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Laubach Murder Prosecution Closes with Bang 06

In Iran, At Best, Seeds of Hope 04




October 15 - 28, 2015 |





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In Iran, At Best, Seeds of Hope

OutRight Action International Panel emphasizes stark hurdles facing LGBT people in Islamic Republic BY ANDY HUMM



he mullahs and Revolutionary Guards who rule Iran are doing everything in their power to prevent a revolution in gay rights from happening there. A panel of experts on LGBT issues in Iran assembled at the CUNY Graduate Center on October 13 by OutRight Action Inter national (the new name for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or IGLHRC) saw continuing peril for LGBT Iranians and no Stonewall on the horizon, but they did point to some small signs of hope, especially via the Internet. Even there, however, panelists emphasized that online access can both sow the seeds of LGBT communication and unity and place people in danger from snooping morality police. The plight of LGBT Iranians gained international attention a decade ago, when pictures of the execution of two young men –– publicly hanged allegedly for homosexual activity –– spread around the world. As the outcry grew, the Iranian government insisted the young men had raped a 13-year old boy, but the

Hossein Alizadeh, Dr. Arash Naraghi, and Rose Parris Richter at an October 13 OutRight Action International panel on LGBT rights in Iran.

case stayed in the public eye in part because it brought to light the fact that the penalty for consensual sodomy in Iran can be death. Rose Parris Richter, who is a special assistant to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, rattled off a depressing list of ongoing discrimination and violence faced by LGBT Iranians –– from pervasive bullying in schools to torture, forced marriage, floggings, and rape. Transgender people and gay people are offered gender reassignment surgery, but that is intended to maintain Iranian society’s gender binary, and “surgeries often lead to complications,” she said. On the general question of where the fight for LGBT rights is heading, Richter said, “There is little agreement on how to advance.” Dr. Arash Naraghi, who teaches philosophy and religion at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, meticulously explained what would have to happen with Islam as it is practiced in Iran for LGBT people to obtain justice and understanding. He sees some hope in getting Muslims to understand that while Sharia laws revealed by their God cannot change, fiqh –– the human interpretations of Sharia –– can. “It is impossible for God to command us to do things that IGLRHC IS NOW OUTRIGHT ACTION INTERNATIONAL: Jessica Stern, executive director of what to date are unjust,” he said, so the chalhas been called the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, lenge is getting people to see diswith Chesterfield Samba, the director of Gays & Lesbians of Zimbabwe, whom crimination against LGBT people the group honored in Manhattan on September 28 at its Celebration of Courage gala. On that occasion, Stern announced that the group was changing its name as unjust. to OutRight Action International. In a letter to supporters, Stern explained that There is now a visible women’s “the truth is that we changed our name because rendering bisexual, transgender, movement in Iran that has made intersex, and queer realities invisible was unacceptable. We want to make clear in word and deed that our commitment is to the full spectrum of our community.” She some progress in advancing the added, “We also emphatically chose to include ‘action’ because we believe that status of Muslim women, but the only through collective and tenacious activism will we change the status quo.” LGBT movement remains under-


ground, building its own consciousness no less than educating the public at large about the true nature of sexual orientation and gender identity. Mani Mostofi, an Iranian-American attorney and human rights advocate who is director of Impact Iran, talked about how LGBT Iranians are using their smartphones to find each other for socializing, hooking up. and figuring out how to deal with everything from talking about themselves with their families to getting out of the country if necessary. The problem, he said, is that the government censors gay websites and uses social media to entrap LGBT Iranians and raid their gatherings. Some LGBT information, culture, and new media is transmitted via satellite television and is harder to censor. Naraghi is “cautiously optimistic” about the younger generation in Iran, whom he sees as having “a completely different attitude” on LGBT issues. Hossein Alizadeh, regional program coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa for OutRight and the moderator of the panel, saw an odd sign of hope in the way a former Iranian minister of culture condemned LGBT people: “He said, ‘We can see the collapse of moral values in the young.’ Ten years ago, if you asked them about homosexuality they would say it is a perversion. Now they say it is a human rights issue.” Alizadeh and OutRight have prepared guides for Iranian journalists outside of Iran to move them toward more neutral and accurate language in reporting on LGBT issues. But things are so restrictive inside Iran that UNAIDS does not even refer to sexual transmission of HIV in its materials there. “It’s all about drugs,” Alizadeh said. Among those in the audience was Omair Paul, who is the representative at the UN for Muslims for Progressive Values, a group founded in 2007 to move Islam in a more progressive direction on women’s and LGBT rights and more. In response to his comments on the work his group does, Naraghi said that the major obstacle to its goal comes from the billions of dollars that the Saudis and others pour into promoting reactionary Sunni Islam Wahhabism. Those voices, he said, dominate what the world hears about the religion. These panelists and others participated in an another OutRight conference on Iranian LGBT issues in Dusseldorf last year and contributed articles that were compiled into “LGBT Rights in Iran: Analysis from Religious, Social, Legal. and Cultural Perspectives,” downloadable at outrightinternational. org/content/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-rights-iran. October 15 - 28, 2015 |


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Two Incriminating Statements Now In Evidence in Laubach Murder Trial Cop testifies Edwin Faulkner, Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera, in spontaneous utterances, each acknowledged blame BY DUNCAN OSBORNE





The NYPD is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect in a September 23 anti-gay bias attack near the subway station at 50th Street and Broadway. The suspect, described as an Hispanic male in his 30s, between 5’6” and 5’9” tall, with long dark hair, a mustache, and beard, is wanted in connection with an attack on a 37-year-old man, who was punched and kicked in the face several times while anti-gay slurs were yelled at him. The suspect was wearing a black T-shirt, black shorts, and red sneakers. The assault took place at about 6:45 p.m. Police have released a sketch of the suspect as well as video of the man walking in the vicinity. Anyone with informing regarding the assault or the suspect can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477),, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. –– Paul Schindler

An NYPD sketch of the suspect in a September 23 anti-gay assault.


s the prosecution ended its case in the murder trial of Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera, the gay couple charged in the 2012 death of John Laubach, two so-called spontaneous utterances in which the two admitted to the killing were put into evidence. “He stated, ‘But I killed him,’” Brian Erbis, a detective in Chelsea’s 10th precinct, testified on October 13, referring to Martinez-Herrera. Allegedly, the two defendants bound the 57-year-old gay man on March 2 and covered his face with the duct tape that caused him to choke to death. The couple, who had been having sex in exchange for money with Laubach for some time, robbed his apartment and fled to Florida where they were arrested weeks later, on March 15. They were brought back to New York City. Erbis said that as they were being fingerprinted, Faulkner turned to Martinez-Herrera, who was sitting in a nearby holding cell, and said, “I told you I got everything. I will wait even if I have to see my baby again after 15 years,” implying that he was taking full blame for the crime and anticipat-

ing a 15-year prison sentence. Martinez-Herrera responded with his comment taking responsibility for the killing. Daniel Parker, who represents Martinez-Herrera, aggressively cross-examined Erbis, noting that during pre-trial hearings, the detective testified that “they” had been put in a cell. On October 13, Erbis said they were put in separate cells. He also said they were brought from an upper floor in the precinct to the room where arrestees are processed without speaking. If they were in a cell together, they could have had their conversation privately without being overheard by detectives. The defense hopes jurors will doubt that two men who said nothing to detectives would suddenly blurt out admissions in front of them. Before ending its case on October 14, the prosecution played three 2014 calls that Faulkner made from jail on Rikers Island. In one conversation, reportedly with his father, the other party, not Faulkner, states that he is telling friends that the 33-year-old is charged with “homocide.” The calls were introduced over defense objections. The concern is that the jury will see Faulkner as having the same attitude as the party he was speaking with. Most

Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera at the time of their 2012 police booking.

calls made by inmates from Rikers Island are recorded. Inmates are told by an announcement at the start of their calls and by signage that they are being recorded. Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera are charged with second-degree murder in that they acted with depraved indifference, not that they intended to kill Laubach; felony murder, based on the allegation they caused Laubach’s death in the course of committing another felony; and kidnapping and robbery, the charges that form the basis for the felony murder charge. The prosecution case is hampered because there is no eyewitness to the killing nor can prosecutors assert that Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera were the last people to see Laubach alive. Martinez-Herrera’s fingerprints were found on a knife and the duct tape that were used to execute the crime. Laubach’s antiques and collectibles were in the couple’s possession when they were arrested, and there is video of them attempting to withdraw cash from Laubach’s bank account using his ATM card. The jury has seen pawn shop records showing them selling Laubach’s possessions, photos of Laubach’s property on one of their cell phones that were taken after Laubach’s death, and data from the couple’s cellphones showing web searches made after Laubach’s death in English and Spanish for “antiques,” “collectibles,” “antique coins,” and other topics that sug-

gest they were hoping to sell Laubach’s property. There is other evidence linking them to the crime. The prosecution is hoping jurors will infer from this mountain of physical evidence –– over 150 exhibits –– and police and expert testimony that Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Faulkner gave a lengthy statement to police, but he implicated Martinez-Herrera in the crime in that statement, which creates a confrontation problem. The only way Martinez-Herrera could refute the statement is by calling Faulkner to the stand. The US Constitution bars compelling a defendant to give evidence against himself as Faulkner would likely have to do if he took the stand. After the prosecution rested, the defense moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the prosecution had not proved that the couple placed the tape on Laubach’s face and that one charge, depraved indifference murder, was also not supported by the evidence or the law. “The people have not really presented any evidence as to how the tape arrived over the victim’s mouth,” said Lori Cohen, who is working on the defense team. “There’s no theory the people have presented that would sustain depraved indifference… As to the other charges, the evidence is insufficient.”


LAUBACH, continued on p.25

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


In Courts, At City Council, Shifting Views of Sex Workers Evident

Advocates, however, argue law enforcement reforms still assume prostitution is a “disease”




ncarceration for low-level prostitution offenses is declining. This was the news from a September 18 City Council oversight hearing on the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts that hear misdemeanor cases. Although the courts are a state function, New York City appropriated $750,000 to enhance the services offered by non-profits working within that system. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spent two hours at the hearing, emphasizing the importance she attaches to these issues. The courts have succeeded in altering the way sex workers are treated after an arrest. Gone are the days when a judge uttering crude jokes would provoke ribald laughter shaming those arrested. Still, sharp differences remain between agents for the legal system and advocates for sex work-

ers’ rights. Before the hearing, Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) registered its protest on the steps of City Hall. The group, which chanted, “jobs, not jail; housing not counseling,” is made up of sex workers who object to being arrested and then told to give up their livelihoods. The contrast in perspective between the two side couldn’t be any starker. As their name suggests, Human Trafficking Intervention Courts are based on a model that views sex work as the exploitation of women at the hands of pimps and abusers who inveigle women with tricks and coercion into a life of misery. These women are viewed as the bottom of a totem pole, manipulated by powerful and callous people who sponge off their earnings. That exploitation notwithstanding, however, law enforcement sees hookers as players in a vast criminal enterprise, often international in scope, that must be combatted.

Honey Lane, a community organizer with the Red Umbrella Project, at a September 18 City Hall rally.

From its vantage point, RedUP says sex workers do the work they do for the same reason anybody seeks out a job –– the money. They learn about the work from their friends, especially if they are homeless, and find a way of earning a living where no one asks for their address, their age, or if they have previous experience. The barriers that can impede legal employ-

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ment don’t exist for sex work. These workers learn skills related to attracting clients, including appropriate dress and make up and careful hygiene. It can be preferable to waking up to an alarm clock, hurriedly getting dressed, punching a clock, and putting on a uniform at a fast food joint besieged by indifferent if not downright unhappy customers. One attraction of sex work is the independence; you are your own boss. True, it may often not be fun, but work seldom is. Dangers exist, but that is true for non-union construction work and in pulling double shifts as a truck driver. The poor –– and many in better economic shape –– are seldom in a position to question their working conditions. As part of the current effort to help those arrested for sex work, the trafficking court offers counseling in return for the eventual


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In Embrace of Kim Davis, Pope Francis Squanders PR Success of US Trip Vatican stumbles in response to Liberty Counsel’s touting of Kentucky county clerk’s secret meeting BY ANDY HUMM




hose who wanted to believe Pope Francis is a new kind of Catholic leader who will liberalize its approach to gender and sexuality had their bubble burst when it emerged that he took time out of his jam-packed US tour schedule to give America’s currently most notorious anti-gay bigot, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, a private audience with him in Washington. Among Francis partisans, the first reaction was disbelief. But Davis and her lawyer, Mat Staver, from the right-wing Liberty Counsel, had pictures to tweet — at least of Davis and her husband inside the Vatican’s embassy, the Apostolic Nunciature, in DC –– awaiting their 15 minutes with Francis. Francis de Bernardo of the pro-gay New Ways Ministry said that the Davis meeting, revealed after the pope’s departure from the US, “throws a wet blanket on the good will that the pontiff” built up on the US trip. New Ways itself had been denied a meeting. Davis said that it was a private meeting and that the pope told her, “Thank you for your courage” and “stay strong.” According to Staver, the pope “held out his hands and asked Kim to pray for him. Kim held his hands and said, ‘I will. Please pray for me,’ and the pope said he would. The two embraced.” Staver also said the papal photographer took pictures, but so far none has been released. Davis said the embrace and encouragement from the pope “kind of validated everything” she had been through, including a stint in jail for refusing a court order to do her job as clerk and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples –– something now being done by her staff with altered forms of questionable legality that do not bear her signature. At first, the Vatican would neither confirm nor deny the secret meeting. A day later, it was acknowledged but no details were provided. But by October 2 when it had become clear that the Davis meeting was undoing much of the good will the pope had been trying to build by being against really bad things –– poverty, war, executions, environmental degradation –– and soft-pedaling his opposition to women’s reproductive rights and LGBT relationships and rights, Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement downplaying the Davis encounter, saying it was “not a real audience” and that she was “one of several dozen” people the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, invited to his residence to meet the pope. Lombardi said, “The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a

Kim Davis’ selfie at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington as she awaited her meeting with Pope Francis.

form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.” On the plane back to Rome, Francis was asked by Terry Moran of ABC News, “Do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples? Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?” The pope responded, “Conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right.” New Ways’ De Bernardo argued it is incorrect to call refusal to issue a marriage license –– a refusal at odds with the statutory requirements of the job Davis sought from the voters –– “conscientious objection.” Lombardi also said, “The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.” That former student turned about to be an out gay man, Yayo Grassi, who was joined by his male partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus, and some of their friends, video of which was posted online. Grassi told CNN the meeting was arranged with the pope himself. “Three weeks before the trip, he called me on the phone and said he would like to give me a hug,” he said. Grassi, 67, said he came forward because of the flap over the Davis meeting. He claims Francis “has never been judgmental” or “said anything negative” about his sexuality. However, Grassi said, “Obviously he is the pastor of the Church and he has to follow the Church’s teachings. But as a human being he understands all kinds of situations, and

he is open to all kinds of people, including those with different sexual characteristics.” Whatever the pope understands about gay people, he has expressed zero interest in changing Church teaching that homosexual activity is wrong and that same-sex marriage undermines the institution of marriage –– no less that women could be priests and bishops. He is currently refusing to recognize France’s ambassador to the Vatican because he is an openly gay man. And during his visit to America, he would not even acknowledge numerous pleas from self-affirming LGBT Catholics from Dignity and other groups to meet with him. Indeed, all such groups were completely shut out of any official role in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia over which Francis presided, though a homosexual man from the Catholic group Courage, which demands lifelong abstention from homosexual activity, was allowed to speak. Liberty Counsel pushed back hard against the Vatican’s attempt to distance itself from the meeting with its star client, Davis. Staver said, “This was a private meeting with no other people except for the pope and select Vatican personnel,” though he acknowledged that the specifics of her legal case did not come up. Esquire published a piece saying that Francis was “set up” by the Davis meeting and that it was instigated by extreme right-winger Vigano, a loyalist to Ex-Pope Benedict XVI, who wanted to embarrass Francis before the imminent expiration of his ambassadorship. Vigano joined an April march in Washington against same-sex marriage organized by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM). But the New Civil Rights Movement blog wrote it “has learned through a source in the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican embassy, that Kim Davis’ meeting was arranged — contrary to theories espoused in the media — by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” whose president is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, Davis’ state. Both Kurtz and Washington, DC’s archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, are activists against same-sex marriage, and participated in the NOM march in April like Vigano. The Liberty Counsel insists that the initiative for the meeting came from Vigano. Despite Francis’ stonewalling of organized LGBT advocates during his US trip and the significant unknowns that remain about his meetings with Davis and with Grassi, at least some community groups seem intent on forcing the very best face on what was, earlier in the week, a troubling revelation of papal interference in US politics. On October 2, Chad Griffin, president of


FRANCIS, continued on p.9

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


SEX WORKERS, from p.7

dismissal of the criminal charges. It’s a “rescue” model where women are expected to give up sex work, while incentives like housing and a good paying job are rarely offered. If those who receive counseling and have their charges dismissed are rearrested, more counseling is mandated. “Most importantly,” the City Council’s report asserts is establishing “trusting relationships between victims to aid in prosecuting those responsible for their sexual exploitation.” But advocates for sex workers’ rights assert that mandating counseling through arrests is demoralizing. Audacia Ray, the founder and director of RedUP, argues that the concern evinced by the trafficking court is only skin deep. “They are still treating sex work as a disease,” she said. Sex workers, in a society that stigmatizes and shames, need the “support of people who share their reality.” Her organization of sex workers and former sex workers offers a safe space for expressing their needs and gaining the skills “to share their reality with people in power.” One skill for which training is offered is talking to the media. Even if the approach now taken by the trafficking court offers a modicum of respect, the NYPD seemly clearly outside of that loop. Shagasyia Diamond, a speaker at the RedUP protest, shared a bitter story of her arrest with the New York Times, saying that as “a transgender woman, she was subjected to a strip search by a male officer, placed in a cell for men as other inmates heckled her and used the exposed toilet in her presence.” When she objected, an officer taunted her, “You know you like it in there with all the men.” Throughout the arrest “officers snickered calling her ‘tranny’ and ‘it,’” Noah


FRANCIS, from p.8

the Human Rights Campaign, in a written statement said, “It is heartening news that Pope Francis met privately with his friend and former student, Yayo Grassi, and his partner of 19 years, Iwan. It now not only appears that the pope’s encounter with Kim Davis has | October 15 - 28, 2015

Remnick reported. In riveting testimony before the Council, a staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders belittled the notion that arrests are “a positive way” to help sex workers. “The assumption is false and grossly distorts the trauma of an arrest,” testified Avery McNeil, who said sex workers are “humiliated.” McNeil added, “They have been pulled off the streets in handcuffs, shoved in the back of a paddy wagon, forced to ride around in handcuffs for hours.” At the precinct, she said, “they are packed into cells and subjected to harassment and threats of physical and sexual violence.” Despite the distance between sex workers’ advocates and law enforcement, a conversation has begun to take place between the two sides. Council members voiced a commitment to engendering respect for the sex workers and not perpetuating myths that cater to the public’s prejudices and disgust. The Joint Report by the City Council Committees on Courts and Legal Services and the Committee on Women’s Issues makes note of RedUP’s work and attempts to address some of its concerns. Carlos Menchaca, an out gay Council member from Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Red Hook, attended the RedUP rally and thanked the group for “elevating” the dialog. Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the East Side of Manhattan, said the September 18 hearing was the start of a dialogue that will may lead to judges providing specific feedback on the jobs and housing that “people who interact with the court need.” Lack of economic support for people who choose sex was “the big problem identified” by RedUP, he said. Getting city funds allocated to meet that need will require “that other groups speak up, including the readers of Gay City News,” Kallos said.

been mischaracterized, but that Pope Francis embraced these longtime friends.” Bishops from around the world ar e now in Rome for a three-week “Synod on the Family,” the preliminary session of which in June rejected changes


FRANCIS, continued on p.25

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CDC Cites Rising HIV Infections Among Gay, Bi Latino Men In terms of prevention and treatment, immigrants, who may not speak English or be eligible for Medicaid, represent important driver BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


The city data on new HIV diagnoses among African-American and Latino men who have sex with men strongly suggest that if new HIV infections in those populations are not reduced substantially, the Plan to End AIDS will not reach its goal of only 750 new HIV infections a year by 2020. The plan largely relies on identifying people who are HIV-positive and treating them with anti-HIV drugs so they are no longer infectious and giving anti-HIV drugs to HIV-negative people, under a PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis regimen, to keep them uninfected. These drug strategies are highly effective when used correctly. Reaching the population identified in the CDC report with HIV-prevention strategies and paying for those services could be complicated by immigration status. The CDC estimated that “43 percent of Hispanics or Latinos who received an HIV diagnosis were not born in the United States or Puerto Rico (a US territory), and among these Hispanic or Latino immigrants, 66 percent were men who have sex with men.” HIV prevention messages in English for this group could be inef-


he federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual Latino men in the US increased from 2008 through 2013 while diagnoses among all Latinos in the US declined during that period. “During 2008–2013, the rate of diagnoses of HIV infection among adult and adolescent Hispanics or Latinos decreased from 28.3 per 100,000 population in 2008 to 24.3 in 2013… however, the number of diagnoses among males with infection attributed to male-to-male sexual contact increased 16 percent, from 6,141 in 2008 to 7,098 in 2013,” read the study, which will be published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Among all Latino men, new HIV diagnoses went from an estimated 8,106 in 2008 to 8,568 in 2013. New diagnoses among Latino women went from an estimated 1,686 in 2008 to 1,370 in 2013. With an estimated 1,277 new diagnoses among Latinos in 2013, New York was among the states that had the highest numbers of

new HIV diagnoses among Latinos, the CDC reported. Only Texas, California, and Florida reported more new HIV diagnoses among Latinos in that year. In New York, more than 90 percent of the new HIV diagnoses occur in New York City. In 2013, the city health department reported that Latinos accounted for 955, or 34 percent, of the 2,832 new HIV diagnoses. The CDC and city data have implications for New York’s Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020. The city’s data show that new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men remain high and unchanged while every other risk group has seen declines. New HIV diagnoses among young African-American and Latino men who have sex with men are driving that higher rate. “Young black men, young Latino men are not on the radar of many of us,” Guillermo Chacón, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, told Gay City News. “We need to do a better job to revisit, redesign, and reset the button on our strategy to engage these communities.”

The Latino Commission on AIDS’ Guillermo Chacón at a September 1 town hall at the LGBT Community Center.

fective because they don’t speak or read English or they might reject a message that is in English. Then paying for interventions, such as PrEP, could be harder. For example, Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled, will not pay for services for undocumented immigrants. “This is the missing link,” Chacón said. “We need to deliver a message in English to US-born Hispanics and in Spanish for foreign-bor n Hispanics who are here in the city… Our marketing among Hispanics that are Spanish mono-lingual is extremely weak and inconsistent.”

Corey Johnson Welcomes Safe Injection Facilities in NYC City Council health chair notes harm reduction success worldwide, Cuomo task force’s endorsement BY NATHAN RILEY


campaign to introduce safe injection facilities in New York City has a warm welcome from Corey Johnson, chair of the City Council Health Committee. While not well known in the United States, safe injection centers for injecting drug users are a standard feature of harm reduction programs in large cities elsewhere, including Vancouver, Frankfurt, and Sydney. Experts from these cities were on a September 30 panel discussion at All Souls Church on Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side. The discussion was moderated by Amy Goodman of the “Democracy Now” television and radio news program. The panel was the second step in a drive to educate the public in New York. SIFs are a notable a component of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Blueprint on Ending the AIDS Epidemic,” which was


developed by a task force of 63 leading experts and advocates and released earlier this year. “Supervised injection facilities are a successful harm reduction strategy in cities across the world and are a critical facet of the governor’s Ending the Epidemic Blueprint,” said Johnson, who is one of the six out LGBT members of the Council. “I look forward to continuing the conversation on this and other innovative solutions to public drug use and overdose.” Julie Netherland, the Drug Policy Alliance’s deputy state director, said, “We can do a better job addressing the health of people who use drugs.” Safe injection sites, she said, reduce overdoses and improve the health of drug users. In such centers, injectors have access to sanitary and supportive surroundings, often with a nurse present. Syringe exchange programs in New York City prevent HIV and hepatitis C infections by giving drug users access to sterile needles.

“But it's not enough to provide someone the tools for safer injection” without providing a place to do the actual injection said Taeko Frost, executive director of Washington Heights CORNER Project, an Upper Manhattan nonprofit that does harm reduction work with drug users. “A safe, clean place to inject would have allowed me to avoid abscesses and infections that have affected my health and would have made it much easier to deal with things I wanted to change about my drug use,” said Paul Levine, a staff member at VOCAL New York who was forced to inject in public places during periods of homelessness. VOCAL works on HIV, drug use, and ex-inmate issues. Injecting in public, Levine explained, increases the risk of arrest but also ties up law enforcement resources. Diverting drug users to SIFs would also mitigate public complaints about drug use in restaurant bathrooms and parks. October 15 - 28, 2015 |

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Ali Forney Center Wins $1MM in Fed Grants Money will strengthen social services provided at Harlem drop-in center BY PAUL SCHINDLER


he Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest agency serving homeless LGBT youth, will receive more than $1 million in federal grants to address domestic and sexual violence, substance abuse, and mental health challenges affecting its client population. AFC serves an estimated 1,400 clients annually and operates 10 housing sites citywide as well as a 24-hour drop-in center in Harlem. The grants were announced in a release from West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Carl Siciliano, AFC’s executive director. “LGBTQ youth are at particular risk of ending up on the street, often being ostracized and cast out of their homes for simply being who they are,” Nadler noted. In an interview, Siciliano explained that prior to President Barack Obama taking office 2009, there was essentially no direct federal support for programs serving LGBT youth. In the half-dozen years after its founding in 2002, the only federal dollars AFC enjoyed came via block grants administered by the city –– either from the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS program (HOPWA) or the Ryan White AIDS CARE Act. When Obama announced a 10-year plan to end homelessness in 2010, LGBT youth were among three historically disenfranchised populations targeted as priorities. The following year, AFC won a variety of grants that made it possible to begin planning the 24-hour drop-in center it now operates at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. By the time those grants ended in 2014, however, the fiscal climate in Washington had constricted, likely due to the sequestration of funds that resulted from the Capitol Hill budget wars. Even though AFC scored higher on their applications than three years earlier, the agency saw a loss of about $1 million last year out of a total revenue stream for the year ending June 30, 2014 of just over $7.1 million. “Losing $1 million last year was | October 15 - 28, 2015

tough,” Siciliano said, noting that the bulk of the money lost paid for services at the 24-hour center. “Almost all of the new money will go toward services at the drop-in center,” he said. Of the roughly $1 million, just over $330,000 is targeted for victims of human trafficking. An estimated 25 percent of homeless youth have been victims of trafficking, according to the Nadler-Siciliano release. Just under half a million dollars comes in a grant to do substance abuse and mental health treatment and to provide HIV testing. And about a quarter of a million dollars is going to AFC to serve youths who have been victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Siciliano welcomed what he said has become “a lot of noise out there about youth homelessness.” In addition to the new attitude at the White House over the past seven years, he credited the work of a coalition AFC is heading, the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, as well as the work of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund, the National Network for Youth, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Still, Siciliano noted, of all federal expenditures on homelessness, only about five percent goes to serve unaccompanied youth. Nationwide, there are still only about 4,000 beds to shelter an estimated half-million homeless youth. One area he said needs particular focus are the needs of homeless youth 21-24, for whom there are few options besides adult shelters, which are dangerous and put them into a population of chronically homeless adults. Pointing to AFC’s success in seeing 75 percent of its transitional housing population enrolled in college, Siciliano said programs tailored to the older youth population could yield far better outcomes for them than chronic homelessness. AFC is currently consulting with other advocates on ways to lobby for this population, but Siciliano knows already that it will be one of his agency’s priorities as it looks to the city’s June 2016 budget negotiations.



A Prophet for the Age

Historian Martin Duberman restores polymath Doug Ireland’s passionate voice to a place of prominence BY MICK MEENAN




he Judean prophet Jeremiah from –– yes –– the Old Testament is a fitting exemplar for the late Doug Ireland, one of the modern gay movement’s greatest seers. Jeremiah warns his people in Lamentations –– as fitting a title for speaking to today’s LGBT community as it was in addressing the misbegotten Jews when they lost their temple –– to refute idolatry and riches and return to the truth. Today, the word jeremiad is too often associated merely with predictions of doom; the more important implication of the word involves its intention to provoke. In “The Emperor Has No Clothes: Doug Ireland’s Radical Voice,” we have Martin Duberman, the academic and author, to thank for the yeoman’s task, nearly archeological, of collecting and printing highlights from more than three decades of Ireland’s jeremiads. Strident, at times polemical, occasionally the history professor, elsewhere the political agitator, Ireland could not tolerate hypocrisy or cowardice. Duberman astutely pinpoints the animating spirit behind his life and his work: “Nothing angered Doug more than complacency in the face of deprivation.” Having suffered as a child from polio, which created adult complications that contributed to his death at 67 in 2013, Ireland –– after a journalistic career in New York and abroad writing for publications including New York magazine and the Nation, as well international journals (he wrote in both French and English) –– spent his final years as a reporter doing his research, interviewing, and writing from his East Village apartment. Despite worsening physical disability and crushing bouts of pain, his passion for his work and his commitment to find progressive outlets, including this one, for his voice were such that he devoted hours that would have daunted a healthy man half his age to completing long, thoughtful, and deeply reported articles. I’m proud to take some credit for Ireland’s long-running contribution to Gay City News. As deputy editor in 2005, I was helming an issue where late in the game, a photo surfaced online of hooded executioners fitting nooses on two young Iranian men arrested on sodomy charges moments before they were lynched from a construction crane. It was my good fortune and the newspaper’s that longtime activist friends of Ireland’s put me in touch with him, and from that beginning he contributed a long string of articles about the wave of anti-LGBT killings and repression in the Islamic Republic. Ireland also contributed important coverage on the struggle for gay rights in other troubled places in the world, including Russia and Africa, and in a series of book reviews demonstrated his remarkable mastery of queer social and cultural history.

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It was Ireland’s writing about Iran that Duberman chooses to highlight in “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” and to his credit he also incorporates a critique of that work written by Scott Long (and published in Gay City News), then the head of Human Rights Watch’s LGBT desk. Ireland and Long became bitter adversaries, and Duberman does not take sides, though his intent is clear. Institutionalists may strike back at renegades who challenge them, at times at their peril. Duberman has written plenty of books and knows best how to frame one. The first Ireland essay here is from 2009, rather late, and it is both a political treatise and a scathing critique of contemporary gay life. It starts with Karl Marx’s homophobia and ends with this statement: “Only a fundamental redefinition of human freedom that includes a recharacterization of human sexuality in all its glorious varieties — the original project of gay liberation — can do that.” The “that” means changing hearts and minds. Ireland was all heart.

He had scant use for the “top-down, corporate structure” of the Human Rights Campaign and its rubber chicken fundraisers. The queer impetus, post-Stonewall, to remake a stifling social structure into something more akin to Whitman’s Body Electric had, to his dismay, gone off the rails, replaced by eager striving for middle class respectability and security, and the Pines saltwater swimming pool. Despite his radical disposition, Ireland, early in his career, found great success as a New York political operative, managing winning congressional campaigns for anti-war liberals –– first, in 1969, Allard Lowenstein and, later, Bella Abzug, whose brazenness and embrace of gay rights endeared her to the LGBT community. By the time Abzug entered the crowded 1977 Democratic mayoral field, Ireland had moved on to journalism. In New York magazine, he was critical of the candidates across the board, faulting Abzug for toning down her feisty demeanor but taking particular aim at the incumbent, Abe Beame, the runner up, Mario Cuomo, and the winner, Ed Koch. In the years that followed, whether in the Nation or at SoHo Weekly News, Ireland remained a thorn in the side of the mayor, of whom he wrote, “I refute the fact that Ed Koch is a closet gay man. He is a closet human being.” Ireland took on not only Democratic mayors, but also Democratic presidents. Bill Clinton, in his view, caved in accepting the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy rather than opening up the military to gays and lesbians because of his “draft-dodger” status and need to suck up to Pentagon honchos. In a 2013 Gay City News piece, a true jeremiad, Ireland disparaged Clinton’s disavowal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that he signed into law, borrowing a phrase from Tennessee Williams to observe that a “powerful odor of mendacity” hangs over the former president. Barely six months before his death, Ireland was in true form, exposing hypocrisy and measuring the crown’s quota of mercy. “Did Bill apologize to gay Americans for having targeted them with DOMA’s bigotry? No.” For Ireland, this one was deeply personal. In the 1980s, Ireland lived in France and had the only Paris spring love affair of his life, with Hervé Couergou. When work brought Ireland back to New York, Courergou, in need of treatment for AIDS, could not follow permanently, due to Clinton’s renewal of a ban barring entry for HIV-positive non-citizens. “If I were to run into Bill Clinton again today, I would spit in his face, not only for Hervé, but for all those queers and people with AIDS, in uniform and out, whose lives were destroyed by his opportunism,” he wrote. Then, “he showed us no mercy, and we owe him none.” To the end, the fight continued. October 15 - 28, 2015 |







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Sweet! Li-Lac Opens Bleecker Street Shop New retail location comes one year after debut of company’s modern chocolate factory in Brooklyn

The Li-Lac ribbon-cutting drew (clockwise from front row left) Assemblymember Deborah Glick; co-owners Anthony Cirone, Chris Taylor, and master chocalater Anwar Khoder; Cirone’s father, also Anthony; and State Senator Brad Hoylman with his daughter, Silvia.

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leecker Street, between Sullivan and Thompson, was chock-full of chocoholics on Saturday, October 3 for the grand opening of Li-Lac Chocolates’ new Village flagship store. One would have thought it was the latest iPhone or Nike sneaker launch, judging by the size of the line stretching outside the place. The new location, at 162 Bleecker Street, is the second in the Village for Li-Lac, which also has a shop at 40 Eighth Avenue, at Jane Street. Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, Li-Lac dates back to 1923, when George Demetrious, a Greek immigrant, opened his shop at 120 Christopher Street. On October 3, chocolate lovers could get a flavor of that time, because Li-Lac was offering 1923 pricing. Every item on the chocolate counter was available at the 1923 price of 23 cents per piece (with a limit of five per customer). In addition, the first 100 customers in line got one-pound boxes of French assortments at the 1923 price of $3.59. There were balloons and Oompa Loompa characters for kids, plus live music from Gypsy T rane. There was also complimentary chocolate and wine pairing by Chelsea Wine Vault.

In 2005, after rent became too high at the Christopher Street location, Li-Lac — to the dismay of PS 3, the St. Luke in the Fields Church parish, and other neighbors — moved its Village shop to 40 Eighth Avenue and its production to Industry City in Brooklyn. There is also a Grand Central Terminal branch, opened in 1999. Li-Lac is now owned by Anthony Cirone and Christopher Taylor, a couple who live in the West Village, and their master chocalater, Anwar Khoder, who has been with the company since 1989. It was just last year that Li-Lac opened its new chocolate factory in Industry City, which boasts oversize windows that allow visitors to watch the chocolate-making in action. State Senator Brad Hoylman was on hand for the Bleecker Street opening, along with Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Councilmember Corey Johnson, to do the ribbon-cutting. “It’s always great to support a local Village business,” Hoylman said, “especially one like Li-Lac Chocolates that’s been around since 1923 and gives back to the community by supporting nonprofit organizations, like the New York City Anti-Violence Project and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I’m excited to see Li-Lac thriving and expanding to their newest location.” October 15 - 28, 2015 |

November is National Adoption Month! Adoption STAR (a New York State Authorized, Non-Profit Child Placing Agency) is celebrating by hosting two New York City-based events. Please join us for one or both! Free Orientation Session – Building Families Through Adoption

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PERSPECTIVE: A Lifetime Challenge to the Church

John McNeill: An Appreciation





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





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was on my way to see my shrink on Fifth Avenue and 66th Street the day John McNeill’s book “The Church and the Homosexual” hit the front pages of the New York Times. The year was 1976. I don’t know if I was looking for a cure for my homosexuality or some kind of immaculate deception to deal with my priestly celibacy and emerging homosexual consciousness. What I do know is that the sight of McNeill’s book being reviewed did more for my psychological health than the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours spent in therapists offices up until then. Father McNeill’s book opened for millions of lesbian and gay Catholics and others worldwide a door to freedom that no amount of oppression could ever close. I was elated as I floated into Dr. Padovano’s office. Here at last was hope. Prior to that moment, I had read everything I could lay my hands on in Catholic moral theology regarding homosexuality –– the cumulative effect being a constipation of thought followed by diarrhoea of despair. With McNeill’s book, at last, there was a true work of scholarship meticulously researched and beautifully executed. Scripturally and theologically, it broke new ground, and for the next 12 months and more John Mc Neill’s face was on every chat show and every other publication across the nation. John, who died at age 90 on September 22 (see Andy Humm’s obituary at was instrumental in the founding of Dignity New York in 1972. His work and experience in those early days (less than three years after Stonewall) with Catholic gay men “compelled” him, he once told me, to respond in whatever way he could to the “loneliness, pain, and anguish” of his gay brothers. Having been attracted early on in his studies to Maurice Blondel, a French pre-existentialist philosopher from the turn of the century, he found his Jesuit vocation summed up in a passage of Blondel’s: “One must give all for the all.” Certainly, this laid the theoretical basis for his movement into political and social activism. John was a Jesuit for almost 40 years before his expul-

sion in 1987 because of his views on lesbian and gay sexuality –– even though he had obediently obeyed his silencing by the Vatican a decade earlier. John hoped that his silence would “speak eloquently” together with other greats like Blondel, Teilhard de Chardin, John Courtney Murray, and Henri de Lubac. But the new Inquisition in Rome did not exhaust itself in those 10 years. “Forced” to speak in response to the “evil” oppression of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s letter on “The Pastoral Care of Homosexual People” –– which asserted that “the particular inclination of the homosexual person is… a more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder”

Jesuit “discernment of spirits” brought him to coming out and speaking out. It was his position that living with integrity required congruence between truth and appearance that propelled John McNeill to both a mature, healthy self-acceptance and an equally mature, healthy insistence that the rest of us and the Church do the same. It was this message that he shared with clients and audiences, this congruency between what you see and what you get that made him who he was. What John became in a lifetime of devotion to the Gospel and dedication to its demand for justice for all was an honest man in love –– this in sharp contrast to so many of his confreres who love with fear or who just fear. He did not need to hide Charlie, pretend that he was celibate, or choose between ministry and marriage. He had it all and deserved it all. John did for Catholicism what Stonewall did for the world; he insisted on the need to fight back against those who would discriminate.

Father McNeill’s book opened for millions of lesbian and gay Catholics and others worldwide a door to freedom that no amount of oppression could ever close. –– Father Mc Neill gave up membership of the Jesuits, the religious family that he loved as much as life itself. John met his lifetime companion Charlie Chiarelli in 1965 at the Avignon papal palace in France. (I have always wondered which one of them tried on the papal tiara first!) John and Charlie’s relationship of love did as much –– and possibly more –– in bearing witness to the Christlikeness of homosexual love as his life’s work writing and teaching about that. By the time he published “Taking a Chance on God” in 1988, the landscape had changed decisively. Now John McNeill was offering another challenge: if religions were not welcoming to lesbian, gay, and transgender people, why should we be open to them? With “Freedom, Glorious Freedom” in 1995, the subtitle tells all: “The Spiritual Journey to the Fullness of Life for Gays, Lesbians, and Everybody Else.” In this book, he describes much of what happened to him along the way, especially how his spiritual life was enriched by being gay and vice versa. He does not strike out against those who wronged him, but describes with remarkable equanimity how the same

His great work earned him the opprobrium of Rome, but it also put the rest of us in his debt as he pioneered a struggle that by all Christian values ought to be long over by now, yet sadly is not. He said that his tombstone will read, “Here Lies a Gay Priest Who Took a Chance on God!” Cynics among us would probably have given up on God, Jesus, the Church, and the Jesuits long ago had we not experienced John as friend and mentor. As we extend our deepest sympathy and prayer to his husband Charlie, we know John is amongst the saints forever and a day. Father Bernárd Lynch, the co-chair of London Irish LGBT Network, has worked in Zambia, New York, and London, where he has carried out AIDS ministries and done both pastoral and psychotherapeutic work with people in oppressed communities, including closeted Roman Catholic priests. Following the 2012 publication of his memoir “If It Wasn’t Love,” in which he discussed his 1998 marriage to husband Billy Desmond, Father Lynch was expelled from his Roman Catholic order, the Society of African Missions. October 15 - 28, 2015 |


Misconceptions, Lies & Fear-Mongering About Sex BY ED SIKOV


uring a recent segment of “The View” with guest Danny Pintauro, one of the hosts, Raven-Symoné, turned to Pintauro’s husband, Wil Tabares, who was sitting placidly in the audience minding his own business, and said, “Please tell me if this is too personal, but do you guys have protected or unprotected sex?” Tabares was taken aback by the question. Other than asking about the couple’s favorite sexual positions and who liked to do what to whom, it would be hard to come up with a more personal inquiry, especially on national television. Tabares laughed nervously for a few seconds before Pintauro stepped in and answered, “You try not to have limits in your marriage, but there have to be limits for us. Have we always been 100 percent safe? No. But I’m undetectable, and that means that it’s really hard for me to give it to him.” At this point, co-host Candace Cameron Bure read aloud from a note card she just happened to be clutching: “We do have a statement, though, that says, ‘If you are HIV-positive and still having unprotected sex, regardless of what antiviral drug percentages that you are using, you’re still not

keeping your partner 100 percent safe.’” Ignore the fact that the sentence is gibberish. Focus instead on these: • The “statement” had no source. It might as well have been written by an unpaid college intern for all the professional authority it projected. • The “statement” is at best misleading. At worst it’s a Big Fat Lie. Pintauro, who came out as gay in 1997 and as HIV-positive this year, went along with the lie, which is a shame, considering he’s on a year-long “Beacon of Light” tour to talk about his experience as a gay, HIV-positive recovering meth addict. In point of fact there have been no reported cases of HIV transmission during sex from a person whose HIV is undetectable to a person who was HIV-negative at the time. Earlier in the interview, Cameron Bure didn’t bother to hide her hostility behind an unsourced pre-written statement and asked Pintauro, “Do you take responsibility for your actions….” “One hundred percent,” Pintauro began, only to be cut off by the aggressive Cameron Bure: “For being promiscuous? For going into a lifestyle of heightened sex because of the meth you were using?”

“Yes,” Pintauro broke in, only to be interrupted a second time. “I want to know what the message is,” Cameron Bure persisted. “What is the message that you have? What does it mean?” To his great credit, Pintauro remained unfazed by Cameron Bure’s openly rude supposition that gay men refuse to take responsibility for anything and instead blame it all on… whatever. “I don’t want to be a hero,” Pintauro calmly answered. “I don’t want to be the role model. I want to be the example… of what can happen if you get into drugs, if you’re being promiscuous, if you’re not taking care of yourself, not getting checked….” Raven-Symoné is an out lesbian; Candace Cameron Bure, like her brother, former child actor Kirk Cameron, is a conservative Christian activist –– you know, the kind who’s always trying to shove her chosen lifestyle down our throats. The whole segment was a bit odd, given that all three participants are former child sitcom stars. Cameron Bure played D.J. on “Full House,” Raven-Symoné was Olivia Kendall on “The Cosby Show,” and Pintauro played Jonathan on “Who’s the Boss?” Raven-Symoné was especially eager for Pintauro to repeat that his meth addiction had nothing to do with his having been a child star on TV. Apparently nobody has quite gotten over the fatal drug overdose of Anissa “Buffy” Jones of “Family Affair” in 1976. In any event, this “View” segment greatly irked Peter Staley, the longtime AIDS activist and co-founder of Treatment Action Group. Staley


MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.25


“Suffragettes,” Women, and Slaves BY KELLY COGSWELL


ust this week, the makers of the film “Suffragettes” were slammed as colonialists and racists for daring to compare the condition of women with that of slaves, not just by using Emmeline Pankhurst’s phrase “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” in the script, but also plastering it on promotional T -shirts that cast members like Meryl Streep had the gall to wear. Like these critics, I was extremely uncomfortable with the group photo. To my American eyes, all those white faces grinning over the slogan somehow made slavery seem like a choice for those stupid blacks, rather than a condition they | October 15 - 28, 2015

were forced into. Using this in promotional materials in 2015 when the horrors of the “peculiar institution” are increasingly revised and downplayed, wasn’t the greatest choice. This summer, though, I was at an academic event where white French philosopher Monique Wittig was likewise condemned as racist and colonialist for apparently comparing slavery and the subjugation of women. Since then I’ve been wondering if the knee-jerk condemnation of this comparison is due to an expectation that racism is endemic among white feminists or if it is also related to just what we think slaves were or are. For instance, I saw the TV miniseries “Roots” as a kid, so for years

I’d hear the word slave and think of a muscly LeVar Burton in chains and standing on the auction block. Gradually, I learned to identify slavery’s legacy in the shooting of unarmed black men and, most recently, in Chicago’s housing policies for the black community. This has deepened my understanding of slavery, but only its US version. But at its most basic, what is a slave but a nonperson who cannot own property but is, in fact, property? And like a shovel or a horse, a slave is not paid for her work, has no control over her body, the pleasure she provides, or the offspring she bears. Rather, a slave, like any other possession, is subject to the will of the master. She can be discarded, mutilated, or killed without consequence, having no legal standing in her own right, but only in relation to her owner. And it is often his violence or threat of it that keeps her in her place. Using those definitions, Wittig

would have been perfectly correct to acknowledge points of comparison, especially coming from France, where most women didn’t sit around in cafés smoking cigarettes with Sartre. Women could not vote in France until 1945. They weren’t even given legal majority status –– allowing them to act on their own behalf in matters of law –– until 1938. They didn’t have the right to have their own bank account without a husband’s authorization until 1965. And only won the right to abortion in 1975. Domestic violence remains a huge problem. My own grandmother grew up in rural Kentucky, had four kids, and told me how incredibly relieved she was when a kind doctor tied her tubes. The women around her were just baby-making machines. They churned out one each year until they died and were replaced by a younger version. Violence was common. And


DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.25


PERSPECTIVE: Our Neighborhoods

Rent Freeze a Win For Affordability BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


he new rent regulation adjustments went into effect in New York City on October 1, reflecting the historic June Rent Guidelines Board vote, held at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, which mandated no increase for one-year lease renewals and a two percent increase for twoyear renewals. What had never been achieved in the 46-year existence of the RGB was finally pulled off — a rent freeze! Many in the raucous crowd, featuring passionate housing groups from across the city, shouted in English and Spanish, “What do we want? Roll-back!” That would have meant an actual rent reduction for New Yorkers living in the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized units, which make up slightly less than half of the city’s total stock of 2.2 million rental apartments. At the news that there would only be a freeze, many started angrily crying out, “Shut it d down!”

Harvey Epstein, an RGB appointee, tried to put things into perspective and calm the crowd down: “Let’s realize, this is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. This is about today, this is about the future. We’ll be back next year to keep doing better and better.” In other words, the guidelines board, as currently composed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will have at least two more go-rounds in his current term to either maintain a rent freeze or even mandate a rollback. Clearly, the figures justify a rollback. In recent years, the RGB has exaggerated landlords’ projected operating expenses, using faulty numbers to justify rent hikes for hard-working New Yorkers trying to stay afloat in a tough economy. While salaries don’t keep pace with the cost of living, landlords have seen a net operating revenue increase of 34 percent since 1990. Thankfully, the landlords’ price index used by the RGB to calculate rent increases this year was its lowest since 2002. Even if there is no

rollback next year, two more years of rent freezes would go a long way toward helping tenants get by. As it is, 35 percent to 40 percent of city residents are currently paying half their income toward rent, to the point that they are, by definition, “rent burdened.” Three-quarters of a million New Yorkers are living below the poverty line. One setback and these folks are left reeling. It’s an untenable situation. De Blasio has explained this situation very clearly, for example in his State of the City speech in January. Freezing rents was a huge step in addressing the city’s “affordability crisis,” as he has defined it. The mayor has taken his share of blows in his first two years, but the rent freeze was a dramatic display of his power to shape the city. What always seemed impossible is now a reality. He couldn’t quite manage it in his first year, since he hadn’t yet gotten control of all the RGB appointments. But firmly in the driver’s seat in year two, he made good on his pledge to

hold the line on rents. Landlords and real estate groups are predictably apoplectic over the rent freeze. “This is myopic,” complained a landlord representative on the board. But property owners will still be making their profits; it’s the unfair rent gouging that, at long last, is being stemmed. As Rachel Godsil, the board’s chairperson, so aptly put it: “Tenants are struggling, while landlords are doing okay. Our charge is not to widen the gap, but to make the system equitable.” Bravo! One big negative in the tenants’ world this year was Governor Andrew Cuomo’s failure to meaningfully raise the rental cap for vacancy decontrol, managing a boost of only $200, to $2,700. Vacancy decontrol has the potential to undo rent regulation over the long term by taking affordable units out of the system, and more should have been done. Still, the lack of a rent hike on October 1 is something to cheer. Lincoln Anderson is editor-in-chief of The Villager, a sister publication to Gay City News.

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LAUBACH, from p.6

In decisions dating back to 2006, the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, has sharply limited the use of the depraved indifference murder charge, going so far as to suggest that it cannot be used in a crime where there is a single murder victim. “The Court of Appeals has also said a number of times recently that depraved indifference doesn’t apply to single victims,” Cohen said.


FRANCIS, from p.9

to the Church’s approach to gender and homosexuality. Also meeting now in Rome is the newly-formed Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, formed by 13 groups from around the world that met for the first time during the Family Synod in 2014 in Rome and that includes DignityUSA and


New Ways Ministry. Neither the Vatican nor Liberty Counsel is a transparent institution, and we may never know the whole truth about how the Davis meeting came about or what was said. It has knocked Francis’ halo off, as did his US meeting with the Catholic Little Sisters of the Poor who are leading the charge against Obamacare’s coverage of

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.23

posted this on his Facebook page: “Candace Cameron Bure, that notecard ‘fact’ you read about HIV transmission was false and anti-science. There has been no recorded transmission of HIV from someone with an undetectable viral load. Danny and his husband are being fully ‘responsible,’ and your anti-science moralizing only stigmatizes those of us living with HIV. Shame on you and your ignorant views. I dare you to bring me on your show to fully discuss HIV transmission risk among gay men.” Note to Staley: don’t put on your makeup just yet. It may be a while before you get an invitation to appear on “The View.”

Scruff is spared. Newsweek’s Stav Ziv wrote the following as her lede on a story about an obnoxious series of ads placed by the already crankish AIDS Healthcare Foundation: “The popular dating app Tinder was miffed by a new campaign promoting free testing for sexually transmitted


DYKE ABROAD, from p.23

as much as my mother hated my father, she told everyone gratefully, “At least he didn’t beat me.” Like race-based slavery, the free labor of women (of all races) is essential to national and local economies, to household and agricultural work, and to childcare. Most importantly, in terms of comparison, it is still often justified as a kind of divine right, the man acting as caretaker of an inherently inferior being, who is spiritually and morally deficient, not to mention | October 15 - 28, 2015

Lanita Hobbs, the assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case with Juan Abreu, disagreed. “They wrapped his head so tight that it was bursting like a watermelon,” she said. “I call that depraved indifference.” Bonnie Wittner, the judge in the case, was aware of the prior decisions on depraved indifference and said she would rule later after reviewing those decisions. She declined to dismiss the other charges. The defense case will begin on October 16.

women’s reproductive health. All those who were hoping that Francis would solve all the world’s big problems or at least reform his Church have discovered that the pope is, well, Catholic. Indeed, the pope’s refusal to meet with dissidents in Cuba –– embracing the Castros who once banned his Church –– and his refusal to meet with the Dalai

diseases launched by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The advertisements in question –– which an AHF spokesman says appear on more than 20 billboards and 100 bus benches in the LA area — depict two pairs of silhouettes: ‘Tinder’ faces ‘chlamydia,’ and ‘Grindr’ looks at ‘gonorrhea.’ On the right-hand side, the ad directs people to” “Miffed?” Please! Reacting badly to seeing your brand linked directly to a nasty sexually transmitted disease (STD) is not a “miff,” which the dictionary defines as “a trivial quarrel.” But since Ziv’s entire article is a model of Tinder shaming and Grindr guilt-tripping, it’s not surprising that she minimizes the ad’s anti-sex negativity. Having given up his organization’s logic-free anti-PrEP campaign, AHF’s fearful leader, Michael Weinstein, is now attempting to tamp down straight people’s sex drive along with gay men’s. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis with the antiviral drug Truvada, is the best available method of preventing new HIV infections. Much to Weinstein’s disgust, PrEP works, so PrEPped

less intelligent than a good horse. Besides, God said it’s okay. And as with race-based slavery, the legacy of women as property continues to pervade every aspect of our lives, not just in social, political, and economic inequalities, but in the continual, daily, persistent subjugation of our female flesh from petty harassment on the street, to rape, intimate partner violence, even murder. Women get killed all the time, especially when they try to leave their abusers to be free. The largest difference –– our deaths are so

“He stated, ‘But I killed him,’” Brian Erbis, a detective in Chelsea’s 10th precinct, testified on October 13.

Lama lest he upset the Chinese gover nment demonstrate that his prime agenda is securing the power and reach of his institution. While he is willing to make some symbolic gestures toward women and gay people to appease Western sentiments, he has shown no inclination to share power or concede equality with them in his patriarchal Church.

gay men are fucking freely again. Now Weinstein and AHF have turned their sights to –– let’s call them what they really are –– hook-up apps. The euphemistic term “dating app” suggests gals arranging romantic dinners and guys sitting through “chick flicks” as preludes to satisfying nightcaps of copulation. Tinder is for straight folks what Grindr and Scruff and Daddyhunt and many others are for gay men: an extremely efficient way to meet fresh fuckables. At least AHF isn’t just targeting horned up gay men; it’s rather nice to share target space with our randy straight brothers and sisters. But instead of attacking successful apps –– and they’re successful because lots of people just wanna get laid –– why not offer a campaign that doesn’t promote fear but rather genuine sex education? Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both treatable and curable. Promiscuity ain’t the problem, and neither are hook-up apps. Fear-mongering is far more damaging in the long run. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.

common, nobody bothers to hold a demo or take to the street. Without being identical, the similarities are there if you look for them. Maybe we don’t want to. We’ve already forgotten or never knew just how bad women had it. And how far we still have to go. I only learned a couple of years ago that in the US women couldn’t get credit cards in their own names until 1974 –– when I was in the third grade. It was about that time that individual states began to recognize marital rape, though it didn’t become criminalized across

the country until 1993, and even now is rarely prosecuted successfully because, well, the vestiges of woman as property remain. As we increasingly reconsider the legacy of slavery, it’s worth remembering that early US suffragettes were often abolitionists as well, finding in the other reform movement both allies and common ground. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.



A Master Filmmaker’s Gay Life in Mexico “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” a highlight in exuberantly diverse NewFest NEWFEST Oct. 22-27 Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas (except where noted) 260 W. 23rd St. Information at


Elmer Bäck in the title role in “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” and (below) with co-star Luis Alberti.



The festival opens with the New York premiere of “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” (Oct. 22, 7 p.m.), Peter Greenaway’s visually breathtaking and extravagantly sexy film about the famous gay Russian director (Elmer Bäck, fantastic) in 1931 Mexico. His guide is Palomino Cañedo (Luis Alberti, irresistible), who initiates him into gay sex. Greenaway shoots the film, which includes many dazzling bedroom scenes and considerable nudity, in his | October 15 - 28, 2015


ewFest, the New York LGBT Film Festival, which runs October 22-27, is bigger, better, and more diverse than ever. This year’s film program is supplemented by an array of special features, including a screening of Cheryl Furjanic’s “Back on Board” (Oct. 25, 10:15 a.m.), a documentary about Greg Louganis, with the Olympian in attendance; a “Masterclass” conversation (Oct. 26, 3 p.m.) with filmmaker Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”); and a SAG-AFTRA Trans Hollywood Panel (Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St.) with Harmony Santana (“Gun Hill Road”), focusing on the representation of trans actors. In film today. Here is a rundown of some notable features, docs, and shorts playing at NewFest.

trademark eye-popping style. He artfully plays with shadows and projected images, split screens, camera pans, and distorted lenses, photographs, and film clips. The film is impressive, especially for bringing Eisenstein’s emotional catharsis — in the heat of a professional crisis — to life. The closing night feature is the US premiere of the Swedish drama “Girls Lost” (Oct. 27, 8 p.m.) about a trio of outcast teen females who magically become boys overnight.

ically, with characters defined through snippets of dialogue or even an unspoken moment. This narrative strategy provides many subtle, heartbreaking moments. When one boy looks with desire at his straight best friend, he is unaware of another boy looking with desire at him. Cone’s film addresses issues of faith and sexuality — Henry is the son of a preacher — but it always feels graceful, never heavy-handed.

Other highlights of the festival include writer/ director Ste-

p.m.), is an absorbing film about Charlie (the adorable Jonathan Gordon), a gay, Jewish artist whose queer best friend, Sebastian (Jason Ralph), is wracked with feelings of inadequacy after his businessman father is imprisoned for financial crimes. Charlie’s codependent relationship with Sebastian is tested, however, when he meets Tim (Haaz Sleiman, all confidence and sexiness), a Lebanese pianist. The romantic spark between Tim and

phen Cone’s modest, incisive gem “Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party” (Oct. 24, 3:45 p.m.). Taking place entirely during the 17th birthday of the title character (Cole Doman, in a sly, winning performance), the film has 20 characters come together to celebrate. Dramatic tension ensues as the characters reveal secrets and lies, both large and small, over the course of the day. Cone’s film unfolds organ-

Another American indie, “Those People” (Oct. 24, 6:15

Charlie forms the soft, gooey center of “Those People,” and viewers will be seduced by the flirtations and affections these two characters share. In handling the dramatic love triangle — the diffident Char lie is afraid to fully commit to Tim because he has unresolved feelings for Sebastian — writer/ director Joey Kuhn at moments exhibits less than finesse, but overall his film captures the shifting dynamics among the characters as Charlie comes of age.

Some of the worthwhile internationals titles include the teen lesbian romance “The Summer of Sangaile” (Oct. 24, 8:30 p.m.), a visually stunning Lithuanian drama depicting the coming of age of the vivacious Auste (Aiste Dirziute) and the shy, self-harming 17-year-old Sangaile (Julija Steponatyte). The girls meet at a local air show and quickly develop an intense friendship. Sangaile models dresses Auste designs, then poses for photographs. Things soon turn erotic. Writer/ director Alanté Kavaïté creates some gorgeous ethereal moments of the young women in water, on the beach, in the fields, and, in one mesmerizing sequence, of Sangaile trying to conquer her vertigo. Gorgeously filmed and well-acted, “The Summer of Sangaile” is a beguiling romance.

On a darker note, “Everlasting Love” (Oct. 25, 10:30 p.m.), a sinister thriller from Spain, opens with a group of students talking about hooking up, the


NEWFEST, continued on p.44



And Baby Makes Four Sebastián Silva tells story of gay couple, their BFF, and a bad neighbor in gentrifying Brooklyn NASTY BABY Directed by Sebastián Silva The Orchard Opens Oct. 23 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.


Kristen Wiig and Sebastián Silva in Silva’s “Nasty Baby.”



asty Baby” is an intense and compelling drama about a gay couple — Freddy (out writer/ director Sebastián Silva), an artist working on a “nasty baby” art project, and Mo (Tunde Adebimpe) — who live in Brooklyn. Freddy has agreed to

help their best friend, Polly (Kristen Wiig), get pregnant. But when she has difficulty conceiving, Mo is asked to step in, which causes the friends some stress. Their lives are further disrupted by the Bishop (Reg E. Cathey), a neighborhood menace who harasses Polly and spouts homophobic remarks at the men. As tensions escalate, the characters all face difficulties that

test their resilience. Silva spoke to Gay City News about gay parenting and making “Nasty Baby.” GARY M. KRAMER: So, how did you come up with this story? SEBASTIÁN SILVA: It’s not autobiographical, but I drew on elements from my own life and the neighborhood I live in. Everyone is reproducing compulsively, and the film is a bit about that and gentrification. The element of the Bishop comes from my experiences with an unpleasant neighbor I once had who was schizophrenic and violent.

GMK: Babies are naïve — literally. Freddy is a bit worldlier, but he acts in some infantile ways. Does he need to grow up? Is fatherhood his way of doing that? SS: Don’t we all? He’s not a politician, nor a messiah. He’s a dude hanging out, following the lead of everyone else. Yeah, he needs to grow up. I didn’t conceive him to comment on his professional or psychological state — he could be a better artist — but on his compulsion to have a kid. His guilt about reproduction is something he’s exorcising through his “nasty baby” video. GMK: What can you say about the trend of gay parenting? Do you have an urge to procreate or raise a child? SS: For me, there’s no such thing as “gay parenting.” Gay terminology — what does it mean anymore? I’m not necessary against the word gay, but what does it represent? It’s parenting, not “gay parenting.” I would never be ready to be responsible and committed. Are you ever ready? I don’t think I’m ready to raise a child. I have the curiosity, if not the urge. It would be a challenging step.


NASTY, continued on p.34


Laurie Anderson explores post-9/11 West Village, America in the story of her beloved Lolabelle BY STEVE ERICKSON


here’s a professional dog-walker in the East Village who looks exactly like the late musician Lou Reed, whose widow Laurie Anderson has directed “Heart of a Dog.” In fact, I used to think he was Reed, although I was surprised to see him walk five or six dogs almost every single day. Then Reed died, but I kept seeing the dog-walker. At first, I felt like I was seeing a ghost. I think Anderson would appreciate this. Judging from her film, Reed did love dogs. The final images of “Heart of a Dog” show him playing with one. Anderson’s devotion to them is not in question. Her film touches on many subjects, but the life –– and afterlife –– of her rat terrier


Lolabelle is foremost on her agenda. Anderson hasn’t directed a feature since her 1986 concert film, “Home of the Brave.” As a musician, she’s probably best remembered for her 1981 hit “O Superman,” but while she may have faded from popular memory, she’s influenced young performers like Norwegian singer Jenny Hval. She pioneered a way to play experimental rock without the machismo that often comes with electric guitars, even when wielded by women. How many musicians would try to teach their dogs how to play the piano, as Anderson does in “Heart of a Dog”? With this film, she proves herself to be a capable director. “Heart of a Dog” divides neatly into two halves. At first, Anderson reflects on a variety of subjects, including the impact of 9/11 on her West

Director Laurie Anderson and her dog Lolabelle.

Village neighborhood (which has the highest percentage of dogs in New York, she informs us) and encroaching mortality. However, her beloved Lolabelle lurks behind it all. She relates an anecdote about a hawk swooping down and almost eating the dog, which it had mistaken for a large rabbit. Lolabelle did not react well to the notion that she could be prey, as well as


DOG, continued on p.45

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


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Politics of Race, Sexuality in a Seminal Film Moment Despite strong performances, Stephen Winter’s imagining of 1967 “Portrait of Jason” backstory falls short BY GARY M. KRAMER


NASTY, from p.32

GMK: Why did you choose to star in this film? SS: The confrontation with my neighbor was an in-joke I had with my boyfriend, so when it came to write this movie and put parenthood, gentrification, and art together, it made sense for me to do it. Also, it has to do with finding a little more challenge in my work. Not that I’ve mastered moviemaking, but I’ve done a couple of films and acting in one




tephen Winter’s audacious fiction “Jason and Shirley” considers what might have transpired when Shirley Clarke (Sarah Schulman), a straight, white, Jewish filmmaker, interviewed the black gay prostitute and would-be entertainer Jason Holliday (Jack Waters) for her landmark 1967 film “Portrait of Jason.” The real-life 12-hour interview session took place on December 3, 1966 at Clarke’s Chelsea Hotel penthouse apartment. It yielded a cinéma vérité documentary long celebrated for its depiction of an African-American gay man. A credit at the end of Winter’s film explains that “Portrait of Jason” is still said to be “the only film starring a black gay man which is considered essential viewing by film critics.” Yet, “Portrait of Jason” was also condemned upon it release, with accusations that Clarke exploited her subject. Similarly, Winter’s “Jason and Shirley” can be both praised and faulted. The film raises salient points about race, class, sexuality, truth, and art, but it also suffers from too often seeming like a stunt. Viewers may accept this mockumentary as an imagining or even a satire, but its real intentions are never clear. This ambiguity may be deliberate, but viewers are likely to be frustrated by not being able to believe what they see. In fact, there are several factual errors in the film: Clarke displays her Oscar, but she never actually won one (she was not on the Academy’s nomination ballot for “Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel With the World,” for which she got a director’s credit). “Jason and Shirley” takes place during the day, but the real interview began at 9 p.m. and was shot overnight. This disregard for the truth may be Winter taking poetic license, but it feels like sloppiness.

Jack Waters in Stephen Winter’s “Jason and Shirley,” which opens at the Museum of Modern Art on October 20.

JASON AND SHIRLEY Directed by Stephen Winter Oct. 20-27 Museum of Modern Art 11 W. 53rd St. “Jason and Shirley” opens with Jason being late and a frustrated Shirley talking with Nico (Eamon Fahey), her young production assistant. When Jason finally arrives, he eyes Nico, calls him a “hot chicken,” and has him fetch gin cocktails and light his cigarettes. Jason rejoices in his power as a black man ordering a white guy around. Jason is clearly a boisterous force of nature, and Shirley quickly plays to his vanity and need for celebrity to get him to deliver what she wants. He, in turn, asks for money when not performing for the camera or telling off-color jokes that get reactions from Nico. If Shirley is seething as Jason wastes her time, viewers might be simply exasperated, waiting

would bring a level of difficulty I had not done before, and the fear of failure helped me be more aware of things. Now I’m happy to know that I can do that. I can’t play a pirate with an accent, but I can convey emotion successfully, and it was fun to do it and be successful. And I was the role of Freddy. Most of the dialogue was improvised. It was so easy and inspired. It was not an easy movie to shoot, but we made it having fun and a great collaboration.

for the film to start in earnest. Only when Shirley presses Jason about why he lies all the time does “Jason and Shirley” finally crackle. This is not to say that the performances by the two leads are not spot-on. Both Schulman and Waters fully inhabit their roles and are great fun to watch. Waters is especially good with his comic timing, capturing both Jason’s flamboyance and his seriousness as he delivers his amusing one-liners. Schulman is ingratiating as Shirley, especially when she confides to Nico that Jason is doing everything she wants him to. Interludes where Winter presents sequences that literally portray stories Shirley draws out of Jason ring false. When Jason describes working for rich white women, his insights about race, class, and sexual dynamics are reduced to absurdities when we se him hurling insults at his matron (Peter Cramer) and then kissing and fingering her on the floor. Jason’s discussion of his would-be cabaret act is intercut with stylish fantasy performance scenes, but they are edited in a way that makes them merely distracting. When he is seen seducing Billy Boy (Mike Bailey-Gates), the scene never quite answers Shirley’s question, “What do you like about white men?” The episode, instead, is a clumsy sets-up for her inquiry about Jason being raped. As Shirley questions Jason, we see how she is focused triggering certain responses and controlling him. He doesn’t want to talk about his father, but when she coaxes him to do so, his answer is illuminating. (Whether it’s true is another matter, but beside the point.) When Shirley takes Jason up to the roof during a break in filming and asks him, “Is what you want the world to see of you already in the camera?,” the moment is a canny one. It’s unfortunate that the

GMK: What can you say about your approach to this film, which takes a very dark turn in the last act? SS: I could never come to terms with the film’s ending and where I leave my characters and the audience. It’s very morally unsolved. I don’t want to understand it. I want to talk about it with everyone who has something to say. It’s more like an ending that opens a dialogue. It was an experiment, really. The turning point in the third act it meant to throw you off. It


PORTRAIT, continued on p.41

throws me off as the director. It’s a very manipulative film. I personally like when people play experiments and test me. When you leave the audience shaken, they forget what happened before the unexpected moment. That third act makes people forget this is a gay couple, and the varnish of homosexuality that people think this movie has is completely washed away. That’s also a way to make people realize how important it is and how personal. It’s not relevant that they are gay men. October 15 - 28, 2015 |


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Julia Coffey and Mikaela Feely-Lehmann in Topher Payne’s “Perfect Arrangement,” directed by Michael Barakiva, at the Duke of n 42nd Street through November 6.



ost everybody knows about the Red Scare in the early 1950s. But the Lavender Scare? That’s when Senator Joseph McCarthy, who led the charge to root out those in government and elsewhere suspected of anti-American sympathies, expanded his sights beyond Communists to include homosexuals and other sexual non-conformists. These so-called perverts or degenerates, vulnerable to blackmail, were deemed security risks and booted from their jobs in the State Department. The campaign was nothing less than a ruthless, fear-mongering witch-hunt that ruined thousands of lives of innocent citizens. Believe it or not, considerably more gays and lesbians were scapegoated than Commies. “Perfect Arrangement,” produced by Primary Stages, is one of the rare plays that dares shine a light on this shameful chapter in Amer- | October 15 - 28, 2015

ican history. But instead of crafting a wrenching drama, Topher Payne, the lauded, Atlanta-based playwright in his Off-Broadway debut, had something else in mind. He frames the story like a 1950s TV comedy, in the spirit of “Ozzie and Harriet” or “I Love Lucy.” The result is a fascinating if somewhat uneven piece of theater. The wacky set-up is the stuff of vintage sitcoms, but with a trendy twist. Seemingly staid Bob (Robert Eli) and Millie (Mikaela Feely-Lehmann) Martindale live in an immaculate, tastefully appointed apartment (styled by Neil Patel) in Washington, DC’s Georgetown. Their next-door neighbors, Jim (the effervescent Christopher J. Hanke) and Norma (Julia Coffey) Baxter, have come over to help welcome Bob’s boss Theodore (Kevin O’Rourke) and his wife Kitty (Jennifer Van Dyck) over cocktails and canapés. Pleasantries about the Matron’s League bazaar and Spry vegetable shortening (bits of dialogue seem


PERFECT, continued on p.51

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A Delightful Bath in “Quare Land” Landscapes more barren in “Spring Awakening,” “Fondly, Collette Richland” BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE


“Spring Awakening” is a polarizing show that took Broadway by storm in 2006. It struck a nerve, as it intended to, with its themes of repression, ignorance, and adolescent angst. While it is


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or those of us with Irish ancestry, “The Quar e Land,” now getting a marvelously entertaining production at the Irish Rep, is a hilariously extreme version of what might seem only too familiar — long-held resentments, intractable opinions, and a keen eye for taking advantage of others. Perhaps that’s too simplistic, but watching this play I could hear echoes of my grandparents’ generation, whose parents arrived in the US from Ireland and whose pride in their heritage never dimmed. Nor did their bickering, banter, and bluster, which dominated every family event. My young brothers and I were wonderfully entertained; our parents and their generation, not so much. The story concerns 90-year-old Hugh Pugh, who is taking his first bath in four years. Rather than get out of the tub, he has Rob McNulty come visit him in his down-atheels bathroom. Rob has come hoping Hugh will sell him a patch of land so he can develop it. What seems like a simple enough transaction becomes a battle of wills. Hugh has a thousand stories, and Rob has a meeting he has to get to. The set-up, of course, is obvious and familiar, but John McManus’ script is full of twists and turns, alternating bouts of frustration and charm. It’s not realistic to be sure, but it sure is fun. The fun also comes from the outstanding per for mances by Peter Maloney as Hugh and Rufus Collins as Rob. With flawless comic timing and a go-for-broke energy, under the direction of Ciarán O’Reilly, this tale of what my grandmother used to call “the immovable object meets the irresistible force” –– in reference to our own family battles –– is just plain irresistible.

Peter Maloney and Rufus Collins in John McManus’ “The Quare Land,” directed by Ciarán O’Reilly, at DR2 Theatre, through November 15.

set in 19th century Germany, the story of teenage torment and the conflict between human nature — both biological and emotional — and a reactionary society had contemporary resonance. That resonance is even more pronounced a decade later as the media is suffused with the idiotic maunderings of Mike Huckabee, Kim Davis, and all the other militant moralists lusting to impose their religious beliefs on the culture at large. The show, with a book by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, mixed classic and contemporary idioms to reinforce its central themes. The original production, with groundbreaking choreography by Bill T. Jones, presented the story’s race of unsettling, exuberant, and tragic developments as if they were a hormonal teenager’s mood swings. The effect was theatrically historic. W h i l e D e a f We s t T h e a t r e deserves a lot of credit for mounting the current revival and there is nobility in having deaf and hearing actors double up on the major roles, the execution here under mines the passion and inherent excitement of the piece. There are all sorts of reasons why the underlying concept is a valid one. For instance, the physical poetry of the sign language could be a metaphor for strained inter -generational

communication. And the doubling of roles mirrors the outward and inward conflicts of the characters. These rationales, compelling as they may be, can’t compensate for a flat and baffling production. No matter how much director Michael Arden tries to distinguish between the hearing and singing actors by keeping the doubles in shadow, the device is used inconsistently, bogs down the entire enterprise, and tamps down any edge or urgency that drives the characters. This is a show that needs to be over-the-top to achieve its more expressionistic moments, but the need to split the focus of the audience and communicate in two styles renders the production measured and careful, qualities “Spring Awakening” cannot embody if it is to succeed. On the positive side, it’s nice to be reminded what a powerful score this is and to hear it in a big Broadway house. The cast includes veterans Camryn Manheim and Marlee Matlin in the older female roles, and both are terrific. Patrick Page, fresh from his wonderful performance in “Cymbeline,” is also outstanding, as is Russell Harvard, who was so revelatory in “Tribes” several seasons ago. I didn’t become a full-fledged fan of this show until I saw a stripped down version in a regional theater in Dallas, where the music and the

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FONDLY, COLLETTE RICHLAND New York Theatre Workshop 79 E. Fourth St. Btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Through Oct. 24 Tue.-Wed., Sun. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $65; Or 212-460-5475 Two hrs., 50 mins., with intermission

youthful energy of the performers drove the production. The conflict between cultural pressure and the awakening of the characters was profoundly moving and galvanizing. In the current production, the effect is quite the opposite, inspiring nothing as much as an autumnal nap.

I’m not much given to prayer, but please God spare me from another evening as insufferable and pretentious as “Fondly, Collette Richland,” now at New York Theatre Workshop. This assiduously obscure and seemingly end-


COLLETTE RICHLAND, continued on p.45

October 15 - 28, 2015 |








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Tudor Queens

“Anna Bolena” initiates Sondra Radvanovsky’s Donizetti trio BY DAVID SHENGOLD




ondra Radvanovsky –– one of the world’s most ambitious sopranos and, in the right roles, one of the most capable — has embarked on a huge project this Met season. Setting aside the weightier Verdi scores in which she’s pretty close to matchless today — “Ernani,” “Un ballo in maschera,” “I vespri siciliani” — Radvanovsky is going for a trifecta of Donizetti Tudor queen roles. These will be Anne (“Wolf Hall”) Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I; Mary Stuart, Elizabeth’s Scottish cousin and rival; and Elizabeth herself in old age, trying to keep a hold on her straying, much younger lover, Robert Devereux. In New York, the three roles as a hat trick are associated with Beverly Sills, who per formed them all at City Opera in the early ‘70s. In fact, Donizetti penned the relevant operas (“Anna Bolena,” “Maria Stuarda,” and “Roberto Devereux”) at different times, for different singers, and never intended them as a trilogy. Tudors were as much in style in Romantic 19th century Europe as in our days of soft-core cable TV historical bodice-rippers. Other sopranos from Montserrat Caballé through Carol Vaness and Mariella Devia have offered some of the iconic roles locally in concert performances; and still others (Olivia Stapp in “Bolena,” Ashley Putnam in “Stuarda,” Lauren Flanigan in “Devereux”) followed Sills onto the NYCO stage. The Metropolitan under James Levine’s musical directorship had been but little interested in serious bel canto operas: the company has neglected “Lucrezia Borgia” since 1904, “Guillaume Tell” since 1931, and has never presented “Tancredi” or “Capuleti” at all. Peter Gelb sagely decided to stage the three very valid Tudor queen operas, hoping initially to present Anna Netrebko in each of them over several seasons. The Russian diva — sometimes capably spelled by Angela Meade — introduced The Boleyn Woman with flair and darkly beautiful sound, if with varying success in re pitch and declamation. The Queen of Scots took on a very different luster in Joyce DiDonato’s riveting, deeply spiritual imper sonation — wonderfully stylish but in places altered as to keys, as with other mezzos essaying the role. Radvanovsky tried out the “Devereux” Elizabeth in Toronto last year in the staging that will augment the other two this season at the Met: a bravely un-vain impersonation in exciting sound and showing considerable feeling, yet — the usual cavil that attends most of her performances — with too little made of the sung words.

All three productions are directed by David McVicar, whose design choices run to murkily lit black, gray, and red, with the women in lavish costumes, and male semi-nudity when possible. Might this last constitute an attendance selling point for wavering friends? The season opener of “Anna Bolena” the afternoon of September 26 never quite broke through the attendant gloom dramatically, partly due to Marco Armiliato’s somewhat hangdog manner in the pit. He cut the overture (!) and allowed singers long “cut outs” before yelled final high notes — a kind of provincial 1970s bel canto “style” long discredited. Radvanovsky throw-

Ildar Abdrazakov and Sondra Radvanovsky in the Met Opera production of Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.”

ing in countless high interpolations furthered this impression. Three or four of them proved thrilling and apt; the rest, including a misfired final high E flat, focused attention on her shortcomings. Her voice’s decibel impact is part of her arsenal, but here she sounded best when reining it in. Full-voiced sallies sometimes betrayed gear changing. Her Anna proved touching at moments but was too episodically acted to be maximally moving. Again, some of this is a failure to shape the text into meaningfully projected lines. The ballad-like “Al dolce guidami” really hit home, and showed what this impersonation might become. Jamie Barton, an excellent young mezzo, appeared as Jane (“Giovanna”) Seymour; worshipful press puffery had prepped the audience for an unalloyed triumph, but her initial performance wasn’t quite a match for her recent Adalgisa, a triumph indeed. Bar-

ton boasts a rich timbre and technical savvy, though on this occasion her downward scales were less even than Radvanovsky’s, and the top notes, though easily there, lost a little quality. Yet Barton is always well worth hearing, and both divas — who did well as it is by their great central duet –– will doubtless bring smoother game to later performances. The pivotal role of Percy — Anne’s former suitor and, apparently, pledged spouse, an ardent if dim-witted soul easily manipulated by Henry to work her destruction — again fell to Stephen Costello. The Philadelphia tenor, a handsome but awkward stage actor, again proved a mixed bag. His burnished middle voice has the right timbre for the role, and the projected cluelessness seemed more part of a characterization, less a performer’s inexperience. Yet — another indication that Armiliato is not the best steward for these Donizetti scores –– Percy’s scenes were both cut to ribbons to reduce the challenges, and even then Costello had to rewrite high-lying passages downwards and leave things out. One backstage source told me that Costello was ill, and that might be so; but why was no announcement made, and why did they not send on his capable alternate, Taylor Stayton –– who eventually did take on the second show? Ildar Abdrazakov looks terrific as Henry VIII, channeling the right mixture of sexiness, capriciousness, and repulsive egotism. He handles the Italian “ottocento” style quite capably, which mitigates the fact that his voice is neither large nor dark enough for the part. “Enrico” has no aria, but his music can be impactful in ensembles, as Samuel Ramey showed lavishly at City Opera. Tamara Mumford remained as Smeton, the smitten teenage musician that ends up betraying Anna (and whom she in turn accuses Henry of seducing, though McVicar chooses not to go there in the subtitling). Mumford as always showed an arresting personal timbre, musically used. David Crawford, heavily favored by the casting department these days, sounded characteristically rough and undistinguished as Anna’s brother Rochefort — also accused of being her lover. In the penultimate prison scene, in which Rochefort agrees to die alongside the condemned Percy, both Crawford and Costello sported bare legs and what looked like bloomer underwear, as if they had wandered in from some post-Raphaelite bro crew team fantasy. Donizetti’s Tudor works compel attention, however variably… um, executed; try to catch them this season. David Shengold ( writes about opera for many venues. October 15 - 28, 2015 |



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Carol Wrote the Book! “Mommie Dearest”’s Rutanya Alda on Faye Dunaway; downtown sister act; vintage theater at its best BY DAVID NOH


mind-boggling effects he achieves in his show “Sisters’ Follies: Between Two Worlds” (Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. at Pitt St., through Oct. 31; abronsartscenter. org) couldn’t really have cost that much, yet they out-dazzle anything on Broadway or in Vegas. It’s a wacky, unhinged tribute to the sisters Lewisohn, Alice (Joey Arias) and Irene (Julie Atlas Muz), who founded the very theater this show resides in as the Neighborhood Playhouse, and are conceived (possibly amid clouds of contraband substances) as eternally bickering co-dependents –– think Big and Little Edie Beale, with grand pretensions of Art with a capital A, rather than showbiz. Muz is a relatively new face



What kind of genius is master puppeteer and New York treasure Basil Twist? The witty,

boat, was also surprisingly deep in its observations, in that early suffragette era, about the position of women, around whom he lovingly centered all of his work. On one of those miraculously designed sets his company is known for, Bank smoothly directed what I expect to be the best farce on stage this year. His cast was utter perfection, starting with the quite divine Brenda Meaney as the soigné yet suspicious wife who gets things rolling when she calls her neighbor a bitch for trifling with her all too smitten husband (a terrifically stodgy and bewildered Michael Frederic). I have always worshipped the late, great American light comedienne Ina Claire and lament that few today pos-


ne of the most highly anticipated books by many in our community has finally hit the stores. It’s “Mommie Dearest Diaries,” by my dear friend actress Rutanya Alda. In that ultimate cult film, she played Carol Ann, faithful lifelong amanuensis –– aka slave –– to Joan Crawford, embodied by that fire-breathing and most difficult of divas Faye Dunaway, someone able to put fear into the heart of even Bette Davis! Whatever possessed Alda, who’d already been in such classic films as “The Deer Hunter,” “The Long Goodbye,” and “The Fury,” to keep a daily record of the nightmare that was working with this star, the effort has proved an incredible boon for all who cannot get enough of the movie, not to mention Alda herself, who it turns out is an excellent writer. She really knows where the bodies are buried, and “Mommie Dearest Diaries” is one of the most laceratingly real, compelling, and moving showbiz memoirs I’ve ever read. Dunaway’s endless off-screen shenanigans included demanding that her then-lover be listed as a producer, although he had contributed absolutely nothing; re-taking numerous times the infamous scene where she slaps Carol Ann (and Alda had the red cheeks to prove it); literally brutalizing little Mara Hobel, who played her daughter Christina as a child; and causing legendary costume designer Irene Sharaff to walk off a film for the first time in her long career. It was Sharaff who dressed Alda so beautifully for Crawford’s wedding scene that an insecure Dunaway had her cut from the proceedings (“You look too good”). The costuming legend famously said of Dunaway, “You can enter her dressing room, but throw a piece of raw meat in there first.”

An excerpt from the diary more or less gives the great Sharaff, for whom the annual New York theater costume awards are named, the last word: “She says she likes everyone, except Faye. She’s never worked with anyone as crazy in all her years in the business. She tells me Faye is on drugs, that’s why her behavior is so erratic. I ask cocaine? She says she doesn’t know but believes that a couple of years ago it was heroin. She says her behavior is completely instant gratification –– she wants it now, right away, like an infant... She says everyone hates her so much they’re just waiting for her to fall on her face so they can all laugh at her.” And there’s plenty more! Brava Rutanya, I know it wasn’t an easy road into the bookstores and, but you did it, lady, and aren’t you glad you never showed your galleys to Faye, who has now lifted her famous taboo on anything “Mommie”-related to work on her own book? She might have lifted a lot from you, as well!

(and pair of exposed boobies) to me. She’s a highly accomplished, graceful, and comic dancer, like Ruth St. Denis, only reincarnated for the set of “The Night of a Thousand Stevies (Nicks).” Besides the Lewisohns, Arias and Muz essay various roles in the highly ambitious, delightfully obscure historical pageants the sisters produce, with narcissistic Alice always cast as, say, the Queen of Egypt, and Irene as her ubiquitous, more simply garbed slave girl. A terrific small orchestra aptly accompanies these hilarious, beyond-camp shenanigans, and Arias, although perhaps a smidgen under-rehearsed, brings his unique singing voice and lovably outrageous persona, making the moment

“Mommie Dearest Diaries” author Rutanya Alda.

when he warbles “Midnight at the Oasis,” while astride a giant camel in the Sahara, perhaps the most memorable stage visual of 2015.

For a second, I panicked when I heard that the estimable Mint Theater company was ceasing operations on 43rd Street. I was relieved to discover that they are merely moving locations under the intrepid leadership of founder Jonathan Bank. The company left its old location in a blaze of glory, however, with its revival of Harold Chapin’s 1911 comedy “The New Morality.” Chapin was an inordinately gifted, Brooklyn-born British playwright, who sadly died at the age of 29 during World War I. His play, a wonderfully elegant and droll study of a marriage slightly in trouble, set aboard a posh house-

sess her chic, elegant technique and innate wit. Meaney, swanning about in Carisa Kelly’s superb, Poiret-esque costumes, strongly evoked Claire’s style and, even, delicate pathos, and there can be no higher praise than that. Still, Meaney momentarily had the show stolen from her by Ned Noyes, brilliant as the drunken silly ass of a husband to her rival who delivers Chapin’s deepest revelations about the opposite sex. Young Welsh actress Clemmie Evans brought lovely innocence to her role of friend to the heroine, reminding me of the delightful Jane Carr in films like “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (as Mary McGregor) and “Something for Everyone.”


IN THE NOH, continued on p.41

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


An October 4 talk back at Metropolitan Playhouse after a performance of Arthur Richman’s “The Awful Truth” included cast members Erin Leigh Schmoyer, Nate Washburn, Eden Epstein, Alexandra O’Daly, and Emily Jon Mitchell, moderator David Noh, and (not pictured) director Michael Hardart.


IN THE NOH, from p.40

My other go-to stage group, to whom I run when the unaccountably acclaimed vicissitudes of current dramaturgy –– such as “The Flick”, “Clybourne Park,” and (shudder) “Something Rotten” –– proves too much to bear, Metropolitan Playhouse, is having quite the season. Its founder, Alex Roe, invited me to conduct a lively talk back on October 4 with the cast and director of “The Awful T ruth,” the 1922 play by Arthur Richman that provided the source material for Leo McCarey’s very loose 1937 film adaptation, one of the absolute screen classics of romantic comedy. I’m thoroughly excited about the company’s upcoming production, Pulitzer Prize-winner Susan Glaspell’s 1931 “Alison’s House,” which was inspired by the death of poet Emily Dickinson and how her family dealt with it and with her legacy. Glaspell, so admired in her time, is nearly unknown today, a victim of changing commercial theatrical taste and, undoubtedly, chauvinism. Her work, with its sheer depth, contextual intelligence, and febrile sensitivity, is


PORTRAIT, from p.34

jazz background music in the scene undercuts its raw emotional power. This struggle between these indomitable characters is a fascinating one, but in “Jason and Shirley” it too often comes off as contrived. We do, however, come to understand that though Jason may be disruptive, he has no illusions or real agenda with the interview; he is what he is –– which was the point of “ | October 15 - 28, 2015

every bit the equal of, and sometimes quite superior, in its perfectly gauged subtlety, to that perennially over-produced, more noisy triumvirate of Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. The original Broadway cast of “Alison’s House” was striking for the presence of that grand, unapologetically dyke doyenne of the stage Eva Le Gallienne and her lover Josephine Hutchinson, who signed a Warners contract and went to Hollywood in 1934. She became, I think, the first lesbian leading lady in studio talking pictures, starring in “Oil for the Lamps of China,” “The Story of Louis Pasteur,” and “Son of Frankenstein.” She and Le Gallienne met in 1926 when she became a member of Eva’s Civic Repertory Theatre. Their affair broke up Hutchinson’s marriage to stage director Robert Bell, and a snarky press at that time viewed this as a major scandal, dubbing her “ Le Gallienne’s Shadow.” Their relationship evidently endured even through Hutchinson’s subsequent two marriages, and both of them lived to a ripe old age, with Hutchinson dying in 1998 at 94, and Le Gallienne in 1991 at 92.

trait.” Shirley, at moments, comes off sympathetically as she works to get what she wants –– or says she wants –– from Jason, but when she instructs an actor, Carl Lee (Orran Farmer), to “break” him, she seems merely manipulative. This may be her truth, but the film lets the viewers decide. “Jason and Shirley” tries to have it both ways — presenting truth and creating illusion. That’s a contradiction it can’t quite pull off.



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T A B H U N T E R C O N F I D E N T I A L . C O M 41


What Ever Became of “Love Life”? The compelling case for rescuing 1948 musical theater classic and other Kurt Weill treasures BY NORMAN WEIL


t would seem inconceivable that there would be no recording, complete or with extended excerpts, of a seminal theater score by a major composer. Yet, that is precisely what has befallen Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s 1948 “Love Life.” In a recording era when it seems that virtually every unknown piece of theater music –– whether opera (think George Frideric Handel’s “Elmira”) or musical (Heritor Villa Lobos’ “Magdalena,” to name one) –– has been recorded, it’s puzzling that “Love Life” has suffered from this grave omission. To be sure, random excerpts do exist on the CD “Kurt Weill on Broadway,” as well as in isolated YouTube excerpts. But that appears to be its sole representation –– on disc or the Internet. “Love Life” was lauded at its premiere by the esteemed German drama critic Friedrich Loft as “the most beautiful and powerful evening of theater” that he had witnessed among the many New York offerings that season, while a recent critic, Charles Willard, ranked it as “a vastly important artifact of the American musical theater, indeed the missing link in the evolution of the modern concept musical.” Yet, after its initial run of 252 performances, its performance history has been sporadic. The first revival was a student performance at the University of Michigan in 1987. The first professional revival occurred at the American Theater Festival in Philadelphia in 1990. A year later, it was performed in Great Britain in a staged reading at the Victoria and Albert Museum and, in 1995, at Opera North in Leeds. Since then, “Love Life” has been consigned to near-oblivion. Several factors may help explain this enigma. “Love Life” examines the state of marriage from pre-Industrial Revolution Connecticut in 1791 to New York City in 1947, by then the world’s economic colossus. That “progress” is embodied in the archetypal figures of Sam and Susan Cooper, whose marriage deteriorates over this century and a half. In 1948, when “Love Life” premiered, marriage was still regarded as an idyllic state, romanticized in such musicals as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma” (1943), Sigmund Romberg’s “Up in Central Park” (1945), and Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946). In something of Currier and Ives prints set against Norman Rockwell backdrops, Curly and Laurey would live happily ever after on the Oklahoma plains, John Matthews, a New York Times reporter, and Rosie Moore, a ward heeler’s daughter, would dwell in comparative bliss seemingly untouched by Boss Tweed’s political corruption, and Annie Oakley


and Frank Butler would ride off forever in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows. The near obscurity of “Love Life” could also be blamed on a musicians’ union strike in 1948 that kept it from producing an original cast recording or having selections played on the radio, as well as by Lerner’s refusal to have it revived during his lifetime. Its pioneering status as a concept musical may have also been a factor. It was the prototype for later musicals that emphasized theme over plot or a linear narrative, and in which there is social commentary along with an exploration of form and structure. “Oklahoma” (though vastly innovative), “Up in Central Park,” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” in contrast, offered the traditional emphasis on narrative far more familiar in the era. The review “Love Life” received from Brooks Atkinson, then reigning drama critic of the New York Times, certainly did the show no favor when he dismissed it “with a feeling of general disappointment,” writing that it was “cute, complex, and joyless, a general gripe masquerading as vaudeville.” This despite Atkinson praising Weill’s “versatile” and “glorious” music as well as the action, direction (by Elia Kazan), and design of “Love Life.” As a pioneering concept musical, “Love Life” was joined by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1947 “Allegro.” Largely experimental, “Allegro” had a Greek chorus interrupt the narrative line with an emphasis on personal struggle amidst material success. It also employed minimalist staging, with light patterns used to evoke both spatial and emotional elements. Still, it is “Love Life” that is regarded as the archetype of the emerging concept musical. According to musical theater scholar Thomas Hischak, unlike “Allegro,” it “disregarded the traditional use of time, interrupted its actors with jolting vaudeville numbers that commented on the story, and tried to illustrate sociological ideas by paralleling them to a long-term personal relationship.” In the 1960s, the concept musical developed into a far-reaching art form, in which narrative experimentation substituted energy where there previously had been only formula. Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones’ “The Fantasticks” (1960) and Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Stop the World –– I Want to Get Off” (1962) were early examples, and were followed in their rebellious spirit by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion’s “Man of La Mancha” (1964). Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret” (1966), set in the seedy Berlin Kit Kat Club in the early 1930s dawn of Hitler’s terror, features songs that underscore both the

decadent inner world of the Weimar era and the outer world of impending Third Reich barbarism. Harold Prince, who directed “Cabaret,” is considered an early exemplar of the concept musical. William Everett has noted that Galt MacDermot and Gerome Ragni’s rock musical “Hair” ( 1967) “provided ‘safe’ exposure to the counter-culture for middle class audiences.” Kander and Ebb’s Chicago (1975) advanced even further the trailblazing innovations that “Love Life,” with its interpolated vaudeville numbers, and “Cabaret,” with its concurrent depiction of inner and outer worlds, had bought to the concept musical. In “Chicago,” the vaudeville numbers elaborate through satire the widespread corruption in that city circa 1920s, turned into popular entertainment for the masses. The characters have a dual existence since their individual psyches simultaneously connect and collide with the entire world of injustice in the crime-ridden Windy City. Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban’s “A Chorus Line” (1975), considered the quintessential concept musical, employed the conceit of an audition to shed light on the inner lives of its anonymous dancers. Its transfer from the Public Theater to Broadway was a milestone in the history of concept musicals. With “Cats” in 1982, Andrew Lloyd Webber married the concept musical with the megamusical, heralding a new phase in musical theater. “Starlight Express,” from Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe five years later, was intended as an “entertainment ‘event’ for children who love trains.” Lloyd Webber said the result was “not quite what we intended,” given that the “joy and sense of pure fun that was the original intention seemed to get lost.” Bobby Lopez, along with Jeff Whitty and Jeff Marx, one of the authors of “Avenue Q,” described that 2003 show as the “hybrid king of revue-slash-show. Using kind of Internet logic. A hyperlink type of logic to go from one subject to another.” Leonard Bernstein was, of course, an essential figure in the development of the concept musical. His “Candide” (1956), with lyrics primarily by Richard Wilbur, and “West Side Story” (1957) with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, represented in the assessment of Scott McMillan, “a radical experiment in book writing” where theme and metaphor controlled. Nobody today is more associated with the concept musical than Sondheim. His innovative “Company” (1970) uses a gathering of friends as a central metaphor to explore a single man’s personal and romantic relationships over his life. “Company” led, in turn, to the even more experimental “Follies” (1971), a biting take on upper middle class life in Nixon’s America. As the four dispirited middle-aged leads look back a generation to the hey day of the Follies (read Ziegfeld girls), the show, in the words of Stephen Banfield, “belies Sondheim's


LOVE LIFE, continued on p.43

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


Gay City News

LOVE LIFE, from p.42

preoccupation with choice and its consequences, or rather subverts it into an understanding that making a mess of choices or being unable to choose at all is a constant.” By the time of “Assassins” in 1990, the friends gathered for a party in “Company” have become killers or would-be killers of presidents –– from John Wilkes Booth and Leon Czolgosz to John Hinckley, L ynette “Squeaky” Fromme, and Sara Jane Moore. Kurt Weill’s “Love Life” was clearly the impetus for this rich body of moder n concept musicals that have emerged in the intervening 65-plus years. To deny listeners the opportunity to hear this seminal score either on discs or in the theater is to lose a necessary and irreplaceable connection with a vanished but vital musical past. Even Weill’s lesser known scores need to be rediscovered. Recent recordings of “Knickerbocker Holiday” (1938) and “One Touch of Venus” (1943) prove them gems too long forgotten, and this past May’s Carnegie Hall revival of Weill’s immense Biblical pageant “The Eternal Road” (1937), in a shortened adaptation by Ed Harsh under the original title “The Road of Promise, was eagerly awaited. Other neglected scores by Weill include the anti-war musical play “Johnny Johnson” (1936), “The Firebrand of Florence” (1945), based on the life and adventures of the great Renaissance sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, and the folk opera “Down in the Valley” (1948). Why should listeners, for the most part, be limited to hearing only Weill’s most famous –– though great –– music like “The ThreepenGin Fizz showcases live music, weekly Jazz and Jam sessions Wednesday to Saturday. An intimate, elegant lounge with an amazing vibe, Gin Fizz is Harlem’s best kept secret. As one of our customers put it, “You nailed the mix of downtown cool and Harlem old school vibe”!

presents the



A theater bill from the original Broadway production of Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s 1948 “Love Life.”

ny Opera” (1928 ) and “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny” (1930), both written with his original German lyricist Bertolt Brecht, at the cost of leaving unheard many of Weill’s richest creations? To revive “Love Life” and other underappreciated Weill scores is to discover something old, but also something new, given the unfamiliarity that most listeners today have with that body of work. It’s a chance for all of us broaden our musical horizons while recovering Weill’s nearly forgotten musical theater treasures.

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NEWFEST, from p.31

An ambitious, though less than successful film, Catherine Stewart’s “While You Weren’t Looking” (Oct. 24, 3:15 p.m.) packs too many issues into its 72 minutes. Wealthy South African housewife Terri (Camilla Lilly Waldman, in an affecting performance) feels distanced from her wife Dez (Sandi Schultz) after she discovers a sexy dress meant for someone else. Meanwhile, their adopted daughter Asanda (Petronella Tshuma) is turning 18 and pulling away from them. Asanda unexpectedly becomes attracted to Shado (Thishiwe Ziqubu), a streetwise “tommy boy” (butch female) from the Khayelitsha township. “ W h i l e Yo u We r e n ’ t L o o k ing” makes valid and important points about gender identity and homophobia and transphobia, as well as keen observations on differences of race and class, but they are often applied with a shovel. A series of scenes set in Asanda’s queer theory class are particularly didactic. The film’s themes are compelling, but they could have been more delivered far more subtly.

From the non-fiction side, NewFest presents “Seed Money” (Oct. 23, 10:30 p.m.),


A scene from Catherine Stewart’s “While You Weren’t Looking.”

an era when it was risky to do so, Holmes’ impact was legendary. He created a type — masculine, athletic, and “squeaky clean piggy” — that generated millions of fans and many millions of dollars. “Seed Money” depicts, thr ough assiduously chosen clips, interviews, and photographs, Holmes’ success in the early age of home video –– success that was curtailed by the AIDS epidemic. If the last act, where Holmes works to create a legacy — becoming politically active, donating to the Human Rights Campaign as well as presidential campaigns, only to continue to face backlash for being a pornographer — is the weakest, “Seed Money” still manages to flesh out the life of a man who is fondly remembered for contributing to gay men’s pleasure.

lez is extremely ingratiating. This is a strong short that deserves to be a feature.

Other worthwhile shorts include the darkly funny “Actresses” by Jeremy Hersh, from the “Wild Hearts” program (Oct. 25, 10 a.m.), about two young women who perform on stage getting into a relationship. Danielle (Rebecca Henderson) has to constantly validate her girlfriend Sara (Taylor

The Shorts programs also feature several terrific films. Here are six titles not to be missed: From the “Cruising” program (Oct. 24, 11:30 p.m.; Oct. 27, 12:30 p.m.), “Limanakia,” is Antonio Da Silva’s hypnotic, erotic, ecstatic short chronicling the sexcapades of a group of faceless, nude men at a cliffs-and-water cruising area. Da Silva’s other entry, “Pix,” also presents a dizzying kaleidoscope of sexy screen images. Actor/ writer/ director Robert Aquino’s “Catharsis,” set in Brooklyn, is a fabulous short about a 20-something gay man (Aquino) getting into bed with someone (sexy Gabe Gonzalez) to get over his ex. Aquino shows a real perspicacity in creating characters able to discuss their impulses and desires, and Gonza-


Michael Stabile’s nostalgic por trait of Falcon Studios’ Chuck Holmes. This thin but lovingly made documentary chronicles the Indiana native’s move to San Francisco and career in the gay porn industry. Making his products visible to gay consumers in


idea of love at first sight, and eternal love. Then the plot kicks in. Carlos (Joan Bentallé), a Chinese teacher, goes cruising in the local forest where he spies on couples having sex. When he catches the eye of Toni (Aimar Vega), one of his students, they have an assignation in the back on Carlos’ car. The affair — which should never have begun — does not end there. Director/ co-writer Marçal Forés uses incredible sound design to heighten the film’s tension, and his tracking shots in the forest are hypnotic. The film’s morality about sex and death is obvious, but that doesn’t keep “Everlasting Love” from building to an intense climax.

Hess), a burden that eventually causes a rift between them. “Trémulo,” from the “In Youth is Pleasure” program (Oct. 24, 10 a.m.; Oct. 26, noon), is a sensitive romantic drama set entirely in a Mexican barbershop. The elegant, eloquent short by writer/ director Roberto Fiesco, depicts a one-night stand between a young man and a soldier shipping out the next day. It is as sweet as it is heartrending. From the “Trans” shorts program (Oct. 22, 4 p.m.; Oct. 26, 9:15 p.m., the latter screening at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St.), Cheryl Dunye’s fantastic “Black Is Blue” is an intimate, engaging, and insightful mini-drama about a femaleto-male apartment security guard named Black (trans actor Kingston Farady) who poignantly discusses his worldview for the camera in direct address. Shot in her trademark “Dunye-mentary” style, this short is extremely captivating as Black describes dating, past relationships, and the prejudice he faces.

A scene from Michael Stabile’s “Seed Money.”

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


DOG, from p.32



less piece is worse in that it is completely unoriginal. Playwright Sibyl Kempson has lifted from a long list of writers from the Dadaists to the Off-Off Broadway movement of the 1960s. There are purloined bits from Tristan Tzara and Charles Dizenzo, who may be unknown to many, and there’s even some early Edward Albee tossed in to por tray the constricting shallowness of domestic routine. But if this is theatrical deconstruction or social | October 15 - 28, 2015

Directed by Laurie Anderson HBO Documentary Films/ Abaramorama Pictures Opens Oct. 21 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St.

presents the


Anderson’s guardian and that danger could come from the sky. See any parallels to American humans’ reaction to 9/11? Anderson goes further, touching on the way dogs were used by the military to sniff for bombs. She seems quietly outraged that these animals had to spend a year in prison as part of their training. Parts of “Heart of a Dog” could pass for outtakes from Laura Poitras’ Edward Snowden/ NSA documentary “Citizenfour”; Anderson shows images of desert bunkers where documents are hidden and electronic equipment for spying is kept. “Heart of a Dog” is basically a documentary, but it sticks loosely and irreverently to the form. Anderson has equal imagination as a visual artist and musician. The film begins with animated drawings of her dream about giving birth to Lolabelle. Anderson includes much of her own artwork, including drawings of Lolabelle in the bardo (the Buddhist passage to the afterlife). She also incorporates 8mm home movies from her childhood and attempts to convey what it’s like to see through the eyes of a dog. One section is filmed with a camera very low to the ground, while another manipulates color to express the dog’s more limited visual sensitivity (which it compensates for by a greater sense of smell). All of Anderson’s musings on the security state are interesting, but the second half of “Heart of a Dog” makes it something special. Gaspar Noe’s “Enter the Void” seems like an inspiration as Anderson tries to imagine Lolabelle’s journey through the bardo. Much of

Gay City News


Lolabelle at the piano.

this consists of recycling imagery from the first half of the film in new contexts. The film also looks grimy, as though we’re watching it through a dirty window. Noe is an atheist influenced by psychedelic drugs, avant-garde films, and Stanley Kubrick. If Anderson takes drugs, she never mentions it, and she seems to be a pretty sincere Buddhist. Yet the result is pretty strong head-trip cinema all the same. It’s hard to say where the film is going on a moment-to-moment basis, but it ends up somewhere pretty spectacular. Then Lolabelle seems to exit the bardo and Anderson comes back to reality. Reed is listed in the credits as playing a doctor, but I never spotted him. Anderson doesn’t talk about his death, just Lolabelle’s, but both human and animal mortality are clearly on her mind. We should all be so lucky as to have a method of dealing with it as productive as making “Heart of a Dog.”

commentary or even a play at all, it lacks artistic vision or any kind of coherence, instead merely rambling aimlessly in a series of tenuously connected scenes that revel in their studied, solipsistic nonsense. And that goes for the actors, too. This nearly three-hour mess has been foisted on the theatergoing public by director John Collins and the company known as Elevator Repair Service. Roughly half the audience repaired to other more interesting pursuits at the intermission. Lucky devils.



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American in Paris,” “Chicago”). Nightlife hostess Sweetie presides. Triad Theatre, Stage 72, 158 W. 72nd St. Every Fri., 11 p.m. Tickets are $33 at; $40 at the door.

THEATER Is Love Conditional? John Anastasi’s “Would You Still Love Me If…,” directed by Kathleen Turner, is the story of Danya and Addison, caring, intelligent young women with a promising future and a baby on the way but also a lifelong secret that threatens to destroy all they hold dear. The play prompts the question: Why do we love who we love? The cast includes Turner, Rebecca Brooksher, Sofia Jean Gomez, and Roya Shanks. New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St. Sat., Mon., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m., through Oct. 26. Tickets are $59.50-$79.50 at

SAT.OCT.17 PERFORMANCE Artists of Color Shine

FILM Remembering Julio Rivera

THEATER Multi-Culti Steven Fales Steven Fales, who earlier starred in his one-man show “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” presents the New York premiere of his new comedy show, “Cult Model.” With hilarious parables and parodies, Fales, a former Mormon missionary and Eagle Scout, takes on each of the many cults he’s let run his life as he takes each layer of clothing off. Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St. Oct. 15-16, 22-23, 7 p.m. Tickets are $22 at or 212-352-3101.

CABARET New Breed Jazz & Blues

Horror on Suffolk St.

DANCE 70 Years of José Limón Dance


Jazz and blues vocalist John Minnock, who cut his musical teeth in Boston, recalls the likes of Billy Eckstein, George Benson, and B.B. King –– with jazz improvisations and scat singing –– and performs a repertoire of song renditions spanning classic artists like King, Ruth Brown, and Bill Withers to contemporaries such as Sara Bareilles, Amy Winehouse, and Sam Smith. Metropolitan Room, 34 W. 22nd St. Oct. 16, 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $20 at, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance begins its fall season with the BlakTinX Performance Series, its annual multidisciplinary art and performance festival celebrating the work of African-American, Latino, and other artists of color. This year's festival features Stephen Petronio Company dancer Davalois Fearon (Oct. 17, 8 p.m.; $20); Milteri Tucker’s Bombazo Dance Company (Oct. 24, 8 p.m.; $20); Barbra Herr’s one woman cabaret show (Oct. 30, 8 p.m.; $20), B! YOUth’s Theater Askew Youth Performance Experience (Nov. 6, 7 p.m.; free); dancer Richard Rivera (Nov. 7, 8 p.m.; $20); a dance performance created by Rebecca Lloyd-Jones (Nov. 13, 8 p.m.; $20); dancers Gentry George, Jonathan González, Alvaro González Dupuy, and Benjamin Lundberg (Nov. 14, 8 p.m.; $20); monologist Jose Batista-Ayala (Nov. 20, 8 p.m.; $20); and a dance concert created by choreographers Gierre Godley, Jasmine Hearn, Zavé Martohardjono, Angie Pittman, Christopher Rudd, Acharo Smith, Nelida Tirado, and Lorenzo Walker (Nov. 21, 8 p.m.; $20). On Halloween, Oct. 31, 7 p.m., BAAD!, in tandem with In the Life Ministries, a Bronx Interfaith LGBT church, hosts a party and open stage, with MC Appolonia Cruz and DJ Eddie Cruz. ($5). 2474 Westchester Ave. in Westchester Sq. For complete information and tickets, visit

OPERA New Insight into Alan Turing “InsightALT: The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing” is a new American opera by composer Justine F. Chen and librettist David Simpatico about the gay British mathematical genius who may have won the

NIGHTLIFE Drag Stars Pop Vox “The Ultimate Drag Off,” a live interactive game show musical where audience members vote and crown the next drag superstar, continues its 10th season tonight. This year, guests will include New York nightlife maven Michael Musto, Sirius Radio DJ and impersonation goddess Christine Pedi, Heather Parcells (“Finding Neverland,” “A Chorus Line”), and Michael Cusumano (“An


In commemoration of its 70th anniversary season, the José Limón Dance Foundation presents an International Dance Festival highlighting the master choreographer’s vision –– including signature pieces such as “Missa Brevis,” ”Orfeo,” and "The Moor’s Pavane” –– with guest artists from companies such as the Royal Danish Ballet and the Bavarian State Ballet and dancers from the world’s finest education programs like the Juilliard School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Taipei. The 12-day festival includes six different programs. The Joyce Theater., 175 Eighth Ave. at W. 19th St. Multiple shows, Tue.-Sun., through Oct. 25. Tickets are $10-$60 at


Psycho Clan, the artistic team behind New York’s well-known Nightmare Haunted House, shifts it’s unique brand of terror from theatrical haunted house to a series of terrifying plays in its 12th season, presenting the inaugural Nightmare: Horror Show –– New York’s Most Terrifying Theater Festival. The roster includes work from Timothy Haskell, Paul Smithyman and Matt Acheson, Aaron Haskell, Kate Dickinson, Jason Ellis, Anthony Giorgio, and Johnathan Frost. The Clemente, 107 Suffolk St., btwn. Rivington & Delancey Sts. Multiple shows nightly Tue.-Sun., through Oct. 30. Schedule and $25 tickets at




Director Richard Shpuntoff presents his documentary film “Julio of Jackson Heights,” about the 1990 gay bashing murder of Julio Rivera in Jackson Heights, Queens, and how the murder became the spark for community organizing and the politicization of the Queens LGBTQ community. Shpuntoff, who will do a Q&A after the screening, photographed the Queens' Annual Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade for 19 years before making the film. “Julio of Jackson Heights” is currently being screened in festivals nationwide. CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave. at 34th St. at 34th St. Oct. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Admission is free but you must RSVP to


SAT.OCT.17, continued on p.48

October 15 - 28, 2015 |


Composer Explores Boyhood & His Borough

Gay City News presents the

Dave Hall, gay Arab American, reflects on youth, democracy BY CHRISTOPHER MURRAY


he son of a Vermont Yankee father and a Brooklyn mother of Italian and Lebanese background, composer Dave Hall was recently quoted saying that despite being an “extremely proud” Arab American, “I always found it much easier to come out as gay than as Arab.” Meeting at a coffee shop in Clinton Hill –– Hall, too, now lives in Brooklyn –– on a sunny afternoon a few weeks ago, he talked to Gay City News about some of his most recent work, in which he explores identity and its links to places and passions. “Songs of Boyhood” and “Songs of Brooklyn,” produced for Hall’s own independent Row House Records label, are available on CD Baby ( and iTunes (, and, now that it’s October, are also getting exposure on several LGBT History Month Playlists. “We decided to release them together as they were somewhat similar, they are both song cycles, and they were both concert works I had composed, linked thematically,” he explained. “For ‘Songs of Boyhood,’ I ending up thinking a lot about the nature of growing up, how we find ourselves, and what happens over the course of the record, in a nonlinear way, is a boy’s journey into a young man, and into a young parent.” “Songs of Boyhood” was influenced by Hall’s memories from his youth upstate. “I composed ‘Songs of Boyhood’ first,” he said. “I was spending some time in the Hudson River Valley where I grew up, and the vistas, the air, and the local accent really brought up a lot of memories of my childhood. I started writing down little poems, walking down railroad tracks, climbing around an abandoned saw mill in Saugerties. Just the foundation | October 15 - 28, 2015

was left along a creek. Looking back at these types of things, they seemed sort of representative of experiences of all American boys growing up.” “Songs of Brooklyn,” arranged for piano and cello (“Boyhood” uses a string quartet), has tracks like “Mermaid Parade,” “Gowanus,” and “Battle of Brooklyn”. Hall’s sense of social justice is subtly interwoven into his music. A song of his from the late ‘90s imagined a gay marriage (“Biff ‘n Tony’s Wedding”), and some of the pieces in “Songs of Brooklyn” harken back in feel to Walt Whitman. “Not that I modeled the cycle on him, but he’s such a great Brooklyn poet, so there is a bit of an homage there,” Hall explained. “He captures such a great sense of democracy, a working people’s democracy. As I moved around the neighborhoods, I thought about the state of democracy that some people feel is in danger these days.” A particularly powerful, blues-inflected song, “Weeksville” ( is a tribute to freedom in what was the first free black township in New York State, now a part of Crown Heights. Up next, Hall is working on adapting his concert and web series of musical vignettes, “Darkened City,” into a theater piece. And, with screenwriter and playwright Tim Sulka, he is at work on a musical television series project with updated fairy tales. Hall finds support for his musical career from his life partner of 25 years –– and manager –– Joe Romano, whom he met at a gay runner’s club. Hall studied classical composition at the Manhattan School of Music and cites everything from Italian opera and Cat Stevens to his mother’s beloved Lebanese folk music as influences.


MUSIC, continued on p.51



Annual Readers’ Choice




SAT.OCT.17, from p.46

war for the Allies, only to suffer repression at the hands of his government for his sexuality. This evening, conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya leads a concert reading of the work featuring Jonathan Michie, Susannah Biller, Joseph Beutel, Elise Quagliata, Justin Hopkins, Daniel T. Curran, Dominick Corbacio, and members of MasterVoices. A talk back session with the opera’s creators and the artists follows. Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Music Center, 129 W. 67th St. Oct. 17, 7 p.m. Tickets are $25; $125 for VIP tickets to an artists reception.

Andrew Cuomo for his leadership on issues from marriage equality to the state’s Plan to End AIDS by 2020. The governor will receive the group’s Silver Torch Award. Sheraton Times Square, Oct. 22, 5:30 reception; 7p.m. dinner. Tickets are $600; $300 for those under 35, at

MUSIC Saluting Ned Rorem Brooklyn Art Song Society celebrates Ned Rorem’s 92nd birthday with a concert featur-



Building Allies In the Athletic World

Three Children’s Classics for Adults Only


Visits with Richard Haines & Elektra KB An LGBT art gallery tour of seven Chelsea exhibitions will include visits with two artists at their exhibits –– gay artist Richard Haines, who is showing portraits of young Bushwick men, some of them nude, and pansexual female artist Elektra KB, who is exhibiting photographs and videos about transgender migrant women living in Berlin. The day begins at 526 W. 26th St., Oct. 17, 1 p.m. For complete information, tickets, at $25, visit

This exhibition features 70 works drawn mostly from the Leslie + Lohman Museum col-

ing some of the composer’s most beloved songs, including “Early in the Morning,” “My Papa’s Waltz,” and “Visit to St. Elizabeth’s,” alongside the rarely heard masterpiece “King Midas.” The evening also features works by three of his most notable composition students at the Curtis Institute –– Daron Hagen, Russell Platt, and Kurt Rohde. Performers include soprano Justine Aronson, tenor Joseph Gaines; , baritone Jorell Williams, and pianists Michael Brofman and Miori Sugiyama. Bargemusic, Fulton Ferry Landing, Old Fulton St. at the East River, below the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn. Oct. 22, 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$35 at

FRI.OCT.23 BENEFIT Supporting LGBT Youth

Big Apple Circus returns to the Big Top at Lincoln Center for the company’s 38th season with the world premiere of its all-new show, “The Grand Tour!,” which transports audiences to the Roaring 1920s, the advent of the modern travel era, when the most adventuresome began to tour the world in ships, planes, trains, and automobiles. Clowns, jugglers, acrobats, and aerialists from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America appear with ponies, puppies, and more. Every seat is less than 50 feet from the stage. Lincoln Center, Oct. 21-Jan. 10. Tickets begin at $25 at

THU.OCT.22 POLITICS ESPA Honors Andrew Cuomo At its 25th anniversary New York City Gala, the Empire State Pride Agenda honors Governor

Comedian, chanteuse, and “Orange Is the New Black” star Lea DeLaria hosts a Place at the Table, a fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center, which provides housing and social services to homeless LGBT youth across New York City. The evening, with cocktails and dinner, honors State Senator Brad Hoylman with the group’s Bea Arthur Award, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams with its Corporate Spotlight Award, and AFC alumni Hilal Khalil. Capitale, 130 Bowery at Grand St.. Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $500 at

MON.OCT.26 BENEFIT Heroes of Dance; Heroes Against HIV The HIV Experience Resources Organization (HERO), Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, and Stage48 come together to present the second annual Broadway and Ballet Hero Awards. The honorees are Melba Moore, Garen Price Scribner, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The evening includes 14 original performances from top dance companies and Broadway shows. Stage 48, 605 W. 48th St. Oct. 26, 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, $100 for limited premium seating, at

WED.OCT.28 NIGHTLIFE Is God Kinkier than You Think? Novelist and author Perry Brass (“The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love”) moderates an evening that explores the celestial body, BD/ SM, rituals and protocols, top-secret fetishes, underground sexuality, and God. Brass is joined by dancer John Ollom, S/M spirituality activist Andrew Harwin, and leather event producer Darrell Perry. This is an adult event; some nudity may be involved. Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., room 210. Oct. 28, 7 p.m. A $5 donation is requested.

PERFORMANCE Through Montreal to the Soul Canadian John Arthur Sweet’s one-man show, “Erect but Unstable,” is a comedic monologue about gay love and relationships premised on a journey through Montreal’s Gay Village, with detours into science, religion, and psychiatry, in search of illumination about sex and attraction. The show was a hit at last year’s Prague Fringe Festival. Theatre Row –– the Studio Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St. Oct. 28, 9 p.m. Tickets are $19.25 at ufest.

SUN.OCT.25 PERFORMANCE Bullock & Kidman Join Justin Sayre In tonight’s edition of “The Meeting*,” host Justin Sayre pays tribute to the 1998 cult classic film “Practical Magic,” that has sisters Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman embracing their inner witches. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Place. Oct. 25, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at


The Domestic Front: Everyday Queer Life

The Circus is Back in Town!





Athlete Ally, which works to end homophobia and transphobia in sports by educating allies and empowering LGBT athletes, hosts its 2015 Action Awards, honoring Dr. Renée Richards, a transgender advocate and former tennis star, and former NBA star Grant Hill. 40/40 Club, 6 W. 25th St. Oct. 20, 6:30-9 p.m. The evening includes cocktails and the awards ceremony. Tickets are $200; $300 includes a 6 p.m. VIP reception, at

In its 2015-16 Off Broadway season, Company XIV presents three adults-only shows: the world premiere of “Cinderella,” a revival of its sexy hit holiday show “Nutcracker Rouge,” and the world premiere of “Snow White,” all conceived, directed, and choreographed by Drama Desk Award nominee Austin McCormick. “Cinderella” (starring Brett Umlauf, Davon Rainey, and Marcy Richardson) runs through Nov. 15; “Nutcracker Rouge,” Nov. 24-Jan. 17; and “Snow White,” Jan. 26- Mar. 12. Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Ln., btwn. MacDougal St. and Sixth Ave. Tickets –– $40$65, with VIP seats from $75-$105 for “Cinderella” and “Snow White”; $50-$85, with VIP seats from $100-$175 for “Nutcracker” –– at or 800-745-3000. More information at You must be at least 16.


lection and answers the question “What do gay people do when they’re not having sex?” These diverse works demonstrate what is unique and what is universal in everyday queer life. The show is an excellent opportunity to see works from the museum’s collection that in some cases have never been exhibited. Curated by James M. Saslow. Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Oct. 25: Tue.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on Thu. More information at

October 15 - 28, 2015 |

What a Ride


Chelsea bar celebrates two decades of entertaining BY MICHAEL SHIREY



Bob Pontarelli and the late Stephen Heighton with Rue McClanahan.



hen Barracuda Bar, located at 275 West 22nd Street, first opened it’s doors in 1995, it was already something unique. At a time when gay bars depended more on cruising and drinking, the Chelsea establishment focused on creating a lounge bar featuring drag shows and regularly scheduled guest appearances — a concept that did not widely exist and has since been adopted by untold numbers of bars in New York and across the country. But this nightlife entertainment idea dates back to before Barracuda. Business partners Bob Pontarelli and the late Stephen Heighton first tried out the idea at one of their former Lower East Side establishments, Crowbar, where many drag queens like Sherry Vine and Hedda Lettuce famously got their start. In fact, “every queen that you know got their start here,” Pontarelli proudly boasted about his businesses, which also include Industry Bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Another concept pioneered by Pontarelli and Heighton was hiring celebrity talent to make appearances at the bar, also now such a common practice it seems strange to think that it essentially didn’t exist 20 years ago. Barracuda’s roster includes Eartha Kitt, Rue McClanahan, Johnny Knoxville, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Tonya Harding, among many others.

Hands down the most notorious of these celebrity visitors, at least according to Pontarelli, was Olympic figure skater Harding. Best known for her alleged involvement in the attack on her ice skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan during the 1994 Winter Olympics, Harding was booked with the understanding that no one would ask about the Kerrigan incident. That didn’t stop Michael Musto, who interviewed her that night and did not hesitate from doing just that, to which Harding famously responded, “Well, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.” As for the opening of Barracuda, Pontarelli said that the love of entertainment he shared with Heighton, especially drag entertainment, drove them to open an entertainment focused bar. The two felt sure that the business would thrive in Chelsea, following the success of clubs like Splash and Champs. Pontarelli and Heighton’s investment in the talent they hired was always apparent — gigs at Barracuda tend to be long-running. In fact, “Star Search,” the longest running drag show in New York City originally hosted by Mona Foot, got started at Crowbar before moving to Barracuda and so has now been running for more than 20 years. You can still catch “Star Search,” now hosted by Tina Burner, every Thursday night. Talking with Pontarelli days before the anniversary celebration, it was apparent that any nervous anticipation he has is overshad-

Bob the Drag Queen, performing at “The Bob Show,” her weekly gig at Barracuda.

Sherry Vine.

owed by sheer excitement about the big night. And for good reason; the event’s long line-up includes acts old and new –– including Candis Cayne, Sherry Vine, Jackie Beat, Hedda Lettuce, Tina Burner, Pixie Aventura, and Bob the Drag Queen. Again, to name just a few. “I think it is amazing,” he said. “Everyone is coming back. Unbelievable to me. Incredibly cool.” As for the next 20 years? Pontarelli doesn’t have worries about the future. He said that, regardless of the civil rights advances in recent years and the community’s mainstreaming, gay bars and clubs are still socially and culturally relevant and “are very, very important to our

identity.” Barracuda, over the years, he said has adapted to the times, but never really had to change. Pontarelli conceded that expectations about how to meet people have changed with technology –– think Grindr and Scruff, not to mention just the steady stream of texting check-ins –– but said gay men still go out to be entertained, and that won’t change anytime soon. “Twenty years from now, Barracuda will probably feel the same and serve the same purpose it does now.” Barracuda’s 20th Anniversary Celebration will take place on Sunday, October 18, 7 p.m. - midnight.

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PERFECT, from p.35

lifted from period TV commercials) soon give way to more serious matters. Theodore, a bigwig at the State Department, announces the effort to expunge homos as well as Commies. At first, the dutiful couples seem to support the cause to eradicate the “fags,” as Kitty calls them. Both Bob and Norma, who also works in the State personnel office, vow to continue keeping America pure. But as soon as Theodore and Kitty leave, the foursome show their true colors. And the predominant color is lavender. Because their marriages are a sham. The women are secretly a couple and occupy that nifty apartment. The men are also a couple and share the one next door. In a deliciously clever visual metaphor, there’s a secret door between the abodes accessed through — where else? — the coat closet. We see them coming out and going back into this proverbial closet multiple times. There’s plenty of same-sex smooching. Jim even jokes about sneaking into the girls’ pad to have “mansex” with Bob on their couch, much to Norma’s horror. “Grow up,” he says. “Sex is messy. Bodies leak things.” The play is anchored by a solid dramatic through line — will they be discovered? Once Barbara, a fellow State employee targeted as a deviant, comes on the scene, their perfect arrangement starts to crumble. Soon a more urgent question emerges — who ends up with whom? Bob is conflicted yet willing to follow orders. The notion that homosexuals can turn against their own kind, by the way, is not so farfetched. Look no further than closeted lawyer Roy Cohn, who notoriously partnered with the Feds to oust gays and lesbians during that period.


PERFECT ARRANGEMENT Primary Stages The Duke on 42nd Street 229 W. 42nd St. Through Nov. 6 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $70; Two hrs., with intermission

Director Michael Barakiva keeps the action moving apace, doing his best to reconcile the farcical and somber aspects of the script. While the entire cast is first-rate, Kelly McAndrew shines particularly bright as the lusty, “loose” Barbara who masterminds a way to fight a dirty, discriminatory system. When she calls Bob “a manipulative, self-loathing faggot,” it really stings. Not that “Perfect Arrangement” is only concerned with chronicling Lavender Scare paranoia. It’s a sly commentary as well on the starched roles of male and females during this repressed, anxiety-ridden period. These cartoonish TV characters are made of flesh and blood and they’re tired of compromising. Norma wants to have a child of her own. The play even reveals the underpinnings of the modern gay rights movement. “They’ll never stop if we keep hiding,” says Millie. Sure, there are some messages about artifice and tolerance and morality that verge on preachy, but that’s true to vintage sitcom form. “It is a set, and these are the costumes,” says an exasperated Millie. “I would gladly give it up to have one photograph of Norma and me displayed anywhere in my home… It’s proof of who we are.”

MUSIC, from p.47


“I’ve dealt with stereotypes before,” Hall has written. “Arab-Americans are used to tired Hollywood images — the enslaver of virgins, the ardent lover (maybe I can live with that one), and, lately, the terrorist. But before when we encountered such caricatures, we could roll our eyes and keep eating our popcorn… Now, it’s all questions, like: how do you feel about suicide bombings? Is terrorism part of your culture? How do you feel about violence against gays in the Middle East?” Hall spoke movingly about his Musician and composer Dave Hall. experiences as a volunteer just after 9/11, answering the phone at an Arab-American family center in Brooklyn and encountering people’s fear of repri- Kathy Najimy, and my mom. You’d like my mom. sals as well as some thuggish prejudice. She taught me tolerance She’s proud of me as a “Arabs have brought into the world an extraor- musician and as a gay man. She makes a really dinary number of things I’m proud of,” he said. “A mean tabbouleh.” very brief list would include algebra, geometry, coffee, orange juice, sherbet, newspapers, the guitar, Go to for more information. | October 15 - 28, 2015


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Gay City News  

October 15, 2015

Gay City News  

October 15, 2015