Sessions Acts Quickly Against Trans Students 06
Immigration Ban Resisted at Stonewall, Rabbi Sit-In 04-05
Meryl, Unbowed page 03
COVER PHOTO BY David Goodman/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
Â© Gay City News 2017 | NYC community media, LLC, All Rights Reserved
FREE | voLUME SIXteen, ISSUE FOUR | FEBRUARY 16 - MARCH 01, 2017
HEALTH City, advocates battle Cuomo health cuts 07 FAMILY Pioneering activist BernĂĄrd Lynch weds in Ireland 12 MORSELS Roasting Trumpâ€Ś literally 16
FILM Bringing Kiki to the mainstream 25
MEDIA CIRCUS Fascism, Trumpolini & â€œGin Blossomsâ€? Bannon 21
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The siege begins in earnest 20
Mermaids, MerimĂŠe, Housman & Holofernes 26
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February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
In Impassioned Tones — and A Cappella, Too — Streep Rebuts Trump At Human Rights Campaign’s New York dinner, Oscar winner says, “I have to stand here”
BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n the middle of a passionate and powerful rejoinder to President Donald Trump — with whom she’s been at war since her Golden Globes speech in early January — Meryl Streep did something remarkable even for a much-decorated actor who has repeatedly proven her musical chops. Before a packed Waldorf Astoria ballroom audience attending the annual Human Rights Campaign Greater New York dinner, she sang a cappella a musical setting of Emma Lazarus’ 1883 sonnet “The Great Colossus,” the words of which are inscribed at the base of the Statute of Liberty. Streep was recalling a 1961 school field trip she took as an 11-year-old to the Statute of Liberty from her suburban New Jersey middle school. There, her music teacher, then known as Paul Grossman, led Streep and her classmates in the song. When the actor was in graduate school, she learned that Grossman had transitioned and become one of the nation’s first out transgender women. Paula Grossman returned to the Basking Ridge school, where she was fired, losing her court challenge to her dismissal. “She was a garrulous, cantankerous, terrific teacher but she never taught again,” Streep said of her former music teacher who died in 2003. Grossman did manage to walk away from her career with a pension, based on a disability claim, though, Streep noted, “She was disabled only by the small-mindedness of the school.” When the Oscar-winning actor finished singing “The New Colossus,” she said, “I can’t remember what I did Tuesday, but I remember that… It stirred my 11-yearold heart then, and it animates my conscience today. That’s what great teachers do.” Streep dedicated the National Ally Award HRC bestowed on
DAVID GOODMAN/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
Meryl Streep speaking to the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
her to the “gay and transgender” teachers, friends, and colleagues she’s known over the years. The earliest among them, she recalled, were “people who made me an artist and lived under duress.” In her remarks, Streep likened the struggle for LGBTQ rights to other social justice movements including those for people of color and women, and of Trump’s election, she said, “We shouldn’t be surprised that fundamentalists of all types everywhere are exercised… We shouldn't be surprised that these profound changes come at a much deeper cost... We shouldn’t be surprised if not everyone is totally down with it.” Then sounding a resilient note about how those who resist the new administration can gain strength from their struggle, she added, “If we live through this perilous moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn't lead us to a nuclear winter, we will have much to thank this president for because he will have woken us up to how fragile freedom really is.”
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
The nation can learn, Streep said, “how the authority of the executive in the hands of a selfdealer can be wielded against the people… to intimidate, punish, and humiliate, delegitimize the press… with pathologic regularity and easily provoked predictability.” She then assured the crowd, “Well, we’re not, we’re not going to go back to the bad old days of ignorance and oppression.” Turning specifically to the war of words between herself and the president, Streep acknowledged the “natural instinct to say, ‘Fuck off.’” But that wouldn't be her style. “I have to stand here,” Streep insisted, her voice rising. “I don't want to be here. I could be home, I want to read, and garden, and load my dishwasher. I love that. It’s embarrassing and terrifying, and it puts a target on your forehead. And it sets you up for all sorts of attacks. The armies of brownshirts and bots and worse.” And then, to thunderous applause, she continued, “You
have to, you have to, you don’t have an option, you have to. And when I load my dishwasher from where I live in New York City, I look out my window and see the Statue of Liberty, and she reminds me of Mr. Grossman and my first trip there.” Referring to the threat that broad religious exemption laws could gut nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ and other people, Streep insisted, “We as Americans have the right to reject the imposition of unwanted religious practice in our lives. We have the right to live our lives with God or without her.” And she closed by pointing to all Americans’ “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and warned, “If you think people were mad when they thought the government was coming after their guns wait ‘til you see when they try to take away our happiness.” Streep’s speech was the emotional highpoint in an evening that focused ferocious attacks on the new administration and underscored the risks to LGBTQ civil rights advances it poses. Several speakers mentioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement the day before that the Justice Department was withdrawing its motion to block a Texas federal judge’s injunction against the Obama administration policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, vowed to resist Trump administration efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights, transgender healthcare access, and protections for trans students. “When President Trump attacks one of us, he’s going to hear from all of us,” he vowed. A sweeping anti-LGBTQ executive order that circulated in the White House, Schumer said, “never made it past the drafting
HRC, continued on p.14
Thousands Rally at Stonewall Against Trump Immigration Ban LGBTQ community and its allies come out, making clear the fight is for all
BY ANDY HUMM
GBTQ people have protested and celebrated outside the Stonewall since the Rebellion in 1969. But on Saturday, February 4, in sub-freezing temperatures, thousands filled the streets of Stonewall Place to condemn President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority nations — standing up for Muslims within and outside the community who have been singled out for persecution by the new administration. “LGBTQ people have been fighting oppression for time immemorial,” said out gay Chelsea City Councilmember Corey Johnson, one of the lead organizers of the protest endorsed by more than 60 groups and scores of elected officials, “so when we see an administration come after vulnerable communities, we feel it deeply and personally. We are declaring with one voice that we are in this together.” Jamila Hammami, executive director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, said, “I am not a single-issue person. We are under surveillance. We worry about bombings. We worry about Islamaphobia in our own community.” But on this frigid afternoon, there was solidarity with causes from justice for Palestinians to the plight of Syrian refugees. Debbie Almontaser, president of the board of the Muslim Community Network, said, “We need to show up everywhere. We cannot do it without you, and you cannot do it without us.” “They don’t know us,” former Council Speaker Chris Quinn said of the new Washington regime. “We never leave a brother or sister behind.” Ishalaa Ortega of Immigration Equality, a transgender woman of color from Mexico, talked about how her life was at risk in her country of birth because of her gender identity and how reading about the Stonewall Rebellion at the age of 12 gave her hope.
Thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies rallied outside the Stonewall Inn in resistance to Donald Trump’s immigration order and other policies on February 4.
“Until January 20, the world called this the country of freedom,” she said. “The asylum process was a painful journey. But we are here to stay!” Actor Cynthia Nixon ridiculed reports that Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were somehow protecting LGBTQ rights in the White House. “They couldn’t even get the president to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” she said, in discussing news reports that the president’s son-in-law, a top White House advisor, and daughter played a behind-thescenes role in keeping him from rescinding a 2014 executive order from President Barack Obama requiring contractors doing business with the federal government to provide sexual orientation and gender identity employee nondiscrimination protections. Though Trump for now is allowing that order to stand, he and the Republicans are eliminating the office in the Department of Labor that enforces it, and there
is widespread anticipation that a “religious freedom” order allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination by federal employees and contractors citing their religious beliefs is forthcoming. Legislative efforts championed by congressional Republicans would go even further, allowing broad religious optouts from nondiscrimination laws throughout society. Rachel Tiven, executive director of Lambda Legal, said, “Lambda is preparing to sue” the moment an anti-LGBTQ “religious freedom” order is issued or the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is enacted by Congress. The crowd was filled with veteran activists and some first-time protesters. Three young men stood at the front of the barricades by the stage for more than three hours, having left their homes without their hats. Ryker Allen, 19, said, “I have to be here. I’m Mexican and queer. I’m here for my immigrant mother who came here illegally.” J.D. Moran, 24, of Brooklyn,
said, “I want to be a body and a voice and show my love for all communities who are hurting.” Ryan Duffin, 22, an immigrant from Canada, said, “I don’t know what is coming next. I have the privilege of white skin. I want to be here for all of my friends who are from places like Iran and Libya.” Sam, 43, said, “I got married in 2014. We need to preserve the progress we’ve made. Trump was groomed by the most evil person on the planet, Roy Cohn.” Joe Ameen, 33, of Bayonne, New Jersey, said, “There’s a new reality. But we have to march to make it clear to the establishment we are not going backwards.” Ameen’s fiancé, Alexander Esau, 26, said, “As a black gay man, I have very few liberties I can claim and very few I can afford to lose under this presidency.” Keri Willis, 33, a city public school teacher from North Massapequa on Long Island, said she has gay and immigrant students.
STONEWALL, continued on p.18
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
CBST Rabbis Arrested in Sit-In Protesting Immigration Ban Sharon Kleinbaum, David Dunn Bauer among 19 who blocked traffic outside Trump hotel BY PAUL SCHINDLER
mong the most dramatic local demonstrations against President Donald Trump’s immigration and refuge curbs — now stalled by a federal appeals court — came on the evening of February 6, when 19 rabbis affiliated with the group T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, were arrested after staging a sitin on Central Park West outside the Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle. Among the 19 arrested were Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and David Dunn Bauer of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBTQ congregation on West 30th Street in Chelsea. The rabbis were part of a group of roughly 200 that marched from West 88th Street to West 61st Street outside the Trump hotel.
Rabbis affiliated with the Jewish social justice group T’ruah sitting in on Central Park West outside the Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle.
When they arrived near Columbus Circle, the demonstrators played guitar and banged drums, as they sang “Song of the Sea,” which the ancient Israelites are believed to have sung as they crossed the Red Sea in their flight from Egypt. The demonstration outside the hotel, peppered as well with chants of “No fear, refugees are
welcome here,” lasted roughly 20 minutes before the police removed the rabbis who had occupied Central Park West. In a posting on T’ruah’s website, the group’s executive director, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, explained, “We took this action because we, as rabbis and Jews, know too well the dangers of closing America’s
borders to those fleeing war, persecution, and terror. In the rhetoric employed against Muslims, we hear the echoes of the language used to close the borders to our own community beginning in 1924. And we took this action because our tradition teaches us the obliga-
CBST RABBIS, continued on p.12
Paid for by Social Service Employees Union, Local 371. Anthony Wells-President
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
Sessions Quickly Begins Retreat on LGBTQ Rights
Withdrawing from trans student hearing, new AG shows Obama's advocacy set for reversal BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n a clear and disturbing sign that the Justice Department is in full retreat from the Obama administration’s advocacy for transgender students — and trans people, generally — Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Friday evening, just one day after being sworn in, notified the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals the department was no longer interested in pursuing a scheduled February 14 hearing to challenge a federal district court’s nationwide injunction on a Department of Education guidance requiring public schools to allow trans students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. The injunction came in a case brought by the State of Texas, joined by 10 other states, resisting the Obama administration policy. The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, had sought the hearing to limit the scope of the injunction while the Obama administration appealed the August 22 order from US District Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas in Wichita Falls. In May of last year, the Justice Department and the Department of Education, interpreting federal education law forbidding sex discrimination to protect against gender identity discrimination, informed all schools receiving funding from the DOE that they would be required to implement the bathroom access policy. That policy had earlier been spelled out by the Obama administration in a filing in a case brought by a transgender high school student in Virginia, Gavin Grimm, who sought to use the boys’ room at his school. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, ruled that federal courts should defer to the administration’s rule-making on the issue, and the Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in that case for March 28. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling did not state that the Obama administration’s policy was the correct interpretation, but rather that it was a reasonable interpretation and that it therefore deserved deference from the court. Should the Trump administration formally change its interpretation, the Virginia school district, perhaps bolstered by a friend of the court filing from the Justice Department, could argue that no policy now support’s Grimm’s position or that the issue should be sent back to the Fourth Circuit for further consideration. In either event, what had been a claim backed by a favorable appeals court ruling and a friendly administration is now likely to arrive at the Supreme Court looking very different. In response to Sessions’ action on February 10 and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ refusal during her confirmation hearings to commit
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a late night announcement on February 10, said the Trump administration is backing off its advocacy for transgender students.
What had been a claim backed by a favorable appeals court ruling and a friendly administration is now likely to arrive at the Supreme Court looking very different.
to maintaining the guidance developed by the Obama administration, four leading advocacy groups — the National Center for Transgender Equality, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Women’s Law Center — sent a February 13 letter to the two cabinet members urging them to follow the former administration’s policy. In the letter, the groups argued, “These guidance documents, addressing important issues such as sexual violence prevention and response, bullying and harassment, and the needs and rights of transgender students, provide practical answers to schools on issues they face every day. Each of these guidance documents is based on years of careful research to accurately reflect a substantial body of case law and proven best practices from schools across the country. Most importantly, these guidance documents have been instrumental in providing schools with the tools they need to protect the health, safety, and educational opportunities of millions of students.”
Asserting a position that had become standard throughout the Obama administration — that transgender people are protected from discrimination by sex discrimination provisions in federal law — the letter stated, “The Departments’ guidance documents help educational institutions understand and comply with the law. Under Title IX [of federal education law], all forms of genderbased discrimination are prohibited unless specifically exempted by statute.” The groups pointed to statistics showing that 56 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys in the nation’s middle and high schools reported they have been sexually harassed by peers and that two-thirds of transgender students say they have been harassed. During the Obama administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — an independent agency whose members are appointed by the president and that currently has a 3-1 Democratic majority with one vacancy — engaged in affirmative litigation to establish judicial precedent for the view that both gender identity and sexual orientation are protected categories under sex discrimination provisions in a variety of federal laws. The EEOC’s advocacy is continuing, at least for now — though Trump has the ability to gain a majority of appointees by July of this year. Last Friday, the EEOC signaled its independence from the new administration by filing an appeal before the Sixth Circuit in a case where a funeral home fired an employee, Aimee Stephens, who had transitioned from male to female. Beyond the advocacy by the Obama administration and the EEOC, progress on gay and lesbian rights as well as transgender rights has also been made through significant federal court rulings. Both circuit and district courts in many parts of the country have now found gender identity protection in cases under the Violence against Women Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, as well as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In an important breakthrough in 2011, the Atlanta-based US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that discrimination against Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn, a transgender Georgia state employee, violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The same standard used for sex discrimination claims should be applied to gender identity claims, that court found. On November 30 of last year, the full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, seating en banc, took up a lesbian discrimination claim brought by Kimberly Hively against Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana, in an historic reconsideration of its precedent that the sex discrimination ban in Title VII does not apply to
SESSIONS, continued on p.13
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
City, Advocates Battle Albany Health Reimbursement Cuts
Department of health, striving to upgrade its sexual health clinics, fears it could lose one BY PAUL SCHINDLER
he city health department and leading AIDS advocacy groups are scrambling to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to reverse a proposal in his new executive budget that would reduce reimbursements for local government public health spending in six core areas from 36 percent of the total to 29 percent. According to notes on the budget prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and obtained by Gay City News, that revised formula would translate into a loss of $32.5 million dollars per year. The DOHMH document says the formula cut would only apply in New York City, based on the governorâ€™s assessment that the city can access other public health funding, including from the federal Centers
GAY CITY NEWS
Governor Andrew Cuomo at a 2015 event where he accepted the report from a task force he appointed to develop a blueprint for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020.
for Disease Control and Prevention. In the notes, however, the department concludes that federal funding is, at best, uncertain under the new Trump administration â€” with cuts likely, the threatened repeal of
the Affordable Care Act, for example, eliminating 13 percent of the CDC budget. A February 1 letter to the governor signed by roughly 80 AIDS advocacy and social and legal ser-
vices groups pegged losses they were able to identify at $11 million per year over each of the next two years, with the bulk of those cuts falling on the cityâ€™s Ending the Epidemic and STD programs. The letter, whose signers included ACRIA, Amida Care, the Apicha Community Health Center, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Gay Menâ€™s Health Crisis, Housing Works, the Latino Commission on AIDS, VillageCare, and VOCAL New York, noted that in 2015 the city saw an 8.5 percent decline in new HIV diagnoses to less than 2,500, the lowest in history. Citing those figures, the advocates said New York is â€œat the tipping point when it comes to ending the stateâ€™s HIV/ AIDS epidemic,â€? under a plan that aims to reduce new HIV infections to 750 annually by 2020.
CUOMO, continued on p.17
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Co-Mom Loses Out Due to State’s Past Discrimination
Arizona didn’t recognize her ex-marriage, allow second-parent adoption; now she’s out in the cold BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD
state appellate panel in Arizona has affirmed a lower court ruling there that found that the 2015 US Supreme Court marriage equality ruling does not require that state to retroactively deem a woman the legal parent of children adopted by her wife at a time when Arizona did not recognize their marriage or allow second-parent adoptions. The Court of Appeals of Arizona, on December 29, upheld Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Suzanne E. Cohen’s decision in Doty-Perez v. Doty-Perez, with Judge Jon W. Thompson writing for the unanimous panel. Susan and Tonya Doty-Perez began living together in October 2010. In July 2011, the women, while residents of Arizona, legally married in Iowa. After their marriage, they agreed that Tonya would adopt four special needs children from foster care, intending to raise the children together as co-parents. If Arizona had allowed for same-sex couples jointly to adopt children, they would have done so, but at that time, the state prohibited same-sex partner adoptions and did not recognize their Iowa marriage. Susan alleges that on April 8, 2014, as their relationship was ending, she asked Tonya for consent to adopt the children through a second-parent (by then legal) or step-parent adoption, but Tonya refused. Susan moved out a few days later, and did not file a petition to adopt the children, which would have been futile without Tonya’s consent. In October of that year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Arizona, struck down same-sex marriage bans in several other states in that circuit and several days later a federal district court threw out Arizona’s. The state decided not to appeal that decision. At that point, Susan began divorce proceedings and sought visitation rights and later joint legal decision-making over the children. After the nation’s high court
issued its marriage equality ruling in the Obergefell case, Susan followed up with a motion to be recognized as a legal parent of the children. Judge Cohen denied that petition, finding that although Susan had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the two women would have jointly adopted the children had Arizona allowed such adoptions, Susan had failed to file a second-parent adoption request in October 2014 when Arizona came under an obligation to recognize the Iowa marriage and afford her the rights that she would have to seek to adopt her spouse’s children, and that Tonya, the legal parent, had refused to consent to a step-parent adoption by Susan, as she had the right to do. The appellate panel agreed with Tonya’s argument that there was no support in Arizona case law for the concept of de facto parent, thus disposing of one of Susan’s arguments out of hand. (The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a contrary opinion on the de facto parent issue just weeks later, on January 19, in Thorndike v. Lisio.) “We find the dispositive issue is whether, as a matter of law, if a married person adopts a child, that person’s spouse is also deemed or presumed to be a legal parent, with all the legal rights and obligations attached to that status, merely because the couple intended to adopt together,” wrote Judge Thompson. “We think not.” The court did concede that, given Obergefell, Susan could argue that Arizona’s failure to recognize the women’s Iowa marriage or to allow legally-married same-sex couples to adopt at the time Tonya adopted the children was a violation of the 14th Amendment. “However,” wrote Thompson, “we do not read Obergefell to support Susan’s paramount contention that the right of same-sex couples to marry and have their marriages recognized under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution requires that states retroactively modify adoptions by individuals in same-sex marriages who would have jointly adopted, if they had been allowed to do so.”
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
Under Arizona law, Thompson continued, there is no presumption “granting legal parental rights or obligations to a non-adoptive spouse merely because of her marriage to a person who has adopted a child… To be sure, in light of Obergefell, [the statute’s] language that ‘a husband and wife may jointly adopt’ must be interpreted to also mean that ‘a wife and wife’ or ‘husband and husband’ may jointly adopt. However, the adoption statute’s use of the permissive ‘may’ indicates there is no presumption of parentage for a nonadoptive spouse.” If the court were to find such a presumption, that would be contrary to the legislature’s intent in passing the relevant statute, the panel held. “Except in the case of biology, the only legal mechanism that may establish legal parenting status and attach the associated rights and obligations is an order of adop-
tion,” Thompson wrote. “Thus, we cannot order legal parent status for Susan, despite the fact that the parties intended to adopt the children together, but did not only because it was legally impermissible at the time, and Tonya later refused to consent to Susan petitioning for adoption of the four children, prior to their divorce and after same-sex adoptions were legal in Arizona.” The court, Thompson asserted, was “without authority to confer legal parent status on Susan when she never actually petitioned the court to acquire that status while she was still married to Tonya. While we empathize with Susan because our holding leaves her without parental rights and obligations for four children she loves, provided and cared for, the relevant statutes do not support a contrary conclusion.” Susan could seek review from the Arizona Supreme Court.
New York Gay, AIDS Pioneer Bernárd Lynch Weds Marriage to longtime partner Billy Desmond is first gay male union in County Clare, Ireland BY Andy Humm
illy M. Desmond and Dr. Bernárd J. Lynch were married before more than 180 guests on January 27 at the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point — the first gay male wedding to be registered in County Clare, Ireland. Desmond, a psychotherapist, and Lynch, a retired Roman Catholic priest and psychotherapist, reside in London as well as Lehinch in Clare. They have been together for more than 20 years. Their relationship was first blessed in a public ceremony in London in 1998 by their late friend, Father Dan Kelliher, OCSO, a Trappist monk from the monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, at a time when same-sex marriages were not legally recognized. In 2007, they had a civil partnership ceremony in Camden Town Hall in London. I had the honor of opening the ceremony, noting that by their activism and example they had contributed to making Ireland the first country in the world to open marriage to gay couples by referendum, in May 2015, a matter of just weeks before the US Supreme Court made same-sex marriage a right nationwide in America. After the wedding ceremony, a proclamation from the New York City Council was presented to Lynch honoring his more than 40 years of service and gay activism. Out gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens, who worked with Lynch in Dignity/ New York in the 1970s, sent a video message praising his work “worldwide,” particularly his development in New York of “an AIDS ministry when some people would not even go near people living with HIV/AIDS.”
Bernárd J. Lynch and Billy M. Desmond walk down the aisle at their January 27 wedding in County Clare, Ireland.
The couple outside the Armada Hotel, Spanish Point in County Clare, where they wed.
COURTESY: BERNÁRD J. LYNCH
Bernárd J. Lynch and Billy M. Desmond with President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, the Irish White House.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, leader of the LGBT Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, being led away by police.
A few days after the wedding, Lynch and Desmond were honored guests of the Irish President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, his official residence. With the support of their friends and family, Lynch and Desmond have established an organization called Bronntanas to further the mental health and well-being of Irish LGBTQI people, particularly in rural communities. More information can be found at bronntanas.org.
CBST RABBIS, from p.5
tion of pikuach nefesh — saving a life above almost all else. Today’s refugee crisis is nothing less than a matter of life and death… Finally, we took this action because we are standing up for the soul of America, which has long defined itself as a home for people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. When the core values of our country are at stake, we must speak out.” Kleinbaum, posting on her Facebook page, wrote, “Let’s keep what we did in perspective, those of us arrested were white with excellent pro bono lawyers standing ready. Honestly, I can’t take
credit for profound courage. I’m not facing daily bombings or fleeing in terror. I don’t face police brutality because I am black or brown. That’s real courage. But I will use whatever voice I DO have to speak in the name of my God and my tradition against the injustices being done.” Rabbi Rachel Timoner, who leads Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, told the Brooklyn Paper, a sister publication to Gay City News, that, like Jacobs, she felt compelled as a member of a faith with a long history of persecution to challenge the president’s ban on citizens from
CBST RABBIS, continued on p.13
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
SESSIONS, from p.6
sexual orientation discrimination claims. Both the New York-based Second Circuit and the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit have recently heard oral arguments about whether sexual orientation discrimination claims can be brought under Title VII, but the Seventh Circuit will likely be the first to issue an en banc opinion on the subject. If the court rules in favor of Hively, the college will have the option of filing a petition with the Supreme Court to review the case. Such a decision by the Seventh Circuit would create a split among the federal circuit courts on a question of national importance, and the Trump administration would face the question as to whether the EEOCâ€™s current participation in the case on Hively side would be reversed. Sessionsâ€™ action last week suggests that would happen. As the prospective circuit court split on the issue of sexual orientation discrimination indicates, on the question of whether LGBTQ people are protected by sex discrimination provisions of US law, the federal courts are by no means of one mind â€” as they were quickly becoming on marriage equality in the months leading up to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Judge Oâ€™Connor in Texas followed up his nationwide injunction
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Gavin Grimmâ€™s effort to access a bathroom consistent with his gender identity is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court on March 28.
on the transgender student guidance with a December 31 injunction, also nationwide, on interpreting the Affordable Care Actâ€™s sex discrimination protections to extend to discrimination based on gender identity. Itâ€™s noteworthy, however, that as the only federal judge in the Wichita branch of the court, Oâ€™Connorâ€™s court has become the go-to venue for those looking to stall or reverse progress on LGBTQ legal claims. Sessionsâ€™ action last week was decried loudly at the February 11 Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Dinner (see page 3), and at the Grammy Awards the following night, transgender actress Laverne Cox, told the millions watching nationwide, â€œEveryone, please Google â€˜Gavin Grimm.â€™ Heâ€™s going to the Supreme Court in March. Hashtag â€˜Stand with Gavin.â€™â€?
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HIV+ and Need Help Getting Back to Work? This research program offers counseling to help people achieve their vocational goal, whether it is full or part-time work, paid or volunteer. For people with fatigue, we first treat with medication. Once energy improves, individual counseling is provided.
CBST RABBIS, from p.12
seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US. â€œOur people were exterminated because we couldnâ€™t get into other countries,â€? said Timoner. â€œAs rabbis many of us feel obligated to stand up when other people are being discriminated against due to their religion and national origin.â€? Timoner said that only a few members of her congregation were present during her arrest, while the majority were engaged back at the Beth Elohim sanctuary in Park Slope in a workshop on resisting Trumpâ€™s policies. Among the others arrested were Rabbi David Ingber of Romemu, a congregation with services on West 105th Street, as well as rabbis from around the nation. Police issued desk appearance
/`ZW\Ub]\:WP`O`g !/`ZW\Ub]\/dS0`]]YZg\ <G %%& ! '!
HIV Clinical Research Program NEW YORK STATE PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE at Columbia University Medical Center www.HIVreturnTOworkNYC.org For information contact: Dr. Judith Rabkin (646) 774-8075 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Rachel Timoner, who leads Park Slopeâ€™s Congregation Beth Elohim, being arrested.
tickets to the rabbis on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges, and the 19 are scheduled to appear before a judge on April 4. â€” Additional reporting by Colin Mixson
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
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JEFFREY HOLMES/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
JEFFREY HOLMES/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
Tarell Alvin McCraney, whose play was the basis for the film “Moonlight,” won the HRC Visionary Award.
Jharrel Jerome, a “Moonlight” cast member w h o i n t r o d u c e d p l a y w r i g h t Ta r e l l A l v i n McCraney.
JEFFREY HOLMES/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
Senator Chuck Schumer.
JEFFREY HOLMES/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
“Late Night” host Seth Meyers with actor and friend Billy Eichner, who introduced him at the dinner.
JEFFREY HOLMES/ HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
HRC president Chad Griffin with Meryl Streep and filmmaker Ken Burns, who lavished Streep with a touching introduction.
HRC, from p.3
table because of a massive public outcry, because of the voices of the people in this room.” Acknowledging that he had fully expected Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, Schumer said he was distraught, knowing that had she won and he become majority leader, “I would have had more fun, and we certainly would have gotten more good things done.’ He then added, “But now as minority leader under President Donald Trump, my job is much more important.” Describing Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, as “the second coming of John Roberts, a conservative ideologue in sheep’s clothing,” Schumer warned that if he “cannot prove his independence from the president, he will have a great deal of trouble finding the 60 votes in the United States Senate.” The senator acknowledged “the brave gay and, yes, transgender New Yorkers who nearly 50 years ago fought showed the country the power of resistance at Stonewall,” and added, “I implore not to despair, there is something happening in America,” a reference to the outpouring of protesters in the streets over the past three weeks and in recent days at Republican congressional town halls. Chad Griffin, HRC’s president, also took on Trump foursquare, saying the LGBTQ Americans “find ourselves at a turning point in our struggle for full equality. Everything we have accomplished together is under siege by a loud minority and it is led by a man
who seems hell-bent on undoing all our progress.” Challenging the notion among some in the mainstream media that Trump — informed by his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, senior advisor Jared Kushner — is more friendly to LGBTQ Americans than most GOP leaders, Griffin said, “We won’t stand by as he waves the rainbow flag while under mining equality behind closed doors.” Griffin also made specific mention of the need to protect the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, two things he said are vital to serving the healthcare needs of people living with HIV and transgender Americans. In a sign of how little progressives won in November, Griffin focused a good portion of his remarks on the only major bright spot, the defeat of North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who signed and championed HB2, the law that stripped away LGBTQ protections enacted by localities in that state and specifically took aim at transgender people accessing public bathrooms appropriate to their gender identity. HRC’s mobilization against McCrory, Grif fin said, sent a “message to politicians all across the country: If you come for us, we’re going to come for you on election day.” Another awardee of the evening was comedian Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s “Late Night.” Meyers opened by joking about his placement at the end of the evening’s program. “If you do this again,” he said, “Meryl Streep is the closer… I can’t believe a room full of gay people had no basic understanding of show business.” On a more serious note, Meyers noted that “Late Night” has hosted a number of transgender guests, from whom he’s learned much. “It does not take courage to do my job, he said. “It requires a little bit of nerve, and nerve is no small thing, but it is very different than courage. Courage is what it takes for a transgender student to go to high school every day.” Meyers then added, “That is why it is so heartbreaking to hear that Jeff Sessions is seeking to undermine protections for transgender students.”
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
MORSELS: How To Cook a Trump Three great but “modest” ways to serve our president! BY DONNA MINKOWITZ
have to say, it’s hard to write about how good food tastes when Trump is compiling weekly lists of “crimes” by immigrants. I wanted to describe for you the precise degree of crispness and umami of the chicken thigh/ fermented soybean/ potato chip appetizer at the hot new Williamsburg restaurant Llama Inn, but it’s hard to stop thinking about him turning Syrian children back to die from bombing and starvation. I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out what to do about this when a good idea suddenly occurred to me: it would probably be possible to roast Trump like a turkey, trussing him with a little cooking twine and rubbing him all over with European butter, salt, and pepper. With his new, yellower hair color and more deeply-bronzed skin, he looks like a roasted turkey already, so I thought this would be a good time to try out Tom Colicchio’s Thanksgiving recipe and stuff a thick handful of Kerrygold Irish Butter between his skin and his breast meat, mixed with sage, tarragon, thyme, and rosemary to take some of his funk away. He weighs about 12 times what an average Thanksgiving turkey does, so he could provide a dinner for approximately 20 Iraqi families fleeing rape and what the UN calls “staggering violence” ultimately caused by George Bush’s war. I have a particular idea for the stuffing. I feel more personally threatened as a Jew than I ever have in 52 years, now that we have a Nazi on the National Security Council and the White House has decided that the Holocaust had no particular effect on Jews. So I thought it would be communitybuilding and holistic to stuff Trump up the butthole with charoset. (If you haven’t heard of it, charoset is the mix of chopped fruits, nuts, and wine Jews eat on Passover to represent the bricks and mortar we were forced to make as slaves in Egypt.) There are dozens of different ver-
sions made by Jews from different cultures, but I love my own family’s version best — diced apples and walnuts mixed with sweet, deep purple Manischewitz. There are plenty of non-Passover recipes in which charoset is used as a stuffing, including a lovely one by Martha Stewart that goes up the butt of a Cornish game hen. According to the Talmud, there are also revolutionary sexual connotations to the lush, fruity, sometimes spicy dish: the apples, dates, figs, grapes, walnuts, pomegranates, and saffron used in various versions of charoset all appear as erotic symbols in the Song of Songs, the Hebrew Bible’s ode to carnal joy. (Bananas don’t appear in the Bible, but because they’re also pretty erotic, they’re used in versions from India, Afghanistan, Mexico, and Uganda.) And the second century sage Rabbi Akiva said — I am not making this up — that charoset particularly signifies the wild frolics that ancient Jewish slaves were able to have in the apple orchards when they snuck away from their overseers to defy the pharaoh’s edict against sex. Charoset for all these reasons is understood to bring a sweetness and hope into our memories of horrible slavery and oppression, and it can bring some sweetness even into Donald’s meat. The president is known to subsist on a diet of Big Macs, buckets of KFC, and Lay’s potato chips, so it may take some doing to rinse the flavor of salmonella and excessive salt from his flesh. I suggest using the cleansing technique developed for beef kidneys: soak him for two hours in a large Dutch oven full of water mixed with a little white vinegar or lemon juice, then rinse him out three times with fresh water and drain him in a large colander. Once you’ve cleaned the Donald, he’s perfect for the national dish of Somalia, baasto iyo sugo hilib shildan. In the years since Italy colonized Somalia starting in the late 19th century, Somalis transformed spaghetti Bolognese, the food of their occupiers, into a
spicier dish with profoundly African flavors. (Mussolini tried to boost his popularity at home by intensifying the occupation in the ‘30s, but you should read up on how that ultimately turned out for him, Mr. President!) One thing to note before I give the recipe: Somali cuisine is halal. Is the First Golfer? I’m not equipped to give a religious opinion. With apologies to Somali cooks everywhere: To prepare, sauté a load of onions in a large skillet. Add cumin, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, crushed green cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, and fresh garlic and green pepper. Add fresh Donald, minced, until nicely browned. Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste, sauté until fully blended, about five minutes. Add a little chicken stock and some large-diced potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over al dente pasta, topped with chopped cilantro. Eat a banana on the side. (Somalis like to have one with every entrée.) The Somali civil war is one of the bloodiest going on right now, with the widespread kidnapping of children so they can be forced to be soldiers, and systemic sexual violence. All sides target civilians. The conflict, like most of the current wars in Africa, ultimately stems from the massive destabilization wrought by European colonization. Somali refugees could use a good meal like this: two million of them have been forced to flee the country, and only one hundredth of one percent of them — 299 people — were granted visas by the United States in the last fiscal year on record, 2015, according to Quartz. A Desi chef, who insisted on going nameless out of fear of being rounded up, offered this recipe: “I just think that given our president’s unnatural tone and coloring, as a chef of Indian cuisine I think immediately of tandoori chicken. I mean, I love tandoori chicken, with that ridiculous, unnatural bright pink tone a lot of versions of it have.” (Much commercial tandoori chicken relies on food coloring, the
chef notes; more holistic versions use a mixture of tomato paste and yogurt that turns the chicken reddish.) “But if you used the president, you wouldn’t even have to marinate him, he’s already that color. And given the sort of injustices he’s committing against humanity, he surely deserves some time in an 800° tandoori oven.” For those of you who can’t bring themselves to bite into such meat and digest, here’s a vegetarian recipe from La Morada in the South Bronx, one of the city's best Mexican restaurants.
La Morada’s guacamole: • One whole avocado, hand-picked by undocumented immigrants in California; • One tablespoon of diced tomatoes cultivated by undocumented immigrants in Milwaukee and Florida; • One tablespoon of cilantro harvested by undocumented immigrants in California; • One tablespoon of onions gathered by undocumented immigrants in Washington; • Half a lime, hand-picked also by those whom you persecute. • One pinch of salt. “First take the avocado and smash it with the same passion that activist smashed Richard Spencer’s face, [and activists have smashed] xenophobes, racists, homophobes, and other forms of injustice. Keep smashing the avocado until justice and equality reign. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until it harmonizes the same way solidarity and intersectionality triumph together. Pair with your favorite Mexican food because you know America can’t survive without Mexicans. Enjoy.” Friends and FBI agents, this column is a satire. I don’t believe that any human being should be eaten, not even the president. I do believe his policies are immoral and he should resign immediately in favor of Bernie Sanders, Angela Davis, or Jasilyn Charger.
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
CUOMO, from p.7
New York City accounts for more than 90 percent of new infections in the state, and hopes to lower new infections in the city to 600 per year by 2020. The notes produced by DOHMH suggest the cuts would affect a broad array of public health services, including flu vaccinations, Zika virus efforts, drinking water testing, communicable disease oversight, anti-smoking campaigns, and distribution of naloxone kits to prevent drug overdose deaths. The memo specifically warned that the city could lose one of its eight currently operating STD clinics, resulting in 6,000 sexually transmitted infections going untreated and at least 30 HIVpositive people going undiagnosed and untreated. In an op-ed in this issue of Gay City News (page 22), Dr. Mary Bassett, the cityâ€™s health commissioner, discusses how a step-up in services at the cityâ€™s sexual health clinics is a critical component in the effort to achieve the Plan to End AIDSâ€™ goals. In 2015, the city and the health department sparked intense criticism when the clinic in Chelsea, which had the greatest usage and saw the highest numbers of HIV and STD diagnoses, closed for several years for a major renovation. According to Eric Sawyer, a longtime AIDS activist who recently joined Gay Menâ€™s Health Crisis as vice president of public affairs and policy, he ran into Bassett recently in Albany, where she told him the formula cut to what is known as Article 6 was the health departmentâ€™s biggest concern in the new state budget. According to Reed Vreeland, the policy director at Housing Works who described the formula change as a â€œdevastating cutâ€? in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic, advocates received no response from Cuomoâ€™s
office to their letter. With the governorâ€™s 30-day amendments to his executive budget set for release this week itâ€™s apparent that first-round efforts to stop the cuts have failed. Vreeland, even while noting that keeping the city whole in its ability to fund its HIV and STD efforts is the â€œjoint responsibility of the governor and the Legislature,â€? predicted that advocates would keep up pressure on Cuomo to restore some or all of the cuts heâ€™s proposing. The governorâ€™s office did not responded to a request for comment by press time. Cuomo first endorsed the Plan to End AIDS in mid-2014, though the state did not fund the plan until 2015 and even then advocates said the amount fell well below what was needed to fully carry it out. AIDS groups, dependent on Cuomoâ€™s help for money and legislation, have been largely unwilling to criticize him, though last year he was the object of protests in New York City and Albany, with charges he had not delivered on promises made about supportive housing for people living with HIV. Studies have shown that stable housing is a critical component in ensuring that people comply with their medication regimen, which in turn means they will be non-infectious. Last summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio was caught short when the governor announced that the cityâ€™s HIV/ AIDS Services Administration would be required to enroll all people living with HIV rather than just those who had an AIDS diagnosis for its benefits programs, including rental assistance, without making any specific commitment on what funding the state would provide for the programâ€™s expansion. At the time of Cuomoâ€™s announcement, the city, which favored the expansion, and the state were involved in long-term negotiations about how to split the bill.
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J.D. Moran, Ryker Allen, and Ryan Duffin were among the thousands who braved the cold for more than three hours at the LGBT solidarity rally.
Gabriel Blau, a longtime advocate for LGBTQ families.
mayor, out lesbian Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s out gay counsel, Alphonso David, said, “The governor will stand by you shoulder-to-shoulder to make sure every individual right is protected.” Lieutenant Gover nor Kathy Hochul said, “We’re taking America back,” and was emphatic about not returning to the days of backalley abortions. But while the governor is for these things, he is unwilling to take New York State’s Senate back from Republican leadership enabled by rogue Democrats despite the fact that a Democratic majority was once again elected to the State
Senate this past November. The defection of Senator Simcha Felder of Brooklyn keeps Republicans in the leadership and separate deals with the growing Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), led by Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, gives that faction leadership perks while freezing the majority of Democratic senators out. With Republicans controlling the State Senate agenda, attempts by the Democratic-led Assembly to codify certain reproductive rights and transgender rights and to enact Chelsea Democratic Assemblymember Dick Gottfried’s universal health insurance bill — things that would cushion the blow of
STONEWALL, from p.4
“Things are changing so fast,” she said. “Someone has to speak up for them.” Jay Russell of Washington Heights has joined an LGBTQ neighborhood group called Outwood for residents of upper Manhattan. A veteran of ACT UP, he said, “I’m feeling frustrated and sad and like the world is turned upside down and every day is worse than before. I wanted to be with people who felt similarly.” Chad Miller, also with Outwood, said the social group is taking on advocacy efforts now as well. Jordan Schaps, 68, who lives on Perry Street, just blocks from the Stonewall, said, “We’ve got to get moving.” Schaps said he has greatly increased his donation to the American Civil Liberties Union. A for mer longtime photo editor at New York magazine, he said, “I’ve got five friends getting together” to see what actions they can take as leaders in the photography field. “Protesting on Facebook is not enough,” Schaps added. Political leaders were out in force, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem, out gay Council Major ity Leader Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, and, representing the
Republican assaults from Washington — have gone nowhere. The Trump ascendancy puts added pressure on the disloyal Democrats as new IDC member José Peralta of Queens found out when he was protested by his constituents at a town hall meeting this past week. Out gay Councilmember Danny Dromm of Queens said he was “extremely disappointed” in Peralta. “He should step down immediately,” the councilmember said. While city and state officials are making promises of never going back, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she is not confident that all of the proposed Republican cuts in Washington can be made up by New York. “We receive $8 billion in food stamps here,” she said, adding that she is also alarmed about massive federal cuts to affordable housing monies that have gone to the New York City Housing Authority and into Section 8 funding. “We should have af fordable health care for everyone,” Marjorie Hill, the former CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and now head of the Joseph Addabbo Family Health Center in Far Rockaway, told Gay City News. “We cannot have government turn back the clock.” Before taking the stage, the US Senate’s minority leader, Chuck Schumer, told Gay City News, “The people are so aroused, the administration is becoming afraid.”
STONEWALL, continued on p.19
Actor Cynthia Nixon challenged the notion that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will protect the LGBTQ community within the Trump administration.
Senator Chuck Schumer with City Councilmember Corey Johnson.
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
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STONEWALL, from p.18
He said he believes the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will fail, and he predicted â€” inaccurately as it turned out â€” that Betsy DeVos would be not be confirmed as secretary of education. Schumer was met with cheers as well as some vigorous boos from activists outraged at his votes confirming some of Trumpâ€™s nominees. He gamely led the crowd in a chant of â€œDump Trumpâ€? and said, â€œI stand with you. We are going to make sure the Supreme Court does not turn the clock back.â€? There have been several large protests outside his Prospect Park West home in Park Slope, including by the Rise & Resist LGBTQ group. How does that make him feel? â€œGood,â€? he said. â€œThe energy is good.â€? Schumer claimed not to be concerned about â€œa few brickbats.â€? Schumerâ€™s mixed reception is an indication that the resistance to Trump is being driven and led by grassroots activists and not the politicians, as demonstrated at the massive Womenâ€™s Marches in New York, Washington, and around the world the day after the inauguration and by the flood of protesters at US airports immediately after Trump issued his anti-Muslim executive order. â€œYou are the conscience of this nation,â€? author, journalist, and activist William Rivers Pitt wrote on truth-out.org the weekend of the Stonewall gathering. â€œYou are the flour and the yeast and the heat and the rising bread. You stand between what I see at night and what I know at dawn. Youâ€™re it, youâ€™re everything. The Democrats wonâ€™t save us, nor will the Greens or the libertarians, and like Diogenes I despair of finding an honest Republican in the daylight. Instead, I found you, and you found each other, and this cannot stop.â€? Cynthia Nixon urged the crowd to carefully preserve their energies for a fight likely to last at least four years. â€œWe cannot be here 24 hours a day,â€? she said. â€œOur rage will consume us. We are in this for the long haul. Take care of yourself because you are our most valuable resource. We have to keep coming out.â€?
Outside the Stonewall Inn.
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BY PAUL SCHINDLER The LGBTQ community never had any illusions about Donald Trump. Despite the billionaire TV celebrity having lived in Manhattan his entire adult life and mainstream media suggestions that he is the friendliest Republican president to date, we had his number from the start. That’s why only 14 percent of us gave him our vote on November 8 — an anemic showing even by GOP standards. In the new administration’s earliest days, there was widespread concern that the president was set to overturn President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order requiring nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ employees of any company engaged in a contract with the federal government. The darkest rumors had Trump even rescinding sexual orientation protections in federal government employment that date to Bill Clinton’s administration. None of that happened, and according to the New York Times, that was thanks to the intervention of Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is a senior advisor to his father-in-law. The chatter about Ivanka and Kushner has a certain “after all, they’re people like us” complacency about it, especially coming from the Times. Dangers on this score — particularly in the form of an executive order spelling out broad religious exemptions that could allow faith-affiliated groups, businesses, individuals, even government employees to opt out of nondiscrimination requirements generally applicable in society — are still very much out there. And there is the odious First Amendment Defense Act, which would codify such opt-outs and Trump has said he would sign. Throughout the campaign and since, the president has pledged fealty to social conservatives pushing such measures to gut decades of progress on LGBTQ equality, and important figures on the right are counting on their payday. The nomination of 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to
the Supreme Court seat vacated by last February’s death of Antonin Scalia did nothing to dispel fears on this point. In two significant rulings, including on the Hobby Lobby corporation’s claim to a religious exemption from contraceptive coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act — an overreaching claim that, incredibly, was later upheld by the Supreme Court — Gorsuch sided with the argument that people and institutions citing the free exercise clause of the First Amendment have expansive rights to depart from nondiscrimination and other requirements that citizens and business entities must otherwise observe. Like Scalia, Gorsuch is also a constitutional originalist, loath to accept judicial interpretations that stray from what he sees as the intentions of the Founding Fathers nearly 250 years ago. And, in his writing outside the court, he has criticized progressive elements in society — read: women’s rights and health advocates and the LGBTQ community — that he says have relied on the courts rather than the political branches of government to advance their goals. In the Trump term to come, what recourse does our community realistically have other than the courts, even though the terrain there is likely to become less friendly rather than more? Like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Gorsuch was recently the object of a Times profile essentially arguing we should not look to his jurisprudence and his writings, but rather to some of his friends. Again, after all, “they’re people like us.” If the jury is out on any prospective executive action from Trump and Gorsuch’s record on specificallyLGBTQ issues is arguably thin, last Friday evening’s action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has never made any bones about his dislike of queer people, was unambiguous. In a notice to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the new AG said the Justice Department no longer wanted to proceed with a hearing on an August 2016 nationwide injunction from a federal court in Texas blocking the Obama administration’s directive that schools receiving US aid must allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. This is huge, not only for the safety
and dignity of transgender youth, but as a sign of a wholesale rejection of the former Obama administration’s increasingly aggressive embrace of the concept that LGBTQ people are already protected under federal law by the sex discrimination provisions of a wide array of statutes. The genesis of the policy on transgender student bathroom access was based on the conclusion that gender identity discrimination was a form of sex discrimination outlawed under the nation’s 1972 federal education law. Over the past several years, the Justice Department, the Department of Education, and the Labor Department — among cabinet agencies — as well as the independent, but presidentially-appointed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had adopted the view that discrimination against a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person because of their sexual orientation or gender identity was necessarily discrimination based on their sex. The implications of that conclusion resulted in the Department of Education’s student bathroom policy, in the Justice Department’s suit against the State of North Carolina for its notorious HB2, and in affirmative litigation by the EEOC to establish judicial precedent for its sex discrimination interpretation. Federal courts have gradually come to the same view, though by no means uniformly. That progress could continue, though with Trump choosing the Supreme Court — and federal judges at all levels — ultimate success is far from guaranteed. So, with the Trump administration just a month old — and despite it being, to a shocking degree, already in disarray — we know where the dangers are coming from. Social conservatives will press their ties to the new regime to ensure that nondiscrimination protections are hobbled to as great a degree as possible by spurious claims that religious sentiment trumps equality in the civic square. And conservatives will also work overtime to undercut any interpretation that the civil rights protections enjoyed by all Americans already — absent any new laws, like the stalled-out Equality Act — protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination for simply being themselves. February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad
Baiting Trump BY KELLY COGSWELL
was so happy when I saw the “SNL” skit for the first time with the brilliant Melissa McCarthy decked out as Sean Spicer, guzzling gum, throwing tantrums, blasting the press for questioning Trump’s Muslim ban, destroying language itself, and offering an imaginary narrative, while accusing journalists of spreading fake news. It was a blistering characterization that not only ridiculed the incompetent, know-nothing Spicer, but highlighted the undercurrent of violence in Trump’s blustering, authoritarian administration that aims to rule through sheer domination, destabilizing tactics, and fear. McCarthy seemed the perfect choice after her role as Detective Shannon Mullins in the movie “The Heat,” with her potty-mouthed rage and extreme physical comedy. You want fury? She’s a bundle of it. Want fearlessness? I can’t think of a male actor in recent times who’s thrown their body around as audaciously as McCarthy. It seemed irrelevant that she was doing it drag. The script didn’t mention women, and Alex Baldwin’s fake blonde wig seemed more of a stretch than her thinning brown
wig and ill-fitting suit. She dominated the room, not with a dick, but the pure force of her personality. What did gender have to do with anything? But then the news broke that what had Trump and Spicey going nuts was not so much the portrait of Spicer as an enraged, gumchewing, shit-gibbon, but that he was played by a woman. Once we heard that, the game was on. Rosie O’Donnell replaced her Twitter profile with a convincing image of herself as Steve Bannon. Stephen Colbert declared, “If the president thinks a woman playing Sean Spicer makes him look weak, then he’s really not going to like this picture we made of a little girl pretending to be Donald Trump. And he’s especially not going to like it when you retweet at him with the hashtag #largerhands.” This statement, which came with the release of a photo of a little girl in a pink dress with a big Trump wig, was where I started to squirm. Because there’s a big difference between a grown woman laying bare the rage of a toxic white masculinity and a photo of a pretty little girl in a Trump wig designed to impugn his manhood, not critique it. Apparently, the only thing worse than being a little girl is throw-
ing like one, crying like one. What could be worse, in fact, than being a man touched by femininity? A fucking fag? A trans woman who abdicated her rights in a man’s world? Sorry, but we don’t need more misogyny — ever. So fuck you, Stephen Colbert. And everybody whose Trump-baiting humor doesn’t go beyond jokes about Trump’s small, feminine hands. This is especially important with the renaissance of White Nationalism, where the subjugation of women by men is the model for every other domination — Christians over Muslims, whites over blacks, straights over queers, good old American English over every other language, every nation in the world. Yeah, let’s grab ‘em all by the pussy. Who’s the bitch, now? The control of female bodies, forcing us to remain pregnant and have children whether we want to or not, is not a separate issue from the control of black and brown bodies in the street, and workplace, and school. The defense, even encouragement, of domestic violence against women is the same as the bullying of certain young white males to insure they remain in their place. On top. And know what to do once they get there. Using a little girl to attack Trump actually reminded me of Lynndie England — the US Army Reserve private serving in Iraq who got her 15 minutes of fame for agreeing to pose for a photo holding the leash
of a naked detainee cowering on the ground at Abu Ghraib prison. In another, she gave a thumbs-up behind a pyramid of naked prisoners. In another, she smiled as a guy was forced to whack off. She was one of the few who went to jail for abuse of prisoners, but women soldiers under Bush were regularly used to humiliate men who were compelled to crawl on the floor, wear women’s underwear, pose naked. Men were also forced to engage in homosexual acts. Let’s humiliate those Muslim bastards any way we can. While Colbert didn’t torture anybody, the image of the little girl was used in the same way — to pollute, to provoke disgust and ridicule. Like the “SNL” jokes about Trump’s attraction for a bare-chested Putin. Nothing good will come of it. It never has. The Abu Ghraib photos boosted anti-US sentiment worldwide, became big recruiting tools for Al Qaeda, were cited for the execution of American Nicholas Berg, and set back progress for women and queers. In the US, sneering only at his masculinity might piss off Trump, but it won’t help us, won’t do anything to undercut his desire to be a “real man” and dominate America by violence, instability, and hate. Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Fascism, Trumpolini, and “Gin Blossoms” Bannon BY ED (((SIKOV)))
he amazing Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender woman on the Barnard College faculty who is also an opinion writer for the Times, got off to a rollicking start in a recent column about the trans Republican Caitlyn Jenner. “I asked her how she could possibly be a Republican,” Boylan writes. “She replied, ‘Every conservative guy out there believes in everybody’s rights.’ I shouted back, ‘That is a lie!’ Then I hit her with a rolled-up newspaper, demonstrating exactly how bad I am at the whole listening thing.” GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
Jenner’s wealth and fame have clearly blinded her to the struggles of regular trans folks, who admittedly don’t have to contend with a scrum of reporters and photographers chronicling their every move; they face more quotidian wretchedness, like physical attacks, and murders, and losing jobs, and families who toss their teenage trans kids out of their homes like yesterday’s coffee grounds. Boylan continues: “As a friend once observed, queer Republicans remind him of ‘the pig in the chef’s hat and apron holding a fork and knife on the front of a sign for a barbecue joint.’ Surely that pig must know that things aren’t going to end well.”
She points out that Jenner is scarcely alone in her incipient fascism. “According to Gallup, 21 percent of LGBT Americans are or lean Republican.” Obviously we’re not just talking about members of the small, immaterial, and inadvertent comedy troupe, the Log Cabin Republicans, who are to politics what Log Cabin Syrup is to real maple. I’m ashamed to acknowledge it, but a full 21 percent of us are just bat-shit crazy. “I could never see myself voting for a Democrat, especially right now,” Jenner declared. “I think we’ve lost the Democratic Party. I think it has been hijacked by left-wing, radical agendas.” “Including LGBT rights?” Boylan asked. “‘Boy,’ said Caitlyn. ‘You keep going back to LGBT rights.’ Yeah, I told her. I do,” Boylan writes. The inevitable answer these so-called people
MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.23
PERSPECTIVE: Ending AIDS in New York
Strengthening the City’s Sexual Health Clinics BY DR. MARY T. BASSETT
exual health clinics in New York City hold a puzzling place in the public imagination. Are they places to get free condoms? Pregnancy exams? Blood tests? To give you a better picture, I want to share the story of a man from Harlem who visited the Riverside clinic, on the Upper West Side (160 West 100th Street), last December. He wished to remain anonymous, so I will name him “John.” Days before his visit, John found a blemish on his skin. Suspecting a sexually transmitted infection, he looked for a clinic that offered free testing. The Riverside Sexual Health Clinic was not too far from his home. Staff checked him in immediately, with no hassles over health insurance. The doctor spoke to him, “like a person,” John recalled, and was empathic when delivering the news that John was HIV-positive. What unfolded perfectly illustrates the role of the city’s sexual health clinics in treating sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV. John became one of the first New Yorkers to access the health department’s new, breakthrough program (JumpstART). Through JumpstART, patients receiving a positive HIV diagnosis can begin taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) that same day in the clinic. This is a game changer. The days of waiting weeks and weeks to start HIV medications are over. John met with special clinic staff trained in navigating the health care system that same day. The staff member identified the most convenient appointments for John to continue his long-term treatment with an HIV specialist. He was also seen by a social worker. When John walked out of the clinic, there was no stack of paperwork to fill out, and the medicine was free of charge. Sexual health clinics like the one at Riverside are on the front lines of our health care system,
Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, at this past December’s dedication of the NYC AIDS Memorial in Greenwich Village.
We are scaling up — adding nearly 80 staff members to provide new medications, tests, and services, such as navigating the health care system and counseling — to make a dramatic change in how clinics operate as providers.
serving people who need quality care but can’t afford it. We want to honor the trust New Yorkers have when they come to us, and we know that we can do more. That’s why we are taking a revolutionary approach. We are scaling up — adding nearly 80 staff members to provide new medications, tests, and services, such as navigating the health care system and counseling — to make a dramatic change in how clinics operate as providers. There is a reason we are taking bold steps. Our goal is to reduce the annual number of new HIV infections in New York City to no more than 600 by 2020, a level that would reduce HIV to below epidemic levels so that the number of people living with HIV would begin to decline year after year. We are making progress — this year, as part of the city’s $23 mil-
lion Ending the Epidemic initiative — for the first time, fewer than 2,500 New Yorkers were newly diagnosed with HIV. We are working hard to meet our goal by offering low- to no-cost testing and effective treatment to meet every person’s needs and reduce transmission. For populations most at risk for exposure, we are launching the largest pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program in the country. PrEP is one pill that, when taken daily, is more than 90 percent effective at preventing HIV infection. For patients who have been exposed to HIV, but were not taking PrEP, we also provide a full, 28-day course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which should be started as soon as possible following the exposure. And for people like John, who are HIVinfected, we can now start them
immediately on medication. Studies show that treating HIV-positive patients as soon as possible suppresses the virus, virtually eliminating HIV transmission and preventing the disease from progressing. The clinics also play a key role in fighting other STIs. In New York City, like much of the country, syphilis continues to be a problem. Case rates have more than doubled in the last decade, from 7.7 per 100,000 people in 2005 to 17.9 per 100,000 people in 2015. Menwho-have-sex with men (MSM) account for 95 percent of syphilis cases, and almost half have HIV when they are diagnosed. We have also seen a rise in syphilis among women. This is particularly worrisome because infections during pregnancies can cause congenital syphilis, which often results in stillbirths or serious neurological problems in infants. Many STIs do not produce any obvious symptoms — that’s why periodic screening is so impor tant. At our clinics, anyone age 12 or older can come in for confidential syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV testing. They can also receive emergency contraception and the HPV vaccine, which provides protection from the human papillomavirus (that can lead to genital warts and cervical and other types of cancer). The expansion of these clinics represents a genuine paradigm shift in how we approach sexual health in New York City. We want to strip away the stigma, normalize testing, and help everyone who needs it. Treatment and prevention merge into one streamlined program that encourages New Yorkers to take control of their health. John said that if the Riverside clinic wasn’t there, he wasn’t sure where he would have gone. Now, he’s on the right path to recovery and taking care of himself. “They gave me hope,” he said. “I left thinking, I’m so proud I am a New Yorker.” Dr. Mary T. Bassett is the commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. For locations and hours of the city’s sexual health clinics, visit www1. nyc.gov/site/doh/services/sexual-health-clinics.page.
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.21
on the right supply is, of course, that they aren’t “single-issue voters.” Single-issue, my ass. Human rights are scarcely a single issue. And, of course, anyone with half a brain wants to see workers make more money, international relations that don’t involve war, better education for our country’s children, and a host of other issues on the basis of which we choose our candidates and vote. Understand that I write this as a non-Democrat. I left the party in disgust and up and joined the Working Families Party.
Just as Bannon has connected with far-right parties threatening to topple governments in Europe, he has also made common cause with elements in the Catholic Church who oppose where Pope Francis is taking them. Recently, however, a new political organization has formed, and though it’s not a political party, its message is one I can — and do — get behind. Refusefascism. org began by running a shocking full-page ad in the Times. It simply stated the blunt fact: “the TrumpPence regime,” as the group always calls it, is fascism. And Americans must not accept it. “Two essential points,” the website reads. “This is fascism and must be defeated. And there are millions who can be potentially mobilized to do that.” (Sorry to ask, but what exactly is potential mobilization? The “can be” covers the conditional nature of the call to arms, rendering the “potential” redundant. Yeah, I know — picky, picky.) As it turns out, Steve “Gin Blossoms” Bannon, the Trump advisor most often associated with fascism, is all agog over a heretofore obscure fascist theorist named Julius Evola (Evola is to be distinguished from Ebola, though not by much):
“Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on everything from Eastern religions to the metaphysics of sex to alchemy. But he is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions,” writes the Times reporter Jason (((Horowitz))). (Note: the triple parentheses are the alt-right’s way of identifying suspected Jews. I’m using it in my byline as well.) The “traditions” behind Traditionalism must include the ideas that Jews have horns and manipulate the world’s banking system to their own advantage and the disadvantage of everyone else (I’d better finish this column quick ‘cause I’ve got an, um, meeting to attend); that gay people are perverts and don’t deserve “special rights” like the right to marry; and that black people are no better than monkeys and should be enslaved. Charming. Il Duce was apparently a big fan of Evola. It stands to reason that Trumpolini’s most trusted advisor would fall into line as well. I’m growing quite fond of Jason (((Horowitz))). Before the Evola piece, the Times ran a piece about “Gin Blossoms” Bannon’s alliance with the most right-wing elements of the Catholic Church: “While Mr. Trump, a twice-divorced president who has boasted of groping women, may seem an unlikely ally of traditionalists in the Vatican, many of them regard his election and the ascendance of Mr. Bannon as potentially game-changing breakthroughs. Just as Mr. Bannon has connected with far-right parties threatening to topple governments throughout Western Europe, he has also made common cause with elements in the Roman Catholic Church who oppose the direction Francis is taking them. Many share Mr. Bannon’s suspicion of Pope Francis as a dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff.” I like how he fits in the “twice-divorced” and “groping women” bits. There’s no doubt that these facts about Trump are germane to a story about Bannon’s brand of religion, but I’m sorry to say that many journalists wouldn’t dare mention them. Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook.
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
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A Mexican Fantasist to the Fore In festival focused on cinema’s future, Amat Escalante’s surreal story about gay man’s attack stands out BY STEVE ERICKSON
he 17th edition of “Film Comment Selects,” programmed by that magazine’s editors and writers, veers off in a new direction. Simultaneously, it looks toward the future (which seems to mean Eastern Europe, Latin America, and East Asia this year) and the past. The opening night includes Terrence Malick’s 45-minute, musicfree, ultra-widescreen version of his documentary “Voyage of Time.” Of the new films I didn’t have a chance to preview, I’m most curious about Chinese documentarian Wang Bing’s “Bitter Money” and Filipino director Lav Diaz’s “The Woman Who Left.” Both directors deserve to be better known in the US, although the length of most of their films has undoubtedly made this more difficult. “Film Comment Selects” pays tribute to the late cinematographer Raoul Coutard not by showing the Godard and Truffaut films that made his reputation but by gathering a group of films that are almost unknown in the US. It also pays tribute to Louis Malle, German director Doris Dörrie, and re-introduces us to Paul Newman’s work as a filmmaker (on a program including an anti-smoking short that hasn’t been screened in 50 years).
The winner of the Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary direction prize, Polish director Michal Marczak’s “All These Sleepless Nights” does not appear to be an actual documentary despite that honor. However, part of its point seems to be making the spectator constantly wonder about the reality of what we’re watching. A tale of the shifting currents of friendship between two young men in Warsaw, “All These Sleepless Nights” takes place mostly at night and dawn. Every character in it smokes cigarettes, and that’s just the start of the film’s depiction of substance use; next to “All These Sleepless Nights,” most films about young people look awfully sanitized. However, Marczak’s style doesn’t always fit his subject matter. He aims for a swooning romanticism, full of wide-angle
Krzysztof Baginski in Michal Marczak’s “All These Sleepless Nights.”
Amat Escalante’s “The Untamed” could well establish the Mexican director among American audiences.
Steadicam shots following and moving around his characters. This fits MDMA-fueled scenes of wandering around Warsaw at dawn, but feels a bit out of place when a character goes to buy a typewriter, even if he flirts with the woman selling it. Youthful fireworks have been the subject of many great films, but “All These Sleepless Nights” aims for the drifting power of Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” or Olivier Assayas’ “Cold Water” without reaching it.
Andrei Tarkovsky had directed the script for the Coen brothers’ “No Country For Old Men.” The mixture never quite gels. The narrative seems to take most of the film getting underway — more than a hour goes by before a climactic, menacing BBQ scene establishes the theme of conflict between urban and rural Romanians. Mirica does have an eye for long shots of arid landscapes and drying greenery. The title refers to a mangy, angry dog who seems to have the same personality as most of the people around her. Roman (Dragos Bucur) has inherited a patch of land near the Black Sea, which he plans to sell off; unfortunately, he soon gets tangled in the village’s conflicts, and getting away quickly seems like his best option. While there are elements in “Dogs” that are familiar from earlier Romanian New Wave films, like a dry sense of humor, it attempts something new. Unfortunately, Mirica’s storytelling skills and pacing both need some work.
Until now, Mexican director Amat Escalante has perhaps been best known for making a film with a convincing scene in which a penis is set on fire. I think that will change with his latest film, “The Untamed,” but it doesn’t have an American distributor yet. “The Untamed” catapults him to the ranks of Latin American fantasists like Carlos Reygadas and Lisandro Alonso, with distant echoes of New French Extremity. (It’s no surprise
that Gaspar Noé gets thanked in the end credits.) Yet for all the explicit sex (gay, heterosexual, animal, and woman with tentacled monster), violence (less overt but constantly menacing), and weirdness, “The Untamed” also has a grasp of ordinary family life. The film revolves around a gay nurse who gets beaten into a coma; the female protagonist’s homophobic husband, who happens to be having an affair with him, is the main suspect. “The Untamed” has a constantly shifting sense of color, starting with blue shades and shifting to red and yellow as the film grows darker. It’s rare and welcome to see a film mix elements of the paranormal with such a fine grasp on the drama of everyday life.
Romanian director Bogdan Mirica’s “Dogs” tries a synthesis of elements of American genre cinema — film noir, Westerns, even horror films — with a meditative quality that seems very European, as if
FILM COMMENT SELECTS Film Society of Lincoln Center 144 & 165 W. 65th St. Feb. 17-23 Tickets, schedule at filmlinc.org FILMLINC.ORG
A scene from Bogdan Mirica’s “Dogs.”
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
New York’s Ballroom Scene in Profile Sara Jordenö presents intimate look at seven performers in “Kiki” BY GARY M. KRAMER
iki” is an uplifting portrait of LGBTQ youth of color who participate in the New York ballroom scene. Director Sara Jordenö focuses on seven subjects, including Twiggy Pucci Garçon, who co-wrote the film; Chi Chi Mizrahi, a fast-talking Latino; Gia Marie Love and Izana “Zariya Mizrahi” Vidal, two very different — but both inspirational and empowered — trans women; and Kenneth “Symba McQueen” Soler-Rios, who is HIV-positive. Jordenö immerses viewers in the lives of her subjects, showing them dancing along the pier, on subway platforms, and on city streets, and also capturing them in both posed and candid moments. Jordenö chatted with Gay City News about her experiences with the cast and in making “Kiki.” GARY M. KRAMER: How did you select the seven subjects you interviewed for the film? SARA JORDENÖ: We wanted to make a very intimate film. We followed people for four years and found those who were willing to open up. That was what deter mined which seven people we would feature. We became a closeknit group. It was important to have trans women in the film. We were not trying to survey all the individuals in the Kiki scene, but tell their stories and journeys as they grew up in the scene. It was an important time for them, and we were grateful they wanted to share their stories with us. GMK: “Kiki” is a mix of observational, performance scenes, and interviews, but there are some fantastic still shots that really reveal the subjects. Can you talk about your cinematic approach to portraying the subjects? SJ: I wanted to do the “screen tests” from the beginning. It became a way for the character to look back at the audience and not be an object or spectacle. I was very
A performance scene from Sara Jordenö’s “Kiki.”
worried about the camera objectifying the subjects. I didn’t want it to be just entertainment. “Kiki” is a serious, political film. We hold these shots so long it becomes a little uncomfortable for the audience. The subjects could hold those long shots, and that was appropriate for their intimacy and the personalities. These shots allowed the subjects to show some vulnerability, as well. I wanted the audience to be affected by them. They won’t let you just enjoy or forget about them. GMK: What can you say about how you crafted the intimacy you have with your subjects? SJ: I got very close to the members of the ballroom scene; they embraced me. I was so interested in just conveying these amazing situations. Their practices, for example. I also wanted them to talk about their background and specific things, so It was important to do the interviews. When we interviewed Gia’s family, she said she didn’t want to be there: “They will give different answers if I am in the room.” Several interviews are of a group or close friends. I wanted to emphasize the close friendships they had.
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
GMK: The personalities are all very strong, but infectious. I love the scene of Chi Chi buying women’s shoes. Can you talk about your impressions of the subjects? SJ: Chi Chi is a humorous guy. He’s very comedic. But there is seriousness in him. He didn’t want to talk about his past, but I thought it was important. Chi Chi agreed he would discuss his past because he knew it was a big problem. The subjects see themselves as role models, and so many others in the community share these experiences. Everyone feels their strength when they talk about these things. Gia and Zariya had to make a decision whether they wanted to show their physical transition on screen, which makes it impossible for them to be stealth, or pass. It’s known that they are trans women, and we had a lot of discussions about that. They feel like they are spokespeople and it was important. GMK: I also was moved by Symba’s story. What can you say about him? SJ: We shot Symba for a long time. He was a role model before he became HIV-positive. He was an activist working with HIV preven-
tion before he was diagnosed. Not a lot of people knew of his status, and he decided to convey that story. Symba didn’t want to be a statistic, and that was a disappointment for him. It’s a huge problem, and I think it’s important to see how people are, and it’s better to be open. This is a community that understands that to survive, they need to talk to each other about their successes and dreams but also their difficult things. They are a talking community, and it’s great to see group discussions about personal stuff for the benefit of the community. They are getting there because of the community and alternative family system they set up; it helps them. They are always saving each other’s lives, from suicide attempts, to getting care after being beaten up. It’s a very warm community. GMK: There’s a line in the film about exposing Kiki to the mainstream. What are your thoughts about taking a subculture and making it more accepted? SJ: I think that ballroom has been part of popular culture, but it’s not credited to the people who created that underground culture. It’s important that they get credit. They’ve been a part of New York City culture for decades. The film is transformative, and I feel transformed by it. We got a question at a screening asking if the film has changed or helped the subjects. I got so angry. It’s the other way around! The viewers are changed. They are going to be transformed because these are people who represent everything that is the opposite of Trump. We need to learn from their resilience!
KIKI Directed by Sara Jordenö Sundance Selects Opens Mar. 1 IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com
Mermaids, Merimée, Housman & Holofernes
“Rusalka,” “Carmen” please at the Met; worthy evenings at Carnegie, in Philly BY DAVID SHENGOLD
The next night, the theater housed
he Met needed a new “Rusalka” to replace Otto Schenk’s antique Viennasourced fairy-tale version, which witnessed some extraordinary performances starring Gabriela Benacková and Renee Fleming. Given Mary Zimmerman’s catastrophic history at this theater, what she and her fine design team produced, seen February 2, proved quite creditable and enjoyable — if short on insight or revelations. The actual plot-central lake was kept to Daniel Ostling’s lovely forecurtain; the playing space, hemmed by false perspective walls suggesting Watteau, had what looked like a Jacuzzi in the outer acts and multiple ice bowls in Act II’s Palace (in one corner of which were all the stag antlers left over from Mariusz Trelinski’s “Iolanta” staging). Mara Blumenfeld’s beautiful costumes evoked the 18th century, though the Foreign Princess got a Turandot headdress. In the pit, Mark Elder generated general sonority, but often seemed to seek symphonic rather than dramatic tempi. The initial prelude emerged quite inert, setting a pattern to which he far too frequently returned. The second act finale did achieve some tension — this despite the uncomfortable spectacle of hearing yet another respect-worthy though aging dramatic soprano (Katarina Dalayman) damage her reputation on the shards of the Foreign Princess’s unforgivingly written part. Only Eva Urbanová (2004) and Christine Goerke (2009) have served this part well here. Kristine Opolais looked lovely and acted with passion and fearless physical commitment; she knows the part well and was always vocally adequate, though hard-pressed at strenuous moments. One simply wishes that her instrument — basically a competent “house soprano” — offered more plushness and tonal reserves. Past some initial tightness on top, Brandon Jovanovich sang and acted a very credible Prince, impressively singing even as he carried Rusalka in his arms. Eric Owens, notably healthier of voice than recently, made a moving Vodnik — like Jovanovich offering fine dynamic shading. As a gruesomely witty Jezibaba, Jamie
a very enjoyable repertory performance of “Carmen.” Richard Eyre’s production remains unprepossessing, but revival director Jonathon Loy had cut some of the worst business (like Carmen abusing Micaela in Act Three) and the cast worked in synch. The big news was Clémentine Margaine: an actual Frenchwoman in the iconic role, likeable and attractive, with sensuous voice and presence. She phrased creatively, though sometime taking an unduly Streisandesque approach to moving the voice. Margaine gave the part rare credibility; she and her pleasantsounding sidekicks (Danielle Talamantes, Shirin Eskandani) even took part in the dancing with zero embarrassment. Rafael Davila — replacing Marcelo Alvarez, as he had at the premiere — gave a strong shot at José, modulating his volume if getting somewhat raw at top forte. Offering her first Micaela was Janai Brugger, a young soprano with a beautiful, individual billowing tone who acted well and wanted only a bit more legato smoothness in shaping lines. In voice and bearing, Kyle Ketelsen energetically reaffirmed his status as one of the world’s only current satisfying Escamillos. Nicolas Testé (Zuniga) channeled francophone style, but the best–sung small part was John Moore’s elegant Morales. Asher Fisch, occasionally rushing, led a taut reading; the Children’s Chorus sang and acted very well indeed. Met to world: “Habemus Carmen!”
Philadelphia’s superb Chamber Music Society derives from Ver-
KEN HOWARD/ METROPOLITAN OPERA
Kristine Opolais in the title role of Dvořák’s “Rusalka.”
Barton’s sensational dark mezzo showed much Wagnerian promise. Three excellent debutants in smaller roles: Hyesang Park, a lovely light soprano for the First Wood Nymph; Anthony Clark Evans, an even, resonant baritone for the offstage Hunter; and, especially the fulltoned, tangy mezzo of Daniela Mack (Kitchen Boy), who has already sung
leading Handel, Mozart, and Rossini roles in major American and British theaters. Opposite Mack as the comic Gamekeeper we heard the impressively well-oiled baritone of Alan Opie, aged 71. Like all Met shows, it’ll look and sound better on HD in theaters February 25. On balance, it was well worth experiencing this ravishing music.
mont’s remarkable Marlboro Festival, a classical musical feast now starting its seventh decade. So one regular feature of PCMS’ offerings are concerts by young musicians playing pieces honed at the previous summer’s festival. January 26 at the Perelman Theater — blessed with excellent acoustics and sightlines — the versatile pianist Lydia Brown and a fine string quartet (violinists Michelle Ross and Carmit Zori, violist Rebecca Albers, and cellist Alice Yoo) were joined in a program with tenor Nicholas Phan as guest artist. With
MERMAIDS, continued on p.27
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
MERMAIDS, from p.26
his usual compelling artistry and interpretive charm, he offered five selections from Beethoven’s 1810-13 “Irish Songs” and Vaughan Williams’ 1909 death-haunted, A.E. Housmantexted “On Wenlock Edge.” “Bredon Hill,” the Williams cycle’s penultimate song, proved a particular highlight. In the last few years, Phan’s lower range has expanded in impact and color, which somewhat offsets the sense of judder that now can mark his forte high range under pressure. Few active singers parse verse with such keen intelligence. In the well-served other pieces, Haydn’s Opus 76 #5 and Beethoven’s third Razumovsky quartet, Yoo’s forthright, sonorous playing proved especially heartening.
tently outstanding. This version of the Judith and Holofernes story, written for the allfemale cast at Vivaldi’s disposal, offers a wide expressive and dynamic range of da capo arias. Some of the stylish vocalists (particularly MaryEllen Nesi as Holofernes) would have fared better in a smaller room, but that would have meant fewer listeners. Nesi — very musical — never forced beyond her means. Delphine Galou, a rather lyrical contralto, made an admirably poised warrior heroine, with a nice play of dynamics compensating for limited tone color. German mezzo Silke Gaeng channeled fresh tone as Judith’s handmaiden. Francesca Ascioti, in the two-aria role of the local general (the city of
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Max Vernon
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FOR GROUPS OF 8+, CALL 1.800.BROADWAY X2 THE LYNN REDGRAVE THEATER AT CULTURE PROJECT 45 BLEECKER STREET (AT LAFAYETTE), NYC As part of an impressive minifestival built around the music of Venice, Carnegie Hall presented a strikingly vibrant reading of “Juditha Triumphans” (February 7), the sole oratorio by Antonio Vivaldi of the known four to survive (albeit without its overture). Those somewhat bored by Vivaldi’s pretty but rather routine operatic music are often astonished by this work’s inventive instrumentation and dramatic focus. Andrea Marcon’s 10-year-old Venice Baroque Orchestra proved as enjoyable as on its many recordings; the playing in ensemble and by solo obbligato instruments was consis-
Betulia stands in for Venice here in struggles against Middle Eastern powers), showed an arresting contralto and sharply uttered words, but she aspirated her coloratura. That stood out given the presence — rare on this continent — of the great Swedish mezzo Ann Hallenberg, one of the world’s leading classical recording artists, as far as quality is concerned. Her pellucid tone and incredibly fluid singing won several ovations. David Shengold (shengold@yahoo. com) writes about opera for many venues.
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Are You There, God?
MAN FROM NEBRASKA 2econd Stage Theatre 305 W. 43rd St. Through Mar. 12 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m.; Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $37-$125; 2st.com/tickets/buy-tickets Or 212-246-4422 Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission
A classic quest in a prosaic world from playwright Tracy Letts BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
n his brilliant and profoundly affecting and timely new play, “Man from Nebraska,” playwright Tracy Letts takes on one of the most classic literary forms: the quest. From “Gilgamesh” to Tolkein, the epic hero must persevere through seemingly insurmountable challenges on a “road of trials” to redeem themself and move on. Whereas most traditional epics exist in the realm of fantasy, Letts has written a very contemporary quest epic grounded in the real world. Ken Carpenter lives a fairly ordinary life as an insurance executive in Lincoln, Nebraska. His life centers around family, work, and his Baptist faith. It is a comfortable, if largely unexamined, life. One night, Ken awakens to discover that he no longer believes in God. It is a devastating discovery that serves as the herald — speaking in the language of classic quest literature — that calls him to leave his home and embark on a journey. He heads for London, where he was stationed in
Annette O'Toole and Reed Birney in Stacy Letts’ “Man from Nebraska,” directed by David Cromer, at 2econd Stage through March 12.
the service 30 years earlier, in an attempt to discover who he is now. Again, in the language of literature, Ken must experience a metaphoric death and rebirth in order to complete his journey and return home. Letts writes with wonder ful economy that is consistently gripping. One is on edge throughout as Ken’s different encounters illu-
minate the changes occurring in him. The juxtaposition of the grand epic with unremarkable, quotidian sexual, artistic, and familial encounters gives the piece poignancy and makes Ken, like many quest heroes, an ordinary man who becomes willing to lose everything to achieve his ends. Not surprisingly, his family and his pastor are
baffled by Ken’s journey and the question remains as to whether they can accept the transformed hero. Yet, they, too, perhaps less consciously, have been forced into their own quests by Ken’s actions. As Ken, Reed Bir ney gives another fully realized and magnificently nuanced performance. The detail in every moment plumbs the deceptive simplicity of Letts’ writing. Birney is a fearless actor, who makes Ken’s conflict visceral for the audience. David Cromer’s equally brilliant direction finds truth and simplicity in every moment, and one never doubts for a moment that these are real people. The rest of the company is equally sublime. Notably, Annette O’Toole as Nancy, Ken’s wife, is extraordinary. Confused and frightened by her hus-
NEBRASKA, continued on p.39
Dying Is Easy… Comedy comes hard in an amateurish, incoherent comedy BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
he Big Broadcast on East 53rd” belongs to a genre of theater that can only be described as Zombie Comedy. By that I mean, it only appears to be alive and trying to make sense of it will eat your brain. For comedy to work, it has to have an essential grounding in believable human situations taken to a heightened plane. This has been true since Aristophanes virtually invented the form. Thus, we have mismatched roommates coping with divorces (“The Odd Couple”), a non-traditional family decidedly out of the mainstream (“You Can’t Take It With You” or “The Addams Family”), a provincial theater company falling apart at the seams (“Noises Off”), and thousands of other delightfully hilarious examples. No mat-
JoAnna Rhinehart, John Patrick Hayden, and Kate Loprest in Dick Brukenfeld’s “The Big Broadcast on East 53rd,” directed by Charles Maryan.
ter what the world of a comedy, its must also have rules and an established integrity, which even when comedy is absurdist (“Rhinoceros”) allows the audience to locate itself in relationship to the characters and the plot. However outlandish, the tenet of successful comedy —
that something is out of whack in an ordered world — has to have a fundamental logic within the context of the play. Or, more bluntly, it has to make some kind of sense.
BIG BROADCAST, continued on p.29
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
The Perils of Normalization A dark, socio-political farce about a not-so-distant dystopia has chilling resonance BY DAVID KENNERLEY
s the reality of the Trump administration bent on rolling back hard-won civil liberties starts to take hold, half of America feels blindsided, wondering in disbelief, “How the hell did this happen?” Wallace Shawn, the esteemed, conscience-tweaking dramatist and actor, is probably not so surprised. As the author of “Evening at the Talk House,” a darkly comic examination of the havoc wrought by a cruel, autocratic ruler who traffics in fear and discrimination, perhaps he saw it coming. Written several years ago, the play is chillingly prescient. The drama received largely critical reviews when it premiered at London’s National Theatre in 2015. Perhaps the story, about a society where theater as an art form has been left for dead and violence against perceived outsiders has become the norm, seemed too farfetched. But that was before Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. In this top-notch production by the New Group, boosted by a stellar ensemble, it takes a while for the play’s creepy reality to fully sink in. A band of former theater folks has reunited at their old haunt, a genteel, down-at-the-heels club called the Talk House, to reminisce about a play they had staged 10 years earlier. The kindly proprietor, Nellie (Jill Eikenberry), is resistant to change and serves basically the same old tired snacks and cocktails. Clearly, the club’s days are numbered. During the intervening decade, some have fared better than others. The playwright, Robert (Matthew
EVENING AT THE TALK HOUSE The New Group Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Mar. 12 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. $75-$95; TheNewGroup.org Or 212-239-6200 100 mins., with no intermission
Matthew Broderick and Wallace Shawn in Shawn’s “Evening at the Talk House,” directed by of Scott Elliott, at the Pershing Square Signature Center through March 12.
Broderick), who delivers a long introductory monologue that hints at the fraught political climate, is now head writer of an inane and insanely popular TV show. TV comedies are now the chief form of entertainment — communal artistic pursuits like theater are a thing of the past. “Walls have ears,” cautions Robert. “As do floors, ceilings, windows, doors, plates, cups, spoons, forks, and, come to think of it, other human beings.” The decade-old play’s former leading man, Tom (Larry Pine), is now the star of that TV show. By ordinary standards, both men would be branded as sellouts, but in this brave new world, they are heroes. The show’s costumer, Annette (Claudia Shear), tries to eke out a living as a personal tailor. Their producer, Bill (Michael Tucker), has
BIG BROADCAST, from p.28
None of “The Big Broadcast” comes close to making sense. The play opens with Penny Talley obsessively reading obituaries. Her husband arrives home from work, and we discover he can only go through a door by broad jumping. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Ray wants to move to Florida and resume his career as a GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
transitioned into a lucrative career as a talent agent. It’s not long before we realize something is terribly awry. Dick (played with acerbic eccentricity by Shawn himself), once a popular TV star, has crashed the festivities in his rumpled pajamas. His face is badly bruised, his mouth crusted with dried blood — the result of a brutal beating by “some friends.” “I haven’t changed,” the dissipated has-been says in exasperation. “Everything else has changed.” Incredibly, out of the blue, Annette admits she has participated in the government program of violence. So have Ted (John Epperson, shedding his Lypsinka persona) and Jane (Annapurna Sriram), the longtime server at the Talk House. Under the meticulous direction of Scott Elliott, “Talk House” is a slow burn of a play. Some of the
radio personality. Penny wants to stay in New York and then finds her husband’s obituary in the morning paper. She is convinced he’s dead, though he’s not. Penny’s best friend, Ruth, comes over. Penny leaves. Ray and Ruth come close to having sex. Penny comes back with Ray’s brother, and they plan Ray’s funeral. Ray says he’s not dead, but the only one who can really decide that is
revelations, however, could use a pop of adrenaline. Sure, the play is disturbing, but the character’s blasé attitude toward the brutality does not translate into gripping theater. There is plenty of talk going on at the Talk House, yet drama is in short supply. To enhance the intimacy of the proceedings, the theater has been configured with the playing area in the center, flanked by raked seating. Upon entering, theatergoers are offered sparkling water and strange hors d’oeuvres (gummy worms, anyone?), and a few lucky ones are greeted by one of the actors. Derek McLane’s set features a comfy lounge area with over stuffed chairs and an upright piano (Epperson makes good use of it from time to time, even banging out a Sondheim ditty). A quaint crystal chandelier hangs over them all. The supremely unsettling “Talk House” is less concerned with the atrocities perpetrated by otherwise ordinary citizens and more with the normalization of such acts. Complacency comes at a price. A potent lesson, it could be argued, in these times.
the obituary writer, to whose office the entire cast repairs in Act Two, where nothing is really resolved. Ray does move to Florida and ends up announcing senior softball games for a radio station. Curtain. Playwright Dick Brukenfeld gives us no rationale for any of the characters’ behaviors, so we
BIG BROADCAST, continued on p.32
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February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
Five provocative shorts about human connection by Robert Patrick challenge art, the Internet
Agosto Machado and John Gutierrez in “Hi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Sci-Fi,” a presentation of five short plays by Robert Patrick.
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
’m wondering if it isn’t time for another revolution in the theater. That was my thought as I left “Hi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Sci-Fi,” a dazzling quintet of short plays by Robert Patrick having a brief run at La MaMa. The plays, all but one written from the 1960s to the ‘80s, touch on universal themes of connection and communication and, in that context, seem chillingly prescient when seen in 2017. Patrick, who was one of the leading playwrights of the original OffOff-Broadway movement in the 1960s and early ‘70s, has lost none of his fire, and his plays are as fascinating and compelling today as they have always been. Some of my own early interest in theater was prompted by a 1970 play of Patrick’s, “The Richest Girl in the World Finds Happiness,” which was a trenchant look at celebrity and wealth that is still relevant today. The bloated, economically safe,
celebrity and revival-heavy Broadway of the mid-1950s gave rise to the reactionary and deconstructivist movement that bloomed in the area south of 14th Street at places like Caffe Cino and La MaMa. Fueled by the theories of Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud that posited that removing the fourth wall and forcing direct engagement with audiences made theater a catalyst for greater engagement there and in the wider society, this was performance that was provocative rather than palliative. Hearing Patrick’s original voice today and feeling the urgent passion that moves through these plays in comedy, anger, and pointed satire is a reminder of how vital and engaging theater can be. Especially in the current political climate, voices of opposition that challenge the status quo are critical. Small though any one voice may be, the hope is that their accumulation will have transformative power. At the very least, artists must try.
BIG BROADCAST, from p.29
can’t go along for the ride. Nor do we know what prompted Ray to start broad jumping three years earlier or why Penny is obsessed with obituaries and insists on asserting that Ray is dead when he clearly is not. The banter isn’t funny, it’s annoying, and trying to follow from one moment to another is fatiguing. Director Charles Maryan seems to have no idea of timing or physical comedy. The result is messy and manic and is more likely to induce clenched jaws than belly laughs. Indeed, at the performance I saw, there was nary a laugh to be heard. All of this is rendered even more frustrating because what slim charm this piece has
The five plays — “Action,” “Camera Obscura,” “All in the Mind,” “Simultaneous Transmissions,” and “Anything Is Possible” — play with theatrical form and use a variety of technologies. The audience stands almost throughout as the plays unfold around and among it, eliminating any barrier between them and the work. The plays touch on everything from how narrative is created in “Action” to how technology that is supposed to bring us together may be distancing us in “Camera Obscura.” In “All in the Mind,” Patrick looks at the dangers of “groupthink” and the illusion that if we are all the same the world will be better. Juxtaposed against that is a searing critique of the violence created by unquestioning belief in “Simultaneous Transmissions.” “Anything is Plausible,” which is getting its world premiere in this production is a somewhat meta meditation on theater itself. Set in 2125, it is positioned as a revival of the earlier piece, “All in the Mind.” In the stylized recreation of the piece, which the audience has just seen minutes before, the new version of the play loses its edge and immediacy and becomes an indictment of art robbed of its politics and a cry for an activist theater that can shake an audience out of its complacency. What’s so fascinating about these five plays historically is that there is a direct line from Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty to Brecht’s Alienation Effect to the present day.
comes from the talented company, all of whom have comic talents that remain largely untapped. John Patrick Hayden as Ray is charming and could easily be the kind of comic leading man Kaufman and Hart wrote for. Kate Loprest at Penny shows hints of the classic, long-suffering wife and mistress of the slow burn. Joanna Rhinehart as the obituary editor combines buoyant silliness with a cutting glare, though not in any context that works here. Alexis Bronkovic as Ruth, though playing the most pointless part in the play, certainly has the makings of a terrific comic ingénue. Aside from the inept writing and structure, the waste of this comic potential comes close to heartbreaking.
HI-FI, WI-FI, SCI-FI La MaMa 66 E. Fourth St., btwn. Bowery & Second Ave. Through Feb. 19 Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $20-$25; lamama.org or 212-532-3101 One hr., no intermission
Yet what makes this powerful theater is not artistic theory but the galvanizing and immersive experience of each of the plays. Directors Billy Clark, Jason Trucco, and Park Il Kyu brilliantly orchestrate each of the pieces using video, traditional staging, and a changing environment to enroll the audience in each piece. The company includes Agosto Machado, John Gutierrez, Valois Marie Mickens, and Yeena Sung in a variety of different roles, and the players bring clarity and definition to each. Especially when the subject matter is abstract, precision is critical to performance, and each of these actors achieves that beautifully. At the end of the performance, Patrick himself came out and sang a song that touched on the tragedy of separation among people that is a staple of our contemporary culture. It’s an argument he’s made throughout his career, and his solution would seem to be theater, with its power to bring us together, challenge and connect us, and shake us awake.
THE BIG BROADCAST ON EAST 53RD TBG Theatre 312 W. 36th St. Through Feb. 25 Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $18; smarttix.com Or 212-868-4444 One hr., 45 mins, with intermission When a zombie is coming for your brain, there are generally two options: turn and fight or run away. In this case, the latter is the better course. February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
A Gem at Caffe Cino and La MaMa Robert Patrick’s triumphant return to his Off-Off roots BY DAVID NOH
was there, in the madding crowd, and can attest that thousands of impressively fired up queer activists showed up for the Christopher Street rally on February 4. But there was another equally impressive gay gathering of fervent minds and hearts taking place at La MaMa, which I also attended. That was the 140th edition of its regular series, Coffeehouse Chronicles, reuniting in a sterling panel theater folks who were in at the very beginning of the downtown Off-Off-Broadway theater movement of the 1960s. The panel centered around the career of playwright Robert Patrick, 79, and featured William Hoffman, Michael McGrinder, Natalie H. Rogers, Jordan Beswick, Carol Nelson, Magie Dominic, and Jason Jenn. This panel was presented as part of the revival of a quintet of Patrick’s short plays, produced in a how titled “Hi-Fi, Wi-Fi, Sci-Fi” (through Feb. 19, see previous page) In an interview at La MaMa, the boundlessly effervescent playwright told me, “I don’t know anything about the production of these old one-acts of mine, I’ve not been allowed to see the show. It’s so technically complex they can’t casually do a run-through of it, so I’m not going to see it until tomorrow night, which is the first preview. They decided that these plays from the 1960s predicted the Internet, social media, and various technical things.” Often called one of the architects, or at least godfathers, of both OffOff-Broadway and gay plays, Patrick modestly decried such titles: “I always like to tell people we didn’t set out to start gay theater. Joe Cino gave us the freedom, saying, ‘Do what you have to do.’ And it happened that, back to back, Lanford Wilson and I decided we had to write about the gay life around us in New York, with no political intentions or claim to be brave pioneers whatsoever. “It was very casual: Joe gave us the floor, we did our shows, and, to
our surprise, that led to more people saying, ‘You do gay shows here? I always wanted to write a gay show but didn’t know you could put it on.’ One night, during my first play, which was the second gay one after Wilson’s beautiful ‘The Madness of Lady Bright,’ William Hoffman [‘As Is’] and I were acting and he had a monologue, during which I went across the stage and leaned against a café table. There was a boy there with his parents in the audience, and I overheard him saying, ‘Mom, Dad, you see that man there? Well, I brought you here because I wanted you to see him. I’m like him. I’m a homosexual.’
Recalling his role as the Cino doorman, Patrick said, “I was lucky to squeeze 50 or 60 people in. A couple of our hits like ‘Dames at Sea’ or ‘A Funny Walk,’ by that genius Jeff Weiss, would have people in the ceiling loft. People agree that Jeff was one of two or three outstanding talents of Off-OffBroadway, whose lover recently died. Although it’s a terrible thing to say, maybe this will free him up to write more plays. Jeff’s plays became ever more violent and angry. The sweat from his arms would shower the audience, and I’d say, ‘Jeff, what are you doing?’ He’d answer, ‘Bob, acting is very bad
Playwright Robert Patrick, a quintet of whose short works play at La MaMa through February 19.
“And that was the first moment I realized that we might be doing something a little larger than producing a weekend’s entertainment, there might be repercussions. This was 1964, and Joe let a half-dozen others do gay plays before the Caffe closed. The producers of ‘Boys in the Band’ were big fans of Cino, and I think seeing our plays made them think it was possible for them to produce that wonderful play, which was the first to reach the commercial world, although a lot of people think it was the first gay play.”
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
for me and I shouldn’t do it, but as long as people pay attention, I will. But I’m trying to get so frightening, they won’t come anymore and I can lead a normal life.’” A child of the Depression, Patrick’s parents were migrant workers: “The first time I ever went to school for one year was my senior year. I was jerked around and never socialized and never learned to make friends. I sought friendship and community in the movies and radio. Then World War II saved the Southwest and my Daddy got a job
in the Navy and Mama manufactured airplanes and we got a house. Mama was so tiny she could climb into the wings of a plane and weld, so she was in demand. “I had two and a half years of college but was the world’s worst student, barely scraping by, gradewise, but I took advantage of the library. It was my first-time access to a really good library, and I learned about the wonderful world of past theater. I then went through all these crazy adjustments — the Air Force, jobs in various cities, had myself put in the loony bin. I’d decided there was something wrong with me, and they had to take you in if you went there. They took me in for two weeks, exactly, and kicked me out, saying, ‘Just move to a bigger town.’ “Fate brought me to New York City on September 14, 1961. I was passing through to see Greenwich Village, and I followed a pretty boy into the Caffe Cino, which turned out to be the hub of modern and gay theater, and I stayed. I struck up an affair with a Cino waiter, who went away in 1961, and just yesterday I’m sitting on the stoop here, smoking a cigarette, and he walked by. He wouldn’t believe I was looking for him for 60 years!” Patrick decided to stay at the Cino, “the first place where I ever found a community of people not afraid to be artistic, intellectual, gay, or sexual. I took a job at Macmillan Publishing on Fifth and 12th Street, so I could always run to the nearby Cino. For three years, I worked there for free, like many did, sweeping, shopping, mopping, waiting tables, whatever they needed. One day, I was helping, moving in the scenery for Lanford’s first play, and the stage manager and director were putting the sofa onstage, opening and closing it. “Watching them in silhouette, I suddenly knew who they were and why there were doing it, and suddenly had an idea for a play, although I had never thought of writing plays. I’d been around a
LA MAMA, continued on p.36
IN THE NOH
Angelica Page’s Tribute to Mom Oscar-winner Geraldine Page brought to life on Dixon Place stage BY David NOH
here was a time when Geraldine Page, who dazzled in defining works by Tennessee Williams like “Summer and Smoke” and “Sweet Bird of Youth” and went on to movie greatness in “Interiors” and her Oscarwinning “A Trip to Bountiful,” was considered the most exciting actress in America, but today, she, like her great contemporaries Kim Stanley and Julie Harris, is rarely mentioned, almost as if nothing existed before the ubiquitously nominated La Streep. Here to right this considerable wrong is her daughter by actor Rip Torn, Angelica Page, with a one-woman show devoted to her mother called “Turning Page,” playing at Dixon Place through April 8 (161A Chrystie St., btwn. Broome & Grand Sts; dixonplace.org/performances/turning-page). “This show really came out of my frustration over not being able to write a book about her,” Page began. “There’s not one book that has been published about Geraldine Page, which drives me bonkers. Right before she died, she had been working on her autobiography but was not very far in and she told me she wanted to make sure that whoever did it didn’t screw it up. Actually, she said, ‘Make sure they don’t fuck it up!’ “I was 23 when she died and was completely overwhelmed by all of it. As the years passed, nobody stepped forward, so I did and then slowly started to get the feedback that nobody knows who she is anymore, and how are they going to sell the book, which is so outrageous. It was actually really strange to be born in 1964, right in the center of the heat of her career — and then come out the other side today, where there are acting students who have never heard of her! “I’m not a biographer, but, while I was in London, acting in the 2000 West End transferral of ‘Side Man,’ which had just won the Tony, I went to a psychic in Covent Garden. My mother really haunted me, in a deep way, but I didn’t say
anything or bring her up with this psychic. The woman started channeling her, and said, ‘Your mother wants you to write the book,’ and I was astonished. I was shocked this woman said things which were not what I wanted to hear. I wanted my mother to let me off the hook. I actually still have that recording and it was fortuitous when I discovered this dusty tape, which gave me a way into the play that I needed. I play pieces of it in the show.” The writing of the play poured out of Page, at a white-hot fever pitch. “Over the last few years I have been workshopping and honing it with my director Wilson Milam, giving it space and time. But sometimes my mother just comes while I’m on the stage and takes over my performance. It’s kind of creepy [laughs]. You know, I wasn’t a writer and had no interest in being one, but one of my favorite television writers read the first draft of the biography, which I have adapted from my play. He was sobbing afterwards and said, ‘You’re a fucking genius!’ I was like, ‘Really?’ With the play, Wilson has been a godsend, I’m putting a great design team together, and I love Dixon Place, so wonderful. My mother would have loved it, as she loved having a great time and mixing it up.” I told Page that I made a special point to see her both her mother’s and Tennessee Williams’ Broadway swan song in 1980, “Clothes for a Summer Hotel,” in which, dressed in a tutu and throwing a substantial leg over a barre, she impersonated ballet-crazed Zelda Fitzgerald (a role Christina Ricci has taken over on TV) to horrid reviews and a swift closing. “That upset me, as it was terrible that it closed the way it did. I was 15 at the time and was at an afteropening night party at Tennessee’s. My mother sent me out to get the reviews, and I remember my punk rock boyfriend and I went to Times Square in a snowstorm to get the newspapers, and then we stalled going back for a long time because they were all so unfavorable, I didn’t want to bring them back.
“I also remember that Tennessee tried to steal my boyfriend at the party. His name was Kid Vicious, Sid Vicious’ roadie, and I originally was actually trying to hit on Sid backstage but then Nancy Spungen told me she would slice my face with a razor if I talked to him again. So I ended up with the roadie, instead. He was a real hustler, so I can imagine he probably would have made a financial deal with Tennessee. I don’t think he was above having an affair with him, but Tennessee would have helped him. I was naive at that time, but, knowing what I know now about him, he would have really milked Tennessee. “At the time, my mother was horrified that I was dating this guy in a band named the Starfuckers. I started going out really young, and the whole punk thing was a rebellion, of course, because my mother would not send me to boarding school. I would say, ‘I want a nice, clean desk without cat hair on it.’ And she’d say, ‘What do you mean? We have cats!’ “Shit was going on with my parents and I just wanted out and it was crazy and really chaotic. Our life was beautifully creative but at
the same time I just wanted to have a normal life order and my clothes folded and my father not coming in in the morning drunk and yelling at me for no reason. One time, he woke me up, demanding my ID, thinking I was a stranger in the house. By the time I was halfway through high school, I had cut off all my hair, quit ballet and piano, and lost my virginity, while sneaking out to see Sid Vicious play his last gigs at Max’s Kansas City.” Page had read WASPy brochures with uniformed girls in what seemed to be charm schools, and just craved the peace and quiet. The family lived in a legendary section of West 22nd Street in Chelsea, “with so many incredible neighbors, Debbie Harry, Anthony Perkins, and, more recently, Ethan Hawke and Sandra Bernhard. It’s now one of the most beautiful streets, but growing up there, there was not a tree in sight, like ‘The Lorax.’ When my mother’s home life fell apart around the time she decided not to fix anything or clean up after anybody anymore, it was starting to make Grey Gardens looked pulled together. When I came back from Europe after following the Dead Kennedys on a tour bus, it was so different, not at all the beautiful place I had grown up in. “Mom couldn’t bear to part with anything, souvenirs everywhere, and, as a result, I’m very spare and spartan, no possessions and I give everything away when I’m done with it. I have one storage unit — it was all such an intense experience that whenever I’m around clutter, it creates stress for me. My son, who’s 32, said he didn’t want to come see the play as it’s a trigger for him for all these family issues. But, finally, it’s important to look at something right in the face and be able to let go and step away from it.” In September 2011, Page, born Angelica Torn, legally and professionally changed her surname to Page. “I felt that my father had top billing for the first 50 years, and as I
IN THE NOH, continued on p.35
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
plan to be 104, my mother deserved it afterwards. It was actually his idea to change my name to celebrate her as we didnâ€™t like the idea of people forgetting who she was. Iâ€™m her only daughter, and heâ€™s got six kids, five of whom carry on his name, along with his third wife. People assumed it would really piss him off, and we always get a lot of chuckles together over stuff like that. â€œOur relationship is very unconventional and unique. Weâ€™re both so tricky no one can ever figure out whatâ€™s going on. I changed my name and people think weâ€™re at war. We definitely have our issues and take our breaks. I used both surnames Torn and Page, for a while, but it was too much, exhausting.â€? Asked if heavy drinking was a cause of her parentsâ€™ marital rift, Page said, â€œItâ€™s not the drinking in and of itself, of course, but itâ€™s what it ends up bringing out of somebody, and my father already has a prickly personality. When she first met him her initial reaction was â€˜terribly talented and deeply difficult.â€™ My motherâ€™s drinking was in no way comparative to my fatherâ€™s. She liked to drink, but her favorite was tonic water with a splash of Tanqueray â€” she also watered down coffee so it was the color of weak tea. A little went a long way with her, but it never got in the way of work. She also was working all the time, so which comes first? Youâ€™re working all the time so you donâ€™t have time to drink or youâ€™re drinking so much because you canâ€™t find work? My mother was working a lot more than my father was, and my father was drinking a lot more than my mother was. â€œBut he always was the hardest button to button and then the drink ended up creating a more out-ofcontrol experience. He has mellowed a bit in his 80s, but the temper is still there, and there was Â a lot of yelling and fighting on his end.â€? Page rarely raised her voice back at him. â€œShe just said, â€˜Iâ€™m going to pretend to be a Zen priest.â€™ She had this beautiful French antique bed from Paris â€” gold velvet headboard and footboard with gilded carving â€” and he chopped it up one night with an axe. With her in it! She was like, â€˜Oh, it was so exciting. I just pretended Iâ€™m William Tell and tried
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Angelica Page preparing to go on stage for her tribute show to mom, Geraldine.
to stay as still as possible.â€™ So no wonder I wanted to go to fucking boarding school. People ask me if I have great anger about stuff. We had a great time and she was the most incredible person I ever met, although I do wish she would have stuck up a little bit more for herself.â€? I asked Page if she had a favorite performance of her motherâ€™s. â€œItâ€™s so hard to choose. I just love everything for different reasons. â€˜A Trip to Bountifulâ€™ for just that moment when the sheriff comes to take her back in the bus station and the fake-out, when she starts to go in one direction. â€˜Pete â€˜nâ€™ Tillieâ€™ is remarkable because you donâ€™t usually get to see her do comedy. In my play, Woody Allen hires her to do a film, and then she finds out itâ€™s his first fucking drama [â€˜Interiorsâ€™]. Sheâ€™s so pissed off because she never gets to do a comedy and says, â€˜I got an Oscar nod in â€œPete â€˜nâ€™ Tillieâ€? opposite Carol Burnett, and people still donâ€™t get it!â€™â€? â€œI watched â€˜Interiorsâ€™ a couple of years ago with some friends whoâ€™d never seen it. Nobody moved, made a sound, or even breathed and when it was over people had to just go home. â€˜Okay, bye! Gonna have to sleep that one off!â€™ My mother had no favorites, herself. She hadnâ€™t made as many movies as others, but she described them as roses in a beautiful bouquet. And if her bouquet was a little smaller than some, every rose was exquisite.â€?
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
IN THE NOH, continued on p.39
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IN THE NOH, from p.34
LA MAMA, from p.33
new play a week for three years and went home and wrote it. But Joe didn’t want to do it because he said, ‘Playwrights are terrible people, and you are too nice.’ But the other playwrights insisted he do it, because I was a good guy and pulled my own weight. So we did ‘The Haunted Host’ in 1964, which Harvey Fierstein has done four times. “One day, Lanford came running down the street and said, ‘Bob, you gotta see this woman! She’s a black Marlene Dietrich [at what was then the original La MaMa basement space on Ninth Street]. It was Ellen Stewart, who originally was not so much about plays, as her own personality. God knows, that started out immense, and as she learned to express herself, it became cosmic. La MaMa would step out onstage down here. and you were in a new world. It really never mattered what was onstage — she was just this immensely resourceful and dedicated person. “She was never going to produce theater but she had a man who wanted to do plays so she rented space for him. Someone from the Cino brought one of their shows to her, and then another, and suddenly she was a producer. The police would see all these white boys going into this basement where this black women lived and thought she was a prostitute. Extraordinary woman, and I’m surprised there isn’t a big movie based on her life.” Patrick came to mainstream recognition — and the strange uptown world of Broadway — with his play “Kennedy’s Children”: “I was at La MaMa, doing a play a week, sometimes two or three a week. I had a stack of new plays beside me, and this boy came in and said, ‘I’ve been offered a chance to direct!’ I said, ‘Take what you like,’ and it happened that the top script on the pile was ‘Kennedy’s Children.’ That production worked fine, and in it was an actor who played the silent role of the bartender. He said, ‘I’d like to option this play,’ which to me was then a funny idea, like something uptown, optioning plays. He gave me a contract and a check and went off to try and find a producer because he wanted to be in it.
“Every now and then I’d get a letter saying, ‘The University of Minnesota turned it down so I’m going to San Francisco. Here’s a check.’ No one in Paris or Mexico wanted to do it but the checks kept coming. Finally I was opening La MaMa Hollywood for Ellen, and got a call from these people in London who were doing it in the backroom of a pub, the King’s Head, and wanted to bring me over. The pub owners were sure that no one would like it, but they were bankrupt and closing, so they might as well close with a play they liked. The morning after it opened, I signed a contract for it to be translated into 60 languages! “It was done all over the world, and there was a man here who wanted to option it for Off-Broadway. I was so arrogant and indifferent and didn’t even want to come back to America, so I said, ‘It’s Broadway or nothing,’ and he said, ‘All right.’ It was absurd and not appropriate for Broadway in 1975; if we had done it Off-Broadway, which this sensible man wanted to, it would still be running.” In the Boston tryout, the Wilbur Theatre begged to let it keep the play for four months, knocking everything else off its schedule, it had been so rapturously received. “Absolutely brilliant production but we had booked the Golden Theatre and had one afternoon in it before opening night. It was then that I realized why we got the theater so cheaply. ‘Grease’ was next door and our poor actors had to completely alter Clive Donner’s wonderful staging and just come down front and shout the lines. They did that very well, but it was not the show it was in Boston, and it eked out a puny two monthsrun, which made me famous, although I was stupid not to do it Off-Broadway.” Backtracking to trace the play’s origins in the London production, Patrick explained, “Clive got Glenda Jackson to be in it, in this pub, but then she called him, ‘Darling, some fool has offered me a million dollars to appear in a film and I thought it would be rude to refuse him!’ Then we looked in a wonderful book featuring every actor available in London and there was Shirley Knight. She’d left Hollywood, so she read it, and said, ‘This is not a play, just a series of monologues. No thank you.’ Then Jackson got
her friend Vivian Pickles to do it, who was marvelous. “We got to America and cast everyone except for the sex symbol goddess girl. We saw girl after girl — no one was right. The phone rang and it was Shirley Knight’s agent: ‘Miss Knight is in New York, heard you were casting, and wonders if you are still interested in her.’ My God, yes, and it was literally at the first reading the next day that Shirley came in and started reading the teacher’s role. She and the woman cast in that part looked at each other and then me. ‘No.no, dear,’ Clive said, ‘it’s the other role.’ ‘You want me to play a hippie?’ ‘No, Shirley, the other role.’ ‘You mean Carla? I read the script and it seems to me that Carla is an intelligent, strong, and articulate woman who has simply come up against a force larger than she is. She really is a heroic figure. You want me to play an intelligent woman?’ Clive said, ‘Please!’ And she said, ‘All right!’ and won her Tony. But to this day she swears she doesn’t remember that.” A vibrant Broadway career should have happened after that, yes? No. “They hated me in America,” Patrick said. “The London critics had somehow made a point of dishing the American critics for not having discovered me, so you can imagine their response. This sounds like a paranoid playwright story, but I did a New York Times interview and a photographer friend took a whole box of photographs of me to run with the story. The boy who interviewed called me backstage at the Golden: ‘I got to tell you. You’ve got to be prepared, you’re such a nice guy. I was told to make you look like an idiot and you won’t believe the picture they chose of you. They’re so angry because the London papers dished them. I can’t change this, and if you tell people, I will deny it.’ They’d chosen a joke one of me, leering, and the entire interview consisted of snatches of other quotes and me talking a lot of nonsense. “I was not good at success. I didn’t like the world it puts you into, and I wasn’t adroit at it. Those two factors blew many opportunities that came to me. I was vulgar, lewd, drunken, arrogant, insensitive, and careless of other opportunities for both myself and other
people. I’m not suited for success — even this interview is embar rassing to me, although you see I’ve overcome it [laughs]. It’s not what I do shows for — nothing wrong with being an attention hound, I just don’t happen to be one. “I met an awful lot of the most successful people in movies and stage during this whirlwind thing, and they were all, to a person, miserable, what I call negative narcissists, thinking only of their own failure. I was on an elevator in Beverly Hills with Elton John and Paul McCartney and they were arguing over which of them was the biggest failure, whose career was most finished and comeback would never happen, but each claiming it as a kind of virtue. Everyone wants to be there, fights to get there, and I guess every move down a notch feels like the beginning of the end. “I may have had an attitude that attracted bad luck — chasing prominent actors who wanted to act in my plays but always losing them to more lucrative TV/ movie offers. I liked the money, but there was no life. I left New York for Los Angeles when the actress Carol Nelson, with whom I’d done a dozen plays, asked me, ‘Bob, why do you do this?’ I could not come up with an answer.” Patrick, who has never really had a life partner (“a few affairs’), lives quite contentedly now in the Los Feliz area of LA. He’s given up playwriting, and, for a time, he made a very good living reviewing gay porn DVDs, a gig that dried up when everything went to the Internet. He’s been discovered by younger California bohemians who produce, as well as flock to his solo cabaret shows, where he sings his own original ditties. It’s a new, very agreeable career for him, and he’s always believed that all plays should be musicals, anyway. “Lanford Wilson, Tennessee, their plays are musicals: all you have to do is take a breath and say the words. Plays should have a verbal style that will carry the actors through emotional changes and encounters and nuances, and I feel that I did that more successfully in my personal favorite play, ‘Michelangelo’s Models’, and also ‘Judas,’ which once had the interest of every major English-speaking actor from Gielgud to James Mason for the role of Pontius Pilate.”
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | 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 | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
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.
February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
IN THE NOH, from p.35
My favorite Geraldine is her fabulously ferocious Alexandra Del Lago, the Princes Cosmopolis, in Williams’ ‘Sweet Bird of Youth,’ in which, supposedly feeling she wasn’t glamorous enough to play a big movie star, she got cues from watching Bette Davis films. “She really was resistant to doing that with Lee Strasberg, terrified of it. She really was having a problem with the line, ‘I’m a star!,’ and said, ‘People are just going to hate me.’ Kazan said, ‘Go right to the lip of the stage and say it right up to the audience. If you’re scared of people not liking you, you give it right to them.’” “The DVD of it has extras including her screen test for that, where you can get a glimpse of the stage version because she wears her stage costume and hair and makeup and does dialogue from the play, not the film. Also, my father, who played Tom, was under study for Paul Newman as Chance Wayne, and auditions with her.” Page told me she is about to marry her third husband, who works in TV production. “My two children’s father was my first. We broke up early on because he told me he had the seven-year itch. He’s on his third marriage, as well, now, and we’re finally friends, better late than never. I spent Christmas with my ex, his new wife and baby, and our two kids. We were down in Mexico in our family home, which is mine now.
NEBRASKA, from p.28
band’s actions, she struggles to find equilibrium when her world is shaken. Nana Mensah as Tamyra, a bartender Ken opens up to in London, and Max Gordon Moore as Harry, an artist and Tamyra’s boyfriend who becomes a kind of guide for Ken, are both powerful yet deeply human. With the rest of the company, they create a rich world that envelops the audience in the story. The set by T akeshi Kata is simple but effective as the scenes move fluidly between locations, and Keith Parham’s lighting is a dramatic force in and of itself. Though this play is more spare
“My ex and boyfriend were having a bromance, with my first husband following him around. Ohmigod, so funny! He said, ‘You two seem like you’ve been together forever, the perfect couple!’ I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna go with that.’ His third wife is an ex-Rockette, and I said, ‘If I knew he was going to be this nice to me, I would have gotten him an ex-Rockette years ago!’ “The house is in a town called Alamos, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, a brilliant, historical town begun in the 1600s. Our property is the oldest structure in town and used to be the governor’s palace. The silver barons built these haciendas in this lovely town, which became a ghost town when the silver ran out and cholera broke out in the 1800s. Everything crumbled and our property is known by the gringos as the Ruin. We’ve done enough to preserve it, but have kept its historical aspects. It’s a living museum. My parents bought it together when my mother was pregnant with me. She pulled back the plaster and found these incredible hand-painted stenciled walls from the 1700s.” One of the final and most satisfying engagements of her mother’s life was the repertory seasons with the Mirror Company located in the basement St. Peter’s Church, now home to the York Theatre. Geraldine played everything from the ‘Madwoman of Chaillot’ to a cigarsmoking, dyed-face Polynesian woman in ‘Rain,’ and I will never
than Letts’ other masterpiece, “August, Osage County,” it is no less expansive in terms of its exploration of human experience. Whether it’s the death of a patriarch, as in “August, Osage County,” or the death of the spirit, as in “Man from Nebraska,” Letts’ unerring skill in rendering classic themes in contemporary settings speaks to human experience that is as old, unsettling, and desperately in search of resolution as the human race itself. The explication of what the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called “the fate that man was born for” resonates through Letts’ work and represents American literature at its finest.
GayCityNews.nyc | February 16 - March 01, 2017, 2017
forget the deliciously disheveled sight of her arriving in the elevator, in her distinctive street look, which forever defined Bag Lady for me. Here was one star to whom glamour meant very little. “Especially later. I was just looking at these Sam Shaw photos of her taken when she was doing ‘Sweet Bird’ and ‘Summer and Smoke,’ and she’s so glamorous! But I think, at the time, she might have been a bit more disheveled than people appreciated then. Her hair was tousled before people’s hair was tousled. We go in chronological order in the play and see her change in age and iconic looks onscreen and off. She gets to talk about how people gave her a lot of hell for the way she dressed, ‘But I want to be comfortable! I’m ahead of my time!’ The watch cap, the shopping bags, the layers of sweaters and shawls — so good — it was fun to recreate that look! “I made my stage debut at that theater. She was trying to get me to be an actress her whole life, kept pressuring me. I’d say, ‘I’m trying to have a safe, stable, organized life!,’ and she’d say, ‘Oh but HOUSE HOUSE CALLS CALLS
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February 16 - March 01, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc
February 16, 2017