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John Laubach’s Killers Get 25 to Life 08

Fighting AIDS on the Cheap 06

Anglicans Slap Episcopalians on Gay Weddings 10

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© GAY CITY NEWS 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

FREE | VOLUME FIFTEEN, ISSUE TWO | JANUARY 21 - FEBRUARY 03, 2016


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January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON

VERMONT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS 2016

2016 “I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign… the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher. The Republican candidates for president have not only hurled hateful, insulting rhetoric about the LGBT community — they’ve made it clear that if elected, they will roll back the rights that so many have fought for.” — Jan. 19, 2016, in a statement where Clinton pledged to fight for the Equality Act, open transgender military service, an end to violence against the trans community, particularly trans women of color, a bar on “conversion therapy” on minors, and the global LGBT rights initiatives she led as secretary of state.

2015 “.@GregAbbott_TX is right about one thing: equality is one of Hillary’s values. Houston — vote #YesOnProp1 today.” — Nov. 3, 2015 tweet regarding referendum on overturning that city’s nondiscrimination ordinance because of its transgender protections. “On Defense of Marriage, I think what my husband believed — and there was certainly evidence to support it — is that there was enough political momentum to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that there had to be some way to stop that.” — Oct. 23, 2015 on MSNBC's “The Rachel Maddow Show.” “Sad this new Indiana law can happen in America today. We shouldn’t discriminate against ppl bc of who they love #LGBT“ — Mar. 26, 2015 tweet about an Indiana law providing unprecedented religious carve-outs from LGBT protections.

2013 “I support marriage for lesbian and gay

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couples.” — Mar. 18, 2013 YouTube video for the Human Rights Campaign.

2011 “I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people — human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity — who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time… Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality.” — Dec. 6, 2011 International Human Rights Day speech to a UN audience in Geneva, Switzerland.

2006 “I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out. From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in civil unions or domestic partnerships, and that is my very considered assessment.” — Oct. 25, 2006 comments to Manhattan LGBT audience.

2000 “I think traditional marriage has been vested with a meaning and an interpretation that has an extraordinary strength within, certainly, our society.” — Oct. 4, 2000, when asked by LGNY, Gay City News’ predecessor, about her comments she supported civil unions because marriage has “historic, religious, and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time.”

1999 “Gays and lesbians already serve with distinction in our nation’s armed forces and should not face discrimination. Fitness to serve should be based on an individual’s conduct, not their sexual orientation.” — Dec. 7, 1999 comments to a Manhattan LGBT fundraiser, contradicting her husband’s policy, as reported by the New York Times.

“We’re taking on not only Wall Street and the economic establishment, we’re taking on the political establishment. So I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund [sic], in Planned Parenthood. But you know what, Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time and some of these groups are part of the establishment.” — Jan. 19, 2016, in reaction to HRC’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

2015 Sander’s website at go.berniesanders.com spells out his LGBT platform: (1) signing the Equality Act and other bills prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination; (2) working to ensure LGBT Americans have access to comprehensive, appropriate health insurance and “do not have to fear discrimination or mistreatment from providers”; (3) continuing “the great work of the State Department’s Special Envoy for LGBT Rights” in striving to protect LGBT rights worldwide; (4) advancing safe schools and anti-bullying policies and working to reduce suicides; (5) requiring police departments “to adopt policies to ensure fairer interactions with transgender people, especially transgender women of color”; (6) barring discrimination against LGBT people by creditors and banks; and (7) vetoing “any legislation that purports to ‘protect’ religious liberty at the expense of others’ rights.” “In many states, it is legal to deny someone housing for being transgender. That is wrong and must end.” — Sep. 28, 2015 tweet amidst the battle over repeal of a Houston anti-discrimination ordinance.

2009 In his first public statement endorsing marriage equality, Sanders supported that state replacing its civil union law with an equal marriage law.

2006 “Not right now, not after what we went through.” — Jun. 6, 2006, during his first US Senate run, when asked if he supported marriage equality six years after Vermont endured a hard-fought battle to enact civil unions under order from that state’s Supreme Court.

1996 Sanders was one of 67 House members and 14 senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.

1980s As mayor of Burlington, Sanders issued a Gay Pride Proclamation in 1983 and later signed a gay rights ordinance.

1972 “Let us abolish all laws which attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or ‘right’ on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with abortion, drugs, sexual behavior (adultery, homosexuality, etc.).” — A letter Sanders published as candidate for governor on the Liberty Union Party line.

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


DONALD J. TRUMP 2015 “I’ve been at gay weddings. I have been against [same-sex marriage] from the standpoint of the Bible, from the standpoint of my teachings as growing up and going to Sunday school and going to church, and I’ve been opposed to it.” — Aug. 26, 2015 to Bloomberg News. “Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.” — Aug. 19, 2015 to the Hollywood Reporter. Asked by the Hollywood Reporter in the same interview about Caitlyn Jenner, Trump responded, “How did that show do? Somebody said it was going badly.” When the newspaper responded that “I Am Cait” started out strong, but fell off in ratings, Trump said, “I’m not surprised at the ratings. I just think it wouldn’t interest you. I knew him a little bit when Bruce was a great athlete. He was one of the best-looking people you’ll ever see.”

2013 “I think I’m evolving, and I think I’m a very fair person, but I have been for traditional marriage. I am for traditional marriage, I am for a marriage between a man and a woman.” — Nov. 9, 2013 to MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts.

well attempt to strike down marriage laws in all 50 states. I have to tell you one thing that I think all of us are called to do between now and then and especially on Tuesday is fall to our knees in prayer.” — Apr. 25, 2015, speaking to the Iowa Faith & Freedom Summit. “I have already introduced a constitutional amendment to preserve the authority of elected state legislatures to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and also legislation stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal assaults on marriage. — Jun. 26, 2015 National Review editorial calling for a requirement that Supreme Court justices win periodic retention elections. “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America. I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally. — Sep.3, 2015 statement in response to the jailing of the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk for contempt of court in refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

2012 “When a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride that’s a statement and it’s not a statement I agree with.” — Feb. 23, 2012, in comments about his Republican Senate primary opponent, Tom Leppert, who previously served as mayor of Dallas.

FLORIDA SENATOR MARCO RUBIO 2016

2011 “I just don’t feel good about it. I don’t feel right about it. And I take a lot of heat because I come from New York,” Mar. 30, 2011, in response to a question about marriage equality from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

2000 “I like the idea of amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. It would be simple… I think the institution of marriage should be between a man and a woman. I do favor a very strong domestic partnership law… If a gay person can be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher or take another position of responsibility, why can’t they serve in the military? — Feb. 15, 2000 interview with the Advocate, as he mulled a presidential run on the Reform Party line

TEXAS SENATOR TED CRUZ 2015 “Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.” — Jun. 26, 2105, on Sean Hannity’s radio show, responding to the Supreme Court’s rulings upholding Obamacare and legalizing marriage equality. “On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that threatens the Court may

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

RightWingWatch. org reports that Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board includes Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, a leading anti-gay litigation group, and the attorney for the Green family, the owners of Hobby Lobby, which won a 2014 Supreme Court ruling allowing certain business to claim religious exemptions from laws they oppose.

2015 “While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law, As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.” — Jun. 26, 2015 in response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. “I don’t believe that gay Americans should be denied services at a restaurant or a hotel or anything of that nature. I also don’t believe, however, that a caterer or a photographer should be punished by the state for refusing to provide services for a gay wedding because of their religious-held beliefs.” — Mar. 2, 2014 on “Meet the Press.”

2013 In late 2013, Rubio signed on as a co-sponsor to Senator Mike Lee’s “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” which ThinkProgress.org described as guaranteeing “that businesses and even government employees can refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage and discriminate against anybody who engages in premarital sex.”

“I respect the rights of states to allow same-sex marriages, even though I disagree with them. But I also expect that the decisions made by states like Florida to define marriage as between one man and one woman will also be respected.” — Jun. 26, 2013 press release on the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act ruling. “I am uncomfortable with a federal constitutional amendment on anything, particularly on that, because it steps on the rights of states to define marriage.” –- Feb. 5 , 2013, when asked by BuzzFeed about an amendment barring same-sex marriage nationwide. But in a 2010 questionnaire from Faith2Action.org, when he first ran for the Senate, he voiced support for such an amendment.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE 2015 “This is something that shouldn’t be decided by a group of lawyers, but should be decided by the people, so I agree with the dissent that Chief Justice Roberts authored t o d a y. ” — J u n . 2 6 , 2015, responding to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. “Religious institutions should be able to decide how they conduct their religious activity. The rest of the folks in the United States need to follow the law.” — Aug. 30, 2015, on “Fox News Sunday,” discussing the issue of religious exemptions to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

2013 “Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law.” — Oct. 21, 2013 statement from the Christie administration announcing it would end any further appeals of a lower court marriage equality ruling. “If my children came to me and said they were gay I would grab them and hug them and tell them I love them. I would also tell them that your dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman.” — Oct. 16, 2013, in a debate during his reelection campaign. “It’s just another example of judicial supremacy rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for. I thought it was a bad decision.” — Jun. 27, 2013, in a debate during his reelection campaign, speaking of the US Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act ruling the day before.

2012 “The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.” — Jan. 24, 2012, in urging gay rights advocates to seek a referendum on marriage equality while vowing to veto a pending marriage bill.

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NEW YORK VALUES, continued on p.21

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HEALTH

Fighting AIDS on the Cheap Cuomo stiffs Plan to End AIDS in 2017 state budget BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he Plan to End AIDS continues to confront money problems as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget for the state’s 2017 fiscal year will spend only $40 million on the plan, an amount that is well below the more than $100 million that advocates had hoped the state would spend in the current fiscal year. On November 30, a day prior to World AIDS Day, Cuomo announced that the state would add another $200 million to the roughly $2.5 billion it spends every year on AIDS. Most of that larger amount is for care for people who are already HIV-positive. While Cuomo “administration sources” were paraphrased in the Daily News saying the $200

million “would represent an 8 percent increase over the $2.5 billion the state already spends annually on such programs,” they did not detail how that cash would be spent. During his January 13 State of the State speech, Cuomo did not mention the plan, which seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections in New York from the current 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020, but the state budget documents released on that day showed that the $200 million will be spent over five years at $40 million a year. AIDS advocates and others expected that the entire $200 million would be spent in the 2017 state fiscal year, which begins on April 1. In a January 13 ad that ran in the Albany Times Union, Housing Works, an AIDS group, wrote, “It is

essential that the Governor's commitment of $200 million per year… be included in the final budget approved by the Legislature.” Charles King, the chief executive of Housing Works, co-chaired the task force that wrote the plan with Guthrie Birkhead, a deputy commissioner in the state health department. King conceived of the plan with Mark Harrington, executive director of the Treatment Action Group, an advocacy organization. In a December 2 editorial, the New York Times wrote that Cuomo “announced a big increase this week in the amount of money New York will spend annually to fight the disease.” Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s chief executive, told The Guardian at a World AIDS Day event that “This new $200 million in funding... will go to life-saving programs, from housing to treatment and prevention, to access to PrEP, which can prevent new infections. New York is well on its way to our collective goal of end-

ing the epidemic by 2020.” The state money for the plan has been a persistent problem. Cuomo first endorsed the plan in June 2014 when he announced successful negotiations with drug companies to buy the anti-HIV drugs that are a core component of the plan at reduced prices. The task force, which Cuomo appointed, completed the plan in late 2014 and hoped for a significant infusion of state dollars in the current state fiscal year’s budget. On a February 2015 appearance on “Capital Tonight,” a program on Albany’s cable news channel, King said that $104 million for the plan in the state budget would be a “dream number” though that amount assumed that other funding sources were in place. Cuomo spent just $10 million on the plan in the 2016 state budget. In a January 14 email, King wrote that the $10 million “has all been obligated not spent.” That amount consists of $2.5 million

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BUDGET, continued on p.7

Comptroller Audit Identifies AIDS Housing Oversight Failings

Stringer joined by de Blasio’s Human Resources Administration chief in presenting findings

GAY CITY NEWS

City Comptroller Scott Stringer (r.), with Marjorie Landa, his deputy comptroller for audit, and Steven Banks, the Human Resources Administration commissioner.

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

A

n audit of the city’s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration (HASA) found that the agency was not effectively monitoring and inspecting its housing contractors and, in the case of 32 vendors, had not even contracted for housing services, but simply signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with them. “[The Human Resources Administration]

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wasn’t able to monitor contract compliance effectively,” said Scott Stringer, the city comptroller, during the January 7 release of the audit. “We uncovered a lot of lax oversight… Without critical input and checks and balances, HRA had no way of knowing if services were being delivered to the right people at the right time.” HASA is the HRA unit that delivers rental assistance, food stamps, transportation assistance, and other benefits to people with AIDS. The agency currently serves roughly 32,000 people with AIDS and another 10,700 of their family members. HASA’s performance has been the subject of complaints from clients and AIDS groups for decades. The audit, which reviewed a sample of housing contracts from July of 2012 through April of 2014, found that HASA had entered into a staggering 170 contracts with 61 vendors who were supplying 5,600 units of permanent and emergency housing. HASA signed 43 MOUs with 32 vendors who did not hold contracts. Those MOUs were never reviewed and approved by the city comptroller’s office, as all city contracts must be. “For many years there had been a practice of having MOUs, but not contracts, and that brought with that a lack of accountability,” said Steven Banks, HRA’s commissioner, at the press conference. “It wasn’t that there were MOUs and contracts, there were only MOUs.”

The audit also found that HASA was not making required inspections of the housing the contractors were providing and that HASA’s systems provided incomplete and sometimes erroneous data on when inspections were made, if they were made at all, and the inspection results were not shared with vendors. In one example of poor recordkeeping, HASA continued to pay the rent for 23 deceased clients during one three-month period. HASA was repeatedly attacked by the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, which saw the agency as little more than another entitlement program. Both mayors tried to reduce HASA services or eliminate the agency entirely. Typically, mayors react poorly to comptroller audits. That Banks was at the press conference while Stringer pointed out how his agency has failed indicates the extent to which the de Blasio administration and Stringer’s goals are more aligned. Banks said his agency had adopted 15 of 17 recommendations made in the audit and had already started on some changes of its own. “Principally, the audit and our own reform efforts show that we needed to consolidate contract management for HASA contracts and other contracts in a newly created part of the agency,” Banks said.

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AUDIT, continued on p.7

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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BUDGET, from p.6

YOU’D BE

GAY CITY NEWS

from the state’s general fund and $7.5 million in savings from Medicaid, the health insurance plan for the poor that is jointly funded by state and federal governments. New York City has committed to one big-ticket item that is a central element of the plan — HASA for All. This city legislation would extend services, such as rental assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid, at the city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to people who are HIV-positive but have not received an AIDS diagnosis. HASA currently serves only people who have such a diagnosis, which is increasingly uncommon as powerful anti-HIV drugs have kept HIV-positive people from progressing to AIDS. Part of the plan envisions identifying many more HIV-positive people and treating them with antiHIV drugs to the point that they are no longer infectious. Stable housing, good nutrition, and health insurance

Asked about the Cuomo administration’s commitment to the city’s HASA For All initiative, Mayor Bill de Blasio responded, “There are still some areas where we need real answers from the governor’s team.”

make it easier for HIV-positive people to stay on their anti-HIV drugs so getting HASA services to poorer HIV-positive clients would reduce new HIV infections. The city and state both fund the HASA budget and they are negotiating the contributions that both would make to the estimated 4,000 to 6,000 HIV-positive people who could qualify for HASA if the legislation is enacted. Adding the new

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BUDGET, continued on p.10

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AUDIT, from p.6

“The larger point here is that with Steve Banks we didn’t have to wait until a crisis happened,” Stringer said. “He inherited one of the largest bureaucracies in the city, and he has implemented a reform agenda.” HASA will now have a master contractor that will oversee all housing contracts there. The city’s health department uses Public Health Solutions as the master contractor for all its HIV prevention contracts and some other HIV contracts funded with federal dollars. That system has worked effectively and has even led to complaints from AIDS groups about the amount of data they have to turn over to the private master contractor. HASA has a role to play in New York’s Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections from the current roughly 3,000 a year in the state to 750 annually by 2020. The plan will use various anti-HIV drug regimens to keep HIV-negative people uninfected and it will get HIV-positive into treatment so they are no longer infectious. AIDS groups have long said that stable housing, nutrition, and transportation services are necessary to keep people on their HIV medication, and some data supports that view.

Since its inception, HASA has only accepted people with an AIDS diagnosis as clients. As powerful antiHIV drugs have gained widespread use, few HIV-positive people have progressed to an AIDS diagnosis. Without HASA assistance, a subset of HIV-positive people who are poor and perhaps homeless can struggle to stay on their medications. On December 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed city legislation titled HASA For All that would allow HIV-positive people without an AIDS diagnosis who qualify financially to access HASA services. AIDS groups have sought that legislation since it was introduced in the City Council in 2007. Since the state contributes to HASA funding, City Hall, AIDS groups, and the Cuomo administration are currently negotiating how the cost of increasing HASA access will be split. The audit and ensuing reforms will help that process, Banks said. “We can be comfortable that the structures will be in place to insure that services are delivered in the way that they should be to clients who need housing,” he said. “The expansion of HASA services in terms of housing, nutrition, transportation is in the state budget process. We’re going to work with all our partners in Albany.”

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

Help is available in your own language.

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CRIME

US Details Child Porn, Drug Evidence Against Chelsea Dentist

Recordings with informant, FBI uncercover, texts, 23 videos part of possession, distribution case against John Wolf BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he federal government appears to have strong evidence implicating John Wolf, a Manhattan dentist, in possessing child pornography and crystal meth, according to documents recently filed in the case. Wolf was recorded in meetings by a confidential informant and an undercover agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation at least 11 times. He also made videotaped statement after he was arrested on November 20, according to a January 5 letter from the Office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York that detailed evidence that was turned over to the defense. The government also has text messages between Wolf and the confidential informant, and one of those occurred in 2014. The contents of the recordings and messages were not disclosed in the January 5 letter.

The government seized smart phones, computers, tablets, and storage devices when his Manhattan home and dental office were searched on November 20, according to the indictment in the case. The defense also received from prosecutors “subpoena returns from Gmail, Manhattan Mini Storage, and Time Warner Cable,” the January 5 letter said. Wolf, who is gay, is charged with two counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, one count of possessing child pornography, and one count of distributing child pornography. He could face as much as 14 to 17-and-a-half years in prison if convicted. The descriptions in court records of just three child pornography videos out of the at least 23 videos Wolf allegedly possessed are horrific. He denied ever having sex with any child after his arrest, and nothing in court records indicates he expressed an interest in having

Dr. John Wolf, a Chelsea dentist, faces up to 17 and a half years on child pornography and drug charges.

sex with children. In court records, he allegedly called the videos “some twisted shit” and “jerk off material.” At his arrest, the government leaked inflammatory allegations to the media charging that Wolf, who is HIV-positive, had engaged in sex with animals, drugged a man and then had condomless sex with him, and

John Laubach’s Killers Get 25 to Life

Edwin Faulkner, Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera get top sentences for felony murder conviction in 2012 Chelsea slaying BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

T

he convicted killers of John Laubach will spend at least 25 years in prison for the 2012 homicide after they were sentenced to a maximum term by Bonnie Wittner, the judge who presided over the trial of the two men. Edwin Faulkner, 33, and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera, 30, were charged with killing the 57-year-old gay man in his Chelsea apartment then robbing the apartment and fleeing to Florida, where they were arrested. Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera were homeless and earned cash as sex workers. Laubach had an ongoing relationship with the gay couple in which he paid them for sex and also allowed them to shower in his home and store clothing and possessions there. The relationship soured after Laubach found that the couple had stolen from him. The prosecution never alleged that Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera intended to kill Laubach

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during the month-long trial. His death came after they bound and gagged him prior to the robbery. It is likely that the gag caused Laubach to choke to death, though the defense asserted that his death was an accident during rough sex. Jurors weighed depraved indifference murder, felony murder, which charged that the gay couple caused Laubach’s death while committing another felony — namely, robbery and kidnapping — and second-degree manslaughter. After deliberating for roughly seven hours, jurors, on October 21, convicted the two on all counts except depraved indifference murder. The maximum penalty for felony murder is 25-to-life, and Wittner gave both men the maximum. She also gave them maximum sentences on all the remaining counts, though all of the sentences will be served at the same time. Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera have been in jail since their 2012 arrests and that time counts toward their prison sentence. “There’s no mitigation at all,” Wittner said on January 20 as she sentenced Faulkner in Man-

punctured holes in condoms that he then used during sex. Wolf, 59, is not facing any charges related to these stories that appear to have been used mostly to generate press coverage. The evidence in the case is appearing early. Following a November 24 bail hearing, Marc Agnifilo, an attorney at Brafman & Associates who is representing Wolf, told reporters that he sought a preliminary hearing in this case. That would prompt the government to more quickly indict Wolf to block the hearing and avoid having some of its witnesses testify. That also meant that discovery in the case moved faster and Agnifilo could see the evidence against his client and perhaps counter some of the government’s more inflammatory allegations. “From my perspective, it’s noise that I have to get rid of,” Agnifilo said in November.

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WOLF, continued on p.9

hattan Supreme Court. “This is one of the most brutal crimes I’ve ever seen.” As she sentenced Martinez-Herrera, Wittner said, “I find that they are equally culpable… He did a horrific crime and he has to pay for that crime.” Prior to Wittner’s sentencing, the prosecution asked for 25-to-life. “We submit that this is a particularly horrific act in the scheme of felony murder,” said Lanita Hobbs, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case with Juan Abreu, also an assistant district attorney. “John Laubach’s death was not an accident, it was more akin to intentional murder.” Daniel Scott, Faulkner’s attorney, asked that his client be sentenced to 15-to-life and Daniel Parker, Martinez-Herrera’s attorney, asserted that his client was less culpable than Faulkner in Laubach’s death and asked that his client receive 20-to-life. The sentencing was a tense event after a group of roughly 15 activists who are asserting that the two men were unjustly convicted repeatedly interrupted the proceedings. As Hobbs was making her remarks, two members of “Free Edwin and Juan Carlos!” called out, “Shame, shame on all of you.” They were thrown out of the courtroom and the remaining collective members were told that if they interrupted, the

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SENTENCE, continued on p.9

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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WOLF, from p.8

He did not respond to calls seeking comment this week and the US Attorney’s Office declined to comment. The confidential informant is a meth dealer who was arrested at JFK Airport in March of 2015 carrying 1,844 grams of methamphetamine. From July 2014 through October 2014, the dealer was purchasing crystal in Los Angeles and reselling it to “approximately ten customers in the New York and Philadelphia areas, including Wolf, for their personal use and further distribution,” according to the criminal complaint that was filed in the case. The dealer began cooperating with the government and recorded Wolf in October and November 2015. It is unknown if the dealer recorded other customers for the government. In the January 5 letter, the government told Agnifilo that it would have an expert in computer forensics testify on “the location of the child pornography on the electronic devices and storage media seized from the premises occupied by the defendant” and a second expert would testify “that the children

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depicted in the child pornography are real minors.” The January 5 letter indicates that Agnifilo and the US Attorney’s Office have already engaged in plea discussions. The letter notes that “no plea offer is effective unless and until made in writing and signed by authorized representatives of the Office.” The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, is also prosecuting the rentboy.com case. That escort website was shuttered last August, and its owner and six employees were arrested for violating the federal Travel Act, a 1961 statute that makes crimes that are typically, though not always, prosecuted by state prosecutors, such as prostitution or gambling, a federal crime when they are committed across state or foreign borders or done by using the mail, telephone, or the Internet. That case prompted protests in four cities and condemnation from some LGBT groups. The seven defendants in that case have yet to be indicted and appear to be engaged in extended plea negotiations with the government.

SENTENCE, from p.8

JEFFERSON SIEGEL

entire group would be removed. The collective members did not attend the trial, but appeared for the first time at a December 7 proceeding, when Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera were originally to be sentenced. They have an account on youcaring.com that has raised $821 for the couple from 32 donors, and that page has been shared on Facebook more than 1,800 times. A second interruption came when Steven Kopf, a longtime friend of Laubach’s, addressed the court. After Kopf called Martinez-Herrera a “whiny little bitch,” another collective member jumped up and said, “Shame on you, you’re disgusting” as he exited the courtroom. The collective members could be identified by the magenta armbands they wore. A third collective member was briefly detained by court officers after he took pictures on a tablet outside the courtroom. He was forced to delete the pictures and then released. Court rules only allow sanctioned photography in the courthouse. A friend of Lau-

Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos MartinezHerrera at their 2012 arraignment.

bach’s took pictures inside the courtroom and she had to delete them as well, though she was not detained. About 10 of Laubach’s friends attended the sentencing and several were openly weeping as Kopf spoke. After praising Laubach for the “love and respect” that he showed for everyone, Kopf made a request of Wittner. “I am asking that they be incarcerated in separate facilities so they never spend another moment together again,” he said.

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

9


RELIGION

Anglicans Slap US Episcopalians over Gay Weddings American Church unrepentant; Canada, Scotland may follow soon

OUT & PROUD DIAMOND GROUP

In Canterbury, England, LGBT African refugees protest the disciplining of the US Episcopal Church by the worldwide Anglican Communion.

BY ANDY HUMM

U

nder pressure from right-wing African archbishops, the Anglican Church, led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, has punished the US Episcopal Church for allowing same-sex marriages and ordaining out gay bishops. Welby’s action, barring US representatives from sitting on key bodies and voting on matters of doctrine at international gatherings of the Anglican Communion for three years, came in response to threats from anti-gay critics in the Church that they would bolt from a January 15 meeting of its worldwide leaders. The vote was 27-3, with six abstentions.

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BUDGET, from p.7

HASA clients is expected to cost $100 million per year. The city will not enact HASA for All without additional state support. “We are still analyzing the budget,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on January 18, referring to the state budget. “There are still some areas where we need real answers from the governor’s team so I’m not ready to comment on that yet. We are quite clear about our commitment to end the epidemic and the investments we will make… We will make substantial investments,

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Welby apologized for the “hurt and pain” the move would cause to LGBT people, but it was the African bishops that he sided with. He said that while the national churches have a great deal of autonomy, they are obligated to adhere to a common doctrine. “If you simply ignore that, there will be consequences,” he said. While the move is not expected to dissuade the US and other liberal national churches from their progay positions, it has sparked outrage from LGBT Anglicans and their supporters even as it has not fully mollified conservatives who make up the bulk of Church’s 85 million members, only 1.2 million of whom are American. Chris Bryant, a prominent out gay Labour member of Parliament,

but we need to see a fair response from the state and we also have to recognize that there are some areas that historically have been the state’s responsibility.” In the meantime, advocates are pressing Albany to make the $40 million become the $200 million they were expecting. “I hope that the governor and his staff will reconsider the allocation to support the Plan to End AIDS,” said Regina Quattrocchi, the chief executive at Bailey House, an AIDS housing group. “We know that it saves cost in the long run in addition to saving people’s lives.”

tweeted, “I’ve finally given up on Anglican church today after its love-empty decision on sexuality. One day it will seem wrong as supporting slavery.” A group of 50 gay protesters — mostly refugees from African countries that have adopted virulent antigay laws — picketed at Canterbury chanting, “African, gay, Christian, and proud — Get over it!” Edwin Sesange, a gay Ugandan and director of the African LGBTI organization Out & Proud Diamond Group, said, “We asked the primates to listen to our voices of suffering. They ignored us and have punished our friends and allies in the US Episcopal Church. The Anglican Communion has turned its back on LGBTI people, defending homophobic discrimination and exclusion. As African people, we feel threatened and menaced by the Anglican Communion.” Peter Tatchell, an organizer of the demonstration, said the exclusion of LGBTI voices from the bishops’ deliberations was “not a Christian response to our appeal for dialogue and inclusion.” A parliamentary petition has been started to remove Anglican bishops from the House of Lords for “being out of step with UK law and indeed common humanity.” Prior to the meeting, more than 100 senior members of the Church of England signed a letter to the archbishops calling for “repentance for accepting and promoting discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.” Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the US Church, said that while he was “disappointed” with the outcome, “it may be part of our vocation to help the Communion and to help many others to grow in a direction where we can realize and live the love that God has for all of us, and we can one day be a Church and a Communion where all of God’s children are fully welcomed.” Andrew M.L. Dietsche, the bishop of New York, wrote to his members, “Our communion is intact” and that “this vote will not impair or diminish the commitment of the Diocese of New York to continue our own mission relationships” around the world. He said that LGBT members should not fear that the Anglican

rebuke “will ever cause for this bishop or diocese a scrap of regret for the decisions made here to provide for all people, particularly for gay and lesbian people, the fullest possible inclusion in our common life and full access to the sacramental life of the church, notably the sacraments of marriage and ordination.” The Canadian and Scottish Anglican Churches are poised to open marriage to same-sex couples in multi-year processes, and there was no sign that they would be deterred now. Welby was kicking the can down the road with this move, hoping against hope that the US Church will reconsider during its time sitting in the corner. He has delayed the worldwide decennial Lambeth Conference that was set for 2018 to 2020. US Episcopalians are hoping that the rest of the Church will open its eyes to the dignity of gay people by then. Integrity USA, the LGBT Episcopalian group, cited Jesus in a statement: “It was clear that He abhorred relationships that were based on coercion, abuse, or exploitation. Unfortunately, we see glimpses of such in the statement of the Primates and the actions proposed.” Father Glenn Chalmers, out gay rector of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in Chelsea, home to both the largest soup kitchen in the city and the LGBT synagogue Congregation Beit Simchat Torah that meets there Fridays, said he was “greatly disappointed” by the “slap” at his church and the negative message it sends, but “not surprised.” He expects the US Church to hold firm in its full embrace of gay people. “We’re not centralized like Rome,” he said. “We continue to keep our doors open to all,” he said and estimates that more than half the congregation, which is growing, is LGBT. Reverend Ellen Barrett, the first out lesbian priest in the denomination, was ordained there in 1977 by Bishop Paul Moore, causing an earlier uproar. Robert Galloway, a gay Episcopalian at New York’s Church of the Incarnation, wrote in an email, “Actually, the controversy only renews my dedication to a church that is risking so much on behalf of its GLBTI members.” He hopes the other national churches “will learn from the Episcopal Church to hear and cherish the witness of their own GLBTI members.”

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


MARRIAGE

Appeals Court: Wedding Venue Illegally Excluded Lesbian Couple Upstate farm can’t claim it’s not a public accommodation or its First Amendment rights trump anti-bias law BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

Zumba class gives Rosemary a chance to catch her breath.

A

Invest in yourself. Find free exercise classes in your neighborhood at nyc.gov/parks. LIBERTYRIDGEFARMNY.COM

unanimous five-judge appeals panel has upheld a decision by the State Division of Human Rights (SDHR) that Liberty Ridge Farm LLC, an upstate business that rents facilities for wedding ceremonies, violated the state’s Human Rights Law in 2012 when it turned away a lesbian couple looking for a place to hold their wedding ceremony and reception. Justice Karen K. Peters wrote the January 14 opinion for the New York Appellate Division, Third Department, an Albany-based intermediate level court that hears appeals from state agency rulings. Liberty Ridge Farm is a Rensselaer County working farm owned by Cynthia and Robert Gifford, a married couple who regularly rent out parts of the premises to the public for use as a wedding venue. According to Justice Peters’ opinion, when providing a wedding venue, Liberty Ridge offers a variety of services, involving decorations, transportation, beverages, and hiring of a caterer, and Cynthia Gifford acts as “event coordinator.” Melisa McCarthy and Jennifer McCarthy became engaged in October 2011 and the following fall Melissa phoned Cynthia Gifford to ask about holding the couple’s wedding at Liberty Ridge. When Gifford realized from Melisa’s use of a female pronoun in referring to her fiancé that she was engaged to a woman, she immediately said that there was a “problem” because the farm did “not hold same-sex marriages.” Asked why, she explained, “It’s a decision that my husband and I have made that that’s not what we wanted to have on the farm.” The McCarthys followed up by filing a discrimination complaint with the SDHR against the Giffords and their corporation, and found a different venue for their wedding. New York Human Rights Law

SHAPE UP is a reward at the end of the day—it’s about committing to me.

A unanimous five-judge appeals panel in Albany ruled that Liberty Ridge Farm may not discriminate against same-sex couples in providing a wedding venue and services.

provides that places of public accommodation not discriminate in providing services based on sexual orientation. The Giffords responded by saying they did not believe their operation was a “public accommodation” subject to the law and that, in any event, they were not discriminating based on sexual orientation, but rather exercising their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, association, and religious exercise. They do not inquire into the sexual orientation of potential customers, they insisted. After a public hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled that Liberty Ridge was a place of public accommodation and that the denial of the facility to a same-sex couple for use as a wedding venue violated the statute. That judge recommended that each of the McCarthys receive $1,500 to compensate for the emotional distress they suffered and that the Giffords pay a $10,000 fine to the agency. The ALJ also recommended that the petitioners be directed to “cease and desist” from violating the statute and establish anti-discrimination training and procedures at their business. The state human rights commissioner accepted the ALJ’s recommendations with

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

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REMEMBRANCE

Judge Judith Kaye, Champion of Lesbian & Gay Rights, Dies at 77

Her dissent in case blocking marriage equality in New York State most famous among many forceful opinions

SKADDEN.COM

Judge Judith Kaye, the first woman to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals, its first woman chief judge, and that bench’s longest-serving member and chief.

BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

W

hen retired Chief Judge Judith Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals died on January 7 at the age of 77, most accounts of her passing mentioned her dissenting opinion in Hernandez v. Robles, the 2006 case in which the state’s highest court voted against the claim that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, as one of her most notable opinions. Her opinion, in the 4-2 case, however, was merely the capstone of a long career on the court during which she often spoke out eloquently in cases important for the rights of gay people as well as those affected by the AIDS epidemic. Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Kaye to the court early in his first term in 1983, and then elevated her to the position of chief judge in 1993, a post she held until she reached the state constitutional age limit of 70 in late 2008. As of her retirement, she was the longest-serving judge in the Court of Appeals’ history, as well as the longest serving chief judge. Kaye was also the first woman to sit on the state’s highest bench and the first to serve as its chief judge. At the time of her appointment, Kaye had no judicial experience, having worked as a corporate and litigation lawyer in private practice for most of her career, so Cuomo naming her stirred some controversy. She soon, however, assumed a leading role on the court, especially as a defender of civil rights and minority rights. She joined the majority of the court in 1989 in a historic ruling, Braschi v. Stahl Associates Company, which for the first time in American law recognized cohabiting same-sex couples as

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members of each other’s family — in this case, for purposes of the state’s Rent Control Law, thus protecting the right of a surviving same-sex partner to take over a lease if their apartment was rented in the name of a deceased partner. Following up on this important ruling, Kaye wrote the court’s 1993 opinion in Rent Stabilization Association of New York v. Higgins, which upheld the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s regulations that extended the Braschi ruling to the far larger rent stabilization system. DHCR had specifically noted the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the housing security of gay men as a justification for the regulation. Kaye rejected the plaintiff’s argument that extending protection to non-traditional families through an administrative regulation was an impermissible legislative act by the agency, and she also rejected the argument that extending this protection had unconstitutionally deprived the owners of property rights. In 1991, Kaye penned an important dissenting opinion in the case of Alison D. v. Virginia M., when the court ruled that a lesbian co-parent of a child was a “legal stranger” who could not seek court-ordered visitation rights after separating from the child’s birth mother. The court rested its ruling on the formal language of New York’s antiquated Domestic Relations Law, which even today adheres to a vision of families that fails to reflect reality. Kaye criticized the court for exalting legal formality above a central purpose of family law — protecting the best interests of children. “The majority’s retreat from the courts’ proper role — its tightening of rules that should in visitation petitions, above all, retain the capacity to take the children’s interests into account — compels this dissent,” she wrote. The judge argued that a provision of the law requiring the court to take the best interest of children into account should take priority, and that the formal legal definition of a parent should not stand in the way in situations where a person had been an actual parent to a child in a relationship that had been fostered and encouraged by the child’s legal parent. On the same date as the Alison D. ruling, Kaye joined the majority in an important ruling upholding a determination by the state’s Public Health Council not to list HIV infection as a condition requiring mandatory testing and contact tracing. The Council was concerned that such a listing would prevent infected persons from cooperating with public health officials and impose a barrier to addressing the HIV epidemic. The New York State Society of Surgeons had challenged this decision, but the court held that the Council’s ruling had a rational basis that should not be second-guessed by the court. In a sharply-divided 4-3 ruling in Matter of

Jacob, a 1995 case, Kaye wrote for the majority, creatively interpreting the state’s antiquated adoption statute to allow for second-parent adoptions — a critically important ruling in mitigating the unfortunate impact of the Alison D. ruling. Since the Court of Appeals considered same-sex coparents to be “legal strangers,” the only way they could protect the relationship with their children would be if they could adopt them, with the permission of their partner. Literally interpreted, the adoption statute would require that the child’s birth parent to relinquish her parental rights upon adoption by a person to whom she was not married. But Kaye found that this would violate the statute’s overall purpose — the child’s best interest. “This policy would certainly be advanced in situations like those presented here by allowing the two adults who actually function as a child’s parents to become the child’s legal parents,” she wrote. After listing all the practical reasons why allowing a second-parent adoption would make sense, Kaye cut to the heart of the matter.  “Even more important,” she wrote, “is the emotional security of knowing that in the event of the biological parent’s death or disability, the other parent will have presumptive custody, and the children’s relationship with their parents, siblings, and other relatives will continue should the coparents separate. Indeed, viewed from the children’s perspective, permitting the adoptions allows the children to achieve a measure of permanency with both parent figures and voids the sort of disruptive visitation battle we faced in Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M.” A year later, Judge Kaye provided the crucial vote in a 4-3 decision holding that a dentist’s office is a place of public accommodation, so a dentist would be in violation of the Human Rights Law for refusing treatment to patients the dentist knew or suspected to have HIV infection. In 2001, Judge Kaye joined with the majority in Levin v. Yeshiva University, ruling that the trial court had wrongly dismissed a sexual orientation discrimination complaint under the New York City Human Rights Law brought against Yeshiva’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine for refusing to allow two lesbian medical students to live with their same-sex partners in married student housing. The case arose before the State Legislature had added sexual orientation to the state’s Human Rights Law, and a majority of the court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the College had violated the state law’s ban on marital status discrimination. The court, however, accepted the argument that because the state did not let same-sex couples marry, it was

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REMEMBRANCE, continued on p.17

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


REMEMBRANCE

Rick Shur, aka Rick X of “The Closet Case Show,” Dead at 62 New York gay chronicler, safe sex activist, and gadfly in the age of AIDS was an early cable TV phenom BY ADAM ROSENBERG

R

FACEBOOK.COM

ick Shur, better known by his voice-only video persona Rick X, creator and host of cable TV’s “The Closet Case Show” and one of the AIDS activism era’s most incisive chroniclers, has died at the age of 62. Launched in 1984 on the Gay Cable Network and telecast on Manhattan Cable T elevision, “The Closet Case Show” quickly expanded from chronicling general interest gay public affairs issues in New York — focused particularly on AIDS activism — to creative edu-rotic safer sex fantasy and advocacy. A former professional child actor, Rick mixed witty, sardonic (seductive to many) voice-over with erotic fantasy, exploring the homoerotic in everyday life, using ordinary found images of masculine bodies and beauty. Gender and sexual subcontexts hidden in mainstream culture inspired sociopolitical/ erotic satires on “The Closet Case Show.” Rick’s seduction of his audience went further when he accepted a fan’s offer to appear on the show. Rick improvised a droll, sexy-satirical voiceover persona to seduce the fan, dubbed Cowboy Bob, into exhibitionistic on-screen role-play. Forever after, Rick had a waiting list of fans eager to appear (wearing a bandana, to preserve anonymity) on the show to be verbally inveigled into erotic scenarios by Rick’s off-screen persona. The New York Native described him as a kind of late night, Cable TV gay Svengali, calling him Rick X. Growing fame won Rick invitations to gay clubs and events, where to his genre mix, he now added video interviews with publicity-hungry LGBT personages of all types, from strippers and entertainers to leading cultural and political figures. “The Closet Case Show” became a coveted media venue for gay entertainers of the day, including porn stars Dane Ford, Joey Stefano, Jeff Stryker, Chris Burns, and Joe Simmons

Rick Shur and Adam Rosenberg in the late 1980s.

and club celebrities including Michael Alig, Keoki, RuPaul, the Lady Bunny, and Larry Tee. A sharp and astute interviewer, Rick developed a reputation for charming subjects into revealing more than they’d planned while wittily crystallizing issues. Seeing himself as a contemporary Socrates, gadfly to the powerful, Rick revealed homophobia, lies, self-interest, and hypocrisy. Rick’s most notorious revelation was the outing of David Geffen, one of Hollywood's most power ful moguls. At a 1990 dinner promoting Chip Duckett’s latest club, leading go-go boy/ escort Joey Stefano, asked by Rick who was his most famous client, revealed to a rapt table of journalists, including Michael Musto of the Village Voice and Jess Cagle of US and People magazines, how he and Geffen had played with butt plugs. Realizing the corporate lawyers of those major media outlets would stifle this outing, Rick aired the interview, creating the media brouhaha, a story that those outlets, followed by the rest of the national media, could cover. Geffen officially came out shortly thereafter. Four years later, Stefano was dead of an overdose under what some considered suspicious circumstances, leaving Rick with permanent misgivings about the episode. (The Stefano interview and other Closet Case Show segments are, as of this writing, still available on the Closet Case Show site, RickX.com).

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

At a time when safer sex education was a matter of life and death, via constant, sardonic on-screen shaming, Rick forced T ime War ner Cable to end its homophobic, puritanical censorship of frank sexual discussion and imagery, including erections, masturbation, and fellatio with a condom. Time Warner retaliated in 1994 when it relegated Rick from midnight to 2 a.m., losing him so much of his audience that Rick finally ended the show. WBAI’s “Gay Show” became Rick’s next media forum. As a prominent, independent public voice on gay rights and culture, Rick was invited to be a panelist on the show from 1991 through the show’s merger into OUT.fm in 1997. It was at this time that Rick X of “The Closet Case Show” officially came out by publicly signing a full page ad in the New York Times in support of an employment nondiscrimination law, pointing out that the signers could lose their jobs simply for publicly identifying themselves as gay. Born in 1953 to an insurance industry executive and raised in posh Port Washington, Long Island, by age six Rick composed short stories and poetry, wrote and directed his second grade Christmas play, in which he starred as Santa, and worked as a professional child actor while excelling in school politics. In high school, Rick developed a passion

for Spanish, spending his senior year as an exchange student in Coatepec, Mexico. Forever after, Rick longed to return to a Mexican Gulf Coast idyll. It was during the tumultuous student uprisings at Columbia in the 1970s that Rick became a campus gay political leader, both as a student and alumnus. As 1972 Freshman Class president, Rick’s political awareness was catalyzed by campus anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. Simultaneously, amid passionate musical theater friendships, he came out and became a leader of Columbia’s Student Homophile League, the first gay university organization. After a period of organizational disarray and lassitude, in 1982, as an alumnus mentor, Rick educated and inspired a new generation of gay student leadership, dramatically revitalizing and expanding LGBT activities, programming, and services at Columbia. After graduation, the vicissitudes of the acting business inspired Rick to earn a master’s degree in education at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He became an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at LaGuardia Community College in 1979, where he continued to teach throughout his career, with stints at Queens and C.W. Post Colleges. In recent years, after a debilitating fall and in declining health, Rick focused on teaching his students, on his beloved cats Dave and Michelle, as well as on the wildlife residing at Columbia’s campus. Frequently found sunning himself along with the birds and squirrels, Rick found simple joy and companionship with animals free from many human hang-ups, vices, and foibles, feeding them, observing them, and loving them, a kind of St. Francis Birdman of Columbia. Rick was last seen out for a Christmas Eve of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and Chinese food, where his wit and charm still

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MORSELS:

I

BY DONNA MINKOWITZ

CHOMPCHOMPNYCTEST.SQUARESPACE.COM

wanted so badly to like Chomp Chomp, Simpson Wo n g ’ s n e w r e s t a u r a n t on Cornelia Street. First there was the name, which you could either love or hate. After a little while, I loved it. It was fun to talk about: “Where are we going tonight?” “We’re going to Chomp Chomp!” Chomp Chomp is named after a popular food hall in Singapore, and it purports to have the same cuisine: “Singaporean hawker food,” as the menu says. Ultracheap, and variously salty, sweet, fatty, and smoky, this cuisine is currently one of the hippest in the fervid American foodie imagination. One of the main reasons is Anthony Bourdain, for whom I also have mingled feelings of affection and loathing. Bourdain, who joked on TV about “beating a prostitute to death,” has popularized the cuisine in at least three different episodes of three of his different food shows, and is getting ready to open a huge Singapore-style hawker center on Pier 57 in the meatpacking district in 2017. The people of Singapore live under an authoritarian government that censors art, especially queer art, and prescribes two years in jail for gay male sex, but a large minority gets to eat well. At hawker centers, where succulent tidbits cost only $2-3, middle-class and wealthy Singaporeans come to chomp gazillions of passionate meals a week. By all accounts, it’s lip-smacking stuff. Mixing the cuisines of Singapore’s diverse ethnic strands — Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, and even European — these food palaces serve up a roast duck here, a dish of chicken wings with shrimp paste there, a bowl of silky rice porridge fish and bean curd somewhere else, and it’s easy to see why people would enjoy going from stall to stall to eat this food. Most of the dishes are traditional to Singapore, Malaysia, and India. Although some say the quality of the meals has been threatened by the high rents the government has begun charging vendors in the hawker centers it

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Singaporean for Mugs

Simpson Wong, owner and executive chef at Chomp, Chomp, on Cornelia Street in the West Village.

Simpson Wong strikes out with Cornelia Street’s Chomp Chomp forced them to join decades ago, Singaporeans who can afford the grazefests love them. This is the model to which Wong is paying homage in the West Village. Yet his own Chomp Chomp isn’t a hawker center, but a fairly expensive restaurant where dinner for two with drinks will easily set you back a hundred bucks. But I was hopeful about Wong’s take on it because the chef’s three previous eateries have been highly regarded by critics. Here’s the sad news: just like at Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s own chomp-chomp food fest, most of the dainties here aren’t worth it. There is some good news: pasembur, a small Malaysian salad of cucumber, mango, shrimp fritters, tofu, egg, and cuttlefish sambal ($7.50), had an extraordinary overall flavor that was completely new to me. I kept wanting more of its addictive vegetal, buttery, sweetish, salty taste, like let-

tuce that had somehow become enthralling. And Arab-Indian murtabak, a roti filled with minced beef (you can also get it filled with vegetables, both $9) was warm, fragrant with spice, and fatty. Karen and I loved it. I enjoyed some of my nasi lemak, which is one of my favorite Malaysian dishes: a mix of different bites surrounding coconut rice (here, chicken curry, lamb rendang, anchovies, peanuts, hard-boiled egg, and sambal, $14). The meat of the lamb was glistening and fresh, and it came in an utterly satisfying red-brown sauce with subtle and complex spicing. I wished there were more of it on the plate. The coconut rice and its accompaniments were nice but unthrilling, and the chicken curry didn’t taste like much. Something more grievous was at work in the “cereal prawns” ($9), which is actually a traditional dish in Singapore even though

it sounds like something Christina Tosi from Milk Bar came up with on acid. I love shrimp with their heads on, and these were covered in a breading made of breakfast cereal and curry leaves: it sounded great to me. When I bit in, I couldn’t taste the cereal at all, but the shrimp body tasted okay if dull. The head, however, was unspeakably nasty, like eating medical waste. I figured I’d just got a rotten shrimp and tried another head — medical waste, again. Karen tried some, too, and each head tasted spoiled. (Shrimp connoisseurs say the heads go bad much quicker than the bodies.) Credit where credit is due: Wong gets his shrimp wild and local, and though rotten, these were not among the large percentage of shrimp in American restaurants and supermarkets that is farmed by slaves in Thailand. (In case you haven’t heard, two recent in-depth reports by the AP and the Guardian found that most of our shrimp, including some in Whole Foods and Costco, is processed by Burmese and Cambodian slaves in Thailand leading lives of utter misery.) In a telephone interview, Wong said that his shrimp paste doesn’t come from Thailand, either, but Malaysia, where he himself hails from. So yay for ethics at Chomp Chomp, but profound demerits for flavor. On another visit, I smelled the seductive scent of fish sauce coming from either side of us as we sat down, and immediately wanted to order what our neighbors were having: char kway teow, a beloved Singaporean dish of wok-fried rice noodles ($14) “with clams and shrimp,” the menu said. Alas, we could not detect a single clam or shrimp in the dish, or even (once it was in front of us) the smell or taste of fish sauce, much less the soy sauce and chili the dish is traditionally made with. It tasted like a well-fried plate of Chinese noodles, but bland and completely innocent of funk, spice, aromatics, condiments, or proteins. Lobak, a Malaysian festive appetizer -roll made here with chick-

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January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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CHOMP CHOMP, from p.14

CHOMPCHOMPNYCTEST.SQUARESPACE.COM

en (“five spice chicken and taro root wrapped in tofu skin,” as the menu describes it, $8.50), was puzzling and rather frustrating. The homemade chili plum sauce it came with was on fire and delicious, but the pieces of chicken roll themselves were perfectly mushy and tasteless (where was that five spice?). On our second visit, the restaurant was hopping, because the New York Times critic Pete Wells had that very evening put Chomp Chomp’s oyster omelette ($12) on his list of the best dishes of 2015. But Wells seems to have had a very different omelette than the one I did. His was “doused with chili vinegar sauce” as the menu promised, but I couldn’t detect any in mine. The only spice I discovered was off to the side, a small mound of grated garlic. But as for the omelette itself, it was impossible to tell the oysters and the eggs apart either visually, texturally, or by taste. The whole thing tasted like a single plate of frilly plain omelette, vaguely interesting but simply not that oomphy. Apart from the pasembur, the only dish at Chomp Chomp I’d be passionate to try again was the asam fish ($15), hake in a sour, homey, complex, and spicy sauce made with tamarind, lemongrass, shrimp paste, and chili. Since it was the only main-course protein I’d gotten so far, I figured maybe Wong

and his cooks made a practice of shooting their wad on the entrées, and ignoring noodles and appetizers. I determined to order the main-course size lamb rendang ($17), since I’d adored it in the nasi lemak. But as an entrée, the lamb was overly salty and had lost its balance of spices. It badly needed more spice, period. I got bored halfway through. On the side, though, were deep-fried “herb croquettes” that took me back to the time I lived in Coney Island as a 12-year-old. Coming home from school, there was the smell of wonderfully unhealthy, deep-fried goodness, of oil used many more times than it should be, from the various dirty stands across from the subway. These croquettes (mostly breading and potato, with a little bit of herb) made me wish I was back at Nathan’s and the other vendors in the Coney Island of 1976. They were delightful. The atmosphere at Chomp Chomp is lovely, too, with antique wooden Chinese doors over the walls, framing the low-lit room. It’s full of happy people expecting something exciting, indulgent, made just for them, special bits of stuff that will electrify them. Some of them (the customers from Singapore or Malaysia) are also expecting something nostalgic, wonderful, that they can’t get anywhere else in the city. Unfortunately, as with so much yuppie eating, this emperor has no clothes. If you want Singaporean and Malaysian food, go to the much cheaper Laut on East 17th Street.

Chomp Chomp's Popiah, Singaporean summer rolls with shrimp, jicama, and snow peas.

Chomp Chomp, 7 Cor nelia Street near West Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue (chompchompnyctest.squarespace.com; 212-929-2888) is open Sunday through Thursday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m. The restaurant is wheelchair accessible. Though the restroom can fit a wheelchair, users might have difficulty squeezing wheelchairs through a narrow space between the bar and the kitchen that leads there.

+ PRESENT

Saturday, February 27th from 10am–3pm

25 Pine Street in FiDi All offerings are FREE and open to the public

Plan your summer in one day! Camp activity trials and registration all under one roof Enjoy free performances, demonstrations, family adventures and summer-themed foods as you learn more about the very best local Day and Overnight Camp options for 2016. Registration is required for drop off and drop in activities. RSVP is appreciated for family Plan & Play day attendance.

Register and RSVP at GreenIvy.com/Events GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

Battery Park Montessori Summer Camp Sampler drop off available from 10-12 and 1-3 for children 2.5-6 years old.

Pixel Academy Minecraft Club drop in to the Pine Street School Design Technology Lab available from 10-3 for kids 6-14 years old.

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MARRIAGE

Lesbian Widow’s Claim for Pension Helped Twice by Retroactive Findings In FedEx case, US, California judges side with couple married without license pre-DOMA, Prop 8 SCOTUS rulings BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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S District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ruled on January 4 that the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could be applied retroactively to allow Stacey Schuett, a lesbian widow, to sue her late spouse’s employer for a survivor annuity. The facts in this complex case are spelled out in the allegations contained in Schuett’s complaint, as summarized by Hamilton. Schuett lived together in a committed relationship for 27 years with Lesly Taboada-Hall, who died of cancer on June 20, 2013, just a week before the Supreme Court’s momentous June 26 decisions that let stand a lower court ruling that struck down California’s Proposition 8 and threw out the federal Defense of Marriage Act’s bar on federal recognition of legal samesex marriages. Taboada-Hall had long been employed by Federal Express and was a fully-vested participant in its pension plan. Under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the plan was required to provide the surviving spouse of an employee with a vested pension who dies before retiring a “qualified joint and survivor annuity” for the rest of their life. The FedEx plan used the federal definition of spouse, directly referring to Section 3 of DOMA, which defined a spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife” — the definition the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in its June 26, 2013 ruling. Taboada-Hall was diagnosed with cancer in February 2010, and as her condition worsened she took a medical leave of absence in late 2012. In February 2013, recognizing she would not be able to resume working, she contacted a FedEx human resources representative about her pension and other employee benefits since she was eligible for early retirement under the pension plan’s terms. The representative advised her not to retire, since she could continue on medi-

Stacey Schuett and Lesly Taboada-Hall, with their children.

Since the high court awarded DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor a refund of the taxes on the estate of her late spouse, Thea Spyer, it intended the ruling to be retroactive.

cal leave and keep her health coverage under the company’s plan. The representative also advised her to name Schuett as her sole beneficiary. When Taboada-Hall asked whether Schuett would get the “defined pension benefit” if she died before retiring, the representative said he did not know the answer to that and suggested she “ask someone else.” When a doctor advised Taboada-Hall in early June 2013 that she did not have long to live, the couple once again looked through the FedEx benefits package and noticed that the plan defined “spouse” with reference to DOMA. After several conversations with company human resources personnel, they were told Schuett would not receive a surviving spouse benefit because only opposite-sex partners were recognized under the plan. They women then quickly arranged with a Sonoma County Supervisor to come to their home and perform a civil marriage ceremony, even though they could not

get a marriage license because Prop 8 was still in effect. The ceremony, witnessed by friends and family members, took place on June 19, and the next day Taboada-Hall died, six days before Prop 8 and DOMA were declared unconstitutional. On August 6, Schuett went into Sonoma County Superior Court, filing a petition contending that her June 19 marriage to Taboada-Hall should be retroactively validated. That court agreed, ruling that the marriage was valid as of the date it took place, which meant that Schuett was a sur viving widow when Taboada-Hall died on June 20 and so should be entitled to be treated as a surviving spouse by FedEx. FedEx, however, turned her down for the benefit, arguing that eligibility depended on the terms of the written plan, which was limited to surviving different-sex spouses. In Schuett’s federal lawsuit against FedEx, Judge Hamilton agreed with the company that it had not violated the written terms of its plan nor had the plan admin-

istrators violated their fiduciary responsibility. However, the judge noted, “ERISA requires a fiduciary to follow plan documents insofar as such documents are consistent with Title I of ERISA,” which requires defined benefit plans to provide a survivor annuity to all married participants who are vested and die before their retirement. Hamilton found that for pur poses of qualifying under the terms of ERISA, Taboada-Hall and Schuett were married at the time of T aboada-Hall’s death and Schuett qualified as her late spouse’s survivor. Since the high court awarded DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor a refund of the taxes on the estate of her late spouse, Thea Spyer, it intended the ruling to be retroactive. And, since the Sonoma County court made the couple’s marriage retroactive to the date it occurred, Schuett was Taboada-Hall’s spouse under California law as of June 19 and therefore their marriage qualified on the day it took place for federal recognition. “The court finds that plaintiff has adequately alleged that FedEx has violated Title I of ERISA by acting contrary to applicable federal law and failing to provide plaintiff with a benefit mandated by ERISA, and that she is entitled to pursue equitable relief to remedy that violation,” Hamilton concluded. Schuett is represented by Amy Whelan, Christopher Francis Stoll, and Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, Julie Wilensky of the Civil Rights Education & Enforcement Center in Berkeley, Nina Rachel Wasow, an attorney with Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow in Oakland, and Tate A. Birnie in Sebastopol. FedEx used in-house counsel to litigate its motion to dismiss Schuett’s case, but would probably retain outside counsel if it seeks to appeal this ruling to the Ninth Circuit. Since the FedEx plan administrators are under a fiduciary duty not to pay out any benefits not required by the plan or by law, they might conclude, pragmatism aside, that they have to appeal.

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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REMEMBRANCE, from p.12

discriminatory on grounds of sexual orientation covered by New York City law to refuse an important benefit to same-sex couples. Kaye would have gone farther than the court. In a partial dissent, she argued that the marital status complaint should not be dismissed either, finding that the court’s earlier recognition in Braschi that samesex partners could constitute a family should be taken into account. “At the very least,” she wrote, “it is a question of fact whether plaintiffs’ life partners qualify as members of their ‘immediate families.’ If they do, the State and City Human Rights Laws prohibit [the medical school] from denying them partner housing merely because they are unmarried. Since discovery and fact finding on this issue are necessary, the lower courts improvidently granted [the school’s] motion to dismiss.” Kaye pointed out that prior cases interpreted the “marital status” provision in the state law to ban discrimination against somebody because they are “single, married, divorced, separated, or the like.” In this case, she said, the plaintiffs were alleging that they suffered discrimination because they were not married, an obvious violation of the ban on marital status discrimination. Finally, of course, there is Kaye’s dissent in Hernandez, in which she argued on behalf of herself and Judge Carmen Ciparick that same-sex couples did have a right

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to marry. “This State has a proud tradition of affording equal rights to all New Yorkers,” she wrote. “Sadly, the Court today retreats from that proud tradition.” After noting the long list of federal and state cases holding that “marriage is a fundamental constitutional right,” she wrote that “fundamental rights, once recognized, cannot be denied to particular groups on the ground that these groups have historically been denied those rights. Indeed, in recasting plaintiffs’ invocation of their fundamental right to marry as a request for recognition of a ‘new’ right to same-sex marriage, the Court misapprehends the nature of the liberty interest at stake.” She pointed to the US Supreme Court’s then-recent 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down a state sodomy law and overruling Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 decision upholding Georgia’s sodomy law. In Lawrence, the nation’s high court criticized the Bowers decision as failing to apprehend the nature of the liberty interest at stake. “The same failure is evident here,” wrote Kaye. “An asserted liberty interest is not to be characterized so narrowly as to make inevitable the conclusion that the claimed right could not be fundamental because historically it has been denied to those who now seek to exercise it.” “Simply put,” she asserted, “fundamental rights are fundamental

RICK X, from p.13

A memorial gathering celebrating Rick’s life will be held at LaGuardia Community College on January 25 at 4 p.m. An outpouring of grief and remembrances

FACEBOOK.COM

glimmered, fadingly, imagining a musical fan fiction exploring the gay desires among Poe, Finn, and Kylo Ren. Rick was found in his apartment by the NYPD on January 6, dead of natural causes, primarily advanced heart disease. Rick is survived by his father, Walter, of North Carolina, his Uncle Gerald and Aunt Miriam Shur of Pennsylvania, and brothers Jim of Spain and Bob of California. His cats Dave and Michelle have a new, loving home with a neighbor.

rights. They are not defined in terms of who is entitled to exercise them.” Continuing, she wrote, “The long duration of a constitutional wrong cannot justify its perpetuation, no matter how strongly tradition or public sentiment might support it.” Kaye contended that “homosexuals meet the constitutional definition of a suspect class” for purposes of equal protection rights, which would mean that “any classification discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling state interest.” She also pointed out that the same-sex marriage ban discriminated on the basis of sex, which would require the court to apply “heightened scrutiny,” under which the policy would be struck down unless it was “substantially related to the achievement of important governmental objectives.” She concluded that the ban could not survive either test — or even the more lenient “rational basis test” that would otherwise apply. And Kaye rejected the court’s conclusion that the issue should be left up to the Legislature, stating that

“this Court cannot avoid its obligation to remedy constitutional violations in the hope that the Legislature might some day render the question presented academic.” She concluded, “I am confident that future generations will look back on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep.” Kaye’s confidence was vindicated over the past several years as scores of courts, many of them citing her dissenting opinion, declared state bans on same-sex marriage elsewhere unconstitutional, culminating in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling on June 26, 2015. After New York’s Legislature enacted marriage equality in 2011, Kaye happily performed same-sex marriage ceremonies. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the lead attorney in US v. Windsor, the case that struck down the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriages in 2013, was Roberta Kaplan, a former law clerk for Kaye whose book about the case describes the important role the judge played for her as a mentor. Kaye had several out gay and lesbian clerks, some of whom have themselves become judges.

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Rick Shur in his role as St. Francis Birdman of Columbia University.

of Rick’s life has begun on Rick’s Facebook page. Efforts are underway to preserve the Rick X “Closet Case Show” video collection. Further announcements will be made via Rick’s Facebook page at facebook.com/rick.shur.9.

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

Lawrence Ubell

1860 Bath Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11214

Matthew Barnett

800-640-8285 accuratebuilding.com roxy@accuratebuilding.com 17


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FOUNDING MEMBER

Dealing with Cologne, Or Everything Trumps Gender BY KELLY COGSWELL

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y friend Al used to say that men were pigs and dirty dogs, explaining, “I should know. I am one.” I wouldn’t dare say it myself, because somebody might call me a fucking dyke, or even a bigot. But after more than 800 women were attacked, with many sexually assaulted, in a mass act of misogyny in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve, I’ve started to have fantasies of anti-man violence that make Valerie Solanas look positively tame. Castration is too good for them. Let’s break every bone in every hand that grabbed a woman’s tit. That tried to force itself between her legs. That goes online and clicks away arranging another “taharrush gamea,” a gangrape or assault of women in public spaces, a spreading practice from the Arab world that only came to the attention of the West when journalist Lara Logan was attacked in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the 2011 demonstrations. I’m tired of having a reasonable response to the nearly constant war waged by representatives from that abstract class of creatures, men, against any female in sight. I’m not

just talking about the structural sexism that regularly excludes us from power and sees to it we don’t get adequate credit (or salaries) for the work we do, but the actual mano a mano terror that sometimes crosses over into murder or rape. Most often, of course, the acts are small and banal and humiliating. There’s the Toronto dyke I know who wrote recently about some random guy on the bus suddenly sticking his face in hers and screaming, “You’re ugly.” He scared the crap out of her, but what really hurt was how nobody helped, in fact everybody on the bus turned away from her when she started screaming back. Harassment and assaults are so common that when one New York City woman posted about her decision not to carry a knife or pepper spray, even after one particularly scary encounter on the subway, the responses revealed that practically every woman in New York had considered similar measures. Most of us decide to only wear bags in such a way that leave our hands free. Or maybe we carry some pointy object that can serve in our defense. We wonder if our backpacks or handbags themselves are heavy enough to swing or to block. We are

conscious of the sound of our steps in empty hallways, or parking lots or streets. We avoid empty subway cars. If we can’t, and some guy gets on, we shrink ourselves into invisibility. We know an attack’s coming, but we’re shocked when it does. And afterwards, shocked again when we’re blamed or dismissed. Often by women. Who are so good and kind and selfless that they make me puke. A different woman in Toronto posting about her own experience getting assaulted on the train was herself denounced by other women worried that her story would lead to the stigmatizing of men with mental illness because her attacker was known to have problems. Apparently, all those terrified and traumatized women matter less than the man who is allowed to regularly harass them on the subway, scream at them and pursue them from car to car, station to station, sometimes following them outside, and even attacking them physically. I’ve also seen more than one post by black women who’ve been pressured to keep their mouths shut about getting beaten on by their boyfriends or husbands, no matter that some of them will end up dead. Because by calling in the cops it would be them guilty of putting another black man in the hands of the prison industrial complex. Which means, well, her life doesn’t count next to his.

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DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.19

PERSPECTIVE: Rhymes With Crazy

A Starbucks Tutorial BY LENORE SKENAZY

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lease pay attention. There will be a quiz. Starbucks recently took out a two-page, foldout, super-slick ad in the New Yorker to educate us benighted, Folgers-swilling plebes on “The Art of Espresso and Milk.” Using a chart only slightly less complex than the Periodic Table of the Elements (for instance, it did not list barium or neptunium), it showed a sort of timeline of coffee concoctions, starting with: Doppio: “Two shots of espresso. Straight.” Latte Macchiato: “Foamed whole milk marked with shots of espresso.” Flat White: “Sweet ristretto espresso shots finished with whole steamed milk.” Cappuccino: “A shot of espresso topped with a deep layer of foamed milk” And, but of course: Caffè Latte — “A shot of espresso in steamed milk lightly topped with foam.”

Got that? Okay, quick: Which drink dumps a shot of espresso into a cup of foamed barium? Ah, just yankin’ your chain. That’s at Dunkin’ Donuts. As for the Starbucks chart, I didn’t even give you all the concoctions on the list to prevent your head from exploding like an overheated doppio ristretto machine. (Didn’t Ristretto start out by making a boy out of wood? Or am I confused?) Anyway, after all this, the ad explained as if to a dim bulb: “Latte Macchiato: Foamed milk marked with espresso makes it intensely bold.” Okay. While, “Flat White,” which is — as you’ll immediately recall — sweet ristretto espresso finished with blah blah blah is “rich & velvety.” Never mind that the pictures of these two ostensibly polar opposite drinks look about as dissimilar as those “Spot the difference!” puzzles you do while waiting for a Greyhound Bus. Which perhaps explains why the ad is driving me to drink something stronger than a latte macchiato. (Or was it a caffè latte?) What I mean is: I’m drinking grain alcohol mixed with Yoo-hoo. You see, here’s a company that already asks us to fork over all our cash previously

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RHYMES WITH CRAZY, continued on p.20

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus attempting to curtail the rights of LGBT people, have claimed that it is their rights that are being violated by the LGBT movement: Perkins has said that the supposed persecution of anti-gay Christians in America is inspiring ISIS, and Scarborough has declared that he is ready to burn to death in the fight against gay marriage.” I wish him good luck and Godspeed.

Planet Earth Is Blue And There’s Nothing I Can Do

At the risk of turning Media Circus into the “Peter Staley Says” column, I can’t resist cit-

JONATHAN ALPEYRIE

Fans flocked to David Bowie's SoHo apartment on January11, after news of the singer's death the death before emerged, creating an impromptu shrine piled high with flowers, candles, photos, and heartfelt notes thanking the longtime music and cultural icon.

BY ED SIKOV

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till getting zilch interest in the mainstream press: From Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch: “In yet another example of what the Religious Right’s recent focus on ‘religious liberty’ is really about, five Republican presidential candidates ar e scheduled to speak this weekend [January 16] at a ‘religious freedom’ event hosted by a conservative pastor

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who has repeatedly declared that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people’s ‘immoral act’ and has called for a ‘class action lawsuit’ against homosexuality. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee are scheduled to join a ‘Free to Believe Broadcast’ on Saturday, hosted by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, two of the most outspoken anti-gay activists in the country. Both, even while

DYKE ABROAD, from p.18

The same sort of pressure has been applied in Cologne where almost all the attackers of those 800 women were immigrant men identified as Arab or North African. Maybe fearing a backlash to the huge wave of refugees, the first impulse of German politicians and cops was to hide the whole thing. And when the news finally broke, media worldwide decided to play the game and for days GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

ing Staley’s recent post on Poz.com, hilariously titled “Charlie Sheen Shits on 30 Years of AIDS Activism.” Staley’s slam came after the HIV-positive actor, who is also clinically cuckoo, “went off his meds without telling anyone and [went] to Mexico to seek a miracle cure from a scam artist even Dr. Oz hasn’t heard of,” — !!! — “a ‘Dr.’ Sam Chachoua (he’s unlicensed in the US), who is so convinced he’s cured Sheen that he supposedly injects himself with Sheen’s blood (according to Sheen, who probably thinks magicians actually saw women in half).” Staley’s advice to Charlie: “Crawl back into your ‘babe cave,’ write a big check to amfAR, and call it a day.”

“We know Major Tom’s a junkie….” What do you mean, “we?” Lots of people had lots to write about David Bowie after his shocking death on January 10, but Alex Frank’s lovely tribute on Pitchfork. com resonated most powerfully with me, if perversely so: “There are a million reasons to memorialize the passing of David Bowie, but none more so, at least for me, than because of his legacy as the patron saint of strange gay boys everywhere… His body was so thin and lithe that he bore the elegance of a female swan. He never even needed to actually be gay — to have sex with men — to be gay.

kept insisting that the attacks weren’t that extensive, or that not all the men were immigrants, there was, uh, one American, and uh... I hate them, and don’t even have words for the feminists of my acquaintance who post article after article against xenophobia, racism, bigotry, but remain silent about what it is like for a woman of any race or national origin to suddenly be surrounded by a mob of men who grab her all over, who assault and rape her, leave her with

He was one of us whether he ever really was one of us…. Through my sadness, I keep remembering that he does not have to be alive for some fresh new 16-year-old boy — or girl, or girl wanting to be a boy, or boy wanting to be a girl, or some person who in fact has no gender at all — to discover Bowie, and help whomever needs it to reimagine that not so long after that part of queer life that seems like hell, it will feel like heaven.” The thing is, she or he has to be open to it. For me, Bowie’s persona, let alone his music, was fraught with my own scorching self-loathing. His early stardom coincided with my wretcheder -than-thine adolescence. He totally freaked me out. Bowie openly paraded everything I was desperately trying to bury. He wore makeup, for godsake. I liked Carole King. A Bowie song on the radio literally woke me up one day: it happened to be playing when my clock radio clicked on announcing the start of yet another humdrum day of high school crucifixion. “Space Oddity.” I had no idea there were drugs involved. They might have helped. But at the time, the we in Bowie’s later “Ashes to Ashes” — “We know Major Tom’s a junkie” — didn’t include me. What broke through was “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” There it was — my bleak, no-oxygen, outer-galactically helpless state of mind laid bare. The song terrified me. Deafened by the roar of self-loathing, I didn’t hear David Bowie at all. I was too fucking scared.

Not a confession — just a statement of fact: I now read news about American politics in a state of total dread. Maniacs are ascendant. I was fearful of Reagan and W. I am absolutely petrified of Trump and Cruz. It has become difficult to say anything meaningful. “The sky is falling” is beginning to make sense.

the imprint of their terrifying hands on her flesh. Because everything trumps gender. And even we women don’t think we count. For the last time (this month), “everybody counts, or nobody counts.” C’mon, it’s really not so hard to denounce rape and racism both. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

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RHYMES WITH CRAZY, from p.18

reserved for necessities like medicine and HBO just to drink some scorched caffeine in a pseudo-chatty place where everyone is actually on their phone, staring at their laptops, and hogging the seat across from them. And now, for us not to sound like idiots there — “I’d like a coffee regular, please” — we have to study gradations between coffee drinks more subtle than the ones between flatworms and tapeworms. (Do not go look these up! Or at least, do not click on “images.”) Starbucks has already amused itself by training us to say “tall,” when we mean “small” — tall being the littlest cup of coffee you can get without whittling yourself a mug on the spot. And some marketing exec earned her wings

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LIBERTY RIDGE, from p.11

minor changes, and the Giffords filed their appeal to the Appellate Division, raising both statutory and constitutional challenges. Though this was a new issue for New York courts, the underlying question has been addressed elsewhere, with appellate rulings in New Mexico, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington State — each of which has a gay rights law —having rejected the idea that businesses can deny goods or services to same-sex couples in connection with commitment or wedding ceremonies. Justice Peters cited those cases — most prominently the Elane Photography case from New Mexico, which was denied review by the US Supreme Court on the constitutional questions. On the Giffords’ statutory claims, the court easily dispensed with their argument that their farm is not a “public accommodation.” Incorporated as a for-profit business, Liberty Ridge advertises the availability of its facilities to the public, so their argument that it is just a privately-owned farm that rents out its barn occasionally for a wedding ceremony was not going to cut it. “The fact that the wedding ceremonies occur on private property and pursuant to a written contract does not, as petitioners contend, remove Liberty Ridge’s facilities from the reach of the Human Rights Law; the critical factor is that the facilities are made available to the public at large,” Peters wrote. The court was equally dismissive of the Giffords’ argument they were not discriminating based on sexual

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by convincing us that grande and venti are the two most sophisticated words in the world, even though these really mean, “I am a grand baboon,” and “Excuse me. My vent is open.” Other Starbucks words that you might not realize have direct English translations are: Caffè Espresso Frappuccino. Translation: Milkshake. Vanilla Frappuccino. Translation: Vanilla Milkshake. Caramel Flan Frappuccino. Translation: Gloppy Milkshake. Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino. Translation: Crunchy Milkshake. Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino. Translation: Shameless Milkshake. Hazelnut Frappuccino. Translation: Milk-

orientation. “As the record clearly reflects,” wrote Peters, “Cynthia Gifford displayed no unwillingness to allow the McCarthys to marry at the farm until Melisa McCarthy referred to her fiancé as a ‘she.’ Despite Cynthia Gifford’s clear rejection of the McCarthys as customers, petitioners nonetheless argue that, in advising Melisa McCarthy that ‘we do not hold same-sex marriages here at the farm,’ they did not deny services to the McCarthys ‘because of’ their sexual orientation.’ Instead, petitioners claim that the decision to do so was based solely upon the Giffords’ religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage. Such attempts to distinguish between a protected status and conduct closely correlated with that status have been soundly rejected.” Peters cited the US Supreme Court’s decision involving the refusal of the University of California Hastings Law School to recognize a chapter of the Christian Legal Society, which excluded gay students from membership, in which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressly rejected this kind of status /conduct distinction, as well as the famous Bob Jones University case, which upheld a denial of tax-exempt status to the school because of its policy forbidding interracial dating by students. The court found that the “act of entering into a same-sex marriage is ‘conduct that is inextricably tied to sexual orientation,’” so there was no basis to distinguish this from on outright denial of services because of a potential customer’s sexual orientation.

shake for High-Income Squirrels. Shaken Sweet Tea. Translation: Tea with sugar. Duh. And someone who isn’t you got paid (and healthcare, too!) to shake it. Caffè Americano, by the way, simply means coffee. Like the stuff you get at the donut cart, for $1, without having to learn a new language or inquire as to how artisinally the cart guy plans to dissolve your sugar. And with the extra $4 you save, you can buy several hand-twisted, cane sugar-dipped inzuppare ciambellas. You know, glazed donuts. Lenore Skenazy is a speaker and the editor and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids.”

The Giffords tried to bolster this defense by claiming that they would have been happy to host a wedding reception for the McCarthys, so long as the actual wedding ceremony was not held on their premises, but the court rejected this defense, pointing out that the statute “does not permit businesses to offer a ‘limited menu’ of goods or services to customers on the basis of a status that fits within one of the protected categories.” The court then turned to the Giffords’ constitutional claims, and here rested its analysis on the proposition that neither the First Amendment to the US Constitution nor the analogous provision in the New York State Constitution allows people to violate general anti-discrimination laws based on their religious beliefs. “While we recognize that the burden placed on the Giffords’ right to freely exercise their religion is not inconsequential,” wrote Peters, “it cannot be overlooked that SDHR’s determination does not require them to participate in the mar riage of a same-sex couple. Indeed, the Giffords are free to adhere to and profess their religious beliefs that same-sex couples should not marry, but they must permit same-sex couples to marry on the premises if they choose to allow opposite-sex couples to do so. To be weighed against the Giffords’ interests in adhering to the tenets of their faith is New York’s long-recognized, substantial interest in eradicating discrimination. Balancing these competing interests, we conclude that petitioners failed to show that SDHR’s determination

constituted an unreasonable interference with the Giffords’ religious freedom.” The court similarly rejected the Giffords’ other First Amendment claims regarding freedom of association and religion. The appeals panel also concluded that the remedy imposed by SDHR was “reasonably related to the wrongdoing, supported by evidence and comparable to the relief awarded in similar cases,” so there was no reason to change it. The Giffords and their business are represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay religiously oriented litigation group that advocates the proposition that free exercise of religion, at least by Christians, should always trump other legal duties. They will undoubtedly seek review by the state’s highest bench, the Court of Appeals, but given the five-member unanimity in the Appellate Division and the consistency with rulings from other states, it seems unlikely that court will grant it. Given the US Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the New Mexico wedding photographer case, that route is also a likely dead end for the Giffords. The McCarthys are represented by Mariko Hirose of the New York Civil Liberties Union and Rose A. Saxe of the American Civil Liberties Union. SDHR’s appellate attorney Michael Swirsky argued on behalf of the agency, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman all weighed in as friends of the court on the McCarthys’ behalf.

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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NEW YORK VALUES, from p.5

FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR JEB BUSH 2015 “Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage. I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision. I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments… It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.” — Jun. 26, 2015, in response to the marriage equality ruling. Bush’s campaign told CNN he does not support a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage nationwide, though he did support that in 2004 when his brother pushed the issue as president. “I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on faith… In a big, tolerant country, we should respect the rule of law. But this woman, there should be some accommodation for her conscience, just as there should be for people that are florists that don’t want to participate in weddings, or bakers.” — Sep. 16, 2015 in a Republican presidential debate, when asked about Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ defiance on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “I don’t think you should be discriminated [against] because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out. I think this should be done state-by-state. I totally agree with that.” — Jul. 2015 in response to a question at a San Francisco appearance, according to the Advocate. "This is simply allowing people of faith space to be able to express their beliefs, to be able to be people of conscience. I just think, once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.” — Mar. 26, 2015, in a statement about an Indiana law providing unprecedented religious carve-outs from LGBT protections.

OHIO GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH 2015 “I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage… The court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay… So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them.” — Aug. 6, 2015, in a Republican presidential debate.

2010 Kasich voiced support for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide in a Christian Coalition survey, when he was first funning for governor.

2008 “Wait a minute. What Rick Warren has said is, ‘I don’t agree with that lifestyle.’ I happen to not approve of it either. But he didn’t condemn anybody. He said, ‘I don’t dislike the person.’ Can’t we in this country today disagree and not be disagreeable?” — Dec. 22, 2008 on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”

2006 They’re going to teach this in a book. I mean, what are they doing here?… I’ll tell you something. It never ceases to amaze me. I love to come to California, but when I study this stuff, it never ceases to amaze me.” — May 5, 2006, while guest-hosting on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” and discussing a California proposal to have LGBT contributions incorporated into school history curriculum.

1994 “The public policy question is whether homosexuals deserve special legal protection from otherwise legal, private acts of discrimination, which protections are not available to smokers, drinkers, children, redheads, Midwesterners, Democrats, veterans, nudists, etc. Or, to put it another way, should sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is No. We have enough special categories, enough victims, without creating even more.” — Miami Herald, Jun, 22, 1994, op-ed during his first run for governor.

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

“While I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, their ruling is now the law of the land. I call on Congress to make sure deeply held religious views are respected and protected.” — Jun. 26, 2015, in response to the marriage equality ruling. “Absolutely. Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.” — Mar. 4, 2015 on CNN’s “New Day” when asked if he thought being gay was a choice. “Every time I’m gaining momentum, the liberal press says, let’s talk about gay rights -- and I’m just not going to fall for that anymore.” — Mar. 5, 2015, explaining to Sean Hannity’s radio show why he won’t discuss gay rights issues anymore.

2013 “My thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.” — Mar. 26, 2013, on Sean Hannity’s radio program.

2012 “If we can redefine marriage as between two men or two women or any other way based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire.” — Carson’s 2012 book “America the Beautiful.”

2004 Kasich supported Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

1999 As a House member, Kasich voted to bar adoptions by gay parents in the District of Columbia.

1992-1993 As a House member, Kasich voted to bar domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian municipal employees in the District of Columbia.

2008 Reversing his earlier position that a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was unnecessary given an existing statutory ban, Bush endorsed the 2008 ballot question.

and Military Town Hall hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America. Carson’s campaign has also suggested he might revisit gay and lesbian military service if elected.

BEN CARSON 2015 “I do not appreciate using our military as a laboratory for social experimentation… When our men and women are out there fighting the enemy, the last thing that we need to be doing is saying what would it be like if we introduced several transgender people into this platoon. Give me a break.” — Dec. 5, 2015, speaking in Waterloo, Iowa, to a Veterans

21


FILM

The Street Has Eyes Finding love as a young, gay, black Muslim in Brooklyn WOLFE VIDEO

Curtiss Cook, Jr., and Kerwin Johnson, Jr., in Jay Dockendorf’s “Naz & Maalik.”

WOLFE VIDEO

BY GARY M. KRAMER

T

he title characters of “Naz & Maalik” (Kerwin Johnson, Jr., and Cur tiss Cook, Jr.) are gay, African-American, Muslim teenagers in Brooklyn. The film chronicles them spending the day on the street re-selling lottery tickets, saints cards, potions, and lotions — and stealing kisses. The boys have just spent their first night together, but are afraid to come out to their families. As they go about their day, Naz and Maalik encounter a cop (Bradley Brian Custer), a yuppie (David M. Farrington), and an FBI agent (Annie Grier), all of whom have their eyes on the boys. “Naz & Maalik” features a loose, episodic, and timely narrative, and the film gets by on the easygoing charm of its two leads. Writer/ director Jay Dockendorf talked via Skype with Gay City News about his fine film. GARY M. KRAMER: You are not gay nor African-American nor Muslim. How did you come to make a film based on these characters? JAY DOCKENDORF: When I moved to New York, I found a place to stay in Bed-Stuy at Fulton and

22

Nostrand. There’s a large Muslim population around that neighborhood: Halaal restaurants and incense shops, etc. I lived with a gay couple, one of whom was a closeted Muslim man in his 30s. He came randomly into my life, and I found his story dramatic and fascinating and compelling. He was Pakistani and I interviewed him, and he became a source for the film. I wanted the characters to be African-American. I felt like the experiences the characters would go through would be very relatable. Gay, black, and Muslim: that was a group of people I could and should represent because they would fit in the place I was living. I also thought it was interesting how many people in a particularly repressive community live in the closet and adapt to the adverse, difficult circumstances they do. I find that tragic and compelling, and probably very realistic. GMK: What accounted for the approach you took with the narrative and creating the characters? How much of the film was improvised? JD: My two closest friends in New York were gay men, and I spent a lot of time having ambulatory experiences with them. Some of the fights Naz and Maalik

get into are angry discussions my friends had while we were walking through the city. Conversations that happen while walking are very natural; you get into a philosophical state of mind. I wanted to explore and capture that. Ten per cent or less of the film was improvised. There were some scenes on Fulton Mall that featured inter actions that start with something scripted, but became improvised. A scene in the subway station bathroom was improvised. GMK: “Naz & Maalik” is, unfortunately, very timely given the current attention to Muslims. Surely, this was not intended. JD: The film was finished in March, and it’s strange that in the news two Muslim lovers committed an act of terror versus in the film two lovers that are suspected of terror. I wrote “Naz & Maalik” three years ago, but it took that long to be completed and distributed, and this is the current landscape. The characters are intelligent young men in a community that has little reason to fully trust police or FBI agents. They live in the city of Eric Garner, and they are profiled the entire day. I wrote this before, during, and after Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice who haunt the film in general and Naz and Maalik individually, though they never are mentioned by name. I tried to make Naz and Maalik as smart as possible by having them talking about contemporary topics. I don’t want them to be a mouthpiece for a director of a different world and experience. I don’t have any skin in the game. In the film, an imam looks at a group of people who may not be who they say who they are, and he welcomes them. I’d heard about that speech from a real imam in Brooklyn. I was interested in putting that in the film with these characters, who have issues that are personal to me or to people I know. GMK: Can you talk about the issues of terrorism and faith, jeal-

ousy and respect both on micro and macro levels? JD: We wanted a certain amount of symbolic doubling that would lend the environment a bit of psychedelic paranoia. So audiences might think: are the events connected? The motion of this large world sweeps you up into a dream state, a wild ride. The themes all came from different places — the paranoia I heard in the interviews and conversations I had. “I think I probably shouldn’t come out, or behave this way, or say this thing…” That got under my skin, so I wanted to represent that to give that experience to people who saw the film — representative transference. Being a teen and wanting to do one thing, but needing to sneak past authority figures to achieve that goal creates suspicious behaviors that could arouse the attention of the police. These two teens are behaving mysteriously, which arouses local law enforcement with their surveillance. GMK: What can you say about the film’s presentation of sexuality? It opens after the characters have first slept together and consider coming out. JD: I wanted to show as much intimacy as I could get away with, with the story taking place in a single day. I felt that keeping that unity of time, place, and character was crucial. Different people can imagine losing one’s virginity different ways. A first night is too holy to depict. The afterglow and feeling connected is more universal. That became a conduit for trust and truth.

NAZ & MAALIK Directed by Jay Dockendorf Wolfe Releasing Opens Jan. 22 Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. cinemavillage.com

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Death Date BLEAK STREET LEISURE TIME FEATURES.

Directed by Arturo Ripstein Leisure Time Features In Spanish with English subtitles Opens Jan. 20 Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org Juan Francisco Longoria and Guillermo Lopez with Patricia Reyes Spíndola in Arturo Ripstein’s “Bleak Street.”

BY STEVE ERICKSON

A

s soon as Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, and Alejandro G. Iñarritu got a taste of success, they quickly headed to Hollywood. The same can’t be said for their compatriot Arturo Ripstein, who has been working since the ‘60s renaissance in Latin American cinema. Nevertheless, Ripstein, whose latest film “Bleak Street” got its local premiere at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s essential “Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema” series, has a cosmopolitan sensibility. He’s adapted novels by Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz and, less surprisingly, Colombian great Gabriel García Márquez. I haven’t seen enough of the Ripstein filmography, much of which hasn’t played the US, to judge which film is his masterpiece, but my favorite is “Deep Crimson,” which played the Film Forum in 1997. “Deep Crimson” was a true-crime story remade from the American film “The Honeymoon Killers,” inspired by a couple’s real-life murder spree. Is it a coincidence that the first Ripstein film since that to get major attention on the film festival circuit and an American release also has a tabloid touch? Indeed, this tale of prostitutes killing masked wrestlers has already been fictionalized by the cable TV show “Tabloid with Jerry Springer.” However, Ripstein’s mix of tragedy and dark humor is more akin to a Jim Thompson script for Luis Buñuel. After a tough day, two middle-aged prostitutes (Patricia Reyes Spíndola

Mexican director Arturo Ripstein probes tragedy in the dark underbelly and Nora Velazquez) return home. As they’ve aged out of their profession, very few men are attracted to their services any more. One of them resents her daughter’s sexual relations with a teenage boy, as well as her husband’s secret life. The other lives with her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia, and uses her to beg for change. However, they do have a date that night with Little Death (Juan Francisco Longoria) and Little AK (Guillermo Lopez), twin wrestlers who are little people and never take off their masks. After the wrestlers complete a match, the women meet up with them in a cheap hotel and plan to dose them with eye drops, knocking them out and stealing their money. But things don’t go according to plan. The lighting is the first really remarkable quality of “Bleak Street.” Alejandro Cantu’s cinematography combines some of the visual signs of film noir and neo-realism. The photography is very high-contrast black-and-white. Dark areas of the screen are barely legible, although diagonals of light come in through windows. Even in exteriors (which always look like sets), the lighting is extremely stylized and usually quite dingy. Ripstein refrains from showing any details about what it’s like to be a wrestler; for that, you’ll have to turn to Robert Greene’s documentary “Fake It So Real.” He never depicts Little Death and Little

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

AK performing in the ring, but he does show the prostitutes clucking about how little money they make. For their part, none of the film’s sex workers are young and beautiful — or even the kind of attractive middle-aged women who might star in MILF porn. The film views them as a step above beggars. But if you’re tempted to write off “Bleak Street” as a miserabilist fantasy, keep in mind its origins in real life, as well as a recent episode of the cable TV documentary series “Underworld, Inc.,” which depicted a woman prowling Las Vegas, posing as a prostitute in order to knock would-be johns out with chloroform and rob them. The narrative of “Bleak Street” pushes toward reality, the style toward an over-the-top exaggerated treatment of poverty. You could

accuse Ripstein of taking a cheap holiday in other people’s misery, but his compassion is as evident as his taste for the lower depths. Although heterosexual (his wife Paz Alicia Garciadiego writes all the scripts for his films), Ripstein made a pioneering film about gay life in Mexico, “The Place Without Limits,” in 1977, and he makes a partial return to that territory here. He depicts the furtive gay liaisons of Max (Alejandro Suárez), who has sex with a young man while wearing his wife’s bra and skirt. When she finds out, she gives him hell, but she seems more upset over the fact that he took her clothes without permission than over his gayness. No one gets away unscathed in “Bleak Street” — husbands and wives slap each other around blithely — but no one seems beyond redemption either.

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23


GALLERY

Gay Art Goes Bigger

Leslie-Lohman Museum to nearly double in size this spring BY KELSY CHAUVIN

A floor plan of the expanded museum.

DIMITRIS YEROS & THROCKMORTON FINE ART/ NEW YORK

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LESLIE LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY ART

I

t may seem hard to believe, but it’s been nearly a half-century since Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman hosted their first art exhibit. Little did they know that the gay art show mounted in their Prince Street loft in 1969 would lay the groundwork for a niche cultural institution that continues to get bigger and better. This spring, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art (leslielohman.org) will take another huge step with an expansion that will almost double its current size of 3,300 square feet. Its present location at 26 Wooster Street will take over the attached corner retail space at No. 28 in March. Pending construction timing, the additional showroom could open as soon as April. “It seemed it was a natural move for us. It will allow us to expand in a gradual, controlled fashion, while at the same time make many facility-related improvements,” said museum director Hunter O’Hanian. “This will give us many important gains.” Top among those improvements are two key programming changes. The first is that a larger space allows the museum to exhibit pieces from its massive collection of more than 24,000 works. That goal is a long time coming, especially considering that some of its queer-centric art has never been exhibited. Additionally, by having two galleries, the museum will no longer have to close while exhibits are installed and deinstalled. The second programming advancement is perhaps even more significant, because it elevates Leslie-Lohman’s visibility and mission. “We will continue building a destination museum with a dedicated LGBTQ focus on par with other small, excellent museums in New York, like the Studio Museum of Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, the Rubin, or the Jewish Museum,” said O’Hanian. Before Leslie-Lohman evolved into an accredited, 501(c)3 non-profit museum in 2011, the gallery was limited in its ability to borrow relevant works from other institutions

Dimitris Yeros’ “With His Thoughts on Bulgaria,” 2015, inkjet print, 15 x 10 in., part of the “Medium of Desire: An International Anthology of Photography and Video” exhibition at Leslie-Lohman.

and individuals. The forthcoming expansion allows for new storage areas that better meet the typical storage requirements for works borrowed from prestigious establishments like the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Anyone familiar with the existing SoHo museum knows that the reception desk and tiny gift shop, though well designed for the space, are limited in size and function. With the wall between buildings 26 and 28 soon to be knocked down, the significantly larger square footage will allow for dedicated offices on the corner of Wooster and Grand, where the work of the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation can be better conducted on premises.

MEDIUM OF DESIRE: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art 26 Wooster St. Btwn. Grand & Canal Sts. Through March 16: Tue.-Wed.Fri.-Sun. noon-6 p.m. Thu. noon-8 p.m. leslielohman.org

An improved visitor greeting area will remain in its current location, and no longer double as staff work spaces. A bigger book and gift shop, small kitchen, additional restroom, and equipment-storage rooms will be added too, while the Wooster Street Window Gallery will extend nearly up to Grand Street. Apart from adjunct spaces, much of the new showroom will house the Marion Pinto Gallery, named for the SoHo artists’ district pioneer. Her work comprised the first one-woman show ever mounted at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery back in 1975, entitled “Man As A Sex Object.” Pinto famously painted the dual nude of Fritz Lohman and Charles Leslie that hung in Bologna's Museo d’Arte Moderna years later, in the exhibition “Il Nudo.” Pinto donated her life’s work to the Leslie-Lohman Museum. It’s in good company with works by

queer artists as varied as Berenice Abbott, David Hockney, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, George Platt Lynes, Jean Cocteau, Del LaGrace Volcano, Robert Mapplethorpe, Deborah Bright, David Wojnarowicz, and many others. A greater slate of community events, seminars, and educational programs also will be ushered in. “The expansion will help us as we move forward in developing an educational program,” said Jonathan David Katz, the president of the museum’s board of directors. “We already have the most robust queer arts speaker and tour program in New York, but this expansion will allow us to expand those efforts even more.” Currently, the museum is hosting its final exhibition before renovation begins. “Medium of Desire: An International Anthology of Photography and Video” was curated by art historian and board member Peter Weiermair and opened in December. Under the “desire” theme, the work of 14 artists on display represent a range of styles, “from documentation to elaborately staged photo shoots,” said O’Hanian. Works by famous photographers like Catherine Opie and Greg Gorman join those by less-established artists, including some international ones for whom this exhibit marks their US debut. “In looking at these works, we see the expression of desire between those depicted in the images,” said Weiermair. “Then, in other works we see the desire between the artists and their subjects. In many instances, as we witness this desire, it evokes our own feelings, regardless of our individual perspective.” There is no word yet on what exhibits or artists will open the expanded Leslie-Lohman Museum come spring. But we can be sure they will be both insightful and provocative and continue the mission, “to exhibit and preserve art that speaks directly to the many aspects of the LGBTQ experience, and foster the artists who create it.” Charles and Fritz would have it no other way.

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


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THEATER

Bumping Off Her Betrothed Red Bull Theater breathes new life into Jacobean tragedy of passion and madness

L

ust, betrayal, revenge, madness, murder, a bloody severed finger. These are but a few of the elements that have fueled the appeal of the Jacobean tragedy “The Changeling” for centuries. Written by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley circa 1622, the grisly, intricate work, portraying blind ambition and the consequences of sin, has been subjected to countless interpretations. The latest version, by the gutsy Red Bull Theater troupe, offers up a crisp, modern spin that locates caustic humor within the pathos. Under the inventive direction of Jesse Berger, the work has been stripped down to its essence (not unlike other highly praised dramas of this season, such as “The Color Purple” and “A View from the Bridge”). Eschewing an elaborate period set, Marion Williams has constructed a kind of midcentury modernist structure to represent both the castle chambers and the madhouse (which, it could be argued, are one and the same). Imagine a stone and tile carport designed by Mies van der Rohe painted glossy black. Although the action takes place in the Spanish port city of Alicante, the set is nonspecific, evoking the universality of the play’s themes. The juicy, dizzying plot, a warped riff on the “Beauty and the Beast” fable, can be tough to follow. One day at church services, the ravishing Beatrice-Joanna falls for Alsemero (Christian Coulson), a debonair nobleman from Valencia. Problem is, she is betrothed to Alonzo (John

Skelley). When Alsemero’s pal Jasperino (Justin Blanchard) observes the couple in a hot embrace, he says, “This smoke will bring forth fire.” This prediction proves all too true. Enter the beastly De Flores, a servant whose disfigured face repulses Beatrice. Together they hatch a plan to murder her fiancé. Once the deed is done, she is free to marry Alsemero, but now she is bound to De Flores in complicity. Against all odds, she gives in to his crude charms. An awkward secondary plot involving insane inmates in a madhouse reflects Beatrice’s and De Flores’ guilt and turmoil. This is no timid production. This highly theatrical “Changeling” takes full advantage of ghastly dramatic moments, amping up the sex and gore. You can practically smell the blood dripping from the ringed finger that De Flores hacks off to prove the murder. Erotic scenes generate real heat. And when the supremely creepy madmen and fools are let out of their cell to cavort across the stage, I chuckled, but also made a mental note of the nearest exit. The edge-of-your seat drama is heightened further by Peter West’s lighting and Ryan Rumery’s gloomy music. The dynamic, 14-person cast is, for the most part, impressive. Sara Topham embodies the conniving Beatrice with piercing, complex layers of anguished wickedness. Yet she shifts easily into comedy in the scene where Alsemero makes Beatrice chug a magic potion that detects if she is a virgin (she is not, but she fakes the requisite symptoms of yawning, sneezing, and cackling most convincingly).

CAROL ROSEGG

BY DAVID KENNERLEY

Sara Topham and Manoel Feliciano in the Red Bull Theater’s production of “The Changeling” at the Lucille Lortel through January 24 only.

THE CHANGELING Red Bull Theater Lucille Lortel Theatre 121 Christopher St., Btwn. Bleecker & Bedford Sts. Through Jan. 24 only Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. 60-$80; redbulltheater.com Two hrs., 10 mins., with intermission

Bill Army offers further comic relief as the prancing, underwear-clad Antonio, a dithering fool who is actually a gentleman in disguise. He’s one of the many changelings in this captivating, albeit uneven tale of astonishing transformations. Even more affecting is Manoel Feliciano as De Flores, who possesses a brutish, tormented quality that both repulses and attracts. As the play progresses, his grotesqueness melts away not only in Beatrice’s eyes, but in ours as well.

Precarious Footing Bartlett Sher’s “Fiddler on the Roof” never finds its balance BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Broadway Theater 1681 Broadway at W. 53rd St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $35-$142; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 50 mins., with intermission

26

D

irector Bartlett Sher is a genius at finding the subtlety in characters. Whether in his groundbreaking revival of “Awake and Sing” or “The Light in the Piazza” or currently in the splendid revival of “The King and I” at Lincoln Center, the productions he helms, though often large in scope, are also typically filled with small moments of humanity that are profoundly mov-

ing. He lent each of those rich intellectual texture and contemporary relevance and emotive power. Unfortunately, “Fiddler on the Roof” does not profit from nuanced exploration of themes and character, at least in Sher’s frustrating revival now on Broadway. Sholem Aleichem’s characters are a comic type — much like Dickens wrote. “Fiddler” is bold theater — loveable agitprop if you will. With its contemporary resonance in the politics of the moment, it should rouse us

to the cruelty of religious persecution and its potential impact on even the least important individual… a milkman, for example. Forcing the story into a naturalistic telling blunts its impact. The milkman Tevye, conflicted about his faith, needs to be larger than life as he argues with God and tries to hold on to tradition against the backdrop of a radically changing world. In musical comedy

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FIDDLER, continued on p.27

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


MDD RESEARCH STUDY

JOAN MARCUS

Jessica Hecht and Danny Burstein (with Lori Wilner in the background) in the Bartlett Sher production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

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FIDDLER, from p.26

terms, he is like Mamma Rose in “Gypsy”; he needs to be as much a force as an individual for the show to deliver its full emotional impact. Danny Burstein’s Tevye, unfortunately, is small and introspective. Sher has ignored the vaudeville-like convention that has Tevye talking to God and the audience. The result is a production that is cerebral and distant, which is really too bad. Burstein is a wonderful performer with an incredible voice, but he needs more of the energy he had in Sher’s “South Pacific.” The treatment of Tevye is only one example of how downscaling the theatricality of “Fiddler” hurts the production. The pogrom at the end of Act One, for example, is about as bland as one could imagine. The safety and survival of Anatevka hangs in the balance, but there is never any palpable threat or tension on the stage. Even as three of Tevye’s five daughters make choices that challenge his core beliefs, it’s never clear how much is at stake, that we are watching a world on the verge of disappearing. Working against the piece as written, Sher has robbed it of its power to move and entertain. The direction of other characters is similarly problematic. Jessica Hecht as Golden, Tevye’s wife, has some wonderful moments — such as in “Sabbath Prayer,” where we see how faith unites this village — but her performance is otherwise two-dimensional. Alexandra Silber as Tzeitel and Samantha Massell as Hodel give careful, competent perfor-

mances, but there is never a sense of the huge risk each of them is taking in defying their father and tradition. Worse yet, Melanie Moore as Chava, the daughter who finally goes too far in marrying outside the faith, lacks the passion that causes her to put her love over her Judaism. When the three sing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” early in the show, it’s surprisingly bleak. These are young girls playing with conventional ideas of marriage, not wizened cynics. The moment needs to be light to counterbalance the darkness that is to come. Of the principals, only Adam Kantor as Motel, the tailor who wins Tzeitel’s heart away from an arranged marriage, and the excellent Ben Rappaport as Perchik, the revolutionary who takes Hodel away from her family, bring the kind of intensity and focus their roles require. Probably the most disappointing of all is how Sher has directed Alix Korey as Yente. Korey is a fantastic actress and a brilliant comedienne, and Yente is a perfect role for her at this stage in her career. Yet, as with Tevye, Sher has reined her in and robbed her of the broadness that’s written into the role. In all the productions I’ve seen of this show, I’ve never seen Yente not get exit applause for her first scene — which ends with her saying she was so glad to have had the chance for she and Golde to “talk their hearts out” when Golde has barely gotten a word in. Why Sher would blunt this comedy and the character’s spirit is a mystery. The production is beautiful to

GayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

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FIDDLER, continued on p.28

27


OPERA

In Manhattan, Chicago, Two New Operas “Bel Canto,” “Dog Days” reflect contemporary concerns BY DAVID SHENGOLD

L

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FIDDLER, from p.27

look at, though the stark minimalism of Michael Yeargen’s set is more aesthetic than theatrical. Did Sher spend more time creating stage pictures than paying heed to the text or developing a consistent style?

28

TODD ROSENBERG/ LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO

yric Opera of Chicago’s creation, on December 7, of “Bel Canto,” a first opera by out gay Peruvian-born Jimmy López was a big deal. The work had been “curated” by Renée Fleming, creative consultant to the company, resulting, impressively, in a near sold-out run of nine performances. Television cameras filmed the sixth performance January 5 to prepare a PBS telecast. López has had instrumental and chamber works commissioned by ensembles in Peru, the United States, and Europe, and the compositions give prominent place to percussion and brass, as is the case in “Bel Canto.” He has published very few songs; his only previous stage work was the ballet “Los Magos del Silencio.” So a first opera was a real departure. At times his inexperience showed: fine — and evocative of a Peruvian setting — as the orchestration often was, it could prove excessive (the glockenspiel played havoc with the comprehensibility of text) and sometimes gave way to pompous Straussian blasts of no particular musico-dramatic relevance. But López shifts with facility among musical styles without sounding unduly derivative; his rhythmic sense is strong. Melodic inspiration per se seems less evident in most of the vocal writing, though there are several skillful “dual duets” for the work’s two pairs of lovers and a beautiful prayer-like sequence for the character Carmen — a young, committed terrorist discovering a new world of literacy and feeling — ravishingly sung by mezzo J’nai Bridges. Public interest in “Bel Canto” derives from its source, a bestselling 2001 novel by Ann Patchett, which itself was suggested by an actual kidnapping of hostages in a Lima embassy, an international quagmire that lasted months and ended violently. Patchett softened the story into a kind of magic realism, using an omniscient narrator to channel thoughts of many perpetrators and victims alike. Eventually, a (doomed) kind of Stockholm Syndrome-Utopian state descends, fueled by the radiant singing of an American diva, Roxane Coss, who largely suggests Fleming herself. Despite (or because of) massive linguistic non-comprehension, love affairs develop

and young terrorists nurture unsuspected talents in the occupied vice-presidential mansion surrounded by law enforcement. Above all, “Bel Canto” is a sentimental fantasy of great singing’s universalized, transcendent power. Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz changed many of Patchett’s details for his libretto. Unfortunately some of the discourse is “poetic” to a fault: impossible to parse with or without titles. The translator Gen, indispensible in the novel, loses status here since — inexplicably —

Andrew Stenson and Danielle de Niese in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Jimmy López’s “Bel Canto.”

even the terrorist generals can hold forth in complex English. (Andrew Stenson sounded fine, though Gen’s music lay low for him.) Often, even with titles, one simply didn’t know who was singing what. Sometimes Cruz improved on Patchett’s work: the terrorists’ political aims and the underlying social tensions are much more eloquently spelled out. Alas, Cruz’s greater political seriousness is all thrown away in the post-“rescue” finale in which everything is sacrificed to provide a kind of New

Catherine Zuber’s costumes never disappoint, and here she’s used texture and pattern to marvelous effect. Donald Holder’s lighting is inspired, as he seeks to marry Sher’s misguided approach with the demands of a musical. Hofesh Schechter’s choreography owes a

Age Liebestod for Roxane Coss, as if “moving on” from her blighted romance and aborted teaching of the vocally promising teenage terrorist Cesar trumped all other considerations the work has raised. This sequence read as empty operatic gesture musically, almost parody-level “Yankee Imperialism,” and also a testament to the ego of the work’s leading lady. In no universe does the hard-working, pertly attractive Danielle de Niese command an instrument capable of the kind of transcendence the book’s central metaphor demands. Even if an announced sinus infection played a role in de Niese’s thin timbre and strain on high, she frankly sounded much like her usual soubrette self. Kevin Newbury — whose production was fluid and quite handsome (apt set and costumes, overbusy if occasionally revelatory projections) — crafted Roxane around de Niese’s reflex spunkiness rather than the practical gravitas implicit in Patchett’s heroine. López doesn’t as yet provide specific idiolects to reflect and evoke the different characters, but Act Two does contain some attractive solo numbers turning the spotlight on their aspirations. Along with Bridges, the most compelling singing came from two excellent Juilliard-trained baritones, Jeongcheol Cha and Takaoki Onishi, as, respectively, a Japanese billionaire suitor of Roxane and a priest. As Cesar, Anthony Roth Costanzo — a highly skilled actor — unfurled his lovely countertenor gracefully. With excellent Spanish and unfailing dramatic resourcefulness, William Burden sang the Vice President fluently — but his music boasted little interest. Jacques Imbrailo showed artistry if a rather ordinary baritone as a neurotic Swiss Red Cross agent. With revisions, “Bel Canto” should be heard again.

January 8 at the Philharmonic brought on a rather disappointing concert under Alan Gilbert. The music director fared best with Sibelius’ tone poem “En saga.” His readings on the two great Richards, Wagner and Strauss, proved prosaic and less than sensitive to the needs of his singers, bass-baritone Eric Owens and soprano Heidi Melton. Melton has a gorgeous lower and middle voice but on this occasion was hard pressed

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heavy debt to Jerome Robbins’ original but with a vibrant and exciting contemporary athleticism. As a show, “Fiddler” is imperfect. Not all of the songs are great, and the structure can seem dated, particularly in 2016 when compared to shows like “Hamilton” and “Fun

DOG DAYS, continued on p.33

Home.” Still, it has worked for more than 50 years. As with Shakespeare, a lot of what is needed to make it work is baked in. Knowing when — or whether — to take liberties can make the difference between a revelatory new perspective and, sadly here, a disappointment.

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29


IN THE

NOH

Orson’s Prince Hal Opens Up

Keith Baxter recounts extraordinary life with extraordinary people BY DAVID NOH

A

beautiful new print of Orson Welles’ seldom seen “Chimes at Midnight” — his stitching together of Shakespeare’s various Henry IV plays, which just might be the greatest filmed Bard ever — in a recent revival at the essential Film Forum was an unquestioned cultural highlight of the new year. Key to that film’s awe-inspiring success was the performance of the then31-year-old Keith Baxter, whose charismatic portrait of Prince Hal put him on the map. The handsome, sparklingly witty, and candid actor — today, the very definition of “silver fox” — was recently in town to introduce the film at Film Forum and sat down and chatted with me.

because he had this innate modesty and this incredible voice. I was never directed by Orson. No one was. “If you have Gielgud and the speech, ‘How many thousand of my poorest subjects are at this hour asleep!’ Well, here’s the window and there’s the light, and John said, ‘Well, should I start?’ Orson said, ‘Well, yes.’ And Gielgud stepped in and spoke the speech. I mean he knew the speech because he’d done it in recital, and at the end, the crew applauded. They hadn’t necessarily understood the English, but I think they’d never heard an actor speak for two minutes without stopping. And Orson came in and said, ‘That was wonderful, John.’ John said, ‘Do you really think so?’ And Orson said, ‘We have to do it again because if there’s a technical error,

Baxter had been out of acting work for a while and washing dishes In a London restaurant when he auditioned for the stage version of the film just before Christmas in 1959. “I was 26 and another boy, a waiter, told me that Orson Welles was in town auditioning for a Shakespeare play he had cobbled together from the ‘Henry IV.’ I got a telephone number and they said, ‘Yes, you can audition for Mr. Welles tomorrow morning at 10.’ “I went and there were all these actors in a huge line. I finally got on around 2 p.m. Welles was a huge star then, after ‘The Third Man,’ and he was all in black, like I am today. He told me, ‘It’s very late and I’m very sorry for keeping you waiting.’ That was the first instance of his incredible politeness to actors, whether they were Sir John or someone playing a small part. He loved actors and might get angry with the crew, but with actors he always went out of his way to be very tender and fun. You can’t imagine the laughter, everybody loved him. Margaret Rutherford, a great actress, said, ‘Working with him is like walking where there’s always sunshine,’ and Jeanne Moreau adored him.” Baxter witnessed the filming of the battle scenes, which many consider unmatched in all cinema: “We had shut down for lack of money. He had only about 150 horsemen and maybe only two or three days to shoot them. I went down with his wife, Paola, to see what the

FILMFORUM.ORG

FILMFORUM.ORG

Keith Baxter recently appeared at the Film Forum to talk about Orson Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight” at a screening of a new print of the 1965 movie.

Keith Baxter and Orson Welles in Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight,” based on Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” plays.

“We never realized during its filming that we were making a masterpiece,” Baxter said. “We knew that it was a great script [chuckles] with wonderful actors and it was such fun to make. Those who never knew Orson have this image of an overwhelming presence, but he was fun. So was Sir John Gielgud, whom Orson deferred to as if he were a young actor, not that Sir John ever demanded that. All of us in the theater admired Gielgud more than Olivier, really,

you will probably be on Broadway then, and we won’t have you.’ Sir John said, ‘Oh, yes! I can do it again,’ and he did. “People find the film so glorious now, and ultimately so heartbreaking. For those in the industry or whatever, the knowledge of what happened to Welles gives it a subtext that is very sad. But we didn’t think that when we were doing it, naturally. We were just having the most terrific fun.”

30

charge would look like. And they repeated it. Of course, Orson was a master of cutting, so quick, and he would reverse the negative, so he made 150 look like thousands, with a lot of intercut scenes with a small group. It was all shot in the Central Park of Madrid, the Casa de Campo. You know, there’s not one gruesome shot in the film, maybe one spearing but it’s cut away from,

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IN THE NOH, continued on p.32

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IN THE NOH, from p.30

and there are no heads rolling. “We had dinner later in Alicante, after the false start of his film of ‘Treasure Island,’ and he talked about what he wanted the film to be for its audience, who might think because it’s Shakespeare, it’s about his time, something that happened hundreds of years ago. But it’s not, anymore than ‘Hamlet,’ which had just been a big hit on Broadway [with Richard Burton]. He wanted the audience to realize that the world of ‘Chimes at Midnight’ was an England that had utterly changed since World War II. “In ‘Chimes,’ there are castles and forests, which would disappear with gunpowder. And so the great duel between Hotspur and Hal signals the end of that. Hotspur always wears silver, like Sir Galahad, to represent the end of chivalry, while the king and others always wear black. To Orson, it was an important detail, to represent the end of romance and chivalry with the death of Hotspur. I find the music here extraordinary, these wordless voices singing, like mourning, a keening that gets more and more intense during the battle.” I observed that “Bonnie and Clyde,” two years later, got all the credit for its “groundbreaking” visceral use of violence through swift editing, but Welles had actually gotten there first, and much more subtly. Baxter agreed. “His genius always did lie in the cutting room,” he said. “He was so fast, and he had this wonderful eye because as a boy he had been a painter. There’s the robbery scene at the beginning, where we all dress up in that forest, that’s like a cathedral, with the leaves falling. The pace of it and the music is wonderful — “didididi” — as we’re running through the wood, and then he cuts to Sir John saying, ‘Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son? I would to God, my lords, he might be found.’ It was thrilling, cutting to that. “Orson used to say, ‘That big fireplace in the tavern, no wonder the boy wanted to go to the tavern and sit by the fire and have fun.’ We filmed the scene in the castle — no windows — and so cold you could see our breath. He created this whole thing, and Sir John’s performance is really iconic.” “Chimes” was young Baxter’s

32

second film with Gielgud, as they had appeared in “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”: “But you can hardly see me because I was one of the many brothers and it was filmed in Cinemascope [with its inordinately wide screen], so we were just set dressing. You only see me when I step in to say good night to Jennifer Jones [playing Elizabeth Barrett Browning]. “She was a film star and didn’t mix with any of us. I don’t mean that she was nasty, but she was a film star and acted like one. Like most British actors, Sir John never did, Judi Dench doesn’t either, now. It’s a period that is gone forever, and of course it’s a simply terrible film. The 1934 original version was much better, and John used to say, ‘Oh, I’m not as good Charles [Laughton]!’ He was a man of utter modesty.”

He eats every day at Ma Maison.’ I think they treated him. “I said, ‘I haven’t seen him for such a long time and he’s got a new woman and I’m still friendly with Paola… We adored each other, but our lives have moved on.’ Finally, Brenda lent me her car and I drove to the restaurant and, in the parking lot, as the valet was about to park it, I saw Orson coming out. “He was elephantine. He’d been big, but he still had to wear padding as Falstaff. Unbelievable, with a waiter on each side of him helping him down the steps to his taxi. I just stood back near this big bougainvillea, and I realized later that there were tears in my eyes. I didn’t jump out and say, ‘Hi, Orson!’ and I realized the good times were past — the golden time — such a big part of my life and there are so few people alive today who knew him.”

“He wanted the audience to realize that the world of ‘Chimes at Midnight’ was an England that had utterly changed since World War II.”

Baxter met Welles only once after “Chimes.” “It was New Year’s 1972. Paola had a house in London, his daughter Beatrice was there. I saw a lot of Paola, who was adorable, the best influence on his life. But then she went back to America, as did Orson. “The American Film Institute wanted to fly me out to LA and put me up at the Chateau Marmont for their big tribute to him. He said, ‘Please come if you can,’ but I couldn’t. He thought going back to California would bring him money for filming, but the disastrous New York Times notice for ‘Chimes’ saw to it that that never happened. It was the crowner of his Act Three — he was sort of finished, there were no offers for him. And I think it broke his heart. “Around 1976, I was on my way from Hawaii where I had played a crooked evangelist on ‘Hawaii 5-0.’ I stayed for four days with my friend Brenda Vaccaro, and she said, ‘Why don’t you go see Orson?

Baxter’s path crossed closely with that of another sacred monster of film, Elizabeth Taylor. He auditioned for and initially booked the part of Octavius Caesar in the first filming of her “Cleopatra,” with beautiful costumes by Oliver Messel, directed by, in his opinion, a great director, Rouben Mamoulian, whom he knew nothing about at the time: “I was so ignorant about everything. I did a test of two scenes, but then Elizabeth had to have her tracheotomy, and the film was shut down. “Mamoulian sent me a nice letter: ‘My dear Mr. Baxter, I’m too old to wait for Miss Taylor to recover, so I’m resigning. I hope they keep you’ — which they didn’t — ‘You’re a wonderful actor and I wish you well.’” Baxter finally met Taylor when he made “Ash Wednesday” with her, “and she was just adorable! She was going through a terrible time because Richard [Burton] was there, but not working, and there’s nothing an actor enjoys less than

being on a set when he’s got nothing to do with it. And he was drinking, the son of an alcoholic, and he hated everybody on the film except Henry Fonda and me, because like him I was Welsh. “But when he was drunk he was horrible, not to me, but to her. Henry Fonda got a film and suddenly had to fly to Savannah. So she had to film [her own scenes intensively] and she said, ‘Will you take Richard out to lunch?’ hoping I think, that I would stop him drinking. But you couldn’t. When he was not drunk he was sweet, but otherwise, he was nasty to her, which embarrassed everybody. He was onto drinking a lot of port, which was very strong. “When I went back to dub the film in Rome, they had split up and she was staying at a hotel. The telephone rang and when she finished it, there were tears in her eyes and she said that was Laurence Harvey’s wife. We knew that Larry had bowel cancer and Patricia was giving him a 45th birthday party. Elizabeth said, “You always said I could stay with you in London. Can I?” “I knew it wasn’t because of any great affection for me, of course. I knew that she couldn’t stay at the Dorchester Hotel because the press were everywhere chasing out the news about Richard. She took a scheduled flight to London, went to the party, and turned up at my house at 3 a.m. She drank some vodka, but was not drunk at all. I think it was one of the things that drove Richard mad: she could drink him under the table. We talked for about two to three hours, wonderful girl!” On the controversy over the color of Taylor’s eyes, Baxter was firm: “I arrived for the film [‘Ash Wednesday’] in Cortina and the producer, Dominick Dunne, invited me to dinner. I sat opposite her and Richard, and when she turned to look at me, yes, there were those big violet eyes!” Regarding Taylor’s acting, he said, “I would rate her as a film star, but I think her performance in ‘A Place in the Sun’ is one of the most extraordinary, beautiful performances — that first shot of her when Montgomery Clift is playing billiards and she looks at him. She was beautiful and so nice, every-

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IN THE NOH, continued on p.33

January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


IN THE NOH, from p.32

body who worked with her loved her, but producers couldn’t bear her because she was always late. But as an actor, she was wonderful.” Baxter fondly recalled Taylor’s willingness to share the spotlight while making “Ash Wednesday”: “Director Larry Peerce said, ‘Shall we go for a take?’ and suddenly Elizabeth walked across from me, so inevitably the camera was now on me! Peerce said, ‘Did you mean to do that?’ She said, ‘Of course, it’s Keith’s scene. He’s doing the talking.’ Well, I’ve worked with a lot of stars, including Joan Collins, and you would not get that kind of treatment from her. Elizabeth was so generous, funny, and a giggler.” Baxter never made any bones a b o u t b e i n g g a y : . “ We l l , I ’ v e never bothered about it, to tell you the truth. It’s never been something to bother about, real-

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DOG DAYS, from p.28

on top notes, scarily so in “Cäcilie,” which should be prime turf for a Strauss soprano. Her Brünnhilde in the “Walkûre” final scene held vocal promise and feeling but needed greater verbal urgency. Owens’ artistry is more developed in terms of line and text, but he seemed uncomfortable physically and was only in medium form — generous with dynamic variety but somewhat dry of timbre. Still, one looks forward to his role debut as Wotan, starting next season with Chicago’s “Rheingold.”

David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s intense “Dog Days,” premièred in Montclair in 2012, finally made it to Manhattan in a short run at NYU’s Skirball Center. Seen January 11, the final night, the show as produced by Robert Woodruff and starring its original cast packed a huge punch, not just for the post-apocalyptic story but for the creative blend of compositional techniques — including some might scary white noise effects. Vavrek’s libretto — embroidering on Judy Budnitz’s short story — begins with a grizzled patriarch roaring, “Get me my rifle” and seemed an apt, credible subject for the paranoid era of Cliven and

ly. Maybe that’s the difference between America and London, as the years have gone by. Anybody who knows me knows the focus of my sexuality but it’s not something that one needs to proclaim. I mean, one supports the right issues, of course. “I think Elizabeth’s speech for AMFAR is simply extraordinary — you can summon it up [on the Internet] — in which she said, ‘Three of my best friends, who I worked with, were gay: Rock Hudson, James Dean, and Monty Clift.’ There was an outcry about Dean, but she didn’t do it for any other reason than to say, “Why would I be prejudiced?’” I had to ask Baxter, who freely admits to 83 and seems at least 40 years younger in every way, what is his secret. “Don’t play football with your 15-year-old godson or you’ll rip your Achilles tendon. But my secret is not thinking about anything, really.”

Ammon Bundy. Disconnectedness, fear, and murderous hunger fuel the narrative of one “typical’ American farm family. Though well written, several key scenes — like the heartbreaking “mirror scene” of Lisa, the pre-teen protagonist — go on just a bit too long. The one element I found disappointing in relation to Budnitz was Lisa’s interaction with the doomed “dog man,” ably played by performance artist John Kelly: it didn’t add up to much emotionally. The Grand Guignol, ritualistic tragic ending proved mesmerizing. Alan Pierson presided authoritatively over diverse musical forces, and the show was expertly engineered. Lauren Worsham, bridging music theater and classical singing, worked wonders as Lisa. Marnie Breckinridge’s pure soprano illuminated the Mother’s sad role. As the louche, Tennessee Williams-worthy brothers, tenors Peter Tantsits and Michael Marcotte had a field day, though Marcotte had some pitch issues. James Bobick’s Father, though unstinting dramatically, too often just roared incomprehensibly. But “Dog Days” felt like a genuine event. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.

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January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc


THU.JAN.21 GALLERY Benjamin Fredrickson in a Solo Show

ing special guest Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”). The evening features songs from Brown’s extensive catalogue, along with new works in progress. 45 Bleecker St., just east of Lafayette St. Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50, $40 for standing room at subculturenewyork.com

One Sordid Room North of Chelsea Rick Skye’s work as a Liza Minnelli impersonator has earned him MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs), Dublin Theatre Festival, and Backstage Bistro Awards. On four Saturdays, Skye brings his “Liza Live! In Concert” to Don’t Tell Mama. His parodies of songs from “Mein Herr” to “Sara Lee” have left audiences weak from laughter, and this show includes a “new” Charles Aznavour song, Liza’s concert version of “The Single Ladies Song,” a “Happy Endings” production number, and a tribute to “one of her famous parents.” (Which, we wonder.) Ricky Ritzel is musical director. 343 W. 46th St. Jan. 23 & 30, Feb. 13 & 20, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at tellmamanyc.com or 212-757-0788, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

SUN.JAN.24 CABARET

WED.JAN.27 Memoir Workshop Led by Donna Minkowitz Gay City News’ own Morsels columnist Donna Minkowitz, whose books include the memoirs “Growing Up Golem” as well as “Ferocious Romance: What My Encounters with the Right Taught Me About Sex, God, and Fury,” offers a new season of her eight-week memoir-writing workshop, which she has taught at the 92nd Street Y, the Kitchen, the JCC on the Upper West Side, and the New York Writers Workshop. The workshop meets every Wed., 7-9 p.m., beginning Jan. 27 in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, near the F/ G stop at Fort Hamilton Pkwy. The fee is $325. For more information, email Minkowitz@earthlink.net.

THU.JAN.28 NIGHTLIFE Tropical Time Tripping

CABARET

“The Grand Paradise” is a fully immersive, multi-sensory experience in which visitors travel to a tropical paradise. Set in those hazy and culturally liminal years of the late 1970s becoming the ‘80s, the experience begins as you are handed a vintage plane ticket by a polyester-clad airline attendant. On the island, you encounter a rogue’s gallery of eccentrics, gay hustlers, eternal youths, gods, monsters, disco queens, and sexy con men. 383 Troutman St. at Wyckoff Ave., Bushwick (just off the L Jefferson St. stop). Jan. 28-Mar. 31: Tue.-Sun., 7 p.m. & 10 p.m. Tickets are $115; $95 for late shows at thegrandparadise.com.

A Subcultural Jason Robert Brown Reprise

THEATER

MON.JAN.25 Following a successful run last year, Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, playwright, and singer Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) returns to SubCulture for the first in his 2016 Artist-In-Residence concert series, welcomGayCityNews.nyc | January 21 - February 03, 2016

on-again, off-again husband who just can’t help but make things worse. As Amber struggles to keep things from boiling over, she finds herself a stranger to the person she once was and the person she thought she might be. Jay Stull directs a limited engagement at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Pl., btwn. Perry & W. 11th Sts. Jan. 28-Feb. 20, Thu.Sat., 8 p.m., plus Jan. 31 & Feb. 17, 8 p.m.; Feb. 13, 3 p.m. Tickets are $18 at TheAmoralists.com or 866-8114111.

WRITING

Eartha Kitt Night at “The Meeting*” Justin Sayre, in a monthly “Meeting*” of the International Order of Sodomites, launches the Winter/ Spring 2016 season of his acclaimed comedy/ variety show, with a tribute to Eartha Kitt. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Jan. 24, 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at joespu.com or 212-967-7555, and there’s a $12 food or two-drink minimum. The season will also include tributes to the musical “Cabaret” (Feb. 21, 9:30 p.m.), Elton John (Mar. 20, 9:30 p.m.), Barbra Streisand (Apr. 17 , 9:30 p.m.) and George Michael (May 22, 7 p.m.).

SUBCULTURENEWYORK.COM

SAT.JAN.23 CABARET

DANIELCOONEYFINEART.COM

The Bureau of General Services — Queer Division and Daniel Cooney Fine Art are joining forces to present a solo exhibition by New York City artist Benjamin Fredrickson at BGSQD, coinciding with Fredrickson’s collaborative exhibition with Juan Betancurth at Daniel Cooney in Chelsea. The solo show, titled “Salon,” features previously unseen Polaroid photographs and new images made with paper negatives. Fredrickson’s early work documents his sexual life and his community of gay men, while his new work, though less explicit, unexpectedly offers deep intimacy and beauty among his subjects. BGSQD at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Jan. 20-Mar. 20, with opening reception Jan. 21, 6-9:30 p.m. More information at bgsqd.com. The Frederickson- Betancurth collaborative exhibition takes place at Daniel Cooney, 508-526 W. 26th St. From Jan. 14: Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

An Emily Schwend Debut The Amoralists proudly present the world premiere of Emily Schwend’s “Utility,” the story of Amber, who has two jobs, three kids, an eight-year-old’s birthday party to plan, a house that needs fixing up, and an

MON.FEB.1 THEATER A Horse, Not a Unicorn According to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, “What The Horse Saw” is the funniest play Tennessee Williams never wrote. The company’s sketch team One Idiot (featuring David Ebert) began the project as a standard show, but it soon blossomed into a hilarious homage to Mississippi’s most famous playwright. Leaning heavily on Tennessee’s tropes with a heavy dose of NSFW comedy, the show is equal parts witty and vulgar. Between the sexually repressed men, scheming matriarchs, beautiful 24-year-old spinsters, and titans of Southern industry. Fans of Williams, American drama, or even just pretty horsies will find something here to enjoy (preview the show at https://youtu.be/ oIQcSfagJTw). Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 307 W. 26th St. Feb. 1 & 15, Mar. 7 & 21, 8 p.m. Admission is only $5 at ucbtheatre.com or at the door.

TUE.FEB.2 FILM Evolving Cinema Erotics “Queer Transitions” is an evening of film that looks at the history and present of evolving erotic experiences of embodiment, from defiant and empowering perspectives. The screening includes Marguerite Paris’ 1972 “All Women Are Equal” (15 mins.); Michelle Parkerson’s 1987 “Storme: The Lady Of The Jewel Box” (21 mins.); Susana Donovan’s 1994 “Boy Frankenstein” (9 mins.); Ruth Jenrbekova & Maria Vilk’s 2015 “Layer” (21 mins.); Yoriko Mizushiri’s 2014 “Maku” (5 mins.); and Tara Mateik’s “Operation Invert” (12 mins.). Tara Mateik and Michelle Parkerson appear after the screenings. Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave. at Second St. Feb. 2, 7 p.m. Admission is $11; $9 for students & seniors at anthologyfilmarchives.org.

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January 21 - February 03, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc

Gay City News  

January 21, 2016

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