Page 1

Trump & the #MeToo Movement 26-27

Judy Shepard Soldiers On 14

Lyricist John Latouche Gets His Due 32

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WHO GETS TO SIT AT THE LUNCH COUNTER? Page 04

© GAY CITY NEWS 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

FREE | VOLUME SIXTEEN, ISSUE TWENTY-SIX | DECEMBER 7–DECEMBER 20, 2017


In This Issue COVER STORY Who gets to sit at the lunch counter? 04

COMMUNITY Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum fêted 19

MARRIAGE SCOTUS sidesteps Houston benefits case, for now 05

CRIME Out on bail, Abel Cedeno speaks to Gay City News 09

WORLD AIDS DAY State struggles to attract gay, bi black men to PrEP 10

THEATER “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” “The Band’s Visit” 31

Rally in Brooklyn; vigil in Village 10, 12

David Hockney at the Met 30

“Parisian Woman,” “Downtown Race Riot” 34

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CIVIL RIGHTS

Justices Press Both Sides Hard in Wedding Cake Case At issue in Supreme Court is religious opt-out from LGBTQ civil rights protections BY MATTHEW SKINNER

T

he courtroom of the Supreme Court of the United States was the site on Tuesday of a high-stakes debate over the future of the right to refuse service or public accommodations based on religious grounds and the fate of American civil rights laws, as the justices questioned four attorneys at the oral argument for Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. A war of hypotheticals waged by the deeply polarized liberal and conservative blocs on the high court, each of which hoped to fluster the two pairs of lawyers with the arguably disconcerting ramifications of taking their respective positions to their logical conclusions, characterized the roughly hour-long hearing. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Reagan appointee who has written the quartet of gay rights landmarks during his tenure on the court, sent contradictory signals that make his final position in this case impossible to predict. Jack Phillips is a Christian baker who opposes same-sex marriage. He refused to make a cake in 2012 for Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a Colorado couple who had gone to Massachusetts to marry, but planned a celebration for friends and family as well in their home state. There remains a factual dispute about what actually happened after the gay couple entered the store, in particular about when, in the course of ordering a cake, they were told it would be impossible. In any event, they filed a complaint and the bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, was found to have violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, a statute that was amended in 2008 to explicitly ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Similar protections exist in less than half of the states, and there is no explicit protection on the national level (though the Supreme Court could also decide this year whether LGBTQ people are covered

4

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Charlie Craig and David Mullins are the gay couple whose complaint against baker Jack Phillips for sexual orientation discrimination under Colorado’s public accommodations law set in motion the case before the Supreme Court this week.

under federal sex discrimination laws). The case worked its way through the Colorado court system, with the bakery losing at every turn. Aided by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal advocacy group known for representing religious business owners like him and opposing LGBTQ rights advances, Phillips has invoked the First Amendment in his defense, arguing that the Colorado law compels him to speak a message, as a “cake artist,” that violates his sincere religious convictions.

The Supreme Court accepted the case for review this past June. Phillips sat an aisle apart from the gay couple in the courtroom, both surrounded by their respective camps. There was a palpable sense of excitement by the many luminaries of the religious right in attendance, potentially on the eve of a constitutional development they have fought in the trenches for over decades and feeling emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump and the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. They were met with a mix of op-

timism and dread by the LGBTQ rights activists in the crowd. The openly lesbian chair and commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis, sat next to US Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, in the public gallery. Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Kristen Waggoner was first at the lectern, followed by US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing the Trump administration. They faced aggressive questioning from Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor (she made history Tuesday by using the acronym “LGBT” for the first time during a Supreme Court argument). Along with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they presented both attorneys with a litany of various vendors, different life events, assorted foods, and other minority groups to test the limits of their legal theory. The two attorneys had no discernible limiting principles to offer, and the answers they gave about the lines they hoped the justices would draw were not logically consistent. Kagan asked a question at one point to the solicitor general that hit the nail on the head: “Why is this only about gay people?” Beneath the surface of all the arguments made by the baker and his supporters on the court is the proposition that, for certain people, encountering and confronting gay individuals in everyday situations, and especially married ones, is somehow so uniquely troublesome and offensive that there is a need for previously unnecessary — and previously unthinkable — exceptions to civil rights laws. David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing for the gay couple, accurately told the justices that creating such an exemption would be “to constitutionally relegate gay and lesbian people to second class status.” Holding the key vote, all eyes, of course, were on Justice Kennedy. He was not only ideologically, but

MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, continued on p.20

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


MARRIAGE

SCOTUS Won’t Step into Houston Benefits Case, For Now Texas high court ham-handed on what marriage equality means, but case not yet resolved locally BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD

O

n December 4, the US Supreme Court, without explanation, rejected a petition from the City of Houston seeking review of the Texas Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling in Pidgeon v. Turner, which had cast doubt on whether the city was obligated under Obergefell v. Hodges, the high court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling, to provide same-sex spouses of Houston employees the same employee benefits offered to different-sex spouses. A decision by the Supreme Court to deny review of a case is not a ruling on the merits of the case, though the court’s action this week did excite some fevered Internet consternation. Here, it most likely means that there were not at least four members of the court — the number required under its rules to grant a petition for review — who thought it should intervene in a lawsuit still ongoing in the state trial court. The Supreme Court’s action should not be construed as a decision approving the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling. It is consistent with the court’s tight control of its docket, under which it sharply limits the number and types of cases it takes up for review. It rarely inserts itself into a case that has not received a final disposition in the lower courts. Retired Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace B. Jefferson and his law firm, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP, filed the petition on behalf of Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston on September 15, several weeks after Lambda Legal had filed a new federal district court lawsuit on behalf of some Houston employees whose same-sex spouses are receiving benefits but fear losing them in the state court litigation. Lambda’s suit was quickly dismissed by the federal trial judge as not “ripe” for review because the plaintiffs are currently receiving their benefits and it was likely, in the judge’s view, that the state trial court would rule the benefits were

TEX AS STATE DIRECTORY

Wallace B. Jefferson, a former Texas Supreme Court now in private practice, has been rebuffed for now in his effort to have the US Supreme Court throw out a ruling from his former bench that casts doubt, though in preliminary fashion only, on the breadth of the 2015 nationwide marriage equality ruling.

legal in light of the current state of the law. The Texas Supreme Court’s June 30 decision, which reversed a ruling by the Texas Court of Appeals, was not a final disposition of that case. Instead, it sent the case back to the trial court in Harris County for a hearing on the original claim by plaintiffs Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, Republican anti-gay activists, that the city had unlawfully extended employee benefits eligibility to same-sex spouses of municipal employees in 2013. Pidgeon and Hicks first started

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

litigating against the city when then-Mayor Annise Parker extended benefits eligibility by executive action after receiving an opinion from the city attorney about the impact of the US Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in US v. Windsor, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act’s ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Pidgeon and Hicks argued that under Texas statutory and constitutional law at the time, it was illegal for the city to extend the benefits since the Windsor decision did not address the constitutionality of state laws

banning same-sex marriage. Pidgeon and Hicks had a plausible argument in 2013, enough to persuade the trial judge to issue a preliminary injunction against the city, which promptly appealed. The Texas Court of Appeals sat on the appeal for a few years, waiting for the storm of marriage equality litigation in Texas and throughout the country to play out. Meanwhile, less than a year after the Windsor decision, a federal trial judge in San Antonio ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but the state’s appeal of that languished in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals until after the Supreme Court decided the Obergefell case on June 26, 2015. A few days later, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s ruling invalidating the Texas laws banning same-sex marriages. Then the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the preliminary injunction, instructing the trial court to decide the case in accord with the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. And the city resumed providing the benefits, which it has continued to do. Undaunted, Pidgeon and Hicks asked the Texas Supreme Court to review the Texas Court of Appeals decision, arguing that court erred by instructing the trial court to follow the Fifth Circuit’s ruling because, as a technical matter, state courts are not bound by federal court of appeals rulings, but only by the Supreme Court. In effect, they argued that the city was still bound to abide by the Texas state law banning recognition of same-sex marriages for purposes of public employee benefits, which had never been invalidated in the state courts and, they argued, was technically not declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, whose opinion in Obergefell only directly struck down state marriage bans in the four states of the Sixth Circuit — Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In September 2016, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that it would not consider Pidgeon and Hicks’ ap-

HOUSTON BENEFITS, continued on p.20

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CRIME

Released on Bail, Abel Cedeno Speaks to Gay City News Bullied gay teen charged in Matthew McCree’s death says he acted in self-defense BY ANDY HUMM

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bel Cedeno, the bullied Bronx gay teen charged with manslaughter in the death of classmate Matthew McCree, had his bail cut in half by Judge William Mogulescu on November 29 and that bail was made by an odd combination of gay men who stepped up along with State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., a frequent antagonist of LGBTQ rights. In an exclusive interview following his release from jail, his second with Gay City News, Cedeno said he was “really scared and nervous to go back into society” given that the boys he said he defended himself against “hung out with this crowd that claimed to be in gangs and made gang signs. When the incident happened, I feared for my life. For all I know, [McCree] could have had a gun and shot me right there or he could have had a knife or a stun gun.” On September 27 at his Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, Cedeno, 18, was carrying a recently purchased knife for self-protection after being bullied since the sixth grade. After having things tossed at his head in his history class, Cedeno demanded to know who was doing this to him and, he said, McCree stepped forward. Cedeno pulled out the knife, but McCree resisted an attempt by a classmate to stop him from fighting with Cedeno. As McCree started punching him, Cedeno said that he used the knife to defend himself. McCree’s friend Ariane Laboy joined in the fight. “They kept punching me even when I was defending myself,” Cedeno said. “They were still punching once school security separated us five minutes later.” The two teachers in the classroom did not try to intervene, Cedeno said. McCree’s wound was fatal, Laboy was injured, and Cedeno was badly bruised on his face. Cedeno said he was particularly afraid because McCree “had messed with” his friend Brandon earlier in the day.

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Abel Cedeno spoke to Gay City News after his release on bail last week.

“They say I didn’t know them personally, but I knew of them,” he said. “To me,” Cedeno said, “it is all a blur. I never meant for it to happen. I thought he was going to be scared and walk away and he didn’t. I am never going to take this lightly. Life is precious. His death will weigh on my heart forever.” McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, lashed out after Cedeno’s release. “I’m pissed the hell off,” she said outside the court. “He gets to go home with his family for Christmas. My son is in a fricking cemetery… I feel like the system is failing me.” McCree’s family is represented by Sanford Rubenstein and is suing the city for $25 million for not having metal detectors in the school and not implementing the state anti-bullying law. Cedeno’s mother, Luz Hernandez, had complained repeatedly to school authorities about the bullying her son was subjected to and has said not much more was done by them other than telling her son to suck it up. The city Department of Education has since announced a stepped-up anti-bullying program but has been resistant to the kind of systemic changes necessary to make schools safe environments for all.

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

Cedeno’s attorney, Christopher R. Lynn, a longtime gay activist, and his co-counsel, Robert Feldman, also gay, contend that Cedeno acted in self-defense and are citing the recent acquittal in Brooklyn of NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs who testified that he shot Delrawn Small after a traffic dispute after Small threatened to kill him and punched him. That case was brought by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman under a new law giving him responsibility for prosecuting police officers in deadly encounters with civilians who are unarmed. Lynn said that he has turned over to federal authorities evidence of intimidation of witnesses to the Urban Assembly incident by the 800 YGZ (young gunnerz) gang. Cedeno believed McCree and Laboy to be a part of the gang. Threats against Cedeno’s family and friends have been posted online by individuals identifying themselves as gang members. Lynn also said that the knife Cedeno was carrying was “legal” according to his private investigator, not a “switchblade” as most press reports have it. No weapon, however, is allowed on school premises — though many students carry them for protection. Michael Esquenazi of Empire

Bail Bonds, the largest bail company in the state, assured the $250,000 bond on the basis of $15,000 raised. “We do our best to stand behind the LGBTQ community,” Esquenazi said. “I have a lesbian sister and understand what it is like to be bullied. We sympathize with what Abel is going through and are working hard to provide him with his freedom and to provide New York State with the security to know that he will return.” Cedeno, in a written statement, said that the support he got from people in the LGBTQ community “made me proud to be gay.” He also said, “This nightmare which occurred on 09-27-17 has torn apart three families. Finally, thank you to my two gay attorneys for your hard work, trust, and faith.” He also thanked transgender activist Sophie Cadle, who has been coordinating community support for him, LaLa Zannell of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and this newspaper for its coverage. Lynn said that gay individuals contributed to Cedeno’s bail, as did Diaz and his Rock of Salvation Church. Diaz told the New York Post that Cedeno’s mother came to him for aid and “that’s what I do. I help the community. Black, white, gay, straight — I help everybody,” though he has led political opposition to LGBTQ rights measures for decades. Lynn said that most LGBTQ groups he approached would not get involved and one gay leader rebuffed him because the other student in the incident died. Lynn said, “I told him, ‘Would it have been better if Abel had died so that you could have had a memorial march for him?’” Feldman said, “It is a great victory for gay people because an elected justice of the Supreme Court has recognized that anti-gay bullying caused this tragedy,” reduced the bail, and is considering youthful offender status for Cedeno, who has no prior criminal record. Feldman is also encouraged by Cede-

ABEL CEDENO, continued on p.29

9


HEALTH

State PrEP Assistance Struggles to Attract Black Men Albany prevention effort pattern mirrors stubborn infection rates among gay, bi African Americans BY DUNCAN OSBORNE

W

hile a state program that pays for a drug regimen that prevents HIV infection currently has just under 1,400 New Yorkers participating, it is lagging in enrolling African-American men, a population that will have to see substantial declines in new HIV infections if the state is to meet its goal of significantly reducing new cases of HIV. “We have to get the word out,” said Gary English, who once headed People of Color in Crisis, a now-closed 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. “We have to make sure that men who are at high risk know that they can get PrEP through Medicaid and through New York State… If not, we’re going to have a problem come 2020. Let’s do

DUNCAN OSBORNE

Gary English, who heads up Get It Get It, a new HIV prevention group serving black gay men.

it now rather than later.” PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a once-a-day pill that prevents HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the virus. It is highly effective when taken correctly. Since January 2015, the state PrEP Assistance Program has received 2,129 applications and has 1,378 enrollees as of September of

this year, according to data from the state health department. Those who left the program found coverage elsewhere, the department said. Seventy percent of the enrollees are uninsured, 94.6 percent are men, 95 percent are single, and just under 70 percent live in New York City. Slightly more than 70 percent are 35 or younger and 14.5 percent

are younger than 25. The most telling statistic is that 36 percent of the enrollees are white, 37 percent are Latino, 14 percent are AfricanAmerican, and eight percent are Asian. In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio separately endorsed the Plan to End AIDS, which aims to reduce new HIV infections in the state from the estimated 2,481 in 2014 to 750 annually by 2020. With most new HIV infections in the state occurring in New York City and most of the new infections in the city happening among African-American and Latino gay and bisexual men, the plan will not succeed if it does not reduce new HIV infections among those men. Recognizing this, the city has set its own goal of reducing new HIV infections to 600 a year by 2020.

PREP, continued on p.11

WORLD AIDS DAY MARKED IN BROOKLYN The Kings Theatre in Flatbush hosted this year’s city World AIDS Day commemoration.

Mayor Bill de Blasio backgrounded by a message that with adequate access to HIV treatment and prevention drugs, New York can beat the AIDS epidemic.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

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Alphonso David, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s counsel.

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IDS advocates, nonprofit leaders, and city and state health officials gathered at the historic and resplendently restored Kings Theatre in Flatbush to mark World AIDS Day with the fourth annual End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition gathering.

Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner.

The December 1 event represents the city and state’s commitment to bring down the level of HIV infections so that the epidemic essentially lacks the critical mass to continue growing. By 2020, the state aims to have no more than 750 new infections, with the city experiencing 600 or fewer. If those goals are achieved, epidemiologists believe that HIV

infection will be on a clear course to being a rare condition. The city health department estimates that in 2016, there were 1,541 new HIV infections in the city in 2016, with 1,172, or 76 percent, of them among men who have sex with men. HIV infections in the state predominately occur in New York City. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PREP, from p.10

PrEP is just one component of the plan and the state data on enrollment is just one indicator of the plan’s progress. The plan also uses post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), anti-HIV drugs used by HIVnegative people who have a recent exposure to the virus to prevent infection. The plan provides stable housing, nutrition, and other services for HIV-positive people and treats them with anti-HIV drugs so they remain healthy and cannot infect others. There were an estimated 1,541 new HIV infections in the city in 2016 and 1,172, or 76 percent, were among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a city health department report that was released on November 29. The nine percent decline in estimated new infections among gay and bisexual men in 2016 over 2015 is generally consistent with declines seen in other recent year-to-year comparisons. While new HIV diagnoses, which could have resulted from infections in 2016 or earlier, declined among white, black, and Latino men —

MSM and otherwise — last year over 2015, the declines were greatest among Latino and white men. New HIV diagnoses are only an approximation of new HIV infections. There were 2,279 new HIV diagnoses in the city in 2016. In 2016 over 2015, new HIV diagnoses among all black men fell from 745 to 689 for an eight percent decline, from 759 to 611 among all Latino men for a 19 percent decline, and from 386 to 323 among all white men for a 16 percent decline. New HIV diagnoses among Asian Pacific Islander men increased to 125 in 2016 compared to 101 in 2015. The city will have to see consistent double-digit declines in these groups every year over the next four years to get to 600 new HIV infections in 2020. “New York State has rapidly become the national leader in ending the HIV/ AIDS epidemic thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo,” the state health department said in a written statement. “PrEP is a key component of the Governor’s efforts to end the epidemic by 2020, and New York has taken a number of steps to expand access to it.”

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Johanne Morne, the director of the AIDS Institute at the New York State Department of Health.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner for disease control.

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Kiara St. James, co-founder of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group.

Charles King, who heads up Housing Works, an AIDS services and policy group and was the co-author of the state’s plan to curb the AIDS epidemic by 2020.

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

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SOLEMN VIGIL MARKS WORLD AIDS DAY’S CLOSE

Candles at the NYC AIDS Memorial.

Gays Against Guns and marriage equality activist Cathy MarinoThomas, David Contreras Turley, an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and former State Senator Tom Duane.

Brent Nicholson Earle, founder of the American Run for the End of AIDS.

Members of GOAL.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

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Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

Jamie Bauer and Amanda Lugg, members of Rise and Resist.

Matthew McMorrow, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Officer Dineen Lopez, a member of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) who sang the National Anthem, and Bruce Pachter.

Rebekah Bruesehof, a trans youth from New Jersey.

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The “Human Beings” of Gays Against Guns, who symbolize those people lost in the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando and other gun violence tragedies.

s the sun went down on December 1, hundreds gathered at the NYC AIDS Memorial in the West Village to mark the 26th annual Out of the Darkness World AIDS Day candlelight vigil and heard from speakers involved in the battle against HIV. The Memo-

rial was dedicated just one year ago as the city’s first significant marker of an epidemic that claimed the limes of tens of thousands of New Yorkers, most of them gay and bisexual men. Following the vigil, participants marched to St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street, where they heard from additional speakers.

GOAL members hoisted the American Flag, the New York City Flag, the NYPD Flag, the Rainbow Flag, , and the Transgender Flag.

Gays Against Guns and Rise and Resist member Jay Walker.

Jeffrey Griglak and Lee Raines.

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


COMMUNITY

Matthew Shepard Foundation Enters 20th Year In New York, Judy Shepard, noting “step back,” “downturn,” still upbeat on fight against hate

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

DONNA ACETO

Judy and Dennis Shepard at the Stonewall Inn on November 16.

Judy Shepard in Manhattan last month.

Earl Crittenden, chair of the onePULSE Foundation, and the group’s chief operating officer, Leah Shepherd, who will be collaborating with the Matthew Shepard Foundation next June on an Orlando production of “The Laramie Project.”

DONNA ACETO

Cathy Renna reads poetry from Lesléa Newman’s book “October Mourning, a Song for Matthew Shepard.”

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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ineteen years after the brutal, anti-gay murder of her 21-year-old son Matthew in Laramie, Wyoming, Judy Shepard is committed and passionate about the cause of combatting bullying and bias of the type that ripped her family apart. “I look at this as my grieving process,” she said of the frequent appearances that she and her husband, Dennis, make in talking to high school and college audiences, corporate gatherings, and law enforcement forums. Then, mentioning how much times have changed, she added, “Matt’s world is not their world, but we try to describe what his world was like. I feel we have to share that part of Matt’s life so they understand what

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DONNA ACETO

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Comic Ari Kiki, who emceed the Stonewall reception in the Shepards’ honor.

Julia Scotti, a comic who appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” at the Stonewall.

Celine Robinson, a writer for “Law and Order: SUV,” and her wife Ariel.

he was going through. But it’s hard to relive it every day.” Shepard spoke to Gay City News as part of a trip to New York — including a November 16 reception at the Stonewall Inn — to help kick off the 20th year of the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s existence. The upcoming 12 months will include a collaboration next June with the onePULSE Foundation in Orlando to honor those killed in last year’s LGBTQ nightclub massacre with a stage run of “The Laramie Project,” Moises Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project’s documentary theater piece about the aftermath of Matthew’s 1998 hate murder. Next October, the 20th anniversary of that killing and of the Foundation’s efforts will be marked with a gala gathering in Denver. Passionate as she is, Judy Shepard has a westerner’s reserve in her man-

ner, criticizing the polarizing turn the nation has taken since Donald Trump came on the scene — without naming the president directly. “We’ve taken a step back in the last two years,” she said of the progress on building a culture of tolerance and acceptance in the nation. “Ever since the campaign began and the lead candidate unleashed the attitude of not caring to say the right thing, and that has empowered others to do the same. Maybe we were just kidding ourselves and people always felt these things, but we are really worried.” In a separate meeting with this newspaper’s photographer, Dennis Shepard was considerably more voluble in calling Trump out. Judy emphasized the importance of leadership at the top, noting that from the administration of George W. Bush to Barack Obama’s, there was

a huge difference “in the way things were talked about… There has definitely been a downturn” since January. Asked to name what has been lost, she said, “I wouldn’t even use the word politically correct. I would say it’s about kindness.” But Shepard is also optimistic. “Businesses have become so proLGBT,” she said, “and we are in much better shape to respond. We are organized.” The high school audiences she meets, Shepard added, “don’t care who loves who, who’s dating who. They do get it. For more information about the Matthew Shepard Foundation, visit matthewshepard.org. LGBTQ youth can join in the discussion on how to combat hate, harassment, and bullying at medium.com/@matthewsplace1.

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


RELIGION & LGBTQ LIFE

The Ringleader How a pastor’s son was able to follow in his father’s footsteps only after he came out BY NATHAN DICAMILLO

A

ndy Hill was a pastor’s son who spent his childhood running away from being gay. He quit gymnastics because he was attracted to his teammates and coaches. He buried himself in playing piano instead. But 30 years later, at 42, he’s given away his keyboard, he’s a cyclist and triathlete, and he runs a non-profit organization that connects LGBTQ Christians to each other called Grafted NYC. “I never had confidence in my faith until I actually came out,� Hill said. Hill grew up as an Independent Baptist — a denomination more conservative than the Southern Baptist Church. His father was ordained through Bob Jones University, a school founded in part in opposition to the teaching of evolu-

NATHAN DICAMILLO

Andy Hill at the Grafted NYC booth at this past June’s Pride Fest in Manhattan.

tion in schools. When Hill moved to New York City in 2000, he wanted to go to church, but he didn’t want a church like his dad’s church. This led him to Times Square Church,

a charismatic non-denominational church in Manhattan’s theater district. A multiracial church, it was there that Hill first realized that the church could advance racial justice.

Unlike his experience with the Independent Baptists, Hill was taught that his salvation did not have to be earned by his good works. “Baptists — whether they articulate this or not directly — their approach to Christianity is you should pray the sinner’s prayer and then immediately turn your life around,� he said. It was with his new understanding of his faith as something that he could do nothing to earn that Hill began to accept being gay. One night, while he was praying again for God to make him straight, Hill was overwhelmed by the feeling that God wanted him to stop trying to pray the gay away. Up until that moment, Hill had experienced an undiagnosed depression his whole life. “It was all wrapped up in ‘I hate who I am, and I cannot accept

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THE RINGLEADER, continued on p.25

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RABBI SHARON KLEINBAUM FÊTED FOR 25 YEARS OF LEADERSHIP

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (right) and author, performance artist, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein.

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

I

n a benefit evening of speeches, musical performances, and a reception, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the city’s LGBTQ synagogue that is also the world’s largest, celebrated 25 years of spiritual leadership under Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. The highlight of the evening, which raised funds to complete the capital campaign that allowed CBST to move into its new permanent home at 130 West 30th Street last year, were remarks by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Speaking to the crowd gathered

Rabbi Kleinbaum greets Hillary Clinton.

at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Clinton praised Kleinbaum for her leadership on social justice issues and in bringing her community along in resistance to the Trump administration, while also remarking on the congregation’s extraordinary growth since the early 1970s when it struggled to reach a minyan, or quorum of 10 Jewish adults required to hold religious worship. Joking, “I’m kvelling… not bad for a Methodist,” the Democrat who won the 2016 popular vote handily only to lose in the Electoral College, also talked about how her faith has sustained her over the past year.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Introduced by Jonathan, a teenage member of CBST who was Bar Mitzvahed by Kleinbaum and volunteered in her campaign last year, Clinton also spoke of the hope she’s found in letters from young people around the country. About a boy named Felix who dressed as Hillary for Halloween, Clinton said, “He really nailed my hair.” In her own remarks, Kleinbaum recalled many happy moments at CBST but also talked about the critical social justice challenges faced in today’s political world. She, her children, and her partner, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of

Teachers, read written passages from Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which was performed by the Greenwich Village Orchestra under the direction of Adria Benjamin. The congregation’s music director, Joyce Rozenzweig, led the CBST Community Chorus in song, and cantor Steve Zeidenberg also sang. Katherine Linton, who long helmed PBS’ “In the Life” LGBTQ public affairs program, produced a video, “Bringing Vision to Life,” the evening’s theme. Cynthia Nixon and Andy Cohen, both CBST members, hosted the evening. — Additional reporting by Paul Schindler

Rabbi Kleinbaum’s partner, Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers, and Melissa Sklarz, the development director at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The evening’s co-hosts, Andy Cohen and Cynthia Nixon.

Fred Davie, executive vice president at Union Theological Seminary, his husband Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, former State Senator Tom Duane, marriage equality champion Evan Wolfson, longtime LGBTQ leader Urvashi Vaid, and her partner, comedian Kate Clinton.

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

New York Law School Professor Arthur S. Leonard, Gay City News’ legal correspondent, and Alix Kucker, an active CBST member and a former prosecutor in Queens.

19


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MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, from p.4

also visibly, torn during the argument, leaning on his elbow for long stretches of time and looking up to the ceiling, deep in thought, after the answer to one of his questions. Turning to the implications that a win for the baker could have for the LGBTQ community, Kennedy asked the solicitor general, â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you prevail, could the baker put a sign in his window, we do not bake cakes for gay weddings? And you would not think that an affront to the gay community?â&#x20AC;? But Kennedy also later ham-

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HOUSTON BENEFITS, from p.5

peal. But that prompted a fervent campaign by Republican Governor Greg Abbott and other GOP elected officials to persuade the court, whose members periodically stand for reelection, to change its mind, stimulating thousands of Texans to flood the court with demands it reverse the Court of Appeals decision. The court ultimately bowed to this pressure, granted review, and

mered Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger, representing the state, about why a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had said â&#x20AC;&#x153;it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use, to use their religion to hurt others.â&#x20AC;? He later added that â&#x20AC;&#x153;tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillipsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; religious beliefs.â&#x20AC;? The conservatives on the court returned fire with their liberal col-

leagues by asking a parallel series of questions about what might happen if the majority does not create some constitutional breathing room for religious refusals. Chief Justice John Roberts suggested a Catholic pro bono legal services organization might be forced to represent a married gay couple. Justice Samuel Alito said a religious college with similar objections might have to host same-sex weddings on campus or offer married student housing to same-sex couples. And Justice Gorsuch went so far as to suggest that if a baker designed a cake for the Red Cross

with an actual red cross, he might have to do the same for the Ku Klux Klan, despite the fact that the Klan is not protected by any civil rights laws in the country. Justice Clarence Thomas, as usual, said nothing. A decision will be released by the court by the end of June.

issued its June 30 decision. The Texas Supreme Court agreed that the Texas Court of Appeals should not have treated the Fifth Circuitâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision as binding on the trial court, and opined further that the Obergefell decision was just about whether same-sex couples could marry as a question of federal constitutional law, not what benefits they were entitled to if they married. This was palpably wrong, as

shown by another Supreme Court ruling, just days prior, in Pavan v. Smith, a case from Arkansas involving parental names on birth certificates, in which the high court made clear that married same-sex couples are entitled to the â&#x20AC;&#x153;full constellation of rightsâ&#x20AC;? that go with marriage under the 2015 Obergefell decision. Pidgeon and Hicksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lawsuit is still pending in the state trial court and the same-sex spouses of Houston

employees are receiving their equal benefits, so it is likely that the Supreme Court justices saw no pressing reason to add this case to their docket. Perhaps they agree with the opinion by US District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore, who, in dismissing Lambdaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lawsuit, predicted that the state trial court, bound by US Supreme Court precedent in both Obergefell and more recently Pavan, will ultimately reject Pidgeon and Hicksâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; challenge to the benefits.

Matthew Skinner is the outgoing executive director of LeGaL â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The LGBT Bar Association and Foundation of Greater New York and the incoming executive director of The Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission of the New York Courts.

Odds of getting enough sleep?

Odds of winning Take 5?

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December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


THE RINGLEADER, from p.15

this,’” he said. When he accepted that he was gay, the depression stopped. Over the course of several months, Hill began saying to himself, “I’m gay.” Hill didn’t start dating at that point, however. He identified as a celibate gay person because he believed having a relationship would be wrong. In 2004, he switched churches. He began to attend Redeemer Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side. To help him remain celibate, Hill had to keep his feelings under control. He didn’t want to fall in love and kept people at an emotional distance as a result. These were the circumstances under which Johnson Lee, now a Grafted NYC Bible study leader, met Hill back in 2005. At the time, Lee was also in the closet. Looking back, he can see how Hill’s self-loathing made him distant. “I was trying to figure things out… a year after graduating college,” Lee said. “And he was also totally in denial.” But at Redeemer, Hill became a deacon — a minister just below the level of pastor or priest. He couldn’t counsel church members effectively while staying emotionally distant. On top of being challenged by his position as a deacon, Hill was laid off from his job because his bosses “thought [his] job was X when it was really Y,” he said. Now, he had a lot more time to think about his life. It was during this period that Hill realized he had been missing a large part of who he was as a person — someone he believed to be created and loved by God. “I basically had been repressing myself for so many years, I couldn’t see who I was anymore,” he said. “Which takes me back to who I was as a child, naturally prone to athletics, naturally extroverted, naturally leader at church as the pastor’s kid. All those things were the natural me. Everything I had done in the years between then and 37 was all an attempt to be straight or erase my homosexuality.” The sermons at Redeemer, however, taught Hill that his salvation again was not earned by good works. The Independent Baptist thinking of his youth could no longer condemn him to Hell. He was free to think about how his repressing his identity had hurt him. “I felt like I had nothing left to lose in terms of asking questions of whomever I could ask,” he said. “I didn’t have a job at that point, and my term as a deacon was coming to an end.” He called a meeting with the church leaders. “I told them, ‘You guys told me years ago that you don’t believe in reparative therapy, but there’s got to be gay people at this church and you’re not giving us a way to know each other,’” Hill recalled. For a church that has a whole series about how Christians can integrate their faith into their careers and taught that evolution wasn’t GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

NATHAN DICAMILLO

Andy Hill, a pastor’s son who was long closeted, now leads LGBTQ Christians and hopes to integrate them more fully into his church’s life.

contrary to the Christian faith, Hill wanted to know why Redeemer didn’t have a way of addressing modern issues like LGBTQ equality. “I don’t know where to get answers,” he said. “All I know is sometimes I feel like God is talking to me, and sometimes I feel like I’m crazy.” Around this time, LGBTQ Christian activist Matthew Vines came out with his book, “God and the Gay Christian,” and released materials challenging non-affirming churches with a different interpretation of scripture, challenging the notion that scripture condemns gay marriage. Hill stepped down from being a deacon without fighting the church. But he did want to create a resource for gay Christians at Redeemer. During this time, he joined a small group where two other people had already come out. This became the beginnings of an informal group of Christian LGBTQ people at Redeemer. When Lee was invited to this group by a friend of his, he could see that Hill had changed in his openness to other people. At the time that this group was just a Facebook group Hill had a clear vision: That no one should reconcile their faith and sexuality alone. “His intention was always ultimately to make it a place where people who are uncomfortable discussing these things at church would have a resource to do so,” Lee said. Eventually, people from outside of the church began to take interest in the group. Hill realized that the group should be open for all LGBTQ

Christians in the city and began to find more potential members through OkCupid. “I was meeting gay Christians everywhere throughout the city because that’s what I was looking for,” he said. “My profile was very specific: I’m very passionate about God. I’m looking for someone like that too. For the most part, people would want to go on dates with me because I was like a curiosity.” These people were the beginnings of a group that would be called Grafted NYC. The name comes from a passage in Romans that describes how wild olive branches are grafted into an olive tree so that the wild branches, along with the natural branches, can feed on the nutrients supplied by the roots and produce fruit. It’s a metaphor for inclusion within the Church and was used by the apostle Paul to say that gentiles — non-Jewish people — could have salvation through faith. The nonprofit has two Bible study groups that meet on Thursdays in the Flatiron and Hell’s Kitchen, respectively. On every third Thursday of each month, the group has a social for all members. On one Saturday of each month, all non-male identifying members hold an event. Every quarter, Grafted holds a forum, usually a speaker event. More information can be found at graftednyc.com. With members coming from a wide variety of denominations and cultural backgrounds, Hill also sees Grafted as a community that can help the church find unity in a politically divisive climate. Hill is now a “gay Christian celebrity” — that was one of the early impressions his boyfriend, Joe Schleupner, had of him after they matched on OkCupid. “He was among larger than life figures within this small community,” Schleupner, who grew up Pentecostal, said. “They are the more outspoken people that decided to move the needle while the rest of us are just meandering about.” As a part of this mission, Hill is planning on going to seminary to pursue being a pastor. “We talk about it a lot,” Schleupner said. “About my theology, his theology. His dreams for changing the way the church looks at unity, inclusion.” Schleupner is also an athlete, and the couple are training for a triathlon together. “Both of his bikes are named,” Schleupner said. “One is named Rodrigo for triathlons, and the other is a commuter bike named Tom Cruise.” Being an athlete and an extrovert are the parts of Hill’s personality that were restored to him after accepting himself. In the five years that he has been out and affirming, Hill is free to do the work he feels called to do — uniting LGBTQ Christians. “Embracing both realities makes us the cultural outcasts in both the gay and the Christian world,” he said of himself and Schleupner. “So we’ve become each other’s family.”

25


PERSPECTIVE: Snide Lines PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

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Trump’s Thug-Power, Or Does Anybody Still Like Woody Allen?

editor@gaycitynews.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR

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26

L

et’s go back to when we were all a little younger and less terrified. Obama is president. I am talking to a slightly older, white, heterosexual male, highly esteemed by the academic world and by me. I, a lesbian, admire and trust this guy. We’re catching up, talking about life, books, friends. I tell him my friend Beth is having a hard time writing her memoir. She’s trying to decide if she should include the fact that her very famous father, a renowned attorney, had sexually molested her for years while she was growing up. I assume my friend’s reaction will be nuanced, temperate, compassionate — as it is concerning anything we discuss. That he’ll consider Beth’s pain and ambivalence. Instead, he takes a quarter-second to gasp, then blurts: “Why would she want to destroy her father’s reputation and shit on his entire life’s work?” See, two years ago, sexual abuse was nothing, compared to an alleged perpetrator’s power and fame. These days, bigger dudes than Beth’s father — Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump, Russell Simmons (the list grows almost hourly) — are being called out as sexual predators. Although government men (and multinationals like Google and Uber) usually shrug off or fight back, famous men in media — pundits, producers, performers, broadcasters — now often admit they did wrong. That’s because people who work in news and entertainment are now more accountable to the public than government and corporations, which have moved far beyond our control. Sometimes, they even express regret for hurting people. Finally, power is redistributed: even men who apologize can lose their jobs. This must be Woody Allen’s worst nightmare. Remember how Woody warned, in the wake of Weinstein’s demise, of a brewing “witch hunt atmosphere… where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer?” Well, one

man’s wink is another man’s grope, is another man’s rape. But what Woody probably meant was that, whether or not they’re guilty, he cares about his famous-dude colleagues and doesn’t want them to lose their careers. This is how justice rolls down in the Trump years. Given the blaring excrescence that is the Trump administration, when the legislative and judicial branches of our government are being gutted and the executive branch is decomposing, maybe it’s time to let go of checks and balances and turn to the media for reason and moral authority. I’m not the only one to feel this — you too, maybe? There are still some ethical reporters, right? A few media outlets with journalistic standards? And how about that First Amendment — not dead! Probably. So we’re galvanized by these media sex scandals, not only because they remind women and trans people that fear of sexual abuse daily permeates our lives — but also because, for once, on TV, radio, newspapers, and all over the web, we get some attention, a little accountability. I feel energized, like I’m part of a conversation with millions of good people who’ve also been through a lot. And! We’ve been given an exciting new power: Should we let these men go on with their careers? Should we still enjoy their work? People like me now feel that, weirdly, even as America slips into full-on Götterdämmerung, we matter. Until we don’t. Media-driven justice may trickle down, but it’s never going to reach folks in East New York or Sioux City. Across this country — as if you didn’t know — sexual harassment, assault, and humiliation are normalized, everyday atrocities. They misshape the lives of millions of women and children of any gender — anyone seen as too female or helpless or transgressive or uppity. I used to work at a rape crisis center in Illinois. There were, of course, cases of rape, but there were other obscene acts of festering power perpetrated by men whose power in the world would always be thin and dinky. Some hus-

band, having a really bad morning, didn’t like the way his wife fixed his eggs, so he drove a fork through her hand. Some little girl’s daddy, angry at her sassing off to him, threw her down and sprayed Easy-Off Oven Cleaner up her vagina. But these are cases for small town emergency rooms; they’ll never make it to prime time. Even if they did, they wouldn’t find justice there. Because the most anyone can get from the media court of public opinion is an apology. The #MeToo campaign, heartening though it is, offers consolation, not institutional empowerment or compensation. And the 700,000 female farm workers who reportedly “Stood with Hollywood Actors Against Sexual Assault” in November can hope only for a little solidarity. History has a spotty memory, in part because the media, over the long haul, do a sucky job of doling out morality or justice. News media are great on attention-getting firsts, like King’s March on Washington or ACT UP invading St. Pat’s Cathedral or Watergate. But media know that we, their consuming public, can consume only so much. So, for instance, the benchmark for government corruption remains Watergate, not the far worse constitutional dismemberment now perpetrated by Trump’s mob. Before this sex scandal wave ends — and it will — we need to realize that, though media can take down a few powerful men, they’re not the keyhole through which we can peep the real power in Trump’s America. The thugs now annihilating net neutrality, immigrants’ rights, healthcare, environmental protections, safeguards to nuclear war, and what’s left of the New Deal are impervious to media news, “fake” or not. They’re almost impervious to petitions and protests. The thing is, beneath the hopeful social change discourse we create in the media and on Facebook and Twitter, we are losing everything. Whether or not we still like Woody Allen, Trump and his hired goons are grabbing everything by the pussy. I only wish we knew how to stop them.

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


PERSPECTIVE: A Dyke Abroad

State of the Global Queer Nation, Year 1 Post-Trump BY KELLY COGSWELL

I

t’s hard to do more than gape at the destructive ripples we’re sending worldwide, the terrible knowledge of how fragile our already imperfect American democracy is, so dependent as it is on custom and those “gentlemen’s agreements” and not the beleaguered US Constitution. Who knew it only took one mad, racist narcissist to inexorably open the floodgates to the blatant white supremacists and rapacious thieves dreaming of a toilet paper little ‘c’ constitution — except for that ironclad detail about bearing arms? For US queers, this means what? That those of us that were already poor and marginal will be even poorer, even more consigned to the ninth circle of political and economic hell. Especially trans people of color. Already at the bottom of our community’s economic heap, they were just beginning to make a little progress under Obama, but were targeted immediately under Trump, and are now invoked as monsters at Republican fundraisers. Give us money and we’ll keep

you safe from them in bathrooms. And lesbians — and their children — who already suffered from the customary salary penalties assessed to all those obviously female humans will have even less help from the federal government. The tax bill passed by the Senate last week and awaiting a conferencing with a different version passed earlier by the House, essentially takes from the poor to give to the rich, creating unimaginable deficits and knowingly setting the stage for the destruction of programs like Medicare and Medicaid that were saving our lives, though in some states were already tough to access. Those of us who sidestepped the discrimination of the market by hustling our own jobs, now face the elimination of all our usual deductions, while private jet owners are allowed to exempt their maintenance. Bad as all of this is, the worst thing is the frontal attack on democracy and the constitutional rule of law. As queers, we’ve relied on them for progress and protection. We’ve pushed for social change on the streets and in the courts, while persuading legislators to enshrine

our gains into law. It was already hard enough to gain access, with so much congressional horse-trading going on behind closed doors. But in the era of Trump, horse-trading is being replaced by one sneaky self-coup after the other. The latest was when senators were forced to vote on a tax bill literally written by lobbyists that few senators had time to read, much less was comment on and debate. All taxation, no representation. Congrats to us as we take another baby step toward “illiberal (aka fake) democracy”, a la Erdogan or Putin. Apparently the guy tapped to head the Republican National Convention three years from now is a gerrymandering/ voter suppression whiz. At this rate, the only votes we will be left with are our voices in the street. And there, we must be prepared to be prosecuted not as citizens engaged in protest or civil disobedience, but under the Homeland Security laws meant to apply to terrorists. Because what could be more terrifying these days than citizens saying, “No.” “We resist.” The courts, too, are being revamped top to bottom. Every empty seat open to a lifetime appointment has been filled by radical conservatives prepared to ignore existing law to attack LGBTQ people, people of color, the poor, women. We can only hope there is some way

to challenge them, maybe if they are too blatant as they disregard laws. We have to find out. We have to educate ourselves. Encourage young and old queers to go to law school, support organizations like the ACLU. The Innocence Project. Things may not have been perfect but they were moving, even if two steps forward, one back. Now reversals are happening so fast no one can keep track, much less digest. And we’ll have to do what we’ve forgotten how to. Build community. Look after each other. Order medication from abroad. Get our scripts from tame doctors that we can’t afford to visit. And also, keep an eye on queers abroad. The impact of Trump’s America doesn’t stop at our borders. LGBTQ refugees, like Chechen queers facing a brutal purge, aren’t enthusiastically welcomed here. Funding for global health programs including those fighting AIDS have been or will be slashed. The destruction of the US State Department is not only irreparably damaging ordinary relations abroad, but gutting the Obama policy of declaring LGBTQ rights human rights. Thanks to that policy, the US offered financial and moral support to embattled queer groups worldwide and saw their work as intrinsic to larger projects of broadening

Trump ‘crazy,’ a ‘kook,’ and ‘unfit for office.’” And that’s just from Goldberg. Over at Project Syndicate (“the world’s opinion page”), Elizabeth Drew wrote: “Much of America’s capital has entered a state of nearpanic. In recent days, President Donald Trump has been acting more bizarrely than ever, and the question raised in the mind of politicians and civilians alike, though rarely spoken aloud, has been: What can be done with this man?” Drew goes on: “The question of timing has become increasingly urgent, given the heightened danger that the US will deliberately or accidentally end up in a war with North Korea. That risk, coupled with Trump’s increasingly peculiar behavior, has made Washington more tense than I’ve ever known it to be, and that includes the dark days of Watergate.

To put it bluntly: the worry is that a mentally deranged president might lead the US into a nuclear war. “In just the past week, evidence of Trump’s instability has piled up. During an Oval Office ceremony to honor Native-American heroes of World War II, he offended them” by recycling “Pocahontas,” his neverfunny nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren, as though these World War II heroes would find an Indian joke funny. Drew added, “He picked an unprecedented and unnecessary fight with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, supposedly America’s closest ally, by retweeting a British neo-fascist group’s anti-Muslim posts. In an effort to win a Democratic senator’s vote for his pending tax-cut bill, he traveled to her state

STATE OF THE QUEER, continued on p.28

PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus

All While America Seems Beset by Golden Slumbers BY ED SIKOV

“B

y the end of the day, Trump had been condemned by Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, to which he responded by going after a different Theresa May on Twitter, dragging an obscure woman who at the time had six followers into the limelight. In another tweet, he insinuated that the TV host Joe Scarborough killed an intern in 2001, when he was a congressman. This came after news reports informed us that Trump is still a birther and that he no longer

admits that the voice on the infamous Access Hollywood tape is his own. “He seems to be cracking up.” This is only one of a slew of columns on op-ed pages last week in which writers — in this case, Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times — bluntly discuss Rump’s state of mind using any number of synonyms for crazy. “Delusional.” “Unhinged.” “Mad.” “Mentally ill.” As Goldberg puts it, “On CNN, Senator Lindsey Graham chided the press for treating Trump like ‘some kind of kook not fit to be president,’ which is some serious gaslighting from a man who previously called

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

GOLDEN SLUMBERS, continued on p.28

27


STATE OF THE QUEER, from p.27

democracy. In practical terms, this means that queers in Turkey who’ve already seen their Pride Parade

GOLDEN SLUMBERS, from p.27

and told lies about her record... And he continued to bait North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who seems equally unstable.” Drew also cites Rump’s resuscitation of birtherism as evidence of Rump’s “instability.” About the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which he boasts about his ability to “grab ‘em by the pussy,” his rather-too-late-in-thegame denial is such a magnificent lie that Billy Bush — the former Access Hollywood host to whom the ever-bragging Rump told of his charming way of treating women — wrote a Times op-ed piece titled, “Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That.” And as Drew points out, “The fact that Trump appears to have some mental disorder, or disorders, has

28

banned in Istanbul, have even fewer allies as they fight back against new anti-gay measures like the ban on their queer film festival, PinkFest, which has been declared “an incitement to terrorism.”

If we are going to survive this, we have to stop exhausting ourselves with every Trump tweet or the latest indignities visited on us by the Republicans. We need to think bigger, much bigger, and be-

gin to plan. For the long run.

created a dilemma for psychiatrists, politicians, and journalists alike. The American Psychiatric Association has a rule that its members may not offer diagnoses of people they have not examined. But, given what some psychiatrists see as a national emergency, many have broken the rule and spoken or written publicly about their professional assessments of Trump’s mental state.” Drew concludes with these remarkable observations: “After his latest spasm of deranged tweets, only those completely under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans have long suspected: the President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad. He is, by any honest layman’s definition, mentally unwell and viciously lashing out. Scarborough told viewers that several Republican

figures close to Mr. Trump had told him they believed the president was demonstrating signs of dementia.” Face it, folks. The president is a wack job, and we could all die as a result.

guise of winnings for workers.” Decorum? What’s that? Perr is, of course, referring to the long-rumored tape in which Rump either pisses on a bed in which Barack and Michelle Obama slept while in Russia or pisses on Russian whores. Or maybe they piss on him. What does it matter? I can’t wait to see it for myself. Funny that “golden showers” has these particular double meanings, since our lying scumbag of a president is so obviously eager to shower his golden waste not on the obscenely rich but on the middle and working classes. As many, many people have noted, the tax bill is really a tax scam, with Rump pissing on the very people who voted for him. He must be mad.

Here’s Jon Perr writing for Daily Kos: “Donald Trump and his Republican allies have two definitions of the term ‘golden showers.’ The first concerns a notorious — and asyet unsubstantiated — claim from the so-called Russian dossier: Decorum prohibits elaborating further here. The second meaning of the term, however, describes any public policy — usually involving taxes — which overwhelmingly delivers its benefits to the very richest people in America. The plutocratic pleasure from this right-wing fetish is all the more ecstatic if raining cash on the gilded-class can be sold under the

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

Follow @EdSikov on Facebook and Twitter.

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


COMMEMORATION

A TRIBUTE TO MARK MERLIS

Building

FAMILIES LGBT COMMUNIT Y CENTER

The life and work of the late Mark Merlis will be celebrated by his peers at the Center on December 12.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

O

n December 12, as part of the LGBT Community Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Second Tuesday Lecture Series, an esteemed group of gay writers will pay tribute to Mark Merlis, an award-winning novelist (â&#x20AC;&#x153;American Studies,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;An Arrowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flight,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Man About Town,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;JDâ&#x20AC;?) who was recognized as a modern gay master. Merlis died in August at the age of 67 in Philadelphia from ALS-related illness. He is survived by his husband Robert Ashe. Merlisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; peers have put together an evening of remembrances as well as readings from his works. The line-up includes: Moderator Christopher Bram (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Father of Frankenstein,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hold Tight,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Memory of Angel Clare,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed Americaâ&#x20AC;?); Scott Heim (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mysterious Skin,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Awe,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We Disappearâ&#x20AC;?); William Johnson, the program director at the Lambda Literary Foundation; Paul Russell (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Salt Point,â&#x20AC;?

ä&#x2030;´

ABEL CEDENO, from p.9

noâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s release. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Study after study shows that when a criminally accused person is released on bail the likelihood of acquittal or a favorable plea bargain increases,â&#x20AC;? he said. A hearing on Cedenoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s suspension from school is being held by the Department of Education on December 7. Lynn said that the DOE may call Laboy as well as

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sea of Tranquility,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Coming Storm,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokovâ&#x20AC;?); Michael Lowenthal (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Same Embrace,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Avoidance,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Charity Girl,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Paternity Testâ&#x20AC;?); Patrick Merla (editor of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories,â&#x20AC;? book and magazine editor, with titles that included Christopher Street, and a leading gay publishing figure, to whom Merlisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;JDâ&#x20AC;? is dedicated in part);

    !      !   I  

Ed Sikov (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Screwball: Hollywoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Madcap Romantic Comedies,â&#x20AC;? and Gay City Newsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Media Circus columnist); and William Sterling Walker (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Desire: Tales of New Orleansâ&#x20AC;?). The event takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on December 12 at the LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street. Robert Ashe, Merlisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; surviving husband, will be in attendance. For more information, visit facebook.com/events/158469521435234.

Nicholas Kennedy and Paul Jacoby, the two teachers in the classroom at the time, to testify â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or could instead simply move to keep the suspension in place based on police reports. Lynn said that he will be summoning witnesses as well in the hopes that the suspension will be lifted and Cedeno can resume his studies in a safe environment. Cedenoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next court date is February 1.

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 20, 2017

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GALLERY

The Pool Man’s Joy Artist David Hockney gets a dazzling retrospective at the Met

© DAVID HOCKNEY/ ©TATE, LONDON 2017 (PURCHASED, 1981)

David Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash,” 1967 ; acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8’.

PRIVATE COLLECTION © DAVID HOCKNEY

David Hockney’s “Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy,” 1968 ; acrylic on canvas, 83 1/2 x 119 1/2”.

BY DAVID NOH he one emotion that you come away with from the David Hockney retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — and, indeed, that you experience all through your viewing of it — is joy. He is living proof that great art needn’t be dark, tortured, or full of angst. Hockney comes instead from blessedly more accessible schools of art, like those of Boucher, Fragonard, and Toulouse-Lautrec, where, largely, pleasure and its depiction represent the project at hand — in his case, in images of Southern California, portraits of friends, and even his earliest work, in which he staked out a personality and unique style that have remained remarkably consistent for the last 60 years. It’s a marvelous, truly inspiriting show, especially when you consider that the artist is now 80 and still paints every day, better than ever, his mastery over his trademark, vivid Fauvist palette and uniquely skewed perspective displaying a now magisterial confidence and ageless brio. For me, the most striking discovery of this show, comprising some 60 paintings, as well as drawings and photocollages, curated by Ian Alteveer, are those early works, from the 1960s, which came well before, but look like nothing so much as the vividly urgent, graffiti-strewn canvases of the East Village scene in the 1980s. Although cleaner and somewhat more Brit-decorous, they particularly remind one of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who

T

30

DAVID HOCKNEY Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Ave. at E. 82nd St. Through Feb. 25 Sun.-Thu., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. $25; $17 for seniors; $12 for students metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2017/david-hockney

PRIVATE COLLECTION © DAVID HOCKNEY

David Hockney’s “Domestic Scene, Los Angeles,” 1963 ; oil on canvas, 60 x 60”.

surely must have had a hard look at these quite brilliant mixed media, sometimes collaged assemblages, replete with commercial product imagery of Colgate toothpaste, Alka Seltzer, and Typhoo tea, as well as highly personal, scrawled graffiti. But, where Basquiat’s on-canvas scribblings dealt with race and oblique self-empowerment, Hockney’s wording shows him to be nothing short of an absolute pioneering gay activist, sneaking subversive messages of queerness onto his canvases, like little gay affirmations (“Come on, David, admit it.” “Ring me anytime at home”). Hockney’s very first important artistic statement was this youthfully energized proclamation of his homosexuality in the early 1960s, a time when that was a punishable offense in the eyes of the law. Existing in a sexually free utopia (where he’s probably always lived, at least in his own fertile mind), there’s a bracing and beautifully forthright innocence — as well as sly knowingness — to these bold little fillips in boldly rendered

paintings like “Cha Cha Cha,” which celebrates that life-enhancing staple of gay life, dancing in a club, or “We Two Boys Together Clinging,” which was inspired by a Walt Whitman poem, as well as the headline of a news story about a hiking accident, “Two Boys Cling to Cliff All Night.” The mystery, if any, in Hockney is how on earth did this working class boy from the northern boondocks of Britain grow up with such total selfacceptance and bravado and go on to mature with such a seemingly neurosis-free constitution. Born in the seaside town of Bradford in 1937, the fourth of five children, Hockney’s father instilled in him a pride of self, to never be ashamed of his Yorkshire roots or thick accent, and to always stand up for his rights. His beloved mother was vegetarian and a staunch Methodist. Dad — a conscientious objector in World War II — was a humble clerk in an

DAVID HOCKNEY, continued on p.43

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


THEATER

Boys and The Band Two wonderful new shows chart the human heart in very different ways

RUSS ROWLAND

Drew Droege in his one-man show, “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns,” directed by Michael Urie, at the Soho Playhouse through January 7.

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE think everyone in their roster of friends knows someone like Gerry. (I can tick off at least three.) Gerry is the kind of oversized neurotic who blows into a room like a tornado and promptly sucks all the air out of it. Every sentence feels like a performance, and it’s virtually impossible to believe he’s for real. He’s exhausting in large doses, and yet we love him because he sure is entertaining and, under all the flamboyant melodrama, there’s a sweet and vulnerable guy. Gerry in this case is the sole character in the brisk one-act “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” now at the SoHo Playhouse. Written and performed by Drew Droege and directed by Michael Urie, this is a comic tour de force that will leave your sides aching with laughter and your heart more than a little touched. Gerry has arrived at a house in Palm Springs to meet up with some of his LA friends as they get ready for the wedding of two others. The play is a non-stop monologue as Gerry comments on the friendships and intertwined romantic relationships among the crew and more, not to mention various digs as Los Angeles traffic, same-sex marriage,

I

BRIGHT COLORS AND BOLD PATTERNS SoHo Playhouse 15 Vandam St., btwn. Sixth Ave. & Varick St. Through Jan. 7 Sun.-Wed. at 7:30 p.m. Fri. at 9 p.m.; Sat. at 5 & 9 p.m. $69-$99; sohoplayhouse.com Or 212-691-1555 80 mins., with no intermission

and pretty much anything else that flies into Gerry’s mind at the least provocation. What apparently set him off is that the wedding invitation requested that guests avoid wearing bright colors and bold patterns. It’s infuriating and incongruous to Gerry that a gay wedding should be done in muted tones. The script is whip smart and deliciously satirical as Gerry gets more drunk, banters with his ex and that ex’s new, young boyfriend, and throws barbs at an old nemesis, with all of whom he’s the “dearest of friends.” Droege is a masterful performer with flawless timing, precise mannerisms, and absolute specificity about what he’s doing and whom he’s talking to. Though he’s the only

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

MATT MURPHY

Katrina Lenk and Tony Shalhoub in Itamar Moses and David Yazbek’s “The Band’s Visit,” directed by David Cromer, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

person on stage, by the end of the show, you’re seeing the others there as well... or as nearly as possible. Urie’s imaginative staging hits every laugh but doesn’t ignore the more subtle aspects of the script. The piece may be a bit conventional in that Gerry is somewhat of a stereotypical character, but it’s so entertaining and Droege is such a wonderful performer you won’t care. I was delighted to have spent 80 minutes with him. A weekend in real life might be just a bit too much. With quiet lyricism and achingly beautiful humanity, “The Band’s Visit” works its way into your heart and leaves you surprised that you could be so profoundly moved by such a simple tale. The show with a book by Itamar Moses and a magnificent score by David Yazbek tells the story of an Egyptian band that finds itself in the wrong Israeli village and what happens over the 24 hours that these people are thrown together. It’s not a new or even particularly original conceit. In fact, in many ways the story recalls that other marvelous show a few blocks down, “Come From Away,” where travelers are stranded in Gander, Newfoundland, on 9/11 and have to interact with the locals. But great stories are

THE BAND’S VISIT Ethel Barrymore Theatre 243 W. 47th St. Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri, Sat, 8 p.m.; .Sun. at 3 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m $59-$179; telecharge.com Or 212-239-6200 90 mins., with no intermission

all in the telling, and “The Band’s Visit” is about how powerful seemingly unimportant events can be as people connect, touch one another’s lives, and part, most likely forever. The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra has been invited to play a concert in Petah Tikva. Due to a misunderstanding at the bus station, they end up in Bet Hatikvah, which is about as remote as it gets. Of course, their arrival is a major event in a town that is, as the residents sing, “basically bleak and beige.” As the members of the band are taken in by the residents, there being no hotel and no bus out until the next day, we see and hear the stories of the lives of the people there. There is Simon whose unfinished clarinet concerto can soothe Itzik’s inconsolable baby

THE BAND’S VISIT, continued on p.34

31


BOOKS

A Step Away from Touche Howard Pollack’s masterful biography of an American musical theater giant BY DAVID EHRENSTEIN ohn Latouche was just 41 years old in 1956 when he was felled by a massive coronary. But according to his friend composer Ned Rorem, “Since he had lived three lives in one, wasn’t he really 123 years old when he disappeared forever?” Howard Pollack’s “The Ballad of John Latouche; An American Lyricist’s Life and Work” proves that while the lyricist and librettist may be physically absent, his work, which includes the musicals “Cabin in the Sky,” “The Golden Apple,” and “Candide” and the opera “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” makes him present forever. In fact, by the time one has finished reading this massively detailed biography (far more complex than “Marc Blitzstein: His Life, His Work, His World,” Pollack’s far from merely admirable study of Latouche’s contemporary and collaborator), Rorem’s “three lives” estimation may seem a tad modest. “I see that my life is like a succession of dark rooms through which I wander with outstretched arms.” So wrote Latouche in a journal from his high school years. A rather mature turn of phrase for a teenager, wouldn’t you say? But then one of his future collaborators, Billy Strayhorn, wrote the classic “Lush Life,” with its indelible first line “I used to visit all the very gay places,” in his teens, too. Both became brilliant gay adults. But Latouche was most striking for the way he made his considerable artistic ambitions plain early on. For when a teacher admonished him for his indifference to a pop quiz, refusing to put down his copy of “The Well of Loneliness,” Latouche snapped, “This looks too important to stop reading for a test.” At this point settled in Richmond, Virginia, the adolescent Latouche quickly became involved in community theater. A polymath functioning at a furious pace, he showed interest in everything from hypnotism to the occult to the vagaries of American folk music. In fact, at the time of his death, Car-

THE BALLAD OF JOHN LATOUCHE: AN AMERICAN LYRICIST’S LIFE AND WORK

J

32

By Howard Pollack Oxford University Press $39.95; 592 pages

OXFORD UNIVERSIT Y PRESS

son McCullers noted, “John was so modest few people realized he was one of the most profound folk musicians in this country.” That such expertise would play an important role in his musical endeavors is clear, particularly in relation to “Cabin in the Sky” (1940). His first Broadway success, with music by Vernon Duke, it was a fable of sin and redemption with an all-black cast headed by Ethel Waters, Rex Ingram, and dancer Katherine Dunham. Its showstopping hit “Taking a Chance on Love” became an instant standard, beloved to this very day. It was the first of three musicals Latouche and Duke collaborated on. The other two were “Banjo Eyes” (1941) — a musicalization of “Three Men On a Horse” designed for its star Eddie Cantor, that pro-

duced “Not a Care in the World” (with its immortal lyric “I’m as gay as a Disney Cow”) — and the less successful “The Lady Comes Across” (1942), which offered “You Took Me By Surprise” and a cast that included Gower Champion and Ronny Graham. But Latouche’s career was at this point off and running almost as fast and furiously as he was. A heavy drinker and controlled substance indulger (Pollack recounts how Latouche and Burroughs acolyte Brion Gysin would go on drug “binges” together), he was also a workaholic who seems to have seldom slept. Still, he was cheerful by temperament. Jerry Stiller, one of “The Golden Apple”’s original cast members, recalls how the show’s creator “sparked up the place with his presence.”

So while McCullers’ assessment of his personality may be correct as far as she’s concerned, few would describe Touche (as his intimates called him) as “modest.” What he had was enormous charm and relentless drive. Casting his social net far and wide over the course of his life he came to know such diverse notables as Marlene Dietrich, Natacha Rambova, Frank O’Hara, Gore Vidal, Charles Henri Ford, Anaïs Nin, Dr. Max Jacobson (of the infamous vitamins and speed injections that boosted everyone from Judy Garland to JFK to Edie Sedgwick), novelist Dawn Powell, and freelance wit Alexander King. In addition to his shows, Latouche devised hilarious original cabaret routines for such performers as Spivey LeVoe, Charlotte Rae, and Hope Emerson, which they performed at chic New York nightspots. One written for Emerson, entitled “Simeone Simeone Lapin,” recounts the life of a transgender rabbit. And this quite logically provides an opening for peering into Latouche’s queer profile — which is considerable and complex. A bohemian to his core, Latouche thrived in an artistic zeitgeist of the last century that was quite open to sexual non-conformity. But he wasn’t simply a gay man. Latouche, like Proust, was very much enamored of lesbians. Thomas Mann’s daughter, Erika, and her lover, actress Therese Giehse, were both Latouche pals. He was exceptionally friendly with Jane Auer — introducing her to Paul Bowles,

JOHN LATOUCHE, continued on p.38

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 20, 2017

33


THEATER

Strange Bedfellows Back stabs and power grabs in Washington DC and Washington Square Park

MATTHEW MURPHY

Uma Thurman, Josh Lucas, and Marton Csokas in Beau Willimon’s “The Parisian Woman,” directed by Pam MacKinnon, at the Hudson Theatre through March 11.

way to power in the wake of the tumultuous 2016 presidential election. This is no ordinary couple. The beautiful Chloe, played with cool precision by Broadway newbie Uma Thurman, enjoys more than her share of affairs on the side, with

both men and women (not to worry — they have a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy). Chloe goes to extremes to help her equally attractive husband, Tom (Josh Lucas, perfectly cast), a tax attorney to filthy rich Republicans, secure the nomination to a cushy judgeship that will set them up comfortably for life. Pawns in their scheme include Peter (Morton Csokas), a slimy bigwig who has the president’s ear after donating piles of money to his campaign, the highly influential Jeanette (the forever dazzling Blair Brown), recently tapped to head the Federal Reserve, and her daughter (Phillipa Soo, of “Hamilton” fame), an ambitious young Democrat poised to jump into the political arena.

world but will never leave. Each of these gentle stories unfolds in overlapping fashion, and the accumulation of emotion over the course of the evening is what leaves one so moved. These are people who by rights would never have met. They can only communicate in sometimes halting English. They are from countries at odds, if not war, with one another, and yet they find the link that is the human heart and come to recognize that life un-

folds as it will and we are left to make the best of it. Yazbek’s score is his best yet. The music runs a range from intimate ballads to comic songs, with compelling melodies steeped in Middle Eastern harmonics. It feels fresh and new, and it makes you lean forward to listen so as not to miss a note. His lyrics are typically sharpedged and comic at times, but there is a sophistication to the poetry in the softer numbers that is new and

BY DAVID KENNERLEY t’s a good thing “The Parisian Woman,” Beau Willimon’s talky new drama about politics and power, has no intermission. Because it takes nearly an hour to build up a decent head of steam, and if there were a break, I expect there’d be more than a few empty seats in the second act. Luckily, it’s worth staying put. As it happens, Willimon, the Netflix “House of Cards” creator who knows his way around Capitol Hill and “the swamp,” has crafted a mildly amusing, of-the-moment socio-political drama. But he takes his sweet time shaping a portrait of a married couple finagling their

I

THE BAND’S VISIT, from p.31

even as Itzik thinks he’s a terrible father who is losing his wife. There is the telephone guy who stands by a pay phone all night waiting for his girlfriend to call. There is Haled who wants to school the locals on picking up girls. And there is Tewfiq, the leader of the band, mourning the loss of his wife, who opens his heart to Dina, the proprietor of the café who dreams of the broader

34

MONIQUE CARBONI

Chloë Sevigny and David Levi in Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s “Downtown Race Riot,” directed by Scott Elliott, at the Pershing Square Signature Center through December 23.

THE PARISIAN WOMAN Hudson Theatre , 141 W. 44th St. Through Mar. 11 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m. $69.50-$260 TheHudsonBroadway.com 90 mins., with no intermission

DOWNTOWN RACE RIOT The New Group Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre Pershing Square Signature Center 480 W. 42nd St. Through Dec. 23 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Sun. at 2 p.m. $30-$125; TicketCentral.com Or 212-279-4200 100 mins., with no intermission

Once Chloe’s ploy is revealed, the drama finally springs to life. In the

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, continued on p.35

wonderful. David Cromer is probably the perfect director for such a finely tuned and subtle piece. His understanding of the human dynamics and the artful staging bring color and complexity to this world that on the surface is unremarkable. The company is uniformly outstanding. Ari’el Stachel as Haled, Jonathan Raviv as Sammy, and John Cariani as

THE BAND’S VISIT, continued on p.35

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, from p.34

meantime, we can admire Derek McLaneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tony, tastefully appointed townhouse, located, of course, in the prestigious Capitol Hill neighborhood. Not that â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Parisian Womanâ&#x20AC;? has only intrigue on its mind. The play, directed by Pam MacKinnon, dabbles in themes of trust, fidelity, avarice, ambition, and morality (or lack thereof). And it refuses to choose sides, portraying Democrats and Republicans with equal sympathy and disdain. Not only are there scads of loaded topical references to the current administration (â&#x20AC;&#x153;You never know whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s running things these days.â&#x20AC;?), the presidentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Twitter feed, and his chief of staff, John Kelly, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s even talk of the hotly debated tax reform package dominating recent headlines. Far from a light parlor-room comedy, many of the quips are more chilling than charming. In this world, and, it seems, also in ours nowadays, greed is bent on crushing good. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give a shit about Trump, just like I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give a shit about Obama,â&#x20AC;? Peter sniffs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a goddamn businessman. I go whichever way the wind blows. And I saw the wind behind Trumpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sails before the rest of you did. Presidents are assets. They exist to be bought, sold, and managed.â&#x20AC;? A very different type of power struggle unfolds in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Downtown Race Riot,â&#x20AC;? a snapshot of a moment back in 1976, when a mob of rowdy young white men with pipes and bats attacked folks of color in Washington Square Park, trying to assert supremacy. On that pivotal day, in a nearby cramped Greenwich Village apart-

ä&#x2030;´

THE BANDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S VISIT, from p.34

Itzki are all standouts, as is Adam Kantor as Telephone Guy. They each have their moments in which we see into their lives and their hearts in ways they likely havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exposed before. Tony Shalhoub is extraordinary as the uptight Tewfiq, struggling to open his heart and be vulnerable. Katrina Lenk, who was so wonderful in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Indecentâ&#x20AC;? earlier this year, emerges as a powerful

ment, a dope-addicted Mary Shannon (ChloĂŤ Sevigny, in a harrowing, heartbreaking turn) is having an especially choppy go of it with her wayward kids, 18-year old pretty boy Jimmy (David Levi) and tomboyish Joyce (Sadie Scott), a couple of years older. When Jimmyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best bud, Marcel (Moise Morancy), a Haitian transplant, comes over and insists on joining the planned riot, emotions run high â&#x20AC;&#x201D; heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oblivious to the deadly trap heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about to enter. Inexplicably, he hooks up with Joyce, who everyone assumes is a lesbian. Things come to a head when some white bullies show up and issue threats. An oily, two-bit lawyer who has the hots for Mary complicates matters further. Angst-ridden Jimmy must choose between saving his friend and losing his social standing, such as it is. If you think this play, written by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Get Down,â&#x20AC;? another Netflix series) and directed by Scott Elliott, sounds like a Lifetime TV movie, you would not be wrong. The plot is overstuffed with twists beyond belief. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really Sevignyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nuanced performance that elevates the material. She brings a plaintive dignity to the tortured Mary, who tenderly nurtures her kids one moment and knocks them down the next. And then hides in her room to grab a heroin needle. Again, when there are lulls in the action, you can admire the meticulously detailed period-perfect set of a cramped apartment, festooned with Indian print fabrics, posters of Donna Summer and James Brown, and spider plants in macramĂŠ hangers. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s even a dirty claw-foot tub in the avocado-hued kitchen. The supremely gifted set designer is â&#x20AC;&#x201D; no surprise, here â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Derek McLane.

Broadway star. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an actress of impressive range and a singer with a unique and extraordinary voice and a magnetic stage presence. This is a wonderful, understated and mature show that gets its impact not from spectacle but from the specificity with which it charts a journey of the heart. The band in question may have ended up in the wrong place, but as theater this is a perfect destination, and I, for one, want to go back.

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 20, 2017

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35


FILM

In the Altogether Gerald McCullouch tells the stories of six erotic dancers in Atlanta BY GARY M. KRAMER erald McCullouch’s penetrating documentary “All Male, All Nude,” now out on DVD and available online at AllMaleAllNude.com, profiles six guys who work at Swinging Richards, an all male, all nude strip club in Atlanta. The attractive dancer, each of them ingratiating in their own way, talk about why they take it all off. Pierce needs money for school, Sean is trying to support his kid, and Steven is working on his music career. Other guys, like Matt and Dallas, seem to be doing it for thrills or simply because they enjoy it. They are all seen performing in the altogether. McCullouch chatted with Gay City News via Skype about his eyeopening doc.

ALL MALE, ALL NUDE

G

GARY M. KRAMER: What do you recall about your first time at a gay strip club? GERALD McCULLOUCH: There are very few gay strip clubs in America. My first one was Swinging Richards. It is such a sexy cele-

Directed by Gerald McCullouch On DVD and online AllMaleAllNude.com

ALLMALEALLNUDE.COM

Gerald McCullouch profiles six erotic dancers at Swinging Richards, a gay club in Atlanta.

bration of masculinity. I was determined to uncover the story. There are not a lot of male clubs where guys go nude, so as a filmmaker the uniqueness of that sparked my interest. GMK: How did you get the dancers you profiled to trust you to tell their stories? GM: I saw a variety of dancers [the club employs 70 guys] and spent time with them to see what

stories were the most engaging. I wanted them for their minds. I found a diverse group in age, history, and sexual orientation. Those were the most compelling stories. A lot of the dancers who identify as gay didn’t want to be interviewed. The straight and gay-forpay dancers were willing to reveal their stories. Everyone wants to know who is gay or straight. That’s not required info. I allowed the guys who wanted to to allude to it.

GMK: You aim to humanize the guys. Can you talk about your approach as a filmmaker? GM: As a filmmaker and a gay man, it was important to me to shed a positive light on the club and celebrate male sexuality and all things male. I certainly have darker conversations that are not included because that’s not where I wanted the film to go. Guys suggest some stuff in the club is really wild. The imagination is better than showing it because that’s what folks assume they’ll see when they see a film titled “All Male, All Nude.” GMK: Can you talk about how you filmed inside the club?

ALTOGETHER, continued on p.37

OPERA

Autumn Revivals: New Voices, Old Shows Golda Schultz, Angel Blue standouts in Met debuts; Anita Hartig stellar in “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” BY ELI JACOBSON resh young talent can breathe life into revivals of older opera productions in the repertory. The fall season at the Metropolitan Opera featured several house debuts in major roles. James Levine returned to conduct a revival of the admired Julie Taymor production of “Die Zauberflöte.” South African soprano Golda Schultz in the role of Pamina was radiant in her Met debut. Schultz’s gleaming soprano embodies youth

F 36

mixed with a touch of vulnerability; onstage she is a natural communicator who connects with her colleagues and the audience. I have heard Pamina’s aria “Ach, ich fühl’s” sung with a longer, better controlled line but Schultz is a charming artist I hope becomes a Met regular. On October 5, we were treated to another Met debut, that of Kathryn Bowden replacing Kathryn Lewek as the fearsome Queen of the Night. Bowden has sung the role at San Francisco Opera as a member of its Merola program, which accounted for her poise and assurance in a

hair-raisingly exposed assignment. All the high F’s were present and accounted for, and Bowden’s lyriccoloratura soprano maintained a cool, bell-like purity throughout the range. Lyric tenor Charles Castronovo was a surprisingly virile, dark toned Tamino in his best Met outing so far. Austrian Markus Werba enacted a dudebro Papageno long on macho attitude but short on boyish naïveté. German bass Tobias Kehrer unfurled impressive deep tones as Sarastro but his burly, knotty timbre is more suitable for Hunding

or Sparafucile. He couldn’t sustain the required smooth cantabile lines evoking Sarastro’s nobility and wisdom. Levine’s conducting no longer possesses the same weight and energy as when the production was new but has gained in gentle insight and unforced flow. The Met orchestra played well for him. Taymor’s production, spiffed up for a new HD filming, was ably recreated by revival director David Kneuss.

NEW VOICES, continued on p.37

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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ALTOGETHER, from p.36

GM: I think there should be a drinking game. Every time you see a dick you have to take a shot! That was the tricky part of filming. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to shy away from the nudity. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want the viewer to feel that they were in a different club than I was in. Often in a club scene in films you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel like you are in the club. I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t show customerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faces, so there were certain boundaries I had to respect. The music [by TuT] was crucial to let the viewer feel they were inside the club. The one time you see the VIP room, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how no one sees it: I filmed it with the lights on, before it opened, which is what the film can show, not what someone can experience at the club. I interview the dancers in the locker room or walking into the club, and you see their humanity more than when the camera is [directly] on them. GMK: What are your thoughts about the fantasy of the dancer? Why do we watch? GM: Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the game of the club. If you chose to go into a club, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re

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NEW VOICES, from p.36

Offenbachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Les Contes dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hoffmannâ&#x20AC;? returned in a strong, winning revival with three participants repeating earlier successes: Vittorio Grigolo in the title role, Erin Morley as the doll Olympia, and Laurent Naouri as the Four Villains. Irish mezzo Tara Erraught made her Met debut in the extended role of Nicklausse and the Muse. A resident principal artist with the Bavarian State Opera known for Rossini coloratura mezzo roles, Erraught was the center of a media scandal when her Oktavian in a new Glyndebourne staging of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Der Rosenkavalierâ&#x20AC;? was fat-shamed as â&#x20AC;&#x153;dumpy of statureâ&#x20AC;? by Telegraph critic Rupert Christiansen. The petite and rather round shaped (though not fat) mezzo was visually and vocally unconvincing in the dual role of Hoffmannâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s equivocal â&#x20AC;&#x153;friendâ&#x20AC;? and the Muse. Erraught sounded like an immature lyric soprano with unsteady legato, weak resonance in her lower register, and a voice too small for the Met auditorium. She only achieved vocal bril-

going in to play the game. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the fun of it to me. Control is sexy and to have that control is sexy. The dancers play games and manipulate conversations. Who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like to be looked at and appreciated and revered? And these guys do that and make a lot of money in the process. They are also well endowed so they can strut their stuff. GMK: The film touches briefly on the negatives and etiquette of the strippersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lives, from overdoses to becoming desensitized to sex. What are your observations on that and on de-stigmatizing strippers? GM: Steven and Dallas know their job and have no problems with it at all. They embrace what they do. And you have guys who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have that same mentality about the job. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to stereotype erotic male dancers. Some guys have addictive personalities. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a dark side in that world, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a dark side to professional club life. It takes a strong person not to fall into that. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why that content is in the film.

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liance on isolated high notes. Her best moment â&#x20AC;&#x201D; unsurprising for a Rosina and Cenerentola â&#x20AC;&#x201D; was her imitation of Olympiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Doll Song scales. Erraught returns this season as Hansel and reportedly for future seasons â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on this evidence, she is hardly Met material. Inexplicable Met regular Oksana Volkova sang the irresistible courtesan Giulietta with a highly resistible, blowzy, colorless mezzo. Grigolo no longer portrays Hoffmann as a typical Latin hothead but now differentiates between the brokendown alcoholic of the prologue and the increasingly disillusioned idealistic lover of the succeeding acts. His ardently sung portrayal is touched with the self-destructive manic excitability of his Met Werther last season. Naouri interprets each villain with suave cynicism and dry wit; his intriguingly â&#x20AC;&#x153;secâ&#x20AC;? bassbaritone opens up excitingly in the upper and lower registers. Morleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cool purity of tone and accuracy in coloratura scale work were unruffled by the acrobatic flourishes she added to each repeated verse of

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 20, 2017

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NEW VOICES, continued on p.39

37


JOHN LATOUCHE, from p.32

whose name she took in art as well as life. Latouche was the model for the character of “Arnold” in Jane’s famous (and alas only) novel “Two Serious Ladies.” Paul (whom Latouche was attracted to but probably never scored with, Bowles being very picky in his same-sex entanglements) said his friend “collected German and Central European refugees the way someone might collect tropical fish.” But he also collected lesbians — going so far to marry one, Theodora Griffis, an upper class woman with highbrow pretensions, who none other than Patricia Highsmith described as “extremely masculine.” Latouche’s decision to marry her was impulsive — like so much in his life — and it is quite likely that they never actually much lived together, he being busy with his work and a romantic life that often found him juggling two male lovers at a time (writer Bob Faulkner and painter Jimmy Ernst early on, and college student Harry Martin and poet Kenward Elmslie at the close). Dietrich once caught Latouche in bed with her erstwhile boytoy, Yul Brynner. No, it didn’t end their friendship. Gore Vidal, seemingly impervious to romance, was far from indifferent to Latouche’s elfin charms. But the course of their affair, such as it was, didn’t get in the way of Vidal’s intense admiration for Latouche’s art. His roman a clef of New York in the late 1940s and early ‘50s is entitled “The Golden Age,” in honor of “The Golden Apple” — Latouche’s most important work, whose premiere Vidal claims brought down the curtain on what he saw as America’s richest artistic period. Needless to say, Latouche didn’t come to this watershed overnight. Its seeds were sewn in the Federal Theater Project of the late 1930s — principally in the wake of the project’s most infamous achievement, Blitzstein’s socialist musical “The Cradle Will Rock” (1937). Latouche shared Blitzstein’s left-wing sympathies but was at some remove from the Communist Party itself, in which Kenward Elmslie said Latouche “would have lasted for about five minutes.” Still, he made a political mark artistically with the post-“Cradle” Federal Theater

38

production “Sing For Your Supper” (1939), with the show’s climactic number “Ballad For Americans.” Created with music by leftist scribe Earl Robinson, its a song and spoken word salute to the USA highlighted by the lines “They fought so this would be a country were every man was free and equal,” and “For I have always believed it / And I believe it now / And now you know who I am./ ( Who are you?) / America! America!” In other words, the song was patriotic, with a leftist slant. But not so much to prevent either Paul Robeson or Bing Crosby from making popular recordings of it. After this came “Beggar’s Holiday” (1946-7), Latouche’s first musical, for which he wrote the libretto as well as the lyrics. An adaptation of John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” (most famously adapted by Brecht and Weill as “The Threepenny Opera”), “Beggar’s Holiday”’s music was provided by Billy Strayhorn — though credited to Duke Ellington. Latouche had written with Strayhorn before, providing lyrics to the tune “Daydream.” The musical starred Alfred Drake as “Macheath” and featured Libby Holman, Zero Mostel, and Avon Long, under the direction of Nicholas Ray. “The Beggar’s Opera” produced the cheeky “I’ve Got Me” — the best tribute to narcissism ever sung. But while well-regarded by most critics, the show was not a hit. Then came “Ballet Ballads” (1948). Latouche’s first collaboration with composer Jerome Moross, it wasn’t a conventional book musical but rather a series of minimusicals — all variations of what was known as “Americana.” The four “Ballads” were “Susanna and the Elders.” “Riding Hood Revisited,” “Willie the Weeper,” and “The Eccentricities of Davy Crockett.” While he couldn’t really sing or carry much of a tune at all, Latouche devised some “dummy” melodies to show Moross what he was looking for. “The melodies I invented give the individual lyrics a unified dramatic flow,” he explained. This “flow” made for a hit leading to the far more ambitious “The Golden Apple” (1954). Nothing less than a retelling of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” Latouche put ancient Greece aside for America in the wake of the Spanish Civil War. Set in a

town called “Angel’s Roost,” part of Mount Olympus in Washington State, it recounts how the town’s most popular lass, Helen, is wooed by a traveling salesman named Paris who spirits her off in a balloon to the big city of “Rhododendron” — Latouche’s stand-in for Troy. Besides Paris and Helen, Ulysses, Penelope, and Achilles remain as names for their Homeric counterparts but others are townspeople called “Miss Minerva,” “Lovey Mars,” and “Miss Jupiter,” plus the local seer “Old Mother Hare” who creates the Golden Apple of the show’s title as the prize in a baking contest that Paris judges. He awards it to “Lovey Mars” just before spiriting Helen away — which arouses the townspeople to put what the Second Amendment calls a “well regulated militia” together to go off and bring her back. Ulysses is the leader of this crew and bids his wife Penelope goodbye, claiming that duty to his fellow man requires he lead this venture. For her part, Penelope says men “blame it all on duty” — in other words, rescuing Helen is simply a pretext for feeding men’s lust for adventure. In any event, Helen, who’s having a fine time in the city (her “My Picture in the Papers” number reminiscent of Latouche’s cabaret work), takes a back seat in the proceedings to the action where Ulysses and his men are destroyed in one way or another. While in the end order is restored and Ulysses and Penelope are reunited, what’s most memorable about the show is the sparkling irreverence of individual numbers and the novel ways they are linked together. In other words, it’s a long way from Rodgers and Hammerstein and for many a presage of Sondheim — though Sondheim himself doesn’t agree. “Our styles couldn’t be more different,” the creator of “Sweeney Todd” is quoted as saying. Though he grants that Latouche had “a large vision of what musical theater could be,”’ his lyrics were “static and self-consciously poetic despite some occasionally funny lines,” Sondheim says. One can see, to an extent, what Sondheim means in that Latouche was always specific in the comic effect he wanted to create through his lyrics (think of “In My Old Virginia Home (on the River Nile)” from “Cabin in

the Sky” with “stead of Mammys we’ll hear Mummies softly hum”), with little room for the emotional ambivalence that’s Sondheim’s stock in trade. A number like the show’s big hit, “Lazy Afternoon,” is unimaginable for Sondheim in it bright straightforwardness. But whether God (as Sondheim is sometimes referred to) likes it or not, “The Golden Apple” is a musical comedy touchstone that looks forward to that form’s further evolution. Opening at the Off-Broadway Phoenix Theatre, “The Golden Apple” won Best Musical of 1954 from the New York drama critics and moved to Broadway for a time. While it only ran for a total of 174 performances, the show toured in several cities. Frank O’Hara set the typescript of the published book of the show, which has periodically had limited revivals over the years. But the most complete came in 2015, when the Lyric Stage in Texas not only staged it but made the first complete recording. The original cast album released in 1955 can only be said to contain highlights of this musically massive undertaking, every word of which is sung like an opera — or a Jacques Demy movie. Because of his leftist sympathies, Latouche was considered a “fellow traveller” to Communism and in 1950 was listed in “Red Channels” — the notorious literal blacklist of those in show business who because of their left-wing affiliations were deemed unworthy of employment. This kept his songs off the radio and him out of Hollywood. But it didn’t stop him from working. Nothing could. According to his friend Lord Kinross, Latouche “lived at a turbulent pitch such as few human beings can sustain for long.” And that’s a perfect description of his last years, which find him writing the lyrics for most of the songs in Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” a show starring Carol Channing called “The Vamp,” and the opera with music by Douglas Moore, “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” virtually all at the same time. Of this trio, the only one he lived to see was “The Vamp” (1955), a Broadway musical that began as a variation on Saint-Saëns’ “Samson and Delilah, with a score by

JOHN LATOUCHE, continued on p.39

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


JOHN LATOUCHE, from p.38

musicologist James Mundy who had never written anything like it before. Ronny Graham and Mel Brooks worked on the book, which gradually took the form of a satire of Hollywood in the 1930s on the order of “Singin’ in the Rain.” The cast included the blacklisted actor Will Geer and muscleman Steve Reeves. But it was Channing’s show, winning her good personal notices despite its brief run. “Candide” found Latouche clashing with Bernstein, resulting in some of the songs sporting his lyrics and others those of poet Richard Wilbur. “The Ballad of Baby Doe” was a much happier affair. Working with composer Moore, Latouche fashioned a libretto involving an actual historical figure — mining magnate Horace Tabor. Into the lives of Tabor and his wife comes a mysterious woman — “Baby Doe” — a singer who encourages him

to build an opera house for her. In short, it’s an opera about opera. Created for the newly formed New York City Opera, the show’s title role went to a newcomer, Beverly Sills. Its success made the company famous and Sills a star — with her taking over the management of the company in her later years. Latouche would doubtless loved to have seen “The Ballad of Baby Doe.” But one evening in 1956 he complained to lover Harry Martin, in whose house he was living (alternating with the abode of his other lover, Kenward Elmslie), that he was having chest pains and was going to bed. Martin found him dead the next morning, clutching a medical textbook turned to a passage describing the very heart attack that killed him. The American musical theater lost a genius and a whole world of artists and acolytes lost a man they deeply loved. In “A Step Away From Them,” a poem from 1964,

Frank O’Hara wrote: “First Bunny died, then John Latouche, then Jackson Pollock. But is the earth as full as life was full, of them?” “Bunny” was poet and verse scholar V.R. Lang, known to a select few. Latouche and Pollack were known by one and all. And after his death in 1966, so was Frank O’Hara. But the last word on all of this is best heard from Latouche himself via “The Willow Song” — the most famous aria in “The Ballad of Baby Doe”: “Ah! Willow, where we met together Willow, when our love was new Willow, if he once should be returning Pray tell him I am weeping too.

NEW VOICES, from p.37

Olympia’s aria. Anita Hartig is the best Antonia/ Stella this production has seen since Anna Netrebko at the premiere. Her smoky middle register evoked both willful sensuality and delicate frailty. In the big trio, Hartig’s silvery high notes soared easily over the orchestra and other soloists. As the Four Servants, tenor Christophe Mortagne invested each comic character with a distinct persona, inventive wit, and elements of surprise. Hearing Mortagne toss recitatives back and forth with the droll Naouri gave one the rare pleasure of hearing two native French speakers in French opera. On October 18, a third native French singer was added to the mix when Gallic mezzo Géraldine Chauvet made her second appearance on the Met stage. Her more mature Nicklausse brought a jaded worldweariness to Hoffmann’s untrustworthy companion. Chauvet’s dark mezzo filled out each phrase with insinuating, idiomatic flair. Korean tenor Yosep Kang debuted the same night as Hoffmann. He initially seemed insecure and plagued by nerves — in the “Kleinzach” aria, his bright, plangent lyric tenor voice (better suited to Mozart and bel canto roles) choked up in several

RICHARD TERMINE/ METROPOLITAN OPERA

Markus Werba and Golda Schultz in the Metropolitan Opera revival of Julie Taymor’s production of “Die Zauberflöte.”

places. Kang eventually relaxed, stopped pushing his tone and made a pleasing small-scaled impression. Youthful German maestro Johannes Debus brought considerable Romantic dash to Offenbach’s multifaceted score. A routine revival of “La Bohème” was brightened by the anything but routine Met debut of soprano Angel Blue as Mimì. Blue’s lush, darkly brilliant sopra-

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

no and tall, glamorous stage presence are actually too imposing for the delicate, consumptive French seamstress. However, the minute Blue walked onstage you didn’t look at anyone but her and when she opened her mouth, you didn’t hear anyone else on stage. This is a big healthy voice used with dramatic intent — she knows what she is singing about and why. I eagerly anticipate Blue’s steady development beyond the standard lyric soprano

“So far from each other While the days pass In their emptiness away. Oh my love, must it be forever Never once again To meet as on that day? And never rediscover The way of telling The way of knowing All our hearts would say. “Gone are the ways of pleasure Gone are the friends I had of yore Only the recollection fatal Of the word that was spoken: Nevermore. “Oh, willow, where we met together Willow, when our love was new Willow, if he once should be returning Pray tell him I am weeping too. “Ah!”

ingénue repertoire into juicier assignments that will exploit her full potential. One hopes the Met will keep her around and not push her too fast. This is a real voice that needs time to grow. The offbeat casting of tenor Russell Thomas as Rodolfo gave Met audiences the rare opportunity to hear two African-American singers in the central romantic roles (Vinson Cole and Roberta Alexander sang one performance as Rodolfo and Mimì in the house in 1987). Thomas has a big, muscular and dark tenor (he recently sang the title role in “Otello” in concert with the Atlanta Symphony) that has rich resonance but can lose forward placement at the top (the Act I aria was in the lower key). He had good chemistry with Blue and also with Michael Todd Simpson’s intriguingly neurotic Marcello. Brigitta Kele’s minx-like Musetta displayed a distinctive cool soprano timbre that mixes spice and ice. Ginger British barihunk Duncan Rock debuted as a vivacious Schaunard with an undistinguished grainy light baritone. David Soar’s forgettable Colline was just undistinguished — better bassbaritones are available locally. Alexander Soddy led a spirited performance that could have allowed a little more breathing room for his big-voiced leading couple.

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Italy Comes to The Village Film Forum’s salute to the boot, post-WWII ROMAN HOLLYWOOD: AMERICAN MOVIES GO TO ITALY Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. Through Dec. 21 filmforum.org

FILM FORUM FILM FORUM

Katharine Hepburn in David Lean’s 1955 “Summertime.”

BY DAVID NOH or the month of December, Film Forum is offering a selection of post-World War II movies shot in Italy, for its series “Roman Hollywood: American Movies go to Italy.” Those years were booming in terms of cinema, with American filmmakers attracted by the lure of tax breaks, cheaper production costs, Rome’s own movie factory Cinecittà, and the fascinatingly colorful country itself, recently war-torn as it was. The selections amount to one of the most eclectic ever in Film Forum’s nigh-50-year history, with everything from the inescapable “Godfather” trilogy (Dec. 8, 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m.) and Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” (Dec. 8, 9:10 p.m.) to real rarities like the 1963 epic “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Dec. 11, 7:15 p.m.), directed by helmer-for-hire Robert Aldrich (well, why shouldn’t the director of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte” be adept at ancient Biblical history, as well?) and “Francis of Assisi” from 1961 (Dec. 20, 12:30 p.m., 4:450 p.m., 9:10 p.m.) with Bradford Dillman, of all people, in the title role and Dolores Hart playing a nun, two years before she actually became one. Two of the greatest screen divas, Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani, share the bill on December 14, when their films, “Stromboli” (1 p.m., 4 p.m., 8:35 p.m.) and “Volcano” (6:30 p.m.) respectively,

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will be screened. They also shared a great love, the director Roberto Rossellini, who made Magnani a legend (and his paramour) when he cast her in his ground-breaking neo-realist “Open City” but then dumped her when Bergman, desperate to make more authentically human films rather than glossy Hollywood fare, came to Italy to make “Stromboli” (and a hugely scandalous child, Renato, out of wedlock) with him. Both films are pretty turgid melodramas — with smoking volcanoes in the background to symbolize the seething passions of the unfortunate women they play. And, as much as I admire Bergman, Magnani (who at least gets to play an exiled hooker and how could that ever suck?) has the upper hand, for, with her astonishing empathic powers, volcanic — yes — human spirit, and rivetingly mobile, arresting face, she could make almost any role interesting, while Bergman, in a bland role, was always beautiful, but, well, bland. “Stromboli” is such dark primitive stuff, dramatically speaking, with her a tiresome victim, that it, like a number of Rossellini films, is a dank slog. Speaking of divas, the biggest one of all, in her biggest role, Elizabeth Taylor, in “Cleopatra” (Dec. 17, 1:40 p.m.), is on the bill with all that periwinkle eyeshadow, and — who knows? — I may attempt to actually sit through this elephantine, also scandal-ridden production. If nothing else, her Bel Air hostess gowns designed by the usually be-

Elizabeth Taylor in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 “Cleopatra.”

yond-on point Irene Sharaff should provide some hoots, and it might be fun to compare it to what I consider the last word in “Cleopatras,” Cecil B. DeMille’s 1934, with a bewitching Claudette Colbert playing the Serpent of the Nile as if she were a Zoe Akins-penned gold digger. However, there is one epic in the lineup I think would be fun catching on the big screen, King Vidor’s super 1956 production of “War and Peace” (Dec. 19, 12:40 p.m., 7:15 p.m.). The estimable Vidor loved working with Audrey Hepburn — a radiant Natasha Rostova — whom he called his greatest actress, besides Lillian Gish. The problems, as I recall, were the Andrei and Pierre, played, respectively, by that ever-smarmy mannequin named Mel Ferrer (Hepburn’s real life husband) and a too old, way too American Henry Fonda. Epics really were the comic book action hero franchise of that era, and they predominate the series. Although I prefer DeMille’s wonderfully over-the-top campfest “The Sign of the Cross,” “Quo Vadis” (Dec. 17, 12:30 p.m.), which basically tells the same story, is fair enough entertainment, although the casting of a mature Robert Taylor as a noble Roman and Deborah Kerr as a Christian virgin is just too predictable. Victor Mature goes from Samson to “Hannibal” (Dec. 18, 2:50 p.m., 7:15 p.m.), in cult director Edgar Ulmer’s 1959 take on that elephant-ridden conqueror. I’ve never seen that one, but it should provide a laugh or two as these

historical pageants usually had at least a few risible gems in the dialogue, and Mature certainly was the actor to deliver them. A childhood favorite film, about my favorite myth, is “Helen of Troy” from 1956 (Dec. 18, 12:30 p.m., 4:55 p.m., 9:20 p.m.) which is far superior to the Brad Pitt “Troy,” in its more traditional neoclassical presentation of the tale. Rossanna Podestà (who had to learn her lines phonetically, as she spoke zero English) and Jacques Sernas as Paris are very pretty, if unmemorable, but the always reliable Cedric Hardwicke as Priam and Nora Swinburne as Hecuba are, indeed, royal in stature, square-jawed Stanley Baker as Achilles is butch in his Grecian miniskirts, and even a brunette Brigitte Bardot pops up in a minor role. “Ben-Hur” (Dec. 17, 3:45 p.m.) may have swept the 1959 Oscars, but it really traumatized me as a child. I was completely creeped out by the presentation of the lepers and lived in dread of anything that reminded me of that for a few years. Going to sleep in the dark is always a fraught proposition for a high-strung child, and I used to hide under the covers from those menacing, scarily beseeching, sorecovered raggedy ones in my imagination’s closet. Too much imagination can be a terrible thing; now the only thing frightening in the film is Hugh Griffith’s offensive performance as the shady Sheik Ilderim. Queer revisionists may have fun spotting the gay allusions that Gore Vidal sneakily added to the script, aided by Stephen Boyd, as Messala, to co-star Charlton Heston’s

ITALY IN THE VILLAGE, continued on p.43

December 7 – December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


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GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

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December 7 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; December 20, 2017 | GayCityNews.nyc


DAVID HOCKNEY, from p.30

accountant’s office but had interests in painting and invention. Hockney remembered the smell of the paint of the sunrises with which his dad had decorated the doors of their home, saying that instilled the desire to become a painter in him. His innate drawing skill from early youth brought him to the Royal College of Art in London, where his talent was evident, but he nearly didn’t graduate due to his refusal to write a final essay, feeling that his artwork should be all that was required of him. The school bent in favor of his gifts and already burgeoning recognition and gave him a diploma. He had his first one-man show in 1963, age 26, and, in 1966, his painting “Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool,” won the John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. “Peter” was Peter Schlesinger, an American art student he met while teaching at UCLA, who became his lover and most famous muse, for it is he who figures most prominently in Hockney’s signature, sometimes homoerotic California pool studies, often in the nude. By 1964, Hockney had fallen deeply in love with the sunny, open ambiance and gorgeous, youthful populace of Los An-

ITALY IN THE VILLAGE, from p.40

supposed complete ignorance. If only because it’s one of the very few pirate movies that is actually quite an excellent film, “The Crimson Pirate” (Dec. 12, 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.), directed by versatile, talented Robert Siodmak, is well worth noting. Burt Lancaster, who produced it as well as starred, is at his toothsome, charismatic athletic best, and it’s fun speculating about his over-close relationship to his running buddy in the movie (and real life circus partner), swarthily sexy Nick Cravat. It’s double-billed with “Pirates of Capri” (2:35 p.m., 6:35 p.m.), another Ulmer from 1949, with the always magnetically dashing Louis Hayward and a Nino Rota score, which I’ve never seen but comes quite highly recommended by the cognoscenti. “Terminal Station” (Dec. 15, 12:30 pm., 4:20 p.m., 8:10 p.m.) aka “Indiscretion of an American

geles, such a far cry from his own gray, chilly roots and moved there to live. The real mark of any great artist is their ability to change the way we see things and, certainly, Hockney’s wondrously stylized vision of his adopted home — with its ubiquitous palm trees, swimming pools, and sunbaked inhabitants — happens to still be most cultured people’s idea of the City of Angels. Hockney’s work paid no mind to art trends, like minimalism and various forms of abstraction, and was always supremely presentational, opening a veritable visual diary of his long and fruitful life. Also figuring prominently in the show are Hockney’s marveloulsy witty portraits of certain flamboyant personalities, who were mostly his good friends — Warhol, Cecil Beaton (not at all happy wth his likeness, he said, “How could he like me if he sees me thusly?”), Henry Geldzahler, W.H. Auden, the lovers Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy (who amusingly seem to be in some kind of a snit). His 1970 life-sized masterpiece, featuring Ossie Clark, the brilliant fashion designer who would be tragically killed in 1996 by a crazy male lover, and his wife at the time, lovely Celia Birtwell, one of the most visited paintings in Britain, is on loan from the Tate Gallery and, like

all of the famous and even not so renowned works on display, it fairly leaps off the wall at you brilliantly, in a way a reproduction simply cannot. Hockney’s latest, brilliantly colored work of his idyllic Hollywood Hills studio and sylvan surroundings addresses what he refers to as “reverse perspective,” inspired by his findings of the writings of Russian mathematician and art historian Pavel Florensky, who made a case for art that eschewed traditional perspective, in favor of the skewed layouts of ancient Russian icons as well as Egyptian and Asian works. Conceptually, the new work is something of a continuation of his so-called “joiners,” the paintings of winding Los Angeles roads and fractured interiors that he achieved through the use of multi-layering Polaroid photos he’d taken of a particular view. Those Polaroids were but one step in Hockney’s long and continuing exployment of modern technology in his work, all of which appear in the show: In 1985, Hockney used the Quantel Paintbox, a computer program that allowed him to sketch directly onto the screen, and lately he has been into art applications on his iPhone and iPad. Hockney, who refused a knighthood in 1990, smokes a pack a of cigarettes a day, and holds a California

medical marijuana verification card, enabling him to legally buy weed, turned 80 on July 9, and to see him today is something of a shock. One rather envisions him as his preternaturally youthful, eminently iconic self, healthy and stocky, with that shock of bleached blonde hair — his touchstone reference to his beloved Southern California — and round tortoise shell specs. He now has gone gray, uses hearing aids, and is stooped in his posture, but his energy certainly seems undiminished. According to a New York Times interview, the artist has someone in his life whom he describes as “my faithful companion of 15 years,” JeanPierre Gonçalves de Lima. Asked if they intended to marry, Hockney said no, adding “Marriage is about property. When you get divorced, you know it’s about property.” Beaton, who was one of his first benefactors, buying a painting of his when he was an art student for 40 pounds — which enabled Hockney to take his first trip to New York — I think definitively described him: “We could not be further apart as human beings, and yet I find myself at ease with him and stimulated by his enthusiasm. For he has the golden quality of being able to enjoy life... Life is a delightful wonderland for him.”

Wife,” from 1953, proves that even a great director like Vittorio De Sica can come a cropper when faced with the exigencies of turning out a proper Hollywood star vehicle, even on his home turf. The star in question is the beauteous Jennifer Jones, clad in Dior, who decides to break off her affair with a professor, played by Montgomery Clift. Truman Capote supposedly worked on the dialogue, but it has none of the sparkle of his other Jones film in the series, “Beat the Devil” Dec. 16, 12:30 p.m., 4:50 p.m.), and she emerges as the drabbest of needy women any man might be glad to be rid of. As with every film in which she starred, the production had to suffer the intense involvement of her husband, uber-producer David O. Selznick, who’d fully taken on the role of Svengali to her Trilby, obsessing over every tiny detail of her performance and the way she looked, to the deep consternation of everyone on the set. (Actually the real drama was happening off-

screen, especially when the neurotic Jones, thrown for a loop by the gay Clift’s resistance to her romantic interest, tried to flush a fur coat that Selznick had given her down her dressing room toilet.) Happier female star moments came in Italy for the two Hepburns, Katharine and Audrey, who both found love in Venice (“Summertime,” Dec. 10, 3:40 p.m., 8 p.m.) and Rome (“Roman Holiday,” Dec. 10, 1:20 p.m., 5:40 p.m.), respectively. Coincidentally, both also end up leaving their loves (Rossano Brazzi, Gregory Peck) at the end, due to one being already married and the other a commoner, and therefore not fit to wed a princess. David Lean poured on the cinematography, grand romance, and sweeping pictorial effects for a quite wonderful spinster school teacher Kate, somewhat blowing the original, less showy Arthur Laurents play, “The Time of the Cuckoo,” right out of the canal water. Old pro William Wyler framed the charm of

Audrey so impeccably well that she not only became an instant star in her American debut, but won the 1953 Oscar as Best Actress. It certainly doesn’t get any more Hollywood-on-the-Tiber than in films like the Gina Lollobrigida double feature “Come September” (Dec. 13, 2:45 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) and “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell” (Dec. 13, 12:30 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 9:45 p.m.), “Three Coins in the Fountain” (Dec. 7, 2:50 p.m., 7:25 p.m.), and the actually diverting “Rome Adventure” Dec. 7, 12:30 p.m., 5:05 p.m., 9:30 p.m.), with real life couple Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette, which all subscribe to a highly commercial, garlicky, rollicking, and stereotypically inch-deep presentation of Italians and their culture, which audiences lapped up once upon a time — or did they really?

GayCityNews.nyc | December 7 – December 20, 2017

In a web exclusive at gaycitynews. nyc, David Noh reports on Nellie McKay’s latest beautiful outrage.

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