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World AIDS Day is December 1; Commemorations Run through the Month

WORLD

AIDS DAY

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November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


In This Issue COVER STORY December 1 is World AIDS Day 04-06, 10-11, 20, 23 CIVIL RIGHTS Another trans student court victory 12

BOOKS All about Andy: Warhol’s kindness & his sexual side 27

 

          

3 4. 0

FILM Classic D.H. Lawrence adaptation revived 28

COMMUNITY LGBTQ life & Detroit’s changed face 17

A Finn has the immigrant speak 28

GEEK CULTURE Anime NYC revives a lost niche 26

THEATER A Christmas Carajo at the Bronx’s BAAD! 34

That’s So Gothic 24

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3


WORLD AIDS DAY

PrEP’s Impact Seen in City Prevention Push City officials, advocates note progress, but agree more needed in communities of color BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

A

s he was discussing New York’s Plan to End AIDS, an ambitious undertaking that aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from the estimated 2,481 in 2014 to 750 annually by 2020, the relentlessly upbeat Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner for disease control, was blunt when asked about the plan’s prospects if new HIV infections are not reduced among black and Latino gay and bisexual men. “You lost the game,” Daskalakis said in an interview. Viewed as a math problem, it is clear what the plan must do. The great majority of new HIV infections in New York occur in New York City, so it is here that the reductions must happen. There were an estimated 1,696 new HIV infections in 2015 in the city and 1,288 of those

DONNA ACETO

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner for disease control, at last December’s dedication of the NYC AIDS Memorial in the West Village.

occurred in men who have sex with men (MSM). Estimated new infections are different from documented new diagnoses since diagnoses in a given year capture infections from that year

as well as earlier ones. If new 2015 HIV diagnoses, however, are viewed as a surrogate for the demographic pattern of new HIV infections, then most of the new infections are occurring among African-American

and Latino gay and bisexual men. In 2015, there were 2,493 new HIV diagnoses in the city with 2,011 among men, 441 among women, and 42 among transgender New Yorkers. Among men in 2015, 1,450 of the new diagnoses were among MSM, 412 had no known risk factor, and the remaining 149 were among heterosexuals, drug injectors, gay and bisexual men who inject drugs, and just two were mother-to-child transmission cases. In 2015, 745 of the new diagnoses were among black men, 759 were among Latino men, and 386 were among white men, with the remaining 121 occurring among Pacific Islander, Native American, and multiracial men. Recognizing its central role in the plan, the city has set a goal of getting to 600 new HIV infections by 2020.

PREP IMPACT, continued on p.5

HIV Data for 2016 Show Continued Decline End AIDS 2020 goals still ambitious, but gains seen among black, Latino as well as white men BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

N

ew HIV infections among New York City men who have sex with men continued declining in 2016 over 2015, according to an annual report from the city’s health department that details HIV infections last year. There were an estimated 1,541 new HIV infections in the city in 2016 and 1,172, or 76 percent of those new infections, were among men who have sex with men (MSM). That represents a nine percent decline in new estimated infections among gay and bisexual men over 2015, which is generally consistent with declines seen in other recent year-to-year comparisons. The de Blasio administration has endorsed the Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from

4

the estimated 2,481 in 2014 to 750 annually by 2020. With most new HIV infections occurring in the city and most of those occurring among black and Latino gay and bisexual men, the plan must reduce the infections among those men to be successful. The city has set its own goal of reducing new HIV infections to 600 annually by 2020. Insofar as new HIV diagnoses, which could have resulted from infections in 2016 or earlier, mirror the pattern of new infections, the report suggests that new HIV infections among black and Latino men are falling as well, though not to the extent that they have declined among white men. There were 2,279 new HIV diagnoses in 2016 with 1,771 of those among men and 1,236, or 70 percent of new diagnoses among men, attributable to men who have sex

with men. In 2016 over 2015, new HIV diagnoses among all black men fell from 745 to 689, from 759 to 611 among all Latino men, and from 386 to 323 among all white men. To put the 2016 numbers into context, in 2001, there were 5,906 new HIV diagnoses in the city. “The historic low in new HIV diagnoses is yet another indication that we remain on the road to ending the HIV epidemic in our city,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, in a November 29 statement that accompanied the report. “While we have seen a dramatic decrease in HIV diagnoses among the MSM community overall, we must continue to work together to address the excess number of new HIV infections in communities of color.” The new diagnosis rate among black men was more than three times higher than the rate among

white men. The new diagnosis rate among Latino men was double the rate among white men. New HIV diagnoses among Asian Pacific Islander men increased to 125 in 2016 over 101 in 2015. New diagnoses among women also increased in 2016, going from 482 in 2015 to 508 in 2016. There were 46 new HIV diagnoses among transgender men and women in 2016 versus 42 new HIV diagnoses in that group in 2015. The Plan to End AIDS uses anti-HIV drugs in HIV-negative people. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) prevents infection in people who had a recent exposure to the virus and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-a-day pill, offers ongoing HIV prevention. PrEP and PEP are highly effective when taken correctly.

2016 DATA, continued on p.5

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ACT UP REMINDS US: IT AIN’T OVER

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

O

n the evening of November 29, two days ahead of World AIDS Day, a crowd of nearly 100 ACT UP members and their allies

PREP IMPACT, from p.4

And the city recognizes that without substantial reductions in new HIV infections among Latino and black MSM, the Plan to End AIDS fails. The plan relies on providing stable housing, nutrition, and other services for people who are HIV-positive and treating them with anti-HIV drugs so they remain healthy and cannot infect others. It offers antiHIV drugs to HIV-negative people in two ways to prevent infection — post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people who had a recent exposure to the virus and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for ongoing HIV prevention. PrEP and PEP are highly effec-

2016 DATA, from p.4

The plan treats people who are HIV-positive with anti-HIV drugs so they remain healthy and cannot infect others. The drug regimen is supported with stable housing, nutrition, and other services. While the city health department began ramping up its efforts that are part of the plan late last

converged on the Duffy Square section of Times Square to remind New Yorkers that the battle against the epidemic continues. Michael Kerr held a sign that best conveyed their message: AIDS Isn’t Over for Anybody Until It Is Over for Everybody!

tive when taken correctly. City health department data suggest that awareness and uptake of PrEP has increased significantly from 2014 through 2016, though that data also suggests that much of the increase in PrEP use is attributable to white men taking the once-a-day pill. “I think that the lesson from the data is that everyone who is working in the PrEP space has done a really good job, but not entirely with MSM who speak Spanish and maybe not entirely with black MSM,” Daskalakis said. “The sort of caveat is the uptake doesn’t 100 percent match the epidemic.” Since December 2016, the city

has seen roughly 800 “PrEP starts” at its health clinics, Daskalakis said, with most of those among men. Just over 59 percent of those men were black and Latino. Since October 2016, it has referred 4,500 New Yorkers to providers that can prescribe PrEP. “Right now the main show that we are seeing is mainly MSM in those clinics,” Daskalakis said. “The next phase of what’s going to happen in New York City is we’re going to be going deeper.” The city issued its annual HIV epidemiology report for 2016 this week, and in discussing that report in advance of its release Daskalakis said some evidence of the plan’s im-

pact will be apparent in that report. He expects to see even more such evidence in the 2017 report, which will be issued in late 2018. “2016 is the first year you will see the impact for the first time,” he said. “I think you’re going to start seeing the impact of [the plan] accelerating declines probably next year… I would expect that the majority of the impact will be seen next year.” AIDS groups are praising the city. The de Blasio administration endorsed the Plan to End AIDS and has been willing to spend money on it. That stands in stark contrast to the Bloomberg and Giuliani admin-

year, private groups, such as the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Community Healthcare Network (CHN), which operates 12 clinics in four boroughs in New York City, have been enrolling clients in PrEP for more than a year or longer. Callen-Lorde has been particularly successful. The plan, which was conceived

by Charles King, the chief executive at Housing Works, an AIDS group, and Mark Harrington, head of the Treatment Action Group, an advocacy organization, is ambitious. The city will have to sustain large declines in new infections among all men who have sex with men, but especially among African-American and Latino gay and bisexual men, over the next four

years for the city to reach 600 new HIV infections in 2020. “I think you’re going to start seeing the impact of [the plan] accelerating declines probably next year,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner for disease control, in an interview prior to the release of the report. “I would expect that the majority of the impact will be seen next year.”

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

PREP IMPACT, continued on p.18

5


WORLD AIDS DAY

HIV Disclosure Law Upheld By Ohio High Court State Supreme Court unanimously rejects free speech, equal protection challenge BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

T

he seven-member Ohio Supreme Court unanimously rejected a free speech and equal protection challenge to the state’s law making it a felony assault for a person who knows he is HIV-positive to engage in “sexual conduct” with another person without disclosing their HIV-positive status. The court divided 4-3, however, on the appropriate legal analysis for reaching its October 26 decision. Upholding an eight-year prison sentence for Orlando Batista, four members of the court ruled that the law regulated conduct rather than speech and the state has a rational basis for imposing the criminal disclosure requirement on people living with HIV when they have sex — but not for engaging in other types of conduct that could transmit HIV and not on those living with other comparable sexually-transmitted diseases, such as hepatitis C. Batista learned that he was HIVpositive while serving a prison sentence, though he was apparently infected before being incarcerated. After his release, he had sex with his girlfriend without disclosing his diagnosis. The opinion for the majority by Justice Terrence O’Donnell does not indicate whether Batista’s girlfriend became or was already infected or whether Batista’s medical treatment had suppressed the virus to undetectable levels, which would make sexual transmission very unlikely. Batista argued that the Ohio law unconstitutionally forced people living with HIV to disclose their status, a form of government-compelled speech. He also argued that singling out people living with HIV for this disclosure obligation in connection with sexual activity raised equal protection concerns because people with other similar infectious conditions were not burdened with this obligation and no such obligation was placed on people engaging in non-sexual activities that could transmit HIV. In his majority opinion, Justice O’Donnell wrote, “The First Amend-

6

ment does not prevent statutes regulating conduct from imposing incidental burdens on speech.” In this case, he argued, the statute was aimed directly at conduct: engaging in sex without having disclosed one’s HIV-positive status to a partner. O’Donnell pointed to support from appellate courts in Missouri and Illinois, quoting a 2016 Missouri decision stating, “While individuals may have to disclose their HIV status if they choose to engage in activities covered by the statute, any speech compelled by it is incidental to its regulation of the targeted conduct and does not constitute a freedom of speech violation.” The Illinois Supreme Court was even more direct, stating that state’s law did not have “the slightest connection with free speech.” Three members of the court disagreed with this approach to the analysis, in a concurring opinion by Justice R. Patrick DeWine, who wrote, “When the government tells someone what he must say, it is regulating speech.” But, he added, Batista did not have a valid free speech claim because the state met the necessary strict scrutiny test to justify a content-based regulation of speech. “Under strict scrutiny,” wrote DeWine, “a content-based regulation of speech will be upheld only if it is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest and it is the least restrictive means of doing so.” The government interests, he found, were preventing the spread of HIV and “ensuring informed consent to sexual relations,” noting that society has “long criminalized nonconsensual sexual relations.” These two together, DeWine wrote, “rise to the level of a compelling government interest.” The Illinois ruling O’Donnell pointed to came from 1994, and DeWine acknowledged expert testimony Batista presented that advances in treatment for HIV infection since then had led to normal lifespans for those infected, rendering HIV infection no longer an “invariably fatal” disease. The issue today, he asserted, isn’t whether

the consequences of being infected are less serious now than they were years ago. Rather, he wrote, “the question is who gets to evaluate that risk: should the HIV-positive individual get to assess that risk for his sexual partner or should the partner get to make her own decision. Fair to say that most — if not all — people would insist on the right to make that decision for themselves.” DeWine also concluded that the obligation imposed by the law was “narrowly tailored” to advance the government interest, by restricting the disclosure requirement to those who wish to have sex and requiring disclosure only to a sexual partner. “I cannot fathom — and Batista has not advanced — any less restrictive or more narrowly tailored means that could have been employed by the government to achieve its interests here,” he wrote. Regarding Batista’s equal protection challenge, Justice O’Donnell wrote for the court majority that the comparison to hepatitis C “is misplaced” since the decision of which public health issues to address is a legislative, not a judicial function. He rejected the idea of having the court “weigh the wisdom of the legislature’s policy choices,” claiming that this “beyond our authority.” In an equal protection case, unless there is a suspect classification — like race or sex — or a fundamental right involved, all the state needs is a rational basis for its actions. Since the court majority found no First Amendment free speech issue and knowingly being HIV-positive is not a “suspect classification,” the court’s analysis is no more demanding than to ask whether the legislature had any conceivable basis for singling out HIV-positive people for this disclosure requirement. O’Donnell found that the lack of similar treatment for those knowingly infected with hepatitis C “does not eliminate the rational relationship between the classification here — individuals with knowledge of their HIV-positive status who fail to disclose that status to sexual partners — and the goal of curbing HIV transmission.” O’Donnell made the same argu-

ment regarding Batista’s claim the state was irrational in imposing the disclosure obligation regarding sexual conduct but not in connection with other modes of HIV transmission. In his acknowledgement of treatment advances and the reductions in the risk of transmission, O’Donnell wrote, “We cannot say that there is no plausible policy reason for the classification or that the relationship between the classification and the policy goal renders it arbitrary or irrational.” Reading these opinions is frustrating for those who have kept up with the latest findings of public health authorities on the efficacy of state-of-the-art HIV treatments to reduce the risk of sexual transmission to a negligible level, but evidently the court was unwilling to entertain seriously the proposition that the state does not have a legitimate interest in imposing the disclosure requirement across the board on HIV-positive people, including those who do not pose a real risk of transmission. It seems very likely the court simply does not fully understand the scientific issues involved. Batista was represented by attorneys from the Hamilton County Public Defenders Office, but also had exceptional support from amicus briefs by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the State Public Defenders Office, and half a dozen HIV, LGBTQ, and other civil rights and criminal defense advocates, including the Treatment Action Group, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign. Batista could seek US Supreme Court review on the federal constitutional claims he made, but that court rarely agrees to review decisions that could be premised on independent state constitutional grounds. On the other hand, an argument could be made that federal constitutional protection for speech and equality is more protective of individual rights than the relevant state guarantees.

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


 

    

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November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


         

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GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017

9


DECEMBER 1 IS WORLD AIDS DAY BY PAUL SCHINDLER

W

orldwide, an estimated 38 million people are living HIV, with more than 17 million still receiving no treatment to halt the progression of AIDS-related illnesses, according to data from UNAIDS. In 2016, approximately 1.8 million people became newly infected, with 160,000 of those under the age of 18, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research reports. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 76 million have contracted HIV, with AIDS-related deaths totaling 35 million, one million of them in 2016, according to amfAR. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, with 15 percent of them unaware of their infection. New infections per year continue at a level of more than 35,000, with cumulative deaths related to AIDS totaling nearly 700,000. In 2014, the most recent year for which the CDC has presented nationwide data, 6,721 people died of AIDS-related illnesses.

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

George Towne’s “Larry Kramer-Portrait,” oil on board, 16 x 12 in.

In New York City, the number of new HIV diagnoses continues to decline, though incrementally, with an 8.6 percent drop from 2,493 in 2015 to 2,279 in 2016, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In 2016, 1,403 deaths in the city were attributed to AIDS-related causes. As of January 1, 2016, the health department estimates there were more than 120,000 city residents living with HIV. On November 30, December 1,

10

and into the month, events commemorating World AIDS Day are taking place across the city. Among those scheduled are: BROOKLYN PRIDE COMMUNITY CENTER CANDLE LIGHT REMEMBRANCE In its new home on Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Brooklyn Pride Community Center hosts a brief Red Ribbon ceremony by candle light followed by community leaders reading names of those lost to the epidemic. A reception follows the ceremony. 1360 Fulton St., at New York Ave. Ground floor, Restoration Plaza Nov. 30, 6-8 p.m. Details at lgbtbrooklyn.org/portfolio/world-aids-day-2017

FOURTH ANNUAL CITYWIDE WORLD AIDS COMMEMORATION The End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition, made up of more than 60 AIDSservice and community-based organizations, medical providers, and elected officials, is joined by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York State Department of Health in hosting the fourth annual citywide commemoration. This year’s theme is Health Equity, which focuses on addressing the obstacles people living with and affected by HIV/ AIDS face in accessing optimal health care and support — including racism, poverty, homophobia, transphobia, stigma, violence, shame, and homelessness and housing instability. The event will also focus on mental health, behavioral health, and substance use issues that create even more barriers to care. The End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition believes that it is critical for local and state government and the community to come together to ensure that all New Yorkers — regardless of race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, income, or immigration status — have equitable access to the health care they need, including HIV prevention, care, and treatment. Compassionate, comprehensive care is a right, and New York must continue to be a global and

national leader in reimagining what health care and health equity can and should be. Among officials and advocates speaking will be City Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy commissioner for disease control. Among a host of entertainers will be the all-women Brazilian Drumline FogoAzul NYC. Kings Theatre 1027 Flatbush Ave., btwn. Tilden Ave. & Beverley Rd. Dec. 1, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

THE R.E.D BALL The R.E.D. (Remembering. Empowering. Doing.) Ball is an annual fashion show/ runway competition sponsored by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that commemorates World AIDS Day. The Kiki scene welcomes young members of the community to creatively express themselves. Winners earn prizes, trophies, and the respect of their peers. Categories include: Old Girl Move (one trophy, $100); Cac-Cac-Shawam, Commentator vs Commentator (one trophy, $100); Wardrobe: Best Dressed Duo (one trophy, $250); Pretty Face (one trophy, $250); Walking Runway (one trophy, $200); Zapatos & Spectacles: Foot and Eye (one trophy, $100); Throat: The Voice (one trophy, $100); FF Performance (one trophy, $100); BQVF (two trophies and one gift card, $100); and Blending Realness (grand prize, $500). Admission is free, as is the HIV testing, and the event is wheelchairaccessible. 404 NYC 404 10th Ave., just below 33rd St. Dec. 1, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Details at eventbrite.com/e/red-ball-2017-ring-the-alarm-tickets-39707960579

WORLD AIDS DAY AT THE ALLIANCE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE In a day-long program at four locations titled “Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections, ” the Alliance for Positive Change, which serves New Yorkers living with HIV/ AIDS and other chronic illnesses, aims

to provide an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to provide free and confidential HIV testing, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. At the Alliance for Positive Change: 64 W. 35th St., second floor Dec. 1, 9:30-10 a.m.: Reading of names 10-11:00 a.m.: Healthy Eating with HIV 11 a.m.-noon: HIV/ AIDS & Diabetes Presentation 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.: Poets Café — Readings by members of the Alliance’s Creative Writing Workshop 1-2:00 p.m.: Community Lunch 2-3:30 p.m.: HIV/ AIDS Jeopardy At Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center: 25 Allen St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. Dec. 1, 10:30am: Syringe Exchanges’ Impact on HIV Prevention 2 p.m.: Memorial: Movie Presentation At CASA Washington Heights: 2036 Amsterdam Ave., at W. 161st St. Dec. 1, 1 p.m.: PrEP Panel Discussion 2 p.m.: Movie Presentation At Harlem Keith Haring Center: 315 E. 104th St. Dec. 1, 11 a.m.: PrEP Workshop Presentation 1 p.m.: Movie Presentation Details at alliance.nyc/ events/2017/12/1/world-aids-day-2017

OUT OF THE DARKNESS WORLD AIDS DAY CANDLELIGHT VIGIL Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the American Run for the End of AIDS, Fundacion MAROZO, Heritage of Pride, the International AIDS Prevention Initiative, the Keith Haring Foundation, Shake Shack, and St. John’s Lutheran Church host the 26th “Out of the Darkness” World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil and Gathering. Among the speakers will be for-

DECEMBER 1, continued on p.11

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

DECEMBER 1, from p.10

mer State Senator Tom Duane, City Councilmember Corey Johnson, Brooke Guinan, the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first out transgender firefighter, NYPD Detective Brian Downey, the president of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL), and Kelsey Louie, GMHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CEO. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Human Beingsâ&#x20AC;? from Gays Against Guns, veiled marchers representing people killed from gun violence, will also participate, and portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed. New York City AIDS Memorial Greenwich Ave., at W. 12th St. Dec. 1, 6 p.m. After the speeches and presentations, participants will march to St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher St., btwn. W. Fourth & Bleecker Sts.

HIV STOPS WITH ME CAMPAIGN PRESENTS â&#x20AC;&#x153;90 DAYSâ&#x20AC;? The HIV Stops With Me Campaign hosts an evening screening of Nathan Hale Williams and Jennia Fredrique Aponteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s film â&#x20AC;&#x153;90 Days,â&#x20AC;? which tells the story of a young couple forced to confront the modern day challenges of loving with HIV. The screening is part of a town hall meeting and panel discussion, moderated by PageSix TV and Sirius/ XM host Bevy Smith, that will tackle the impact of stigma on the rising infection rates in communities of color and how entertainment can have positive effects on the current state of HIV/ AIDS. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We believe that storytelling is a perfect vehicle for advocacy and activism,â&#x20AC;? said director Williams. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;90 Days,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; our goal is to use entertainment to advocate for the message that love is greater than anything, including HIV.â&#x20AC;? Joining Bevy and the directors on the panel will be journalist Emil Wilkebin, HIV Stops With Me spokesperson Kimberly CanadyGriffith, a wife and mother living with the virus, and lead actor Nic Few . First Corinthian Baptist Church 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., at W. 116th St. Dec. 1: doors open at 6 p.m.; program begins at 7

WORLD AIDS DAY CABARET In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the NYC AIDS Memorial, Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub hosts a benefit cabaret starring Duncan Sheik, Lillias White, Taylor Mac, Linda Lavin, and director Rob Ashford. Until last year, the city had no highly visible public memorial recognizing those we lost and the extraordinarily heroic effort of caregivers and activists who helped change the trajectory of the epidemic. Even though New York City alone lost more than 100,000 men, women and children to AIDS and the global activist response to the epidemic started here, the history of the disease in New York City has been all but invisible. Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub, inside the Public Theater 425 Lafayette St., btwn. E. Fourth & Astor Pl. Dec. 1, 7 p.m.; doors open at 6 Tickets are $150-$2,000 at joespub.com

WORLD AIDS DAY AT LESLIELOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART The museum and Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health Crisis host the opening reception of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Art & AIDS: 35 Years of Survival,â&#x20AC;? an art exhibition commemorating GMHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 35th anniversary and the long-term survivor community. The exhibition features dozens of works created by GMHC clients. David Livingston and GMHC board member Osvaldo Perdomo curated the exhibition, and the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CEO, Kelsey Louie said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;For many of our participating client artists, creating these works was a healing experience to help them express their emotions about living with HIV/ AIDS.â&#x20AC;? Free and open to the public. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Nov. 30, 6-8 p.m. The exhibition runs through Dec. 30. On Dec. 7, 6-8 p.m., GMHC and the museum hosts a panel discussion about the influence of art in the AIDS epidemic during the last 35 years. Details at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-aids-the-influ ence-of-art-in-the-aids-epidemic -tickets-39229628876

On World AIDS Day and every day: we are there for our neighbors

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ä&#x2030;´ GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017

DECEMBER 1, continued on p.23

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Wedding Pride Another Fed Court Win for Trans Students Directory Pennsylvania judge refuses to dismiss 13:30@/B7<55/G/<2:3A07/<;/@@7/53

CATERING

Title IX, equal protection claims

ROCCOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S TACOS 339 Adams Street (next door to the Marriott Hotel), Brooklyn, NY, 11201 718-246-8226, alberto@roccostacos.com, www.roccostacos.com Roccoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tacos and Tequila Bar is known for molcajetes (their version of fajitas), served in a piping hot lava rock bowl, as well as guacamole thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s made fresh tableside. Mexican-born Chef Freddy Tlatelpa brings authenticity to the daily specials as well as the various regional specialties on the everyday menu. Roccoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s serves over 400 tequilas, specialty margaritas and an extensive list of draft and bottle beers. Five dining rooms, which feature hand-selected decor from Mexico, include fun themed rooms (Star Wars crossed with DĂ­a de Muertos; masked luchadorwrestlers), and can accommodate many types of private events.

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www.gaycitynews.nyc 12

BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

federal court judge in Pennsylvania has denied a school districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s motion to dismiss Title IX and equal protection claims by an elementary school transgender student denied the right to use the girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bathroom consistent with her gender identity. On November 22, District Judge Robert D. Mariani, ruling on a suit brought on behalf of A.H. by â&#x20AC;&#x153;her next best friend and mother, Tracey Handling,â&#x20AC;? rejected the argument by the Minersville Area School District in central Pennsylvania that because the Trump administration withdrew an earlier Obama guidance on protection of transgender students under the Title IX sex nondiscrimination provisions of the Education Amendments of 1972, the complaint failed to state a valid claim. Other federal districts courts in recent years, including another judge in Pennsylvania regarding the Pine-Richland School District near Pittsburgh, have also sided with transgender students on Title IX and equal protection claims, with the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in May becoming the first appellate bench to endorse that view in a suit brought by Ashton Whitaker, a male high school student in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The school district there is currently seeking Supreme Court of the Seventh Circuit decision, which could resolve this question nationally by June of next year. This past August, a different federal district court in Pennsylvania rejected claims made on behalf of cisgender high school students and their parents by the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom that the youthsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rights of privacy were violated by the Philadelphia-area Boyertown Area School Districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s policy of allowing trans students to access bathrooms consistent with their

gender identity. In the Minersville case, according to Judge Marianiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision, A.H. â&#x20AC;&#x153;was diagnosed with gender dysphoria while in kindergarten. Under the care of a pediatric psychologist, Plaintiff and her family have been exploring ways for Plaintiff to express her gender identity at home, in school, and in the communityâ&#x20AC;Ś Since beginning kindergarten in 2014, Plaintiff has continuously presented herself both in and out of school as a female. Plaintiff uses a female name, dresses in clothing traditionally associated with females, is addressed using female pronouns, and is known to her classmates as a female student.â&#x20AC;? Regardless of Handlingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s request that her daughter be allowed to use the girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bathroom, however, the school superintendent, Carl McBreen, said the privacy of other students trumped the trans girlâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs. When she was in kindergarten, the issue did not come up â&#x20AC;&#x201D; since the classroom had only a single-use bathroom â&#x20AC;&#x201D; until a field trip, when teachers required A.H. to wait until all the boys had used a male-designated bathroom and then allowed her to use it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The incident upset Plaintiff and resulted in some of her classmates asking her why she, as a girl, was using the boysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bathroom,â&#x20AC;? Mariani wrote. When Handling questioned the principal about this, she was told it was â&#x20AC;&#x153;school policy that a child must use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex listed on the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birth certificate,â&#x20AC;? in line with â&#x20AC;&#x153;protectingâ&#x20AC;? other students from A.H. Handling, however, never received the written policy she requested. When A.H. entered first grade and Handling asked that her daughter be allowed to use the girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bathroom, McBreen, the superintendent, told her, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Minersville isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t ready for this.â&#x20AC;? Meanwhile, in

ä&#x2030;´

TRANS STUDENT WIN, continued on p.13

November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


FAMILIES

Intended Parents Win Custody in Surrogacy Dispute UK court denies gay couple legal parenthood, but child will live with them BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

A

unanimous three-judge appeals panel in Britain issued a decision on November 17 affirming a ruling by Lucy Theis, a family court judge, that a gay male couple should have residential custody of a child born as a result of an unenforceable gestational surrogacy agreement they had entered into with a married woman who sought to keep the child. Although the appeal had been presented as “involving novel issues” about potential conflicts between different parenting statutes, wrote Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane of the appeals panel, “on examination these issues fell away and the argument ultimately boiled down to the question of whether the Judge erred on her evaluation of the evidence.” The gay couple, identified only as A and B, entered into a surrogacy agreement with a “heterosexual married couple,” identified as C and D, who had five children. C, the wife, had been a gestational surrogate twice before. The parties met online in April 2015 and signed the surrogacy agreement in August of that year. The woman and one of the gay men traveled to a clinic in Cyprus, where his sperm

TRANS STUDENT WIN, from p.12

talking to Handling, the principal referred to A.H. using male pronouns, even after being corrected. When the Obama administration issued its guidance to public school districts nationwide stating that trans students were protected under Title IX sex nondiscrimination provisions, Breen informed Handling her daughter could use the girls’ bathroom but that the school “has not created any policy on bathroom access for transgender students.” A.H. then filed suit seeking a court order that the district comply with Title IX and equal protection requirements. In its motion to dismiss the Title IX claim, the school argued that

was used to fertilize a donated egg, which was then implanted in the gestational surrogate. The woman, then, has no genetic relationship to the child. The relationship between the parties deteriorated during the pregnancy to the point where communication stopped in March 2016. According to the opinion by Family Court Justice Theis, “At some point in late March 2016, [the gestational surrogate and her husband] sought legal advice and decided that they were not going to hand over the child to [the gay couple], as had been agreed between the parties as recorded in the agreement they signed.” At this point, the gay couple were trying to contact the surrogate but got no response. The woman gave birth in late April, but due to complications she and the infant remained in the hospital until May 6. The day before the birth, a lawyer retained by the woman and her husband wrote to the gay couple telling them they were not prepared to follow the surrogacy agreement and would not be giving their consent to a parental order on behalf of the child’s biological father. The men only learned of the birth on May 10, by which time the woman and her husband had already registered the birth with

the name they had chosen rather than that preferred by the biological father and his partner. The gay couple then filed suit, resulting in a temporary “shared care arrangement” between the two sides pending the family court’s disposition of the case. Justice Theis appointed a guardian to represent the child’s interests in the proceedings. Since the surrogate did not cooperate with a parental order on behalf of the biological father, she and her husband, presumed under law to be the father of a child born to his wife, are considered the child’s legal parents. Surrogacy agreements are not enforceable under English law. The intended father can only obtain a parental order designating him as the legal parent with the cooperation of the birth mother and her spouse, if any. The main question for the court was whether the child should reside with the surrogate and her husband or with the biological father and his partner — in light of the facts of the child’s conception, the subsequent bonding through the shared care arrangement, and one of the gay men’s claims as the biological father. The lawyer for the surrogate and her husband argued that “as a matter of law,” they had a right

“to change their minds and keep” the infant, McFarlane wrote. The judge found that “It is undoubtedly correct that a surrogate mother has the right to change her mind,” but added that “tells one nothing about what the best welfare arrangements for the child will be after birth. That will depend on the circumstances.” The guardian appointed for the child testified that the gay couple were better placed to meet “the more complex emotional needs of a child born in these circumstances” than were the surrogate and her husband. The two men, it appeared, were open to allowing the child to have a relationship with the surrogate and her husband, while the reverse was not true. The guardian recommended that the child live with the biological father and his partner but have visiting contact with the surrogate and her husband under a set schedule. Judge Theis accepted this recommendation. The appeals panel rejected the surrogate’s argument that placing the child with the intended gay parents was “equivalent to the making of a parental order,” which would have left “the surrogate with no rights, and no right to apply

the Trump administration’s withdrawal of the Obama guidance left “no legal basis to support a Title IX claim against the school district for transgender discrimination.” Mariani, however, quoting from the PineRichland School District ruling, noted that the new administration’s action established no new interpretation of Title IX, but merely created “an interpretive vacuum.” Looking to that decision as well as the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in the Kenosha case, Mariani observed that Title IX courts have looked to precedents under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for guidance on the scope of sex nondiscrimination protections. Both courts, he found, concluded, in the words of the Seventh Circuit, that “a policy

that requires an individual to use a bathroom that does not conform with his or her gender identity punishes that individual for his or her gender non-conformance, which in turn violates Title IX.” The Seventh Circuit specifically rejected the argument that providing access to a gender-neutral single user restroom is “sufficient” to relieve schools of their nondiscrimination responsibility. Turning to A.H.’s equal protection claim under the 14th Amendment, Mariani found that applying heightened scrutiny to the school’s policy and actions — which both sides agreed was the appropriate standard for review — the Minersville schools had not presented proof that they serve an important government

objective. “Plaintiff has adequately alleged the existence of a school policy that treated her differently on the basis of her transgender status or nonconformity to gender stereotypes,” Mariani wrote. “As such, she has sufficiently stated a claim for relief under the Equal Protection Clause.” A plaintiff making a constitutional discrimination claims must demonstrate discriminatory intent, and here the judge pointed to statements by school officials that at this stage of the case provide sufficient evidence of this. Mariani was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama in 2011. A.H. and her mother are represented by David L. Deratzian of Hahalis & Kounoupis PC in Bethlehem.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

SURROGACY DISPUTE, continued on p.18

13


COMMUNITY

LGBTQ Life and Detroit’s Changed Face How queer politics, demographics tracked a big city’s yawning racial divide BY MICHAEL LUONGO

T

im Retzloff teaches history and LGBTQ studies at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He earned his Ph.D. in history in 2014 from Yale, where he studied under George Chauncey, best known outside academic circles for his landmark 1994 book “Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940.” Retzloff, in the tradition of his Yale advisor, is currently at work on his first book, “Metro Gay,” about gay and lesbian life and politics in the Detroit area from the end of World War II through 1985. His writings on Michigan’s queer past have appeared in the anthology “Creating a Place for Ourselves,” the journal GLQ, the collection “Making Suburbia,” and Between The Lines, Michigan’s LGBTQ newspaper, where he had been editor. He also curates the website Michigan LGBTQ Remember, an online gallery of queer Michiganders from the past (michiganlgbtqremember.com/), and writes a companion blog on Queer Remembering (queer-remembering.blog/). Retzloff grew up in Flint, about 50 miles northeast of the university, and now lives in Lansing, the state capital, with his husband Rick. When Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” — which looks at a 1967 police raid on the Blind Pig, a black social club, that led to widespread disturbances, known locally as the Rebellion — was released this past summer, Retzloff participated in a forum organized by LGBT Detroit (lgbtdetroit.org) along with the group’s executive director, Curtis Lipscomb, and Detroit’s LGBT police liaison, Officer Dani Woods, to discuss the queer community’s reactions to the movie. Later, he spoke with Gay City News about Detroit’s LGBTQ community during this pivotal time in the city’s history. MICHAEL LUONGO: What was gay life like in Detroit in the late 1960s? TIM RETZLOFF: Much of De-

JERRY COOKE/ LIFE MAGAZINE/ PUBLIC DOMAIN MICHAEL LUONGO

Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of LGBT Detroit, police LGBTQ liaison Officer Dani Woods, and Michigan State University professor Tim Retzloff discuss LGBTQ life in the city during the time of the 1967 Rebellion portrayed in Kathryn Bigelow’s film.

troit’s gay life in the late 1960s revolved around an expanding nightlife. With a couple exceptions, Detroit’s 20 or so gay bars served a white gay clientele. Queer people of color had only one or two bars to call their own. They created other means of socializing, such as roving and fixed drag venues and nowfamous house parties hosted by local lesbian matriarch Ruth Ellis. Some gay Detroiters did bridge the racial divide both socially and sexually, meeting in downtown movie houses, public restrooms, city parks, and private homes. In terms of organizing, Detroit’s gay activism paled in comparison to the increasingly assertive homophile movements in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, during the same era. In 1967, the area had only one formal group, called ONE in Detroit, which was predominantly male, professional, and closeted. ML: You also mentioned a gay connection to the Berry Gordy of Motown mansion. TR: In the mid-1960s, a librarian at a suburban high school and his male partner bought a lavish 10-bedroom mansion in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood for a steal. As gay men were wont to do, they refurbished the home and hosted parties there, some gay, some not. At a February 1967 party for the librarian’s high school faculty, guests were treated to a surprise visit by Berry Gordy and

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

the Supremes. Soon thereafter, the couple sold the home to Gordy. ML: Tell me about the vice squad policeman who initiated the raid that set off the Detroit riots, and what he used to do to the LGBTQ population of the time. And it was a queer who finally did something drastic to him? TR: John Hersey’s [book] “The Algiers Motel Incident” [on which Bigelow’s movie is partly based], includes an account of David Senack, one of the three real life Detroit police officers given fictional names for the film “Detroit.” Senack told Hersey about a vice squad sergeant named Victor De Lavalla, who was front and center in the Blind Pig raid that sparked the Detroit Rebellion of ’67. My own research into local prosecutions for gross indecency and homosexual accosting found De Lavalla listed as arresting officer in more homosexual cases than anyone else on the vice squad. According to Senack, De Lavalla “got his stomach slashed from end to end by a queer” early in his career. ML: Talk also about the connections among policing of black bodies, queer bodies, and queer black bodies versus white queer bodies. TR: Court cases from the mid1940s to the mid-1960s reveal that white people arrested while patronizing Detroit gay bars were more likely to be incarcerated than were white men arrested in parks, who could claim a temporary lapse from

The Right Reverend Dr. James F. Jones, more widely known as Prophet Jones, was arrested in 1956 for making an “indecent proposal” to an undercover Detroit vice officer.

heterosexuality. Of the total who received jail time or prison sentences for homosexual offenses, roughly one-third were white and two-thirds were African-American. In Detroit, as in other localities, black bodies and queer bodies were policed by the local vice squad. Detroiters with black queer bodies were perhaps most vulnerable. ML: You had mentioned the Virginia Park neighborhood that surrounded the Algiers Motel, the incident portrayed in Bigelow’s movie Detroit, was to a degree a gay neighborhood. TR: The neighborhood had a strong gay presence in the 1960s. Two blocks to the south, gay people populated a number of small apartment buildings along Seward Avenue. The Diplomat Lounge, Detroit’s foremost drag showcase of the 1960s, was several blocks away on Second Boulevard. The Park Lane building, across the street from the Diplomat, was so gay that residents performed a same-sex wedding in the lobby in the mid-1960s. And, in 1972, Detroit’s first gay community center, the Green Carnation, opened just a block and a half from the Algiers Motel. ML: Long before the Rebellion, what were some of the main gay spaces/ neighborhoods in Detroit, and what made aspects of some of them, such as Paradise Valley, like

DETROIT, continued on p.19

17


SURROGACY DISPUTE, from p.13

to court. It would not provide for ongoing contact.” Theis, the panel pointed out, explicitly recognized the ongoing role of the surrogate and her husband as legal parents of the child. The appeals panel concluded its opinion with observations on two matters. “Firstly, we note that surrogacy is a complex area, ethically and legally, and that there are no inter-

PREP IMPACT, from p.5

istrations, which cut funding for AIDS and HIV prevention services. “The city is doing much better, but we still have a way to go to put more priority toward young black and Latino MSM,” said Guillermo Chacon, president of the non-profit Latino Commission on AIDS. “When we talk about Latino MSM, we need more… If we don’t do that, we will not be able to reach our community goals by 2020.” Gary English, who once headed

18

nationally agreed norms,” Justice McFarlane wrote, endorsing Theis’ observation that it would be desirable for the government to enact “a properly supported and regulated framework to underpin arrangements of this kind.” The lack of any legal status for surrogacy agreements — which, for example, remain illegal under New York law — is a continuing source of difficulties, since the legal template for dealing with custody disputes between divorcing parents does not

People of Color in Crisis, a nowclosed New York City AIDS group, and is now the executive director of Get It Get It, a new HIV prevention group serving black gay men that received a $166,000 city contract to develop PrEP messaging, also lauded the city. “I think we have got to keep the PrEP conversation at the front in the black gay community,” English said. “If we don’t have special program initiatives, we’re not going to see the uptake. It has to be designed for black gay men.”

easily fit the situation when surrogacy arrangements break down during pregnancy. The court also devoted a final paragraph to chastising the gay couple for “most unwisely and unaccountably” resorting to social media to discuss their situation, which led to a restraining order barring any “further publicity.” Preserving confidentiality in contested custody cases is generally deemed to be in the best interest of the child.

Though the intended gay parents will now have custody of their child, the result of this case excited some startled comment from the LGBTQ press in the UK since the surrogate, who has no genetic relationship to the child, and her husband continue as legal parents. The gay couple become, in effect, de facto parents. The court’s call for the government to establish an appropriate statutory legal framework to govern such situations is heartfelt.

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November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

DETROIT, from p.17

Harlem in the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;20s and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;30s? TR: White, working-class gay bars clustered around Farmer and Bates Streets downtown by the 1940s. In the 1950s, gay bars began to migrate farther out into the city, first to an area now touted as Midtown [near the Museum District], and by the early 1970s to Woodward and Six Mile Road. Meanwhile, from the 1920s through the 1950s, a queer presence was integral to the African-American enclave of Paradise Valley. Boxed in by redlining, deed restrictions, and white resistance to integration, Paradise Valley nonetheless became a vibrant nexus for black Detroiters where sissy bars shared space with jazz clubs and the Detroit Urban League. The area was bulldozed in the early 1960s for a freeway. ML: Following the Rebellion, there were major splits among black and white gays â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or had it always been that way? How did two spheres of gay life develop in the Detroit region in the decades following, making the city very different from other American cities and how did this impact bars, parades, and LGBTQ rights groups? TR: Detroitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LGBTQ landscape does, indeed, look different from other US cities. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a complicated map whose nuances tell us important things about cross currents of oppression and resistance, the spatial roots of differing strands of gay politics, and how race and racism have shaped LGBTQ life. The urban violence of 1967 accelerated a pattern of white flight and economic disinvestment in the city that had already been underway since the end of World War II. Many white lesbian and gay people joined the white exodus. A racial chasm helped precipitate the demise of the Detroit Gay Liberation Front in 1971, when participants divided over whether to include police oppression of blacks as part of a protest against the vice squad. In some ways, the rift continued on. The focal point of white LGBTQ life in Metro Detroit today is suburban Ferndale, home to a gay mayor, Affirmations Community Center, and one of the few Detroit-area gay bars operating outside the Detroit city limits.

Within Detroit proper, LGBTQ people of color have created their own distinctive institutions, including the Ruth Ellis Center for homeless youth, Full Truth Unity Fellowship Church, and LGBT Detroit. The Association of Suburban People was founded in 1975 in response to a sheriffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crackdown on gay men gathering in a county park. ASP reflected a new desire for gay organizing beyond Detroit in suburbs that were almost exclusively white. The group reflected a politics of closeted discretion. ML: Tell me more about the Palmer Park area developing as a gay white space, then a gay black space. And this is also near where Mitt Romney grew up, and where LGBT Detroitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pride Festival Hotter Than July takes place. TR: Palmer Park is probably the nearest Detroit has come to having a gay neighborhood akin to Chelsea or the Castro or Chicagoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Boystown. Situated around Woodward and Six Mile, just to the south of an expansive namesake park where plenty of cruising went on, the area emerged as a gay neighborhood by the early 1970s. It included bars, bathhouses, a gay bookstore, and substantial gay occupancy in the Palmer Park apartment district. The white gay population began to leave in the mid-1980s and numerous former residents lament the loss of the glory days when Palmer Park was gay, oblivious to or outright ignoring the fact that the area retains an LGBTQ presence in 2017, one comprising primarily people of color. Detroitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premier black LGBTQ pride event, the annual Hotter Than July celebration, culminates with a picnic in Palmer Park, as it has each year since 1996. The Romneys lived in Palmer Woods, a neighborhood of stately homes located north of Palmer Park. ML: Who was Prophet Jones? TR: Prophet Jones was a popular, fabulously flamboyant AfricanAmerican religious leader who rose to prominence in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s and was featured in such national magazines as Life, Newsweek, and the Saturday Evening Post. The Detroit police arrested him on a morals charge in 1956 for making an â&#x20AC;&#x153;indecent proposalâ&#x20AC;? to an undercover vice officer.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017

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20

BY DR. OXIRIS BARBOT AND DR. DEMETRE DASKALAKIS

“T

ens across the board!,” the emcee screams into the microphone as three young, queer New Yorkers of color walk the runway of the R.E.D. Ball with giant angel wings that they designed and assembled just for this night. On the runway at the R.E.D. Ball, everyone is a star. On this night, December 1, over 500 of the city’s bestdressed youth will crowd shoulderto-shoulder for New York City’s fourth annual nighttime event to celebrate and commemorate World AIDS Day. Walking in step with leaders from the New York City Health Department, the Houses of the Ball compete in categories that celebrate their gender and sexual identities, along with their knowledge of HIV treatment and prevention. This event is special; the government isn’t well known for throwing exciting parties. But every December, we make an exception. The celebration coincides with more traditional World AIDS Day events that often don’t adequately recognize the organizing power and cultural significance of those most affected by the epidemic — young Black and Latino men who

have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women. The Health Department sponsors House Balls, a mainstay of the social fabric of many non-white LGBTQ New York communities, because preventing the spread of HIV and ending the AIDS epidemic necessitates centering queer communities of color. Centering acknowledges the capacity communities have to originate their own healing, and it’s one strategy to help rectify a world that continues to marginalize people based on their race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. Decimated by AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, the House and Ball community continues to be overrepresented in the HIV epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) project that one out of every two Black MSM could become infected in their lifetime; for Latino MSM, that number is one out of every four. The CDC doesn’t even have estimates on transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, a clear result of decades of marginalization and silencing within research, outreach, and treatment. Public health practitioners often claim this population is hard to reach. That’s not true. The data merely show whom we have historically valued reaching. But the R.E.D. Ball is not simply an HIV event. It’s a celebration of life

that pays homage to House culture and its continuing role as a lifesaving social support for thousands of young adults faced with rejection, abandonment, and abuse. It is meant to create an affirming, social space where youth can be their authentic selves while receiving sex-positive massaging, prevention tools (condoms, lubricant, and #PlaySure kits), and free access to testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections. As Malcolm McLaren rapped in the House anthem “Deep in Vogue,” “on a legendary night… when the crowd is calling down the spirits, listen and you will hear all the Houses that walked there before.” At the R.E.D. Ball, you can feel the legendary history and presence of the Mothers and Fathers of these Houses. The promise of their sacrifice is felt in the beats of the music, the flawless style, the fierce runway walks, and the continuous creation of family and community. Stigma, data, and projections of future incidence will never be a match for that. Dr. Oxiris Barbot is the first deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis is the department’s deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control. For complete information on the R.E.D. Ball, see the listing on page 10.

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


Still getting HIV care through a non-HIV health plan? You don’t have ordinary health needs. You deserve a specialized health plan.

If you’re living with HIV/AIDS, SelectHealth is a health plan dedicated to serving your special needs. Your SelectHealth primary care doctor is an experienced HIV Specialist. And every physician in our network is fully committed to serving our community. VNSNY CHOICE SelectHealth Medicaid Learn more: 1-866-469-7774 (TTY: 711) 8 am – 6 pm, Monday – Friday All calls confidential. vnsnychoice.org/selecthealth © 2017 VNSNY CHOICE

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

ID# D6241 | Rev 08/09/17 | DOH Approved 11/13/17 21


PERSPECTIVE: The Long View

Murder Prosecutions of Low-Level Sellers Stymie Public Health BY NATHAN RILEY

D

rug law reformers are pushing back against a new wave of counterproductive cruelty from prohibition-minded law enforcement seeking to prevent drug use with harsh sentences. Drug users and low-level sellers are being accused of drug-induced homicides (DIH) in ever-greater numbers, according to a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Comprehensive statistics are not available because prosecutors are usually locally elected, but the organization’s researchers report a staggering 300 percent increase in newspaper reports about DIH prosecutions. Prosecutors are not required to report statistics on such cases or prove the interventions are effective. In 2011, there were 363 reports of drug-induced homicides nation-

wide, but five years later 1,200 mentions were uncovered. Opioidrelated deaths during that period soared, reaching 64,000 last year, more than all US deaths in the Vietnam War or the deaths from AIDS in 1995, the peak year of HIV-related fatalities. In Ohio, 10 officers pursued 53 DIH cases, yet the state still recorded 100 more OD deaths in 2016 than 2015. On a November 7 teleconference, Lindsay LaSalle, a senior counsel for DPA, said prosecutors expect that their actions impact the rate of drug overdoses only indirectly. The law enforcement theory is that arrests reduce sales and thereby curb use, which might in turn reduce overdoses. In fact, LaSalle asserted, these policies kill drug users by nullifying Good Samaritan laws that encourage calls for emergency help. The caller and victim risk charges of drug possession and even sales. The Good Sa-

maritan laws are usually limited in scope, protecting users only from low-level offenses like possessing needles or small amounts of drugs. Should an overdose victim die, the caller could be subject to a murder charge. LaSalle deadpanned, “When a person knows they are going to be charged with something as extreme as murder of course they are going to hesitate before calling for help.” In January 2015 in suburban Chicago McHenry County, Danielle Barzyk overdosed and was having trouble breathing. After her boyfriend, Cody Hillier, called 911 and police showed up, he got rattled and said she was having an asthma attack. Naloxone, which is effective in reversing overdoses, was never administered and she died. The police then prevailed on Hillier to make a second buy from James Lindner, an unemployed black man recently released from prison

who had never met Danielle or had any dealings with her. He was accused of homicide although he had no role in making the product and never lied to emergency responders. He refused to plead guilty, was convicted by an all-white jury in a county whose population is 94 percent white, and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. Hillier, who is white, testified for the state and was charged with delivery and sentenced to time served and probation. The DPA’s new report, “An Overdose Death Is Not Murder: Why Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Are Counterproductive and Inhumane,” said the surge in prosecutions is a fatally flawed approach. Justified as going after drug kingpins, such prosecutions almost never reach those high in the supply chain. LaSalle stressed that DIH charges are often made against the last person to touch the drug — a friend, another user, or the guy on a street corner selling bags. “What we lose by pointing the finger of blame at a single person

DRUG ARRESTS, continued on p.23

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November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


DECEMBER 1, from p.11

In “Collective Responses To HIV: A Book Talk,” the museum honors the release of two new books which explore the power of art and collective action: Avram Finkelstein’s “After Silence: A History of AIDS Through Its Images” and Dr. Daniel Berger and John Neff’s “Militant Eroticism: The ART+ Positive Archives.” Finkelstein and Berger will share stories, art, and context from their books, and be joined by Jennifer Flynn Walker from the Center for Popular Democracy, Jaron Benjamin from Housing Works, and moderator Lisa Dent. Free and open to the public. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Dec. 2, 3-5 p.m.

27-B Prince St., at Wooster St. Opening reception: Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 2-3, noon-6 p.m.

TIMOTHY SCHENCK / SILENCE= DEATH COLLECTIVE, FACADE COMMISSION /2017

The Silence=Death Collective’s site-specific installation of the ACT UP poster at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

COURTESY: LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM OF GAY AND LESBIAN ART

“Collective Responses To HIV: A Book Talk” will be presented at Leslie-Lohman on December 2, 3-5 p.m.

“Day With(out) Art: Alternate Endings, Radical Beginnings” is the 28th annual iteration of Visual AIDS’ longstanding Day With(out) Art project. Curated by Erin Christovale and Vivian Crockett, the video program prioritizes black narratives within the ongoing AIDS epidemic, commissioning seven new and innovative short videos from artists Mykki Blanco, Cheryl Dunye & Ellen Spiro, Reina Gossett, Thomas Allen Harris, Kia LaBeija, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, and Brontez Purnell. In spite of the impact of HIV/ AIDS within black communities, these stories and experiences are constantly excluded from larger artistic and historical narratives. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Nov. 30-Dec. 10 “Positive, Negative, and the Space Between” showcases the creative accomplishments of participants in Housing Works Adult Day Healthcare programs. The exhibition explores shifting perspectives on HIV/AIDS against a broadening healthcare landscape. All proceeds from this event will go to support Housing Works’ artists and Art Therapy departments. Leslie-Lohman Project Space

DRUG ARRESTS, from p.22

is to ignore all the other structural factors,” she explained. “We ignore our failed public health infrastructure. What we know from the history of the drug prosecution is that when we point the finger of blame at a particular person very often it

The Silence=Death Collective is a group of commissioned artists creating work to cover the museum’s façade. To inaugurate this initiative, the museum will feature a site-specific installation adapting the iconic Silence=Death poster used by ACT UP in the 1980s to call attention to the lack of action by the US government. Iconic elements of the poster will be reorganized over time to contextualize the message with language that addresses the contemporary civil rights issues faced by LGBTQ community. Members of the Collective include Avram Finkelstein, Brian Howard, Charles Kreloff, Christopher Lione, Jorge Socarras, and Oliver Johnston. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through June 2018 “Barbara Hammer: Evidentiary Bodies” surveys the career of pioneering visual artist and filmmaker Barbara Hammer, featuring photographs, paintings, posters, films, videos, installations, drawings, writings, and more. Encompassing matters of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality, politics and representation, and visceral manifestations of pleasure and discomfort, “Evidentiary Bodies” tells a story of the relations, imprints, and textures that continue to shape Hammer’s oeuvre. 26 Wooster St., btwn. Canal & Grand Sts. Through Jan. 28, 2018 On Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., a 90-min. evening of Hammer short films is presented, including “Snow Job: The Media Hysteria of

is pointed at communities of color.” Racially coded terms like pusher and drug peddler are often used in DIH prosecutions. These prosecutions undermine public health efforts to prevent overdose deaths, DPA maintains, because that approach relies on friends and fellow users admin-

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

AIDS,” an eight-min. film from 1988 that explores the ways in which the mainstream media used AIDS to perpetuate homophobia and provoke a fear of interacting with the LGBTQ community.

AIDS QUILT SONGBOOK 25TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT National Sawdust presents the 25th Anniversary Concert of the AIDS Quilt Songbook, an ongoing project by musicians responding to HIV/ AIDS. Conceived by the late baritone William Parker as a continually growing collection of art songs articulating the impact of the AIDS epidemic, its 25th anniversary concert, curated by Thomas Bagwell and Gordon Beeferman, will include songs from the 1992 premiere, selections from Songbook performances over the years, and new songs premiering that reflect the changing face of HIV/AIDS. Proceeds benefit Bailey House, a non-profit founded in 1986 that provides housing and support for people and families living with HIV/ AIDS, and advocates on their behalf. National Sawdust 80 N. Sixth St., at Wythe Ave. Williamsburg Tickets at $29 at https://nationalsawdust.org/event/25th-anniversary-concert-of-the-aids -quilt-songbook $34 at the door

WORLD AIDS DAY AT BROOKLYN BOROUGH HALL As of 2016, nearly 30,000 people were living with HIV in Brooklyn, particularly in communities of color. Borough President Eric Adams hosts a community forum addressing issues including sexual health education in public schools and replenishing funding for HIV/ AIDS prevention programs. The conversation will be moderated by C. Virginia Fields, the former Manhattan borough president who is CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, and it will feature the voices of a range of key local partners in advocacy and treatment. Free HIV testing is available. Borough Hall 209 Joralemon St., at Court St. Courtroom and Rotunda Dec. 4, 6-9 p.m. Details at brooklyn-usa.org/event/ world-aids-day-2/

istering Naloxone and calling an ambulance. Naloxone is an easyto-use nasal spray that restores normal breathing promptly, and its proper use is taught in one short training session. Had Hillier been trained, Barzyk would still be alive and Lindner would be a free man. All this should be among the goals

of effective public health strategy. At DPA’s recent biennial conference, prosecution of drug sellers was identified as a particularly troubling aspect of mass incarceration, where low level sellers get lengthy prison sentences — one more inhumane aspect of the criminalization of poverty.

23


FILM

That’s So Gothic Metrograph offers a month of truly queer ghoul

COURTESY: METROGRAPH

COURTESY: METROGRAPH

Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in Neil Jordan’s “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.”

Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff in James Whale’s “Bride of Frankenstein.”

COURTESY: METROGRAPH

BY GARY M. KRAMER

COURTESY: METROGRAPH

Udo Kier in Paul Morrissey’s “Blood for Dracula.”

he 30-film series “Goth(ic)” at the Metrograph in December showcases many gothic films by, for, or about the queer community. From James Whale’s “The Bride of Frankenstein,” to Ken Russell’s “Gothic,” these horror shows share a heady combination of eroticism and chills that unfold in an atmosphere of decay and degeneration, often featuring supernatural elements. Here are some notable queer entries in the program:

T

“The Bride of Frankenstein” (Dec. 3, 1:15 & 10:15 p.m.) Gay filmmaker James Whale’s 1935 film, a sequel to his hit “Frankenstein,” opens with original author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) explaining that her story is not over. After a handy recap, she reveals that Dr. Henry Frankenstein’s (Colin Clive) Monster (Boris Karloff, in an iconic role) is not dead. What’s more, Dr. Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) — described by Frankenstein’s housekeeper Minnie (Una O’Connor) as “a queer looking gent” — has insisted to Frankenstein that the Monster needs a mate! So the doctors play God and create a bride. But before the title character appears, the Monster falls victim to xenophobia as a shepherdess (Ann Darling) and other fearful townsfolk persecute him. Whale’s film is fantastic and essential queer gothic. He exquisitely uses light and shadow to highlight

24

the actors’ faces and creates a marvelously eerie atmosphere in mistcovered moors. The climatic episode in the lab is a corker, thanks in part to Lanchester’s mesmerizing performance as the Bride. “Blood for Dracula” (Dec. 17, 6 p.m.) Paul Morrissey’s highly entertaining 1974 film has Udo Kier playing arguably the most louche and campiest Dracula ever to grace the screen. The Count needs virgin blood. So he heads — coffin in tow — to Italy to prey on an aristocratic Catholic family that has fallen on hard times. The greedy Marchesa (Maxime McKendry), seeing potential wealth, is pleased to offer her four daughters for marriage. Unbeknownst to the Count, however, Mario (Joe Dallesandro), the strapping family servant, has been deflowering the young women. The film is more sexy than scary, thanks to the hunky Dallesandro’s bare-assed presence, and scenes of the two eldest daughters, Saphiria (Dominique Darel) and Rubinia (Stefania Casini), kissing, canoodling, and baring their breasts throughout. The bloodletting is also more funny than gory — from Keir convulsing and vomiting blood to limbs being dismembered. “Blood for Dracula” is a queer (read: peculiar) take on the gothic Stoker story, but that is why it is so — if you’ll pardon the pun — delicious.

“Fascination” (Dec. 10, 3:15 p.m.) Also from the 1970s, and also about a stranger entering a house, is “Fascination,” Jean Rollin’s erotic period thriller. Marc (Jean-Pierre Lemaire) is a handsome thief on the run in 1905 who thinks he can hide out in a chateau. Yet Elizabeth (Franka Mai) and Eva (Brigitte Lahaie) — the two women he finds inside — have other plans. As a series of reversals of fortunes occur, Elizabeth and Eva introduce Marc to “a universe of madness and death.” Eva seduces Marc to introduce him to a group of aristocratic ladies who arrive at night for a secret ceremony. However, she is more aroused by Elizabeth; the women have a lovely soft-core encounter. “Fascination” is at times bloody and baroque, but it remains intriguing even if there are few surprises in how the story will play out. “The Hunger” (Dec. 17, 1:30 p.m.) From 1983, this incredibly stylish film is best appreciated for the scenes of John (David Bowie) aging rapidly and Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) having sex with Sarah (Susan Sarandon). Tony Scott, in his directorial debut, films this beguiling — if, no doubt, baffling to some — gothic romance, with shadows in every frame, bundles of billowing curtains, flocks of doves, and smoke plumes all of which create an atmosphere of utter decay. When Sarah, a gerontologist, ignores John’s request for a consultation, he dies, leaving Miriam, a vampire, in need of fresh blood. She sets her sights on Sarah, making a pass at

Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in Tony Scott’s “The Hunger.”

GOTH(IC) Metrograph Series opens Dec. 1 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com

her one afternoon that quickly (if risibly) leads them to exchanging saliva and blood in bed. Miriam’s blood is quite powerful, and not quite human — but it does grant eternal youth, or at least eternal life. Given the AIDS scare at the time the film was made, this was a potentially interesting metaphor, but Scott is far more interested in the look of “The Hunger” than its meaning or plot. “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles” (Dec. 3, 5:45 p.m.) Neil Jordan’s ambitious 1994 adaptation of Anne Rice’s bestseller features Louis (Brad Pitt), a vampire who “feels too much” and recounts his life to Malloy (Christian Slater) a reporter, in contemporary San Francisco. Louis explains how he was “born into darkness” after Lestat (Tom Cruise) sinks his teeth into Louis’ neck. The two men fly into the air in a kind of ecstasy that is either spellbinding or silly depending on viewers’ taste. There

GOTH(IC), continued on p.25

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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COURTESY: METROGRAPH

Jonathan Schaech and Rose McGowan in Gregg Arakiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Doom Generation.â&#x20AC;?

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GOTH(IC), from p.24

is some homoeroticism in the Lestat/ Louis scenes as well as when Armand (Antonio Banderas) turns up and has designs on Louis. However, while much of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Interview with the Vampireâ&#x20AC;? is elaborately staged and bloody, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s campiness â&#x20AC;&#x201D; such as Lestat dancing with a corpse â&#x20AC;&#x201D; undercuts its earnestness. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gothicâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 10, 5:30 & 9:45 p.m.) Ken Russellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1986 horror film about Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne), Percy Bysshe Shelley (Julian Sands), and Mary Shelley (Natasha Richardson) in a villa during a dark and stormy night, is a fast-paced thrill ride that features goofy spectacle and copious screaming. The characters, which include the gay Dr. Polidori (Timothy Spall), conjure up a handful of waking nightmares after conducting a sĂŠance. There are several episodes of same-sex affections and plenty of arresting images â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Sands naked on a rooftop in the rain among them. The characters may go mad over the course of their wild, debauched night, but none goes madder than Russell, who directs â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gothicâ&#x20AC;? in his patented over-thetop style. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Doom Generationâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 8, 2:15 & 7 p.m.) New Queer Cinema icon Gregg Araki dubbed his 1995 film â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Doom Generationâ&#x20AC;? his â&#x20AC;&#x153;heterosexual movie.â&#x20AC;? It opens with a signpost that reads, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Welcome to Hell.â&#x20AC;? (The end credits also indicate the film was â&#x20AC;&#x153;shot on location in Hell.â&#x20AC;?) There are numerous verbal and

COURTESY: METROGRAPH

Rupert Everett in Michele Soaviâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cemetery Man.â&#x20AC;?

visual references to skulls, skeletons, and the number 666. A lovers-on-the-run road movie, the film has foul-mouthed teens Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and Jordan White (James Duval), her wishy-washy boyfriend of three months, encountering murder and mayhem after they pick up the sexy Xavier Red (Jonathan Schaech). Amy thinks there is â&#x20AC;&#x153;something evilâ&#x20AC;? about X, as heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s called, and while she may be right, she fucks him repeatedly anyway. Jordan doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem to mind; he and X have some palpable sexual tension between them, as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Doom Generationâ&#x20AC;? comments on teen angst with pop culture references, celebrity cameos, and nihilistic violence. The colors are vivid and the soundtrack is fabulous, filled with â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;90s goth bands, but a little of Arakiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s early anarchy goes a long way these days. Other films with queer threads in the series include: Alfred Hitchcockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1940 classic â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rebeccaâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 3, 3 p.m.), which features Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers, a repressed lesbian who is extremely devoted to the deceased title character; the 1963 version of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Hauntingâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 10, 1 & 5:15 p.m.), where Claire Bloom plays a medium who clearly has a thing for Julie Harris; the 1968 entry â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Devil Rides Outâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 10, 1:15 p.m.), in which a young man is in the thrall of an older male Satanist; â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cemetery Manâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 9, 3:30 p.m.) from 1994, which features out actor Rupert Everett fighting zombies; and gay filmmaker Andrew Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1996 flick, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Craftâ&#x20AC;? (Dec. 1, 3:15 p.m.) about outcast teen witches.

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017

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GEEK CULTURE

Anime NYC Revives a Lost Niche Costumed fans of Japanese comics and cartoons convene at Javits

CHRISTIAN MILES

CHRISTIAN MILES

Costumed participants packed the floor, halls, and stairs of the Javits Center.

“Sailor Moon” fans showed off their original costumes at a meet-up (with this article’s author in the center).

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY ew York has a major Comic Con but, in years past there was also a con just for Japanese comics and cartoons. The old New York Anime Festival was absorbed into the New York Comic Con (NYCC) five years ago, leaving the city’s nerdy Japanophiles without a major con they could claim as their own. This year saw the arrival of the first Anime NYC — a three-day event held November 17 to 19 at the Javits Center, where fans could indulge their love of “Sailor Moon,” “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and more in the company of fellow Otakus (a Japanese term for obsessives, most commonly of the anime and manga stripes). Although a sizable event, Anime NYC was smaller than the juggernaut that is NYCC. Its show floor took up only a fraction of Javits’ space, and had about 20,000 attendees — as opposed to the 180,000 at NYCC. Though smaller, the crowd lacked for nothing in enthusiasm as they eagerly lined up to meet voice actors from games and cartoons, catch exclusive movie screenings, and participate in the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE costume contest. It has been more than 25 years since “Sailor Moon” premiered, influencing an entire generation. As

N

26

CHRISTIAN MILES CHRISTIAN MILES

Costume contest judges Uncanny Megan and YuffieBunny presented a panel on cosplay modeling.

such, the con declared November 18 to be “Sailor Moon Day,” and had panels that allowed fans to meet the voice cast of the English language version of “Sailor Moon Crystal,” the most recent anime adaptation. Unofficial meet-ups were held around the convention center too, and more than 50 costumed “Sailor Moon” fans attended one such gathering. The organizer of this event, who goes by the name Rizuki, told us, “I expected maybe 10 to 20… It was quite more than I expected.” After spending an hour organizing the swarm of sailor scouts for photo shoots, Rizuki explained that that she and many of the attendees discovered “Sailor Moon”

in the early ’90s, when the English dub first aired on American TV. The franchise has such a wide appeal, she said, because, “it doesn’t matter who you are, what you label yourself as, ‘Sailor Moon’ is for everyone. The fans today proved it, so much… We have a common love and a common ground, and we can all come together with that common link and do something beautiful like we did today.” Cosplayers from all fandoms later participated in the con’s official Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE. Just about any pop culture convention will have a costume contest, but anime cons draw a distinct crowd, according to judges YuffieBunny and Uncanny Me-

A “Final Fantasy” fan showed off their tattoo of Jenova from “FF7.”

gan. “The cosplay is totally different,” said YuffieBunny. “It’s usually a much younger crowd at anime cons.” Uncanny Megan added, “There’s more focus on the cosplay because, typically, anime conventions do contests based on craftsmanship, while at a lot of comic cons it’s just walk onstage and present yourself.” Indeed, some of the winners wore outfits that could only be fully appreciated when seen up close, like a ‘Sailor Moon’ dress that was hand-knitted from yarn. Instead of merely parading their

ANIME NYC, continued on p.33

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


BOOKS

All About Andy Continued fascination with Warhol emphasizes his likability and a sexual side long laughed off BY DAVID EHRENSTEIN liked Andy immediately because I felt he was very accessible,” Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni recently said as she was promoting her new book “After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land,” according to a profile in Vanity Fair. “Andy had an extraordinary magnetism. He was kind of an amoeba or Zelig-like. When people say he was negative, I totally disagree, it’s what you brought.” The daughter of Lady Antonia Fraser and the stepdaughter of Harold Pinter, Fraser-Cavassoni “brought” what so many wellheeled, quick-witted, good-looking women — “Baby” Jane Holzer, Susan “Viva” Hoffmann, and, most iconic of all, Edie Sedgwick — did during the three decades he ruled the world as an innately passive yet sublimely benevolent cultural despot. Sedgwick became the most famous — even though the films he made with her haven’t been publically exhibited for years. She’s exceptionally lively in them. And it’s typical of Andy that he decided to call a proposed (but never made) sequel to the best of them, “Beauty #2, Isn’t It Pretty To Think So”— borrowing the last line of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.” Fraser-Cavassoni knew Andy in the 1980s, having drifted into his orbit almost automatically from the world of fashion, where she commingled with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint-Laurent. Her view of Andy is as one with that of actress Mary Woronov, who once observed to me that “Andy was never not nice.” I never saw him otherwise. I knew him from the mid-‘60s, when I was heavily involved in the avant-garde film scene as a critic and commentator. The experimental filmmakers Gregory Markopoulos and Jack Smith (both of whom I also knew) were Andy acolytes. I liked Andy for the same reasons

AFTER ANDY: ADVENTURES IN WARHOL LAND

“I

By Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni Penguin Random House $28; 336 pages

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Fraser-Cavassoni did. And while the periods we spent time with him were different, Andy, at heart, remained very much the same — invariably alert, wildly playful, and uncannily witty. If New York in the mid-‘60s had a “headquarters” it was Andy’s Silver Factory. This ramshackle studio-cum-salon located on the fifth floor of an otherwise empty building at 231 East 47th Street that used to house a sewing machine factory, was a beehive of activity. Andy rented it for a mere $100 a year. It was there, from roughly

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

1964 through 1967, that Andy and his assistants, photographer Billy Name (aka Billy Linich) and poet Gerard Malanga, made his paintings and shot his early silent portrait films, plus a number of sound ones (“Harlot,” “Vinyl,” and “Horse” being among the most memorable), until he turned filmmaking duties completely over to collaborator Paul Morrissey. Then came the June 3, 1968 attempt made on his life, when a disgruntled would-be writer and actress named Valerie Solanas stormed into Andy’s new HQ —

the Office — located at 33 Union Square West. Solanas claimed her motivation was because Andy “had too much control over my life.” But for those of us who knew him, this was clearly a projection of her paranoia-addled brain. Andy never forced anyone to do anything, but was instead invariably encouraging of the artistic aspirations of those who came into his orbit. He was as reluctant to discard people as he was the items both valuable and valueless — everything from antique cookie jars to buttons that had fallen off — he hoarded with confounding zeal. And this was why he was to some degree reluctant to give Valerie the boot. Solanas had a script entitled “Up Your Ass” that she wanted Andy to — nay, insisted that he — film. This he didn’t do, but he gave her a featured a role in “I, a Man” (1967), in which she speaks at some length to the film’s star Tom Baker while they stand in the Silver Factory stairwell. She also made a non-speaking appearance in his “Bike Boy” the same year. Apparently this didn’t placate her. The gunshot wounds she inflicted caused Andy considerable physical suffering. He nearly died in the emergency room, had several operations subsequent to that, and when he finally expired 19 years later it was in the wake of a gall bladder operation performed to repair tissue destroyed in the shooting. In some ways Andy’s demise was predictable — Solanas or not.

ALL ABOUT ANDY, continued on p.30

27


FILM

Classic D.H. Lawrence Adaptation Revived “Women in Love” united Larry Kramer, Ken Russell, Glenda Jackson, Oliver Reed & Alan Bates BY GARY M. KRAMER omen in Love,” Ken Russell’s ecstatic and erotic adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, is getting a weeklong re-release in a digitally re-mastered version at the Metrograph. The film, written for the screen and produced by ACT UP founder Larry Kramer, was a landmark romantic drama upon its release in 1969, in part because of its frank depictions of sex and sensuality. Kramer was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay, Glenda Jackson won the Best Actress Academy Award, and the film helped establish Russell, also Oscar-nominated, as a major talent. The film’s script and acting are quite strong; Kramer and the cast capture the spirit if not the letter of Lawrence’s text in the characters’ extended debates about love, sex, and marriage. Two sisters, Gudrun (Glenda

WOMEN IN LOVE

“W

Directed by Ken Russell MGM/ Park Circus Opens Dec.1 Metrograph 7 Ludlow St., btwn. Hester & Canal Sts. metrograph.com

MGM/ PARK CIRCUS

Alan Bates and Oliver Reed in Ken Russell’s “Women in Love,” with a screenplay by producer Larry Kramer adapted from the D.H. Lawrence novel, will have a one-week revival in re-mastered form at the Metrograph starting December 1.

Jackson) and Ursula Brangwen (Jennie Linden) become romantically interested in best friends Rupert Birkin (Alan Bates) and Gerald Crich (Oliver Reed) when they attend the wedding of Gerald’s sister Laura (Sharon Gurney) and Tibby Lupton (Christopher Gable).

Later, the sisters attend a party given by Hermione Roddice (Eleanor Bron), Rupert’s girlfriend. Showing his basic indifference to Hermione, Rupert sabotages her dance performance at the party and their relationship soon ends. As Rupert couples up with Ursula, to whom he is

better suited romantically, Gerald declares his love for Gudrun when he encounters her doing a dance in a field of cattle. Kramer’s screenplay and Russell’s direction put significant emphasis on sensuality in what is also a talky film. Gerald skinnydipping and Rupert walking naked through the woods and fields convey the men’s earthiness and comfort with their bodies. The film also oozes eroticism as Ursula and

WOMEN IN LOVE, continued on p.29

A Finn Has the Immigrant Speak Aki Kaurismäki witty and warm in his tale of an undocumented Syrian’s struggle BY STEVE ERICKSON t’s often proclaimed today that every minority group should be the first in line to make films about themselves — and straight, white, Christian, cisgender men should be the last to make films about people other than themselves. There’s some justification for this perspective that goes beyond simply the historical entitlement of the overdogs to make the vast majority of Western art and the marginalization of everyone else. Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” received reviews arguing that a white person shouldn’t have made it, and

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE

I 28

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki Janus Films In English and Finnish and Arabic with English subtitles Opens Dec. 1 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater filmlinc.org JANUS FILMS

Sherwan Haji in Aki Kaurismäki’s “The Other Side of Hope,” which opens December 1 at Film Forum and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE, continued on p.34

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


ä&#x2030;´

WOMEN IN LOVE, from p.28

Rupert make love in the woods and during a scene of them naked, running toward each other that Russell films with his camera turned 90 degrees. The most memorable and remarked upon scene in the film, however, is one of breathtaking homoeroticism, where Rupert and Gerald engage in a nude wrestling match. The menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Japanese-style grappling in front of a fire is their affirmation of their mental, spiritual, and physical bond. They â&#x20AC;&#x153;swear to love each other implicitly,â&#x20AC;? that pledge explained in several conversations about â&#x20AC;&#x153;the finality of loveâ&#x20AC;? and the possibility that male friendship can be eternal. The characters weigh other philosophical questions arising out of modernity, including whether marriage is an appropriate way to live, if men should be lovers or husbands and women mistresses or wives, and about the virtue of â&#x20AC;&#x153;living mechanicallyâ&#x20AC;? versus acting on impulse. Early in the film, one character declares he does not see much love in humanity and doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t believe in it anyway. Even Rupertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speech about how to eat a fig â&#x20AC;&#x201D; sensually or in a more vulgar fashion â&#x20AC;&#x201D; emphasizes the charactersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; preoccupations with matters of eroticism and sexuality. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Women in Loveâ&#x20AC;? is a dense film, and also an intelligent one one, provoking audiences to identify with the characters as they struggle to define their positions on love, sex, and marriage. Dramatic tension emerges when Rupertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spiritual intimacy with his ex, Hermione, causes Ursula jealousy. Likewise, the relationship between Gudrun and Gerald becomes complicated

when she meets Loerke (Vladek Sheybal), a gay man, during a trip to the Swiss Alps. Gerald soon becomes jealous and angry, prompting the filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s emotional climax. Russell, whose career from â&#x20AC;&#x153;Women In Loveâ&#x20AC;? became increasingly over-the-top, certainly includes some excessive moments here, such as Gudrunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s interpretive dance in the forest. For the most part, though, he exercises restraint. George Delerueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s score may overemphasize the emotional moments, but overall the film is quite elegantly made. Billy Williams, Oscar-nominated for his cinematography, bathes the film in a glorious light. The coal dust practically glistens on the faces and bodies of the Yorkshire miners, while the sequences in the Swiss Alps capture the snowy wonders of the landscape. Williams also conveys the warmth of the bedrooms the characters inhabit as well as the beauty of their bodies. The performances by the four leads are uniformly superb. Jackson is the standout as a fiercely intelligent woman who demands more from her lover. The bond between Bates and Reed is palpable, their scenes together certainly the highlight of the film. Both actors express their charactersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; thoughts with conviction. As Ursula, Linden is charming, even when being petulant. In support, Bron is the epitome of pretentious, while Sheybal makes a strong impression as Loerke. For viewers who have not seen â&#x20AC;&#x153;Women in Love,â&#x20AC;? this re-release is a perfect opportunity to experience this powerful, lusty film on the big screen. And for anyone who has not seen the film in a while, it certainly rewards another look.

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29


ALL ABOUT ANDY, from p.27

He wasn’t made of the stuff that would guarantee a long life. Born to abject poverty in Pittsburgh in 1928, he was the youngest of Andrej and Julia Warhola’s four children. A sickly child, Andy suffered from St. Vitus’ dance and scarlet fever — the latter responsible for his pale pink blotched complexion. Close to his mother from the start (she gave him coloring books and crayons when he was sick in bed — which was quite frequent), he grew even closer to her when his father died when Andy was just 13. His plans for a career as a commercial artist, however, took him to New York. As soon as he achieved some level of success, he sent for his mother to live with him. He accompanied her to church every day, and she kept his townhouse tidy and didn’t interfere with his private life. Andy adored Julia’s handwriting and used her to inscribe the descriptive copy for his illustrations. Andy first hit it big designing shoe illustrations for “I. Miller,” creating whimsical drawings befitting the foot fetishist he was. His cat drawings were turned into art books and sold at the east side confectionery Serendipity III. More profitably, Andy designed display windows for New York department stores including Bloomingdales. So did Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. But those artists were ashamed of the work they did for money, while Andy was proud of it. Rauschenberg and Johns, lovers for so many years, were also closeted. Butch in manner, they were able to more or less pass as straight, something easy to do at a time when so much as mentioning homosexuality was verboten in polite conversation. Though Andy did not share his fellow artists’ adeptness at butchness — nor any inclination to pursue it — he found freedom in the prevailing silence about gay life. He was fascinated by the infamously seductive photograph of Truman Capote that adorned the dust jacket of his first novel, “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” in 1948, enormously encouraged that someone so swish could make it big. He wrote Capote constantly — getting no reply. But he didn’t hold grudges. Year later, when Capote’s career hit the skids

30

— thanks to “La Cote Basque,” the disastrous Esquire preview of his scandalous unfinished high society tell-all “Answered Prayers” — Andy encouraged Truman to write pieces for Interview magazine, his lively publication devoted to film, fashion, and celebrity. By the time of Interview’s arrival in 1969, Andy was running with the swells. A child of the Depression, in time he became among the first of the prominent Reagan Democrats — going so far as to put Nancy Reagan on Interview’s cover and frugging the night away at Studio 54 with Roy Cohn. Clearly, Andy’s bohemians and marginals vanished with the report of Solanas’ gun and he was taking cover with the powerful who, thanks to his artistic fame, were now at his feet. Even had Solanas not struck, the Silver Factory couldn’t have gone on forever. She wasn’t the first woman to threaten Andy with a gun, and she was far from the only unstable character to cross his path. Dancer Freddie Herko and actress Andrea Feldman both jumped out of windows to their death (in 1964 and 1972, respectively). And thanks to amphetamine addiction coupled with a shaky psychiatric history (she was in and out of New Canaan, Connecticut’s Silver Hill treatment facility several times in her brief life), Sedgwick possessed, along with her wit and beauty, an emotional fragility common to many in Andyland. Speaking to the Sunday Herald Tribune about his 1965 film “Suicide,” Andy said of one particular marginal: “‘I found this person, my star, who has 13 scars on one wrist and 15 scars on the wrist from suicide attempts. He has marvelous wrists. The scars are all different shades of purple. This was my first color movie. We just focused the camera on his wrists and he pointed to each scar and told its history, like when he did it, and why, and what happened afterward.” The name of that “star” was Roq — a French-Canadian character who showed up at the Silver Factory one day and immediately began to talk about himself. As Andy was busy with his “Flowers” painting series, I sat and listened to Roq, who spoke of his many sanitarium

stays while showing me the slashes on his wrist. He even claimed that at one institution Audrey Hepburn — supposedly as suicide-prone as he was — was there too. Capable of multi-tasking long before the term came into fashion, Andy announced then and there he would make a film about him. It was a sound film (perhaps his first in color) that consisted of a close-up of Roq’s wrist as he spoke off-screen of why and how each slash was made. Like so many of Andy’s films, “Suicide” was never publically exhibited and resides in the vaults of the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. But its making clearly demonstrates Andy’s amazing ability to conceive and execute projects at the drop of the proverbial hat. That was but one example of his keen mind. Over that period in the ‘60s, I saw Andy many times outside of the Factory — at avant-garde film screenings, the New York Film Festival, art receptions, and the like. He always remembered exactly what we had been talking about the last time we met — something precious few are capable of doing. Alas, after the shooting I never saw him again. But following his activities in the last 19 years of his life it was clear his smarts hadn’t suffered. And that’s because he was one sassy gay man. In the face of all that befell him, good and bad, Andy’s primary defense was his gay street wit — a trait he recognized in others and utilized whenever possible (most famously with Ondine in both “Chelsea Girls” and his tape-recorded novel entitled “A”). “I look like a Dior dress” he said of his post-shooting body. In the “The Andy Warhol Diaries” (transcripts of conversations with collaborator Pat Hackett made to take account of his everyday expenses for tax purposes, later redacted and published posthumously), he observed, “Ran into [poet] Rene Ricard who’s the George Sanders of the Lower East Side — he was with some Puerto Rican boyfriend with a name like a cigarette.” Andy played the naif to the press, but he was sharp as a tack. He spotted David Hampton — the grifter who claimed to be the son of Sidney Poitier and was the subject of John Guare’s play “Six Degrees of Separation”) — as the phony

that he was the moment he came by to get his foot in the Warhol door. “Everybody at the office, they all believed it,” he noted, Andy’s boyfriend Jed Johnson included. It will be interesting to see how Johnson and his identical twin brother Jay figure in art critic Blake Gopnik’s recently promised exposé of Andy’s sex life — set for publication next year. Back in 1971, journalist John Wilcock wrote a volume he called “The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol,” which consisted of short pieces about Andy and his collaborators but next to nothing about his sex life — the joke being that Andy was far too asexual for anything. The truth is, of course, quite different. Poet John Giorno, of Warhol’s “Sleep” (1963) fame, was an Andy boyfriend, as was Silver Factory major domo Billy Name, Philip Fagan (whom, according to film scholar Callie Angell, Andy took more silent film portraits of than any other person), and Danny Williams, who created the light shows for the seminal “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” shows As the 2007 documentary “A Walk into the Sea” reveals, Danny (who styled himself to look like a younger, prettier Andy) was the only other person Andy allowed to use his 16mm camera. An amphetamine addict, he became what Mary Woronov called “one the Mole People” before leaving the Factory, returning home, and drowning himself. There was a sad end for Andy’s last love, Paramount studios executive Jon Gould as well — AIDS. As for Andy’s expiration date, February 22, 1987, I prefer to think of him departing this mortal coil right after the last entry in “The Diaries” on February 16. It was a note about Brigid Berlin (the only Silver Factory veteran to make the transition to the Office) announcing she was going to a “fat farm” in London: “She charges $2,000 for each sweater she knits at the reception desk, while she’s supposed to be answering the phones, and she’s selling so many of them — Paige [Powell, JeanMichel Basquiat’s girlfriend] even bought one.” Was Andy buried in one of Brigid’s sweaters? Isn’t it pretty to think so?

November 30 – December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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November 30 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 6, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


CHRISTIAN MILES

Gamers lined up to try rare Japanese arcade cabinets.

CHRISTIAN MILES

Manga creators were on hand to meet their fans.

ANIME NYC, from p.26

contestants across the stage, the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE also got the audience into the act. While the judges were debating who had the best costumes, audience members were invited onstage by host Uncle Yo to participate in party games and compete for prizes. Uncle Yo explained that this degree of interaction with the audience during a costume contest was rare at cons. “The Masquerade has always been for the contestants and the con-goers themselves,” he said, and described Anime NYC’s version as a “multi-level, ‘Price is Right’-style game show.” Random audience members were selected to compete in anime-themed Pictionary, charades, and a dance-off (to anime themes songs, naturally). The audience was dazzled when one cosplayer, Aaron Libato, was brought onstage for the final round of the dance off. Libato was dressed as Star Lord, Chris Pratt’s character from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” He told us that he was fortunate enough to have memorized all of Pratt’s dance moves from the films, and that he knew the theme song of the anime he had to dance to. He won the dance contest, and joyfully told us afterward, “Never doubt yourself when going to a convention or cosplaying. Even if you bought the costume or it’s made of cardboard or duct tape, do it!” Fans who weren’t daring enough to dance onstage could also try out a selection of rare Japanese

CHRISTIAN MILES CHRISTIAN MILES

At the Ramen Summit, foodies learned about noodles from chefs Kenshiro Uki, Shigetoshi Nakamura, and Ivan Orkin.

arcade games on the show floor, including dance games. Japanese arcade machine provider Tokyo Attack offered an assortment of oddball game cabinets that could be played for free. Alongside favorites like “Dance Dance Revolution” and Taiko drum simulators were several unusual games that can’t be found on this side of the Pacific. Anthony Capobianco of Tokyo Attack explained, “In your traditional American arcade, you have a joystick and you have buttons… We’ve got some unique games like Super Table Flip. The idea is, you hit a table, and when you build up your anger meter, you flip over the table. Something you’re never going to see in America.” True to his description, the game has a controller shaped like a dinner table and forces players

GayCityNews.nyc | November 30 – December 6, 2017

to endure a meal with infuriating virtual people, before inevitably knocking over the table to the astonishment of their fellow diners. The con ended with an exclusive screening of the live-action film adaptation of “Fullmetal Alchemist.” This was an opportunity for Americans to catch a highly anticipated Japanese movie even before its Japanese premiere in December. The sold-out screening also let fans meet the film’s director, Fumihiko Sori. Although this particular audience was composed of hardcore fans, the movie is accessible to people who are just discovering the franchise. It condensed about one third of the manga’s storyline down to a selfcontained feature, but left room for possible sequels. In addition to cartoons and comics, Anime NYC allowed at-

Aaron Libato amazed the host of the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE dance-off as Star Lord from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

tendees to show their obsession with other elements of Japanese culture, like pop music with a “Diva Night” concert, and Japanese food with a panel on ramen noodles that featured a discussion among globally-recognized ramen chefs. As Uncle Yo reminded the audience at the Masquerade, “This is New York City. We’re the home of the Avengers, the Ghostbusters, Spider-Man, and now we are the home of the nerds.” This was the first Anime NYC, and it only took until the day after for word to arrive that it will become an annual affair, next scheduled for November 16-18, 2018. Visit animenyc.com for updates, or follow the event at facebook. com/AnimeNYC or on Twitter and Instagram @AnimeNYC/.

33


A CHRISTMAS CARAJO AT THE BRONX’S BAAD! BY PAUL SCHINDLER os Nutcrackers: A Christmas Carajo,” written by playwright Charles RiceGonzález (also acclaimed for his debut novel “Chulito”), has long been a holiday tradition at BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, but this December marks the third year that the award-winning director of Off-Broadway hits “La Lupe: My Life and My Destiny” and “DC-7 The Roberto Clemente Story,” Luis Caballero, has assumed directing duties. The play, an interweaving of “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol,” is a queer Latino story about a gay couple taking a psychedelic trip through their lives, Scrooge-style, on Christmas Eve. Carlos and Gabriel, together for 15 years, argue enough that their travails have reached the queer heavens, from which comes a diva spirit who guides their journey from their first meeting at the 1987

Palladium White Party to a catastrophic trip to City Center to see “The Nutcracker” to a dinner party with Martha Stewart fanatics. The cast includes Barbra Herr, Justin Crowley, Jonathan Cruz, Arnold Godoy, Adriel Muñoz, and Jomil Luna. Performances at BAAD!, 2474 Westchester Avenue (#6 train to Westchester Square), are December 1-2, 7-9, and 15-16 at 8 p.m. and December 9 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 at BAADBronx.org or 718918-2110.

echoes of Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu in his framing and cutting choices. But there is also a deadpan wit that’s not far from Buster Keaton. Kaurismäki directs all of his actors to show as little emotion as possible, even when they’re obviously going through difficult or intense circumstances. One way he shows respect for his Middle Eastern characters is letting them play out their lives in the same superficially blank style as the white Finns. There’s something dated about Kaurismäki’s idea of cool; after all, he’s now 60. “The Other Side of Hope” was shot and edited on 35mm, and although it played the New York Film Festival in October on DCP, it will play both New York venues on film. He has loudly declared his contempt for television and Hollywood, although he admitted in a recent article in the Guardian that he can watch superhero movies if he’s hung over. There’s lots of music in “The Other Side of Hope,” but all of it is blues, folk, early rock’n’roll, or traditional Middle Eastern songs (played by Khaled on a dulcimer). Kaurismäki realizes

that the arrival of people of color in his country is not an invasion and states so vehemently in this film. “The Other Side of Hope” tackles major problems and themes of our time with a wicked sense of humor. Rather than editorializing angrily about appropriation, Kaurismäki depicts white people running a sushi restaurant that serves portions of wasabi three times the size of the slice of fish underneath. To anyone who knows how fiery wasabi can be, this would obviously be inedible, but the chef apparently doesn’t realize this and the image is quite funny. The film allows Khaled to make a bitter remark about “unbelievers,” trusting the audience will remain sympathetic to a Muslim man’s anger after getting attacked by white European Christians several times. In real life, 60,000 Poles recently marched, calling for an “Islamic Holocaust.” “The Other Side of Hope” simply looks in Khaled’s soulful eyes, lets him speak for himself, and wonders why the hell white Europeans are so freaked out by sharing their continent with Muslims.

“L

THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE, from p.28

watching its central hour of African Americans being tortured and murdered by white cops without shedding any light on racism or police brutality that couldn’t have been made in a mere five minutes of similar material goes a long way toward making that point of view totally comprehensible. But black British director Steve McQueen’s “Shame” and the worst parts of “Twelve Years A Slave” prove he is equally capable of making such an exploitative and tasteless film. If white men were barred from depicting Arabs the racist TV show “Homeland” might be off the air, but a film as compassionate and warm as Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s “The Other Side of Hope” could never have been produced. “The Other Side of Hope” begins with Khaled (Sherwan Haji), who has arrived in Finland from Aleppo, Syria, to seek asylum after being attacked in Poland by Nazi skinheads. The Finnish government does not allow him to stay in the country but he ducks out on officials and decides to remain as an undocumented im-

34

migrant. Living on the streets, he faces racism again, as well as kindness from white Finns. Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen), a traveling salesman in his 50s who wants to open a restaurant, finds a homeless and sleeping Khaled and offers him a job as a cleaner and dishwasher. When the restaurant finally opens, they become unlikely partners in navigating a new Finland. Much of what’s appealing about “The Other Side of Hope” is the way Kaurismäki deals with Important Subject Matter without changing his style or sensibility one iota. His films have always felt like a mix of Frank Capra and Jim Jarmusch, combining a commitment to surface cool and hipness with a heart, even a sentimentality that’s all the more powerful because it’s somewhat buried. Until very recently, Kaurismäki has never made films that feel overtly political, but he has consistently expressed as much sympathy for working-class people as Ken Loach or the Dardenne brothers. He seems to share the same international arthouse influences that fed Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise,” and one can see

MICHAEL PALMA

Jomil Luna joins the cast of “Los Nutcrackers: A Christmas Carajo” for the first time this December.

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