We’re With Hillary — Let’s Make Sure Swing States Are, Too
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September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Affordable caviar â€” no seriously
14 Edward Albee: Gay man of the Village, playwright of our time
05 HEALTH Recovery and life after prostate cancer
Learning to love
AN IMMERSIVE THEATER EXPERIENCE
www.thegrandparadise.com GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
Hero Judge Ling-Cohan Renominated After Ordeal Calls escalate for reform of New York County’s judicial panel screening process BY ANDY HUMM
ustice Doris Ling-Cohan, a distinguished jurist and champion of the rights of tenants, immigrants, and LGBT people, was re-nominated by acclamation for a 14-year term to the New York State Supreme Court by delegates to Manhattan’s County Democratic Judicial Convention on September 22. Ling-Cohan’s nomination came as a welcome vindication after her narrow rejection, in a 12-10 vote, by an independent screening panel fraught with irregularities — a panel that tried to reverse itself, with 16 of its members sending a letter to the county Democratic leader, Assemblymember Keith Wright, stating that she “merits continuation in office.” “This is not just my victory,” Ling-Cohan said in her acceptance speech. “This is a victory for an independent judiciary.” The panel’s letter asking to reverse its decision not to support her renomination was rejected, in a September 7 emergency meeting that Wright called, by the county’s Democratic district leaders, who were advised they legally could not accept a change. The county also initially took the position that Ling-Cohan could not be nominated from the convention floor, until out lesbian City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, an attorney and longtime ally of the judge, read the rules and found that the only restriction on nominations at the convention not earlier approved by the panel was that they could not be made by members of the county executive committee made up of the district leaders. Mendez had Ling-Cohan’s name put in nomination at the Harlem Hospital convention by veteran delegate Al Handel, who called her a “trailblazer” to the loudest cheers of the night, amplified by hundreds of Ling-Cohan supporters from Asian-American communities wearing red in solidarity with her. “She was under attack by some trying to rid the bench of this hero,” Handel said, praising her for her support of “tenant rights, consumer rights, labor rights, and LGBT rights with an unblemished body of work.” He said, “We must not let those trying to destroy our independent judiciary win.” Like Ling-Cohan, all of the other eight who won slots on this November’s ballot — including incumbents Rosalyn Richter, an out lesbian, and Dominican-American Rolando Acosta, who are both now associate justices of the Appellate Division — were approved unanimously at the convention. Ling-Cohan was the first Asian-American
Judge Doris Ling-Cohan at a September 19 rally supporting her at the Henrietta Hudson bar in the West Village.
woman elevated to the Appellate Term in 2014 and was the first be elected to State Supreme Court, in 2002. Part of the reason support for Ling-Cohan was so fervent is because the vaunted panel review process was so flawed and anonymous attacks on her in the press were so vicious, starting in the New York Post but repeated uncritically by other outlets, requoting the Post “source” — allegedly from the panel but possibly a self-interested operative for another judicial candidate — who called her “slow” and “lazy,” when even a cursory check of court records shows her output to be above average. Fourteen panel members wrote a letter saying these attacks on Ling-Cohan were never spoken of in their deliberations. But no reporter has been able to uncover the Post’s anonymous source, though some investigators say they are closing in on him or her. What is known is that Deborah Riegel, a real estate lawyer on the panel, had an ax to grind against Ling-Cohan and swayed a majority with her criticisms of the judge’s insistence that attorney motions in cases of temporary restraining orders in tenant eviction cases be put in writing to create a record — not a usual practice but well within judicial discretion. According to the standards the panel was supposed to follow, that did not amount to grounds for not approving an incumbent judge such as Ling-Cohan who has faced no disciplinary actions or even written complaints against her. Riegel works for Rosenberg & Estis, a firm that lost a major case before Ling-Cohan, a conflict that supporters of the judge said in a leaflet was “undisclosed.” Beyond Riegel’s role and characterizations of
the process as “chaotic” by one panelist, criticism has also fallen upon panelist Brenda Gill, an attorney who said during deliberations, “I don’t care what the standard is, I am voting my conscience” — a statement that “runs directly afoul of a clear-cut Democratic rule” for this process, according to former New York Law Journal reporter Dan Wise’s WiseLawNY blog, which reported it. Worse, Gill’s rogue interpretation of the rules was not taken to task by the panel administrator, Cyril “Ken” Bedford, a former law partner of Gregory Soumas, whom County leader Wright unsuccessfully pushed for president of the Board of Elections. Critics of the once-revered independent screening panels now abound, including Ling-Cohan herself, who said the process at least needs to be “tweaked” by having the county consider the standard in Brooklyn that requires a 75 percent negative vote for an incumbent not to be “continued” for renomination. Without such a standard, reform advocates argue, sitting judges will not be able to maintain their independence, constantly worried about making decisions that will rub the lawyers who sit on the screening panels the wrong way. Alan Flacks, a delegate for 35 years, said, “I believe Keith Wright has destroyed the panel screening process” and blamed him and New York County Democratic Committee counsel Jeanine Johnson, a longtime aide to Wright, for installing Bedford — “the cause of all this mess” — as administrator. Wright said that while he disagreed with the panel’s original conclusion, accepting its
LING-COHAN, continued on p.13
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Gay Man of the Village, Playwright of Our Time
BY ANDY HUMM
he artistic achievement of Edward Albee was celebrated and chronicled in lengthy obituaries at his September 16 death at age 88 after a short illness. He was far and away America’s greatest living playwright, and it is hard to say who deserves that title now. And while his openness about being gay and his early Greenwich Village years have certainly been noted, these factors were arguably the source of much of his genius, something not widely acknowledged. It may be that the significance of both are difficult to appreciate in an age when being out and gay is more and more common even in adolescence and when the Village has become an enclave for the rich — rather than a place where an emerging but still struggling artist could go to find himself. Albee said he knew he was gay when he was eight years old and became sexually active at 12. When anyone expressed surprise at his sexual precociousness, he said — as he did on “Gay USA” in a 2005 interview with Ann Northrop and me — “I was going to an all-boys prep school. C’mon! I was just doing what was natural.” His consciousness of being different in the late 1930s and early ‘40s intensified his contempt for his wealthy adoptive parents, Reed and Frances Albee, whose “morality and bigotry” he “hated.” He ran away from home in Larchmont when he was 12 — and was of course thwarted — but left for good and for Greenwich Village when he was 18. “There’s a large distance between Larchmont and New York City,” he said on PBS’ “Theatre Talk” in 2007. “It is 20 miles, but it might as well be 30 million miles.” An early relationship with the composer William Flanagan led to Albee’s social introduction to such heady gay company as composers Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Ned Rorem.
Of Village life in those days, he said, “Nothing cost anything. There were so many interesting people to learn from. I just sat around and absorbed a great deal of stuff. I was learning all the time.” (Learning was something he was unable to do at Trinity College in Hartford, where he was forced out for refusing to go to chapel.) “I remember the Village when it was a real Village,” he told me in an interview for VillageCare’s annual “Legends of the Village” calendar. Albee lived at 238 West Fourth Street “with seven or eight of my closest friends,” he said in the ’07 “Theatre Talk” interview, who were told to “sleep fast, we need the bed!” And he loved the Village: “I was getting to see the most wonderful theater imaginable — Beckett, Brecht, and Pirandello.” Albee’s early writing consisted of what he said were bad poems and novels. “I became fed up with everything, including myself,” he recalled. While some describe his early Village years as fallow, he said, “I educated myself in life and the arts for 10 years and then wrote ‘Zoo Story,’” his breakthrough one-act play, writ-
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
ten in two-and-a-half weeks in 1958 at age 30. The play was first produced in 1959, in German, on a Berlin double bill with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” A year later, the two plays were produced in English at the Village’s Provincetown Playhouse and enjoyed a 14-month run that established him as a playwright and opened the door to his smash hit “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway in 1962. The title of the play was a scrawl he saw written in soap on a mirror at a bar he frequented in 1954 at 139 West 10th Street that later became the gay bar Ninth Circle. Albee was one of the most uncompromising American artists of all time. He was a playwright through and through, only allowing three films to be made of his plays — “Woolf” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and directed by Mike Nichols in 1966, “A Delicate Balance” with Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield, and Kate Reid and directed by Tony Richardson, a gay man, in 1973, and “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” starring Vanessa Redgrave and Keith Carradine and directed by Simon Callow, also a gay man, in 1991.
Film producers balked at putting his plays on the screen because Albee insisted that not one word of what he wrote be changed for a film. And unlike esteemed playwrights such as Harold Pinter, Albee did not do screenplays. (Some productions of Albee’s plays, such as “Zoo Story” and “All Over,” were videotaped for TV.) Despite his fierce, uncompromising reputation, Albee was also famous for nurturing young talents from a variety of the arts from the windfall profits of “Woolf” through the New Playwrights Unit Workshop (that “produced 110 new American plays,” he told me) and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. (“Why should I let the IRS have all that money?,” he would say.) The foundation runs the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center (named for his early lover but better known as the Barn) in Montauk “as a residence for writers and visual artists,” according to its website. Albee was emphatic about not reading gay themes into his plays where he said he wrote none.
ALBEE, continued on p.33
Mayer Herskovic Guilty in Brutal 2013 Taj Patterson Assault Ringleader could spend 15 years in jail in Hasidic patrol’s attack on gay black man BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
Brooklyn judge swiftly convicted Mayer Her skovic of second-degree assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, and menacing in a 2013 attack in Williamsburg that left a gay black man blind in one eye. “Today’s verdict is a testament to our determination to fully prosecute this case based on the evidence, which clearly connected this defendant to the crime,” Ken Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, said in a September 23 statement. “I hope that this outcome will bring a measure of comfort to Mr. Patterson and his family.” Herskovic was part of a group of roughly 20 men, some of whom belonged to a neighborhood patrol organized by the Satmar community, involved in the attack on Patterson. The Satmar are part of the Hasidic sect of Orthodox Judaism. The men first pursued Taj Patterson, now 25, along Flushing Avenue in cars and on foot. Once
Mayer Herskovic being escorted from a courtroom in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn after being found guilty on September 23.
caught, Patterson was punched, kicked, knocked to the ground, and had a thumb jammed in his eye. No witness in the trial identified Herskovic as the man who led the attack, but his DNA was found on Patterson’s sneaker, which police recovered from the roof of a low building next to where the young man was assaulted. Patterson testified that the man who punched him
in the face, jabbed a thumb in his eye, and kicked him in the face as he lay on the ground was the same man who pulled off his sneaker and tossed it onto the building. Israel Fried, Herskovic’s attorney, gave his closing statement on September 20 and Danny Chun, the judge in the case, scheduled the prosecution’s closing argument for the afternoon of September 23.
Tim Gough, a bureau chief and an assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case with Tyear Middleton, also an assistant district attorney, gave his roughly hourlong close ending at about 3:15 in the afternoon. Chun adjourned for 45 minutes and returned to court to announce his verdict. Herskovic was allowed to remain free on bond until his November 14 sentencing. He faces a minimum sentence of threeand-a-half years and up to 15 years in prison when sentenced. Gough had asked that Her skovic be remanded. Chun noted that Herskovic has surrendered his passport and that he had been allowed to travel outside the country since his 2014 arrest and returned for his court dates. Ultimately, Herskovic was undone by the DNA evidence. The defense argued that Herskovic’s DNA ended up on the sneaker because some other person first touched him and then touched the
GUILTY, continued on p.7
Stringer Sees City, State Anti-Bias Loopholes Comptroller wants explicit contractor, procurement policies
N NYC OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
BY ANDY HUMM
ew York City and State are known for some of the strongest human rights laws in the country — though transgender rights have only been protected statewide since late last year when Governor Andrew Cuomo employed executive action to overcome the State Senate’s long resistance on that score. But City Comptroller Scott Stringer, in a review of both city and state laws, found that government agencies themselves — at both levels — are not prohibited from discriminating in their choice of companies bidding on providing services for government, even though the contractors selected are barred from discriminating as employers. Stringer is proposing bills that will ensure “everyone has an equal opportunity to bid on government contracts.” Out gay City Councilmember
Ritchie Torres of the Bronx and his Brooklyn colleague Robert Cornegy will introduce one in the Council and out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte of Brooklyn will file bills in Albany. Stringer did not involve the Cuomo or de Blasio administrations in his September 16 press conference on the matter on the steps of City Hall. Gay City News reached out to the mayor and the governor’s offices with questions about whether they considered this form of discrimination already illegal and, if not, whether executive orders could take care of it pending the passage of legislation. Frank Sobrino, the governor’s deputy director of communications for New York City, responded in an email that “under existing state law, it is already unlawful for any per-
STRINGER, continued on p.7
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GUILTY, from p.6
sneaker. Fried also attacked the method used to test the DNA, called high sensitivity DNA testing. High sensitivity DNA testing uses samples that are measured in picograms, or trillionths of a gram. The results are then analyzed by software called the Forensic Statistical Tool, which produces a ratio indicating how likely it is that a particular individual contributed to the sample. The testing was done by the city medical examiner’s office. While many labs in the US do high sensitivity DNA testing, the city medical examiner is the only lab in the US that uses the method to produce evidence in criminal trials. The Forensic Statistical Tool is the city medical examiner’s own proprietary software. While Fried’s attacks on the DNA testing might have been effective with a jury, Chun was clearly knowledgeable about the science behind the testing and comfortable with that evidence. Pinchas Braver and Abraham Winkler had previously pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment in the attack. Charges against Aharon Hollender and Joseph Fried were dropped. Mayer Herskovic refused a deal, and his trial
STRINGER, from p.6
son to refuse to buy from, sell, or trade with or otherwise discriminate against any person because of race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and disability among other classifications.” Stringer, however, contends that neither the city nor the state is specifically bound by any existing human rights law not to discriminate in contracting and procurement. Raul Contreras, assistant press secretary to the mayor, wrote in an email, “We look forward to seeing the Comptroller’s proposal and will review it carefully. This Administration is committed to protecting minority and women-owned businesses from discrimination.” In a city where more than half the population are women and more than half people of color, Stringer lamented that just 5.3 percent of $14 billion in government contracts are going to women- and minori-
Taj Patterson, after suffering an assault by a gang of men in Williamsburg in December 2013.
began on August 29. In June of this year, Patterson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, three of the police officers who were involved in the initial investigation, the five men who were charged and a sixth man, the Williamsburg Safety Patrol, and the Shmira Volunteer Patrol. In the lawsuit, Patterson charged that the city and the police department have long privileged these patrols and the Hasidic community. Police records show the local precinct initially closed its investigation just an hour after the attack on Patterson. The case was reopened a week later when the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force took over.
4.313” x 5.6875”
ty-owned businesses. The state is doing better. Sobrino wrote that “under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, there has been a dramatic increase in the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in state contracting from 10 percent in 2011 to more than 20 percent over the past several years. The Governor has set a new goal of 30 percent for MWBE firms, which the state is on track to meeting.” There is no city or state data on how many contractors to government agencies are LGBT -owned businesses. Hoylman introduced the Supplier Diversity Act in May with the support of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to ensure “equal access to contracting opportunities for certified LGBT-, disability-, and veteran-owned small businesses.” New York State has more than 50,000 contracts worth $240 billion, according to the Chamber.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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Recovery and Life After Prostate Cancer An invader in the pleasure dome: final in a three-part series BY PERRY BRASS
the street to the train platform at Spuyten Duyvil was easy. Hugh and I got to Grand Central, and I thought: “Everything is so beautiful here, I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to live in New York.” We took a bus from 43rd and Madison up to 59th, and a short while later I was in one of Tewari’s examining rooms and a young woman, one of his physician’s assistants, easily slipped my catheter out. I felt nothing. I was asked to pee, and everything came out beautifully, without a drop of blood. I was told that I needed to come back to the office two hours later and pee again — just to make sure that my bladder was working. Hugh and I walked out onto East 59th Street to have lunch, but quickly I was dizzy. We walked into the Argosy Book Store, and I sat down while Hugh browsed. I could not keep my head up; the dizziness accelerated. We made it to a coffee shop, where Hugh had lunch and I had a Coke. I managed to get to a bathroom close by, and threw up, thinking that would be the end of it. What followed was eight hours of intense, constant vertigo and nausea. It had nothing to do with my stomach, but only my head: I felt like a small child trapped on a whirligig spinning faster than I could stand. Back at Tewari’s office, all I could do was throw up. I told them about taking the Percocets, and was told this has been known to happen — but nothing quite so extreme. Tewari prescribed Zofran, an anti-emetic. As Hugh and I took the train back to Riverdale, I couldn’t sit on the train but had to stand, since every time I tried sitting I would vomit again. With the help of the Zofran and a Valium, the vomiting stopped. But I experienced morning nausea for the next four days. Dr. Reddy had been right: the swelling did go down fast. I felt normal again, and also horny. Cialis is part of a post-op routine to open up the passageways of the urethra and seminal vesicles. After a radical prostatectomy men
bout five days after my June 14 robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy at Mount Sinai Uptown, things changed. My “honeymoon” with the surgery was over. The day after I’d left the hospital, I was popping out of bed, eager to start life again, going on the long recovery walks Dr. Ash Tewari, my surgeon, had recommended. Now, I was exhausted. I couldn’t understand why; it seemed that I should have more energy not less. Then I realized I must have been working on some residual energy left inside me from before the operation. It seemed completely gone. I was wiped out most of the day; all I wanted to do was nap. Writing became difficult, but I managed it. The Foley catheter inside my urethra began to really hurt, especially at that point of abrasion where it exited my penis. I called Dr. Tewari’s office and spoke with a physician’s assistant who told me to push my penis down the tubing as far as I could and use Vaseline to lubricate the plastic and reduce abrasion. Make sure the tubing was clean, he warned me, by using alcohol pads on it. I did this several times a day. It still hurt badly. I wondered if I was experiencing a catheter infection, a common occurrence, but there was no fever, which meant I was doing okay. I thought: how do “nor mally” American, red-blooded hetero dudes who are brought up to abhor their own junk deal with handling it the way I had to repeatedly throughout the day? I had to touch, inspect, clean, and lube it all the time. Puzzling. A day later, my penis started to swell. Overnight, it tripled in its circumference. Ditto for my scrotum. It looked like the plastic catheter was simply pushing into this repulsive mass of flesh that had kidnapped the organ I’d started out with. I emailed my friend Ricardo Limon saying my cock looked like
“some weird animal you’d buy at a discount pet shop at Walmart.” My husband Hugh, a doctor, said, “If anybody ever needed pictures of elephantiasis of the penis, I’d tell them where to go.” Taking a shower was awful, but I had to make sure everything stayed as clean as I could manage. I spoke with Dr. Avinash Reddy, the physician on-call in Dr. Tewari’s office; he said that this kind of swelling was common with catheters. “Don’t worry,” he assured me. “It will go down as soon as we take it out.” I asked him if I could have it out two days early. No, he said, “Your bladder is still getting used to not having a prostate.” By this time, walking was impossible: I was in too much pain. The transition from sitting to standing was howl-provoking. I kept thinking about that movie with Richard Harris, “A Man Called Horse,” where he was strung up by his chest; I felt like I was being strung up by this thing inserted in my swollen dick. I took 800 mg ibuprofen, but resisted taking Percocet, an opioid; I couldn’t stand being like this and constipated as well. I spent a lot of time reading and just staying put, getting up only when I had to, but managing to do some simple stretches for my back. Two days before the catheter was set to come out, on June 23 — a date I’d highlighted in my calendar — I was started on another prophylactic round of ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic. It played havoc with my gut; the night before my appointment I had diarrhea. The morning of the 23rd, I felt that I’d never make it from Riverdale to Tewari’s office at Madison near 59th Street without a lot of help. I swallowed one Percocet. The bottle said a “normal” dosage could be two. I am extremely drug-sensitive, but I was ready to abandon any good sense. I took another. A few minutes later, I started floating out of our apartment. Negotiating the nine flights of stairs from
Perry Brass in the West Village’s Jefferson Market Library Garden.
can no longer have external ejaculations, but experiencing desire and erection is important — and a sign the operation was successful. Three weeks after the prostatectomy, I had my first orgasm. By myself. Fantastic. I glowed. I wanted to tell Tewari right then and there. A few days later, I attended a Hell’s Kitchen benefit barbecue to support the “I’m From Driftwood” LGBTQ autobiographical storytelling project, had a lot of drinks (non-alcoholic), and needed to pee. I couldn’t. Nothing came out. I tried several times, knowing that after this much liquid I should be able to void my bladder. I told Hugh about it, and he said not to worry. As I tried squeezing my penis to see if I could extract any blocking scar tissue, a short, stinging trickle eventually appeared. I called Dr. Tewari’s emergency line and Dr. Reddy immediately started me on ciprofloxcin again. The next day in the office, he scanned my bladder and told me it wasn’t filled. Good news. “These things are nor mal,” Reddy said. “You’re having a delayed infection from the catheter. Very common.” I understood: This recovery is not happening in a straight line; all sorts of setbacks and loop-arounds make me realize this.
BRASS, continued on p.9
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
BRASS, from p.8
By late July, leaking something terrible and going through endless changes of adult diapers, I saw Dr. Steve Kaplan, another urologist in Tewari’s office who deals with urinary issues. He put me on Vesicare, a drug that relaxes the muscles around the bladder, and prescribed Pelvic Rehab, a series of electronic-probe-assisted sessions that strengthen the floor muscles that undergird the pelvis. One of his techs also took blood for a PSA, my first after the operation. This test is critical. With no prostate, your PSA should go down to “0.” If it’s 0.1 or higher, that’s a sign that there are still cancer cells — that will need treatment — in the organs that had surrounded the prostate. If such a reading results, another PSA might be taken a month or so later to determine if the first one was just a fluke — or if radiation, chemo, or hormone therapy are called for. I tried not to think too much about what the result would be as I practiced Kegel pelvic floor exercises at home and began seeing friends
again, going to the theater, and And then there are moments when I want generally having a life. to forget all about it, want to be “normal” again, A week later, I finally got a call from one of Tewari’s physician’s and stop focusing on cancer. assistants. “Congratulations,” she said. “Your PSA is 0.04. That means there is no detectable cancer in about how cancer has affected the But I also realize that will be your body.” way my body works. Elsewhere in impossible. I felt like I could breathe again — this country, outside of areas with and was very happy. I’m still deal- an active LGBT community, that A gender rights pioneer and ing with urinary leaking problems, opportunity likely would not have award-winning writer, Perry Brass but after weeks of Pelvic Rehab and existed. has published 19 books, including Kegels, that is tapering off. I also learned just how difficult it poetry, novels, short fiction, sciLike many other prostate cancer would have been to face this all on ence fiction, and bestselling advice survivors, I feel like the disease seg- my own, without the close support books (“How to Survive Your Own mented my life into the diagnosis, I got from Hugh and friends like Gay Life,” “The Manly Art of Seducthe operation, and its after-effects. Ricardo Limon, Mark Horn, and tion,” “The Manly Pursuit of Desire I also feel very fortunate. In the others in my life. and Love”). A member of New past, many men were left with There are moments when I lose York’s radical Gay Liberation Front, extreme erectile dysfunction, con- track of what I’ve been through — in 1972, he co-founded, with two stant urinary incontinence, and/ or that I had cancer. That I still have friends, the Gay Men’s Health Projbowel problems as a result of pros- to be monitored for years, and will ect Clinic, the first clinic on the East tate cancer. I was also lucky to have have some side effects from the Coast specifically serving gay men my cancer diagnosed at a point operation — side effects that will that is still operating as the Calwhere it had not spread and I was color my life but not ruin it. len-Lorde Community Health Censtill strong and resilient enough to And then there are moments ter. Brass’ work, based in a core withstand a major operation. Being when I want to forget all about it, involvement with human values gay with prostate cancer, espe- want to be “normal” again, and stop and equality, encompasses sexucially in New York, has given meT:8.75”focusing on cancer. I would like, al freedom, personal authenticity, more support and the opportunity simply, to face the rest of my life LGBT health, and a visionary attito be open about my feelings and without thinking about it. tude toward all human sexuality.
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Tiaras, Tears, and a Marriage Proposal Carson Kressley returns to Atlantic City to helm annual Miss’d America Pageant BY KELSY CHAUVIN
Mimi Imfurst, known in some circles as Braden Chapman, performs “Sweet Transvestite” from the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in the pageant’s talent competition.
spot-on, sassy dancers and Imfurst’s seamless costume changes. After taking the Miss’d America 2017 title, Imfurst, who also goes by Braden Chapman, recalled being told by a parent not to watch “Rocky Horror” because it could “make you gay.” Armed with that memory, Imfurst explained that it was an especially sweet victory to have won the Miss’d America crown in part by performing a number from that film. “The message is: Don’t dream it, be it,” said Imfurst. “Create change in your own world.” Jenna Tall, the hometown queen, accepted the runner-up spot with grace and humor — despite naming her “favorite curse word” as “all of them.” And while her disappointment flashed momentarily, look for her to capitalize on her enthusiastic local fan base if she competes again next year. For the final round, Tall and Starr were among six finalists named — one competitor more than usual, since the judge’s scores resulted in a tie this year. Miss’d America 2016 FiFi Dubois took the stage with rousing song-and-dance numbers at the start and end of the pageant. But none of her dances impressed the crowd as much as her boyfriend Shane’s surprise wedding proposal. He produced a slideshow marking their five years together, and at its end appeared on one knee with her engagement ring. Fighting back
rainbow of drag-queen feathers aimed straight, so to speak, to Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa like gay breadcrumbs on Saturday, September 24. They marked the pathway of revelers and participants celebrating the annual Miss’d America Pageant, where Mimi Imfurst won the 2017 crown as confetti fell in the casino’s Event Center. Imfurst joined eight other dazzling drag queens to compete in the pageant, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Local Atlantic City performer Jenna Tall was named first runner-up, and Roxi Starr of Philadelphia earned the second runner-up spot. The always electric Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye” and “How to Look Good Naked” fame returned as pageant host, bringing his trademark wit and irreverence to a house packed with nearly 2,000 people. Atlantic City’s out gay Mayor Don Guardian, who attended with his husband Louis Fatato, joined the stage to declare September 24 the city’s official “Carson Kressley Day.” The Miss’d America Pageant was first held at an Atlantic City nightclub in 1994, but took a hiatus from 2005 to 2010. The pageant was always meant for fun and to shine the spotlight on all the glamorous queens unable to compete in the old-fashioned Miss America Pageant. But the event is also dedicated to raising money for a slew of LGBT causes, contributing over the years upwards of $300,000 to non-profit organizations including the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, Philadelphia’s William Way LGBT Community Center, and student scholarships. Miss’d America founders Gary L. Hill and John J. Schultz continue to drive the annual event and its charitable giving through their Schultz Hill Foundation, which partners with the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance. Alliance President Richard Helfant works closely with the pageant and foundation on both its charitable giving and its programming. A two-time veteran of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Imfurst won over the crowd from the start with a saucy profile that named “the boy next door” as her favorite childhood toy and “sparkly” as her favorite color. She went on to captivate with her swimsuit and evening-gown turns. But it was her explosive lip-synched rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” from the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in the talent competition that most wowed the audience with its team of
Carson Kressley and Miss’d America 2017 Mimi Imfurst.
tears, Dubois said yes to the hall’s boisterous applause. With as much tenderness as could be expected from Kressley, the host resumed the show by saying, “I don’t have feelings and I almost cried.” As a prime resort destination and repeat host for Miss’d America, the Borgata relocated the pageant to a venue twice as big as the one it used for last year’s contest. By hosting, it also reaffirmed its commitment to LGBT travelers and its OUT at Borgata program to support diversity, offering queer travelers unique hotel packages, entertainment, and access to special events.
MISS'D AMERICA, continued on p.30
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
METROPLUS RECOGNIZED WITH LGBT MARKETING AWARD
At a September 22 event acknowledging MetroPlus winning an inaugural Ad POP Award, Gay City News publisher Jennifer Goodstein hands the honor to Seth Diamond, MetroPlus’ chief operating officer as (left to right) Paul Greenberg, managing partner at MSA Marketing, Gay City News editor Paul Schindler, MetroPlus’ director of corporate communications Kathryn Soman, and Keith Klein, chief creative officer at MSA Marketing, look on.
MetroPlus, which provides low or no-cost health insurance to New Yorkers eligible for government-sponsored insurance programs, is the inaugural New York winner of a Pride in Online and Print (Ad POP) Award from the National Gay Media Association. The plan of choice for roughly half a million residents of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, MetroPlus products deliver insurance thorough Medicaid Managed Care and the Medicaid HIV Special Needs Plans, Medicare plans including those for people with HIV/ AIDS, Child Health Plus, Managed Long-Term Care, and the New York State Health Marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. MetroPlus’ network includes more than 27,000 primary care providers and specialists. With a focus on preventive care, said Kathryn Soman, director of corporate communications, “We are always looking at ways to incentivize members to take better care of themselves and be more proactive in their health care.” According to Keith Klein, chief creative officer at MSA Marketing, which works with MetroPlus, both MetroPlus and its parent, New York City Health + Hospitals, “have put a lot of time and effort into making sure that services are available to the LGBT community. Marketing ensures that people know that those services
are there for them, so to be recognized for that vital service is very special.” Facilities run by NYC Health + Hospitals have earned the designation of “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which bases such designations on institutions training staff in LGBT health care issues, having LGBT-responsive policies, and communicating those policies internally and to the public. NYC Health + Hospitals was the first public health care system in the nation to mandate LGBT health care training for all of its staff members. MetroPlus was, over the past year, a major sponsor of two important LGBT initiatives –– Gay City News’ Pride events and publications in all five boroughs during June and the newspaper’s first-ever Impact Awards held in March. The National Gay Media Association is a trade group representing the nation’s 12 leading LGBT publications. The Association, for the first time this year, recognized regional leaders in serving the LGBT community with Ad POP Awards, and MetroPlus was clearly deserving of that recognition here in New York. The Association also recognized a number of national advertisers that serve the LGBT community, including Mercedes Benz, Gilead Pharmaceuticals, and Absolut Vodka.
Looking for individuals that are a part of the LGBTQ community to participate in a focus group in NY. Follow us on Twitter! @Money4TalkNY Like us on Facebook! facebook.com/money4talkn Signup to our Database at MONEY4TALK.COM GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
New “Parent” Precedent Helps Co-Dad Gay man, whose sister conceived twins, battles ex-partner whose sperm was used BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
n what is likely the first application of the recent New York Court of Appeals decision adopting a new definition of “parent” under the state’s Domestic Relations Law to account for samesex couples raising children, a state appellate panel ruled that a gay man who was parenting twin children conceived through in vitro fertilization using his same-sex partner’s sperm, has standing to seek custody of the children in the wake of the men splitting up. The case decided September 6 by the Brooklyn-based Second Department of the New York Appellate Division had an interesting additional wrinkle: the plaintiff is the biological uncle of the children, because his sister served as the surrogate for the twins’ gestation and birth. The breakthrough August ruling from the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, in the Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C. case involved two lesbian couples who had their children through donor insemination of one of the partners. This new ruling extends that case to a situation where the birth mother, a surrogate, is still the legal parent of the children, and the dispute is between the father who donated the sperm used to conceive the children and his former partner, whose sister bore them. The two men, identified in the court’s opinion as Joseph P. and
New York State Senator
Frank G., lived together in New York State from 2009 through February 2014, but did not marry when same-sex marriage became legal in 2011. Wanting to raise children who would be genetically related to both of them, Joseph took advantage of a long-standing promise by his sister, Renee, who had her own children, that she would bear children for her brother once he met his “life partner.” Their understanding was that the two men would be the children’s parents and that Renee would have a continuing role in their lives, as well. Frank, Joseph, and Renee executed a written surrogacy contract in which Renee agreed to become pregnant using Frank’s sperm and to surrender her rights as a biological mother so that Joseph could adopt the child. Using in vitro fertilization, in which more than one fertilized egg is typically implanted to ensure conception, Renee bore fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, in February 2010. Though the court’s opinion does not say so, it is likely that Frank and Renee were listed as the parents on the birth certificates. For four years, Joseph and Frank raised the children together, sharing parental rights and responsibilities, and the children regarded both as parents, calling Joseph “Dada” and Frank “Dad.” The court’s opinion doesn’t say what they called Renee, but it makes clear she saw them frequently. Joseph and Frank separated
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For four years, Joseph and Frank raised the children together, sharing parental rights and responsibilities, and the children regarded both as parents, calling Joseph “Dada” and Frank “Dad.” early in 2014, and the children continued to live with Frank while Joseph visited and cared for them “daily,” according to the court’s opinion, until May of that year. Then Frank suddenly cut off contact between the children and both Joseph and Renee. That December, he moved to Florida with the children, without giving any notice to Joseph or Renee and without seeking permission from the court. Though Renee had agreed in the surrogacy agreement to give up her parental rights so Joseph could adopt the children, nobody had taken any of those steps. As a result, Renee still enjoyed her parental rights, and so a court’s okay would typically be required to move the children out of state without her permission. Renee filed an action in the Family Court seeking custody as the children’s biological mother, and Joseph filed an action petitioning to be appointed their legal guardian. At that time, New York precedent from 1991 — overturned in August — continued to hold that a co-parent in Joseph’s position had no legal standing to seek custody. Joseph considered a guardianship appointment his best shot — though he reconsidered in June 2015 and filed his own action seeking custody as a de facto parent of the twins. Frank sought to thr ow out Joseph’s new motion, relying on the 1991 precedent limiting “parent” to a biological or adoptive parent, but Orange County Family Court Judge Lori Currier-Woods denied the motion — despite the fact that the 1991 precedent was then still in
place — and Frank appealed. The appellate court’s opinion does not spell out Currier-Woods’ reasoning. In its unanimous September 6 ruling, the panel of Justices L. Priscilla Hall, Jeffrey A. Cohen, Robert J. Miller, and Betsy Barros cited the August ruling from the Court of Appeals that finally overturned the 1991 precedent that hurt many same-sex co-parents. Under the new definition of “parent” established by the state’s high court, a partner of a biological parent has standing to seek custody if the partner “shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together.” The Appellate Division found that Joseph had done so, pointing to the pre-conception agreement and the fact that the two men “equally shared the rights and responsibilities of parenthood, and were equally regarded by the children as their parents.” This ruling does not mean that Joseph will automatically get custody. The case goes back to the Family Court for a determination whether an award of custody to Joseph is in the children’s best interest. The appellate ruling also gives no indication what effect it has on Renee’s custody claim. However, New York law makes no provision for a child having three legal parents, so the Family Court will have to take account of Renee’s parental rights in determining whether to award custody to Joseph, and whether that would require terminating the parental status of either Renee or Frank. That, of course, is a complicated business that makes clear the Legislature must modernize the Domestic Relations Law to provide guidance to courts in dealing with “non-traditional” families. Kathleen L. Bloom of New Windsor represents Joseph. Michael D. Meth and Bianca Formisano of Chester represent Frank. Gloria Marchetti-Bruck of Mount Kisco was appointed by the court to represent the interest of the children. Renee’s attorney is not mentioned in the court’s opinion.
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Two Fed Judges Okay Trans Students’ Bathroom Claims Ruling out of Ohio sharply challenges Texas court’s nationwide halt to Obama administration policy BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
ithin days of each other, two feder al district judges issued preliminary injunctions requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio, based in Cincinnati, issued his order on September 26 against the Highland Local School District, near Akron, on behalf of a “Jane Doe” 11-yearold transgender student. Judge Pamela Pepper of the Milwaukee-based Eastern District of Wisconsin, issued her order on September 22 against the Kenosha Unified School District on behalf of Ashton Whitaker, a transgender male high school student. Although both cases are important — producing essentially the same results under Title IX of the
1972 federal Education Amendments and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment — Marbley’s ruling is more significant because he sharply questioned whether Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas had jurisdiction when he issued a nationwide injunction on August 21 ordering the Obama administration to refrain from initiating investigations or enforcing its Title IX interpretation of gender identity discrimination. O’Connor ruled in a case initiated by Texas in alliance with many other states challenging the validity of the federal government’s “rule” that Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination by educational institutions receiving federal funds, prohibits gender identity discrimination and requires schools to allow transgender students to use bathroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. Neither the Highland nor Keno-
LING-COHAN, from p.4
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
It is also hard to find panelists who represent the people of Manhattan. The county asks bar associations and community groups to send panelists, but 17 of 39 groups that were asked declined this year, leaving the panel top-heavy with attorneys. Daniel Roskoff, a longtime community activist who is managing Ling-Cohan’s bid, proposed that the panel be reformed by “1) following American Bar Association guidelines for incumbents, 2) change the threshold for incumbents to a 75-percent negative vote for rejection, 3) allow appeals, and 4) vet panelists for conflicts.” Attorney Emily Jane Goodman, a 30-year veteran of the bench and a big Ling-Cohan supporter, defended electing judges over having them appointed by the governor and mayor. She called for training of the panelists and having them disclose potential conflicts “in sworn statements.” Having served as an administrator of panels twice herself, Goodman said, “I know how [an administrator] can affect a panel,” and voiced concern that the rules weren’t followed this year. The County Democratic Party may have dodged a scandal this year, but it remains to be seen how seriously it will take the need to reform the screening process. One veteran of the local Democratic clubs conceded that without judicial candidates, the clubs would die as those seeking judicial office — or who hope to in later years — provide a substantial percentage of club revenue
a clone case brought in Nebraska as amicus parties. Meanwhile, pro bono attorneys from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, a Washington, DC, firm, organized an amicus brief by school administrators from about 20 states in support of Jane Doe. Allowed to intervene, Doe sought a preliminary injunction requiring the Highland schools to treat her as a girl and allow her to use appropriate restrooms. Marbley agreed with the federal government’s argument that the Highland school district was not yet in the position to challenge the administration’s policy because there had been no final ruling that it faced a cut-off in federal funding for violating the gender identity nondiscrimination requirements mandated by the Department of Education. A school district is in no position to file a lawsuit directly
CIVIL RIGHTS, continued on p.32
GAY CITY NEWS
remorseful reversal would be illegal and essentially make him into a “boss.” He clearly did work behind the scenes to see to it that Ling-Cohan was re-nominated after the panel debacle — once Mendez gave him a way out by clarifying that she could be nominated from the floor. Wright opened the convention by proclaiming, “This panel process is still the best process in all the counties and throughout the country,” though it has no avenue for appeal, as some counties do, if a candidate is treated unfairly in the way Ling-Cohan was. “We are inclusive and transparent and make sure we have the best judges that we can be proud of,” Wright asserted. And while he said the county’s judicial nomination procedures are not “a Soviet-style process,” there was nary a floor fight nor one note of dissent over any of the nominations. “This process has gotten crazy,” Wright said, “but tonight it will go smoother.” He announced a one-minute limit on all nomination speeches and said, “I will be a b-i-t-c-h about that.” Former county leader Denny Farrell, a longtime assemblymember from Harlem as Wright is, strongly defended the panel system, but conceded, “It is hard to get an administrator to do the job.”
sha cases were affected by O’Connor’s order in any event, since they involved complaints filed by the individual plaintiffs, not by the Department of Education, which was the among the federal government targets of the Texas court’s injunction. In the Highland case, the dispute arose when the school refused to allow the 11-year-old transgender girl to use the girls’ restrooms and the federal Department of Education became involved. The school district, abetted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Christian law firm providing representation in a number of cases challenging the administration’s position, rushed into federal district court to sue the DOE. As the case progressed, Jane Doe’s parents moved to intervene as third-party plaintiffs against the school district. ADF sought to include many of the states that are co-plaintiffs in the Texas case and
Ling-Cohan with a key supporter, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who demonstrated to Democratic officials that rules clearly allowed the judge to be nominated from the floor at the county convention.
through their attendance at fundraisers. Given the lack of any real competition for judicial nominees running on the Democratic ballot line, Ling-Cohan will most surely be returned to the bench in November. She enjoyed a night of celebration with her supporters after being dragged through the mud by the gutter press and only later affirmed in a big September 6 City Hall rally and finally at the convention. But the story of her vindication and the future of an independent judiciary is still being written.
Affordable Caviar — No, Seriously
Mekelburg’s in Clinton Hill delivers rare treats, reasonable prices BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
here is a dish you can eat in a cellar in Brooklyn that is a work of art, and also soulful. It costs $12, and will fill you up. That dish is Mekelburg’s salt-baked potato with crème f r a î c h e , b l a c k c a v i a r, a n d smoked black cod. You may think it’s not for you because caviar is a token of luxury, in a city where you finally understand you cannot afford luxury. You may assume the roe must be inferior and the dish somehow a sham, because the really good stuff wouldn’t cost $12, not even as a dollop on top of a potato. Ignore your thoughts, though, and just eat the thing: a huge potato completely covering a small plate, with unctuous, salty bits of smoked fish around it (and, you will discover, thoroughly veined in a little network inside it, like eggs or seeds, as well). That fish is smoked sable, what “black cod” is called when it’s at home. Ashkenazi Jews of a certain age know sable as the best thing to put on a bagel, so much better than lox it’s not funny. On top of the potato is a creamy mound of crème fraîche with a huge load of unusually buttery, unsalty, even fruity-tasting caviar on it. There is softened butter with dill (and more bits of sable) around the edges of the plate. Together, the potato and sable and only-slightly-sour cream and caviar make up a food that mixes Jewish and Gentile, the feeling of being cared for by one’s mother and the delights you can get when you go out on your own into the world. How that plate brought together salt, sweet, fat, sophisticated, homey almost made me cry. It’s an odd time for eating out in New York. The places most likely to be reviewed by critics are restaurants where entrées cost $30 and tasting menus cost $100 and more. They are tiny food-temples and shiny mega-boîtes where most of us can’t go even if, by normal US standards, we are “upper income”
Mekelburg’s cellar eatery in Clinton Hill.
— little palaces where, we, reader, certainly can’t eat if we are what the government calls either low income or middle class. (Note that $55,575 is the median household income in the United States; median household income in the city is $67,201.) Reading the reviews has become an exercise in tantalized frustration: breathing in paragon writer Pete Wells’ description, in the New York Times, of the grated frozen foie gras appetizer at Momofuku Ko, you could be forgiven for feeling like the orphan cousin not invited to the party. “A cook behind the counter would rub a frozen cured brick of it across a Microplane held above a bowl with pine nut brittle, riesling jelly and lobes of lychee, showering them with falling pink flakes of airborne pleasure.” (The liver is part of the $195 tasting menu for lunch or dinner, the only way that you can eat at Ko.) The other spots in critics’ reviews — restaurants like Cosme and Blue Hill and even Contra and the Spotted Pig —are not for us, either, unless we’re in the top five percent, or interested in acquiring a load of debt that will cripple us. Yet we read the weekly takes from Wells and New York mag-
azine and Eater, salivating. We tweet photos of other dishes from slightly less expensive glory spots we can barely afford (hot honey! hot fried chicken! poké!) so that we, too, can participate in the glorious culture of eating. CS Lewis once presciently remarked that “if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips,” an observer would conclude that they “were starving.” So are we starving? Well, 1.36 million of us are hungry in New York and don’t know where our next meal is coming from, according to Barbara Turk, a progressive lesbian policy wonk who directs the mayor’s Office of Food Policy. One million, three hundred sixty thousand out of the 8.4 million people in the city, which translates into one in six of all the people that you see every day, a fraction so high it astounded me. As for the rest of us, are we afraid of becoming them? I think so. I also believe that we, too, tweeting about fennel with orange pulp and A.1.-sauced cauliflower steak and pickled ramps, are also starving, just not for food. We are
starving for fulfilling work, starving for stimulation strong enough to make it okay that we’re tired all the time or have to work three jobs just to stay here, and are afraid we’re never going to be able to afford to stay here permanently. Starving for beauty and intimacy at a time when we have to be available constantly to the breathless interwebs to keep our jobs or further our ambitions, craving endless something — food? sex? Facebook likes? — to keep us going as we jockey for relative status, on a ladder that has millions of rungs and millions of shaky places to fall. So, Mekelburg’s. Is it a savior in this den of $96-chicken iniquity? Definitely not. I’m very aware that to some of you, it will be too expensive. Sandwiches — very filling and wonderful sandwiches, but still sandwiches — are $9 to $17. Most are $14. (The lone $17 one is a bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and soft shell crab nonpareil.) Whether something is “affordable” or not is always relative, depending on where exactly we are on that rollercoaster ladder. But you can eat dinner here, an exquisite dinner, for $20 ($30 if you get a
MORSELS, continued on p.15
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
MORSELS, from p.14
16-ounce glass of beer from one of the terrific breweries on their list, or share an appetizer if you want to stagger home in a food coma). The venue is odd, a small beer-restaurant in the back of a subterranean high-end grocery store in Clinton Hill, a gentrified neighborhood that includes Pratt and NYCHA housing, like the Lafayette Gardens houses two blocks away. The groceries are interesting, but mostly too expensive (some of the produce is wellpriced, like $1.95-a-pound minimally-treated local apples or butternut squash.) What you want to come for are one of the two potato dishes, or the porchetta. All of them made me emotional, which I haven’t felt from pricey food, I have to say, in years. The other salt-baked potato is topped with slab bacon (a smoked, cured, solid piece of pork) and sour cream ($10), surrounded on the plate by scallions and more of that softened butter. In the middle of the potato, you will find a stash (too small, but delicious) of oozy raclette, the French cheese made for melting. The whole thing tasted like what hobbits eat when they get to choose the fare, the bacon (so much better and more substantial than the sliced kind) combining with the sour cream and salty potato and very slightly funky, gooey cheese to make bites that all felt generous and nurturing, so that I felt very, very well-cared-for, as though the person who made this really wanted to feed me in more than one way. One of the bacon potatoes will do you for dinner. A couple of dishes were imperfect, like the roasted acorn squash with fantastic burrata cheese and pepita seeds which became too salty when mixed with the accompanying bagna cauda sauce ($14), and a meatloaf sandwich with ricotta and red gravy (also $14), which, strangely, only tasted delicious when eaten so hot that it burned my tongue, and wasn’t nearly as good when it had cooled down enough to eat safely. And a wild dandelion salad with lemon, anchovies, and Parmesan was just bad, the lemon dressing so overpoweringly acid I couldn’t eat the leaves at all ($12). The porchetta, which dominates
On top of the potato is a creamy mound of crème fraîche with a huge load of unusually buttery, unsalty, even fruitytasting caviar on it.
a sandwich made with broccoli rabe and Parmesan ($14), is tender and lyrical. I love porchetta in general — boneless suckling pig rolled up in layers of stuffing, fat, and skin and spit-roasted, like a kind of cousin to shawarma — but theirs, unusually garlicky, also made me melt a little inside, like I’d seen a beloved relative (my mother, say) after 15 years. That caviar on the first potato? It’s American paddlefish, but tastes much better than any version of that fish’s roe (it’s a cousin of sturgeon) I have had to date. Alicia Mekelburg, who owns the shop and restaurant with her husband, Daniel, probably knew where to get the good stuff because she had a long career as a sourcer of fancy food for several chain stores. She won’t say which purveyor of paddlefish it comes from. Mekelburg’s, 293 Grand Avenue between Clifton Place and Greene Avenue (mekelburgs.com, 718399-2337) is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-2 a.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-4 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.4 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Most fruits and vegetables served are pesticide-free; all house meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free and pasture-raised. The extraordinary cheeses and creams served come from Lioni Latticini. The grocery and restaurant are down one flight of stairs, and an automated wheelchair lift is available though it must be operated by a Mekelburg’s staff member. The scrupulously clean bathroom is accessible and has a lovely chalkboard covering the walls, with multicolored chalk provided. On recent visits, there was lesbian love graffiti, anti-rape chants, and Black Lives Matter annotations on the walls.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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t the risk of belaboring the obvious, it is essential that we elect Hillary Clinton as president on November 8. For all the opportunities that 35 years in public life provide to critics –– some who are sincere and justified –– Clinton’s candidacy in 2016 offers one of the most progressive visions ever articulated on the national stage. She is on board with advancing major unfinished pieces of the LGBT political agenda, including the Equality Act that would confer on all of us the nondiscrimination protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in employment, housing, public accommodations, access to credit, and other areas. Clinton has spoken out on threats to the dignity and well-being of the transgender community posed by the wave of inflammatory rhetoric mounted on the question of public restroom access. She has called out those on the right who have tried to dress up their bigotry and resistance to simple equality in spurious religious claims, and she understands well how those are linked to the Supreme Court’s dangerous 2014 ruling that allowed Hobby Lobby as a corporation to assert a religious opt-out from the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that its prescription drug benefits include contraceptive coverage. As secretary of state, Clinton made an historic 2011 speech to world leaders in Geneva making clear the US position that “gay rights are human rights,” and she backed that rhetoric up with a repositioning of LGBT issues within the State Department’s worldwide priorities. LGBT human rights activists say that while in previous years they often fruitlessly banged on the State Department’s door, under Clinton and President Barack Obama’s leadership, State utilized the expertise of these activists to improve the effectiveness of its own efforts worldwide. Clinton sat down this year with leading AIDS activists and endorsed the thrust of their goals, offering solid hope that the progress made during the Obama years in putting science –– and not moral judgments –– at the fore in developing policy toward the epidemic will continue. Clinton is a natural on the question
Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
Out of the bars and onto the phones: A crowd gathered at Henrietta Hudson to watch this week’s presidential debate. Now let’s all hit the phones.
of HIV/ AIDS given her lifelong commitment to expanding health care opportunities for all Americans. With the Affordable Care Act facing challenges from both continued Republican recalcitrance and the recent threats by some leading insurers to pull out, America needs a president committed to building on Obama’s progress, which for all the poisoned backlash aimed at it, has brought health care to more than 20 million Americans previously uninsured. Not enough, but not a record we can afford to retreat from. Clinton’s progressive agenda is clear on a host of other fronts: raising the minimum wage and protecting union rights, expanding paid family and medical leave, ensuring universal pre-K education, eliminating student debt at public colleges and universities, putting sensible gun control measures in place, reforming our immigration system in a just manner, refocusing criminal justice efforts to divert non-violent offenders into alternatives, continuing progress on measures urgently needed to slow climate change, and fixing our corrupt campaign finance system. On the minimum wage, many will want to push a Clinton administration harder. On criminal justice reform, Clinton has acknowledged the adverse impact of policies enacted under her husband. Democrats have only recently ginned up their courage on gun control. And if a President Clinton cannot deliver on meaningful immigration reform, patience with the Democratic Party in the Latino community will likely begin to wear thin.
But one thing is clear: the alternative to Hillary Clinton is simply unthinkable. As Donald Trump has demonstrated over and over again, he has neither the policy knowledge nor the temperament to be president. His flailing flip-flops make it impossible to discern what his true beliefs are, but in promising to consider as a Supreme Court nominee a federal judge Lambda Legal termed “the most demonstrably anti-gay” nominee in memory or in talking about criminal penalties for women who have an abortion, Trump proved he will do anything to appease the most rabid forces on the extreme right. Whether about Mexican immigrants or Muslims, he has made explicit appeals to racism; in talking about Russia, ISIS, NATO, and Iran, he has shown utter naiveté about national defense and diplomacy; and in his reckless threats against Clinton, he exhibits an alarming appetite for political violence and thuggery. Our responsibility is clear. We must help defeat Trump and elect Clinton. Each of us can make phone calls on Clinton’s behalf –– and choose the swing state where we’d like to target those calls –– by visiting https://www. hillaryclinton.com/calls. For daily updates on what swing states –– from among about half a dozen to eight –– are most critical, visit Nate Silver’s polling data at fivethirtyeight.com or the New York Times’ Upshot assessment at goo.gl/T7eLV6. There are only 40 days left until the election. The time is now.
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
La Commedia non è Finita BY ED SIKOV
he people that we are encouraged to think of as complex and interesting on the left, aren’t,’ [Milo] Yiannopoulos says. ‘Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham are intensely dull, boring people, but we are required to look at them from a million different angles from a million different profiles in saturated media coverage. But things are starting to change. And I am one of the primary engines of change in American culture because I’m demonstrating that someone sassy and silly and gay and flamboyant who loves “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and sucks black dick doesn’t have to vote Democrat. That matters. That’s really important.’” No, it isn’t. It’s just self-aggrandizing bullshit, the kind of Me! Me! Me! drivel we’ve come to expect from Yiannopoulos, whose pasty, oddly featureless face appears increasingly often in a media world always on the lookout for the next superclown. This time it’s Out magazine. The article, by Chadwick Moore, isn’t half bad. It’s half good, which is worse. “Sassy and silly and gay and flamboyant” sounds harmless enough. It would make a good theme song lyric for an updated remake of “That Girl” starring Jim Parsons, but it’s just putting a happy face on the vicious, mean caricature Yiannopoulos has created for himself. And Moore is too busy giving Yiannopoulos’ a journalistic blowjob to call him out on it. There is nothing benign about Milo Yiannopoulos. He’s a racist, a bigot, a woman-hating and manipulative stooge who’s smart enough to turn himself into a media whore — and a particularly skanky one at that — but not nearly smart enough to realize that he’s being played. He’s the resident court jester for the alt-right, the contemporary term for fascists, only unlike the classic court jester, he never tells his all-but-entirely straight alt-right masters what they don’t want to
hear. No, he tells them precisely what they want to hear: that gay men are narcissistic buffoons, great for faux-racy entertainment and nothing more. His obsession — which has crossed the line into clinical — with telling people about his adoration of black cock gets recycled here in a sentence that ends ludicrously with “doesn’t have to vote Democrat.” This is the brave little engine driving a massive cultural shift? I laughed out loud at that point — excellent comic relief because I was on a slow but building burn from the beginning of the article, which features this extraordinary preamble:
— space for him to obfuscate to his wormy heart’s content. The misspelling of Yiannopoulos’ first name suggests that this self-serving disclaimer — or, more accurately, self-serving claimer — was written in haste and put up on Out’s website even quicker, perhaps because of all the complaints (not to mention subscription cancellations) that suddenly came pouring in. If you will indulge me in an anachronistic comparison, it’s like a gay magazine in 1930s Germany deciding to profile Ernst Röhm, the gay Nazi. No, it’s actually worse than that; at least Röhm did something to merit the coverage: he cofounded the storm
It was Yiannopoulos, you will recall, who launched the vicious, racist, and exceedingly personal attack on the AfricanAmerican comedienne Leslie Jones, who starred in “Ghostbusters.”
“Editor’s Note: It should not need saying that the views expressed by the subject of this piece in no way represent the opinions of this magazine, but in this era of social media tribalism, the mere act of covering a contentious person can be misinterpreted as an endorsement. If LGBTQ media takes its responsibilities seriously we can’t shy away from covering queer people who are at the center of this highly polarized election year, and we ask you to assess Milos [sic] Yiannopoulos, the focus of this profile, on his own words without mistaking them for ours.” Yes, it not only should need saying; it must need saying, if must and need can be rammed into the same sentence. And magazines don’t have opinions. Editors do. They make conscious decisions to give space, for instance, to neo-Nazis like Yiannopoulos
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
troopers. Yiannopoulos actually does precious little, and what little he does is entirely devoted to self-promotion. The “social media tribalism” comment, as sassy and silly and flamboyant as it may be, doesn’t merit a response. It was Yiannopoulos, you will recall, who launched the vicious, racist, and exceedingly personal attack on the African-Amer ican comedienne Leslie Jones, who starred in “Ghostbusters.” Here’s how Chadwick Moore and Out handle the incident: [with my comments in brackets]: “This summer, Yiannopoulos made headlines when following a sensationally bad [deliberately cruel], anti-feminist [woman-hating] review of the new all-female “Ghostbusters” movie, posted on the conservative [fascist] site Breitbart News, where Yiannopoulos is employed as tech editor. Online,
he referred to one of the stars, Leslie Jones, as ‘a hot black dude.’ (On CNBC, in September, he went a step further: She looks ‘remarkably like one of my ex-boyfriends,’ he told reporters. [This is a very sad boast.]) A Twitter war [“war” implies two sides; this was pure harassment] ensued. Yiannopoulos’ followers [neo-Nazis in jackboots] took his insult [personal attack] as permission to descend into racist and violent threats. T rolls posted memes compar ing Jones to a gorilla, tagging her with the caption, ‘I know you only wanted to protect that kid.’ “[Poor] Twitter found itself in a no-win situation: allow Yiannopoulos free rein and be per ceived as [why the passive voice?] condoning trolling, or silence him and become a lightning rod for the frustrations of the alt-right. [Oh, they’re not hateful bullies! They’re merely frustrated!] On July 19, Twitter permanently suspended Yiannopoulos’ account, which had around 350,000 followers, for violating terms of service that prohibit inciting targeted attacks against other users. ‘I’m only responsible for what I say,’ Yiannopoulos says. ‘I am held to a totally arbitrary, unique, hypocritical double standard because people don’t like my politics.’ “Overwhelmed by the deluge, Jones briefly left Twitter, after tweeting, ‘Ok I have been called Apes, sent pics of their asses, even got a pic with semen on my face. I’m tryin to figure out what human means. I’m out.’ A month later, her Web site was hacked and personal photos were published online [more obfuscation via the passive voice]. “One might [might?] wonder if the escalating tirade of abuse targeted at Jones would give pause [giving pause: that’s really sticking it to them!] to some [some!] of Yiannopoulos’ devotees: What purpose do such personalized attacks serve? What had their infantile [neo-Nazis as babies — gimme a break!] campaign against a movie [no, it was against a human being, specifically a black woman] contributed to the greater sum of human happiness? [This is so ridiculous I can’t even
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.19
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
President Trump? BY KELLY COGSWELL
ell, I won’t do that again. Not without a lot more alcohol down the hatch. But I did it. I watched the first T rumpClinton debate. I will summarize it for you as a rational, mostly truthful woman answering the moderator’s questions on one side, and on the other a shrieky, red-faced man interrupting her twice a minute with a mix of gobbledygook and factually-challenged, often terrifying statements, all delivered with the absolute conviction of a sleazy used car salesman. FYI, Ford is not packing up and taking its plant to Mexico. No, Clinton is not responsible for ISIS. Or the Iraq war, either. (See Bush, George W.; unilateralism). And the 14 million your pops gave you to start a business was not a “small” loan. And no, you absolutely don’t get to bomb another country’s ship just because somebody made a rude gesture to yours. Yes, Russia is to blame for recent cyber attacks and hacking meant to elect Trump and/ or discredit our electoral process.
And long before Trump declared Obama and illegal immigrants were responsible for the uptick in murders in Chicago, while repeating his dog-whistle call for law and order, I was thinking for the millionth time that you’d have to be nuts to vote for him — and have no idea at all how the world works or even your own country. But then I remembered — that’s entirely possible. This is America, where half the people who get federal entitlements are against federal entitlements because they don’t understand that that’s what disability payments are, for instance. Or Social Security checks. Public schools. Medicare. VA programs. Reason and logic and knowledge have nothing to do with it. We’ve proudly announced for years that we vote for whomever we want to have a beer with, so why not that smirker Trump who rails against the politicians who screw everything up and positively gloats about not paying taxes “because they would just be squandered”? Yeah, he tells it like it is. So heck yeah, I’m for Trump, his supporters say. So what if he’s declared bankruptcy a
whopping six times, he must be a smart businessman because he always seems to come out ahead. And ISIS is a big problem. And Secretary Clinton has been in power for like a million years, so it’s all that cunt’s fault. Almost as deluded are the folks on the other side who believe that just because T rump uses imaginary words like “bigly” bigly and lies every time he opens his mouth, that voters will laugh him out of contention, a tactic that worked so well in previous elections (ibid.). It was almost heartbreaking how happy they were last night that the polls after the debate showed viewers believed Clinton trounced Trump, as if a poll actually had some long-term impact. A large part of the problem is that the mainstream — and even alternative — media does little to challenge Trump directly. Mostly because they don’t really care about fairness or justice, just the illusion of it. Remember their coverage of same-sex marriage? They’d have one person rationally explaining the importance of equality under the law and what it meant to lesbian and gay citizens, and then some random preacher ranting that The Gays were going to destroy the family and we should
DYKE ABROAD, continued on p.19
PERSPECTIVE: The Long View
Gays, Blacks, and the Fate of North Carolina Politics in 2016 BY NATHAN RILEY
orth Carolina tells the tale of close ties between the fate of the Democratic Party and the LGBT community. Queers are the reason Democrats have a fighting chance in this red state. Charlotte is a banking and financial capital, a hub of colleges and universities, and a beacon of liberalism in a state run by Republicans who hug tight their Christian brethren. In February, the city passed an LGBT rights law that included protections for transgender folks, including the explicit right to access bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. In March, the State Legislature retaliated by rushing through a sweeping law barring any city from providing the sort of protections Char-
lotte proposed by overriding the right of any municipality to enact non-discrimination ordinances that exceed the standard set by state law. You want gay rights in North Carolina, persuade the Republican Legislature! In the process, the GOP upped the ante on transgender rights by mandating that people use only those public bathrooms that correspond to their gender as designated on their birth certificate. Oh, and not incidentally, the law also forbids cities from raising the local minimum wage higher than the state’s. This open declaration of war caused the LGBT community to erupt, and North Carolina Democrats, invigorated by the outrage, went on the offense. Pictures soon popped up on social media showing how a transgender man with a beard and mustache could be
compelled to use the women’s room under the new law. Before long, corporate Amer ica offered a helping hand and musicians — Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and longtime LGBT ally friend Cyndi Lauper, among them — announced a boycott of the the state. Even the staid National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled championship matches. In 2017, there will be no NCAA basketball March Madness in North Carolina nor will the women’s lacrosse championship rounds take place there. At the professional level, the NBA moved next year’s all-star game out of North Carolina. These moves represent a milestone in the growing fight against homophobia in sports. The Tar Heel State is suddenly no longer a sure thing for the Christian right; the Democrats
have a popular issue. Republican militancy has transformed North Carolina into a battleground state. Democrats are fighting to oust the GOP governor, Pat McCrory, as well as US Senator Richard Burr, also a Republican. And political pundits, including Nate Silver’s outfit, fivethirtyeight. com, agree that Donald Trump cannot win the White House without snaring North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes. If cultural issues surrounding LGBT equality and dignity were defining the political scene in North Carolina through much of the year, things changed dramatically on September 20, when a plainclothes police officer, Brentley Vinson, shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, a disabled black man. The police said he had pointed a gun; the family said he was carrying a book. The city braced for demonstrations but later admitted too few police were called in, and after two days the National Guard was activated by Governor McCrory.
LONG VIEW, continued on p.35
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
DYKE ABROAD, from p.18
all be killed. And both were equivalent, as if we were discussing whether tax penalties or incentives were more effective. This time, we end up with rags like the New York Times using its editorial page to offer the unprecedented acknowledgement that a candidate is entirely, one-hundred-percent unfit to be president, but this morning sends out an email again reporting on the attacks and responses in the debate as if the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates were equal. Ditto after the debate, when I watched the PBS commentators lift a few mild eyebrows at Trump, but then go after Clinton, quibbling with how she responded to T rump’s criticism of her economic proposals, but mostly offering the usual Hermione-hating crap like “her answers were too long” “she didn’t offer us a vision,” “she didn’t reveal her self.” In short, she didn’t slide
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.17
respond.] Instead, the incident merely served to convince many of Yiannopoulos’ followers that the system was rigged by the liberal left to censor and shut down the right. The fact that the only other high-profile people to face permanent suspension were also Trump supporters (the rapper Azealia Banks and the right-wing troll Chuck C. Johnson) was grist for the alt-right mill.” Where does one begin to dismantle t his ste ami ng pil e o f crap? Yiannopoulos is practically guiltless in Moore’s rendition; all he did was say she looked like a man. It’s his “followers” who are really to blame. And Moore doesn’t offer much of an argument to Yiannopoulos’ idiotic and typically self-centered claim that he is “held to a totally arbitrary, unique, hypocritical double standard because people don’t like my politics.” Arbitrary? Unique? Hypocritical? It’s as if Ernst Röhm had tweeted benignly about hook-nosed Jews and then blamed everyone else for the ensuing violence. Moore simply asks if the tidal wave of abuse
down in the stirrups and let us see a vagina bursting with rainbows and unicorns. So I’ll tell you all what I’ve been telling my friends for months. Don’t underestimate the power of stupidity and misogyny in this election. If Democrats continue to smugly laugh at T rump, if the extreme left and independent voters continue to say both parties are equal and advocate protest votes, we could very well end up with President Trump. He would not only support conservative white nationalists who hate minorities of all kinds, including queers — Seriously! They hate our guts — but would also ravage the economy and environment for his personal gain. Trump might even employ nuclear weapons to avenge slight insults. And I will be the first rat off this sinking American ship. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
that Yiannopoulos’ jackbooted “followers” hurled at Jones “would give pause” to the jerks in jackboots. Yiannopoulos hands a bunch of pimply and particularly nasty kids a box of matches and a can of gasoline and expresses shock when they burn down the synagogue, and all Moore can muster is a mealy-mouthed rhetorical question about “human happiness” that he was apparently too chickenshit to pose to Yiannopoulos himself? Please. In what is evidently considered irony by the editors of Out, the illustrations accompanying the article depict Yiannopoulos as a harlequin, as though dressing up a media clown as a clown is terribly witty and satirical. No, it’s neither. I’ve always found clowns to be more disturbing than amusing, and this is no exception. More important, it’s not irony when you literalize an obvious metaphor. And the title of the piece is an outright lie: “Send in the Clown: Internet Supervillain Milo Doesn’t Care That You Hate Him.” Seems to me that that’s all he cares about. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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In AIDS’ Shadow, A Cinematic Flowering Back against the wall, the queer community created independent film tradition BY GARY M. KRAMER
Ally Sheedy and Radha Mitchell in Lisa Cholodenko’s “High Art.” METROGRAPH
s a gay moviegoer in the 1990s, the New Queer Cinema explosion provided me with images of LGBT life that were exciting, impassioned, and authentic. These independent films and filmmakers gave voice to the queer men and women previously ignored or represented as stereotypes on screen — if they were featured at all. Before the 1990s, there were few films with queer characters. The New Queer Cinema movement shook up viewers with a series of highly personal — often semi-autobiographical — stories by writers and directors, many of whom were motivated by the anger and anxiety they felt in the age of AIDS. Shooting with shoestring budgets, these films — “Poison,” “Swoon,” “Go Fish,” and “The Living End” among them — were raw, innovative, and generally experimental. And they were enthusiastically embraced by LGBT audiences hungering for something different, something dangerous, something political, something personal, something joyous — and something queer. The two dozen films in the Metrograph’s impressive new series “Queer ‘90s,” opening October 5, remind viewers what LGBT life was like as the wave of New Queer Cinema emerged — long before there was marriage equality, or the Internet or cell phones for that matter. Looking back on the films, I recall being dazzled by the pioneering achievement that was Todd Haynes’ 1991 feature debut, “Poison” (Oct. 5, 8 p.m.). The film, a trio of stories about outcasts, is as striking, disturbing, and sensational today as it was on initial release. “My Own Private Idaho” (Oct. 7, 2 & 7 p.m.), by Gus Van Sant, also from 1991, is duly celebrated for River Phoenix’s heartbreaking performance as Mike, a narcoleptic hustler eking out his life on the streets of Portland with Scott (Keanu Reeves). Van Sant’s queer take on the Shakespearean knight Falstaff features hallucinatory and playful images, along with sex scenes that are shot like still photographs. Back in 1992, I recall staggering out of the Lincoln Plaza Cinema after a screening of Tom Kalin’s hypnotic “Swoon” (Screening times not yet available will be posted at metrograph. com), a highly stylized reimagining of the Leopold and Loeb murder case starring queer film It Boy Craig Chester. Paul Verhoeven’s controversial thriller, “Basic Instinct” was a bloated misfire when I saw it opening day in 1992. It hasn’t improved over time. Sure, it skyrocketed Sharon Stone to fame for flashing her privates, but the film’s treatment of a bisexual murderess angered the queer community, many of whom picketed it. The weekend “The Crying Game” opened at the Angelika in 1992, I recall how difficult it
James Duval in Gregg Araki’s “Nowhere.”
was to get a ticket. However, everyone who did see this thriller — about Fergus (Stephen Rea), an IRA volunteer becoming romantically involved with the lover (Jaye Davidson) of a captured British soldier (Forest Whitaker) — managed to keep the film’s big queer secret. Before he made “Brokeback Mountain,” Ang Lee served up the charming gay romantic comedy-drama “The Wedding Banquet.” The film, about a closeted gay Asian man (Winston Chao) embarking on a marriage of convenience to please (or fool) his traditional parents, was enchanting back in the day. I was initially reluctant to see Derek Jarman’s extraordinary “Blue” (Oct. 9, 3:45 p.m.) when it was released in 1993. I thought this documentary, about his thoughts and experiences living with HIV, would be depressing and rigorously rendered — and at moments it is. But the film — named for the single blue screen visual that accompanies its narration — is a poignant, powerful, and even life-affirming self-portrait. Don’t miss it. I have long held a deep affection for Rose Troche’s frisky “Go Fish,” which depicts the romantic entanglements of two possibly mismatched women, Max (Guinevere Turner) and Ely (V.S. Brodie). This funny, sexy, and somewhat experimental low-budget lesbian romance was a pivotal New Queer Cinema film. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s documentary “The Celluloid Closet,” based on Vito Russo’s landmark book, was essential back in 1995. This seminal discussion of LGBT representations in cinema through the decades is still
QUEER ‘90S Oct. 5-30
THE WATERMELON WOMAN
Directed by Cheryl Dunye Nov. 11-7 Metrograph 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal St. metrograph.com
an important history — if only to see how much queer film has changed over time. I recall laughing my ass off at “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” gay filmmaker Stephan Elliot’s campy 1994 comedy about a trio of drag queens on a road trip in the Outback. The film deservedly won an Oscar for its fabulous costumes, but I most remember the hilarious put-down delivered by Terence Stamp in a bar. Speaking of drag queens, “The Birdcage” was Mike Nichols’ 1996 blockbuster Hollywood remake of the French hit “La Cage Aux Folles.” Written by Elaine May, the film’s send-up of “family values” remains relevant, even if the palimony angle between Armand (Robin Williams) and Albert (a fantastic Nathan Lane) has lost its freshness in the age of marriage equality. I missed “Set it Off” (Oct. 6, 7 p.m.) when it was released in 1996, but this African-American girl power film starring Queen Latifah as a butch lesbian would add much needed cultural diversity even if it were released today.
QUEER '90S, continued on p.23
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Good Day Sunshine Gay punk progenitor Danny Fields’ story told in ‘60s bubble gum hues BY STEVE ERICKSON
ut gay music scenester Danny Fields, the subject of Brendan Toller’s documentary “Danny Says,” had a knack for arriving just before the zeitgeist. As a “hippie yenta” at Elektra Records, he was involved in the company’s decision to sign the MC5 and the Stooges. At the time, the bands sold few records and dissolved in a mess of controversy over four-letter words — the MC5 were dropped by Elektra after taking out a newspaper ad using the word “fuck” and the record label’s logo — and drug abuse. They’re now legendary for influencing punk rock, and Stooges songs have even been used in TV commercials. But in 1969, Fields had to convince his colleagues that the racket these bands made was indeed music — in a recorded phone call in 1970, Stooges singer Iggy Pop swears that the band’s second album, “Funhouse,” will convince everyone the band really knows how to play. Fields went on to manage the Ramones. Their 1976 debut album went gold. It just took 38 years to do so. “Danny Says” is largely edited to sound like a monologue from Fields. Toller does interview an array of other people, from glam/ horror icon Alice Cooper to folksinger Judy Collins to one of Fields’ former assistants. He uses a wealth of period photos, many of which seem to have been found on Fields’ bedroom wall. He lets Fields control the story; despite the “existential despair” his assistant describes, it’s a fairly happy-golucky one. In one of his more dubious decisions, he introduced Iggy Pop to cocaine, but if he ever came close to becoming a drug casualty himself, he doesn’t talk about it. Since many of the people Fields reminisces about, such as Jim Morrison and Warhol superstar Nico, are dead, “Danny Says” illustrates his stories with animation. Four different animators worked on the film, creating a variety of styles. There’s a psychedelic depiction of
Danny Fields, Iggy Pop, Lisa Robinson, and David Bowie.
DANNY SAYS Directed by Brendan Toller Magnolia Pictures Opens Sept. 30 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com Lincoln Plaze Cinema 1886 Broadway at 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com
Morrison’s drug indulgences and starker imagery more appropriate to the Ramones’ minimalism. Fields says that everyone in his family realized he was gay before him. He was born in the late ‘30s and was already 30 when the Stonewall Rebellion took place. However, he describes ‘60s gay life with little angst, recalling a Boston scene revolving around two bars and cruising on the Brooklyn Bridge. He attended Harvard Law School but eventually dropped out to concentrate on his social life, which included plenty of sex. One of his friends says “I was never in” the closet, before adding that he never saw the need to tell his parents about his sexuality.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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Learning to Love André Téchiné once again scores with a coming-of-age story subtly told BY GARY M. KRAMER
DANNY, from p.21
Recalling his time managing the Ramones, Fields also remembers lots of sex. I was curious what it was like to be openly gay in the hippie and punk scenes, but Fields doesn’t really discuss these subjects. He did create one major controversy in 1966, reprinting controversial comments from a British Beatles interview in a magazine aimed at teenagers. One of these was an anti-racist statement from
ences. The film has a raw, gritty feel to it — with a snowy mountainous setting and scenes of farm life — but Téchiné infuses “Being 17” with a romantic sensibility, as well. The mood is especially tender when Damien ogles Thomas as he strips to go skinny-dipping in a cold mountain lake and when the two boys are lying naked together in bed the morning after sex. The naturalistic style of the film is also reflected in the performances. Kacey Mottet Klein as Damien has a baby face and a sensitivity about him, but he also projects an intelligence and toughness that are equally endearing. In contrast, angel-faced Corentin Fila plays Thomas with a much harder, defensive nature. He resists Damien’s affections in front of his adoptive parents, suggesting he is still not completely comfortable with his sexuality, even as he is trying to reconcile his place in the family with Christine’s new baby on the way. Fila captures the pressures facing Thomas in heartbreaking fashion, his closed-in body language and blank expressions sig-
naling deeper troubles that may explain why he is so quick to fight. As his character evolves, Fila makes Thomas’ change wholly credible. In support, Sandrine Kiberlain is warm and engaging as Marianne, who undergoes her own dramatic arc in the third act, a subplot best not spoiled. “Being 17” offers the hallmarks of Téchiné’s best work — a compassion for its characters, a leisurely, elliptical narrative, and keen insights into human behavior. The film does not rise to the high standard set by “Wild Reeds,” but it is worthwhile nonetheless.
Paul McCartney using the N-word, but the one that people still remember is John Lennon’s claim that “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus.” This led to KKK protests, record burnings, apologetic press conferences, and, some claim, the end of the Beatles’ career as a touring band (although the increasing complexity of their music and its reliance on instrumentation beyond guitars, bass, and drums might have something to do with that). Fields says he
never liked the Beatles much. In a way, his act of reprinting the comments was as much of a punk gesture as his promotion of the MC5, the Stooges, or the Ramones. There are some major gaps in “Danny Says.” What did Fields do for a living after he stopped managing the Ramones? The film never tells us. Actor/ director John Cameron Mitchell is interviewed, suggesting a connection, but it is never spelled out. Hints of depression come through, but Toll-
er never follows up on them. The film is edited to offer a particularly cheerful slant on Fields’ life, with suggestions of something darker coming through occasionally. Still, many Baby Boomers acted as though Woodstock was the high point of Western culture and that the evolution of rock music ended in 1969. Fields was perceptive enough to recognize that it kept going and that he could continue to participate in it. Any punk fans should be grateful.
ay French filmmaker André Téchiné may be best known for his 1994 film “Wild Reeds” that depicted the coming-of-age of four teenagers — one of them queer — in southwest France in 1962. His new film, “Being 17,” is also a teenage coming-of-age film, this time set in the Pyrenees of today. Like the superb “Wild Reeds,” “Being 17” is a perceptive drama about youth grappling with same-sex desire and also learning to be flexible in their embrace of life. Damien is a good student who lives with his mother, Marianne, the local doctor. His classmate Thomas lives on a farm in the nearby mountains with his adoptive parents, Christine and Jacques. As the film opens, a rivalry has developed between the boys in school. Thomas trips Damien in class one day, and the two get into a fight playing basketball in gym class. Thomas also pushes Damien into the snow one afternoon. The bullying concerns the principal, and what is behind it is initially unclear. The boys are eventually forced to deal with their dislike for one another. Charmed by Thomas when she visits Christine one day, Marianne tells his mother she should go to the hospital for the weariness her pregnancy has brought on; she takes in Thomas to live with her and Damien to ease his three-hour
round-trip commute to school. Living together, the boys begin to tolerate each another, though they also continue to fight — even as suppressed passions begin to well up. Téchiné keeps his camera close up on the boys’ faces throughout the film, scrutinizing them and their emotions — when Damien is feeling anger and lust in equal measure and when Thomas stares back at Damien, practically daring him to blink first. Their tough exteriors mask an insecurity and desire that eventually brings the boys together, but along the way the sexual tension informs their experiences — from fighting with each other to an excursion Damien initiates online with a local gay man. “Being 17” unfolds unhurriedly in three parts: the boys’ winter, spring, and summer trimesters. A metaphor of thawing parallels the boys opening up their hearts to each other. When Damien confesses to Thomas, “I don’t know if I’m into guys or just you,” it is a powerful moment, but Téchiné plays it very matter-of-factly. Though affecting, it’s not unduly portentous. The filmmaker uses the same light touch when Damien comes out to Marianne, admitting that Thomas hurt him because Damien tried to kiss him. It takes a while before the two teens do steal kisses in secret, but when they get there it is satisfying because viewers have come to know each one and can appreciate their similarities as well as their differ-
Kacey Mottet Klein and Corentin Fila in André Téchiné’s “Being 17.”
BEING 17 Directed by André Téchiné Strand Releasing Opens Oct. 7 Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
QUEER '90S, from p.20
SAMUEL GOLDWYN COMPANY/ PHOTOFEST
Gregg Araki’s 1992 “The Living End,” about two HIV-positive gay men on a “fuck everything” road trip, was a watershed film for me and for New Queer Cinema. Alas, his 1997 “Nowhere” (Oct. 7, 4:30 & 9:30 p.m.), the third film in his “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy,” about a handful of teens’ encounters with both sex and surreal experiences — is uneven, though it offers some trippy erotic moments. I never liked “In & Out,” the Paul Rudnick-scripted comedy about a high school teacher (Kevin Kline) who is inadvertently outed by a former student. Even in 1997, I found this onejoke movie singularly unfunny. “Gia” (Oct. 9, 8:45 p.m.) was an underseen Angelina Jolie TV movie made in 1998 about the bisexual supermodel Gia Carangi. Jolie’s pre-stardom, Golden Globe-wining portrayal is the best reason to see this biopic. Lisa Cholodenko’s beguiling romantic drama “High Art” astonished me back in 1998 for both its style and its substance. Ally Sheedy was remarkable as a burned-out art photographer who seduces her ambitious neighbor (Radha Mitchell). In 1999, Spanish bad boy Pedro Almodóvar capped a fallow period with his Oscar-winning “All About My Mother” (Oct. 8, 6 p.m.). Personally, I find this mama drama, about a woman concealing the identity of her son’s father,
Guinevere Turner and V.S. Brodie in Rose Troche’s “Go Fish.”
Angelina Jolie in Michael Cristofer’s “Gia.”
disappointing; I prefer his queer films to his female-centered melodramas. “Boys Don’t Cry” introduced me not only to Hilary Swank — who justly won an Oscar for her portrayal of trans man Brandon Teena, the victim of a hate murder — but also the talented director Kimberly Peirce, who became a filmmaker to watch. “Cruel Intentions” (Oct. 8, 4 & 8:30 p.m.), a modern update of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” is a total guilty pleasure. I loved its deliciously arch dialogue and beautiful bisexual youths behaving badly so much I saw it twice in the theater on release. Jim Fall’s “Trick,” also from 1999, was a minor romantic comedy about a gay couple, John Paul Pitoc and Christian Campbell, trying to connect, but drag queen Miss Coco Peru stole her few scenes — “It buuurns!”— and
Tori Spelling, as gal pal to one of the men, was terrific, as well. The program has a fitting coda with a weeklong run of Cheryl Dunye’s innovative “The Watermelon Woman” (Nov. 11-17), the first feature film made by an African-American lesbian. The film is a funny, sexy, and clever mix of fiction, documentary, and direct address. Dunye stars as a young lesbian who makes a journey of self-discovery when she researches the life of Fae Richards, a (fictional) African-American actress who intrigues her. The film, both scrappy and sophisticated, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Queer film has proliferated in many ways — some quite exciting — in the 21st century, but “The Watermelon Woman,” like so many offerings in this important retrospective, proves how much fertile groundwork was laid in the 1990s.
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GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
Heart Songs Two new shows stir the soul with honesty and humanity BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
h a t D i d Yo u Expect?,” the second in a three-play cycle, “Election Year in the Life of One Family,” is profoundly moving. The continuing story of the Gabriel family in Rhinebeck, New York, is set against real events unfolding in real time. Things as topical as Donald Trump’s recent appearances on late night television are filtered through the conversation among family members. (The play continued to be updated through the official opening night.) Playwright Richard Nelson, who also directed, has achieved something nearly impossible — certainly not seen in the work of his contemporaries — creating a
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completely believable family. No willing suspension of disbelief is required. There are no abstractions or metaphors. This is real life unfolding in real time for characters we come to care for intimately through small, hardly dramatic but achingly real events that make up life in 2016. The Gabriels are still mourning the loss of a brother, son, and husband, Thomas Gabriel, a noted playwright whose recent death was central to the first play in the series, “Hungry.” “What Did You Expect?” takes place six months later. The Gabriels are on shaky financial ground, trying to figure out how to get from day to day — paying healthcare bills for an aging parent, selling a treasured Bechstein piano probably for less than it’s worth, and dig-
Roberta Maxwell and Amy Warren in Richard Nelson’s “What Did You Expect?”
ging through Thomas’ papers for treasures that might also be sold. Their situation is rendered ironic because Rhinebeck has become a playground for the rich and careless, the sort of people who are targets of Nelson’s most trenchant and deftly handled social criticism. As the play opens, the family is preparing to go on a literary picnic with a group of these young wealthy people who may have carpentry work for George that will tide them over. If not, who knows? These are smart, educated, and loving people for whom life hasn’t quite worked out. The searing authenticity with which Nelson portrays their lives slowly accumulates over the evening so that the simple act of getting dinner on the table becomes a kind of heroic act. The cast from the first play has retur ned. Led by the sublime Maryann Plunkett as Mary, Thomas’ third wife, she is an anchor of sorts for the family, though the ground is clearly shifting beneath her. Jay O. Sanders is marvelous as her brother-in-law George who is eager for work, an enthusiastic fan of Melville and Hawthorne, and far too kind to his non-paying piano students. Lynn Hawley is excellent as Hannah, George’s wife, and Amy Warren gives a finely detailed performance as George’s younger sister, Joyce, who lives in New York and ekes out her mod-
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est success in costume design as a cater waiter. Roberta Maxwell is the matriarch, still trying to hold on, who has been guided to terrible financial decisions but still understands her children very well. As in the first play, Meg Gibson plays Karen, Thomas’ first wife who is renting a room in the house. The delicacy with which she is both part of and removed from the core family makes her one of the most intriguing characters in the piece.
HEART, continued on p.31
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
Flashy staging impedes substantive new operatic trilogy in Boston
Anthony Roth Costanzo in Paola Prestini’s “Gilgamesh,” from the “Ouroboros Trilogy” performed at Emerson College’s Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.
BY DAVID SHENGOLD
erise Lim Jacobs, the intrepid and artistically ambitious muscle behind the long-in-gestation “Ouroboros Trilogy” just unveiled in Boston, has much of which to be proud. Though her texts are sporadically awkward and overly allusive, the powerful stories unfurled in them — different aspects of the Chinese legend of Madame White Snake — are intriguing and certainly fit subjects for operatic embodiment. The three composers Lim Jacobs called upon — Zhou Long for “Madame White Snake,” premiered in 2010 by the defunct Opera Boston, plus Paola Prestini for “Gilgamesh” and Scott Wheeler for “Naga,” both given world premieres this month — all provided scores of quality notably superior to many contemporary efforts at mythologically-based opera. Teaming with visionary new opera production company diva Beth Morrison, Lim Jacobs hired a very fine cast and at least two outstanding conductors (Julian Wachner for the Prestini and Carolyn Kuan for the Wheeler). They also hired — and not without reason, based on a more than solid track record — Michael Counts as director and production designer. Counts’ remarkable success in supplying a visually memorable and clearly fantastically expensive design unfortunately undermined
the basic storytelling a director must provide, especially with rather recondite narratives performed in an order that shifted from one series of performances to the next. Emerson College’s excellent Broadway-sized Cutler Majestic Theatre, a good venue for clarity of textual enunciation, hosted the world premiere showings of the full trilogy on September 10. Each work had a stand-alone performance over the week that followed, which was surely merited by their roughly 100 minutes per. I heard the third series of performances — a second marathon on September 17 in the somewhat random order of “Gilgamesh” (11 a.m.), “Naga” (3 p.m.), and “Madame White Snake” (7:30). Wheeler’s is perhaps the more sophisticated and technically interesting of the two new scores, but Prestini’s, more “Nouvelle Romantic” in places, packed more emotional punch. Both operas were impeded by Ling Jacobs having introduced prolix excerpts from anachronistic Biblical language — how could characters right after the Flood quote the Song of Solomon? — and even, distractingly, from Shakespeare, both “King Lear” and “The Tempest.” These should be rethought in future iterations of the project — which are well warranted. Counts provided an imaginatively imaged “Mosè in Egitto” for City Opera in 2013: the projections there suited that work’s oratorical style. Here, he overwhelmed the characters’ interac-
tions — only sometimes supernatural in nature — with lavish (and often very beautiful) nature videos and projected slides by S. Katy Tucker. Worse, the elements were often oversized and misused theatrically: White Snake, supposedly imprisoned for decades in a bowl, nimbly stepped out of it to sing. Huge projections of Prestini's character Ming (White Snake’s abandoned son) and Wheeler’s Monk (essentially the same figure in the myth, who loses a wife and a much-awaited newborn to his mother’s legacy) benefitted from the handsome faces of, respectively, Christopher Burchett (dramatically committed but often shouty) and Matthew Worth (who has become an excellent, even-voiced interpreter of contemporary music). But they overwhelmed the stage needlessly. Even more distracting were the videos of a faintly grinning white snake, whether flying through the universe or leaving a garden bestowing a touch of unwelcome Saturday morning comedy. And, there seemed to be virtually no Per sonenregie; characters stood in line and sang facing the audience, and it was often unclear to what extent they were meant to be aware of one another’s presence. Unless we’re headed for some Gordon Craig future in which design trumps everything, even mythic stories need well elucidated human underpinnings. The character Gilgamesh enters Prestini’s opera via a dream by its protagonist, Ming. Ming’s expectant wife Ku got a lovely, rounded performance from Heather Buck, a lithe and impactful actress with an uncommonly beautiful soprano for the high-lying and testing repertory she serves. By comparison, the worthy Hila Plitmann, who sang this incarnation of White Snake, sounded less accurate and more typically a “new music practitioner” as to timbre. Xiao Qing, an androgynous green snake once a man in love with White Snake (whom he now serves) found a fantastic embodiment in the first two operas by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. Working an incredibly ornate costume (by Zane Pihlstrom, who had a field day throughout) with a breathtaking serpentine train, Costanzo, who moves with uncommon grace, remained almost continually in spellbinding circular motion. Prestini’s score called upon baritonal resonance I hadn’t heard before from Costanzo, also supplying him with legato sections to sculpt. Everything he did and sang served to build a concrete and memorable character. Wachner nailed the required instrumental balance and clarity. Worth largely carried “Naga,” along with the absolutely spectacular Stacey Tappan as Madame White Snake. Why this wonderful coloratura, with a full, penetrating, steady, and lovely voice capable of executing seemingly any technical feat, sings mainly in Los Angeles I don’t know. We need her in New York! Sandra Piques Eddy was moving as the Monk’s pregnant wife; sounding healthy in the middle, she encountered
SNAKE OIL, continued on p.30
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Talented School Ties Honolulu, threatened by global wealth’s incursions, still rich in cultural traditions BY DAVID NOH
COURTESY: ELLEN HOLLINGER MARTINEZ
y annual sojourns to my Hawaii homeland always remind me of just how much musical talent is there, fitting, I guess, for islands once ruled by the prolific composers King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, who wrote “Aloha Oe.” One of my Punahou School classmates, Haaheo Scanlan, has a 24-year-old son, Ka’Ikena Scanlan, who is a talented singer and songwriter. The first time I heard him sing his “He Kanaka,” I was struck not only by the majestic beauty of his young voice but also the powerful and proud message of the song, which has enjoyed considerable local success, especially in Hilo on the Big Island, where he performs frequently. The song falls squarely in the reggae-influenced genre of Jawaiian music, hugely popular in the islands for years — even if it often left me cold. But “He Kanaka” — for probably the first time — made me fully understand and truly embrace the style. After a “mahalo” (“thank you”) for bringing up the Jawaiian genre, Scanlan said, “I actually wrote this song based on the current influence that Jamaican culture has in our Hawaiian community. Many of our Hawaiian musicians have fallen in love with the beautiful Caribbean island music called reggae and have picked up a cultural/ spiritual connection, also. As a reggae musician, I have been asked if I am a Rastafarian and if I belong to the faith. I wrote this song in hopes that I could bring awareness to the lack of authentic Hawaiian ideas in Hawaiian music these days.” After giving props to his mother for having him study piano when he was “really young,” Scanlan said, “I would say my oldest brother Malosi had the most influence on me through music. He consistently gave me musical instruments as gifts, to instill my passion for music throughout my life. He started by taking me to drum at his capoeira classes as a very young child. Then he started buying me various
instrument, like a guitar, a bass, an electric drum set, and lots of other stuff, too.” The traction “He Kanaka” has gained among Hawaiians brought Scanlan a lot of recognition and award nominations, but he said, “Any award or success through competition is nice, but, honestly, that isn’t why I chose this path, nor is it really apparent yet. The real success has come from the support and appreciation that I have received from my listeners. I know this is a message they have been waiting to say or hear but not too many people are willing to approach it. So when I hear people giving genuine appreciation, that really is the feeling I was hoping for, and I totally get it.” He added, “I hope to be able to spread a positive message to the Hawaiian people here at home and those finding business in the States and the world. I want to bring back the pride in our Hawaiian people through leading by good example. I always loved music, so I wanted to live a life that allowed me to sing and write honestly while also teaching and growing my own food.” Fluent in the Hawaiian language, now one of the most popular majors in local schools, Scanlan is an instructor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. “I teach two classes, Hawaiian language and Hawaiian ethnobotany. I truly love this job and being able to spread knowledge that once was thought might become extinct. “I was actually sent to a few different schools as a child and was considered challenged when it came to education. I take pride in the fact that I have been able to take what I have been dealt and still be able to teach at a higher learning institution.” About “He Kanaka,” he explained it “tells of the suppression of our culture and our people during the introduction of Western colonialism. The chorus then focuses on the common misconception of a reggae musician as just a Rastafarian. I say in my lyrics that I am not a Rasta, but simply just a kanaka [Hawaiian] who lives in Hawaiʻi nei. The next verse includes Hawaiian values like ‘Huli ka lima i lalo’ [turning our hands to the ground].”
Ellen Hollinger Martinez.
Ka’Ikena Scanlan, a 24-year-old Jawaiian singer and songwriter.
All people in Honolulu seem
entries that addressed the brutal Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II. Lee Joon-ik ‘s “Dongju: The Portrait of a Poet,” focused on the life of the titular poet-activist (1917-1945), who, after modest success with his lyrical writing, found greater, lasting fame as the independence advocate imprisoned for his efforts who died a martyr for the cause. The background setting for the story provided a stark reminder of just how heavy-handed the imperialism was, with Koreans treated as strangers in their own land, forced to speak their invaders’ language and even take on Japanese names. I doubt I will see a more important film than Cho Jung-rae’s “Spirits’ Homecoming,” which tackled the weighty and excruciatingly difficult subject of “comfort women” — the thousands of females from Japanese-occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines, forced into sexual slavery to service the Japanese army in the most dehumanizing of ways and at untold cost to their own psyches. After the war, those who managed to survive kept silent about this shameful experience, while paltry government attempts at restitution were made, until, late in the 20th century, a few brave, undaunted, and by that time aged souls stepped forward to expose the horrendous truth that had been omitted from Japanese history books as a matter of course.
to be talking about is the booming neighborhood of Kakaako, once an arid patch of warehouses and auto repair shops, where luxury high rises are springing up like weeds, terrifyingly presaging a time when, like Manhattan, Hawaii will become a playground for the international rich, with its current residents shunted to the side — or, sadly, to the continental US. I kept hearing about the flourishing art scene supposed to be burgeoning there, as well, but after two exploratory attempts, I found only a few random studios, a passel of idiots playing Pokémon, and some very fetching and well-executed Hawaiian-themed wall murals that were a relief from the hideous dolphin-dominated work of the ubiquitous Robert Wyland. Happily, the Honolulu Museum, formerly known as the Academy of Art, remains a cultural treasure in town, housed in its exquisite stucco Bertram Goodhue edifice. There, I caught the fifth annual Hawaii Burlesque Festival and Revue, featuring New York’s Trixie Little, the reigning Queen of Burlesque and Miss Exotic World 2015. The standout performer for me, however, was Madame X, a stunning 20-year veteran Asian dance performer whom I caught last year in an Elvis Presley revue. She always dazzles me with her sparkling verve and impeccable physical line. The Korean film festival was running, and there were two
IN THE NOH, continued on p.32
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
Top driver disTracTions Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
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MISS'D AMERICA, from p.10
In 2016, the Borgata was named one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality” thanks to its perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index. The hotel-casino makes its diversity commitments a year -round enterprise, partnering with the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance, Philadelphia’s Independence Business Alliance, and the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. Judges from local businesses including the T ropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City, South Jersey’s WAYV radio, and Woody’s Bar in Philadelphia took on the tough job of scoring this year’s talented and glamorous drag queens. But it was Kressley who steered the show and encapsulated its message at the closing press conference. “Atlantic City is about diversity, inclusion, and having a great time — and celebrating creativity and the arts, and we’re so happy to be
SNAKE OIL, from p.26
consistent trouble on top notes. David Salsbery Fry gave a fine, resonant performance as the Master whom the Monk apprentices himself to and eventually kills for White Snake’s sake. Wheeler’s music has many interesting parallel motions — sometimes occasioned by too-frequent repetitions in the libretto — and reaches an exciting climax. Kuan steered the soloists, instrumentalists, and industrious choruses (distractingly placed in side boxes, jumping up for entries) with distinction. Three of the four creators of “Madame White Snake” returned, showing full mastery of Zhou Long’s complex idiom: high tessitura, “extended” vocal technique, and some vocal percussion effects that — combined with the deftly applied Chinese flutes and harp gave this score the most genuine-sounding flavor of Chinese opera. As the mortal lover Xu Xian, fearless high tenor Peter Tantsits wielded an expressive timbre grown in warmth and scope since 2010.
co-hosted by The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
Mimi Imfurst, the new queen, with Miss’d America 2016 FiFi Dubois.
here,” said Kressley. “It’s a wonderful event because it reminds us that we can make change in our community and we can support ourselves, and we can also entertain the world. And I think all these queens did that tonight.” Kelsy Chauvin is a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, specializing in travel, culture, and LGBT life. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kelsycc.
Chinese bass Dong-Jian Gong had improved his diction, remaining powerful as the Abbot who challenges White Snake’s magic. Michael Maniaci’s Xiao Qing was less serpentine and entrancing a presence than Costanzo; positioned on a boat with his mistress at the staging’s start and finish, Maniaci evoked “Frau ohne Schatten”’s sorrowful Amme — but his very different, more purely instrumental voice remained fascinating and he caught the pathos of this ambivalently transgender eternal suitor. Succeeding 2010’s ultra-glam Ying Huang, Susannah Biller did lovely work as White Snake, with fresh, liquid timbre and touching expressivity. Unfortunately Lan Hui’s uneven conducting, sometimes drowning the singers, was hardly an improvement on 2010’s Gil Rose. The Boston Children’s Chorus — eloquent and committed throughout — had particularly rich material here. David Shengold (shengold@ yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis in George Brant's “Marie and Rosetta,” directed by Neil Pepe.
HEART, from p.24
It is Karen who at the beginning of the play, reading from one of Thomas’ unproduced plays, sets the tone for what follows. It is a scene from a French play Thomas has translated about two men looking through the window of a home where the happy life they see is about to be shattered by news the men know but the family does not. It is a brilliant device and Nelson’s most artistic, acknowledging theater’s inherent artifice in language that is poetic when the Gabriels’ language is not. It juxtaposes a play, where a creator can guide everything that happens, against the sloppy, uncontrollable realities that make up real life. Breathtaking art and visceral truth become one and the same. It’s rare and beautiful, but, then, that’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Nelson and his company.
When Kecia Lewis sings, pretty much all is right with the world. And sing she does in the new bio-musical “Marie and Rosetta” now at the Atlantic. Whether in a full-throated belt or a subtler ballad, Lewis’ sublime voice is rich in nuance and flawless technique as she portrays Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a 1940s gospel singer whose unique style was considered a precursor of rock-and-roll. The piece, for the most part, is set in 1946 as Tharpe teams up with a younger, more traditional gospel singer, Marie Knight. Tharpe, having sung in New York clubs, finds herself less welcome on the gospel circuit, as her hip-
swinging interpretations challenge the conventional and, to Rosetta’s mind, overly straitlaced concept of gospel music. The idea is that the two of them will revitalize Tharpe’s career while establishing Knight as a star. It’s not giving anything away to reveal that this is exactly what happened in real life. The story focuses on how on the night before their first performance together, the two women meld their styles and create a bond that will last for years — singing all of Tharpe’s hits and a few gospel classics, as well. Rebecca Naomi Jones as Knight is every bit as much a vocal powerhouse as Lewis, and the two voices complement each other very well. The spirit is truly moved by the joyful noise that sweeps you away when these two women let out the stops. As often happens in a biography-heavy show like this, the book scenes are a little clunky. The desire to tell history creates exposition where it doesn’t feel like real people are talking, but Lewis and Jones are so delightful as performers that this doesn’t matter so much. The show written by George Brant and directed by Neil Pepe might function better as a revue than in attempting to be a book musical; one eye-rolling reveal at the end plays more as a gimmick to cram in a whole lot more information than as char acter-driven theater. Still, “Marie and Rosetta” is all about the music, and regardless of your religious sentiments you can’t help but be uplifted by the spirit and charisma of these performances.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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IN THE NOH, from p.28
I steeled myself for the film, wondering how Cho would handle his wrenching theme. I was relieved to find that while he did not soft-pedal the hideous violence of pubescent virgins being sacrificed to rapacious modern samurai, he did leaven the film with a modern-day story, interwoven throughout. In those sequences, to counterpoint the female victimization, he showed one survivor coming to terms with her past, somewhat, through the spiritual Korean tradition of shaman-ism, a practice traditionally dominated by the strongest and fiercest of women imaginable. I found particularly stirring a scene in
CIVIL RIGHTS, from p.13
in federal district court challenging the administration’s interpretation of Title IX, Marbley found. In reaching this conclusion, Marbley rejected O’Connor’s finding that he had jurisdiction to hear the Texas case. “The Texas court’s analysis can charitably be described as cursory,” Marbley wrote, “as there is undoubtedly a profound difference between a discrimination victim’s right to sue in federal district court under Title House HOUSE Calls CALLS
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which, hesitating about filing an official report about her past, she hears an indifferent clerk observing that only a crazy person would admit to such a past. “I AM that crazy person!” she declares with a fervor that made it one truly great movie moment. Even while most filmmakers have avoided this delicate and painful history, it’s gratifying to know that the public, at least, is hungry for knowledge: The two low-budget films ranked among the top 10 in Korea for more than a month. “Spirits,” a $2 million film, crossed its breakeven point on its third day of release, to gross $23.9 million, while “Dongju,” which cost just $413,000 to make, took in $7.8 million.
IX and a school district’s right to challenge an agency interpretation in federal district court.” Marbley also rejected the Highland school district’s argument that once Jane Doe intervened, that provided a basis for the court to assert jurisdiction over the school district’s claim. The school district, he found, could raise its arguments against the Obama administration’s Title IX interpretation in response to Jane Doe’s lawsuit, and need not maintain a lawsuit of its own. Same day Service available
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I was fortunate to grow up unning around an idyllic Waikiki of the 1960s, and a favorite playground was the International Market Place, a big exotic bazaar that was a masterpiece of tropical kitsch centered around a huge, beloved banyan tree. Don Ho performed there nightly, and we loved the free Sunday night hula show and reveled in the annual Easter egg hunt where, if you were lucky, you could find the coveted plastic orb containing free passes to the Kuhio Theater, where “The Sound of Music” ran for years. All the marvelous kitsch has been gutted, painted coconut shells and rattan, and in its place now
The school district’s complaint, he concluded, should be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds — as it should have been in Texas. In both the Highland and Kenosha cases, transgender students’ attorneys argued alternatively under Title IX and under the Equal Protection Clause. Because gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, they asserted, their Equal Protection claims should receive the “heightened scrutiny” courts apply to sex discrimination claims, which throws the burden on school districts to show they have an exceedingly important interest substantially advanced by their bathroom bans. Both federal judges found that the transgender plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claims under both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause and that they were suffering harm that outweighed any the school districts might claim. While Marbley applied heightened scrutiny to his analysis, Judge Pepper, more conservatively, reached her conclusion by applying the more deferential test that required the school district merely to provide a rational basis for its policy. Even so, that policy was found lacking in merit. Significantly, in applying heightened scrutiny, Marbley looked to the 2015 Supreme Court marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and its “emphasis on the immutability of sexual orientation and the long history of anti-gay discrimination.” He concluded that immutability and a history of discrimination were significant factors in the Highland case, as well. Both the Ohio and Wisconsin judges also accorded great weight to the Obama administra-
IN THE NOH, continued on p.35
tion’s guidance on gender identity discrimination and the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the Gavin Grimm case that district courts should defer to it. Marbley and Pepper both rejected the argument that because Congress in 1972 did not intend to ban gender identity discrimination, administrators and judges decades later could not adopt such an interpretation of the phrase “discrimination because of sex.” The Supreme Court has stayed the injunction that Grimm won while it decides whether to review the case, but Marbley rejected the school district’s argument that the stay “telegraphed” that the Supreme Court would take it up. “Even if Highland has somehow been able to divine what the Supreme Court has ‘telegraphed’ by staying the mandate in that case, this Court unfortunately lacks such powers of divination,” he wrote. Marbley also credited the arguments made by the school administrators who signed the amicus brief saying they have allowed transgender students to use appropriate facilities — something they see as necessary for their mental and physical health — without creating any problems. Marbley’s in-depth analysis of the jurisdictional issues provides a roadmap for a challenge to Judge O’Connor’s nationwide injunction on the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance before the Houston-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Marbley was appointed to the district court by President Bill Clinton, while Pepper is an appointee of President Barack Obama.
September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
ALBEE, from p.5
“There is no homosexuality in ‘The Zoo Story,’” he said referring to the relationship between Peter and Jerry and their fateful meeting across class lines in Central Park — though I will never for get Jerry’s line “I was an h-o-mo-s-e-x-u-a-l,” which I first heard when the play was performed at my Catholic high school on Long Island, Chaminade, before the entire student body in 1969. I almost fell out of my seat. Albee also forbade all-male productions of “Woolf,” simply reminding everyone that he wrote a play about two heterosexual couples, not two gay ones. In 1961, the New York Times chief critic Harold Taubman wrote a homophobic piece — before that word was invented — saying that in emerging plays by gay writers the “unpleasant female of the species is exaggerated into a fantastically consuming monster or an incredibly pathetic drab” — and called such work “unhealthy.” Critic Robert Brustein attacked “Zoo Story” for its “masochistic-homosexual perfume.” Novelist Philip Roth skewered Albee’s “Tiny Alice” for its “ghastly pansy rhetoric.” And Stanley Kauffman of the Times famously wrote a column in 1966 on “Homosexual Drama and Its Disguises,” chastising gay playwrights for creating distorted heterosexual couples that he insisted were really gay. It was a perilous environment, and Albee later suffered exile from being produced in New York after critical and commercial failures such as “The Lady from Dubuque” (1980) and “The Man Who Had Three Arms” (1982) before re-emerging here with “Three Tall Women” in 1991 — ear ning him his fourth Pulitzer Prize if you count (and Albee did) the one awarded by its drama committee in 1962 but not approved by the full Pulitzer panel. In “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” in 2002, Albee really cut loose, writing about a married man’s affair with a goat and exchanging a kiss with his gay son. It won him his second Tony for Best Play. He was also condemned for it. “Clearly I was onto something!” he told us at “Gay USA.”
Yes, his integrity cost him. But as he said on “Gay USA” in 2005, “It would be wonderful to reach a larger audience. But life is too short. I would rather reach a smaller audience” — and say exactly what he wanted to say. Albee had a rich gay life from the “fun” of recreational sex to a relationship with Terrence McNally in the 1950s to his 35-year relationship with sculptor Jonathan Thomas, who died in 2005. Albee gave up his 15-year stint teaching at the University of Houston to care for Thomas as he died of bladder cancer. (He also gave up drinking when he moved to a loft on Harrison Street that required him to operate the old-fashioned elevator — dangerous when under the influence.) Albee frequently said, “We get the government we deserve.” That sounded harsh, especially given all the wealthy forces that average people are up against. But what I took it to mean is that we either have to engage in self-governance on a day-in-day-out basis or we will be saddled with the government that reactionary forces want to impose on us. He once said facetiously that the theme of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is that “the ideals of the American Revolution are dead.” He was serious when he said that the characters of the battling couple, George and Martha, were named for our first First Family. In our 2005 interview on “Gay USA,” he said, “Republicans are out to destroy the New Deal and destroy democracy.” Albee felt that they had succeeded in part by “telling the working class that they’re middle class. The middle class is more reactionary.” “Woolf” is being revived in London with Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill this coming spring. Veteran Guardian critic Michael Billington wrote, “With America currently engaged in its own form of posttruth politics, now seems the perfect time to revive Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions.” When we spoke to Albee on Thanksgiving Day in 2005 on “Gay USA,” I asked what he was thankful for. He said, “We’re fortunate to still live in a democracy, fortunate we are still permitted to vote.” Let’s hope we can keep our democracy without him, but his unsparing voice will be missed.
GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
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September 29 - October 12, 2016 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.32
is a bling-y facsimile of Rodeo Drive, with a sparkling new Saks Fifth Avenue at its center. I was shocked to see beautiful clothes by Martin Margiela and Dries van Noten there, recalling a time when the only designer drag one could get there hid out in a special cabinet in the Liberty House Crest Room. I’m happy to say, though, that the banyan is still there, more elegant than ever, turned into a lovely lounging area. And the hula show is, thankfully, less touristy, offering an honorable and splendidly entertaining survey of Hawaiian history conceived by local impresario Tihati. I joined a small group of my Punahou classmates for an evening at the delightful Kanikapila Lounge in Waikiki, enjoying the music of talented Nathan Nahinu’s group Ka Hehena. One of our pack, Ellen Hollinger Martinez, surprised me by dancing the most beautiful hula to the classic song “Hi’ilawe.” It was not only her talent that wowed me, but also the pure joy and love
LONG VIEW from p.18
With polling in the state showing it too close to call — for president, governor, and senator — the Republicans, who are branding demonstrations in Charlotte as “rioting,” hope that a law and order theme will tip matters back in their favor. Out of left field, Donald Trump charged, “Drugs are a very big factor” in the Charlotte disturbances. And, of course, he pledged to be strong in response, saying “There is no compassion in tolerating lawless conduct. Crime and violence is an attack on the poor, and will never be accepted in a Trump administration.” During this week’s debate, he defended his tough rhetoric by saying that the poor bear the brunt of crime and violence — and that minorities would be better off under his administration! Safe to say that demonstrators in Charlotte will see Trump’s words for what they are — an effort to whip up the backlash GayCityNews.nyc | September 29 - October 12, 2016
that radiated from her as her graceful body and hands told the story of the titular waterfall that symbolizes personal strength and familial love. I’ve known many prominent hula dancers in my time, but somehow her name had never come up. Beaming, Martinez afterward told me, “I’ve never had the drive to be front and center and the focus of attention. I am a very private person and very protective of my time and energy.” She and her partner Keoki Aio present hula and music at two senior living centers, and twice a month join “the aunties who sew their beautiful computer lei” in “sit-down hula action with live nahenahe [soft, gentle] music.” She also performs aboard a catamaran that carries out burial-at-sea ceremonies for Japanese guests. “I sing ‘Aloha oe’ and ‘Amazing Grace.’ The captain blows a conch shell and sometimes I do a very simple chant,” she said. “My whole joy is to create a warm, loving, peaceful surrounding with honu [sea turtles], dolphins, and rainbows
who make guest appearances.” Martinez sometimes teaches a guest a few basic ukulele keys. “This feeling of feeling loved and included stems back to days of music and dance with family gatherings with Aunty Irmgard Farden Aluli, the composer of many beloved Hawaiian song classics like ‘Puamana,’ ‘Emaliu mai,’ ‘Laupahoehoe,’ and so many others. Hula to me has always been about self-expression, storytelling. There is no right or wrong; the interpretation is from within. As a child, I was always surrounded by music. Aunty Irmgard used me as a soloist, which probably helped my confidence in sharing.” Martinez’s late husband, accomplished local musician Paul Martinez, was also a huge influence. “He taught me a lot about love and his journey, his talents were amazing,” she said. “His music arrangements were so beautiful and I loved to hula to them. He was a master ukulele artist and vocal arranger of close four- and five-part harmony. We were 25 years married.”
against communities of color. Trump inserted himself into the Charlotte picture shortly after whining that the alleged Chelsea bomber, wounded in a shoot-out with authorities, will receive “room service” and “amazing hospitalization.” The quick arrest in the New YorkNew Jersey case undercut his fear-mongering about Islam by demonstrating that cops are managing the risks of terrorism. The increasingly unsettled political climate in North Carolina poses risks, both for Charlotte’s progressive leaders and Democrats generally. The city’s mayor is a woman and its police chief is black (as is Vinson, the plainclothes officer who shot Scott). Some demonstrators have called on both to resign, a dynamic at odds with the city’s image earlier in the year as a center of cosmopolitan diversity and inclusiveness. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats further down the ticket are counting on a
big turnout in both the African-American and LGBT communities (and it bears reminding that there are overlaps between the two, with, for example, the Trans and Queer People of Color Collective, or TQPoCC, being an active player in the recent demonstrations). If both groups of voters can be mobilized, the tide toward the Democrats can be sustained all the way to victory. In a sign of continued optimism, it was Hillary Clinton who headed to North Carolina after this week’s debate — not Donald Trump, for whom the state is much more a must-win. If Clinton and her down-ballot colleagues can hold together what is now essentially the Obama coalition, North Carolina can have a progressive day on November 8. And then, the “progressives” will have to turn to healing their own internal divisions and making good on the promises their lofty ideals hold so dear.
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