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New Trans Unit at Rikers 08

Was Lawrence Gay in Arabia? 42

A Ruby Teddy Bear 46

A Bed... & A Safe Haven

De Blasio aggressively expands youth emergency shelter, but controversies remain © GAY CITY NEWS 2014 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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FREE | VOLUME THIRTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY-FOUR | NOVEMBER 27 - DECEMBER 10, 2014


walking tour

STONEWALL INN

HISTORY

REMEMBRANCE Jerry Tallmer, giant among arts critics

Church of the Village 201 West 13th St.

LGBT Communiy Center 208 W. 13th St.

St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center Former Site: 170 W. 12th St.

Police Station 135 Charles St.

The Stonewall Inn

24

Oscar Wilde Memorial Book Shop 15 Christopher St.

Julius’ Bar 159 West 10th St.

53 Christopher St.

The Corner Christopher St. & Greenwhich Ave. Snake Pit Bar 211 W. 10th St.

Moroccan Village 23 West 8th St.

Polly’s Restaurant 137 MacDougal St.

Berenice Abbott Home St. 50 Commerce St. Caffe Cino 31 Corneila St.

Eleanor Roosevelt Apartment 29 Washington Square W.

Eve’s Place 129 MacDougal St.

Louis’ Luncheon 116 MacDougal St.

FILM

Bon Soir 40 W. 8th St.

Christopher Park Marie’s Crisis Cafe 59 Grove St.

Old Rabbit Club 124 MacDougal St.

NYU Kimmel Center, Room 405

Susan slept here

60 Washington Square S.

Pfaff’s Club 653 Broadway

Bleecker Kitchen & Co

Bayard-Condict Building 67 Bleecker St.

36

647 Broadway

A Bed...

& A Safe Haven

FILM

Sussing out an LGBT freedom trail

14 DAYS

06

De Blasio aggressively expands youth emergency shelter, but controversies remain

CEO “fraud” charged in AIDS group bankruptcy

Journeys and barricades for LGBT Russians

Twinkling funhouse reflections

04

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| November 27 - December 10, 2014

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A Bed... & A Safe Haven De Blasio aggressively expands youth emergency shelter, but controversies remain BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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GAY CITY NEWS

en is a confident and well-spoken 19-year -old who has worked the past couple of years as an executive receptionist in New York City. With a gently wry sense of humor, he recently discussed his love of doing drag, especially when going out for late-night screenings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He also mentioned working on creating cosmetic products of his own made from organic ingredients. But Ben, who arrived in New York at 17, has also endured stretches of living on the street. Once, for a week and a half in autumn weather, he slept every night in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Home-schooled in New Hampshire, he completed his high school requirements by the time he was 14, and then began taking college classes. His troubles keeping a roof over his head just three years later, then, are especially striking. When Ben was 16, he felt confident enough about his place in the world to tell his mother and his Baptist pastor father he is gay, something they refused to accept. His father is friends with the president of a small Baptist college in the California desert, and Ben was soon packed off to spend a year there, where he was subjected to conversion therapy to rid him of his homosexuality. He suffered no physical abuse, he said, but he was only able to leave the campus with specific approval and had to sign a consent form allowing school officials to search his possessions and his computer any time they wished. “They even tried to set me up with a girlfriend,” Ben deadpanned. “That didn’t work out.” The year he spent in California, he said, turning serious, was “lonely and very depressing.” At 17, Ben left the Baptist college but felt unwelcome back home in New Hampshire. In the two years he’s been in New York, he’s lived in several homeless facilities specifically focused on serving the needs of LGBT youth. Since June, he has

Henley, 20, and Grace, 18, who both spoke positively about their experiences in Covenant House.

been in transitional housing at Covenant House, by far the city’s largest provider of shelter — both emergency and longer-term “transitional” housing — for homeless kids 21 and younger. Ben and two other youths — an 18-year-old lesbian and a 20-yearold gay man — that Gay City News met with at Covenant recently left no doubt that they are thriving there. Their feedback stands in stark contrast to a long-running narrative about the West 41st Street facility, which houses about 150 emergency and 110 transitional residents. Ben recalled that just days after arriving, he sat in the office of Brian Bob — a gay man whose 24-year career at Covenant has included outreach work in Los Angeles and Oakland as well as in-house counseling here in New York — trying on high heels he would wear in the annual LGBT Pride March down Fifth Avenue. “There I was all decked out in drag heading down to gay pride, and one of the straight residents here telling me how great I looked,” Ben said. Bob, he said, is not the exception at Covenant: “The staff is very supportive… they always have your back.” Ben’s sunny account of his experiences at Covenant House is likely welcome news to the Department of Youth and Community Development, the New York City unit

responsible for providing housing for a category of young people 21 and younger known as runaway and homeless youth, or RHY. As part of a campaign commitment made last year to advocates — including those working on behalf of LGBT youth — Mayor Bill de Blasio has increased the number of emergency beds for homeless youth by 100 in his first year in office, a number DYDC said represents an 85 percent surge in emergency beds. The contract for 76 of those 100 went to Covenant House, the remainder to Inwood House, which serves homeless young women who are pregnant or have children. The mayor’s campaign pledge included a commitment to dedicate a portion of the shelter bed increase to the special challenges faced by LGBT youth. In a widely cited 2007 census of the city’s homeless youth, the Empire State Coalition estimated that on an average night roughly 3,800 youth 24 and younger are without safe permanent shelter in the city — and that as many as 40 percent of them are LGBT or questioning. Data from the city and advocates indicate there are less than 400 beds in total — emergency and transitional — to serve the city’s vulnerable transient youth. When the de Blasio administration announced that 32 of the 100 new beds would be for LGBT youth, advocates were cheered. The decision to locate all of those 32 beds at Covenant House has

been more controversial. Founded in the late 1960s by Father Bruce Ritter, a Catholic priest, Covenant, by the 1980s, was widely known among LGBT youth advocates as a place where gay kids faced hostility from staff and violence and bullying from their straight peers. Steve Ashkinazy was the clinical director at the LGBT-focused Hetrick-Martin Institute in the 1980s and recalled that the situation then for LGBT youth at Covenant was “like something out of Dickens.” As advocates pressed Covenant to improve its performance, he said, there were always “promises of change,” but in the end the organization was “incapable of change.” Ritter was forced to resign in 1990 in the face of mounting charges of sexual misconduct made by male youths under Covenant’s care. The priest’s last ditch claims that the allegations were “garbage” did nothing to bridge the gulf of mistrust between the organization and the LGBT community. Carl Siciliano, who in 2002 founded the Ali Forney Center (AFC) that provides services and housing tailored to the needs of homeless LGBT youth, is one of several advocates convinced that Covenant House has changed little from the Dickens-like climate Ashkinazy saw there in the 1980s and ‘90s. He first brought concerns about the 32-bed contract to Gay City News in the late summer, and from the start was up front in acknowledging that neither AFC nor other LGBT-specific shelters were prepared to step up in timely fashion to provide the beds that went to Covenant. According to Siciliano, after learning of the DYCD contract early this year, he and his staff began querying young people who live in AFC housing or who access its services and its Harlem drop-in center about past experiences they had with Covenant. “I’ve never examined Covenant as much as I have in the past six months,” he told Gay City News.

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November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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| November 27 - December 10, 2014

GAY CITY NEWS

“At this point I’ve heard about 30 reports of antiLGBT violence, bullying, and harassment.” The incidents, he said, have all happened within the past 12 to 24 months. Siciliano’s scrutiny of Covenant may have intensified recently, but he’s long been of the view that it fails LGBT youth. In a story Gay City News wrote about AFC about a year after its founding, several youth there related horror stories about their experiences at Covenant and Siciliano talked about a number more he’d heard — including one youth’s experience of being urinated on by his straight dorm mates. Several months ago, 11 years after Gay City News first reported Siciliano’s account of that incident, Rolling Stone magazine, in a story on homeless youth, quoted him citing the same example of anti-gay abuse at Covenant. Rolling Stone’s story made no other mention of Covenant, which said the magazine never contacted it for comment and did not run a letter to the editor in response. Covenant’s desire to participate in stories about its work with LGBT youth is a departure from its attitude in 2003, when it declined to comment for Gay City News’ original story about Ali Forney. When the newspaper contacted Covenant about Siciliano’s current concerns, its senior staff made themselves available for nearly four hours of on-site interviews, during a portion of which Ben and two of his LGBT peers living there participated. Siciliano also spent significant time in recent months speaking with Gay City News, which in two visits to AFC’s Harlem drop-in center in September and October met with roughly a dozen of its clients. A good number had spent at least some time at Covenant in the past year or so, and some, but not all of those who had, recounted troubling incidents they experienced or witnessed there. Gay City News heard widely disparate views about Covenant from youth living there versus some interviewed at AFC, and the radically different picture that emerges could lead readers to make judgments about the credibility of one account over another, even though only a small amount of any one youth’s experience can be conveyed in this story. As a result, even though some who spoke to Gay City News agreed to have their last names printed, only first names will be used in relating these accounts, provided — as they are — by a group of young people already facing plenty of challenges in life. Ishmael is a 21-year -old who grew up in Brooklyn but was moved around in his youth among his extended family here and in South Carolina, probably due, he said, to the fact “that I was a little defiant.” He first encountered Covenant House when his mother asked him to leave home after he turned 18. He described Covenant as “just like the projects. A lot of people up to no good. Smoking drugs, alcohol.” Showing off a facial scar of an inch or two just

above his neck, Ishmael explained that last year another resident, coming off an elevator, slashed him with a razor. Ishmael, who now lives in AFC housing — which he said provides both “a homey feel” and “encouragement” — did not condemn Covenant outright. “It’s not all bad,” he said. “I made a few connections with a few staff members.” Malik, 19, currently lives in transitional housing at Hospitality House on Staten Island, and has accessed social services from a variety of providers serving youth, including AFC, the Door, and the Streetwork Project. Having lived in Covenant House on and off from August 2013 through this past March, he believes it is “a lot more violent than the others. The capacity is the problem. Nobody should have to live like that, especially since people come to them asking for help. I would say to de Blasio’s face, with cameras on, that it needs to stop.” Malik, who grew up in East New York, has cerebral palsy and a withered arm, but said that while still at home he was arrested when police took his grandfather’s side when he fought back against the older man’s abuse. He spent time on Rikers until his family asked that the case be dropped. At Covenant, he said, he faced harassment for his disability and was once punched in the head. Malik also said he witnessed gay-bashings in which young men were “kicked, stomped on” and called “homo.” “They told me to my face you’re not worth anything,” he said. “Sometimes I would cry in the bathroom and let it out. I’ve seen people get shot, people get stabbed. Not a day when the police aren’t called.” The most startling story, however, came from Raymond Brown, who is Siciliano’s husband. Brown, who works with LGBT youth in a weekend program run out of St. Luke’s Church in the West Village, said that roughly a year ago a young transgender woman there told him she had suffered a gang rape and stabbing at Covenant House. Brown said the woman has not come around St. Luke’s recently and he is unaware if she reported her story to Covenant officials, the police, or any other authorities. Jenna Tine, who has run the St. Luke’s program for more than a decade, saw the young woman speaking to Brown, but did not hear the account directly from her. Accounts like those of Malik and Ishmael and what he heard from his husband lead Siciliano to talk about rampant “gang” violence at Covenant. Kate Barnhart, who directs New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth, a West Village-based group that provides case management and other services, echoed the view that youth gangs intimidate the most vulnerable among Covenant’s population. Backing up his assertions, Siciliano provided Gay City News with a tally prepared by the city Public Advocate’s Office, which showed that between January 2012 and July 2014 — a 30-month period — 1,415 NYPD records involving Covenant House’s West 41st Street address

Victoria, a 20-year-old lesbian who recently left Covenant House after enduring what she said were sexual orientation conversion efforts by a counselor.

were compiled. It’s not clear, however, whether that statistic means anything at all. Asked about those numbers, Covenant House’s executive director Creighton Drury said he had examined 690 such records for a calendar-year period. A single incident, he said, could result in multiple records, sometimes as many as seven or eight. In some cases, the “incident” involved was a crime committed against a Covenant resident by an outsider drawn to the facility’s perimeter, which faces an elevated ramp running into the Port Authority in an out-of-the-way swath of the far West Side. And, Drury said, if a youth who once lived at Covenant is arrested for turnstile jumping and gives its address, that, too, will become a “record.” The 690 records, according to Drury, pointed to only 15 violent incidents in or near Covenant — eight involving criminal behavior by outsiders targeting residents there and seven carried out by those living there. Noting the metal detectors at the building’s entrance, he said guns and knives are not a problem there and that most incidents between residents requiring intervention involve pushing and shoving. Detective Mike Petrillo, for many years the community liaison at the 10th precinct, backed up Drury’s explanation, both on the interpretation of NYPD records and on the overall climate at Covenant. If an incident is phoned into 911, that creates a record, police arriving on the scene spawns a second record, any arrest a third, and a cross-complaint by the alleged perpetrator a fourth, he said. Crediting Drury, who has been at Covenant for about two and a half years, with improving the organization’s communications with the precinct, Petrillo said, “I am not seeing violent crime coming out of the building.” Most complaints from residents, he said, involve theft of personal possessions, especially cell phones. Petrillo said no physical confrontations in recent memory had spiraled out of control at Covenant.

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5


HISTORY

Activists, National Parks Advocates Suss Out LGBT History Sites

Under Obama administration initiative, Village venues scouted for federal designation opportunities

6

walking tour

Church of the Village 201 West 13th St.

LGBT Communiy Center 208 W. 13th St.

St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center Former Site: 170 W. 12th St.

Police Station 135 Charles St.

Oscar Wilde Memorial Book Shop 15 Christopher St.

Julius’ Bar 159 West 10th St.

The Stonewall Inn 53 Christopher St.

The Corner Christopher St. & Greenwhich Ave. Snake Pit Bar 211 W. 10th St.

Bon Soir 40 W. 8th St.

Christopher Park Marie’s Crisis Cafe 59 Grove St.

Moroccan Village 23 West 8th St.

Polly’s Restaurant 137 MacDougal St.

Berenice Abbott Home St. 50 Commerce St. Caffe Cino 31 Corneila St.

Eleanor Roosevelt Apartment 29 Washington Square W.

Eve’s Place 129 MacDougal St.

Louis’ Luncheon 116 MacDougal St.

Old Rabbit Club 124 MacDougal St.

NYU Kimmel Center, Room 405 60 Washington Square S.

Pfaff’s Club 653 Broadway

Bleecker Kitchen & Co

Bayard-Condict Building 67 Bleecker St.

647 Broadway

NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION

bout 20 activists who have made some of their own L G B T h i s t o r y i n N e w Yo r k took a walking tour through Greenwich Village on a chilly November 15 as part of a process of deciding what ought to be included in a federally designated site or area administered by the National Park Service. The tour took in everything from the site of Pfaff’s on Broadway above Bleecker Street, where Walt Whitman hung out in the 1850s, to the Stonewall Inn, but also included other spots once (and sometimes still) home to gay restaurants, bars, and even cruising corners — many of which were subjected to police harassment over the years. Also on the tour was the site of the apartment of a bisexual First Lady — not Chirlane McCray’s, but Eleanor Roosevelt’s pad at 29 Washington Square, where she once wrote, “I could see nice young men from my window,” as she gazed down on the gay male pick-up spot on the park’s western edge. Tour participants included the state’s first out LGBT legislator, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, historian David Carter, who wrote a definitive account of the Stonewall Riots, Janet Weinberg, who formerly helmed Gay Men’s Health Crisis, gay civil liberties activist Bill Dobbs, transgender advocate Melissa Sklarz, gay archivist Rich Wandel and his fellow Gay Activists Alliance veteran Bill Bahlman, and Bill Hibsher, the board president at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Also on hand were a host of people from historic preservation groups and from philanthropy, including Andrew Lane, who heads the Johnson Family Foundation, and Ken Lustbader, director of Historic Preservation at the JM Kaplan Fund. The tour was organized by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the largest advocacy group for US parks, which wants to take advantage of new interest on the part of the National Park Service in LGBT history (see this reporter’s June 2014 article “National Park Service Lifting the Lid on LGBT History” at tinyurl.com/o3qxua9). There is a closing window of opportunity to get federal designations for significant LGBT sites or districts under President Barack Obama’s power to declare national monuments. Interest has also been stoked by the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 2019. Cortney Worrall, senior regional director of the NPCA’s Northeast Regional Office, said that what gets designated is “up to the community. We need to build community support for Stonewall or some component of Stone-

STONEWALL INN

A

BY ANDY HUMM

The initial LGBT sites the National Parks Conservation Association proposed to consider for federal designation, a collection that tour participants were quick to supplement.

wall and other sites within Greenwich Village becoming designated in a better way by the Park Service.” And she said that while Stonewall is key to telling “the overall story” of the LGBT movement, “we’re learning that the story starts in the middle of the 19th century.” Worrall explained, “We’re not talking about taking over or preserving these sites. It could be something as simple as a trail like the Freedom Trail [of Revolutionary era history] in Boston or a visitor center in Greenwich Village with a place to have archives.” The November 15 tour and a meeting afterwards was one of a series of consultations NPCA is conducting, an effort that will continue with a Harlem gathering soon and later perhaps in other parts of the city. While the map distributed for the tour included two dozen notable places where LGBT history was made, tour guide Jay Shockley of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission added more as did many of the participants, particularly highlighting more lesbian sites and more places where LGBT political action took places on the streets of Greenwich Village. There was also discussion of seeking out more sites relevant to the transgender struggle for visibility and equal treatment. “We don’t want people to think this is a done deal,” Worrall explained. “It is in its earliest stages and we want ideas. We have the tools to make this happen in Washington.” She invited those from the public with ideas to email her at cworrall@npca.org. “It was a great thing,” said Wandel, the founder of the LGBT Community Center’s National History Archive. “But it is going to

take a while. It depends upon the federal government owning some property to tag it to. One possibility discussed was the city transferring Christopher Park,” which lies across the street from the Stonewall, to the feds. “Everyone is aware of Stonewall internationally,” said Glick, who mentioned other locations outside of the Village such as in Harlem and the Firehouse at 99 Wooster St. in Soho, which served as the gay and lesbian movement’s headquarters and community center for several years post-Stonewall before it was lost to a fire. Weinberg said, “There’s also a lot of lesbian history in the Village,” citing bars such as Bonnie & Clyde’s and the Duchess, which was just south of Sheridan Square and closed by the State Liquor Authority for not serving men in the early 1980s, an action followed by massive, but unavailing street protests. Weinberg would also like to see the New York chapter of the lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis, founded in the 1950s, recognized. Dobbs observed, “It’s an interesting moment where we’re seeing a push for federal recognition of sexual minority struggles, but at the same time the movement is so respectable that it is no longer a threat to the status quo.” While the NPCA has been the impetus behind this push, Bahlman, a veteran organizer, hopes community members will coalesce into some kind of ad hoc advocacy group as well. While there was some talk of getting a wealthy donor to buy the Stonewall and turn it into an historic site, Bahlman said that it had been “a pretty horrible bar” when it was raided and care should be taken not to restore it as some kind of “house of horrors.”

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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HUMAN RIGHTS

Rikers Ready With Transgender Inmate Housing Unit

NYC’s largest jail to accommodate women who’ve not undergone genital surgery BY ANDY HUMM

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NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION

O

n Rikers Island, man-to-woman transgender inmates who have not undergone genital surgery will now have the option of not being housed with the general population of men, but to be detained in a new transgender unit opening this month in the New York City jail’s oldest building. Gay City News was given an exclusive tour of the 30-bed facility on the sixth floor of the jail’s North Infirmary Command (though the unit is not part of the hospital) and spoke with the administrators and officers who will operate it and later with the advocates who pressed for its creation. The unit consists of a large dormitory-style room and a smaller room with round tables and fixed seats where inmates can watch one TV or play games as well as eat. They will also have access to recreation in the yard and physical and mental health services nearby. While there is no forgetting or compensating for the fact that this is a place of confinement, the rooms have sweeping views of Manhattan on one side and the Long Island Sound on the other. The opening comes at a time when Rikers — a complex that houses more than 11,000 inmates overall — is in the news for a history of unsafe conditions, including brutality at the hands of officers, for a variety of inmates. Erik Berliner, deputy commissioner for strategic planning and programs at the Department of Correction (DOC), said, “We are finding ways to keep people safe, giving them a place where they don’t have to worry about being themselves. This is a place that can be sensitive to them. It is the right time for it. We are reassessing everything about safety and security.” One of the key principles of the unit is that it is completely voluntary. Berliner said that transgender women inmates who have not undergone genital surgery were surveyed and about half said that

The new housing unit for transgender women at Rikers Island.

“What is remarkable about this opportunity is that it is about more than just getting trans people jailed better but also connecting them to services.” they would prefer to be assigned to the new unit and the other half would choose to remain among the male inmates. State law requires that inmates with male genitalia not be placed among the female inmate population, which is why these transgender women are currently housed among male inmates. Advocates have been pressing for the transgender unit for years, getting nowhere under the Bloomberg administration that shut down a gay unit in 2006. John Boston, director of the Prisoners’ Rights Project at the Legal Aid Society, said, “It’s a great step forward that will make life in jail noticeably less miserable for a group of people that have often been terribly mistreated.” He added, “We still have not managed to get the directive governing the unit’s operations out of them. We made comments back in August, but there were endless delays on finalizing it.” More than a hundred staff at the jail were given training on transgender issues by two of the advocates for the facility, Chase Strangio, himself transgender, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, and Alisha Williams, direc-

tor of prisoners’ legal services at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Strangio said the training sessions were “an incredible opportunity to have advocates on issues impacting trans people in confinement settings to be the ones training uniformed correctional staff. The trainings represented a point of potential progress insofar as they show a commitment by leadership at DOC on meaningful training on trans issues. But like with all training, the culture change that is going to need to happen is going to take much more than a two-hour training could ever accomplish. So much will depend on the governing document and our hope is that the directive will permit all trans people who wish to access the unit to do so. One of the reasons why this model is important is that it is a voluntary unit. It is not one they are forced to enter. From an advocate’s perspective, that’s the only way a unit like this could work.” Berliner said that one of the trainers referred to staff as “guards” at one point, a word he said is “one of the worst for people who want to be called ‘officers.’” But the officers were able to see, in that moment, how their concern for what they

are called was equivalent to the concerns transgender people have about how they are addressed. Captain James Thomas said, “We learned about the law and what they’re entitled to, how to talk to them and be sensitive to them. The hardest thing is pronouns.” “I appreciate that the Department of Correction provided an opportunity for advocates like myself to have input on draft policy and offer training,” said Williams. “In an ideal world we wouldn’t have prisons.” Williams said that while the city is making this advance, “we tried to work with the State Department of Corrections and they don’t have transparency. They claim they do training, but they don’t have advocates like myself or Chase at the table.” She said the state does do training under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, “but they devote just a few minutes to LGBT issues versus” the two-hour transgender training at Rikers. “People get excited about policy changes,” Williams said. “This is a safer space within a really violent system. But we can’t get complacent. Keep talking to people who get incarcerated. Communicate with them and make sure they are safe.” Mariah Lopez, executive director of STARR, a transgender activist group, is a former Rikers inmate and a longtime advocate for this unit. “Like most programs that are new and innovative,” she said, “it is going to take some time to work out the kinks. But I’m optimistic. This is an opportunity to work with law enforcement for a change. I’m elated. What is remarkable about this opportunity is that it is about more than just getting trans people jailed better but also connecting them to services. The deputy commissioner said he will do what he can to connect people to non-profits. It will save the city money in recidivism.” Lopez adeed, “Getting arrested shouldn’t mean getting stripped out of your gender.” “We’re taking a big first step,” Berliner said, “and we will continue to work on it and ask for feedback from staff, inmates, and advocates.”

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


| November 27 - December 10, 2014

9


CRIME

NYS High Court Sets Aside Hate Crime Conviction But Allows Retrial Inconsistency in jury verdict means alleged killer of Syracuse trans woman free but not clear BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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he New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, ruled unanimously on November 24 that the Appellate Division had correctly reversed the hate crime manslaughter conviction of Dwight R. DeLee in the 2008 killing of Lateisha Green, a transgender woman, in Syracuse. Unlike the intermediate a p p e a l s c o u r t , h o w e v e r, t h e high court gave prosecutors the opportunity to resubmit hate crime manslaughter charges against DeLee to a grand jury. Judge Susan P. Read’s decision for the court reveals nothing about the nature of the charged offense and makes no reference to the fact that Green was transgender or that Lee was charged with murdering her because of her gender identity. Instead, the coldly analytical opinion focuses solely on an inconsistency in the jury’s verdict and the trial judge’s failure to correct the situation by explaining that inconsistency to jurors and asking them to resume deliberations. DeLee, who was 20 at the time of the crime, was convicted in 2009 by an Onondaga County jury in the shooting death of the 22-year-old Green and received a 25-year sentence. The prosecutor cited antigay statements made by DeLee — including “get you faggots, get out of here… get the fuck out of here” — in arguing the defendant was guilty of a hate crime motivated by animus toward Green’s sexual orientation. Bias based on gender identity — as opposed to sexual orientation — is not covered under the state’s 2000 hate crimes statute. The jury did not convict DeLee on second-degree murder charges, but instead found him guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime. The jury proceeded to find the defendant not guilty on all the “lesser included” charges related to the killing, including simple first-degree manslaughter without the hate crimes penalty enhancement. After the verdict was rendered, DeLee’s attorney argued the verdict

was inconsistent, since the acquittal on the manslaughter charge could be taken to mean that the jury found that the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of the crime of manslaughter and so his client could not be found guilty of manslaughter as a hate crime. The Appellate Division, in July 2013, sided with Lee, though in a heated dissenting opinion, Justice Erin Peradotto focused on what she characterized as the jury’s obvious misunderstanding that if they found all the elements of manslaughter as a hate crime satisfied, they should not acquit on the simple manslaughter count. But Read found that the case “presents a straightforward application” of the relevant precedents. Since the jury in this case acquitted DeLee of manslaughter, it could be argued that it found the prosecution failed to prove at least one element of the hate crime manslaughter charge. “In making these determinations, it is inappropriate for the reviewing court to attempt to divine the jury’s collective mental process,” Read wrote. The Court of Appeals dismissed an affidavit from the jury foreman, presented by the Onondaga County district attorney, attesting to the jury’s intention to convict DeLee as “the opinion of just one juror.” At the same time, given the possibility that the jury acquitted Lee on the lesser-included man-

slaughter charge as an “exercise in mercy,” Read continued, its decision does not necessarily mean it “found that he did not commit an essential element.” The court concluded that permitting a retrial on manslaughter as a hate crime charge but not on the simple manslaughter charge “strikes a reasonable balance.” No unconstitutional double jeopardy problem would ensue from this court of action. In a concurring opinion, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam explained how to charge a jury in a hate crime case to avoid such an inconsistent verdict. Trial judges, she wrote, should instruct “the jury to treat a non-hate crime as a lesser included offense of an equivalent hate crime allegedly committed via the same

criminal acts” since “it is impossible to commit the hate crime without also committing the ordinary crime” on which it is based. The jury’s 2009 verdict was New York’s first hate crime conviction in the killing of a transgender person. Both the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Empire State Pride Agenda called on the Onondaga County prosecutor to pursue new hate crime charges against Lee. A written statement from TLDEF quoted the victim’s mother, Roxanne Green, saying, “While I would have preferred to put this behind me while Teish’s killer served out his sentence, I nevertheless welcome the chance to see justice served in his retrial.”

CENTER HONORS STEINEM, GLICK At its 17th annual Women’s Event, held November 15 at the new Cipriani restaurant in the Cunard Building on Lower Broadway, the LGBT Community Center honored two iconic feminist leaders — Gloria Steinem, who in 1971 was a co-founder of Ms. Magazine, and West Side State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who in 1990 became the first out LGBT person elected in New York State. Pictured here are Steinem (center) with Sharon

Stapel, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and Glennda

Testone, who leads the Center. — Photo by Donna Aceto

TRANSGENDER DAY OF REMEMBRANCE MARKED At twilight on November 20, members of the transgender community and their allies, advocates, and elected officials gathered at a City Hall vigil to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The annual event has been marked around the world since 1999 to draw attention to the disproportionate level of violent crime targeting the transgender community and to remember those who have died as a result. Among the most recent examples of such violence in New York is the brutal August 2013 beating death of 21-year-old Islan Nettles in Harlem, for which there has been no prosecution, and the assault this October on Kimy Hartman in Bushwick that has left her recovering from traumatic brain injury and likely in need of additional surgery. No arrests have been made in that case, either. Among those in attendance at the vigil were Chanel Lopez from the New York City Anti-Violence Project (center), flanked (toward the front) by City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, the LGBT Commu-

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

nity Center’s Glennda Testone, Public Advocate Letitia James, transgender advocate Melissa Sklarz, who is a board member at the Empire State Pride Agenda, Councilmember Corey Johnson, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (head turned), and Councilmember Rosie Mendez. — Photo by Donna Aceto

15


HEALTH

CEO “Fraud” Charged in HIV Advocacy Group’s Bankruptcy

National Association of People With AIDS board filing claims $62,000 in “theft” by Frank Oldham BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

R

ecords obtained by a leading advocate for accountability and transparency among gay and AIDS groups show that the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA) was struggling to stay afloat for nearly four years before its 2013 bankruptcy. And in a memo filed in NAPWA’s bankruptcy earlier this year, Tyler TerMeer, the association’s for mer board chair, accused Frank Oldham, NAPWA’s former president and chief executive officer, of stealing at least $62,000 from the AIDS group. As early as April of 2009, the boar d’s executive committee instructed NAPWA’s “senior staff” to find cuts worth $300,000 in the agency’s budget for that year, according to records obtained from the federal Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC) by blogger Michael Petrelis. In 2006, NAPWA had just over $1.9 million in revenues, according to a Form 990 it filed with the IRS. Revenues fell to a low of $1.25 million in 2009 then climbed to $1.4 million in 2010. Gay City News could not find Forms 990 for 2011 and 2012. NAPWA was overly reliant on government contracts, with cash from those sources accounting for half of its revenues in 2008 and 43 percent of its revenues in 2007. Federal dollars accounted for just over 40 percent of NAPWA’s revenues in 2009 and 2010, but as federal support fell, the agency was not replacing those funds with private or foundation money. It was ending successive fiscal years in debt and borrowing from a $250,000 credit line it had with Bank of America. By September of 2010, NAPWA had borrowed just over $199,000 on that credit line. It was paying 7.5

percent interest on that debt. By 2010, NAPWA was losing staff and cutting wages as part of a “sustainability plan” it implemented in 2009 and 2010. A memo, which was written by TerMeer and filed in NAPWA’s bankruptcy proceeding earlier this year, notes that wages were reduced for all staff in 2010, 2011, and 2012 “to meet current operating costs and avoid any further reduction in the NAPWA workforce.” In 2011, “payroll had been suspended for all employees for lack of funds” in one pay period, TerMeer wrote. This was after NAPWA was “operating with a minimum number of staff to maintain basic operations and services,” according to a 2010 document in the CDC records. Gay City News reviewed the bankruptcy filings after receiving the CDC documents from Petrelis. In 2009, NAPWA already did not have enough people to fulfill a contract it had with the CDC, as evidenced by reports filed with that

agency noting that certain benchmarks were not completed due to a lack of staffing. Complaints about staff losses harming agency operations continued into 2011 in NAPWA reports filed with the CDC. The “sustainability plan” was also supposed to find new revenues, but that part of the plan never happened. It appears that NAPWA was funding some operations by not paying other obligations, such as payroll taxes and other taxes. The IRS, Maryland, Montgomery County in Maryland, and New York State all filed liens in the bankruptcy case. NAPWA was also the fiscal sponsor for the Treatment Access Expansion Project (TAEP) at Harvard University. The TerMeer memo charges that Oldham transferred $100,000 that belonged to TAEP to a NAPWA account. “It is possible that NAPWA eventually returned approximately

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OLDHAM, continued on p.18

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HEALTH

No Complaints Ever Filed in Kelsey Louie Running Club Flap Despite charge GMHC chief fraudulently registered PWAs to steer funds to ex-employer, no one claims privacy breach BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

W

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$65,000 of those funds transferred from TAEP,” but that cannot be confirmed, TerMeer wrote. Another document that was filed in the bankruptcy this past October 3 indicates that TAEP is owed $100,000. Robert Greenwald, TAEP’s director, did not respond to an email asking if the program got its cash back. I n e a r l y 2 0 1 3 , N A P WA announced it was filing for bankruptcy with $750,000 in debts and less than $50,000 in assets.

18

Harlem United,” the CAB members wrote in the May letter to Kaplan. “At minimum, if true, Mr. Louie’s actions would appear to be a clear violation of federal laws.” If confidentiality breaches took place during the Front Runners board election, no one complained about them at the time or since. Responding to a Freedom of Information request from Gay City News, the state health department reported having no complaints of confidentiality breaches that named GMHC, Louie, Harlem United, or ASCNYC. HHS has no complaints that name either Louie or ASCNYC. The one complaint alleging that client confidentiality was breached at GMHC dates back to 2005. The federal health agency has a single complaint that charges confidentiality was breached at Harlem United — in 2013, when some client records were found in a dumpster. The HHS records were described

to Gay City News, but copies of any documents responsive to the Freedom of Information request have not yet been released. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) guards the confidentiality of medical records and allows anyone who knows of a breach of those records to complain to the agency. Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the breach, though HHS can extend that time. Manny Rivera, who chairs GMHC’s CAB, said the client group now has an “extremely productive relationship” with Louie and that he was an “outstanding leader.” Rivera was pleased to learn that there were no complaints. “I am glad that there is no ongoing investigation or no ongoing charge against Kelsey Louis,” Rivera said. “Our current relationship with Kelsey Louis… it’s an excellent relationship.” GMHC is clearly sensitive about the topic. Gay City News spoke to Rivera on the afternoon of November 20, then spoke to Louie at an event held at the agency’s West 33rd Street offices that evening. Agency staff were dismayed that Gay City News had not cleared questions with GMHC’s press office and said the absence of complaints was not a story. Just after midnight on November 21, Rivera sent an email saying that an article on the topic might be ill-advised. The morning of November 21, GMHC’s PR firm, BerlinRosen Public Affairs, contacted Gay City News to discuss the story.

The TerMeer memo says that following Oldham’s announcement in late 2012 that he would resign from NAPWA at the end of the year, the board first placed him on administrative leave then told him “that his employment would be terminated unless he presented evidence to rebut evidence that he had committed alleged acts of fraud, misdealing, malfeasance, theft or defalcation in breach of his employment agreement.” The memo alleges that Oldham used a NAPWA credit card to pay

for “alcohol, groceries, utilities, local travel and meal expenses, other personal expenses” and that he drew cashier’s checks totaling $11,850 on a NAPWA account that were payable to “Mr. Oldham, his attorney, his landlord and another party.” Altogether, TerMeer asserted that Oldham appeared to have spent $62,641.95 of NAPWA cash on unauthorized expenses. The bankruptcy filing has Oldham owing NAPWA just over $88,000, and Oldham filed claims in the bankruptcy asserting that NAPWA owed him

over $111,000 in back pay, vacation time, and other expenses. Oldham did not respond to a call seeking comment, and TerMeer declined to comment for this story. NAPWA referred the case to the Montgomery County prosecutor, who told Gay City News that an investigation into the complaint was ongoing. “Financial cases can sometimes take a long time,” said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for Montgomery County in Maryland. “Currently, it is still under investigation.”

DONNA ACETO

hile a client group at Gay Men’s Health Crisis raised c o n c e r n s earlier this year that the AIDS agency’s then-incoming chief executive officer may have breached the confidentiality of client records when he enrolled some people with AIDS in a running club in 2012, open records requests Gay City News made to New York State’s health department and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) show that no complaints alleging this have been filed with either health agency. “I’m not surprised, it didn’t happen back then,” said Kelsey Louie, who became GMHC’s chief executive officer in June. “What we said then is there was nothing to find and there’s nothing to find now.” In May, the website DNAinfo. com published a story that charged that in 2012 Louie tried to rig a board election at Front Runners New York by enrolling new members in the running club using the street address of ASCNYC, a Lower East Side AIDS group. Presumably, those new members voted for Louie for board president. The reason for Louie’s action, the website alleged, was to maintain a relationship between the club and Harlem United, where he then served as chief operating officer, that had raised thousands of dollars for the AIDS organization.

David Lin, the current Front Runners board president and at that time a candidate for that position, lost that election and sued the club’s treasurer, not Louie, claiming he had been denied a fair election by what he said were fraudulent memberships. That lawsuit, which allowed Lin to subpoena Verizon for the account holder of the IP address used to register the 46 new members, was later voluntarily withdrawn by Lin. Louie has not publicly denied that he registered new club members in the run-up to the election. It is unclear if the registrations violated the club’s rules at that time. Reportedly, Front Runners has since changed its rules to prevent such actions. It is also unknown if the new 2012 members were registered without their permission, as Lin’s complaint alleged. Some clients at ASCNYC had been enrolled in Front Runners earlier in 2012. Louie is no longer a Front Runners member. Responding to the DNA story, GMHC’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) wrote to Roberta Kaplan, the agency’s board co-chair, expressing concern that Louie, who was then preparing to assume the top post at GMHC, may have breached the confidentiality of client records in 2012 by enrolling them in Front Runners. “It appears there may have been significant breaches in ‘client confidentiality’ by the Board of Directors’ (BOD) potential CEO selection, Kelsey Louie, during his tenure at

Kelsey Louie, the CEO of GMHC, at an event at the agency on November 20.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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Out gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district includes Covenant House, said the organization “reached out to me in a proactive manner” to suggest he visit and learn about its programs. He has also discussed the situation there with Petrillo, AFC’s Siciliano, and others. Acknowledging that concerns about safety, particularly among LGBT residents, have come to his attention, Johnson said, “I have followed up with Covenant House each and every time something’s been reported to me. And Covenant House has presented information and evidence that some of this information is either entirely false or misleading.” In a November 21 meeting, Susan Haskell, a Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) deputy commissioner responsible for youth service programs, voiced similar confidence that violence is not a significant problem at Covenant. All DYCD contractors are required to file an “incident report” any time there is an “intentional incident of wrongdoing,” when a doctor, an ambulance, police, or 911 is called, or when “the situation may be sensitive or of media interest.” RHY contracts, she said, account for a small part of all DYCD incident reports, less than 100 a year, and Covenant House does not make up a disproportionate share of reports filed by LGBT homeless youth providers. “Over all, our investigations have not yielded evidence of violence at Covenant,” Haskell said. “We do thorough site monitoring and contract monitoring. We don’t see evidence of violence or evidence of severe harassment.” Covenant House, Haskell said, has reported no violent crimes in the past several years, though she has received some reports of serious incidents at Covenant from Siciliano. “If there is an individual’s name that we can follow up on, we do,” she said, noting that typically is not the case but that in one situation — the stabbing Ishmael described to Gay City News — all parties involved agreed the incident as originally reported by AFC did in fact occur. Haskell voiced frustration at her sense that Gay City News had learned via AFC of other violent

incidents, including beatings and rape, about which Siciliano had not brought specific information to DYCD. For his part, Siciliano said he’s been diligent about passing along any information he felt ethically bound to bring to the city’s attention. Haskell’s team did recently vet an incident known to Gay City News and brought to DYCD’s attention by Siciliano — not one involving violence but one that still raises significant concerns about the safety of LGBT youth at Covenant House. In an October interview, 20-year -old Victoria, who grew up in the Burnside section of the Bronx, told the newspaper that a psychologist at Covenant, Antoinette Moore, who in 2011 celebrated her 50th anniversary as a Catholic nun, talked about the Bible in an effort to steer her away from living her life as a lesbian. Like her gay older brother, Victoria experienced trouble at home because of her mother’s hostility toward her sexual orientation. Living in Covenant’s Rites of Passage program — the same transitional living initiative that Ben talked about with enthusiasm — she had begun a retail sales training program and was also going to school. Though bothered when male residents taunted her that being a lesbian was “mad nasty” or her dorm mates accused her of looking at them funny, Victoria told them she had a girlfriend and didn’t need to bother with any of them. She sought counseling, she said, because of a marijuana habit she wanted to break and several times had asked for a counselor other than Dr. Moore. When she met with Moore, Victoria said, “She was trying to say, ‘You can’t be like that. You might not want to stay with a person like that forever. That’s not in the Bible.’ I told her I like my girlfriend.” Siciliano, who sat in on the interview with Victoria, told the newspaper he felt obligated to bring her story to DYCD immediately. Haskell confirmed that DYCD spoke to both Victoria and Covenant officials, though not Moore herself, and said Victoria’s recent move into AFC housing resolved her problem. Asked whether she believed Moore had in fact inappropriately sought to

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November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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engage Victoria in sexual orientation conversion therapy, Haskell was guarded in her response. “I don’t have a judgment,” she said, explaining that the goal in such investigations is to ensure that the conduct alleged not happen again. Pressed to explain how she reached that conclusion, Haskell said Moore would not be taking on new counseling clients at Covenant, though she would not say if that was a direct result of Victoria’s experience. Covenant offered a different conclusion about the allegations against Moore. Saying Covenant could not confirm the identity of the resident who claimed they were subjected to religious coercion

Haskell said Moore would not be taking on new counseling clients at Covenant, though she would not say if that was a direct result of Victoria’s experience. regarding their sexuality, Derrick Boone, a psychologist who is associate executive director there and said he identifies as bisexual, acknowledged that questions were raised regarding Moore’s counseling. After speaking to her and reviewing her case notes, Boone said, he is satisfied she did nothing wrong. “We take these reports very seriously and anything like that would be unacceptable,” said Boone, who made no mention of Moore not seeing any new Covenant House youth for counseling. Boone’s confidence in Moore may be misplaced, given her history. A 2005 story in the Villager, a sister publication to Gay City News, reported on concerns that Eric Hartman, a former Covenant House intern, voiced about a counselor there who “told gay clients that their homosexuality was the root of their problems and they should simply stop being gay.” Hearing that had happened from several LGBT residents, Hartman started suggesting to others looking for counseling that they seek out emer-

gency room care at St. Vincent’s Hospital, at the time still open. Though the Villager story did not name Moore, Hartman, contacted recently, confirmed that Moore was the counselor in question. If Boone’s conclusions about Moore were overly credulous, it is harder not to credit the passion he and Drury bring to discussing the new approach Covenant is bringing to a mission it’s been at for a long time. According to Drury, the organization underwent a strategic reassessment about a year and half ago and now embraces a “sanctuary model” that is “evidence-based” and “trauma-informed,” and therefore more tailored to the individual needs of its youth clients. Since that time, psychologist Boone has been brought on as associate executive director, a psychiatrist has been hired to head up the mental health services offered by Covenant’s health clinic, and the social worker staff has been increased from five to eight. Drury emphasized, for example, that youth are assigned to housing according to their gender self-identification, though a brief video interview Siciliano shared with Gay City News suggested that at least one evening intake worker at Covenant this past summer refused to accept a transgender male youth’s request to be put on the male floor. The youth said he left Covenant and spent the night on the streets. Early this month, Covenant House International, which operates homeless youth facilities in 26 North and Central American cities in addition to New York, entered into a partnership with the True Colors Fund, a nationwide group founded by singer Cyndi Lauper that advocates for LGBT homeless youth and provides technical expertise to groups working in the field. According to Jama Shelton, who worked at Ali Forney for nine years before joining True Colors early last year, her group is preparing assessments of each of Covenant’s locations based on observations conducted on-site and will then customize trainings to the needs of each. The True Colors partnership wins praise even from some LGBT advocates who harbor continuing concerns about Covenant’s suitability to serve LGBT youth.

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23


REMEMBRANCE

Jerry Tallmer, Giant of New York Arts Criticism, Dead at 93

A driving force in Village Voice’s early years, Obies founder ended career at the Villager, Gay City News

A

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

24

THE VILLAGER

n oversize presence in the world of New York journalism for six decades, Jerry Tallmer, died on November 9 — a month shy of his 94th birthday — at the Dewitt Hospice on the Upper East Side. Tallmer was a founding editor of the Village Voice in 1955, serving as its first film and drama critic and its associate editor. In later years, he was a regular and prolific contributor to Gay City News’ family of newspapers, including the Villager, Downtown Express, and Chelsea Now. While at the Voice, Tallmer founded the Obie Awards to honor the best in Off-Broadway theater. During his lengthy career, Tallmer interviewed literally everyone who was anyone in theater, as well as countless figures in film, jazz, literature, politics, and even sports. According to his daughter, Abby Tallmer, a freelance editor and writer who lives in the Village, he reviewed and brought widespread attention to the first production ever of Jean Genet’s “The Black,” and the first US staging of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Her father, Abby added, played a similar role when doing the first write-ups on the work of Edward Albee and on Tom Stoppard’s work in the US. When Stoppard first came to New York and had nowhere to stay, Tallmer arranged for him to sleep on a cot in the Voice’s office. But after seven years at the fledgling alternative weekly, Tallmer, a new father of twins, moved to the New York Post — then under the liberal leadership of publisher Dorothy Schiff — to make decent money. Starting the Voice was the idea of Ed Fancher and Dan Wolf. Norman Mailer was an early financial backer of the paper and had a weekly column. Tallmer was quickly brought on board. He had honed his newspaper skills early on in the Ivy League as an editor of the Dartmouth. “Jerry was somebody very special,” Fancher said. “A great loss… Jerry was a wonderful person.” Tallmer and Mailer famously feuded, in large part because the bombastic Mailer would always turn in the copy for his column, “An Advertisement for Myself,” so late on deadline and sloppily written. Mailer would then get furious and blame Tallmer if it wasn’t proofread perfectly. “Norman would come in very late with his copy,” Fancher said. “And Jerry was working 20-hour days… Norman was crazy in those days, nutty.” Tallmer worked such long hours that he would sometimes just abruptly plop down on the Voice’s floor and catch a much-needed nap. Mailer, in a closed-door meeting, told edi-

Jerry Tallmer at his 2012 induction into the Players Club Hall of Fame.

tor Wolf and Fancher that it was either him or Tallmer — that one of them had to go. They told Mailer to take a hike. “He was very important to us,” Fancher said of Tallmer. “I don’t think we could have put the paper out without him.” Had Tallmer stayed at the Voice, he added, he would have succeeded Wolf as the paper’s editor. “Dan was nine years older than I was,” Fancher said. “He wasn’t well. Once we began to make a little money, Jerry would have made a better salary.” Jules Feiffer, the famed cartoonist, who was discovered by Tallmer, recalled the Voice’s beginnings — and how Tallmer helped create what came to be known as New Journalism. As they were moving ahead with the idea of starting the Voice, Feiffer recalled, Fancher, Wolf, and Mailer “looked around for someone who knew something about putting out a paper, because Ed, Dan, and Norman were intellectuals and theorists, so they didn’t know about this other stuff — like every Wednesday, your paper somehow gets on the newsstands. So they hired Jerry, who, at least, had worked on a newspaper once. And by the time I walked in the door a year later, Jerry had taught himself what he needed to know to put a paper together that didn’t read or look like any other. “And since a cultural organ operating out of the Village must have a critic who reviews plays, Jerry took on that job, as well. And in no time, in a voice and style that was not lofty, not

all-knowing, not out to prove how superior the critic was to the play under review, Jerry introduced openness to theater criticism… He helped invent the kind of voice that, within a few years, almost everyone was trying out in one form or another. Talking to the reader as if he’s a friend. He was my friend. He and his comrades at 22 Greenwich Avenue changed my life. And I am but one of many.” Laid off from the Post by Rupert Murdoch in 1993 — when the Australian media mogul broke the newspaper’s union and fired more than 250 employees — Tallmer became a contributor to the Villager, and in time to its sister papers, as well — Downtown Express, Gay City News, and Chelsea Now. Tom Butson, a former editor of the Villager, eagerly snapped up the renowned scribe upon hearing he had been cut by Murdoch. Butson and his wife, Elizabeth, owned the Villager from 1992 until 1999. “We were thrilled when Jerry Tallmer joined us as a columnist for the Villager in 1994,” she said. “They don’t make them like Jerry anymore. He was the consummate columnist. You hardly had to edit his copy. Knowledgeable just about on anything on New York. His big love was the theater and New York City memories. Mention a name and he would tell you a story about that person. His prose glided and treated you with some tender turn of phrase.” Tallmer continued writing for the four-newspaper group under their next publisher, John W. Sutter, who owned them until two years ago. “One of New York City’s greatest writers of the past 60 years is gone,” Sutter said. “Over the years, Jerry Tallmer regaled us with his unparalleled understanding of the New York City arts scene, its lineages, its deep wiring. Jerry understood talent and wrote about it with intelligence, wit, and an unstoppable energy.” Tallmer was married four times, with the first three marriages ending in divorce. His first marriage was to Peggy Muendel, who was an “eccentric artist,” according to Abby. He next married Louise Tilis, a freelancer at the Voice who wrote its “Voice Feminine” column, with whom he had his children. She died in 1992, years after their divorce. His son and Abby’s twin, Matthew, of Alexandria, Virginia, is a congressional staff investigator. Tallmer was next married for about 20 years to Marsha Levant, the daughter of Oscar Levant, a pianist and composer who acted as well, in films such as “An American in Paris.” For the past 20 years, Tallmer was married to Frances Monica Tallmer, a dancer. They met at an art opening at Art Insight Gallery where Frances was doing PR at the time.

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TALLMER, continued on p.25

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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TALLMER, from p.24

“He loved writing,” Frances said the day after Tallmer’s death. “He was a very kind and gentle person, really. I loved him. I miss him terribly. I can’t get over it.” As a columnist, Tallmer deftly interwove his memories and personal experiences together with contemporary events, providing a unique perspective. His pieces were always written fluidly and beautifully. In a 2003 profile of Cherry Jones and Jeff Weiss, as they co-starred in Peter Gaitens’ stage adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s “Flesh and Blood,” Tallmer explored not only their careers but also a friendship that Weiss described as loving Jones “as much as a gay man can love a gay woman.” In October 2012, in recognition of his pioneering theater criticism, Tallmer was inducted into the Players Club Hall of Fame, where he was effusively praised by Albee as the country’s preeminent theater writer. Tallmer’s last piece of writing, written this past summer, was published in the Villager. “Blue Moon Johnny; I wasn’t my brother’s keeper” was a reflection on his difficult early family life. Still busy into his 94th year, Tallmer worked on a laptop with the help of Jonathan Slaff, an actor and theatrical press agent, who would assist him remotely with any computer problems. “I installed an application on his computer called TeamViewer,” Slaff said. “If he couldn’t figure out how to make the text larger or needed to rename a file, I’d help him.” Even while at the nursing facility, Tallmer continued to pen previews of plays — by reading the scripts. Last year, Tallmer previewed “Daylight Precision,” a play at Theater for the New City about the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. For that one, the cast members all visited his room at the nursing facility to be interviewed. The play held special significance for Tallmer because he had been aloft in a US military plane when the bomb detonated and had chillingly witnessed the horror of the mushroom cloud. When I spoke to him two days before his death, Tallmer, bedrid-

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den and very weak, said he hoped to get his laptop back soon and start writing again. Slaff brought him the computer just hours before his death. “He had called Friday, asking could I look up Tom Stoppard’s new play and could I bring him the laptop,” Slaff said. “Sunday, I brought it to him. I stayed for an hour, and then I left.” A few hours later, Tallmer was gone. “A nurse said he had called and said he knocked the laptop off his table tray and onto the floor,” Slaff said. “I think he was trying to look up the Tom Stoppard show. I think he was trying to open Google. Jerry loved Tom Stoppard — and Tom loved Jerry, too.”

Tallmer explored not only their careers but also a friendship that Jeff Weiss described as loving Cherry Jones “as much as a gay man can love a gay woman.”

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Albert Amateau, a veteran reporter at the Villager who retired several years ago, said Tallmer was the tops. “He was a consummate newspaper man, in my opinion,” Amateau said. “He could to anything. He could report, write, edit, layout, design. I loved him.” Lacking a pension due to Murdoch’s management of the Post, Tallmer always had to keep writing — to survive as well as for his obvious sheer joy in it. “He always needed money,” Amateau recalled, “and health insurance.” One Sunday afternoon years ba c k, A m a t ea u, w ho faced a workweek with an especially heavy writing load, came in to this newspaper group’s office to work on an article. He found Tallmer there, writing away, as he usually did on Sundays. “Why don’t you get a life, Tallmer?” Amateau cracked wise. Tallmer looked up from his keyboard and, with a light laugh, said, “This is my life.”

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

The Edge of Horror

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

BY ED SIKOV

Jennifer@communitymediallc.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER & CO-FOUNDER TROY MASTERS

troy@gaycitynews.com EDITOR IN-CHIEF & CO-FOUNDER PAUL SCHINDLER

editor@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Duncan Osborne

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

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS ANDREW GOOSS CHRIS ORTIZ

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT SALES/MARKETING AMANDA TARLEY

SENIOR VP OF ADVERTISING / MARKETING FRANCESCO REGINI

francesco@gaycitynews.com

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NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863

Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C, NYC 10013 Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents (c) 2014 Gay City News. Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail: Jennifer@communitymediallc.com

© 2014 Gay City News. All rights reserved.

FOUNDING MEMBER

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FOUNDING MEMBER

DONNA ACETO

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

Christopher Byrne (Theater), Susie Day (Perspective), Brian McCormick (Dance)

T

he actor and Out 100 Artist of the Year Zachary Quinto certainly stepped in something stinky when he opined about HIV and young gay men in the Out interview accompanying his award. In case you’ve been living — with me — on Mars and need a quick sketch of who this Quinto person is, he’s the Spock in two recent, youthy “Star Trek” movies and a recurring character on FX’s “American Horror Story.” I applaud Quinto for coming out and for being loudmouthed about it, but what he said in Out is pure horseshit. The interview reads: “‘I think there’s a tremendous sense of complacency in the LGBT community,’ Quinto says, citing the rising number of HIV infections in adolescents. ‘AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s. Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness.’ Quinto is similarly candid on prophylactic drugs, like PrEP, which many gay people have embraced as a long-awaited panacea. ‘We need to be really vigilant and open about the fact that these drugs are not to be taken to increase our ability to have recreational sex,’ he says. ‘There’s an incredible underlying irresponsibility to that way of thinking… and we don’t yet know enough about this vein of medication to see where it’ll take us down the line.’” Where do I start to dissect this crock? With Mathew Rodriguez’s marvelous takedown in the Advocate, that’s where. “Isn’t any consensual sex that isn’t for procreation, by definition, recreational sex?” Rodriguez writes. “Even some sex that has the potential for procreation is recreational — hell, the whole reason sex feels good is because biology wants us to fuck ourselves into perpetual existence. It’s in our DNA to have pleasurable sex. I’m going to cast off any worries about getting too personal — since we’re talking about sex, death, and HIV — and ask exactly how much of Quinto’s sex has not been recreational? Does he define his monogamous sex as responsible and

A November 20 panel about the media’s coverage of PrEP held at Gay Men’s Health Crisis included GMHC’s Krishna Stone, thebody.com’s Mathew Rodriguez, New York magazine’s Tim Murphy, Ben Ryan of POZ magazine, Gay City News’ Paul Schindler, and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the city health department.

grim? Were he and Jonathan Groff trying to conceive? [Quinto and Groff were an item from 2010 until 2013.] I hope Mr. Quinto is not suggesting that single, promiscuous sex should shoulder all blame for HIV infections — especially when sound science tells us that about two thirds of HIV infections among gay men happen within the context of a relationship.” Score! That zinger about Quinto and Groff “trying to conceive” made me laugh out loud. Rodriguez hits another one out of the park when he mocks Quinto’s assumption about the supposed irresponsibility of using PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, with the drug Truvada: “Somehow, Quinto has confused the responsibility it takes to speak to one’s doctor about going on a new medication, speak with insurance to secure prior authorization for PrEP, go to doctor’s visits four times a year, swallow a pill every day, call up mail-order pharmacies to get refills on time, make sure to get payments in order, successfully manage side effects, and follow up on lab work with your doctor with irresponsible behavior.” Excellent point. But Rodriguez makes his own assumption, one worth questioning — namely, the notion that guys on PrEP will necessarily deal successfully with the many responsibilities that come with it over the long term. It’s by no means certain that all PrEPpies will strictly adhere to the regimen required to prevent HIV transmission in every case. But that hardly negates PrEP’s value. Quinto’s interviewer, Mike Berlin, gets it — dare I say — totally wrong when he describes “many gay people” as seeing PrEP as a

“long-awaited panacea.” Nobody of note thinks it’s a cure-all. PrEP is a well-studied, proven-effective risk-reduction strategy, and to suggest that these unnamed “many gay people” are too dumb to know the difference between “panacea” and “risk-reduction strategy” is insulting. Moreover, having lived through the entirety of the AIDS crisis as a sexually active and out gay man, I find Quinto’s expression “the edge of horror” to be an obnoxious and offensive way of describing the effects of AIDS in the 1980s. Having an “edge” is the way people describe a play that makes them pleasantly uncomfortable. The “horror” Quinto speaks of with callous and phony nostalgia — he was four in 1981 when the first cases of AIDS were reported — wasn’t edgy nor was it a positive life lesson. It wasn’t even an effective propaganda tool for AIDS education. Sure, some of us got too scared to fuck. Others saw no possibility of survival and fucked themselves to death. The point is, “the edge of horror” didn’t teach anybody anything worth learning.

More on PrEP At the risk of looking like Josh Barro’s media stalker, I’d like to applaud his recent piece in the New York Times about Michael Weinstein, the longtime head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who is, as Barro describes him, the only prominent opponent of PrEP. Weinstein has become increasingly isolated in the AIDS and HIV policy community by crusading against Truvada’s use by HIV-negative people as prophylaxis.

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MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.32

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Thanksgiving Stinks and the Kitchen Sink

Y

BY KELLY COGSWELL

eah, we all know it. Despite the sea of Beaujolais Nouveau and 12 kinds of pie, Thanksgiving stinks for a lot of people. Though props to you queers who have everything lining up nicely on the health and wealth side of things and somehow escape the usual family trauma served up hot with a ladle or two of hate. Still, I’ll count my small and large blessings, just for kicks. And at the top of the list is how my local Rite Aid has gone right from crepe paper skeletons to chocolate Santas, so I can ignore Thanksgiving entirely and stay in a sugar coma the whole holiday season. There’s not much seven or eight handfuls of candy corn can’t cure. And I realized yesterday that I really appreciate the people who post cute photos of animals on Facebook. I mean, I like kittens as much as anybody and little baby French bulldogs, but I’m never gonna go in search of them. And I’m way too cool to admit how hard I laughed at those two kittens in the coffee cups that looked exactly like frothy cappuccinos until I noticed the eyes. And senility. Yeah, not mine. My mother’s. She’s not really a fan but I can’t deny the upside, that she’s forgotten how repulsive she finds

me and my dykeness and is insanely grateful when I call, no matter what she tells folks afterwards. We can talk 20 minutes with no insults. No threats to pray away the gay and for God to make me disgustingly normal. Of course it’s heartbreaking, too. It would’ve been nice if she’d come around while she was still in full possession of her faculties, but beggars can’t be choosers. You’ll eat that free cheese and like it! Which reminds me, cheese. Tangy fresh goat chèvre. Those rancid blues. And melty mozzarellas or gruyeres. I’m especially grateful for anything that bubbles up, browns, and gives a third-degree burn to the roof of my mouth. Of course I’m insanely thankful for artists and writers of all kind who are not afraid to fly the flag for freakdom, imagining things that aren’t there and seeing what is. And thanks to the people who have introduced me to the likes of Octavia Butler and, of course, Ursula K. Le Guin. I’ve loved her since I read “The Dispossessed,” and renewed my fangirl status after her speech at the National Book Awards about the power of books, and how “Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art — the art of words.” That being said, all hail the people that go beyond words and the laboratory of their art, and risk resisting bigotry and stupidity in the streets. And the courts. In Botswana this week, Legabibo, a gay and lesbian group, won a land-

mark legal case in the country’s High Court, allowing it to be officially registered. And in Uganda, where we’re under attack, there are fierce, incredibly brave activists fighting back. Drag queens and kings are also on my short list. Those queers unafraid to take their garish wigs and stereotypical mannerisms into the street where they’re most at risk. Who with their enormous fingernails or dicks of extraordinary length unravel the artifice of femininity and masculinity that plague us all. Thank you. Mil gracias. You’ve taught and (sometimes) terrified me since that bar in Lexington, Kentucky, where you used to carry switchblades. You know the one. And for that matter, a shout out to my babe who is just as happy to see me in a furry brown skirt and stripey tights as the usual boring, please don’t fuck with me jeans. I admit to cowardice and a nearly PTS desire to pass unnoticed in the streets. No catcalls. No challenges. No demands that I smile. All things being equal, my secret fashion perversions are neither butch nor femme, pink nor blue, but a desire to mix stripes with plaid. Smooth with rough or fleecy. That’s a pretty good start, I think. Let me also acknowledge my friends, including activist colleagues who still have my back after a couple decades out of touch. And the joys of modern technology, including flat screen TV’s and cell phones. Email, that essential curse. Cooking shows. Salted cashews. Proper beds. Running water. And, of course, you, dear reader. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published earlier this year by the University of Minnesota Press.

PERSPECTIVE: Streetwise

Pockets, Purses, and Pants: LGBTQ New Yorkers Have the Right to Know BY ANDREA RITCHIE

W

h a t d o marijuana a r r e s t s , illegal gender searches, and the use of condoms as evidence all have in common? All are the product of discriminatory policing practices affecting LGBTQ communities, and particularly LGBTQ youth and transgender people of color. They also often take place during searches supposedly based on “consent.” The scene, described by countless New Yorkers, legislators, and even former Police Commission-

er Ray Kelly, goes something like this: an officer approaches, asks for ID, and orders a person to empty their pockets, open up their bag, maybe lift up their shirt, or, worse yet, drop their pants. Often, it ends with the person pulling less than 25 grams of marijuana out of their pocket into plain view, bringing the associated charge into the realm of a misdemeanor instead of a violation. More than 80 percent of the time the subject is a young Black or Brown person — making these kinds of searches one of the many ways LGBTQ youth of color are swept into the criminal legal system. When there is no other legal justification for a search in the

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

first instance — such as a reasonable belief that a person is armed, probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, or a warrant — the search is considered a “consent” search. Sometimes there are variations on the theme — the item found in a pocket or purse is a condom and the charge is loitering for the purpose of prostitution. At a City Council hearing earlier this year Streetwise and Safe (SAS) youth leader Trina described being stopped and searched: The dispatcher told her that my record was clear but instead of letting me go, she said she wanted to see in my purse. I

didn’t know my rights then or I would have not consented to the search. I thought I had to show her the contents of my purse. When she looked inside, she saw two condoms. She called the precinct back and asked for a police car to come. I asked her, “Why are you locking me up? I can’t carry condoms?” She replied, “You are getting locked up for prostitution.” Sometimes, the order is to lift up your shirt or open up your pants, given by an officer who is illegally trying to assign gender based on anatomy or simply harassing transgender and gender nonconforming New Yorkers. That officer will later argue that the search was based on consent. No matter what the script, uninformed, presumed, or forced “con-

c

STREETWISE, continued on p.52

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What is STRIBILD? STRIBILD is a prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before. It combines 4 medicines into 1 pill to be taken once a day with food. STRIBILD is a complete single-tablet regimen and should not be used with other HIV-1 medicines. STRIBILD does not cure HIV-1 infection or AIDS. To control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses you must keep taking STRIBILD. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to reduce the risk of passing HIV-1 to others. Always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with body fluids. Never reuse or share needles or other items that have body fluids on them.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION What is the most important information I should know about STRIBILD?

Who should not take STRIBILD? Do not take STRIBILD if you: • Take a medicine that contains: alfuzosin, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine, methylergonovine, cisapride, lovastatin, simvastatin, pimozide, sildenafil when used for lung problems (Revatio®), triazolam, oral midazolam, rifampin or the herb St. John’s wort. • For a list of brand names for these medicines, please see the Brief Summary on the following pages. • Take any other medicines to treat HIV-1 infection, or the medicine adefovir (Hepsera®).

What are the other possible side effects of STRIBILD?

STRIBILD can cause serious side effects:

Serious side effects of STRIBILD may also include:

• Build-up of an acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include feeling very weak or tired, unusual (not normal) muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain with nausea or vomiting, feeling cold especially in your arms and legs, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat.

• New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do regular blood and urine tests to check your kidneys before and during treatment with STRIBILD. If you develop kidney problems, your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking STRIBILD.

• Serious liver problems. The liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and fatty (steatosis). Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice), dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored bowel movements (stools), loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach pain. • You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking STRIBILD for a long time. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions.

28

• Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and stop taking STRIBILD, your hepatitis may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking STRIBILD without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health. STRIBILD is not approved for the treatment of HBV.

• Bone problems, including bone pain or bones getting soft or thin, which may lead to fractures. Your healthcare provider may do tests to check your bones. • Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV-1 medicines. • Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking STRIBILD.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking STRIBILD? • All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection. • All the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. STRIBILD may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how STRIBILD works. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. Do not start any new medicines while taking STRIBILD without first talking with your healthcare provider. • If you take hormone-based birth control (pills, patches, rings, shots, etc). • If you take antacids. Take antacids at least 2 hours before or after you take STRIBILD. • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if STRIBILD can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking STRIBILD. • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. Also, some medicines in STRIBILD can pass into breast milk, and it is not known if this can harm the baby.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Please see Brief Summary of full Prescribing Information with important warnings on the following pages.

The most common side effects of STRIBILD include nausea and diarrhea. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


STRIBILD is a prescription medicine used as a complete single-tablet regimen to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before. STRIBILD does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

I started my personal revolution Talk to your healthcare provider about starting treatment. STRIBILD is a complete HIV-1 treatment in 1 pill, once a day. Ask if it’s right for you.

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

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Patient Information STRIBILD® (STRY-bild) (elvitegravir 150 mg/cobicistat 150 mg/emtricitabine 200 mg/ tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 300 mg) tablets Brief summary of full Prescribing Information. For more information, please see the full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information. What is STRIBILD?

Who should not take STRIBILD?

• STRIBILD is a prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before. STRIBILD is a complete regimen and should not be used with other HIV-1 medicines. • STRIBILD does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. You must stay on continuous HIV-1 therapy to control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses. • Ask your healthcare provider about how to prevent passing HIV-1 to others. Do not share or reuse needles, injection equipment, or personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them. Do not have sex without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.

Do not take STRIBILD if you also take a medicine that contains: • adefovir (Hepsera®) • alfuzosin hydrochloride (Uroxatral®) • cisapride (Propulsid®, Propulsid Quicksolv®) • ergot-containing medicines, including: dihydroergotamine mesylate (D.H.E. 45®, Migranal®), ergotamine tartrate (Cafergot®, Migergot®, Ergostat®, Medihaler Ergotamine®, Wigraine®, Wigrettes®), and methylergonovine maleate (Ergotrate®, Methergine®) • lovastatin (Advicor®, Altoprev®, Mevacor®) • oral midazolam • pimozide (Orap®) • rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®, Rifater®, Rimactane®) • sildenafil (Revatio®), when used for treating lung problems • simvastatin (Simcor®, Vytorin®, Zocor®) • triazolam (Halcion®) • the herb St. John’s wort Do not take STRIBILD if you also take any other HIV-1 medicines, including: • Other medicines that contain tenofovir (Atripla®, Complera®, Viread®, Truvada®) • Other medicines that contain emtricitabine, lamivudine, or ritonavir (Atripla®, Combivir®, Complera®, Emtriva®, Epivir® or Epivir-HBV®, Epzicom®, Kaletra®, Norvir®, Trizivir®, Truvada®) STRIBILD is not for use in people who are less than 18 years old.

What is the most important information I should know about STRIBILD? STRIBILD can cause serious side effects, including: 1. Build-up of lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis). Lactic acidosis can happen in some people who take STRIBILD or similar (nucleoside analogs) medicines. Lactic acidosis is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. Lactic acidosis can be hard to identify early, because the symptoms could seem like symptoms of other health problems. Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms which could be signs of lactic acidosis: • feel very weak or tired • have unusual (not normal) muscle pain • have trouble breathing • have stomach pain with nausea or vomiting • feel cold, especially in your arms and legs • feel dizzy or lightheaded • have a fast or irregular heartbeat 2. Severe liver problems. Severe liver problems can happen in people who take STRIBILD. In some cases, these liver problems can lead to death. Your liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and you may develop fat in your liver (steatosis). Call your healthcare provider right away if you get any of the following symptoms of liver problems: • your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice) • dark “tea-colored” urine • light-colored bowel movements (stools) • loss of appetite for several days or longer • nausea • stomach pain You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or severe liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking STRIBILD for a long time. 3. Worsening of Hepatitis B infection. If you have hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and take STRIBILD, your HBV may get worse (flare-up) if you stop taking STRIBILD. A “flare-up” is when your HBV infection suddenly returns in a worse way than before. • Do not run out of STRIBILD. Refill your prescription or talk to your healthcare provider before your STRIBILD is all gone

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• Do not stop taking STRIBILD without first talking to your healthcare provider • If you stop taking STRIBILD, your healthcare provider will need to check your health often and do blood tests regularly for several months to check your HBV infection. Tell your healthcare provider about any new or unusual symptoms you may have after you stop taking STRIBILD

What are the possible side effects of STRIBILD? STRIBILD may cause the following serious side effects: • See “What is the most important information I should know about STRIBILD?” • New or worse kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys before you start and while you are taking STRIBILD. Your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking STRIBILD if you develop new or worse kidney problems. • Bone problems can happen in some people who take STRIBILD. Bone problems include bone pain, softening or thinning (which may lead to fractures). Your healthcare provider may need to do tests to check your bones. • Changes in body fat can happen in people who take HIV-1 medicine. These changes may include increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck (“buffalo hump”), breast, and around the middle of your body (trunk). Loss of fat from the legs, arms and face may also happen. The exact cause and long-term health effects of these conditions are not known. • Changes in your immune system (Immune Reconstitution Syndrome) can happen when you start taking HIV-1 medicines. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you start having any new symptoms after starting your HIV-1 medicine.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


The most common side effects of STRIBILD include: • Nausea • Diarrhea Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. • These are not all the possible side effects of STRIBILD. For more information, ask your healthcare provider. • Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking STRIBILD? Tell your healthcare provider about all your medical conditions, including: • If you have or had any kidney, bone, or liver problems, including hepatitis B infection • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if STRIBILD can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking STRIBILD. - There is a pregnancy registry for women who take antiviral medicines during pregnancy. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. Talk with your healthcare provider about how you can take part in this registry. • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you take STRIBILD. - You should not breastfeed if you have HIV-1 because of the risk of passing HIV-1 to your baby. - Two of the medicines in STRIBILD can pass to your baby in your breast milk. It is not known if the other medicines in STRIBILD can pass into your breast milk. - Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements: • STRIBILD may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how STRIBILD works. • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following medicines: - Hormone-based birth control (pills, patches, rings, shots, etc) - Antacid medicines that contain aluminum, magnesium hydroxide, or calcium carbonate. Take antacids at least 2 hours before or after you take STRIBILD - Medicines to treat depression, organ transplant rejection, or high blood pressure - amiodarone (Cordarone®, Pacerone®) - atorvastatin (Lipitor®, Caduet®) - bepridil hydrochloride (Vascor®, Bepadin®) - bosentan (Tracleer®) - buspirone - carbamazepine (Carbatrol®, Epitol®, Equetro®, Tegretol®) - clarithromycin (Biaxin®, Prevpac®) - clonazepam (Klonopin®) - clorazepate (Gen-xene®, Tranxene®) - colchicine (Colcrys®) - medicines that contain dexamethasone - diazepam (Valium®)

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

- digoxin (Lanoxin®) - disopyramide (Norpace®) - estazolam - ethosuximide (Zarontin®) - flecainide (Tambocor®) - flurazepam - fluticasone (Flovent®, Flonase®, Flovent® Diskus®, Flovent® HFA, Veramyst®) - itraconazole (Sporanox®) - ketoconazole (Nizoral®) - lidocaine (Xylocaine®) - mexiletine - oxcarbazepine (Trileptal®) - perphenazine - phenobarbital (Luminal®) - phenytoin (Dilantin®, Phenytek®) - propafenone (Rythmol®) - quinidine (Neudexta®) - rifabutin (Mycobutin®) - rifapentine (Priftin®) - risperidone (Risperdal®, Risperdal Consta®) - salmeterol (Serevent®) or salmeterol when taken in combination with fluticasone (Advair Diskus®, Advair HFA®) - sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) or vardenafil (Levitra®, Staxyn®), for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). If you get dizzy or faint (low blood pressure), have vision changes or have an erection that last longer than 4 hours, call your healthcare provider or get medical help right away. - tadalafil (Adcirca®), for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension - telithromycin (Ketek®) - thioridazine - voriconazole (Vfend®) - warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®) - zolpidem (Ambien®, Edlular®, Intermezzo®, Zolpimist®) Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist when you get a new medicine. Do not start any new medicines while you are taking STRIBILD without first talking with your healthcare provider. Keep STRIBILD and all medicines out of reach of children. This Brief Summary summarizes the most important information about STRIBILD. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider. You can also ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about STRIBILD that is written for health professionals, or call 1-800-445-3235 or go to www.STRIBILD.com. Issued: October 2013

COMPLERA, EMTRIVA, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, GSI, HEPSERA, STRIBILD, the STRIBILD Logo, TRUVADA, and VIREAD are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. ATRIPLA is a trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb & Gilead Sciences, LLC. All other marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. © 2014 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. STBC0108 10/14

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DECEMBER 1 IS WORLD AIDS DAY

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New York City Launches End AIDS NY 2020 Campaign Mayor Bill de Blasio, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, Assistant Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis, members of the City Council and State Legislature, and more than 40 advocacy groups, including Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, ACRIA, and GMHC gather to show support for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s commitment to employ better prevention, including pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, testing, and earlier treatment to bring the HIV epidemic fully under control by 2020. Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St. Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-noon

Dec. 1, 6 p.m.: Gather and embark from Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, 164 W. 100th St. 6:30: The reading of name of those lost to AIDS, followed by remarks and performances at Advent Lutheran Church/ Broadway United Church of Christ, 2504 Broadway at 93rd St.

Out of the Darkness: World AIDS Day Vigil ACT UP New York, American Run for the End of AIDS, GMHC, the International AIDS Prevention Initiative, the Keith Haring Foundation, SAGE, Visual AIDS, VOCAL-NY, and a group of faith organizations hold a candlelight vigil and march.

Out of the Closet Thrift Store 475 Atlantic Ave. btwn. Nevins St. & Third Ave., Brooklyn Dec. 1, 3-5 p.m. Free tested provided courtesy of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Power 105 Radio.

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.26

Barro quotes him describing it in wild hyperbole as “a party drug” and “a public health disaster in the making.” “A party drug?” Seriously? Weinstein clearly hasn’t been to any parties in a very long time. He should get out more. What makes Barro’s article so good is that, unlike your faithful Media Circus columnist, who makes no attempt to be fair, he writes seemingly dispassionately but indicts Weinstein and his demented crusade no less forcefully. Barro would never use the word “demented,” for instance, to describe Weinstein’s obsessive attacks on PrEP (never mind that the Times wouldn’t permit him to do so even if he wanted to, and it’s far from clear that he wants to). But demented is exactly what Weinstein’s approach increasingly appears to be. Barro makes the point by citing leading AIDS activists’ view of Weinstein and his terror-based assault on science: “‘There’s no large controver sy; there is one loud voice,’ said Charles King, the president of the HIV nonprofit Housing Works and a co-chairman of an anti-HIV task force appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York. Mr. King called the AHF ad ‘a direct attack on New York State’s efforts to end AIDS as an epidemic.’” “‘I consider him a menace to HIV

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Free HIV Testing Union Square Park West side, btwn. 15th & 16th Sts. Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Community Health Network provides free testing with no appointments needed.

prevention,’ said Peter Staley, a veteran activist who also serves on the Cuomo task force.” “James Loduca, the vice president for public affairs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, compared him to a ‘climate-change denialist.’” For his part, Weinstein claims, as radical outliers often do, that he’s actually in the majority — that folks like King, Staley, and Loduca are simply strong-arming experts into silence: “When they see how mercilessly anyone who speaks out on this is attacked, I think it has a chilling effect,” he has said. According to Barro, Weinstein “attributes the chill to AIDS activists in thrall to Gilead, Truvada’s manufacturer, which provides support for AIDS nonprofits.” Following the money is generally a good tactic, and it’s true that Gilead provides financial support to a number of AIDS nonprofits. But Barro effectively kills that line of reasoning by concluding the piece with quotes from a clinician — Dr. Ray Martins, the medical director at Washington’s Whitman-Walker clinic, who currently has 170 patients on PrEP, none of whom has seroconverted in two years of taking Truvada. “I’m just so surprised this is a controversy,” Martins told Barro. “I’ve never seen anything that people have had such a negative reaction to that’s proven to work.” By “people,” Martins means one person.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


“It wasn’t fun choosing between paying rent and paying health insurance.” –Josh, East Village, NY

Before I had health insurance, it was a big decision to go to the doctor. I was a lot more focused on waiting until I couldn’t get out of bed to try to seek any advice or attention. After the NY State of Health Marketplace opened, I found affordable options. I wanted it to be, like, if you think you need to go to the doctor, you should probably go to the doctor.

Don’t waste a minute. Find your plan at nystateofhealth.ny.gov. Or call 1-855-355-5777.

©2014 NY State of Health

Proofreader Nb: NHYAHCH44000 | November 27 - December 10, 2014

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SAFE HAVEN, from p.23

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MICHAEL SHIREY

Besides Siciliano, the most outspoken skeptic is New Alternatives’ Kate Barnhart, who voiced disappointment about the new beds going to Covenant and said, “I’ve never met a youth that felt fully comfortable there.” She mentioned a transgender male client of hers who recently reported having been beaten up by other residents at Covenant. “It was the typical pattern of escalating violence and the staff doing nothing,” she said. Barnhart acknowledged, however, that she is “not hearing as many horror stories” as she used to, though she said that could be because she tries hard not to refer LGBT youth there. “My program practices diversion,” she said, “and others do, too.” Jenna Tine, the director of the weekend program at St. Luke’s, showed greater willingness than either Siciliano or Barnhart to acknowledge progress at Covenant — both in its new attention to the traumas its youth experience and in the overall leadership Drury is providing. “I think it speaks volumes that they brought True Colors in,” she said. “They know they have a problem. They recognize that they’ve had a closed system and that they haven’t worked well with other advocates. This isn’t the old Covenant House.” Years ago when she worked in a street outreach van for the Neutral Zone, Tine said, “If we saw LGBT kids, we would not steer them there. Sometimes, we’d just put them on the subway.” At St. Luke’s, she said, she hasn’t heard reports of trouble for LGBT youth at Covenant over the past six months. Tine was careful to note, however, that the experience at Covenant depends on an individual’s resiliency. “Some kids engender victimization,” she said. “Others can even navigate an adult shelter. Some kids who go to Covenant will be fine.” And, she noted, “Covenant provides really good wrap-around services” in terms of health care, mental health evaluation and counseling, and educational and employment assistance. Grace, an 18-year-old lesbian living in Covenant’s emergency shelter, might be an example of the sturdy type that Tine is thinking

of when she says some youth can do fine there. She left her home in Glendale, Queens, this past April because her mother has religious objections to her sexual orientation, but asked if she’s faced any flak at Covenant, she didn’t skip a beat. “I don’t have a problem being a lesbian there,” she said. “If anyone has a problem with it, that’s their problem. On the girls’ floor, they are not judgmental. When I came out, they all said, ‘That’s cool.’ One girl asked me how she looked when she was going to meet a boy.” The day Grace spoke to Gay City News, she had been offered a permanent training slot at a major retailer where she had gone looking for seasonal holiday work. “The guy said he liked my attitude,” she said, beaming. Even with a job, she hopes to pursue college and said her relationship with her mother is “improving,” though she understands she “can’t live under her roof” again. In spite of success stories like Grace and Ben, Tine agrees with Siciliano that the scale of operations at Covenant works against good outcomes for too many youth. “Warehousing does not work,” she said, applying a term both Covenant and DYCD firmly reject. “Carl’s model is significantly better.” Pointing out that Covenant routinely gets waivers from state regulations that would otherwise limit the size of any youth shelter to 20 beds, Siciliano argued that trying to manage hundreds of residents inevitably overwhelms whatever efforts Covenant is making to improve performance. “It has become painfully obvious that trainings haven’t been able to stem the violence,” he wrote in a recent email. “We need to be clear; warehousing homeless youths is the primary cause of the problem. It

sets LGBT youth up to be targets.” DYCD’s Haskell made little effort to conceal her exasperation at the characterization of Covenant as warehousing. “That’s unfair,” she said. “It’s no more so than a college dorm. We would not be comfortable sending kids into a warehousing situation.” Henley, a 20-year-old gay man at Covenant who is trying to get into the Rites of Passage transitional program Ben is part of, has the type of vulnerability Siciliano and Tine worry the West Side facility cannot accommodate. Born to a very poor family in the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, he was adopted by a Saint Lucian immigrant woman living in Brooklyn who has now decided he should be on his own. But Henley is living with Lupus, which drains his energy, requires him to sleep 11 or 12 hours a night, and recently landed him in the hospital for a week. Since July, when he returned from a failed effort to reconnect with his birth family in Saint Lucia, Covenant House has been a welcome refuge for him. “I was scared when I came here,” he said. Henley said he knew he had to immediately get the issue of being gay out of the way with his dorm mates. “I said to them, ‘Do we need to talk about this?,’ and they were all cool with it.” Covenant’s Drury and Boone worry that youth already dealing with problems of the sort Henley faces might be discouraged from seeking the shelter and assistance they need because of what they say is misinformation about Covenant. To be sure, the word among youth on the street about Covenant is not particularly good. Kevin Lotz, who runs Trinity Place, a 10-bed

transitional living facility for LGBT youth on the Upper West Side, said, “I have often heard troubling stories about LGBT youth’s experiences at Covenant.” He conceded, however, that “it feels anecdotal.” Trinity’s current residents, he said, did not report any problems there, but Lotz added, “They did reflect a generalized perception that the climate is problematic.” Covenant’s senior staff view that attitude as an unfounded preconception and it troubles them. “It breaks my heart that some kids may spend nights on the street because of what they’ve heard,” Boone said. His boss, Drury, expressed dismay that “kids are being pulled aside” at AFC to be grilled about problems at Covenant. Both men argued that youth who have been through trauma are on heightened alert, especially when dealing with adults in authority positions. “To look for problems is the wrong approach,” Drury said. DYCD’s Haskell’s expressed doubt that one service provider can vet the performance of another provider by querying youth clients. “When kids arrive at a shelter, they find ways to get what they want,” she said. “Kids may try to please, and that’s not to generalize about all kids.” Haskell said she’s “concerned about the impact” of what she believes are misperceptions being created about Covenant “because you are safer in Covenant House than on the streets, than trading sex for a place to stay.” DYCD, she said, has encour aged Siciliano to join its staff on a tour of Covenant, but he was “not interested.” Asked about that suggestion, Siciliano said, “The idea of going there during the day with a commissioner is absurd. These kids face harm in the middle of the night, when there are no commissioners there.” Told that it’s pretty clear DYCD believes his attention to ferreting out problems at Covenant is counterproductive, Siciliano paused, and then said, “Well, I don’t know what to say about that. They assert it’s safe to be there. How can they not look at it? They’re invested in the warehouse. They can’t acknowledge that it’s harmful. It’s going to have to be kids coming forward and saying, ‘This happened to me,’ and, ‘This happened to me.’”

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


FILM

Journeys and Barricades Romanian film festival pauses to feature Russian films on LGBT life, rights under Putin BY GARY M. KRAMER

ROMANIAN FILM INITIATIVE/ COURTESY: CINEMA POLITICA

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reative Freedom through Cinema,” a sidebar to the new Romanian film series at Lincoln Center, features two queer offerings — one fiction, one documentary — about LGBT life in Russia made in that county. The screenings, on the afternoon of December 6, are followed at 5 p.m. by a panel discussion comparing gay rights in Russia, Romania, and the US, featuring writer Andrew Solomon.

Evgeniy Tkachuk in Liubov Lvova and Sergei Taramajev’s “Winter Journey.”

CREATIVE FREEDOM THROUGH CINEMA Making Waves: New Romanian Cinema 2014 Film Center of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St. Each screening, $14.50; filmlinc.com The feature film, “Winter Journey,” written and directed by Liubov Lvova and Sergei Taramajev and screening at 1:30 p.m., takes its title from a composition by Schubert. Eric (Aleksei Frandetti) is a gay opera singer preparing for an important audition. He first encounters L yoha (Evgeniy Tkachuk) on a bus one day when the other man starts a fight and takes his phone. The film follows both men separately after this initial encounter. Eric, taught discipline by his singing instructor, is uptight and gets drunk to counter his anxiety. The reckless Lyoha ekes out a life on the streets by stealing a car radio, food, and a dog. Lyoha reconnects with Eric at a wild birthday party Eric attends with some gay friends. Lyoha realizes that Eric has access to money and may offer him an escape from his financial troubles. The fact that Eric is smitten with Lyoha helps the bad boy exploit his new friend. “Winter Journey” is an intriguing character study, even if the storyline

Pasha Romanov and an anonymous LGBT youth in Pavel Loparev and Askold Kurov’s “Children 404.”

is unsurprising. The filmmakers take their time getting the two main characters together, but once they do the film becomes more absorbing, even intense. Eric is completely taken with the handsome, seductive Lyoha, despite the petty criminal’s unsavory side. An episode involving the guys high and dancing at a nightclub is a particularly stylish sequence, providing a nice contrast to the chilliness and atmospheric realism of the rest of the film. Tkachuk, magnetic in making an unlikeable character attractive, conjures the impish nature of a young Malcolm McDowell. As Eric, Frandetti commendably captures his character’s longing for the dangerous Lyoha. “Winter Journey” is a compelling portrait of contemporary queer life in Russia.

“Children 404,” which screens at 3:30, is an important documentary about LGBT youth. Directed by Pavel Loparev

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

and Askold Kurov, the film is fascinating, maddening, and inspiring as it shows the trials and tribulations facing queer teens in Russia today. In response to the 2013 law that forbids “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships to minors,” Elena Klimova founded a social network website, Children 404, to encourage LGBT youth to come out, tell their stories, and find support. Each contributor is asked to include their photo, with their eyes or face covered with the familiar Internet message “404 error — page not found,” a way of emphasizing their “invisibility in society.” The film narrates 45 “anonymous” stories (only a few of the subjects are identified) that show the range of queer youth experiences in Russia. Some kids describe being bullied and harassed at school. One explains that the “propaganda law” means he could be fined for just

going to school. While several talk about being called names and beaten up, one teen says she is forced to change for gym class in the toilet, having been banished from the locker room. Their stories meld together in the voice-over, emphasizing the secrecy most of them must maintain. On the positive side, some teens embrace their sexual identity. One asserts, “I am homosexual. I am normal,” and others discuss becoming aware of their sexuality and accepting it. Some interviewees, who dare to appear on camera, talk about wanting to find a boyfriend and share a “normal” life. One teen, Pasha, even talks about eventually wanting kids, an aspiration that elicits particularly strong backlash from ultra-conservative Russians. Pasha is planning to move to Canada and study journalism. Sadly, other interview subjects are self-hating, troubled in coming to terms with their sexual identity in a country where it is illegal. They wonder, “How do you accept who you are?” A few talk about suicide. Their despair makes evident exactly why a safe space like Children 404 is so needed in Russia. One woman in the film insists parents should be educated about how to love their LGBT kids. When Pasha is seen being cared for by his loving, accepting mother, it offers a hopeful example. The drama in “Children 404” reaches a peak when Pasha holds up a poster about gay rights in a Moscow square. He and a man harassing him about his poster are both quickly taken into police custody. This moment of activism is the film’s most resonant moment, making concrete Klimova’s assertion that “Sitting quietly does not equal security.” “Children 404” provides critical insight into how LGBT youth cope with the oppressive burdens they face in Russia and cannot help but engender profound empathy among its viewers.

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FILM

Susan Slept Here In her afterlife, Sontag loves a new truth BY DAVID EHRENSTEIN

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WYATT COUNTS/COURTESY OF HBO

love being alive.” These are the first words we hear in Nancy D. Kates’ documentary “Regarding Susan Sontag.” And as the film goes on to show in considerable detail, that’s one of the most characteristic things about the documentary’s subject — her passion for life. Before succumbing to cancer at 71, this critic, novelist, and filmmaker (17 books, four features) had made a name for herself as a “public intellectual.” She longed to be an important novelist like Thomas Mann (to whom she wrote a fan letter when she was 15). But while her fiction is readable, it’s far from inspiring, Likewise her films “Duet For Cannibals” (1969) and “Brother Carl” (1971) — both in Swedish — are interesting but scarcely compelling as her essays were. With her striking looks, complemented in later years by a Serge Diaghilev-styled streak of white in her long dark hair, Sontag took to the spotlight with great style. But she was a Diaghilev without a Nijinsky. She wanted lovers who were as complex and intellectually ambitious as she was — not acolytes to be taught. And she most certainly found them in Harriet Sohmers Zwerling, Maria Irene Fornes, Lucinda Childs, Eva Kollisch, and Nicole Stéphane, none of whom she discussed while she was alive. Her posthumously published diaries let the herd of cats out of that very large bag. While disinclined to discuss her corporeal amours, Sontag made plain her love of the challenging and innovative in the arts (the films of Jack Smith, the musicals of Al Carmines, the novels of Carlo Emilio Gadda), all the while taking political stands that took her everywhere from New York’s anti-Vietnam war protests in the 1960s to the urban battlefields of Sarajevo in the 1990s. With great forthrightness and resolve, Sontag let us know precisely where she stood on everything , except when it came to what’s referred to ever-so politely as her “private life.” For it wasn’t until her diaries were released that we had access to anything “on the record.” “Regarding Susan Sontag” quotes frequently from these diaries (the estimable Patricia Clarkson reading what Susan wrote), but more important it features lively interviews with several former girlfriends. The ones with Harriet Sohmers Zwerling (her first love) and Eva Kollisch (who came along a number of years later and remarks, “She was not a sensitive person”) and dancer Lucinda Childs (whose view of Sontag is similar) are especially insightful. Alas, Maria Irene Fornes has Alzheimer’s and can be said to be alive only in the technical sense. She was quite the deal among Sontag’s lovers (“Irene could have made a stone come,” Harriet

Susan Sontag comes alive from new persepctives in Nancy D. Kates’ bio-documentary debuting on HBO on December 8.

REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG Directed by Nancy D. Kates Question Why Films/ HBO Documentary Films Premieres Dec. 8, 9 p.m. HBO

Sohmers Zwerling recalls), but the most passionate of Sontag’s affairs was undoubtedly with Nicole Stéphane, the Rothschild heiress, French resistance fighter, film producer, and occasional actress (quite overwhelming in JeanPierre Melville’s film of Jean Cocteau’s “Les Enfants Terrible”). Stéphane produced Sontag’s striking documentary about Israel and Palestine, “Promised Lands” (1974), and helped her through her second bout with cancer — shortly after which their affair (obviously too hot not to cool down) came to an end. What Kates’ film has been able to disclose about that affair and the rest of her romantic life is an enormous boon to understanding Sontag in general and the Sapphic world she enjoyed yet — with her adamant silence — rejected at the same time. As her last lover photographer, Annie Leibovitz (seen in archive footage as she declined to be interviewed by Kates) says, “We didn’t use those words” to describe their relationship. For to do so would render them lesbians, like anybody else. And Susan Sontag didn’t want to be like anybody else— perhaps because

everyone else wanted to be her. The cover of Sontag’s 1977 short story collection “I, etcetera” is as famous as the Truman Capote picture that graced his 1948 “Other Voices Other Rooms.” Indeed, it’s that photo’s Sapphic twin and, as “Regarding Susan Sontag” notes, wildly popularly with lesbian undergraduates. But let’s be clear. It wasn’t that Sontag had nothing to say about gay matters — just nothing about lesbian ones. She counted Roland Barthes, Wayne Koestenbaum, Elliot Stein, and James McCourt among her closest friends, and even those ill-versed in Sontag know her essay on the cornerstone of gay culture, “Notes on Camp,” put her on the map. In other words, she’d rather be known as a FagHag than a Dyke. But Kates will have none of this. And as a result, the effect of “Regarding Susan Sontag” is rather like the “Stateroom Scene” of “A Night at the Opera,” with lesbians tumbling out of the closet door Sontag had thought she’s sealed shut. “My desire to write is connected to my homosexuality. I need the identity as a weapon to match the weapon that society has against me,” she writes in her diaries. This bespeaks a sense of militancy. Yet while very much present in other aspects of Sontag’s life, that wasn’t the case here. “I am just becoming aware of how guilty I feel being queer,” she acknowledges. Yikes! Susan was “Desperately Seeking Susan.” She was born Susan Rosenblatt, the daughter of Mildred (née Jacobson) and Jack Rosenblatt. He ran a fur-trading business in China, where he died of tuberculosis in 1939 when Susan was just five. After that, as her sister Judith explains, “We had a lot of uncles who were not our uncles.” Until seven year later, when her mother married US Army Captain Nathan Sontag, thus bringing about the most felicitous name-change-through-parental-remarriage since Truman Persons became Truman Capote. The Sontags moved to Sherman Oaks, California, and in an interview she gave later in life, she recalled of how one day “Mr. Sontag” (described by her as “a tall pair of pants”) discovered her on the floor of the living room reading a book and announced she’d never get a husband if all she did was read. Sontag said she burst out laughing because she couldn’t imagine wanting to marry anyone who didn’t love to read. What’s doubly amusing is the fact that in 1950 she did marry a man precisely because of his well-read-ed-ness. Philip Rieff was her sociology instructor at the University of Chicago, “a thin, heavy-thigh-ed balding man who talked and talked… We talked for seven years.” Herbert Marcuse lived with Sontag and Rieff while writing his signature work “Eros and Civilization,” and, prior to their divorce in 1958, Sontag contributed to Rieff’s study “Freud: The Mind of the Moralist,” which would come out in 1959.

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SONTAG, continued on p.47

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


THEATER

Trans-cendental Piquant melodrama about gender identity delivers vital message of acceptance

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BY DAVID KENNERLEY

The Directors Company 59E59 Theaters 59 E. 59th St. Through Dec. 14 Tue.-Thu. at 7:15 p.m. Fri., Sat. at 8:15 p.m. Sat. at 2:15 p.m.; Sun. at 3:15 p.m. $35; 59e59.org or 212-279-4200 One hr., 40 mins., with intermission CAROL ROSEGG

t might be tempting to dismiss “On a Stool at the End of the Bar,” now playing at 59E59 Theaters, as a shaky stage version of an old “ABC Afterschool Special” episode. Set in a working-class Camden, New Jersey home in the late 1980s, the drama examines the impact of a woman’s shocking secret — she was actually born a male — on her loved ones. But this play, directed by Michael Parva, actually has some bite. Among the melodrama are some wonder fully wrenching moments, often spiked with profanity, that are truly soul-stirring. More like an “Afterschool Special” presented by AMC, not ABC. The plot centers on hardworking Christine (Antoinette Thornes) whose life is upended when her brother (John Stanisci), from whom she’s been estranged for two decades, pays an unexpected visit and unwittingly reveals a volatile secret to her unsuspecting partner of ten years, Tony (Timothy John Smith). Tur ns out Christine’s birth name was Christopher. Feeling trapped in the wrong body and shunned by a God-fearing family, Christopher was forced to leave home as a teen and work as a hustler to save enough cash for a sex-change operation. Tony goes ballistic and insists that he and his teenaged children (played with conviction by Luke Slattery, Sara Kapner, and Zachary Brod) move out. Although the kids are from a previous mar riage, they’ve come to think of Christine as their mom. The play boldly tries to articulate the minefield of emotions and dilemmas that come with gender reassignment: When (or whether) to disclose your past. How it directly impacts loved ones. The fear of what others will think. Whether being a transsexual means you are gay — or were gay. Not to mention the shame and self-loathing. A macho, bearded Smith delivers the strongest performance in

ON A STOOL AT THE END OF THE BAR

Antoinette Thornes and Timothy John Smith in Robert Callely’s “On a Stool at the End of the Bar,” directed by Michael Parva, at 59E59 Theaters through December 14.

the ensemble. His Tony is a tangle of rage and confusion and disgust. “He thought I was a faggot too,” Tony says of Christine’s brother. Despite Tony’s tearful protests, we suspect he doubts his own sexuality, too. Slattery is completely believable as the eldest child, Joey, a conflicted, hormonal high school student (in actuality, Slattery is a graduate of Vassar College). Joey’s outrage against Christine — as it happens, he has a little crush on her — is heart-wrenching. “Are you really a queer?” he asks incredulously. “It’s disgusting! Why did you have to tell us?” Thornes delivers an understated, brooding performance as the mother figure who agonizes over telling her family the truth about her past. Perhaps too calm a portrayal — I wanted a bit more passion. We are fully invested in this family and root for them to resolve their dif ferences. The upbeat conclusion, handled with a light touch, is pitch-perfect. That’s not to say there aren’t some serious snags. First-time playwright Robert Callely’s script is often contrived and rarely rises above standard narrative. Many transitions are clunky, suggesting the troupe could have used more rehearsal time. Two ancillary scenes — one where Tony seeks counsel from a bigoted priest (Robert Hogan) and

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

another where Christine turns to her psychotherapist (Liza Vann) — go on too long and are awkwardly inserted into the play. Faults aside, the endeavor is a welcome addition to a new wave of LGBT theater where the T is final-

ly getting the spotlight it deserves. Currently on Broadway, for example, ther e’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Kinky Boots,” also imparting their message of gender-bending acceptance. But these are glitzy musical spectacles. By contrast, “On a Stool at the End of the Bar” is down-to-earth and more relatable. What this admirable effort lacks in polish, it makes up for with conviction and heart.

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THEATER

Do The Freak Revamped cult musical about conjoined twins gets its act together this time BY DAVID KENNERLEY

F

JOAN MARCUS

Emily Padgett and Erin Davie in “Side Show. “

ans of the original “Side Show” may be in for a jolt when they see the first-ever major revival, now at the St. James Theatre. After catching the new production, one such “freaks” freak — who had seen the 1997 debut multiple times before it was shuttered a mere 10 weeks after opening on Broadway — shook his head. “How could they cut ‘Tunnel Of Love?’ It was the best number in the show,” he lamented. That’s hardly the only element altered from the legendary musical, based on the once-famous conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, forced into a traveling sideshow and searching for a normal life. For this production is not so much a revival as a full-on reboot. Visionary dramatist Bill Condon (best known for directing the movie versions of “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls”) has helped Bill Russell retool the book, giving key characters richer backstories in an attempt

SIDE SHOW St. James Theatre 246 W. 44th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49-$155; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission to deepen the drama. The soaring, electrifying score is by Russell (lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music), who trimmed a few numbers and added others. No longer sung through like an opera, the endeavor is now a traditional book musical. With all due respect to die-hard super fans, the revisions have paid off big-time. This iteration of “Side Show” not only delivers all the thrills and chills you expect, but does so with an abundance of empathy and soul, unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. For starters, the production is extremely tight, thanks in part to

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FREAKS, continued on p.39

Home from the War

David Rabe’s Vietnam play has shocking relevance today BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

W

hile its subject matter is the V i e t n a m Wa r, there is something hauntingly contemporary about the New Group’s simply splendid revival of David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones.”

STICKS AND BONES The New Group Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Dec. 14 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m.; Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $77-$97; ticketcentral.com Or 212-279-4200 Two hrs., 45 mins., with intermission

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First produced in 1971, while Americans were still dying in Southeast Asia, the play tells the story of David, a solider returning home blind and suffering from PTSD. His arrival back at the perfect suburban home — where his parents are named Ozzie and Harriet and his younger brother, an overly chipper, guitar-playing teenager, is Rick — completely upsets the family. When David was at a distance, it was easy to think of him as a hero. Returned and damaged, he stands as a stark repudiation of his family’s oblivious comfort. His parents and even the family priest try to force him into denial and, so to speak, back into the predictable blandness of their lives — as if nothing bad had really hap-

pened. David must be normal or be destroyed. Rabe’s script has unmistakable echoes of Edward Albee’s work, blending realism and absurdity and using stereotypical characters for broader, harrowing social criticism. The play blasts the complacency and distance that allows people to ignore horrors of a war others are fighting. With an all-volunteer army today, Americans are even more removed than during Vietnam from the reality of deadly combat abroad. The New Group production, under Scott Elliott’s insightful and incisive direction, recalls a bleak time in our history — and a particularly fearless and vibrant period of playwriting — even as it forces us to

confront how nothing has changed. It may be human nature to keep horror at arm’s length, but that doesn’t make it right. Rabe shines a cold light on our selfishness and boldly dares us to look it in the face. The brilliant set by Derek McLane evokes the split-level dream of the post-World War II/ Korean War world. The furniture is perfect; if you were around at the time, the afghan on the back of the Danish modern sofa will give you the shivers. The production is also aptly informed by Peter Kaczorowski’s perfect period lighting and Susan Hilferty’s costumes. And then there are the performances. Bill Pullman plays Ozzie

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BONES, continued on p.41

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


Classical Nudes and the Making

of Queer History

Curated by Jonathan David Katz

Funded by the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust

October 17, 2014 to January 4, 2015 JOAN MARCUS

David St. Louis in “Side Show.”

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FREAKS, from p.38

out-of-town stints at La Jolla Playhouse and the Kennedy Center. David Rockwell’s impressive set transitions seamlessly from grimy to glamorous. Stunning images of enlarged sepia-toned posters and newspapers underscore the sensationalism that surrounded the twins in the 1930s, and shadow puppetry vignettes amp up the action. Paul Kieve is credited with designing the nifty illusions. The realistic looking freaks in the “odditorium” — a lizard man, a dog boy, a bearded lady, a man with three legs, miniature Cossack dancers, a human pin cushion, among others — look wondrously awesome. Quite a contrast to the original, which merely implied the physical deformities. The main attraction, of course, is the duo of Daisy (Emily Padgett) and Violet (Erin Davie), who, although joined at the hip, manage to sing and dance and look radiant. (Fun fact: their undergarments are reinforced with super-strong magnets to keep the twins well connected.) Abused and treated like slaves since birth, they are soon rescued by a wily, handsome team of promoters, Terry (Ryan Silverman) and Buddy (Matthew Hydzik), who develop tender bonds with the girls even as they exploit them. After dance lessons, vocal coaching, and a makeover with spunky new hairstyles, the Hilton sisters become the highest paid performers on the vaudeville circuit. The transformation is dazzling. As the beleaguered “freaks” seeking true love and validation under the unforgiving spotlight, Padgett and Davie are exceptional, keenly locating the emotional center of each character. Padgett brings a warm fragility to the fearless, fame-seeking Daisy, while

Davie allows the shy, shrinking Violet to tap into a secret reservoir of strength. Any lack of physical resemblance is easily overlooked once the pair begins to sing — angelic and mellifluous, they sound as if they share the same DNA. “Side Show” is more than just an eye-popping freak show. Perhaps too tidily, Daisy falls for Terry and Violet for Buddy, who returns her affection with a marriage proposal. Is it true love, does he pity her, or is it simply a publicity stunt? The fact that Buddy has a taste for men complicates matters further. In a rather force-fitted subplot, Jake, who in the sideshow was billed as the “Cannibal King” from the “inky jungles” of Africa, develops a crush on one of the girls. As delivered by a fervent David St. Louis, the thunderous ballad, “You Should Be Loved” is a showstopper. Other outstanding numbers include the captivating opener, “Come Look at the Freaks,” the tearjerker “Who Will Love Me As I Am?,” and “I Will Never Leave You,” a triumphant ode to codependency. Ultimately, the endearingly sincere “Side Show” is a melodious celebration of misfits — and fits in perfectly with a Broadway populated by the likes of “Kinky Boots,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and “The Elephant Man.” As you might suspect, the overarching message is that, relatively speaking, we’re all freaks, whether three-legged or black or gay or, heck, even a gawking audience member. The money-grubbing Auntie (Blair Ross) and Sir (a delightfully smarmy Robert Joy) who mistreated the twins in their early days are even more grotesque than “God’s mistakes” in the sideshow tent. As the tiny Cossack woman quips after Buddy makes an ingratiating speech, “He’s just as weird as the rest of us.”

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

James Bidgood, Pan, 1965, C-print, 22 x 22 in., © James Bidgood, Collection of Michael Sodomick.

26 Wooster St., NYC 10013 Tues-Sun: 12-6 pm Thurs: 12-8 pm LeslieLohman.org Made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Exposes some of the most pressing issues facing the LGBT community

“ENGAGING & PROVOCATIVE!” TheaterMania

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OPERA

Bad Girl Gone Wild in a Gulag

And a good girl in a gondola through the ages BY ELI JACOBSON

CHRIS LEE/ COURTESY OF CARNEGIE HALL

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KEN HOWARD/METROPOLITAN OPERA

S

ome operas take a while to click with audiences — it may take a revival with the right cast and a crowd receptive to its message. The Metropolitan Opera’s current revival of Dmitri Shostakovich’s scandalous 1934 opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” is a case in point. When the Graham Vick production premiered in 1994 — has it really been that long? — the music seemed loud and empty and the production pointlessly busy, vulgar, even tacky. It was not helped by a sullen, vocally underpowered Katerina who had no chemistry with her tenor love interest for whose sake the titular anti-heroine commits three murders. For this 20th anniversary revival, Vick was invited back to direct a sexy, dramatically volatile new cast and the pieces all came together. It played like a fresh, electrifying new production, not a revival. James Conlon leads the superb Met orchestra and a revitalized protean chorus with authority and sweeping drama. At the final bows at the revival premiere on November 10, the Met audience rose to its feet in a genuinely enthusiastic standing ovation, and when the curtain finally descended, cheers erupted backstage as the cast hooted and hollered in triumph. Eva-Maria Westbroek’s Katerina, bleached blonde and a little frowsy in a cheap floral print dress, is a frightening portrait of the banality of evil. She charts Katerina’s progress from a bored, unfulfilled housewife to an empty-eyed killer — this profoundly shallow woman decides that an orgasm is worth killing for and annihilates anything that interferes with her fulfilling her lust. Even in the Siberian prison camp there is something chillingly childlike about this woman. Tenor Brandon Jovanovich is all testosterone, pheromones, and false promises as her adulterous lover Sergei. Frequently stripped down to his tighty whities, his burly baritonal tenor is as irresistible as his hairy, burly frame. Their erotic connection

Eva-Maria Westbroek (center) as Katerina in Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.”

Joyce DiDonato presented “A Journey Through Venice” at Carnegie Hall on November 4.

is palpable and fully believable — the two go through the entire Kama Sutra without missing a note. Westbroek’s smoldering, unsettled, overripe soprano embodies the desires driving her character, a few weak wobbly high notes aside. Anatoli Kotscherga’s characterful Slavic bass reeks of stale breath, cheap vodka, and arrogant bile as Katerina’s repellent fatherin-law Boris. Raymond Very’s sweet lyrical tenor makes Katerina’s ill-fated husband Zinovy an appealing and sympathetic victim. Three basses — Mikhail Kolelishvili as the Priest, Vladimir Ognovenko as the Policeman, and the mournful beauty of Dmitry Belosselskiy’s Old Convict — provide unforgettable cameos. The chorus had to range from shirtless workmen cavorting in the yard to a line of broken prisoners marching through the gulag. Vick’s riotous, colorful production, updating the action to the late 1960s, embraces the cheap vulgarity of the new Russian culture — Katerina’s wedding with Sergei is reminiscent of Brighton Beach nightclubs down to the tacky tuxedos, short skirts, and mirror ball. The surreal insanity of the staged interludes — murderous drag queen brides and mad housewives vacuuming the walls — provided needed levity and satire. Stalin hated it but the opening night audience loved it. This is one of the don’t-miss events of the season.

Rossini’s Desdemona had a more complex pomegranate timbre and a more extroverted operatic manner. Rossini’s Anzoleta cheered on her gondolier lover in the regatta with an earthier but still sunny tone and just enough dramatic action to illustrate the songs. Here or there DiDonato’s forte high notes tighten and whiten, developing a fast rattly vibrato — about the only vocal flaw in her technical arsenal. In the Head songs, an outsider observes a gray, misty Venice that seems to draw one in and yet elude one simultaneously. DiDonato’s hushed, covered sound evoked both the shadows and mists of this Venice but also the cycle’s creator, Dame Janet Baker. The Hahn cycle showed the mezzo’s sunny, earthy, and seductive sides in turn. Singing in three languages, DiDonato always works off of the text, giving each moment a personal connection. She was more dramatic in the opera arias, seductively intimate in the songs, always giving a sense of dramatic context. Zobel’s piano accompaniment proved stylistically adept in the elusive French songs and was keenly supportive throughout. DiDonato’s voice is not a remarkable instrument in and of itself though it is very agile and attractive — it is not great in size or unique in color. But she is a communicator who connects with the material and the audience, taking them on a very personal journey. In speech or song, Joyce is a charmer. I, for one, would follow her anywhere.

Joyce DiDonato is this season’s ubiquitous golden girl with a new production of “La

Donna del Lago” at the Met. Her season-long residency at Carnegie Hall includes a concert performance of Handel’s bad girl opera “Alcina,” various concerts, and a main stage Carnegie Hall recital on November 4 with her usual accompanist, David Zobel. The recital, entitled “A Journey Through Venice,” explored that city not just as a place but as a state of mind. Or more accurately, various states in different eras: from the baroque Venice that produced Vivaldi’s opera “Ercole su’l Termodonte,” from which DiDonato sang two elegant arias, to the darker ottocento Venice of Rossini’s “Otello,” where Desdemona dies for her love in the “Willow Song.” The mercurial Rossini then explored the rowdy street carnival side of Venice in his “La Regatta Veneziana” cycle. A mysterious, sinister, unknowable Venice emerges in 20th century British composer Michael Head’s “Three Songs of Venice.” Reynaldo Hahn’s “Venezia” cycle evokes the tourist Venice of gondolas, summer afternoons, and romance, while Gabriel Fauré in his “Cinq mélodies de Venise” evokes an impressionistic decadent Venice, home of the true aesthete. DiDonato’s voice was equally chameleonic as she explored each of these Venetian landscapes. Her coloratura rippled and sparkled like a clear stream in the sunlight in Vivaldi’s arias for the innocent Ippolita. In the Fauré cycle, her sensual tone turned smokier and more transparent, giving light and shade to the perfumed melodies.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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BONES, from p.38

MONIQUE CARBONI

with a command that is breathtaking. His slow disintegration as he desperately tries to hold onto longheld beliefs in the face of contrary reality is brilliant. Ozzie is a sympathetic figure whose fear of the threat to all he has accomplished we can feel. Holly Hunter as Harriet turns in a powerful performance of accumulating anxiety and fear. Losing herself in food and vacuuming is horrifying and heartbreaking to watch. Richard Chamberlain as Father Donald is unctuous and blinded by a faith Rabe takes particular aim at for being meaningless. Seemingly humble, the priest is, in fact, appallingly egocentric. Chamberlain does fine work in a small part. Raviv Ullman is terrific as Rick, whose seeming shallowness masks a dark interior that is consistently chilling. The role is essentially a literary construct, but Ullman pulls it off. But it is Ben Schnetzer as David who is at the center of everything. David’s story is the simplest and the least abstract. The stark real-

Bill Pullman and Ben Schnetzer in David Rabe’s “Sticks and Bones,” at the Pershing Square Signature Center through December 14.

ism of David’s portrayal set against the other characters is highly effective dramatically. In an important sense, he is the only real person in the piece, but damned if it doesn’t work. The clarity of Schnetzer’s characterization drives home both the human and intellectual themes

of the play. “Sticks and Bones” is a disquieting play, intentionally so. It’s not just the world of 43 years ago we’re looking it, it’s our world — and our own complacency should be unsettling. A small but searing moment in the play, when Ozzie, Harriet,

and Rick watch fictional horror on TV as an escape, says it all, indicting a culture that still spends billions on fantasy entertainment while ignoring the realities of war and hiding behind shallow proclamations of patriotism. If this production upset you, good.

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UNCLESTEVESNY.COM | November 27 - December 10, 2014

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BOOKS

Was Lawrence Gay in Arabia?

versation purposes,” Lawrence said, an announcement about which Sattin wryly comments, “Whatever Lawrence wanted with Dahoum, it was far more than mere conversation.” The deep affection between Lawrence and Dahoum unfolded during a period when the British government’s criminalization of same-sex relations was a policy aggressively pursued. The sodomy prosecution in London of the great gay Irish writer, playwright, and poet Oscar Wilde began in 1895, culminating in his incarceration and then his tragic death in 1900. It’s hardly surprising, then, that Lawrence would employ coded language in talking about his love for Dahoum, who died a premature death in 1916. Typhus robbed the young man of what could have been a bright future, aided by his older companion, in post-World War I Syria. When Lawrence, in 1922, published his autobiographical masterpiece “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” it was dedicated to “S.A.” in a poetic preface that read, in part:

New biography explores Briton’s emotional, intellectual journey in pre-World War I Middle East

A

BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL

mong the innumerable highly regarded T.E. Lawrence biographies, Anthony Sattin’s new work is noteworthy in deftly capturing the pre-World War I intellectual and emotional development of one of the 20th century’s great sexual enigmas.

THE YOUNG T.E. LAWRENCE By Anthony Sattin W.W. Norton & Company $28.95; 336 pages

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W.W. NORTON & COMPANY

Since Lawrence’s 1935 death in a motorcycle accident, there has been no shortage of lively debate over his sexuality — or asexuality. Sattin writes, “There continues to be a widespread belief that Lawrence was homosexual, either in practice or in thwarted desire.” Sattin offers nothing new in sketching the specifics of Lawrence’s sexual practices, but he presents compelling evidence in understanding the depth of his same-sex feelings and what seems unmistakably to have been his love affair with an adolescent Syrian boy. Sattin acknowledges the daunting challenge of fully probing the psyche of the man posthumously catapulted to even greater fame than he had in life as Lawrence of Arabia: “He has been hailed as a hero and denounced as another imperialist out to exploit the less fortunate, both championed and derided as a homosexual, and dismissed as a self-publicist, a fantasist, a fake.” Sattin illustrates the great renown Lawrence achieved based on his contribution to the defeat of the Turkish army during World War I, writing, “The show that opened in the Royal Opera House [in London] in 1919 and packed theatres around the world in the 1920s was originally titled ‘With Allenby in Palestine,’ before being changed to ‘With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia’ when it became clear that crowds wanted to see Lawrence: more than 4 million people worldwide went to see the lecture and screening.” In the 95 years since then, competing views on Lawrence have grown abundant. Widely tagged as an Arabophile who sought to unify a fragmented Arab world into an independent state in the heartland of the Islamic Middle East, Lawrence also wrote, “The sooner the Jews farm it the better: their colonies are bright spots in a desert.” He promoted Zionist immigration to Palestine, and one failing in Sattin’s volume is the lack of a nuanced treatment of Lawrence’s views regarding political Zionism and the prospects of a Jewish state.

Born in 1888, Lawrence left Oxford to help unearth the remains of the great Hittite empire, which reached its zenith in the 11th century BC. His archaeological work from 1910 until 1914 largely involved the ancient city of Carchemish, situated in what are today southeastern Turkey and the nearby Syrian town of Jerabulus. In Sattin’s telling, the young Lawrence became enamored of a water boy during an excavation in northern Syria. Lawrence met Salim Ali (whose name has elsewhere been rendered as Selim Ahmed) when the boy was either 13 or 14. Ali’s light complexion prompted the nickname Dahoum, which means darkness and was likely coined by his fellow Syrians as a kind of ironic wordplay. The volatile Syrian-Turkey border region is now a major conduit for Islamic State combatant penetration into Syria, and what this reporter witnessed last year in cross-border violence and instability contrasts sharply with the romanticism about a non-radical Islamic period that Lawrence brought to his writing. “We were there for 4 years and it was the best life I ever lived,” Lawrence said. In a 1912 letter to his parents, he wrote, “Really, this country, for the foreigner, is too glorious for words.” Lawrence and Dahoum shared — one could argue — a partnership that would instantly be recognizable to gay men today. They were, according to Sattin, inseparable in the summer of 1913. “I would like to bring Dahoum back with me for con-

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands And wrote my will across the sky in stars To earn you Freedom, the seven pillared worthy house, That your eyes might be shining for me when we come. Death seemed my servant on the road, till we were near And saw you waiting When you smiled, and in sorrowful envy [death] outran me And took you apart: into his quietness. Though Lawrence never explained the initials, his biographers and other experts have, not surprisingly, speculated they stood for Salim Ali, Dahoum’s real name. Lawrence’s language in discussing his feelings for Dahoum were typically opaque, but Sattin does not shrink from being explicit in characterizing them. Jeremy Wilson, the world’s leading Lawrence scholar and his authorized biographer, described Lawrence’s relationship with Dahoum as one based on “almost fatherly concern,” but in Sattin’s view, “there was more than paternal care; there was love.” A “wanderer after sensations” was Lawrence’s phrase for his time in Syria. This innocence would melt abruptly when he suffered sexual assault at the hands of Turkish soldiers in a garrison in the Syrian town of Deraa in 1917. Lawrence scholars continue to feverishly debate the specifics of what happened at Deraa, but his own description in “Seven Pillars” of his torture, including as many as a hundred lashes on his backside as well as rape, is a chilling read. In the post-Deraa period, Lawrence felt he “was not going to last out the game much longer.” In the stiff upper lip fashion of post-Victo-

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LAWRENCE, continued on p.50

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


Planned Service Changes

123 Dec 1 – 5, Mon – Fri 10PM to 5AM No 1 2 between 34 St-Penn Station and South Ferry/Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr. 1 runs between 242 St and 34 St-Penn Station. 2 runs between Dyre Av and 34 St-Penn Station. 3 service is suspended. Travel Alternatives: • Free shuttle buses run to/from 3 stations at 148 St, 145 St, and 135 St. • 4 trains make all 3 stops between Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and New Lots Av. • 5 trains make all 2 stops in Brooklyn and the Bronx. • Use the ACE(Q)45 to/from nearby stations. Stay Informed Call 511 and say “Current Service Status,” look for informational posters in stations, or visit mta.info – where you can access the latest Planned Service Changes information, use TripPlanner+, and sign up for free email and text alerts.

2014 Metropolitan Transportation Authority | November 27 - December 10, 2014

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November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


| November 27 - December 10, 2014

45


PERFORMANCE

A Teddy Bear of a Ruby BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

ever, allowed him to rent a room at the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. Karen Mason, a longtime cabaret mainstay, remembers meeting Ruby in the 1980s at Eighty-Eights. “I moved here from a suburb in the Midwest and even though I had done shows in gay bars in the 1970s in Chicago, I had never met a man named Ruby!,” she said. “One thing I do remember very clearly about Ruby was the first time I heard him sing Charles Aznavour’s ‘What Makes a Man a Man.’” That song about a drag performer includes the lines:

T

TEDDYCARE — CELEBRATING 25 YEARS

FREDERICK PICCARELLO

wo shows this December will mark the 25th — and final —year in which drag artist Ruby Rims presents his benefit holiday cabaret variety show “TeddyCare” at Judson Memorial Church in the Village. Ruby acts as master of ceremonies for the two-evening showcase that will feature a dozen or so performers, including actress and singer Karen Mason and the Gay Agenda, a “two-man-musical-theatrepunk-band” comprised of Micah Bucey and Nicholas Williams.

Ruby Rims as a film goddess, at Dixon Place in 1982, and today.

Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Sq. S. at Thompson St. Dec. 7 & 14, 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $20 plus a teddy bear Judson.org or 212-564-1058

TeddyCare benefits Judson Church, where Ruby has been a congregant for 30 years, and Metro Baptist Church’s Food Pantry. The tickets are $20 plus a teddy bear. Ruby estimates that the annual benefit has given more than 10,000 teddy bears to hospitalized children since its inception. A longtime survivor of HIV, the teddy bear -ish Ruby is slowing down at 61 and so he and the event’s longtime music director, John McMahon, are hoping to go out with a bang. Ruby’s trademark has always been to mix bawdy fun with heart-filled responses to life’s darker sides. He lived through the scary early years of the AIDS crisis and did so in a dress, belting out show tunes at cabarets like the now defunct Eighty-Eights, where he performed and tended bar for many years. A New Jersey native, Ruby made his first solo trip into Manhattan for his 16th birthday. Arriving on the bus at Port Authority, he checked out the discount show counter and something told him to see an Off-Broadway play called “The Boys in the Band.”

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The inspired Miss Rims takes her final holiday benefit bows December 7, 14 Ruby knew nothing about Mart Crowley’s explicit exploration of gay men’s sustaining and strained friendships in a homophobic world, but it was there he heard the immortal line: “Your lips are turning blue. You look like you’ve been rimming a snowman!” Prophetic? A high school chum had dubbed a young Robert “Ruby.” The last name... came later. Soon, Ruby visited his first gay bar and became mesmerized by the old-school feather boa and torch song drag performer. Within a year, he was performing at a small gay bar in Newark — in one show making a memorable entrance on a horse, dressed as Kate Smith and singing “God Bless America.” To the crowd’s delight,

the hor se up staged Rub y by reviewing his performance all over the stage. Ruby has the distinction of being the first drag performer to entertain at Manhattan’s notorious sex club the Anvil in the late ‘70s. For a time, he worked there on a postage stamp-sized platform at patrons’ chest-level that was no mean trick to ascend in high heels. “I was the Bette Midler of the Anvil,” he has said, giving a nod to the Divine Miss M’s time as an entertainer at the Continental Baths with Barry Manilow as her accompanist. At the Anvil, Ruby did shows from around midnight until the early morning hours for a very modest salary. The tips, how-

We let our hair down, so to speak And mock ourselves with tongue-in-cheek And inside humor So many times we have to pay For having fun and being gay It’s not amusing “I knew him as a funny, smart, over-the-top personality,” Mason recalled, “and then to see him sing this song. I had never seen such passion in a performance of a song! All of the emotions of a lifetime came pouring out of him. It was amazing! How could you not love someone who was unafraid to share their pain? To say, this is who I am, with all my crazy, wonderful, and challenging experiences.” Appearances in drag on Ger aldo and Phil Donahue followed, along with performances all over the country, where Ruby appeared with the likes of single-namers Chita and Liza and Etta. Ruby once shared a dressing room with Ms. James, wherein they both let it all hang out, so to speak. The Gay Agenda’s Bucey, who is the community minister of the arts at Judson Memorial Church and will be formally ordained in January, remembers meeting Ruby in 2009 when “he was one of the first people to reach out and welcome me in.” Bucey calls Ruby a kind of “ambassador,” embodying the church as “a welcoming place.” He noted the essential contradiction of Ruby Rims: a gentle, lovable teddy bear in drag with the courage and roaring laugh of a lioness.

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


HAROLD HALMA/ RANDOM HOUSE

MACMILLAN PUBLISHERS

Both Susan Sontag, on the cover of her 1977 collection of short stories, “I, etcetera,” and Truman Capote on the back cover of his 1948 “Other Voices Other Rooms,” were pictured in a style that became iconic in the queer community.

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SONTAG, from p.36

“It was not a pleasant divorce” sister Judith notes dryly, suggesting that Rieff might have thought Sontag’s lesbianism “a phase” and was shocked at discovering that that was far from the case. She’s most remindful at this point of Lauren Bacall’s character in “Young Man With a Horn,” who declares to her husband Kirk Douglas, “I’m an intellectual mountain-goat leaping from crag to crag.” That character was a lesbian like Sontag. And Rieff was to her a major crag. The Rieff-Sontag marriage it should be noted came after she had begun an affair with Harriet Sohmers Zwerling,who in 1948 introduced her to “the gay world” in San Francisco. Was Susan a Hasbian? Not at all. Rieff was clearly her route to growing up fast — she hated being a child — while gaining access to knowledge she desired at the same time. So it was college at 15, marriage at 17, a child at 19. Rieff was “on her reading list” as it were. She had first heard about him as being “a man who was putting Freud and Marx together.” This was all-important to Sontag. As for emotional involvement, her sister Judith says, “They acted like they were one person… How much love was involved, I can’t say.” But she gave birth to a son David — who she almost immediately handed over to relatives so she could go to Oxford, after which she rejoined Harriet Sohmers Zwerling in Paris. As Judith says, “She did what she wanted to do.” In later years, David became an exceedingly important part of the emotionally needy Sontag’s life while simultaneously serving over those years as a kind of living Get Out of Jail Free Card for a heteronormative culture that always defaults to straight. | November 27 - December 10, 2014

“My habit of holding back is loyalty to my mother,” Sontag says in a quote read by Clarkson that also includes the telling disclosure, “My actions say I have not loved the truth. I do not want the truth.” Well, it all depends on which truth. Sontag was a seeker after truth overall and was exceptionally honest in her critical writing in detailing just what it was she loved about Jean-Luc Godard, admired in Simone Weil, and thrilled to in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. She’s unique among serious critics in changing her mind in full public view. While in early essays she saluted the aesthetic beauty of Leni Riefenstahl’s films, in her famous essay “Fascinating Fascism” she completely recanted that “art for art’s sake” position. Taking no position about lesbianism in her art puts her in a place apart in Queer Studies somewhat akin to that of Gore Vidal. Yet Vidal managed to speak out on gay issues and she didn’t as far as lesbians were concerned. For while it was noli me tangere with the girls, it was open house with the boys. Susan Sontag much preferred to be known as a Fag-Hag on the highest cultural level imaginable. This proved helpful in many ways. Wayne Koestenbaum notes that the narrator of her first novel “The Benefactor” is a gay man and asks, “Does the author of ‘Notes on Camp’ need to come out?” The answer of course is a resounding YES! But Sontag had her image to polish, and that’s what her gays — not her lesbians — were only too happy to oblige with. It was James McCourt, for example, who counseled an upset Sontag that it was a great compliment when Esquire magazine referred to her as “the Natalie Wood of the avant-garde.” She had been under the impression that Wood was a B-movie actress, which

she most certainly was not. A fortiori Natalie Wood (who mentored Mart Crowley during the writing of “The Boys in the Band”) was as big a Fag-Hag as Susan Sontag. And then there was the matter of disease. Sontag had two initial bouts of cancer — both of which she was given scant chance of sur viving. Out of them came her study “Illness as Metaphor” (1978), which became even more important when the AIDS pandemic hit and found her “going to a funeral every week.” Discovering how much her book had come to mean to the HIV-positive, she wrote “AIDS and Its Metaphors” (1988). Both of these works meant a partial recanting was in order for a passage in one of the most vivid pieces of writing she ever penned, in a 1966 essay entitled “What’s Happening in America” published in the Partisan Review: “The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx and Balanchine ballets don’t redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself. What the Mongol hordes threaten is far less frightening than the damage that Western ‘Faustian’ man, with his idealism, his magnificent art, his sense of intellectual adventure, his world-devouring energies for conquest, has already done, and further threatens to do.” I know why having experienced cancer herself Sontag felt metaphorical use of illness was too glib. But speaking as a Black American, I can only applaud her for Speaking Truth To Power so resolutely. It’s why a Heritage Institute stooge in the clip that opens the film, shot in the wake of the 9/ 11 attacks that Sontag pointed out were not carried out for entirely irrational reasons, whines, “You’re part of the ‘Blame America First’ crowd,” to which one is sorely tempted to answer “Yes, blame America first — avoid the rush.” In a speech she gave in 2003 about sundry political matters, Sontag declares, “Don’t take shit. Tell the bastards off.” And to her everlasting credit, she did to a large part. One can see its effect to this day as for example in a piece written for the Telegraph by one Kevin Meyers decrying her personal behavior that he witnessed: “I have never seen anything as degrading and insufferable as her conduct towards the Sarajevans... She never listened to any of them but only uttered lordly pronouncements as she held court in the Sarajevo Holiday Inn, while outside scores daily died.” The essay is entitled “I Wish I Had Kicked Susan Sontag.” Yes she was not a perfect person. Far from it. But if I should ever get the opportunity, I’d dearly love to kick Kevin Meyers.

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IN THE NOH

Movie Love in Cabo

FILMFORUM.ORG

TRIBECA FILM

Elisabeth Moss in Alex Ross Perry’s “Listen Up Philip.”

Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire in “The Band Wagon” — written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden and directed by Vicente Minnelli, which screens at the Film Forum on December 1.

A tequila-fueled film festival, Jordan and O’Brien wow at 54, one great musical BY DAVID NOH

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old as the proverbial witch’s titty here, it’s hard to believe I was recently sweating under the Mexican sun at the third annual Los Cabos International Film Festival (November 12-16). The place, so recently ravaged by Hurricane Odile, is still in a state of recovery. Piled onto that, the night I arrived, opening night festivities were delayed by the nationwide demonstrations staged in response to the horrendous massacre of 43 students by a drug gang in the town of Iguala. Cabo’s small, accessible, and super-friendly boutique of a festival carried on indomitably, regardless, and it was a fun, fiesta-fueled four days of films, schmoozing, and deal-making in this balmily welcoming resort of lovely beaches, populated by get-away Californians and about a million peddlers stalking the sand (“No, I don’t want a silver turtle, señor. Gracias.”) Typical of the easy intimacy of the event was one night when, having missed the transport to a gala site and desperately hungry, I got some gelato from a little health food store and sat down to eat it at a table across from the director Atom Egoyan, who was being honored with a career tribute at the festival

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and had chosen the same place to chill out before being fêted. We had a lovely talk, not about film so much as the healthful benefits of swimming in salt water. Our chat, then, did not prepare me for the riveting drama of Egoyan’s new film “The Captive,” which was being screened. The story of a child’s kidnapping, which leads to the exposé of a pedophile ring, the film is Egoyan’s response to a real events in a Canadian town where numerous people came forward to say they had been abused by prominent figures, including judges, police, and priests. Canada’s most costly and lengthy public investigation followed, but, when no definitive conclusion about the matter was reached, it was maddeningly allowed to drop. The enduring Mexican love of cinema was evinced in a beautiful exhibit of photographs detailing the career of legendary cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa — who spanned “Maria Candelaria” (1944) with Dolores Del Rio, from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, to Hollywood productions like “Night of the Iguana” and “Kelly’s Heroes.” Looking forward to the future of Mexican cinema, the festival hosted school kids at daily screenings free of charge. It was startling to see 10-year-olds at films like Ana Lily Amirpour’s bloodily erotic “A

Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” or Alex Ross Perry’s challengingly literate “Listen Up Philip.” Joshua Blum, who produced “Listen Up,” told me how adorable the kids were at the Q&A after his film, having sat respectfully through it and coming up with queries like, “How do you deal with someone as obnoxious as Philip?” The film’s release platform entailed direct-tovideo, Blum said, so it will not be eligible for the screenplay Oscar nomination it so richly deserves — as well as one for Elisabeth Moss’ beautiful performance. Celeb attendees included Reese Witherspoon, who introduced the opening night attraction, the grueling “Wild,” which has her hiking the perilous Pacific Coast Trail; luscious Rosario Dawson, who’s in “The Captive” and proudly cited her Latin heritage at the film’s screening; hunky Diego Luna; and eminent Canadian director Denys Arcand with his latest, “An Eye for Beauty,” a classy adultery drama, which I was told had a scabrous reception in his homeland. I rather enjoyed it. French Canadian prodigy Xavier Dolan’s “Mommy” was the most impressive feature screened and one could well see why it was honored at Cannes. It’s sparked by electrifying performances, as mother and son, by Anne Dorval

and Antoine Olivier Pilon, who prove that the most psychotic characters, when performed with such incendiary charisma, can be as enchanting on the screen as they are to be avoided in real life. At the film’s screening, mariachi music wafting in from the near by marina drove Dolan a little crazy. Having, several years ago, been subjected by him to one of the more obnoxiously egotistical interviewing experiences of my life, I couldn’t help but feeling a tiny bit of Schadenfreude. Some of the journalists in Cabo who dared to engage this undeniably talented enfant terrible told me he’s gotten better. If any one film was worth going to Cabo for, it was Arturo González Villasenor “All of Me.” This documentary about Las Patronas, a group of women who take it upon themselves to feed poor male migrant workers who pass through their village on the Beast, a speeding train taking them to jobs far away from their families, was so emotionally affecting it gave me one constant lump in the throat. You hear about the ladies’ hard lives, as well as those of the men, and everything — their stories and the footage of the food being prepared — builds to the exhilarating sight of them ecstatically throwing bagged meals up to the desperately lunging men as the train rushes by. It’s pure cinema, all the more thrilling for being fact not fiction.

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IN THE NOH, continued on p.49

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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IN THE NOH, from p.48

Back in Manhattan, it really has been all about 54 Below recently. On Halloween, an irrepressibly energetic Jeremy Jordan made his solo cabaret debut and impressed with his glorious voice — probably the finest male pipes in the biz — on a variety of songs, including some very tasty original compositions of his own. Admitting how daunting he found it to be performing as himself rather than a character, he credited his wife Ashley Spencer with making him less neurotic these days. He meltingly sang with her, as well as with guest star Laura Osnes, his so-called “partner -in-crime” and “Bonnie and Clyde” co-star. Throughout, Jordan exhibited the very healthy ego of a young Frank Sinatra — refreshing after the “aw shuckswho me?” act so many stars pull when they do cabaret. His pose is entirely warranted when backed up by so much sheer talent. Top theater director Jack O’Brien celebrated his 70th birthday on November 8 with “I’ve Still Got My Health So What Do I Care?,” stepping in front of the footlights again and dazzling me with his persuasive crooning and hilarious, even though fully expected wit. Smashingly shaped and directed by the invaluable Scott Wittman, in its pure sophistication, the show was redolent of Noël Coward in Vegas — a juicily showbiz insider affair, attended by Marsha Mason, Jerry Mitchell, Patricia Conolly, Kathy Najimy, David Rockwell, and William Ivey Long, all roaring their affectionate approval. The presence of O’Brien’s long-time best friend, jazz great Bob James, who rocked the 54

piano keyboard as never before, added luster to the party, which ended with everyone being given champagne for a communal toast. When was the last time a cabaret performer bought you a drink?

Film Forum is hosting a special showing of the “The Band Wagon” on December 1, introduced by Adam Green, the son of Adolph Green who wrote it with his brilliant partner, Betty Comden (209 W. Houston St.; filmforum. org). This 1953 Vincente Minnelli musical is one of the unquestioned best of all time, and just served as the basis for a glorious, revamped revival at Encores! Its scintillatingly varied score by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz percolates in any form. The film has gay West End icon Jack Buchanan superbly hamming, singing, and dancing with debonair panache; a sparkling Nanette Fabray in the joyous “Louisiana Hayride” number; and Cyd Charisse, unhinging her endless legs for the lyrical “Dancing in the Dark” and Mickey Spillane parody “Girl Hunt Ballet.” It was all shot with the signature Minnelli verve, vibrantly saturated color, and exquisite design sense. Best of all, it has Fred Astaire radiating in his full, mature glory. Much as I enjoyed the Encores! production, the only thing it lacked was a reasonable facsimile of Astaire, for Brian Stokes Mitchell, as great in his own way as he is, sang gorgeously, but could never begin to fill a cutaway and dancing shoes as did the greatest movie musical man of all time. Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com and check out his blog at http://nohway.wordpress.com.

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| November 27 - December 10, 2014

Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Mount Sinai Hospital present

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Guest panelists: Sarit a. Golub, PHD, MPH, Hunter AIDS Research Team, Hunter College of the City University of New York MatHeW roDriGuez, TheBody.com KalYaNí SáNCHez, GMHC VauGHN taYlor-aKutaGaWa, Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD)

Guest moderator: KiMberleiGH SMitH, Harlem United Community AIDS Center the discussion is free and all are welcome. light refreshments will be provided. For more information, email krishnas@gmhc.org or call (212) 367-1016. Co-endorsers

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FILM

Girls Comedy, at times dark, explores female friendship in the Israeli military BY STEVE ERICKSON

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ZERO MOTIVATION Directed by Talya Lavie Zeitgeist Films In Hebrew with English subtitles Opens Dec. 3 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org ZEITGEIST FILMS RELEASE

nly in the Israeli military could getting “grounded for Shabbat” make sense in a professional context. Yet the surprising thing about director Talya Lavie’s comedy “Zero Motivation” is how universal it is. The setting may occasionally seem exotic — in an early scene, someone looks out a bus window and sees a camel pass by. But office work is much the same in English or Hebrew. Because of the military setting, “Zero Motivation” has been compared to “M*A*S*H” and “Catch 22.” At least for an American audience, that setting is a mere formality. “Zero Motivation” feels more like a TV show than a film, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. Lavie’s sense of humor suggests Ricky Gervais, Mike Judge, and Larry David, though her focus on the ins and outs of female friendship is all her own. “Zero Motivation” takes place at a remote desert outpost among a unit of young female soldiers who refer to themselves as “girls”. (Given Israel’s draft, most are 18 or 19.) Zohar (Dana Ivgy) and Daffi (Nelly Tagar) are best friends and work in the same office. Devoted to each other, they spend their time playing computer games and sneaking back to their barracks for afternoon naps. They dislike most of the other girls on the base, who walk around singing vapid pop songs. Most of all, however, Zohar and

Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy in Talya Lavie’s “Zero Motivation.”

Daffi dread their senior officer Rama (Shani Klein), who wants a higher position but takes out her frustration on them. Initially seeming rather clumsy, Daffi grows more mature as she comes of age and takes on more responsibilities, while Zohar continues to rebel. The tensions between the two friends come to a boil. Lavie’s most obvious talent is her mastery of tone. For a comedy, “Zero Motivation” gets pretty dark at times. It addresses some serious subjects, including suicide and rape. But it manages to deal with these subjects in an oddball way that defuses the tension they create. The suicide victim soon reappears as a ghost. The rape is ended by a gun-toting female soldier before it can really get underway. Lavie isn’t striving to be politically incorrect in the manner of “South Park,” but she never veers into self-righteousness or scoring clear ideological points.

LAWRENCE, from p.42

rian England, Lawrence remarked, “I am getting shy of adventures.” Intimates among Lawrence’s contemporaries also lend credence to the conclusion he was homoerotically inclined. His supervisor at the archaeological site, Leonard Woolley, claimed Lawrence had “Dahoum to live with him and got him to pose as model for a queer crouching figure which he carved in the soft local limestone.” Woolley, who was knighted in 1935 for his role in modernizing the field of archaeology, wrote, “To make an image was bad enough in this way, but to por-

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For a film about the Israeli military, “Zero Motivation” avoids all the obvious angles. There doesn’t seem to be a war on. Arabs aren’t mentioned a single time. Israel’s history is reduced to a display of childish paper reports displayed in the hallway, more suited to an elementary school. The soldiers joke about the Holocaust, likening their experiences in the military to a concentration camp. Boredom is a bigger danger than the rockets of Hamas. If Lavie is making a political statement with “Zero Motivation,” it probably lies precisely in avoiding overt politics, and it likely seems more daring in Israel than in the US. “Zero Motivation” manages to create a world of its own, reflecting Israel’s current ethnic makeup — with the notable exception of Arabs — and tensions. One girl is Russian. Zohar comes from a kibbutz, which her fellow soldiers find unusual. Living in Tel Aviv is a trea-

tray a naked figure was proof to them of evil of another story. The scandal about Lawrence was widely spread and firmly believed.” Sattin notes that a crude form of payback may lie behind Woolley’s allegations, since Lawrence had mocked his former supervisor in his writings. Woolley later seemed to pull back his characterization of Lawrence as a homosexual, without tempering his anti-gay rhetoric. Lawrence, he wrote, “was in no sense a pervert; in fact, he had a remarkably clean mind. He was tolerant, thanks to his classical reading, and Greek homosexuality interested him, but in a detached way, and the interest was not morbid but perfectly serious.”

sured goal among the girls, though Daffi is the only one totally enamored of the city. The sets reflect the colors of the military uniforms — the walls are mostly painted gray and dark green. The soldiers rarely get to leave the base and when they do, they’re usually in transit somewhere. Although nothing awful happens to most of them, the base is a quietly oppressive atmosphere. The color scheme adds to this impression. In 2014, it shouldn’t be rare to see a film examine female friendship in as much detail as “Zero Motivation,” yet it is. Lavie doesn’t simply celebrate female bonding, she examines the changing relationship between Zohar and Daffi over several years. This includes a minor betrayal of trust and one friend winding up in a position of power over the other. These are things that would test any relationship, but Lavie refrains from letting her heroines abandon their bonds too quickly. Guys don’t come between them, but the military hierarchy does. In the end, “Zero Motivation” feels a bit like a blown-up sitcom, but it’s an extremely impressive one.

Gay novelist E.M. Forster, a post-Great War friend of Lawrence, is also marshaled by Sattin in his examination of Lawrence’s relationship with Dahoum. “Personal emotion entered,” Forster wrote. “He became intimate with Dahoum, to whom he was passionately devoted.” In a 1927 letter to Forster, Lawrence wrote, “I’m so funnily made up, sexually.” If Lawrence was circumspect about his affection for Dahoum, the Syrian youth was similarly oblique. When Lawrence’s Arabic teacher Fareedeh el Akle asked Dahoum about his apparent unconditional commitment to the Briton, he

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LAWRENCE, continued on p.51

November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc


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LAWRENCE, from p.50

replied, “You ask why we love Lawrence? And who can help loving him? He is our brother, our friend and leader. He is one of us, there is nothing we do he cannot do, and he then excels us in doing it… we love him because he loves us.” Is the use of the third person “we” simply a reflection of the lack of a Western sense of individual identity among rural Syrian tribespeople or was Dahoum nervous about revealing the nature of his relationship with Lawrence? Here, Sattin could have delved more deeply. It’s clear the two men’s lives were profoundly intertwined. A famous photograph of Lawrence has him wearing what is believed to be Dahoum’s clothing, and pictures of the two of them are full of blissful expressions. It is hard to accept the conclusion of Vyvyan Richards, a Lawrence classmate at Oxford and biographer, that Lawrence was “sexless” and “unaware of sex.” In fact, Richards revealed he was madly in love with Lawrence: “It was love at first sight. He had neither flesh nor carnality of any kind; he just did not understand. He received my affection, my sacrifice, in fact, my total subservience, as though it was his due. He never gave the slightest sign that he understood my motives or fathomed my desire.” Lack of reciprocation is not necessarily the same thing as lack of feeling, and it’s difficult to see Lawrence’s relationship with Dahoum as purely platonic. Sattin’s otherwise fine biography could have benefited from scrutiny of Lawrence’s gay masochistic sessions at home in England after the war. In his 1969 book “The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia,” John Bruce, a fellow soldier in the Royal Tank Corps, described floggings he administered to Lawrence. Much of Bruce’s story about Lawrence has been debunked, but on the matter of whippings, both Lawrence’s youngest brother, Arnold, his literary executor, and Jeremy Wilson, the authorized biographer who administers the T.E. Lawrence Studies website, offered confirmation. On “about eleven occasions,” Wilson wrote, Lawrence “arranged secretly to have himself beaten in ritual related to the events at Deraa. He also appears

also to have suffered during these years from less extreme forms of masochistic disorder.” What, if any, connection was there between Lawrence’s “masochistic disorder” and his carnal inclinations? That question is left unexplored by Sattin. “The Young T.E. Lawrence,” however, does tease the reader with mention of the fact that Lawrence burned his book documenting his pre-war life in the Middle East out of concern over the “indiscretion” it betrayed about his life. There are competing camps on whether Lawrence was gay. Wilson, his authorized biographer, noted that “a number of controversial biographers” concluded Lawrence was gay but that “neither of Lawrence’s major scholarly biographers” — himself and Harvard psychiatry professor John E. Mack — shared that view. Key to the debate is precisely how one defines being gay. Does clear evidence of a deep abiding affection and intimacy — that ran the gamut from dressing in each other’s clothing to penning a posthumous poetic tribute of love — mean that Lawrence was gay? Or is the biographer or historian required to produce unambiguous evidence of physical lovemaking? In a book that over-relies on the clinical term “homosexual” rather than the modern word “gay,” Sattin doesn’t find the evidence that perhaps “Lawrence’s major scholarly biographers” demanded. The opacity of Lawrence’s own language in describing his affectional history recalls Oscar Wilde’s famous line about getting behind appearances: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Lawrence’s mask may have been the Victorian-era code language he came closest to moving beyond in his touching dedication to S.A. in “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” The relationship Sattin describes between Lawrence and Dahoum was a gay bond, whatever physical form it took. Lawrence, we learn, was gay in Arabia. Benjamin Weinthal reports on LGBT communities in the Middle East for the Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal.

| November 27 - December 10, 2014

DEC. 6 10 am -7pm

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STREETWISE, from p.27

sent” is the legal justification for the search when no other exists. Many people know they have the right to refuse a search where there is no other legal basis. Many don’t. Many more don’t feel empowered to exercise that right when surrounded by armed police officers. The Right to Know Act — introduced earlier this month by out gay Bronx City Councilmember Richie Torres and his Brooklyn colleague Antonio Reynoso — would change that. In these scenarios, New Yorkers would be informed of their right to refuse or withdraw consent if there is no other legal basis for a search, and given the opportunity to provide voluntary, informed consent — or exercise their constitutional right to refuse it. It would also require officers to identify themselves and give a reason for initiating law enforcement action. Reading people their rights to refuse consent searches would interrupt the dynamic of assumed or forced “consent.” Obtaining recorded proof of voluntary and informed consent would ensure that anything

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found was lawfully recovered. For LGBTQ youth of color caught up in the NYPD’s marijuana arrest dragnet, it would offer an opportunity to stop an officer’s order to empty pockets from starting a chain reaction of consequences that can range from losing a job to losing public housing to losing financial aid. For LGBTQ New Yorkers who don’t know about the NYPD Patrol Guide’s new provisions explicitly banning searches to assign gender, the Right to Know Act would provide another opportunity to reclaim rights and dignity during police interactions. It would also help ensure that LGBTQ people are able to protect themselves by carrying condoms, without fear that an order to open up your purse will result in police harassment, confiscation of condoms, or, worse, arrest. Police unions have responded by attempting to whip up panic and hysteria based on inaccurate readings of the statute and misstatements of the law. For one, the Right to Know Act explicitly says that would not apply where an officer has a reasonable suspicion that

a person is armed. It would therefore not interfere with officers’ safety or ability to protect themselves. Secondly, the NYPD’s own data reveals than guns are recovered in fewer than one percent of all frisks and searches. Except in extremely rare cases, consent searches are simply not how guns are found. Colorado, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh have all adopted similar — and in some cases, stronger — policies, without any increase in gun violence. The US Department of Justice — the highest law enforcement agency of the land — has given the language of the Right to Know Act a stamp of approval in a consent decree with the New Orleans police department, making regulation of consent searches a gold standard of law enforcement practice. In fact, Dr. James Fyfe, the NYPD’s former deputy chief in charge of training, testified in favor of completely banning consent searches in New Jersey, calling them “ineffective and a waste of time.” New Jersey followed his advice, joining with Rhode Island, California, Minnesota, and Hawai’i to ban consent searches

altogether based on their racially discriminatory application and impacts — again, without any increase in gun violence. The Right to Know Act simply requires police to give the equivalent of a Miranda warning before conducting otherwise baseless searches and to get the individual’s consent on record. As the nation struggles with absence of accountability for the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, this legislation would offer a critical opportunity to change the way police interactions go down in New York City, increase transparency and accountability in police practices, and reduce criminalization of Black and Brown youth, including LGBTQ youth. As SAS campaign staffer Chris Bilal said at the legislation’s introduction — “We’re not asking for streets paved with gold. We’re simply asking for the right to know.” Andrea Ritchie is coordinator at Streetwise and Safe, which works to help LGBTQ youth of color navigate the challenges and risks of police encounters.

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chase theater and performance professor Jo rd a n S ch i l d c ro u t , examines the shifting meanings of murderous LGBT characters in American theater over a century. The book launch party takes place at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Dec. 3, 7 p.m.

MICHAEL MALLARD/ SPIN CYCLE NYC

FRI.NOV.28 PERFORMANCE

29: Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Mon., 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 at brownpapertickets. com.

Twinkling Funhouse Reflections

CABARET

Holly Dae, Bootsie Lefaris, Pixie Aventura, and Brenda Dharling present the third annual installment o f “ D i s to rte d K ri s t m e s s ,” in which holiday favorites are run past a dirty funhouse mirror. Highlights include “The 12 Drunks of Christmas,” a twisted take on “Let It Snow,” “I’m Dreaming of a White Trash Christmas,” a holiday tribute to Bea Arthur, and a special visit from the Port Authority Cockettes. Laurie Beechman Theater, West Bank Café, 407 W. 42nd St. Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12 & 19, 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 at SpinCycleNYC.com or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $15 food & drink minimum. Full dinner menu available.

Lypsinka, in Repertory With Herself John Epperson performs a rotating best of Lypsinka repertoire with “Lypsinka! The Boxed Set,” “The Passion of the Crawford,” “John Epperson: Show Trash.” Connelly Theater, 220 E. Fourth St., btwn. Aves. A & B. Through Jan. 3. For complete schedule and tickets at $45, visit ovationtix.com.

The Champagne of Bottled Camp

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Baby Jane Dexter’s “Rules of the Road (Part 3)” is the latest emotionally empowering and highly-charged show from the cabaret star who has received six major MAC Awards, two Nightlife Awards, and two Back Stage Bistro Awards. Dexter will sing selections from Rogers & Hammerstein, Cy Coleman & Peggy Lee, Peter Allen & Carol Bayer Sager, Leiber & Stoller, Mike Scott, Randy Newman, and John Bucchino. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. Nov. 28-29, Dec. 20 & 26-27, 7 p.m. The cover charge is $25, and there’s a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212-206-0440.

WED.DEC.3 BOOKS Queering the Bad Guy

SAT.NOV.29 NIGHTLIFE Mosex on Fifth! At the intersection of a ‘90s Club Kids-era party and the New York Burning Man community, “Sex on Fifth Avenue” is a musexual experience complete with a downtown dance party, live performances, artistic installations, guided tours, club kids, fetishists, and more! Come as you are, but dressy-casual or exotic attire is highly recommended. Kayvon Zand and Brendan McElroy curate the chaos. Museum of Sex, 233 Fifth Ave. at 27th St. Nov. 29 & every Sat., 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Tickets are $20 at museumofsex.com; $25 at the door.

MON.DEC.1 PERFORMANCE Hey, Big Spender In “Bad With Money,” Ben Rimalower — who previously explored his

THEATER Road Trip! With Crabs! In Dan Kitrosser’s “Dead Special Crabs,” a gay road trip comedy, Aunt Missy has the perfect present for her niece’s wedding: a brand new tan Corolla. But given her chronic foot condition, her newly out gay nephew Loomer has to drive it down I-95 from Maine to Florida. And thus ensues a madcap road trip with a serial killer, a creepy cult, a gay emo poet, a lesbian bartender, and a noir private detective. And crabs. Wide Eyed Productions’ Kristin Skye Hoffman directs. TGB Theatre, 312 W. 36th St. Dec. 4- Dec. 6, 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 at BrownPaperTickets.com or 800-8383006.

WRITERS Adult Contemporary Morgan Bassichis, a writer and performer whose plays include “When the Baba Yaga Eats You Alive” and “The Witch House”; Jibz Cameron, a performance/ video artist and actor whose alter ego is Dynasty Handbag; and Jack Halberstam, a provocateur, blogger, and writer who officially makes mischief at the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California come together in the Adult Contemporary Salon at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Dec. 4, 8:30-10 p.m. Katherine Brewer Ball and Svetlana Kitto curate the salon.

FRI.DEC.5 BGSQD

Dan Derby and Michael Rheault’s “Fabulous! The Queen of New Musicals” is a “Some Like It Hot”-style tale of two down-on-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 OffOff Broadway hit last season and is now running at Write Act Repertory Theatre, Times Square Arts Center, 300 W. 43rd St. Through Dec.

New Rules From Baby Jane

obsession with La LuPone with “Patti Issues,” to much acclaim — charts his sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing struggle to overcome his problem — or go broke 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. Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29, 7 p.m.; Dec. 4, 11 & 18, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$50 at purplepass.com, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

THU.DEC.4

The “villainous homosexual” has long stalked America’s cultural imagination, most explicitly in the figure of the queer murderer, who has appeared as a character in dozens of plays. But as society’s understanding of homosexuality has changed, so has the significance of these controversial characters, especially when employed by LGBT theater artists themselves to explore darker fears and desires. “Murder Most Queer,” by SUNY-Pur-

THEATER Where Ellen’s the Villain “War Lesbian” is a new musical, directed by Jordan Fein with book by Kristine Haruna Lee and music by Kathryn Hathaway, that features downtown diva Erin Markey. This tale of womanhood, where Ellen DeGeneres is a demonic demi-god, floods the stage with impossible probabilities, ridiculous heartbreak, and a surgically precise amount of absurdity. Dixon Place, 161 Christie St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts.

c

FRI.DEC.5, continued on p.55

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FRI.DEC.5, from p.54

Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m. Tickets are $16; $12 for students & seniors at dixonplace.org.

PERFORMANCE ‘Twas the G’Day Before Christmas Aussie drag sensation Courtney Act regales audiences with holiday songs and stories about dreaming of a white Christmas Down Under. Laurie Beechman Theater, West Bank Café, 407 W. 42nd St. Dec. 5-7, 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 at SpinCycleNYC.com or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $15 food & drink minimum. Full dinner menu available.

GALLERY Thread Bare Rebecca Levi’s thread-based and pen & ink work is influenced by images in found photography, mid-century magazines, and 1970s porn. In embroidered portraits, she subverts the norms of the medium with the unexpected, inviting a playful collision between traditional handicrafts and the untraditional themes of queer identity and gender performativity. “Queering the Lines: Thread & Ink” is exhibited at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210, Dec. 5-Feb. 1. Opening reception is Dec. 5, 7-10 p.m. On Jan. 14, 7 p.m., Levi talks about her work with John Chaich.

SAT.DEC.6 BOOKS Pixie Dixie Douglas Ray, editor of “The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South,” is joined by contributors Matthew Hittinger, Stephen S. Mills, and Joseph Osmundson for readings from this Sibling Rivalry Press anthology. Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Dec. 6, 8:30-10 p.m.

SUN.DEC.7 POETRY Nuyoricans Reading in the Heights Emanuel Xavier, author of the novel “Christ Like” and poetry collections including “Pier Queen,” “Americano: Growing Up Gay and Latino in the USA,” “If Jesus Were Gay & other poems,” and “Nefarious,” hosts three fellow Nuyorican poets — writer, educator, and activist Nancy Mercado, author of “It Concerns the Madness” and editor of the children’s anthology “if the world were

mine”; Caridad de la Luz, aka La Bruja, an actor, singer-songwriter, and community activist who has appeared on HBO’s “Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam”; and Edwin Torres, a self-proclaimed “lingualisualist” whose work is rooted in the languages of sight and sound and who is author of the collections “Ameriscopia,” “One Night: Poems For The Sleepy,” and “Yes Thing No Thing.” Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Ave. at W. 185th St. Dec. 7, 5 p.m. Suggested donation of $7. For more information, visit bloomreadings.org.

THEATER Spinning Shakespeare’s Winter “Slippery: A Wintry Tale,” spun from Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” is a queer post-modern take on jealousy, homophobia, betrayal, reconciliation, and redemption. Patrick Thomas McCarthy presents a sit down reading of his nine-character — six men and three women — play. Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Dec. 7, 6-9 p.m.

MON.DEC.8 PERFORMANCE Gifts That Are Unwrapped In “Unwrapped 2014,” Jinkx Monsson and Major Scales present original songs, covers, and comedy — including favorites from last year such as Sarah Silverman’s “Give the Jew Girl Toys” and a warped version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Laurie Beechman Theater, West Bank Café, 407 W. 42nd St. Dec. 8-11 & 19, 7 p.m.; Dec. 19-20, midnight; Dec. 21, 1:30 p.m. brunch. Tickets are $25 at SpinCycleNYC.com or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $15 food & drink minimum.

conjunction with Leslie-Lohman’s current show, “Classical Nudes and the Making of Queer History,” which runs through Jan. 4, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts.

WED.DEC.10 THEATER Use a Wooden Hanger for Your Coat For the first time in 12 years, “Christmas with the Crawfords” returns to New York, with a cast that includes Joey Arias as Joan, Chris March of “Project Runway” as her beloved Christina, Connie Champagne as Judy Garland, Sherry Vine in the dual role of Hedda Hopper and Baby Jane Hudson, and Flotilla DeBarge as Hattie McDaniel tormenting Joan with her Oscar throughout the party. Other Tinsel Town icons — including Liberace, Carmen Miranda, Gloria Swanson, and the Andrews Sisters — also make appearances. Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand St. at Pitt St. Dec. 10-11, 17-18 & 23, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 8 p.m.; Dec. 14 & 21, 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 at abronsartscenter.org or 212-352-3101.

THU.DEC.11 PERFORMANCE OMG! It’s Christmas Cult film icon Mink Stole (“Hairspray,” “Pink Flamingos,” “Cry-Baby”) premieres her new holiday show, performed alongside Her Wonderful Band. You’d expect something unconventional from John Waters’ favorite actress, and she delivers just that — performing songs including “Stay a Little Longer Santa,” “Le Petit Tambour “ (“The Little Drummer Boy” in French), Tom Lehrer’s “Christmas Carol,” “Pretty Paper,” “Christmas Time is Here,” and more. Laurie Beechman Theater, West Bank Café, 407 W. 42nd St. Dec. 11-14, 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 at SpinCycleNYC.com or 212-352-3101, and there’s a $15 food & drink minimum. Full dinner menu available.

TUE.DEC.9 GALLERY Is Gay Art a Thing? New York is home to the only museum in the world devoted to gay and lesbian visual art, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. We know sexy art when we see it — Caravaggio’s angelic rent boys or Botticelli’s curvaceous Venus on the half shell or any photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe. But is gay art really a thing? Leslie-Lohman’s Hunter O’Hanian explores this question in a slide show and discussion. “Gay art,” he says, “is that which speaks to the LBGTQ community. It’s work that represents the experiences of any member of the LBGTQ world. In this sense, the whole topic of gay art is a subject that could be comparable to landscape or still life.” O’Hanian speaks as part of the Second Tuesday lecture series at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Dec. 9, 7 p.m. Suggested donation is $10. The talk is presented in

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November 27 - December 10, 2014 | www.gaycitynews.nyc

WORLD AIDS DAY, 2014  

NOVEMBER 27, 2014

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