Alabama High Court Deﬁance 04 James Lecesne’s Brilliance 25 Islan Nettles Slay Indictment 05
Determined Self-Invention page 22 COVER DESIGN BY MICHAEL SHIREY | ORIGINAL PHOTO BY JOEM BAYAWA PHOTOGRAPHY/STEVEGRAND.COM
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March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
EDITOR’S LETTER De Blasio staying the course
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IN THE NOH MORSELS
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GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
Alabama Supreme Court Orders Halt to Same-Sex Marriages County probate judges directed to ignore federal judge’s decision striking down ban BY PAUL SCHINDLER
he Alabama Supreme Court, in a 7-1 ruling that will likely sow the very confusion the court claims to be trying to counter, has ordered probate court judges in that state’s 67 counties to stop issuing what the majority combatively referred to as “purported ‘marriage licenses'” to same-sex couples, despite rulings from a federal district court striking down that state’s ban on gay marriage. The state high court ruling, issued in the early evening of March 3, asserts that while “state courts on federal questions are ultimately subject to review by the United States Supreme Court… state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.” Citing an earlier Alabama ruling, the court, in an unsigned opinion, wrote, “Legal principles and holdings from inferior federal courts have no controlling effect here, although they can serve as persuasive authority.” According to the State Supreme Court, probate judges, the Alabama officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses, are not bound by rulings issued January 23 and 27, in two marriage equality cases, by US District Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Alabama’s Southern District. Instead, they are obligated to continue upholding the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. One possible exception to the court’s ruling is the probate judge in Mobile County, whom Granade specifically ordered to issue licenses after the successful plaintiffs in the case decided January 27 were denied them. The Alabama Supreme Court ordered the Mobile official, Don Davis, to respond by March 5 as to whether he is under any federal order to issue more licenses than have already been granted. Whether this leaves open the possibility that the federal court will respond to the Alabama court with more directives to individual probate judges is unclear. As marriage equality spread
to 17 other states since the US Supreme Court, in early October, declined to review marriage equality rulings from three circuit courts of appeal, none of those states have gone down the path that the Alabama Supreme Court is prescribing there. As it has done consistently since early October, the US Supreme Court, on February 9, declined to block Granade’s rulings from taking effect. Same-sex couples in Alabama began receiving marriage licenses the same day. Calling the case before the Alabama Supreme Court “a manipulated lawsuit,” Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, issued a statement saying, “The Alabama Supreme Court has done a disservice to itself, not to mention a massive injustice to the people of Alabama, in allowing itself to be used to temporarily obstruct the freedom to marry and the enforcement of the constitution’s guarantees…. The probate judges who are caught in the middle will be looking for guidance, and I am confident that the federal courts — and soon the US Supreme Court — will provide it.” The Alabama high court’s action came on a petition from two antigay groups — the Alabama Policy Institute (API) and the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP). Some observers were surprised the court entertained the petition, given that the two groups, without a direct personal stake in the issue, might not be granted standing to proceed. The court, however, found that since the groups’ petition was “filed in the name of the State for the purpose of securing performance by public officials of a duty owed to the public, not in the name of a private party to enforce a private right or duty,” they did have standing. The seven justices in the majority clearly welcomed the opportunity to step into a situation which the opinion paints as chaotic, with some counties issuing licenses to same-sex and different-sex couples (roughly three-quarters of them), some issuing only to opposite-sex couples, and some refraining from issuing licenses at all — perhaps until the US Supreme Court resolves the matter nationwide.
“The ‘magnitude and impor tance’ of the issue before us is unparalleled,” according to the court’s opinion. “And the ‘special reasons’ that compel us to act are unlike any other in the history of our jurisprudence.” Given the Alabama court’s refusal to recognize the superior authority of the US district court on the underlying question at hand, it proceeded to analyze the federal constitutional issues at stake. On the question of whether banning marriage by same-sex couples violated their equal protection rights, the Alabama majority found a rational basis for such a ban in what it found to be the basic role of marriage — “recognizing and encouraging the ties between children and their biological parents.” The court’s posture leaves unaddressed the legal ties between same-sex couples and their children. Marriage is and always has been, the court found, “inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman.” The court rejected any approach that would subject the state’s marriage ban to a stricter level of scrutiny. Though sex discrimination may merit heightened scrutiny by the courts, the Alabama majority concluded, “All men and all women are equally entitled to enter the institution of marriage. Only by redefining the term ‘marriage’ to mean something it is not (and in the process assuming an answer as part of the question), can this statement be challenged. Put in the negative, traditional-marriage laws do not discriminate on the basis of gender because all men and all women are equally restricted to marriage between the opposite sexes.” Sexual orientation discrimi-
nation claims are not subject to heightened scrutiny, the Alabama court concluded, noting the lack of a US Supreme Court precedent to the contrary. From an equal protection standpoint, then, the need to steer procreation into stable family environments provided a defensible rational basis for limiting marriage to unions of a man and a woman. The Alabama court also rejected the due process argument accepted by some federal courts that have ruled that government bans on same-sex marriage, lacking a “compelling” rationale, violate the fundamental right to marry the Supreme Court has identified on numerous occasions. Here again, the Alabama court insisted that accepting the due process argument requires first that marriage be redefined. “What the federal district court ignored in these cases, however, is that the Supreme Court plainly was referring to traditional marriage when it proclaimed that marriage is a fundamental right,” the majority opinion read. “Thus, what the federal district court has done is to declare an entirely new concept of ‘marriage’ a fundamental right under the guise of the previously understood meaning of that institution. It is, plainly and simply, circular reasoning — it assumes the conclusion of the matter.” The one dissenter, Justice Greg Shaw, faulted the majority both on the question of the petitioners’ standing and on whether the court had jurisdiction over the question before it. Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been beating the drum loudly against Granade’s rulings since they were first issued and earlier, in his role as administrative head of the state’s judiciary, ordered probate judges not to issue licenses, recused himself from this case. In the end, that hardly mattered. Several weeks ago, in comments to Gay City News, Randall Marshall, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, acknowledged the potential havoc such a ruling could create. “It would be very disconcerting for a probate judge to receive an order from the State Supreme Court and disregard it,” he said. By close of business on March 4, the Human RIghts Campaign could find no counties in Alabama still issuing same-sex marriage licenses. March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Indictment in Islan Nettles’ Harlem Slay Suspect DA says confessed in 2013 charged in trans woman’s death BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
oughly 18 months after Islan Nettles died from injuries she suffered during an assault in Harlem, the Manhattan district attorney announced an indictment on manslaughter and assault charges in the killing. “Over the past 18 months, my office has exhaustively investigated this case with the objective of making sure that justice is served for Islan Nettles,” said Cy Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, in a March 3 statement. “A grand jury has voted to indict James Dixon on charges of manslaughter and assault for attacking this young transgender woman on a Harlem street. Her serious injuries caused her death days later.” Nettles, who was 21 at her death, was walking with two friends on Frederick Douglas Boulevard between 147th and 148th Streets early in the morning on August 17, 2013. They encountered a group of eight young men and one of them, allegedly Dixon, punched her in the face, knocking her down. Allegedly, he then delivered additional blows as Nettles lay on the sidewalk. Nettles, who sustained brain injuries, died on August 22. Dixon, now 24, is charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, and first-degree assault, none as hate crimes. In the immediate after math of Nettles’ death, however, an NYPD spokesperson, Detective Cheryl Crispin, told Gay City News the case was being investigated as a hate crime because police determined that “derogatory language” was used in the attack. The top count facing Dixon carries a sentence of a minimum of five years in prison and up to 25 years in prison, with the requirement that the defendant serve at least six-sevenths of the sentence handed down before being eligible for release. According to the voluntary disclosure form that the district attorney released with Dixon’s indictment, police have a written statement from Dixon, a statement that
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
he gave to a detective, and a video statement that he made. All three are dated August 21, 2013. The voluntary disclosure form suggests that the district attorney does not have a witness to the crime who identified Dixon as the assailant. Police originally arrested Paris Wilson, then 20, in the attack. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment. The charges against him were dismissed because, prosecutors said at the time, another young man had come forward and confessed to the crime. Presumably, that other young man was Dixon, who has now been indicted in the killing. It is not clear if the district attorney has new evidence or why Vance may feel the case is stronger now than it was in 2013. The criminal complaint that was filed by police to support Wilson’s arrest suggested that police had at least one witness to the assault who identified Wilson as Nettles’ attacker. “I am informed by ___, of an address known to the District Attorney’s Office, that she observed the defendant strike ___ about the head with a closed fist, causing ___to fall to the ground,” read the Wilson complaint, which did not identify the witness. “Once on the ground, the defendant continued to strike ___ in the face.” At a November 2013 hearing in Wilson’s case, Nicholas Viorst, the assistant district attorney who prosecuting the case, said his office was not prepared to move forward, adding that the district attorney was “aggressively investigating” the crime and could bring homicide charges against “Mr. Wilson or someone else” in the future. Viorst is prosecuting Dixon with Laura Millendorf, another assistant district attorney. The Nettles case has been the subject of protests and ongoing political organizing, both online and in the LGBT community. Leading LGBT groups, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund have commented on the case or pressed police and the district attorney for more aggressive action.
Snowy Streets, Silent Trains Don’t Dampen St. Pat’s For All Inclusive Sunnyside celebration surmounts hurdles, as Irish activists hold out for more from Fifth Avenue parade BY KATHLEEN WARNOCK
ith both the M T A a n d the weather w o r k i n g against the 16th annual St. Pat’s for All Parade in Sunnyside, a stalwart contingent still made its way to Queens on Sunday to march through a snowstorm in an inclusive celebration of Ireland’s national saint. The first flakes of snow fell hours earlier than expected on March 1 and built in intensity throughout the afternoon. Participants, including many who contended with the 7 train’s closure due to repairs, simply added an extra layer of clothing before gathering at 1 p.m. to hear from parade founders Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, along
Parade grand marshals Kerry Kennedy and Brían F. O’Byrne (r.) with founder Brendan Fay.
with grand marshals Kerry Kennedy and Brían F. O’Byrne and a bevy of dignitaries and elected officials. “We were concerned with the shutdown of the 7 train,” said Fay, “but when I got up on the stage, I looked down the middle of the block on Skillman Avenue, and it
was full and it was very beautiful. And the people stayed for the whole of the parade.” “We hoped it would be alright,” said D’Arcy. “And people did find creative ways to get here, and they ended up dancing in the street in the snow.”
As the crowd shook off the snowflakes, Kennedy, head of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, named for her later father, recalled looking at the scrapbooks her grandmother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, kept with newspaper clippings reading “No Irish need apply,” then told of traveling to Uganda to meet with LGBT leaders, with several transgender activists arrested as they left the gathering. She drew a parallel between the discrimination in Uganda and the longstanding refusal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to allow openly gay participation, saying “this gives legitimacy to that kind of hate speech and behavior. That kind of hate and exclusion are all tied together.” Last fall, the organizers of the
ST. PAT'S, continued on p.12
GLAAD Lowers Its Profile in Fifth Avenue Parade Controversy Media advocacy groups still presses organizers for more inclusion, but ends sponsor boycott efforts BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
n 2014, GLAAD leapt into the controversy over the continued exclusion of LG B T Ir ish g r o u ps from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade when it persuaded Guinness, the beer brand owned by Diageo, the liquor giant, to end its sponsorship of the Fifth Avenue parade. “Today, Guinness sent a strong message to its customers and employees: discrimination should never be celebrated,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the chief executive of the LGBT media advocacy group, said in a March 16 statement. “As a gay mom who has fond memories of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it saddens me that I can’t give those same memories to my own kids because my family isn’t welcome.” At GLAAD’s urging, Heineken beer also ended its sponsor ship. On March 17, GLAAD sent out a fundraising appeal titled “Let’s Have a Beer” that touted the
group’s work on the issue. “GLAAD has been hard at work making sure this never happens again — we helped parade sponsors like Guinness and Heineken look internally to realize that exclusion is neither a core value, nor a guiding principle for their companies, and they have rightfully pulled their support,” the appeal read. “Because of GLAAD, the lead story in mainstream media today is about how bans like these hurt LGBT families and fall out of touch with Irish and with American values.” Last year, GLAAD worked with Irish Queers, the group that has led the boycott of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for years, to get a few New York City gay bars to stop serving Guinness. Diageo and its Ketel One and Rokk vodka brands have sponsored fundraisers for GLAAD since at least 2011. Ketel One is sponsoring the March 21 GLAAD fundraiser in Los Angeles. What a difference a year makes. There is still no Irish LGBT group in the parade, Guinness is back as
a sponsor, and GLAAD has largely gone silent. Between 2014 and 2015, NBCUniversal, which owns and operates WNBC, the local TV station that broadcasts the parade, announced that its LGBT employee group, OUT@NBCUniversal, would march in the parade. On February 17 of this year, Irish Queers held a press conference at City Hall with a half dozen other groups to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio — who did not march last year and appears prepared to not march again this year — and other elected officials again boycott the parade because it continues to exclude Irish LGBT groups. GLAAD, which has had a long relationship with NBCUniversal, was nowhere in sight. At the press conference, Emmaia Gelman, a member of Irish Queers, called the inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal “trickery.” Rosie Mendez, an out lesbian City Council member who represents lower Manhattan, said it was done to “placate the sponsors.” Daniel
Dromm, an out gay City Council member who represents part of Queens, said including the employee group missed the point. “The issue has never been allowing a gay group in the parade,” he said. “It has been having an Irish gay group in the parade… We are demanding an inclusive parade and we are asking other elected officials not to march.” Since 2011, NBCUniversal has sponsored GLAAD fundraisers and many NBCUniversal units, including NBC network programs, CNBC, and MSNBC, have promoted GLAAD’s annual Spirit Day by having on-air talent wear purple and discuss the event, which promotes anti-bullying efforts. In a 2013 statement, GLAAD said it had a “long standing relationship with NBCUniversal,” which is a sponsor of GLAAD’s March 21 fundraiser in Los Angeles. Klayton Fennell, the senior vice president of Government Affairs at cable giant Comcast, NBCUniver-
GLAAD, continued on p.17
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Kerry Kennedy Lauds “Celebration” Over “Tolerance” Grand marshal in Queens, human rights advocate scorches Fifth Avenue parade organizers BY PAUL SCHINDLER
erry Kennedy minced no words in characterizing the longstanding policy of Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in excluding openly LGBT participants. The president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, named for her slain father, Kennedy recalled a meeting a year or so ago with LGBT leaders in Uganda, including Frank Mugisha, whom her group honored in 2011. After the meeting broke up, two transgender activists were apprehended by authorities, and Kennedy and her teenage daughter, Cara, spent the night at a police station working to win their release. “Uganda is a country with 37 million people,” she said. “And there are 30 people in the LGBTQI movement and three willing to get up in front of a microphone.” Then, pivoting to the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s policy, Kennedy said, “What’s happening here in New York — this is not a joke. What the Manhattan St. Patrick’s parade is saying is, ‘We stand united with you in your hatred of gays. It is okay to discriminate against gay people.’” As a member of the nation’s most prominent Irish-American political family, Kennedy’s words carry bite. And her role as a grand marshal in this year’s St. Pat’s for All Parade in Queens — an inclusive event founded 16 years ago in reaction to the ban in Manhattan — has particular resonance. “I was very touched and thrilled to be part of the parade in Queens,” she said. “It is not about tolerance, it is about celebration. I had 10 siblings, and I never wanted to hear, ‘I know she is irritating, but try to tolerate her.’” The Fifth Avenue parade organizers, Kennedy asserted, are out of step with the Irish and Irish-American communities, but also betray their own heritage. “I think it is anachronistic and I think it is particularly unfortunate for the Irish-American commuGayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
nity,” she said. “I remember as a child when my grandmother, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, used to take me up to the attic and show me the newspaper clippings that read, ‘No Irish Need Apply.’ We were oppressed for hundreds of years. We, of all people, should be sensitive to this.” Kennedy shared the view of many LGBT activists that the inclusion of a gay group from the Fifth Avenue parade’s broadcast sponsor, NBC, was not enough to end its exclusionary legacy, but predicted it could prove to be a beneficial “wedge. I don’t think this can continue for too long.” She noted that the Irish consul general in New York, Barbara Jones, was hosting a reception for Queens’ inclusionary event several evenings before that March 1 parade. A number of leading political observers, including the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, have recently raised concerns about the reversal of fortune the world’s democracies — and by implication, the quest for human rights — have suffered in recent years. Kennedy, however, who has worked in the human rights field since the 1980s, sounded undaunted, saying, “I actually am enormously optimistic in terms of progress on human rights.” Noting that 30 years ago, South America was full of dictatorships and South Africa was an apartheid state, she pointed to “non-governmental organizations working in every country today to create change and demand that their government be responsive.” Awareness of women’s rights as human rights, Kennedy said, exploded after Hillary Clinton, while first lady, made that argument at the 1995 Beijing women’s conference. “Millions of women have been subjected to genital mutilation,” she acknowledged, “but today we know about it.” Without downplaying the horrors of the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria or of the anti-gay regimes in Uganda and Russia, Kennedy insisted “the
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NJ Court Finds Conversion Therapy Group Violated Consumer Fraud Law In pre-trial ruling, Hudson County judge rules homosexuality cannot be described as “illness” BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
New Jersey judge issued two pretrial rulings in February that increased the likelihood that an organization providing so-called conversion therapy to “assist individuals to purge unwanted same-sex attractions” will be found liable for consumer fraud. The suit, brought on behalf of six individuals against JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, claims they were defrauded and demands both reimbursement of the fees paid and compensation for the costs of therapy they had to undergo to undo the damage caused by JONAH’s treatment. The plaintiffs are represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and attorneys from the New York firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and the New Jersey firm of Lite DePalma Greenberg. In 2013, New Jersey became the second state, after Califor nia, to outlaw subjecting minor patients to the type of therapy JONAH offers. In his rulings, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso, Jr., on February 5, barred JONAH from presenting most of its expert witnesses, because their opinions were premised on discredited views about homosexual-
ity, and, five days later, found, on summary judgment, that at least some of the group’s claims violate New Jersey consumer fraud law. In both rulings, Bariso contended with questions about whether it is fraudulent to market a conversion therapy program by representing homosexuality as a mental illness, disease, or disorder that can be “changed” by treatment, to make statements that would lead a prospective client to believe they could change their sexual orientation as opposed to merely become conditioned not to engage in samesex activity, and to include specific “success” statistics when there is no factual basis for calculating such numbers. But, Bariso made clear that the plaintiffs were not mounting a general attack on the practice of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) by mental health professionals, but had focused their suit narrowly on the question whether JONAH defrauded and harmed them by the representations it made about its services. Looking to New Jersey precedent, the judge found that if a proposed expert is going to express views on scientific topics that lie outside the “general acceptance” of their profession, are not supported by “authoritative scientific and legal writing indicating that the scientific community accepts the premises underlying
the proffered testimony,” or do not have the support of relevant judicial opinions finding general acceptance, then such testimony should be excluded. Using this standard, Bariso found that the proposed scientific experts, all affiliated with organizations supporting conversion therapy, were not qualified to testify. “The overwhelming weight of scientific authority concludes that homosexuality is not a disorder or abnormal,” he wrote. “The universal acceptance of that scientific conclusion — save for outliers such as JONAH — requires that any expert opinions to the contrary must be barred.” Noting that the 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association to remove “homosexuality” from its official listing of mental disorders “is unquestionably authoritative in the mental health field” — a conclusion affirmed by a federal appeals court’s upholding of the New Jersey statute barring SOCE treatment for minors — Bariso found JONAH “can hardly argue that all of these organizations… were the victims of manipulation by ‘gay lobbying’ groups.” Turning, on February 10, to both sides’ motions for summary judgment in their favor, Bariso denied all of JONAH’s motions and granted several of the plaintiffs’ motions. He ruled that “it is a misrepresentation in violation of the
Consumer Fraud Act, in advertising or selling conversion therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof.” Including “specific ‘success’ statistics when there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics, e.g., when client outcomes are not tracked and no records of client outcomes are maintained” also runs afoul of state law, the judge concluded. It should be up to a jury, however, to decide whether a per son would be misled by JONAH’s description of the “change” its therapy sought to achieve with clients, Bariso found. In a fashion similar to the federal courts that reviewed the state’s ban on SOCE treatment for minors, the judge also denied JONAH’s claims that its representations were constitutionally protected speech or free exercise of religion. The six plaintiffs must now pr ove that JONAH made the unlawful representations alleged, that its statements about the “change” it sought to achieve through therapy were misleading, and that as a result the plaintiffs were defrauded — in some cases to the tune of $10,000 — and are owed compensation for the treatment they subsequently sought because of the psychological injury suffered at JONAH’s hands.
State’s Highest Bench Approves Reduced Charges for HIV Transmission New York Court of Appeals finds “depraved indifference to human life” prosecution cannot be sustained BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
e w Yo r k S t a t e ’ s h i g h e s t court has ruled that a trial judge appropriately granted a defendant’s motion to reduce charges against him from felony to misdemeanor reckless endangerment in a case where the defendant apparently transmitted HIV to another man through unprotected anal sex without disclosing his HIV status, reassuring his partner that it was “okay.”
The 4-1 decision by the Court of Appeals, issued on February 19, involved the decision by Onondaga Supreme Court Justice John J. Brunetti in Syracuse to grant the motion by defendant Terrance Williams in a case dating to 2010. Williams also faces a misdemeanor assault charge. The high court concluded that evidence presented to the grand jury would not support the contention that the defendant acted with “depraved indifference to human life.” According to the Court of Appeals opinion, Williams and the other man became friends
in July 2010, and later engaged in anal sex, the first several times with condoms and later without. The unprotected intercourse began, the court wrote, when “the victim reached for a condom only to have defendant take the condom away from him,” assuring him it was “safe for them to have unprotected sex.” The men had previously talked several times about HIV and “the need to be careful to avoid infection.” In October 2010, Williams told his partner that Williams might be HIV-positive because a prior
TRANSMISSION, continued on p.17
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Highest Military Court Jettisons 22-Year HIV Transmission Precedent
Ruling, overturning aggravated assault conviction, focuses on risk of infection, not risk from infection
eversing the conviction of an HIV-positive s e r v i c e m a n on charges of aggravated assault for engaging in unprotected oral and vaginal sex with women during swingers’ parties, the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled unanimously on February 23 that the statistical likelihood of transmitting HIV under such circumstances would not support a conviction under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Aggravated assault is defined under the UCMJ as “assault with a dangerous weapon or other means or force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.” The ruling from the nation’s highest military court came in David Gutierrez’s appeal of his 2011 conviction, when he was serving as an Air Force sergeant in Wichita. The decision overturns an earlier finding from that court, dating to 1993, that held that “the question is not the statistical probability of HIV invading the victim’s body, but rather the likelihood of the virus causing death or serious bodily harm if it invades the victim’s body. The probability of infection need only be more than merely a fanciful, speculative, or remote possibility.” The court bowed to criticism of its prior reasoning, agreeing on reconsideration that if transmission is highly unlikely as a statistical matter, then it cannot be said that the defendant acted in way that was “likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.” As a result, any sexual activity using condoms could not constitute aggravated assault, given their very high rate of effectiveness in preventing transmission, and even unprotected oral or vaginal sex would not qualify, based on evidence that transmission is highly unlikely under those
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
circumstances, as well. No accusation was ever made that Gutierrez infected any of his sex partners. On the other hand, the court held that Gutierrez was guilty of simple assault charges against him, since the women involved testified they would not have consented to unprotected sex with him had they known he was HIV-positive. Their consent in the circumstances was ineffective, the court found, and the defendant was guilty of non-consensual touching that would be offensive to a reasonable person. Gutierrez’s conviction on charges of adultery, illegal in the military, was also upheld, even though his wife joined him at the swingers’ parties. In 2011, Gutierrez was sentenced to eight years in prison and was stripped of his rank. His case has now been sent back to a lower court to determine what adjustments to his sentence are appropriate. This ruling raises important issues outside the military context, since some civilian courts have also imposed severe penalties on HIV-positive defendants in comparable situations, using much the same reasoning the military court applied back in 1993. In the past few years, however, courts have started to become much more responsive to the developing knowledge about transmission risks, especially when HIV-positive people are using condoms or are compliant with anti-retroviral therapy and have an undetectable viral load. As far as the court’s decision spells out, the military swingers’ club Gutierrez participated in did not involve same-sex conduct or anal sex. It will be interesting to see whether the military courts will be consistent in their reasoning if presented with cases involving gay service members who credibly testify that they are compliant with treatment regimens that have sharply reduced their infectiousness to the vanishing point.
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BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
San Francisco Study Suggests Scope of PrEP Need in New York Reducing HIV infections by 75 percent could require tens of thousands of gay men on preventive meds BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections suggests that New York City will have to get tens of thousands of gay and bisexual men on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to achieve the 75 percent reduction in annual new HIV infections that the state’s Plan to End AIDS has set as its primary goal. “A third way to set goals for PrEP rollout would be to estimate PrEP impact and decide how much PrEP we have to use to achieve that impact,” said Dr. Robert Grant, a researcher at San Francisco’s Glad-
stone Institutes, who presented at the conference, which met in Seattle last week. Grant, who was the lead researcher on the first study that demonstrated PrEP’s efficacy, modeled how many people in San Francisco would have to be on PrEP and how many HIV-positive people would have to have no detectable HIV in their blood to achieve a 70 percent cut in new HIV infections in that city. In Grant’s model, San Francisco would see a 70 percent cut in new HIV infections if 95 percent of the roughly 16,000 people in San Francisco who are in the “highest risk strata” for HIV infection, or nearly 14,200 people, were taking PrEP and 62 percent of those who
are HIV-positive were taking antiHIV drugs and so were undetectable. San Francisco reported 359 new HIV infections in 2013. There were 2,832 new HIV infections in New York City in 2013, and 1,609, or 57 percent, were among gay and bisexual men. The city accounts for roughly 95 percent of the new HIV infections in New York State, so the plan, which aims to cut new HIV infections to 750 a year by 2020, will have to significantly reduce new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men. The HIV infection rate among those men has been high and stable for 13 years. PrEP uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to prevent them from becoming infected. It is highly effective when taken cor-
rectly. When HIV-positive people adhere to their anti-HIV drugs, the amount of virus in their bodies is reduced to the point that they are no longer infectious. While New York City’s epidemic is about eight times larger than San Francisco’s epidemic that does not mean that New York will have to get eight times the number of people on PrEP. But it strongly suggests that the city will have to have tens of thousands of HIV-negative people on PrEP. How to hit those numbers is what confronts advocates and public health officials. In a statement, New York City’s health department said it “continues to be a recognized national leader in promoting PrEP to both potential users and providers of care” and that it is “committed to expanding access to PrEP through a variety of mechanisms.”
PREP, continued on p.13
Corey Johnson, Advocates Press to Broaden HIV Housing Eligibility Giving assistance to up to 15,000 positive but without AIDS diagnosis sought in City Council measure
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
egislation that would give the benefits currently provided to people with AIDS by the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to people who are HIVpositive but asymptomatic was introduced in the City Council, but it likely faces an uphill battle to be enacted. “We recognize that HIV is an epidemic that thrives on inequality,” said Corey Johnson, the city councilmember who represents Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the West Village, at a February 26 press conference at City Hall. “To fight it, we must keep our focus on the socioeconomic factors that have allowed it to continue for all of these years — poverty, homelessness, and a lack of access to healthcare.” Currently, people who have an AIDS diagnosis or “clinical symptomatic HIV illness” and meet the financial need requirements are eligible for HASA’s package of benefits, which includes rental assistance, food stamps, enrollment in Medicaid, and transportation assistance. HASA, which is a unit of the city’s Human Resources Administration, serves just over 32,000 people with AIDS and another 11,000 family members. Anti-HIV drugs have significantly reduced the number of people who progress from HIV-positive to AIDS so HASA’s qualifying definitions have barred HIV-positive people who are healthy but in need of assistance from accessing the agency’s
services. Advocates have sought to change the qualifications for HASA services since 2007. Some science supports the view that stable housing helps HIV-positive people stay on their anti-HIV drugs and healthy. HIV-positive people who stay on their anti-HIV drugs and have no detectable virus in their blood are far less likely to infect others. Advocates, including the roughly two dozen groups that support the City Council legislation, promoted a state plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 by 2020, which they say would “end” AIDS as an epidemic in New York. In that plan, they sought expanded housing and benefits for people with HIV in the state budget, but with limited success. The Cuomo administration proposed spending $116 million over five years to build 5,000 housing units spread broadly among people with special needs, people with HIV, and the homeless. There are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people with HIV statewide who need housing assistance. Expanding HASA to include financially qualified HIV-positive people could cost $100 million annually, with half that cost borne by the state. Over time, it could add 10,000 to 15,000 people to HASA’s caseload. The City Council legislation is viewed by advocates as integral to the state plan to end AIDS. “The science is clear, the path forward is clear,” said Johnson, who is openly gay and
HIV-positive. “It is a matter of leadership, it is a matter of resources. We all know what to do to end this epidemic.” When this legislation was first introduced in the City Council in 2007, it was opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an out lesbian who represented Johnson’s district, as too expensive. The legislation, as reintroduced, has seven co-sponsors in the 51-member City Council. Advocates have reported that the HASA-qualifying definitions have led to the perverse result of some HIV-positive people avoiding anti-HIV drugs so they progress to AIDS and can obtain HASA benefits. “One of the most gruesome things we hear at the Ali Forney Center is our young people who have been recently diagnosed in their desperation to get shelter and housing will forsake taking the medication because they want to be eligible for the current HASA guidelines,” said Carl Siciliano, executive director of the group, which helps homeless LGBT youth. Gina Quattrochi, the chief executive officer of Bailey House, an AIDS housing group, described a conversation with a friend whose son was recently diagnosed as HIV-positive. He was struggling to find housing and the mother asked for advice. “I had to ask that stupid question that we have to ask every time, ‘Does he have AIDS?’” Quattrochi said. “If we are serious about ending this epidemic… we have to provide housing.” March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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ST. PAT'S, from p.6
Manhattan event announced that an LGBT group from NBCUniversal, its broadcast sponsor, would march in 2015 — a concession rejected by most activists who have worked for decades to open up the March 17 parade. Elected officials who turned out in Sunnyside echoed that view. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito reminded the crowd that neither she nor any official Council contingent will march in the Fifth Avenue parade until it is open to any LGBT group marching under its own banner. Mayor Bill de Blasio, arriving a few minutes late for the scheduled 2 p.m. start of the parade, agreed that the Fifth Avenue organizers, so far, have made “too small a change to merit a lot of us participating.” He added, “There’s still time, and we look forward to, you know, some additional discussion, and, certainly, I welcome any discussions with anyone who wants to try and make it more inclusive.” Wearing a green tie and lavender shirt in honor of the occasion, he told the Sunnyside crowd, “It’s a beautiful, sunny day in my mind,” before taking his place behind the St. Pat’s for All banner. Grand marshal O’Byrne, the Tony-award winning actor from County Cavan, flew in from California, where he’s shooting his new NBC series “Aquarius,” and recalled how he’d been arrested for protesting the Fifth Avenue parade in the ‘90s and met Fay while they were in jail. Now he’s watching from afar as Ireland prepares for a marriage equality referendum this May. “The tipping point has happened,” said O’Byrne, who observed of gay marriage opponents, “They’re going to lose.” He said when he told a friend he was coming to Queens, the friend said: “Oh, the alternative parade.” But, O’Byrne said, “I don’t consider this ‘alternative.’ That’s frankly nonsense. While others are celebrating on March 17, we’re here are on the right side of the civil
The fire department’s Emerald Society Pipes & Drum band led off the parade.
rights movement.” Among the other speakers were two local City Council members — out gay Democrats Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights, and Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district includes Sunnyside and Woodside. The Council contingent also included two other out gay Democrats, Corey Johnson of Manhattan and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, and Queens Democrats Rory Lancman, Costa Constantinides, and Karen Koslowitz. Other speakers included US Representative Joseph Crowley, who heads the Queens County Democratic Party, Barbara Jones, the Irish consul general to New York, and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who talked about the way in which the state pension funds have been leveraged to pressure companies to adopt pro-LGBT policies as well as to invest in Ireland. The fire department’s Emerald Society Pipes & Drum band, attired in their trademark kilts, started marching at about 2:20, followed by contingent holding aloft the parade’s banner, which included the mayor, the founders, the grand marshals, and Consul General Jones. Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, also marched, carrying a huge Irish flag, which he twirled through the wintry wind and snow. Young girls from the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance kicked up clouds of snow as they danced down the street, as they have every year since the parade was found-
KENNEDY, from p.7
world now has much more sophisticated ways of addressing human rights violations.” Asked her view of US leadership on human
ed. The crowd featured neighborhood residents shouting and waving from their front stoops and windows, with some houses flying Irish flags. The parade has provided an annual economic boost to businesses on Skillman, Woodside, and Roosevelt Avenues and become a focus for all-day celebration, including an Irish traditional music festival spread over about a dozen bars. Though neighborhood businesses benefit from the influx of marchers and spectators, some temporarily lost customers as people poured out of stores and restaurants to watch the bands, trucks, floats, and marching groups. There were, as there usually are, a few protesters, carrying signs calling marchers “Blasphemers” and “Sodomites.” The queer community was well represented, with Pride celebration organizers from Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Washington, DC, along with Pride for Youth/ Long Island. In addition to the Emerald Society Pipes & Drum, uniformed city employees were also represented by FireFLAG founder Eugene Walsh, the Gay Officers Action League, and members of the youth-focused FDNY Explorers. Irish-American organizations had some of the largest groups in the parade, including the Winged Fist Greater New York Irish Athletic Association, the Irish-American Writers & Artists, the Shannon Gaels Gaelic Athletic Association, complete with a float, An Slua Nua
rights, she said, “I am an activist, so I have all sorts of complaints about our government. That’s my job — not to complain, but to push for changes.” Then, in a formulation not altogether surprising from a Kennedy, she added,
Irish Language Speakers of New York, and the Irish Arts Center. Both sides in the debate over horse carriages in Manhattan joined the parade, with the Historic Horse-Drawn Carriages of Central Park fielding a carriage that was followed — but not too closely — by NYCLASS, a group that opposes the industry. Despite the snow, several musical groups managed to play their instruments, some swaddling them in plastic, others pounding the snow off their drum heads and trying frantically to keep reeds and strings in tune. “The high point, for me was seeing the Marching Cobras and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, marching down the street,” said parade founder D’Arcy. “Then, the Tilted Axes and the FDNY/ EMS pipe band and the traditional musicians, they were all out there, and it must have been so hard for them... I’ll bet their fingers were frozen!” The Marching Cobras of New York is a Br onx-based drum corps, while Tilted Axes is an electric guitar marching band and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra is a local radical marching band and dance troupe. The parade’s musical director, Brian Fleming — who also produced the annual St. Pat’s for All concert at the Irish Arts Center on February 27 — led a four -piece ensemble on the back of a flatbed truck, with Fleming on bodhrán (drum), Vonnie Quinn on fiddle, Dave Barckow on guitar and vocals, and Jerry Arias on drums. “This is not really a parade where people march,” parade founder Fay said. “This is one where the people dance down the street.” When the parade ended at Roosevelt Avenue and 58th Street under the silent 7 train, the Rude Mechanicals kept playing, walking single file in a line down the sidewalk. Other marchers and spectators peeled off to nearby pubs and taverns as the last strains of music bounced off the elevated tracks above and whipped around in the snow-filled wintry air.
“ I think the question is not, ‘How is the Obama administration doing?’ The question is, ‘What if you had a member of the opposite party in that job? If you had Romney and you’re talking about gay rights?’ Because that’s your choice.” March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Seafood Sexy, bracing, fresh & funky oceanic tastes at two Littleneck locations in Brooklyn BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
PREP, from p.10
The health department has trained its own clinical staff to educate clients on PrEP and it is prescribing the drug regimen. In 2013 and 2014, it trained 310 front line staff and doctors outside of the department on delivering PrEP and it educated “60 individuals” in two workshops in October on how to create “comprehensive PrEP programs in their practices.” Some of this training included discussion of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a 28-day course of anti-HIV drugs that prevents infection in HIV-negative people with a very recent exposure to the virus. GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
ome gay men refer to women’s bodies as “fish” or “sushi,” and as a foodie, part of me is shocked they don’t mean it as a compliment. To me, sushi, in the form of naked, unadorned salmon, tuna, or shrimp surrounding vinegared rice and a dab of wasabi, is one of the sexiest foods there is. Lobster, oysters, clams, and scallops are even sexier, with a combination of bracingness, sweetness, salt, and the teeniest little bit of funk or oddity that all good sex should have. I thought about this recently while eating the extraordinary “full belly Ipswich clam roll” at Littleneck, which tasted oceanic. I intend the word in all its meanings here: Freud used “oceanic” when he was talking about religious feeling, which he related to the newborn’s sense that there was a limitless supply of milk available for it and that it was absolutely at one with its mother. That’s how I felt eating that clam roll, one of the few fried foods I am willing to eat on a regular basis (because it’s just so damn worth it). I admit I love cheap, random clam rolls, too, but this was a costly ($17), superlative clam roll, utterly fresh and tasting clean and frisky at once. (It comes with homemade tartar sauce and two kinds of pickles.) Littleneck, in Gowanus, Brooklyn, is a great date restaurant, with a smart, queer-friendly staff and an attractive room full of nautical gear. There are a lot of sail-
ors’ ropes, a beautiful, tiny mirror inserted in a porthole, a waggish lamp with Captain Ahab as its base. I usually don’t like the decorating style known as Shabby Chic —why do rich people think it’s pretty not to repaint or fix things? — but Littleneck made me reconsider this reflex. There are white-enameled metal tables that suggest the ‘50s, and white, not-fully-painted wooden chairs and hutches that suggest a dilapidated beach shack somehow made elegant. Edison bulbs, a punk-rock mirror over the bar partly smeared with black paint, and flowers on every table round things out. The casual butch style made me feel at home, but the charm of the place made evenings there magical. One night when I visited, the Clash was playing at a gentle volume; another night, it was the Rolling Stones (less wonderful to me, but it did suit the overall aesthetic). In fact, the two polite and welcoming owners, who also serve as some of the waitstaff and bartenders, are punk musicians who had never worked in the food business before. Their generally good taste in music is another swell reason to visit; at Littleneck’s tiny sister location in Greenpoint, the extraordinary country singer Buck Owens was on the sound system one lunchtime. A smallish lobster roll ($18) had me gasping in pleasure, with the sweetest, freshest crustacean meat in recent memory. Normally I’d be annoyed by the small size, but the lobster went straight to my brain’s pleasure centers and I couldn’t care less. A grilled romaine salad was
Littleneck on Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
served in one huge paleo hunk, like a Fred Flintstone-size bone made of delicious charred vegetation ($13). It came with a strongly garlic flavored dressing (I silently applauded) and substantial chunks of bacon. My partner, Karen, insisted on attacking my plate. I’m tor n about the mussels with Thai basil and curry ($13). When Karen got them and I had a taste, they were fantastically fresh, maybe the freshest mussels I’ve ever had (the punk musicians must have a connection to the most recently-caught seafood in the city). Another evening, though, the sauce became a little cloying when I ate a whole bowl. Chefs: maybe a lot more chili in there, less coconut milk? “Grilled chilled lobster,” a special one freezing night, was the wrong thing to order. I was hoping it would be served with drawn butter or per-
The department has also sent staff into doctors’ offices to teach them about PrEP and PEP. To date, those staff reached “369 clinical sites” and 865 doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician’s assistants in all five boroughs, the statement said. “Preliminary data show an increase in PrEP prescriptions among providers visited between the initial and follow-up visits.” Some data indicate that people who are most at-risk for HIV infection are most likely to adopt PrEP, which will aid in growing PrEP use. In studies presented at the conference, adherence to PrEP was good, though that was a significant problem in earlier studies. Other presentations made at the
haps a warming spicy sauce, but it was set before me in a huge tub of ice, and digging through the cold for the lobster bits, teeth chattering, made me feel like I’d been in a shipwreck. (It was a parsimonious portion for $15, probably a third of the creature.) Still, I probably would have enjoyed it in summer. The restaurant serves, among many other alcoholic beverages, cans of Narragansett, the finest cheap beer I’ve ever drunk ($3 for the lager and $4 for the other varieties). It also goes better with shellfish than almost anything. If you’re feeling fancier, there is Prosecco. I love Littleneck Outpost in Greenpoint fully as much as the main headquarters, though it’s quite different. A sort of coffee bar with seafood, the small, beautiful place is decorated similarly to the restaurant, though more on the femme spectrum. A few young Greenpointers do indeed hang out in the whitewashed space nursing their laptops, but you can also get, along with superb, strong coffee, Littleneck’s unearthly clam chowder, which tastes far more of the sea and less like cream than most do. The clams inside are so fresh that they don’t need the usual drowning in milkfat. Along with lobster, shrimp and crab rolls, there are sandwiches based on vegetables or meat, like a primo pork loin sandwich with garlic aioli, roasted jalapeños, and cilantro. One of the owners, Andy Curtin, serves as a cook there. Littleneck (288 Third Avenue near Carroll Street, Gowanus; littleneckbrooklyn.com) and Littleneck Outpost (128 Franklin Street at Milton Street, Greenpoint) are both wheelchair-accessible and have accessible restrooms.
Seattle conference show that scaling up PrEP use is very much on the minds of community health groups, researchers, and clinicians. In New York City, Gay Men’s Health Crisis held a series of town halls beginning in 2014 that educated the community about PrEP. In a statement, the AIDS agency, which was represented on the task force that drafted the state’s plan to reduce new HIV infections, said, “GMHC continues to advocate for better PrEP access and affordability, and the nuance of how to make that happen will be addressed in the Ending AIDS Task Force Blueprint submitted to Governor Andrew Cuomo.”
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
De Blasio Staying the Course
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER Marching in the inclusive St. Pat’s for All Parade in Sunnyside, Queens this past Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if the decision by the organizers of the annual March 17 parade on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to allow an LGBT -identified group from NBC, the event’s broadcast sponsor, to participate would get him to end his boycott, which is joined by most other progressive leaders in the city. The mayor offered the correct perspective on the question. “Look, we’re still waiting for more information from the parade organizers,” he responded. “At this moment, obviously, I’ve said I’m not ready to commit to marching because all we’ve heard is that one delegation, related to NBC, will be allowed to have members of the LGBT community in it. A lot of people feel — I think, rightfully — that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating. We would have wanted to see an inclusive parade.” Then, perhaps referring to what some sources say are ongoing nego-
tiations to finally put an end to the exclusionary policy across the board — maybe in exchange for giving organizers the few extra blocks in their route they would like — de Blasio added, “But there’s still time, and we look forward to, you know, some additional discussion, and, certainly, I welcome any discussions with anyone who wants to try and make it more inclusive.” The parade’s decision to give the NBC gay group a slot this year — announced with great fanfare in September, with Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who will be grand marshal come March 17, on hand — was greeted by some as a victory for inclusiveness, after more than two decades of explicit exclusion. The mayor is right to be skeptical about whether a real change is at hand. When the participation of the NBC contingent was announced, some Irish-American activists who had long fought to overturn Fifth Avenue’s discriminatory policy asked whether other groups — such as Irish Queers and the Lavender & Green Alliance — would also be welcomed. The response suggested the organizers were disingenuous in their NBC maneuver — the parade was all full up for 2015, they said. And they
would not comment on what might be in the offing for 2016 and beyond. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal, which eagerly put out a press statement celebrating its employee group’s freedom to march this year, declined to okay Gay City News’ request to talk to an employee who was all over Facebook celebrating the news. Since then, parade organizers had come off as even shadier. Last month, when the Wall Street Journal asked Hilary Beirne, a top parade official, if the inclusion of the NBC group this year meant other LGBT groups might be able to march in future years, he responded, “Not necessarily.” Beirne added, “We have to take it one step at a time, reassess, and then make a judgment.” In other words, the mayor might actually be overstating the significance of what has transpired in calling it “too small a change.” Parade organizers have not made any permanent concession at all. With gay groups participating in St. Patrick’s Day parades all over Ireland for years, the situation here in New York is beyond pathetic. If the mayor is still negotiating over this March 17, he is well advised to continue to hold out for real progress. Using a major event sponsor as cover for the parade’s unwillingness to truly welcome the LGBT community is a dishonorable dodge. De Blasio could find any number of other ways to honor Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day.
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Better Ingredients, Better Terrorists — Papa Abu’s BY ED SIKOV
he inter national jihadist c o m e d y troupe ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) took a break from filming its ongoing series of beheading videos to announce on Twitter its plan to attack Rome and hurl
gay Romans off the city’s “leaning tower of pizza.” At least that was the most common interpretation of the message as reported by the Daily Mail. In a late February tweet, one Abu Abdullah Britani (@abu_britani2) — employing the hashtag “We-AreComing-O-Rome” — stated “we will use your leaning tower of pizza to throw off homosexual” (sic).
Most observers naturally assume that Britani simply mangled the English language, not to mention the geography and national landmarks of Italy, when he threatened to toss Italian lesbians and gay men off a very tall stack of double cheese and pepperoni pies. But I take a different, more nuanced view. I believe Britani was actual-
ly making use of the idiom “to throw off,” meaning to steer in the wrong direction. What he was really threatening was a devious plan to distract, or throw off, gay people from our unruly sex drive by phoning in a particularly large order of Italy’s famous culinary delight and then just lying in wait for crowds of sodomites to stop having sex and immediately rush to the (unspecified) site of the delivery, climb the gooey tower, and eat themselves to death. One word of advice
CIRCUS, continued on p.16
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Sex, Bondage, and Equality
BY KELLY COGSWELL
’ve been thinking about sex lately. Sex and equality. Mostly because I’m trying to write a screenplay, and when I asked a bunch of bi and lesbian girls in Istanbul recently if they had any requests for a theme, they all said, “Intimacy.” One person specifically wanted to see BDSM. It was the first thing she said all night, so I knew it meant something. Sex is not my specialty. You want to know about activism, social change, queers under threat, then I’m your dyke. But “intimacy”? I admit I squirmed a little, then thought about it. When I lust for representation up on the screen, I usually just want to see a dyke UPS driver, a librarian. Somebody who can’t pass or won’t. Doesn’t even try. I want to see how they walk. How they talk. How they pull their clothes on in the morning. How they make coffee. Kiss their girlfriend hello. Yeah, that’s right. My imagination is embarrassingly prudish. With gender at the heart of it, a wish to see androgyny, or butchness, the person that you point to and exclaim, “dyke.” We exist. We’re real. Have a life. Of course we
also have our sex lives, too. Which even we, in the LGBT community, barely acknowledge. Partly because we’re female. But also because of two decades of equality politics in which we’ve largely separated the homo from the sex, so we can declare, “We’re just like you, we deserve our rights.” As a result, our kisses are increasingly chaste. Ellen and Portia might hold hands, but only straight males, in their porn, picture lesbians in bed. At least until recently. Late last year some women’s magazine that usually produces articles on how to please your man actually offered a big list of things lesbians could do. The consensus of dyke writers who tried them was that they required a lot of flexibility, a sense of humor, and 911 on the speed dial. Of late, there are also articles announcing that lesbians have more orgasms than just about anybody. Looking for actual heat, there’s the erotica published by lesbian presses that has made some publishers rich. But the whole package, even in print? A novel, or memoir, maybe, showing lesbians as full human beings as capable of desire as of love? Not many. On screen, there are even less. There is “Blue Is The Warmest Color,” which we talked about at
that dinner in Istanbul where “intimacy” came up. It didn’t lack in sex, though the 30-minute scene didn’t have many admirers. Some thought it was simply ridiculous. Others were enraged at its “male gaze.” A gay guy said it was too encyclopedic, checking off sexual practices and positions from A to Z. The other movie they brought up was the 1996 neo-noir feature called “Bound.” I found it last week on YouTube and couldn’t watch with a straight face. Not because of the sex scenes, which were actually pretty good, but for its stylized queerness. The actress with her full-parted lips, signaling butchness with her James Dean sneer, wife-beater, and power tools. The femme with her lipstick and little girl voice. As characters they were about as believable as, well, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Not that I didn’t admire the effort. But for that to be our touchstone 20 years later, and refer enced by dykes worldwide who are still in their 20s... it was kind of sad. Maybe they mentioned “The L Word,” too. I don’t remember. But they clearly wanted something larger than life. Complicated, complete, and true. Which was why I actually liked “Blue.” Mostly for that scene when
Adele entered a dyke bar for the first time and you could feel how charged the space was with lust, and fear, and that urgent hunger to connect in a world that has often punished us for mere desire before we could even come close to touching flesh. That hasn’t changed much, even here in 2015, though we’ve won the war, at least in a movie or two or on a TV show. Where dykes can get married and live peacefully in the suburbs. Nobody tags their house. Their kids are alright. Their jobs are secure. Their health is good. They can have a man if they want one for the afternoon. In real life, though, parents still want straight kids. And neighbors often dislike us. Kids still pick on outsiders. As for me, I learned to avoid looking at other girls before I even knew I wanted to look. I remember that time in the locker room when some girl called another one “lezzie”: “She was looking at me.” And the girl in question shrank, and declared, “No, I wasn’t.” And I took it to heart myself, and shut things off. Even now I admire those dykes who openly buy porn and stare at girls on the street with naked hunger in their eyes. I bury mine, usually, though sometimes it peeks out. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” published last year by the University of Minnesota Press.
PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
In Bad Repair: An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Zeitgeist
BY SUSIE DAY
t isn’t often a marginalized countercultural journalist such as myself gets to interview America’s Mr. Big. But finally they let me in to see Mr. Zeitgeist. Like most of us, Mr. Zeitgeist comes from immigrant stock. His name combines the German words for “time” (zeit) with “spirit” (geist).” Mr. Zeitgeist is, indeed, the Spirit of Our American Times. I wanted to talk to Mr. Z about US reparations for slavery. And so, as he ushered me into his tastefully appointed penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I hoped that his Gorman prints of Navajo women and African wood-
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
carvings were signs that this Oberlin-educated White dude understood the pain of others. I sat down in a leather armchair, switched on my recorder, and found out. Me: Is it true, Mr. Zeitgeist, that you coined the term “Liberty and Justice for All”? Mr. Zeitgeist: Yes, I’m thinking of turning it into a hashtag. More tweets for our Democracy. Me: How do you fight to keep this noble ideal alive? Mr. Zeitgeist: I manufacture trending media opinion. Take the Academy Awards this year. They were far too White, and I made sure the Oscars’ lack of racial diversity was criticized in
the media and discussed by leading pundits. Me: Good work, Mr. Z! Say, I was just enjoying the view from your east window. Were you aware that your apartment building here at 83rd and Central Park West rests on land that was once part of Seneca Village, a haven for freed slaves that began in 1825 and lasted until 1857, when the park was built over it? Mr. Zeitgeist: Was that on the History Channel? Me: Earlier, of course, the land belonged to the indigenous Canarsee people. Mr. Zeitgeist: Ah, New York, New York — a helluva town. What was that Gene Kelly movie? Me: Further downtown, some 40 slaves were hanged or burned alive for instigating the “New York Conspiracy of 1741.” Mr. Zeitgeist: It was “On the Town.” Fine old musical about three sailors on leave in NYC! Fun! Of course, it didn’t have Black actors. That’s bad…
SNIDE LINES, continued on p.16
CIRCUS, from p.14
to ISIS: don’t add the optional anchovies to the order. Nobody likes them.
Do You Buh-lieve in Life after Law? “‘Discrimination’” is a necessary thing in life (it simply means ‘to make a distinction’), but this word has been hijacked and turned into a weapon of tyranny being used against people of conscience. The ‘Employment Non-Discrimination Act’ (ENDA) being pushed in Congress by homofascist sympathizers, would make it illegal to ‘discriminate’ in hiring and firing practices against men who dress like women (and the reverse) or who display other in-your -face sexually deviant behavior. So, you don’t want to hire a man dressed like Cher? Be prepared to get fined out of business, or worse, if this becomes law.” So writes RenewAmerica.com’s Gina Miller, who bills herself as “a conservative Christian political writer and radio/ television voice professional.” (My question: Does she do Daffy Duck? You can’t call
yourself a true voice professional if you don’t do Daffy Duck.) Her blather wouldn’t be worth quoting, let alone commenting on, if it weren’t for that ominous “or worse” in the final sentence. To what exactly is she alluding? Our “homofascist” plan to execute people who don’t love Cher? If so, hers is a troubling prediction. Very troubling. Don’t be silly, Gina. We only plan to execute people who don’t love Judy Garland. We’ll only maim those who don’t love Cher.
on us... It’s gross... Thanks # Wa l k i n g D e a d p r o b a b l y n o t watching anymore.
I’m Obviously Missing Something
And the Award for the Stupidest Post-Oscar Commentary Goes to…
“The Distance,” a recent episode of the AMC blockbuster series “The Walking Dead,” blew many of its loyal fans out of the water — and out of the fan base, too — when two new characters, Aaron and Eric, locked lips. Twitter lit up with outrage: Manny @mejehu44: It ticks me off when the homo community taints my favorite show with their crap, #WalkingDead. No gay scenes on #WalkingDead. Jamie L ynn @JL ynnBSBgirl: I’m over gay stuff being pushed
SNIDE LINES, from p.15
Me: Speaking of Liberty and Justice, did you read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s amazing article, “The Case for Reparations,” in the Atlantic? It focuses on the lack of decent housing as only one aspect of the legacy of slavery for African Americans — Mr. Zeitgeist: I believe justice can be better served by a public discussion on how Patricia Arquette’s Oscar acceptance speech was possibly racist and heterosexist. Me: Might we also discuss how Mr. Coates has won the 2014 George Polk Award and the 2015 Stowe Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice? Mr. Zeitgeist: That’s so unfair. No one gives me prizes for fighting injustice. For example, I made sure that Benedict Cumberbatch was roundly chastised for using the term “colored actors” when describing the lack of diversity in the British film industry. Take that, Bigotry! Me: Did you know that Representative John Conyers of Michigan has been trying since 1989 to get a reparations bill passed? “HR 40” calls for a simple congressional study of the effects of slavery and its aftermath, along with suggestions for “appropriate remedies.” Mr. Zeitgeist: Then there was that time I lambasted Ted Danson for showing up at a Friars Club roast of Whoopi Goldberg in blackface.
Justin Case @BettencortCase: Been watching #WalkingDead since day one. Not sure why they had to add a gay scene in there. This loyal viewer is done. Manny, Jamie, and Justine have no problem with flesh-eating zombies, but they draw the nausea line at a gay kiss. Perfect.
Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes for their inane piece in the New York Times. It began: “In the end, it was the audience that got snubbed. Following the best picture win on Sunday night by “Birdman” — a brainy film seen by fewer than five million ticket buyers in North America — the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences woke on Monday to soft television ratings for its Oscar telecast and fresh signs that its movie awards have become hopelessly detached from movie viewers.”
Was his face red! Hard to believe people can be so racist. Me: You’re interested in fame, Mr. Z? People like Amadou Diallo, Eleanor Bumpurs, Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner, and Akai Gurley weren’t famous until the NYPD killed them. And before them, there were about 4,000 never-famous Black human beings who were hanged and mutilated, from 1877 to 1950, for “crimes” like forgetting to call a White man mister. What, if anything, could this nation do to compensate generations of African Americans? Mr. Zeitgeist: Goddammit! I forced myself to watch “Twelve Years a Slave.” It made me feel bad — isn’t that reparations enough? Me: I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Zeitgeist. I had no idea that you also have suffered. Mr. Zeitgeist: This economy was built on my back, too, you know. Every day, I fight oppression. My people live in constant fear of being called racist. That’s a different kind of stop-and-frisk. Me: What keeps you strong? Mr. Zeitgeist: Hollywood. Celebrities are my teachers. From their embarrassing racist gaffes, I learn what not to get caught doing in my own life. To relax, I enjoy a good Shonda Rhimes TV show. Oh, I love how Kerry Washington in “Scandal” wears all that white! It’s like she really sees me. Then there’s jazz at Lincoln Center… Me: You make me sad, Mr. Zeitgeist. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a beautiful, award-winning
The Oscars are not the People’s Choice Awards. They’re awards given by a relatively small number of Hollywood professionals to films, actors, and tech people they think merit particular distinction. They have never been popularity contests, except among Academy voters, who — far from being the general population — are instead a group of industry insiders. That’s not to say that these insiders get it right all the time or even most of the time. “Boyhood” being shut out by “Birdman” is an all-too-typically absurd embarrassment. But Academy voters rarely use a film’s box-office take as a measure of anything when casting their votes. As my friend the novelist and sometime Times contributor Kevin Baker points out, by Cieply and Barnes’s logic next year’s Best Picture Oscar will have to go to “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I’ll close with my favorite Oscar quote of all time, uttered by the late, great Ann Miller to my late pal, Mason Wiley: “I never see the pictures, but I always vote. It means so much to those kids!” Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.
piece on reparations, yet you, the Spirit of Our Times, aren’t interested. Instead, you steep yourself in the entertainment industry. Mr. Zeitgeist: Okay, whatever. Can I pay this reparations thing online? Has Coates set up some sort of PayPal account? Me: Reparations isn’t about money at this point, Mr. Z. It’s more about looking at America’s historic imbalance of power. One source in Coates’s article says HR 40 “does not authorize one red cent to anyone.” Mr. Zeitgeist: Does reparations threaten my social standing? Do I have to give up my job to a person of color? Me: I hope so. Mr. Zeitgeist: Are George Clooney or Susan Sarandon talking about this? Me: Maybe not. Mr. Zeitgeist: Then color me bored. Me: Well, if the word “reparations” doesn’t interest you, maybe I could get your attention with the word “genocide.” Mr. Zeitgeist: Genocide? What genocide? Where do you think we live? Germany? Me: Well, I see our time is up. Mr. Zeitgeist: Girlie, you don’t know how right you are. Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” released last year by Abdingdon Square Publishing. March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GLAAD, from p.6
sal’s parent, resigned from GLAAD’s board last Friday “to better balance my work and personal demands as my husband and I focus on adoption,” he wrote in an email to Gay City News. He joined the board in February of 2014. Comcast has also worked with GLAAD on various promotions, including Spirit Day. Cody Lassen, another GLAAD board member, worked for NBCUniversal from 2009 to 2012.
TRANSMISSION, from p.8
sexual partner with whom he had unprotected sex had been diagnosed. Williams urged his partner to get tested and their relationship soon ended. In February 2011, the victim experienced symptoms, got tested, and turned out to be infected. In April 2011, Williams, writing to the other man on social media, confessed he had been diagnosed as HIV-positive before they started having sex and expressed remorse about having lied to him. “I want to start by saying that I sincerely apologize for giving you HIV,” he wrote. “I made my biggest mistake that night I said I didn’t want to use a condom knowing my status but still being so deep in love with you that I wanted us to be one person. I was selfish and I was more so concerned with my own false happiness than your health.” The victim contacted the police, and the Onondaga County district attorney presented the case to a grand jury, which voted to indict Williams on charges of reckless endangerment in the first degree and third-degree assault. The reckless endangerment charge, a felony subjecting a defendant to a potential prison term of up to seven years, requires a finding that the defendant “under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life… recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person.” The assault charge, a misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of one year, involves a defendant intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causing physical injury. In a pretrial motion, Williams argued his conduct did not show depraved indifference to human life and, in light of current medical treatments, did not subject the victim to a “grave risk of death.” Justice Brunetti granted the motion GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
In a February 27 email, Gay City News asked GLAAD about its silence this year and the group responded with a March 2 statement saying the “parade organizers” should be pressured. “For the first time ever, an LGBT group will march under its own banner in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and that’s a show of important progress,” the statement read. “Until all are welcome — especially LGBT Irish groups, who have worked for decades to bring fairness to Fifth Avenue — parade organizers must be held
and reduced the charge to second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor that involves a defendant “recklessly engag[ing] in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.” The maximum sentence for this is one year. The district attorney appealed Brunetti’s ruling, but the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the trial judge in a 5-0 vote. The panel, finding the evidence would not support a charge based on depraved indifference to human life, focused on Williams’ fear that the other man would reject his love, his later urging the victim to get tested, and his eventual apology. “The fact that defendant encouraged the victim to be tested for HIV indicates that defendant was trying, however weakly and ineffectively, to prevent any grave risk that might result from his conduct,” the Appellate Division panel wrote. “We thus conclude that, while the evidence certainly shows that defendant cared much too little about [the victim]’s safety, it cannot support a finding that he did not care at all.” The panel also found that medical evidence presented to the grand jury countered the conclusion that transmitting HIV today puts somebody at grave risk of death. The Onondaga prosecutor then appealed to the state’s highest bench, which abstained from deciding whether HIV infection today creates a grave risk of death, instead focusing on the depraved indifference issue. “There is no evidence that defendant exposed the victim to the risk of HIV infection out of any malevolent desire for the victim to contract the virus, or that he was utter ly indifferent to the victim’s fate,” the court wrote. “Without a doubt, defendant’s conduct was reckless, selfish, and reprehensible. Under our case law, thought, this is not
accountable to ending this ban once and for all.” Seth Adam, a GLAAD spokesperson, told CNN Money on March 2 that the group was not organizing a Guinness boycott this year. Other groups involved in the boycott were unhappy with GLAAD’s inaction this year, though they welcomed the statement. “GLAAD has told us they support our position, which is it’s not a success until an Irish LGBT group can march under its own banner,” said John Francis Mulligan, a member of Irish Queers.
enough to make out a prima facie case of depraved indifference.” Judge Eugene Pigott, Jr., dissented, contending that a felony charge could be sustained. Given that Williams was aware of his HIV status, failed to inform the other man, and then took the condom away from him despite knowing of his concern about infection, “at the very least… defendant acted with ‘wanton cruelty, brutality, or callousness’ and ‘utter indifference’ to the victim’s fate.” Williams’ subsequent remorse was irrelevant, Pigott concluded; his state of mind at the time of the unprotected sex was the relevant consideration. The court should not substitute its judgment for that
of the grand jury, which, he noted, received conflicting evidence on the “grave risk of death issue,” which in his view was “legally sufficient” to establish that such risk exists. The Court of Appeals’ action means the district attorney can proceed with the reduced charge of second-degree reckless endangerment as well as the original third-degree assault charge. Unless Williams contests the prosecution’s factual case, it’s likely the two sides will seek a plea bargain. Given District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick’s obvious commitment to pursuing this matter, however, it’s unlikely he would offer Williams any deal that doesn’t involve prison time.
HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AI S HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS ARE YOU POSITIVE (+)? VDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS H KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. V/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AID HIVHIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS HIV People living with HIV/AIDS are protected by the New York State Human Rights Law. Discrimination based on your HIV status is against the law. Take action. Contact the New York State Division of Human Rights. 1-888-392-3644 or WWW.DHR.NY.GOV. This advertisement is funded by the New York State Department of Health, AIDS institute.
What is STRIBILD? STRIBILD is a prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before. STRIBILD 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? STRIBILD can cause serious side effects: • 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. • 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.
• 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.
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? Serious side effects of STRIBILD may also include: • 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. • 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. 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.
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.
March 05 - 18, 2015 | 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 itâ€™s right for you.
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
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?
• STRIBILD is a prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before. STRIBILD can also be used to replace current HIV-1 medicines for some adults who have an undetectable viral load (less than 50 copies/mL of virus in their blood), and have been on the same HIV-1 medicines for at least 6 months and have never failed past HIV-1 treatment, and whose healthcare provider determines that they meet certain other requirements. • STRIBILD is a complete HIV-1 medicine and should not be used with any 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. 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 • 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 Who should not take STRIBILD? 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®) • midazolam, when taken by mouth • 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 elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, or tenofovir (Atripla®, Complera®, Emtriva®, Truvada®, Tybost®, Viread®, Vitekta®) • Other medicines that contain lamivudine or ritonavir (Combivir®, Epivir® or Epivir-HBV®, Epzicom®, Kaletra®, Norvir®, Triumeq®, Trizivir®) STRIBILD is not for use in people who are less than 18 years old. 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.
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
• 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. 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 doctor 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 over-the-counter 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®)
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
- medicines that contain dexamethasone - diazepam (Valium®) - 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 - 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: December 2014
COMPLERA, EMTRIVA, GILEAD, the GILEAD Logo, GSI, HEPSERA, STRIBILD, the STRIBILD Logo, TRUVADA, TYBOST, VIREAD, and VITEKTA 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. © 2015 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. STBC0153 01/15
BY MICHAEL SHIREY
teve Grand may well have felt that lightning struck. In July 2013, the songwriter, singer, piano player, and guitarist from the Chicago suburbs released a self-produced debut single, “All American Boy,” that went viral in a matter of days. The country-infused song soon scored him appearances on “Good Morning America,” CNN, and Larry King’s on-demand TV interview show. The momentum of “All American Boy” allowed Grand — who turned 25 this past weekend — to amass a huge following (he dubs them his GrandFam), which embraced his next single, a catchy summer anthem titled “Stay” released later the same year. The music business being what it is today, even that splashy start did not lead to a recording label contract. Instead, last February, Grand launched a Kickstarter campaign along with his third single, a ballad about a young gay man’s friendship with a young woman titled “Back to California.” Once again, he proved himself a breakout. His Kickstarter raised more than $300,000 — the fourth highest haul for a music project in the fundraising website’s history. Now, a year later, Steve Grand is ready to make good on his pledge and release his fulllength debut album, titled “All American Boy.” At a Valentine’s Day concert at SubCulture on Bleecker Street, Grand gave his fans a sneak peek of what to expect from the album, along with a few covers, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Gay City News caught up with him after the show. Asked about highlights from the past year, Grand talked first about the rewarding relationship he’s built with fans. “Being a songwriter is all about connecting people — to experiences and to each other,” he said. The personal messages he gets from his GrandFam fans all over the country, he explained, are hands down the best part of his musical journey so far. The buzz surrounding Grand’s sudden fame led some to term him the first gay male country star, and that meant he was inevitably talked up as a queer role model. Grand made clear that while he didn’t seek that out, it’s something he’s comfortable with and takes very seriously. “I’m so happy with and so humbled by the fact that there are people out there who have welcomed me with open arms and who appreciate what I do,” he said. “Being someone who is seen as representing the community — even if that isn’t something I asked for by default — and as someone who is an openly gay artist who
Steve Grand is a 25-year-old songwriter and musician from the Chicago suburbs.
sings about openly gay themes… people have this expectation of me, whether fair or not, that I should represent them.” Grand also understands he can’t please everyone. But he seems confident that being true to his music and to himself can only yield positive results. “I really do care about what I do, I really know that my heart is in the right place — I care about being a uniter and about making people’s voices heard,” he said. “I care about that young kid, who’s just like me, growing up in a small town, who feels like they have no one to look up to and feels like they have no gay person in media, entertainment, or politics who represents them. I know that I have done that for some people and that makes it worth it for me.” During his SubCulture show, Grand took a break from singing to give a shout out to a group from Lambda Legal, and he acknowledges those who came before him and “cleared a trail” allowing him to do what he does today. Mentioning Harvey Milk and Edie Windsor, he said, “It is easy for young gay people of today to forget where we come from because we are not all taught gay history in our high schools. It is up to us to really educate ourselves.” Grand also mentioned President Barack Obama as a source of inspiration for his “true American Dream story, from what he has come from and what he has been able to accomplish.”
STEVE GRAND "All American Boy" Released Mar. 24 stevegrand.com
For Grand, talking about his job as a musician seems a lot more interesting than responding to some of the other attention he’s received lately. Asked how he felt being recently named one of Out magazine’s Most Eligible Bachelors — hardly a surprising nod given his model looks and body — he laughed, saying it was all good but he hoped that “at the end of it all, my greatest achievements will be more than that.” Grand was also coy about whether, in fact, he qualified in the category, saying that while folks have “assumed” he’s single, he’s never made any official announcement about his relationship status. And, forthcoming as he was with Gay City News, he didn’t seem willing to let this newspaper clear up that question. “All American Boy” will be released on March 24, and as he discussed the album, Grand made an effort to put some distance between himself and the typical country artist. Billy Joel and
AMERICAN DREAM, continued on p.28
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Oscar” Winning, But Not for Best Score
A Wilde production in Philadelphia presented with loving care, but no shades of gray
t is never a happy task to criticize a work which is created out of love for the best artistic and social reasons by gifted people — but good intentions do not automatically make great art. (As well, great artists are not always great or even good human beings outside of their talent.) Theodore Morrison’s “Oscar,” an operatic treatment of the fall, imprisonment, and posthumous rise of Oscar Wilde, premiered in Santa Fe in 2013. Opera Philadelphia gave the work its East Coast premiere this February in a revised version. John Cox’s literate libretto has been derided as a hagiography. This Wilde is an adorable sweetheart who evolves from man of principle to tragic victim to posthumous divinity alongside Walt Whitman in a literary Parnassus at the final tableau. The less savory aspects of Wilde’s character — his snobbery, narcissistic sense of entitlement, and hypocrisy — are not explored. Wilde refuses to flee England because his proud mother told him it would be cowardly and because it is nobler and more beautiful to stay. Wilde is positioned as a martyr, victim, and eventual saint without shades of gray. Similarly, Wilde’s friends and defenders Frank Harris and Ada Leverson never waver in their virtuous support while his nemeses, prison warden Colonel Henry B. Isaacson and Judge Sir Alfred Wills, are all black-hearted villainy straight out of a Victorian melodrama. Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, a silent role danced by Reed Luplau, is more symbol than human being — an ideal of romantic gay love that morphs into a seductive death figure — a homme fatale suggesting that Wilde has a masochistic death wish that isn’t otherwise portrayed. The Marquess of Queensberry and the barristers at Wilde’s trial for gross indecency are absent from the dramatis personae. Whitman, GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
KELLY & MASSA/ OPERA PHILADELPHIA
BY ELI JACOBSON
Reed Luplau and David Daniels in Theodore Morrison’s “Oscar,” performed by Opera Philadelphia.
who briefly met Wilde on his 1881 American lecture tour, acts as narrator, filling us in on those pesky biographical details while delivering plot exposition. Morrison’s Britten-inspired score is competently crafted but works moment to moment commenting on the action and underlining the text. The vocal lines and orchestral textures fail to create another dimension to the drama and characters or build into larger musical structures. In many respects, his music functions like a film score: stabbing chords or nervous strings underscore crucial actions or character revelations but in and of themselves they are undistinguished and indistinguishable. Morrison’s background as a composer of art song contributes to a few extended ariosos, which, like the rest of the score, are congenial to the voice. The text emerges clearly and the vocal lines flatter the singers. If the tone of the drama is either black or white, the orchestral color is monochromatically gray — unrelentingly somber and spare. Every other element is working on a high level of artistry and infused with deep commitment and honesty. Countertenor David Daniels has been a prime mover in the creation of this opera and plays the title role with deep compassion, singing better than he
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OSCAR, continued on p.32
(5th Ave & Broadway) 2nd Floor
Relations, Revival, Regrets
BRIGHT HALF LIFE Women’s Project at New York City Center 131 W. 55th St. Through Mar. 22 Tue.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 3:30 p.m. $65; nycitycenter.org Or 212-581-1212 One hr., no intermission
Relationship insights from Women’s Project; classic soars at the Mint; a Keen misfire BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
FASHIONS FOR MEN
he fragile, fragmented story of a lesbian couple’s 25-year r e la t ion sh ip is t h e focus of Tanya Bar field’s “Bright Half Life,” now at the Women’s Project. Told in overlapping scenes, which the playwright describes as “kaleidoscopic,” we see the relationship from inception to dissolution to a kind of resolution. The clarity and the economy of the writing takes us into the world and hearts of Erica and Vicky. “Bright Half Life” brilliantly balances details like the couple’s ability to get married and their parenting life full of skydiving and Ferris wheel rides with other ups and downs in a story of two people struggling to make a life together. Barfield set a high bar for herself in structuring the play as fast-pace vignettes that flash like piecemeal memories before the audience — an approach that in less sure hands could be muddy and confusing. Here, every moment of the relationship is crystal clear, and under the direction of Leigh Silverman, every moment lands and resonates, accumulating over a
Rebecca Henderson and Rachel Holmes in Tanya Barfield’s “Bright Half Life,” at the Women’s Project through March 22.
swift 60 minutes to be a surprisingly detailed chronicle of Erica and Vicky’s relationship. Rachel Holmes as Vicky and Rebecca Henderson as Erica are extraordinary in managing the lightning-fast transitions while giving their characters the depth that makes us care for them and their relationship at every turn, from hilarious mattress shopping to more poignant and painful passages. Rachel Hauck’s spare, metallic set, Jennifer Schriever’s lighting, and Bart Fasbender’s sound design are all essential elements of this
production’s success in telling a simple, powerful, and touching tale.
With the beautifully crafted, perfectly cast, and elegantly staged revival of Ferenc Molnár’s “Fashions for Men,” the Mint Theater delivers a charming and deliciously entertaining evening, among the best you’ll find on stage to warm this biting winter. Dorothy Parker in her review of the original 1922 production was so irritated by this story of a good man who, surrounded by connivers, ultimately prevails, that she wished a
Mint Theater 311 W. 43rd St. Through Mar. 29 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $27.50-$65; ovationtix.com Or 866-811-4111 Two hrs., 40 mins. with two intermissions
piece of heavy scenery to fall on the main character. Parker, however, made a career of being acidic, and in 2015, with the world perhaps too full of grifters and manipulators, this gentle, well-crafted story is a hopeful counterbalance, if not an antidote, to the venality and corruption around us. This neatly constructed tale brings to mind Oscar Wilde’s observation, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is the meaning of fiction.” It’s also the nature of escapist entertainment — and why we enjoy it so much.
FASHIONS, continued on p.28
Buoyant musical celebrates finding your inner superhero — in you know what outer borough BY DAVID KENNERLEY
ove over Gotham, there’s a hip new hangout for superheroes: Brooklyn. At least that’s the conceit behind “Brooklynite,” the affable musical crafted by Peter Lerman, who wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book with Michael Mayer (“Hedwig”), who also directs. Ripped from the pages of your favorite comic books, the witty piece features six superheroes created when an asteroid crashed into Gowanus. A zippy number at the top of the show introduces these awesome mutants, based on characters dreamed up by Michael Chabon (author
of the comic-book themed “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”) and his novelist wife, Ayelet Waldman. There’s El Fuego (Andrew Call), a short-order cook morphed into a master of fire; Blue Nixie (Grace McLean), once a marine biologist who now controls the oceans; Kid Comet (Gerard Canonico), a bike messenger who’s become the fastest dude alive; and the elusive Captain Clear (voiced by Max Chernin), a file clerk given a cloak of invisibility. The black sheep of the bunch is the burly, tough-talking Avenging Angelo (Nick Cordero) with a thick Bensonhurst accent, once an unemployed gamer whose only super skill is to locate open parking spaces. The multi-powered,
winsome leader is Astrolass (Nicolette Robinson), a former middle school student who, after a decade of fighting crime, is ready to call it quits. The goofy plot revolves around Trey (an appealing Matt Doyle, of “Book of Mormon”), a mild-mannered hardware store clerk in Park Slope secretly synthesizing Brooklynite, a kind of anti-Kryptonite. The crystal will give him the superpowers he needs to avenge the deaths of his mother and father, gunned down in the store a few years ago. Somehow, lemon squares figure prominently into the plan. The diametric forces of Trey, who yearns to become a superhero, and Astrolass, who
GEEK, continued on p.25
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Flash of Brilliance James Lecesne brings his novel about a gay teen gone missing vividly to life BY DAVID KENNERLEY
THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKEY
fter seeing “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” James Lecesne’s gripping solo show recounting the tragic disappearance of a flamboyant gay teen in a tiny Jersey Shore town, I was compelled to research the case online. The details of the incident and characters were portrayed so vividly, I was convinced the story was real, though, come to think of it, I didn’t recall any media coverage. Turns out it’s a work of fiction. The richly articulated piece is actually based on Lecesne’s successful young adult novel, “Absolute Brightness,” published a few years back. Under the thoughtful direction of Tony Speciale, the charismatic Lecesne, who has written and performed other solo shows, like “Word of Mouth,” slips effortlessly among an assortment of oddball, deeply etched personas. First we meet a gruff, hardboiled detective named Chuck who heads the investigation. He’s a bit of an anomaly himself — one minute he refers to a beautiful woman as a “dame,” the next he’s quoting Shakespeare. Then Lecesne shifts to Ellen, the 14-year -old boy’s reluctant guardian (his parents are long gone) who runs a beauty salon, and then to Phoebe, her smartass daughter.
We also meet a swishy drama teacher named Buddy, a gossipy woman with binoculars watching the police drag the lake, a kindly proprietor of a clock repair shop, and a young brute who bullied Leonard, among other locals. Characters are skillfully delineated with accents, facial contortions, gestures, and postures — and the occasional pair of glasses. No wigs or costume changes required. If the mystery of Leonard’s vanishing drives the plot, it’s the impact of his absence that’s truly compelling. As described by admiring townsfolk, the boy was hyper-creative and stubborn and a little too in-your-face. After all, he was prone to wearing pink and green plaid Capri pants and dancing like Britney Spears. Yet he was also courageous and a “luminous force of nature.” All the more poignant that his light was not fully appreciated until he was gone. Although Buddy praises Leonard’s “theatrical” behavior, he worries it makes the boy a target. “I’m afraid out and about they take a dimmer view of his brighter qualities,” he laments. Not surprisingly, Leonard refused to “tone it down.” He would even serve up fashion tips to the biddies in the beauty salon and they were grateful for it. One woman he befriended was uneasy about his willfulness. “He told me if he stopped being himself then the terrorists would win,” she said.
James Lecesne in “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” his solo show based on his young adult novel and directed by Tony Speciale.
It’s no surprise that, in tribute to the lost boy, detective Chuck quotes Hamlet: “This above all— to thine own self be true.” Was it a hate crime or a case of “gay panic” or suicide? Soon, the mystery of what happened to Leonard is solved, though the question of why is not fully answered. The script is sharp and stimulating. Granted, there are passages that feel melodramatic, even didactic. But remember, the piece is based on a story largely geared to young adults. Lecesne, as it happens, is no stranger to teen trauma. He is co-founder of the T revor Project, the leading national group focused on suicide prevention and awareness among LGBTQ youth. His groundbreaking short film, “Trevor,” about a troubled gay teen, won an Oscar in 1995.
Dixon Place 161A Chrystie St. btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Through Mar. 28: schedule varies $18; dixonplace.org or 212-219-0736 Eighty mins., no intermission And while Leonard Pelkey may not be a real person, he is a stand-in for the countless teens who were, or still are, mercilessly bullied for daring to be different and facing a tragic end. “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey,” now playing at Dixon Place, the exceptional lab for performing and literary artists, features moody incidental music from none other than Duncan Sheik, who scored “Spring Awakening.” The drama is enhanced with projected images (by Matthew Sandager) of key items like Leonard’s handcrafted rainbow-hued platform sneakers, a schoolbag, and an antique pocket watch. There’s even a shot of Leonard himself, except, as taken by Phoebe on her cell phone, it is blurry — we can only make out a hint of blond hair and blue eyes. With the aid of the supremely gifted Lecesne, we begin to fill in the portrait in our minds until it becomes a fully highres, heart-wrenching image.
GEEK, from p.24
GEEK, continued on p.28
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
dreams of being an ordinary Brooklynite, are wonderfully evoked. Naturally, these opposites attract, and the comic caper becomes in part a love story. There’s also a romantic subplot between El Fuego and a reluctant Blue Nixie. “I’ve seen how you burn through girls and I will not be another shish on your kebab,” she says, during one of the more clever exchanges. The crime-controlled utopia of Brooklyn is shattered when Astrolass departs and Angelo goes rogue, forming a gang that terrorizes the borough. Sporting a shiny new black pleather outfit, he aims to steal Trey’s Brooklynite for evil Nick Cordero and Nicollete Robinson in Peter Lerman and Michael Mayer’s “Brooklynite,” at the Vineyard through March 29.
A Magician Challenging Magical Thinking James “The Amazing” Randi takes pride in being an honest liar BY GARY M. KRAMER
GARY M. KRAMER: “An Honest Liar" is all about deception, which the film explains can conceal or reveal the truth. You practice it for entertainment purposes, Randi. What can you say about your work versus those charlatans you expose? JAMES “THE AMAZING” RANDI: Magicians are honest folks — they deceive you the same way an actor fools you. I am an actor as a magician. I play the part of a magician. If you see “Hamlet” and at the end of the play the actor said, “I really am a prince of Denmark,” you would be insulted. But there are folks who say they can look at the stars and tell you the name of your firstborn. Why do people believe one thing and not the other? The psychics don’t say, “I’m going to fool you.” They say, “I’m in touch with Jesus, the spirits, and can see the future and the past.” They take money under false pretenses, and cripple people by causing them mental anguish and deceiving them, with-
here’s a sucker born every minute, perhaps, but there are all too few people who try to expose the swindlers, charlatans, and con men who deceive them. Magician James “The Amazing” Randi, the subject of the fantastic documentary “An Honest Liar,” is one such debunker. Directors Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein show how Randi relentlessly challenged the fake psychic and paranormal claims of folks including mentalist Uri Geller and faith healer Peter Popoff, who use trickery to con people. Co-director Justin Weinstein knew about Randi from seeing him on TV on programs such as “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “Happy Days,” and the children’s show “Wonderama.” He said in a recent Skype interview, “I knew who Randi was and about his mission as a skeptical magician. It influenced me as a kid.” The filmmaker explained that making a documentary on Randi appealed to him because he was interested in “how people could believe things that were demonstratively untrue.” He also admired Randi because, “He knows how to tell a good story; he’s a showman. But he is doing that in the service of being a truth-teller.” Randi, who came out at age 81, says, “It is only okay to fool people if you teach them a lesson to show them how the real world works.” When the film reveals a surprising real-world stunner, the film’s message about being taught lessons becomes particularly powerful. Gay City News spoke via Skype with Randi and his partner, artist José Alvarez.
James “The Amazing” Randi and artist José Alvarez.
out care if they harm them. Tell them to throw away their medicine as Popoff did. JOSÉ ALVAREZ: People turn to folks like Popoff because they are desperate and think they have no choice. They will try anything, and that’s when these evil people come and take advantage of it. It’s not a lack of intelligence of the victims; they are at a moment in their lives when they want to have their spirits uplifted. They need to believe. GMK: José, as the film shows, you worked with Randi by pretending to be a channeler named Carlos. What can you say about your experiences with his hoax, which was perpetrated in Australia? JA: It was done as a vehicle not for duping people, but for the purpose of empowering or informing them about a charismatic figure and how you need to challenge people’s claims — how easy it could be done. It took on a life of its own. It was a hyper-reality. For me, that was what was so revealing — the power of the medium. These folks never heard of Carlos outside of TV, but seeing their faces and how they were not questioning me was shocking. They were enthralled in their own narratives of wanting to believe whoever is on stage. JR: The reaction in Australia was excellent. We said we’d reveal it when the time came. JA: It’s interesting that at the same time, the reporters put in the hot seat [by the hoax] got very upset about the project. But they are putting people in that hot seat and questioning them, so the same dynamics should be applied to them! GMK: Randi, you indicate in the film that people do not want straightforward facts, but
AN HONEST LIAR Directed by Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein Abramorama Opens Mar. 6 Landmark Sunshine Cinema 143 E. Houston St. btwn. First & Second Aves. landmarktheatres.com
would rather have romance and lies. Do you, even with your skepticism, ever find yourself swept up wanting to believe something, or taking something on faith? JR: I’m willing to take things as they come. I’m not afraid of the truth as reality. I don’t have wishful thinking. I’m pretty free of that. Look me in the eye and tell me. I’m a professional magician and have been for all of my life. I know how things are done. The signs are right there. I’ve never had a problem solving how they do their psychic tricks. JA: There’s a lack of understanding, of critical thinking about how things should work. JR: I am an atheist because I kept asking for proof. The Bible wasn’t enough proof for me. They didn’t have the answers that satisfy me, and I didn’t find any evidence that a 2,000-year old story was true. I have belief in the basic goodness of our species. There are some evil folks, though. Look at the news. But you have to have bravery and courage to face the world as it is. You got to have G-U-T-S.
HONEST, continued on p.29
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Sex Is Scary David Robert Mitchell tells a tale of teen anxiety and a contagious monster
PLAY DINE UNWIND Over 5,000 Games. Minutes Away!
Maika Monroe in David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows.”
BY STEVE ERICKSON
avid Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows” takes the sexual anxiety from John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and lifts it from subtext to subject matter. A return to the body-horror pioneered by David Cronenberg but missing from Cronenberg’s past few films, it riffs on the anxiety created by STDs. Mitchell made his name with “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” a relatively realistic film about Midwestern teenagers, and there’s nothing in “It Follows” that betrays or sells out his debut. Most Hollywood films set in high school, with their rigid divisions of classmates into jocks, nerds, stoners, etc., are barely recognizable as taking place in America, but Mitchell continues to offer a believable depiction of teenagers. At the same time, “It Follows” does not necessarily take place in a realistic version of the present day. Its characters consume porn only in magazine form, not on the Internet. In fact, the Inter-
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
IT FOLLOWS Directed by David Robert Mitchell Radius-TWC Opens Mar. 13 Film Society of Lincoln Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc net is never mentioned at all. They watch black and white monster movies on a boxy, square TV. Cell phones are never seen. You could call Mitchell’s project retro, but it’s definitely post-HIV. The opening scene sets up a sense of danger and mystery immediately. A young woman walks down suburban streets, running away from an unseen force. After a cut, her dead, bloody body lies on a beach. Back in the suburban Midwest, teenage Jay (Maika Monroe) is dating Hugh (Jake Weary.) Their town is hip enough to have a repertory theater. Following sex in Hugh’s car,
SCARY, continued on p.29
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AMERICAN DREAM, from p.22
Kurt Rhoads and Joe Delafield in Ferenc Molnár’s “Fashions for Men,” at the Mint through March 29.
FASHIONS, from p.24
Set in downtown Budapest in the early part of the 20th century amidst Hungary’s emerging middle class, the story concerns a young shop owner, Peter, whose fatal flaw is his compassion for others and his insistence on always doing the right thing, even when that goes against his self-interest. Through various twists and turns, he loses his shop, regains it, and when the curtain falls may be on the way to a happy ending. The story’s comic warmth comes, in large measure, from how maddening Peter’s goodness is to the morally bankrupt around him. Molnár crafted this play so well that it’s difficult to tell if he considers Peter a fool or not. That’s for you to decide, but I’m willing to air my
GEEK, from p.25
and shift the power nexus to, of all places, Murray Hill in Manhattan. Expectations for this intentionally crafty, low-tech production are particularly high. After all, the Vineyard was an incubator for such sensations as “Avenue Q,” “[title of show],” and “The Scottsboro Boys,” all of which transferred to Broadway. Does “Brooklynite,” with its profusion of local in-jokes that may sail over the heads of tourists, have the right stuff? What makes the endeavor so captivating is the racially diverse, Broadway-caliber ensemble, boosted by Andrea Lauer’s bright span-
reason. The track’s seize-the-day message of hope pulls together not only the album’s overall theme but his rise as a musical artist, as well. March 24 may well be just the start of a lot more we’ll be hearing from Steve Grand. Steve Grand will be playing in New York City March 6 at a yet to be determined location. For further information, visit goo.gl/RtNrRp.
dissent from Ms. Parker’s scorn. Peter’s consistent humanity in the face of adversity — implausible as it might seem — is appealing. And without the willing suspension of disbelief, who would ever enjoy the theater? Davis McCallum has directed with clarity and sensitivity and manages to make this period piece feel immediate and contemporary. The sets by Daniel Zimmerman and costumes by Martha Hally are wonderfully rich. The cast is likewise tremendous. Joe Delafield as the put-upon Peter is charming and believable. Rachel Napoleon as Paula, a manipulator who can’t overcome her inherent goodness, delivers a deceptively rich performance. Kurt Rhoads as the Count who woos Paula and has no patience with what he sees as Peter’s angelic nature, has perfect comic timing to complement his bombast. The supporting cast all play recognizable comic types, and they do that with originality and precision.
“John & Jen,” Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald’s 1993 song cycle, is being revived by Keen Company. The only rational response is, “Why?” The story of a brother and sister and later a mother and son is a tedious celebration of neurosis and narcissism with a healthy dose of co-dependency thrown in just for good measure. Act One is all about a brother and sister, John and Jen, growing up in the 1950s in an abusive household and pledging to support one another. They grow apart, Jen becomes bohemi-
dex costumes. My favorite by far is Cordero, whose Angelo shifts easily from crime-fighter to victim to villain with scenery-chewing gusto. It’s easy to see why he was hailed as the best thing in “Bullets Over Broadway” last season. Angelo establishes headquar ters in a warehouse in Red Hook. “Oh yeah, we booted out the artists. No loss. The work was derivative anyway,” he scoffs, an apt poke at the neighborhood's rampant gentrification. How fitting that Lerman won the 2010 Jonathan Larson Award. Like the uber-talented young Larson, he has a knack for writing bold pop-rock songs with a gritty,
Elton John, he said, are big musical influences because they made piano “cool and sexy.” Elsewhere, he’s mentioned his love of the Beatles, particularly John Lennon. And, to be sure, “All American Boy” is much more than just a collection of country croon tunes. The patriotic “Red, White and
Blue” and the comical “Whiskey Crime” certainly fit the country genre well, but Grand also throws some more traditional rock songs, like “Loving Again,” “Better Off,” and “Run.” Welcome surprises are the album’s dance tracks — particularly the Lady Gaga-inspired “We Are the Night.” Grand named “Time” his favorite song off the album — and for good
Steve Grand’s debut album will be released on March 24.
JOHN & JEN Keen Company at the Clurman 410 W. 42nd St. Through Apr. 4 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $69.25; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., with intermission
an, and John is killed in Vietnam. Wake up; there’s more. In Act Two, Jen is divorced and has a son named John and a pathological devotion to her brother’s memory that cripples her son. Were each of the events in these stories not so trite or obvious, this might work — as another song cyle, “The Last Five Years,” does so well — but instead it is obvious and heavy-handed. Lippa’s music is opaque and mechanical and Greenwald’s lyrics are, at best, immature. Happily, the production is partially salvaged by fine performances from Kate Baldwin and Conor Ryan. These truly gifted and master ful singers salve the wounds inflicted by this self-indulgent piece. Ryan, in particular, has a range and technique that is consistently impressive. Both actors deserve much better, as do audiences.
contemporary flair. The lively choreography is by Steven Hoggett. Not that the funny but frivolous “Brooklynite” couldn’t use some recalibrating. Some jokes just don’t land, especially those concerning Captain Clear. Cutting this weightless character would give the others more room to soar. Admittedly, I don’t possess the requisite superpowers to know if the musical will make the leap to Broadway in a single bound. I suspect, however, that it could enjoy a healthy life at New World Stages, the Off Broadway home of similar crowd-pleasers geared to younger audiences, like “Avenue Q.” And if the smart, char ming
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HONEST, from p.26
GMK: Speaking of courage, you came out at age 81. What prompted that? JR: I was fortunate to see “Milk.” That film affected me a great deal. I didn’t find any real
SCARY, from p.27
Hugh smothers Jay with a choloform-soaked rag. She wakes up tied to a chair. He explains that he’s given her a sexually transmitted monster. “It” is a phantom that slowly walks toward its victims, sometimes taking the shape of friends. It can only be defeated by having sex with another person, passing the phantom along to another victim. The theme of sexual anxiety isn’t the only thing Mitchell took from “Halloween.” Mitchell, like Carpenter, shot in widescreen. He knows how to use small corners of the frame to generate suspense. Many recent American horror films clumsily thrust ghosts or monsters into the background of the image for a cheap scare; typically, the audience
necessity before then. When I was a teen, if you came out you’d be ostracized. You didn’t think about it. Things changed. I’m fully grown up now. The film inspired me. JA: We were watching “Milk,” and it was a powerful film. I remember that Randi was very
can see them, but the characters can’t. Mitchell doesn’t cheat that way. He frequently uses long shots in which the actors are scattered around a landscape, all the better for someone to frighten them. He relies on Steadicam to track them and isn’t afraid to go for shots many filmmakers would reject as overly showy, like 360-degree pans. A lengthy scene near the end, set at a swimming pool, recalls Dario Argento in its beautiful use of color. “Halloween” killed off a group of sexually active teenage girls, leaving only a virginal “final girl” (to use a term created by film theorist Carol Clover, who has written on horror films and gender) to face villain Michael Myers. In retrospect, while Carpenter may not have set out to create such a prudish template, he was a terrible
pensive. The following day, he handed me a piece of paper and said, “Read this.” It was his coming out letter. It shocked me. I said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” He said, “Yes, I am.” I also think that he was thinking about how his whole life was about truth-telling.
influence on the dozens of slasher films that followed in the wake of “Halloween” but lacked its artistry. Cronenberg ‘s early films were criticized both by conservatives and feminists. Right now, “It Follows” has a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ll see if that persists, because its treatment of sex is bound to rub some spectators the wrong way. However, one doesn’t need to be a prude to feel nervous around sex, as the scene where it appears that Hugh is about to rape Jay shows. Unlike most slasher movies, “It Follows” has a great deal of affection for its characters, sexually active or not. It has no “final girl.” There’s no solitary hero(ine); instead, a group of friends, male and female, gather around Jay to protect her. The idea of a collective hero is very rare in American
cinema. Similarly, there’s no single villain. As in Carpenter’s “The Thing,” which some have inter preted as a very early AIDS allegory, it’s constantly mutating and changing form. You can only know it by its single-minded determination to follow. The ending of “It Follows” is a bit unsatisfying, although I respect its intention to leave so many questions unanswered (which leaves the door open for a sequel if the film proves popular enough). I would’ve preferred a film that closed on the pool scene a few minutes earlier, which would’ve been even more ambiguous but includes a perfect final image. Nevertheless, “It Follows” manages to both take place in a believable world and depart from it in productive ways. Middle America has rarely seemed so scary.
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IN THE NOH
Two Fresh Voices Sheila Callaghan a playwright for our time; deejay Keith Price mines his stand-up roots BY DAVID NOH
always welcome a truly fresh and talented voice in the theater — they are all too rare, but Sheila Callaghan definitely is one. Her enthralling, ultra-glamorous, but equally deep play “Everything You Touch,” at the Cherry Lane, has at its center a complex, combative mother-daughter tale that takes us from the 1970s to the present (38 Commerce St., btwn. Barrow St. and Seventh Ave. S., through Mar. 29; rattlestick.org). It’s the story of Jess (Miriam Silverman), an overweight, unkempt computer programmer whose worlds-apart-from-her parents are a famous fashion designer, Victor (Christian Coulson), and his very bitter beauty of a muse, Esme (Tonya Glanz). Esme, now dying, set an impossibly high bar for her haplessly hungry daughter to attain. Callaghan nails the now mythic hedonistic but toxic fashion world of the 1970s with uncanny accuracy, especially considering she was born in ‘73. “That period felt like a little bit of the Wild West when you could still be a hero,” she told me. “There are so many artists now in the marketplace and it’s accessible now in a way that it wasn’t before, when I felt like there were still very few superstars. It was a fun arena to play in, with high dramatics.” The other half of the play is set in 2015, where Jess comes across as a sympathetically schlubby Manhattan Everywoman of today. “I feel like she’s sort of like my inner voice,” Callaghan laughed, “the person who is measuring herself up to a standard that she didn’t prescribe for herself, figuring out how she fits in. Having a damaging upbringing of course doesn’t help her being able to identify herself in a world of people she’s not feeling herself a match for, physically or even emotionally. I had a kind of difficult upbringing, and I’m not a size one woman and can’t wear most of what comes off the runway.” Silverman gives a beautifully empathetic performance as Jess. “We had some conversations about Jess, because we had several larger women come in,” she said. “They were comfortable with their bodies and had a lack of vulnerability, and that was a beautiful choice and interesting. But Jess didn’t need to be big, she just needed to feel big, and we had padding for that, anyway. Miriam wasn’t a bigger girl, but she had this kind of beautiful vulnerability that suited the charac-
Miriam Silverman and Christian Coulson in Sheila Callaghan’s “Everything You Touch,” directed by Jessica Kubzansky.
ter. It was more important that we got the yearning, that longing kind of thing, than it was to get the size. “Our Victor walked in the door and he was it, immediately,” Callaghan said. “Just the right size, depth, humor. Perfect.” The character of Victor is a little maddening because when he reappears in Jess’ life, you wonder if he is real or a figment of her imagination, something that bothered a lot of the more clueless critics who used this to totally dismiss the play out of hand. “Victor — well, I mean Jess needed some sort of moral support before she went on her journey of self,” Callaghan explained. “So he’s a number of different kinds of things incarnated in one entity. He’s as real as he needs to be. “I’ve never been the kind of person who gets a lot of good reviews across the board. It makes me sad a little bit, but I’m working in a hybrid form — half realism and half fantasy. People want it to be one or another or they just want some very solid ideas they can hang something on. It’s not the vein I like to work in and it’s not what I like to shop the theater for. Everybody’s experience is going to be different, which is sort of what I like about the theater.” Callaghan excels in her rich expressive dialogue, particularly when her characters are in attack mode (“Your ass is like two trash bags filled with sadness”). The result makes the tired, monotonous, empty vituperation of the overrat-
ed film “Whiplash” pale by comparison. The “c word” is flung about and I’d always wanted to ask a female writer about that term, which they constantly use in Britain but still draws politically correct gasps here. “I think it’s silly when words are given that much power,” Callaghan responded. “I have a six-year-old kid and he’s not allowed to use curse words around the house, mainly because of other people’s reactions. I don’t want him to think words are scary. “When I was a kid I told my brother to eat me and my mother literally made me swallow a mouthful of soft soap to clean out my mouth. That was really disgusting and horrible and abusive, but what I also felt exciting about it was that there’s actually something in language that would make somebody react so horribly that they were pushed to an absolute limit because of just a couple of words. I don’t know that people are going to walk away from my play saying, ‘She said the ‘c-word.’ I think there are other arch things in the play that they’ll want to take apart. But I don’t know.” I asked Callaghan about the “difficult” background she had referred to: “I’m from Freehold, New Jersey, and my father owned a bar and was a little or a lot of an alcoholic and my mother had some drinking problems. I was adopted and I still talk to my mom. My dad died when I was in my early 20s, pretty traumatic. “I grew up in that bar, seeing a lot of things way too young. We lost our house, and I was the only one to be able to graduate college because I was on scholarship. A part of my writing is always about survival. My writing got me out of my house and New Jersey… I always wrote and when I was young, everybody around me kept journals, the girls and sensitive boys writing short stories and poems. That’s what you just did, and some people stopped and I didn’t understand why. This is fun!” Callaghan has a real writing career now, between her plays and television, where she wrote for “The United States of Tara,” the Showtime series that featured Toni Collette and John Corbett, and is now producer as well as writer of the series “Shameless,” with William H. Macy, also on Showtime. “I feel lucky,” she said. “It’s a good time for playwrights and TV because there’s a lot more need for good material — complete stories with a complete world — and we have more control of the language. But I’m one of those writers who do TV to continue to do theater, not vice-versa. I’m still a New Yorker, I just live in LA because my job is there. I have a six-year-old kid now and can no longer go around the country, getting all my money from teaching. I can’t afford New York anymore — have been driven out — but spend as much time as I can here while still trying to have a fucking life. When I was in my 20s I could be poor, but I’m not ready to inflict that on my child.”
PRICE, continued on p.31
March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PRICE, from p.30
Keith Price, big and bodaciously funny, is not only a welcome, very out presence on Sirius Radio (Out Q, channel 106; Mon.Fri., 7-11 a.m.), but a terrific live performer, as well. He has a new one-man show, “Ebony Chunky Love: Heartaches and Hard-Ons,” which he performs at the Duplex (61 Christopher St., Sheridan Sq., Mar. 27, 9:30 p.m.; theduplex. com) and other venues. I got him to sit his fierce ass down at the Hudson Diner, and dish he did, giving me the 411 not only about his show but other juicy topics. Margaret Cho and “Noah’s Arc” creator Patrick Ian-Polk, Price said, are pills to interview, and he also offered the opinion that the famous “Grey’s Anatomy” homophobia fracas between Isaiah Washington and T.R. Knight was a bit over-blown — and perhaps a tad deserved, as well. “This is not cabaret, this is more stand-up/ raconteur,” he said of his one-man. “The first show I did years ago was called ‘Ebony Chunky Love: Bitch Can’t Get a Date,’ and it was about why, being as fabulous as I assumed I was in my 30s, I was single. You do the self-exploration and realize it’s half your parents and half shit you gotta figure out on your own. At some point you can’t be responsible for how people deal with you, but you can be for what you put out there. “When I started doing that show, that was when I got the job at Sirius and my life went in another direction so I wasn’t able to do as much comedy as I would have liked. I had seen so many other people’s one-man shows, which were all the same thing — about when ‘I came out’ — and I had no intention of going backwards. I was having a convo with a friend, like you and I were just having about our boyfriends — ‘Gurl, he had the nerve, and then he said to me...’ and we were laughing, and that’s when she said to me, ‘Take that out on stage. We know you can tell a joke, do stand-up, but it’s all about getting to know you.’ “This show is called ‘Heartaches and Hard-Ons,” so by now I have processed some of the pain — from my father — and a lot of the trash and in an odd way found new rules GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
to live by, because basically I was a whore. Not every man was bad — there were a few that I wish woulda called again, now that I’m all loved up at this point. But I realized all that foolishness had a point to it, what Oprah says about learning something from every person you meet. I had to figure out what stories to tell — and there were a few to pick from [laughs]. But the question remains: did they ultimately lead me to the person I’m with, or did it just happen that I thought, ‘Well, you’re not too irritating,’ and the next thing you know we’re together six years?” Price was born in New York, but grew up in Galveston, Texas, part black and part Honduran, “in a very white place where they don’t like black or Latino. The most racist thing ever said to my face was in a gay bar. This guy I was standing nearby looked at the others in his group and said, ‘I don’t care if he hears me. I hate niggers!’ I said, ‘You know you need to be very careful about that because this is Texas, and if there’s one thing they hate more than niggers it’s faggots. Understand this, because if something goes down here, this nigger ain’t gonna be around to help you.” That shut him down, and his friends were so embarrassed, saying, ‘I can’t believe he said that!’” Price’s landing his Sirius gig was “a classic case of being at the right place at the right time and having a good attitude.” Invited onto Sirius by a straight comedian, who during the segment talked about not liking soap operas, “I made a silly comment, and Deejay Larry Flick heard me and laughed out loud, and then wanted to know who I was. We bonded over Erica Kane… Larry told me to be ready, because he may call me to audition.” That call came, and Price landed the job. “The first few months were really hard, because it was not like working in a club,” he recalled. “There were about 50-75 people watching and listening in the Starlight Lounge, and about three to four million people listening in their cars, trucks, offices, and at home. So things one can say in a comedy setting that people will find funny, sometimes did not land the same way in Tulsa. “I remember making a joke
about what would happen if a fire broke out at the children’s hospital [where he’d worked], what would I do? I said, jokingly, ‘Unless you threw those babies at me like a wide receiver, I guess there would be a whole lot of burnt up babies, because I am saving me.’ Now of course, I would never do that, but some idiot with no sense of humor made a call to someone upstairs and just could not believe that anyone would leave a baby to burn up in a building, and who wants to hear that on a gay station. I also dealt with ‘He sounds so gay!’ ‘He sounds too black!’ ‘He’s not black enough!’ ‘He’s not gay enough!’ Luckily, Larry was determined for me to stay and was in my corner. I learned how to not care too much what people say, to stay away from the message boards, and I also had to figure out how far the line is to express myself, without generating too much hate mail. Shit still happens now, but it is few and far between.” Asked who his best and worst interviews were, Price responded, “One of my all-time favorite guests was Joan Rivers. I idolized her
since my teenage years, when I started to really develop my sense of humor. She spoke to me in such a great way. In my show, I make a point of talking about her influence on me and how it truly did save my life. She was a legend and a class act. “As for the worst guest, we had a gay financial planner come on the show during the mortgage and the AIG madness, and he began the conversation with ‘Gays and their disposable incomes.’ He literally stayed in the studio for about five minutes and was then ceremoniously relieved of his time. We all looked at each other and went, ‘Who the fuck in this room has disposable income?’ “All in all, it has been a great turn that I did not expect to have happen, I have gotten to meet so many personal heroes, celebrities that I have always dreamt of meeting, and actually having a few of their numbers in my phone. I have to pinch myself some days.” Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com and check out his blog at http://nohway.wordpress.com.
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The Swan of Pesaro’s Highland Fling In Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago,” it’s the singing, especially DiDonato’s, that counts BY ELI JACOBSON
OSCAR, from p.23
has in years. The countertenor range robs Wilde of his earthier qualities but underscores his “otherness” which contributes to his downfall. If the vocal range is similar to Britten’s Oberon, the anguished solos suggest his Captain Vere in “Billy Budd.” Soprano Heidi Stober’s vocal radiance embodies Ada’s compassion and generosity. Tenor Wil-
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
he standard mid 20th century critical trope regarding Gioachino Rossini was that his genius was limited to opera buffa and his musical legacy would consist of the “The Barber of Seville” and the “William Tell Overture” (the latter due to the “Lone Ranger” television series). The last 40 years have been a journey of rediscovery, revealing an influential musical genius who composed operas in every genre. Rossini’s serious operas composed for Naples and Paris inspired Meyerbeer, Verdi, and Wagner and charted the future course of Romantic Opera in the 19th century. Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago” (1819) was adapted from “The Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott and is the prototype for all Romantic operas set in the mysterious wilds of Scotland — including Bellini’s “I Puritani (di Scozia)” and Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” (both also based on Scott). Lilting strings and floating woodwinds summon up misty moors while the brass and drum evoke the semi-primitive warlike spirit of the Scots. Rossini trots out one showstopper aria after another for five virtuoso singers interspersed with rousing choruses, florid duets, ornate trios, and complex finales. However the libretto of “La Donna del Lago” lacks onstage action and the characters are two-dimensional and do not evolve — they are puppets manipulated by outside events which occur offstage. The music moves but the story sits there — 19th century critic Henry Chorley called the static second act a “concert in costume.” Staging the opera actually does the piece no favors, given that modern directors have no feel for the lyric-idyllic Romantic genre of the piece. Paul Curran’s production (first seen in Santa Fe) conserves the original period setting with no attempt at romantic picturesque charm. Kevin Knight’s dark, glowering set consists of a central blasted heath flanked on either side by
Juan Diego Flórez and Joyce DiDonato in Rossini’s “La Donna del Lago.”
black wall of portals, with set pieces occasionally emerging from below or upstage. On a back scrim are grainy projections of mountains and bleak skies more suitable to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” than Romantic melodrama. The titular heroine Elena is supposed to enter floating on the lake in a skiff singing a lilting melody, but here Joyce DiDonato enters upstage center on foot and gathers some scraggly heather. There are attempts at realistic theatrical byplay that do not mesh with Rossini’s ornamental music and stylized dramaturgy. It is the music and especially the singing that counts here. DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez having been singing the lead roles all over Europe in various productions — often with John Osborn and Daniela Barcellona in tow. On the February 16 opening night, no one was in their best vocal form — a nervous Osborn dropped high and low notes while Barcellona’s juddering mezzo went in and out of focus all
liam Burden is a Britten as well as contemporary American opera specialist, and his Frank Harris bursts with positive energy and ebullient charm every moment he is onstage. Bass-baritone Wayne T igges brings a touch of John Claggart to the implacable, sadistic Colonel Isaacson. Dwayne Croft’s weathered but warm baritone brought a human touch to Whitman’s spoken and sung introductions. Ricardo Rivera and
night. DiDonato and Flórez needed most of the long first act to warm up. At the February 25 performance, DiDonato’s scrupulous musicianship and precise coloratura were wedded to alternately sunny and creamy high mezzo tones. Her spirited yet emotionally conflicted characterization creates a real woman out of romantic cliché. Flórez as King Giacomo (aka James V of Scotland), on the other hand, as always plays himself — the preening charmer flashing his trademark dimpled grin and brassy high C’s with cocky self-assurance. His timbre however, is rather blatant and opaque — often nasal and overly brash except when he floated a few beguiling mezza voce tones. It was in the second act aria “O fiamma soave” that Flórez found his suave seductive groove. Osborn at the third performance handled Rodrigo di Dhu’s three-part entrance aria with bravura command, capping it with a sustained final high C. He matched Flórez high C for high C in the Act II trio. As Elena’s true love Malcolm, Barcellona’s warmly Italianate mezzo lacks alto depth, brilliance on top, and precision in fast coloratura. The various vocal pieces seem to be there but never come together to give an authoritative reading. Knight costumes the tall and stocky Barcellona in a baggy kilt, long unkempt greasy locks, and an uncouth painted-on five o’clock shadow, creating a convincingly masculine but unprepossessing romantic hero. Oren Gradus as Elena’s father Douglas sounded like a comprimario in a star role — his rough bass lumbered through the florid sections and coarsened the legato phrases. Conductor Michele Mariotti opts for gently ambling lyrical tempos that rob the score of variety of tempo and color. However, DiDonato climaxes the evening with the rondo finale “Tanti Affetti” — a pyrotechnic display of coruscating scales punctuated with delicate trills, glittering staccato, and floated soprano high notes lighting up the gloomy ugly set and ending the opera on a triumphant high note.
Jarrett Ott shine in sympathetic smaller roles. Evan Rogister’s conducting never lets the score wander or lose tension. Kevin Newbury’s production is admirably focused and flexible. The shadowy recesses of Reading Gaol (designed by David Korins) loom in the background throughout, suggesting the inevitability of Wilde’s fate while the earlier scenes in the Leverson nursery are played in smaller set
pieces downstage. Opera Philadelphia did community outreach for this production, sponsoring an LGBT community night “Out at the Opera,” co-hosted with the William Way Community Center at the Academy of Music on February 13. Their sponsorship of “Oscar” shows praiseworthy commitment and pride — something reflected in the loving care displayed in every aspect of this production. March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | March 05 - 18, 2015
THU.MAR.5 BENEFIT Art Show on Park Avenue “The Arts Show on Park Avenue,” presented by the Art Dealers Association of America, includes solo, two-person, and thematic exhibitions from 72 of the nation’s leading galleries with work from artists including Constantin Brancusi, Tracey Emin, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Krasner, Pablo Picasso, Lorna Simpson, and Cy Twombly. The show benefits Henry Street Settlement’s social service, arts, and health care programs for New Yorkers in need. Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave. at E. 66th St. Mar. 5-6, noon-8 p.m.; Mar. 7, noon-7 p.m.; Mar. 8, noon5 p.m. Single day admission is $25 at henrystreet.org/artshow.
BOOKS Queer Working Folks & Their Rights
SAT.MAR.7 COMMUNITY A Decade of Pride in the Hudson Valley The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center celebrates its 10th anniversary with its annual Spring Gala — an eveing of cocktails, dinner, dancing, and auctions. The Grandview, 176 Rinaldi Blvd. near Pine St., Poughkeepsie. Mar. 7, 6-11 p.m. Tickets are $150; $75 for youths at lbtqcenter.org/ gala-2015-tickets.
CABARET Happy Days Are Here Again — And Again
92ND S TEMPLE UNIVERSITY PRESS TREET Y
Bluestockings Bookstore hosts the paperback launch of Miriam Frank’s “Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America.” Frank is joined by several of the labor activists profiled in the book. 172 Allen St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Mar. 6, 7 p.m.
DANCE Harkness Dance Festival The 2015 Harkness Dance Festival, “Stripped/ Dressed,” featuring dance companies as innovative as they are eclectic in programs that are curated by artist-in-residence Doug Varone, heads into its final three weekends. On Mar. 6-7, 8 p.m.; Mar. 8, 3 p.m., Vicky Shick Dance presents “Pathétique, Miniatures in Detail,” a very deliberate weaving together of sound, costume, and choreography, with company solos and duets complemented by Barbara Kilpatrick’s whimsical costumes and sound composition by Elise Kermani, mixed and performed live. On Mar. 13-14, 8 p.m.; Mar. 15, 3 p.m., a performance
Now in its fifth year, Rick Skye and Tommy Femia — named Best Duo of 2012 by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) — have extended their run of “Judy and Liza Together Again,” at Don’t Tell Mama through April. The mother-daughter team sing some of their personal favorites, including “Maybe This Time,” “New York, New York,” “Over the Rainbow” (sung movingly by Femia), and, in a powerhouse finale together, “Get Happy” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Femia, who has been performing Judy for 20 years at Don’t Tell Mama, is winner of seven individual MAC Awards. 343 W. 46th St. Mar. 7, 21 & 28; Apr. 4, 11 & 25, 8 p.m. The cover charge is $25 and there’s a twodrink minimum. Reservations at 212757-0788 or donttellmamanyc.com.
WED.MAR.11 THEATER Inside Tennessee Williams Writer and performer William Shuman delves into the personal world of a towering, brilliant, and tortured American playwright in “En Avant! An Evening with Tennessee Williams.” Drawn from Williams’ own journals and letters as well as writings about him, “En Avant!” recounts four major elements of his life: his family (including his schizophrenic sister lobotomized in 1943, his frigid mother, and his verbally abusive father), his three most important lovers, his seminal works, and his battle with inner demons. Stage 72 at the Triad, 158 W.
THU.MAR.12 PERFORMANCE Celebrating Women in the Bronx The Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance presents its 15th annual BAAD!Ass Women Festival, celebrating the empowerment of women through art, culture, and performance in evenings of dance, theater, film, poetry, and more.The festival opens Mar. 12, 7 p.m., with a free evening titled, “Les Histoires D’Lesbian Amour/ The Stories of Lesbian Love,” featuring writers and artists Sargenta G. Deyanira Garcia, Erica Doyle, Sarahi Almonte, Tamara G. Saliva, Nivea Castro, Meriam Rodriguez, Patrice Payne, and Amber Atiya. On Mar. 13, 8 p.m., “Sole Sisters” ($20) is an evening presented by choreographers Bgirls Rokafella and Mantis from Full Circle Souljahs, Erin Cairns Cella & Dages Juvelier Keates, Shizu Homma, Rebecca Lloyd-Jones, Fatima Logan, Yvette Martinez from Retumba!, Megan Minturn, Sydney L. Mosley, Leslie Parker, and Mary Sofianos. On Mar. 14, 8 p.m., Susana Cook presents “Conversations with Humans” ($15), a hyper-ritualistic drama, where graduation, marriage, baptism, death, and aging speed up, overlap, and move around the pattern of historical repetition in a spiritual and schizophrenic way. On Mar. 19, 8 p.m., filmmaker Alicia Anabel Santos presents “Reaching for the Moon” (free), a bio-drama about the passionate and tumultuous love affair between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and the Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, set mainly in Brazil in the 1950s and ‘60s. On Mar. 20, 8 p.m., Elizabeth “Macha” Marrero hosts “Let Me Tell You!” ($15), with Annie Rachel Lanzilotto reading from her memoir “L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir,” and performance artist Danielle Abrams presenting “Bounce Pinky Bounce,” her show about coming up a Black and Jewish child of a bankrupt city who blossoms into a light-skinned, freckle-faced voracious queer butch artist. On Mar. 21, 8 p.m., writer Tyra Allure hosts an evening of work by women of trans experience including comedienne Katrina Goodlet, dancer Leiomy Maldonado, poets Olympia Perez and Elizabeth Rivera, and singer Sparklez ($15). On Mar. 27, 6 p.m., B!YOUth is a free evening of youthfocused art and culture presentation followed by an open mic, a dance off, and an after-party. BAAD!, 2474 Westchester Ave. Westchester Sq. For complete information and tickets, visit baadbronx.org.
BRONX ACADEMY OF ARTS & DANCE
by the Martha Graham Dance Company includes her masterwork “Cave of the Heart,” performed in its entirety, with the famous sets designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi. On Mar. 20-21, 8 p.m.; Mar. 22, 3 p.m., Sally Silvers’ “Actual Size Plus” plays homage to the films and motifs of Alfred Hitchcock. 92nd Street Y, Buttenwieser Hall, Lexington Ave. at 92nd St. Tickets are $25-29 at 92y.org.
72nd St. Mar. 11, 17-18 & 24, 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 at Stage72.com.
CABARET Mark Nadler Sings, Plays Piano, and More! Mark Nadler, a polymorph talent who sings, plays piano, tap dances, and does stand up, appears for three nights at 54 Below, 254 W. 54th St. Mar. 11 & 25, Apr. 15, 7 p.m. Tickets are $35$65 at 54below.com, and there is a $25 food & drink minimum. Add $5 to the cover charge for purchase at the door.
SAT.MAR.14 CABARET Hot Time ‘Round Midnight Thirsty Girl Productions presents the premiere of “The Midnight Cabaret,” a sexy soiree featuring an alluring
line-up of dancing ladies, circus spectacles, live music, and a DJ after-party. The evening begins with the French swing jazz stylings of the Avalon Jazz Band, followed by downtown drag superstar Sweetie hosting performances by Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies, the Italian Stallionette Angie Pontani, the World’s Show-busiest Couple Kitten N’ Lou, circus artist Kyle Driggs, Ekaterina, the Most Handsome Man in Sideshow Ray Valenz, and the Elizabeth Taylor of Burlesque Tansy. Following the show, DJ Momotaro spins a mixof high-energy oddities and wild go-go stompers. Drom, 85 Ave. A at E. Sixth St. Mar. 14, doors open at 10:30 p.m., with live music at 11 and cabaret at midnight. Admission is $15 at dromnyc.com; $20 at the door. “The Midnight Cabaret” starts weekly shows in April.
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March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Adam Kantor (“Rent”), Jessica Vosk (“The Bridges of Madison County”), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (“Chicago”), Ephraim Sykes (“Motown”), and Zak Resnick (“Piece of My Heart”). 42 West, 514 W. 42nd St. Mar. 16, 9 p.m. Tickets are $20-$35; $75 for VIP tickets that include a reception, at 42WestNY.com/events.
A Classy Shamrock Celebration
FILM 42 WEST
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MON.MAR.16 PERFORMANCE In their Skivvies, Even with Company! The Skivvies, the undie-rock comedy-pop duo of Lauren Molina (“Rock of Ages:”) and Nick Cearley (“All Shock Up”) present “Splashdance!, an all-star revue, featuring James Carpinello (“Rock of Ages”), Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton"),
Susie Talks Trash Gay City News columnist Susie Day reads from her book “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” which Nathan Riley, in his review, said “pulses with the moral clarity that is the left’s greatest gift: the detection of right from wrong.” Bureau of General Services — Queer Division, LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Mar. 19, 7 p.m.
ABINGDON SQUARE PUBLISHING
The Gingold Theatrical Group, an arts organization that focuses on human rights using the work of George Bernard Shaw as its platform to entertain, enlighten, and enrich, celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a gala honoring actress Kate Mulgrew and playwright and screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan, and hosted by Charles Busch and Robert Osborne, with entertainment by Patrick Page. The evening includes a traditional Irish dinner, ales, musicians, dancing, and high spirits. 3 West Club, 3 W. 51st St. Mar. 16, 6 p.m. Tickets are $200; $375 for a couple at gingoldgroup.com.
Mar. 16-22, with screenings and industry panels at venues throughout Manhattan. For a complete schedule and tickets, visit ratedsrfilms.org.
Cinema that Says Something The Social Relevant Film Festival New York aims to shine a spotlight on filmmakers who tell compelling, socially important human interest narratives across a broad range of issues. This year’s offerings address LGBT rights, gun control and police brutality, race relations and discrimination, violence against women and their empowerment, the Middle East conflicts, the environment and climate change, immigration and exile, and the US economy. Among the festival’s feature-length screenings is “Love Is the Highest Law” (Mar. 20, 10 p.m., Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick St. at Laight St., just below Canal St.; $15) from Lilya Anisimova, a School of Visual Arts student who takes a firsthand look into three powerful stories connected by the theme of overcoming stringent anti-LGBT laws, both in Russia and the US. The festival runs
SAT.MAR.21 MUSIC Estonian Songs The Stonewall Chorale presents “From Estonia with Love,” an evening of works by two of that nation’s most esteemed composer: Berliner Messe, by Arvo Pärt (in celebration of his 80th birthday), and the New York City premiere of “Kreek’s Notebook,” by Tõnu Kõrvits. Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 Ninth Ave. at 28th St. Mar. 21, 7:30 p.m. Kõrvits will discuss “Kreek’s Notebook” just prior to the concert, at 7. Tickets are $25-$50, with $20 student & senior tickets available at stonewallchorale.org.
GAY CITY GUIDE 2015 GLOSSY MAGAZINE
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March 05 - 18, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc