Day of Reckoning at the Supreme Court 06
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April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Two gay hoteliers’ mischievous misadventures with Ted Cruz
Gay coach's winning season
Diane Sawyer’s big interview
04, 16, 18
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER
TWO GAY HOTELIERS’ MISCHIEVOUS MISADVENTURES WITH TED CRUZ
bject apologies, posted on Facebook on April 26, from the two gay Manhattan developers who last week hosted a highly publicized dinner and “fireside chat” with Texas Senator Ted Cruz did little to calm an explosion of online fury. Nor did they prevent a crowd of more than 100 protesters from descending on the West Side hotel they jointly own the following evening. “I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days,” wrote Ian Reisner, a developer and owner of the Out Hotel, a West 42nd Street establishment with a heavily gay clientele. “I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights... I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgment. Again, I am deeply sorry.” Reisner is one of the investors who earlier this year purchased roughly 80 percent of the commercial property in the Fire Island Pines for $10 million. He and Mati Weiderpass, his co-owner at the Out Hotel, business partner at Parkview Developers, and former lover, hosted the Texas senator, a 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, at the Central Park South penthouse they own together. Hours after Reisner posted his April 26 Facebook mea culpa, Weiderpass followed suit. The April 20 Cruz event spawned nearly instant viral online ire aimed at Reisner and Weiderpass — including a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the Out Hotel and Reisner’s Fire Island properties. The boycott page, which has garnered more than 10,000 likes, about 20 percent of them since the men issued their apologies, chronicles growing pressure on the two gay developers, including an April 25 letter in which Reisner’s Fire Island business partner attempted to distance himself from Reisner as well as numerous cancellations of Out Hotel events from groups
Senator Ted Cruz with Mati Weiderpass, in the Manhattan home he owns with Ian Reisner.
including the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and Urban Bear NYC. One of the highest profile repudiations came from Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, which announced on April 24 that it was cancelling a fundraiser planned for the 42West Club, a nightspot located inside the Out Hotel. The same day, activists led by the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens’ Michael Mallon announced plans for the protest the following Monday. Mallon’s call was soon joined by Brooklyn’s Lambda Independent Democrats, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, and the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, and throughout the weekend Queer Nation circulated word of the action. The protest was coordinated in tandem with a Times Square rally in support of marriage equality on the eve of the April 28 Supreme Court hearing. Many in the crowd of roughly 150 in Times Square apparently proceeded from there to the Out Hotel several blocks to the west.
“They make their fortune off us and invite Cruz into their home,” said Floyd Rumohr, one of the protesters. “They deserve what they get. Do you believe they didn't know his record? It was an apology but I don't know if it was sincere or it was driven by another motive.” Rumohr added, “With wealth comes responsibility.” Aner Candelario, an abstract artist who said he has work on display at the Out Hotel, was also critical of Reisner and Weiderpass. “I’m taking down my artwork from the hotel, though it breaks my heart to do so,” Candelario said. “It was at the Out Hotel where I proposed to Matt,” his fiancé. Brandon Cuicchi, a member of ACT UP New York, was also scathing in his criticism. “It’s baloney that they didn’t know his record on gay right and marriage,” he said. “No apology, especially on Facebook, is enough. They are insincere and lying. They can donate to other supportive LGBT causes and candidates. They can also make a clear statement that they don’t
support Ted Cruz.” At least one person on hand at the T imes Square marriage gathering was sympathetic to the developers’ decision to host Cruz. “I am a gay Republican and support them,” said Danny Orono, in New York from Palm Springs. “I will not be protesting, but I support everyone's right to do so. Ian and Mati are my friends and they have been pilloried for trying to mend a bridge, and that’s the only way we are going to change things. We need more influence, not less.” According to a New York Times account of Cruz’s visit to the Reisner-Weiderpass home — which first came to light when Weiderpass posted a photo of himself with Cruz at the event on Facebook — the Texas senator did not mention his opposition to marriage equality, saying simply that it is an issue that should be left to the states. Later the same week, the Texas Republican announced two pieces of legislation — one a constitutional amendment to shield states limiting marriage to different-sex couples from legal challenge and another blocking any federal court action on the question until such an amendment is adopted. Cruz’s views on gay marriage are not simply a quibble over the principles of federalism. Last summer, writing in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin quoted him saying, “If ever there was an issue on which we should come to our knees to God about, it is preserving marriage of one man and one woman. And this is an issue on which we need as many praying warriors as possible to turn back the tide.” Cruz has also voiced opposition to LGBT non-discrimination protections, both in the proposed federal Employment NonDiscrimination Act and in local Texas ordinances. When he first ran for the Senate, in 2012, Cruz faulted his Republican primary opponent Tom Leppert, a former Dallas mayor, for participating in LGBT Pride parades in that city, according to Texas media reports. He has repeatedly characterized being gay as a choice. Guests at the Weiderpass-Reisner home last week, however, could be forgiven for thinking it is a choice the Texas senator, who was joined there by his wife Heidi, would accept from
OUT, continued on p.5
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
The call for protest drew support from a wide range of community groups.
OUT, from p.4
his daughters, now four and seven. “If one of my daughters was gay, I would love them just as much,” Reisner recalled Cruz saying. In comments to the Times and in subsequent Facebook posts, Reisner and Weiderpass emphasized that foreign policy, in particular their concerns about Israel’s security, motivated their invitation to Cruz and dominated the evening’s discussion. Reisner told the Times he lost relatives in the Holocaust. According to the newspaper, the evening included discussion about how much better on LGBT rights Israel is versus its Middle East neighbors, which largely take a more draconian posture toward the gay community than does Cruz. A week before the Cruz event, Reisner hosted a private fundraiser for Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee. According to a release from Reisner, Johnson warned of the dangers of giving President Barack Obama a free hand in negotiating with Iran. Recalling the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, Reisner said, “I don’t want to see New Yorkers once again incinerated by Islamic extremists from the Middle East.” Cruz’s new legislative proposals to halt the advance of marriage equality drew fire last week from the Human Rights Campaign, which on April 24 denounced the senator’s effort in a statement that included a link to a comprehensive overview the group compiled earlier this year on his anti-LGBT record. Both Reisner and Weiderpass initially took to Facebook to defend the Cruz event, though the two took different tacks. Weiderpass, in a decidedly defensive tone, lamented the “passion and energy” GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
that critics are “wast[ing] on Ian and me.” The Texas senator being photographed in the home of two gay men and saying he could live with his daughters being lesbians, Weiderpass argued, “will make it more difficult for Ted Cruz to be the champion against gay rights.” Warning that his critics are simply giving the right wing the chance to depict “gays as being less tolerant of each other than Cruz,” Weiderpass included in his post an excerpt from an anti-gay contributor to Breitbart. com, who characterized boycott calls as part of “the Left’s fascist rampage” against those who don’t fall into line on LGBT rights. Throughout the controversy — until his apology — Reisner seemed more inclined to wave off criticism of the Cruz event. Regarding the senator’s fierce opposition to marriage equality, he told the Times that the issue “is done — it’s just going to happen.” If Reisner has now thought better of his evening with Ted Cruz, the Texas senator’s campaign staff acknowledges at least some second thoughts as well. In a written statement, Cruz insisted he had voiced “directly and unambiguously” his opposition to marriage equality in front of the Reisner-Weiderpass crowd. And he portrayed his unwillingness to pander when speaking to an audience he disagrees with as evidence he is a true “big tent Republican.” Confronted with details from the original Times story about the evening that pointed to the death last October of a 23-yearold man from an apparent drug overdose in the apartment where Cruz appeared, a spokesperson for his campaign, Rick Tyler, said, “Knowing what we know now about the setting, I think we would have chosen a different venue.”
FROM MANHATTAN TO DC, NEW YORKERS READY FOR MARRIAGE
COURTESY: JOSEPH VITALE
Robert Talmas and Joseph Vitale with their son, Cooper.
Gabriel Blau (center), executive director of the Family Equality Council, with his husband Dylan Stein, their son, and Blau’s stepfather George Hermann and his mother RoseAnn Rosenfeld Hermann, at a Times Square rally on the eve of the Supreme Court arguments.
The routes two Manhattan gay men took to their seat in the Supreme Court chambers on April 28 listening to the historic marriage equality arguments could not have been more different. Evan Wolfson first embraced the fight for gay marriage back in the early 1980s, when he wrote a Harvard Law School dissertation that, he explained this week, “mapp[ed] out the legal roadmap and cultural engagement” necessary to effect a profound shift in the way the nation and its courts view gay and lesbian people. For the past dozen years, Wolfson has run Freedom to Marry, a perch from which he is widely acknowledged as the chief architect of the marriage movement. He earlier was a staff attorney at Lambda Legal, where he participated in the earliest promising marriage litigation, in Hawaii in the early 1990s. Joseph Vitale is a marriage equality battle newbie. In January 2014, Vitale and his husband, Robert Talmas, learned that the State of Ohio would not issue a birth certificate naming them as legal parents of their son Cooper, whom they had adopted at birth the year before in Cincinnati. The two men were married in New York and the adoption also took place here, with the court issuing a directive that a birth certificate naming both of them be produced. Locked in a battle against gay marriage advocates, Republican Governor John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine had earlier overturned longstanding State Department of Health policy that would have given Vitale and Talmas the birth certificate they sought for Cooper. When the two men learned Ohio was resisting the directive they won in their New York adoption proceedings, they quickly joined a lawsuit already in the works chal-
lenging the state’s marriage policy. Last April, they prevailed in federal district court, but that victory was overturned by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in November. Vitale and Talmas’ case was among a group from Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, as well, before the nation’s highest court this week. “It was electrifying,” Vitale said of sitting through the Supreme Court hearing. “You imagine this and imagine that. It’s 50 to 60 times that. It’s an out of body experience. It’s very, very weird.” Vitale and Talmas attended courtroom arguments at earlier stages in the litigation, so the issues knocked around at the high court were not new to them. Still, when asked if there were emotional high points in the day, Vitale responded, “The entire thing was. Everything struck a chord.” He did single out one moment, however, involving a clear ally on the bench: “It was very emotional to hear Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg speak.” The connection between the bigger issue and the personal was a profound one for Vitale. “They’re talking about your life,” he said in wonderment. “They’re talking about adoption, about your kid.” For Freedom to Marry’s Wolfson, Tuesday’s showdown at the Supreme Court represented a culmination of a much longer road, and after sitting through nearly two-and-a-half hours of argument, he was upbeat. “I am very, very hopeful,” he said. After having made a “compelling case” to the nation over many years, most recently in the lower federal courts, and in written briefs for the high court, Wolfson said, the attorneys representing the same-sex couple
A banner at the marriage equality rally in Times Square on April 27.
Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson outside the Supreme Court on April 28.
petitioners were able to show the “real impact on people’s lives” that contrasted favorably with the “thinness and theoretical nature and implausibility” of the arguments from the other side. Wolfson voiced no concern about the fact that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, widely viewed as the critical swing vote, offered no clear signal about his intentions and even mentioned that a man-woman definition of marriage has prevailed for “millennia.” The “powerful moments that really connected” for the justices, Wolfson said — presumably with Kennedy in mind — “were on our side.” Wolfson has always declined to identify any one pivotal moment in the fight for marriage equality. The 2003 high court decision striking down sodomy laws was a crucial juncture in acknowledging the dignity of gay and lesbian lives, but even without that he believes the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would have struck the first unambiguous blow for marriage equality later that year. The 2013 Windsor decision, which gutted the Defense of Marriage Act, was cited over and over again in dozens of marriage rulings since then, but for Wolfson that too was but one important milestone. For Wolfson, the most profound words to have come out of any marriage equality ruling were written by Federal District Court Judge Robert Shelby in his December 2013 Utah decision. “It is not the Constitution that has changed, but the knowledge of what it means to be gay or lesbian,” Shelby wrote. “That encapsulated our strategy,” Wolfson said of a battle that stretches back even before his own engagement. “Windsor did not make that happen; it embodied it.” — Paul Schindler April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Kennedy Alternately Passionate and Coy During Supreme Court Arguments Swing justice holds back from offering clear signal he’s on board with marriage equality BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
arriage equality’s day of reckoning finally arrived at the United States Supreme Court when, on April 28, it heard oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the consolidated appeals from plaintiffs in four states — Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky — whose victories in federal district court were reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on November 6. Though most court observers have agreed there was a good likelihood that the Sixth Circuit would in turn be reversed and a national right to marriage for samesex couples established, the swing justice, Anthony M. Kennedy, Jr., offered no clear signal from his questioning and comments about which way he was leaning. At times, he appeared skeptical about the plaintiffs’ claims, at other times supportive. T h e a rg u m e n t w a s b r o k e n down into two parts — with consideration first about whether states are obligated under the US Constitution to allow samesex couples to marry, and then about whether they are required to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Both sides chose one attorney to represent them on each of the two questions, and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., also appeared on behalf of the Obama administration, arguing in support of the same-sex couple petitioners. Mary Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project director at the Bostonbased Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, led off the argument on the right to marry question. This was Bonauto’s first Supreme Court appearance, though her credentials include the very first marriage equality victory before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 2003. As Bonauto opened, it quickly became clear that the four Democratic appointees to the court — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — were likely
votes in favor of samesex couples having the same fundamental right to marry as different-sex couples. Chief Justice John Roberts, meanwhile, quickly moved to dispel speculation by some commentators that he was a potential marriage equality vote, as he suggested that what the plaintif fs were seeking was not just “to join the institution, you’r e seeking to change what the institution is.” He characterized “ t h e o p p o s i t e - s e x Mary Bonauto, the attorney from Gay & Lesbian Advocates & relationship” as “the Defenders who argued the marriage equality case, outside the f u n d a m e n t a l c o r e Supreme Court before the April 28 session began. of the institution” of marriage, and he signaled opposition to the idea that pointed out. “And it’s very difficult judges rather than legislatures for the Court to say, oh, well, we or the voters themselves should know better.” At the same time, he noted the decide whether to alter that time elapsed between the Supreme arrangement. As expected, Justice Antonin Court’s decision striking down Scalia weighed in with arguments racial segregation in public schools familiar to anybody who read the and its subsequent ruling ending Sixth Circuit opinion by Judge laws against interracial marriages Jef frey Sutton, who is one of was “about the same” as the time his “originalist” acolytes. Scalia between its sodomy ruling and asserted that the question before it now taking up the same-sex the court was not “whether there marriage question. “And so there’s time for the should be same-sex marriage,” but rather “who should decide the scholars and the commentators — point.” He clearly signaled his view and the bar and the public — to that it should be decided by the engage in it,” he pointed out. Kennedy came closer to tipping democratic process of voting and his hand in the direction of the legislating, not by judges. None of Justice Samuel Alito’s same-sex couples when John questions or comments suggested Bursch, the Michigan solicitor any real sympathy for the plaintiffs’ general, stood up to argue in position either, and, true to form, defense of the four states’ marriage Justice Clarence Thomas refrained bans. Kennedy pressed him to from asking any questions or explain how allowing same-sex couples to marry would harm offering comments. With the outcome likely to fall to “conventional marriage,” but he left Kennedy’s vote, his opening sally it to the other justices, particularly was not calculated to reassure Breyer and Kagan, to pursue the those counting on him to quickly point. Still, when Bursch argued embrace the trajectory of his that the state has a particular historic prior opinions for the court interest in assuring bonds between in the 2013 Defense of Marriage children and their biological parents, Kennedy characterized Act and the 2003 sodomy cases. “This definition [of marriage] the idea that “only oppositehas been with us for millennia,” he sex couples can have a bonding
with the child” as “just a wrong premise.” Kennedy seemed particularly indignant when Bursch discounted the significance of the dignity the state bestows on a couple by according them the right to marry. The Michigan solicitor general suggested the state has no particular interest in this, and is primarily concerned with children not the relationship between the two adults marrying. This was not a good strategic move on Bursch’s part, given the emphasis Kennedy put on the issue of “dignity” in his DOMA opinion. “I don’t understand this not dignity-bestowing,” Kennedy commented. “I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage. It bestows dignity on both man and woman in a traditional marriage. It’s dignity bestowing, and these parties say they want to have that same ennoblement.” But Bursch doubled down in his argument, insisting, “The state has no interesting in bestowing or taking away dignity from anyone, and certainly it’s not the state’s intent to take dignity away from same-sex couples or from anyone based on their sexual orientation.” Kennedy response was sharp: “Well, I think many states would be surprised, with reference to traditional marriages, they are not enhancing the dignity of both the parties.” Solicitor General Verrilli focused his argument entirely on the equal protection rights of same-sex couples, and he was pushed during the questioning on his failure to make the alternative argument, that they enjoy a fundamental right to marry. It quickly became clear that for the conservative justices the fundamental right to marry argument is a non-starter because it immediately invites claims for the right to polygamous marriage. Alito posed a hypothetical about two men and two women seeking to marry as a foursome, and Scalia also harped on this issue. One absurd point arose when Scalia questioned Bonauto about
SCOTUS, continued on p.20
Advocates Rally With Cuomo as He Accepts Plan to End AIDS Blueprint Governor warmly praised, even as fate of unfunded initiatives remains unclear BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
h i l e s o m e participants on the 63-member task force that wrote a plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020 were unhappy that Governor Andrew Cuomo did not fully fund the plan in the state’s current budget, there were only cheers for Cuomo at a rally where he accepted the plan from advocates. “Governor, I was never so proud on that day last year when you committed to ending the epidemic,” said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS group, and a co-chair of the task force, at the April 29 rally that was held outside the LGBT Community Center. A draft of the plan was delivered to the Cuomo administration in January. The state budget for the fiscal year that began on April 1 was submitted to and approved by the Legislature between January and the plan’s April 29 release. On a February 26 appearance on “Capital Tonight,” a program on Albany’s cable news channel,
King said that $104 million for the plan in the state budget would be a “dream number,” though that amount assumes that other funding is also in place. Additionally, advocates sought major initiatives, such as up to 12,000 units of new housing for people with HIV and a single point of access to government benefits for HIV-positive people. The dollars and the initiatives were not in the budget In an April 29 press release, Housing Works praised Cuomo for $10 million in “Medicaid funds for Ending the AIDS Epidemic initiatives.” Additional budget items that are not part of the plan, but will support it, won praise from Housing Works. These were $74 million in “new funds” for “new supportive housing units” not dedicated solely to people with HIV, just under “$4.5 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Budget,” and $27 million for rent cap support for low-income housing for people with AIDS. “Governor, we are tremendously gratified by the actions you’ve taken even before the release of
the blueprint,” King said before a crowd of several hundred that gathered at the Center on West 13th Street in Manhattan. King recalled Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, who was New York’s gover nor from 1983 through 1994 when AIDS killed tens of
“We will not stop until we add AIDS to the list of conquered killers,” Cuomo said to cheers at the rally. thousands, including many gay, bisexual, and transgender New Yorkers. During that time, Mario, who died this past January, was not seen as aggressively confronting the epidemic, but King credited him with building “the foundation that made today possible.” The elder Cuomo’s actions were a promise, King said.
“You’ve made a substantial down payment on that promise,” King said, referring to the current governor. King has held the task force members together since they began their work last September while also working closely with the Cuomo administration. The plan, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 or fewer per year by 2020, will rely in large part on giving antiHIV drugs to HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected and to HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious. “We will not stop until we add AIDS to the list of conquered killers,” Cuomo said to cheers at the rally. “We will not be told we can’t do it. We can do it, we can end AIDS… We must end it by 2020.” T h e d r a f t h a d 4 4 recommendations that have now been reduced to 30, with another seven that, if implemented, King said would get the state close to or at “zero new infections, zero deaths,” and no stigma or discrimination affecting people with HIV.
City Request for Health Services Bids Shows Shift to PrEP, TasP Funding
New contracts totaling $4 million focused on biomedical interventions over behavioral outreach BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ity contracts that were recently put out for bids add further evidence that government HIV prevention dollars are favoring biomedical interventions that prevent HIV infections, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and moving away from behavioral interventions that seek to alter sexual behavior. “Increasingly, biomedical HIV p r even tion ap p r oa ch e s h a v e emerged as yet another key tool for primary HIV prevention and also as a way to reduce HIV-related stigma,” Public Health Solutions, the city health department’s master contractor for HIV prevention contracts, wrote in the document seeking bids. “This new mix of
biomedical HIV prevention, when of fered alongside behavioral, structural, and other prevention interventions, is often called ‘combination’ HIV prevention and has the advantage of being adaptable to each and every individual.” The bid document, which was released in late March, offered $10 million in contracts with $1.4 million dedicated to “Biomedical Prevention” and another $2.6 million clearly relying on biomedical interventions as a major component of the funded HIV prevention activity. The remaining $6 million funded needle exchange programs and outreach activities. The successful bidders will be announced in late May and the contracts begin on July 1. PrEP involves the use of anti-HIV
drugs by HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected. Like needle exchange, which provides clean needles to drug injectors to prevent HIV infection, PrEP is highly effective when used correctly. Government funders in public health have paid for behavioral interventions, such as counseling, in the past, but the evidence supporting their ef ficacy was always scant at best. Such funders prefer interventions that have a proven effectiveness. Federal and state HIV prevention dollars are also moving toward biomedical interventions. On March 31, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced $185 million in available grants for state and local health departments to fund PrEP and treatment as prevention (TasP)
demonstration projects among men who have sex with men and transgender people. Just over $65 million of that is for projects targeting gay and bisexual men of color. TasP involves the use of antiHIV drugs by HIV-positive people so they are no longer infectious. The state budget for the current fiscal year includes $5 million to pay for PrEP-related costs for an estimated 600 people, though that program may cover more people. Last year, the state health department funded modest PrEP demonstration projects at seven health clinics, including the CallenLorde Community Health Center, the APICHA Community Health Center, and the William F. Ryan Community Health Network.
FUNDING, continued on p.14
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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A Gay Basketball Coach’s Winning Season In two years since coming out, Yonkers’ Anthony Nicodemo has embraced his destiny for leadership
BY KELSY CHAUVIN
COURTESY: ANTHONY NICODEMO
Anthony Nicodemo at work coaching his Saunders High School Blue Devils to their best season in decades.
A naturally fast talker, he conveys ideas at such a rapid pace he sometimes has to back himself up to explain how he’s arrived at his conclusions. It’s an instinct that clearly results from enthusiasm — enthusiasm that engages players and students eager to learn from him. When he’s not coaching, Nicodemo teaches history to special-needs students at a White Plains high school. To hear him profess, “I love my job. I love going to work,” it’s easy to understand why the youth around him are inspired. Owning up to being gay has cr eated leadership opportunities that Nicodemo has seized with a full-court press. “One of the funny things looking back — I used to say to my ex, ‘I’m going to come out, and when it happens, I’m going to be a leader in the LGBT world,’’” he recalled. “And when I say that, it’s not out of cockiness or ego. I just tend to fall into a leadership role in the things I do.” Joining the LGBT Sports Coalition Summit was one of his first steps toward stepping onto a bigger stage. He soon became an advisory board member of
Center Lane, the LGBTQ arm of the non-profit Westchester Jewish Community Services, and got active with YOU Belong, a coalition launched by educator and writer Darnell Moore and gay former NFL player Wade Davis II that works to level the playing field for LGBTQ youth, including young athletes of color, in school sports. Nicodemo has also stepped into the fight against bullying in his home school district. Last year, he secured a grant to host a round of conferences to educate male and female high school basketball players on the topic. He brought in Pat Griffin, a pr ofessor, author, and LGBT rights advocate, to speak, along with other athletes and activists, on topics that included social media bullying. “It went so well that we extended it,” Nicodemo said. “And we did one last fall that had over 200 students, representation from over 60 schools, and included all the fall sports — football, field hockey, volleyball, boys and girls soccer, cross-country running, swimming. Representatives from different schools came and learned all kinds of educational tools in the hope that they’d take them back to COURTESY: ANTHONY NICODEMO
f success as a coach involves confidence, honesty, and forging mutual dedication with your players, Anthony Nicodemo is a champion. The head boys’ basketball coach at Saunders High School in Yonkers may not be overloaded with trophies, but he does have his team’s utmost respect, especially since coming out two years ago. The 37-year -old native of upstate Brewster stepped out of the proverbial closet at the 2013 LGBT Sports Summit in Portland, Oregon. Hosted by Nike, the event was part of an ambitious effort aimed at ending anti-LGBT bias in the sports world by 2016, among other athletic and youth-focused goals. Nicodemo saw the summit as an opportunity to come clean about his personal life as a first step toward assuming leadership in his local community as an openly gay coach and teacher. In the couple of years since, he’s reaped the benefits of living truthfully, both in his professional arena and personally. Harnessing the esteem of his players, Nicodemo led his Blue Devils to an 18-3 record in the 2014-15 season — winning 17 straight games, earning the Yonkers city champion title, and sending Saunders to the state’s sectional semi-finals for the first time since 1982. Nicodemo was named Coach of the Year by the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association, where he also serves as director. The honor is a testament to his record in six years coaching at Saunders, where he took the team from having just three wins his first season to finishing with only three losses this year. “It was a special year, and certainly the best year I’ve ever had,” he said. “One of my players was named one of the best players in the area. You know, when you’re good you’re good. It makes coaching a lot more fun!” Nicodemo seems perfectly cut out for coaching and leadership.
their own school communities and preach these inclusion messages.” The response to his leadership efforts has energized Nicodemo. “Having my local school section embrace it like that was a way for me to get more involved with the local school community,” he said. “It’s something I’m really proud of being able to do.” Nicodemo has also made new friends, including City Councilmember Michael Sabatino, Yonkers’ first out gay elected official, and OutSports.com co-founder and reporter Cyd Zeigler. He’s also had the chance to work with Jason Collins, who retired in November after 13 seasons with the NBA, the last as an out gay Brooklyn Nets player. “One of the reasons that this all started [for me] was being inspired by [Collins] coming out as a professional basketball player,” Nicodemo explained. “He’s the kind of guy you want representing you in the movement. Total class, and an unbelievable role model for kids.” But his biggest reward over the past two years, Nicodemo said, is being able to live openly. “One of my biggest struggles [before coming out] was going to bars or going on vacation and being worried about where I was at and being caught,” he said. “One of my favorite stories about that is being at Boxers years ago and being tagged on Facebook. I almost had a heart attack!” That’s all behind him. “Now when I go out I don’t have to worry,” Nicodemo said. “When we won a huge playoff game this year, I ended up at Therapy with a couple of buddies and there was a drag show going on. I said to myself, ‘Man, how far have I come? Years ago I would have been petrified out of my mind right now, and here I am now celebrating with my gay friends.’ “So my life has definitely changed socially. Now, some of my closest friendships are with reporters I met and out gay athletes — they’re my family. And that’s the most important thing. I don’t think I would trade that part for anything.” April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Diane Sawyer’s big interview intelligently shows off a thoughtful Bruce Jenner
Diane Sawyer scored one of TV’s biggest recent gets, with her Bruce Jenner interview on ABC’s “20/20.”
BY ED SIKOV
bout 17 million people watched Bruce Jenner come out as transgender on “20/20 — Bruce Jenner: The Interview” on April 24, earning the news show its highest rating in 15 years. But it was hardly news. As everyone who’s been in a super market checkout line in the last year knows, the tabloids, followed by the mainstream press, have been invading Jenner’s privacy for some time. It was rather like Ellen DeGeneres’ protracted coming out as a lesbian in 1997, except that in DeGeneres’ case the hype was orchestrated largely by DeGeneres, whereas Jenner hasn’t been in control of the story until relatively recently, when he signed the exclusive agreement with ABC. Still, the impact on both comingsout was the same: there was little suspense. What we did get with Jenner, though, was a refreshingly thoughtful and self-aware former Olympic star — one who was billed as “the world’s greatest athlete” after he won the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal — revealing himself as herself at the age of 65. Jenner made a point of saying that at least
GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
for the time being he prefers the masculine pronoun. At the same time, he was absolutely clear about his core identity being female. Jenner, who refers to his female self simply as “Her,” presented America with a one-shot telecourse — Transgender 101. By and large, the class was a big success. Jenner reported what many LGBT people understand from personal experience: he knew he was different as a child, and the feelings never went away. He told Sawyer that he focused on becoming an Olympian in some measure to distract himself from the gender dysphoria he knew to be at his heart and soul. One of the few real revelations was that he’d discussed being a trans woman with each of his three wives; he was more or less honest with all of them. And each of them initially thought she could handle it. Wives One and Two sent supportive messages to him through Diane Sawyer and ABC News. Wife Three, Kris Kardashian Jenner, issued only a curt “no comment.” His six children appeared to be at ease with their father’s transitioning, but footage edited out of the program (but subsequently released by ABC)
JENNER, continued on p.22
Four Gay Council Members Push Subsidy for Anti-Gay Schools
Van Bramer, Johnson, Menchaca, Torres support city funding for security guards at religious institutions
BY ANDY HUMM
our out gay members of the City Council are siding with anti-gay lobbyists in their quest to secure tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars in city funds to pay for school safety officers in religious and other private schools, despite the fact that many of them teach that homosexuality is immoral and do not allow out gay or lesbian teachers. Public education, civil liberties, and LGBT advocates are blasting the bill — as well as a state legislative proposal to give tax credits to private school donors — as tax-giveaway boondoggles at a time when public schools and libraries are starved for resources. Among the 46 co-sponsors of the bill, Intro 65, are Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens and Councilmembers Corey Johnson of Manhattan, Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, and Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. The bill’s few opponents include out Councilmembers Daniel Dromm of Queens, who chairs the Education Committee, and Rosie Mendez of Manhattan. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is also not co-sponsoring, and the de Blasio administration testified against it at an April 14 hearing, saying the police department should decide when and where to assign security officers in schools. The bill’s chief sponsor is Brooklyn Councilmember David Greenfield, who is also the “volunteer” director and counsel for TEACH NYS, which “advocates on behalf of the 500,000 Catholic, Jewish, and Independent school children in New York State,” according to his Council web page. Greenfield touts his success in enacting legislation recently “that provides for $600 million in tax credits for parents of all school-age children in New York.” “Public schools have to come first,” Dromm argued in opposition to Greenfield’s proposal. “We are supposed to have separation of church and state. Where does this city funding for private schools end?”
At his committee’s April 14 hearing, Dromm said the potential annual price tag of the bill could be $250 million, while Greenfield’s office said the Council’s estimate is $50 million. Currently, safety officers are deployed at the discretion of the NYPD, not the demand of individual schools. The legislation would create a new entitlement for any private or religious school — as well as any public school — that requested safety staffing. “Bias crimes against the religious community ar e on the rise,” Greeenfield wrote in an email to Gay City News, citing “the recent stabbing of a yeshiva student at 770 Eastern Parkway” in Brooklyn and “the four Jewish students that were killed by terrorists in Toulouse, France.” Dromm said that safety officers are responsible for internal order in schools, not protection from terrorist threats, which is provided by police based on specific evidence it obtains. But Becky Stern, a spokesperson for Greenfield, said, “The NYPD in their testimony and questioning agreed that the primary job of a school safety officer is to prevent the wrong people from entering a building.” “Regardless of a parent’s religious belief, the child is entitled to a very basic level of protection,” Greenfield wrote. “That is why, for example, the city already pays for services such as transportation and nursing that keep all of our children safe.” Asked about the limits of what tax dollars would be used for, Stern wrote that is “the job of the legislature to decide these issues on a case-by-case basis. We do that every day. In this case, there is very clearly a need for security for children.” Saying the issue “has nothing to do with politics,” Van Bramer argued, “We want to make sure that all children are safe at all schools.” Asked whether he is concerned that some of the schools have an anti-gay mission or message, he responded, “It’s about the safety of the children who go to them,” but he declined to say whether that overriding concern would trump evidence that a school were racist or anti-Semitic.
Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Rosie Mendez are alone among the LGBT caucus in opposing the religious and other private school funding measure.
Torres similarly defended his sponsorship of the bill. “I deeply detest the anti-gay beliefs of religious schools, but why should that mean that the students attending these schools receive no guarantee of school safety at all?,” he said. “School safety is a basic public good, and the students of all schools, be it public or private, are entitled to a minimal standard of public protection.” He also ducked a question about whether the same would hold true for a school with a record of other kinds of discrimination. At the Education Committee hearing, Dromm pressed witnesses on whether their religious schools would discriminate against safety officers who were openly gay. At first, the witnesses invoked their religious exemption under city human rights law, even though that exemption is limited to those carrying out religious functions and does not apply to support personnel. One witness finally conceded that the officers would be employees of the NYPD and could be openly gay. Among the lead advocates of the bill are the Catholic Community Relations Council, the political arm of the Archdiocese of New York, and Agudath Israel, representing the Orthodox Jewish community — both of which have vociferously fought advances in LGBT rights in Albany and at City Hall for decades. Both groups are currently lobbying against passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and a ban on licensed mental health professionals providing so-called “conversion therapy” for minors,
both measures pending in the State Legislature. David Tanenbaum, testifying for Greenfield’s Council bill on behalf of Agudath Israel, said his group’s survey of a sampling of Jewish schools found “the vast majority” would be interested. Religiously-affiliated organizations such as Catholic Charities currently receive millions in city contracts to provide social services, but they are required to sign stipulations they will not discriminate on the categories protected in city law — including sexual orientation and gender identity — in either hiring or the provision of services. Religious schools do not certify that they are not discriminatory and have availed themselves of existing religious exemptions. Many on the Council — and certainly the six members of its LGBT caucus — have opposed city funding for the Boy Scouts, because of that group’s discriminatory policies, but most are apparently indifferent when it comes to public support of discriminatory religious and educational organizations. The New York Civil Liberties Union testified against the Council bill, saying the group “is strongly opposed to the use of government funding and services to support religion, including religious schools. This is an inappropriate use of city resources, and skirts dangerously close to government sponsorship of religion, forbidden by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.” The Greenfield school safety officer initiative emerges as Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other religious leaders are pushing in Albany for state tax credits for giving to private and religious schools. Out gay State Senator Brad Hoylman, a West Side Democrat, calling the tax credit scheme “unprecedented,” warned it would divert “essential resources from public schools” by creating incentives for wealthy individuals and corporations to provide funds to religious and other private schools. The State Senate passed
EDUCATION, continued on p.13
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
EDUCATION, from p.12
a version of the bill, but it was not included in the budget deal agreed to by Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders. Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, a Chelsea Democrat, is also opposed to the tax credit proposal and predicted the Assembly would not bring such a measure up for a floor vote. Hoylman said he also opposes the Council initiative to fund security officers for private schools. “As a public official, we have to stay focused on taxpayer dollars funding public schools,” he said. “There are shortages of security officers in the public schools.” Testimony from the NYPD before Dromm’s Education Committee made clear that the issue is not about providing security resources when specific threats are identified. Assistant Chief Brian J. Conroy, the commanding officer of the School Safety Division, testified against the bill, saying that while its intent was “understandable,” it “undermines the normal budget process.” He also said, “If legislation requires that the commissioner deploy particular staff to particular locations and if this type of legislation serves as a model for other similar initiatives… the jobs of both the police commissioner and the mayor would be deeply compromised, potentially compromising public safety as well.” The UJA-Federation issued a statement saying, “Every child in New York City deserves to be safe while in school. Introduction 65 has the support of over 90 percent of the New York City Council, and of UJAFederation, because of its intention to improve security at schools.” U J A , h o w e v e r, r e f u s e d t o answer any questions about the de Blasio administration and NYPD’s problems with the bill or whether there are limits on the public funding of private, discriminatory schools. Councilmember Mendez said basic student safety is the responsibility of the private or religious schools themselves. “They charge tuition, they should pay for their own security,” she said. “I was against having churches in schools. There should be separation of church and state. As GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
a member of the LGBT community, I know that a lot of these schools discriminate against us and if they city is going to provide any kind of funding, the schools should not be discriminatory.” Councilmembers Johnson and Menchaca did not respond to repeated requests from Gay City News asking for their thinking on the bill they are co-sponsoring. Allen Roskoff, president of the LGBT Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, strongly opposes the tax giveaway. “Religious institutions pushing this bill have a long history and present-day reality of discriminating against the gay community,” he said. “Why should they be able to discriminate on our dime? Where is the concern for the safety of LGBT students and staff in these anti-gay religious schools? These Council members say they care about antigay bullying. How is a child being told by religious leaders that he or she is immoral for being gay not bullying?” Gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs said, “Religious freedom does not mean socking overburdened taxpayers for special treatment worth hundreds of millions. Religious freedom means don’t disturb religion, it doesn’t mean you throw your wallet their way.” The United Federation of Teachers is lobbying against the tax credit measure in Albany but has not taken a position on the Council bill. However, Class Size Matters, a public school advocacy group, has taken on the Greenfield bill. “Our public schools are starved for resources,” said Leonie Haimson, the group’s executive director. “We are at 15-year high in terms of class size. More and more taxpayer money is being diverted to parochial, private, and charter schools.” The funds at issue, she said, could better be used to augment “the school capital plan, relieve overcrowding, and begin to reduce class size. I see no evidence that there is a threat to these students. Surely they can afford to pay for their own security.” Harvey Robins, a former director of operations for the city, said, “For what the Council wants to spend on this, they could open libraries seven days a week — and the last one to do that was Mayor LaGuardia during the Great Depression.”
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Syphilis “Surge” in Chelsea Dates Back to 2007
Activists worry closure of city STD clinic there will exacerbate problem, frustrate Plan to End AIDS BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
hile some recent press reports claimed syphilis is surging among gay and bisexual men in Chelsea, the higher case rate in that neighborhood has existed for roughly eight years and shows no signs of declining. “From 2012 to 2014, there’s been an increase,” said Dr. Sue Blank, who heads the sexually transmitted disease unit at the city’s health department, during an April 22 meeting at the LGBT Community Center. “It’s in the context of an ongoing increase.” The city saw roughly 1,300 primary and secondary syphilis cases among men in 2014. There were 1,167 such cases in 2013 and 996 in 2012. The current higher rate of cases per 100,000 population began in 2007, when the health department reported 927 syphilis cases compared to 578 cases in 2006. Syphilis cases went from 621 in 2004 to 616 in 2005. The increase is attributable to new infections among gay and bisexual men. “The contribution among women is really small,” Blank said. “That’s been true for many years.” Chelsea/ Hell's Kitchen and
FUNDING, from p.8
“We’re going to be looking at this as a high priority in our next budget cycle,” said Dan O’Connell, director of the AIDS Institute, which is part of the state health department, at a meeting on PrEP at a Ryan clinic in Hell’s Kitchen last year. When Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed a plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020, his first action was to negotiate lower prices for the anti-HIV drugs the state buys that will be used for PrEP and TasP. For PrEP to contribute to that goal, tens of thousands of at-risk New Yorkers will have to be on the drug. “One of the things that the task
the West Village are the city neighborhoods with the highest syphilis case rates among men. In 2014, there were 175 male syphilis cases per 100,000 population in those neighborhoods. There were 32 male syphilis cases per 100,000 population citywide and 65 male syphilis cases per 100,000 population in Manhattan in 2014. Chelsea/ Hell's Kitchen and the West Village also have high rates of hepatitis B and C and other sexually transmitted diseases and have consistently had the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses in the city. Since 2011, most of the syphilis cases among men have been diagnosed in men aged 20 to 39, while men aged 40 to 49 have seen declines in syphilis. While increases since 2011 in syphilis cases per 100,000 population were comparable among AfricanAmerican, Latino, white, and Asian men, African-American men began that period at a higher rate and ended at a higher rate. In 2014, Manhattan contributed 38 percent of the roughly 1,300 male syphilis cases followed by Brooklyn at 26 percent, the Bronx at 21 percent, Queens at 14 percent, and Staten Island at one percent. The ongoing syphilis problem may be made worse by the closing of the city’s sexually transmitted
disease clinic in Chelsea. The renovation of that location is expected to take two to three years, though Blank said that work should be completed in closer to two years. “We did not take that decision lightly, but there was no easy answer,” Blank said at the meeting, which was sponsored by the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. “We still have other clinics that are a subway ride away.” In 2013, the Chelsea clinic had more visits, at 21,148, than any of the city’s other eight sexually transmitted disease clinics and contributed 23.8 percent of all visits to the nine clinics. The Chelsea clinic also led city clinics in visits in 2012. Blank said that the other city clinics, the Riverside clinic in particular, were expected to take the visits previously handled in Chelsea. The Riverside clinic had just under 5,000 visits per year in 2012 and 2013 and contributed five percent of all visits in each of those years. The city is also expecting private providers to take up the slack. “Although we don’t have brick and mortar services in Chelsea at this time, we are funding services in the neighborhood,” Blank said.
She could not say if the city was providing more cash to nearby providers, such as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, but did say, “We have provided more resources.” At the meeting, Donnie Roberts, Callen-Lorde’s senior director of Development and Communications, said his agency has added “105 new sexual health appointments” every week in an effort to cover some of the visits that will no longer happen at the city’s Chelsea clinic. Some AIDS activists are voicing concern about closing the Chelsea clinic because that could impact the Plan to End AIDS, which envisions reducing new annual HIV infections from the current roughly 3,000 to 750 a year by 2020. Some of the clients at the city’s sexually transmitted disease clinics would be candidates for the biomedical interventions, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which will be used to reduce new HIV infections. “We’re trying to get more services for testing in the gay community and this move by the department of health is in completely the other direction,” Luis Santiago, a member of ACT UP New York, told Gay City News.
force recommended was shifting funding toward interventions that prove most effective in achieving the goal of ending the epidemic,” said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS group, and the co-chair of the 63-member task force that drafted the plan to get to 750 new HIV infections annually. “I think you’re going to see that in a lot of contracts.” Th e t a s k f o r c e , w hi ch w a s c o - c h a i r e d b y D r. G u t h r i e Birkhead, a deputy commissioner in the state health department, also recommended allowing that department to change the goals and interventions funded in longer contracts. “What you will see on a rolling basis is shifting contracts,” King said.
These shifts in funding appear to favor larger organizations with onsite clinics that do a lot of HIV testing, which can identify people who are having unsafe sex and may be PrEP candidates. PrEP requires quarterly screening for sexually transmitted diseases and checks for side effects. Larger groups that do thousands of HIV tests every year can also identify more previously undiagnosed HIVpositive people who are candidates for TasP. King said this change in funding did not necessarily mean that smaller organizations would lose dollars over time. “The whole regime in healthcare is integrated systems, integrated networks,” he said. “That’s already done in HIV… None of these organizations have to go out of
business.” The Latino Commission on AID S, fo r e x ample , do e s no t provide medical services, but it has linkages to medical providers. The commission performed 1,481 HIV tests in 2014 and identified 38 previously undiagnosed HIVpositive people. While that is not a lot of HIV tests, the two percent positivity rate, which is high, indicates that the organization is testing the right population. That could still be valuable to government funders. “ We h a v e b e e n a b l e t o build strong access to social networks,” Guillermo Chacon, the commission’s president, told Gay City News. “Many organizations like ours are essential to making that bridge.” April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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More Dollars Than Sense BY PAUL SCHINDLER As Out Hotel developers and owners Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass planned their April 20 dinner/ fireside chat with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a long-shot Republican presidential candidate, they clearly had convinced themselves they were players. A week before, a similar event — this one a reelection fundraiser — was held at chez Reisner-Weiderpass on Central Park South for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who heads the Homeland Security Committee. Support for Israel and trash talk about President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran were apparently animating themes of both events. “Would any of you ask President Obama to negotiate on your behalf?,” Johnson asked the gay hoteliers’ guests, according to a release from Reisner, who continued, “After the laughter subsided, Johnson listed his numerous concerns with Obama’s pending nuclear-weapons agreement with Iran’s dictatorship.” Recalling 9/11, Reisner wrote, “I don’t want to see New Yorkers once again incinerated by Islamic extremists from the Middle East.” Explaining the Cruz event to the New York Times, Reisner said, “Ted Cruz was on point on every issue that has to do with national security,” he said. For now, I’ll leave aside the issue of
Cruz’s — and many other Republicans’ — unseemly canoodling with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the expense of a longstanding US foreign policy tradition of not undermining the commander-in-chief. I will say, however, that given the outrage that Ted Cruz’s Big Gay Party has sparked in New York’s LGBT community, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Netanyahu — never one to be shy about doing or saying the outrageous — has nonetheless been tempted to get on the phone to Reisner or Weiderpass and shout, “Don’t drag me into this mess, boys!” The sheer cravenness these two gay men showed in turning a blind eye to Cruz’s vicious homophobia is difficult to take in, and their groveling Facebook apologies on Sunday night — claiming that they simply didn’t know! — are very, very hard to take at face value. Also distressing is the notion Reisner put forward to the T imes in addressing the contradiction between Cruz’s anti-gay record and the developer’s cozying up to the Texan. Marriage equality “is done,” Reisner said. “It’s just going to happen.” Meaning what? That there’s nothing left that divides us from the homophobes? No insidious religious exemption laws? No refusal to accord the community basic civil rights protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations? No efforts at ex-gay conversion or at slandering transgender people as cross-dressing perverts? No dog whistles meant to inflame
homophobic and transphobic emotions for political gain? There’s a lot of loose talk out there about the cluelessness and callousness of rich, white gay men — but it’s very hard to offer any other explanation for how Reisner and Weiderpass could be so indifferent to pressing needs our community faces. But beyond all this, I am left with my initial gut reaction to this whole business — how terribly pathetic it is. Reisner and Weiderpass think the Republicans can better represent their passion for the State of Israel. And they have convinced themselves that there are opportunities to build bridges between GOP conservatives and the gay community. But Ted Cruz was the best they could do in advancing those hopes? You want to show you’re a player in the game of finding common ground between Republicans, on one side, and Jews and gays on the other? Get Jeb Bush up into your penthouse. Or open it up to Chris Christie to help him try to rehabilitate his presidential dreams. I don’t agree with either Bush or Christie, and I suspect that current political realities will not allow the LGBT community to make much true progress with either. But if you’re serious about engaging the GOP, that’s the sort of avenue you go down. As for Reisner and Weiderpass, the Beatles had it just about right in “Revolution”: “If you want money for people with minds that hate/ All I can tell you is brother you have to wait… If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao/ You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow.”
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
The Ozark Culture Wars BY ED SIKOV
u r e k a ! , ” Archimedes cried after stepping into the bath — “I have found it!” The ancient Gr eek scholar was not referring to a fellow bather’s perfect scrotum but rather to his own observation that the bathwater had risen in direct proportion to the
mass that had just been inserted into it, namely Archimedes. This discovery may strike the modern reader as a colossal letdown, the equivalent of shouting “Eureka!” upon finding a can of Del Monte green beans on an A&P shelf. But cut Archimedes some slack: nobody had figured it out before. The “Eureka!” moment’s importance lies
in the fact that from that point on, curious minds could precisely determine the volume of an irregularly shaped object by submerging it in water and measuring the water level’s consequent rise. Cut to: Exterior: Eureka Springs, Arkansas — the present day. According to the New York Times, the Guardian, and other fine publications near you,
Eureka Springs — which sounds like the setting of a Frank Capra movie — is in an unholy uproar as its LGBT and Angry Christian communities collide. Both groups claim pride of place in this quaint Victorian-era town. “We found it!” “We found it first!” “We live here!” “You’re going to hell!” You see the problem. Eureka Springs — population 2,100 — has been an actively welcoming destination and hometown
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.22
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Dyke-Baiting, Trans-Hating, and the MichFest Debacle BY KELLY COGSWELL
arly last week, Lisa Vogel announced that the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival would close after this year’s 40th anniversary event. The response was tears in some quarters, and from some “good riddance.” I’m ashamed to admit that I put off weighing in because I’m not thickskinned and I hate getting trolled. But somebody has to say the obvious. That the whole MichFest thing may have begun as a fight about trans inclusion, but for the last few years it’s mostly been an opportunity to engage in dyke-baiting and attacking women-only spaces, however “women” is defined. While MichFest organizers did eject a trans woman in 1991, they later acknowledged — repeatedly — that the action was a mistake. Trans people actually do attend the festival. Some even staff it, and, I believe, have directed workshops. Last year, Vogel, the founder and director, attempted to clarify the matter by issuing a statement declaring that MichFest considered trans women as women and that at the festival nobody’s gender was ever questioned. Given the multiple apologies for the fuckup and the fact trans women already do attend the festival, though not all are out, it’s hard to understand why critics continue to give the impression that pitchfork-wielding dykes and evil cis women have repeatedly chased trans women from MichFest. Worse, they encourage other trans people to attack both organizers and participants with a level of rage and hate that we do not see directed toward anything or anybody else. Not the politicians who refuse to allow trans people to deter-
mine their own identities. Not cops who routinely roust trans women. Not their rapists. Not their murderers. Nope, the real obstacles to trans progress are those filthy bigoted dykes at MichFest who should probably all be exterminated. Am I exaggerating? Not much. The Internet is awash with anti-MichFest posts that end with diatribes attacking lesbians as a class, many wishing for our collective demise. MichFest critics have been so effective misrepresenting the facts that I was surprised last year to discover trans women actually did go and many treasured their experiences there. One woman explained how much she learned hearing other women’s stories and getting a sense of feminism in practice. The problem was that she was afraid to come out as trans and have her heart broken. That is a real issue. And I would’ve liked to hear more from her. Unfortunately, she didn’t fit the narrative of the MichFest critics and people like her were erased. It’s true that she may have risked rejection. I don’t know what the atmosphere is like, and lesbians aren’t more enlightened on trans issues than anybody else. And, as in any other group, there are some dykes who are hardcore trans-haters, including a number who deny the transgender experience, explaining that trans women are just effeminate men who refuse to accept their femininity and are trying to extend their male privilege into the female domain. The biggest difference, in this debate, anyway, is that most lesbians, including the organizers of MichFest, have made a big effort to distance themselves as fast as they can from these trans-deniers and bigots. Lesbians are so eager to condemn transphobia that we’ll even attack each other to prove our bona fides. A number of
lesbian organizations like the National Center for Lesbian Rights were persuaded to sign a petition boycotting lesbian artists who were going to appear at MichFest, though some, including NCLR and its director Kate Kendell, later reconsidered. Tellingly, while everybody rushes to denounce the transphobia of MichFest, few have emerged to defend lesbians from the resulting dyke-baiting. No one is willing to talk about lesbian issues at all, including why MichFest existed in the first place. Why? Because Vogel refuses to renounce her belief that women (however that is defined) deserve their own space? Where female bodies and experiences can be central and they can relinquish the daily burden of misogyny and abuse…? Is it all too dykey? Too… essentialist for the post-feminist, post-queer year of 2015? Before you write a comment full of sneers and snark, tell me, just what has changed? Not misogyny. Not violence. Not the attacks on female bodies. Unless men have quit raping women this week, quit killing us at home and in the street, quit dissecting the voice and hair and thighs of the few women who venture into politics. Half the women I know have PTSD from a life of having a cunt and tits in public. Why wouldn’t some women need a breather, a woman, womyn, wimmin-only space? Men don’t know what it’s like. Even trans women don’t know what a lifetime of it is like. How could they? Which is why it would be nice if we could chill out and talk about all this, how our lives intersect, even if they aren’t identical. We could maybe even talk about how dyke-baiting isn’t good for any woman, trans women included. Turn down that sleazeball on the corner, whaddaya get called? A dyke. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines
Ask Miss Informed! Tumescent Advice for the Academically Closeted BY SUSIE DAY
ear Miss Informed,
I am an English composition and creative writing instructor, experiencing great romantic pain at a small, Midwestern women’s college. You see, I have fallen desperately in love with the woman here who coaches basketball. She has the cutest little buzz-cut, yet seems GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
reluctant to acknowledge my existence. The poems I sent her were many, for lyrical self-expression is, after all, my bailiwick, or purview, if you will. I endeavored to merge her interest in sports with my tumescent ardor. For instance: May I take the “Liberty” To comment on your bee-you-tee? Little I know of women’s sports For I am sworn to higher Art
But you have made a slam dunk In the hoop that is my heart. I went on to rhyme Moon and June and Croon with Weather spoon. But, alas, nothing worked. My objet d’amour did not return my passion — until last week, when I invited her to my house, on the pretext (O False Be Thy Ways, Cruel Love!) that veteran women’s basketball star — and lesbian icon —
Teresa Weatherspoon herself was coming over for a tutorial! Quick as a bunny in heat, my wonderful Bobbie Marie showed up in my driveway and began to practice lay-up shots! Suddenly, as I was bringing her the Gatorade that she had requested, Bobbie Marie threw herself on top of me, exciting my poetic gifts! She was like a sweaty gust of wind, careening tumescently down my lonely, hollow woman’s canyon. Moistly, her dulcetly nimble tongue roared in my ear, as her pelvis ground impertinently into my nubile kidneys.
SNIDE LINES, continued on p.18
PERSPECTIVE: The Long View
Reisner, Weiderpass, and the GOP Bid for Jewish Votes
BY NATHAN RILEY
he LGBT community has, in recent decades, made itself a major factor in presidential politics, not least when large sums of money have been raised at gala events for Democratic candidates. To the extent that Republican hopefuls have engaged gays and lesbians at all, it has been at considerable distance, often in quiet meetings with the Log Cabin Republicans attended only by campaign staff. So, it was striking when a particularly unlikely candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, reached out last week to gay men as part of a larger drive to pull Jewish voters into the GOP fold. The effort to woo the Jewish community couldn’t have higher stakes. Among white males in the US, Jews and gays are the most reliable Democratic voters. It would be a game changer if Jews in significant numbers joined joined the GOP coalition — a possibility that has generated all sorts of speculation since Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, addressed Congress to complain about President Barack Obama’s handling of negotiations with Iran. Whoever approached developers Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass told the two men Cruz was a good friend of Israel, and that apparently was enough for them. Despite Cruz’s base among evan-
SNIDE LINES, from p.17
“I really like you,” moaned my virile Amazon. “Let’s go steady.” I screamed in pain — then, in womon-identified ardor. It was all I could do to heave Bobbie’s wetly undulating body into the garage, where I fell longingly onto her many tumescent outstretched lips — and, unfortunately, onto an old ping-pong table. Our breasts intertwined, like four lost kittens mewing hotly in the rain. I screamed again; this time in fear and ecstasy. Joyously, the pingpong table collapsed. Later, we made love. But after another rousing two hours of passion — and with Teresa Weatherspoon nowhere in sight — I turned to find my adored Bobbie Marie pulling on her Nikes, dusting off her ball, and dribbling indifferently out of my life. Now she barely speaks to me, preferring to be seen in the company of the male coaches and profes-
gelical fundamentalist voters and his anti-gay zealotry across a wide spectrum of issues, the men, without any obvious deep thought, saw sentiments like the senator saying he would still love a daughter who was gay as evidence of his good will. As if a politician’s posture toward the LGBT community could be reduced to the private matter of how you treat someone in your own family. Community and politics are about much more than that; they involve solidarity with groups and individuals outside yourself. Obvious as this may be, it was apparently a novel idea to the penthouse party-givers. Cruz is proud, outspoken, and fervent is his opposition to LGBT equality. He has voiced an eagerness to lead a last-ditch battle to undo any prospective favorable Supreme Court marriage ruling, he belittles Texas politicians who reach out to the LGBT community, and he issues clarion calls urging homophobes to stand firm against the incursions he believes gay rights make against the nation’s tradition of “religious freedom.” We need “praying warriors,” he says, to preserve marriage between one man and one woman. Reisner and Weiderpass, if their most recent words mean anything, have quickly wised up to the fact that they must find a way to fight for Israel while also standing with the LGBT community. In a carefully crafted, abject apology, they acknowledged the hurt they caused
sors. I fear she is ashamed of our Sapphic idyll, and wishes to deny the throbbing hues of her womon-identified libido. My query is: Should I continue my attempts to rekindle our flame? My driveway is so deeply empty. What, O what, shall I do?
Dear Bereft, If True Love doesn’t come again to your garage, at least you can find comfort in the fact that you have a wonderful future writing lesbian porn! What you need, honey, is a good DE-FENSE! It is a tragic irony that Bobbie Marie chooses to be seen in the company of manly men so that society will accept her predilection for dribbling her own balls. Three lashes with a wet whip for your ersatz date. People like Bobbie Marie are truly pitiable human beings — and will get theirs. Meanwhile, you should try to cultivate empathy for them. As an example of empathy cultiva-
“friends” and “customers,” “allies” and “employees.” LGBT organizations including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, and Urban Bear, gay political clubs, and Queer Nation had all made clear — but fast — that West 42nd Street’s Out Hotel and the Fire Island Pines businesses where the men are owners would be off-limits unless a reconciliation were forged. The outpouring of organizational and social media outrage about the Cruz event practically clubbed Reisner and Weiderpass into reaching a conclusion that should have been obvious from the start. Their political sympathies for Israel may pull them to the right, but their business depends on the good will of the LGBT community — one that largely aligns itself on the Democratic left. Their verbal apologies are only a start. Reisner and Weiderpass are now living in a fish bowl and people will watch to judge the full measure of their amends. Despite longstanding antipathy among Orthodox Jews toward the LGBT community, the ties between gays and mainstream Jews are strong and reflect decades of cooperation. Even in the Orthodox community, some are now listening to pleas for change, growing from an awareness that rejecting gay children will only lose them to the religion. Unprying Jewish voters from the Democratic coalition would be a big win for the Republican Party, and Netanyahu has been only too happy
tion, why not imagine yourself in Bobbie Marie’s place? FEEL her longing for heterosexual validation, her sense of incompletion without a suitable “beard.” Why not help her get one? Using your erotic writing expertise, dash off two or three tumescent sentences summarizing Bobbie Marie’s longing for a “hot-stud-Idon’t-have-to-do-it-with.” Then sign Bobbie Marie’s name and place your little composition in the Personals section of Soldier of Fortune magazine. Great empathy will follow.
Dear Miss Informed, I completely disagree with your advice to the gay kindergarten teacher who wrote you asking whether he should “come out” in the classroom. You suggested that he integrate his lifestyle into his mainstream lesson plans, to come up with “liberating alternatives.” Yeah, right. I followed your asinine instructions and it was a total nightmare. Songs and stories like “Pouf, the Magic Dragon,” “The Little Engine
LONG VIEW, continued on p.22
That Shouldn’t Have But Did,” and “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Meets Jack and His Beanstalk” may sound workable, but in fact stir up quite a bit of naughtiness, especially during naptime. I hold you personally responsible for the loss of my job and the fact that half of last year’s preschoolers will probably never voluntarily take First Communion. I’ll never be able to think of “show and tell” again without wanting to retch. Please withhold my name if you decide to print this. I’ve had enough trouble because of you.
Dear Name Withheld, I am sorry the wisdom inherent in my advice did not enlighten you. Nobody’s perfect, Father O’Casey. Oops. Good luck with your job search, dear! Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” from Abdingdon Square Publishing. April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Rhymes With Crazy
Sixteen is the New Six BY LENORE SKENAZY
hen Walt Disney was 16 he forged his parents’ signatures and lied about his age so he could join the American Ambulance Corps, which was part of the Red Cross. That’s how he found himself in Europe, just after World War I ended, driving ambulances. He loved it. He said it “added up to a lifetime of experience in one package.” And as he later put it: “I know being on my own at an early age has made me more self-reliant and less of a theworld-owes-me-a-living type that I otherwise would have been.” I have to thank the book “Teen 2.0” by Robert Epstein for that story, and for putting the whole idea that teens are lazy/ incompetent/ irresponsible selfies on trial. Is it that “kids today” are really so immature? Or is that we treat them as if they are, and they respond the way most of us do when dissed or diminished: We disappoint. Over the past generation or two we have come to think of young people as less and less competent. I usually notice this with younger kids — how we drive them to school, as if it’s always too cold or too far. How we insert ourselves into their squabbles, as if they couldn’t sort things out by
themselves. How we organize their lives for them — I’ve done this myself — as if leaving them to their own devices would mean wasted time, a teachable moment that we failed to fill. But teens, man! Lately we act as if there’s no difference between 13 and 3. Here in New York City, there is no specific minimum age for latchkey kids, thank goodness. But Illinois law states that no one should be home alone until age 14 — an age when many kids in my generation had already been babysitting for two or three (or four!) years. Now the 14-year-olds are the babies themselves. Or how about crossing guards? My crossing guard when I was a tyke was a 10-year-old. Now, in every place I’ve lived in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), the 10-year-olds are the tykes and the guards are all adults. Deliver newspapers? The folks who bring ours here in Jackson Heights do it by car. Most newspapers require their delivery people to have a license and liability insurance. If you’re just a kid with a bike? Too bad. And as for the laws about sex, we act as if anyone with any stirrings of anything before 18 is either a perp or a victim. Sometimes they’re both. A case in 2006 involved a 13-year-old Utah girl who had consensual sex with her 12-year-old
boyfriend. I don’t know of anyone who loves the idea of kids that young sleeping together, but here’s something worse: She was found guilty of having sex with someone under 14. And so was he! That makes them both sex offenders (and both victims). As I learned from Nicole Pittman, an expert on the sex offender laws I heard speak at an NYU Law School symposium recently: of the 800,000 or so people on the sex offender registry nationwide, 200,000 are under 18. That’s because teens have sex with other teens — a fact that shouldn’t be news and, when consensual, shouldn’t be considered rape. Shackling a teen with the label of Sex Offender often means they are not allowed to go to school (because there are other kids there) or even live at home, if there are younger siblings in the house. Sometimes they can’t live near a park, a church, a day care center... even though it’s not that they ever raped a toddler. It’s that they slept with someone about their own age, as teens always have. It’s only now that we’re treating teens like toddlers themselves that we are stunting them as humans, and hunting them down for having sex. Really, it’s time for someone to grow up. Us. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
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SCOTUS, from p.7
whether a minister might be required to per form same-sex marriages against their religious beliefs. She responded that the First Amendment would shield a minister from such an obligation, but Scalia insisted that if there were a constitutional right to marriage that might trump a free exercise of religion defense. Bonauto pointed out that no minister had been prosecuted for refusing to perform marriages in marriage equality states, and Justice Kagan jumped in with the example of rabbis who refuse to perform marriages between Jews and non-Jews. Scalia here was clearly being facetious, since the First Amendment is unambiguous on this point and no court would ever order a religious officiant to perform weddings violating their religious beliefs. One note of unexpected drama erupted after Bonauto finished her allotted time for argument, when an audience member burst into a diatribe about hell and abomination until escorted out by security officials. Chief Justice Roberts seemed ready to delay Verrilli’s argument, but the solicitor general indicated he was ready to press forward. Before Verrilli got started, Scalia offered the oddly cryptic observation that the outburst was “refreshing.” Perhaps he was suggesting the court seriously consider religious objections to same-sex marriage. Bonauto closed up consideration of the first question with a rebuttal argument so precise and wellfocused she was not interrupted for any questions as she highlighted the basic inconsistencies in Bursch’s arguments.
The Question of Marriage Recognition The court next turned to the issue of whether states are required by the 14thAmendment to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states. Representing the same-sex couple petitioners, Douglas HallwardDriemeier, the head of the Supreme Court litigation practice at the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP, was quickly interrupted by Alito. “I am somewhat surprised by the arguments you made in your brief,”
he said, “because they are largely a repetition of the arguments that we just heard with respect to Question 1. I thought the point of Question 2 was whether there would be an obligation to recognize a same-sex marriage entered into in another state where that is lawful even if the state itself, constitutionally, does not recognize same-sex marriage.” This quickly clarified a mystery that had confounded legal observers. Why the second question, since it seemed obvious that if same-sex couples have a right to marry the right to recognition of out-of-state marriages would naturally follow? This question left open the possibility that the court could rule against the couples on their right to marry, but then consider whether states might nonetheless be obliged to recognize their marriage if performed legally out of state. Alito and Scalia energetically followed up with questions and hypotheticals about forcing states to recognize the validity of marriages they would not allow within their own borders. Even Kennedy joined in briefly, suggesting that if states were justified in denying a right to marriage they might also be allowed to refuse to recognize the same marriage from elsewhere. It fell to Ginsburg to jump in and nail down the point that if the plaintiffs won the right to marry on Question 1, “then the argument is moot.” Hallward-Driemeier agreed with Ginsburg, as Joseph Whalen, Tennessee’s associate solicitor general arguing for the four states, also conceded. Hallward-Driemeier emphasized the harms to same-sex couples who married and had children in other states and then might be moved by an employer — the starkest example being the military as the employer — to a state that didn’t recognize their marriage. This point seemed well calculated to appeal to Kennedy, who articulated a concern for the welfare of children of same-sex couples in his DOMA opinion. When Whalen got up to defend the r ecognition bans, Scalia appeared to surprise him by raising the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, which has barely been mentioned over
the past two years of marriage recognition litigation. Lower federal courts have instead focused on the Equal Protection Clause and generally found states had no rational basis for recognizing different-sex marriages from other states but refusing to recognize same-sex marriages. After the 1996 enactment of DOMA, which authorized states to deny recognition to same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, some scholars observed that the Full
context, you have to understand adoption and the traditional definition of marriage, they work in tandem. They work together. As Mr. Bursch described, the objective with regard to marriage is to link children with their biological parents. When that breaks down, then there’s adoption.” The key policy goal in Tennessee as it relates to marriage, then, is to preserve the biological bond between a child and their parents, Whalen was arguing.
“I don’t understand this not dignitybestowing,” Kennedy commented. “I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage.” Faith and Credit Clause had not traditionally been invoked in marriage recognition cases, that it was not really clear it even applied to the question of marriages. But Scalia pressed the point, and the matter soon drew other justices into what became a rather esoteric discussion. At one juncture, there was even some indication, if perhaps just fleeting, that Chief Justice Roberts might see an application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause to Question 2, which could now feed speculation that even if the court were to rule adversely on same-sex couples having a constitutional right to marry, there is a potential majority, including some conservative justices, in favor of a marriage recognition mandate on the states. But, again, that signal was at best fleeting. When Whalen picked up on Bursch’s argument about the state’s interest in maintaining the “biologically-based” core of its understanding of parenthood as a reason to privilege different-sex couples over same-sex couples in giving access to marriage, Justice Sotomayor jumped in to note that Tennessee’s adoption laws put parents of adoptive parents on par with biological parents. “Oh, but you do that for adoptions,” she said. “What’s the problem? This is a really big deal?” Whalen responded, “It is a big deal, Your Honor, because you are changing the way the state defines a parent. And in the adoption
Sotomayor responded by asking whether a state can refuse to recognize a birth certificate issued by another state that identifies same-sex spouses as the parents of a child. “Do you think the word ‘records’ in the Constitution includes birth certificates,” she said, referring to a word found in the Full Faith and Credit Clause. When Whalen responded in the af fir mative, Sotomayor continued, “So California without any reason, no suspicion of fraud, no anything, could it refuse to recognize another state’s birth certificate? Records to me has to have a meaning.” “Record has a meaning,” Whalen responded. “It does, your Honor.” “But if a birth certificate were to be a record,” asked Sotomayor, “don’t you think a marriage certificate — it’s an official act of a state?” Whalen acknowledged as much, but then insisted the two situations were not comparable, saying, “I think that the laws that allowed that marriage to occur, when they are different fundamentally with the laws of a state like Tennessee, preclude the application of that same principle from one state to the other.” Hallward-Driemeier’s rebuttal a t the c lo s e o f t he Que s t io n 2 argument, like Bonauto’s on Question 1, was so tightly focused that none of the justices
SCOTUS, continued on p.21
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
BROOKLYN PRIDE CENTER GATHERS FOR SIXTH ANNIVERSARY
told the attendees how the Pride Center had turned her life around, redeeming her from a depression that made her worry she might hurt herself. Dolph Ward Goldenburg, the Center’s interim executive director, prompted members of the
Athlete Ally’s Hudson Taylor.
GAY CITY NEWS
GAY CITY NEWS
a film shoot, and her award was accepted by Jonathan Montepare, a line producer on “Appropriate Behavior.” Taylor talked about how wearing a Human Rights Campaign sticker on his wrestling helmet gave him an unusual appreciation for the force of homophobia. In explaining his activism, he quoted the late South African freedom fighter and President Nelson Mandela, who said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.” In a touching speech, Bryanna Thomas-Price, a teenage woman,
GAY CITY NEWS
In celebration of its sixth anniversary, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which served more than 5,000 LGBTQ residents of the borough last year, held its Community Leadership Awards & Gala on April 23. The DUMBO Loft event honored Desiree Akhavan, an Iranian-American filmmaker whose recent feature debut, “Appropriate Behavior,” tells the story of a young bisexual Persian immigrant living in Brooklyn and navigating the challenges of love and family in a new country; and Hudson Taylor, a former University of Maryland wrestler who as a straight man learned about the homophobia and transphobia that can pervade sports, and so founded Athlete Ally to promote acceptance and celebration of diversity in the sports world. Akhavan was out of town on
Terrance Knox, one of the gala’s co-chairs.
crowd to pony up $12,000 on the spot to fund paid internships for six youths in the its Out Summer Leaders program, which offers them leadership and life skills while they do community outreach work. The Center currently oper-
ates out of its office at 4 Metrotech Center downtown, with a $400,000 budget and two full-time and two part-time professional staffers. For more information, visit lgbtbrooklyn.org or call 347889-7719. — Paul Schindler
LESBIANS MAKE HISTORY IN BELGRADE
to the streets today to show that we are not some Western import,” she said. “We exist in this country. We are citizens of this society that we help build, and we want change. Change which will come when people understand just how much political oppression affects women, and how it's omnipresent for lesbians.” Gudovic enjoyed the cultural events of Lesbian Spring. “We were able to see a film from Bosnia-Herzegovina about a group of female soccer players, the film “Lesbiana” from filmmaker Myriam Fougère, and we discussed different books and publications and we had the opportunity to see an exhibit of photographs of lesbians taken by lesbians." She was impressed by how much the group of international lesbians had in common, in particular their struggles with invisibility and violence. The Lesbian Spring was organized by a range of groups and individuals. It was timed, in part, to coincide with the presence of the Feminist Caravan, a project of the World March of Women, an international activist group. — Kelly Cogswell
SCOTUS, from p.20
interrupted with questions. He concentrated on demonstrating the real harms suffered by same-sex couples, exemplified by two of the plaintiff couples who had relocated and been denied recognition of their marriages — in one case, in the context of emergency medical care for one of their children. Again, the appeal here was to a major concern of Kennedy’s. Hallward-Driemeier ended his rebuttal with the stark evocation of Jim Obergefell’s struggle to be properly recorded as a surviving spouse on the death certificate of his husband, John Arthur. GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
Reading the Tea Leaves Commentators and analysts will likely pick over the transcript and audio recordings for the next few months trying to find signs about how the case will turn out, but they may be disappointed to find that Kennedy had much less to say than those justices whose positions are much more predictably pro or con. On Question 2, in particular, there is very little to work with; there, he barely spoke at all. The most hopeful sign for marriage equality proponents springs not from these arguments, but more from the court’s prior actions — first, in denying review
On Sunday, April 19, more than 100 women took to the Belgrade streets for the first lesbian march in the entire region. The march in the Serbian capital capped off four days of the Lesbian Spring, which included photo exhibits, film screenings, discussions, workshops, and, of course, parties. A bold action in a city where Pride marches are often banned after threats of violence and marchers are sometimes attacked, the Lesbian March included Roma women from Niš and Novi Becej and activists from the Lesbian Women's Network. Their focus was lesbian rights and lesbian visibility. Marchers participated for a range of reasons according to an April 20 post in e-Novine. Ana Pandej, a Lesbian Spring organizer, was sick of lesbians being invisible, not just in society, but in demos for worker’s rights, women, and even Gay Pride. “It’s like we’re not even there... It’s really essential for women in general, particularly lesbians, but also straight, bi, and queer women, to be visible in public spaces.” Zoé Gudovic, another activist with the organization, reemphasized the importance of claiming space and acknowledging the contributions of lesbians to LGBT history. “We took
Participants in the Belgrade march held April 19 in connection with the Lesbian Spring there.
of the Fourth, Seventh, and 10th Circuit pro-marriage equality rulings last October 6, which allowed same-sex marriage to go into effect in every state in those circuits, and later in rejecting stay petitions from several states in the Ninth Circuit states, as well as from Florida and Alabama, in cases not yet reviewed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. These actions seemed a clear indication of a court majority on board with marriage equality, since they allowed the map to expand to 37 states representing 70 percent of the population. An adverse ruling on Question 1 — the right to marry question —
would be a daunting proposition liable to generate frenzied litigation over the status of thousands of marriages performed in the 18 states where same-sex couples first became eligible to wed after October 6. Viewed from that perspective, it seems highly likely Kennedy will overcome any qualms he might have about suddenly abandoning “millennia” of differentsex marriage traditions in favor of avoiding the harms suffered by same-sex couples and their children — in terms of financial and emotional well-being and dignity — when their families are denied the benefits of marriage.
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.16
for gay folks since the ‘70s, when freethinking ex-hippies moved in. The gay ones swiftly began restoring and redecorating the place, of course, and before long the 19th-century spa resort had become a colorful LGBT Mecca smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. Christ of the Ozarks, a 65-feet-tall statue of Jesus erected by a white supremacist in 1966, stands in torn Eureka Springs as well. The ginormous Lord is the work of the sculptor Emmet Sullivan, who is equally revered for his work at nearby Dinosaur World. The white supremacist, Gerald L.K. Smith, also built a 4,100-seat amphitheater designed primarily as the home of “The Great Passion Play,” an annual hillbilly rendition of the Oberammergau, Germany classic (the latter of which, rather like “Brigadoon,” appears only once every 10 years, but unlike “Brigadoon,” tells the story of Jesus’ last days before and including his crucifixion). Civil war was inevitable. “The Great Passion Play” is tanking commerce-wise, and the Angry Christians blame us. Add to the lousy box office the recent passage of a local anti-bigotry law that protects LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and municipal services, and Eureka Springs has ended up resembling Gettysburg
just before the slaughter. A ballot measure to repeal the law is scheduled for May 12. “Dot,” a commenter on John Paul Brammer’s excellent coverage of the fracas on Blue Nation Review, expressed her view thus: “Every person has rights, but not the right to take away others rights. Children should NOT have to the sharing rest rooms with people of the other sex.” Our bizarre national fixation on toilets is truly boundless. And Dot might consider taking a brush-up course in English. Dot’s elimination worries stem at least in part from a most vile ad in what my father would call the Eureka Springs Gazatzky (a catchall term for any local newspaper): “If you think tourists are going to be excited about even the possibility that their wives, daughters and girlfriends will be sharing a bathroom with a guy who decides he’s ‘transgender’ just to have a little fun (or worse) at the ladies’ expense, you don’t know tourists and you don’t know sex offenders.” That the putative sex offenders would also be tourists didn’t occur to anyone connected to the ad. What the Angry Christians are most concerned about, though, is the steep decline in attendance at “The Great Passion Play,” which runs from May through October — a fall-off they attribute to the thriving LGBT tourist trade. The flood of gay dollars into the coffers of Eureka Springs queers and
LONG VIEW, from p.18
to act as the fulcrum of that effort in his bid to undermine Obama’s Middle East policy. But the longstanding support the Jewish community has shown for anti-discrimination and equality initiatives remains solid, and it’s remarkable
JENNER, from p.11
reveals that the four oldest kids felt that Jenner had more or less abandoned them in his effort to hide. One big shock came when Jenner of fered only grudging praise for President Barack Obama mentioning the transgender community in his 2015 State of the Union address, a remark that caused Diane Sawyer to lose her composure,
queer-friendly allies supposedly frightens away hoards of Angry Christians along with their money. The play was close to bankruptcy when the Reverend Randall Christy bought it in 2012. Business hasn’t picked up. Christy faults the town’s reputation for acceptance. As the Times’ Richard Fausset writes, Christy thinks that his fellow fundies “have become more reluctant to visit Eureka Springs because of efforts to promote the town as the ‘Gay Capital of the Ozarks.’” Being the Gay Capital of the Ozarks strikes me as the very model of a pyrrhic victory, but that is neither here nor there. Christy’s critics point out that he didn’t take the sound business advice that was offered to him: book Christian rock groups in the amphitheater along with “The Great Passion Play” — groups that would have attracted thousands of young people to Eureka Springs just as they have at other venues. Nobody seems to have considered the Oberammergau solution: run the show only one out of every 10 years. The strategy has paid off well for Oberammergau, where the show has been running since 1634. That’s even longer than “Cats.” So, in the end, it turns out to be Mammon of the Ozarks who’s to blame for the Angry Christians’ hateful spews. And personally, I don’t see why a preacher’s dumb business model should abrogate my ravenous desire to use a Eure-
that two high-profile gay men, Reisner and Weiderpass, were willing to leave that legacy behind. Here’s hoping that they’ve learned something about the meaning of community over the past week. It would be a dreadful outcome if the victory of marriage equality were to lead other gays to fol-
reel back in her seat, and ask in a tone of utter amazement, “You’re a Republican?” Jenner was amused, but he then went on say that he was sure that neither John Boehner nor Mitch McConnell would have any problem with his being transgender. Personally maybe, maybe not. But Bruce, don’t hold your breath for an invitation to appear onstage at the 2016 Republican National Convention. As for Sawyer, she handled
ka Springs ladies’ room. Get your fat ass outa that stall, Dot! I gotta pee so bad my weenus hurts.
When you long for John Wayne saying “He is truly the son of Gahd”: What the Angry Christians should be railing about is the appalling “A.D.: The Bible Continues,” NBC’s blasphemously bad sequel to the History Channel’s hit miniseries “The Bible.” Mark Burnett, who so loved the world t h a t h e g a v e u s “ S u r v i v o r, ” co-produced both. Everything is so, so wrong with “A.D.,” from the inane English accents apparently meant to suggest both Latin and Aramaic to Jesus’ religious use of Crest 3D Whitestrips. There is no attempt at historical accuracy. Mary is clad in the classical blue get-up that dates from the Byzantine era, 500 years after the film is set. And where in the New Testament is it written that an earthquake hit Jerusalem at the very moment of Jesus’ death? Or that the disciples used Molotov cocktails to bust their way out of town to get to Galilee? “A.D.” has so many idiotic action sequences that it should be called “Fast and Furious Resurrection.” “A.D.” makes a mockery of Christianity. It’s an impious fiasco. Where is the Angry Christian outrage? It’s all directed at gay people in a tiny town in Arkansas. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.
low Reisner’s simplistic assertion that “it’s done,” that the community’s political goals have all been achieved. There remains a leading political party in which many leaders believe queers can, without peril, be ignored. Perhaps that complacency was shaken, at least a bit, by the outpouring of anger here in New York against Ted Cruz.
the interview with characteristic intelligence — except for her insistence on using “What Does Bruce Jenner Look Like In a Dress?” as a pre-commercialbreak teaser for the whole second hour of the interview. Setting up Bruce Jenner to conclude the show as a drag queen was tacky and unlike anything else in the interview. Sawyer, who was blasted with high-key lighting and whose makeup appeared to have been applied with a putty knife, seemed
transfixed by the concept. (Use a tad darker shade of foundation, Diane, and a little less of it — we already know you’re white — and ease up on the mascara and eyeliner; the Kabuki look is so Tokyo 1673.) The Jenner in drag issue took on a prurient tone after being repeated so often, and as it turned out there wasn’t even any payoff. Jenner donned a black, barely feminine top and slacks for the final segment of the interview, and that was the end of it. April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Diversity Celebrated at Publishing Triangle Awards Pioneering gay and lesbian writers joined by new LGBT, allied voices BY MICHAEL LUONGO
I MICHAEL LUONGO
Edmund White and Rigoberto González.
Novelists Sarah Van Arsdale and Christopher Bram with publishing industry marketing professional Michele Karlsberg.
Editor Dean Van Motter and publisher Lisa Davis with award winner Bernardine Evaristo.
t was a mix of old and new at the 27th annual Publishing Triangle Awards, an event that honors the best in LGBT publishing. Many stalwarts and icons of the gay literary community were in attendance and celebrated during the course of the evening, but the April 23 event at the New School also offered a warm embrace to a more diverse array of writers than was once the case. In fact, some who won awards were brand new to the gay publishing scene — straight allies entirely surprised to be honored. “I’m not actually gay, and I’m a woman,” said Bernardine Evaristo, the winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award for lesbian and gay fiction for “Mr. Loverman” (Akashic Books) — a novel of a Caribbean-born man in London first contemplating coming out at 74. The UK-based writer used the British expression “dead chuffed” — really pleased — to describe her feelings on receiving the award. “It’s so unexpected to win an LGBT award for this novel in America,” Evaristo said. “It’s a completely random thing that’s happening to me,” She was able to accept the award in person because she is currently on fellowship at Dartmouth College. Other award-winners were unable to attend the ceremony — among them Robert Beachy, author of “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” (Alfred A. Knopf), who won the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction; Kim Fu, recipient of the Edmund White Award for the book “For Today I Am a Boy” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a novel about a young Chinese-Canadian boy struggling with the knowledge that he is in fact a girl; and Jericho Brown, who won the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry for “The New Testament” (Copper Canyon Press). “We were very pleased at the diverse character of our award winners this year,” said Trent Duffy, the treasurer and awards chair of the Publishing Triangle, which describes itself as “the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing.” “We honored Rigoberto González, Bernardine Evaristo, and the legendary activist Barbara Smith, and Jericho Brown,” among other award recipients. “It shows that the LGBT community is truly coming to support the work of people of color,” Duffy added. The event drew a crowd of roughly 125, he said. Alethia Jones was part of the diversity Duffy mentioned. She, along with her co-editor Virginia Eubanks and Barbara Smith, received the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction for “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: 40 Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith” (SUNY Press).
“The award is a key way the community is saying thank you for all you’ve done,” Jones said of Smith, adding, “She is so deeply thankful to those who understand her work. At heart, Barbara is a poet,” as well as an activist. Rigoberto González, a poet, novelist, memoirist, and critic, described his Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement as “an incredible honor. So many of the previous recipients have nurtured and helped me, with my identity as a gay man and as a writer, so joining their company is an absolute honor.” The California-born writer, who was raised in Mexico, added, “And I am flattered, as I am only 44.” Among those at the ceremony who have nurtured young writers over the decades was Edmund White, for whom the Debut Fiction Award is named. Looking back from today through his years of pioneering writing, White told Gay City News, “I’ve always been open about being gay in my writing, even in the beginning when it was much more different from today and was called a career breaker.” He recalled editors who dealt with him contemptuously early in his career, especially after the 1977 “Joy of Gay Sex” (Simon & Schuster), which he co-wrote with Dr. Charles Silverstein. Widely known and celebrated among LGBT audiences, White said he feels that within the larger US reading world his work, heavily oriented toward gay themes, is still largely unknown. As Americans, he said, “first of all, we don’t know writers and we don’t know ghetto-ized writers.” Well-read Brits, he said, know his work, regardless of their sexual orientation. White lamented that many LGBT writers have still not been able to cross over into mainstream popularity, contrasting that with African-American writers like Toni Morrison, whose work is considered universally American now. “Gay publishers thought we would cross over in the same way,” he said, adding, “Black characters can still appeal to white heterosexuals, because they can identify with them.” Scanning the many young writers and readers around him at the award ceremony reception, White joked, “Maybe that’s finally changing though, now that we are normal and assimilated. We can have babies and get divorced now, too.” Indeed, the world of today’s LGBT writers honored at the 27th Publishing Triangle Awards has changed vastly over the nearly four decades since “The Joy of Gay Sex” first appeared — something abundantly clear from the list of winners and finalists, and their subject matter, at the group’s website, publishingtriangle.org. The Publishing Triangle event was part of the spring season of LGBT book events that includes the Rainbow Book Fair, held April 18, and the Lambda Literary Awards, scheduled for June 1 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Still on Stage at 90 Albert Maysles documentary captures Iris Apfel’s independence in a fashion world demanding performance BY STEVE ERICKSON
Iris is the exact opposite of a vacant, anorexic supermodel. While she’s reliant on designers for her source material, she combines their clothes and accessories in a way that reflects her own creativity, rather than simply copying their dictates. Her sense of style has proven popular enough to get her museum shows, department store windows, and even a teaching position. “Iris” follows its subject around New York and Palm Bach as she shops and sorts through her collection. Maysles appears on camera a few times — he managed to complete another film, “In Transit,” before passing away in March — but a woman, who’s never identified, conducts most of the interviews with Iris. This isn’t the kind of documentary that introduces fictional elements or self-consciously breaks the fourth wall. The camera tends to efface its presence — no doubt, plenty of work went into creating that illusion — but one gets the sense that Iris, like many Maysles protagonists, is performing for it. She doesn’t seem to leave the house without a spiked necklace and African bracelets. “Iris” doesn’t dodge the question of the old age’s aches and pains or the inevitability of death, but it’s clear that Iris would rather go shopping in Harlem than think about her dwindling energy level. In some
omen in the public eye face tremendous pressure to look beautiful and sexy. You’d think that by the time they reach their 80s, this demand would relent, but I just read a newspaper article critiquing 89-year-old Angela Lansbury’s appearance. If actresses turn to plastic surgery to look eternally youthful, they run the risk of having it backfire and being ridiculed. Iris Apfel, the subject of the late Albert Maysles’ documentary “Iris,” doesn’t play the beauty game at all. In fact, she frankly says, “I don’t like pretty.” The 90-year -old, who’s had a long career as an interior decorator and now exists as a freelance “rare bird of fashion,” may not be conventionally beautiful, but she has a remarkable sense of style. Iris and her husband Carl, whose 100th birthday is celebrated during the film, founded a company called Old World Weavers, which reproduced fabrics and designs from the 1600s through the 1800s. Although the company was successful, Iris didn’t become a minor celebrity until a 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition launched by curator Harold Koda. Afterwards, she became an “octogenarian starlet,”
as she puts it. Maysles is best known for three documentary features: “Salesman,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Grey Gardens.” That last, from 1975, recently revived by Film Forum and probably bound for a Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray, pioneered the “non-fiction melodrama.” Although its influence wouldn’t be felt immediately, it can be seen in recent films like Robert Greene’s “Actress.” “Iris” departs from Maysles’ classic trio in a number of ways — for one, it was directed by him alone, while his earlier films were collaborative productions. The result is a thoughtful character study. In her own way, Iris is just as enthralling a person to watch as Big Edie and Little Edie of “Grey Gardens,” and she’s much more self-aware and in control of her own persona. No one is likely to accuse this film of being a freak show. “Feminist” is not a word ever used in “Iris.” Apfel talks about her curiosity regarding politics and history and how these forces manifest themselves in a humble dress, but she doesn’t discuss her own political views. Nevertheless, “Iris” locates an unconventional woman following her own stylistic guidelines on the margins of the fashion industry, a field that many have written off as hopelessly exploitative and sexist.
Iris Apfel in Albert Maysles’ documentary “Iris.”
IRIS Directed by Albert Maysles Magnolia Pictures Opens Apr. 29 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at 63rd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
respects, “Iris” seems remarkably modern for the work of an 88-yearold filmmaker. It finds common ground with “Actress” in suggesting that we — especially the 51 percent of us who happen to be female — are constantly performing.
A Buddhist Pedestrian in Paris Tsai Ming-liang expands on his “Walker” shorts with “Journey to the West” BY STEVE ERICKSON
ut gay Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang has never had much American commercial success. Yet the critical kudos he’s received seem to be building momentum for his work. His film “Stray Dogs” was one of the most acclaimed Asian movies released in the US last year. Just last month, his 1992 debut “Rebels of the Neon God” got its first American release and the Museum of the Moving Image mounted a
comprehensive Tsai retrospective. At the same time, his filmmaking is growing increasingly formalist, even “difficult.” His latest, “Jour ney to the West,” leaves behind the socioeconomic concerns of “Stray Dogs” for a spiritual contemplativeness. It stars Tsai’s partner and constant star Lee Kang-sheng as a red-robed monk walking very slowly through Marseille. Tsai has made a series of six “Walker” shorts revolving around this character, based on seventh-century Buddhist monk Xuanzang (who
spent 17 years walking through Asia), but “Journey to the West” is his most ambitious treatment of the Walker yet. Tsai’s previous depictions of urban life have largely focused on its alienating and neurosis-inducing qualities. Even if a film like “The Hole,” inspired by fears of a Y2K apocalypse, ends on a hopeful note, that optimism is a brief note in a symphony of fear and anxiety. “Journey to the West” calls for patience, but it’s optimis-
JOURNEY TO THE WEST Directed by Tsai Ming-liang Cinema Guild No dialogue May 5-7 only Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. anthologyfilmarchives.org
JOURNEY, continued on p.40
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
Fashion’s Glossy Feel Bertrand Bonello captures the mood of Yves Saint Laurent, if not his heart SAINT LAURENT Directed by Bertrand Bonello Sony Pictures Classics In French with English subtitles Opens May 8 Film Society of Lincoln Center 165 W. 65th St. filmlinc.com Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
Gaspard Ulliel in the title role of Bertrand Bonello's “Saint Laurent.”
BY GARY M. KRAMER
he second feature film about Yves Saint Laurent in as many years, “Saint Laurent” is not a hagiography. Rather than present the trendsetting fashion designer’s life from childhood to death (as Jalil Lespert’s uneven film “Yves Saint Laurent” did last year), director and co-writer Betrand Bonello’s biopic focuses mainly on the period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Saint Laurent (Gaspard Ulliel) was at the height of his fame. The film toggles back and forth in time, creating more of a patchwork than a proper biography. The narrative approach dilutes the drama in Saint Laurent’s life, emphasizing a lush, velvety mood over plot. “Saint Laurent” is best when Bonello immerses viewers in specific episodes in his subject’s life. An early scene in the designer’s atelier where his seamstresses are fitting clothes is sublime, capturing both the detail of the work and the genius of Saint Laurent’s style. And a pair of scenes set in discothèques where Saint Laurent spots and desires the model Betty Catroux (Aymeline Valade) or flirts with the dangerously sexy Jacques de Bascher (Louis Garrel) are terrific. Slowly panning back and forth between the two men across a crowded dance floor, Bonello raises the erotic frisson between them. Even a scene where Pierre Bergé (Jérémie Renier), Saint Laurent’s partner in work and life, has a business meeting with an American executive (Brady Corbet) percolates with drama. Too much of “Saint Laurent,” however, is style, with no substance attached. Moments where Saint Laurent talks about his influences — Marlene Dietrich, Mondrian, and Marrakesh GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
— or mentions having youth, beauty, and wealth fall flat, delivering little illumination about him. We see Saint Laurent’s lavish lifestyle, replete with objets d’art he and Bergé collect, but these symbols of decadence — from plates to a giant Buddha and to dogs — come off as empty and meaningless. We learn more about his character in watching Saint Laurent read a letter from Andy Warhol and in a scene of reporters discussing his obituary. The clothes, of course, are fabulous. Arguably the best scene in the film is a fitting Saint Laurent has with a client, Mme. Duzer (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). As she wears a suit he designed, he slowly makes her more beautiful, changing her belt, taking her hair down, and molding her to the outfit. The runway scenes are also fantastic, and Bonello creates multiple panels — like a Mondrian painting— to present the fashion show from different angles. The music, a mix of pop tunes from the era, is effective in recalling the feel of those years while also commenting on the action. Clocking in at 150 minutes, “Saint Laurent” is too long not to be a more thorough investigation of his life. Much of the film is given over to Saint Laurent losing his grip on reality, something his mother (Dominique Sanda) observes and is also conveyed in magical-realist scenes where he sees snakes in his bed. Bergé moves out when Saint Laurent, in a state of hallucination, almost kills him. However, because we’ve seen so little of them together — one curious sex scene, but otherwise little affection or even conversation — the break-up’s drama has little impact. Instead, it is Saint Laurent’s affair with Jacques de Bascher — with decadent moments at a sex party and where the men share pills with each other and, inadvertently, Saint Lau-
rent’s dog Moujik, as well — that generates the real heat here. Otherwise, the film includes many scenes that misfire. The moments when a model and a nude woman are discussing Saint Laurent provide an intriguing tease, but in the end go nowhere. In the film’s final third, we see Saint Laurent in 1989 (here played by Helmut Berger), but the action is out of sync with what goes before. Even as Saint Laurent struggles with the anxiety and torment of having to create a new, exciting fashion line over and over again, the sequence offers no poignancy to engage viewers. All of which is a shame, given the outstanding performance Bonello coaxes out of Ulliel. The actor, a spokesmodel for the fragrance Bleu de Chanel, channels Saint Laurent convincingly as he drinks in the sight of a model while dressing her. Ulliel conveys Saint Laurent’s despair well, but also shows his playful side, as when he creates his famous nude photograph used in an advertisement. Jérémie Renier is underutilized as Pierre Bergé, but Louis Garrel makes a very striking impression as Jacques de Bascher. Garrel is so seductive and captivating, in fact, that the film loses momentum when his character disappears from the story.
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Home Is Where the Hurt Is Unlikely musical about family dysfunction and same-sex desire jumps to Broadway BY DAVID KENNERLEY
rueful graphic novelist recalls her awkward first lesbian encounter. Distraught parents argue at the top of their lungs. A suicidal, closeted funeral director hits on underage boys. Not exactly the typical stuff of hit Broadway shows, that’s for sure. Welcome to “Fun Home,” the bittersweet musical based on Alison Bechdel’s popular graphic memoir examining an agonizing childhood in a small town in central Pennsylvania. After a glorious run at the Public Theater in 2013, where critics and audiences alike gushed over the show’s emotional heft and delicacy, producers couldn’t resist a transfer to the Great White Way. Never mind that similar edgy endeavors (witness “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”) that tried to make the leap flopped. Tourists, who make up a sizable portion of the Broadway audience, stayed away in droves. Will this unorthodox tuner, with inventive book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and stirring score by Jeanine Tesori, but no big recognizable stars, land firmly on its feet? We can only hope. For the refreshingly candid endeavor is even more affecting in its Broadway
incarnation, in part owing to new dynamic staging in the round at the intimate Circle in the Square Theatre. Sam Gold’s masterful direction brings out the heartache and yearning to its fullest. Like the graphic novel, “Fun Home” is served up in fragments, echoing the swirling, nonlinear nature of memory. The narrative ricochets from one disparate scene to the next: a 43-year-old Alison (Beth Malone) at her drawing table; a young Alison (Sydney Lucas, who won the Obie Award for the role) and Sydney Lucas and Michael Cerveris in “Fun Home.” her brothers spruce up their musefuneral home that’s a riff on the Jackson Five. um-like home meticulously restored by their moody father (Michael Cerveris); a Later, they sing a Partridge Family-esque ditty, young-adult Alison (Emily Skeggs) navigates a proclaiming “Everything’s all right, babe.” You rocky freshman year at Oberlin; Alison’s moth- might say “Fun Home” strives to put the “fun” in er (Judy Kuhn) plays Chopin on the grand piano “dysfunctional.” One scene finds a horrified, confused young while Alison’s father hits on the handyman in Alison forced, for the first time, to assist her another room. The overlaps and juxtapositions of these dis- father in preparing a cadaver. Shrugging it off sonant impressions ramp up the emotional quickly, she writes in her diary: “Dad showed me a dead body today. Went swimming. Got a new intensity. Not that the play is all melancholy. An appeal- Hardy Boy book. Had egg salad for lunch.” ing if wobbly number finds the children performing a bouncy mock commercial for their family’s c FUN HOME, continued on p.29
Flying High “An American in Paris” soars while “Peter Pan” struggles to get airborne BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
f there is such a thing as a “perfect” musical, then “An American in Paris” surely qualifies. This sumptuous production, based on the classic 1951 movie, flawlessly synthesizes song, story, and dance in a stunning and emotionally rich experience likely to take up near-permanent residence at the Palace Theatre. Musicals based on movies have mixed success, but under the genius direction and choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, with a new book by Craig Lucas that eschews the gaudy jingoism of the movie, the result is a darker and more complex study of people at the
end of World War II trying to rebuild a life in Paris. Jerry Mulligan has decided to stay in Paris rather than go home. As the city wobbles back to some of its former glory, he falls in with another American, Adam, a composer, and Henri, Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope in “An American in Paris.” a would-be nightclub performer who is the scion of a textile empire. As fate has it, they all take principals, which he manages with a fancy to a young dancer, Lise. The lovely economy. The score is Gershwin, so it’s strength of Lucas’ book, however, is not in the plotting but in the deep- filled with favorites, like “I’ve Got er characterization he brings to the Rhythm,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to
Paris,” and “Liza.” Brilliant as it is, the music shares prominence with the production’s spectacular beauty — dancing that includes the “American in Paris Ballet” and heart-stopping imagery. Wheeldon is clearly the artistic descendant of 20th century ballet greats, but he imbues his dances with narrative, sexuality, and a range of emotion all his own and sets a new standard for dance on Broadway. Robert Fairchild as Jerry and Leanne Cope as Lise dance their roles sublimely, but also prove themselves accomplished actors and excellent singers. In the supporting roles, Max von Essen as
FLYING HIGH, continued on p.29
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
FUN HOME, from p.28
The grown-up Alison presides over the flashbacks, interjecting clever commentary or captions, reminding us these scenes are essentially boxes from her graphic memoir. Ultimately, she finds solace, even a measure of catharsis, in translating her traumatic history into cartoons. The cast, largely intact from the run at the Public, is exceptional. Malone’s captivating portrayal of grown-up Alison is a triumph of restraint and nuance. Cerveris renders the father’s ambivalence and regret with painful acuity. Skeggs brings an impish charm to the young-adult Alison, as she reluctantly comes to accept her sexuality. Her comic, uplifting solo with the refrain “I’m changing my major
FUN HOME Circle in the Square Theatre 235 W. 50th St. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $75-$150; funhomebroadway.com Or 212-239-6200 100 mins., no intermission
to Joan” is a highlight of the evening. Another standout is young Alison’s ode to her first crush, “an old-school butch” delivery woman she saw at a diner, as sung by Lucas. If you haven’t figured out by now, the “Fun” in the play’s title is caustically ironic. It’s actually the kids’ snarky nickname for their father’s creepy funeral home. But please keep it to yourself — we don’t want to scare off the tourists.
Celebrates GAY PRIDE
Hudson Guild Theater Company
“Brave Smiles...another lesbian tragedy” May 8-17 | Reservations: 212-760-9817
Hudson Guild Gallery
FLYING HIGH, from p.28
Henri and Brandon Uranowitz as Adam, whose character is also the narrator, are terrific foils for Fairchild and deliver two of the year’s best supporting performances. Jill Paice is delicious as Milo Davenport, the rich American who is trying to buy social standing — and Jerry. The always-wonderful Veanne Cox has a great comic turn as Henri’s mother. Bob Crowley’s design and lighting by Natasha Katz are perfect, and special notice must be paid to the best use of projections yet on Broadway, designed by 59 Productions. Technology has never had so much emotional power. It’s difficult to imagine anyone not getting swept away by the sheer theatricality of this magnificent piece that is also a deeply human story. “An American in Paris” touches the heart in a manner very close to the divine.
I have seldom wanted to love a show as much as “Finding Neverland.” The exploration of how imagination takes form and, literally, flight is fertile territory, rich in Jungian themes of birth, renewal, and possibility. J.M. Barrie’s premise that Peter Pan could only stay young by forgetting what he learned sets up existential conflicts between the realities of life and the appeal of fantasy and between youth’s freedom and the consciousness maturity GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS Palace Theatre 1564 Broadway at 47th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $47-$147; ticketmaster.com Or 800-745-3000 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission
FINDING NEVERLAND Lunt Fontanne Theatre 205 W. 46th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $72-$147; ticketmaster.com Or 800-745-3000 Two hrs., 40 mins., with intermission
brings. Those tensions seem made for the theater. It was probably naïve on my part to think that such themes could be smartly engaged in a big, crowd-pleasing musical, but James Graham’s book almost goes there. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t know if it wants to be an intimate story on the scale of the magnificent “Fun Home” or a great big Broadway show, and that is its undoing. There are pleasures to be had, and for the sake of commerce the show may be
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Cerebral Plays, Low Comedies, Searing Social Drama in London West End highlights for spring, early summer season BYANDY HUMM
Olivia Vinall in Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem.”
Maitland’s next also at the Park, June 1–July 11, is “An
RICHARD HUBERT SMITH
Ralph Fiennes in Simon Goodwin’s “Man and Superman.”
A new Tom Stoppard play is always an event — especially directed by Nick Hytner in his swan song as the artistic director of the National after a 12-year run that can only be described as stupendous. (He is an out gay man, to boot.) “The Hard Problem” at the National’s new Dorfman (to May 27 and on NT Live) is not Stoppard’s best, but it is packed with challenging ideas on the nature of consciousness and what it means to be a human animal. Set mostly in an institute for brain science, the play centers on a young, conflicted scientist, Hilary (Olivia Vinall), with a soft spot for God. She does not seem a great choice for a protagonist for these weighty matters, but her ambiva-
s one of the more scientifically-minded characters I saw on the London stage this month might say, let’s start with what you can see. NT Live is transmitting the National Theatre’s sold-out hits to cinemas in New York and around the world (ntlive.com for venues and schedule). First on your list should be Ralph Fiennes’ incandescent performance as the rebellious Jack Tanner (and Don Juan) in Simon Goodwin’s modern dress “Man and Superman” at the National’s Lyttelton (on stage to May 17 and on NT Live) more than a century after Bernard Shaw dazzled audiences eager to be scandalized with his verbal pyrotechnics. It remains a brainy battle of sexes, beliefs, and politics. The play is a wonderful ensemble work, notable for Shaw’s strong women created in pre-Suffrage days and played deftly here by Indira Varma and Faye Castelow. And Nicholas Le Prevost is a memorable foil for Tanner as Roebuck Ramsden, both stodgy and sprightly at the same time. Unmissable.
her down with a damning speech in her presence in the House of Commons. James Wilby, who bravely took the title role in the 1987 Merchant-Ivory film of E.M. Forster’s gay-themed “Maurice” when others tur ned it down, portrays this politician — belittled with the title of this play — with dignity. His break with Thatcher, abetted by wife Elspeth (Jill Baker) — who comes across as someone who would make a good prime minister — is over Thatcher’s aversion to union with Europe. Thatcher is played by Steve Nallon, famous for voicing the Thatcher puppet on TV’s satiric “Spitting Image”. Here he plays her straight without campiness and is quite as good as Meryl Streep was as “The Iron Lady.” A huge photo of Thatcher and her all-male cabinet of 23 looms over the proceedings and multiple male Tories are limbed ably by Graham Seed, Tim Wallers, and John Wark.
Meera Syal in Katherine Boo’s “Behind the Beautiful Forevers.”
lence is part of Stoppard’s point. More interesting is the side plot on the ludicrousness of modern financial markets featuring a villainous hedge fund manager (Anthony Calf) who also funds the institute.
Also coming our way through NT Live is David Har e’s new “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” at the Olivier to May 5, directed by the National’s new artistic d i r e c t o r, R u f u s N o r r i s , a n d based on Katherine Boo’s deep journalistic exploration of a slum next to Mumbai’s airport and how the poor there eke out enough to survive — if they are lucky — from garbage-picking while being exploited by the police and local “fixers.” “They want to get rid of us,” one mother says. “That is the only power we have.” The brilliant ensemble led by Meera Syal as the pivotal moth-
er Zehrunisa Husain sucks us in to this alien world that most of us manage to avoid thinking about, but they never sentimentalize the real people who they are portraying in scenes that out-Dickens Dickens. I went to an exhibit at the British Library for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (recommended) and it is clear that its principles of equal justice have not filtered down to this benighted corner of the former empire. Hare’s play is hard to watch, but well worth the confrontation with uncomfortable truths.
At the innovative Park Theatre is “Dead Sheep” (to May 9) by political reporter Jonathan Maitland, a first-time playwright, and directed by veteran Ian Talbot. It’s about Geoffrey Howe, the col or l ess num b er tw o to Margaret Thatcher who brought
Audience with Jimmy Savile” about the late TV icon, once “the most trusted man in Britain” who turned out to be the most twisted man in the country, serially molesting children throughout his entire career.
I love the Finborough pub theater and lo o ke d fo rwar d to its revival of that smash hit of the 1850s “Our Ame ric an Cousin” (which closed April 14). Forgive me for having considered Abe Lincoln lucky in not having to sit through the whole play. Lydia Parker put together a talented and game cast for this farce about an American rube (Solomon Mousley as Asa) coming to England to claim his inheritance from aristocratic relatives, but I spent most of my time trying to imagine how stuff like this could ever have been very funny. Even the line John Wilkes Booth used to time his assassin’s shot because it would be covered by a sure laugh fell flat. But Tom Taylor’s play is of deep historical interest and I am glad to have it off my bucket list. And to be fair, the Great Emancipator was said be enjoying it on that fateful evening 150 years ago this month.
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April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Mike Bartlett has provoked us with “Cock” about bisexuality and
look like a picnic. The first was Sam Holcroft’s “Rules for Living” about an upper middle class family of grown children gathering with their parents for the Christmas dinner from hell (at the National’s Dorfman to July 8). They are in an arena having what amounts to a tagteam wrestling match, replete with an actual scoreboard tallying the points they score upon one another. All hands in this good cast are on deck under Marianne Elliott’s direction, from feckless son Adam (the always entertaining Stephen Mangan) to Deborah Findlay’s manic mom. This play, likely to make you feel as if you have nothing to complain about in terms of going home for the holidays, gives new meaning to the term food riot. Tony Kushner showed us a dad telling his grown kids of his intent to kill himself in “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide…” a few seasons back at the Public. At the Tricycle (to May 2), it’s Mom’s turn in April De Angelis’ “After Electra,” a boulevard comedy about old-age suicide with a fine ensemble under the nimble direction of Sam West. It opens with 81-year-old modern artist Virgie (Marty Cruickshank) on her birthday telling her dour, mid-50’s daughter Haydn (Veronica Roberts) and subsequently her sister and closest friends that she will end her life that evening. Virgie is not dying of acute cancer or anything; she just feels herself slipping and wants to make her exit before she flops. The argument she gets from her loved ones makes the play, posing some serious philosophical questions. (Virgie to Haydn: “How long was GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
KRISZTIAN SIPOS PHOTOGRAPHY
I saw two family plays that made “August Osage County”
“Charles III” about Charles succeeding his mother Queen Elizabeth II a few years hence. At the estimable Almeida, he served up an ugly stunt, “Game” (now closed), where people pay £250 to shoot a stun gun at a young, lower class couple in a swanky pad they get to live in as payment for their exploitation. While well acted, there must be other ways to remind us of the depths to which our society has sunk.
Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher in Jonathan Maitland’s “Dead Sheep.”
David R. Butler and Alexander Hulme in Dylan Costello’s “The Glass Protégé”
this supposed to go on — this ‘mother’ thing?”) But De Angelis also can’t resist the kind of morbid jokes Woody Allen might tell (Virgie: “I thought seeing you all might make me want to change my mind, or at least waiver a bit. But it’s the opposite.”). Especially good is Virgie’s sister, Shirley (Rachel Bell), an imperious but earthy member of the House of Lords who gets many of the best lines in the way Maggie Smith does as the dowager countess on “Downton Abbey.”
Norris’ debut directorial effort as artistic director of the National starring Chiwetel Ejiofor of “Twelve Years a Slave” (to July 16); Caryl Churchill’s “Light Shining in Buckinghamshire” (to June 22); “The Beaux’ Stratagem” by George Farquhar at the Olivier (May 19-July 19). At the Park, Dylan Costello’s “The Glass Protégé” (to May 9) about gay Hollywood in the late 1940s and “Positive” (July 7-August 1) about living with HIV today. At the Arts, Jonathan
Harvey’s classic of teen gay love, “Beautiful Thing” (June 3-July 11). At the Noël Coward (May 9-July 18), the great Antony Sher in “Death of a Salesman,” already a hit at the RSC in Stratford. At the Tricycle, the well-reviewed “The Father” (May 7-June 13) by Florian Zeller makes its London debut. “A New Play for the General Election” by Chris New is just that at the Finborough (to May 12, with a special May 7 performance on UK Election Night).
At the command of human rights activist Peter Tatchell, I went to see “Dara” (now closed) at the National’s Lyttelton, an epic play about warring Muslim Mughal princes in 17th century India. I am glad I did, if only to witness one of the most stirring pleas for religious pluralism I have heard in my life from the lips of Prince Dara (Zubin Varla in a titanic performance) on trial for being a bad Muslim. As we work today to combat religious bigots who pervert their faiths to gain political power, “Dara” reminds us that it is a timeless story. Lines like “Who cares what door you open to come into the light?” are still fighting words for many.
I’m not supposed to review “Gypsy” starring that force of nature Imelda Staunton (“Pride”) at the Savoy (to July 18) because I saw a preview, but I can’t imagine its producers would be upset if I told you that it is one of the greatest productions of the Styne-SondheimLaurents musical of all time.
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COMING UP: At the National: “Everyman” at the Olivier, Rufus
Tough Times in the Big Easy
A ragtag band of misfits living on the edge of heartbreak and hope BY DAVID KENNERLEY
Manhattan Theatre Club Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W. 47th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $67-$130; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission
couple of years back, Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit” was a breakout hit at Playwrights Horizons, winning the Obie Award for Best New American Play and named a Pulitzer finalist. The four-character work was hailed as an incisive portrait of suburban angst and socioeconomic friction. Now, the astute playwright has set her sights on New Orleans with “Airline Highway,” which recently opened at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway venue, the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The darkly comic drama with musical interludes is a love letter to D’Amour’s cherished home city and focuses on, well, urban angst and socioeconomic friction. You might say the ambitious “Airline Highway” is a family affair. Not only does it feature a cast of 16 portraying a motley crew of misfits living in a dilapidated motel who form a makeshift family after being shunned by their own, but one of those actors is D’Amour’s charis-
K. Todd Freeman as Sissy Na Na and the cast of Lisa D’Amour’s “Airline Highway,” directed by Joe Mantello.
matic brother, Todd. The play’s premise, like the floodprone city itself, is unsettlingly precarious. Colorful residents of the Hummingbird Motel gather in the parking lot for a funeral for Miss Ruby (Judith Roberts) — never mind that their beloved, elderly matriarch is still very much alive. Apparently, the ailing Miss Ruby requested a funeral while she could still witness it. “Why do we have to
wait until we’re in the coffin for people to say nice things about us?,” somebody muses. Naturally, crepe paper streamers, a disco ball, colored lights, and Mardi Gras beads are involved. At one point, the gathering erupts in a slow-groove local dance favorite called the Wobble. Attempting to capture the swirl and randomness of everyday life, the story is a glorious jumble of plot
threads and overlapping dialogue. The most fabulous resident is a black transgender performer in a Bourbon Street karaoke joint called Sissy Na Na (K. Todd Freeman), as warm-hearted as she is sharptongued. The over-the-hill Tanya (a marvelously haggard Julie White), who turns tricks and struggles with substance abuse, is in charge of the event. Krista (Caroline Neff) is a stripper still in love with her ex-boyfriend, Bait Boy (Joe Tippett), who has returned to pay his respects with his rich new girlfriend’s teen daughter, Zoe (Carolyn Braver), in tow. Terry (Tim Edward Rhoze)
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IN THE NOH
Three Manhattan Essentials Indomitable Sandy Duncan; silver anniversary of Chi Chi Valenti, Johnny Dynell’s “Thousand Stevies” BY DAVID NOH
he latest edition of the 92 Street Y’s Lyric and Lyricists series is “All Dancing! All Singing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood” and the special guest star is Sandy Duncan, who told me, “My husband of 35 years, Don Coreia, and I are doing ‘A Couple of Swells’ from ‘Easter Parade.’ Berlin’s music is just timeless for film and theater, and this is just his music for movies. I never met Berlin but Tommy Tune and I did a workshop using his songs on and off for three years. It was huge success in Australia and we did it as a presentation in New York but Berlin’s sisters passed on letting him put it on because he had not done it in that traditional, old-fashioned way and they didn’t
like that the characters were very contemporary and there was a reality going on, but it was fascinating.” (Lexington Ave. at 92nd St., May 2-4; 92y.org/Event/Irving-Berlin-in-Hollywood Approching 70, Duncan looks truly ageless, which brings up her great role of “Peter Pan”: “You can’t get rid of it, the theme of it is so seductive because we don’t want to grow old, especially in this country where it’s almost like a sin if you start looking and acting old. We’re so afraid and the Peter Pan theme is being explored in every direction and not always successfully. I did not care for the recent TV production, did not watch all of it. I met Allison Williams once and she was lovely but I just think of all the people who were available to do that, she was an odd choice. Also I thought, given today’s graphics and stuff, how
come they’re still hanging by a wire? I thought they would be zooming all around. Somebody’s gonna do that. “I appeared in the first revival since the original with Mary Martin and it was scary because it was a strictly stage production while hers had been on TV. Daunting, because that’s such an iconic image, so I told the creative people, ‘If I’m going to do it, I want to do it like a little boy — maybe an effeminate little boy, but I don’t want to do it like the grand lady of the theater, which was valid for the 1950s. “Only now that I’m 70 and have two sons, 30 and 31, I would have a whole new kind of perspective and layer to it, having been around little boys growing up. I really get them. I had mine late, at 37. They’re heartbreaking. I just know I’m going to be arrested for being a pedophile because I stare at little boys from one to five on the street, and their mothers are like what the hell? They are just so tender and sweet, more than little girls at that age, who’ve already got some guile going on.
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April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
BIG EASY, from p.32
convinces longtime motel manager Wayne (Scott Jaeck) to allow him to repair the gutter pipe for a few bucks. If only there were a solid throughline. Offhand questions concerning how the celebration will turn out, if Krista and Bait Boy will get back together, and if Tanya will suffer a relapse are not compelling enough to drive a Broadway play. And we can see what will happen to that old gutter pipe from a mile away. Under the inventive direction of Joe Mantello (“Other Desert Cities”) the spirited ensemble works mighty hard to pull off moments that are by turns spontaneous, raucous, and tender, though at times the results feel labored. Great care is taken to switch up the clichés, adding unexpected quirks and character flaws, though tropes are unavoidable (a play honoring New Orleans is pretty much unthinkable without endearing eccentrics, funky jazz music, and — yes — those Mardi Gras beads). At its best, “Airline Highway” is eager to embrace the authenticity that’s being driven out by capitalism and greed (a Costco and a fancy health spa are going up across the street, casting a shadow on the humble motel, built in the 1940s).
IN THE NOH, from p.32
“Mary Martin came to see me, and we were both just crying. She introduced me to sing on some show and I sang ‘Neverland,” and she was so gracious. There was a big media thing on stage with all the photographers and she said, ‘You’re my Peter Pan!’” Duncan’s Captain Hook was flamboyant gay Brit actor George Rose: “He and I were very close and he didn’t like a lot of people because he was kind of salty. He first thought I was going to be the kind of perky person I look like, which I’m not. One night he said, ‘Darling, I’m going to take you to my apartment.’ He had wild cats living in his loft downtown. You’d go in and they’d hiss at you. He slept in a cage in case they would turn on him in the middle of the night, four huge wildcats. One was an ocelot — I think that’s even against the law. “He had the filthiest, dirty potGayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
It celebrates living in the moment and finding a kind of poetry in the downtrodden, crazy quilt of humanity living on the margins of society. On this stage, compassion rules over disdain. The realistic set of the run-down, two-story motel façade, by Scott Pask, is a voyeur’s delight, allowing glimpses into sordid lives. Is that drug-dealer guy (Todd D’Amour) smoking crack while he watches Popeye cartoons? The shabby costumes, by David Zinn, add much-needed flavor to the proceedings. Perhaps the strongest subplot involves Zoe, a bright, inquisitive high school student writing an essay on American subculture for her sociology class. Brandishing a smartphone and iPad, she lives several rungs up the economic ladder, and the motel residents eye her with suspicion. “Subculture,” Sissy Na Na sniffs, not bothering to conceal her contempt. “You mean you are the ‘culture’ and you are coming down to us.” Preparing for the festivities, it takes Zoe but a few minutes to untangle a string of multicolored lights and arrange them into neat coils. If only untangling the intricate problems of everyday life were so simple.
ty-mouth you could imagine, this grand, ever so proper English fellow who also wasn’t what he looked like. God, how I loved him. I remember going to dinner with him and Hermione Baddely. She’d sit there, with her teeth and have her tripe and pork pie, all this English food, and eat this stuff between shows. I’d want to be polite when they’d say, ‘Darling, we’ll take you to dinner ,’ but I’d be like, ‘I really don’t wanna have sweetbreads. I’m from Texas!’” Duncan spent a year in college in Texas and came to New York in 1964, “with $350 and got into the Rehearsal Club, a girls’ residence, like in the movie ‘Stage Door.’ I was able to live there for $32 a week with breakfast and dinner, and I went from one job to the next. If I hadn’t, I couldn’t have worked because I can’t audition. I don’t know how and turn into a 14-year-
IN THE NOH, continued on p.36
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Paris in the Springtime
Opéra-Comique, steward of France’s opera traditions, mounts winning Hérold “Le Pré aux Clercs” BY DAVID SHENGOLD
rips to Paris always put matters operatic in perspective. Opera’s capital in the 19th century, the city drew international composers and singers to much inspired — and doubtless also much banal — creativity. Largely in eclipse after World War II save for a few masterpieces, opera’s “French school” periodically re-examines its heritage, occasionally turning up works of merit among those properly discarded. Lately, the historic Opéra-Comique — which premièred many of those still honored masterworks, such as “Carmen” and “Manon” — has mounted several once-famous works whose titles alone have remained familiar. Ferdinand Hérold (1791-1833) has lingered on through his Overtures and occasional arias remastered from 78s. His “Le Pré aux Clercs” (1832) followed the mode for amorous adventure in historical settings. It proved very salutary to encounter its charms (March 31) and hear how Hérold — especially in his ensembles, the work has several dynamic, non-formulaic trios and a hushed, lovely quartet — transformed the universally known comic Rossini style into something that would nourish Bizet, Offenbach, and Massenet, and even Berlioz and Meyerbeer, whose grand opera “Les Huguenots” shares more than the historical character of Marguerite de Navarre with “Le Pré aux Clercs”. Often in Europe, when half-forgotten works win revival, one gets out-there Regie stagings by directors proudly proclaiming ignorance of opera. Such productions can work wonders for repertory staples that “everyone knows,” like “Bohème,” but seem counterproductive in reintroducing pieces virtually no one knows. Éric Ruf’s largely traditional but fluid staging served “Pré aux Clercs” and its audience well. In Emiliano Gonzalez Toro’s energized, almost self-ironic performance as the piece’s bloodthirsty villain, it was not without a television-infused post-modern sensibility. Paul McCreesh conducted expertly — after offering an Overture longer on energy than charm. Dramatically, the stage was dominated by the “Reine Margot” of Marie Lenormand, a veteran of many American stages who’s now receiving her due at home. Though her voice is fine rather than exceptional, turning a bit hard at top forte, Lenormand projected genuine star quality. Looking like a ‘30s movie queen, she was riveting in everything she did, turning every syllable, gesture, and look to the advantage of her flamboyant character. Marguerite’s savvy and daring protect and unite a noble Huguenot couple, Isabelle and Mergy. As Isabelle, Canada’s Marie-Eve Munger looked pretty and sang with attractive timbre
Marie Lenormand and Michael Spyres in Opéra-Comique’s production of Ferdinand Hérold’s “Le Pré aux Clercs.”
and style. In Mergy’s wide-ranging part, American tenor Michael Spyres — familiar from Bard and Caramoor outings — offered spectacular ease at both range extremes and beautifully projected tone; his polished sung and spoken French impressed my French nephew. As the court’s revels-master Cantarelli, Eric Huchet recaptured a French character tenor tradition of near-camp but amiable world-weariness. As for the peasant couple on the move up, Jael Azzaretti (Nicette) sang her soubrette material delightfully opposite barihunk Christian Helmer’s well-voiced Girot. Curtain calls evoked sustained rhythmic applause — for the high quality of the performance and the honor afforded France’s neglected musical patrimony.
Verdi’s great — some days I’d say greatest — opera also premiered in Paris, in 1867. It remains an artistic scandal that the Met has never presented “Don Carlos” in its original — superior — full French version. But April 15 at Lincoln Center, the largely “cover” performance proved very satisfying, thanks to Yannick NézetSéguin’s insightful, energized conducting. Lianna Haroutounian, a handsome, diminutive, and vulnerable figure as Elisabetta, made a genuinely excellent debut: a fine spinto growing in quality and volume as it rises. More, please! Nadia Krasteva’s confident Eboli evoked Rudolf Bing’s stable of sultry-looking “B list” Slavic mezzos; she had personality to burn and sang with flair and a nice, sensuous lower range if a chancy top. Luca Salsi had always struck me as dull, but — though not a noble, romantic fig-
ure onstage — his first-ever Posa earned admiration, for native Italian but also for suave legato phrasing. Salsi had clearly worked hard preparing for this big chance, and it paid off very well. The run’s cover Carlo (Ricardo Tamura) having crashed and burned at the previous performance, the still-ailing Yonghoon Lee essayed the role, a good fit for his bright, ardent sound and handsome stage presence. One sensed Lee running out of steam in Act Three. Sure enough, a spokesman announced that Tamura would complete the performance. His buzzy tenor pleased less than Lee’s but he did a perfectly creditable job, earning audience gratitude. The onstage rocks on which this fine revival was built were the lead basses, Ferruccio Furlanetto (Met debut 1979) as Philip and James Morris (Met debut 1971) as the Grand Inquisitor. The Italian bass has pondered all the angles dramatically and vocally and is simply magnificent as the unhappy king. His American colleague, if less incisive theatrically, was more than satisfactory, sounding vocally renewed and steady. However, we needed a better Monk — a Philip in training — than the gravelly, bottom-shy Robert Pomakov. Good Flemish deputies, though!
Carnegie Hall had a little festival around the great, luminous-voiced German soprano Dorothea Roeschmann. On April 12, she offered a moving, commandingly sung Dido (Purcell, not Berlioz) with the fine Canadian early music ensembles Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle
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April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
WeddingPrideDirectory CELEBRATING GAY AND LESBIAN MARRIAGE
Ron L. Meyers, Esq. 515 Madison Ave. in New York (212) 644–8787, ronmeyerslaw.com Ron L. Meyers is a leading practitioner of estate planning for LGBT clients. He was a major source for the New York Times’s October, 2009 feature, “The Higher Lifetime Costs of Being a Gay Couple.”
King’s Brass (516) 485-4717, kingsbrass.com Be introduced in style by a brass band introduction. The King’s Brass is a group of impeccably trained, talented professional musicians, directed by Michael Klein, a graduate of the Juilliard School.
Soul System Orchestras
116 Kraft Ave. Ste. 3 in Bronxville (914) 779–1050, adoptionlawny.com Rumbold & Seidelman has a long history of representing the LGBT community — whether through adoption or some form of collaborative reproduction.
1650 Broadway, Suite #503 New York, (800) 466-7685 soulsystemorchestras.com Soulsystem Orchestras bands have been on the leading edge in providing “elegantly hip” wedding entertainment for the past 15 years. Clients can choose from a 3-piece ensemble to a 20-piece swing orchestra and beyond.
Rumbold & Seidelman, LLP
Bay Ridge Subaru 1819 Cropsey Ave. in Brooklyn (718) 234–7960 brooklynsubarudeals.com Visit Bay Ridge Subaru for a new or used Subaru Forester, Outback, or Tribeca. It supports same-sex couples.
BANKING TD Bank
Branches throughout the Tri-State area (800) 751–9000, tdbank.com Being yourself is just being human. Everywhere. Every day. We’re with you. We bank human and celebrate the LGBT community. America’s Most Convenient Bank.
Catering by Fairway fairwaymarket.com/stores An extensive menu to help you serve a wedding party of any size. Check out our extraordinary selection at Fairwaymarket.com/catering.
Pure Sugar, Inc. West Babylon (631) 766-3309, puresugarinc.com Pure Sugar can create anything your heart desires...in sugar. Make your desserts the main focus of the event. There is no project too small or too crazy.
CEREMONY SITES The Riverside Church
Kupcakes with a K (516) 860–9288 kupcakeswithak.com Kupcakes with a K offers over a dozen different unique flavors for you to enjoy! Sold in certain locations and through its website for your party or event.
Lou Babs & Moogs 95A Main St. in Port Washington, (516) 883–8585, lbmgifts.com/store Lou, Babs & Moogs opened its doors in 2002, and sells an inspiring mix of unique and useful gifts for him, her, and them. Surf through its site to quickly discover just the right thing.
Genesis Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Multiple locations (718) 283–8600, genesisfertility.com Genesis Fertility & Reproductive Medicine is a nationally recognized center of excellence for comprehensive fertility services.
FLORISTS Fleurs Bella
55 E 11th St. in New York (646) 602–7036, fleursbella.com Fleurs Bella creates unique, floral designs, from the smallest flower arrangement to the most lavish event decor. The team at Fleurs Bella will capture the essence of your vision.
490 Riverside Dr. in New York (212) 870–6802 theriversidechurchny.org Exchange vows where Presidents and some of the most historic figures of our time have stood then finish your perfect day in one of its event halls.
8103 5th Avenue Brooklyn 718.238.3838 www.henrysfloristweddingevents.com Fleurs Bella creates unique, floral designs, from the smallest flower arrangement to the most lavish event decor. The team at Fleurs Bella will capture the essence of your vision.
St John’s Lutheran Church
HEALTH & BEAUTY
81 Christopher St. in New York, (212) 242–5737, stjohnsnyc.org In the heart of the West Village, St John’s Lutheran Church and Rev. Mark E. Erson, Pastor, openly accepts same-sex couples.
Amazing Bottle Dancers (800) 716-0556 bottledancers.com It’s hard to overstate the incredible reaction The Amazing Bottle Dancers evoke when they appear at nontraditional weddings. The guests are completely charmed and blown away by our surprise appearance! They never see it coming!
Bay Ridge Skin & Cancer Dermatology
9921 Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn (718) 833–2793, bayridgederm.com Put your best face forward with the help of David Biro, who was voted one of “New York Magazine’s” best doctors. The medical office offers Botox, microdermabrasion, and laser hair removal.
Emergency Medical Care 200 Chambers St. in New York, (212) 962–6600, emcny.com Emergency Medical Care is a gayfriendly healthcare practice and an efficient and compassionate urgent care concept. It is a healthcare practice dedicated to better, timely medicine.
GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
Sand Castle on ohe Beach 127 Smithfield, Frederiksted St. Croix, Virgin Islands 340.772.1205 sandcastleonthebeach.com Our quaint, beach side boutique hotel is designed to meet your personal vacation style. We maintain a sense of intimacy and freedom in this seaside oasis. It’s our home and we invite you to relax and unwind in this comfortable and tranquil setting.
Villa Amor Camino a Playa los Muertos, Sayulita Bahia de Banderas Nayarit, Mexico (619) 819-5407 hotelvillaamorsayulita.com. “Sweeping ocean vistas and a sexy room concept do away with outside walls and invite you to see Sayulita through a rustling fringe of palm fronds.”Travel+Leisure.
Anna Sheffield 47 Orchard Stl, New York (212) 925-7010, annasheffield.com Anna Sheffield Jewelry offers a timeless alternative to the traditional world of Ceremonial and Fine jewelry with an extensive collection of finely crafted baubles. Our elegant array of rings includes signature styles of mixed precious metals, inverted-set diamonds and solid gold gemstones.
Party Planners and Expos Bosco’s Wedding Planning Expo (914) 337-3826, boscoweddings.org Before you walk down the aisle, walk down ours; Bosco’s Wedding Planning Expo is the place to find your best bet wedding contacts. Visit our website for an Expo near you.
Classic Party Rentals 336 W. 37th St. in New York (212) 752–7661 newyork.classicpartyrentals.com At Classic Party Rentals, exceptional customer service is its hallmark. It offers a network of party specialists that can provide everything you need anywhere you need it.
REAL ESTATE SERVICES Accurate Building Inspectors
1860 Bath Ave. in Brooklyn (718) 265–8191, accuratebuilding.com Accurate Building Inspectors is a full-service home and building inspection firm servicing the tri-state area since 1961.
Kikco Property Management PO Box 408, Sayville, NY (631) 597-7018, firstname.lastname@example.org Rental properties, venues for parties and honeymoon packages.
RECEPTION SITES & CATERERS
Andaz Wall Street 75 Wall Street, New York (212) 699-1636, andaz.com Sophisticated urban gay weddings have access to over 14,000 sq. ft. of unique indoor and outdoor spaces right in the heart Wall Street.
the townhouses of East 64th Street. For your wedding reception, the venue’s dazzling, gold-domed Arabelle restaurant provides one of the most unique settings in Manhattan with its blend of murano glass and brass chandeliers, chiffon colored walls and murals of Asian pagodas.
75 North Station Plaza, Great Neck (914) 482-2900, andrewhotel.com Leave the details in accommodating your friends and family the the professionals at The Andrew, Great Neck’s Boutique Hotel, where chic sophistication meets the timeless essence of Long Island’s Gold Coast.
Russo’s on the Bay
Shakespeare on the Hudson
162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, Howard Beach, NY, (718) 843-5055 russosonthebay.com Exemplary service and exquisite cuisine combined with professional attention to detail was the best way to achieve customer satisfaction.
200 Eastern Pkwy. in Brooklyn (718) 638–5000, brooklynmuseum.org The Brooklyn Museum is an extraordinary venue located in the heart of Prospect Heights. It has one-of-akind backdrops for private events.
216 Route 385, Catskill, NY (518) 947-1104, stewarthouse.com This remarkable event space now features three beautifully romantic cabins ideal for both large groups and private weekends.
Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel
Various locations in New York (516) 501-9700, carlylecatering.com Whether you desire timeless elegance ON THE GREEN, the regal splendor OF LAWRENCE, deco glamour at The Palace, retro nostalgia at The Omni, or a personalized catering style Off The Green, Carlyle has something for everyone.
Columbia’s Faculty House 64 Morningside Dr. in New York (212) 854–1200 facultyhouse.columbia.edu A smart and stylish choice for your unique New York City wedding, the prized University landmark has classic, flexible spaces with a surprising, modern twist.
The Edison Ballroom 240 West 47th Street, New York (212) 201–7650, edisonballroom.com With its award-winning executive chef and personalized service, the Edison Ballroom continues to provide the perfect environment for all occasions in an elegant private event space in the heart of Times Square, New York.
Grand Oaks Country Club 200 Huguenot Ave. in Staten Island (718) 356–2771, grandoaksnyc.com Formerly the South Shore Country Club, this new and improved Staten Island venue can provide the perfect. elegant backdrop for your reception with prime dates still available.
Houston Hall 222 W. Houston St. New York (212) 582 2057, houstonhallny.com A massive space on West Houston Street has plenty of room to create the event of your dream...or a rowdy Beer Hall wedding. Eternal love, beer and a complimentary minister!
Plaza Athenee 37 East 64th Street at Madison Ave, New York, , (212) 644–0202 plaza-athenee.com Le Trianon, our ceremony space is elegantly appointed in natural earth tones with ten windows overlooking
370 Canal St. in New York (212) 966–3400, sheratontribeca.com Let the Sheraton Tribeca help you celebrate your same-sex wedding. The sleek, modern hotel works with various New York City wedding venues in the area.
Tio Pepe 168 W. Fourth St. in New York (212) 242–9338, tiopepenyc.com At Tio Pepe you have a choice of atmosphere. The skylight dining room supplies a touch of romance while the enclosed sidewalk cafe provides a room with a view of Greenwich Village.
The Vanderbilt at South Beach 300 Father Capodanno Blvd. in Staten Island, (718) 447–0800 vanderbiltsouthbeach.com Boasting both a luxurious banquet hall, as well as magnificent outdoor oceanfront space.
Whyte Hall 577 Fire Island Boulevard, Fire Island Pines (631) 597=6060, email@example.com Sequestered but easy to reach, this dramatic is located in one of your favorite locations. Experience the magic of Fire Island at its finest.
Yacht Owners Association 101 W. 23rd St., New York (212) 736–1010, yachtsny.com Yacht Owners Association has over two decades of experience planning events at sea, and the largest number of yachts in the tri-state area. The Yacht Owners Association can accommodate weddings anywhere from 2 to 600 guests.
Ace World Travel 8320 13th Ave. in Brooklyn (347) 915–4287, aceworldtravel.net This full-service and certified romance travel agency specializes in destination weddings and honeymoons. It can also create custom-built itineraries.
45 Downing Street, New York (212) 627–8838, algerhouse.com Alger House is a great venue for smaller weddings and corporate events (30 to 106 guests). The very private reception hall has high ceilings, custom lighting, and nearby transportation.
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IN THE NOH, from p.33
old moron. When I was in ‘Canterbury Tales’ [for which she was Tony-nominated], Alan Jay Lerner came backstage to say he was doing a show, ‘Coco,’ with Katharine Hepburn and wanted to hear me sing. I was 23 and sang the duet from ‘110 in the Shade’… ‘We get in a car…’ I did both parts — what possessed me? I finished this to stunned silence. and Lerner asked, ‘Do you have another number?’ ‘No,’ and I lost the job because I was so awful. “I hate auditions and the business of the business, everything about it, except stepping on stage. But I’m still a nervous wreck, hyperventilating in the wings before I go on. I did ‘Peter Pan’ a thousand times, thinking, ‘I’m pretty sure I am going to literally die out there.’” Duncan nearly did die, or so the doctors told her, when, in 1971, she underwent surgery to remove a tumor in her left eye: “I don’t even know the terror I was going through at the time because I was in such denial. They’d told me I was going to die so I’d already faced that and had to sign papers the night before the operation. I woke up and remember being pushed down the hall on a gurney and my dad was there. I said, “Daddy, I’m alive!’ ‘What do you want, babe?’ ‘I want a beer or a banana popsicle!’ It was a tenhour surgery —I was thirsty! “Daddy sure understood the beer part, and I had to adjust to not seeing. I’ve never been honest about this because nobody’s ever asked me but it has totally colored my existence because I’m in a business that is so cosmetic. They severed the optic nerve in one eye so I have no vision and that eye strays like a lazy eye. The orbit that holds the eye is where the tumor was, so they had to remove the entire orbit. The orbit supports the eye, which is a muscle, so like all muscles they sag [laughs], and so my eye more and more recedes which makes the difference even more apparent. It has made me shy away from pursuing film stuff because I’m self-conscious, very much so when I’m first working with people because I know it’s a distraction for them, as they never know quite where to look.” Duncan is well aware that the basic public knowledge of her comes down to “Peter Pan, lost an eye”: “Yes, like Sammy Davis Jr., or Peter Falk. When I did ‘No, No Nanette,’ all I put in my Playbill bio — because who cares, anyway? — was ‘Sandy Duncan would like to refute the urban myth that she has a glass eye. She doesn’t.’” In 1987, Duncan famously replaced Valerie Harper in the series, “Valerie’s Family” which later became “The Hogan Family” for four seasons: “It was fine. I never met Valerie until this year and she said, ‘Oh, honey they were trying to make such a big deal about it.’ She had been fired, and I had said, ‘I don’t want to be used as a pawn so if you’re using me to get rid of her, I’m not going to cooperate. But if it’s a done deal, then I’ll consider it. I immediately loved those boys and they loved me and I never had a problem.”
Chi Chi Valenti, mother of a “Thousand Stevies.”
Nicks sees it as Halloween with everyone dressed as her different personas, which in a way is exactly what it is.
That was what Duncan refers to humorously as “one of my awful series,” and I asked her if she had ever felt a victim of typecasting: “I don’t feel victimized by it because I enjoyed what I was doing. I did it so well I became typecast, but I didn’t cooperate with it. If I did, you would see me on TV still doing it. But I got tired of it and reached a certain age when it was inappropriate. So I turned down most things, unless they’re unusual. I just did ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ a big success but no money. The things I’m attracted to pay no money and the paying jobs just want you to show up and do what you’re known to do.” Duncan also has done “The Glass Menagerie” with her son Jeffrey (“very painful”) and was recently asked to look into “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Jeffrey is gay and Duncan said, “He was about 15 when he told us. He assumed we knew but you can’t assume anything about anybody unless you’re in the room. ‘So what?,’ we said, ‘big deal,’ and he realized how fortunate he was to be in a family, situation, and city where you are not ostracized. I sort of always knew but you don’t know until you’re told so you can’t assume or assign stuff to people. “He very well may have gone through a period of torture about it — I’m guessing — because he was always one of those people who does everything right and thinks it through. So on some early level he must have gone through some mental thing, thinking ‘This is not the right way to sexually live your life. This is the norm, so if you don’t
adhere to that...’ He never actually said this to me, and is, of course, way beyond that now. “I went through that living in Texas because we didn’t go to church. My mother just didn’t believe in organized religion. And living in the Bible Belt, I felt it wasn’t right but got over it and realized I was lucky as hell, thank you Jesus. I don’t think I have a friend who isn’t gay. I may have a couple but I have to think real hard. “I like gay women and I like gay men because they’re a nice blend between the two sexes. I don’t like women with too much estrogen or men with too much testosterone I don’t care what you do with your little willies or ‘boginas,’ as my kid said. It’s all personal — who cares? — but I do care about how people interact with each other and I find people with too much testosterone or estrogen just exhausting.”
On May 1, the truly legendary New York event “Night of a Thousand Stevies” celebrates its 25th anniversary at Irving Plaza, so naturally I had to sit down with founders Chi Chi Valenti and her husband Johnny Dynell, the First Couple of Downtown, at their offices at HOWL for some deep dish about this long-running tribute to Stevie Nicks. (17 Irving Place at 15th Street; May 1, mothernyc.com/stevie) “This is such a retrospective we’re putting together,” Valenti enthused. “We’ve invited back the true show’s superstars to do highlights that took us over the top, our greatest hits. Director/ choreographer Rachel Klein is creating a number with four of our lip-synch legends from different eras, from Gusty Winds to Poison Eve to Hattie Hathaway, and for the upcoming generation of lippers we have Severely Mame, who’s very genius. That will all be staged beautifully and will have its own little battle of the Stevies, which closes the number, as well as the Big Battle of the 1,000 Stevies at the end, sort of the Faberge egg within. “The HoHos are recreating their ‘Stevie’s Live at Red Rocks’ number with her dressing room backstage with all the shawl changes, frenzy, and cocaine. There will be lots for our longtime audience who’s gone through our different moves, from being founded at the club, Jackie 60, then Mother, Don Hill’s, the Knitting Factory, the High Line, now we’re at Irving Plaza. It really shows our progression from this tiny event on this tiny stage.” The show came about when Valenti saw Nicks playing at the Jones Beach Theater “in the late 1980s right before we started Jackie 60. I ran into Joey Arias and Dean Johnson, who both said they were performing Stevie songs and were huge fans of hers as opposed to Fleetwood Mac fans. They were people from our culture who focused on Stevie as this true alternative goddess, so that inspired us months later in our first season of Jackie — which always had weekly themes — to do a theme about her with Joey and Dean performing.
IN THE NOH, continued on p.37
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.36
“Our first show had maybe 75 people there and now we are up to 1,500 through the course of the night, which is like a real marathon with some staying for the whole thing, while others just come for one segment.” Nicks herself has never attended, Valenti said, “but she’s spoken many times of it, saying she sees it as Halloween with everyone dressed as her different personas, which in a way is exactly what it is. She says it’s really built a bridge for her with her gay audiences, and I think she’s always enjoyed that. Rock and roll tends to be very hetero and homophobic and that’s the difference: her audience has always been much more gay-tolerant, if not specifically gay.” Dynell added, “I give her a lot of credit as it must have been very confusing. We had this telephone conversation with her where she confirmed that she had first heard of it from these airline stewards on her flight who had glitter all over their faces. She was laughing, ‘You guys must have gone out last night!’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we were at “Night of a 1,000 Stevies!”’ This was in the ‘90s and they couldn’t get the glitter off. “If she does come to it now, at least we have room for her. We were always worried that she would come when there were 70 people in a dressing room space for 10, and now we could at least have a panic room for her, if necessary.” Valenti and I had a truly magical Manhattan meet decades ago at Studio 54 during Karl Lagerfeld’s Bauhaus party. I was dressed in black, as she was: me in leather pants, a lace top, and a huge Loretta Young felt cartwheel picture hat, and she as a dominatrix. That enchanted evening, across that crowded room, we took to one another immediately and I went home with her to her loft on 14th Street to dish all night. She and Dynell met similarly, as she said, “at the Mudd Club Combat Love party, I was again dressed like a schwein and he was dressed like a cute young sailor and the rest was herstory. But I always remember meeting you, talk about pedigree, sweetie, and these days we both feel so lucky we were here for all of that. I’m not, nor is JohnGayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
ny, the kind of person who thinks everything is shit now and was only great back then. New York always changes as time goes on and I think of something Debbie Harry said to Johnny back then, ‘Really enjoy this as it’s a very special time.’ ‘What do you mean?’ It was the only time we knew and we thought it was always going to be. She said, ‘You’ll see!’ “People don’t understand there’s this long continuum of New York, which is symbolized in Busby Berkeley’s ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ number when the Broadway baby says goodnight and comes home in her evening gown in the morning to sleep all day as the mundane world is going to work. Maybe we can only sleep ‘til 11 am now, but that’s still pretty good!” Pretty good is an understatement for the lives Valenti and Dynell lead, what with the Stevies and their fruitful association with the HOWL festival, which besides nurturing new artists is proactive in connecting young creatives with affordable housing. Dynell is also a most in-demand DJ, something he first did at the Mudd club more than 30 years ago. Ever humble, he scoffed when I called him “so A-list now” and said, “If you had told me back then I would still be a DJ all these years later, I never would have believed it.” He spins now for elite parties including the AmfAR Cannes Film Festival soiree and the Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party and for fashion shows like Max Mara. He and Valenti are put up in grand style for these gigs. “They’re all fun but sometimes they can compare in wildness to our old parties at Jackie 60, like when this girl showed up late, completely naked except for high heels. I was told, ‘I don’t know who she is, but she’s on your guest list!’ Which was genius and then I found out she was the date of somebody who was on the list. Elton’s party is always fun, and this year Chic performed — there was a kind of disco theme, which is always fun because you can never go wrong with disco.” Contact David Noh at Inthenoh@ aol.com, follow him on Facebook, Twitter @in_the_noh, and check out his blog at nohway.wordpress.com.
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PARIS. THE ONE IN TEXAS.
He sure has come a long way — Seth Sikes performed his third sold-out performance at 54 Below on Thursday, April 16, aptly titled “Seth Sikes is Still Singing Judy Garland.” Sikes kicked off the evening with a medley of “Lucky Day,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Everybody Sing” before launching into a cascade of Garland’s most celebrated songs. Backed by a seven-piece band led by Gary Adler, he also recounted his early days in Paris, Texas, where his love of the “Summer Stock” star began. He was “discovered,” it turns out, by his Grandmother
Ninny, who always encouraged him to sing. This led to Sikes’ eventual move to New York, where he went on to work as an assistant director on Broadway. Through all this, Sikes kept being drawn back to singing Garland — especially around the piano. It all may sound cliché, but his performance leaves no doubt that his love of the legendary singer is genuine. And the energy he puts into his songs is contagious. Sikes picked up a trumpet at one point for a rendition of “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” and was even joined for
‘SINKA AT 60
John Epperson and Charles Busch.
John Epperson, widely known as Lypsinka’s “Hideous Maid,” celebrated his 60th birthday on April 24 at Elmo's in Chelsea at an event hosted by Lady Bunny. Much to Bunny’s chagrin, her 78-year-old mom, Lady Becky, upstaged Bunny, wearing a classic Lady Bunny outfit and wig. The rest of the well-wishers read like a who’s who of the ‘90s East Village/ Pyramid Club/ Wigstock/ ACT UP era, and then some: celebrated actor and playwright Charles Busch; Obie Award-winning actor and playwright David Greenspan; veteran theater set designer and activist Jamie Leo; former American Ballet Theatre soloist Carlos Lopez; Chip Kidd, the book designer of Larry Kramer’s brand new “The American People”; photographer Eric Boman and his partner Peter Schlesinger (once David Hockney’s muse); singer and actress Linda Hart, a former Harlette for Bette Midler; actress Zora Rasmussen; playwright Jim Piazza; Dan Mathews, senior vice president at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; Playbill illustrator Ken Fallin; composer and theater producer John McDaniel; Michael Ryan of the Municipal Art Society of New York; photographer and sex party host Michael Wakefield; actress and ballerina Irina Dvorovenko; ballet dancer and Time magazine cover girl Misty Copeland and her partner Olu Evans; singer Brenda Bergman; Unitard comedy troupe members Nora Burns and David Ilku; public relations wiz and activist Jay Blotcher; and Kevin Malony,
Lady Bunny (r.) and her mom, Lady Becky.
Joseph A. Berger, Gerald Herman, Bill Coyle, and Chris Dieman, the producers of “Lypsinka! The Boxed Set.” On yeah, and I was there, with my friends Dixon Johnson and Mitch Perlman. — Troy Masters
a couple of songs by Nellie McKay, whose show followed his that evening at 54 Below. A particular highlight was Sikes’ cover of “It’s All For You,” written by John Meyer for Garland late in her career. Meyer, who was on hand for the show, was among the many who gave Sikes a standing ovation at the show’s close. Follow Seth Sikes on Twitter @SethSikes. For more shows at what has become an essential Manhattan music spot, visit 54below.com. — Michael Shirey
CARNEGIE HALL, from p.34
de Quebec, dancingly led from the keyboard by Richard Egarr. The concert opened with somewhat iffily chosen and performed selections from Purcell’s “semi-operas”; Roeschmann offered “Let me weep” — a lament not dissimilar to Dido’s more famous one, which she went on to ace. As Aeneas, Hank Neven — a tall Dutch baritone who photographs well — proved not worth importing. He had some style but little presence; the voice is only decent, with unresonant, wooden-sounding high notes. Where were Russell Braun and Philippe Sly, to stay just with Canadians? Helene Guilmette sang a bright-voiced, delightful Belinda. Among the welltrained ensemble — who sang better English as a group than individually — pure soprano Stefanie True and rangy bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus stood out; Vicki St. Pierre had the vocal goods for the Sorceress but Egarr had her slam
disturbingly parlando into key words. The afternoon’s success depended heavily on the excellent concertmistress and archlute and guitar players. Roeschmann next (April 22) joined awesome pianist Mitsuko Uchida for a kind of summit conference Liederabend: two Robert Schumann cycles, “Liederkreis” and “Frauenliebe und –leben,” with Berg’s youthful Late Romantic “Seven Early Songs” in between. A few sliding attacks aside, the soprano was in excellent form and gave the potentially mawkish second Schumann cycle heartbreaking simplicity of feeling. Uchida’s pianism proved spellbinding. The two great artists seemed in total artistic synch and gave great pleasure, ending with two contrasting settings of Goethe’s “Mignon songs” — by Schubert and Wolf — as sublime encores. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.
April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
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FLYING HIGH, from p.29
exactly where it needs to be. (It has a huge reported advanced sale and has just announced a tour.) The story is that Barrie, suffering from writer’s block and living in what biographers say was an unconsummated marriage, finds freedom and fun in his relationship with the four young Llewelyn Davies boys and their mother, Sylvia. From them, he draws his inspiration for “Peter Pan.” Against all odds and the objections of his producer, Charles Frohman, and those who think Barrie’s relationship with
the boys and Sylvia improper, it becomes a hit. “Finding Neverland” quickly becomes a fairly formulaic musical with one predictable set piece after the next. The music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy are, unfortunately, not very tuneful, and the choreography by Mia Michaels has the athleticism and simplistic metaphor that work on “So You Think You Can Dance,” but are wrong here, absolutely killing the sense of period. The sets by Scott Pask, costumes by Suttirat Anne Larlarb, and lighting by Kenneth Posner are some of the eve-
JOURNEY, from p.26
cal openness of Andy Warhol’s “screen tests.” Lavant’s most famous roles — in Leos Carax’s “Mauvais Sang,” “Les Amants du Pont-Neuf” and “Holy Motors,” and Claire Denis’ “Beau Travail” — have called on his physicality, usually expressed through dance. Who could forget his dashing through Paris streets to the tune of David Bowie’s “Modern Love” in “Mauvais Sang”? Lavant’s character never speaks with the Walker but eventually becomes a follower of sorts. In the film’s second set piece, the two men walk very slowly through a crowded Marseille plaza, separated by about 50 feet. No doubt one misses a lot of the subtleties of “Journey to the West” by not being a Buddhist. Yet the discipline of Lee’s performance and Tsai’s direction comes through loud and clear. The Walker strolls as if he were a snail. Walking comes so naturally and unconsciously to us that I’m sure it was quite difficult for Lee to learn how to perform it as “Journey to the West” requires (though at least he didn’t have to worry about line readings.) Tsai’s films have frequently been compared to ‘60s European art cinema, particularly the work of Michelangelo Antonioni, and their references to Asian cinema have often been ignored in the US, partially because we haven’t been able to see films like the Taiwanese musicals quoted in “The Hole.”
Wicks as Barrie’s wife. The kids are spunky and the ensemble is right out of central casting in terms of variety. They sing and dance with bountiful energy. Like “Wicked” and “Phantom of the Opera,” “Finding Neverland” may ultimately prove critic-proof. At the performance I saw, people young and old were enthralled by the show and rapturous at the end. Many of them had clearly gone on the journey of imagination the creators intended. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that it’s pure joy that packs houses, however imperfectly delivered.
tic and relaxing. The Walker uses the spaces of Marseille for his own purposes and at his own pace. In one of the film’s two lengthy set pieces, he very gradually walks down the right side of a busy stairwell, possibly a subway entrance. (Needless to say, a woman whips out her cell phone and takes a photo.) At first, he doesn’t even seem to be moving at all. In fact, it’s surprising that no one presses him to stop blocking half the stairwell. It's 10 minutes later that he’s finally descended the stairs. Tsai never moves the camera. In exteriors, he seems to have filmed with natural light — one can tell that he placed the camera in particularly sunny spots in a few scenes. As far as I can tell, he didn’t hire professional extras. No one freaks out at the presence of the Walker, but one elderly woman stares into Tsai’s camera as she walks by and seemingly wants to talk to the filmmakers (but doesn’t). Tsai also uses long takes, although none is as challenging as Lee Kang-sheng’s 11-minute cabbage-eating scene in “Stray Dogs.” In one scene, the camera is upside down. The first scene of “Journey to the West” is a five-minute close-up of French actor Denis Lavant’s face as he rests, evoking the radi-
ning’s highlights, with the sort of unforgettably brilliant effects people pay to see in a show. Beyond its design, the show’s other big draw comes from the performances. Matthew Morrison as Barrie sounds great and manages to delve into some of his character’s more complex elements. Kelsey Grammer, as Frohman and later Captain Hook, is hilarious and larger than life. Laura Michelle Kelly as the doomed Sylvia — a slight cough early on prefigures consumption, as it always does — sings beautifully. Carolee Carmello as Syliva’s mother is, as usual, wonderful, as is Teal
Lee Kang-sheng in Tsai Ming-liang’s “Journey to the West,” playing the Anthology Film Archives May 5-7 only.
“Journey to the West,” shot entirely in France and made largely with French financing, might be his most Buddhist film yet. At the same time, it has something in common with French films like Jacques Tati’s “Playtime” and Jacques Rivette’s “Celine and Julie Go Boating,” which reimagined the spaces of Paris streets as a playground. Perhaps it’s time for the Walker to come to Brooklyn.
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April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
Ave. So., Sheridan Sq. May 3 & 9, 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 at asdmedia.co/dear-henry.html; $16 at the door; and there’s a two-drink minimum.
CABARET In Tribute to John Bucchino
SAT.MAY.2 NIGHTLIFE Berlin Does New York Hans Berlin is the special guest host of Daniel Nardicio’s fourth annual “Mr. Nude York” contest, America’s only all-nude beauty pageant. In fact, clothing is optional for everyone tonight. The Sausage Factory, 250 W. 40th St., fourth fl. May 2, 11 p.m.-3:30 a.m. Tickets are $20 at dworld.us; $30 at the door. The winning Mr. Nude York receives a $400 prize. To become a contestant, email Daniel@dworld.us.
MON.MAY.4 CABARET NYC’s Next Top Drag Queen
ELENA SEIBERT/ DYKESTOWATCHOUTFOR.COM
In “Grateful… for the Songs of John Bucchino,” members of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus under the musical direction of Jimmy Horan pay tribute to the award-winning gay composer (“It’s Only Life,” “A Catered Affair”). The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. at Seventh Ave. So., Sheridan Sq. May 1, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at theduplex.com; $20 at the door; and there’s a two-drink minimum.
“New York’s Next Top Drag Queen Contest” comes to a thrilling conclusion tonight, hosted by Holly Dae and with judges Arsenio Amadas (Mr. Eagle 2013), Macchia (the MAC and Bistro Award-winning producer of “Cabaret Cares”), and Frankie C. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. May 4, 9:30 p.m. The four finalists each sing a new song and make a heartfelt case for themselves. Tickets begin at $16 at metropolitanroom.com.
Newcomers After Hours New York Festival of Song, in an unplugged evening of cabaret, presents emerging artists Tiffany Townsend, soprano, Hannah McDermott and Amanda Bottoms, mezzo-soprano, James Knight, Alexander McKissick, and Aaron Mor, tenor, and Theo Hoffman, baritone, singing the Great American Songwriting Teams: George & Ira Gershwin , Comden & Green, Bock & Harnick, Rodgers & Hart (& Hammerstein), and Leiber & Stoller. NYFOS artistic director Steven Blier is on piano. Henry’s Restaurant, 2745 Broadway at 105th St. May 4, 10 p.m. The cover charge is $10; reservations at 212-866-0600.
and their work. Queer cartoonists will share information about their craft, discuss its history, and share insights into navigating the industry. CUNY Graduate School, 365 Fifth Ave. at 34th St., Lower Level C. May 7-8, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. On May 7, 7-8:30 p.m., veteran cartoonist Howard Cruse — whose work has appeared in Artforum International, the Village Voice, and Playboy and who is creator of “Felix's Friends: A Story for Grownups and Unpleasant Children” — delivers a keynote address. On May 8, 7-9 p.m., Alison Bechdel, creator of the comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” and author of the graphic memoir “Fun Home,” now in a stage adaptation at Circle in the Square, delivers a second keynote. Registration is $40; $20 for low income; free for CLAGS members at clags.org.
WED.MAY.6 POLITICS The Gay Movement’s History
CABARET Sexy Songs at Midnight Tonight’s Midnight Cabaret is a sexy soiree featuring dancing ladies, circus spectacles, live music, and a DJ after-party! The evening kicks off with jazz from Broadway Brassy and the Brass Knuckles, followed by Albert Cadabra hosting cabaret appearances by Jenny Rocha & Her Painted Ladies, Lil Miss Lixx, Bunny Buxom, Boo Bess the Baroness, and Jason Mejias & the Maine Attraction. Music by DJ Scott Ewalt follows the cabaret. DROM, 85 Ave. A at E. Sixth St. May 2, 11 p.m. Tickets are $15 at dromnyc.com or $20 at the door.
Walter Frank, a retired Port Authority commercial litigator, discusses his new book “Law and the Gay Rights Story: The Long Search for Equal Justice in a Divided Democracy” (Rutgers University Press), which examines the history of the modern gay rights movement in the US. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. May 6, 7-10 p.m.
FRI.MAY.8 NIGHTLIFE The Lads of Boylesque Daniel Nardicio and Jen Gapay present the fourth annual New York Boylesque Festival. On May 8, 8 p.m., the Teaser Party, hosted by World Famous Bob, features more than a dozen performers includ-
FRI.MAY.8, continued on p.43
MUSIC A Kurt Weill Adaptation The Collegiate Chorale concludes its 2014-2015 season with the US premiere of Kurt Weill’s “The Road of Promise,” a concert adaptation of Weill and Franz Werfel’s epic 1937 stage spectacle “The Eternal Road.” Tony Award-winning conductor/ director Ted Sperling leads the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and a 200voice chorus featuring Anthony Dean Griffey, Mark Delavan, Philip Cutlip, AJ Glueckert, Lauren Michelle, Megan Marino, Justin Hopkins, Ron Rifkin, and Eli Tokash. “The Road of Promise” combines a story about a synagogue under threat of persecution with defining stories from the Old Testament. Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Ave. at 57th St. May 6, 8 p.m. & May 7, 7 p.m. Tickets are $30-$135 at carnegiehall.org or 212-247-7800.
Letters to the Boyfriend
RUTH GILLSON PHOTOGRAPHY
“Dear Henry” is a charming, funny, slightly risqué, and ultimately moving piece of theater based on humorist Arthur Wooten’s columns in the London-based magazine refresh, in which a man writes letters to his exasperating boyfriend Henry, regaling readers in the crazy shenanigans (sexual and otherwise) the two shared. Luke Doyle stars in this one-man show. The Duplex, 61 Christopher St. at Seventh
CREATIVITY The Queer Comic World “Queers & Comics” is a two-day conference hosted by CUNY’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) that celebrates, explores, and analyzes artists April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc
rm. 210. May 13, 7-10 p.m.
FRI.MAY.8, from p.42
ing New Yorkers Mr. Gorgeous, Lou Henry Hoover, Hard Cory, Johnny Panic, Lucky Charming, Matt Knife, and Brief Sweat, as wells as exceptional out-of-towners. The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave. at Havenmeyer St., Williamsburg. Admission is $15 at boylesquefestival.com; $20 at the door. On May 9, 7:30 p.m., drag legend Sweetie hosts the Main Event, featuring New Yorkers Brewster, Jason Mejas, the Rhythm Knights Dance Troupe, Ben Franklin, 2 to Fly, Jonny Porkpie, and Manchego, plus an international line-up. B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42 St. Admission is $25 at boylesquefestival.com; $30 at the door.
THU.MAY.14 BOOKS In Tribute to Isherwood
SAT.MAY.9 GALLERY Queer Art Crawl New York Gallery Tours hosts an LGBT-focused tour of seven Chelsea galleries with the theme “Maleness and Art.” Some of the work challenges the notion of maleness and masculinity, while other work wholeheartedly embraces masculine energy. 526 W. 26th St., May 9, 1 p.m. Tickets are $25 at nygallerytours.com
FRI.MAY.15 GALLERY #QueerArtInterface “Interface: Queer Artist Forming Community Through Social Media” is an eclectic mix of queer, New York-based artists, working in a wide variety of styles and mediums, who use social media to create a community to exhibit their work. Just as early ‘80s artists would display their work on rotting piers, abandoned furniture, ten-
SUN.MAY.10 MOTHER’S DAY A Klezmer Brunch
ement bathroom walls, and subway billboards, the current generation circulates its creativity among a potentially infinite virtual audience that can instantly connect with the work, repost images, and blog about it. Walt Cessna curates the work of artists including Dietmar Busse, Chick Byrne, Isauro Cairo, Bubi Canal, Adrian Carroll, Walt Cassidy, Ben Copperwheat, Derek DeWitt, Jordan Eagles, Alesia Exum, Benjamin Fredrickson, Natasha Gornik, Joel Handorff, Leo Herrera, Erika Keck, Brian Kenny, Naruki Kukita, Scooter La Forge, Brett Lindell, Slava Mogutin, Diego Montoya, Chuck Nitzberg, Maria Piñeres, Gio Black Peter, James Salaiz, Ethan Shoshan, William Spangenberg, Tom Taylor, George Towne, and Todd Yeager. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. May 15-Aug. 2; Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m., with an 8 p.m. closing on Thu. Opening
reception is May 15, 6-8 p.m.
MUSIC Boisterous Mayhem from Gilbert & Sullivan The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, America’s preeminent professional repertory company for G&S work, presents “The Gondoliers, or, the King of Barataria,” an operetta that combines two different groups with two different storylines that collide in one boisterous and joyous show! The company’s artistic director Albert Bergeret leads a cast headlined by Metropolitan Opera bass Ryan Allen as the comically ominous Grand Inquisitor Don Alhambra Del Bolero. NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Pl. at Washington Sq. S. May 15-16, 8 p.m.; May 16, 2 p.m.; May 17, 3 p.m. Tickets are $29-$89 at nyuskirball.org/calendar/gondoliers.
WED.MAY.13 POETRY A New Collection from Mark Doty
GayCityNews.nyc | April 30 - May 13, 2015
Larry Kaplun hosts a reading celebrating the publication of Mark Doty’s new book of poems, “Deep Lane” (W. W. Norton). Gerald Stern writes, “Mark Doty writes with absolute exactitude, with one eye on the ideal or absolute and one on the real; the ghost of Walt Whitman on one hand and a laundromat on 16th Street in New York on the other. There is not a finer, more delicate, more sublime poet writing today in the English language.” Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St.,
There’s good reason that Bob the Drag Queen was voted Gay City News’ Best Drag Performer last fall — the girl werks. Bob can be seen all over town — check her out at Barracuda Lounge, 275 W 22 St., on Monday nights; showtime at midnight. For her full schedule, find Bob on Facebook, Twitter (@thatonequeen), and Instagram (@bobthedragqueen). — Michael Shirey
MAYBE SHE’S CRAZY
Celebrate Mother’s Day with a klezmer brunch featuring a septet of performers from Metropolitan Klezmer, the unique ensemble that brings original style and world music fusion to its repertoire. City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St. May 10, 10 a.m.; the band plays from 11-2 p.m. The all-in cost for brunch is $28; $18 for kids 13 and younger at citywinery.com/newyork.
In celebration of the publication of “The American Isherwood” (University of Minnesota Press), edited by Chris Freeman and James Berg, Freeman, an English and Gender Studies professor at the University of Southern California, is joined by Christopher Bram, the author of many novels including “Father of Frankenstein” (adapted for the film “Gods and Monsters”) and author of “Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America”; Bill Goldstein, the founding editor of the books site of nytimes. com; and playwright and actor David Drake, whose one-man show “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me” made his name two decades ago. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. May 14, 7-10 p.m.
LE L ’ KIT S K I T E LL’ S C H H E N
T I K K IT C H E N H E LL’S
L L’ S
H N H N E H ELL S KIT C
CH HE E N H E LL’ S K IT C H E N
2 DAYS OF FOOD & FUN SATURDAY & SUNDAY
THE NINTH AVENUE ASSOCIATION 44
42 57 ND TO
(212) 581-7029 April 30 - May 13, 2015 | GayCityNews.nyc