white ones, too. I found Dorothy Allison’s “Trash” when I was trying to digest what it meant to be a Southern lesbi-
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
what we usually call non-profits. A member of the ruling Populist Party, Sanín quickly issued a statement saying that her remarks were taken out of context. Funny how every wacky wingnut’s slurs are always taken out of context. One can only wonder in what context her absurd and insulting comment would make sense. Hot dogs are a different matter: “When people sit down to eat a ham-
Perhaps more importantly, voters are mindful that if Hillary Clinton doesn’t jump into the 2016 presidential contest, Andrew’s eye would be on that race — fulfilling an ambition his father held back from. These calculations explain the Zephyr Teachout boomlet, A vote for her in the primary is a way to tell the world, “Governor you have to do a better job or it will be your last term in office.” It is also a way to encourage politicians to make plans to succeed the governor four years from now and make it difficult for him to punish those who do so. This is insider baseball, but the stakes are large. The governor needs to make a mid-term correction. He should adjust his policies. The New York Times editorial declining to endorse Cuomo laid out the larger case that implicitly — if not in so many words — argued for a protest vote in favor of Teachout. The governor’s policies regarding law and order and their connection to youth are emblematic of the missed opportunities. New York’s criminal justice record remains replete with high rates of arrests and incarceration of the young for marijuana, subway fare beating, and other quality of life crimes. Prison represents their graduation into a life of diminished options. With records littered with quality of life convictions,
these young people — predominately young man of color — are at high risk for tough sentences from district attorneys and courts. New drug laws — which social science research overwhelmingly points in the direction of — would not only serve the interests of justice, they would also reduce the state’s prison population. Young people from poor neighborhoods often live in a criminalized environment. When they go to school they pass through metal detectors, when they lose their temper with a teacher they are arrested, when they go home police patrol the hallways of their buildings, when they lack the fare for public transportation, they are busted for turnstile jumping or for panhandling to get the money needed. If they are immigrants, they might be deported. This is a generation headed to jail. The United States is the world leader in putting people away — but it wasn’t always this way. The historic norm was that for every 100,000 persons, 125 were locked up. After 1975, the nation went berserk and by 2006, the peak of this wave of imprisonment, the ratio had soared to 750 per 100,000 — or more than two million prisoners. And these figures understate the crisis. Imprisonment rates are significantly higher in poor communities. Go into a suburban high school and ask students if they know anyone in prison and more often than not no one raises their hand. Go into a non-elite school in the Bronx or Brooklyn and almost every student will raise their hand.
an, a Kentucky dyke in New York. And David Wojnarowicz’s pure queer rage in “Close to the Knives” destroyed me, inspired me, made me want to make art, or maybe harm myself — and others. A couple years ago, when I was thinking about the Lesbian Avengers and trying to remember the New York they emerged from, I re-read “After Delores” (1988) by Sarah Schulman. Before I read it the first time, I’d seen her around. Gotten to know her a little in our small queer activist world. “After Delores” was a revelation. A lot different from her recent books like “Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences.” Still, I’d kinda forgotten about it.
AFTER DELORES By Sarah Schulman Arsenal Pulp Press, 2nd ed. (2013) $15.95; 176 pages
Blocked it out, really, because the book was too uncomfortably true. And reading it again, I not only remembered an East Village full of queers and artists that would maybe colonize a bar or create a gallery or theater, I remembered the pleasure of the book itself. How natural it was, how full of a dykeness that was merely taken for granted. The narrator is nothing we’re used to. Not some cute, cuddly lesbian dying to please or the usual mess of a victim with yet another terrify-
LONG VIEW, continued on p.15
ing story of incest and rape, drug addiction, suicide attempts, and redemptive therapy. Not even a deadpan postmodern observer of hetero families. No, what you get is a young East Village dyke waiting tables in a crappy diner. She’s a little awkward, maybe even self-loathing. She doesn’t know what to wear. Drinks too much. Can’t quit thinking about her snaky ex-girlfriend Delores who dumped her for a woman with prospects. She has moments of thinking she looks pretty good. Other times, she’s a little disgusted, or disgusting. She has issues of personal hygiene when she’s miserable, and flashes of tenderness. She’s honorable. Or would like to be. That’s why she tries to solve the murder of another, younger dyke. In many ways, the narrator could be me. Me then, in the ‘90s, bumbling my way through relationships and crappy jobs. Broke. Messy.
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.14
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.12
Where bigots go, trouble follows: QNotes, an LGBT newspaper serving the Carolinas, reports, “A national anti-LGBT hate group will hold a nationally-broadcast ‘Star -Spangled Sunday’ at First Baptist Church on Sunday, September 14, featuring US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R).” Other notable assholes scheduled to attend the event “include the Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, as well as Jason and David Benham, twin anti-gay evangelicals.” Oh, Lord — they come in matched sets now? Church Chat: From San Diego Gay and Lesbian News comes a survey of rabidly homophobic church signs. The Westboro Baptist Church comedy troupe brings us “Fags and Enablers All Burn in
Sleeping with the enemy: From the New York Daily News comes this delightful gem: “While a top anti-gay group activist was preaching through a megaphone against same-sex couples in Texas, his soon-to-be ex-wife was cozying up with a woman, court documents have revealed.” In August 2011, Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz served divorce papers on her husband, Jonathan Saenz — who is now president of the all-too-appropriately named Texas Values — after telling him that she was having an affair with a woman. The Daily News goes on to report that less than six months later, Saenz, then a conservative consultant for
DYKE ABROAD, from p.13
Which is why I’d put it out of my mind. Reading this was a little like poking myself with a sharp stick. Schulman brought lesbians alive right there on the page. You’d need dozens of books to convey the same information if you turned to nonfiction. And all the social scientists and gender theorists still wouldn’t capture either the complexity or simplicity of identity. That thing you are when you go out of the house without a thought for the straight world, or even the judging queers. When you do what you do and are what you are. Pre-verbal. Here, Schulman pulls it off, writing as if she was entitled to, as if the battle was won and queers were human and as universal as Philip
the radical right Liberty Legal Institute in Austin, went on to get the top job at Texas Values — despite his demonstrated inability to keep his own wife on the team. “Swapping spit”: From the always reliable PinkNews.com: The St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri took one on the chin when one of its officers, Dan Page, shoved a CNN reporter, out gay Don Lemon, “out of the way in the middle of a live link, reporting on unrest in Ferguson.” Note to Page: Make sure the camera is off before manhandling reporters. It isn’t good public relations to knock them away in full view of the television audience — particularly when undue police force is the issue animating the news coverage in the first place. Page’s Lemon-bashing didn’t merit any particular response from the police department, but when a video surfaced in which he rants for an hour on sexist, racist, and anti-gay themes at an Oath Keepers group meeting for police and military personnel, the officer was placed on administrative leave. “If you take a stand against sodomy, you are a terrorist; the next phase is prosecution,” Page declared. “There is a couple in New Mexico right now who are being prosecuted because they refused to take pictures of sodomites. In the military right now, you have open sodomy, people holding hands, swapping spit together — sickening. It’s pitiful.” Page is also upset that there are “four sodomites on the Supreme Court” trying to destroy the Constitution. He’s factually incorrect on
Marlowe or Augie March. Maybe more so. This should have been the beginning of something. But it wasn’t, really. Of the dozens of dykes writing about our lives in the ‘90s, only a few like Eileen Myles have persisted. Only a few new ones have begun. Or been published. Because we’re just not wanted. So when lesbian writers want to be taken seriously, we often abandon our lives for more lofty subjects. And if we want to make money with dyke characters, what is there but porn or cozy mysteries? And any dyke that tries to do something else — good luck with that. Dyke presses have their bottom lines and are not always more welcoming than the mainstream. Then of course, there’s queer theory. Where lesbians are deciphered and deconstructed
that last point; the four liberal justices are actually from Gomorrah. (Or is it Glocca Morra?) How to get ahead in politics: Gordon Klingenschmitt, a GOP state legislative candidate in Colorado, recently sent out an email alert to his supporters warning them of a cancer at the heart of the state’s US House of Representatives delegation: “Democrats like [Jared] Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy. Next he’ll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America.” It was all a joke, Klingenschmitt explained after the story blew up in his face. The candidate had written “The openly homosexual congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced a revised bill to force Christian employers and business owners to hire and promote homosexuals with ZERO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS for Christians who want to opt out.” So naturally Klingenschmitt brought beheading into the conversation. Wouldn’t you? Polis aims to revise the current draft of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — stalled, by the way, for the past two decades — so that religious exemptions that don’t weaken employment nondiscrimination protections for blacks, Jews, and women also don’t gut the same protections for gays and lesbians. And that, of course, is an outrageous proposition. Gordon Klingenschmitt is a profile in courage. Just kiddin’.
STATEN ISLAND, from p.6
unfairly targets minorities for minor offenses. However, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton continue to support the policy. Jeffries and six other members of New York’s congressional delegation are calling for a Department of Justice probe to determine whether “the deployment of that strategy largely in communities of color violated the civil rights of black and Latino individuals in the City of New York.” “When you are going to enforce nuisance crimes,” Jeffries said, “you can’t look at a nuisance crime and say it’s acceptable in one community and unacceptable
SEVENTH CIRCUIT, from p.8
sent asserted that once the high court eliminates tradition and moral disapproval as grounds for adverse treatment of gay people, there seems no basis to deny them the right to marry. It is no small irony that Scalia’s bitter comment has been noted by many of the federal trial judges who have struck down marriage bans in recent months. Given the judges’ extensive questioning about limiting principles appropriate to the question of a constitutional right to marry, it is significant that Judge Hamilton suggested that equal protection provided the stronger argument for plaintiffs, noting that the discriminatory purpose and effect of the marriage bans were clear. Esseks made a strong pitch to the court for applying heightened scrutiny if the judges use an equal protection theory to decide the case, but the panel seemed unreceptive.
LONG VIEW, from p.13
Follow @edsikov on Twitter.
Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published this year by the University of Minnesota Press.
That many young men in prison are also fathers only adds to the damage. It is in these prison feeder neighborhoods that quality of life enforcement has its most damaging effects — and studies have clearly shown that LGBT youth of color as well as immigrant young people are among those targeted by the heavy-handed policing. By fits and starts, the nation is retreating from this draconian enforcement model. It’s a sea change that should be embraced by Democrats, but many of them remain skittish that they could face accusations of being soft on crime. Too often, they believe tough policies are an unfortunate necessity. Drugs and intoxication cause crime.
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
nearly to death. I’m told we don’t even use that word anymore. We’ve been declared obsolete before we’ve even had a good chance to look at who we are, describe our lives from many points of view, digest them. That simple act of description is incredibly radical. It keeps our feet in reality. Entertains ambiguity. Our humanness. It is the necessary jumping off point. I suppose this means lesbians don’t have a future. Not because we’ll be exterminated as an entire class, instead of individually. But because we haven’t imagined that future. How can we without books and art — and lives lived consciously as dykes?
in another community, when the dividing line is race.” Similar to the comments of anxious mom Cleveland on the ferry, Jeffries called for a “more sophisticated approach” that targets the handful of individuals who are responsible for the overwhelming amount of crime in black and Latino communities. “Hopefully, the mayor and the police department will move in that direction,” he said. Considering Mayor de Blasio is showing continued support for broken windows, can consider able change occur? The times have changed, and so has City Hall, Jeffries said. “This is a better conversation to
Leave it to Utah: Our friends at Guardian Liberty Voice reported that Facebook donated $10,000 to the re-election campaign of Sean Reyes, Utah’s anti-gay attorney general. Republican Reyes has made his position against samesex marriage an integral part not only of his campaign but also of his tenure in office. Facebook lamely argues that the company makes “decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one.” I agree. Alienating and enraging a huge part of its user community is definitely a single issue.
Hell,” a slogan that, in the opinion of this critic, is tired and probably wrong as well. “Fags and Enablers Party in Hell” would be more to the point. The Devon Park United Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, offers a kinky new proposition: “A true marriage male and female and God.” Um, does God participate or does he — like Chauncey Gardner in “Being There” — just like to watch? The Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church in our own fair city proposes that “Jesus Would Stone Homos.” That only stands to reason: Jesus is without sin, so he gets to throw the opening pitch. Also according to the BJAWMC, “All Churches and Members That Support Homos Cursed Be Thou with Cancer HIV Syphilis Stroke Madness Itch Then Hell.” I don’t know have any novel insights about the other stuff, but cortisone cream does wonders for itches.
Former Governor David Paterson with Kadiatou Diallo, whose son Amadou was shot to death by police in the Bronx in 1999.
be having with Bill de Blasio than Mayor Bloomberg or Rudolph Giuliani,” he said. “So, I remain
Judge Williams seemed to indicate that the concept of heightened scrutiny was not helpful. To her, the issue was whether the bans caused harm and if there were some balancing benefit to the state that justified that harm. Her questioning suggested she understood the harms very well and that the attorneys for Indiana and Wisconsin were unable to name any concrete benefits to offset them. During Fisher’s brief rebuttal argument in the Indiana argument, Posner came back to his issue about children of adoptive parents, pushing the solicitor general again to give a reason for denying them benefits and asking how the marriage ban could possibly advance the state’s interests. He skeptically asked whether Fisher really believed that pushing heterosexuals to marry results in less extramarital sex, and he noted that sterile people are allowed to marry. The “channeling procreation” argument, in Pos-
Arresting people stops this from happening. Amidst this clash of perspectives, Andrew Cuomo is one resistant to embracing new strategies for controlling drug use without arrests. The modifications he forced on the state’s new medical marijuana law were intended to preserves the clear message that marijuana is illegal. That’s a message that bolsters the ongoing epidemic of marijuana arrests in New York City — the pot bust capital of the world. The crabbed bill he insisted on gratuitously makes the State Police superintendent a co-director of the program — to prevent “diversion” of medical marijuana into the general population. The governor is proud to have devised a medical marijuana plan
confident this administration is willing to listen and perhaps to reform the practices of the NYPD.”
ner’s view, is a ridiculous one. Posner asked Fisher whether he had read the amicus brief filed by the Family Equality Council, which was devoted to relating the stories of harms incurred by children of same-sex couples who were not allowed to marry. Fisher claimed to have read it but not remembered it. Posner referred to the “harrowing information” about the misfortunes such children suffered and asked incredulously whether Fisher was not moved by that. He also asked whether Fisher had any empirical basis for anything he had said, in a voice dripping with sarcasm. It is hard to imagine that either Indiana or Wisconsin is going to garner even one vote from this panel, if the judges act along the lines suggested by their questions and comments on August 26. The Seventh Circuit seems clearly poised to join the Fourth and the 10th in ruling for marriage equality.
that doesn’t make stoners happy. His no-smoking-the-herb-bill is tightly tailored to treating specific symptoms for specific diseases. But the key medical benefit of marijuana is that it makes people feel better — people whose conditions are compounded by the stress of living with discomfort and pain. The Legislature proposed a bill that would allow doctors to gradually extend the permissible uses of marijuana to include a larger and larger population of patients who could benefit. The governor substituted his own narrower, more constricted law. A medical marijuana law that p u t d o c t o r s i n c h a rg e c o u l d encourage public health strategies for controlling marijuana use without police arrests. That is a worthy goal — it’s a simple proposition
that the harm of acquiring a criminal record is more damaging than any harms that could come from marijuana use. In his book “A Plague of Prisons,” Ernest Drucker lays out the scientific analysis of how our law enforcement system has gone dangerously awry. Medical marijuana offers one way to refocus our thinking on the drug use that is such a driver of our prison culture. Unfortunately, Cuomo has divorced the two issues and made it impossible to build on the progress of a new medical marijuana law. This is the sort of limited vision that has stunted a gubernatorial tenure that started out so boldly and promisingly. That is my reason for a protest vote for Zephyr Teachout in the September 9 primary.
Grandeur in Tapei’s Underbelly Tsai Ming-liang finds beauty in the lives of “Stray Dogs” BY STEVE ERICKSON
hat to make of a film that ends on a note of stillness so deep and serene that it comes closer to photography than what we usually expect of cinema!
Taiwanese out gay director Tsai Ming-liang’s “Stray Dogs” has a monumental quality that demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible and heard on the best sound system available. In many of his lengthy scenes, the only form of motion comes from his characters’ breathing. Unfortunately, the New York run of “Stray Dogs” is bound to be brief; the film will be lucky to last two weeks in commercial release. I’m sure it will eventually come out on home video, but unless you have a great home theater set-up, it’s really not suited to domestic viewing. The problem isn’t just the film’s scope — it demands meditative concentration, not the kind of half-attentive viewing that has room for text messages and snack breaks. “Stray Dogs” requires a great deal of patience. Its rewards are great, but it pares away most of what we’ve come to expect from narrative cinema. In T aipei, a homeless man (Tsai’s partner Lee Kang-sheng) works as a “human billboard.” Ironically, he holds up placards for luxury real estate at intersections. His two children (Lee Yi-cheng and Lee Yi-chieh) wander around alone, hanging out outdoors or killing time eating free samples at a supermarket. Lee has some sort of relationship with a woman; it’s never clear exactly whether she’s the children’s mother or how close she is to him. To make mat-
HOMEGROWN FILMS/ JBA PRODUCTION
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang The Cinema Guild In Mandarin with English subtitles Opens Sep. 12 Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com
Lee Kang-sheng, Lee Yi-cheng, and Lee Yi-chieh in Tsai Ming-liang’s “Stray Dogs.”
We tend to think the poor have no right to beauty, only hand-held shakycam and jump cuts. ters more enigmatic, she’s played by three different actresses. She works at a supermarket and sometimes comes home with Lee to the abandoned building where his family sleeps. Tsai doesn’t like close-ups. The first camera movement in “Stray Dogs” comes around the 15-minute mark, and the first close-up arrives 23 minutes in. Most of the film’s scenes are long shots, often lasting several minutes. One goes on for more than 13 minutes. In lesser directors’ hands, this style can turn into self-parody, but Tsai’s framing is precise and poetic. He cuts to the bone. “Stray Dogs” runs over two hours, but there’s nothing inessential in it, despite the length of many of its scenes. Poverty in cinema is usually depicted through some form of neo-realism. At Cannes last spring, some critics faulted the
Dardenne brothers for casting Marion Cotillard in their latest film as a woman begging for her job, as if a beautiful woman can’t be desperate. (I bet they hadn’t seen her excellent performance as a beleaguered Polish woman struggling through New York in James Gray’s “The Immigrant.”) We tend to think the poor have no right to beauty, only hand-held shakycam and jump cuts. With the greatest respect for its characters, “Stray Dogs” challenges all that. They may live in abandoned buildings, but Tsai finds beauty in unlikely places. One of those buildings contains a mural, which Tsai finds attractive enough to spend at least 10 minutes contemplating, in two separate scenes. At the same time, he’s aware that his spectators and his characters are likely to perceive their surroundings quite differently. A
glimpse of a breathtaking beach for us is a dreary way to kill time for Lee’s children. “Stray Dogs” doesn’t try to resolve this dilemma, but it’s honest about its tendency to aestheticize poverty in a way that few art films — apart from the work of Pedro Costa — do. Tsai has been heading in this direction for a long time. He got sidetracked with his last three films, beginning with the 2005 anti-porn musical “The Wayward Cloud,” which succeeded at being disturbing and not much else. His next two films were even weaker. But most of Tsai’s work has explored how much a director can remove from a narrative film and still have something compelling. His bleakness remains, unrestrained by the wit that often makes his films go down easier. As usual in his vision of Taipei, it rains as much as in the LA of “Blade Runner.” Tsai has never before dealt so bluntly with class. In fact, after the glory days of neo-realism, few filmmakers have. “Stray Dogs” finds an extreme beauty in the castaway people and places of late capitalism.
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
Famed Triangular Tower, Jewel Box of a Square Flatiron District is at crossroads of neighborhoods and history
DAVID SUNDBERG/ ESTO
One Madison as seen from Madison Square Park.
iven the multiplicity of ways Manhattanites identify their neighborhoods geographically, when some people mention the Flatiron and Madison Square Park neighborhoods others have in mind sections of Gramercy Park, Chelsea, Murray Hill, and Union Square. The Flatiron neighborhood is widely thought of as the blocks bordered by 20th Street and Union Square, running from Sixth or Seventh Avenues on the west to Lexington Avenue or Irving Place on the east. The Madison Square Park neighborhood surrounds the park’s historic district and, broadly speaking, is bounded by 25th and 20th Streets and by Sixth and Lexington Avenues. Notable historic landmarks throughout the bustling Flatiron district include the New York Life Insurance Building at 51 Madison Avenue at 26th Street, the MetLife Tower on Madison Avenue near 23rd Street, the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State on Madison between 25th and 26th Streets, and, of course, the iconic triangle-shaped Flatiron Building at 175 Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street. When built in
1902, it became one of the city’s first skyscrapers north of Union Square. The 1909 Hecla Iron Works clock outside the front entrance of 200 Fifth Avenue at 25th Street — formally known as the Toy Building — won Landmarks Preservation Commission designation in 1981. The neighborhood boasts two National Historic Districts: the Ladies’ Mile Historic District (preserve2.org/ladiesmile), which was a shopper’s paradise from the mid-19th to the early-20th century. Running from 15th to 24th Streets between Sixth Avenue and Park Avenue South, early locales for department stores such as Lord & Taylor (Broadway and 20th Street), B. Altman’s (Sixth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets), and R.H. Macy’s (14th Street and Sixth Avenue) reigned supreme there. When it opened in 1896 on Sixth Avenue at 18th Street, Siegel-Cooper was thought to be the largest department store in the world. For its opening day, the store hired some 9,000 employees (clerks, packers, and drivers) because they expected their debut to attract nearly 200,000 shoppers. The most noteworthy historic site in the neighborhood is at 28 East 20th Street, where
REAL ESTATE, continued on p.19
REAL ESTATE, from p.18
Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 (nps.gov/thrb/historyculture/places.htm). Fun facts about the neighborhood surround the history of Danceteria, a Disco Era club at 30 West 21st Street where Madonna, who worked as coat-check girl there in the early ‘80s, had her debut performance. The club also served as the disco setting in her first film, 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” With the club long gone, the building converted to a co-op, the Alma Lofts, about five years ago. By the mid-19th century, mansions framed Madison Square Park and the well-to-do families who inhabited the area included grandparents of Winston Churchill, who owned 41 East 26th Street. Across the street was the Jerome Mansion, which by 1867 had morphed into the Union League Club. Over time, the building changed hands to the University Club and finally the Manhattan Club, where members such as Grover Cleveland, Al Smith, and Franklin D. Roosevelt dropped by for cocktails and bon-
homie. Next door was the Madison Square Hotel, where up and coming Hollywood actors such as Henry Fonda and James Stewart roomed in the 1930s. Though the Jerome Mansion obtained landmark status in 1965, two years later the city permitted its owner to demolish the 1859 mansion, along with the Madison Square Hotel, to build the New York Merchandise Mart, which opened in 1974. Delmonico’s restaurant was located at Fifth Avenue and 26th Street between 1876 and 1899 and attracted the Gilded Age elite. Said to be the birthplace of Lobster Newburg, it claimed bold-faced diners including Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, J.P. Morgan, France’s Napoleon III, and Britain’s King Edward VII while he was prince of Wales.
ON THE MARKET Trulia (trulia.com) reports that the Flatiron District’s median sales price between May 14 and August 14 — based on 16 sales — was $2.167 million. Compared to the same period a year ago, that represents an 81.1 percent increase —
BY LAUREN PRICE
A condo for sale at 108 Fifth Avenue at 16th Street.
or $970,556 — though the number of sales decreased from 21. Average price per square foot was $1,967, an increase of 39.7 percent compared to the same period last year. For the week ending August 6, the average listing price for homes was $3.86 million, a decrease of 1.2 percent, or $45,918, compared to the prior week. Streeteasy (streeteasy.com) recently reported that the median annual rent per square foot for NOMad (North of Madison Square Park) is $69. Thus, an 800-squarefoot unit would be about $4,600 a month. For the Flatiron neighborhood, they report that the median rent per square foot is $78, trans-
lating to $5,200 per month for an 800-square-foot unit.
Developed by Related Companies and HFZ Capital Group in partnership with CIM Group, the Cetra/ Ruddy-designed One Madison, overlooking Madison Square Park at 23 East 22nd Street, is now selling condominiums (onemadison.com). A slender 53-unit, 60-story bronze glass tower with gorgeous views from a mix of studios to four-bedroom homes with keyed elevator access, the building also includes two townhome residences in a contiguous five-sto-
REAL ESTATE, continued on p.20
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The garden feel of Birreria atop Eataly on Fifth Avenue at East 23rd Street.
At 16th Street, 108 Fifth Avenue is now listed with Town Res-
REAL ESTATE, from p.19
ry building. The main entrance to One Madison, on 22nd Street, was designed BKSK Architects. A select number of units have private outdoor space and eat-in kitchens and all the full-floor units showcase panoramic views from both inside and the terraces. Rupert Murdoch recently bought a one-ofa-kind five-bedroom penthouse triplex, along with one additional unit (more than 7,000 square feet) for $57 million. Loft-like interiors were created by both Yabu Pushelberg and Cetra/ Ruddy, providing buyers with two design options. Ya b u P u s h e l b e r g o f f e r s wide-plank quarter sawn her ringbone-style solid oak flooring and kitchens with custom graystained veneered African ayous wood cabinetry, honed Calacatta Ondulato marble countertops, and integrated Miele appliances. Spalike master baths are dressed in a Blue Cipollino marble throughout, including the tops of the graystained European oak cabintry. Cetra/ Ruddy features include nine-inch-wide quarter sawn solid white oak floors, Indian laurel-veneered kitchen cabinetry, honed Calacatta Borghini marble worktops, and integrated Gaggenau appliances. Master baths feature a selection of dimensional Italian travertine marble surfaces and bleached maple vanities topped with honed Crema Delicato marble. The building’s One Club includes a lounge, a parlor and screening room along with a dining room that includes a catering kitchen and offers butler service for private parties. Other top-notch extras include a fitness center, an indoor pool, a playroom, and round-the-clock doorman and concierge services. (onemadison.com)
idential. Measuring about 825 square feet, this completely renovated, one-bedroom condominium with new hardwood floors, custom built-ins, and a washer/ dryer features floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors in the living room leading to a private balcony with views over Fifth Avenue. The master suite has a walk-in closet and en suite bathroom done up in marble. The kitchen is outfitted with frosted glass-fronted cabinetry and stainless steel appliances. Doorman services are around-the-clock. Priced at $1.35 million, this residence includes private storage within the building. Currently, a tenant is occupying the unit through February 2015. (townrealestate.com/listing.html?webID=712130)
Warburg Realty is selling a three-bedroom duplex at 50 West 15th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Coming in at about 2,440 square feet of indoor space with 12-foot-high ceilings, hardwood floors, and double-pane windows, the unit has a 1,000plus square-foot private garden, as well. On the upper level, the living room’s floor-to-ceiling window and doors provide access to the south-facing outdoor space. An open kitchen overlooks the living room. This floor also contains the master bedroom with a walkin closet and en suite bath with a soaking tub and glass-enclosed steam shower, as well as the other bedrooms, both garden-facing. On the lower level, there’s a spacious home theater, a powder room, and a laundry room. Located in a full-service building with doorman services, this residence is priced at $4.295 million. (warburgrealty. com/property/132772620140620)
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
heresa Rebek is challenging for a critic. The facile entertainment of her plays delivers an hour or two of diversion, but they often don’t stand up to more considered thought. Her new play at Primary Stages, “Poor Behavior,” is not as well-crafted as “Seminar” or as slapdash as “Dead Accounts,” but like the others it suffers from serious flaws in terms of believability. The play comes off as a poor imitation of “God of Carnage,” which concerns another battle royale between affluent couples. Yasmina Reza trenchantly probed the inherent nature and the belief systems of her battling couples, while Rebek offers no such depth. Instead, she relies on glib references to NPR and high-end groceries for easy laughs without much substance. “Poor Behavior” concerns two well-off New York couples and what happens when their staid and controlled lives of privilege are threatened. Ian and Maureen have come to visit Ella and Peter at their weekend retreat. The play opens at full pitch as Ian and Ella are having an argument about what constitutes goodness — or if, in fact, goodness exists. We are left to assume that the volume and vitriol result from excessive wine consumption, but what was not a real discussion at the getgo soon spins out of control. The argument’s intellectual laziness and lack of convincing polemics may be intended to reflect the characters’ drunkenness, but the effect is contrived. We learn that Maureen, Ian’s wife, is a certifiable nut, both narcissistic and paranoid. Peter, Ella’s husband, is struggling with controlling his anger issues. All of this is conveyed in clumsy exposition that sets the stage for the inevitable pyrotechnics when Peter and Maureen come to believe that Ian and Ella are hav-
Little things spin out of control in Theresa Rebek’s deeply flawed new play
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Brian Avers’ turn as the bad boy with a good heart but no soul is the best of “Poor Behavior.”
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ing an affair. At every turn, reveals seem more about facilitating the next bout of histrionics than anything arising organically from fully developed characters. The reason Ian is Irish appears to
be solely as a device to make way for cracks about his Irishness and, conversely, about the deficiencies of Americans. Every attempt to examine the incongruities of human nature is forced, simply there to manipulate the plot. Given the high-octane opening, the chaos, recriminations, breast-beating, tears, and violence that follow can’t help but be delivered feverishly. Rebek has written some legitimately funny one-liners — notably about esoteric artisanal muffins — but her situations and characters become increasingly implausible. Of course, implausible is one of Rebek’s trademarks, as anyone who watched the so-bad-you-can’tturn-it-off “Smash” on NBC can attest. Under Evan Cabnet’s direction, the play moves quickly, but not quite quickly enough to gloss over the shortcomings. Lauren Helpern has designed a lovely country cabin set and Jessica Pabst’s costumes are well chosen. Even with the play’s flaws, the cast gives it a go with as much as they’ve got. Katie Kreisler as Ella does a good job of conveying her Upper West Side attitudes, even if the performance borders on caricature. Jeff Biehl is adequate as Peter, trying very hard to make his character believable. Heidi Armbruster comes pretty close to adding a third dimension to Maureen. The evening, however, belongs to Brian Avers as Ian, who manages to be simultaneously appealing and repellant. He is the bad boy with a good heart and a longing for simple affection — but no moral compass. Unfortunately, the character as writen is more a type than a person, and charm alone isn’t an ingredient sufficient to make him either believable or sympathetic. These are not people you would want to spend a weekend with. Two hours is more than sufficient to be exhausted by this play and the people who are, as the song goes, “twice as upset as in town.”
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The Voyage to Oneness
BAM presents world première of Laura Kaminsky’s transgender-themed chamber opera BY DAVID SHENGOLD
AS ONE Music by Laura Kaminsky Libretto by Kimberly Reed & Mark Campbell Brooklyn Academy of Music Fishman Space, Fisher Building 321 Ashland Pl., btwn. Lafayette Ave. & Hanson Pl. Sep. 4 & 6 at 7:30 p.m.; Sep. 7 at 3 p.m. $25; BAM.org/AsOne or 718-636-4100
merican Opera Projects, a leading force in the gestation and development of important new work for the lyric stage, presents the world première performances of “As One,” which explores and celebrates the journey of a male-to-female transperson, September 4-7 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. California-born out lesbian composer Laura Kaminsky, who concurrently becomes AOP’s composer-in-residence, wrote the chamber score to a piquant libretto by trans filmmaker Kimberly Reed and gay librettist Mark Campbell. Reed’s acclaimed 2010 documentary film “Prodigal Sons” documents her return home to Montana for her high school reunion. It won accolades at major LGBTQ festivals and on critical “Best of Year” lists. Reed happily recalled Gary M. Kramer’s glowing review in these
Kelly Markgraf and Sasha Cooke sing the parts of Hannah before and Hannah after in Laura Kaminsky’s “As One,” with libretto by Kimberly Reed and Mark Campbell.
pages: “‘Prodigal Sons’ takes viewers on an intense emotional journey, but a rewarding one nonetheless… riveting.” In 2011, composer Kaminsky — whose work revolves around social and political questions — saw “Prodigal Sons” and was struck by its
possibilities. She approached Reed and won her approval. Campbell is a much in-demand librettist whose moving, audience-pleasing collaboration “Silent Night” with Kevin Puts won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music. “As One” utilizes an onstage string quartet. The protagonist is
Opera on Summer Lawns BY DAVID SHENGOLD
he Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer venue, leafy Tanglewood in rural — if in places pricey — western Massachusetts, is a delight to visit and seats on the lawn are ultra-cheap. July 27’s matinée concert was to have been led by the venerable Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, who died earlier this year. Jacques Lacombe made his BSO debut on short notice replacing him in a Rachmaninov/ Verdi concert. Virtuoso — but not keyboard banging — pianist Gabriela Montero, also a BSO newcomer, opened with the Rachmaninov Second Concerto. It was an impressive performance, though in places Lacombe and she might have been in better synch. After intermission,
John Oliver’s huge festival chorus appeared for the Verdi portion — the Overture and anthemic chorus “Va, pensiero” from “Nabucco” and Triumphal Scene from “Aida.” In “Va, pensiero” — kind of a secondary Italian national anthem — the women sounded young and fresh, the men, particularly the tenor section, less so. Orchestra choruses, even first-rate ones like this, tend to sing Latin, German, French, and even English more than they sing Italian. It showed, with very middleof-the-road American vowels and a general lack of bite in articulating the text. Marjorie Owens made a fine impression as Aida, with a soaring, free top allowing her to be heard over the huge ensemble. Her solo cadenza showed fine musicianship and control. The Virginia-born lirico-spinto soprano, a fixture at Dresden’s first-class opera house,
makes a one-off Met debut as Aida on January 2 — I would plan to be present. Elizabeth Bishop had little solo time as Amneris, but she’s always a fully professional, reliable dramatic mezzo. With impressively forward diction, Philadelphia’s Issachah Savage sounded bright and pingy as Radames. Hot off his Caramoor triumph as Rigoletto, Stephen Powell (Amonasro) showed his sterling sense of line and dynamics; other baritones, who couldn’t hold a candle to his elegance and vocal mastery in most of the Verdi canon, might convey more savage power. Repeating his 1979 Met debut role (the King), Julien Robbins sounded as steady as ever, with well-sculpted phrases and no diminution of sound at register extremes— proof of his remarkable vocal longevity. Why does the Met feature so many inferior bass-
ONE, continued on p.23
es, while awarding Robbins just one performance last season? Of course, neither Robbins nor most basses command the sheer howitzer resonance and dark tone of Morris Robinson, whose awe-inspiring Ramfis perceptibly amazed his hearers.
Glimmerglass Opera had a very good though not top vintage season this summer. Artistic and general director Francesca Zambello has taken welcome strides to integrate the company back into the upstate communities around Cooperstown, beyond the narrow concentration on high-end patrons by Glimmerglass’ former regimes. Locally sourced food trucks, active collaboration with local museums in sponsoring exhibits related to the works presented, more evident diversity, and a greater presence of children on campus and at performances all seemed hopeful signs. Zambello’s policy of presenting one classic musical comedy
CAROUSEL, continued on p.23
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
In an email message, Campbell said, “I was brought in to create a story. I started asking Kim about her experiences as a transgender person and each story she told seemed eminently suited for transformation into song. I proposed that we create the libretto based on her experiences and combine it with others, as well as statements we want to focus on — and everyone agreed on that approach. My contribution was mostly in taking text and turning it into something to be sung. Kim is an incredible dramatist and storyteller; it was a joy crafting the structure of this work with her. We never disagreed.” The resulting work has been described as a “monodrama for two voices.” Rising opera stars Sasha Cooke and Kelly Markgraf, a glam-
orous pair who happen to be married, supply those voices at BAM (with Blythe Gaissert and Christopher Herbert, who workshopped the piece, covering). A concert artist commanding wide-ranging styles, Cooke’s plum Met Opera assignment has been a sensational turn as Kitty Oppenheimer in John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic.” Markgraf’s fine voice and looks — as the two-timed Masetto — outstripped the supposed Don Juan at City Opera’s final “Don Giovanni.” “Sasha and Kelly are tremendous performers,” Campbell noted. The highly accomplished Ken Cazan, adept at launching new work like Lowell Liebermann’s 2006 opera “Miss Lonelyhearts” at Juilliard, directs. The Utah-based Fry Street Quartet takes part in the staging, with Kaminsky’s part
for violist Russell Fallstad to some extent tracking Hannah. Steven Osgood — AOP’s artistic director from 2001 to 2008 who premièred of Paula Kimper’s fondly recalled lesbian-themed opera “Patience and Sarah” in 1998 — conducts. The per for mance schedule includes two free panel discussions: “Creating As One,” with the artistic team, on September 4, and “Gender Identity in ‘As One,’” moderated by Jean Malpas, director of the Gender and Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, on September 7. “As One” — with its dynamic, gifted team of participants — may well transform audience members’ ideas about what constitutes an “opera.” “It has been a tremendous privilege to collaborate on this work,” said co-librettist Campbell. “I’ve
been rather ignorant about transgender people, even as a gay man; what I’ve learned from Kim — about her courage and her humanity — will stay with me forever. I hope the audience feels the same.” The words “It all just feels so right” recur as a motif in the first song, seeming to point the way forward through Hannah’s whole voyage toward self-acceptance, toward being “as one.” Explained Campbell, “What Kim and Laura and I wanted to say is that the journey of a transgender person is no different than that of anyone seeking happiness. Societal pressures make it a challenge, of course; but it ultimately comes down to listening to your heart — a universal theme.” David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.
CAROUSEL, from p.22
per season — blessedly with full orchestras but without the distorting amplification that destroys scores (not to mention singing techniques) on Broadway — is amply justified when the shows have merit and call for classically trained singing. Certainly opera is trending in the direction of including ambitious works of music theater — partly for reasons of economics and audience building — and confronting the challenges of performing these works with style will be an asset to the Young Artists whom the company trains. One or two individual performances aside, I found last season’s “Camelot” a grim exercise, since the reasons it’s remembered have little to do with the music and nothing to do with the book. This year’s “Carousel” featured Richard Rodgers’ much superior score, and Doug Peck had the orchestra and fine chorus well in hand. Hammerstein’s book is on the side of the angels but — even in a season showcasing four women betrayed by men they love — it remains hard to care for or about Billy Bigelow, its hero. Ferenc Molnar, the playwright of the source material, “Liliom,” reportedly liked the musical’s sugary Thornton Wilderesque ending. To me, the dream ballet (danced with wonderful fire here by Carolina M. Villaraos and Andrew Harper) always derails the plot, and what follows matters but little. Charles Newell’s production rather minimized the dark aspects that give this piece its special coloration. John Culbert’s set was plain but usefully configured, its main adornment a lone, hovering carousel horse. The female leads were strongly cast. Andrea Carroll acted a compelling, haunted Julie and showed off a quietly gorgeous, pearly timbre. Sharin Apostolou occa| September 04 - 17, 2014
KARLI CADEL/ THE GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL
Tanglewood Verdi, Glimmerglass Rodgers
taken by two singers, designated as “Hannah before” (baritone) and “Hannah after” (mezzo-soprano). The 15 songs Reed and Campbell have crafted — a mix of well-observed constraint, pain, and humor — divide into three temporal and spatial zones along the road to self-knowledge and self-acceptance: Hannah in her home town, at college, and in Norway as an adult. The singer goes from paperboy to secret cross-dresser to jock hero to questioning college student, slowly moving into the trans world and its experiences.
ONE, from p.22
Andrea Carroll, Ryan McKinny, and the ensemble in the Glimmerglass Festival production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.”
sionally punched individual sung words too far out of the line, but in both personality and voice made a winning, energized Carrie. Zambello has promoted gifted contralto Deborah Nansteel’s career, and with reason — her Nettie Fowler showcased beautiful tone and sympathetic dignity. As yet she lacks the star presence pizazz the part demands, but the promise is clear. Ryan McKinny qualifies as a barihunk — a tall, sexy guy with a great smile, which promised well for Billy Bigelow. He moved well onstage and was ingratiating, but his performance lacked the dimension of unstoppable menace to himself and others the story demands. McKinny, an up-and-coming Wagnerian, spoke lines reasonably well, but his singing was disappointing. Impressive as he sounded last year as the
Flying Dutchman, here the voice often sounded thick-complected and monochromatically over-muscled for the idiom. Ben Edquist, who made an impactful, uncommonly well-sung Jigger Craigin, might have served Billy’s part better. Joseph Shadday’s Irish-style tenor sounded apt as Enoch Snow. Actors Wynn Harmon (Starkeeper/ Dr. Seldon) and Rebecca Finnegan (Mrs. Mullin/ Heavenly Friend) stood out for their professionalism and clear textual delivery. “Carousel” launched the weekend pleasantly. Reviews of the three operas performed at Glimmerglass follow in the September 18 issue. David Shengold (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes about opera for many venues.
Friendship and Betrayal
THE GREEN PRINCE Directed by Nadav Schirman Music Box Films Opens Sep. 12 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc Lincoln Plaza 1886 Broadway at 63rd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
Nadav Schirman documentary takes a personal look at hurdles in way of Israeli-Palestinian understanding BY STEVE ERICKSON
Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak in Nadav Schirman’s “The Green Prince.”
Mosab out of a jam near the film’s end, in a situation as riddled with systemic failure as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The teenage Mosab’s loyalty
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to Hamas was firm. At 17, he got involved in a gun sale for the organization, but he got caught and sent to jail for the first time. While imprisoned, he was approached by Israeli intelligence about spying on Hamas for their behalf. He initially refused and went on to serve his time in a wing of the jail controlled by Hamas. Witnessing Hamas members torturing other inmates for real or imagined collaboration with Israel turned him against the organization. When he was freed, he became fully disenchanted, especially with the use of suicide bombings as a frequent tactic. He reconsidered the Shin Bet’s offer and got involved with his handler Gonen. As a director, Schirman favors a fairly bare-bones style. That led Variety critic Rob Nelson to accuse the film of being “uncinematic.” For me, the worst aspects of it are precisely those that struggle to be “cinematic.” It’s based around extensive interviews with its two subjects, who speak fine, accented English. They’re interviewed in separate rooms, attractively lit and framed. Less happily, Schirman relies heavily on reenactments, shot in black and white and designed to look like footage from a drone. Frankly, this feels cheesy at best and an indulgence in paramilitary chic at worst. “The Green Prince” also makes more spar -
ing use of archival film, including Mosab on an undercover mission in Ramallah. Mosab’s dilemma is political, existential, and familial. No one can choose who their father is, what ethnic group they are, or where they’ll be born. Being the son of the founder of Hamas made the usual challenges of adolescence all the more painful for him. At first, he seemingly accepted its ideology passively, but his stay in jail led him to embrace liberal humanism (though it’s important to qualify that description by noting that his blog, last updated in 2012, suggest his politics roughly correspond to those of an Israeli conservative). The problem is that he was in no position to openly move away from Hamas — he couldn’t become a humanist without betraying his family. The film seems to think it was a good idea that he worked as a spy for Israel, as will the majority of its American audience, but it also conveys the full, terrifying weight of his betrayal. He eventually emigrated to the US. It’s no wonder that he couldn’t find a home either in Israel or the Arab world, and not just for obvious reasons of safety. More than other documentaries, “The Green Prince” has often been compared to narrative films about espionage. It reminded me of a John le Carré novel. Its very talkiness projects a literary quality; one can sense its origins in Mosab’s memoir, “Son of Hamas.” For some, like critic Nelson, this luxuriating in words is a defect. However, Mosab is a magnetic speaker and his life story is an extremely dramatic one. Some might see it as an example of Arab — or at least Palestinian — self-hatred, but his willfulness shines through in his eyes and voice. He may have been manipulated, but he knew exactly when it happened and who was doing it,
Carla Juri is a young woman in lust in David Wnendt’s comedy-drama “Wetlands”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
n the cheeky sex romp “Wetlands,” Helen (Carla Juri, in a star -making performance), claims, “If you think penises, sperm, and other bodily fluids are gross, you should just forget about sex altogether.” She licks seminal fluid — “sex-souvenir chewing gum,” she calls it — from her fingers, and then tests which vegetables in the family fridge are best for masturbating. She determines cucumbers are okay, ginger is not, and carrots are the best.
WETLANDS Directed by David Wnendt In German, with English subtitles Strand Releasing Opens Sep. 5 Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc
The 18-year -old Helen, who thinks about sex almost all the time, covers this turf in the film’s opening 10 minutes, as well as revealing her itchy hemorrhoid problem, her penchant for filthy toilets (that rival the one in “Trainspotting”), and her “living pussy hygiene experiment,” which she uses to arouse men. Suffice it to say, “Wetlands” is not a film for the easily offended. But this vivid, darkly funny comedy-drama, adapted by director David Wnendt from Charlotte Roche’s best-selling novel, will have adventurous viewers laughing and gasping at the same scene, as in a deliciously cruel episode from Helen’s childhood in
PRINCE, from p.24
PRINCE, continued on p.25
and he didn’t like it one bit. The American release of “The Green Prince” coincides with the eruptions of war between Israel and Hamas once again. Chronic hostility between them makes the film eternally topical — unless somehow a lasting peace can be achieved — but it seems particularly relevant now. But this isn’t
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
which she learns a harsh lesson about trust from her mother. Helen’s extreme behavior may stem from bitterness over her parents’ divorce. She wants them to reunite and tries to arrange this from her hospital bed, where she is recovering from surgery to repair an anal fissure caused by an unfortunate shaving accident. If “Wetlands” is a piece of hard candy that has fallen on the floor and gotten dirty, it does eventually dissolve in one’s mouth to reveal a sweet center. In the hospital, Helen flirts with her handsome male nurse, Robin (Christoph Letkowski), and has an erotic fantasy about him that involves licking his ass. His patience for her appeals to Helen, who really just wants to be loved. Still, she orders a pizza so she can recount an outlandish tale of a semen-covered pie — a scene Wnendt films in explicit and hilarious slow motion. The pizza sequence is sure to become infamous, and other scenes involving a homemade tampon and Helen hurting her self in a bloody bid to stay near Robin prove nothing is off-limits for Wnendt. Despite all the shock scenes, Helen is sympathetic, even when she is not especially nice. She tells her mother she looks forward to taking care of — and humiliating — her when she is old and infirm. Helen also has contempt for her father, who has started dating a younger woman. Unfortunately, a late reveal that explains the root cause of the family dysfunction comes across as Psychology 101. That subplot, however — teased out over the course of the film —
“Let’s Be Cops,” which inspired a brilliant essay by critic Wesley Morris about Ferguson, Missouri, and movie cops — and a lot of half-assed editorializing by lesser writers. The truths “The Green Prince” reveals about family, friendship, and betrayal don’t only matter on the West Bank and its artistry will live on even if peace between Israel and Hamas is eventually accomplished.
MUSIC BOX FILMS
he Green Prince,” a documentary by Israeli director Nadav Schir man, is bound to get sold as a heartwarming tale of Israeli-Palestinian friendship. Nevertheless, its depiction of the close relationship between Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas’ founder, and Gonen Ben Yitzhak, an agent in Israel’s security agency Shin Bet, pivots around multiple betrayals. The two men never let each other down, but at various points in the film they’re held out to dry by Hamas, the Israeli government, and their own families. If one sees a sign of hope in the film’s depiction of their friendship, it’s a very limited one. Individual goodwill can only go so far, even if Gonen really gets
Let Your Sex Flag Fly
Christoph Letkowski and Carla Juri in by David Wnendt’s “Wetlands.”
is part of Wnendt’s strategy to take audiences on a rollercoaster ride. Visual tricks give audiences an in to Helen’s mindset, and
an animated sequence illustrates the bacteria she battles on a dirty
WETLANDS, continued on p.28
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IN THE NOH
Beastmaster Bill Berloni
The whisperer of the Great White Way
BY DAVID NOH
HELENE DAVIS PR
t’s a foregone conclusion that, in the theater today, when you need an animal onstage — any animal — you go to the Master, Bill Berloni, whose way with performing beasts uncannily combines total sensitivity to their needs and utter onstage reliability. I’m proud to say that I knew Berloni before his uniquely illustrious career began — when we were both first-year acting students at NYU, under the tutelage of the redoubtable Stella Adler. How well I recall how we’d sit, nervously awaiting her grand diva entrance, impeccably coiffed and groomed, inevitably wearing tailored slacks, pearls, and a brightly hued silk collarless blouse, and how she’d sit on her rattan throne and proceed to scare the living daylights out of us, while imparting certain life lessons I carry with me to this day. I should have known then that I was meant much more for a seat in the orchestra than onstage, unlike our classmates Bill Paxton, Mia Dillon, and Rick Skye, currently doing one helluva Liza Minnelli impersonation at Don’t Tell Mama. And Berloni, as well, chose another path, but one he virtually invented. “My parents couldn’t afford to send me to acting school,” he told me, “so my first two years I went to community college in Connecticut to save money and then I picked NYU, and Stella. Goodspeed Theater was putting on the original version of ‘Annie,’ and the dog trainers they called were too expensive to work on the Sandy that was in the script. So they went to the carpenters and prop people on staff and everybody threatened to quit if they had to find and train a dog, as well. So they needed a sucker and somehow my name came up. “I got called to the producer’s office and was offered my Equity card in exchange for finding and training a dog. I’d had a small part in one show there so I thought it was the beginning of my professional acting career. I had no
Bill Berloni with Romeo on opening night of “Threepenny Opera.”
skills and no budget so I went to the pound and found this dog for seven dollars and trained him as I did my own growing up. “That ‘Annie’ got terrible reviews, and I moved to New York to a walkup apartment on Sixth Avenue and Bleecker, with three roommates. It was on the sixth floor of a building that didn’t take dogs. I had fallen in love with Sandy so I moved him in, too, and would walk him on the roof so I didn’t have to walk him past the super’s apartment going out. “After my first semester, Mike Nichols’ office called and said they were doing ‘Annie’ for Broadway and would I be interested. I thought I could make some money for my tuition and never knew it would become the ride that it did. So I left Stella to do ‘Annie’ and I never had the time afterwards to go back until the 1980s when I got my theater degree from the University of Connecticut.” Berloni cites all this as just one of the many wonderful coincidences in his life: “When I was born, my mother had had some difficulty and, coming from a big Italian family, wasn’t exactly thrilled. When I was two, my parents asked me if I wanted a brother or sister and I said a dog. She ran out and
bought me a collie and, as a result, I was an only child. We lived on a farm so I had a dog, a cat, and a rabbit in rural Connecticut. I didn’t see kids, so growing up until kindergarten, I must have found out ways to play with my pets or I’d be very lonely, which I wasn’t at all. When I went to school, I was very socially retarded and shy, being raised with animals as my friends. “If you force an animal to do something, that repels them, so in order to not be lonely I must have figured out games to play that they liked. There’s a certain skill in understanding what animals like and delivering it to them so they do what you want and that’s what I must have learned and brought forward with me. Animals don’t act, they don’t have that intelligence. They’re real onstage all the time, which forces people around them to be real all the time, you have to be engaged. I was able to explain that to actors and per sonally it creates a different kind of performance than any other, which is why they’re so popular. “Sandy was such a fluke and did the entire Broadway run, lived to be 16 and passed away when I was about 34, so he’d been with me half my adult life, through a marriage
and a divorce, an important part of my life. ‘Annie’ was so popular that there were four national companies with 10 dogs. I was acting like a trainer, faking it, thinking nobody would figure it out, while taking tap with Peter Gennaro and singing. “Then I got a call to do the revival of ‘Camelot’ with Richard Burton directed by Alan Jay Lerner — and I thought any way to be in that room, sure I will train the dog. That tour came to Broadway and then I was hired for the Eva Le Gallienne-directed ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with Kate Burton, so I was working with legends! “But, by the end of ‘Annie’s’ first year run, I looked around at other 20-year-olds working then and I wasn’t as good-looking or talented and not a character actor. I realized I was doing pretty good training animals and made the decision to do it full time.” It’s a field that Berloni has actually pretty much invented. “No one else was doing this, except for another group providing animals, unsuccessfully. You can’t force a creature to do anything against their will. It’s gonna look like a mistake. How do you make it play so they don’t run away? My training uses a positive reinforcement method, and even today I don’t really have any competition because people are still doing the old ways, intimidation and control as opposed to cooperation.” Animal rights is a constant crusade with Berloni: “Despite having an African-American president, same-sex marriage, more environmental concern, animals are still in that subclass of things we eat and push around and exploit. When I look for people to work with me, I want them to be like I was, with no training skills, just a love for animals. If they’ve worked with [dog whisperer] Cesar Millan, I just have to undo what they’ve learned so it’s easier to start fresh.” Berloni has an amazing animal compound in Connecticut with quite a history. “In the mid-1980s, I got disillusioned with the whole thing because to this day there are no laws protecting animals in entertainment. None of the unions will take us, so we get the lowest pay and worst conditions. I was walking
IN THE NOH, continued on p.28
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
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WETLANDS, from p.25
public toilet seat. An hallucinatory episode where Helen and her friend Corinna take drugs is captured using a split screen. Mercifully, the director offers viewers breathers between the film’s many
outrageous moments. Juri is fearless in her perfor mance. Whether skateboarding bare-assed through the hospital corridors or visiting a brothel where Helen has oral sex with a female prostitute, the actress makes the moments as thrilling
Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@aol.com, follow him on Twitter @in_the_noh, and check out his blog at http://nohway.wordpress.com/.
54th St. Sep. 5, 11:30 p.m. The cover charge is $15 at 54below.com, and there’s a $20 food & drink minimum.
THEATER Mama Rose Got Nothing on Her
SEPTEMBER 9: Laverne Cox at “GENDERFLUID.”
THEATER Those Guns of August 100 Years Ago
At the centennial of World War I’s start, Horizon Theatre Rep presents ”Culture Shock 1911-1922,” an evening of German Expressionist plays born of that age. Conceived and directed by Rafael De Mussa, the production includes “Sancta Susanna” (1911) by August Stramm; “The Guardian of the Tomb” (1916) by Franz Kafka; “The Transfiguration” (1919) by Ernst Toller; “Ithaka” (1914) by Gottfried Benn; and “Crucifixion” (1920) by Lothar Schreyer. All five were responses to Europe’s apocalyptic mood and agitated spiritual state then, and the evening’s conceit involves a group of soldiers, cooped up together in a bunker, who find the plays, read them aloud, and act them out as “bunker theater.” Access Theater, 380 Broadway at White St. Sep. 4-21: Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 at smarttix.com or 212868-4444.
PERFORMANCE Hey, Big Spender
That’s both the strength and drawback of “Wetlands.” The film is so over-the-top it almost challenges viewers to endure it. Were it not so well made and well acted, it could be unwatchable. Instead, for those who dare, “Wetlands” is unforgettable.
In “Bad With Money,” Ben Rimalower — who previously explored his obsession with La LuPone with “Patti Issues,” to much acclaim — charts his sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing struggle to overcome his problem or get rich trying. “People tend to be familiar now with alcohol and drug addiction — and I’ve got those, too,” Rimalower says. “But spending money I don’t have is really my drug of choice.” Aaron Mark directs. The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. at Seventh Ave. S., Sheridan Sq. Sep. 4-Nov. 6: Thu., 9:30 p.m. Tickets
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
for viewers as they are for her uninhibited character. Juri also manages to make Helen endearing while tip-toeing through filthy water and experiencing anal incontinence — though some may not find these scenes very pleasant to view.
Composer Marvin Laird, longtime conductor for Bernadette Peters, puts down his baton and picks up a pair of pantyhose to take on the role of Sylvia St. Croix in “Ruthless!,” an Off Broadway musical comedy hit from the 1990s that has been called “the stage mother of all musicals!” Joel Paley, who wrote the show and directs this production, also appears in the cast. “Ruthless!” runs for nine performances to benefit Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS. Stage 72 @ the Triad, 148 W. 72nd St. Sep. 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, 19, 20 & 22, 7 p.m. Tickets are $35-$45 at ruthlessthemusical.com or 800-838-3006, and there’s a two-drink minimum.
The Champagne of Bottled Camp DIXON PLACE
off shows because they wouldn’t do the things expected for the animals, so I went back to Connecticut and bought a pretty house on three acres for $80,000. I went back to school but then Broadway called me back, but I continue to be an educator and animal advocate and only use rescue dogs. People ask me why and I say, ‘Because they’ll die otherwise.’ “I’ve trained cats, pigs, birds, and sheep, but, around this isolated property in the woods, people started building houses and 15 barking dogs created problems. So we found a barn for sale for $200,000 on 90 acres with some wetlands and now have horses, llamas, and chickens, as well.” Don’t fool yourself, however, into thinking Bill Berloni, Broadway King of Animals, is getting rich. “It’s not cheap. I have just one person working for me Monday through Friday. Boarding and feeding them is expensive and they are always getting sick. We never fly our animals to locations or theaters, but have vans to send them out regionally. If I were different, I wouldn’t care if they were shipped. Film and TV are both 10 times worse than theater in terms of not caring about the animals. They are considered props and, as such I have to report to the prop master. “This producer of the film ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ called me and said that [its director] Mike Nichols was only interested in using me to train the dogs. ‘Bill,’ she said, ‘we don’t have a big budget.’ But we came out to LA first class and
BOOKS Garland Speaks
are $25-$50 at purplepass.com, and there’s a two-drink minimum.
BOOKS Different Strokes for Different Folks
Bold Strokes Books presents tastings from its newest novels by Jane Hoppen, Jeremy Jordan King, Andrew J. Peters, Nora Olsen, Joel Gomez-Dossi, Daniel W. Kelly, Trinity Tam, and Nell Stark in an evening that promises to whet the appetite for all genres, all genders, and all interests. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Allen & Orchard Sts. Sep. 4, 7-10 p.m. Information at bgsqd.com.
CABARET Aznavour, Sondheim, Scissor Sisters
From Charles Aznavour to Stephen Sondheim to the Scissor Sisters, Amy Jo Jackson presents an evening of raucous revelry, high-class tomfoolery, and a music set as eclectic as her wardrobe. 54 Below, 254 W.
Dan Derby and Michael Rheault’s “Fabulous! The Queen of New Musicals” is a “Some Like It Hot”-style tale of two downon-their-luck female impersonators — Josh Kenney and Nick Morrett — on a cruise ship trying to keep their cool and all the while creating confusions worthy of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Directed by Rick Hamilton with choreography by Mary Lauren, “Fabulous!” was an Off-Off Broadway hit last season and now opens at Write Act Repertory Theatre, Times Square Arts Center, 300 W. 43rd St. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Mon., 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $34 prior to Sep. 8 opening, then $45 at brownpapertickets.com.
NIGHTLIFE Doin’ the Bushwick Drag
The third annual Bushwig celebration of drag includes 160 performers over two days, including Penny Arcade, Dynasty Handbag, Soft Pink Truth, Poisonous Relationship, Tami Tamaki, JD Samson, Bottoms, Horrochata, Macy Rodman, Untitled Queen, Merrie Cherrie (Dragnet), and Cherry Pepsi. Secret Project Robot, 389 Melrose St. near Knickerbocker Ave., Bushwick (Morgan stop on the L train). Sep. 6-7, 1 p.m.-very late. Tickets are $20 per day or
CHICAGO REVIEW PRESS
IN THE NOH, from p.26
$30 for both days at secretprojectrobot.org. With a Bushwig wristband, free admission to Sep. 6 afterparties at Spectrum, 59 Montrose Ave. at Lorimer St. and at Bizarre Bar, 12 Jefferson St. at Myrtle St.
was seated on the orchestra aisle with her guide dog, there was some concern as to how this would distract the onstage furry actor. McDonald was asked if it was all right if she not have the dog during the latter portion of the show when she makes her entrance, but the star refused to go on without her. The patron was moved to a more discreet spot of the aisle — which is, um, evidently illegal — but Audra did go on, pup in arms. Berloni has long yearned to see something like “Lassie: a Musical,” with one of his animals center stage and starring, not just providing comic relief. “My wife Dorothy said, ‘Let’s produce our own,’ and she acquired the rights to ‘Because of Winn Dixie,’ Kate DiCamillo’s book which was made into a very mediocre film. It’s about a preacher with a young daughter whose wife runs away and they find this giant dog who brings the community together. We emptied out our savings account and went on a creative quest for collaborators. Duncan Sheik has written the score and Neil Benjamin of ‘Legally Blonde’ did the book and lyrics. We had our world premiere in Arkansas and sold out, the most successful show in that theater’s history, and the eventual plan, of course, is to bring it here.” Berloni won a special Tony Award in 2011 for the invaluable service he’s provided for more than three decades now. “That was really amazing. We were doing ‘Legally Blonde’ in 2007 and it closed in 2008 when the recession hit. Three Broadway shows then cut animals out. ‘Anything Goes’ cut the dogs, ‘Gypsy’ cut the live lamb but used a puppet [which was so fucking weird], and ‘The Miracle Worker’ cut Helen Keller’s seeing eye dog! Don’t call it a revival if you’re not putting onstage what the authors have written for a reason. “I said that in an interview and got myself in trouble. It was a hard time. I hadn’t done a show in three years and my dad passed away. A little community theater in Red Bank, New Jersey, was doing ‘Annie’ and my trainers weren’t available. I buried my dad and drove to Red Bank to start rehearsals. I was in a hotel room, so sad, wondering where my life had gone, how I was going to pay my mortgage, and wondering if I’d ever do another show again. Suddenly, I got this phone call and it was the Tony committee telling me I had gotten this honorary award. I swear it was a sign from my father saying that it was gonna be okay.”
CRAIG BAILEY/ PERSPECTIVE PHOTO
Audra McDonald with Roxie in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”
they treated us so well. When Mike Nichols saw me on the set he gave me a big hug and I could see everybody wondering who I was. “‘I gotta go back to work,’ he said. And then I get a call that he wants to see me and it’s Mike, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, and the director of photography. Mike said, ‘Julia [Roberts] is going to be on the bed and Tom [Hanks] is in the bathroom, where do we put the dogs?’ And we started doing what we do in the theater, which is to direct the scene. We would get the shots on the first take and the producer was like, ‘We saved $50,000!’ Because I train dogs to get it right the first time.” Berloni is now working on the film remake of “Annie.” “It’s an African- American version. Jamie Foxx is Daddy Warbucks and Cameron Diaz is Miss Hannigan for a very smart director/ writer Will Gluck. There’s that Jay Z remix of ‘Hard Knock Life,’ and they’ve retained six songs from the show and written four or five new ones. I’m a kind of theater snob but it really is smart, they’ve changed the period to 2014. Warbucks is a cellphone billionaire from the ‘hood instead of a war tycoon, and Hannigan is a lounge singer who takes foster kids up to Harlem. I have high hopes for it.” This past theater season was particularly busy for Berloni, as he provided dogs for “Bullets Over Broadway,” “The Open House,” and most memorably, to me, Martha Clarke’s superb “Threepenny Opera.” “I’d worked with her on two other dance epics. She’s brilliant and crazy. She loved this musical, wanted to make it accessible, and is still upset over the reviews and will probably never come back and direct. She took all her images from Weimar artwork, like this street scene of a murdered prostitute and a stray dog licking her blood. We had this rescue bulldog from ‘Legally Blonde’ and, for the scene in which Queen Victoria appears, the Atlantic Theater budget wouldn’t allow for two actors to portray her wearing a huge papier-mâché head, so Martha looked at Romeo and said, ‘I’m gonna make him the Queen!’” The dog was brilliant, completely resembling that crusty monarch in crown and ermine cape, looking disdainfully at the audience as he was wheeled about the stage. The Chihuahua that helped Audra McDonald to her record sixth Tony win in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” is another of Berloni’s charges. McDonald is deeply attached to the animal, he told me, and once, when a blind person
“It’s going to be one hell of a great — everlastingly great — book with humor, tears, fun, emotion, and love,” Judy Garland said of her plans to tell her life story. She died at 47 without doing so. Randy L. Schmidt’s “Judy Garland on Judy Garland: Interviews and Encounters,” part of the Chicago Review Press’ “Musicians in Their Own Words” series, aims to fill that gap. Schmidt appears at Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Allen & Orchard Sts. Sep. 6, 7 p.m. Information at bgsqd.com.
GALLERY New Acquisitions
In “Permanency,” the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art presents an exhibit of recently acquired works from the past 60 years including pieces by James Bidgood, Dyke Action Machine (DAM), Robert F. Figueroa, Nan Goldin, Red Grooms, Peter Hujar, Harmony Hammond, Robert Indiana, Deborah Kass, George Platt Lynes, and Annie Sprinkle. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thu.) through Sep. 28. Information at leslielohman.org
AT THE BEACH Gladiator A-Go-Go
Spartacus III: Live by The Sword, Die by The Sword is a clothing -optional, Spartacus-themed event, replete with gladiator go-go boys and an open vodka and gin bar. Belvedere Hotel, Cherry Grove. Sep. 6, 7 p.m. At 11 p.m., the party rolls into the third annual Mr. Nude Belvedere Contest. Admission is $45-$60 at dworld.us. To book a room at the hotel, call 631-597-6448.
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14 DAYS, from p.29
COMEDY A Hobby Lobby Howl
Comedians Kate Clinton, Lizz Winstead, and Lewis Black appear in an evening of thought-provoking humor and engaging conversation on the subject of religious freedom — a red-hot topic since the Supreme Court found that Hobby Lobby, as a corporation but also a person, has the First Amendment right to not provide contraceptive coverage in its employee health plan otherwise required by the Affordable Care Act. 92nd Street YMCA’s Kaufmann Concert Hall, 92nd Street at Lexington Ave. Sep. 8, 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 at 92y.org/event/ comedy-conversation-controversy. The event benefits Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
PERFORMANCE The Expansive Expression of Gender
PERFORMANCE Drifting on a Tennessee Williams Dream
In “The Drift,” Justin Vivian Bond creates a new free-associative collage of spoken word and song inspired by Tennessee Williams’s novella “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone,” about a retired actress named Karen Stone who drifts from one space to another through couture, bed, or her own mind. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Sep. 11-12, 18-19 & Oct. 2-3, 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 at joespub.com or 212-9677555, and there’s a food & drink minimum for table service.
PERFORMANCE All Stripped Down
Lauren Molina (“Marry Me a Little,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Rock of Ages”) and Nick Cearley (“All Shook Up”) became YouTube sensations when they burst on the nightlife scene as the Skivvies, an undie-rock, comedy-pop duo. They don’t just strip down their musical arrangements, they literally strip down to their underwear to perform their distinctive mashups and eccentric originals for cello and ukulele, with touches of glockenspiel, melodica, and a surprising array of under-used instruments. 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Sep. 12 & 26, 11 p.m. The cover is $35-$45 at 54below.com, and there’s a $25 food & drink minimum.
PERFORMANCE Dixon Place Family Gathers to Celebrate
Keith Nelson, star of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, hosts Supper at the Salon, Dixon Place’s 2014 gala donor dinner. The evening honors Peggy Shaw of the Split Britches Theater Company, Dixon Place board member Eric Jensen, and underground theater innovator Yoshiko Kasuga. Performers include Stew (“Passing Strange”), Ted Keegan (Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera”), and the aerial troupe LAVA. 161A Chrystie St. btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Sep. 15, 6:30 p.m. Ticket are $200-$500 at 212-219-0736.
PERFORMANCE Broadening Queer Art’s Parameters
The Queer New York International Arts Festival — which explores and broadens the concept of queer (in) art returns for a third year with an international cast of artists, some appearing in New York for the first time. For Brian McCormick’s feature about last year’s festival visit gaycitynews.nyc/ remaking-ourselves-image. “The exclusive reading of queer(ness) through sexuality and gender prisms too often neglects other aspects like social status and background, race and ethnicity, geography and other norms that influence positioning of queer in society and art,” said Zvonimir Dobrović, the festival’s curator and producer. “QNYIA expands the parameters of what queer performance can be and means. QNYIA deliberately opens other areas of investigating queer that go beyond identity art.” This year’s festival presents US premieres from Croatian theater director Branko Brezovec, Bulgarian performance artist Ivo Dimchev, New York interdisciplinary artist Marissa Perel, US and India-based choreographer Sujata Goel, Spanish interdisciplinary artist Abel Azcona, and American ex-pat dance artists Jeremy Wade (Berlin) and Mark Tompkins (France). Sep. 17-28. Venues include
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St.at Pitt St.; La Mama, 74A E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave., second fl.; the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Grand & Canal Sts.; the Chocolate Factory Theater, 5-49 49th Ave. btwn. Vernon Blvd. & Fifth St., Long Island City; and Grace Exhibition Space & Gallery, 840 Broadway at Park St., second fl., Bushwick. For complete information, schedule, and tickets, visit queerny.org.
BOOKS Love Your Body, Love Yourself, Love
“Totempole” is Sanford Friedman’s remarkable novel exploring the erotic inner life of a gay man from the age of 2 until he serves in the Korean War in his early 20s. First published in 1965 — to a variety of scathing mainstream press reviews — “Totempole” has, four years after its author’s death, just been re-issued by New York Review Books , with an afterword by noted novelist and short story writer Peter Cameron, whose work includes the acclaimed YA novel “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.” Cameron is joined by writer Benjamin Taylor, who is currently at work on a biography of Marcel Proust, at Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, inside Cage, 83A Hester St., btwn. Allen & Orchard Sts. Sep. 18, 7 p.m. Information at bgsqd.com.
THEATER Revisiting the Sexual Revolution
Dana Leslie Goldstein’s newest play, “Daughters of the Sexual Revolution,” is set in Westchester County in 1976 and swings back and forth between the households of two women who are in love. Joyce, 40, is having an affair with Judy, who is in her early 30s. Judy’s psychiatrist husband Liam tries to control her with Valium, while Joyce’s husband Ed, in his 50s, in an understanding guy who focuses on the couple’s college age daughter Stacia, a volatile and hotheaded girl discovering sex for the first time with classmate Simon. WorkShop Theater, 312 W. 36th St. Sep. 18-Oct. 11: Thu., 7 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m. Tickets are $18, $15 for students & seniors at workshoptheater.org or 866-811-4111.
“GENDERFLUID” is a week-long festival of performance, film, and art by transgender and genderfluid artists held at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. On Sep. 9, 8 p.m. at Mason Hall, 17 Lexington Ave. at 23rd St. Among the highlights: Laverne Cox, the “Orange Is the New Black” star who appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, appears in conversation with her twin brother, artist M. Lamar — who played her character pre-transition on OITNB and has a solo exhibition, “Negrogothic,” at Participant, 253 E. Houston St. at Norfolk St., through Oct. 12 — as the two discuss their Alabama child-
hood, their family, and their careers. Tickets are $20-$100. On Sep. 10, 7:30 p.m., at Engelman Hall, 55 Lexington Ave. at 25th St., South African artist Gabrielle LeRoux, who has traveled across her continent photographing transgender individuals, is joined by Ugandan gender activist Victor Mukasa to discuss the state of transgender issues in Africa. Admission is free. On Sep. 11, 8 p.m., at Engelman Hall, Bianca Leigh presents “Busted! The Musical,” her autobiographical one-woman show about her decision to fund her gender reassignment surgery by working as a dominatrix — a decision that led her to Riker’s Island. Tim Cusack directs, and there are original songs by Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”) and Taylor Mac. Tickets are $20; $15 for students & seniors. On Sep. 12, 8 p.m., at the Nagelberg Theatre, 55 Lexington Avenue at 25th St., Kate Bornstein, the original gender outlaw, presents “On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us,” an evening of her favorite autobiographical spoken word pieces — her most personal stories and her favorite comic and dramatic monologues from over a quarter of a century on the stage. Tickets are $30-$60,; $20 for students & seniors. On Sep. 13, 8 p.m., at the Nagelberg Theatre, film director Paul Morrissey introduces Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn, who will be interviewed by Michael Musto about her life and career and share rare clips from her own collection of her films, TV appearances, and live stage appearances. She’ll also perform a few songs live, including the Lou Reed classic “Walk on the Wild Side.” Tickets are $25-$50; $20 for students & seniors. On Sep. 13, 9:30 p.m., at the Nagelberg Theatre, Ian Harvie, a trans comic you may know as Margaret Cho’s opening act, jokes about subjects no one else touches — poking fun at top surgery, his fear of public restrooms, and his active sex life. Harvie’s act queers the traditionally macho, sex-obsessed world of stand-up in ways you won’t believe, proving that laughter cuts across all gender identities and ultimately unites us all. Tickets are $20; $15 for students & seniors. Complete information and tickets for all events available at baruch.cuny.edu/bpac or 212-352-3101.
September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
| September 04 - 17, 2014
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September 04 - 17, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.com
SEPT. 4, 2014 GAY CITY NEWS