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In One-Two Punch, President, Attorney General, Clinging to Jobs, Go After Community 04, 05, 16

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MAGIC MICHAEL CHARMER URIE FOLLOWS ROLLICKING GOGOL WITH “TORCH SONG” REVIVAL... AND THEN HAMLET! Page 24

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FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE SIXTEEN | AUGUST 3–16, 2017


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August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY Magic Michael: Mr. Urie’s rare charms 24

PERSPECTIVE Truth and reconciliation 17

LABOR RIGHTS Civil rights groups fault HRC on Nissan union 09

FILM “4 Days in France�: an hypnotic journey 26

CIVIL LIBERTIES Rentboy.com’s Jeffrey Hurant gets six months 10

THEATER A dream of a “Midsummer Night� 30

BUSINESS NGLCC celebrates 15th anniversary 12

IN THE NOH Ron Lester’s deep disco dive 34

HIV RESEARCH STUDY We understand HIV can be a roller coaster and it is difFIcult to stay on HIV medications and go to medical appointments. The Heart to Heart 2 Program wants to hear what you have to say about these issues without judgment or pressure. We are looking for people who are struggling with HIV medications and HIV care for a research project conducted by the NYU Meyers College of Nursing. You must be between the ages of 18 – 65 years old, living with HIV, living in the NYC metropolitan area, and African American/Black or Latino/Hispanic to participate. Contact us at 646-580-2725 for more information and to see if you qualify for the study.

Compensation is provided and your participation is CONFIDENTIAL. Approved by the NYU School of Medicine IRB #s15-01480 PI: Marya Gwadz, PhD

“On Fire Island� at Metrograph 25

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GayCityNews.nyc | August 3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;16, 2017

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Trump’s DOJ Weighs in Against Gay Rights Claims Sessions steps into private dispute before Second Circuit to say anti-gay bias is not sex discrimination BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

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n the same day that Donald Trump tweeted that the US military would bar open service by transgender Americans, his Department of Justice let another shoe drop. In a brief filed July 26 with the New York-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals, the DOJ weighed in on a critical question of LGBTQ equality — whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination because of sexual orientation. Given the longtime antagonism toward gay rights by Attorney General Jeff Sessions — embattled by his own president though he may be — the government’s position was hardly surprising. Title VII lists the forbidden grounds for employment discrimination: race or color, religion, national origin, and sex. After it went into effect in July 1965, both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency charged with the statute’s enforcement, and the federal courts quickly took the position that people who encountered discrimination because they were gay or transgender could not pursue a claim under this law. Both the EEOC and the federal courts held fast to that position until relatively recently. That consensus began to break down early in this century, first in response to discrimination claims by transgender people, as courts and then the EEOC (the agency acting in 2012) accepted the argument that discriminating against somebody because they were transitioning or had transitioned was actually discrimination based on sex. The rationale they adopted originated in a 1989 Supreme Court decision, which recognized that discrimination against people for failing to comply with their employer’s stereotyped view about how people of a particular sex should behave, dress, or otherwise act was in fact discrimination because of their sex. The 1989 case, Price

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FACEBOOK.COM

The late Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor whose estate will now argue before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ full bench that his firing by Altitude Express was sexual orientation discrimination forbidden by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Waterhouse v. Hopkins, involved a woman denied a partnership in the accounting firm because some of the partners thought she was not sufficiently feminine to meet their image of a “lady partner.” Her boss told her she should get her hair styled and start wearing makeup and jewelry if she wanted to be a partner. By 2015, the EEOC had taken its analysis one step further to cover sexual orientation claims. It recognized that having a same-sex attraction violates gender stereotypes, just as with the transgender cases, but the agency also drew analogies to cases where courts found that discriminating against an employee for being in an interracial relationship was a form of race discrimination known as “associational discrimination.” The EEOC decided that it was really not plausible to distinguish between sexual orientation discrimination and sex discrimination because both involved treating people differently because of their sex. Until 2017, no federal appellate

court had accepted these theories, but on April 4, the full bench of the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals became the first to rule that Title VII bans sexual orientation discrimination. Reversing its prior precedents, the court accepted the EEOC’s analysis in a lawsuit by Kimberly Hively, a lesbian who had been denied a tenuretrack position by an Indiana community college. The college decided not to appeal, taking the position that it had not discriminated at all, so the case was sent back for trial to the district court. Meanwhile, the same issue was being litigated in other parts of the country. In Atlanta’s 11th Circuit, a sexual orientation discrimination claim by Jameka Evans against a Georgia hospital that had been dismissed by the district court was revived by the court of appeals, but on a narrower theory. In common with several other circuits, the 11th Circuit will accept Title VII claims from gay plaintiffs who allege that they suffered discrimination because of their failure to conform to

LAMBDA LEGAL

Jameka K. Evans.

gender stereotypes — but not, per se, because they are gay. In the Evans case, while a threejudge panel, in a 2-1 decision, affirmed the trial court in rejecting the plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claim, it sent the case back to the trial court to allow Evans to pursue a sex-stereotyping claim. One member partially dissented, Judge William Pryor (who has been on Trump’s potential Supreme Court list), finding no basis for any Title VII claim. Another member of the court agreed to send the case back on the stereotyping theory, but argued that Title VII should be interpreted to cover sexual orientation claims. The third member found that the panel was bound by circuit precedent to reject the sexual orientation claim, but voted to give the plaintiff a chance to pursue a sexstereotyping claim. A few weeks ago, the 11th Circuit denied a petition for the full bench to reconsider the Evans

TITLE VII, continued on p.23

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


CIVIL RIGHTS

Trump Steps Up War on Transgender Rights Sudden tweet storm about military service catches Pentagon, Congress, America by surprise PREZ TWEETS SPARK ALARM, OUTRAGE, PUSHBACK

CHRISTIAN MILES

Staten Island transgender activist Bryan John Ellicott addressed a July 26 Times Square protest rally. CHRISTIAN MILES

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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n a series of three tweets on July 26, President Donald Trump announced his intention to bar transgender Americans from serving openly in the military. At about 9 a.m. that day, tweeting on his personal account @realDonaldTrump, the president wrote: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……,” then, “… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..,” and finally, .”…victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.” The statement marked a sharp u-turn from the policy announced on June 30 of last year by the Obama administration’s defense secretary, Ash Carter, who said that open service by transgender enlistees would roll out in stages over the following year. When the anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was overturned in late 2010, the military spent nearly 10 months preparing for the

transition to open service by gay and lesbian service members. The first clear sign that the Obama/ Carter plan might be turned back came when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced on June 30 — one day prior to its planned final implementation — that he was giving military leaders another six months to evaluate how transgender service would affect the “readiness and lethality” of the armed forces. In recent months, as well, some conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill have tried to block transgender service, suggesting either an outright ban or a prohibition on funds spent on medical expenses for transition-related care. That second idea was recently defeated in a close vote in the House. The measure’s sponsor, Missouri Republican Vicky Hartzler, had claimed that medical costs associated with open transgender service would total $1.35 billion over 10 years. In fact, in a study completed last summer, the Rand Corporation, a think tank that works on militaryrelated policy issues, had estimated the annual incremental cost at between $2.4 and $8.4 million annually, a fraction of Hartzler’s claim.

GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

Rand estimated that out of 1.3 million service members there are currently between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender soldiers. Those personnel presumably are now at risk for harassment and discharge under Trump’s new policy. The Rand report, commissioned by the Department of Defense, stated that “only a small portion of service members would likely seek gender transition-related medical treatments that would affect their deployability or health care costs,” and estimated that each year between 30 and 140 new hormone treatments would be initiated and between 25 and 130 gender transition-related surgeries would be utilized. Focusing on the question of “readiness,” Rand noted that in 2015 there were 102,500 non-deployable soldiers in the Army alone, 50,000 of them technically in active service, while transgender service would add only 10 to 130 to the number of personnel with reduced deployability. Rand reported that 18 nations — including Israel, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia — allow open transgender military service.

TWEETS, continued on p.11

Army Captain Sue Fulton, who leads Spart*a, also spoke on July 26.

he very first reaction to President Donald Trump’s July 26 early morning announcement about transgender military service was alarm. In a threepart tweet, the president began with the phrase, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…….” It was another nine minutes until he continued that thought, and numerous reports indicate that Pentagon officials held their breath waiting to see what might come next from their impulsive commander-in-chief. When it became clear that Trump was unexpectedly reversing a 2016 policy aimed achieving full open service for the up to 6,600 transgender military personnel as well as future recruits, prominent conservative congressional Republicans were among the first critics. One of the Capitol Hill’s leading authorities on the military, Senator John McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, criticized Trump’s

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abrupt policy shift offered without any explanation, saying, “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.” Orrin Hatch, a conservative Senate veteran from Utah, told USA Today, “Transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them. I look forward to getting much more information and clarity from our military leaders about the policy the President tweeted today.” The Des Moines Register quoted a spokesperson for Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a 20-year military veteran, as saying though she does not support the military paying for gender reassignment procedures that “Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.” Arguing that transgender Americans already serve in the military and that “excommunicating”

PUSHBACK, continued on p.11

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LABOR RIGHTS

HRC Chided For Being MIA on Mississippi Black Auto Workers Fellow members of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights call out leading LGBTQ lobby BY ANDY HUMM

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abor leaders and progressive activists are taking the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to task for being one of two major civil rights organizations to refuse to support African-American workers in Mississippi trying to organize at a Nissan plant. Seventeen members of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights were asked to sign on to a letter to Nissan North America citing the National Labor Relations Board’s finding that Nissan has “threatened its employees with termination because of their union activities” and accusing the automaker of opposing “civil rights at the Canton plant and of this majority African-American workforce. We urge you to accord these workers the same dignity and respect that Nissan workers are provided everywhere else in the world.” Only the Human Rights Campaign and the National Urban League declined to sign on to the letter that was signed by the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, Unidos USA, the National Council of Churches, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, among others. Lee A. Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and treasurer of the Leadership Conference, told Gay City that HRC’s snub was “disconcerting.” “We’re not asking people to walk a picket line,” Saunders said, “just sign off on a letter that said the workers should be the given the opportunity to make the decision of whether they wanted to be a part of the UAW without coercion threats.” Saunders added, “These are predominately African-American workers fighting every single day to get by, precisely the people that HRC should be working with — minority communities across the country. It would have been a show of solidarity with communities of color. But they thought their relationship GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

DONNA ACETO

Randi Weingarten, the out lesbian president of the American Federation of Teachers, is critical of the Human Rights Campaign for its refusal to sign a letter in support of African-American workers in Mississippi trying to organize at a Nissan plant.

with Nissan was more important. I expressed the disappointment of the 1.1 million members of AFSCME. Their comment was that they have a good relationship with Nissan and that Nissan has a strong record on LGBT issues. But you not only have to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.” Randi Weingarten, the out lesbian leader of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “It’s deeply disappointing that HRC would not stand for the workers’ rights and affirm that human rights and civil rights are synonymous with workers’ rights, particularly at a time when there is an assault on those we represent. We need to stand to together on behalf of all of us. Unions like my own and so many other labor unions have been soldiers in the fights for LGBTQ priorities for decades. And when it comes to LGBTQ issues, we don’t shy away from championing them regardless of what other feathers it might ruffle. I weighed in strongly with Mary Beth Maxwell of HRC [who served in the Obama administration as the principal deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Labor]… who refused to acknowledge the seriousness of this situation.” All this criticism and more was

conveyed to the Human Rights Campaign and its response was a statement on which the group would not elaborate. Chris Sgro, communications director, said, “We strongly believe workers have a right to unionize and organize. This is something HRC has affirmed strongly in filings with the Supreme Court and we support the Employee Free Choice Act. We are proud to stand with workers and will continue to do.” The Urban League did not return a call for comment. Jerame Davis, longtime executive director of Pride at Work at the AFL-CIO, said, “We’ve been documenting HRC’s less than friendly labor policies for a while. HRC gets most of their money from corporations, and they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. This wasn’t a big ask. This was almost pro forma — to voluntarily recognize the union after a vote and not to fight it.” Davis criticized HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, which purports to document how pro-LGBTQ a company is. “We’ve tried to highlight it is not what they present it as,” Davis said, saying of some companies who garner high ratings that their attitude is: “‘We treat our workers

like shit across the board, whether they’re LGBT or not.’ It just measures whether or not they have certain policies in place.” Davis said the index “doesn’t look at how the policies are implemented or whether they are implemented or at union-busting activity or active lawsuits” against the company as there were against Walmart when HRC rated it highly. Davis emphasized, “You can still be fired in 28 states for being LGBT. Union-busting is an LGBT issues because the union contract [with a clause banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination] is the only thing that can protect LGBT workers” in many places. Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, which has a close, reciprocal working relationship with labor in New York, said, “HRC has never been in the forefront of the civil rights movement. When other civil rights movements embraced the LGBT rights agenda, HRC acted as if they have it coming but they are not there for other civil rights organizations.” This snub of an African-American cause reminded Roskoff that when Chuck Schumer ran against Al D’Amato for US Senate in 1998, “HRC supported Al D’Amato, who said in 1991 that David Dinkins should ‘go back to Africa and stay there’ and referred to people in the housing projects as ‘animals.’” Roskoff said, “We’re not supporting the constitutional convention in New York on the ballot this fall because our friends in labor think it can roll back the rights of workers. We are not going to secondguess progressive labor.” Kenneth Sherrill, an out gay professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College, said, “I should never be shocked by things HRC does or doesn’t do. My sense is they’ve invested an awful lot of time in building relationships with labor and industry. Have we really reached the point where they are more afraid of offending industry than they are labor? This is one of those issues where not signing isn’t staying neutral.”

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CIVIL LIBERTIES

Rentboy.com Owner Gets Six-Month Jail Sentence Two years after Homeland Security raid on escort site, judge torn about incarcerating owner BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

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he chief executive of rentboy.com was sentenced to six months in federal prison during a hearing that demonstrated the tensions the federal government created when it raided the website’s Manhattan offices in August 2015 and shut the escort site down. “I am considering sentencing your client to six months incarceration,” Margo Brodie, the judge who presided over the case, told Michael Tremonte, the attorney for Jeffrey Hurant, near the start of the August 2 hearing. “I’ll just tell you what I am struggling with.” Brodie said that during the 17 years that Hurant ran the website, he performed “good work” and she noted “how much he has contributed to the LGBT community” during that time. “On the other hand, what I have

FACEBOOK.COM

Jeffrey Hurant, the owner of rentboy.com, will spend six months in federal prison stemming from a dramatic raid on the escort site’s Manhattan offices nearly two years ago.

before me is almost two decades of committing a crime, and Mr. Hurant knowing that he was committing a crime,” Brodie said. Hurant was arrested in 2015 along with six employees of the site. They were charged with violating the federal Travel Act, which makes certain state crimes a violation of federal law when they are committed across state lines. The underlying state law violation was promoting prostitution. The charges against the six employees were dropped last year. Hurant was indicted on two counts of violating a federal money laundering statute and one count of violating the Travel Act. He pleaded guilty last year. The arrests sparked protests in four cities, condemnations from many leading LGBTQ and civil liberties groups, and even opposition from the New York Times editorial page. In at least some of the protests, the theme was that it was the laws that criminalize prostitution that are

unjust and that Hurant, in building the site, had removed prostitution from the view of those who object to it and made it safer for sex workers and their clients. From this perspective, Hurant was resisting unjust laws, the impressive amount of money he earned from rentboy.com notwithstanding. But court proceedings require criminal defendants to admit that the law is right and they are wrong and so Hurant gave the law its due. When he spoke, he noted the many good actions that rentboy.com had taken on behalf of its advertisers and the community. “I disagree with the law that I broke,” he said, but added, “Today, I understand that none of that changes the fact that what I did broke the law… While I do believe our company mitigated many of the dangers associated with sex work, we could not get

RENTBOY.COM, continued on p.39

COMMUNITY

Ex-Detective Charges LI LGBT Network Defamed Him In suit, Tom Verni, gay NYPD vet, says false online postings alleging pedophilia followed his critique of group BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

A

former NYPD detective who was a frequent and reassuring presence at demonstrations and LGBTQ events when he was with the police department has sued a Long Island organization charging that it defamed him on a website and Twitter account. “On or about July 8, 2016, certain websites and blogs were created which falsely depicted Mr. Verni as a ‘child molestor’ and ‘pedophile,’ among other things,” reads the suit, which names the LGBT Network, its chief executive, and two former employees as defendants. “A Twitter page was also created called ‘Not Tom Verni’ which had graphic and inappropriate photographs depicting pedophilia. The Twitter page contained a noose

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TOMVERNI.COM

Retired NYPD Detective Tom Verni is suing the LGBT Network on Long Island, where he volunteered for many years, alleging that staff members there, including chief executive David Kilmnick, engineered a social media campaign to falsely smear him for being a pedophile after Verni and others became critical of the agency.

with the words ‘It’s Time We Bring This Back For Pedophiles.’ All of this online material falsely accused Mr. Verni of contacting, luring, and molesting underage children.” Tom Verni, who is openly gay and a 22-year veteran of the NYPD, spent his last years with the department working in the Community Affairs unit where he was the LGBTQ community liaison. He was commonly seen at demonstrations and events produced by queer groups. Since his retirement in 2013, Verni has appeared on cable news shows where he comments on police procedure and police shootings, according to his Linkedin.com profile. Verni was a longtime volunteer for the Network. In 2015, he joined with a group of former employees and board members who charged that David Kilmnick, the agency’s

chief executive, was mistreating employees, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit charges that Kilmnick responded by instructing an employee, Adam Lombardi, then the Network’s social media manager, to create the fake social media accounts charging that Verni is a pedophile and to distribute that content to media outlets, members of New York’s City Council, and LGBTQ groups in the New York area. The Twitter account was shut down, but the blog, which has a single July 2015 post, remains online. When Verni searched for the IP address of the website, he found that it was within a one-mile radius of Lombardi’s home, the lawsuit says. Last year, Verni sued the Network, Kilmnick, Lombardi, and

VERNI LAWSUIT, continued on p.39

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


TWEETS, from p.5

Responding to Trump’s tweets, Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, an independent research institute that focuses on issues of sexual minorities in the military, wrote, “The President is creating a worse version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ As we know from the sad history of that discredited policy, discrimination harms military readiness. This is a shocking and ignorant attack on our military and on transgender troops who have been serving honorably and effectively for the past year. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen stated yesterday, their service must be respected. The Rand Corporation has estimated that the cost of medical care for transgender troops is approximately one one-hundredth of one percent of the military annual health care budget, or at most, $8.4 million per year. To claim otherwise is to lie about the data.” When he announced the Obama administration’s intention last year to move toward open service, Carter said, “The Defense Department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now — the finest fighting force the world has ever known. We don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor,

PUSHBACK, from p.5

them only “weakens our readiness,” Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, said, “This smacks of politics, pure and simple.” Trump’s tweets came on a week when he’d been panned for a partisan and also sexually suggestive speech to the Boy Scouts’ annual Jamboree, he was facing criticism from right-wing media for his repeated public humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the Senate was hurtling toward rejection of his hopes for Obamacare repeal. An ironic staple of the reporting that followed Trump’s surprise announcement was a fact uncovered by the Military Times newspaper — that the nearly $42 million the armed services spends on erectile dysfunction medications is more than five times the high end GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

CHRISTIAN MILES

The crowd massed near the armed forces recruiting station in Times Square on July 26..

airman, or marine who can best accomplish the mission. We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population. Although relatively few in number, we’re talking about talented and trained Americans who are serving their country with honor and distinction.” Trump’s action marks the administration’s second attack on the transgender community. In February, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reversed an Obama administration policy that schools receiving federal funding must protect transgender students from discrimination, including in their access to private facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Ironically, Trump’s decision to

throw red meat to the right last week comes as he is facing criticism from leading conservatives for his attacks on Sessions, whom he is blaming for the continued investigations into Russian interference in the election and any ties to the president’s campaign. Just hours before Trump issued his tweets, the Human Rights Campaign sent out an advisory pointing to an article in Foreign Policy reporting that Vice President Mike Pence has been working with congressional Republicans to block implementation of open transgender service. What remains unclear in the wake of Trump’s tweets is how they will be received by military personnel who have worked for the past 13 months to implement the changes Carter announced. Mattis’ state-

of a Rand Corporation estimate of what transition-related medical expenses would be. Democrats, of course, were harsh in condemning Trump’s posture. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, said, “We must be cleareyed about the threats to our civil rights and unified in opposition to any and every attempt to erode them. I will fight tooth and nail against any policy that discriminates against these patriots and erodes the capability of our military.” Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, cited the ironic historical significance of the day Trump opted to announce his transgender military position. “On this very day in 1948, President Harry Truman signed the executive order desegregating the US military,” she said in a writ-

ten statement. “Sixty-nine years later, President Trump has chosen this day to unleash a vile and hateful agenda that will blindside thousands of patriotic Americans already serving with honor and bravery… This morning’s tweets reveal a President with no loyalty to the courageous men and women in uniform who risk their lives to defend our freedoms.” On PBS’ NewsHour that evening, retired Lieutenant Commander Brynn Tannehill, a transgender woman who is a former Navy pilot and advocacy director of Spart*a, an LGBTQ military organization, described the president’s action as “fairly shocking. This is something we didn’t see coming.” Saying that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had supported the Obama administration’s decision last year to formally open the military to transgender service — despite his June 30 de-

ment this past June 30, in focusing not on implementation questions but rather on fundamental issues of “readiness and lethality,” suggests that he perhaps was second-guessing decisions already settled by the Defense Department under Secretary Carter. But that is not certain, and it bears keeping in mind that Mattis was on vacation at the time of Trump’s tweets and that the Pentagon, when contacted about them, referred calls to the White House, though a spokesperson said the Department of Defense would “work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the commander-in-chief” and would “provide revised guidance to the Department in the near future.” How on board with the president “his” generals are on this issue remains an open question. The day after Trump’s tweets, three Defense Department officials told CNN that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been informed that Trump would make the announcement he did. To the thousands of transgender service members whose futures were suddenly thrown into doubt, General Joseph Dunford, the Joint Chiefs chairman, assured them there would be “no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidelines.”

lay for six months in final implementation to assess the policy’s impact on “readiness and lethality” — Tannehill argued that for the thousands of transgender service members now serving openly, the sudden fear they might be discharged is “highly disruptive and damaging to people who just want to serve their country.” The military recruiting station in Times Square, on the evening of July 26, became the venue for the first of a series of New York protests against the Trump announcement. The large crowd, that included many elected officials and LGBTQ activists like retired Army Captain Sue Fulton, an out lesbian West Point graduate who now leads Spart*a, marched from Times Square to the Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle and then to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. –– Paul Schindler

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BUSINESS

NGLCC Celebrates 15 Years of Supporting LGBTQ Enterprises National advocacy reaps returns for both businesses and the community

NGLCC MICHAEL KEY/ WASHINGTON BLADE

NGLCC senior vice president Jonathan Lovitz is director of the group’s New York network.

NGLCC co-founder Justin Nelson is celebrating the organization’s 15th anniversary.

BY MARK LEE/ WASHINGTON BLADE

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he historically unparalleled accelerated advancement in LGBTQ cultural acceptance and civil equality has been successful and strengthened in large part due to the engagement of the business community, which has often served as an effective advocate for fair treatment and evenhanded opportunity. Engagement in commerce by the LGBTQ community is a key contributor to this accomplishment. The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce celebrates both that legacy and the organization’s 15th anniversary this week in Las Vegas. More than 1,000 entrepreneurs, corporate decision-makers, leaders from 52 affiliated local chambers nationwide — alongside federal, state, and city government officials from across the country and representatives from around the world — have gathered August 1-4 at the 2017 NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference. This benchmark is the result of a shared vision by co-founders Justin G. Nelson, NGLCC’s president, and Chance Mitchell, who serves as CEO. An organization literally launched around a coffee table is now the voice for the nation’s 1.4

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million LGBTQ business owners and the $1.7 trillion those enterprises add to the national economy each year. NGLCC enjoys the support and participation of more than 150 corporate partners as well as prominent executive leadership in striving to promote pro-business and LGBTQ-inclusive policies. “Back in 2002 we realized that too few government leaders and corporate executives had considered the economic equality of LGBT people or the impact economics could have on the future of the equality movement,” noted Nelson. “So with a few forward-thinking corporate partners and a small network of LGBT business owners willing to tell their story, NGLCC was born.” Co-founder Mitchell described those early days, recalling that “word began to spread about NGLCC very quickly, thanks to outlets like the Washington Blade and Out magazine recognizing the previously underreported strength and promise of the LGBT business community. That proved what we, and our NGLCC corporate partners, always believed: economic and social visibility go hand-inhand as we march toward equality and opportunity for all.” “We needed a way to showcase that LGBT people were a vital part of America as business owners and employers,” Nelson emphasized.

“LGBT business owners were, and are, an essential part of the engine that makes the US economy run and therefore deserve an equal place at the table.” LGBTQ businesses have always represented a uniquely large proportion of the community, contrasted with other demographic groups. An estimated 10 percent of lesbians and gays are among the ranks of corporate owners, small and moderate-sized business operators, and leadership in commerce. “Business ownership thrives in the LGBT community because we have all learned to be the entrepreneurs of our own lives,” explained Mitchell regarding this modern gay métier. “LGBT business owners prove that being out and being successful do not have to be mutually exclusive.” Mitchell hastened to add, looking to the future, “the American workforce will be younger, more diverse, and more inclusive than ever before in the years ahead, and with that comes the opportunity to innovate and collaborate across communities in ways that continue to shatter stereotypes and misconceptions. LGBT people exist in every community, and as industries modernize there will always be LGBT business owners at the forefront delivering the goods and services this country needs to stay competitive in a globalized

economy.” NGLCC is continuously connecting with LGBTQ businesses throughout the country and increasingly interacting with owners and operators in localities large and small. In order to better reach them, NGLCC has initiated regional “road shows” and digital interfaces to provide communities new service platforms. In 2004, the organization introduced a best-in-class diversity certification program that, according to NGLCC senior vice president Jonathan Lovitz, distinguished “the organization [as] the exclusive national third-party certifying body for LGBT-owned businesses. LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) Certification is now in use by more than one-third of Fortune 500 companies, as well as federal, state, and local governments.” Mitchell added, “The positive responses received when we began certifying LGBT Business Enterprises showed us we were on the right track. In the little more than a decade since, we have certified nearly 1,000 companies. The spikes in certification and the influence of the LGBT business community and our business allies parallel the milestones in LGBT community advancement. That will only be further strengthened as more cor-

NGLCC, continued on p.18

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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year’s Pride festivities. A founding member of the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Front, Johnson, who was 46, was later a member of ACT UP, and also worked with Andy Warhol and the performance troupe Hot Peaches. The memorial was organized by Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Translatin@ Network, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Make the Road New York, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Destination Tomorrow, and City Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office.

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Cecilia Gentili, assistant director of policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, hosted the memorial service.

Longtime trans activist Renée Imperato of SAGE.

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VISIT PCRICHARD.COM FOR A STORE NEAREST YOU GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

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After my diagnosis, it took me a while to accept the fact that being HIV-positive is not the end of the world: Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the beginning of a whole new way of life. The first meds I was prescribed gave me some bad side effects. But I       

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August 3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

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LET TER FROM THE EDITOR PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

jgoodstein@cnglocal.com FOUNDING EDITOR IN-CHIEF & ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER

As POTUS, AG Scramble to Hold On, Our Community Proves an Inviting Target BY PAUL SCHINDLER

PAUL SCHINDLER

editor@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR DUNCAN OSBORNE

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS CHRISTOPHER BYRNE (Theater), SUSIE DAY (Perspective), BRIAN McCORMICK (Dance)

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz

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CO-FOUNDERS EMERITUS Troy Masters John Sutter Please call (212) 229-1890 for advertising rates and availability.

NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING Rivendell Media / 212.242.6863 Gay City News, The Newspaper Serving Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender NYC, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Gay City News, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Phone: 212.229.1890 Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2017 Gay City News. Gay City News is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, CEO Fax: 212.229.2790; E-mail: jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

© 2017 Gay City News. All rights reserved.

FOUNDING MEMBER

16

I

n a dispiriting one-two punch on July 26, President Donald Trump announced, in a three-tweet spree, that the US military will no longer “accept or allow” open service by out transgender Americans, while hours later Attorney General Jeff Sessions — just under the wire — filed a friend of the court brief, on behalf of a company being sued for an anti-gay firing, that argued discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected by existing federal civil rights law. In a big picture sense, neither of these development should be surprising. Trump’s stewardship of his office has been nothing if not impulsive, and so the apparent fact that the Pentagon was caught off guard by his tweets fits a pattern well established over the past seven months. And Sessions, a longtime Alabama Republican senator prior to his appointment as attorney general, has matched his Old South racial attitudes and lock-em-up criminal justice beliefs with a consistent hostility toward the LGBTQ community. Though the president was not particularly known as a homophobe or transphobe during his career as a businessman and reality TV loudmouth, the appointments he’s made since winning election — in fact, the crowd he’s surrounded himself since entering politics –– pretty well signaled an indifference or worse toward our community’s concerns. What’s telling about these latest assaults on our rights, however, comes in their particular political timing. In a troubled presidency, Trump has hit new lows in recent weeks, not only as shown by his support in the polls, but as importantly by the breadth of people now willing to criticize him. On January 24, the president, speaking to about 40,000 Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree in West Virginia, offered nakedly partisan comments about his November victory, the “cesspool” he has encountered in Washington, and his goal of overturning Obamacare. He also waded into a bizarre tale of a rich,

retired developer who bought a yacht and “had a very interesting life.” “I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did,” the president told the teenaged boys. “Should I tell you? Should I tell you? You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.” The outcry about Trump politicizing a Boy Scouts event, while doing a little blue humor at the same time, by Thursday of last week prompted a top Boy Scout official to issue a formal apology for the president’s remarks on behalf of the organization. The Boy Scout embarrassment came the same week that Trump was facing open rebellion by members of his party in his fight to repeal Obamacare. Though to the end he held on to fond hopes he would prevail, in votes on three different — and increasingly desperate — approaches to undoing the Affordable Care Act, the president lost 13 different Republican senators on one or more of them. That’s a quarter of the GOP caucus. His interior secretary’s ham-handed efforts to threaten retribution against Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski could not have proven more impotent. If the Boy Scout and health care matters provided clear signs of political dangers facing Trump, his repeated taunting of Sessions — whom he blames for recusing himself from all matters related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thereby bringing on the appointment of a special counsel — was doing the president particular damage on the right, where the attorney general is widely revered. The White House is increasingly apprehensive about where Robert Mueller’s investigation could lead, and in typically undisciplined form, the anxious president vented by making Sessions his whipping boy. That, in turn, has led to the strongest anti-Trump pushback from the right since he secured the Republican nomination more than a year ago. Distraction is something Trump knows a thing or two about — and his sudden decision to upend a military policy that seemed headed for full, formal acceptance of transgen-

der service members and recruits undoubtedly came out of that instinct. We are perhaps lucky that — as is often the case with Trump — his distraction seems to have backfired, with even many conservatives voicing unease about the idea of targeting dedicated trans service members with expulsion. Sessions’ move to intervene in a Second Circuit Court of Appeals case involving the claim that gay and lesbian people are protected from discrimination by the employment sex discrimination ban in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act involves a different set of political calculations by the attorney general, but just as with Trump survival is part of the puzzle. It’s no surprise that Sessions disagrees with a viewpoint that gained considerable support in federal courts and the Obama administration in recent years — that discrimination against a gay person is inherently based on the sex of the discrimination victim. Still, the federal government need not necessarily have intervened in a private lawsuit being litigated between a corporation and a former employee. But even if Sessions would have filed the DOJ brief regardless of whether he had Trump on his back, the timing couldn’t have hurt the AG. One reason Sessions has gained support from conservative media and politicians as the president has bullied him — South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse are but two of a number of Republican senators warning Trump off — is that more than any other Cabinet member, the attorney general is pursuing goals cherished by the American right. He is undermining voting rights. He is looking for stiffer drug sentences. The DOJ will now investigate whether white students face systemic discrimination in college admissions. And shutting the door on claims of anti-gay discrimination fits squarely into that agenda. If the right was unsure a year to 18 months ago about Trump’s fidelity to its cause, Sessions was his guarantor. So, as we move forward, we would do well to remember this: a wounded animal, even if weakened, can sometimes be the most dangerous adversary. August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

Truth and Reconciliation

Kelly Cogswell visiting her mother, Jean, in a Kentucky nursing home.

BY KELLY COGSWELL

I

decided to go down to Louisville last week, and hopped on a Chinatown bus for a mere 13 hours with a bunch of Asian and African immigrants, two or three South Asians, a couple of Latinos, and a handful of young African Americans, all glued to their smartphones and tablets and largely indifferent to the white dyke shivering in her blue child’s hoodie. The last time I took the bus down was 25 years ago, when the riders were almost all poor whites and poor blacks sneaking cigarettes in the Greyhound bathroom and drinking 40s to kill the time. Looking around at the vastly different faces, I took it as a sign of hope, a reminder of how much the South has changed despite the gerrymandering by bigots

trying to turn back time. They can’t. Progressives can’t either. We cannot return to the world before Trump. White hetero masculinist supremacy is entering its death throes, ranting and lashing out as viciously as a bear we’ve baited with every minuscule victory. If we resist a few more years, though, if we aren’t all burned to a crisp, something interesting may emerge from the wreckage. I suspect it will come from the unthinkable South, which has been quietly digesting its new multicultural existence without abandoning the desire for community, family, a kinship to the land, even beauty. Culture there is as important as politics. And it cuts across racial lines. When the young black mother in front of me confessed she was considering moving back to Atlanta from New York, she said it was be-

cause Atlanta was more chill. She wasn’t at home with New York’s pumped-up aggressive attitude. She also missed her family down South, even if she didn’t get along with her mother. “Me either,” I said, “Though I’m on my way to visit her.” Her face lit up. “That’s just what I needed to hear. Family’s family,” she said. And insisted on a high five. My friend Leigh picked me up at the gas station. After a slow beer on her front porch, I went to confront my mother. When the attendant brought her from her room, she didn’t know who I was, even though I said, “It’s Kelly. Your daughter.” She just smiled a little worriedly, wanting to please. Didn’t look like a monster at all. After a while, she relaxed and chatted in a disjointed, mumbly kind of way. She’d pause now and then, stroke my hand with pleasure, and say, “You’re so pretty. You look just like my boyfriend. God is good. Isn’t God good?” And I’d say, “Sure.” It was hilarious that she liked me now that I was somebody else. And could even find my boyishness appealing. Once my two sisters and I hit adolescence, her general expression was one of loathing and disgust. She was cultural enforcer extraordinaire, slamming us all as being fat and no-good just like my father. Bound straight for Hell. When I came out, she utterly rejected me. Even after 10 years with the same girl, she’d ask when I was going to stop that nonsense and find me a man. She had plenty to say about race, as well. Of course she hadn’t entirely changed. When she told me that lots of girlfriends visited her, she took

pains to reassure me that she wasn’t “queer.” She still asked how much I weighed, but without the same urgency, the same hate. It was just a tape playing in her head. I suppose it always was. She smiled and laughed and praised Jesus. I figured she also said offensive things to her young black caregiver who had just moved down from Chicago, but got a pass because of her illness and age and perpetual smiles. The attendant said she was actually a favorite at the facility, though of course she had her moments like all the other Alzheimer’s patients. I didn’t try to disabuse her. My real mother, the person responsible for so much anguish, was already dead. Let her rest in peace. It was kind of freeing, abandoning all hope of reconciliation or understanding. It absolved me, too. I’m the activist who abandoned her bigoted mother. Allowed her to persist in her hate. Pollute her grandchildren, who are now mostly unredeemable bigots who hate blacks, immigrants, queers like me, though I’m not so bad, they say. Not at all what they expected. I took her outside in the heat for a walk, passing through locked doors too heavy for her to open alone. She started to get unsteady after 50 yards or so and I turned back. “It’s this way.” She stared around her and didn’t recognize a thing. “How do you figure out where to go?” she asked. I couldn’t answer.

dick, a metaphor meant to capture Bannon’s talent not at auto-fellatio but rather self-promotion. He also called Reince Priebus, the soon-tobe-former chief of staff, “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic.” Anguish ensued at the Gray Lady. Would the Times print the news or not? Ultimately, the august editors adopted an approach reporter Sydney Ember described as follows: “Times policy has remained intact: After publishing vulgar language and obscenities in an article, the paper rarely repeats them in subsequent ones.” Faithful readers of Media Circus know that I have no problem with a shithead calling an asshole crusty,

but even I was shocked by frequency with the Mooch (as the euphemism has it) “dropped the F-bomb,” which these days is less a bomb than a pebble. After a “Hardball” staffer made the mistake of printing “fucking” in a subtitle containing the full quote, Matthews apologized to his audience with an expression of disgust so vivid that he looked like he’d just caught a whiff of a particularly foul fart cut by his frequent guest, the former Republican National Committee head Michael Steele. My favorite headline of the week appeared in the New York Daily News: “Anthony Scaramucci’s di-

Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

All the President’s Mien BY ED SIKOV

T

he past two weeks have yielded such a phenomenal amount of hideous policy announcements, grotesque quotes, and just plain bullshit from the Rump administration that I scarcely know where to begin. Actually, there’s no doubt where I shall begin: Rump’s now-former communications director communicated in language that not only left MSNBC’s Chris Matthews upset to the point of speechless revulsion

GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

but also occasioned a high-level editorial meeting at the New York Times devoted entirely to the issue of whether or not the paper of record would print the statement precisely as a matter of public record. Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci had cock on his mind — a not-infrequent condition, apparently (see the Towleroad and LA Blade’s amplification on this point below) — when he offered up in the most graphic terms possible the barf-worthy image of Rump advisor Steve “Gin Blossoms” Bannon sucking his own

EX-MOOCH, continued on p.18

17


EX-MOOCH, from p.17

vorce lawyer swears he’s ‘always calm and rational’ despite profanitylaced tirade.” No further comment is necessary on that one. And then, suddenly, the Mooch was the toast –– Rump abruptly fired him only 10 days after his equally sudden rise to power. Moochie, we hardly knew ye. The whole mess once again gave the lie to the persistent belief that what this country needs is a businessman at the helm. Never in my 60-year lifetime has an administration been run so ineptly; Rumpian chaos knows no bounds. The widespread merriment caused by the Mooch’s “locker room talk” (the term used by the Rump himself to explain away the vulgar and derogatory manner in which he talked about women with Billy Bush in a tape unearthed shortly before the election) was a most welcome distraction from the infinitely more disturbing ban-by-tweet in which Rump informed not only transgender troops but most of the Pentagon — suddenly, without any warning at all — that trans folks weren’t welcome to serve in the military any more. The White House claims that it told Secretary of Defense James Mattis the day before, but since Mattis was on vacation at the time this claim is at best disingenuous. To its credit, the Pentagon has responded that it won’t accept a command by tweet — that Rump must submit a formal order, which as of this writing he has not done. As with his most recently dead pol-

NGLCC, from p.12

porations intentionally stand with the LGBT community by including our businesses in their daily operations and supply chains.” More than 150 corporations now seek out LGBTQ suppliers, and recent changes to the HRC Corporate Equality Index, fully implemented last year, now measure LGBTQ supplier contracting policies as a stand-alone scoring criteria. This motivates more than 500 large enterprises to interface with LGBTQ businesses in order to attain a positive ranking or preserve a perfect rating. In addition, several states now require or promote inclusion of LGBTQ businesses in contracting. Four years ago, the organiza-

18

Scaramucci is the most surprising follower I have.’”

Now for that Towleroad.com/ Los Angeles Blade amplification.

Verbatim: “Blake Mitchell, a gay porn star who made some headlines over the weekend after posting a screenshot showing he was being followed by White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, is speaking out. Scaramucci, who deleted several tweets which supported LGBTQ rights shortly after becoming Trump’s White House Communications Director, also follows more than 167,000 other people on Twitter, including myself (@ andytowle) and Towleroad (@tlrd)… ‘I posted the screenshot that showed that he was following me,’ Mitchell, who identifies as bisexual, told the Los Angeles Blade. ‘He was in a Twitter ‘Moments’ slideshow, and 7I clicked on his profile inside that. When I saw he was following me, my reaction was exactly what I posted online — Wait… what?’ “Mitchell, who says he decided not to return Anthony Scaramucci’s Twitter follow, rates himself above average in terms of his interest in national politics. “‘I vote every chance I get, and I’m not afraid to “get political,”’ Mitchell told the Los Angeles Blade. ‘But I’m at a point in my career where focusing more energy on the current political situation would detract from my abilities to climb the corporate ladder if you will.’ “In addition to a porn career, Mitchell is also a full-time university student in San Diego, where he studies business. “He says he’s been surprised before to find other VIP fans and followers, but ‘I’d have to say, Anthony

tion launched NGLCC Global, connecting LGBTQ-owned and allied companies, multinational corporations, and international affiliate chamber leaders and members on five continents. NGLCC this year released a groundbreaking “America’s LGBT Economy Report” — the first-ever exploration of the economic impact of LGBTQ-owned businesses on the US economy. Beyond its signature role as the business voice of the LGBTQ community, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for LGBTQ people, and the exclusive certifying body for LGBTQ-owned businesses, NGLCC, and its affiliate local chambers, provide direct B2B net-

working opportunities. Resource sharing, skills training, corporate collaborations, and business policy advocacy make membership a value-added premium proposition for local LGBTQ enterprises. Nelson looks to the future first by looking back at the successes so far, pointing out that “NGLCC has spent the last 15 years helping more LGBT Americans gain access to the American Dream than ever had it before. And yet, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do. As more corporations and government agencies intentionally include our certified LGBTBEs, more opportunities to create jobs and innovate industries will spring up in every state in the country. NGLCC-certified companies are

continually proving one of our favorite mottos true: ‘If you can buy it, a certified LGBT Business Enterprise can supply it.’” “Every single day our community is building equity by opening new local businesses and by expanding operations of larger LGBT-owned companies to countries around the world,” Mitchell added. Nelson confidently predicted, “The next 15 years will be focused entirely on gaining more ground for our community to thrive economically — in America and around the globe.”

icy baby, the repeal of Obamacare, Rump’s anti-trans policy flies in the face of public opinion, a fact Rump would no doubt have discovered had he let the military in on his pro-discrimination policy announcement before he tweeted it. According to Reuters’ Chris Kahn, “When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement, ‘Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.’ 27 percent said they should not while the rest answered ‘don’t know.’” Kahn continues: “Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were more evenly split,” a fascinating detail that only makes sense if Caitlyn Jenner counts as half the Republican Party. But back to the Rump, the Mooch, and the Priebus. As Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth writes, basing his story on reporting by the Washington Post, “As Trump began souring on Priebus, he also tasked him with a number of menial responsibilities including, at one point, killing a fly that was buzzing over his head in the Oval Office.” At least Priebus’s forced resignation provided most Americans with the opportunity to learn how to pronounce his name correctly. It’s Rye-nss Pree-Bus, not Rants Pray-Ee-Boose, as I had hoped. And President Fat Ass’s refusal to kill a fly only put me in mind of the end of “Psycho.” Whatever happened to Trump’s lookalike mother, anyway?

A deliberately irrelevant question: On “NCIS: NOLA,” why does Christopher LaSalle, the character played by Lucas Black, wear nothing but Henleys? From the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” newsletter: “It’s been a busy year in Washington, but weeks like this one are especially hectic for political fact-checkers. In a period of less than 26 hours — from 6:31 p.m. on July 24 to 8:09 p.m. on July 25 — President Trump made two fired-up speeches, held a news conference, and tweeted with abandon, leaving a trail of misinformation in his wake. We found at least 29 false or misleading claims during that period.” These lies (or idiocies, you can take your pick) included the entirely made-up claim that “Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaida, and Hezbollah,” when in fact Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government; and “Very soon, we will be an energy exporter. Isn’t that nice — an energy exporter? In other words, we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe,” when in fact we’ve been exporting more than importing energy since the Obama administration. You can sign up for The Fact Checker weekly newsletter at wapo.st/1OGIZWF. Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.

Mark Lee, a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate, is on Twitter @MarkLeeDC and can be reached at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com. August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


TITLE VII, from p.4

case en banc, and Lambda Legal announced it will petition the Supreme Court to review the threejudge panel decision. Lambda has until the first week of October to file that petition. Meanwhile, within the Second Circuit, at least two federal district court judges have recently refused to dismiss Title VII sexual orientation claims, finding that the circuit’s embrace of the “associational” theory in a race discrimination case means the court should accept sexual orientation discrimination claims. Several other district judges in the circuit have dismissed such claims, concluding that until the court of appeals explicitly overrules its earlier precedents, the trial judges are bound to follow them. A few months ago, confronted by petitions for en banc review in three different cases, the circuit announced that it would reconsider the panel decision in Estate of Donald Zarda v. Altitude Express. In Zarda — a case where the original plaintiff, Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, died in a diving accident — the district court dismissed a Title VII claim but allowed the case to go to trial under New York State’s Human Rights Law, which expressly outlaws sexual orientation discrimination. The jury ruled in favor of the employer, although it is questionable whether it was properly instructed about how to weigh the evidence. Zarda’s estate appealed the dismissal of the Title VII claim, and a three-judge panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal, while noting that recent developments in the law could justify reconsideration by the full Second Circuit bench. In a case decided by a different three-judge panel at around the same time, Christiansen v. Omnicom, the panel also upheld dismissal of a sexual orientation claim, but sent the case back to the district court for reconsideration as a sex-stereotyping claim, and two of the judges joined a concurring opinion suggesting that it was time for the Second Circuit to reconsider the sexual orientation issue en banc in an “appropriate case.” GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

After granting en banc review in Zarda, however, the circuit court denied a petition for en banc review in Christiansen. Briefs were due from the plaintiff’s side in the Zarda appeal at the end of June. The EEOC, consistent with its interpretation of the statute, filed a friend of the court brief in support of Zarda. Briefs were due by July 26 from the employer and any amicus parties supporting its position. After some suspense about what the Trump administration might do, the Justice Department filed its brief right at the deadline. It is somewhat unusual for the government to file an amicus brief in opposition to a position taken by a federal agency (in this case, the EEOC), and it is also unusual for the government to file a brief in a case between private parties (a former employee versus a business), but the federal government has a significant interest in this case and the politics of the EEOC versus the DOJ are based on a timing issue. Until this month, the majority of the EEOC commissioners have been appointees of President Barack Obama, and they decided the key sexual orientation case two years ago by a vote of 3-2, with the Republican commissioners dissenting. When Trump’s appointees to fill some vacancies are confirmed, control of the EEOC will switch over to Republican hands. But for now, the agency continues to pursue sexual orientation discrimination cases under Title VII, and has even filed some new lawsuits this year despite the January change in administrations. The Justice Department, under Sessions, reflects the views of the new administration, which are consistent with those expressed by Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes (also on Trump’s potential Supreme Court list), who wrote a dissenting opinion in the Hively case. Why does the Trump administration have a strong interest in a case between private parties? In part, because Title VII has provisions banning sex discrimination in the federal workforce and also because the president’s political base and the Republicans in Congress stand in opposition to outlawing sexual orientation discrim-

ination. The GOP has blocked the Equality Act, which would amend Title VII to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as forbidden grounds for employment discrimination, and, for decades before that, the narrower Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Justice Department’s brief stated that “the EEOC is not speaking for the United States and its position about the scope of Title VII is entitled to no deference beyond its power to persuade.” The DOJ goes on to argue that Congress did not intend to ban sexual orientation discrimination in 1964 when it enacted Title VII and that should be the end of the matter. The failure of Congress to approve any effort to add sexual orientation protections to US law is cited as evidence of continuing legislative intent. The DOJ also argues at length that the theories embraced by the EEOC and the Seventh Circuit are mistaken interpretations of the Supreme Court’s rulings on sex stereotyping and associational discrimination and that there is a distinct difference between sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination, despite statements by many federal judges who have had difficulty drawing the line between the two. The Second Circuit will not be oblivious to the political nature of the Trump administration’s opposition. The concurring opinion in the Christiansen case, written by Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, virtually endorsed the EEOC’s interpretation of the 1964 statute while calling for the circuit to reconsider its earlier precedents. And a majority of the judges who will sit on the en banc panel were appointed by Bill Clinton or Barack Obama and have generally taken a more liberal approach to interpreting Title VII. The circuit’s earlier precedents being reconsidered were issued by three-judge panels at a time when the arguments for allowing sexual orientation discrimination claims were not nearly as well developed as they have been in recent years. And, as noted, the circuit has accepted the associational discrimination theory in a race discrimination case decided after the earlier sexual orientation cases were. The circuit is likely to appreciate the

associational theory’s applicability in Zarda, as the district judges have commented. Still, if the Supreme Court decides to grant Lambda Legal’s petition to review the 11th Circuit case, the Second Circuit could choose to hold up on deciding the Zarda appeal until the high court has spoken. Timing will be a key factor this fall. The Second Circuit argument is scheduled for late September, before the Supreme Court’s fall term opens and it begins announcing whether it will grant petitions for review filed over the summer, such as Lambda’s. Altitude Express’ brief in opposition to the appeal raised jurisdictional arguments that could give the Second Circuit a way out of deciding this appeal on the merits, the company noting that when he fi led his initial discrimination charge with the EEOC, Donald Zarda expressly disclaimed making a Title VII sexual orientation discrimination claim and instead relied on a sexstereotyping claim. A federal district judge dismissed that claim, fi nding that Zarda’s factual allegations were not sufficient to support it. He only pressed a sexual orientation claim under the New York State Human Rights Law. Altitude Express argues that Zarda’s estate cannot now argue for a sexual orientation discrimination claim under Title VII. There’s no telling how the Second Circuit will respond to these arguments, but one suspects that if they had serious doubts about jurisdiction they would not have granted the en banc petition. One thing last week’s DOJ filing makes clear, however, is that should the Supreme Court grant review in the 11th Circuit Evans case, the federal government, represented by the solicitor general, will come into the case against the plaintiff, and by then the EEOC will be in Republican control and will probably not be filing a separate brief. Once again, the Trump Administration is actively disavowing the LGBTQ-supportive stance that the reality TV candidate claimed during the election last year. With the @realDonaldTrump tweets about transgender military service, the brief provided a double-barreled assault on equality.

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THEATER

Magic Michael Charmer Urie follows rollicking Gogol with “Torch Song” revival… and then Hamlet! BY DAVID NOH ’ll start with a confession, and some of you may relate: I was hesitant to interview Michael Urie. He’s so very talented, smart, funny, and handsome that I thought — in a very special and gay insecure way — “He’s got to be a bitch.” What a pleasure, then, to report that he is indeed all of those sterling adjectives, as well as being oh so nice, seriously politically informed, with charm to spare. Urie is currently starring in Red Bull’s spirited revival of Gogol’s “The Government Inspector” (through August 20), with a delicious ensemble of seasoned farceurs, and suffice it to say that if these were the golden days of Hollywood, some scout would have scooped him up to be signed to a seven-year contract at a big studio, the next Cary Grant or Jack Lemmon. At a noisy, bustling Route 66, we met and, after greeting a tablehopping Christian Borle (whom he replaced in “Angels in America”), he enthused about his show. “It’s so much fun! We all belong in comedy jail. I can’t believe there’s any scenery left between the chewing and the door slamming and the falling. We get along so beautifully, and the audiences are amazing. I don’t know where they’re coming from. The first time I worked with Red Bull was a thousand years ago, replacing someone in only their second production. While I was there, this casting director saw and liked me in the play and brought me in for ‘Ugly Betty.’ So I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for this company because of that, but also because it was a classical theater company, which I went to Juilliard for. After graduation, I thought I’d do Shakespeare, Molière, and Chekhov. Juilliard had given me the John Houseman Award and I have kind of done that stuff, but not exclusively, so it’s been really cool to come back here.

THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR

I

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New World Stages 340 W. 50th St. Through Aug. 20 Mon., Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sun. at 2 p.m.; Sat. at 2:30 p.m. $75-$95, telecharge.com Two hrs., with intermission

CAROL ROSEGG

In “The Government Inspector,” Michael Urie’s wit, charm, good looks, and eye-popping physical comedy are all on display.”

“I’d been wanting to do a play, and they brought this to me about a year ago. I immediately loved the script: when you think Russian comedy from 19th century, you think you might find it amusing, probably thoughtful but also maybe stuffy, and this translation is hilarious, a joke a minute, and so accessible my ll-year old nephew loved it.” Urie is also — casting agents, take note! — convincingly heterosexual as the bumbling title character of the play, and winningly so, singing a ditty at one point and with an outrageous extended drunk scene the critics kvelled over. All that takes considerable technique, and Urie said, “I have been told many times that I should stop playing gay roles, as you might guess, and I crave to do that but there are never any offers. And, as long as the gay roles that come my way are so good, why would I stop doing them? For nothing? That

was definitely another reason why I decided to do this show.” He has an almost uncanny knack for picking the right plays to appear in, like “The Temperamentals,” which is when I first saw him act onstage, playing closeted fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, embroiled in the burgeoning, though still every early “homophile” movement of the 1950s. “That role was so cool, one of those rare new play miracles, which I did readings of from the very beginning. Such a serious character who was really struggling, beautifully directed, and produced by Daryl Roth. She was a part of the reason it became a success — I was doing ‘Ugly Betty’ at the time but she made it easy for me to be in the show and responsible in certain ways for my being taken seriously as an actor. All these doors opened up, and because of that I got ‘Angels in America.’ ‘The Temperamentals’ would make a great film. We’ve talked about that.” Then there was “Buyer and Cellar,” that solo smash success by Jonathan Tolins about a young LA gay man who gets hired by Barbra Streisand to staff her basement, which she has turned into a mall and a museum devoted to her hobbies and herself. “That came to me because I was doing a TV show Jonathan wrote, and we became friends. He slipped me the script he had written for Jesse Tyler Ferguson and said, ‘I would love for you to do it one day. I’m sure you’ll be great in it.’ It read like a big juicy novel, hilarious and

delightful. Our show got cancelled and Jessie’s didn’t [“Modern Family”], so Jonathan called Jessie to ask if he minded me taking over his role. Jessie didn’t mind and Rattlestick Theater needed a show to go in, so it happened quickly, not like the year it usually takes. It had a six-week run, which became me doing it 600 times. “That only got old trying to get my ass to the Rattlesnake every night, knowing what I’d have to do. My character had to be so infectiously joyful, and around 5 p.m. every day I would get depressed, almost as if my body was anticipating the joy which had left me for the day to be used for my show. Exhausting. I performed it in two theaters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, Westport, Connecticut, London.” Streisand herself never saw the show, but it was filmed and, “I heard she watched it with other people and stayed to the end. It must have been weird for her to watch, but I was told she liked it. But she never came to the play in disguise. Never sent me flowers [snickers].” Born and raised in a suburb of Dallas, his surroundings were conservative but, he said, “I was lucky. My older sister, seven years older than me, is married to a woman. She loved sports and paved the way for me in a lot of ways to be gay and also not to have to play sports. I was forced to be on the soccer team, terrible at it and so miserable, but my parents let me do what I wanted to. Then I was in the drama department and thanks to that, I read ‘Angels in America’ and ‘Torch Song Trilogy’ at 17 and I knew that world. ‘Love! Valour! Compassion!’ I had access to that stuff. Kids today have the Internet… I just said, ‘Kids today!’ [Laughs.] When I was a kid, we had plays — that’s how I learned. “I dated a few women. It was pretty fluid for a while, and then when I met [partner] Ryan Spahn

MICHAEL URIE, continued on p.36

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Where The Boys Are Metrograph’s August tribute to New York’s gay summer playground BY GARY M. KRAMER an’t get to Fire Island this summer? On August 1113, the Metrograph is presenting a weekend of films set in that haven for gay men. One of the highlights is a screening of Andy Warhol’s “My Hustler” (Aug. 11, 5:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 7:45 p.m.). The hour-long film from 1965 is a two-part improvised drama about the title character, Paul (Paul America), who is hired by the rich and bitchy Ed (Ed Hood) via the service “Dial-AHustler.” As the sexy Adonis Paul lies on the beach whittling, Ed and his neighbor Genevieve (Genevieve Charbon) confess their desires for him. When Joe (Joseph Campbell) turns up on the beach, the pair call him over, and their discussion soon turns into a bet to see who will win Paul’s affections. The camera pans back and forth between Ed and his guests talking trash on his deck while watching Paul, who is objectified on the beach through some camera zooms. “My Hustler” contrasts the naughty fantasies Ed, Genevieve, and Joe project onto Paul with images that eroticize the hustler on the beach. The second half of the film has a similar voyeuristic approach. It consists of a fi xed shot through a bathroom door as Joe and Paul shower, shave, and brush their teeth. Joe, who is a hustler himself, talks with Paul about money and hustling, in part to teach Paul the ropes, but also to seduce him. Joe rubs Paul’s back and chest quite erotically in the intimate space. The frisson between the two hunky guys is palpable. “My Hustler” creates a delicious tension about what might happen before ending abruptly, and letting those audience members stimulated — not bored — by the talky exchanges imagine the rest. “Last Summer” (Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 3 p.m.), from 1969, was directed by Frank Perry (who later made the camp classic “Mommie Dearest”) and written by his wife, Eleanor, who adapted from

ON FIRE ISLAND

C

GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

Metrograph 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. Aug. 11-13 metrograph.com

ANDY WARHOL FILMS

Paul America in Andy Warhol’s 1965 “My Hustler.”

Evan Hunter’s novel. It is a dated

ly memorable scene, she recounts

METROGRAPH

Todd Verow in Patrick McGuinn and Verow’s “Fire Island, ’79.”

but still compelling drama about four teenagers on Fire Island. The mercurial Susan (Barbara Hershey) befriends Dan (Bruce Davison, in his film debut) and Peter (Richard Thomas) when they help her save an injured seagull. They soon become fast friends. Over the course of a summer, they drink beer, smoke weed, and mess around, even washing each other’s hair in a rather goofy/ sexy scene. Susan is a free spirit, who takes her top off from time to time, and she lets the guys fondle her breasts in a movie theater one night. She also enjoys spying on two guys (not Dan and Peter) making out in the sand. The trio’s cozy dynamic is disrupted by the arrival of Rhoda (Catherine Burns). Lonely and rather unadventurous, Rhoda does not swim or drink beer and is often a buzzkill. In one particular-

the story of her mother’s death. While Peter develops sympathy for Rhoda — she falls in love with him — Susan and Dan are cruel toward her. It would spoil the film to reveal what happens, but it is no surprise that by the end of the scorching hot summer the teenagers’ lives are changed forever. “Last Summer” rarely makes it to theaters, which is all the more reason to catch it on the big screen now. The performances by all four players are first-rate, but Burns, who was Oscar-nominated for her role, is the standout. “Sticks and Stones” (Aug. 11, 3:30 p.m.; Aug. 12, 7 p.m.), from 1970, is the weakest film in the series, a poorly made and acted drama. Peter (Craig Dudley) and his boyfriend Buddy (J. Will Deane) are having relationship issues, but they are still hosting a party at their

Fire Island home. Peter calls the gathering a “screwball extravaganza,” and it’s as silly as the film. The first half of “Sticks and Stones” introduces various characters, from George (Gene Edwards), a leather queen, to Jimmy (Jimmy Foster), a flamboyant queen, a Guru (Robert Case), and a virgin named Bobby (Robert Nero). There is an excruciating sequence in which Jimmy tries to fi x a flat tire, another irritating scene featuring long-winded ramblings from the Guru, and a mildly amusing bitchy exchange between George and Jimmy. Bobby complains about how bored he is. Amen. But the fun really ends when the party begins. Buddy flirts and performs a striptease, much to Peter’s chagrin. Another man proudly displays his Prince Albert before performing a naked dance with a female guest. The Guru prattles on. Peter and Buddy eventually have it out after the party, but by then it’s hard to care. Writer/ director Wakefield Poole’s 1971 feature “Boys in the Sand” (Aug. 11, 9:45 p.m.; Aug. 13, 9:15 p.m.) was the first crossover gay adult porno. A triptych of erotic fantasies, this wordless classic stars Casey Donovan in a starmaking performance. Donovan first appears as a nude Adonis who walks out of the Atlantic Ocean to have sex on the beach with a man (Peter Fisk). As the guys touch and suck each other, Poole imbues the film with a tender sensuality. The second segment has Donovan in the buff and poolside, initially alone, but later with a guy (Danny Di Cioccio), who magically appears thanks to a mail order tablet. Their erotic couplings are

ON FIRE ISLAND, continued on p.39

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FILM

On the Road In “4 Days in France,” Pascal Cervo goes where Grindr and an Alfa Romeo can take him BY GARY M. KRAMER rench filmmaker Jérôme Reybaud’s dazzling feature debut, “4 Days in France,” has Pierre (Pascal Cervo) driving off in his white Alfa Romeo, letting chance and Grindr be his guide. He has left his lover, Paul (Arthur Igual), in the middle of the night without a word. Reybaud never explains what prompts the departure, and Pierre does not reveal much as he encounters a variety of men and women on his journey. Paul, in lowkey pursuit, is as determined to find Pierre as he is troubled by his lover’s absence. Reybaud’s sensual road movie tracks these two men, both full of longing, on their parallel journeys through the gorgeous French countryside. The filmmaker chatted via Skype about gay hook-ups and making his absorbing road movie.

F

GARY M. KRAMER: The characters in “4 Days in France” let fate and chance be their guide. How did you conceive of the film? Was it planned or randomly assembled? JÉRÔME REYBAUD: Strangely, it became something real and complete by itself. Every character and place came by necessity and by writing the script. What I love about road movies is the narrative freedom: you leave a place and choose a place of arrival. It’s opposite of the constraints of tragedy. In road movies, all the information about the characters’ lives before they get on the road is boring. I want to hear the sound of the car engine and begin. The road has no significance other than being pretty. I wanted to make the world a real character, and not know the next move. GMK: How did you map this road trip in terms of the locations and encounters? JR: I live in Paris and I was born in Cannes. I drive to visit my mother five to seven times a year, so I know these landscapes in France. They are the most distinctive ones. You have the dull plains, you have the mountains,

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CINEMA GUILD

Pascal Cervo and Mathieu Chevé in Jérôme Reybaud’s “4 Days in France.”

4 DAYS IN FRANCE Directed by Jérôme Reybaud Cinema Guild In French with English subtitles Opens Aug. 4 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. quadcinema.com

CINEMA GUILD

Filmmaker Jérôme Reybaud.

you have the volcanoes in Auvergne. I wanted to give the viewer a bunch of different landscapes. I knew the film would be long, so I wanted to escape the repetition of landscapes. Even the two sequences in the Alps are different. All the shots are real roads in the real places, so I didn’t feel I needed to twist reality to fit my script. GMK: What can you say about the driving scenes? They are hypnotic. JR: The size of the image of the movies is the same proportion as a windshield. If I could have made a 10hour film of the road, I would have. I am happy to drive, put on music, and see the landscape. I wanted to recreate that. Filming the road was important. I wanted to have these long, 20-second shots of them, because they were saying what I wanted because something — the light of the day or a red or green signal —was important for the characters at that

time. There were also subjective shots from Pierre’s point of view, because he shows us the landscapes. He’s half-transparent. We see what he sees: the landscapes and the faces of the women he meets. GMK: Can you talk about how you developed the film’s sexual elements? JR: I think having sex with strangers can be a real philosophical, loving experience, because you give a lot more of yourself with people you don’t know and probably will never meet again. Sometimes those relations are a lot more intense because there is a complete unknown about each man. Second, while people have said there’s not a lot of sex in the film, it’s practically a documentary about the time you spend on Grindr versus the time you spend having sex from those searches. The proportion is quite real.

GMK: Do you have a Grindr profile? JR: I don’t have Grindr. I had to have someone help me with that. I didn’t know how it works. Personally, I’m not fond of this kind of hook-up. I’m more an old-fashioned gay, wanting to cruise or look at real men in real places. Grindr is not a place. The excitement about a hook-up is not knowing anything about someone. If I describe myself or read a profile describing a man, I’m bored, there is no discovery. The magic is when two men are meeting each other in a place and there is desire in one’s eyes. GMK: Speaking of that, we need to discuss the mesmerizing scene of Pierre and the VRP salesman, Bertrand Nadler, having an encounter between a hotel room wall. JR: The wall is a reference to Jean Genet’s “Un Chant d’Amour,” but I wasn’t thinking about that film. I didn’t want Pierre to have traditional sex with the salesman. It was too easy for me, a gay director, with a gay character having perfect sex. I don’t use cinema to fulfill my own fantasies, but I wanted something to happen between them sexually and a kiss was not enough. It was more a reflection on the cheap architecture and hotels. I wanted this encounter to take place in a commercial zone and a cheap hotel. The walls are so thin and the rooms are all the same, which brought me to think of the wall and the sex scene. It’s not the sex I’m talking about, but the architecture. The cheap hotel gave me the idea. It was not easy to find this place, but after we did it was the perfect way to have a homosexual fantasize about a straight guy. The wall is there, and the sex is there at the same time. GMK: The film is very much about losing yourself to discover what you desire. What did you learn about yourself making this film? JR: Patience. I’m impatient in real life. But on set, having to wait for an actor or a cloud or a plane to go away, I could wait for hours. August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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27


FILM

Long-Gone Director’s Work Timely Still Anthology Film Archives features Alan Clarke retrospective BY STEVE ERICKSON ne of the biggest regrets of my life as a cinephile is that I skipped the entirety of MoMA’s 1995 retrospective of British director Alan Clarke, simply because I had no idea who he was or that he was a major filmmaker. But I think I can be forgiven my ignorance. At that point, Clarke had recently died and had only made one film, “Rita, Sue and Bob Too,” that received arthouse and video distribution in the US. (Ironically, it’s actually one of his weaker efforts.) Of the 16 Clarke films included in Anthology Film Archives’ current series of his work, 14 were made for TV and never theatrically distributed at the time. Despite this, he was every bit as talented as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, and Stephen Frears were in the ‘70s and ‘80s. But while Leigh and Frears made the jump from TV to cinema and stayed there, Clarke’s early death cut short his body of work and prevented that possibility. My eventual introduction came from a DVD box set that included his films “Elephant,” “Scum” (made in two versions, one for TV and cinema), “The Firm,” and “Made in Britain.” “Scum,” “The Firm,” and “Made in Britain” are all excellent films, but they’re fairly conventional narratives. Anthology’s retrospective reveals just how broad and radical Clarke’s vision could be. Films like “Elephant,” “Christine,” and “Contact,” all of which play on this series’ opening night, are as formally and politically audacious as the work of Jean-Luc Godard, Peter Watkins, Chantal Akerman, or the duo of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Indeed, Akerman seems like a clear influence on them, but she did not share Clarke’s interest in machismo and bloodshed. “Elephant” and “Contact” address violence in Northern Ireland, while “Christine” depicts teenage junkies, but Clarke deals with these highly charged subjects in a way that’s deeply serious and makes many points but has no real message, coming from a political perspective that is hard to pin down.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: THE FILMS OF ALAN CLARKE

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ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES

In “Elephant,” Alan Clarke explores deadly violence in Northern Ireland, stripped of context or any political excuses.

Loach, Leigh, and Frears never could’ve made such films. “Elephant,” a plotless exercise in showing violence in Northern Ireland, plays on a double bill with “Christine” (Aug. 4, 7 p.m.; Aug. 15, 9 p.m.), which is only slightly more narrative-oriented. Both films take sensationalistic subjects and strip the glamour away. “Elephant” may be the Clarke film with the single greatest potential to piss people off. A non-stop procession of shootings told through 18 Steadicam tracking shots, it removes images of violence from any kind of context. The film simply consists of an endless string of men killing each other for no apparent reason. While watching it, the violence seems totally meaningless, and a method of reading it only becomes apparent when the credits begin rolling and “© BBC Northern Ireland” appears. There’s never any genuinely good reason for these murders to occur, but the politics of Northern Ireland at the time offered a limitless number of political excuses for them. “Elephant” suggests this is all crap and insists that it comes down to men blowing each other’s brains out, over and over and over. On a more meta level of cinema, there’s an implied critique of action movies: “Elephant” takes away their pleasures by leaving out charismatic performances, compelling narratives, and similar binding material for images of violence and reducing them to an obvious sheer ugliness, although his tracking shots do have a sensual pleasure that Gus van Sant picked up on when he lifted this film’s title and style for his own “Elephant.”

Having seen half the films in Anthology’s series, I think “Christine” is the clear masterpiece among them and one of the greatest films ever made about heroin addiction. It follows Christine, a teenage drug dealer on her rounds around the suburbs — with the same Steadicam tracking shots used in “Elephant” — as she meets other teenagers, sells them heroin, shoots up with them, moves onto another building, and repeats the process until the film ends. Nothing bad ever happens to the kids, and the only faint hint of a narrative — something about organizing a party for which Christine picks up a few records — is very minimally developed. Drawing heavily on Akerman’s depiction of housework in “Jeanne Dielman,” Clarke returns obsessively to the images of Christine opening a cookie box to get her drugs out, putting together her works, and her customers tying off various parts of their bodies. When this originally aired on British TV, I’d imagine the fact that it’s not an overtly anti-drug movie angered many people, but it suggests that past a certain point, heroin use stops being about pleasure and becomes a rote exercise in compulsion and routine. If the film itself never gets dull, that’s in large part due to the way Clarke’s camera constantly probes and investigates new spaces. It doesn’t make heroin look particularly dangerous, but nor does it make the drug look the slightest bit fun. I suspect that its title is meant as a reference and implicit reproach to the awful German anti-heroin film “Christiane F.,” which deals with the subject in a grossly heavy-

Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. at Second St. Aug. 4-20 anthologyfilmarchives.org/film_ screenings/series/47810

handed manner. “Contact” (Aug. 4, 9:15 p.m.; Aug. 19, 2 p.m.) offered a preview of the violent Northern Irish world of “Elephant,” with more context, but only a slight bit. The freedom that Clarke allowed himself to jettison conventional ideas about character and narrative was remarkable. “Contact” profiles a British platoon on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish State that faces threats from the IRA. But the shootings and explosions are not what are most memorable about this film; the endless amount of downtime, spent among men we never get to know as people, is what one takes away from the film. If “Christine” makes being a junkie look terribly boring, “Contact” does the same for military life. Clarke made all these films in the last five years of his life, and from what I know of his work, there are still gems I haven’t seen, such as the oddball 1974 fantasy film “Penda’s Fen.” Due to legal issues regarding rights with the BBC, admission to all the films except “Rita, Sue and Bob Too” and the made-for-cinema version of “Scum” is free. Clarke died without getting recognition for his work, and he still hasn’t really received it. But the heroin-soaked scenario he explored in “Christine” is getting played out in America’s suburbs everywhere right now, “Contact” could be remade among American soldiers in Afghanistan, and every time someone uses the Second Amendment to massacre their schoolmates or co-workers “Elephant” springs back to life. This work was made in the late ‘80s, but it’s still extremely vital. August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FILM

Misunderstood Teens, In a Fresh Take Lina Rodriguez sidesteps familiar tropes about Colombia, sexual awakening

FAMILY

PRIDE

RAYON VERT

Maruia Shelton, Laura Osma, and Francisco Zaldu in Lina Rodriguez’s “This Time Tomorrow.”

BY STEVE ERICKSON hen it comes to the nation of Colombia, Americans immediately think of drugs and violence. The first Colombian film I saw, “Rodrigo D.,” addresses these issues directly. Tragically, several of its teenage cast members were killed in the period between its shoot and release. The second Colombian film I’ve seen, Lina Rodriguez’s “This Time Tomorrow,” completely dodges all stereotypes about the country and belongs to a totally different tradition of international art cinema. It seems incidental that “This Time Tomorrow” was made in Colombia, and, in fact, it was completed partially with funds from the city of Toronto, where its director now lives. Rodriguez is speaking a kind of lingua franca — her film’s dialogue is in Spanish, but its visual language owes a great deal to the Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu and the French director Robert Bresson. For all its austerity, “This Time Tomorrow” has odd echoes of ‘80s American teen comedies. In large part, that’s because its narrative is pretty much driven by its family’s 17-year-old daughter Adelaida

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GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

THIS TIME TOMORROW Directed by Lina Rodriguez Rayon Vert In Spanish with English subtitles Opens Aug. 4 Metrograph 7 Ludlow, btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com

(Laura Osma). The film depicts her first grapplings with her sexuality — there’s a scene in which she discusses dildos and other sex toys with her friends, showing off a sophistication and an ability to act casually around sex that may be a bit of a pose. Her father Francisco (Francisco Zaldua) teaches art, while her mother Lena (Maruia Shelton) is a party planner, and as the film progresses they argue over her first steps into amorous and sexual experimentation. Her attitude toward her parents may be typically adolescent: she complains that they don’t give her enough freedom while she also pushes them constantly to grant her more privilege than she already has.

To advertise contact: Gayle H. Greenberg 718-260-4585 ggreenberg@cnglocal.com

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THIS TIME TOMORROW, continued on p.32

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THEATER

Dreams and Nightmares A divine Shakespeare romp in the park; a god-awful absurdity in LIC BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE ny discontent you feel about our nation’s current state of affairs will get at least a brief respite at the glorious summer treat currently on the stage in Central Park. The Public Theater’s heartfelt, hilarious production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is the perfect prescription for ailing spirits in trying times. Directed by Lear deBessonet, the production is an explosion of comedy and poetry as the four intertwining tales unfold in Athens and the surrounding woods. Theseus and Hippolyta prepare their wedding after he defeated her in battle. The lovers Lysander and Hermia seek refuge in the woods when Hermia is faced with having to marry Demetrius. Helena, once Hermia’s closest friend, is in love with Demetrius and spills the beans. Demetrius heads out to stop the elopement with Helena in hot pursuit, hoping against hope to finally snag Demetrius. Meanwhile, Oberon, king of the fairies, is at odds with his wife Titania over a changeling boy, and he plays a joke on her to get even. In the middle of all of this, a company of local laborers rehearses a tragic play, “Pyramus and Thisbe,” which they hope to present for the wedding. There are mixed up love potions, mistaken identities, animal transformations, song, and dance — in fact, everything needed for midsummer madness. The play is one of the best known in the Shakespeare canon, so the challenge for a director is to interject new surprises without compromising the familiar. DeBessonet achieves that marvelously and subtly, with a very contemporary take on the comedy as well as detailed attention to every character that is as fresh and welcome as the cool breezes that filled the park at the performance I saw. The juxtaposition of elegance and fart jokes, poetry and pratfalls is perfectly calibrated to make the audience fall in love with this play all over again. Much credit for the success of this production goes to the spec-

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Delacorte Theater, Central Park Through Aug. 13 Tue.-Sun. at 8 p.m. Free; publictheater.org Two hrs., 40 mins., with intermission

GARDEN OF DELIGHTS

JOAN MARCUS

Annaleigh Ashford and Alex Hernandez in the Public Theater’s production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Central Park through August 13.

tacular cast deBesonnet has assembled. This is not a political play, but all of the women are stronger than they are often portrayed. It’s such a pleasure, for example, to see Phylicia Rashad, as Titania, return to comedy. After Titania falls in love with Bottom, who has been transformed into an ass, she finds a way to get back at Oberon for instigating the practical joke. De’adre Aziza as Hippoloyta is equally her own woman who, though beaten in battle by Theseus, has lost none of her strength of personality. Her interchanges with Bhavesh Patel as Theseus are the richest I’ve seen in many productions of this piece. As for the lovers, Shalita Grant as Hermia is a spitfire who, though little, as the joke goes, is nonetheless a mighty match for all comers in defense of her love for Lysander. Annaleigh Ashford as Helena gives yet another unforgettable comic performance, mining the role for every bit of silliness. Yet she is also a sweet — and often confused — girl in the throes of love. When she finally wins Demetrius, her response is perfect. Kyle Beltran and Alex Hernandez as Lysander and Demetrius, respectively, are both terrific, equally adept at the language and the physical comedy. The “Pyramus and Thisbe” performed by the mechanicals is easily the funniest I’ve ever seen, peppered with shameless and irresistible

comic turns. The humor here is always the amateurishness of the actors, but it takes skill to do it well. Notably, Austin Durant as the lion does a bit with Thisbe’s mantle that rivals Bette Midler’s turkey dinner in “Hello, Dolly!” It’s classic shtick that works every time. Jeff Hiller as Flute virtually walks away with the show as he discovers his inner Thisbe. Danny Burstein as Bottom is also perfect, radiating charm and boyish enthusiasm and never missing a comic opportunity. Setting all the action in motion is Kristine Nielsen as Puck. It’s not a traditional choice, to be sure, but Nielsen’s unerring comic gifts come to the fore, making her appealing, mischievous, and loveable. Every moment has been realized for the maximum effectiveness, and if you are not smitten with each of these characters by the final, exuberant dance, then I’m sorry for you. The wonderful set is by David Rockwell, lit with sensitivity and a clever use of color by Tyler Micoleau. Clint Ramos’ costumes are witty, wonderful, and often over-the-top, particularly for Theseus, Hippolyta, Oberon, and Titania. The original music by Justin Levine sets just the right antic mood, and Marcelle Davies-Lashley’s singing offers a perfect note of jazz to the proceedings. “‘Garden of Delights,” at the

Plaxall Gallery 5-25 46th Ave.,btwn. Fifth St. & Vernon Blvd., Long Island City Through Aug. 13 Wed.-Sun. at 8 p.m. $15-$25; dirtcontained.com Three hrs., 15 mins., with intermission Plaxall Gallery in Long Island City through August 13, is, sadly, misguided, self-indulgent, and incoherent. It’s not that Fernando Arrabal’s play has nothing to say about passion, the cost of love, and the animalistic nature of human experience, but this production, under the guidance of “theater maker” Maria Swisher, fails because it makes no effort to connect to the audience. Instead, it is a three-hours-plus assault devoid of underlying vision, trading in shallow theatricality with pretensions of gravitas. Arrabal’s play comes out of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty movement and his own Panic Movement, which were intended to be confronting and assaultive. To succeed on these terms, the audience must first form a connection to the characters, to be drawn in. Swisher is completely at sea with this. True, it’s very difficult to make the theoretical theatrical, but others have done it with engaging artistry. Here, we have a series of set pieces in an enormous gallery space that are mostly screaming, random, unfocused acts. I’m actually fascinated by the theories of Artaud, who sought to trap his audiences within the drama. Audiences who are never enrolled in the conceit, however, simply feel trapped, unable to either

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August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


THEATER

Funny Money Madcap romp about greed, lust, and regret, through the sensible lens of Ben Franklin BY DAVID KENNERLEY he Broadway juggernaut “Hamilton” stunned critics and audiences alike by injecting new life into a musty, iconic American statesman well over 200 years old. So perhaps dramatist Peter Kellogg figured, why not create a musical promoting one of Hamilton’s equally brilliant and colorful contemporaries, Benjamin Franklin? “Money Talks: The Musical,” which imagines a sage, wisecracking Franklin as a $100 bill come to life in modern times, is decidedly more “Spamilton” than “Hamilton.” With tongue planted firmly in ample cheek, this hodgepodge of a musical, crammed with intentionally corny song-anddance ditties choreographed by Michael Chase Gosselin (who also directs), tries to be many things at once — love story, history lesson, political farce, and morality play. And while it doesn’t quite succeed on any of these fronts, it’s an admirable, charming diversion nonetheless. Kellogg, who wrote the droll book and lyrics, has borrowed heavily from the daisy-chain format of “La Ronde,” Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play about overlapping couples that examined the politics of sex and class division. David Friedman composed the music while Ann Beyersdorfer designed the scenery. “Money Talks” follows Franklin’s rocky journey as he is passed from a Wall Street hedge funder to a sassy stripper to a redneck gambler to a wealthy socialite, and so on. Along the way, the sage offers advice about fiduciary and family matters, and questions his relevance in the modern

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engage or escape. The play is ostensibly inspired by a Hieronymus Bosch painting from about 1500, which is often interpreted as representing Heaven, Hell, mortality, and damnation. It is not the first time the painting has inspired theatrical presentation. It was turned into a fascinating dance piece by Martha Clarke in 2009, but that worked because GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

Davenport Theatre 354 W. 45th St. Through Sep. 3 Mon.-Tue., Thu. at 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8:30 p.m. Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $25-$100; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 100 mins., with no intermission

world, which is even more obsessed with money than in his day. In the opening number, Franklin cavorts with his compatriots Washington, Lincoln, and Hamilton, dressed as their respective bill denominations. “Men may claim they worship God, but I’m their true religion,” they sing, with equal measure of chagrin and rancor. The irony that these great men have been reduced to crude legal tender is not lost on them. The spirited, four-person cast works hard to keep up with the challenges of multiple roles and lightningquick scene changes. Ralph Byers (“The Music Man”) smartly embodies the lead Franklin role, doling out advice with ample wit and flair. Sandra DeNise nimbly juggles various female roles (as well as Hamilton at the top), and is a whiz at shifting her vocals to match. Her heartfelt delivery of the understated ballad “How Did I Fall So High” is a welcome, calm oasis in

a frenzy of shenanigans. Brennan Caldwell and George Merrick, who play a dizzying range of characters both male and female, each has a breakout moment, as well. The wildly uneven musical comedy has its share of highs and lows. I thoroughly enjoyed when a female lobbyist, about to hop into bed with a senator, grabs the founding father so she can roll him up and snort a line of coke. However, the scene with the swishy male hairdresser, who is faking gay to command higher prices, is as patently offensive as it is tonedeaf and should be cut. There’s also a scene where a gay male couple trying to adopt a child is insulted by a bigoted Southern bureaucrat that feels gratuitously shoehorned in and could be fleshed out further. “Money Talks” is at its best as a reminder of just how genius — and prescient — the civic-minded philosopher actually was. We all know he co-authored the US Constitution and pioneered harnessing electricity. But I forgot that he was an ambassador to France, and established the first public hospital, library, and fire department in the American colonies. And

it had an organizing vision. Not so here, where the story has been changed to focus on a reclusive actress, Lais, who seeks love and connection, first with Zenon, a character that embodies raging id, and then with the romantic Teloc, a mysterious and sadistic man. Oh, and her childhood best friend Miharca is around for some girl-ongirl smooching and fighting. The cast may be committed to whatever it is they’re doing, but it

really isn’t acting so much as bellowing, keening, hurting each other (badly), and running around the cavernous space. There is absolutely no character development, and the actors just seem lost. Swisher, as Mihraca, attacks the role like a frenzied junior varsity field hockey player, all naked aggression devoid of any nuance. The point of this mode of theater, theoretically, is to wear down the audience, basically to beat them

JEREMY DANIELS

Ralph Byers as Benjamin Franklin (foreground), with Brennan Caldwell as Abraham Lincoln, George Merrick as George Washington, and Sandra DeNise as Alexander Hamilton.

invented all sorts of handy gizmos. The musical is jam-packed with maxims that are so ingrained in American life we’ve forgotten he originated them. And no, not just the obvious ones like “A penny saved is a penny earned” and “Haste makes waste.” “God helps those who help themselves” is not from the Bible, it’s Franklin. “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” is not Shakespeare, it’s Franklin. And “Eat to live, don’t live to eat?” Not Oprah — Franklin. To its credit, this old-fashioned tuner strives for contemporary relevance. One number boasts alarming quotes from politicians, including Trump’s infamous tweet “The concept of global warming was by and for the Chinese.” And today’s corrupt judicial system and the current gun control debate is tackled head-on. Franklin croons: From his honor with no honor, To his mistress, who’s a nun, To her daughter, who’s an ex-marine And wants to buy a gun. And though she has traumatic stress, A gun show sells her one. The beleaguered man on the $100 bill admits they blundered with the vaguely worded Second Amendment, wishing they had written “the right to bear muskets” so America would be a much safer place today. And then there’s my favorite aphorism from the show: “Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently and for the same reasons.”

into a catharsis. (Artuad’s theories, have never been fully realized in productions, and have been challenged by artists such as the legendary theorist and director Jerzy Grotowski as being unworkable and anti-theatrical.) Productions like this may work in an academic setting. For commercial audiences, lacking any intellectual frame of reference for the theoretical, the assault on the senses ends up for naught.

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FILM

Extremism’s Violent Allure Bertrand Bonello examines contradictions in capitalism’s harshest critics BY STEVE ERICKSON t’s very hard to capture the zeitgeist when the process of getting a film made takes years. French director Bertrand Bonello’s “Nocturama” manages it, with an up-to-the-minute and startlingly sympathetic depiction of his nation’s terrorists. Music did a better job than cinema of capturing the hopes of the ‘60s left, with the major exceptions of Jean-Luc Godard’s body of work through “Weekend” and some of the radical Third World cinemas inspired by the French New Wave. “Nocturama” has a ripped-from-theheadlines quality, but it also brings back memories of the violent excesses of the ‘60s and ‘70s New Left. “Nocturama” begins with the planning for a series of bombings by a loosely organized group of Parisian terrorists. (I’m well aware how loaded that word is, but I can’t think of a better way to describe them.) While their designs are depicted by Bonello in a somewhat fragmented manner, they culminate in the bombing of a bank’s offices. The group then takes shelter in a shopping mall, where they put on expensive clothes and listen to music until danger inevitably strikes. “Nocturama” takes real risks by naming its terrorists’ targets and then loading the rest of the film with brand names. Bonello doesn’t ex-

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I think the greatest accomplishment of “This Time Tomorrow” is the degree of intimacy Rodriguez manages to achieve with her characters. Much of this stems from the fact that she obsessively films them in bed, whether or not they’re sleeping. This film is not a documentary, it never pretends to be, and it doesn’t even really ever feel like one. Nevertheless, it creates the illusion that we’re watching the interactions of a real family. Rodriguez’s concerns pick up where Ozu left off when he died in the early ‘60s. Perhaps the fact that Rodriguez now lives outside the country where she works contributes to the

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GRASSHOPPER FILM

Bertrand Bonello’s “Nocturama,” though critical of capitalism’s corruption, has a curious relationship to consumerism.

Directed by Bertrand Bonello Grasshopper Film In French with English subtitles Opens Aug. 11 Metrograph 7 Ludlow, btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com Film Society of Lincoln Center Howard Gilman Theater 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org

plain why the bank HSBC is blown up by his characters, but googling it will offer an eye-opening look into its very genuine corruption. Without justifying the violent destruction of its offices, “Nocturama” is encouraging its spectators to look into the bank’s past. I wonder whether Bonello got paid for all the product placement in the scenes in the shopping mall. If he did, I’m sure someone will accuse him of hypocrisy, but it’s ironic, at the very least, to throw around the Lacoste logo — and many others — in a film this ambivalent, if not outright critical, about capitalism. Part of what’s so refreshing about “Nocturama” is that it arrives at a time when the Western media assumes that political violence is always linked to Islamic fundamentalism, and TV and films

rarely represent the far left (except perhaps for a few documentaries). In fact, the TV show “Mr. Robot,” whose first season ended with a group of hacker-activists destroying Americans’ ability to use credit cards, is one of the few reference points that come to mind here. The other one is a big elephant in the room, and it’s inevitable when you make a film that mostly takes place in a shopping mall: the late George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” But if “Nocturama” has points of contact with Romero, it goes way beyond his simple contention that consumer culture turns us into virtual zombies. In fact, “Nocturama” is ultimately about the effects of a consumerist playland on people who hate capitalism or at least representations of its corruption like HSBC. As the

terrorists take refuge in the mall, they suffer from claustrophobia and tension but also have a pretty good time. Much of this stems from the film’s use of music — Netflix will be streaming “Nocturama” (thankfully, the theatrical rights were acquired by another distributor) and if you watch it there, crank your speakers up as loud as possible. The characters get a great deal of pleasure out of listening to songs like Blondie’s “Call Me” and Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” through extremely expensive high-end stereo speakers in the mall, and so does the audience as we watch and listen (if in a theatrical setting, hopefully at top volume). Bonello also contributed an excellent synthesizer-based score. A scene in which one male terrorist,

sense of this family’s isolation. She learned a lot about careful sound design from Bresson. “This Time Tomorrow” is deliberately very quiet and hushed; while two songs are played during it, we only get to hear them because its characters do as well. While Rodriguez moves the camera in most of her shots, she also uses many static shots taken from low camera angles that recall Ozu’s signature images. Her particular sense of framing and blocking is pretty distinctive and unique. “This Time Tomorrow” does not simply assume that family life or adolescent struggles can be casually depicted or that it’s easy to find a style that suits them. It dodges pretty

much every cliché that comes with the material it covers, and if it ever risks seeming pretentious, the moments where it resembles an arthouse take on “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” quickly cancel that out. As the only other critic who attended the press screening where I saw “This Time Tomorrow” pointed out, the kind of directors who have influenced Rodriguez have long been called “transcendental,” especially in an influential book by future screenwriter/ director Paul Schrader. Schrader’s ideas are now fairly contentious: many people have pointed out that Bresson’s emphasis on extremely vivid sound design and plainspoken images

points instead to a materialism rather than spirituality, even if the director took on religious subjects. But Rodriguez takes that transcendental style and points it to a totally normal middle-class family going through ordinary struggles. At the same time, it’s undeniable that “This Time Tomorrow” keeps pointing at something bigger than itself without ever spelling out what that is. It’s not exactly an overtly feminist film, but perhaps there’s an undercurrent of that ideology underneath. Rodriguez suggests that a 17-year-old girl’s arguments with her parents should be treated with the same weight Bresson brought to “Diary of a Country Priest.”

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August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ADVERTORIAL

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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.

Daydreaming 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 | August 3–16, 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.

Eating 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.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

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Back to the Joys of Deep Disco Ron Lester helms a needed revival, all in the name of good causes BY DAVID NOH ne of the great pleasures of this life we know as gay — indeed, a veritable coming out rite of passage for many — is dancing in a club to some truly fabulous music. I was lucky to come of age in the immediate post-Stonewall era, when disco was being born, shaking my butt to the earliest examples of the genre, “Rock the Boat,” the Philly sounds of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (with the late, great Teddy Pendergrass) and the Three Degrees’ “Dirty Ole Man,” Barry White, Donna Summer, and Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover.” Whether it was Studio One in Los Angeles, the Cabaret or End Up in San Francisco, Hula’s in Hawaii, or the myriad clubs in New York (Studio 54, where I worked opening night as a bus boy, 12 West, the Saint, Flamingo, Better Days, the Gallery, the Loft, or Paradise Garage, where it really all came together and house music began), to this day nothing can quite match that visceral and sexy thrill of the soulful, funky, and often swooningly romantic music — marked by searingly powerful female vocals — that was the soundtrack of our lives before, during, and in the wake of the plague that removed so many festive souls from the dance floor forever. “Music is my life,” sang the imperishable Patti LaBelle, “Gotta keep on dancing,” and I truly thought I would never stop. But I did, and you can chalk that up to life’s different priorities, to a schedule less conducive to all-night carousing… oh hell, to just getting older. Also, the music changed, and, although this summer’s clubs are pumping nicely to Ed Sheeran’s irresistible “Shape of You” and the Weeknd’s ineffable “Starboy,” the dreaded — to me — rise and lasting dominance of vocal-less, monotonous, soulless glacial techno, I thought, had put paid to my desire to ever go out steppin’ again. And then, to the rescue came Ron Lester, the producer of Disco Party Fundraiser, a regular event,

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Ron Lester’s charity Disco Party Fundraisers are bringing alive the best of New York’s classic old dance music.

which takes place at the club Taj in Chelsea, with the very civilized hours of 6-10 p.m., for a mere $10 admission fee, which goes to various charities. I went to the last one, the White Party, on July 15, and had a sensational time with just the right, comfortable amount of beautiful, wonderfully warm, and friendly folk. As for the music, suffice it to say that I pretty much never stopped dancing for three straight hours, as DJ Frankie Paradise was in absolutely brilliant form. It started with Teddy Pendergrass’ smoking “You Got What I Need,” which I’d not heard in ages, and then classic after classic followed, including maybe my three very favorite dance songs all in a row: Taana Gardner’s “When You Touch Me,” DeeDee Bridgewater’s “Bad for Me,” and Syreeta’s “Can’t Shake Your Love.” The fact that they are also among the fastest dance tracks ever recorded and my heart didn’t give out, as I positively lost my shit breathlessly on the floor, proved that I’m definitely here for now.

The handsome class act that is Lester told me that the party, celebrating its 14th anniversary this fall, began in 2003. “I was involved in a fundraising effort for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s ‘Light the Night.’ I was working in the investment banking department at Credit Suisse. It was a department-wide fundraising effort in conjunction with the Credit Suisse Foundation. A few of us planned events to supplement our fundraising. As others were doing bake sales, I chose to throw a disco party! It was on October 3 and was so much fun! After it was over, I suggested to my friend, Darrell Branch, who helped me with getting the word out, that we just keep going with this! We did. The second event was the very next month for ‘Walk to End Domestic Violence.’” In 2004, Lester revamped the format and renamed it Disco Party Fundraiser so people would know that it was indeed a charity event. The basic mission, he said, is “to support non-profit organizations

in the arts and education with the funding they need to fulfill on their missions. If there ever was an excuse needed to go disco dancin’, well, there you have it!” Lester met Frankie Paradise in 1998. “I was planning a dance party event that I called ‘Sa Demo’s.’ I cringe at the name now because it turned out to be a major flop! I had heard of Frankie Paradise and wanted to get some music from him. I got his number and left a few messages, which went unanswered. One night, I actually had a meeting with his club promotions partner at the Clubhouse, which was a weekly Manhattan party that Frankie created and was very popular. He was the resident DJ and co-promoter, and I had never seen him in person before. One look, and I had a case of the hottie-hots! After a couple of dates, I was in love, and we were an item for about three and a half years. Frankie often spoke of the Paradise Garage with extreme fondness. It’s where he got his adopted surname. “Frankie is very ambitious, determined, and a force of nature. I say that because when he gets an idea that he feels will work, he will stop at nothing and grind relentlessly to see it to fruition and beyond. Through his deep knowledge of those dance classics we love so much, I learn new songs to love because of that man.” I asked Lester where he would like to take all of this. “I want to get people dancin’ again! Remember when disco was part of the mainstream, and everyone was going disco dancin’? Yes, we know about the wild parties that had anal sex, drugs, Bianca Jagger, fashion models, and supercilious Warhol gays. And weren’t there reports of levitation on some dance floors? Or was it just more of those drug-induced exaggerations? The point I am making is that, in spite of all that other stuff, people were simply dancing. For a moment, it was part of the American consciousness. Dancing is

RON LESTER, continued on p.35

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

RON LESTER, from p.34

unique to human beings. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to partner with Ellen DeGeneres â&#x20AC;&#x201D; she loves to dance! â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to get America dancing again and using that activity to make a difference in their own communities.â&#x20AC;? Born in Philadelphia, Lester didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know club music until he went to dance clubs for the first time at age 19. Though he is seemingly singlehandedly reviving the deep, dark thrill of the Paradise Garage, he missed actually going there, arriving in New York only in 1989 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; two yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s after the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s demise â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to attend NYU. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I asked people about nightclubs for dancing, I would hear, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go out anymore.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; The clubs I did dance in were Limelight, the Tunnel, Mars, Nellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, MK, Red Zone, Kilimanjaro, Tracks, the Muse, Peggy Sueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, the Bank, Sound Factory, Sound Factory Bar, Octagon, Clubhouse, and Two Potato. There may be a few others that I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember.â&#x20AC;? Lesterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite disco song is â&#x20AC;&#x153;Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Do Itâ&#x20AC;? (by Convertion, not Cole Porter), and he describes his

²5IFNFEJB TIPVMELFFQJUT NPVUITIVU³ °4UFWF #BOOPO

personal coming out process as traumatic. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You know how a new bride has a certain anxiety on her wedding night, but she expects it to be special nonetheless? And then her new husband actually turns out to be a sex trafficker, he brutally rapes her, and sells her to an international sex slave ring? Well, I had a similar coming out experience. Wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it supposed to be like a debutante ball? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was outed by a sick boy who was obsessed with me. He told my mother that I was not only a homosexual, but one that was committing unspeakable acts! He was just upset that I slept with someone else, just couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take it. Things are much better now. My family loves me dearly, and I am slightly fond of them. Kidding! I love them, too.â&#x20AC;? Lesterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next party is August 5 at Taj Lounge, 48 West 21 Street, from 6 to 10 pm. With all this crap emanating from the asylum formerly known as the White House, lowering stress levels and trying to just get happy again are essential right now. I can think of no more surefire way.

     

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35


OPERA

Manhandeled Tough “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” slog at National Sawdust; promising Puccini evening at Hunter’s Kaye BY DAVID SHENGOLD illiamsburg’s National Sawdust has stolen the limelight from Le Poisson Rouge as the “go to” place for hip events in the classical industry. The space is interesting and presents all kinds of experimental work. On July 20, it hosted the fourth and last performance of a production of Handel’s “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo,” an early Italian serenata by Handel. The gonzo staging by Christopher Alden — a sometimes brilliant director who in my experience has no ear whatsoever for the structure and atmosphere of this particular composer’s music — pretty much ruined the evening, but it was worth reviving the fine piece. Most audiences know only Handel’s magnificent later Englishlanguage version of the story, “Acis and Galatea,” but this serenata has lots of music gems that Handel reworked and recycled in later works. The musical side yielded the finest results, thanks to conductor Clay Zeller-Townson and the fine ensemble Ruckus. Unfortunately, alone among the fine, alert players, the group’s baroque oboe — a bear of an instrument to play, I’m told —

W

JEN JOYCE DAVIS/ JJ DAVIS STUDIO

Spencer Hamlin as Rinuccio in Martina Arroyo’s “Prelude to Performance” production of Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.”

fell far short of the needed grace. Also — frankly — for all the theatrical intensity afforded by its intimacy, National Sawdust is a tricky, unresonant space for voices. Three impressive singers were on hand: Anthony Roth Costanzo as Galatea, Ambur Braid as Aci, and bass Davone Tines as Polifemo. That did not, though, guarantee much enjoyable singing. Costanzo’s mastery of meaningfully inflected recitative and softly projected legato lines showed Handelian stylistic attainment lacking in his colleagues. Braid sang flat continually

and tossed in strident decorations; I’d like to hear her vibrant voice as Mozart’s Elettra or Anna in a larger space. Tines — with striking runway-ready looks and great dramatic presence — has understandably become something of a directorial totem. His voice has an impressive, distinct personal timbre. As Polifemo he growled at bottom and used a kind of Lieder-singer top, but a sense of line went lacking, with extra breaths and approximate coloratura in the (granted) daunting entrance aria. He distorted recits and their rhythms by bearing

MICHAEL URIE, from p.24

it was really simple and an easy decision. That sort of taught me devotion. Yes, in Texas you can still get killed for being gay. But my sister is now a doctor of psychology with three little ones, and I’m a working actor in New York. We’re doing okay, and our parents were so smart and supportive.” Urie and Spahn, also an actor who writes and directs, have been together eight and a half years. They met through mutual friends “twice. The first time it didn’t take [laughs], and then a year and a half later, it did. No marriage plans: when are we gonna do it?

36

DAVID GERSTEN

Michael Urie, seen here with David Noh at Route 66, will next tackle “Torch Song” at Second Stage and then the title role in “Hamlet” in Washington.

down on individual words with the kind of wannabe-Method Acting intensity Erwin Schrott dispenses in Mozart. Tines seems an artist of great potential, but maybe not an ace Handelian. The Times writer aptly welcomed the piece’s revival, did not seem to understand that the story we saw of domestic workers oppressed and sexually harassed by an employer was Alden’s reworking of characters (nymph, shepherd, and mountainous cyclops) from Ovid. Having the countertenor and soprano play Galatea and Aci respectively, thus honoring the original voice casting, turned the harassment into a same-sex issue. Some steamy/ disturbing poses resulted, but to what end? Abuse of workers is a vital issue, but showing this well-heeled, well-connected, virtually all-white crowd (Tines, playing the oppressor here, was virtually the only AfricanAmerican in the room) the worker couple toiling joylessly in scrubs seemed hypocritical; many in the crowd would scarcely acknowledge such people were they to encounter (or hire) them. The movement and direction (lots of posturing, Aldenplaybook floor time, and carryingson with straight razor) felt false

NATIONAL SAWDUST, continued on p.37

We can’t make plans, we have to be available for work. He’s friends with Halley Feiffer and now is in Williamstown, doing her new play. “It’s hard sometimes being with another actor, but who else is going to put up with this shit? The stakes are so high and so low, and everything I deal with he deals with. His rejection is mine and vice-versa, and the same with success. But we’re really good about putting it away, saying, ‘We can’t talk about work anymore.’ “We both really like kids, but haven’t figured that out. We have a dog and a cat, they’re our children.

MICHAEL URIE, continued on p.37

August 3–16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

NATIONAL SAWDUST, from p.36

from start to finish. Overactive sanguinary video imagery, (particularly horrible) pre-recorded tracks of floor scrubbing, and some of the music proved further distractions. The stagingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 90 minutes seemed endless. Any Handelian should welcome inventive stagings; alas, this one didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t coalesce. My first experience of Martina Arroyoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Prelude to Performanceâ&#x20AC;? series (Pucciniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Suor Angelicaâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gianni Schicchiâ&#x20AC;? July 9 at Hunterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kaye Playhouse) was a far happier occasion â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not because the stagings (by Ian Campbell) were fairly traditional but because they were internally consistent, detailed, and fully inhabited by the young performers. For some, these operas represented their first staged efforts; for others, like the young professional Michelle Johnson â&#x20AC;&#x201D; whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s done leads in Philadelphia, Louisville, and Cooperstown â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the event furnished a supportive environment for a first traversal of a difficult role. The casts were well served by the vivifying hands of Maestro Willie Anthony Waters in the pit. Courtesy of Met veteran Loretta di Franco, good Italian diction was the rule. Johnson proved very impressive as Angelica, her warm spinto tone in good estate and the expression moving and unforced. With experience, she will inflect the text with even more depth, but as it was she evoked tears. Fine mezzo Leah Marie de Gruyl sang and played the Zia Principessa chillingly, but with-

ä&#x2030;´

MICHAEL URIE, from p.36

Plus two nephews on his side and a niece and nephew on mine are awesome. My parents are now back in Texas, his are in Michigan.â&#x20AC;? Coming up for Urie is the first revival in 35 years of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Torch Songâ&#x20AC;? (with Mercedes Ruehl as his mother) at Second Stage, running for eight weeks beginning September 26, followed by his first â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hamletâ&#x20AC;? in Washington, beginning January 16. He laughed at my suggestion that he say his first â&#x20AC;&#x153;Torch Songâ&#x20AC;? line a la Fierstein, all gravelly, just to psych the audience. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve talked about it a little, nothing too deep. I can always GayCityNews.nyc | August 3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;16, 2017

out caricature. Nicole Rowe piped delightfully in the key contrasting role of Genovieffa. The striking timbres of Melanie Ashkar (La Maestra delle Novizie) and Molly Burke (La Souora Zelatrice) stood out among a universally strong group of nuns. For the climactic miracle, Campbell and set/ lighting designer Joshua Rose varied from the librettoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early evening and gave us a starry firmament; it worked well enough. Like most â&#x20AC;&#x153;Schicchiâ&#x20AC;? designers, Rose couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t resist placing Brunelleschiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1436 Dome into a work set in 1299. (In Eastern Europe, I once saw an â&#x20AC;&#x153;Andrea Chenierâ&#x20AC;? with the Eiffel Tower visible in Act IIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1794 Paris.) Pucciniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lone comedy is that rarity, a genuinely funny score. Joshua DeVane had the vocal and comic chops to render a fine Schicchi, larger than life and not a wobbly buffo but a firm-voiced schemer. With a pingy tenor, Spencer Hamlin sang one of the best Rinuccios Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve ever encountered. De Gruyl, Ashkar, and Rowe showed their versatility as Zita, Ciesca, and Nella; for once, their supplicating trio sounded seductive. Baritone Ben Reisinger (Spinelloccio/ Notario) also stood out; but again, the whole cast worked satisfactorily as a harmonious ensemble. Arroyo, in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ernani,â&#x20AC;? was my very first Met diva; the admirable work she and her staff do in passing along the torch is a gift to Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s young singers and to New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s summer audiences. David Shengold (shengold@yahoo.com) writes about opera for many venues.

hear him doing it, his inflections, which is good as heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s drawn a map for me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I played Horatio to Hamish Linklaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hamlet, directed by Dan Sullivan, for South Coast Repertory. He was so good, a born Hamlet, and I can hear it all in my head, his line readings. I want my own, too, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice to have that map, as well. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never done it before, but Michael Kahn, whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directing, wants to do it with me and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to impose anything on me. Just me, so far. Hey, everyone, after â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Torch Song,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; come to DC for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Hamlet,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and stay for Penceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inauguration. Has Trump resigned yet?â&#x20AC;?

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        

             

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38

August 3â&#x20AC;&#x201C;16, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


RENTBOY.COM, from p.10

rid of them entirely.” Brodie then put Hurant on the spot when she asked him, “Tell me why you believe a sentence of six months incarceration would be an inappropriate sentence, if you do believe that.” Hurant hesitated, saying, “I really don’t want to put my foot in my mouth.” Brodie assured him, saying, “Nothing you say will cause me to increase the sentence.” He finally

VERNI LAWSUIT, from p.10

Michael Serao, who once worked at the Network. Serao is active in Democratic Party politics in Queens, as is Kilmnick. Verni is seeking $5 million for the damage to his reputation. Gay City News was aware of the feuding last year, but only found the lawsuit recently. In 2016, an individual who is not a party in the lawsuit gave Gay City News copies of emails exchanged among staff at the Network. In one dated August 22, 2016, Lombardi tells Kilmnick that he will cooperate with Verni’s attorney “for what you ordered me to do to him re-

ON FIRE ISLAND, from p.25

artfully filmed in light and shadow, indicating this was classy queer porn. This episode is best once Di Cioccio enters the story; the first half of the vignette, with the naked Donovan writing a letter is a bit slow. The last episode features Donovan, naked again, this time inside having fantasies about telephone repairman (Tommy Moore), whom he spies outside. “Boys in the Sand” has a dreamlike quality that may seem a bit dated today,

NOCTURAMA, from p.32

wearing a wig, eyeliner, and makeup, descends a staircase while lipsynching to Shirley Bassey’s “My Way” renders all of “La La Land” useless. “Nocturama” is not a simple denunciation of consumerism. It suggests that if one has access to pleasures like designer clothes and great stereo systems, it’s impossible to avoid being seduced by GayCityNews.nyc | August 3–16, 2017

responded with, “I did the best I could to run a company that was doing good.” The government wanted a sentence of 15 to 21 months, but was reduced to arguing that prison time was necessary for the sake of deterring others from committing the same crime. “I don’t know how we go forward saying we believe in respect for the law if we say after 17 years all we’re doing is take away some portion of the money,” said Tyler Smith, the assis-

tant US attorney who prosecuted the case for the Eastern District of New York’s US Attorney’s Office, which is headquartered in Brooklyn. Prior to the hearing, the federal government seized roughly $1.5 million that it said were the proceeds from the business that were held in various bank accounts controlled by Hurant. Toward the close of the hearing, Hurant was given a week to submit a date for his surrender to federal au-

thorities to begin his sentence. He will also have a year of post-release supervision accompanied by some onerous financial and medical disclosure requirements. Once he exited the federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn, Hurant spoke to reporters and said what he was unable to say in the courtroom. “Sex work has a place in a healthy society,” he said. “I urge that we resist laws that limit who we touch and how.”

garding the blogs, email, and social media to assassinate his character on that workday when you made me leave early to carry out your hit job.” Other emails indicate that Lombardi was among the Network employees who complained about Kilmnick. The Network’s most recent Form 990, which is for 2014, shows that it had revenues of just over $1.7 million, with nearly $1.2 million of that coming from government sources. The Network runs various programs on Long Island. While a relatively quiet agency outside of Long Island for many years, it has adopted a higher profile in recent

months, including organizing a protest of Donald Trump’s visit to Suffolk County on July 28. In an email, a Network spokesperson wrote, “The allegations are completely false, baseless, and frivolous. The LGBT Network has been on the forefront fighting for the rights of the LGBT community for over two decades and will continue to do so.” Kilmnick, the Network, and Serao are represented by the same lawyer, who did not respond to a request for comment, and Lombardi has his own attorney. That attorney did not respond to a call seeking comment. While calling someone a pedo-

phile is likely libelous on its face, Verni may face two issues. A judge could find that he is a public figure given his recent appearances on cable news shows and so he would have to prove that Kilmnick and the Network knew the comments were false when they were published, assuming Kilmnick and the Network published the comments. Additionally, absent some record that shows Kilmnick ordered Lombardi to publish the defamatory statements about Verni, the Network could argue that Lombardi acted on his own and point to the fact that the comments appear to have been posted from or near Lombardi’s home as evidence of that.

but the beauty of Donovan and the film itself is undeniable. Screening with “Boys in the Sand” is Todd Verow and Patrick McGuinn’s fabulous 2014 eightminute short “Fire Island, ’79.” The film consists of Super-8 footage of porn star Chase Hook (Verow) skinny dipping and having sex on Fire Island, while the soundtrack plays answering machine messages voiced by Michael Musto and Alexis Arquette, among others. The short is at once naughty, liberating, and poignant, as Hook’s life is

revealed through vivid words and erotic images. The late Bill Sherwood’s only feature may be over 30 years old but “Parting Glances” (Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 13, 4:45 p.m.) still feels fresh and winning. The film chronicles a day in the life of lovers Robert (John Bolger) and Michael (Richard Ganoung) and their coterie of New York friends. As Robert is about to take a job overseas, the guys attend first a dinner party and then a party party, both in Robert’s honor.

“Parting Glances” was significant for being one of the first American films to deal with AIDS, featuring a subplot about Nick (Steve Buscemi in his screen debut) as a gay man who is dying. This lowbudget charmer sensitively depicts the impact of the epidemic on the community. The film’s Fire Island connection is an amusing music video Nick made at a beach house. For anyone who has not seen the film — or has not seen it in a while — be sure to give “Parting Glances” a look.

them, even if your ideology says you should be. The terrorists in this film are a multi-ethnic group that includes whites, Arabs, and one black man. They don’t talk about their beliefs much, but while they’re willing to kill guards to gain access to the mall, they’re also generous enough to let a homeless couple into it and share their pleasures with them. If anything, “Nocturama” suggests that capitalism and consumerism need to be radically democratized —

right now, only the rich can benefit from them — and just as in “Dawn of the Dead” the people in this film face a violent threat from outside, except that it comes from cops rather than zombies. The police demonstrate their moral vacuity by blowing away a completely innocent homeless man. In a French context, I’m sure “Nocturama” was a real provocation. In New York, I think anyone who attends a theater like Metrograph

will understand that the message of the film is not “bombing banks is awesome.” When it’s widely disseminated on Netflix, its chances of being misunderstood increase. But it seems to me that since Trump’s election, the portion of the left beyond the Democratic Party has been getting increasingly extreme. If they think they’re immune to the attraction of violence and that attraction is harmless, they really need to see this film.

39

Gay City News  

August 3, 2017

Gay City News  

August 3, 2017