Page 1

Rentboy’s Hurant Indicted, Others’ Charges Dropped 15

Tibet Atop the Q Train 16

pages 04-05, 18, 21





Undistributed cinema

All hail the new king





Critical Juncture

04-05, 18, 21 CRIME


Harlem rallies in support of trans woman assaulted on the D train

Fifty years after gays demanded a drink, landmark status sought

Getting straight

Learn to write queer




37, 39

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February 18 - March 02, 2016 | | February 18 - March 02, 2016



Anti-Gay Justice Antonin Scalia Exits the Stage Firebrand on losing side of major LGBT rulings advanced “dead” Constitution view only haltingly BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD




ith the death of Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court has lost its most outspoken anti-gay member. Ever since taking his seat on the high bench in 1986, Justice Scalia voted consistently against gay rights claims, sometimes in the majority and sometimes in dissent, regardless of the factual context in which they arose. Scalia was appointed to the high court by President Ronald Reagan shortly after it had decided Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), the notorious case in which it rejected by a 5-4 vote a constitutional challenge to Georgia’s law making gay sex a crime. There is no doubt how he would have voted in that case, since he subsequently argued — in dissent, in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case — that it had been correctly decided and should be reaffirmed and followed. The first LGBT rights case to come up after his appointment, during Scalia’s first term on the court in 1987, was San Francisco Arts & Athletics v. US Olympic Committee. The Olympic Committee sued for an injunction to stop SFAA from holding its international athletic competition under the name “Gay Olympics.” The Supreme Court ruled that the USOC had a right under a federal statute to veto the use of “Olympics” in connection with athletic competitions run by other organizations, and that the statute did not violate the First Amendment free speech rights of others who wanted to run their own “Olympic” games. Scalia joined the majority opinion by Justice Lewis Powell. The court refused to entertain the argument that USOC’s discriminatory exercise of its veto — allowing many other organizations to use “Olympic” in their name unchallenged — raised a constitutional issue. The USOC was not a governmental organization, and thus, the court held, not bound by the equal protection requirement. Justices William J. Brennan and Thurgood Marshall dissented in full, and two other justices — Sandra Day O’Connor and Harry Blackmun — also opined that the case should be sent back to a lower court for further consideration of an equal protection challenge. The high court ruled in 1988 that a gay man who had been discharged by the Central Intelligence Agency had a right to seek judicial review of his claim that he was a victim of unconstitutional discrimination, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist writing the decision for the court. Scalia, who normally voted in line with the chief justice, penned a lengthy dissent, arguing that Congress had insulated such CIA

personnel decisions from judicial review and was constitutionally entitled to do so. Scalia subsequently joined a dissent by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in 1989 in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, a case in which a majority of the court accepted the argument that an employer who takes adverse action against an employee because she fails to conform to gender stereotypes may be violating the sex discrimination ban in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Antonin Scalia died on February 13 at age 79.

Justice Brennan’s opinion for a plurality of the court influenced lower courts to adopt a broader approach to Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination, leading ultimately to provide protection to transgender plaintiffs and even some gay plaintiffs who can make a plausible claim that they encounter workplace discrimination because of their failure to conform with gender stereotypes. Although the Kennedy dissent that Scalia joined focused mainly on other issues in the case, it voiced skepticism about the “sex stereotyping” theory. Scalia’s hostility toward gay rights claim came into full view in 1996, when he “vigorously” dissented (to use his descriptive word) from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Romer v. Evans, which held that Colorado Amendment 2 violated the equal protection rights of gay people. That voter initiative prohibited the state or its political subdivisions from adopting legislation that would protect gay people from discrimination. The case provided Scalia with his first vehicle to accuse the court of signing on to a gay

rights agenda, because it was its first potentially wide-ranging pro-gay rights decision. “The constitutional amendment before us here is not the manifestation of a ‘bare... desire to harm’ homosexuals,” he wrote, refuting Justice Kennedy’s reasoning for the majority, “but is rather a modest attempt by seemingly tolerant Coloradans to preserve traditional sexual mores against the efforts of a politically powerful minority to revise those mores through use of the laws.” The description of “seemingly tolerant Coloradans” who had voted overwhelmingly to enact Amendment 2 in the wake of a horrifyingly homophobic media campaign drew shocked guffaws from LGBT commentators. Scalia continued, “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that ‘animosity’ toward homosexuality is evil.” Scalia thereby dismissed the court’s majority as in league with the organized bar and the law school community, which had condemned anti-gay discrimination and moved to deny discriminatory recruiters access to law school placement offices. After summarizing Kennedy’s rationale for the decision in sarcastic terms, Scalia insisted that by such reasoning “constitutional jurisprudence has achieved terminal silliness.” Arguing that the court’s ruling was inconsistent with Bowers v. Hardwick, he accused the majority of overruling that case without saying so. If it was constitutional to make gay sex a crime, he asked, how could it be a violation of equal protection for a state to refuse to protect homosexuals from discrimination? Pushing the point further, Scalia wrote, “Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible — murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals — and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries-old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.” He went on at length in a similar vein, ultimately accusing the court of ruling based on politics rather than law, and arguing for the right of individuals who did not want to associate with homosexuals in their workplaces to refuse to employ them.


SCALIA, continued on p.5

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |

SCALIA’S GAY ADVENTURES IN NEW YORK CITY In dozens of articles over the years, Gay City News has reported in detail about the anti-gay jurisprudence of the late Justice Antonin Scalia that made him the LGBT community’s most implacable foe on the nation’s highest court. But on several occasions, the newspaper reported on his extracurricular visits to his home town, New York. In April 2005, Scalia gave a 30-minute address to students at New York University, and he got a stark — perhaps embarrassing — reminder that the personal is indeed political. Eric Berndt was a 24-year-old NYU law student. As Duncan Osborne reported, Berndt had little use for Scalia as a legal profession role model, describing him as a “homophobic bigot” whose language is “demeaning” to the queer community. Two years before, the conservative justice, in his dissent in the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy case, had written, “The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are ‘immoral and unacceptable,’ the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity. [The 1996] Bowers [ruling] held that this was a legitimate state interest.” Berndt was willing to challenge Scalia on his legal reasoning, asking him if he believed that the “liberty interest” identified in Justice


Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the sodomy case might outweigh the “state interest” he identified. Then Berndt drove the point home, asking Scalia, “For example, do you sodomize your wife?” According to the law student, there was a “huge collective gasp” among the 400 in the audience, though Berndt said he heard that in an overflow crowd of 300 watching a live feed in another room, a cheer went up. Scalia’s jaw dropped, Berndt recalled, and he looked toward his Secret Service protection. Berndt worried little that Scalia never answered the question. “He should not be morally shielded from that,” he said. “He is asserting that it is not a serious invasion of liberty… My question was a symbolic act, a gay man against a homophobe.” Berndt’s symbolic defiance did not go unanswered by NYU officials, however. In a schoolwide email, Richard Revesz, the law school dean, wrote, “One student posed an extraordinarily rude, immature, and inappropriate question. Such a show of incivility to any individual invited to be a guest of the Law School, let alone to a Supreme Court justice, has no place in our intellectual community.” Berndt was not shy about responding, writing in his own mass email, “It should be clear that I intended to be offensive, obnoxious, and

SCALIA, from p.4 | February 18 - March 02, 2016

many lower court judges cited and quoted from Scalia’s dissents to support their rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans. Throughout these dissents, Scalia bemoaned the court’s weakening of the ability of legislative majorities to codify their moral judgments in law, detesting the moral relativism exhibited by Kennedy’s opinions in exalting private morality above public morality as a matter of individual liberty protected by the Constitution. When the marriage equality cases arrived at the court’s door, Scalia fought a rear-guard action to try to keep lower court marriage equality rulings “stayed” until the Supreme Court could decide the cases — perhaps holding out hope that Kennedy was not ready to extend the Windsor decision further — joining dissents by Justice Clarence Thomas, who sought to preserve the anti-marriage status quo as long as possible, even after the Supreme Court had denied review to several pro-marriage equality court of appeals rulings and agreed to review the one adverse ruling out of the Sixth Circuit. Despite the string of decisive defeats he endured beginning with Romer v. Evans, Scalia did enjoy some victories along the way. In Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, he joined a unanimous 1995 court in striking down the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that the organizers of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade were required under a state civil rights law to allow an LGBT group to participate in the event. In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, decided in

Eric Berndt when he was a 24-year-old law student at NYU.

Senator Chuck Schumer also marched, explaining that it was appropriate that “the first Italian-American associate justice” on the high court serve as grand marshal. Schumer hastened to add, “But I’m fighting to keep people like him off the court.” Scalia himself was not particularly chatty with the press that day. Asked how being grand marshal differed from his marching with Xavier High School as a Queens youth, all he would say was, “I’m older.” He became downright exasperated when asked where he saw gay issues going on the high court, saying, “I have no idea.” — Paul Schindler


This dissent set the pattern for Scalia’s increasingly strident dissents as he found himself on the losing side in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), United States v. Windsor (2013), and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the cases in which the high court struck down sodomy laws, the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, and state laws against same-sex marriage. These dissents were littered with colorful phrases one would not expect to find in the normally staid volumes of Supreme Court opinions; he accused Justice Kennedy of “argle-bargle” and asserted he would be so ashamed to sign on to the logic of the Obergefell decision that he would put his head in a paper bag. Scalia’s dissents in these cases also proved to be oddly prophetic, probably to his dismay. He accused the court of overruling Bowers v. Hardwick sub silentio in Romer, and the court subsequently did so explicitly and emphatically in Lawrence. He accused the court of opening up the path to same-sex marriage in Lawrence, and exactly 10 years later the court, citing Lawrence, struck down the federal ban on recognition of same-sex marriages in Windsor. In his Windsor dissent, Scalia accused the court of providing a road map for lower courts to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage, predicting that the issue would be back before the court in two years. Precisely two years later, the court struck down such bans in Obergefell, over a hysterical Scalia dissent. Not surprisingly,

inflammatory. How am I to docilely engage a man who sarcastically rants about the ‘beauty of homosexual relationships’ (at the Q&A) and believes that gay school teachers will try to convert children to a homosexual lifestyle (at oral argument for Lawrence)?” Later the same year, Scalia was back in Manhattan, this time as grand marshal of the Columbus Day Parade. There, he faced a protest from several dozen LGBT activists, who were joined by a longtime community ally, Chelsea Assemblymember Dick Gottfried. Gerard Cabrera, who was then president of the Out People of Color Political Action Club, told Gay City News’ Andy Humm, “I think generally Supreme Court justices are not viewed as public figures the way politicians are. But the fact that Scalia has so politicized his own office by going to extremes when writing about his animosity toward the LGBT community, he sets himself apart from the rest of the court — except for [Clarence] Thomas — who are supposed to be just interpreters of the law.” Other politicians chose not to join Gottfried in picketing Scalia but rather to participate with him in the parade. Mayor Michael Bloomberg marched, though when his spokesperson, Ed Skyler, was asked whether the mayor was “happy, sad, or indifferent” about the justice’s role as grand marshal, the response was, “Indifferent.”

Even though Justice Anthony Kennedy, like Scalia, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, the two became determined opponents on four critical gay rights cases, on all of which Kennedy wrote the majority pro-gay opinion.

2000, he joined a 5-4 majority in striking down the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling that the Boy Scouts did not enjoy a First Amendment right to exclude openly gay men from leadership positions in violation of that state’s civil rights law. In 2006, in Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, Inc., he joined Chief


SCALIA, continued on p.21



Sending a Message to the Hate Pastor of Harlem

Local community supports converting a church into transitional housing for LGBT youth



ometimes, justice can be poetic on many levels. An LGBT -affirmative organization has expressed interest in acquiring a notoriously homophobic Harlem church that is currently over $1 million in debt, and the community is all for it. The “Hate Pastor of Harlem” — one James David Manning of the Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church on 123rd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard — has been spewing homophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric for more than two years, to anyone who would listen as well as on an attention-getting sign on his church’s corner. If it weren’t for just how outrageously virulent and hateful the language posted there is, one might think that Manning is simply an attention-seeker. His vanity is particularly grandiose, and he is more than willing to be interviewed on camera by one and all, his office even equipped with camera-ready backdrop and lights. Now, it has been revealed that Atlah has unpaid debts in excess of $1 million, including water and sewage charges owed to the city, in addition to overdue taxes and other liabilities. The church is also responsible for fines due to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which may soon surpass $13,000, according to the LPC. Due to Manning’s failure to show up in court or respond to notices, the property is in foreclosure, and an auction is set for February 24. Manning insists he is not required to pay for these utilities because his church is tax-exempt, but when contacted, he could not readily provide information as to when he may have applied for the exemption. Furthermore, that particular status is reserved only for churches that use their space exclusively for public worship — Manning




One side of the marquee on the Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church.

Pastor James David Manning speaking from his in-office studio at the Blood of Jesus Atlah World Missionary Church.

has mentioned repeatedly that his church provides additional services as well, outside of prayer. The poetic part is this: Local community members offended by the church have been organizing in support of the Ali Forney Center acquiring the building at auction to provide its clients with additional housing. Ali Forney, the largest national organization serving the housing and social service needs of homeless LGBT youth, has a dropin center on 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, just three blocks away from the Atlah church site. Carl Siciliano, executive director of AFC, is cautiously optimistic that his organization’s efforts, which are backed by local community groups like Love Not Hate, will pay off. “I’m gratified by the amount of attention this has received,” he said. The end goal shared by AFC and other local community groups is focused on the fundraising campaign Harlem No Hate, which set a goal of raising $200,000 toward a down payment on the building at auction. Siciliano said his group will then leverage that sum to “trigger conversations with larger donors.” On the morning of February 9, the campaign announced it had reached its goal. It’s about “bringing attention around the issue, and showing broad public support,” Siciliano said. He went on to mention that four different entities have approached AFC as potential partners in this project, in the collective hope of seeing the church, currently a site of so much hurtful rhetoric, turn into a place of community support and inclusion for LGBT young people. It all depends on the auction, though. In most foreclosure auctions, no minimum bid is set and the sale is public, so it can be anybody’s game. But conceivably, the city will make sure the property is not sold for a sum lower than the lien

against it. Which means: someone’s gotta pony up. Siciliano, for one, is unruffled. “This really shows our viability as a contender,” he said of the contributions made thus far in support of the effort to grab the church at the auction. An instrumental help in the cause is neighbor Stacy Parker Le Melle, founder of Harlem Against Violence, Homophobia and Transphobia, who has had to deal with Atlah’s offending signage from the first — right outside her front door. Even before the news of the impending foreclosure, Le Melle was working to support nearby Ali Forney. “These are mostly small donations from people in the neighborhood,” she said about the $20,000 she has helped raise over the last two years. Of AFC, Le Melle said, “they’re the biggest show in town as far as helping LGBTQ youth who are homeless or need help. So we felt like we’ll give them the money and they’ll help the kids who have to walk down the street and see this kind of hate messaging.” Now, of course, the cause has grown much bigger, and Le Melle along with her constituents would love to see the church acquired by AFC. “When the news [of the foreclosure] broke… we immediately thought, ‘The Ali Forney Center!’” Le Melle said. “Honestly I think we’re making history to be the first neighborhood group to say, ‘Please bring in transitional housing into our neighborhood!,’ but the AFC isn’t just any kind of transitional housing… they really care for their clients.” Siciliano also sees it as a no-brainer. Through his experience with Ali Forney, which he founded in 2002, he’s seen that a major challenge in procuring transitional housing — and getting the city on board with it — is winning local neighbor-


HARLEM, continued on p.17

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


Meeting of Minds Among ACT UP, City, State Will eased tensions lead to cooperation or will AIDS activists’ impatience flare again? BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


town hall meeting that featured senior officials from the de Blasio administration showed that AIDS activists have reached a kind of détente with the city agencies they were picketing not long ago. “We were put into an uncomfortable place,” said Dr. Sue Blank, who heads the sexually transmitted disease unit in the city health department. Then, alluding to the adage that suggests making lemonade when life hands out lemons, she said, “We’re definitely in a lemonade-making place.” A C T U P, t h e A I D S a c t i v i s t group, convened the February 8 meeting at the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. After several 2015 protests, including pickets at City Hall and another outside a city health department office in Queens, the town hall was a cordial and respectful affair. In a 2015 town hall organized by ACT UP and the Treatment Action Group, which was also held at the Center and drew roughly 170 people, activists put signs on empty chairs at the front of the room with the names of the senior city health department staff, including Blank, who were invited to the meeting, but did not attend. “T oday’s meeting is how to work together better,” said Victor Thompson-Mas, an ACT UP member, toward the close of the roughly three-hour event that was attended by about 50 people. James Krellenstein, also an ACT UP member, noted that recent increases in funding for sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and HIV prevention at the city health department were due, at least in part, to the protests and sometimes contentious meetings that ACT UP and other groups had with the city last year. On February 8, activists presented 16 items that they believe the city and state must respond to. Broadly, they touched on HIV prevention and care, assistance

for LGBT youth, protection and assistance for sex workers, and then how the people in the room can follow up with the city and state to ensure that action is taken. Each item received its own presentation from an ACT UP member or from another AIDS or housing group, and then one or more of the five government panelists responded. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, who heads HIV programs at the city health department, Dan O’Connell, the head of the state AIDS Institute, Dan Tietz, chief special services officer at the city’s Human Resources Administration, and Susan Haskell, who oversees youth services at the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development, joined Blank on the panel. Much of the agenda was related to the Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in New York State from the current roughly 3,000 a year to 750 annually by 2020. The city now says that new infections here will be reduced to 600 annually by 2020, making it responsible for the lion’s share of the reduction. The panelists’ responses made it clear that there is a great deal of work that has yet to be done to get to 750 by 2020. The plan uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected. HIV-negative people can take one dose of Truvada a day as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent infection, and people with a recent exposure to HIV can take a 28-day course of anti-HIV drugs as a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to stay uninfected. The plan also counts on treating HIV-positive people with anti-HIV drugs so they are no longer infectious. “We’ve seen increases in PrEP utilization, but not on the scale that we need,” O’Connell said. Last year, the AIDS Institute launched a program to help New Yorkers pay for PrEP called the PrEP Assistance Program. To date, it has enrolled 316 people. | February 18 - March 02, 2016


ACT UP, continued on p.16



Harlem Rallies in Support of Trans Woman Assaulted on D Train

On bitter February evening, dozens unite to say, “Trans lives matter,” “Whose subway?, Our subway”


Jennifer Louise Lopez at the February 12 rally, with Manny Rivera standing behind her. DONNA ACETO

Dozens turned out at the February 12 rally.



Harlem Pride’s Carmen Neely.


Jaron Benjamin of Housing Works.


Pastor Vanessa Brown of the Rivers of Living Water ministry.


s arctic air descended on New York the evening of February 12, a crowd numbering several dozen gathered at the corner of 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue to show support for Jennifer Louise Lopez, a transgender rights activist who was assaulted by another woman shouting antitrans slurs on the uptown D train two weeks earlier. “This type of violence happens all too frequently, and it cannot happen,” said Jaron Benjamin, the vice president for community mobilization and national advocacy at Housing Works, an AIDS services group. Pastor Vanessa Brown of the Rivers of Living Water ministry, an LGBT African-American Christian congregation, said, “We will not relive what we went through for the past decade,” and then spoke about the all too common violence aimed at transgender men and women, including the 2013 slaying of Islan Nettles roughly 20 blocks away. Benjamin and Brown were speaking out about an attack on Lopez at about 10 p.m. on January 30. According to Lopez, who is the founder and director of Everything Transgender in NYC, she sat down next to another woman as she rode the D train north between 59th and 125th Streets. Suddenly, the other woman looked at her and shouted, “You’re a man,” before punching her in the eye.

Several men, Lopez said, held her attacker off, but when Lopez exited the train at 125th Street the woman followed her, and when Lopez re-boarded the train, she was still being tailed. Lopez said she cannot be sure that the men who restrained her attacker were not companions of the woman. Others on the train, she said, largely ignored the assault and the ensuing commotion. After her attack, Lopez sought emergency treatment at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, where, she said, she was seen for only 10 minutes and not given “a proper exam.” Only during a second emergency room visit elsewhere the next morning did she learn that the retina in her left eye was at risk for detaching. Though the condition was treated, Lopez said she is not yet out of the woods and needs several more weeks of healing to be sure there is no permanent damage. During the rally, she held out her eyeglass frames, which were missing both lenses and one of the stems when she recovered them after her attack. Asked how she is feeling two weeks after her attack, Lopez told Gay City News, “Emotionally I am just trying to recover. I am still afraid to go on the subway. This is the first time I have been back at this corner since that night.” Though the NYPD last week classified the attack as a potential hate crime, Lopez said it took her going to the media more than a week after the crime to get police atten-

tion. Though she was informed that the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is now on the case, Lopez said no one from that unit had yet contacted her directly. Cecilia Gentili, a trans* health program coordinator at Apicha, an AIDS and health services agency, echoed Lopez’s anxieties about travel on the city’s mass transit system. “I ride the subway in fear,” Gentili told the crowd. Others who turned out to support Lopez included Cristina Herrera, a transgender HIV prevention coordinator at the LGBT Community Center, Carmen Neely, the president of Harlem Pride, Manny Rivera, who heads up the LGBTQ Task Force at Harlem’s Community Board 10, and John-Martin Green, founder of the Gatekeeper’s Collective, which aims at “igniting the power of black same-gender love (SGL).” Neely, Rivera, and Green also represented the New York City SGL/ LGBTQ Coalition, a convening of black and Latino leaders in the city. Harlem Democratic district leader Dan Clark and a representative of Borough President Gale Brewer were also on hand. According to Lopez, the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers program has established a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her assailant. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477),, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |

* | February 18 - March 02, 2016



Wielding Executive Authority Again, Cuomo Curbs Anti-Gay Therapy While four states ban practice, governor is nation’s first to unilaterally protect LGBT youth BY ANDY HUMM



Matthew Shurka testified that he was subjected to it for five years starting at age 16 and “was told that there was no such thing as homosexuality and that men experienced sexual attraction to other men because of a ‘void in their masculinity,’” a report prepared based on the forum said. “He was provided pornography and Viagra to aid him in pursuing heterosexual sexual encounters.” Now 21, Shurka has come out as gay.


overnor Andrew Cuomo moved to severely limit “conversion therapy” for minors in New York State using his executive authority in the absence of action in the Republican-controlled State Senate on legislation — already passed in the Democrat-led Assembly — to completely ban it. “Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” Cuomo said in his February 6 release. “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.” At the governor’s direction, “The New York State Department of Financial Services is issuing regulations barring New York insurers from providing coverage for conversion therapy given to an individual under the age of 18. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health is prohibiting coverage of conversion therapy under New York’s Medicaid program and the New York State Office of Mental Health is issuing regulations prohibiting facilities under its jurisdiction from providing conversion therapy treatment to minors,” his release said. Alphonso David, Cuomo’s out gay chief counsel, told Gay City News that when the Senate blocked out gay West Side Senator Brad Hoylman’s bill to ban the practice, “the governor instructed me to address the problem through regulation.” He said that he reached out to insurance providers, business associations, medical providers, the Departments of Health, Mental Health, and Financial Services, and the American Psychological Association among others, including survivors of the practice. “It is deplorable what these kids went through,” David said. “We came to the conclusion that this practice should be banned in New York and that we should take appropriate legal steps to do it.” The governor’s action, he added, “makes it nearly impossible to pro-

vide conversion therapy in New York. This was the most aggressive position we could take.” California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington, DC, have laws banning conversion therapy for minors, and 17 states, including New York, have bills pending to do so. But Cuomo is the first governor to do as much as he is able to do by executive action. “We are engaged with general counsels in other states” to take similar action, David said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, at an Empire State Pride Agenda dinner last fall, announcing an earlier executive directive regarding transgender rights.

When the bill to ban the practice passed the Assembly in 2014 with bipartisan support, chief sponsor Deborah Glick, an out lesbian West Villager, said, “We stand with those, who as professionals understand the serious damage that has been imposed on young people by deceitful state-licensed therapists who offer a claim, refuted 40 years ago, that being LGBT is a mental illness that needs to be cured.” Glick, Hoylman, and his Senate co-sponsor Michael Gianaris of Queens held a forum last May on their bills to ban conversion therapy, hearing from two dozen witnesses and concluding that it is practiced in New York, that the practice is “ineffective and degrading” and can lead to “depression and suicidal thoughts,” and that experts agree it should be banned.

While homosexuality was indeed removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s index of mental disorders in 1973, it is only in recent years that mental health associations and elected officials have moved to ban conversion therapy and only for minors. It is mostly offered by right-wing practitioners associated with religions that condemn homosexual activity. One practitioner, JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), was found guilty of consumer fraud and “unconscionable” business practices in New Jersey last June. The “therapy” included having patients strip naked in front of the “therapist” as well as instructing a patient in a group to have another patient play his abuser and shout statements such as “I won’t love you anymore if you don’t

give me blowjobs.” JONAH moved its operations to Israel — which discourages but does not ban the practice — and was reported this week to be using it on American rabbinical students in Orthodox seminaries. Hoylman said legislation is still needed here. “Our bill with Assemblymember Glick and Senator Gianaris would forbid state-sanctioned mental health providers from practicing sexual orientation change efforts and penalize them for doing so. They would be fined and could lose their licenses.” He said that “a lot of conversion therapy is underground.” Hoylman cautioned, “Executive actions only last as long as the executive” — a future governor could reverse Cuomo’s order. He said his bill would have 32 votes — a majority — if it were allowed on the floor, but Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan has refused to give it a vote. Hoylman reported that there are more than 20 pro-LGBT bills stalled in the Senate now, including GENDA, the transgender rights bill that Cuomo addressed through executive action last year. The Senate has a chance to have a Democratic majority if the special election in south Nassau County to replace convicted Senator Dean Skelos, the former Republican majority leader, on April 19 is won by the Democrat, Assemblymember Todd Kaminsky, over GOP attorney Christopher McGrath. But several rogue Democratic senators, including Jeff Klein of the Bronx, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, Diane Savino of Staten Island, and Tony Avella of Queens, who have caucused with Republicans in the past to keep the chamber from having Democratic leadership, have refused to commit to support Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester as majority leader if their party wins a majority. That sort of betrayal is virtually unheard of in any other state legislature but is not uncommon in the New York State Senate, notori-


CONVERSION THERAPY, continued on p.17

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


As Meth Returns, So Do the Prosecutions

Gay, bi men snared in federal investigations; judges exercise greater sentencing discretion BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

S | February 18 - March 02, 2016

was not necessary. He could see that Jepsen had been using. Isabelle Kirshner, Jepsen’s lawyer and a partner at Clayman & Rosenberg LLP, reached a plea agreement with the federal prosecutor’s office, but the possibility that Jepsen might be high barred Pauley from accepting Jepsen’s plea. “I think both of these gentlemen need to be parked,” Pauley said, and referring to Jepsen, he added, “Over the next 30 days, his access to his illegal drugs will be cut off.” With methamphetamine use apparently increasing among gay and bisexual men in New York City, law enforcement has already responded. Gay City News found 10 recent meth cases in Manhattan federal court and others in the nation’s capital, California, and Virginia. Like the meth cases seen 10 years ago, when meth use in the LGBT community last came to widespread public atten-


tanding on the wrong side of the rail in a Manhattan federal courtroom, Anton Jepsen was emptying his pockets, taking off his coat and removing his belt, and surrendering his possessions to two friends, who were visibly upset, before being taken into custody by a marshal. Jepsen and his co-defendant, David Tart, were arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last August in Penn Station as they stepped off a train carrying 4,661 grams, or just over 10 pounds, of methamphetamine. While both made bail, a condition of remaining free was that they abstain from using crystal. They could not do it. “You’re both threats to the community and dangers to yourselves,” said William Pauley, the judge who

is hearing the case, at the February 11 hearing. “The reports from Pretrial Services are outrageous.” Tart, who gave his possessions to his attorney, was screened right before the hearing and “he tested positive for methamphetamine,” Carlos Ramirez, a drug and alcohol treatment specialist with federal Pretrial Services, told Pauley. James DeVita, Tart’s lawyer and a partner at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack, said that his client had been using the drug for years. “Mr. Tart has been an addict for 15 years or more,” DeVita said, adding that Tart, who maintains his innocence on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, tried to fulfill his bail requirements. “He’s made not successful efforts, but he has made efforts.” Jepsen arrived late for the hearing, which Pauley noted, and was not drug tested. The judge looked at Jepsen and said that a drug test

William Cullum, a Brooklyn artist, served just over six years in jail for meth sales.

tion, some of the defendants are HIV-positive gay men who sold the drug to support their habit.


METH, continued on p.17





The New York Times reports on the sip-in by what the newspaper termed “3 deviates,” insultingly leaving out the fourth deviate.

Preservation advocates emphasize that Julius’, inside and out, is largely unchanged since 1966 and before.

Fifty Years After Gays Demanded a Drink, Landmark Status Sought Preservation advocates speak up for Julius’, where 1966 sip-in challenged State Liquor Authority ban BY ANDY HUMM


he push is on to make Julius’ bar in Greenwich Village the second New York City building landmarked because of its unique role in LGBT history — as the scene of a pre-Stonewall civil disobedience action that won gay people the right to be served in public establishments. The Stonewall Inn, scene of the 1969 rebellion that catalyzed the modern LGBT liberation movement, was given landmark status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission last spring. Julius’ role in LGBT history came three years earlier and, unlike the Stonewall, looks much as it did inside on that occasion almost 50 years ago. On April 21, 1966, four gay men from the Mattachine Society, a pre-Stonewall gay group, stood at the bar of Julius’ on West 10th Street and Waverly Place and announced, “We are homosexuals. We are orderly, we intend to remain orderly, and we are asking for service.” They were refused on the grounds that the mere presence of gay people in a bar made it a “disorderly” premises subject to closure. After their famous “sip-in,” the men — Craig Rodwell, John Timmons, Randy Wicker, and Dick


Leitsch — challenged the State Liquor Authority regulation and prevailed, a crucial victory in the early gay movement. The New York Times headline on their action read, “3 Deviates Invite Exclusion by Bars.” Wicker, whose gay activism goes back to 1958 and who is still at it, said, “Only Julius’ refused to serve us that day. Several others willingly obliged our request for a drink, but Julius’ did not want to become a known gay bar. They would police the door and if it got to be too many males inside, they would not let a man in unless accompanied by a female.”

1970. He died of stomach cancer in 1993 at age 52. Leitsch, the leader of Mattachine then, is still alive and told Gay City News he thought it was “a great idea” to landmark Julius’. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), led by executive director Andrew Berman, is petitioning the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate Julius’ as a historic landmark before the 50th anniversary of the sip-in, which will be marked by a forum on April 12 at 6:30 at the nearby Jefferson Market Library.

The bartender at Julius’ was particularly jumpy because the day before a minister had been arrested for soliciting another man there. The bartender at Julius’ was particularly jumpy because the day before a minister had been arrested for soliciting another man there and a sticker had been placed on the door declaring the bar “a raided premises.” Rodwell went on to found the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in 1967 and co-led the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March — now the LGBT Pride Parade — in

Landmark status “will insure that the building itself and the exterior are regulated and preserved,” Berman said. “It will also give recognition by the City of New York that this is a site of tremendous significance in our city’s history.” While there were several gay rights demonstrations around the country prior to this, Ber man said the sip-in was “the very

first planned civil disobedience for LGBT rights in the world.” Damaris Olivo, spokesperson for Landmarks, wrote in an email that “the request is under review by the agency” and noted that the bar is protected as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and that any changes to its façade already require the approval of the commission. But she did not respond to a follow-up asking if the request might be calendared in time for the sip-in’s 50th anniversary. Berman said that the 1969 Village district designation report “makes no mention of the architectural or historical significance [of Julius’]. It goes through building by building, and it is the guide by which the commission regulates. If the report doesn’t highlight special significance, the building is potentially vulnerable to changes — even demolition.” When GVSHP gathered support for the Stonewall designation in 2014, many of those endorsing it seconded the call for city landmark status for Julius’ — including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, City Councilmembers Corey Johnson and Margaret Chin, and the LGBT Community Center.


JULIUS', continued on p.20

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


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Delaware trial judge has ordered a healthcare provider to pay more than $1.1 million in damages to a man who convinced a jury that he lost his job because the provider faxed information about his HIV-related treatment to his workplace. In a February 1 decision, Superior Court Judge Mary Johnston, finding that the “verdicts are ones that a reasonably prudent jury could have reached,” rejected the defendant’s post-trial motion to set aside the verdict or lower the damage award. To protect the plaintiff’s confidentiality, Johnston allowed him to sue anonymously as “John Doe.” Doe alleged that the defendant, Infectious Disease Associates, P.A., was negligent in transmitting a fax containing “confidential information regarding Plaintiff’s treatment for the HIV virus” to Doe’s workplace. A co-worker delivered the fax to Doe, who presented the court with circumstantial evidence that “the behavior of his colleagues in his workplace changed after the fax was received,” Johnston wrote. Shortly after the fax incident, Doe was discharged. His former employer presented evidence purporting to show that the termination was “unrelated to anything except work performance,” but the jury found more credible the plaintiff’s evidence that “his performance reviews did not justify termination prior to the fax, and that thereafter his employer moved inexorably toward firing him.” The jury heard conflicting evidence about whether any co-workers actually saw the fax, with Doe’s case resting on the common sense assertion that “his fellow employee must have seen the fax in order to deliver it to Plaintiff.” In order to rule for Doe, the jury had to conclude that the defen-

dant’s negligence caused Doe’s lost wages, and that his termination was a “reasonably foreseeable consequence” of sending the fax. Johnston’s opinion does not identify the employer, as one would expect in protecting the anonymity of the plaintiff, and does not mention whether Doe has filed an HIV-related discrimination lawsuit against that employer. Some of the damage award — $86,526.76 — represents lost wages as a result of the termination of Doe’s job. The jury also awarded $1,050,000 to compensate Doe for the emotional distress he suffered. The defendant presented evidence showing that Doe suffered no physical injury as a result of the fax incident and that he was already suffering from depression and “emotional issues” before this occurred. Doe countered with evidence that his depression increased after the incident, with one witness describing his “emotional and mental state following the fax,” and his doctor testifying that “she prescribed medication as treatment for Plaintiff’s physical responses to disclosure of the information to his employer.” Delaware courts will not award damages for emotional distress that lacks any physical manifestation. In response to the defendant’s motion that she reject the jury verdict, Johnston pointed out, “Credibility should be decided by a jury. Disputed facts are the province of the jury. The jury’s verdicts are supported by both direct and circumstantial evidence.” Rejecting the defendant’s challenge of the damages as excessive, Johnston responded that they “are not grossly disproportionate to the injuries suffered, and do not shock the Court’s conscience and sense of justice.” Doe’s attorney is John R. Weaver, Jr., of Wilmington. The size of the damage award may prompt the defendant to seek appellate review. | February 18 - March 02, 2016

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The Unsinkable Bobby Rivers!

Veteran veejay talks about the latest flap over diversity in Hollywood FACEBOOK.COM

Bobby Rivers.



met Bobby Rivers in the 1980s when he was one of VH1’s first veejays. He was extremely funny and preternaturally good-natured, qualities he still retains. (I couldn’t even get him to say something mean about Charlotte Rampling.) He’s been a radio host, a Food Network host, and even turned up on “The Sopranos.” We lost touch with each other until two weeks ago, when I found him on Twitter (@ BobbyRiversTV) and immediately got into tweety talk about the Oscars. We continued it in the following interview: ED SIKOV: I have mixed feelings about the #OscarsSoWhite dispute, Bobby. Sure, it’s impossible to look at a composite photo of all the acting nominees and not notice that they’re all white. But it’s the Oscars, and the Oscars have never been about actual quality. They’re really about showing the world that Hollywood is full of noble, generous, fundamentally decent people and not the crass, money-grubbing blowhards we know them to be. Your thoughts, please. BOBBY RIVERS: The following actors and actresses were never, ever nominated for an Oscar: Edwar d G. Robinson, Joel McCrea, Ida Lupino, Marilyn, Monroe, Mia Farrow, Dennis Quaid, Donald Sutherland, and Richard Gere. But Kim Basinger has an Academy Award. I understand what you mean. ES: So what’s to be done about racial diversity when they couldn’t even get Edward G. Robinson or Marilyn Monroe right? BR: Exactly. The situation with the Academy is similar to the situ-


ation with America. Just because a black president was elected didn’t mean that all inequality problems were magically poofed away. If anything they came to the surface for people to see. The #OscarsSoWhite issue is not just about the Academy and not just about black actors. When’s the last time we saw an Asian-American actor or actress make an Oscar acceptance speech? In the Academy, there needs to be race and gender equality for editors, cinematographers, and directors. In the industry in general, we need more people of color in the studios who help green light projects, and we need them working in Hollywood and New York as agents. Black people were never seen as high-powered talent agents on “Entourage.” Black agents are so rare that Chris Rock lampooned the idea in his show biz comedy, “Top Five.” Kevin Hart played his agent. TV newsrooms need to embrace the race and gender diversity, too. There’s an article in the Entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times called “Critics point to studios for lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees.” But how many times have you seen a black or Latino person as the film critic on a network morning show? I tried to be a movie critic when I worked on two local New York City morning shows and got resistance from executives. But I started my TV career as the weekly movie critic on the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee. I was the first black person in the city’s history to do so. The field of film critics given to us on network morning news programs and on syndicated film review shows has been predominantly white males. And TV columnists have yet to question that lack of diversity on camera. I still go to screenings and see lots of black, Latino, and Asian critics who would love TV airtime. And when have you ever seen a black female movie critic on TV? Never. But they do exist in New York City. I know some, and I worked with them on cable’s Arise TV. Even this month’s entertainment contributors in place on network morning shows for the announcement of

the Oscar nominations lacked color — and, ironically, that’s when the #OscarsSoWhite issue came up. The Academy will start making changes because president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is a groundbreaker. She’s been around Hollywood a long time, and she’s passionate about diversity. ES: Yes, and in fact the Academy announced a major change in voting eligibility. If you haven’t worked in film for three decades, you can’t vote any more unless you’ve been an Oscar nominee yourself. The new rules sparked an immediate backlash, which I’m calling #WhiteOscarsMatter. Old white folks are outraged. Charlotte Rampling called the decision by some African Americans to skip the Oscars this year — widely mischaracterized as a boycott — “racist to white people,” a remark she swiftly claimed was “misinterpreted” after it exploded in her face on Twitter. Tab Hunter, the ‘50s blond vealcake who turned out to be gay, said, “It’s a thinly-veiled ploy to kick out older white contributors — the backbone of the industry — to make way for younger, politically-correct voters.” What do you say to that? BR: Cheryl Boone Isaacs was the first Hollywood executive ever to invite me home for dinner. She was senior VP of publicity at Paramount in the 1980s when I had my VH1 talk show. She liked my work and graciously invited me over to her home for dinner when I was in LA taping interviews for the show. Arsenio Hall was a top late night talk show host at the time. He was also on the Paramount lot. Cheryl loved the fact that I hosted a prime time talk show too and that it was different from Arsenio’s while also booking A-list guests. She felt it was a strong racial image for Hollywood to see. I believe that TCM host Robert Osborne once said that Cheryl’s late brother, Ashley Boone, was the first African-American to head a major Hollywood studio for an appreciable amount of time. [Ashley Boone, who was gay, died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 55.] Osborne, if I recall correctly, cited six months when the highly-respect-

ed Boone ran 20th Century Fox during a 1970s period of executive turmoil and financial low points. Ashley was a marketing whiz whose movie career started with “West Side Story.” He was the genius who turned “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a Fox flop, into a top piece of pop culture. He came up with the idea of midnight screenings, a move that enabled it to find its audience and make some money. Ashley was the marketing man behind Fox’s original “Star Wars” trilogy, “Julia” starring Jane Fonda, and “The Turning Point” with Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. Ashley and Cheryl were the first brother and sister to serve on the Academy’s Board of Governors. Now think about this: If there was a short role in a movie script for someone to play the senior VP of publicity at a top Hollywood studio, how many actors of color would be submitted by agents to audition for the role? How many black women? ES: But what about Rampling’s “racist to white people” inanity? And don’t you think Tab Hunter, of all people, should appreciate diversity? BR: I have a great respect for Tab Hunter. I saw the recent documentary about him, “Tab Hunter Confidential,” and loved it. And I feel his acting skills were never fully utilized by Hollywood because he was marginalized due to being gay. I’m gay. I know how those barriers feel. But I disagree if he thinks this new Academy move is a ploy to kick out older white contributors. It’s a move to keep other actors from being marginalized and limited in quality employment opportunities due to race, gender, and, I might add, sexual orientation. It’s a move to keep the art of film, the product of movies, an accurate and modern reflection of today’s world. Ask Tab Hunter how many black, Latino, Asian, or female film directors and screenwriters he worked with during his Hollywood heyday. The Academy changes are to inspire and initiate that kind of diversity in the industry. As for Ms. Rampling, bless her heart. She’s just wrong. If she attends the Oscars, I hope she’s seated right next to Whoopi Goldberg.

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he chief executive of pleaded not guilty to one count of violating the federal Travel Act and two counts of violating a federal money laundering statute during a February 10 court appearance. “It makes no sense that he’s being prosecuted for a crime,” said Michael Tremonte, Jeffrey Hurant’s attorney and a partner at Sher Tremonte LLP, following the proceeding before Judge Lois Bloom in federal court in Brooklyn. Arrested last August along with six of his employees, Hurant, who founded the gay escort website in 1997, faces one count of violating the federal Travel Act, which makes certain state crimes a violation of federal law when they are committed across state lines or by using a phone, email, snail mail, or other forms interstate commerce. The underlying state charges in this case are promoting prostitution and facilitating a crime by a person under 16. Hurant is also charged with two counts of violating a federal money laundering statute that makes it illegal to use the proceeds from illegal activity. Hurant was indicted on January 27 after months of plea negotiations. Easy Rent Systems, the legal business name, is also charged and Hurant pleaded not guilty for the corporation. “Prior to this hearing, we’ve had

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Picketers once again gather outside Brooklyn federal courthouse discussions relating to a plea,” said Tyler Smith, the assistant US attorney who is prosecuting the case, during the hearing. “We’ll continue to have those discussions.” Normally, the government has 70 days to bring a case to trial after issuing an indictment, but the defense and pr osecution agreed on February 10 to stop the clock on that timetable so the plea discussions could continue and both sides would have time to review the mountain of evidence seized when the US Department of Homeland Security raided the offices. The arrests and raid last August sparked an immediate and loud


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he hot salad called logo-patsel was one of the brightest things I’ve ever eaten, a blisteringly spicy bowl of shredded carrots, cabbage, a little tomato, and chopped cilantro in a warm tomato-vinegar broth with lots of chilies, garlic, and ginger. The Tibetan entrée was boringly referred to as “stir-fried cabbage with carrot” on the menu, but though the vegetables were cooked, it must have only been for five seconds. They retained a vivid freshness that made me want to keep digging my spoon into the enor mous tureen ($8.50, available with optional beef, chicken, or tofu). Colored in beautiful yellows, oranges, and reds, they were a perfect thing to eat in winter. The next day, the leftovers had mysteriously lost their bite of heat. But they still tasted good, now like some particularly fervent and authentic version of borscht. Tibetan food is often compared to Indian and Chinese cuisines, but the dishes at Brooklyn’s Café Tibet in Ditmas Park also reminded me of a number of Eastern European and Ashkenazi Jewish delights. The excellent beef momo (steamed dumplings) with an unusual fruity yellow hot sauce ($8.99 for eight large dumplings) owed more to pierogie than to Chinese jiaozi. And some of the vegetable dishes, like tsam-thuk, the Tibetan nomad soup made with roasted barley, radishes, carrot, and cottage cheese ($4.25), evoke the old Jewish dairy restaurants like Ratner’s. Others recall the pungent salads and pickles of Jewish “appetizing” stores, or, in a different way, those of Korea. A narrow, badly painted room


ACT UP, from p.7

“I hear you about PrEP AP,” O’Connell said. “Three hundred isn’t enough, 316 isn’t enough.” The city health department, which is seeing an increase in PrEP uptake, is launching PrEP and PEP services at its eight currently operating sexually transmitted clinics, and it has expanded hours at those clinics allowing


Tibet Atop the Q Train perched on top of the outdoor Q station on queer-friendly Cortelyou Road, Café Tibet is as dingy as Dubrow’s, the dairy cafeteria on Kings Highway whose food was always much worse than Ratner’s. The room does have its charms — tiny masks of dogs, cows, demons, and horses by every table, Buddhist fabric hangings with haunting images of faceless eyes, framed quotations from the dalai lama that say things like “Develop the heart/ Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart/ Develop the heart.” But Café Tibet also

sauce. It was one of the weirdest and most delicious appetizers I’ve had in quite a while. The Tibetan diet is full of meat, milk, and carbs because of the country’s difficult terrain. Little else is available in the highest areas but yak products and barley, and the diet also helps keep Tibetans going in the low-oxygen, often very cold environment. Butter tea, classically made with black tea mixed with salt and butter from a dri (a female yak), is the national drink. Friends succeeded in warning me off the butter tea at Café Tibet on my initial visits (“Really,

Ditmas Park eatery’s surprising echoes of Brooklyn Eastern European, Jewish culinary traditions has some visible dirt — a little on the green-painted walls, which symbolize balance and harmony in Tibetan Buddhism, and some, sadly, in the bathroom, where the side of the white wastebasket and the bottom of a sink fixture were filthy. (The toilet and the sink appear clean.) The only reason I would recommend the place anyway is that the food is that good. For the record, Café Tibet has an A rating from the health department. Take heart in that, and in the fact that the restaurant is so popular that ingredients turn over daily. I wasn’t expecting the “la-phing, a popular street snack, extracted from mung beans, drizzled with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic with Tibetan hot sauce” ($3.99) to be a cold, quivering pile of savory jello cubes made fr om mung beans, with a mouth-tingling chili

really nasty,” cautioned one who’d had the drink elsewhere), but they proved misguided. When I finally had one ($1.50), it tasted nurturing and good, like a sauce or gravy. True, I couldn’t stand to drink more than a couple of sips because of the richness, but I dunked my steamed bread (tingmo) in it (alternating it with dunks in hot sauce and a fruity soy sauce) for a very satisfying experience. I’m told many Tibetans do the same. All of the food I had at Café Tibet tasted nurturing, but I need to focus on that tingmo, which you should choose instead of the perfectly fine rice as your free accompaniment to entrées (or on its own for $1.50). Soft and springy, like lumps of Play-Doh, the big balls of white tingmo (made from yeasted wheat flour) tasted elemental and a little sweet, the way I always imag-

it to serve more New Yorkers. The city’s ninth clinic in Chelsea is closed for a gut renovation into 2017. That clinic closure was a source of conflict between activists and the city. “From a PrEP perspective, we have a number of things that we’re rolling out,” said Daskalakis, who is relentlessly upbeat in his assessments of the city’s performance. Asked during a February 12

event held at Woodhull Medical Center — one of 11 public hospitals operated by the city — if he agreed with O’Connell’s view that progress to date has not been enough, Daskalakis said, “We think that there is so much work to do.” A major item that activists and the de Blasio administration want is to pass HASA for All, which is city legislation that would give HIV-positive people access to ser-

ined manna tasting as a child. The floppy texture made the tingmo fun to eat. It tasted heavenly dipped over and over in the yellow hot sauce, which charmingly comes in plastic mustard squirt bottles and is made from tomatoes, chilies, onion, and perhaps celery. Dipped in butter tea, or in the restaurant’s lovely, sweetish, and very fresh vegetable curry ($8.99), tingmo also reminded me of kreplach, or the very lightest matzoh balls. As a lesbian, I’ve had scant experience with testicles, but tingmo’s happy, spongy texture made me think they might have a similar feel. But the dumplings are even finer. The momo are available in veggie, chicken, or beef varieties (or combo of all three), but get the beef if your personal guidelines allow it. The inside is spicy with ginger and Sichuan peppercorns, which Tibetans prefer to call emma. The buttery outside, dipped in burning hot sauce, is what you want in your mouth in a blizzard. Café Tibet, 1510 Cortelyou Road, between East 15th and East 16th Streets in Brooklyn (no website, 718-941-2725). Open daily except for Tibetan holidays, noon – 10:30 p.m. Many items are suitable for vegetarians or vegans, and the chef is happy to accommodate requests to remove meat or dairy or to change the spice level. Cash only, BYOB (the owners also own a grocery next door, where many international beers and an ATM are available). No reservations; be prepared to wait on weekend evenings. No wheelchair access except in warmer months, when outdoor seating with an interesting view of the subway below can accommodate wheelchairs; the restroom is not accessible.

vices currently given only to people with an AIDS diagnosis at the HIV/AIDS Services Administration. The city has said consistently that enacting the legislation requires state support. “There’s HASA now and there’s HASA in the future,” Tietz said. “It’s very clearly in the mayor’s budget, the money is there… We need the state to equitably contribute to it.”

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |



ous for its corruption and self-dealing, particularly in the last decade. Ve t e r a n g a y a c t i v i s t A l l e n Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, hopes that governors “throughout the country” will follow Cuomo’s lead on this issue. He added, however, “Bad psychiatric care should be outlawed. It would be logical that this would extend to religious organizations that teach gay people self-hatred and destroy their lives. The government needs to stop funding hate groups. There doesn’t seem to be any adherence in the city or the state to the constitutional separation of church and state.” The New York State health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, said in a release, “The children of New York deserve to be shielded from this detrimental treatment that is rooted in archaic beliefs.” Most of those beliefs are rooted in religion, and while the governor’s action does not reach into counseling by religious leaders, it does apply to religious


METH, from p.11

Jepsen and Tart were among a group of at least six people who were initially identified by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office in California in an investigation that used wiretaps, cell phone location tracking, and other surveillance. Palm Springs, a gay enclave, is in Riverside County. The wiretaps, which began in January 2015, allowed the Sheriff’s Office to track a March meth delivery by car from California to Chicago, where police stopped the car and seized four -and-a-half pounds of meth. Court records do not identify the driver or indicate if the driver was arrested. In April, police knew that Jeffr ey D a w son , on e o f t h e s i x , would be traveling to Newark Liberty International Airport. He was stopped by the DEA after exiting the plane, and agents seized more than two kilograms of crystal from him. Dawson was released, which may indicate that he was cooperating with law enforcement. He was arrested in California on charges of conspiracy to

practitioners seeking third-party reimbursement. David said, “To the extent that religious organizations are engaging in practices that we have repudiated, they can no longer use state dollars to support these practices.” Millions in state and city funds go to religiously affiliated organizations to provide social services, including religions that condemn homosexuality. David said that recipients of government funding cannot use it to “proselytize.” He said, “To the extent that organizations are providing services inconsistent with anti-discrimination laws, we can take appropriate action in those areas.” Cuomo has been pushing unsuccessfully for hundreds of millions in tax credits to be made available to private and parochial schools, legislation opposed by Hoylman and Glick. The Irish government now requires state-funded Catholic schools — the vast majority of schools there — not to discriminate against LGBT staff. No such provision is attached to Cuomo’s tax credit proposal.

distribute narcotics in November and is facing charges in Manhattan federal court. While court records suggest that either Jepsen or Tart was told that Dawson had been stopped, one of them allegedly sold an ounce of meth to an individual in New York City in July who had been convicted and sentenced on a drug offense and was cooperating with law enforcement “in exchange for immigration benefits.” And as the DEA watched, Jepsen and Tart made their trip to Penn Station. Generally, today’s defendants — as compared to individuals apprehended a decade ago — possessed larger quantities of crystal, ranging from several hundred grams to multiple kilograms, when they were arrested. And some of the current defendants found by Gay City News are alleged to be part of trafficking organizations. What has also changed is that federal judges can carve out exceptions to mandatory minimum sentences in some cases. In 2005, the US Supreme Court | February 18 - March 02, 2016


HARLEM, from p.6

hood approval. But in this case, the neighborhood would gladly welcome such a change, if it meant removal of the church and its pastor’s hate-packed sign. “If you’ve got the local neighborhood asking for it, it’s a rather remarkable situation,” Siciliano said. “This was instrumental in evaluating the pro’s of going for this space.” The proposed acquisition would also make sense on a practical level; there are other potential sites that the Ali Forney Center was already interested in acquiring for its young clients, but none within walking distance of the its drop-in center, a nexus point of the organization’s activities. Should AFC not prevail in securing the building at auction, Siciliano has pledged to use the money raised “to increase its housing and vocational services for homeless LGBT youth in another site.” The Rivers of Living Water Ministries, an LGBT congregation led by African-American Reverend Vanessa Brown and Bishop Joseph

ruled that the guidelines that were used to calculate mandatory sentences were advisory, a ruling that gave federal judges greater discretion in sentencing. Gay City News found one defendant who was charged in 2010 and sentenced to “time served” and five years post-release supervision in 2011 after selling an ounce of meth to a “confidential source” in Manhattan and promising to sell the source more in the future, according to a sentencing document. Previously, the man, who is gay and HIV-positive, could have faced a five-year minimum sentence. But in another case, a Queens man who was carrying 79 grams of meth at his 2014 arrest and had 538 grams of meth in his apartment when it was searched was sentenced to 135 months, or just over 11 years, and five years post-release supervision. In the 2013 federal fiscal year, the US Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that advises federal judges on sentencing, reported that prison terms for meth offenders were nearly evenly

Tolton, is without a home and has also established a fund to try and secure the property. To the untrained eye, the problem Atlah church presents — homophobia displayed so blatantly, and by a religious institution no less — might seem outlandishly out of place for 2016 Manhattan. But the Ali Forney Center’s central mission serves as a reminder that there are still massive problems for LGBT youth — and by extension, the community as a whole — that remain insidious even in New York. “Ali Forney was murdered 10 blocks from there,” said Carl Siciliano of his foundation’s namesake, who he said used to sleep on the hill in Marcus Garvey Park down the street from the Atlah church. “This is very visceral, very real and emotional for me.” And while Ali Forney died back in 1997, the murder of young transgender woman Islan Nettles occurred less than three years ago, also in Harlem. The problem is now, the Harlem community seems to agree, and prompt removal of language in support of the murder of young people is vital.

divided with a third serving under five years, another third serving between five and 10 years, and another third serving more than 10 years. In the 2014 fiscal year, among all drug cases, “offenses involving methamphetamine were most common, accounting for 26.2 percent of all drug cases,” the commission reported. “I’m surprised that this is still going on because I was under the impression that the Obama administration was going to treat it as more of a mental health issue rather than criminal issue, the [Department of Justice] was going to stop pr osecuting as strenuously,” William Cullum, an artist who served just over six years for meth sales, told Gay City News. While he served his time in the lowest security facilities, he describes it as “traumatic.” He currently has a “tendency towards isolation” and takes psychiatric medications. “I wasn’t that way before and I’m that way now,” he said. “The thing that happened between was six years in prison.”



The Win-Win Politics of This Critical Juncture





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BY PAUL SCHINDLER Every presidential election cycle, Democrats talk about the importance of controlling appointments to the US Supreme Court. In the abstract, my bet is that the warning doesn’t often move many voters. But it should. There have been four big LGBT wins at the US Supreme Court: the 1996 decision that struck down Colorado’s anti-gay Amendment 2, which had barred the state or any municipality from enacting nondiscrimination protections; the 2003 win in Lawrence v. Texas, which threw out the nation’s remaining sodomy laws; the Windsor victory in 2013 that gutted the Defense of Marriage Act; and, of course, last year’s nationwide marriage equality triumph in the Obergefell case. Our margins of victory were 6-3 in the first two cases — and a heart-stopping 5-4 in the two recent marriage rulings. Meanwhile, the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision — which established a dangerous precedent for business

Emissions Control

© 2016 Gay City News. All rights reserved.



o not watch. I cannot go when you watch.” Fans of David Fincher’s brilliant “Fight Club” (1999, from the novel by Chuck



Within hours of Scalia’s death being announced, Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, made clear they have little, if any inclination, to give Obama his third high court appointment. And that’s hardly surprising. In a nine-member court where Anthony Kennedy, though an appointee of Ronald Reagan, was often the swing vote, Scalia was among the three most reliable conservatives. Losing that seat to a Democratic president’s appointee — in the GOP’s not unreasonable assessment — would end the dominant role that conservatives have played on the high court dating back roughly 40 years. Unfortunately for the Republicans, their strategy for avoiding this outcome relies largely on nullifying the fourth year of the president’s second term. When they argue the voters should have the right to decide, they are conveniently forgetting that voters have decided — twice, in 2008 and 2012. We have only one president at a time, and Barack Obama is that president. Obama has made clear he has no intention of rolling over, and his fortitude may enable him to over come the curr ent GOP intransigence and see his nominee take their seat on the court. Given the quality


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enterprises to claim religious exemptions from laws of general application; in that instance, the contraception coverage requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act — came in a 5-4 vote. Hobby Lobby raises troubling questions about the ability of businesses and other private actors to claim religious exemptions from LGBT nondiscrimination laws. On issues beyond the specific scope of gay rights, the infamous 2010 Citizens United case, which opened up the spigot on unrestrained political spending by corporations and wealthy individuals, was also decided on a 5-4 vote. In this year’s session of the high court alone, there are critical cases on which the court is sharply but closely divided involving abortion, affirmative action, contraception, immigration, organized labor, and voting rights. Though these vital questions of public policy might not, in themselves, be enough to motivate the average voter, the flap surrounding the president’s right to name a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia might just be sufficient to awaken a greater concern about the importance of the Supreme Court in our lives.

of his previous two picks, I am confident about a future in which that justice joins Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan on a court more amenable to concerns that progressive Americans, including the LGBT community, share. The willingness of Justice Kennedy to step up on gay issues in the past adds an added cushion of comfort. Should the Republicans instead dig in their heels on any appointment by the president, I think the politics will work decisively against them, highlighting the radical right agenda behind their demand that the next president choose Scalia’s successor. The more the GOP presidential campaign focuses on demands for spurious religious opt-out rights, immigration restrictions and backlash, limits on women’s reproductive rights, deterrents to voter participation, unregulated big money political spending, and curbs on organized labor, the harder it will be for a Republican to win the White House. At the end of the day, then, GOP stonewalling might succeed in denying Obama his court pick only to hand that choice to his Democratic successor. Our current president deserves the right to name the next Supreme Court justice, but I’ll be happy as long as Scalia’s replacement is not named by a Republican. And if GOP high court shenanigans make a Democratic win more likely, all the better in any event.

Palahniuk) will recognize these paruretic lines delivered by Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to the unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) as Tyler attempts to piss in the soup — a huge vat of steaming broth destined for diners’ tables in a restaurant.

What’s that you say? What does paruretic mean? It comes from the word paruresis, the clinical term for the all-too-common inability to urinate in a public place under the real or imagined gaze of others. You’ve heard the slang terms many times before — pee-shyness, stage fright, problem public pissing (ppp — which


MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.19

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


Election 2016: Misogyny and the Audacity of Plans



haven’t written anything a b out th e el e c t i o n y e t . Hillary Clinton is running again, and there’s so much misogyny involved I can’t stand it. And sheer idiocy. My God, whole crowds willing to swallow any crazy thing their candidate promises — whether it’s Trump vowing he’ll throw out immigrants or end gay marriage, or Bernie guaranteeing a revolution featuring single-payer healthcare and free college, and pie, and the sky. So for the record, Hillary yes. Bernie no. And post-primaries, any Democrat will do. Don’t bother attacking. It’s clear my opinion doesn’t matter. I’m a woman after all. Judged for my voice: shrieky. My haircut: bad, needs washing. My record: smudged. I mean, I’ve been writing these columns for such a long time, anybody can find dozens (out of several hundred) that prove I’ve been a delusional fool. Nope, I’m not at all clean, but at least you know what you’re getting. Like with Hillary. Who is competent, careful, and has a reasonably progressive (though smudgy) track record of legislation and policy. When push comes to shove most of her stances are similar to Bernie’s. Though when it comes to women, she’s better.


She hasn’t just cast votes, she has initiated a lot of programs and legislation on the national and international level. She has worked for us, horse-traded even, and gotten laws passed and policy implemented. She’s an insider, and I’m okay with that in a world where women are second-class citizens at best; in the worst, raped, enslaved, mutilated, hidden, and murdered, considered less than human. So she doesn’t make the same rousing speeches. I’m thrilled that she’s a policy wonk, an egghead, an annoying Hermione Granger before she bonded with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley over that enormous troll. She’s the Obama we got after the election. Thoughtful, capable, and tough. And willing to go bipartisan even if the Republicans aren’t. Campaign 2008, Obama gave great speeches sparkling with the audacity of hope. He encouraged us with his deep mellifluous voice: Yes, we can do anything, even end partisan rancor. Behold! The dawn of the most perfect union is near. Difficulties, like queers, were swept under the rug, as he effectively mobilized the enthusiastic Occupy Wall Street sympathizers that were often so fucking radical that they didn’t need plans. Plans imply politics. Politics imply compromise, the establishment, and that nut-cracking bitch Hillary Clinton. I thought he was going to be a

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.18

is exactly what paruresis sufferers’ minds are screaming in those panicky moments), and my personal favorites: the slow dribbles and creeping pee-pee. Shitting has its own inhibition and the term to go with it: parcopresis. (A related condition is marcopresis — the inability of Marco Rubio to let anything meaningful come out of his mouth.) These conditions are quite familiar to many people. Two psychologists surveyed 1,419 college kids in 1954 and found that 14.4 percent (almost exactly 204) had experienced paruresis at some point in their young lives. Given millennials’ documented — and tragic — fear of getting buck naked in a locker room, the problem can only have gotten worse. | February 18 - March 02, 2016

total, bigoted, ineffectual asshole. I was wrong. Once he got elected, he governed as a realistic idealist, getting the job done in spite of the vicious Republican pummeling. He pulled the country back from economic meltdown, compromising his purity in ways that Sanders and Elizabeth Warren no doubt disapprove of. He named Clinton secretary of state and she helped him repair the international relations destroyed by Bush. He evolved on same-sex marriage. And because you can’t reform health care by signing, or refusing to sign, a few documents, Obama willingly dirtied his hands with a complicated project of law. Not just mobilizing enormous teams of lawyers to draft a bill that would stand up to a constitutional challenge. But persuading members of his own stodgy Democratic Party to accept it. All of that meant a great deal of politicking and compromise, the insider stuff Bernie says he despises. And if his track record after 20-plus years in the House and Senate can be relied on, I think we can believe him. Only Senators Ted Cruz and Tim Scott have scores as awful as his on the bipartisan index (Georgetown University). And without political skills, Bernie’s the same as every white leftie guy ever, waving his nice clean hands a lot and shouting about income inequality. And getting nothing at all done, because in fact class doesn’t trump everything, particularly race and gender. And blab doesn’t get you very far. Nope, I’d rather vote for an imperfect candidate with a wider

I mention these psychiatric issues because a particular iteration of them runs diarrhea-like through certain strains of American culture. The bathroom is a contested site in this country, a space fraught with anxieties that go well beyond the urine and feces the rooms are designed to get rid of. They have come to include an exaggerated fear of lewd exposure, sexual intimidation, and even rape. As I’ve written before, Alfred Hitchcock knew in 1960 that a shot of a flushing toilet in “Psycho” would jangle the audience’s nerves by revealing what previously had been totally unmentionable, let alone invisible, before ripping those nerves to pieces with the shower scene that soon follows. In those days, toilets were the site of cultural as well as personal repression; now they’ve also become the locus of intense reactionary politi-

vision and a pragmatic backbone. Someone who can work with others and is unafraid to evolve. And who will have an unimaginable impact worldwide as the first female president of the enormously powerful United States of America. Time for you to inappropriately invoke Thatcher; declare Bern a better feminist than Hillary (try googling Dolezal, Rachel); and list Clinton’s failures, which always include “flip-flopping” on samesex marriage, even though you voted for Obama, proud to put the first black president in the White House, no matter that he was then against marriage equality, and even campaigned with the same anti-gay preachers as Bush. And no matter that even working the adoring crowds, Obama was no Malcolm X. Nobody expected him to be. It’s enough that with Hillary we’ll get a good, maybe a great president. And she’ll be more than a symbol of what women everywhere can do, but an actual advocate. I was in France the day after the 2008 elections and I remember looking around the subway at the people of color, and remarking how most of them were grasping newspapers with Obama’s smiling, victorious face. And how they were smiling too, and standing a little straighter. It was extraordinary. Hillary’s victory will mean as much worldwide to women. Maybe more. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

cal and pseudo-moral phobias. What else can one conclude now that yet another inane Crapper -Scare-O-Rama has erupted after a trans-friendly nondiscrimination law went before the public — again — in Charlotte, North Carolina? Franklin Graham — son of the ancient Billy Graham, to whom presidents of both parties have paid regular fealty, including Barack Obama — recently posted the following overheated, dirty-minded rant on Facebook: “The so-called ‘Nondiscrimination Ordinance’ was defeated last year in Charlotte, NC, after public outcry and tens of thousands of emails from concerned citizens. But now it has been brought back to life at the urging of Charlotte’s new Mayor Jennifer Roberts, and reports say


MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.20



JULIUS', from p.12


MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.19

that two new City Council members are also supporting it. There’s no question, this is a dangerous idea. This literally opens the doors — the bathroom doors — to predators and sexually perverted people. Each section of the proposed ordinance has wording to include ‘gender identity.’ Gender identity is what an individual ‘feels’ their gender is regardless of the biological reality. So any man can say they feel like a woman that day and enter the women’s restroom at any public facility or the showers at public gyms by mandate of law. That’s absurd!” No. What’s absurd is Graham’s gutter mentality — his idea that a significant number of straight men would immediately rush into ladies’ rooms the instant a trans-inclusive civil rights law was in place. He must know some truly scuzzy straight men to come up with a scenario as sick as that one. In the spirit of inclusivity, Graham — who hasn’t yet endorsed a presidential candidate but who has spoken most admiringly of Donald Trump — didn’t limit his hate to trans folks. No, he despises us all. And it’s all about anti-Christianism. In Graham’s warped mind, it’s the haters who are the true victims: “In reality, this type of so-called ‘non-discrimination’ law is being used to discriminate against Christians. Just ask bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, florist Barronelle Stutzman, and others who were shut down or face fines for following their faith. Where sexual orientation and gender identity laws such as this have passed in other places, florists, bakers, photographers,


Julius’,” in his words, has been a denizen of the bar since 1974 — with some interruptions, coming back for good in 2000 and finding special solace in the community of patrons there after September 11, 2001. He and others raised $6,000 to get a period lamppost installed outside the bar. Ber nardin said he welcomes landmark designation, noting that the sip-in was “an accelerant” in the progress toward the Stonewall Rebellion “three years and two months later.” Bernardin tells the sip-in story in an online video at watch?v=pSf7gZb8JIY. This reporter first went to Julius’ in 1972 at age 18 and frequented it more in the late ‘70s as a place to repair to with groups of Dignity members after meetings. Father Bernárd Lynch of Dignity said, “It used to be my office in the early ‘80s when I did my AIDS ministry.” He recalled that it was very

adoption agencies, and T -shirt printers have been punished by the government for not wanting to use their artistic talents to celebrate and participate in same-sex weddings, not wanting to promote the LGBT messaging in Gay Pride events, or for not wanting to place an adoptive child with two men.” Never mind that Christians are themselves legally protected from exactly this kind of discrimination — they cannot be fired or refused service on the basis of their religion. I’m fond of the way Graham puts things he doesn’t like in quotes, to distinguish them from the supposed reality represented by Grahamworld: “gender identity,” “feels,” “non-discrimination.” Graham also includes a helpful hashtag to facilitate uniting the troops: #dontdoitcharlotte. Given that Graham and his kind are drawn magnet-like to the law’s filthiest implications for toilet-goers, a more-to-the-point rallying hashtag would be #dontgoincharlotte.

On the lighter side… I just caught up with Ed Smith’s article “The Scientific and Personal Benefits of Not Masturbating” on It’s written for men; Smith says nothing about the benefits of abstinence for women. So guys: the rest of this column is just for you. ‘”In the three weeks that I abstained, I wrote 20 articles, built a bed, started work on a book, and began eating salad, like any proper, functioning adult with a fear of imminent heart disease should. As soon as I started going at myself again, all that productivity disappeared, shot up the wall in a long, thick arc of lost potential.” “Up the wall?!” Dude! Aim for your


In his recent letter to the commission, Berman wrote that in 2012, “The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation deemed Julius’ Bar as eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places on the basis of its place in LGBT and civil rights history.” Julius’ has been a bar since 1864 in a building dating to 1826. It was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Its tables, chairs, and bar were made out of wooden bar rels from the Ruppert Brewery of Yorkville in the 19th century. It is the city’s oldest continuous gay bar, developing a reputation as such in the 1950s even though gay customers, prior to the sip-in, were sometimes harassed. Some of its famous gay regulars included Rudolf Nureyev, Tennessee Williams, Vladimir Horowitz, and Truman Capote. Berman said, “Certainly the inte-

rior is an incredibly valuable time capsule and we would like to see the bar continue to operate there in perpetuity with as much of the interior remaining intact as possible, but landmarking generally applies only to exteriors.” Helen Buford, the owner for the past 14 years — including with her husband Eugene until he died seven years ago — is “very excited” about the prospective landmark status. “I’m a caretaker of memories,” she said, so that “no one has to worry about it remaining Julius’ bar as long as I am here. My mission is to continue restoring it.” She said the eighth Mattachine Night party, billed as “spinning vintage vinyl from queer yesteryear,” is set for the bar for Thursday, February 18 at 10 pm, led by performers John Cameron Mitchell, Amber Martin, and Angela Di Carlo. Tom Bernardin, 67, “the unofficial, self-described historian of

Tom Bernardin, “the unofficial, self-described historian of Julius’,” has made a YouTube video chronicling the history of the 1966 sip-in.

friendly to priests and said he was just there this week, during a visit from his home in London, to meet an interviewer and enjoyed one of the bar’s famous burger. L ynch noted that the Gay Officers Action League held their early meetings at Julius’. “To me, Julius’ is a touchstone to our history,” Bernardin said, “a place that gay visitors from the US and foreign visitors come back to. It seems not to change. It’s like going home.”

chest! Seriously, fella. If you ever plan to invite someone else into your bedroom, face the fact that nobody — nobody — wants to see the dried trails of your past record-setting achievements staining your wall like a grown-up version of some kid’s height measurements. Twenty articles, a bed, a book, salads... All that creative energy exploded simply by virtue of seminal build-up. Impressive. But wait — there’s more! “For the first time in your adult life you’ll wake up in the morning and not want to cry… Each new day felt immeasurably less shitty.” Me? I’ve gone in exactly the opposite direction. Fighting depression with a good, productive wank has been the backbone of my self-medication regimen since I was 11. Smith continues: “Wrestling control back from your penis catapults you out of a grubby little world where you’re always looking to steal a few moments to rub one out. And that, objectively, is just a nicer place to be.” Maybe, though as Woody Allen says in “Love and Death,” objectivity is subjective. “You might get a bit sexually frustrated,” Smith allows. No shit, Sherlock! And he warns that you’ll likely be walking around with an unrelenting hard-on. Duh! As a way of managing the constant state of arousal his abstinence program provokes, Smith advocates using adhesive tape to secure your dick to your leg. Frankly, I don’t see how running the risk of suddenly punching your face with your knee is going to help matters. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook. February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


SCALIA, from p.5


RENTBOY, from p.15

backlash in the LGBT community with protests in four cities, including a sizeable picket outside the Brooklyn federal courthouse, and denunciations of the action by a number of LGBT groups. Even the New York Times editorial page condemned the investigation. A smaller protest of a few dozen people was mounted outside the courthouse


Justice Roberts’ opinion for the unanimous Court in rejecting a constitutional challenge to the Solomon Amendment, a provision denying federal funding to law schools that refused to allow military recruiters on campus due to the Defense Department’s anti-gay policies, reversing a contrary decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Scalia joined dissents in several other cases where the high court affirmatively addressed issues of concern to the LGBT community In Bragdon v. Abbott, a 1998 case, he joined a dissent by Chief Justice Rehnquist from the court’s conclusion that a woman with HIV-infection could assert a discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act against a dentist who refused to provide treatment to her in his office. In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, a 5-4 ruling from 2010, he joined a dissent against Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s majority opinion, which held that the University of California Law School could refuse to extend official recognition to a student group that explicitly excluded “homosexuals” from its membership on religious grounds. Scalia was, of course, a frequent dissenter in cases upholding women’s right to terminate their pregnancies as part of their liberty under the Due Process Clause, writing in dissent in a key decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey, from 1992 — that the court’s support for abortion rights was inconsistent with its upholding of laws against “homosexual sodomy” in Bowers v. Hardwick. Some of Scalia’s opinions could prove useful to gay litigants, although LGBT interests were not directly involved in the case before the court. In Employment Division v. Smith, in 1990, he wrote for the court that individuals could not claim a broad right under the First Amendment’s protection for free exercise of religion to refuse to comply with state laws of general application because of their religious objections. Although that decision spurred the passage of federal and state statutes providing some protection for religious dissenters, the degree to which such statutes would shield employers, landlords, or businesses serving the public from discrimination charges remains hotly contested, and so far many courts have

Scalia’s dissents in these cases also proved to be oddly prophetic, probably to his dismay.

ruled against recalcitrant businesses that had refused to provide goods or services for samesex weddings. Scalia’s opinion in Smith was cited in some of these cases to reject the constitutional free exercise claims raised by those found to have discriminated. In another case, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, decided in 1998, Scalia wrote for a unanimous court that same-sex workplace harassment might violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act if the victim was singled out for harassment because of his sex. Like the Price Waterhouse ruling in which he dissented, this case has also proved useful to some gay male litigants combatting workplace harassment by male co-workers, and Scalia’s comment that a statute could be interpreted to address “comparable evils” to those envisioned by the legislature when enacting it has proved useful to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commis-

on February 10. Activists have charged the raid and arrests are little more than attack on gay sexuality. “The feds don’t want to admit this, but this is a crazy prosecution,” said William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, during the February 10 picket. “It’s right out of the 19th century.” Violations of the T ravel Act carry a sentence of up to five years | February 18 - March 02, 2016

sion as it has moved to apply Title VII sex discrimination provisions to discrimination claims brought by gay and transgender people. One can be fairly certain that this was not Scalia’s intent in penning the phrase, however. In the Supreme Court’s only ruling to date on transgender rights, Farmer v. Brennan from 1994, Scalia joined an opinion for the court by Justice David Souter holding that prison officials could be sued under the Eighth Amendment for failing to take steps to protect transgender inmates from known risks of harm while incarcerated. Scalia’s main impact on the court’s jurisprudence generally was to lend a degree of respectability to certain theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation that had been rejected or minimized in the past, but he was never able to persuade a stable majority of the court to fully embrace his notion that the Constitution is “dead” — in the sense that its meaning was fixed at the time its provisions were adopted and cannot change in light of new circumstances — or that statutes should be construed by reference to their language without any regard to what legislators said they intended to accomplish by enacting them, their so-called “legislative history,” for which he had open disdain. Still, when assigned to write for the majority, he managed to work these ideas into his opinions to some extent, giving some lower courts the basis for invoking them from time to time. Scalia departed from Supreme Court tradition by engaging in a substantial amount of public speaking. In the past, most justices avoided speaking publicly about substantive legal issues, lest they cross an ethical line and signal their views about cases pending before the court. Such concerns did not seem to bother Scalia, who said publicly on several occasions what he subsequently said officially in court opinions concerning claims by gay people for constitutional protection, which he invariably found to lack merit. Homosexuality is not mentioned in the Constitution, which struck Scalia as the end of the matter, and he repeatedly argued that “the people” were entitled to vote against the interest of LGBT people as a matter of “democracy.” After almost 30 years of service, he will be missed from the court by many, but not all for the same reasons.

in prison. The indictment says that the government wants to seize roughly $1.6 million in cash from bank accounts. About $1.2 million of that amount is held in bank accounts owned by Hurant. The text of the indictment suggests that Hurant made no effort to conceal the proceeds. The money laundering charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

B e g i n n i n g i n S e p t e m b e r, the defendants and the Brooklyn-based Office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York filed repeated orders to continue the case, which effectively stopped the clock on the statutory time the prosecutor had to file an indictment. The most recent order was set to expire on January 29, two days after Hurant’s indictment came down.



Showcasing Undistributed Cinema BY STEVE ERICKSON

his girlfriend, the film’s emotional palette is similarly opaque. While some have taken this for a flaw on Odoul’s part, I think it shows the numbing effects of combat. While not as original as “La France,” a war film about deserters running away from battle, “The Fear” can safely take a place among the canon of French films about World War I.


Kianoush Ayyari’s “The Paternal House” was held up by Iranian censors for three years after its 2012 completion.

Sixteenth edition of “Film Comment Selects” highlights maturity of Lincoln Center festival




ow in its 16th year, “Film Comment Selects” has grown mature enough that its program notes describe French director Philippe Grandrieux as a series regular. It opens and closes with films by out gay directors: Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song” and the late Chantal Akerman’s 1986 musical “Golden Eighties” (Feb.24, 8:45 p.m.). In between, it stops at Iran, Serbia, France (repeatedly), Poland, Japan, the UK, and Russia and makes room for a two-film Charles Bronson spotlight. One of the most valuable aspects of Film Comment’s year-end critics’ poll is its list of the year’s best undistributed films. This year’s “Film Comment Selects” makes it a little easier for New Yorkers to see some of those films. Kianoush Ayyari is not a name that will resonate with many American fans of Iranian art cinema. In fact, “The Paternal House” (Feb. 20, 6:45 p.m.) is the only film he’s managed to make in the 21st century. Completed in 2012, it was held up by Iranian censors for three years and is only now hitting the international film festival circuit. It’s both familiar and unusual in its context. In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Iranian cinema sometimes seemed like the planet’s most feminist, and “The Paternal House” partakes of that tradition. In 1929, a father slaughters his daughter in an “honor killing” because he suspects that she sleeps around. He and his young son bury her in the basement of the titular mansion. While he doesn’t realize it, this murder will have consequences for his family decades into the future. The politics of “The Pater nal House” may not break new ground, even if they’re admirable, but what’s new about Ayyari’s film is the way it plays like an epic, multi-generational melodrama. The director proves to have quite a flair for drama, which seems all the more powerful for its claustrophobia: the film never leaves the house and its courtyard. Let’s hope his next film doesn’t get another threeyear ban.

The muted cinematography of Damien Odoul’s “The Fear” is broken only by the reds of blood and bluegray and red of French uniforms.

World War I left a long mark on French culture, as seen in films from Jean Renoir’s “La Grande Illusion” to more recent work like Bertrand Tavernier’s “Capitaine Conan” and Serge Bozon’s “La France.” Damien Odoul’s “The Fear” (Feb. 18, 8:45 p.m.; Feb 19, 4:30 p.m.) fits into this tradition. Made approximately a century after the start of that combat, it depicts three friends enthusiastically joining up. Gabriel Dufour (Nino Rocher) expects war to be like a movie. In the opening scene, a pacifist is beaten in a bar brawl, followed by the crowd singing the French national anthem “La Marseillase.” Clearly, there’s no room

for anything other than nationalist sentiment in 1914 France. “The Fear” contains relatively little dialogue; instead Gabriel delivers a nearly constant voiceover of letters to his girlfriend. These track his growing disillusionment, which begins almost as soon as he sees combat. Very quickly, one of his friends is killed and he realizes that combat consists of standing in muddy trenches, firing at distant enemies, and getting eaten alive by lice. The film’s cinematography is suitably muted: only the red of blood and the blue-gray and red of French uniforms are allowed to stand out. Despite Gabriel’s devotion to

This year, “Film Comment Selects” honors Polish director Andrzej Zulawski with a selection of four of his films, including the brand-new “Cosmos” (Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m.). Unfortunately, it’s not the best introduction to his work; it doesn’t come close to rivaling the 1981 horror film/ relationship drama “Possession” as his best film. Based on a novel by Witold Gombrowicz, “Cosmos” suffers from the sense that a lot got lost in translation. Its subtitles, taken from French, are full of awkward puns, wordplay, and nonsense. These undoubtedly worked better in Gombrowicz’s novel, and I’m sur e they work better in Zulawski’s film if one understands French. The film tells the story of two young male friends who stay at a country home, where they begin to see strange signs around them. Hints of an occult presence appear, such as hangings of birds. The presence of actress Sabine Azéma, who often worked with her husband Alain Resnais, evokes that late director’s spirit, and the sense of mystic portent also recalls Jacques Rivette and Raoul Ruiz. But in the end, “Cosmos” doesn’t add up to much.

FILM COMMENT SELECTS Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St. Feb. 17-24 $14; $11 for students & seniors

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Thomas E. Sullivan, Jake Epstein, and Jenna Gavigan star in Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola’s “Straight.”

Getting Straight Sexuality, relationships, and identity in a bold new play coming this month BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE


y mother used to say, ‘Thr ees ar e bad.’ That’s why she never let me have a play date with two other kids. She always said someone would be left out.” So said Jenna Gavigan, the charming young actress who plays Emily in the new play “Straight,” currently in previews and running through May 8 at the Acorn Theatre on Theatre Row. What may make for toddler tantrums, however, is the very stuff that plays are created from, and “Straight” unabashedly dives into the tensions, fears, and challenges an interpersonal triangle can lead to. The plot concerns Ben, an investment banker making a comfortable six-figure salary at 26, and his girlfriend, Emily, a graduate student and cancer researcher barely getting by. They don’t live together, but they are a couple. Emily wants more. So, in fact, does Ben. Ben’s “more,” however, comes in the form of Chris, a 20-year-old male undergrad at Boston College.


While Emily and Chris are pretty sure what they want, namely Ben, the two relationships cause a crisis for Ben, who has to come to terms with not only who he is but who he wants to be. As Shakespeare said, “Thereby hangs a tale.” Yet this is no Shakespearean play. After seeing the play and talking to the actors, it’s clear to me that this uniquely contemporary and thought-provoking play that — over and above the sex triangle — stirs up a host of fascinating insights into 20-somethings and questions of identity in 2016. Oh, and it’s a comedy — a sometimes bittersweet and fragile comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. One of the remarkable things about Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola’s play is that one is hard pressed to find other plays to compare it to. It’s that wonderfully welcome thing: a truly original work. The closest I could come to a similar piece attempting to catch the youth zeitgeist was “This Is Our Youth.” Good as that play is, it is 20 years old — and the world has changed. In “Straight,” the playwrights have peeled back the cover on

what it’s like for this trio of young adults out on their own, more or less. Emily, Gavigan explained, is representative of a lot of people she knows, “This is a life play,” she said. “It’s funny and upsetting. It’s as if they are almost stunted because of the debt we are in.” At one point in the play, Ben points out that Emily is curing cancer and makes less than a truck driver. Gavigan pointed out that many people of her generation have heard “don’t rush into things” from their parents, and they’ve taken that to heart. At the same time, she added, young people today feel enormous pressure due to biological demands as well as not knowing what social norms they are expected to abide by. Norms and labels play a huge role in “Straight.” Thomas E. Sullivan, a remarkable young actor making his Off Broadway debut in the play, said his character, Chris, is used to getting what he wants. So when Ben expresses resistance to being public in his relationship with Chris, it becomes, Sullivan said, a case of “immovable object meets irresistible force.” Yet there’s more at play here. Sullivan noted that the play touches on the half-dozen years that separate the two men’s ages and how the perception of being gay in the culture has evolved even over that short a time span. But, for Chris, greater acceptance might primarily mean being seen in the wider straight world as “the gay friend.” “Coming out isn’t the problem many people face,” Sullivan said. “It’s the baggage of being reduced to a label. Everyone can be very welcoming and then it [your sexuality] becomes who you are.” He notes that that label is ultimately dehumanizing. Part of Chris’ conflict, then, is that he feels marginalized by the label, and his fullness as a person remains unseen. In a world of social media and 140-character communication, that’s an issue that goes beyond sexuality, and Chris’ struggle with being acknowledged as the total person he is becomes one of the most sensitively explored issues in the play. Jake Epstein, who plays Ben, understands and in his perfor mance embodies the demands on someone who falls smack in the middle of the Kinsey Scale, as nei-

ther exclusively gay nor exclusively straight. Even with greater visibility and respect for gay people, the ambiguities in Ben’s life aren’t necessarily appreciated culturally, and the play explores that. “Ben’s feeling for men are a huge part of his life, and he struggles talking about it because of the labels,” Epstein said. “For a gay person, there’s an expectation to make that public, and if you don’t feel like announcing it, there’s a cloud around it.” The issue facing Ben is not the fear of coming out but rather his reluctance to embrace any easy definition of his sexuality. “It’s very provocative,” Epstein said, “because he’s in that period of life, post-college and not settled down, where he’s got this last window to figure himself out.” Ben struggles with his feelings, his longing, and the love he feels for both Chris and Emily. He sees two sides of himself in these relationships, and he likes those differences in himself. “It’s never equal love,” Epstein said of Ben’s crisis. “It’s always complicated.” Gavigan said of the characters, “They love each other dearly, and they don’t want each other to be hurting. They’re just rooting for everyone to be happy.” Of course, at least in this context, Gavigan’s mother is right: not everyone will be happy, at least in the short-term. Except for audience members, who are likely to be very happy with this play and the performances. My definition of genius is the ability to look at a situation from an angle no one has considered before. In this case, the genius of “Straight” is in opening our eyes to the challenges of love and relationships in 2016 and helping us to see the people beyond the labels.

STRAIGHT The Acorn Theatre 410 W. 42nd St. Through May 8 Mon.-Tue., Sun. at 7 p.m. Thu.-Sat at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $79.50; Or 212-239-6200 Ninety mins., no intermission

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Not So Black & White Harvard intellectuals mired in a swamp of racial and sexual politics


Tessa Thompson, Joshua Jackson, Mahershala Ali, and Anne Son in Lydia R. Diamond’s “Smart People,” through March 6.



ell timed for Black History Month, “Smart People” is the latest play by L ydia R. Diamond (“Stick Fly”) to explore the politics of race. Set against the backdrop of Barack Obama’s historic presidential election in 2008,

this barbed comedy of manners features four exceedingly brainy characters from a range of racial backgrounds. They reside in Cambridge, Massachusetts, naturally. There’s Brian, a smug white neuropsychiatry professor at Harvard who yearns to win a Genius Grant, and Ginny, a Chinese-Japanese-American psychology profes-

Starry Nights Linda Lavin and Len Cariou as dazzling as always in two new shows


Linda Lavin shines in Richard Greenberg’s disappointing “Our Mother’s Brief Affair.”


sor specializing in racial identity. We also meet Valerie, an ambitious African-American actor with an MFA from Harvard, and Jackson, an overworked surgical intern on rotation at Harvard Medical School who is also African-American. Yet the titular “smart” should be in quotation marks. Despite fancy degrees, these people are all fairly dopey when it comes to navigating racial divides and interpersonal relationships. This highly intelligent, absorbing work does a superb job of probing thorny issues surrounding racial stereotypes and our futile efforts to shatter them. Helmed by Kenny Leon (he also directed “Stick Fly”), the play features rapid-fire dialogue and overlapping scenes, which serve to ramp up the turmoil even further. Brian is conducting a bold, groundbreaking study measuring neurological responses in white people when exposed to blacks. “I want to prove that all whites are

racist,” he says, with no hint of discomfort. “We are programmed to distrust and fear those with more melanin.” Not surprisingly, many are outraged over his research, fearing that “the mingling of science and race could prove damaging.” Once the results begin to support his thesis, the university threatens to cut his funding. Diamond grounds the comic drama in harsh emotional truths, setting up dicey, racially charged situations, though some feel a tad contrived. In this world, as in our own, racism is colorblind — people can be racist even against their own people. When Valerie first meets Jackson in a hospital emergency room (she got a nasty gash on her forehead from bumping into an errant nail backstage), she assumes he’s an orderly, not a physician — because he is black. Jackson


SMART, continued on p.27



henever one is lucky enough to see Linda Lavin on stage, it’s a cause for celebration. Her ability to fill a character, find nuance, and communicate with brilliant economy and precise theatricality is rare and wonderful. She is the reason — and darn near the only one — to go see “Our Mother’s Brief Affair” at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In it, she portrays a woman named Anna Cantor at several stages of her life — a youngish mother, middle aged, and dying as she suffers from dementia. Lavin is consistently excellent, moving fluidly from one stage to another, as the script is not chronological. It’s a wonderful, sensitive performance of a woman whose secret life is finally exposed. Or is, perhaps, the unhinged reverie of a declining mind? Lavin’s performance, however, far outshines Richard Greenberg’s script, which feels like an unfinished draft sorely in need of editing and cohesive structure. Greenberg’s writing, which previously has often been sensitive and insightful, in this piece is clever and intellectual but not very rich in believable humanity. The plot putatively centers on the aged Anna, once more in the hospital on death’s door and finally deciding to spill the beans to her adult chil-

OUR MOTHER’S BRIEF AFFAIR Samuel J. Friedman Theatre 261 W. 47th St. Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $60-$140; Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 20 min., with intermission

dren about a decades-past infidelity. But it takes a while to get there. First we have to slog through a lot of background from the children, Seth and Abby, mostly Seth. In fact, most of the first act is expository, and Seth and Abby become literary devices rather than real characters. We learn that Anna is not a nice person, selfish and as a mother was, as Seth says, “intensely absent.” Abby feels that she was left out and is resentful. It’s fairly pedestrian sibling stuff, and it’s almost gratuitous that they are twins and gay. Nothing in the play explores those issues in adult children with any kind of seriousness or depth.


LAVIN & CARIOU, continued on p.27

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


SMART, from p.26

assumes her wound was the result of a beating — because she is black. To help pay the rent, Valerie cleans houses between acting gigs. Such a menial occupation is seen as a step backwards, a discredit to her race, by pretty much everybody — except her. After Brian kicks Jackson’s ass in basketball, he boasts, “See, white man can jump! You can’t channel years of oppression and beat one middle-aged white guy?” Turns out Jackson let him win. The most disturbing example is when Ginny, during a sort of sexual revenge game with Brian, plays the role of a subservient geisha girl in bed. Brian’s reaction is at once shocking and inevitable. Each character is richly drawn. A clean-shaven Joshua Jackson (currently starring in “The Affair,” though best known for “Dawson’s Creek”) is both arrogant and charming as Brian, the misguided “white male patriarchal asshole” professor. Mahershala Ali plays Jackson with a brooding belligerence that beautifully articulates the frustration of a black man misunderstood and exploited by white power-mongers. Tessa Thompson nicely captures Valerie’s defiance and insecurity as she attempts to make a go of her acting career and strike up a romance with Jackson. The


LAVIN & CARIOU, from p.26

It’s impossible to care about them, which is unfortunate because both Kate Arrington as Abby and Greg Keller as Seth are appealing actors. It’s difficult to watch them struggle to add dimension to sub-par material. Case in point: the affair. When it finally comes out at the end of the long first act that Anna carried on an affair while Seth was struggling with viola lessons at Juilliard, it’s revealed that her lover was a notorious player in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg affair. The play stops dead, the houselights come up, and we get a lecture from Seth and Anna on Cold War politics and the Rosenberg case in particular. (After “Angels in America,” one could fairly expect a playwright to take on the Rosenbergs with some measure of humility, care, even trepidation.) We

SMART PEOPLE Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St. Through Mar. 6 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. $79-$125 at Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission

strongest turn is delivered by Anne Son, whose Ginny accepts she will always be labeled either a shy Asian or a driven bitch, and is indignant when the conversation about race is only about blacks and whites. Not that the production couldn’t use some tweaks. I’m not sure the heavy-handed projected images of racially diverse folks — obviously stock photos — are necessary. Brian’s last name is White, which is simply too precious for such an otherwise savvy drama. And while I’m sure plenty of “Dawson’s Creek” fans will be thrilled to see Joshua Jackson naked in a locker room (albeit very briefly), it feels gratuitous. For all the probing of racial stereotypes and questioning whether racism is ingrained or learned, “Smart People” wisely refuses to offer up definitive answers. Perhaps Ginny sums it up best when counseling a patient distraught about her own Asian heritage: “Identity is tricky.”

are supposed to question whether or not the affair really happened or if Anna’s dementia is taking over, but the effect is heavy-handed and cerebral — and makes for very dull theater. If that’s not enough, there’s another secret in Anna’s past that we learn about in a long monologue that Lavin performs beautifully. Silk purse though it might be, its provenance as a porcine appendage cannot be escaped. There’s a point in the second act where the play almost gets interesting. Greenberg comes close to examining how adult children come to terms with how much they do not — and cannot — know about their parents as well as how unanswered mysteries about who the parents really were linger after death. Unfortunately, like so much else in this | February 18 - March 02, 2016



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LAVIN & CARIOU, continued on p.28



Crowdsourcing the Thrills Novel approach tames Paul Verhoeven’s style, though director’s skill shines through


Jochum ten Haaf, Peter Blok, and Pieter Tiddens in Paul Verhoeven’s “Tricked.”



hroughout his career, director Paul Verhoeven has challenged audiences with his films. His Dutch dramas in the early 1980s, “Spetters” and “The Fourth Man,” showed his penchant for portraying tricky and erotic queer sexuality. His subsequent Hollywood films,

“RoboCop,” “Starship Troopers,” and “Hollow Man” showcased his talents for violent science fiction. And Verhoeven will forever be associated with two films that polarized the LGBT community: “Basic Instinct,” which drew angry pickets for what was seen as an anti-lesbian portrayal of a bisexual murderess, and “Showgirls,” a camp extravaganza that has become a cult favorite.

Over at the St. James on Broadway, there’s a rollicking musical


Len Cariou in his cabaret show “Broadway and the Bard.”


LAVIN & CARIOU, from p.27

disappointing play, the moment dissipates into the meanderings of someone who likes to hear themself talk but who hasn’t got much to say. It’s doubly sad because Greenberg’s previous play for MTC, “The Assembled Parties,” was so rich that it only emphasizes the paucity of this effort.


called “Something Rotten,” in which we learn that the musical as we know it came out of Shakespeare. Or something like that. A few blocks away on Theatre Row, there’s an energetic little cabaret show that reinforces how related Shakespeare’s iambs and Sondheim’s internal rhymes are in structure and performance. And we have no less a guide here than Len Cariou, known for his performances in “A Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” and his Broadway debut, “Henry V.” The show, aptly titled “Broadway and the Bard,” is an 80-minute cabaret in which Cariou recounts some of his showbiz stories, presents a few monologues, and delivers a few ditties — some well known and some obscure. The conceit is that the themes drawn from famous Shakespeare speeches can be found in songs from musicals. This is not particularly revelatory and the con-

With his new film, “Tricked,” Verhoeven challenges himself as he “steps into the unknown.” Working from Kim van Kooten’s four-page script, the filmmaker “crowdsourced” the story, with audience members — Dutch television viewers who had seen a four-minute filmed treatment of the story — coming up with “what happens next.” It is not quite a “choose your own adventure” approach, but rather, a process Verhoeven describes as using “the wisdom from the crowd.” Viewers will decide how insightful Verhoeven’s collaborators were. “Tricked” opens with a 30-minute documentary entitled “Paul’s Experience” that emphasizes Verhoeven’s excitement about making a film where “you don’t know what happens.” One drawback, he admits, is that the actors are also unprepared and are limited in their ability to get into character. In the behind-the-scenes clips that comprise the first third of “Tricked,” Verhoeven talks at length, but not in-depth, about the logistics involved in making the film. He describes finding the locations, shooting, and editing, and he lauds what he describes as an amazing cast and crew who taught him so much. All this comes off as PR posturing, especially when Verhoeven goes on to concede the burdens of creating a script by reading hundreds of pages several times to find the story he eventually filmed. “Paul’s Experience” will have many viewers anxious to see the 55-minute film that follows, though the documentary lead-in reveals elements of the story that might have worked better if they had been a surprise.


nections Cariou makes are sometimes tenuous, but he’s not defending a thesis — he’s putting on a show. And a very enjoyable one it is at that. I’m a big fan of Cariou and was lucky enough to see some of his Broadway shows. If his voice has lost some of the depth and resonance of his younger years, he still knows how to deliver a song — and a monologue. His rendition of Jacques’ “Seven ages of man” soliloquy from “As You Like It” was beautifully rendered. He was equally at home in fully realized speeches from Iago, Benedick, Orsino, and Richard II — a kind of greatest hits compendium. In his songs, Cariou’s technique is as exceptional as it ever was and the effect can be richly emotional. Particularly affecting were songs like “Love I Hear,” from “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which though written for a very young, naïve man was no less

THRILLS, continued on p.34

exuberant and buoyant sung by an older one. And as an older man, his versions of “September Song” and “Fear No More,” a Sondheim setting of Shakespeare, were poignant and intimate. Cariou ends the evening on a hilariously upbeat note with Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” reveling in its ribaldry. “Brush up your Shakespeare,” he sings, “and they’ll all kowtow.” We do with pleasure.

BROADWAY AND THE BARD Lion Theatre 410 W. 42nd St. Through Mar. 6 Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun at 3 p.m. $72.25; Or 212-239-6200 One hr., 20 mins., no intermission

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Subs Surface at the Met Operas’ designated hitters sometimes bring it home BY DAVID SHENGOLD



Two days later came “Il trovatore,” an enjoyable if fairly routine repertory performance largely notable for two stops due to the malfunctioning stage turntable. Dolora Zajick continued to demonstrate remarkable vocal longevity and commitment as Azucena. Marcello Giordani, if manifestly past his zenith, started quite well, but could not sustain Manrico’s quietly lyrical wedding song “Ah sì, ben mio” and began to encounter problems. Giordani’s top voice remains pretty impressive; unlike the Bertis of the world, he does try to project a romantic hero. Angela Meade sang with considerable power and clarity, showing again that there is little in the middleweight Verdi repertory that she cannot perform with admirable vocal finesse, even beauty. What Meade lacked, as often, was a more than dutiful dramatic impulse and connection with words. In the fall, the ailing Dmitri Hvorostovsky scored a moving triumph as di Luna; alas, his continuing treatment prevented his reappearance in stage work. One wondered — again, as often — if the Met contacted Stephen Powell, but the largely unknown Juan Jesús Rodriguez, tall and suitably Spanish, turned in a more than respectable performance, with strong high notes if a timbre sounding somewhat pitched for outdoor arena-style opera. If no Hvorostovsky, Cappuccilli, or Bruson, Rodriguez delivered a di Luna not unworthy of the Met stage. Marco Armiliato led acceptably. The fine bass Kwangchul Youn honorably straddled both the “Trovatore” and “Maria Stuarda” casts. The Donizetti opera, which Joyce DiDonato’s shattering, intense Queen of Scotland redeemed when new from a gauche, visually barren David McVicar staging, returned with Sondra Radvanovsky, taking on the “Tudor Triple Crown” this season. Radvanovsky — never as ideally word-based as one wishes — offered a highly commendable job as Maria, with great swaths of beautiful tone, particularly in piano passages. She admirably created a mood — if not as sharply drawn an individual portrait as diDonato’s — and showed more taste and discretion in her ornamentation. “Fidelio” at Caramoor this July should reveal to local audiences more of Elza van den Heever’s true strengths than Elizabeth I here: only a few notes and phrases emerged enjoyably, and the lurching camp characterization McVicar imposed struck me again as old-fashioned misogyny.


n any of the much-discussed “golden eras” of the Metropolitan Opera, keeping casts of a production together was rarely a priority. Sometimes voice fans loved this. For example, in 1964-65 one could hear six Toscas, six Cavaradossis, and seven Scarpias divided among 16 house performances, virtually all of them international artists, many among the great names of the age — Callas, Tebaldi, Crespin, Tucker, Corelli, Gobbi, and more! What this variety did not do was guarantee either musical or production values, since conductors also came and went and the ever-shifting casts basically brought along their own instincts and/ or routine. “Tosca” can bear such treatment, but many ensemble operas — say, “Figaro,” “Falstaff,” or “Pelléas” — quickly deteriorate or never gel. Any longtime reader of this column knows I have spent much space questioning the Met’s casting policies and choices, past and present. Too much cronyism, be it for “London-based artists” or the Mariinsky mafia; too many fine singers ignored in favor of buzzy flashes in the pan; too much emphasis on telegenic artists. But one area in which the Gelb regime has improved matters artistically is in striving to keep casts basically together for entire runs (we’re talking “by and large” here, since the Zeffirelli “Turandot” and “Bohème” stagings rotate occupants like a P-Town B&B). Still, there are times when artists’ indispositions or previous engagements require changes: either substitutions or pre-agreed “cover” performances by singers standing by during the rest of the run. Sometimes substitutions have been remarkable (Waltraud Meier flying in for an unforgettable Isolde); other times, not so much. Covers, too, vary from better but less well-connected singers to questionable presences on the roster. Bizet’s “Pêcheurs de perles” proved a hit this season. Diana Damrau suggested the piece to the Met, but the great singing at all three performances I witnessed came from tenor Matthew Polenzani, a “responsible” actor but a great musician with rare commitment to French style and its dynamic subtlety. People really listened. In the run’s final show on February 4, young Kentucky soprano Amanda Woodbury assumed her first Met leading role with considerable grace — not to mention lovely, pellucid tone far purer than Damrau’s sometimes hectoring timbre. Woodbury’s poised tone and relative calm gave the opera the still center it needed, without Damrau’s well-intended but manic physicality. The audience loved Woodbury, and I would love to hear her as Mozart’s Constanze. Conduc-

tor Antony Walker led the last two “Pêcheurs” shows, with less glistening instrumental precision but also fewer “forced march” tempi than Gianandrea Noseda.

On February 4, Amanda Woodbury assumed her first Met leading role, in the final performance of Bizet’s “Pêcheurs de perles,” with considerable grace.

Woodbury’s poised tone and relative calm gave the opera the still center it needed, without Damrau’s well-intended but manic physicality. Celso Albelo’s Leicester shared a nasal, honey/ lemon quality with the late Alfredo Kraus, also from the Canary Islands. But Albelo’s line showed little or the musical insight or charm of phrasing that made Kraus a tenor paragon. Albelo — unflatteringly costumed — wasn’t bad, but was a definite step down from Polenzani when this show was new. The scheduled cover performer here — for the fine, under-deployed bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi — was David Pershall, solidly adequate as Cecil but overinflating his sound as he did in OONY’s “Roberto Devereux.” Conductor Riccardo Frizza knows his trade, but should have stomped on the singers (particularly Albelo) when they sought to end numbers with 1970s style blared, long-held tonic high notes. The night wasn’t magical, but Radvanovsky certainly merited and rose to this chance at a great role.

Other highly promising “cover” performances to catch in the Met’s upcoming months involve three rising stars: Alexey Lavrov as Malatesta (“Don Pasquale”) on March 18; Mario Chang as Nemorino (“Elisir d’amore”) on April 2 and 7; and Ben Bliss as Belmonte (“Entführung aus dem Serail”) on April 30. David Shengold ( wries about opera for many venues. February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


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All Hail the New King

Korean actor Hoon Lee magnificently makes an Rodgers & Hammerstein character his own





ou can see a new star exploding at Lincoln Center these days in the revival of “The King and I,” in the title role-personage of Hoon Lee, an actor I’ve admired for years who has now fully come into his own. Possessing the real majesty, histrionic prowess, vocal chops, devastating sexiness, and, pointedly, English language proficiency — all of which his predecessor, Ken Watanabe, so direly lacked — this actor has truly transformed the show into an absolute must-see. The chemistry between Lee and co-star Kelli O’Hara is one of the current treasures of the season, and everyone and everything on this stage now positively sparkles, as if reflecting his glory (Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St.; The man has the charisma and talent to cross over in a way that few people of color — Brian Stokes Mitchell, to name one — have been both able and allowed to do. I’d love to see him take a crack at Horace Vandergelder in the announced Bette Midler “Hello, Dolly!” remounting! Describing how he landed the role, Lee told me, “Honestly, I was filming [his Cinemax TV series] ‘Banshee’ in Pittsburgh and just got a call about being a replacement, saying that Ken Watanabe was leaving the show. Scheduling was tight, so I came into New York, saw the show in its entirety for the first time ever — [laughs] at the very least, I thought I would get a free show out of it — and had a work session the next day. It was an opportunity to meet and work with people at the top of their game. Things went fairly swiftly after that and it was an amazing thing to come to this after completing the last season of ‘Banshee.’ The two shows are so different, in terms of the work and what muscles get exercised and what is demanded of you. That was a challenge I was looking forward to.” Lee, who really surprised me — my being more familiar with his dramatic work than his powerful, deft singing voice — grew up in the Boston area, the son of two molecular biologists, and went to Harvard, where he majored in visual art and English lit. “I actually started acting through musical theater. I had been a singer in college in bands, but acting wasn’t really on the radar at all, then. While I haven’t sung in a long time in a serious way, I felt like I would have enough for this role of the King, which isn’t all that intense singing-wise, and it’s been nice to start to feel out the corners of that again. I’ve never had any formal training, but I grew up listening to

Hoon Lee as the King in the Lincoln Center production of “The King and I.”

my father, who was a great singer, but only as a hobby. As a boy, I remember hearing him sing and as I got older, I realized he was actually quite good, but my whole family grew up with musicality. I’ve always enjoyed singing, but never took myself seriously. “I fell into acting through my friend Woody Pak, who had composed the score to a musical, ‘Making T racks,’ which was going to tour Taiwan. I had helped record a concept album to promote it. They didn’t have a cast, so, based on that, the producers of the show asked me to audition. I was then working as the artistic director for a web development company, a very difficult time. I suffered from bad health issues from the stress of that job and looked at this as an opportunity to take a break and recalibrate. “I got the role and did it for three months. When I came back to my company, I realized I felt healthier than I did in a long time. So I gave notice, gathered my portfolio together, and started to freelance. The choreographer of ‘Making Tracks’ was Marc Oka, who’s also in ‘The King and I.’ He told me about a Paper Mill Playhouse production of ‘King and I,’ and I auditioned and got the role of Kralahome. “While that was going on, ‘Flower Drum Song’ was coming to New York from LA, and Marc again championed me. I got the role of Chao, which they were reimagining for that revival, and that was my first calendar year of acting. I was fortunate enough to roll from one project

to another, so it became clear that maybe this is what I should be doing, as long as the luck holds out [chuckles].” Lee was prominently featured in David Henry Hwang’s “Yellowface” at the Public Theater, and his strong performance made me wonder if that was sort of a game-changer in his career. “It was a wonderful piece and team. It’s a cliché, but I feel that what the so-called overnight success really speaks to is the idea that any sort of recognition is an aggregate of smaller advances. What that show really did was put me in the position of doing my first lead, and that’s not an opportunity many people — let alone Asian men — get a lot. It was a good test for myself, an incredible opportunity to do such a complex, nuanced, and funny piece of writing, and to work at the Public under the amazing direction of Leigh Silverman.” I mentioned that Lee must surely be aware of the excited buzz about him now in “The King and I.” “I don’t put much stock in it. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your perspective, this is the kind of business where you’re only as good as your last two jobs. There could be another great opportunity after this or a falloff, but that’s okay. It’s actually more helpful to me to keep my mind at the task at hand and try to execute it. That’s really the part of theater that I find very difficult but also very satisfying, trying to get yourself to the place where you really dig in every night and develop the necessary stamina, muscles, and ingenuity. You try to give yourself enough of a mental puzzle to solve so that you can really hook in every night. Some days you succeed or don’t, and that’s always the challenge before you.” We were sitting in Hoon’s dressing room, which, due to the temporary status of his replacement reign as the King, was largely bare of souvenirs or personal touches, save his royal Catherine Zuber-designed raiment hanging there. I appreciated him giving me an interview just before the evening performance and wondered if vocal rest was ever necessary, especially in light of the ferocious kingly yelling he does at one point, while cracking a bullwhip, which really terrified the Sunday matinee audience I was a part of. He demurred. “The musical form by its nature is a heightened form where the emotion of a scene is carried by music. That exists outside the boundaries of normal everyday expectations, so it doesn’t really serve anything to willfully under-


IN THE NOH, continued on p.38

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |


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Our Future in China

In Jia Zhang-ke’s detached, critical view of his homeland, joy still outs BY STEVE ERICKSON




he freedom of the road and the joys of wanderlust have been celebrated in American literature and music, even influencing European culture like Wim Wenders’ ‘70s films and Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn.” I doubt it occurs to most Americans that other cultures might have a different — and substantially less rosy — take on these desires. If China represents the future, as pundits keep telling us, its own future resembles the American present of broken and scattered families, according to Jia Zhangke’s “Mountains May Depart.” His film relates 26 years in the lives of a few characters who originate in his hometown of Fenyang. As usual, Jia gets in some digs at China’s economic “miracle,” but the melancholy mood of “Mountains May Depart” is quite different from the anger of his last film, “A Touch of Sin.” Unfortunately, there’s also something slightly secondhand and distanced about it, as though he were touching his characters through latex gloves.

Zhang Yi and Zhao Tao in Jia Zhang-ke’s “Mountains May Depart.”

In 1999, Tao (Zhao Tao) lives in Fenyang and is friendly with two men, Zhang (Zhang Yi) and Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong). The former is an investor on the rise; the latter a coal miner. Both would like to marry her. It doesn’t come as a surprise that she chooses Zhang. This part of the film ends with the birth of their son, Daole (pronounced “dollar”). In 2014, Liangzi is suffering from lung cancer and tracks down Tao to borrow money for his treatment. He learns that she’s now a lonely divorcee, though she does get a visit from Daole. Then,

THRILLS, from p.28

When “Tricked” itself begins, Remco (Peter Blok), a businessman, is celebrating his 50th birthday. Merel (Gaite Jansen), who is best friends with his daughter, Lieke (Carolien Spoor), unexpectedly arrives at the party. So, too, does Nadja (Sallie Harmsen), who is eight months pregnant. Is the baby Remco’s? So begins one narrative thread that leads to blackmail and other bad behavior. The B-story has Remco being pressured by his business associates, Wim (Jochum ten Haaf) and Fred (Pieter Tiddens), to sell their failing company to the Chinese. Remco has power of attorney for the shares owned by his wife, Ineke (Ricky Koole). But is the deal a good one? Verhoeven plays up the soap-opera qualities of these two parallel narratives, and the crowdsourced screenplay makes for dramatic climaxes unfolding every five minutes that suggest a drama greater than what the film ends up being. In “Paul’s Experience,” Verhoeven insists the process “forces you to be creative,” but in fact the characters are given little


in 2025, the film shifts to Australia, where Daole is now an adult (Dong Zijian) who calls himself Dollar. He speaks English and becomes involved in a relationship with his much older Chinese-language teacher Mia (Sylvia Chang.) Instead of drawing on popular martial arts films, as he did in “A Touch of Sin,” Jia recalls classic melodramas, particularly in the 1999 segment. Its love triangle’s outlines could have been lifted from a Douglas Sirk film. Appropriately, “Mountains May Depart” uses a different aspect ratio for each seg-

to do beyond keeping up with the beat of the script-by-committee. Every action on screen seems calculated, from Merel baring her breasts for a photo to a discovery that Lieke makes regarding Nadja. This is not to say that the film, contrived as its plot may be, is not entertaining. The title is something of a spoiler and “Paul’s Experience” presents one reveal, but viewers will watch closely at each scene for clues about how things might play out. Arguably, many might imagine a better movie in their own mind — anticipating, say, a more explicit sex scene between two characters who meet for a hotel-room tryst or a lesbian relationship for the chummy Lieke and Merel. Audience may also dream up more inventive power plays among the characters. As it is, “Tricked” fails to generate the tension and excitement one might expect from bad boy filmmaker Verhoeven; it’s as if he’s been tamed here. This film should have been naughtier. Still, even during a climatic moment where viewers know a character’s next move, an element of shock is delivered. The crowdsourcing conceit is not completely

ment and begins in the 1.33 box of pre-1953 Hollywood. Even as the parties in that original triangle grow further apart, the film never loses its melodramatic touch. “Mountains May Depart” presents emigration as China’s future, which is probably Jia’s way of saying that it’s China’s present. While life in China brings illness and alienation, moving to Australia proves to be no solution –- for either Zhang or Dollar. Zhang has acquired a large pile of guns and bullets, stacked on his living room table. (His house resembles a more tasteful version of James Franco’s pad in “Spring Breakers.”) At first, I thought this meant he’d become a criminal, but he later explains that he thought he’d feel free by buying guns when Australia legalized firearms ownership. Guess what? It didn’t work. Dollar drifts out of college into a series of menial jobs, although he finds strength in his relationship with Mia. Jia proves himself a fine director of middle-aged actresses; Sylvia Chang comes across as the Chinese equivalent of Charlotte Rampling or Susan Sarandon.


MOUNTAINS, continued on p.38

TRICKED Directed by Paul Verhoeven Kino Lorber In Dutch with English subtitles Opens Feb. 26 Cinema Village 12 E. 12th St.

without merit. “Tricked” shows how filmmaking is a collaborative experiment — sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The piecemeal assembly of the material might have dampened Verhoeven’s directorial flourishes, but he still manages to create a brisk hour of entertainment and coax bright performances from an ensemble cast of actors hobbled by playing one-dimensional characters. In “Paul’s Experience,” Verhoeven seems happy with the end result. Audiences may be less pleased. Whatever Verhoeven has achieved here, it is well short of a triumph. February 18 - March 02, 2016 | | February 18 - March 02, 2016



February 18 - March 02, 2016 |

FRI.FEB.19 NIGHTLIFE Tropical Time Tripping

DANCE Contemporary Dance at 92nd Street Y The Harkness Dance Festival is a celebration of innovators and history-makers from today’s contemporary dance scene. On Feb. 19-20, 8 p.m.; Feb. 21, 3 p.m., José Limón Dance Company presents “Dialogues.” On Feb. 26-27, 8 p.m.; Feb. 28, 3 p.m., Keely Garfield Dance performs “Pow.” On Mar. 5, 3 p.m., Pilobolus presents “Rules @ Play.” And to close out the festival, Mar. 18-19, 8 p.m.; Mar. 20, 3 p.m., Tina Croll + Company presents “One Rhinoceros, 3 Birds and a Pineapple.” 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. at 92md St. Tickets are $25-$35 at harknessfestival or 212-415-5500.

SAT.FEB.20 GALLERY The Photography of William Gedney William Gedney, a Kentucky photographer who died of AIDS in 1989, was highly regarded in his lifetime, though his work was not well known beyond a small circle of colleagues and curators. In 1968, John Szarkowski curated “Eastern Kentucky and San Francisco: Photographs by William Gedney” at the Museum of Modern Art. In a release for that show, Szarkowski wrote, “Gedney’s pictures make it clear that the individuals are more complex and more interesting than the clichés.” A new exhibit, “All Facts Eventually Lead To Mysteries: The Photographs and Notebooks of William Gedney,” presents the artist’s intimate portrayals of out-of-work coal miners and their | February 18 - March 02, 2016

Benjamin Fredrickson in Solo & Duo Shows 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. Through Mar. 20. More information at The Frederickson- Betancurth collaborative exhibition takes place at Daniel Cooney, 508-526 W. 26th St. Through Feb. 27: Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.


“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). Through Mar. 31: Tue.-Sun., 7 p.m. & 10 p.m. Tickets are $115; $95 for late shows at

families in rural Kentucky, hippie culture scenes from San Francisco, and his lonelystreets-at-night pictures from his travels around the US. Howard Greenberg Gallery, 41 E. 57th St., Suite 1406. Through Mar. 19: Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

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. Feb. 20 & Mar. 5, 12 & 26, 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 at or 212-757-0788, and there’s a two-drink minimum.

CABARET A Subcultural Jason Robert Brown Reprise Following a successful run last year, Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist, and playwright, and singer Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Bridges of Madison County”) returns to SubCulture for the second of three in his 2016 Artist-In-Residence concert series, welcoming special guest Lena Hall, who won a Tony and was nominated for a Grammy for her role as Yitzhak in the Broadway revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The evening feature songs from Brown’s extensive catalogue, along with new works in progress. 45 Bleecker St., just east of Lafayette St. Feb. 20, 8 p.m. Tickets are $50, $40 for standing room at

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

WED.FEB.24 BOOKS Learn to Write Queer “Queer: A Reader for Writers” is the first freshman composition reader built entirely around queer topics. Charles Rice-Gonzalez, co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, a lecturer at Hostos Community College — CUNY, and author of the novel “Chulito,” moderates a discussion among fellow contributors, including writer, singer, painter, and performance artist Justin Vivian Bond, National Book Award-winning poet Mark Doty, Borough of Manhattan Community College student Ebony Smith, and the anthology’s editor, Jason Schneiderman, the associate editor of Painted Bride Quarterly and the poetry editor of Bellevue Literary Review. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Feb. 24, 7-9:30 p.m. A donation of $5 to benefit BGSQD is suggested. Information at


WED.FEB.24, continued on p.39



IN THE NOH, from p.32

play things that need to be pushed in the other direction. Kelli has the lion’s share of the lifting here and has to carry so much of the emotion through song, which she does so incredibly beautifully. For the King, it’s more in the acting and I have to find the power, fear, and uncertainty and match her emotion and energy in the ways that I’m allowed to do it. Yes, I had to take bullwhip lessons, and it’s a terrifying thing to hold, like a gun, as you realize you have something in your hand that’s designed to destroy. “Kelli’s a dream to work with. In any sort of collaborative creative effort, your performance is shaped by those around you, and if people are responding positively to my King it’s because I have such an incredible partner to bolster me, reflect what I am doing, and set the bar even higher to give me something to shoot for. She’s had a tough task, which she’s dealt with very gracefully, having to contend with multiple people coming in to partner her. There are parts of the show which are really like two-handers, so for her to have the deftness and facility to partner so well with myself, Jose [Llana], and Ken speaks largely to her abilities and work ethic.” The subtle romantic attraction between the King and Anna has always been one of this show’s major secret weapons, and the chemistry between Lee and O’Hara is thrillingly palpable yet, deliciously, never overstated. “We’ve been getting that comment since we started, which is wonderful for the show, but such a mystery as to why it happens. We only had one meal together and one rehearsal, and then we started before an audience. I think both of us approached this with open hearts and minds, and again it’s more of a credit to her because she really put in her time after hundreds of performance. It would have been understandable for her to say, ‘This is my show, this is what works.’ But she didn’t approach it that way at all: she was very generous and if people are reading chemistry here, I tend to think it’s because we’re both really trying to work and listen to and find each other onstage.


MOUNTAINS, from p.34

If “Mountains May Depart” begins by suggesting an enervated Sirk, it ends by aping Michelangelo Antonioni. There’s even a literal version of the failure to communicate, that Italian director’s favorite theme: Zhang only speaks Mandarin, which his son can’t understand, while he needs to translate his son’s English-language emails. But the film isn’t a wallow in alienation. It has a sense of pleasure, even joy. Jia opens some scenes with heavily grainy, distorted video close-ups. As far as


I’m just glad people are able to key into that, especially in an R&H [Rodgers & Hammerstein] show, because in an R&H show like this, which has such structural integrity that it almost runs itself, that energy flow can really bring things to a different level that really resonates with people.” It’s very easy to make the King a cartoonish, bald-pated figure, as exemplified by the brilliant Phil Hartman “Saturday Night Live” skit, in which he played a venerable but still strutting Yul Brynner doing his 3,000th tour of the role, so I wanted to know how Lee himself saw the character.

Yes, I had to take bullwhip lessons, and it’s a terrifying thing to hold, like a gun, as you realize you have something in your hand that’s designed to destroy.

“I had the benefit of never seeing Brynner in the movie, as it’s good not to get these things stuck in my head. When an actor has put his stamp on a role as indelibly as he did, that’s a big warning sign if you’re going to try and tackle it. With any role, I run to the script and try to find any clues given to me. This book is great because it’s deceptive in the seamlessness of the writing, which is simple, but not simplistic, with the efficiency and grace of a writer who had a really refined sensibility. And the adjustments they’ve made to the published version of this production were tremendously helpful to me. “More of a point was made about the international aspects of things, the conflict brewing, the danger of Siam becoming a protectorate. Also the position of the women and the struggles they were facing. It created an arena in which the safety of the kingdom is in jeopardy,

I can tell, these are shot off a TV set. His gritty depiction of a night out at a club is enhanced by these images, which seem like the visual equivalent of the throbbing techno on the soundtrack. As for music, Jia uses it extremely well. The soundtrack ranges from Cantonese pop singer Sally Yeh to the Pet Shop Boys’ Village People cover “Go West,” but the latter song is particularly key to the film. It’s played over both the opening and closing scenes. One could say that Jia takes a gay anthem and claims it for the Chinese diaspora, although I doubt that was his

which increases the stakes across the board. This pressure cooker situation opened the door for more options for the King, because he’s in a position he’s never been in before, the intensity is at its fever pitch, so his behavior is atypical, erratic, and troubled. “There’s already this emotional frisson caused by his environment and times, and in comes this person, unlike anyone he’s ever dealt with before, and that allowed for a lot of different types of interactions and manipulations of emotional logic. It intensifies his need for her as an advisor and also the attitude he might have toward his new wife, Tuptim, from Burma, because all these things are closing in on him. If people are reading a love story between he and Anna in this, it could be because he recognizes that he needs to keep this person around, which he can justify in a political sense, but his real rationale might be emotional, and that’s fun to explore.” Lee’s character of cross-dressing Joe on the now-concluding series “Banshee” is as different from his King as could be imagined. “He was amazing to play, and I’m really sad to see him go. The drag was really an education and I had a wonderful team designing the character, great writers, and I really enjoyed creating that voice. I had never been asked to even audition for a role like that and when I did, I assumed I had no shot. “But I liked the character, whom I found fearlessly unashamed of every aspect of who he is. In many ways, despite his willingness to play with gender and affect and code switching, he’s very straightforward and honest and doesn’t apologize. We tried to create a character who was unafraid to display on the outside everything he felt inside, and that was a joyride, which taught me things. “No, my wife [Sekiya Billman, who was so memorable as Mah Li, in Charles Busch’s ‘Shanghai Moon’] didn’t give me any drag tips. She enjoyed it all very much, but that stuff was all decided in production. She hasn’t been acting, but she’s great, busy raising our six-yearold son.”

explicit intent. “Mountains May Depart” is definitely one of Jia’s minor films, although even they are more successful than most directors’ best work. It has an academic feel; its future never feels lived-in. It also has a few on-the-nose moments, such as an ailing Liangzi walking past a caged tiger. The film only really comes to life when music is playing. The fact that Tao dances to “Go West” with a large group of people at first and by herself at last sums up her character arc, but “Mountains May Depart” suggests that being Chinese now

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART Directed by Jia Zhang-ke Kino Lorber In Mandarin with English subtitles Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St.

means wanting to go West, just as the West looks to China for hints of its future.

February 18 - March 02, 2016 |



WED.FEB.24, from p.37

POLITICS Police & the LGBT Community

Some Crust Martha Graham Cracker, who claims to be the world's tallest and hairiest drag queen, hosts a balls-to-the-wall drag cabaret backed by a four-piece live band. Graham Cracker performs mashups of songs by artists ranging from Prince and Crowded House to Motley Crue and Nina Simone. Mature audiences; or, at least, audiences that try to be mature. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Feb. 27, 7 p.m.; doors open at 6. Tickets are $25 at

SUN.FEB.28 PERFORMANCE Klezmer & Lox Metropolitan Klezmer, which brings a unique and broad-ranging world music edge to a traditional music form, plays brunch at City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St. Feb. 28, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is $10 at citywinery/newyork; free for kids under 13. Full menu and bar available, but there is no minimum order.

NIGHTLIFE A Murray Hill Oscar Party Comedian Murray Hill, “the hardest working middle-aged man in show business," hosts his annual Oscar Night Party, featuring impromptu performances, impersonations of

the nominated stars, movie spoofs, interviews from a fake red carpet, movie trivia games, and lots of prizes. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Feb. 28, 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30. Tickets are $25 at

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WED.MAR.2 BOOKS Revisiting ‘40s New York “Juliana” is a novel of dreams, the dreams of two women who randomly, inevitably cross paths, of stage stardom and soulful songs amid the deceptions required in a 1940s New York City where love was presumed to be straight and destiny was supposed to be written in the stars. Vanda, the novel’s author, is joined by actors in a dramatic reading. Bureau of General Services — Queer Division at the LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St., rm. 210. Mar. 2, 7-9:30 p.m. A donation of $5 to benefit BGSQD is suggested. Information at

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A Lou Reed Birthday Tribute


Joe McGinty and the Losers Lounge, a New York-based live music collective, pay tribute to the late Lou Reed, who would have been 74 years old tonight. The ensemble, which combines music, comedy, and cabaret, feels a special connection to Reed, in ways small and large. Joe’s Pub, inside the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth St. & Astor Pl. Mar. 2, 7 & 9:30 p.m., with doors opening at 6 & 9. Tickets are $25 at | February 18 - March 02, 2016



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Brian McCullough, the community outreach coordinator for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, which has oversight of the NYPD, appears at the monthly meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City to outline the authority and structure of the CCRB, describe how to file a complaint, and explain how complaints are investigated and mediated. McCullough will also address civilian rights and responsibilities during police encounters such as a stop and frisk. LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th St. Feb. 24, 8 p.m.



February 18 - March 02, 2016 |

Gay City News  

February 18, 2016

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February 18, 2016