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No Conspiracy Too Wack for the Donald 36

Human Rights Watch Film Fest 42

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FREE | VOLUME FIFTEEN, ISSUE TWELVE | JUNE 09 - 22, 2016


HEALTH

PERSPECTIVE

CIVIL RIGHTS The state of transgender equality

10 BOOKS Trading in rage

37 MORSELS That Sanders-Staley spat

08 BUSINESS

6

Stringer pushes corporate America on LGBT board members

The revolution will not be consumed at Smorgasburg

Lambda Lit honors excellence

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38

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June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


Sympathy for Who Was the Devil BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

A

Chicago artist Robb Stone’s Facebook post about the case.

“Mr. El-Amin is facing a decade or more in prison... The young man who raped the woman in California is getting six months.” months… We exist in a society in which jail is too harsh for certain people, but not others. If jail is too harsh for certain people, it’s too harsh for all people.” William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, has critiqued the LGBT community’s reliance on law enforcement and its pursuit of hate crime laws as misguided. While the community’s original intent in pressing for these goals was to get police and prosecutors to protect LGBT people, the community is now complicit in a system that arrests, prosecutes, and incarcerates too many people, who are overwhelmingly people of color, he argued. “One way or another the words hate crime have inspired and caused injustice,” Dobbs said. “This Dallas BBQ incident is a classic example… The cries of hate crime by politicians inflamed this incident and paved the way for [Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance] to bring five felony charges in what is really just an ugly bar fight.” The criminal justice system is inherently unfair to broad classes of people, including LGBT

ISAAM SHAREF VIA YOUTUBE.COM

GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

FACEBOOK.COM

s Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin faces up to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of four felonies for a fight he was involved in, a groundswell of support for the 42-year-old is appearing on social media and there is little evidence of sympathy for the two gay men who accused him of attacking them in a Chelsea restaurant last year. “I think that what really should have happened here is these guys shouldn’t have pressed charges,” Robb Stone, an artist who lives in Chicago, told Gay City News. “If I was a sloppy drunk queen who got in a fight with my boyfriend and got our asses kicked, I wouldn’t press charges.” On May 27, Stone posted a picture of Jonathan Snipes, 33, and Ethan York-Adams, 26, on his Facebook page with accompanying text that described the couple, who have since ended their relationship, as “a pair of Privileged assholes.” The two “made a huge scene, and then picked a fight with another patron nearby — physically attacking him with one of our man-purses. And when the man (who is also gay, and a Person of Color) kicked our asses, we cried foul and accused him of Gay-Bashing,” Stone wrote. By June 7, the post had 569 shares and 769 likes on Facebook. Stone described the reaction as “low-key viral” for the social media platform. A handful of the 105 comments on the post defended or expressed support for Snipes and York-Adams. On May 5, 2015, Snipes and York-Adams, who both testified they were drunk that night, first fought with each other in Dallas BBQ at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street. In his trial testimony, Snipes said he believed that someone called him a “faggot,” though he could not say who, and he struck El-Amin with his purse, which held his keys, a sunglasses case, a cellphone charger, and his résumé. El-Amin leapt from his table and pushed Snipes to the floor. The two men fought, were separated, and fought again. Then, as Snipes and York-Adams stood with their backs to him, El-Amin, who said he was acting in self-defense throughout the incident, struck York-Adams with a wooden chair. Neither Snipes nor York-Adams had health insurance, and they both refused medical attention that night. They saw doctors days later, after being told that New York pays for healthcare for crime victims. Snipes spoke to some press on May 6 without disclosing that he began the fight. The incident was quickly characterized as a hate crime by the media. Some local politicians, including City Councilmember Corey Johnson and State Senator Brad Hoylman, who are both gay and represent Chelsea, protested outside the restaurant, also calling the fight a hate crime.

El-Amin surrendered to police in June of 2015. He was indicted on five felony charges, none charged as hate crimes. On May 25, a Manhattan jury found El-Amin guilty on four of the five, acquitting him on a single count of second-degree assault against Snipes. Waddie Grant, who blogs at glistsociety.com, asserted last year that race played a role in the response by the LGBT community. El-Amin is African-American and Snipes and York-Adams are white. More recently, a blogger writing as “Son of Baldwin” on medium.com made the same point. Stone, who is white, shares that view. “We live in a society in which we are willing to believe that black and brown people are inherently violent and to me that’s what this case is all about,” he said. “If Mr. El-Amin was a white man would this case have played out the same way, would it have gone this far?” Dr. H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, a professor of interdisciplinary studies at Goddard College, compared the El-Amin case to the one brought against Brock Turner, a white Stanford student, who was convicted this year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced to just six months in jail. “Mr. El-Amin is facing a decade or more in prison,” Williams said. “The young man who raped the woman in California is getting six

A screen grab from video that circulated immediately after the Dallas BBQ incident last May showing Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin bringing a chair down over Ethan York-Adams’ head.

people sometimes, activists say, and relying on it can create injustice. “To be black, working class, or poor in the criminal justice system means you are more than likely to be disserved by that system,” Williams said. “The state is not set up to protect you…regardless of where you sit in the courtroom.” Snipes and York-Adams did not respond to requests for comment made via Facebook. Hoylman and Johnson did not respond to calls seeking comment. El-Amin’s sentencing date is June 14.

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HEALTH

Cali Drug Price Initiative Sparked Sanders-Staley Spat HIV activists charge double-cross in prez contender implying their support for November ballot question BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

I SEAN BLACK

AIDS activist Peter Staley was among those who cried foul after Senator Bernie Sanders issued a release about their meeting with him in which he discussed the California AIDS pricing referendum favorably.

BERNIESANDERS.COM

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

AIDSHEALTH.ORG

Michael Weinstein, who heads the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the sponsor of the drug pricing referendum.

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n his interview with the ACT UP Oral History Project, Peter Staley recalled that the high price of an AIDS drug motivated him and six other members of the AIDS activist group to briefly stall the opening of the New York Stock Exchange with a protest in 1989. After sneaking into the exchange with forged IDs, the activists chained themselves to a banister and to each other. Seconds before the opening bell, they set off foghorns and unfurled a banner reading “Sell Wellcome,” a reference to Burroughs Wellcome, the manufacturer and marketer of AZT, then the most expensive antiHIV drug on the market. “Burroughs Wellcome and Bristol-Myers were the only two in the game for a while there,” Staley said in his 2006 interview. “And they were viewed, right from the get-go, as gross profiteers, because of the price of AZT, which was set at $10,000 a year, which was the highest price of any drug in history at that time, and just shocked everyone — not just people with HIV— but shocked most of the editorial boards of most newspapers in this country.” Flash forward 27 years. The cost of prescription drugs has soared and Staley, along with a host of AIDS groups, are opposing a ballot initiative that would require state agencies in California to pay no more for any prescription drug than the lowest price paid for that drug by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the federal agency that pays the lowest prices for prescription drugs among all federal programs. The dispute is mired in the people and personalities involved in the initiative, and it may be missing the merits of the proposed law, principally that it might actually lower drug prices. “Certainly, the VA is the lowest,” said Meredith Rosenthal, a professor of health economics and policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. “I don’t know how much that will reduce drug spending, but my guess is 10 to 15 percent.” There are unknown factors. Two of the programs that the proposed law would regulate — Medicaid and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) — use a mix of federal and state dollars and are primarily governed by federal law and rules. “In both cases, you’d have a straight-up legal preemption problem,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health policy at George Washington University. “The state would find that the drug manufacturers would sue to get the higher price that federal law guarantees… I think, unfortunately, federal law as currently structured would essentially set the standard.”

Previously, AIDS groups in California were quiet in their opposition to the ballot initiative and have declined to join the pharmaceutical industry in fighting it. To date, that industry has raised $68.4 million to defeat the initiative, with $58.8 million of that cash coming from 15 pharmaceutical companies. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the initiative’s sponsor, has raised $4.4 million. Another concern is that if the initiative passes, pharmaceutical companies would respond by raising prices for buyers who are not using state dollars to purchase prescription drugs. That concern may misconstrue how drug pricing works. Prescription drugs are patented and have “marketing exclusivity,” Rosenthal said. The companies are generally already charging the highest price they can get. If the price goes higher, consumers will stop buying. “There’s no way to compensate for it by increasing prices,” Rosenthal said. “While the drug is under marketing exclusivity, they are by definition a monopoly. A monopolist gets to choose how high the price will be. They don’t price infinitely high.” While AHF says the initiative could save California $4 billion over 10 years if enacted, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which serves the State Legislature, was unable to calculate any savings because the VA does not publically disclose what it pays for prescription drugs. That could also keep state agencies from being able to determine what the lowest VA price is. The spat over the initiative began soon after a national coalition of AIDS groups met with Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who is vying to be the Democratic nominee for president, on May 25. The groups held a similar meeting with Hillary Clinton on May 12. Following the May 25 meeting, the Sanders campaign issued a press release that took note of the meeting and praised the Drug Price Relief Act, as the initiative is called. “We think it’s a great start and we applaud the people of California for standing up to the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders said of the initiative in the release. He had previously endorsed the initiative on May 10. But AHF is run by Michael Weinstein, a chief executive who is known for striking out on his own and who enjoys inflammatory rhetoric and advertising. His continued opposition to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an anti-HIV drug that prevents HIV infection, has made him a pariah among AIDS activists. AHF, which is an advertiser in Gay City News, is also sponsoring a similar ballot initiative in Ohio, though that proposal may not get on the November ballot.

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SANDERS-STALEY, continued on p.26

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CIVIL RIGHTS

On Pride’s Eve, the State of Transgender Equality Issue is front and center politically, and it could emerge as the next big LGBT case at the Supreme Court BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

W

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STEVEN FRUH

ith the debate over transgender equality having recently moved to center stage across the US — raising the distinct possibility that the community’s opponents have over played their hand politically — it’s worth noting the anniversary of a major nationwide victory for transgender rights that has been widely overlooked. Celebrations last June 26 over the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges largely focused on the fact that same-sex couples are entitled to marry under the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. What few mentioned amidst the outpouring of joy was that the decision implicitly overruled some terrible state court rulings from around the country holding that marriages involving transgender people were invalid under existing state bans on same-sex marriage. By removing gender requirements for marriage, the Supreme Court was not only opening up marriage nationwide for same-sex couples, but also making it possible for transgender people to marry the partners they love regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. That advance canceled out any argument that a married person who was transitioning was no longer validly married or should be required to divorce their spouse. It also eliminated the catch22 possibility that a transgender person who wished to divorce their spouse would be prevented from doing so because a state construed their marriage as not legally valid in the first place. Noting the one-year mark since Obergefell and its positive impact on transgender equality is a good jumping off point for considering the overall status of the trans community under US law. As of today, 17 states expressly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jer-

Professor Arthur S. Leonard discussing the current state of transgender civil rights protections during the June 3 Trans Pride Shabbat at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

sey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Five years after enacting a law prohibiting gender identity discrimination in employment and housing, the Legislature in Massachusetts has now passed a bill adding public accommodations protections, and Republican Governor Charlie Baker, initially an opponent of such a measure, has pledged to sign it. Most of these nondiscrimination laws have specific exemptions for religious institutions — which in themselves are not unusual — but some of the states also have so-called religious freedom statutes that might be interpreted to provide exemptions for businesses whose owners have religious objections to treating LGBT people on the same basis as the general public. Though the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case — granting the closely-held retail company’s employee health plan a religiously-based exemption from the contraception coverage requirement of the federal Affordable Care Act — gave opponents of LGBT rights encouragement, the general issue is hardly settled and, in fact, vigorously debated. Three states prohibit sexual orientation discrimination by statute but

not yet gender identity discrimination: New York, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Here in New York, however, the State Division of Human Rights earlier this year published a regulation stating that it interprets the New York Human Rights Law ban on sex discrimination to include discrimination because of gender identity, and the ban on disability discrimination to cover gender dysphoria, thereby providing protections to individuals who have not yet completed their gender transition. That interpretation — encouraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo — has not yet been tested in the courts, but it is consistent with some unfolding developments in federal law as well as some prior rulings by New York trial courts. In addition, many states have now included specific protections on the basis of gender identity under their hate crimes statutes, and hundreds of localities around the nation have acted to ban gender identity discrimination. Unfortunately, over the past several years, backlash against such municipal protections has led some state legislatures to override those protections, prompting LGBT advocacy groups to file suit against such limitations. At the federal level, two statutes, the Matthew Shepard – James

Byrd, Jr., Hate Crime Prevention Act and the Violence against Women Act, provide for enhanced penalties for violent crimes motivated by the victim’s gender identity, but only when there is some connection to interstate activity — such as using weapons transported across state lines or kidnapping a victim and transporting them on an interstate highway. Congress’ oversight of interstate commerce is the basis for its jurisdiction in criminal cases. Congress, however, has not yet approved the Equality Act, introduced last year to amend all federal civil rights statutes to list gender identity and sexual orientation as prohibited grounds of discrimination. Enacting that legislation would be groundbreaking — providing nationwide protection in employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, educational institutions, and all programs receiving federal financial assistance or operated by federal contractors, and would also cover state government employment and federal employment. The Equality Act enjoys wide co-sponsorship among Democratic members of both houses, but has only a handful of Republican co-sponsors, and the GOP leader-

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TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, continued on p.11

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, from p.10

ship in both houses has denied committee hearings or votes on the bill, so it cannot be passed unless there is a significant change in the political balance of Congress or in the views of the Republican Party. Democrats have a good chance of retaking the Senate in November, but a change in House control is unlikely unless the Trump presidential bid descends into a quagmire. In the face of congressional intransigence, the Obama administration has moved aggressively to advance the ball, adopting executive orders last year that prohibit federal government agencies and private sector contractors doing business with them from discriminating in employment or provision of services because of gender identity or sexual orientation. These orders are enforced administratively within the executive agencies, not in federal courts. Recent activity in Congress has placed the federal contractor protections into question. After House Republicans succeeded in getting a broad religious exemption to the contractor provisions approved in the annual defense authorization bill, an impasse has developed over Democratic efforts, led by out gay upstate Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, to incorporate Obama’s original contractor order into other appropriations bills. There are enough Republican votes in favor of such an amendment, but then not enough Republican votes to pass the amended bills given Democratic opposition to the underlying measures, which they see as providing insufficient funding or imposing unacceptable curbs on agencies’ actions. This curious skirmish has brought the legislative authorization process to a temporary halt, and looms as a potential crisis as the nation approaches a sharply contested congressional election cycle. The hot issue of the day, however — one that could make it to the Supreme Court in the next term — is whether gender identity discrimination is already illegal, even when it is not mentioned as a prohibited ground of discrimination. As Congress considered the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the primary aim was to end racial and religious discrimination in employment and public services. During the floor debate on the bill, a conservative House member from Virginia introduced an amendment to the Title VII employment protections to add a ban on sex discrimination — perhaps as a strategy to doom its chances. The term sex was not defined in the statute, and after Title VII went into effect in 1965, some early attempts to bring discrimination claims on behalf of gay and transgender people were rejected by both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has enforcement oversight, and the federal courts. In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, which forbids sex discrimination by educational institutions that receive federal funding. In interpreting the

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

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BUSINESS

Stringer Pushes Corporate America on LGBT Board Members City comptroller joined by California pension overseer in urging public officials to seek new diversity policies BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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BETTYYEE.COM

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such investments is even greater, Credit Suisse suggests, because despite higher returns and profitability, the 270 companies were trading at roughly a 10 percent discount based on their share price to earnings ratio. That means that even though their stock prices are outperforming the market, they are nevertheless undervalued and therefore may have greater upside for share purchasers. Credit Suisse takes care not to try to establish cause and effect in all this. “Do better companies have better LGBT policies and attract more LGBT employees or do LGBT employees make companies better?” the study asked. “Probably both.”

NYC OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER

stablishing a major new front in the battle for LGBT workplace inclusion and fairness, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and California State Controller Betty Yee are calling on colleagues who, like them, manage major public pension funds to press corporate America to adopt policies to encourage LGBT membership on boards of directors. In a May 26 letter to 19 officials nationwide who oversee state, municipal, and university system pension funds, Stringer and Yee wrote, “We want the best directors who possess a range of expertise and experience to serve on the corporate boards of the companies in which we invest. That is why we view board diversity, with LGBT inclusion, as integral to our fiduciary duties.” Their letter points to statistics from Out Leadership — a group that works with corporate senior management to argue the business case for LGBT inclusion in the workplace — that just one third of one percent of all Fortune 500 board directors are openly LGBT, or less than 10 corporate directors in total. At the current time, only two of those companies specifically identify sexual orientation and gender identity in the diversity mission statement regarding their boards of directors. According to Out Leadership, just 20 percent of LGBT business leaders are aware of any CEO who is trying to recruit board members from the community, while 80 percent of LGBT employees say they are more likely to come out on the job when senior executives are out. Tim Cook at Apple is the only out CEO at a Fortune 500 company. While many investors are now willing to credit the general diversity argument being made by Stringer, Yee, and Out Leadership, the letter from the New York and California officials points to research published by the international investment firm Credit Suisse in April of this year that made a compelling data-driven case for the value of LGBT inclusion in top management.

Noting that almost 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted nondiscrimination and other inclusionary policies regarding LGBT employees, customers, and suppliers, the Credit Suisse report acknowledged that in many cases, that posture is “just a nominal policy position that is little beyond politically correct.” Out of more than 3,000 companies worldwide that Credit Suisse’s analysts cover, the report identified a basket of 270 for which nondiscrimination and inclusion are “central to corporate culture” — as evidenced by out members of senior management, active LGBT employee networks, or strongly positive reviews from outside evaluators.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

California State Controller Betty Yee.

The relative per for mance of those 270 companies as a group compared to an index of large and mid-capitalization companies in developed and emerging markets worldwide was striking, Credit Suisse found. Over the past six years, that basket of 270 stocks outper formed the global index by 3 percent a year — and also outper formed a smaller index of North American, European, and Australian companies by 1.4 percent. Credit Suisse also found that return on equity and cash flow returns at the LGBT -inclusive companies were 10 to 21 percent higher than the market generally. By these measures, companies with LGBT-friendly policies make for attractive investments, the study makes clear. The allure of

Either way, the findings are clearly a significant tool in the effort to press corporate America to do more and do better on LGBT diversity. The Stringer-Yee letter, which follows new Corporate Governance Principles and Proxy Voting Guidelines announced by Stringer on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, was addressed to the governor of Minnesota, the state treasurers of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington as well as the treasurers of Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco. Another recipient of the letter was New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who like Stringer and previous state and city comptrollers has long been active on LGBT diver-

sity issues in his capacity as a leading pension fund administrator. In April 2015, DiNapoli announced his office’s agreement with Monster Beverage, ranked 875 on Fortune’s list of largest corporations, and Standard Pacific Corp. (now CalAtlantic Homes), ranked 887, ensuring that those two companies would formally include sexual orientation and gender identity in their considerations when seeking diversity on their boards. CalAtlantic’s agreement, DiNapoli said at the time, “is believed to be the first” by a US corporation guaranteeing consideration of LGBT diversity in board nominations. The Monster Beverage agreement resulted from a proposal DiNapoli put forward in tandem with the pension funds of the City of Philadelphia and the State of Connecticut. Stringer, Yee, and DiNapoli have all served as “ambassadors” in Out Leadership’s Quorum initiative aimed at increasing LGBT representation on corporate boards. In an email statement that reiterated the theme that “research has shown that board diversity both enhances performance and mitigates risk,” Todd Sears, Out Leadership’s founder, said, “We’re proud of the support we’ve received from leaders such as Controller Yee and Comptroller Stringer as they’ve recognized that increasing board diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it is an essential part of good governance and ensures companies are making every effort to improve their returns for investors. This message is resonating very strongly with asset managers from both the public and private sector.” With just under $154 billion in assets under management, Stringer oversees the fourth largest system of public pension funds in the nation. Yee, who is responsible for the two largest — the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and its State Teachers’ Retirement System — oversees roughly $470 billion in assets. DiNapoli manages the third largest public pension program, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, with assets under management on March 31, 2015 of nearly $185 billion. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


Grand marshal Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, with her stepmom Heather and dad Allan Stern.

GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

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TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, from p.11

term sex under that law, both the US Department of Education and courts generally looked to how it was treated under the Title VII employment provisions. Other federal statutes addressing sex discrimination — including the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act — also received narrow interpretations of their sex discrimination provisions. When Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, some right-wing opponents of that bill warned it might be hijacked by sexual minorities claiming that homosexuality or transsexuality could be deemed disabilities. North Carolina’s notorious Republican Senator Jesse Helms won approval of an amendment specifically stating that homosexuality and “transsexualism” would not be considered disabilities under the statute. Meanwhile, the interpretation of federal sex discrimination laws had already begun to change. In 1989, the Supreme Court, in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, a Title VII GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

Federal appeals courts began extending protection to transgender plaintiffs on the theory that they suffered discrimination because they failed to conform to sex stereotypes.

case, ruled that Ann Hopkins had suffered sex discrimination when she was denied a partnership at the accounting firm because some partners thought she was not adequately feminine in her appearance and conduct. One partner said she needed “a course in charm school,” and the head of her office told her she should wear make-up and jewelry and walk, talk, and dress more femininely if she wanted to be a partner. Signaling a broad interpretation of sex discrimination, the Supreme Court said that this kind of sexual stereotyping was evidence of a discriminatory motive under Title VII at odds with Congress’ intention to knock down all such barriers to women’s advancement in the workplace. Since 1989, lower federal courts have used the Price Waterhouse

decision to expand their interpretation of “sex” under Title VII and other federal sex discrimination provisions. By the turn of the century, some federal appeals courts began extending protection to transgender plaintiffs on the theory that they suffered discrimination because they failed to conform to sex stereotypes. Federal circuit and district courts in many different parts of the country have now found gender identity protection in cases under the Violence against Women Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as well as Title VII. In an important breakthrough in 2011, the Atlanta-based US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that discrimination against Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn, a transgender state employee in Georgia, violated the 14th Amend-

ment’s Equal Protection Clause. The same standard used for sex discrimination claims should be applied to gender identity claims, that court found. A critical factor that has helped advance this broad interpretation of sex discrimination was President Barack Obama’s appointment, in his first term, of Chai Feldblum, then a law professor at Georgetown University, to be an EEOC commissioner. Feldblum, the first openly lesbian or gay person in that post, argued effectively that the agency should adopt a broad interpretation of “sex” and apply it to discrimination claims by federal employees. In three important rulings over the last few years, the EEOC held first that gender identity discrimination claims may be brought under Title VII, then that sexual orientation discrimination claims could also be brought under Title VII, and late last year that Title VII requires federal agencies to allow transgender employees to use workplace restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

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TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, continued on p.20

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The EEOC was originally ruling on internal discrimination claims within the federal government, but the agency has now undertaken an affirmative litigation strategy, filing briefs in cases pending in federal court brought by private litigants against non-governmental employers. The EEOC has also filed its own gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits in federal courts on behalf of individuals who filed charges against their employers with that agency. Building on the EEOC rulings as well as the growing body of federal court rulings, the Justice Department, the Department of Education, and other federal agencies with civil rights enforcement responsibility have also begun to interpret their statutory sex discrimination laws more broadly. The Department of Education and the Justice Department have become involved in several cases brought by transgender high school students under Title IX, seeking access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity. In one case, which drew national attention last year, the Education and Justice Departments represented a transgender high school student in Illinois who was denied appropriate bathroom access and negotiated a settlement with the school district affirming the student’s rights. That attracted a federal court lawsuit against the government by Alliance Defending Freedom, a right-wing litigation group representing some objecting parents and students. The lawsuit claims that Title IX does not apply to this situation and that their children’s “fundamental right of bodily privacy” was violated by the terms of the settlement. It also claims that the Education and Justice Departments violated administrative law in the way in which they adopted their new interpretations of Title IX. This issue burst into national headlines when the North Carolina Legislature acted precipitously early this spring to block a new local nondiscrimination ordinance in Charlotte that, among other things, would have made clear the rights transgender people have in accessing public and workplace restrooms consistent with their gender identity. H.B. 2, enacted in

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Chai Feldblum, the first out lesbian or gay commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has played a critical role in advancing the Obama administration’s thinking on gender identity discrimination.

late March, preempted local nondiscrimination laws across North Carolina and limited restroom access based on a person’s gender as listed on their birth certificate. Defenders of H.B. 2 rely on the old canard about the dangers posed to women and children from heterosexual men pretending to be transgender in order to gain improper access to sex-segregated facilities — despite the lack of any evidence this has happened in the 17 states and hundreds of localities where transgender rights are protected. Opponents of public accommodations protections for transgender people are also parroting an argument from the new Illinois lawsuit — that allowing transgender people into restrooms consistent with their gender identity threatens the “right of bodily privacy” of other users to avoid exposing themselves to transgender people. Those making this argument essentially reject the proposition that a transgender woman is genuinely a woman and a transgender man is genuinely a man. The state of Mississippi recently enacted a law that specifically authorizes people whose religious belief rejects transgender identity to refuse to treat transgender people consistent with their gender identity, including in places of business when it comes to things like restroom access. North Carolina’s H.B. 2 and the Mississippi statute are now both the subject of multiple federal lawsuits disputing the “bodily privacy” argument and forcing courts to con-

c

TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, continued on p.24

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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BROOKLYN & THE BRONX KICK OFF PRIDE, AS WELL

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Need, in recognition of her public service contributions. In Brooklyn, Borough President Eric Adams opened up Pride Week there on June 6 with a ceremony at Borough Hall that included the unfurling of the Rainbow Flag in the rotunda. The borough’s 20th anniversary Pride celebration begins on Saturday, June 11 at 10 a.m. with a 5-k run in Prospect Park (running slots are sold out), followed by a street festival on Fifth Avenue, between Third and Ninth Streets, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and a torchlight parade, that runs from Lincoln Place to Ninth Street on Fifth Avenue, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

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GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

23


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TRANSGENDER EQUALITY, from p.20

front the question whether discrimination against transgender people violates the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, Title IX, and Title VII. In early May, the Obama administration threatened North Carolina with enforcement action under Title VII and Title IX and distributed a letter to educational administrators nationwide advising them of the requirement to respect the rights of transgender students and staff under Title IX. The administration’s action attracted new lawsuits, including one filed by the State of Texas on behalf of itself and a dozen other states challenging the administration’s interpretation of Title IX. The recalcitrance of North Carolina in response to the Justice Department’s warning prompted an extraordinary press confer ence by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, where she expressed solidarity with the transgender community and announced a lawsuit against the state. Ahead of that showdown, in April, the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in a Title IX

high school restroom case brought by Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy in Virginia, held that the federal district court should defer to the Education Department on the matter and so reversed the lower court, which had dismissed the case. The full circuit later refused to reconsider the case and on June 7, the school district announced it would seek review by the Supreme Court. The immediate result will likely be a stay on the Fourth Circuit ruling, delaying the boy’s ability to use the appropriate facilities when he returns to school in the fall. Although legal commentators have suggested that it is unlikely the Supreme Court will agree to hear this case, it is at least possible. It’s noteworthy, however, that there is not yet any “split” among appeals courts about this issue, something that typically would hasten Supreme Court review. The questions at issue are also not ones that would automatically rally the four votes needed on the court to grant review, especially with the court shy one member — and the conservative bloc down one seat. The local school district argues that

federal courts should not defer to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX and that the “bodily privacy rights” of students are violated by their transgender classmates using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

The Virginia case, then, may well not make it in front of the Supreme Court — which would be good news for the young transgender plaintiff. That said, it is unlikely that the high court can duck the issue for

The questions at issue are also not ones that would automatically rally the four votes needed on the court to grant review, especially with the court shy one member — and the conservative bloc down one seat. Conservatives have been critical of courts deferring to executive interpretations of congressional enactments, but with the death of Antonin Scalia it’s not clear that four justices would agree to take the case, much less that five would overturn the Fourth Circuit. The alternative argument, based on a theory of “bodily privacy rights,” would require conservative justices to embrace a broadening of the right of privacy under the Due Process Clause, a principle they have fought hard against over many years.

too long. It seems a good bet that the next big LGBT rights case to go all the way to the Supreme Court will focus on whether gender identity discrimination is a form of “sex” discrimination forbidden by existing sex discrimination law as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This article is based on a talk New York Law School Professor Arthur S. Leonard gave at the Trans Pride Shabbat at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah on June 3.

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The implicit association with AHF in the Sanders statement was too much for the groups and for Staley, who took to his Facebook page, where he has more than 7,600 followers, and announced that he felt “used and abused” by the Sanders campaign. This prompted a back and forth via Twitter between Staley and Warren Gunnels, a senior policy advisor on the Sanders campaign. Staley enjoyed broad support from former ACT UP members, Clinton supporters, and his fans in this fight. Nineteen of the meeting attendees released a May 27 statement saying they were “deeply concerned” that they had been “exploited for short-term political gain” prior to California’s June 7 Democratic primary. “Your campaign’s release title and the bulk of its content mislead

readers and the press to believe that our May 25 meeting was primarily focused on your endorsement of a California ballot initiative on HIV drug pricing,” the statement said. “By extension, it also implies that our national HIV/ AIDS coalition also fully endorses this initiative. Both these characterizations are inaccurate.” Activists point to the views of California AIDS groups, such as Project Inform, to explain their opposition to the ballot initiative. “I’m not familiar with the entire history and how it came about,” Staley told Gay City News. “I think the only way to determine if it has merits is to talk to people who know drug payer systems… From what I’m hearing from great healthcare progressives like [Project Inform’s] Anne Donnelly, this was not well thought out at all and could actually screw things up and end up creating access issues.”

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PERSPECTIVE: A 1960s Remembrance

Hustling Books and Expanding My Territory BY GERALD BUSBY

A

s a typist in an advertising agency and the proud occupant of a tiny $50-dollar a-month apartment at the corner of Spring and Mulberry Streets in Little Italy, I felt like I belonged in New York. It was 1963 and I had voted for John F. Kennedy and followed his presidency with an excited political awareness that was new to me. I defended him to my parents in Texas, whose main complaint was his Catholicism. Their religious bigotry underscored the miracle he was in American politics. I believed he would never say bad things about gay people. I was, like my parents,

confused about the difference between belief and reality. Then I saw him assassinated on television, and my world collapsed. I needed to be alone for the first time in my life — so I sold my Steinway model “M” piano, gave away all my books and LPs, and found a job as a traveling college textbook salesman with Random House and Alfred A. Knopf. I was interviewed for the job by a bright, charming gay man named George Rivers, whose appearance and behavior replicated and meticulously improved upon every quality I liked in young straight businessmen: smart, stylishly masculine, taciturn, and hot. I was overwhelmed when introduced to Bennett Cerf, a founder of Random House, who shook my hand

and asked, “Are you one of our new field editors?” George smiled at me, and I answered, “I think so.” My first territory as a representative of these elite and auspicious publishers was an area no other salesman wanted — West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. I got my wish to be alone. In fact, I never felt so alone as I did my first night in Arcadia, West Virginia. Years later, in Robert Altman’s film “A Wedding” (1978), I played a Southern Baptist preacher. Altman encouraged me to write my own dialogue in a scene in which my character told Dina Merrill, playing a supercilious rich woman, “God spoke to me from a TV set as I lay in bed with somebody in a Holiday Inn in Arcadia, West Virginia.” Salesmen like me were called college travelers. My routine was to first visit the college bookstore, get a schedule of classes, and then see teachers who taught courses for which I had books. My list from Random House and Knopf was mostly in the arts and humanities. I longed to meet young, good-looking gay professors. When that hap-

pened, I took them to lunch and gave them copies of books they said they might adopt for their courses. My salesmanship was a performance, and my goal was to get them to like me. As I learned from the Texas Baptist evangelist Angel Martinez when I was 16 and saving souls in Alabama, seduction is the surest and quickest route to acquiescence. Now I was hustling books rather than Jesus. My second year on the road I was assigned to another territory, one of the most desirable: the Mountain States. In addition to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, I had West Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. Selling books on the road meant many hours every day behind the wheel of a car, something I had grown up with in Texas. But now it was mesmerizing to travel the vast open spaces of the plains. Driving across Kansas toward Colorado I caught sight of what seemed like a mirage on the distant horizon. It looked at first like purple clouds, then my heart

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EXPANDING, continued on p.35

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PERSPECTIVE: The Long View

A Strong, Encouraging Start by Speaker Heastie BY NATHAN RILEY

T

he trumpets did not sound when the New York State Assembly elected Carl Heastie speaker to replace Sheldon Silver, amidst murmuring outside Albany’s inner circle that the new man was hardly a breath of fresh air. Despite the historic election of the Assembly’s first AfricanAmerican speaker, he was viewed with suspicion by critics of the capitol’s checkered history of corruption. To be sure, Heastie was greeted with open arms by his Democratic colleagues. When other would-be speakers declined to contest the race to succeed Silver, he was elected without opposition. Despite the low expectations voiced by some outsiders, the early notices on Speaker Heastie are favorable. He evinces “good vibes,” one observer noted, and has won praise for protecting New York City from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget-cutting ambitions while giving progressive measures the hearing the Democratic left wants. People are happy with the job he’s doing. The Democratic Party has been the avenue for Carl Heastie’s success and he is likely constitutionally opposed to draconian law and order measures. But Silver became a lightning rod for conservative attacks by resisting the most extreme measures coming out of the Republican Senate. It’s unclear if Heastie is prepared to spear head the drive for undoing the ills of mass incarceration in New York State. Last year, naysayers slyly called him “the boss” of the Bronx Democrats and repeated the unhappy tale of his mom. In the last year of her life, she pled guilty to stealing money from the not-forprofit where she worked, using the money to buy a home. Critics honed in on then-Bronx DA Robert Johnson, who did not take action to seize the home and so allowed it GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

to stay in the family. The gut issue for many reformers after Silver’s arrest was ethics and the negative buzz surrounding Heastie in his early days as speaker involved the fear he would be soft on corruption. Now the skeptics are retreating. “The vibes are very positive,” said SUNY New Paltz political scientist Gerald Benjamin, a neutral observer who specializes in New York State politics. “He visited every county and went to bat for NYC.” Heastie’s progressive Democratic colleagues are also pleased.

proposed budget “colossally bad for New York City.” The state would have “shrugged off” $485 million annually for CUNY, leaving the City to make up the difference. Medicaid changes would have shifted $300 million dollars onto the city budget. Combined, those two items amounted to three quarters of a billion dollars in new expenses mangling the city treasury. This was the governor’s hammer hanging over the city’s head, and Heastie had the responsibility for getting us out from under it.

Ambitious but careful to nurture relationships with the other members, Heastie is especially well prepared to negotiate budgets.

“Speaker Heastie stepped into the office under very difficult circumstances and hit the road running” is Chelsea Assemblymember Dick Gottfried’s upbeat assessment. The chair of the Assembly Health Committee, he has represented Manhattan’s West Side since 1971 and been at the center of every fight for state funding to battle AIDS. “We’ve got more freshman and sophomore members who are a very vocal group,” Gottfried said. “Carl has been very good at hearing everything they have to say and been very responsive.” A top priority for Gottfried is bringing single payer health care to New York State. On June 1, his bill that offers coverage without private insurance premiums passed 92-53. The measure won’t win approval in the Senate, but one-house bills represent progress nonetheless, by moving an issue higher up on the Albany agenda. Money is a key driver of Heastie’s rising popularity. The New York Times called the Cuomo’s

He succeeded. The Medicaid and CUNY cuts were restored and a $15 minimum wage passed — even as budget cutters retained an upper hand going forward with a massive tax cut planned for 2018. Ambitious but careful to nurture relationships with the other members, Heastie is especially well prepared to negotiate budgets. He graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a degree in applied mathematics and statistics, and then honed his budget skills working for the New York City comptroller’s office. Later, he added an MBA in finance from Baruch. Ken Lovett, the Daily News Albany bureau chief, declared Heastie “the biggest winner in the budget sweepstakes.” In an email release, Mayor Bill de Blasio thanked him for “fighting to fend off devastating cuts,” saying he has “proven to be a strong leader and fierce protector of the City of New York.” Another enthusiastic supporter is Charles King, president of Housing Works, a leading spokesperson for the effort to end the AIDS epi-

demic in New York, a public health campaign based on increasing viral suppression among those living with HIV. With viral load effectively suppressed, a person is not contagious, and the way to get there is to keep HIV-positive people on their medications. Meanwhile, a person taking PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, can stay negative, again if they adhere to their treatment regimen, even if exposed to the virus. The effort, then, is based on getting medicine into the hands of individuals and then helping them stay on those meds. Heastie has “done an incredible job at this point,” King enthused. “This last session the governor made an incredible attack on the city partially to preserve his record for keeping budget increases to two percent or less and from his vindictiveness toward the mayor.” A sharp cut in Medicaid was reversed, King said, based on efforts by Gottfried, the Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Caucus, and Bronx Borough President Reuben Diaz, Jr., who “has Heastie’s ear.” But the success of the drive to permanently bend the curve on new HIV infections and effectively end the epidemic, King explained, relies on getting more people living with the virus onto medication, and that in turn depends on providing housing for those among that population who are currently homeless. Without stable housing, drug regimen compliance is not a realistic goal, advocates say. And, as Gay City News reported in its last issue, those committed to the fight against AIDS are pressing the governor and legislative leaders for at least $50 million in the coming fiscal year out of a $2 billion pot of money Cuomo has pledged for state housing needs overall. Beyond this year, the budget picture is foreboding, with the governor and the Republican Senate having successfully pushed through a broad tax cut to take effect in 2018. That could mean a future of austerity budgets and diminished public services. In response, Heastie has proposed a tax increase on New Yorkers making more that $1 million, but the Senate is opposed.

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LONG VIEW, continued on p.35

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EXPANDING, from p.28

quickened as I realized it was the Rocky Mountains. My excitement at the sight of those majestic formations was primal. The day after I arrived in Boulder, I found an apartment. It was my nest in paradise; George had told me I needed a place to call home in my territory. During my first week selling textbooks, I met Hazel Barnes, chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Colorado, and famous as the translator of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness,” the seminal philosophical masterpiece of French existentialism. I was stunned and in awe to meet her and become her friend. This book by Sartre and Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or” had been touchstones of my philosophical studies at Yale. Meeting Hazel Barnes was like meeting Moses. There was also the advantage of Hazel’s being a Knopf author and consultant to Blanche Knopf, Alfred’s wife. At Hazel’s recommendation, Blanche published the first English translation of works by Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. I threw a cocktail party, for which I made the pâté, when Hazel’s translation of Sartre’s “Search for a Method” was published by Knopf. I also played a piano recital of Mozart, Beethoven, and Scriabin in the sanctuary of the Episcopal Church to honor Hazel. The love of her life, Doris Schwalbe, an heir to the Libby-Owens glass fortune, kissed me and said no salesman had ever been that nice to Hazel. They lived on the eastern slope of the Rockies in a cantilevered house designed by a Japanese protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. Straight male professors in the philosophy department who disapproved of Hazel and Doris’ lesbian relationship referred to them as “Hazel and Diesel.” Those professors might well have been jealous of

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LONG VIEW, from p.29

During the years he advanced in the Assembly, Heastie proved his potential for growth. Initially an opponent of marriage equality, he shifted his position when it counted and Senate approval was in the offing. He now leads a majority of 105 in the 150-member AssemGayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

Hazel’s astonishing output of major translations and original philosophical essays, totaling some 25 highly esteemed books. Her regular job at the university was teaching social anthropology. She got up at five every morning to write, and she cautiously put the work in her bedroom safe. The trip from Boulder to Salt Lake City was usually by way of Wyoming, and crossing the border into the natural grandeur of Utah was exhilarating. I learned early in my travels to arrive at my destination before dark, check into my hotel, and locate the best restaurant in town. In Salt Lake I always stayed at the Hotel Utah, right across the street from the leading department store, ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution). They sold good crystal burgundy wine glasses for low prices. You needed your own wine glasses back then, and your own liquor, too. The Mormon way of reminding you that it was sinful to drink was to locate stores (all government-controlled) in out-of-the-way and hard-to-find places. They also moved them every few months and made you fill out a lengthy form before letting you buy any alcohol. The only gay bar in Salt Lake was right downtown and called the Radio City Bar. On my first visit there I ran into the composer Ned Rorem, who was a guest lecturer at the University of Utah. My cousin Ruth Jones was teaching creative writing and research at the university, and this was my first time meeting her. She was famous in our large family for being smart and playing the trumpet “better than any man.” That meant she was a lesbian. When she opened the front door of her house and invited me in, I knew we’d be close. She wasn’t pretty; she was lanky and had a tight weathered face like her mother Zada, one of my mother’s nine sisters. But Ruth was charming

bly, and his ability to defend that lopsided margin in November will weigh in any final assessment of his first round as speaker. In Professor Benjamin’s assessment, though, he has already shown surefooted leadership that has placed “the collective interest of the conference over the personal interest of his borough and his ethnicity.”

She was famous in our large family for being smart and playing the trumpet “better than any man.” That meant she was a lesbian.

and funny and obviously glad to meet me, a gay relative who had gone to Yale. We practically fell into each other’s arms, talking endlessly about everything — including Kierkegaard, who, she had set out to prove in her PhD thesis, was a major influence on the English poet and critic Matthew Arnold. I wasn’t really sure who Arnold was, but it didn’t matter. Ruth and I laughed and drank wine and talked and talked until her partner Marian Sheets told us to stop. Marian was the director of the Arabic Collection at the University of Utah, and she needed some sleep. I was euphoric when I left Ruth’s house that night. Meeting her was a joyous gift. She was my cousin, and she was smart and sweet and talked openly about being gay and

living in a society that disapproved and made fun of her and Marian. Lying in bed back at the Hotel Utah, I repeated over and over everything Ruth and I had said to each other. I was surprised when I began to cry in my pillow. I loved her for being the first person ever to make me feel it was okay to be gay. Gerald Busby, a protégé of Virgil Thomson, is best known for his film score for Robert Altman’s “3 Women” and his dance score for Paul Taylor’s “Runes.” With Craig Lucas, he is currently writing an opera based on “3 Women.” Busby’s life as a longtime resident of the Chelsea Hotel is the topic of “The Man on the Fifth Floor,” a documentary film currently in production.

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PERSPECTIVE: Media Watch PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

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No Conspiracy Theory Too Wack for the Donald

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FOUNDING MEMBER

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FOUNDING MEMBER

B

et you didn’t know that President Barack Obama is “a sexual deviant and Michelle Obama is a transvestite.” Accor ding to Brian T ashman of Right Wing Watch, Dr. Jerry Johnson of the National Religious Broadcasters recently “guest-hosted the Family Research Council’s radio program ‘Washington Watch’ and spent and spent the entire time railing against facility access for transgender students. One caller, Patsy, chimed in to say that it is no wonder President Obama has taken a stance in favor of nondiscrimination policies” since the president is a perv and his wife’s a drag queen. “‘Why can’t people get the facts?’ the caller asked,” according to Tashman. Good question, Patsy! Tashman continues: “Johnson, in a hurry to move on,” – I can’t imagine why — “said that alleging that Michelle Obama is a ‘transvestite’ may not be the most helpful political strategy.” Prize for understatement. “That’s a theory that’s out there,” Johnson replied, “but I think, actually, Patsy, and to the listeners out there, we’ve got to come against this really in a different way, we don’t need that kind of theory to oppose this. And it’s an accusation that I’ve seen out there but there’s no fact to that. The facts, though, of this case are clear and that is the president is pushing this agenda and foisting it upon the schools.” Bor-ing. Tashman concludes his short piece by noting that “the theory that the first lady is a transgender woman has been promoted by Alex Jones, a prominent Donald Trump endorser, and other far-right conspiracy theory outlets.” We pause for a moment to slap ourselves back into reality.

Whap! That wasn’t enough. Whap whap whap! Okay. Let’s continue with Tashman at his keyboard: “It is critical to remember the people whom Trump initially invited into his campaign: a range of pundits and preachers who have pushed racist, xenophobic, and truly insane beliefs throughout their careers. No endorser was out of bounds for Trump, whether it was a pastor who believes Starbucks injects semen from gay men into its lattes in order to spread Ebola or a radio host who thinks that alien creatures secretly run the government.” Whoa. Even I didn’t see that last one coming, and I’m one of the guys who donate their Ebola-laden jizz to Starbucks! (Some guys do it for the money, but I’m in it solely for the sexual gratification — that and the destruction of Our Way of Life.)

Wait just a sec. Did we just skim past a call for the two candidates’ deaths? Yup — it’s the Trump campaign. Rules once cherished no longer apply. You can call for maniacs to murder candidates now. Moving right along: “Jones has bragged that he advises Trump off-air and took credit for the candidates’ conspiracy theory about Rafael Cruz, the father of Trump’s for mer rival Ted Cruz, being involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.” In other words, the most inane piece of crap served up to the American people’s insatiable appetite for bullshit. You think you’re on dangerous footing now. Warning: we’re about to take a few steps out of the galaxy. “Jones” — whose radio show T rump has appeared on — “thinks that President Obama is literally ‘a demonic creature’ who is out to assassinate Trump after successfully murdering Justice Antonin Scalia and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, and that he, along with Pope Francis, is determined to kill anywhere between 90 million and 1 billion

The word lunacy has lost all meaning in TrumpWorld. After all, Trump himself is the most prominent “birther” theorist in the world.

As for aliens running the government, it makes sense if you think about it. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Clarence Thomas are obviously under the nefarious secret command of Interplanetary Commissar Louie Gohmert (you may know him only as a crackpot Texas Republican member of Congress), who comes from Uranus. Sorry — never have been able to resist a Uranus joke. Maybe that’s why an English professor once wrote “jejune” on one of my papers. Back to Tashman: “Trump’s top confidant, Roger Stone, a conservative operative who has called for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to be killed, has been on Jones’ show nearly every week during the campaign.”

people… He even believes that juice boxes are turning children gay — ‘the reason there’s so many gay people now is because it’s a chemical warfare operation!’ — and that the LGBT rights movement is bent on the extermination of humanity.” Hmmm. Well! Uh… Okay. What can one say in response to this crap? The word lunacy has lost all meaning in TrumpWorld. After all, Trump himself is the most prominent “birther” theorist in the world — the crank idea that Barack Obama’s mother, in collusion with the State of Hawaii and possibly the government of Kenya, knew with the certainty of Mary that her son was destined for greatness

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DONALD, continued on p.37

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Trading in Rage

KELLY COGSWELL

The Seine River floods Paris, indifferent to our social concerns.

BY KELLY COGSWELL

D

onald T rump is all my fault. So are the Bernie Bros. I left the door open behind me and they snuck in with their red-faced, white-knuckled rage. I didn’t know it would matter. Since mostly anger and rage propelled people onto the streets to protest dyke-bashings and people dying of AIDS, I tried to provoke raw emotion when I co-founded the Gully online magazine in 2000 and first started writing commentary. I thought if only people knew about police brutality, the stolen election, anti-gay campaigns and betrayed revolutions, and poverty… If only we shared enough facts, explained them, drew connections, wrote about them with enough feeling to make them real, then people would be compelled to act. Style was half the message. We

c

wrote informally, usually in the first person. Sometimes we reported moderately, but often we ranted in outrage. It was the early days of the Internet and our truthful anger stood in refreshing contrast to the decrepit and sterilized style of the usual mainstream newspapers. Our first tagline was even “digested news, raw opinion from the queer edge of America.” Which meant we shouted. And why not? What else do you want from two dykes who had fought for years to draw attention to lesbian issues? Especially those affecting dykes of color and queers on the global front? What we said was important and hugely urgent. Everything online always is, and this style became the norm so quickly that outrage now trumps content online, and shoutiness and rage are considered indicators of truth on both the right and the left. As we see the flowering of it in the presidential campaign

DONALD, from p.36

and altered his Kenyan birth certificate to say that he was born in the US and therefore eligible to run for president. Conspiracy theories are to Donald Trump as shit is to flies. Flies, you’ll recall, are indiscriminate — dog shit, horseshit, human shit… It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s shit. This is what we have come to.

With all the glowing tributes pouring in for Muhammad Ali, one might be forgiven — might be, but won’t be — for forgetting just how GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

this year, I find myself going around like the stereotypical librarian whispering, “Shhhhhhhhh,” and trying to write like the über-civilized Henry James because it’s the only way to ask what the endgame is these days, especially for so-called progressives. Liberation? Equality? Revenge? Anger and rage have their limits. At first, it’s liberating to voice them, denounce our oppressors, sneer at the powerful, and marvel at how our angry voices resound. But then we fall in love with the sound of them. Outrage becomes a habit. It narrows our gaze until we sometimes confuse the goals of justice or social change with a simple desire to humiliate and wound. I recognize it in myself, trained to hate by a mother who was a specialist. A broken glass could set off an earthquake. She was worse during her divorce. I remember how she ranted against my horribly lazy, good-for-nothing father who really was kind of a dick. But there was something disgusting, too, about how the litany of her very real complaints, her grief and anguish always provided her with the grotesque satisfaction of a case proved. He was a monster with nothing redeeming at all. By contrast she was the victim, absolved and pure. She took such pleasure in her hate, and with that hate the generalizations that always imply simplification and lies, the amnesia of her own failings. And sometimes I say, “Men are pigs,” or even, “I hate men” just to see what it feels like to dip my toes back into hate, to see if I can get myself worked up. But the man-hating lesbian stereotype just requires too much energy, and like most dykes I’m nearly indifferent to the category of men except maybe for an hour or two

reviled the man was during the 1960s, when he changed his “slave name,” Cassius Clay; when he joined the fearsome Nation of Islam; and when he refused to serve in Vietnam. I remember. What I don’t recall is anyone standing up for him. He was the most hated man in America at certain points in the 1960s, and he didn’t care what anyone thought of his actions. He was a revolutionary. Big, and bold, and beautiful, and angry as fucking hell. That’s the Ali I remember. As a fellow Parkinsonian, I find Ali’s death to be especially disheartening. All you well-meaning acquaintances out there: ask yourself about all of the supposedly successful treatments that

after getting harassed on the street, or trying and failing to find work without smearing on the lipstick and dick-sucking smile. If the myth persists it’s so that interested men can feel they’ve still got a central place in our female lives, and indirectly in our beds even if it’s just as the objects of scorn. In terms of persistence, hate is far better than love. That’s really why I say “I hate men,” to remind myself of the consequences. How that “hate” joins and opposes “I” to “men” immediately gendering my body and brain as female, caging me with males condemned to a toxic masculinity. Phrases like that leave none of us free. Which is why feminists prefer to denounce patriarchy and its systems that subjugate women, instead of accusing “men,” so that all individuals have more room to maneuver. And more importantly, space to think and change. In either case, hate is a trap, like shame. You can see the addicts online, the militants who take such pleasure in publically denouncing even unimportant people for racism or transphobia or misogyny, and the violent responses by bigots large and small to any accusation — until all sides seem inextricably bound together, with people as happy to be hated as to hate. It’s hard to break free. I’m not sure we’re supposed to. Like a bloodless war hate distracts us from the real enemies, from grappling with the systems that are resistant to change and are, as well, as indifferent to our anger or fear as the floodwaters of the Seine. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

are being developed now — all the great drugs you keep telling me about, ones that never have names let alone clinical trials, the ones you read about someplace but can’t remember exactly where. Well they didn’t help Ali much, did they? And turning his death into feel-good two-minute spots on the news? I watched NBC do it and then didn’t change the channel fast enough to prevent Mario Lopez from doing it on “Extra.” Show some respect. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.

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MORSELS: The Revolution Will Not Be Consumed at Smorgasburg

U

BY DONNA MINKOWITZ

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THEPENNSY.NYC

nder normal circumstances, my reaction to the news that a new artisanal food hall had opened in the city might be rage. In the extraordinarily beautiful river park next to Battery Park City, new kids in town Le District and Hudson Eats are revoltingly overpriced and offensively underwhelming. ($15 for bad, small “Skinny Pizza?” $12.50 for a teeny bagel with a tiny bit of beet-cured lox at Black Seed?) And they replaced the perfectly good, cheaper eats you used to be able to enjoy in that complex (Brookfield Place) while looking out at the shimmery Hudson and listening to interesting free music and performance art. I like the food at Brooklyn Flea, but its bigger offspring, Smorgasburg, is too crowded to enjoy, with diners competing madly for savviest-foodie-hipster status and for a sadistically small number of seats. (As with David Chang’s deliberately painful seating at his Momofuko restaurants, upscale food promoters are trying to train diners to accept ever-smaller and more uncomfortable spaces as the value per foot of city real estate goes ever up.) Marcuse coined the phrase “repressive desublimation” to mean the pleasures that consumer culture promises you, only to have the supposed ecstasies of the Berkshire pork taco (say) vanish as soon as you take the first bite. Pleasures fade exactly this quickly at the Gotham West Market, the Plaza Food Hall, Chelsea Market — all the carnivals of fake-bacchanalian fressing. It’s easy (if you’re not poor, that is) to be swept away with excitement by the sight of all that quivering, umami, gleaming, exciting food. Smoked whitefish with rice from Ivan Ramen! Hibiscus doughnuts from Dough! Popsicles made from cherry blossoms! Wow! But when you finally eat them, the revolutionary pleasures they seemed to offer are compressed out of all existence by the crowded, uncomfortable, competitive space, the lackluster culinary skills of the food workers, and the pressures of doing what is in effect the unpaid job of Instagramming, tweeting, and blogging about the hyped-up food you just ate. In an age when it’s mandatory to have social media profiles and to build your personal status by any means necessary, we pay once for the artisanal grub and then a second time, by promoting it for free. There’s more. Alyssa Katz, an editorial writer for the New York Daily News who has covered real estate for decades, says luxury developers are using the upscale food halls and festivals to escalate gentrification in their neighborhoods. “There’s been a very deliberate investment by these developers” in yuppie food hubs, she says, for the express purpose of luring high-income tenants and buyers. In

fact, Smorgasburg owners Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby say they were invited to set up shop on the Williamsburg waterfront by real estate developers who “were trying to sell [apartments in] their buildings.” And Uprose, Sunset Park’s anti-gentrification group, has sharply criticized Industry City, the “disruption hub” in Sunset Park whose food hall (including a Smorgasburg) is spurring yuppie relocation that will lead to the displacement of thousands of low-income Sunset Parkers.

The message at the Pennsy, the new food hall atop Penn Station, is clear.

Nor at the Pennsy, Penn Station’s new yuppie food hall Which brings me to the city’s newest food hall, the Pennsy. It’s a yuppie gastro-hub that has somehow opened on top of Penn Station, which could be described as the stinking asshole of New York City. In that benighted neighborhood, the brain-killing giant neon billboards make you want to die even more than the ugly, dark, and dirty confines of Penn Station underneath. In the station, of course, there is no food that could even be called tolerable, stranding the 600,000 who enter it daily to use Amtrak, the LIRR, and New Jersey Transit. If ever there was a place in need of nurturing food, this would be it. The Pennsy is perched on top of the station’s entrance, on the slightly raised ground floor of the big building atop Penn Station’s rat-warrens. There’s a banner in the window noting that Pat LaFrieda (the king of trendy chopped-meat blends) has a sandwich stall inside, and a huge sign reading “EAT DRINK REPEAT.” The first thing I noticed was that it is really nice inside, much nicer than most of the other food halls. There are actually fresh flowers on

the tables (yellow lilies with blood-red streaks, on one occasion), and smiling greeters who truly made me feel welcome. About those greeters, however: one of their functions is surely to keep away the visible homeless and other scruffy folk who can be found right outside the Pennsy’s doors, both within Penn Station and on the plaza outside it. Mary Giuliani (no relation to Rudy), a caterer who has developed the food hall in association with realty giant Vornado, told me that the hall is “Vornado’s attempt to start the change in the neighborhood.” The company owns a great deal of real estate nearby, she said, including the building that the Pennsy sits in. Giuliani said she and Vornado were also thinking of the $20 billion Hudson Yards development when they created their foodie plaza, which is just two blocks away from that elite complex. Hudson Yards, which has such very wealthy tenants and anticipated condo buyers that that the place already has its own operational subway stop even though none of the residences has yet opened, is “the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States,” according to its developer. To be fair to Giuliani, who owns the catering and lifestyle company Giuliani Social with her husband, Ryan, she also said she is making an effort to have the place be “cool but very inclusive” and maintain “diversity.” Said Giuliani, “Looking around at lunch one day, I saw all walks of life.” In a limited way, she has a point. While the poor (and, for that matter, most Penn Station travelers) are not buying food at the Pennsy, the hall was partly intended to draw attendees from events at Madison Square Garden. And though ticket prices at the Garden are stratospheric, people who are not wealthy have been known to pay them on occasion to see sports and concerts. They could do worse than to repair to this sandwich-and-vodka hall afterwards (a large bar anchors the Pennsy, along the back wall). A note about logistics, however: the charming table-and-chair clusters provide wonderfully sufficient seating for lunch and dinner, but they would definitely be overwhelmed by the rush of people after a Knicks game. And there is a weird state of affairs with the bathrooms: they are hard to find, all the way at the back and then up an elevator or escalator. Even stranger, there are only two stalls in the women’s room. I saw cleaners there all the time, but one stall had a persistent smell of urine over several visits. The half-welcoming, half-unwelcoming aspect of the hall (the bathrooms are surely situated remotely to keep homeless folks away) jibes with the reason an airy, friendly food mecca has suddenly opened on top of this

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PENNSY, continued on p.39

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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PENNSY, from p.38

THEPENNSY.NYC

disgusting transit hub. When is it that services suddenly appear out of nowhere in this city? When rich people are about to move in who, it is hoped, are in need of them. So much the worse for them. As it happens, most of the food here isn’t very good. When I ate at the Cinnamon Snail’s astounding vegan food truck in the past, I found it magical. But here (where the chef, Adam Sobel, told me he rarely appears), a Beastmode Burger Deluxe ($10.95), made of “ancho chili seitan” grilled “in maple bourbon bbq sauce with jalapeño mac n cheese, arugula, smoke chili coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo,” tasted distressingly like a Big Mac. It was overwhelmed with something that tasted an awful lot like “special sauce” (the “chipotle mayo,” not spicy at all but plenty sweet). The mac n cheese bits, scattered on top of the burger, were the best part, though they didn’t taste of jalapeño. The Thai BBQ Tempeh with pickled red onions, Thai basil, and sriracha mayonnaise wasn’t much better. It was swimming in a different teeth-achingly sweet sauce ($9.95, plus $2.80 if you want it served over red quinoa pilaf instead of bread). But almost all the Cinnamon Snail’s food is organic, and some of the vegan doughnuts are outstanding. At Pat LaFrieda, things were worse. Grandpa’s Meatball Sandwich ($12) tasted like something I might have gotten at my high school cafeteria. I didn’t try the lobster sandwich at the Lobster Press booth by the famous chef Marc Forgione, because it sounded like a terrible idea to press a

lobster roll thin in a sandwich press and stick cheese on it ($18). But my friend’s lobster bisque ($9.25 for a small, plastic bowl) was oily, with an odd chemical aftertaste. My friend reported that he found only two chunks of lobster in the soup, and that some pieces of shell had made it into the bowl. I didn’t get to try anything at the Little Beet, a so-called “100% guiltin’ free” booth that is part of a chain of gluten-free fast food joints. The best dishes I tried in the Pennsy were from Mary Giuliani’s own booth, Mario by Mary, for which she uses some recipes by Mario Batali as well as some of her own. The eggplant nonna ($11.02, breaded, fried eggplant with fresh whipped ricotta, scamorza, and tomato) was rich, umami, and napped with creaminess. Giuliani’s unusual rainbow cookies (called here “Venetian rainbow cake,” $3.68) were delicate and delicious. The La Colombe coffee, served at the bar in the back, was astringent and off-tasting. The Pennsy, 2 Pennsylvania Plaza (33rd Street and Seventh Avenue); thepennsy.nyc or 917475-1830. Hours are daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the bar open additional hours on some days. The hall is wheelchair-accessible via a ramp at street level, and restrooms are accessible and reachable by elevator.

Assemblymember

Pamela Harris

wishes you a Happy Pride! Coney Island district office: 2823 West 12 Street, Suite 1F Brooklyn, NY 11224 718-266-0267

Welcomes Pride Month 2016 615 ½ Hudson St, New York, New York 10014

(212) 989-3155

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8525 3rd Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11209 347-560-6302 harrisp@nyassembly.gov GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

39


FRI.JUN.10 BOOKS Always a Seeker, An Adventurer Resisting Fear

NIGHTLIFE

10HL.ORG

MICHAEL SHIREY

Leslie Lawrence’s “The Death of Fred Astaire — and Other Essays from a Life Outside the Lines” tells the story of a child of the ‘60s who knew she didn’t want to duplicate her parents lives, yet she never imagined she’d stray so far outside the lines of their and her own expectations. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Jun. 10, 7-9 p.m. Suggested $5 donation benefits BGSQD.

Fifth Annual NYC Boylesque Festival Jen Gapay and Daniel Nardicio bring 40-plus stallions from all over the world to celebrate the art of burlesque in a two-day “testical festival” hosted by the World Famous BOB (Friday) and New York City’s Big Tittied Honky Soul Mama Sweetie (Saturday). On Jun. 10, the fun starts at 7 p.m. at House of Yes, 2 Wyckoff Ave. at Jefferson St., Bushwick. The main event on Jun. 11 kicks off at 8 p.m. at Gramercy Theatre, 127 E. 23rd St. Tickets are $15 on Jun. 10, $25-$50 on Jun. 11 at boylesquefestival.com.

SAT.JUN.11 COMMUNITY Brooklyn Pride at 20! Brooklyn celebrates the 20th anniversary of its LGBT Pride celebration with a kick-off run in Prospect Park (sorry all running slots sold out) at 10 a.m., beginning in Bartel-Pritchard Square at Prospect Park W. & 15th St. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the street festival fills Fifth Ave., from Third St. to Ninth St. Then, at 7:30, the annual torchlight march runs from Lincoln Place to Ninth St., also on Fifth Ave. Complete info at brooklynpride.org

NIGHTLIFE Dance Floor Warriors The official Brooklyn Pride Afterparty welcomes Montreal techno DJ Misstress Barbara as well as DJs Brian Gately and Ryan Smith. Analog BKNY, 177 Second Ave. at 14th St. Jun. 11, 10 p.m. Ticket are $27.37 at saintatlarge.com.

PERFORMANCE La Vida Grande Frankie Grande, co-host of Amazon’s “Style Code Live,” presents a one night-only performance of his show “Livin’ La Vida Grande.” The Box, 189 Chrystie St., btwn. Stanton & Rivington Sts. Jun. 11, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7). Ticket are $20-$50 at web.ovationtix. com/trs/pe.c/10093586.

WED.JUN.15 PERFORMANCE A Gay Geezer Lets Loose Singer Ira Lee, a longtime Off Broadway actor who opened for the legendary Dawn Hampton back in the ‘60s, celebrates his 80th birthday with “Simply, Ira Lee (A Gay Geezer Celebration Through the Looking Glass… warts and all).” John M. Cook is on piano. Don’t Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St. Jun. 15 & 20, 7 p.m. The cover is $20, with a two-drink minimum. Reservations at 212757-0788 or donttellmamanyc.com.

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THU.JUN.16

TUE.JUN.21

DANCE

PERFORMANCE

Home and Other Ritual Encounters

Dad and Pop, Some Time Back Now

In “Home,” BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance and Bryn Cohn + Artists incorporate interactive set pieces in a pre-show exhibition and a mid-show interlude, while each presenting their own distinct New York City premieres, both drawing on ritual and tradition to elucidate the concept of home through interpersonal encounters, environments, and the pursuit of self and collective understanding. Gibney Dance Center, 280 Broadway (enter at 53A Chambers St.). Jun. 16-18, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 at gibneydance. org; $20 at the door.

In the late 80’s — before having same-sex parents was considered “cool” — Dad and Pop decided they wanted to have a family. Today, enter Lindsey: your typical 20-something girl, who just happens to have two gay dads. From justifying her singleness to her puzzled fathers to addressing her anxieties — which range from not being interesting enough to stalk to contracting malaria on the subway — it’s clear she isn’t always as put-together as she looks. But, come hear how having spent a lifetime swimming against the current, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Kraine Theatre, 85 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Jun. 21, 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 at horsetrade.info.

SAT.JUN.18 PERFORMANCE Hell, We Knew Before Ru! Stragglers may have gotten know Bob the Drag Queen as the result of her recent smash triumph in “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” but the local cognoscenti have long been in on her secret. Relying on her trademark “heels, wigs, whips, and fierceness,” Bob appears at Gramercy Theatre, 127 E. 23rd St. Tickets are $25-$35 at venue.thegramercytheatre.com.

MON.JUN.20 COMMUNITY The Center Garden Party In the semi-official kick-off to Pride Week, the LGBT Community Center hosts its annual Garden Party, an evening of catching up, hearing some music and guest speakers, sampling tastings from dozens of New York’s top restaurants, sipping on cocktails from an open bar — all while watching the sun set over the Hudson. This year’s restaurants include Bagatelle New York, Bittersweet New York City, Boqueria, Dinosaur BarB-Que, empanada mama, good, Luke’s, Royal Oak, Sticky’s Finger Joint, Sweet Chili, Underwest Donuts, and Wafels & Dinges. Hudson River Pier 84 at W. 44th St. Jun. 20, 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $99 at gaycenter.org/ gardenparty.

PERFORMANCE Dina Martina — You Seen Ha? Following her sold-out Christmas show last year, Dina Martina, who John Waters says “goes way beyond drag into some new kind of twisted art,” returns to New York for a Pride Show at BB Kings, 237 W. 42nd St. Jun. 20, 8 p.m. Tickets are $25-$44 at dworld.us.

WED.JUN.22 NIGHTLIFE Pride Gets All Bubbly Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, in the spirits of LGBT Pride, hosts the Love Party, with performances by Bob the Drag Queen and Latrice Royale and music from DJ Mimi Imfurst. Arena, 135 W. 41st St. Jun. 22, 7-10 p.m. The party is free, but you must RSVP at barefootwineloveparty.com.

FRI.JUN.24 PERFORMANCE Celebrate the Range of the Male Dancer In its 2016 New York City Season, 10 Hairy Legs presents world premieres by Doug Varone, Tiffany Mills, and Megan Williams, as well as the return of David Parker’s “Slapstuck.” New York Live Arts, 219 W. 19th St. Jun. 23-24, 7:30 p.m.; Jun. 26, 2 p.m. Tickets are $25, $20 for students at 10hl.org/pages/home.php. A benefit for the company, priced from $75-$150, takes place on Jun. 25, 7:30 p.m.

PRIDE PREVIEW The Weekend Heritage of Pride Has Planned For details of the Jun. 24 Rally from 7-10 p.m., parties on the evenings of Jun. 24, 25 & 26, the VIP Rooftop Party on Jun. 25, 2-10 p.m., PrideFest on Jun. 26, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and the March, Jun. 26, stepoff at noon, visit nycpride.org/events or gaycitynews. nyc/14days. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

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FILM

Human Rights Watch Film Fest Opens June 10

Docs explore gender identity in youth and adults, as well as living in a closeted society THE HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FEST

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FEST

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FILM FEST

Coy Mathis and her brother Max.

BY GARY M. KRAMER

T

he 27th annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival screens at the IFC Center and the Film Society of Lincoln Center June 10-19. Among this year’s program of 18 features and documentaries, four films consider LGBT issues.

“Growing Up Coy” (Jun. 16 at 7 p.m., IFC Center; Jun. 17 at 6:30 p.m., Film Society of Lincoln Center), produced and directed by Eric Juhola, focuses on the landmark case of a Colorado six-year-old, Coy Mathis, who was born male but identifies as a girl. His parents, Jeremy and Kathryn, legally challenge Coy’s elementary school for denying her the right to use the girls’ bathroom. As Michael Silverman, then executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, takes on the case, a media storm ensues. “Growing Up Coy” takes a thoughtful, mostly observational approach to showing how Jeremy, Kathryn, Coy, and her siblings deal with the stresses of educating their community while fighting against both discrimination and resistance to questions of gender and sexual identity being addressed among pre-teens. The film’s subjects all speak from their hearts, which is what makes this documentary so affecting.

42

Cherry, a lesbian living in China.

“Suited” (Jun. 18 at 9:45 p.m. at IFC Center) is a fascinating documentary about Bindle & Keep, a Brooklyn-based bespoke clothier that specializes in fashions appealing to the LGBT community. The film, directed by Jason Benjamin, profiles a half-dozen transgender and gender-nonconforming clients. The owners, Daniel, a cisgender straight man, and Rae, who identifies as transmasculine, are dedicated to making their customers look great and feel great, and they take a hands-on approach in providing them with emotional comfort as well as fine formal wear. Derek, a transgender man who is preparing to get married, wants a suit that accents his body’s masculine attributes. Another customer, Everett, says he has never been able to find clothes in a department store. The most moving story, however, is Aidan’s. The anxiety of this 12-year-old transgender boy — preparing for his Bar Mitzvah — is palpable, and Rae and Daniel reassure Aidan that they will “cut according to how he feels.” “Suited” manages to convey critical details about its subjects’ journeys toward self-acceptance, and their dignity and grace lend power to this documentary. Watching Everett needing a minute to compose himself after trying on his suit, or Derek marrying his fiancé Joan-

na, or Aidan, in his first suit, checking himself out in the mirror are deeply emotional moments in a film full of inspiring scenes and stories. The film’s one flaw is in introducing Dr. Jillian Weiss, a prominent transgender lawyer, and Grace, who is androgynous and identifies as gender-nonconforming, but not following up on their stories, which are no less interesting or important than the others’. For viewers who miss “Suited” at the Human Rights Watch Film Fest or want to see it again, the film airs on HBO on June 20.

“Inside the Chinese Closet” (Jun. 17, 9:30 p.m., IFC Center; Jun. 18, 9 p.m., Film Society of Lincoln Center) is a documentary about being queer in China that, while clumsily made, is not without interest. Andy is a bear whose father knows he is gay, but is pressuring him to get married and have children. He attends an underground marriage market and hopes to find a lesbian who will be a close friend and help him satisfy his father. The film’s other subject is Cherry, a lesbian who is being pressured to adopt a child. Her parents explain that they had Cherry so she would take care of them as they age and want her to be able to depend on the same kind of support.

Jun. 10-19 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St. ff.hrw.org

“Inside the Chinese Closet” illuminates how men like Andy and women like Cherry navigate their lives with their parents and others. We see Cherry’s date (shot in silhouette) with a woman she hopes she can kiss, and Andy discussing pregnancy and caretaking details with a potential wife. Director Sophia Luvara has compassion for her subjects, but this slight film seems to only scratch the surface of the burdens lesbians and gay men face in China.

While not strictly queer, “Ovarian Psycos” (Jun. 11, 7 p.m., IFC Center; Jun. 13, 7 p.m., IFC Center) is certainly LGBT -friendly. This documentary introduces viewers to the members of a feminist-oriented women of color collective who have come together in response to personal histories of domestic and sexual abuse as well as discrimination. This warm film about rebellious spirits profiles several members of this bicycle brigade in East Los Angeles who have become empowered by their commitment to their community through this radical organization. The film, directed by Kate Trumbull-LaValle and Johanna Sokolowski, shows the backlash and difficulties the members of Ovarian Psycos face, but also the strong family-like bond they have forged. The film is at its best when illustrating the strength these women find as they begin to feel control in their lives, their families, and in society as a whole. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Corruption and Defeat BY STEVE ERICKSON

O

ctave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel “Diary of a Chambermaid” has been adapted to film three times. Jean Renoir, Luis Buñuel, and French director Benoît Jacquot have all taken a crack at it. Each version differs from Mirbeau’s original in significant ways. Jacquot’s take suggests that some things remain eternal. Most are negative: classism, anti-Semitism, sexual harassment. There’s also the enduring appeal of the “bad boy,” if that term applies to a man in his 50s. The character with whom Jacquot’s chambermaid falls in love may be guilty of all sorts of crimes, but he’s representative of a world where a man breaks the neck of his “beloved” pet ferret and orders it made into a stew just to prove a point. Léa Seydoux plays the title character Célestine, following Paulette Goddard (in Renoir’s version) and Jeanne Moreau (in Buñuel’s). She wants to stay in Paris but can’t find a job there.

She does get a job in provincial France, but treats the experience as an exile from the capital. Her mistress (Clotilde Mollet) gets mad if she eats a prune or two from the household inventory and spends her day ringing the bell that calls for Célestine’s service. Her master (Hervé Pierre) keeps groping her. She finds the gardener Joseph (Vincent Lindon) fascinating.   According to the news, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in France lately. The country doesn’t seem to have learned much from World War II, now more than 70 years in the past. French Jews are emigrating to the UK, North America, and Israel. This climate inspired Jacquot to explore the roots of French anti-Semitism through the character of Joseph, the filmmaker suggesting that 20th-century anti-Semitism got its start in France, not Germany. Joseph says horrible things like “The Jews should all be disemboweled” and contributes to a newspaper called Le Petit Parisien, which offers up anti-Semitic headlines and caricatures. Célestine argues with him about the Jews,

COHEN MEDIA GROUP

Third adaptation of “Diary of a Chambermaid” plumbs dark corners in a young woman’s libido

Léa Seydoux plays the title character Célestine in Benoît Jacquot’s “Diary of a Chambermaid,” based on Octave Mirbeau’s 1900 novel.

saying that they behave no worse than any other religious group, yet in the end she tolerates his anti-Semitism as the price of his company. It may even add a frisson to Joseph’s sex appeal. In an interview, Jacquot explains Joseph’s seductiveness this way: “Despair and poverty can easily lead to finding the most apocalyptic of discourses appealing. Célestine is attracted by the radical energy that Joseph exudes and which fits in with the radicalism of the times, a populism marked by anti-Semitism.” Jacquot’s “Diary of a Chambermaid” isn’t far off from Susan Sontag’s essay about the dark but lingering appeal of fascist director Leni Riefenstahl’s films and photos.

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THEATER

Reason, Myth & Hollywood Spectacle “Incognito” absorbs, “Hadestown” aims high, “Paramour” dazzles BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

T

MTC at New York City Center 131 W. 55th St. Through Jul. 10 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $90; nycitycenter.org Or 212-581-1212 Ninety mins., no intermission

HADESTOWN

Morgan Spector, Geneva Carr, Heather Lind, and Charlie Cox in Nick Payne’s “Incognito,” directed by Doug Hughes at City Center through July 10.

New York Theatre Workshop 79 E. Fourth St. Btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Through Jul. 3 Sun., Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $99; nytw.org Or 212-460-5475 Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission

PARAMOUR ning. Geneva Carr, Charlie Cox, Heather Lind, and Morgan Spector playing multiple characters bring each one levels of originality and specificity that makes them distinct and moving. Neuroscience may not necessarily be an obvious topic for popular theater, but in Payne’s hands it becomes fascinating and deeply human. But then after all, it is the stuff we are made of.

“Hadestown” is not, strictly speaking, a musical. It began life as a concept album by Anaïs Mitchell and has been developed with and directed by Rachel Chavkin. It’s an operatic — as in almost completely sung-through — setting of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and the music is sublime. A combination of styles, with a heavy emphasis on folk and country, Mitchell’s harmonies and melodic lines can make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Though its genres are familiar, the music, with orchestration by Michael Chorney, is fresh and exciting. As a theater piece, “Hadestown” is less successful. Bringing con-

cept albums to life on stage is no mean feat, and those that have succeeded (“Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “Tommy”) have all had several elements to hold them together, including strong central characters, clear conflict, and a compelling narrative arc. While not necessary for a song cycle, these elements are critical for theater and “Hadestown” lacks all of them. The focus is split among Persephone, Hades, Orpheus, and Eurydice, and it’s not until very near the end of the piece, when Orpheus is trying to lead Eurydice out of Hades, that the story acquires any dramatic interest. And even that is muted. Eurydice will disappear if Orpheus looks back to see if she’s still there, but “don’t look” is hardly the stuff of gripping storytelling, particularly when the characters haven’t to that point been fully developed. For some reason, Mitchell adapted the original myth so that Eurydice goes to Hades not because she was killed in the woods but because she was bored with life above and thought the route past the Styx was the answer. When she gets there, she finds that life isn’t that exciting

Lyric Theatre 213 W. 42nd St. Mon.-Tue., Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat. at 3 p.m. Sun. at 2 & 7 p.m. $55-$227.50; ticketmaster.com Or 877-255-2929 Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission

JOAN MARCUS

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INCOGNITO

JOAN MARCUS

he new theater season is only a few weeks old, but it’s safe to say Nick Payne’s “Incognito” will be one of the most exciting plays you’ll see this year. That may be even more surprising when one realizes that the play is ostensibly about brain function. Or, more accurately, about how much we cannot know about how our brains work but how much we want to. The play is loosely based on several true stories, including that of Thomas Harvey who removed Einstein’s brain during the great man’s autopsy and kept it to study for nearly 40 years. It’s also the story of Henry Mason, a man whose brain seems to have no capacity for short-term information retention, and of Evelyn Einstein who believes she is the adopted daughter of Einstein’s son but might actually be his much younger half sister. In all, over the course of 90 minutes, we meet some 20 people whose lives intersect and overlap. It is not so much a plot-driven piece as a human collage, and the cumulative power of it by the end is profoundly moving. Far more poetic and abstract than Payne’s previous work, “Constellations,” its underlying questions are how do we know what we know and what defines who we are? Payne doesn’t attempt any answers, but rather marvels at the incomprehensible complexity of it all, as do we in watching things unfold. Directed with absolute precision by Doug Hughes with movement by Peter Pucci on Scott Pask’s magnificently minimal set with Ben Stanton’s gorgeous and understated lighting, the play recalls Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica,” in which he writes, “A poem should not mean/ But be.” The power of this piece is in the total experience of it as it unfolds, as we’re drawn into disparate lives and marvel at the power of the couple of pounds of meat we all have in our heads. The four-member cast is stun-

Amber Gray in Anaïs Mitchell’s “Hadestown,” directed by Rachel Chavkin, at New York Theatre Workshop through July 3.

in the Underworld and wants out. That set-up is neither as compelling nor as tragic as Orpheus grieving so greatly he’d undergo anything to bring his love back to life.

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June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

45


FILM

Social Control Medicalized Wang Bing takes viewers inside a Chinese mental hospital BY STEVE ERICKSON

W

atching Chinese director Wang Bing’s documentary “‘Til Madness Do Us Part,” you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s set in a mental hospital, not a prison. A modern-day example of direct cinema, Wang’s film plunges the spectator into the disorienting world of a hospital for patients who’ve been committed against their will. No one who writes about it fails to mention Frederick Wiseman’s “Titicut Follies,” a documentary about a Massachusetts mental hospital guilty of abusing its patients, but Wang’s aesthetic is a product of the video age. In fact, “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” evokes a wide range of American films and TV shows set in prisons. It may not depict the rapes and murders shown on HBO’s “Oz,” but the spiritual deadness is familiar. Even though therapy is the hospital’s supposed goal, boredom and overmedication seem to be its main methods: punishment by other means.

“‘Til Madness Do Us Part” isn’t exactly entertaining, but it’s one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in 2016. For a long stretch, Anthology Film Archives was the only New York venue interested in showing Wang’s work. It gave theatrical runs to his previous documentaries “West of the Tracks” and “Three Sisters” (which has also been acquired by Icarus Films and will play the Williamsburg micro-theater Spectacle in early June.) While it might seem uncommercial, especially given its four-hour running time, “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” is the first Wang film to attract an American distributor, albeit three years after it was made. Perhaps it’s drawing more attention because it seems to reflect our own problems with over-incarceration. The film offers no explicit context until a closing title crawl informs us that the patients are a mixture of people who’ve been committed by their families, political prisoners, substance abusers, the developmentally disabled, violent criminals, and people who just can’t fit into

RICHARD TERMINE

Andrew Atherton and Kevin Atherton (foreground) in Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour” at the Lyric Theatre.

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Chavkin has transformed the New York Theatre Workshop space into a large cockpit with the audience seated around it. (The collection of old chairs for the audience, even with cushions, can be its own Hades level of discomfort depending on what you get.) She keeps the company in almost constant motion up and around the central playing space, but aside from the long ascent out of the Underworld, most of the staging seems gratuitous.

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The company, for the most part, does a wonderful job with the music. Amber Gray as Persephone is spectacular. She has a versatile, supple voice and a wicked wit that make her consistently interesting. Chris Sullivan as Hermes functions as the narrator and has a dark, sexy, and jaded charm. Nabiyah Be as Eurydice has a magnificent voice but lacks the stage presence that would allow her character to be more fully realized. Patrick Page as Hades is strong and dominating, but some of the music seems set too low for

‘TIL MADNESS DO US PART Directed by Wang Bing Icarus Films In Yunnan with English subtitles Opens Jun. 9 Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. anthologyfilmarchives.org

Chinese life. It seems as though the Chinese mental hospital style combines the Russian communist practice of confining the politically unruly to hospitals with the American tendency to jail mentally ill people for petty crimes rather than giving them the kind of treatment that could prevent them from committing crime in the first place. Wang seems to have shot his film on a cheap, consumer-grade video camera. (He’s credited as a co-cinematographer, along with Liu Xianhui.) At night, the image is full of grain, bordering on pixelation. A great deal of “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” was shot under dim nocturnal lighting. In a few scenes, the camera lens seems to have gotten dirty, but no one bothered to wipe it off. Wang is

him and his usually wonderful bass doesn’t achieve its full power. Damon Daunno is an appealing Orpheus, but like Page his voice was challenged by the material. He has a long song in the second act that is largely in falsetto, and it became screechy and affected his singing for the rest of the evening. All that said, “Hadestown” deserves respect and attention for its originality and giving Mitchell’s music a broader audience. As theater, though, it’s an uphill climb.

“Paramour” is a musical, or, more accurately what the French would call un spectacle. It’s a Cirque du Soleil musical, and it is like what you would see at the Folies Bergères, but all sparkly and new. The story is a cobbled together, conventional tale of Hollywood in its Golden Age — a young starlet, a love triangle, and so forth. The music is derivative and almost completely pastiche, and there are circus acts in almost every scene. As a result virtually every song is a production number, and it comes at you like a tsunami of entertainment. Musical theater purists may scoff; so let them. If you enjoy traditional Cirque du Soleil shows, this gives you all that and a level of

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showbiz kitsch and glitz that is so over-the-top that the only appropriate response is to sit back and have fun. Plus the performers and the acts are really good, from twin aerialists sailing over the audience to a rooftop chase that’s a trampoline extravaganza. It’s all pretty dazzling. And it’s hilarious to watch members of the cast, during a torch song, turn a speakeasy’s light fixtures into a trapeze act. In addition to expected Cirque performers, the cast includes Jeremy Kushnier as A.J., a well established film director, Ruby Lewis as Indigo, the young starlet (who looks very much like Rita Hayworth, oddly one of the few Hollywood stars not cited), and Ryan Vona as Joey, her boyfriend who faces competition from A.J. They all look and sound great and make the nonsensical storyline appealing. And they know how to get out of the way of flying bodies. The direction by Philippe Decouflé and overall creative direction by Jean-François Bouchard hold nothing back in the cause of entertaining. Any attempt at serious theatrical criticism of “Paramour” would just be pretentious. So take all your out-of-town friends, have a blast, and call it a guilty pleasure. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

47


SCOTT SUCHMAN/ WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA

CORY WEAVER/ SAN FRANCISCO OPERA

Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde in “Die Walküre.”

Alan Held as Wotan.

Wagner Nights in Two Cities The “Ring” spins in Washington, Manhattan BY DAVID SHENGOLD

L

ast month, Washington National Opera finally mounted three complete “Ring” cycles in the compelling, image-rich production by Francesca Zambello that began in 2006. WNO ran out of funds in 2008’s crash and so “Götterdämmerung” got seen first at San Francisco Opera, the project’s co-sponsor. The whole company, onstage and off, and the orchestra took a much-deserved curtain call after the final show May 22: it’s a great achievement. Dramatically and emotionally, this “Ring” outstripped the Met’s Robert Lepage train wreck by miles. Zambello has tweaked things and altered emphases, mainly for the good — though I missed the specificity of starting the cycle at Gold Rush Sutter’s Fort. The show jumps forward through decades and loci of North American experience, embracing the ‘20s boom, a “Duck Dynasty”/ NRA ethos, deteriorating highways, despoiled oil fields and denuded forests, and a soulless corporate HQ. The emphases are two: environmental and familial. The male power struggle among the forces of gods, giants, and dwarves wreaks havoc on the physical world and on the women characters. At the end we witnessed Brünnhilde bonding with Gutrune, the Rhinemaidens, and the female

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chorus, essentially cleaning up the mess. A final image of a young girl planting a seedling risked kitsch but also seemed right, in the moment. Conductor Philippe Auguin got — and lingered in — hero’s welcomes before and after every act. I was a bit skeptical, though he does have the WNO orchestra playing far above their wonted standard — with the exception of the brass section, slurring entries and pitches all four days. Auguin’s achievement in clarity sometimes came at a cost to the sense of overall architecture — until “Götterdämmerung,” which he brought off most excitingly. The defining stars of this traversal’s cast were four. We enjoyed one of the world’s greatest Brünnhildes and greatest Wotans in Nina Stemme (making her company debut in this cycle) and Alan Held. The Swedish soprano was in really sovereign form, with billowing phrases, spectacular top notes, and commitment; the American heldenbaritone just cleaned up, not always “pretty pretty“ tonally but a master of breath control, dynamics, and charged stage deportment. Together they brought home the enormity and depth of the father and daughter’s mutual love and need; many tears flowed. “Rheingold” got a jolt of gorgeous tone, pointed verbal phrasing, and stage savvy from William Burden’s Loge, a new assignment trium-

phantly brought off. Eric Halfvarson, at 67 a very experienced Hagen and in really strong voice, gave a similar charge to his every utterance and gesture in “Götterdämmerung.” Strong casting prevailed. Elizabeth Bishop’s stalwart Fricka — particularly sharply drawn in “Walküre” — and Gordon Hawkins’ lively if somewhat soft-grained Alberich remain pillars of this staging. Jamie Barton made a phenomenal Second Norn and was almost as good as Waltraute: what an instrument! Bass-baritone Ryan McKinny sounded restored to promising form as Donner. He and the bright-voiced Melissa Citro (Virginia Opera’s fine 2011 Sieglinde) really made something — under Zambello’s direction — of the tough, unrewarding parts of Gunther and Gutrune. Both looking sensational, they were unafraid to appear foolish and weak; Citro’s transformation from manipulated bimbo to compassionate witness for truth proved very moving. As befits a good Second Generation Feminist “Ring,” the teams of Rhinemaidens, Walküres, and Nor ns were cast from notable strength. Daniel Brenna — pretty much a total wash in the Met’s ‘Lulu” — here had the benefit of a genuine director and came through his superhuman assignment reasonably well. His tenor is neither beautiful nor memorable, but it has

stamina and impact. “Siegfried” witnessed too many shouted high notes and no poetry (though such tenors as René Kollo and Siegfried Jerusalem have found it); but he did considerably better in “Götterdämmerung”. David Cangelosi, an expert Mime as to pitch and diction, needed reining in: too much “public pet” hamming. The only relative disappointments were Richard Cox’s inert Froh and Meagan Miller’s Sieglinde. A few good high notes confirmed Miller’s Straussian potential, but the role lies chiefly in the middle, which was ropy and heavily vibratoed. This left a hole in “Walküre” that Stemme and Held’s utterly wrenching performance of the final scenes overcame. A “Ring” cycle is an event; I ran unexpectedly into friends from New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, and California. DC realities impinged (Newt Gingrich at “Rheingold,” maybe identifying with Alberich?) and impressed (Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the scene at “Götterdämmerung”).

Between “Walküre” on May 19 and “Siegfried” two days later, I happily heard something completely different: a very impressive recital at the Phillips Collection by Vanessa Vasquez, an excellent full lyric soprano still at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. The admirable DC Vocal Arts series runs these Phillips concerts in which the artists choose works of art from the museum’s superb collection that — projected on a screen — amplify or dialogue with the songs. Vasquez’s choices showed the same sensitivi-

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June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

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OPERA

Wilde Thing, You Make My Heart Sink “NY Phil Biennial” proves “The Importance of Being Earnest” ought not be an opera

STEPHEN CUMMISKEY

The New York Philharmonic presented the US staged premiere of Gerald Barry’s musical setting of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” with Hilary Summers at right.

BY ELI JACOBSON

T

he New York Philharmonic’s “NY Phil Biennial” will be presenting music of all kinds throughout the city through June 11 (nyphil.org/biennial). The operatic contribution was Gerald Barry’s musical setting of Oscar Wilde’s light comedy masterpiece “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which received its US staged premiere June 2-4 in a co-presentation with Royal Opera at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. Paul Kilby’s program notes for the production hint at the folly of such an enterprise: “There is no sense in which ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ needs to be an opera… that works better in a medium other than the one in which it originated.” I am familiar with the play having played Algernon in a high school production and seeing it twice performed professionally. Wilde’s farce is all style sabotaging substance. The characters live on an exquisitely superficial plane of beautiful manners and elegant language that camouflage total absurdity, subversive social commen-

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ty as did her long-breathed phrasing and verbal acuity. Working with the always on-point pianist Danielle Orlando, she delivered a varied, balanced program with admirable vocal and linguistic detail. Her English enunciation was outstanding in songs by Rebecca Clarke and three fine numbers (two lyrical, one satirical) by Ben Moore. Spanish selections (including Obradors’ enchanting “Del cabello más sutil”) were equally specif-

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tary, and perverse thinking. There are no emotional depths here that music can expand upon or reveal hidden layers within. While Wilde smashed conventions with the sound of a spoon clinking in a china teacup, Barry smashes plates on the floor. The music is all loud, congested Schoenberg serialism — a wall of noise devoid of lightness or wit. The only time the orchestra is funny is when both Gwendolyn and Cecily react with revulsion at the real names of their fiancés — whom they both know as Ernest — and the orchestra erupts into shattering “Wozzeck” chords. Both Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism break into impromptu versions of a Schiller poem (that Beethoven used in his Ninth Symphony “Ode to Joy”) for little or no reason. Cecily and Gwendolyn conduct their tea table catfight standing facing the audience on opposite sides of the stage declaiming through megaphones. At one point, every word of Gwendolyn’s is punctuated by a percussionist smashing china plates on the floor. In fact, all sorts of food and props are thrown on the ground, requiring considerable post-performance custodial work.

ic, as were three Lieder by Richard Strauss, including a deeply moving “Befreit.” Her Russian prep at AVA has yielded results, but still needs fine-tuning: she tended to make every “eh” a “yeh,” for example. But both Rachmaninov’s “Spring Waters” and Tchaikovsky’s har rowing “Was I a Blade of Grass?” showed her lovely, swelling timbre, dynamic control, and considerable range: a soprano to watch.

Washington may have put New York to shame in terms of its

Vocal lines are largely tuneless and independent of the orchestral writing, with odd leaps into falsetto on random words or syllables for both male leads. The exception is a warped version of “Auld Lang Syne,” which recurs like a leitmotif but without dramatic resonance. Lady Bracknell is played by a basso profundo (Alan Ewing) but not as a woman (I saw and admired Brian Bedford in the role on Broadway). Dressed in a dark business suit and conducting himself like an officious club bore, Ewing fails to be camp, frightening, or humorous — instead, merely tiresome. Gwendolyn is a smooth mezzo soprano (a coolly in-control Stephanie Marshall), while Cecily (the pretty and clearly gifted Claudia Boyle) chirps in a squeaky high coloratura range rendering text indecipherable. Contralto Hilary Summers as Miss Prism brings a touch of Hyacinth Bucket to the role and emerges with dignity intact. The drolly detached Simon Wilding doubled as household butlers Merriman and Lane. Ramin Gray set up a concert opera semi-staging on stair-like narrow black risers that accommodated both the orchestra and soloists. Clothing and manners were contemporary and casual, lacking in both style and class — Algy (baritone Benedict Nelson) looks like a Williamsburg boho hipster with beard, denim trousers, and plaid flannel shirt, and Cecily wore green short shorts. John “Ernest” Worthing (tenor Paul Curievici) sported a casual blue jacket and open necked shirt. Conductor Ilan Volkov led members of the New York Philharmonic in a bravely uninhibited and thoroughly prepared reading of Barry’s score — to little artistic result. It is all a collection of musical and stage effects that call attention to themselves rather than support the story or characters. In the end, it is Oscar Wilde’s witty text that endures — even though cut by a third — and entertains the audience independent of this setting. But when the surtitles steal the show, you know an opera has no reason for being.

“Ring” production, but it was salutary to hear — as a coda — James Levine’s final, pretty stupendous Met Orchestra concert at Carnegie May 26, with “Ring” excerpts. The orchestra, as tribute to Levine, was pretty much on fire; he occasionally overdrove them, as if they were in a pit, sometimes making Stefan Vinke’s dry heroic tenor hard to hear. Unlike Brenna, Vinke’s best notes are on top. Meanwhile, Christine Goerke, radiant in expression, was in amazing voice up to prolonged

high Cs for the two duets with Siegfried and the Immolation Scene. She has yet to enact the final Brünnhilde on the stage, so her phrasing there was not always as considered as the more experienced Stemme. But she flooded us with beautiful sound. What a privilege to hear the world’s two greatest exponents of this music in the same week! David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

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IN THE China Lets Her Wall Down

NOH

A fabulous supermodel’s fabulous life

DAVID NOH

China Machado in her Gramercy Park office suite.

BY DAVID NOH

A

ge inevitably brings with it thoughts of mortality, which can be depressing, but then — especially in New York — you can meet all kinds of people older than you who are fabulously going so strong that you think, “Hey, I might have another 35 years or so to go!” Such a walking, breathing inspiration is the groundbreaking fashion legend and early supermodel China Machado. It was she who broke the color barrier by being the first non-white woman on the cover of a major fashion magazine (Harper’s Bazaar) and went on to an enviably long career at the top. She followed that by becoming the fashion director of Harper’s, while leading a kissed-by-fate, only-in-the-movies kind of divine life most of us only dream about. Machado is 86 and looks decades younger, with more energy now than I’ve had at any time in my life. I’d met her at a wonderful event celebrating Deborah Riley Draper’s film “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” about the mythic fashion show Machado was in, where American designers knocked the French off their ruling fashion pedestal and our own swirlingly magnificent ethnic models showed all those demure Caucasians just how it was done. A dream of mine came true when she agreed to do an interview in the Gramercy Park aerie she uses as an office when in town from the Hamptons, where she’s lived for years. She unfolded her life for me like the wittiest Scheherazade — a slightly risqué one, at that — only this storyteller was able to illustrate her account with a lavish

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myriad of incredible photos on her handy laptop. Born Noelie Dasouza Machado in Shanghai to Portuguese-Chinese parents, her father, founder of the Hong Kong-Shanghai Bank, who was forced to emigrate to Argentina during the Communist era. It was while staying with her brother in Lima, that, at age 19, she met the legendary bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín, who easily persuaded her to run away with him to Mexico. “I didn’t speak to my father for 15 years — he was so handsome and intelligent, but he cut me off in disgrace. And then, it was too late really to ever connect again because I had already gone through all my formative years. I can’t believe it was more than 60 years ago, but, as long as you live life to the fullest, it doesn’t matter. “If Dominguín walked into a room even today, all the women would want him and all the men would want to be like him. Six feet tall, so gorgeous, fun, and intelligent, with this kind of sexuality that was unbelievable. He was the whole package. I went with him to Mexico and Venezuela and then to Spain, where no woman talked to me for two years while I was there. I was la puta [the whore], a mestiza, but I was a kid, a virgin when I met him. I didn’t know anything and the next moment I’m meeting his friends, Hemingway and Picasso, names I may have only read about. “You mention the book and film, ‘Blood and Sand.’ That film affected me enormously when I saw it as a kid — I wanted to marry Tyrone Power [who played a renowned bullfighter], and then I grow up and who do I meet but this bullfighter. Of course, I’m going to go with him, and everyone was like, ‘What is this Chink doing over there?’ “I didn’t know whether to look at the bullfights and sometimes I didn’t want to go, although he dedicated bulls to me. Yet, if I stayed home, it would be worse, of course. I worried about him: here’s this guy who on Sunday afternoons, once a week, goes and puts his body in front of a bull! “I was such a kid. I didn’t have money or clothes. It wasn’t that he knew how to take care of a young girl. Everybody else had their own money and clothes, and there I was. I didn’t dress badly and I happened to be okay-looking at the time, so I got away with a lot more than anyone else [laughs]. But, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hold him.” The end came in Madrid, at a party that was attended by Ava Gardner and Lana Turner, who came together. “Ava was so beautiful and my icon — I used to have her picture on my wall. Can you imagine, and then I have to meet her this way: she and Lana thought no one spoke English. They saw

Luis and one said, ‘I think I’ll get him,’ and the other said, ‘Not if I get him first!’ Lex Barker was married to Lana and he was there, and they had a terrible fight and left. “So, Ava stayed, and, at dinner, she was sitting next to Luis, and she put her hand right on his thing! What do you do? Slap her and say, ‘Take your hand away?’ [laughs]. Omigod! But, I must say, she was absolutely gorgeous, funny, and charming. She drank like a fish, which unfortunately makes the skin grow thick and her body wasn’t perfect — short legs — but don’t get me wrong. She was gorgeous! She was also six years older than him, but she said, ‘I’ll put you in the movies,’ and who was I, by comparison? “I left for Paris and San Tropez, and he kept coming back to me. We saw each other until 10 years before he died. I guess he was drunk and he fell and hit his head in the bathroom. That’s what I heard. Bill Holden went the same way.” Yes, William Holden was another China lover: “A very nice man, charming, very intelligent, and very correct, but he had his demons. He was an alcoholic, but as a person he had very high standards and treated people very well. He would talk to you and find out who you are. Most men don’t. I was with him right after he made ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai,’ and he was gorgeous. But he had a very strange marriage to Brenda Marshall, an actress of the 1940s. When he married her, she had divorced a husband for him and was older. She was the bigger star, but after he made ‘Golden Boy,’ he was the star and she apparently resented that. “This guy had an affair with an actress every time he did a film because their marriage was very bad. When I met him, they were separated, a difficult time for him. He had his own life, but took care of her and adopted her daughter. He had a vasectomy after they had two sons. He became embittered, but he was always very upfront, a straight talker, no bullshit or primping. In the studio, he never ate with the big shots, but always in the commissary with the crew and he knew all their names. I left him after about a year, because I wanted to have children.” Holden even tried to get Machado into the movies, in his “The World of Suzie Wong,” as well as the movie “Gambit,” which was eventually made with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, “about this bust of an Oriental woman that a very rich man had, who looked just like Shirley. Bill introduced me to Cary Grant, who would have maybe co-starred with me in that. One afternoon, we had lunch at the Sherry Netherland with this producer, Bill Dozier, who was

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IN THE NOH, continued on p.56

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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pedestrians. • Recognize changing road conditions. Roadways accumulate oil and engine fluids that can float in rainwater, creating slippery road surfaces. This is usually a problem during the first few hours of a rainstorm or in areas that receive little precipitation and then are subjected to downpours. These fluids make rain-soaked roads even more slippery. Slow down, leave more room between vehicles and try driving in the tracks left by vehicles ahead. • Reduce speed. The automotive group AAA says hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water, can occur with as little as 1⁄12 inch of wa-

ter on the road. The group goes on to say that tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speeds to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. New tires can still lose some contact with the roadway, even at a speed as low as 35 mph. Therefore, reducing speed and avoiding hard braking and turning sharply can help keep the rubber of the tire meeting the road. • Rely on the defogger. Use the car’s windshield defroster/ defogger to improve visibility. Turn it on early and keep it on until the rain has stopped and visibility has improved.

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shopping for new tires. Check tire pressure on all tires at least once a month. Get an accurate reading when tires are cold and adjust air pressure accordingly. • Avoid other distractions. Distracted driving can be hazardous during good road conditions and even more dangerous when visibility and other factors are compromised. Switch phones and other devices off so you can fully focus on the road and other drivers. Rainy weather can contribute to poor driving conditions. Drivers should make changes to speed and other factors to make wet weather driving as safe as possible.

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LAMBDA LIT HONORS EXCELLENCE 2016 Lambda Literary Award Winners Lesbian Fiction Chinelo Okparanta, “Under the Udala Trees” Gay Fiction Hasan Namir, “God in Pink” Bisexual Fiction Anna North, “The Life and Death of Sophie Stark” Bisexual Nonfiction  Emily Bingham, “Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham”

Victor Yates, LGBT Debut Fiction winner for “A Love Like Blood.”

Willy Wilkinson, Transgender Nonfiction winner for “Born on the Edge of Race and Gender.”

Alex Gino, LGBT Children’s/ Young Adult Fiction winner for “George.”

Ann Aptake, one of two Lesbian Mystery winners, for “Tarnished Gold.”

Special honoree Hilton Als.

Special honoree Eileen Myles reads her poetry.

LGBT Graphic Novel winner E.K. Weaver.

Editors and contributors celebrate the LGBT Nonfiction Anthology win for “Glitter and Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy.”

Marcia M. Gallo, LGBT Nonfiction winner for “‘No One Helped,’” about the Kitty Genovese murder.

Award presenter David Eberdhoff, author of the novel “The Danish Girl.”

Transgender Fiction Roz Kaveney, “Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners” LGBT Debut Fiction Victor Yates, “A Love Like Blood” LGBT Nonfiction Marcia M. Gallo, “‘No One Helped’: Kitty Genovese, New York City, and the Myth of Urban Apathy” Transgender Nonfiction Willy Wilkinson, “Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency” Lesbian Poetry Dawn Lundy Martin, “Life in a Box is a Pretty Life” Gay Poetry (tie) Nicholas Wong, “Crevasse” Carl Phillips, “Reconnaissance” Transgender Poetry kari edwards, “succubus in my pocket” Lesbian Mystery (tie) Victoria Brownworth, “Ordinary Mayhem” Ann Aptaker, “Tarnished Gold” Gay Mystery Marshall Thornton, “Boystown 7: Bloodlines” Lesbian Memoir/ Biography Kate Carroll de Gutes, “Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear” Gay Memoir/ Biography Langdon Hammer, “James Merrill: Life and Art” Lesbian Romance Julie Blair, “Making A Comeback” Gay Romance Debbie McGowan, “When Skies Have Fallen”

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Lesbian Erotica Meghan O'Brien, “The Muse” Gay Erotica Miodrag Kojadinovic, “Érotiques Suprèmes” LGBT Anthology — Fiction Sfé R. Monster (editor) & Taneka Stotts (assistant editor), “Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi & Fantasy Comic Anthology” LGBT Anthology — Nonfiction Damien Luxe, Heather M. Ács & Sabina Ibarrola (editors), “Glitter and Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy” LGBT Children’s/ Young Adult Alex Gino, “George” LGBT Drama Tanya Barfield, “Bright Half Life” LGBT Graphic Novel E.K. Weaver, “The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal” LGBT SF/F/Horror Kirsty Logan, “The Gracekeepers” LGBT Studies Hiram Pérez, “A Taste for Brown Bodies: Gay Modernity and Cosmopolitan Desire”

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO At the 28th annual Lambda Literary Award ceremony, held June 6 at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, winners were recognized in 26 categories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In addition, special recognition was given to Hilton Als, a staff writer at the New Yorker and author of “White Girls,” and to poet Eileen Myles. June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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IN THE NOH, from p.52

married to Joan Fontaine. (I’m like you, David, we know everything about everybody!) Then we crossed the street to the Plaza, where Cary was. We got to his suite and it’s all dark, and out of this darkness, he came. Gorgeous beyond anything! The body, the movement was catlike, every gesture! I was petrified and could hardly talk, but they did talk for a while. Dozier tried to convince him to do the movie but he said, “I’m going to do “North by Northwest,” but I’ll think about it.’ I went to Hong Kong with Bill Holden for ‘Suzie Wong,’ but I was not an actress and not really interested in being in movies.” What Machado was, above all, was a model of the highest order, and to watch videos of her, say, swanning about the salon of Balenciaga in the 1950s, looking like nothing so much as an exquisite Eurasian princess, is to savor human refinement at its most soignee. She laughed all of this off to me, with a modesty that felt utterly genuine. “No, David, it was never hard for my two daughters growing up with me — the ‘icon’ — as their mother. Because I never thought I was good-looking. Okay, I wasn’t bad, but growing up, I swear to God, you never saw a picture of anybody who looked like you. So I thought, ‘I can’t be good-looking.’ I remember I thought my cousin was nice-looking, but nobody ever told her so or photographed her.”

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Machado was at a cocktail party in Paris, and the directrice of Balenciaga saw her and asked if she wanted to be a model. “It was all by accident. When I went to the salon, they told me Balenciaga had gone to Spain, but why don’t I try Givenchy? I went there, and they thought I was the replacement model for a girl who was sick. So they put me in the fashion show and, afterwards, Givenchy, this gorgeous man, only about 26 then, 6-foot, 6, with more class than I have ever seen in anyone — he should have been Louis XIV — asked if I wanted to model for him.” Machado became his top model, along with three others: “Kouka, who was an Argentine; Denise, who thought she was the reincarnation of Garbo, and Peggy Roth, who was kind of ugly but had terrific chic! There were seven other models in the cabine. Some of them had three outfits. I had 36, so instead of going back to the dressing room, we would do it around the corner, because I had to go right out again. Philippe Venet would put me in all these suits, and Givenchy wanted me because I had a very straight back, no ass, straight shoulders, no bust, and a long neck. With other girls, he had to put padding in the coats so they would fall right and with me he didn’t. I was like a coat hanger.” Audrey Hepburn was Givenchy’s most famous and loyal client and friend. “All of her clothes were fitted on me and I met her many times, even did a Paris collec-

tion show with her. She was darling, but completely reserved. The kind of person who, if she goes to the hairdresser, she doesn’t read a magazine or have her nails done. Only the hair, completely focused, only one thing at a time. Her house in Switzerland had no noise because her son was sleeping upstairs. She was adorable and charming, but completely disciplined to a point that was too much of a point. Very focused, and knew exactly what she wanted. “She had been with a very wealthy English guy, James Hanson, her first love, and then she fell in love with William Holden, too. But she didn’t marry him because he’d had that vasectomy and she also wanted children. So she married Mel Ferrer, and then that Italian doctor. And she ended up with Rob Wolders [famous for also being with two other older actresses, Merle Oberon and Leslie Caron]. He was gorgeous and willing to just hang around, and these women all had money, so he lived off them. She was charming, but I think that people found her very cold. All her character was in her movies, but in private life maybe the only man she ever loved was Bill Holden. I don’t know.” Machado indeed ruled the runway, but it was in print that she came into her real glory, photographed by Avedon for that historic Harper’s cover.

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IN THE NOH, continued on p.57

June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


IN THE NOH, from p.56

“The publisher told him he couldn’t use me because I wasn’t white and all of the Southern subscribers would cancel, but Dick said, ‘If you don’t let her be the cover I won’t sign my new seven-year contract.’ He never told me this; I found out 20 years later. But how nice of him and how lucky for me! He also shot me for the first nude in the magazine.” It all began when Machado arrived in New York from Europe, “the highest paid runway model there. I arrived at Harper’s at 8:30 and at 11, I walked into the office of [editor] Diana Vreeland. I’m standing there and she’s looking at me, and I thought she was gay. ‘Exquisite!’ she says, ‘Marrrvelous!’ She was hysterical and talked all rubbish. But she made everybody believe it, and was very charming and very smart. When she had nothing to say, she’d say something ridiculous, and everybody would go, ‘Oh my God! [Laughs.] “She immediately put me in the Fashion Group winter collection show, which was then the biggest in the world. I opened the show in Balenciaga hot pink pajamas, standing on a 40-foot ladder. I just hoped I wouldn’t break my neck as I came down to this huge stage, and thought, “I’m gonna pee, already!’ “I had never been photographed before, but Avedon saw me the next day in his studio. I was still jet-lagged and carried my bag with all my shoes, makeup, and wigs, like we did in Paris because we did everything ourselves. And there was Kenneth to do my hair and Ernie from Revlon for my face, and Adolfo puts a little hat on me. Avedon said, ‘Be careful of the bones! Make her pale — I only want to see the line of her face.’ He told me to turn around, and then said, ‘Beautiful!’ Oh my God, Avedon saying this to me — I’m ready to faint! He took the most famous pictures of me, and that’s how I broke in. I was so lucky!” After the modeling and her editorship at Harper’s ended, Machado never really looked at fashion again: “I couldn’t stand it anymore: the constant politics going on and badmouthing everyone and who sits in this seat? l mean, life isn’t worth it. And I’m so crazy. I really don’t give a fuck, and that’s my strength.” Machado, a happy grandmother now, went on to be a television proGayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

ducer, costume designer, and gallerist, while raising two beautiful daughters from her first marriage to Martin LaSalle, who starred in the Robert Bresson film “Pickpocket.” She also did spectacularly well in real estate, selling her five-bedroom Central Park West apartment which had once been Ring Lardner’s, as well as an eight-bedroom home in Water Mill. She has been happily married to Ricardo Rosa for 38 years.

I walked into the office of [editor] Diana Vreeland. I’m standing there and she’s looking at me, and I thought she was gay. ‘Exquisite!’ she says, ‘Marrrvelous!’ “With men, I was lucky. I’ve never been alone for more than two weeks. Every man I ever met came to my house because I was always giving dinners and parties. I’ve always been happy; that was my luck. Not that I didn’t have bad things happen to me. The breakup with the bullfighter still affects me now He was the love of my life, but I’m very self-preservative. I’ve always made my own money — never taken anything from anyone — but I don’t want people biting pieces out of me. You can do anything you want, as long as you’re happy, but don’t take anything away from me. It’s hard enough to keep myself together without that.” She has already written her memoirs and is launching a new venture: a line of sumptuously chic and very versatile wraps under her own name, China. “It’s just something to keep busy. I don’t have a lot of money, but I don’t have to work and have a very nice life— a beautiful Sag Harbor house with a wonderful rose garden right on the water, traveling a lot, marvelous friends.” As for her spectacularly ageless beauty, she again pooh-poohs it: “I thought everybody was crazy to think of me as beautiful! As for facelifts, I haven’t done a thing because a dentist can’t even come near me. I’m already ready to scream from the pain because I’m the biggest coward in the world! I left it all this way and I don’t care. It’s too late now, anyway!”

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June 09 -22, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CHAMBERMAID, from p.43

Jacquot is working in a more permissive environment than Renoir or even the famously kinky Buñuel were. (A scene of Joseph scrubbing his feet seems a nod to Buñuel’s foot fetish.) As a result, his “Diary of a Chambermaid” is the most sexually explicit film version yet. That doesn’t mean it’s particularly erotic, however. Jacquot associates sex with humiliation, even death, and constantly reminds the modern-day spectator of the risks of sex — often forced by men upon women — before reliable contraception. At a border crossing, a proper lady is embarrassed when she’s forced to open a locked contraption; while

she insists that it contains jewelry, it proves to hold a dildo. Célestine’s embrace kills a tubercular man during coitus, with both their faces smeared with blood. It would be easy to turn Célestine into a heroine whom everyone could admire and easily identify with. Jacquot is after something more complicated. To a large extent, she’s defeated by her libido. She has few options, and her situation is mocked by the pastel world in which she moves. Her costumes are studiously pretty, as is the décor of the manor where she toils. Jacquot tracks this world with zooms. “A Single Girl,” which followed a young hotel maid for 90 minutes in real time, is the Jacquot

DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID Directed by Benoit Jacquot Cohen Media Group In French with English subtitles Opens Jun. 10 Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com

film that “Diary of a Chambermaid” most resembles. If “Diary of a Chambermaid” is a disguised portrait of the present, things have gotten much worse in the 20 years between 1995, when “A Single Girl” was made, and now.

ICARUS FILMS

Wang Bing offers little in the way of positive signs about human nature in “‘Til Madness Do Us Part.”

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MADNESS, from p.46

obviously more concerned with intensity than beauty. He uses several very long takes to let difficult situations build. At first, our sympathies are likely to lie entirely with the patients. They seem to have nothing to do but sleep and watch TV. If they ever get to see a psychiatrist, we don’t witness it. They don’t even seem to get access to books. This degradation leads them to treat their surroundings like crap — while there’s a urinal on the tier where they live, we frequently witness men urinating into chamber pots or even letting their bladders loose on the floor. One man acts like he’s just mainlined a mix of heroin and Thorazine after getting a mysterious series of injections. When a man does 20 laps around the tier, he seems to be one of the few patients with the energy for such an endeavor. And he’s also one of the few to call out the otherwise silent Wang. GayCityNews.nyc | June 09 - 22, 2016

A visit between a man and his wife shows the other side of hospital life. He’s rude to her, but that’s just the beginning. When she plays a song she downloaded for him on her iPhone, he keeps shouting, “Turn it off!” He goes so far as slapping her. It’s easy to understand why she would rely on the state’s power to get this man out of her life, even if she also has obvious affection for him. Some of the men in “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” have been institutionalized for decades. It’s not clear if medication has eaten away at their sex drives or if any situational homosexuality takes place. However, there are a couple of patients who like to sleep and cuddle together, and “‘Til Madness Do Us Part” ends on the image of them holding hands. I’m not sure how erotic their relationship is, but their affection — platonic or not — is one of the few positive signs about human nature you’ll find in this film. Resistance can be found in a place even as oppressive as this hospital.

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June 9, 2016

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