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t 52, Michael Rizzo has endured a 13-year journey in combatting heart disease, one that began with shortness of breath and fatigue, a diagnosis of a heart murmur but nothing more serious, then a near-drowning incident that led to a more accurate diagnosis, followed, when he was 44, with open heart surgery. That proved to be

SURVIVORS, continued on p.10



February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

In This Issue COVER STORY February is American Heart Month 01, 08-11 REMEMBRANCE Pioneering comic and writer Bob Smith 04

PERSPECTIVES The trouble with Andrew Sullivan 20 Joy is essential to work of resistance 21

Daniela Vega is “A Fantastic Woman” 27

THEATER John Lithgow telling tales 28

CRIME NYPD Prospect Pk. rape “apology” 06

“Miles for Mary” 28

POLITICS Corey Johnson makes it official 17

CABARET The music of Mizrahi 30

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Into the Pale Mist Remembering the pioneering comic and writer Bob Smith


Stand-up comic and author Bob Smith, seen here performing at a 2010 Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City fundraiser, died at age 59 on January 20 after living with ALS for nearly a dozen years.



ven though Mr. Smith don’t say nothing, you see in his eyes he’s a kind man,” said the nurse, after changing Bob’s diaper. Anyone who spent 60 seconds with Bob Smith sensed his gentle disposition. Like many fans, I originally took note of the comic during his HBO comedy special in 1994, the first for an out queer comedian, and again three years later on the cover of his Lambda-award winning collection of essays, “Openly Bob.” For the book’s photo, he’s seated in a relaxed pose you’d spy among good friends chatting in the park on a spring day: legs crossed, arms cradling knees, hair casually tossed, his face sporting an “ahshucks” grin. He was America’s sweet, handsome, gay-next-door. Twenty-one years later, I was no longer just a fan, but part of the author’s family of choice, thanks to marrying Eddie Sarfaty, Bob’s writing partner and comedy brother. We were together at home on a Friday evening, when my husband’s phone rang. It was Venga, the nurse on the overnight shift. “Bob’s vitals have dropped. I’ve boosted his oxygen level, but it’s not sustainable.” Eddie phoned Bob’s partner, Michael Zam, at his place in the Village, where he was recovering from a nasty case of laryngitis and


keeping his distance due to Bob’s compromised immune system. “Stay home,” Eddie told Michael. “We’ll check on Bob and call you.” Eddie and I threw on our winter coats and hailed a taxi to Bob’s apartment at the Actor’s Fund Building on 57th Street. Bob’s eyes were shut, his skin ashen and cool to the touch, almost reptilian. It was clear he was near the end. We spent a few hours with Bob. I read him encouraging Facebook posts from friends who’d contributed in his honor to ALS TDI, a nonprofit biotech company working to end the horrible neurological disease. When I was finished, Eddie opened an envelope from my mother, who had been writing Bob weekly. She’d painted him a watercolor of snow in the Rockies, accompanied by a Mary Oliver poem. Years earlier, Bob had sent my mom two of the artist’s books. Eddie read the selection aloud. “The Old Poets of China” Wherever I am, the world comes after me. It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I un derstand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

A publicity shot of Bob as a young comic and author.

“Tonight?” we said, asking Venga for his opinion. “Off the record? No, but surely over the weekend.” During the previous week, I’d sent an email to those New Yorkers closest to Bob, inviting them to a Sunday afternoon open house, a chance to pay visits and surround him with love. Maybe we should move the date up to Saturday, my husband and I agreed. Eddie kissed Bob’s forehead. I squeezed his icy hand. We walked out the door. *** When I started dating Eddie in 2009, Bob, no longer the carefree young man from his book, was in his third year of ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” a condition that typically kills people in three to five years. Bob was Eddie’s roommate in Hell’s Kitchen when he was first diagnosed and soon needed assistance with buttons and shoelaces. Michael and Bob had only been boyfriends for a year, and though Michael knew Bob’s condition would worsen, he asked Bob to move in with him. As Bob’s hands, taut from nerve deterioration, became little more effective than ping-pong paddles, Michael needed help. Eddie pitched in. Bob switched to wearing slipons, track pants, and T-shirts. Many mornings, Michael would help his partner dress, but when Bob started sleeping later into the

Bob was the first out gay stand-up comic to have his own HBO special and to appear on “The Tonight Show.”

morning, Eddie would travel to the West Village and ready him for the day. It was a struggle for Bob to remain independent, but he was stubborn and determined. He insisted on riding the subways alone. When his hands became unable to clutch the rider’s card, he had one attached to a green plastic bracelet dangling from his wrist. For a while, Bob maneuvered the swipe like a penguin clutching a piece of paper. He was so good-natured, he just assumed people would help him. Few could understand what Bob tried to say, other than Michael, Eddie, and, to a lesser extent, me. When Michael had to teach at NYU or travel to Los Angeles for his work as a screenwriter, Bob would spend those times with Eddie and me and our two cats, Julia and Dash, rather than be alone. His speech garbled, Bob was still smiling and laughing. “Should I write a prescription for antidepressants?” his doctors regularly asked. Bob always declined, determined — despite his challenges — to see good in life. He joked that his friends needed psychotropic drugs to make it through the day, but Bob, stricken as if he’d angered the gods, did not. Bob was able to chomp on chunky foods, like burritos and hamburgers, could still drag him-

BOB SMITH, continued on p.5

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

health aides. “I didn’t like gay people until I met Bob,” said Pierre, a strict Catholic from Haiti. He and Idris, a young Muslim man from Ghana, were moved by Bob’s kindness and sense of humor. They bonded over the silliness of TruTV’s “The Carbonaro Effect,” and embraced Bob, not just as a patient, but as a friend. Bob’s condition had improved enough that he resumed writing. “Bob stopped breathing!” Idris screamed in a call to Eddie the next March. “Tell him to call 9-11,” I shouted from our kitchen. We jumped into a taxi and arrived right after the EMT crew. Bob was on the floor, his face blue. We were sure he’d die. Bob survived, but spent the next 21 months in Harlem’s Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility before receiving the greenlight to go home in December. Five days later, another 9-1-1 call, another stint in the ICU. Bob spent yet another of his Christmas Eve birthdays in the hospital. Again, we expected he’d die, but 10

days later, shortly into 2018, Bob was given permission to leave. But he’d changed. I searched, but couldn’t find the sweetness in his brown eyes. Bob seemed weary, withdrawn — maybe even angry. During a visit before the Golden Globes, I used FaceTime to reach Michael, who was nominated for a writing award. “I’m racing into the Beverly Hilton, but I love you, honey.” Bob struggled to remain awake during the short call. *** “Hello?” Eddie asked groggily, not yet awake at 6:50 am on Saturday morning, January 20. “I’m sorry. Mr. Smith expired a few minutes ago.” Bob — pioneering comic, acclaimed writer, beloved son, brother, father to Madeline and Xander, lover, and friend — had now climbed to the highlands and “crept into the pale mist.” A memorial for Bob Smith is planned for Monday, March 5, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. in New York City. The location will be announced at a later date and posted online at gaycitynews.nyc/pale-mist.


In 2011, Bob, having lived with ALS for five years, was still writing, getting published, and getting press photos taken.

BOB SMITH, from p.4

self up the staircase at his apartment or our walk-up, and liked to sit for hours at the table, using an iPad for writing. He’d flip his wrist over, his useless right hand held perpendicular in the fey manner homosexuals were once stereotyped as doing. Then, lowering his forearm, he adjusted the right shoulder to lift and lower the middle finger, laboriously plucking out letters. Facebook became his main method of staying in touch with friends and fans. He had written three books since the malady’s onslaught: the gay sci-fi novel “Remembrances of Things I Forgot,” a collection of essays called “Treehab,” and “The Third Actor,” a yetto-be-released work of fiction set in ancient Greece that chronicles the bisexual, neurotic life of Sophocles. I believe upon publication that novel will be his greatest commercial success. GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

In October 2014, Bob developed a nasty cough that turned into pneumonia. The doctors performed a tracheotomy and he was confined to a bed in Mount Sinai West’s intensive care unit. We doubted he’d ever climb stairs, chew, get out of bed, or write again. Recovery was slow, but Bob fought and made progress, and was moved to a nursing home. There, though he trudged up and down the depressing hallways to strengthen his legs, he was no longer able to climb the three flights to the apartment he shared with Michael, nor the two flights where Eddie and I lived. Tom Viola, executive director at Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, came to the rescue by introducing us to the management at the Actor’s Fund Building, also known as the Dorothy Ross Friedman Residence. In his new apartment, Bob lived with two round-the-clock home


OPEN HOUSE S AT U R D AY, M A R C H 2 4 , 2 018 ( 21 2 ) 2 2 0 -1 2 6 5 Start Here. Go Anywhere. www.bmcc.cuny.edu/cng



Prospect Park Rape Victim Allies Reject NYPD “Apology” Lawyer Martin Garbus says counterterrorism chief John Miller’s message insufficient BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


hile the NYPD has quietly apologized to a woman who was raped in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in 1994 but accused at that time of being a hoaxer and a liar by Daily News columnist Mike McAlary, the woman’s attorney and some LGBTQ activists who believed then and now that the police abetted McAlary in his columns are rejecting that apology. “I issued an apology to the victim through her lawyer, Martin Garbus,” said John Miller, now the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, during a January 30 press conference held at a Brooklyn police precinct. “I left it up to him and her to make that public. They elected to make it public so it was widely publicized.” In April of 1994, the woman was raped days before she was to participate in a rally against antiLGBTQ violence in Brooklyn. Miller, who headed the NYPD’s press office in 1994, initially told reporters that they should be cautious in their reporting on the case. In three columns, McAlary accused her of lying about the rape to promote the rally. The woman, then 27, sued the Daily News and McAlary for libel. The case was dismissed in 1997, and the woman elected to not pursue an appeal though Garbus believed an appeal would be successful. This year, using DNA recovered from semen found on the woman in 1994, police linked the rape to


John Miller (center), the counterterrorism chief for the NYPD, says he’s already apologized to a lesbian who was raped in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in 1994 and that he had no role in Daily News columnist Mike McAlary’s unsupported claims the woman had made up her account.

James Webb who is currently serving a sentence of 75-years-to-life for 1998 sexual assault convictions. Webb is not eligible for a first parole hearing until 2070. The statute of limitations has run out on the 1994 rape and Webb cannot be charged in that case. While police are saying that they have apologized, Garbus said he received a letter from Miller, but that it did not go far enough. “We received something from John Miller two weeks ago and I don’t consider it an apology,” Garbus told Gay City News. “She has not received an apology.” In 1994 and now, LGBTQ activists believed that Miller aided McAlary, who claimed to be relying on anonymous police sources, and they not only want a public apology, they want Miller fired. “The only apology that would be acceptable from John Miller is for

him to resign,” said Matt Foreman, who was the executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, now the Anti-Violence Project, from 1990 to 1996. “John Miller is a secondary rapist and it is insufficient for him to apologize to the victim 23 years later.” Miller declined to discuss his 1994 dealings with McAlary, who died in 1998, and pointed to the libel lawsuit as an indication of his innocence. “As for any interactions between myself, Mike McAlary, and the Daily News, that was the subject of a civil case 20-something years ago and there is an extensive record which I invite you to read,” he said. “In that civil case, the Daily News was sued, Mike McAlary was named, I was not. I was a witness.” The NYPD’s quiet response comes as the #MeToo movement is exposing, in some instances, decades-old allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against powerful men in the media, government, and private companies, many of whom have since been removed from their jobs. A #Apology4JaneDoe petition on change.org garnered 918 signatures. While that is a relatively small number, leading LGBTQ activists are among the signatories. James O’Neill, the city’s police commissioner, attended the same press conference. He also said the NYPD had apologized and that he would not fire Miller. “What I stated at the press conference was that I know that she

was victimized twice,” O’Neill said. “John apologized on behalf of himself and the NYPD. I apologized… This is a case that happened 23 years ago. None of us are perfect in our lives. I think if you look at the body of John’s work, what he’s doing to keep the city safe, I’m not prepared to ask John to leave.” Garbus, who is a noted First Amendment attorney who typically represents publishers, devoted an entire chapter to the libel lawsuit in his 1998 book, “Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way.” Garbus wrote that in earlier legal proceedings unrelated to the woman’s libel lawsuit, McAlary admitted to inventing stories and fabricating quotes to “illustrate” a story. He was deposed twice in the libel case and eventually had to reveal that he had a single source for his columns — Miller. In his deposition, Miller said he had never supported McAlary’s assertions other than initially telling all reporters to proceed cautiously on the story. Only McAlary publicly doubted the woman. In 1994, three Daily News reporters “warned their editors that some of their police contacts disputed the accuracy of [McAlary’s] account,” Garbus wrote in his book. In 1994, 30 members of the Daily News reporting staff signed a petition calling McAlary’s first column “a disgrace” and demanding that the paper issue a public apology to the woman and the newspaper’s readers, Garbus wrote.


Advocates Press Mayor on Safe Drug Use Study Release of city-funded look at monitored consumption facilities demanded BY NATHAN RILEY

A 6

dvocates are demanding that Mayor Bill de Blasio release a city health department fea-

sibility study on safer consumption spaces where users take their drugs in the presence of an overdose prevention worker. Nearly 100 such facilities are operating around the world, but New

York City has delayed moving forward on this solution even though a person dies of an overdose every seven hours, according to VOCALNY, a drug user advocacy group that decades ago grew out of an ac-

tion committee of ACT UP. “Mayor de Blasio made headlines this week when he joined a national effort and filed a lawsuit against

SAFE USE, continued on p.38

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


My Heart Health Story Medical necessity led to open heart surgery; skilled doctors brought me through it


February 2 is National Go Red Day.



ebruary 2 is National Go Red Day, dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of women and heart disease. As the number one killer of women, heart disease is too often viewed as “an old man’s disease,” causing women to ignore symptoms and fail to seek treatment. Heart disease became a very personal issue for me this past year. My story is probably similar to that of many women with heart disease, but I hope will serve as a warning for some. In June 2017, I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease that causes thickening and scarring of the heart muscle. The disease can be controlled through medication, open heart surgery, or a heart transplant. In my case, I needed open heart surgery. It has been a scary, confusing, challenging year. Looking back on the experience, there is a moment that stands out. As I was being wheeled into the operating room for surgery, I asked my husband, “How did I end up here?” Over the past four months I have asked that question over and over. The simple answer is: ignorance and denial. Even though HCM is not caused by smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, old age, or other factors we think of when we consider heart disease, I ignored too many signs pointing to a problem. The problems I did see, I ignored. I was diagnosed with HCM at


age 52. Other than the occasional cold, I was never sick. I exercised regularly, never smoked, had normal blood pressure and good cholesterol, and no chest pain. No reason to think I had heart disease. I did have a slight heart murmur my entire life. The murmur never caused a problem and I never thought about it. My cardiologist monitored the murmur by echocardiogram every three years. The regularly scheduled echo is what took me to the cardiologist the day I was diagnosed. I had never heard of HCM and immediately started to research the disease. Big mistake. The online health sites list the first symptom of HCM as sudden death. Time for another tack. I found a cardiologist who specializes in HCM, Dr. Mark Sherrid at NYU Langone, who has seen thousands of people with the disease. “HCM is a thickening of the heart walls that occurs for no clinical cause like high blood pressure or heart valve disease. We now know that it’s caused by genetic abnormalities that may not show up until mid-life,” Sherrid told me. “It’s now a highly treatable condition when recognized and treated appropriately. Unfortunately, there’s often a delay in diagnosis, because HCM can masquerade as other conditions, these other conditions include coronary artery disease, mitral valve prolapse, benign flow [heart] murmur, exercised-induced asthma, or panic attacks. The key test is an echocardiogram, which often reveals the true cause of the symptoms.”

Sherrid and his team explained the disease, reviewed the echo and MRI images with me, and said that open heart surgery to remove part of my heart muscle was their recommended treatment. I had a difficult decision to make. Two weeks later, the decision was made for me. I lost consciousness while walking down the street in Manhattan. Surgery was no longer an option, it was a necessity. On September 13, Dr. Daniel Swistel performed a septal myectomy — he’s one of the few surgeons in the world who has performed hundreds of such operations in his career — and mitral valve repair, and five days later a defibrillator/ pacemaker was implanted in my chest at NYU Langone. Drs. Sherrid and Swistel have worked together for more than 20 years, doing research and publishing much of the leading work on HCM. They run the NYU-Langone’s HCM Center of Excellence — a high-volume, high-success, research-oriented unit staffed by a team of talented, caring doctors, nurses, and technicians who know how to diagnose and treat HCM. Thanks to them, my surgery was successful and I feel better than I have in years. Looking back, I realize how the disease slowly took over my life. And I let it. I spent more than a year with symptoms and never addressed them. I had fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness when standing up. As I became fatigued more and more often I blamed age and stress. The shortness of breath was


Jennifer Goodstein is owner and publisher of Gay City News and its sister publications.

blamed on not spending enough time in the gym. I wrote off the dizziness to an inner ear problem or anemia or lack of sleep. The problems were vague and intermittent, and I did not consider them important enough to interrupt my family and work responsibilities. Like many women, I was more focused on the people around me than my own health. I still have HCM even though the surgery relieved my symptoms. I will need echocardiograms and medication for the rest of my life to monitor and control my heart disease. Thanks to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, a non-profit that helps people with HCM, I have found a support group that understands what it’s like to live with HCM. Most importantly, I have a new awareness and respect for my health. I have a better understanding of what the symptoms of heart disease are for women and can be more diligent about getting help before a serious situation arises. That is my hope for you, that you have knowledge and have awareness of your heart health. Take care of yourself; it’s the best gift you can give to those you love. Jennifer Goodstein is the publisher and owner of Gay City News, NYC Community Media, and the Community News Group. February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Heart Health and Women Go Red aims to promote knowledge and action about preventable cardiovascular disease BY JAMES HARNEY


all it a “red alert� for women! New Yorkers will “Wear Red and Give� on Friday, February 2 to spread the message that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the US. The American Heart Association is uniting with communities across the city to “Go Red and Give� on this special day to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, which cause one in three deaths among women each year. Association statistics also show that despite an abundance of public-awareness campaigns, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. The good news, the group says, is that if you understand your risk factors, about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.

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February 2 is National Go Red Day.

Thousands of New Yorkers will participate in National Wear Red Day by donating to the Go Red For Women campaign and taking steps to better understand their heart health. Some organizations will offer heart-healthy lunch-and-learn programs, organize healthy walks,

or offer healthier foods in vending machines or cafeterias. In addition, landmarks and buildings around the city and state will be illuminated in red to help raise awareness of women’s heart health. “Going Red is such a simple yet effective way to raise awareness about heart disease and celebrate heart health,� said Dr. Stacey Rosen, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and vice president for Women’s Health at Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health on Long Island. “We know the Go Red movement helps save women’s lives through education and advocacy. February is the perfect time to learn more about your heart health and make positive lifestyle changes.� Rosen and Dr. Jennifer Mieres — both professors of cardiology at Hofstra University’s Zucker School of Medicine — have co-authored a new book, “Heart Smart for Women:

Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to HeartHealthy Living.� Rosen said the book “was inspired by the thousands of incredible women we have treated as patients or met at lectures and health screenings. We know our program works and will enable women to translate the knowledge of heart disease into an actionable plan that will put them on the road to hearthealthy living.� The cardiologists said their book is “based on published research as well as on real life stories from our patients,� and encourages women to learn their family’s health history and to meet regularly with a healthcare provider to determine their risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke. “Every woman should have a clinician, someone you see over time and can partner with to monitor


WEAR RED DAY, continued on p.10

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Š 2018, American Heart Association. Also known as the Heart Fund. TM Go Red trademark of AHA, Red Dress trademark of DHHS. 1/18DS12998

GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018


SURVIVORS, from p.1

just the start when he learned that the surgery had corrected only a portion of the problem facing him. Fourteen months ago, Rizzo received a heart transplant. Saying he’s been “feeling much better in the last eight months” — beginning six months after the surgery — Rizzo acknowledged the challenges he continues to face: primarily the ongoing risk of organ rejection but also painful neuropathy caused by the drugs he takes to prevent rejection, but said that for now, “My body has completely accepted my new heart” and that he is “definitely out there in the world.” Rizzo’s new heart and new life have definitely required adjustments, “learning to navigate my days and plan rest periods.” Living in Bergen County, New Jersey, with his partner of 18 years, Dr. Edward Hahn, Jr., a plastic surgeon, Rizzo said the limitations he faces — including having given up his career as a paramedic due to the risk that dealing with sick people poses to the compromised state of his immune system resulting from the anti-rejection drugs — are among “the challenges that you accept. Otherwise, I would have been dead.” When he was a 39-year-old paramedic, with his partner Hahn then in medical school, Rizzo worked

WEAR RED DAY, from p.9

your health, someone who can help them know their heart health numbers,” Rosen said. “We joke that you would never go to your accountant to get your taxes done without being prepared with your financial numbers, and the truth is you should never go to your doctor without knowing your five important heart health numbers.” Those five numbers, she explained, are your: •Total cholesterol: “This can be measured with a simple blood test.” •HDL (good) cholesterol: “You want that number to be higher, rather than lower.” •Blood sugar: “Even mild elevations in blood sugar — a condition sometimes called pre-diabetes —


three twelve-hour shifts each week doing work that was physically and emotionally demanding — and with workdays that long, sometimes exhausting. That winter, he began to notice that he was experiencing greater shortness of breath and fatigue when the job required a lot of exertion. An asthma sufferer, he initially chalked the nuisance up to the cold weather and expected things to improve as the season changed. An active biker and hiker, however, he was nagged by pain in his arms he couldn’t account for. Then, even as it warmed up, he found the weariness and shortness of breath becoming more common. Rizzo’s general practitioner told him he had a heart murmur, an irregular beat that can sometimes be a benign symptom. An initial visit with a cardiologist turned up nothing of concern, and as his doctors kept exploring the underlying causes of his symptoms, he nearly drowned while swimming, overcome by his difficulty in breathing. His condition, though, was hard to diagnose. “They kept checking my arteries,” recalled Rizzo, which were clean and showed no sign of disease. That’s because his problem was not in his arteries but rather in the heart muscle. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a genetic disease that

causes thickening and scarring of the heart muscle, which when serious enough impairs it proper functioning. Rizzo was told that roughly three-quarters of those showing symptoms of HCM can be treated effectively with medication. And for several years, that’s the approach his care took, along with regular echocardiograms, which make use of ultrasound technology, and cardiac MRIs, which provide imaging of the damaged muscle. Over time, it became clear that medication alone was not sufficient. At 44, Rizzo underwent open heart surgery — which Gay City News publisher Jennifer Goodstein writes about from her own experience on page 8. The surgery was technically a septal myectomy, to reduce the size of the septum between the right and left ventricles in the heart and remove the obstruction inhibiting the flow of blood from the left ventricle into the aorta. The surgery also repaired the mitral valve controlling the flow of blood into the left ventricle. HCM is hard to diagnose — in part because its rarity means it’s not often looked for — but the surgery Rizzo and Goodstein underwent has been performed successfully for decades, though not at just any hospital. The Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association (HCMA), a support and advocacy group for

people living with the genetic condition, certifies Centers of Excellence, and Rizzo chose to have his surgery at a Tufts University Medical School hospital in the Boston area. Rizzo came out of the surgery well, and was able to continue working as a paramedic for another four years. Unfortunately, follow-up diagnostics on him showed that the enlargement in his heart was more pervasive than simply affecting the septum between the ventricles. It became clear that having already undergone surgery that only about a quarter of HCM patients have to face, he would eventually have to undergo a heart transplant. That’s something, he was told, that less than five percent of those with HCM must endure. As Rizzo explained his condition, the heart muscle, which is viewed by doctors and physiologists as “smooth,” becomes fibrous and knotty in those with HCM. That fibrous knottiness that affects the septal wall of most people living with the condition was happening across his entire heart. A heart transplant, of course, is an option of last resort, but having often dealt as a paramedic with bedridden people, Rizzo understood when his doctors told him that he could not wait too long, that the

can impact your risk for heart disease.”

a practical step-by-step program to help women of all ages put the research and physician’s guidance into action. The book provides readers with comprehensive insight on the workings of the heart while demystifying the science, risk factors, and symptoms of heart disease. The book is a lifestyle tool stocked with effective guidance on diet, sleep, stress, strength and flexibly exercises, physician partnership, and other critical factors for a hearthealthy life.” Rosen said that in February the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign will focus on blanketing communities with education programs and a variety of events to extend knowledge about healthy heart care. “People get scared that their options are limited,” she added. “The truth is anything you do will help. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, just try walking more.

Maybe your diet’s not perfect, but try oatmeal some mornings for breakfast and try sprinkling some blueberries on top.” Mieres added, “Being knowledgeable about heart disease is not enough. It is time for women to translate their knowledge into action. Only then will we really see the needle start to move. It’s time for a new call to action.”

•Blood pressure: “There are new guidelines on how to measure blood pressure. Have a home blood-pressure monitoring device and know how to use it.” •Body-mass index: “A measure of your height in relation to your weight.” In connection with the launch of “Heart Smart for Women,” the authors have also launched the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign, which Mieres said is a call to action for women everywhere that will inspire them to take the first steps toward translating their knowledge into action. “While women are eager to change their lifestyles, most don’t know where to begin,” she said. “‘Heart Smart For Women’ provides

SURVIVORS, continued on p.11

The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and CVS Health, and locally by the New York City Goes Red Sponsors Northwell Health and the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. For more information on National Wear Red Day or to register your company or organization to participate, visit the American Heart Association at nycgored.heart.org. February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

SURVIVORS, from p.10

surgery cannot be performed on patients in a weakened state. In preparing for the surgery, health care providers offer both psychiatric and financial counseling — the first to ensure a patient’s emotional readiness, the second to ensure that a plan is in place to cover the significant ongoing health care costs. Rizzo was cognizant of the tragic fact that receiving a new heart depends on somebody else’s death, but felt that his experiences over more than a decade had prepared him mentally to face what was in store. Recovery, he explained, is “different for everyone.” Shortly after the surgery, Rizzo experienced a blood clot behind his knee that traveled to his lungs. The blood thinning medication needed to relieve that in turn caused bleeding in his GI tract. By the six-month marker, however, things took a turn for the better, normalizing his daily routine. Neuropathy limits his endurance in walking — no more hiking and biking — and his inability to go back to work as a paramedic has

him on disability and reminds him of the infection risks he needs to avoid. Mindful that his condition is genetic, Rizzo has located information on distant cousins on his mother’s side who experienced previously unexplained sudden cardiac deaths while still young. But the information has also allowed his family to be proactive. A few years ago, a nephew was diagnosed with HCM at 17, an age that will hopefully allow him to confront his condition early and effectively with the medications that help most of those affected live healthy lives without surgery. Among those who are being treated with medication is Kim Walsh, a 38-year-old self-described butch lesbian who lives in Sussex County in northwest New Jersey. A teenage jock who pursued basketball and other vigorous sports growing up, Walsh recalled that, despite always “being on top” in games she played, she often experienced dizziness and shortness of breath. At the time, a doctor told her she had a heart murmur but explained it as a benign condition.

Walsh credits her general practitioner, Dr. Jennifer Horn of Newtown, New Jersey, with pushing for a better answer than a heart murmur as the cause of her problems. By the time she was 35, Walsh was dealing with a bipolar diagnosis that often left her anxious or depressed and had her on disability. She was also carrying 350 pounds in weight, which was a physical stressor. Referred to the HCMA Center of Excellence at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at the Morristown Medical Center, Walsh began treatment for HCM. Referring to Gagnon’s Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center, she said, “Their team is excellent… and excellent in handling the gay situation. I thought it was a life sentence. I found out it doesn’t have to be.” Facing what she said is a dramatically oversized heart with an elongated mitral valve, Walsh has supplemented her medication with a dramatic weight loss regimen. Within two years of her diagnosis, she dropped down to 160 pounds, something she achieved primarily via diet given the limitations on her

physical exertion. Despite this impressive turnaround, Walsh has no illusions about what she faces. “Everything is a struggle,” she said, adding that her wife, Lisa, who is 13 years older, is also on disability. Walsh has largely been abandoned by her family of origin, who don’t accept her sexuality, though she does speak to her mother occasionally. Kim and Lisa find no solace in local churches, who are unwelcoming to a lesbian couple. At the same time, Walsh said her “condition is currently in check. I have pains, but within the normal range.” She finds relaxation in listening to music and in meditation, and the couple gets help from friends in addressing the financial challenges they face in living on disability. As for her future prognosis, Walsh said she takes it from “doctor visit to doctor visit.” Among the other strengths she draws on is the support network of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. The group’s founder, Lisa Salberg, herself an HCM survivor, is “an angel,” Walsh said.

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GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018



Appeals Court Denies Sperm Donor Paternity Test Man cannot legally rebut presumption that the motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wife is the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parent BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


n a case showing the pressing need to update New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Domestic Relations Law to reflect modern-day family realities and take full account of the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Marriage Equality Act, the Albany-based Third Department of the Appellate Division ruled on January 25 that a sperm donor to a lesbian married couple could not seek a paternity determination regarding the child conceived using his sperm. The ruling countermanded one by Chemung County Family Court Judge Mary Tarantelli that genetic testing be done to confirm the plaintiffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biological fatherhood. There was no dispute between the parties that the child was conceived using his sperm. Jessica and Nichole, the respondents in this case, were married before Jessica gave birth to their

child in August 2014. Justice Robert C. Mulvey wrote that the child was conceived â&#x20AC;&#x153;through an informal artificial insemination processâ&#x20AC;? in the womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s home using the petitionerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sperm. The women knew the man, identified as Christopher, â&#x20AC;&#x153;for a short time through family,â&#x20AC;? the judge wrote. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The parties agree that petitioner, with his partner present, knowingly provided his sperm to assist respondents in having a child, and that the wife performed the insemination.â&#x20AC;? Without legal advice but in a written agreement drafted by the man and signed with his partner present, Mulvey wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;petitioner volunteered to donate his sperm so that respondents could have a child together, expressly waived any claims to paternity with regard to any child conceived from his donated sperm, and further waived any right to custody or vis-

itation, and respondents, in turn, waived any claim for child support from petitioner.â&#x20AC;? The court noted that Christopher denied the existence of the written agreement, but the court found that testimony by the women and by Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s partner supported the Family Courtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s determination that it did exist. Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s partner testified that â&#x20AC;&#x153;she had destroyed the only copy of that agreement.â&#x20AC;? The court found that the agreement, in any event, was â&#x20AC;&#x153;not legally enforceable,â&#x20AC;? but it did help determine the partiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x153;understanding, intent and expectations at the timeâ&#x20AC;? Christopher donated his sperm. After the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birth, the mothers and Christopher â&#x20AC;&#x153;disagreedâ&#x20AC;? on his access to the child, whom he did not see for a month or two after her birth. Family Court Judge Tarantelli rejected the mothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; motion to

dismiss the proceeding and granted the Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s request for genetic testing, but agreed to stay the testing order while the women appealed. Justice Mulvey reviewed the basic family law principles under which the spouse of a woman who bears a child is presumed to be the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legal parent, the child being characterized as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;product of the marriage.â&#x20AC;? The law allows this presumption to be rebutted through a proceeding establishing that another man than the motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s husband is the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biological father. Mulvey pointed out, however, that this provision doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t account for lesbian couples having children through donor insemination since the law regarding such procedures focuses on the legal parental status of a husband who gives written permis-


PATERNITY TEST, continued on p.38

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Corey Johnson Makes It Official Speaker’s inauguration emphasizes his hardscrabble personal story, hard work ahead BY EILEEN STUKANE


very seat in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Theater, capacity 700, was filled by the time City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s formal inauguration opened on January 28. Musical performances by students from PS 111 and PS 51 created a hopeful mood with “This Land Is Your Land” along with the Shaker melody “Simple Gifts.” In the ceremony’s opening remarks, Aleta Lafargue, president of the Tenants’ Association at Manhattan Plaza, said, “I know I speak for everyone when I say that if you’re on the West Side, Corey is much more than an elected public official. To so many of us across our district he is a friend, a neighbor, a surrogate son, a mentor, a mentee, a role model, a fighter.” Mayor Bill de Blasio reminded the audience that after the November 2016 election, “One of the people in this city who stood up the quickest, with the most fortitude, who started to organize his community to resist and to make sure values stay strong, was Corey Johnson.” He added that New York City was sending a message to the whole country “that an HIV-positive man is one of the great leaders of our city.” De Blasio talked about Johnson’s origins in a small town in Massachusetts and how 20 years ago he came out “in a world where almost no one did it, in a culture and athletic culture that so tragically rejected people’s truth.” He referred to the close connection Johnson has to his mother who was unable to attend, and added, “Corey is not a moderate. You don’t do things in moderation. You do it with all your energy and heart and became an activist, a community activist, a fighter for LGBT rights, a civic leader, and the youngest community board chair in the city.” Before administering the oath of office, US Senator Chuck Schumer, like de Blasio, referred to Johnson’s childhood, specifically his upbringing in public housing.

GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018


City Council Speaker Corey Johnson with Senator Chuck Schumer, who administered Johnson’s official oath of office at an FIT ceremony on January 28.

“His family struggled, and struggled, and struggled, but Corey had some inner strength, a great gift from God, and he became captain of his football team, and he came out and said, ‘I’m gay,’” Schumer said, lauding him as “a fighter to stand up for who we are and what we believe in.” Comptroller Scott Stringer, in what was perhaps a dig at the mayor, praised Johnson for his potential to make the Council a “Council of Independence.” Alphonso David, the out gay counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, described Johnson as “the disruptor, the underdog, the fighter, and now the speaker of the NYC Council,” who “has never forgotten how important it is to remain humble, how important it is to fight for the things that absolutely matter.” Finally at the podium, after been unable earlier in the program to stop himself from dancing to “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” sung by the New York City Community Chorus, Johnson took five minutes to offer thanks to a list of people that included a shout-out to each councilmember by first name. He then spoke of the 14,703 doors he knocked on during the 2017 campaign and how he con-

tinues to be inspired by those he met. “Each one of you has a unique incredible story and a unique set of life experiences and challenges that you’ve overcome,” he said. “You are what inspires me and motivates me every single day.” Johnson highlighted accomplishments, including the pending public park on West 20th Street in Chelsea, a new historic district in the South Village, the 500 affordable housing units resulting from the Pier 40 negotiation, and a development with an indoor recreation facility and affordable supermarket. In spite of these wins, Johnson said, the city faces big challenges. “The affordability crisis that grips our city threatens the very existence of our neighborhoods,” he warned. “People who lived in the same community for their entire lives find themselves priced out, unable to afford their rent or even their groceries. Many working families are literally living paycheck to paycheck. One missed shift or one medical expense away from eviction or bankruptcy.” Johnson noted that the night before his inauguration ceremony, 61,000 people slept in shelters,

23,000 of them children under age 16. “We must do better,” he said, vowing to extend rent protections and to work with state government “to finally once and for all close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate apartments.” Later, he noted that 22 percent of New Yorkers — 1.7 million people — are living below the poverty line. He made clear that affordable housing is a priority. He spoke out for small businesses that are unable to compete with “deep-pocketed chain stores,” subway riders who are experiencing “years of disinvestment in our infrastructure,” and also “shameful racial disparities that persist in nearly every aspect of life in our city, including life expectancy, health outcomes, criminal justice and education.” Johnson himself then referred to his personal story, saying, “When I came out in 1999 in a small town of 5,000 people 30 miles north of Boston, when I came out to my family, when I came out at school, I was three months before that literally suicidal. I was clinically depressed and I did not want to live anymore because I couldn’t accept myself and I was scared the world wouldn’t accept me. But I came out and I got the support and love that I needed, and ultimately I realized that I deserved. And that one moment of coming out was the chain reaction in a series of events.” Life events broadened Johnson’s perspective and brought him to New York. On this important late winter New York Sunday, he promised, “I will remember where I came from, I will remember the struggles that I faced, I will remember the adversity, and when difficult decisions have to be made, I will do it remembering all of you of course, but also the folks who aren’t here today, the single mom working two jobs, the public housing resident living in conditions that are not acceptable, the family whose landlord is harassing them, trying to deregulate where they live. I’ll remember these stories.”



Again, A Massive Women’s March in Manhattan On anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, a swelling call to continued action


Honduran immigrant Sulma Arzu-Brown was among the day’s speakers.


As many as 200,000 jammed Central Park West, including Columbus Circle outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower, for the second annual Women’s March on New York City.



he second annual Women’s March on New York City, held January 20, brought an estimated 200,000 people onto Central Park West from West 61st Street to West 80th Street and beyond. “I love the fact that I cannot see the end of this,” said Whoopi Goldberg, speaking from the platform stage at West 61st Street. The reaction to Donald Trump’s election that in January 2017 drew millions onto the streets of 280 Women’s Marches worldwide has now become action, with a movement well underway. The 2018 Women’s March was a call to vote, to run for office, to speak out, and to never be silenced. “The core principles have remained the same,” said Sarah



The second annual Women’s March on Washington demonstrated the commitment of hundreds of thousands to continue the resistance to the Trump administration.

Steinhardt, spokesperson for Women’s March Alliance (WMA), organizer of the New York event. “We march for women’s rights and gender equality, to empower women to use their voices, and to give them the tools and the knowledge and the information to do so.” Voter registration was key among the aims. “Our goal is to register one million women to vote by the November election,” Steinhardt explained, “We feel very strongly that women should know how to exercise their rights and the most basic example of that is voting.” While the marchers would hear the call to vote from speakers who rallied the assembled thousands on a good-for-marching, 50-degree Saturday, they would mostly be moved by the stories of those who were not household names. There


The unresolved issue of the DACA Dreamers was emphasized during the march, as in this poster by artist Mary Frank.

were familiar faces who inspired — in addition to Goldberg, Rosie Perez, Yoko Ono, and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — but the day belonged to women committing themselves to change the culture behind the headlines. From the stage, newly-elected Atlantic County, New Jersey, Freeholder Ashley Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener attending grad school, shared how she’d seen incumbent Freeholder John Carman post a meme during last year’s Women’s March that read: “Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Bennett was offended and decided to run for Carman’s seat. “When I announced my candidacy many people wrote me off because I’m just an ordinary woman,” Bennett recalled. “I wake up early, I go to work every day, I have student

loans, and I have to check my bank account before I do just about anything — but I had to remind myself that when ordinary people stand up for what they believe, when they come together around a common purpose and a true desire to lift up everyone in the community, extraordinary things happen.” Sulma Arzu-Brown introduced herself as a Garifuna woman from Honduras, but she wears multiple hats as director of operations for the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, co-owner of Boogie Down Grind Café in the Bronx, and author of the children’s book “Bad Hair Does Not Exist!” On the stage with her mother and two young daughters, Arzu-Brown spoke emotionally of the sacrifice her mother made by leaving her

WOMEN’S MARCH, continued on p.25

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc





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The Trouble With Andrew Sullivan BY PAUL SCHINDLER


ndrew Sullivan, who more than a quarter century ago stormed the American intellectual and media ramparts as the British enfant terrible, a self-styled contrarian gay Tory who became editor of The New Republic at 28, is at it again. Writing in New York Magazine last week, Sullivan lamented the “radicalization” of the LGBTQ movement’s “ideology and rhetoric,” which as much as Donald Trump’s encouragement of intolerance, he asserted, is “surely having an impact” in “stalling [the] momentum” of the community’s advances and its acceptance by the broader American society. For anyone who has followed Sullivan’s writing over the years, there’s nothing particularly new here. He’s making much the same argument he’s been voicing since at least as far back as his 1995 book “Virtually Normal: An Argument About Homosexuality,” which posited that the gay rights project was essentially one about winning access to marriage rights and military service while continuing to mainstream in order to emphasize our virtual indistinguishability from any other Americans. Winning marriage and open military service, of course, became attractive goals among both the community’s leading advocacy groups and many rank-and-file gay and lesbian people. At times, Sullivan has talked as though he invented the idea of gay people marrying, when in fact grassroots folks as early as 1970 had to push skittish community groups to embrace what long seemed a bridge too far. Still, Sullivan did have a point in arguing that discrimination by the government — and our resulting excommunication from civic life — was among the most pernicious obstacles we faced. The critical flaw in his viewpoint has always been his hostility toward taking on other forms of discrimination, coming from individuals, businesses, and other private sector actors. At times, invidious comparisons he made between our

battle for employment, housing, and public accommodations nondiscrimination and hate crimes protections and similar demands made earlier by the African-American community had an ugly resonance that did not go unremarked. Sullivan’s most recent foray into the politics of our community is not nearly as provocative as some of his earlier writing. But it comes just as our community is facing a host of challenges on the legislative and judicial fronts — a rollback on recognizing transgender people’s rights and dignity, specious claims of religious liberty used to justify discrimination, and the packing of federal courts with judges who are often both unqualified and openly hostile to equality for LGBTQ Americans. He opens his piece by pointing to what I believe are fairly flimsy results from a GLAAD poll — and Sullivan seems to agree with me on this — suggesting that Americans are souring on us. The declines are not impressive, in my book, but the one thing that is clear both from the poll and from what is happening on the ground is that those who are — and always have been — hostile to us now feel more empowered and are acting out against us, in hate crimes, in state houses, and in courtrooms. Sullivan’s arguments, unfortunately, cosign the claims made by our opponents (at least those not coming at us with their fists), and he continues to hold a unique place in the media firmament. Only Rachel Maddow and Dan Savage, among queer pundits (as opposed to more traditional news anchors), enjoy the kind of perch he has, and should he repeat his New York Magazine argument in his appearances on “Meet the Press,” “Real Time With Bill Maher,” or CNN, he will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy in front of an audience who might easily get lost in the weeds. After the marriage and military victories — carried over the line, he said, by largely gender-conforming leaders (though he insists perhaps a bit too predictably that they are

“not in any way better than non-gender-conforming” activists) — many people declared victory and folded up their tents, as he repeatedly predicted would happen. The problem, he writes, is that “the far left filled the void.” Race and gender have become preoccupations, he says. The complexities of achieving full participation by transgender people in American life on their own terms he labels “transgenderism,” which he denigrates by defining as simply the claim “If you don’t believe gender is nonbinary, you’re a bigot.” And on perhaps the most potent threat to LGBTQ equality, the special right claimed by anti-queer people to discriminate based on their religious views — or even their “personal” views — Sullivan is completely MIA, dismissing the issue as emblematic of “the left’s indifference to religious freedom.” Sullivan was born in 1963 and raised in Britain, but it’s hard to believe that earning a doctorate in government at Harvard didn’t expose him to the contested jurisprudence surrounding public accommodations law that during the 1950s and ‘60s finally put a stake in the heart of American society’s lingering Jim Crow reign of terror. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, when black students said it was degrading to be forced to use water fountains designated for their race, when African-American college students sat-in at lunch counters across the South, the issue was equal access to facilities and services made generally available to the public. The Masterpiece Cakeshop case before the Supreme Court, on which Sullivan has written admiringly of the case for Jack Phillips, the baker who refused a gay couple service, is not about same-sex marriage. It is about Phillips’ refusal to abide by Colorado’s nondiscrimination law that guarantees gay people equal access in places of public accommodation. Gay and lesbian couples are not shopping around for Christian bakers to make a stink over, they are facing humiliating rejections from business people who hang signs outside their stores welcoming the public. The price of admission to operating in that public realm is that you play by the rules. Phillips doesn’t want to, and Sullivan is fine with that. I’m not fine with Sullivan, in our name, surrendering our equality and dignity. February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

PERSPECTIVE: Spiritual Activism

Joy Is Essential to the Work of Resistance BY RABBI SHARON KLEINBAUM


on’t postpone joy,” Edie Windsor was well known to say. In a time in which despicable racism spews from the mouth of the occupant of the White House and motivates policies of the government of the United States, it is easy to despair and feel crushed by the ugliness of it all. In these times joy itself is an act of political resistance! “It is not your job to finish a task that needs doing, but that doesn’t excuse you from starting,” an ancient Jewish saying teaches us. It is too easy to allow the sense of being overwhelmed to prevent us from feeling like small actions or individual actions make a difference that matters. In these times, it is an act of spiritual resistance to not let them win by giving into despair. On the Friday after the 2016 election, I woke up and thought to myself, “I am feeling completely distraught. As a lesbian, as a Jew, as a human being. But on Fridays, Mus-

lims gather for communal Jumma prayers — what can it possibly feel like to be a Muslim-American today? There is now a president-elect who started his campaign with an anti-Muslim speech, and in campaign speech after campaign speech he targeted Muslims — what can it possibly feel like to be a MuslimAmerican in America today?” I called some of my colleagues and told them to meet me at the mosque at NYU, with whom I had a relationship, and we stood outside and handed out red roses and held handmade signs that said, “Jewish New Yorkers support our Muslim Neighbors.” We were thanked and kissed, and many asked to take selfies with us. We have had people from the our synagogue — the LGBTQ synagogue of New York City — standing outside the mosque every Friday since. Does it change the world? We walk away feeling like we have interrupted a narrative of hate, and we hope the Muslims come to prayer feeling the love of Jewish LGBTQ New Yorkers. It is a year later, and the relationships have deepened — and Trump brought us together.


Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum demonstrating on behalf of the DACA Dreamers at the US Capitol on January 17, in a protest that led to her arrest among a group of 80 Jewish leaders.

Do something on a regular basis — every week, do something other than posting outrage on Facebook. Get out and meet others who are engaged in building a future. In response to the most recent vile and vulgar insulting of immigrant America, there are many demanding a clean DREAM Act from Congress. For the first time, a national gathering of Jewish organizations and individuals gathered at the US Senate on January 17 to demand justice for DACA folks and to stand with immigrants. More than 80 of us, rabbis and leaders and activists in the Jewish community, were arrested demanding a DREAM Act. I am proud to stand with those of us who refuse to accept this as normal, who refuse to look the other way, who refuse to become inured

to the outrage. Our Friday night services have become a refuge. Not because we escape, but because we sing and pray and laugh and feel joy. We nourish our souls so that we have strength for the work we have to do. “Never again” means never again for anyone. We Jews know what happens when democracies are dismantled and bigotry and hatred flourish in the silence of bystanders. Don’t be bystanders, engage, and engage with joy and determination and love. Don’t postpone joy. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum recently celebrated 25 years of leadership of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York’s LGBTQ synagogue, located at 130 W. 30th Street.


Ten Ways I Resist that Sniveling Bastard Trump & His Evil GOP Minions BY KELLY COGSWELL


try not to think about Trump. He’s there in the White House, of course, but he’s like the golden retriever with its head stuck out the car window grinning and drooling while the humanoids in charge careen down the highway scattering ink-stained bills from their latest heist. I’ve seen the movie, and it’s never ends well for anybody. Not for the insatiable thieves who are not only indifferent to their immediate victims, but leave a vast swath of collateral damage, this time the GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

US economy, our justice system, democracy, even our literal environment where each Republican gesture opens the floodgates to poisons, pollution, exploitation. In this flick, I imagine queer activists as that cop who imagined he was on the verge of retirement, and is bound either to get tragically shot before the final scene and be buried in a shallow grave or to be drawn back into the fight to prevent the impending apocalypse bearing down yet again. The usual victims: the poor, people of color, immigrants, women. And of course LGBTQ people, queers that this Republican administration

(and plenty of Democrats) would like to see disappear altogether. It is tempting to give up, replace the rainbow flags with the white ones of defeat. But there are things I aspire to do, even if I’m not quite ready to build the barricades. Some are self-evident. Some not. At any rate, I... 1. Take to the streets: Demos are not only an expression of our collective anger (or joy), they help me remember that I’m not alone. They’re also an important aerobic exercise for our rapidly eroding democracy. Whose streets? Our streets!

2. Take to the couch: On the days when it’s a victory just to get out of bed, I celebrate the moment I venture past the bathroom and actually get to the couch! Depression is real. Especially if you follow the news. 3. Reject Hate: Hate is easy. And I know from long experience that its cousin outrage is an effective tool to mobilize people. But when I indulge in those self-righteous rants a little too often, I find myself becoming the thing I hate. Which is not a good look. But it also means I miss the chances that present themselves on a regular basis. Even the most monstrous bigot can be flipped.

TEN WAYS, continued on p.22



Disrupt J20 and the Real Cost of Violence BY SUSIE DAY


onald Trump’s presidential inauguration on January 20 in Washington, DC, last year is something that most of us who read Gay City News try to forget. The arrest of more than 230 protesters at “Disrupt J20” that same day in DC, and the charging of 194 of them with felony rioting — allegedly for their part in setting fires, hurling rocks, and creating $100,000 in property damage — is something we need to remember. If you’ve glanced at J20 headlines, news of the defendants seems good. Last December 21, the first six were acquitted in a jury trial. Then, on January 18, charges against 129 of the remaining 188 defendants were dismissed, leaving 59 to face charges. These are the 59 people our government now names as the “smaller, core group” of anti-fascist, anti-capitalist activists “most responsible for the destruction and violence that took place on January 20.” Offhand, that might sound fair: Let’s go after the violent ones. But beneath the prosecution’s seeming pursuit of justice is a classic attempt to divide and conquer: to separate defendants from each other, and a diverse political movement from its “extremist” elements. It’s also the kind of law enforcement that quietly divides us from an awareness of rights now being lost to us under Trump’s government. The prosecution, led by Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff, has spent months obsessively reworking this case. Several weeks after being charged with felony rioting, all 194 original defendants were charged with eight more felonies,

TEN WAYS, from p.21

4. Say thank you: To my friends, and enemies. To that very out queer. To the dyke organizing the resistance who could probably also use a beer or slice. Or a really loud whistle to get the attention of her troops. 5. Fly my freak flag high: Mike


including conspiracy to riot, inciting riot, and property destruction, which can incur over 70 years in prison. As if the First Amendment never existed, J20 defendants, convicted of conspiracy, can be deemed guilty of violent acts for having worn black at a protest or yelling sensible things like, “Keep moving.” Fifty-nine people now conceivably face decades behind bars, for simply attending a protest where laws were broken. In its January 18 “Notice of Intent to Proceed,” the prosecution claimed it is now specifically targeting protesters who carried out destructive or violent acts as well as those who planned the Disrupt J20 event. The feds added that they’re also targeting those “engaged in conduct that demonstrates a knowing and intentional use of the black-bloc tactic on January 20, 2017, to perpetrate, aid or abet violence and destruction.” The prosecution’s focus on the “black-bloc tactic” (wearing black and protesting anonymously) intensifies the scrutiny of behavior, dress, and speech already embedded in the felony charges. It may also lead to “a terrifying precedent,” said Sam Menefee-Libey, a member of the DC Legal Posse, which supports the defendants. In an online message to me, Menefee-Libey wrote that this is a “significant escalation by law enforcement, making explicit their intent to criminalize the kind of anti-capitalist organizing and direct action that has been happening for decades. If the prosecution is successful here, we could see other cases brought against social movements, organizers, and activists to further criminalize political action.” Reducing the number of accused

to 59 does nothing to guarantee that each protester acted “violently.” According to Sam Adler-Bell in The Intercept, this winnowed group includes a professional journalist who was covering the march, other citizen journalists, medics, and an organizer who never even attended the march. Early last year, 130 J20 defendants pledged to stand together and not make plea bargains jeopardizing codefendants. Given the prosecution’s separating nonviolent/ good from violent /bad protesters, this “Points of Unity” agreement has become psychic bedrock. One of the signers was Erin (last name withheld), whose own trial was fast approaching, until January 18, when her charges were dropped. “All the defendants have witnessed the prosecutor’s nearfanatical engagement with this case,” Erin told me. “There is no way this culling of defendants does not serve her strategy to attach criminal charges to as many people as possible…. Coming up with a Points of Unity document was essential to establish trust. It’s provided defendants with a shared purpose and agency within a legal process that’s inherently individualized and isolating.” Further isolating is the fact that Erin’s charges, like those of all 129, were dismissed “without prejudice.” This means the government can re-file these charges any time, within six years, on legal discretion. In case you thought it was safe to wear your black hoodie at a DC protest again. Finally, amid all the Big Headline infotainment of Russia-gate and assorted Trump fiascos, it’s important to recollect what real violence is. The Disrupt J20 protest happened on a day when a little

Pence and the rest of the degenerate Republicans (and Democrats) wish we’d just go away. It is our job to go out in the world more dykily, faggily, trannily than ever before. My hair is shorter than it’s been in 20 years. My Docs are back on my old-school feet. I’m also game for the occasional unexpected sequins, a giant new wig.

6. Support community businesses: It’s better to give your dollars to embattled neighborhood queers, people of color, or immigrant businesses instead of giant conglomerates that are already making money hand over fist from the Trumpian kleptocracy. Though there’s no way I’m walking to 14th Street just to buy a farm stand apple. Seriously.

over $100,000 in property damage was done. Some McDonald’s and Bank of America windows were smashed, MAGA baseball caps were burned, cars were damaged, a limousine set ablaze. If ours were a just government, I might see the logic of spending up to $470.58 in federal funds to hold a restorative justice panel, where the folks who actually smashed things would agree to wash Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s car for a year. But compare this $100K in damage to what it costs the US government to wreak its own violence. The breathtaking billions, for instance, spent daily on munitions to extinguish lives in counties like Yemen, Syria, and Somalia. Business Insider — hardly a bastion of black-bloc, anti-capitalist opposition — wrote last August that, under Trump (who, remember, got a late start), the United States now drops bombs at unprecedented levels: “about 20,650 bombs through July 31, or 80 percent the number dropped under Obama for the entirety of 2016.” I’ll wager that each and every person who showed up at J20 — whether they threw rocks or not — is aware of this US-sponsored violence; it’s why they came in the first place. These are people who felt deeply enough that they risked their jobs and security to remind us of who Trump is and what this country does. We may not have gotten the message; we may prefer other methods of delivery. But if we let ourselves write these people off because the government calls them “violent,” we’ve damaged our own ability to rise and resist. This is the second of two articles by Susie Day about J20. The other can be found at gaycitynews.nyc/ kettling-free-speech-unicorn-riotrouts-new-york-times.

7. Lend a hand to community and alternative media: Placing an article with us isn’t as sexy — or profitable — as the New York Times, but the truth is we cover stories others don’t. For the last several weeks, it is queer sites that have been keeping murdered dykes in the headlines, that cover

TEN WAYS, continued on p.23

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

PERSPECTIVE: African American Histor y Month

What Does Black History Month Mean To Me? BY MAURICE W. DORSEY, PH.D.


hen I think of African American History Month, I think of the generations of Black People who have preceded me, some who struggled to live through the torture and suffering of slavery before the birth of my grandparents and parents and long before my birth. My grandparents were poor and did not graduate high school. They only knew and staunchly believed in their Christian faith and used it each day to get through profound racism, low wages, dilapidated segregated housing, education inequality, and verbal abuse to their face and behind their backs. I think of my parents who finished high school, raised and educated their children through college. They built their first home at age 40. It was a struggle, and huge sacrifices were made to achieve middle class standards. I reflect on myself now at age 70, my birth certificate reads that my race was colored, then I later was designated Negro, later I was Black, later still I was referred to as Afro-American, and now I am called African American, with each decade my identity, as well as all others’ in this situation, changed. I attended a segregated public school for 10 years that was substandard to its white counterpart. I graduated the only Black person in my high school class of 460. In 1964, I was required to seat in the back of the school bus, I was called “nigger” by the white students and “boy” by the white school principal who did not think a Black student should graduate with an academic diploma, but I did.

TEN WAYS, from p.22

the deaths of trans women. While between 1.6 and 2.5 million people participated in women’s marches around the world a couple weeks ago, Sunday’s top five political talk shows gave them only seven seconds of coverage. Mainstream print media sucked, too.

GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018


Author Maurice W. Dorsey.

I recognize the immense progress African Americans have made in science, education, politics, athletics, entertainment, and the arts — as well as the previous White House. Their achievements along with the help of benevolent whites have advanced and furthered the quality of life for African Americans. This portfolio of achievements makes me feel grateful and proud. Since the 1960s, I have lived abundantly, I have earned three graduate degrees and earned a sixfigure salary, and I live in a downtown Washington neighborhood

near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where the prevailing desire is to turn the clock back on Black History. When I think of Black History in 2018, I think back to the struggles of my grandparents, parents, and myself, who in the 1960s integrated a white school 10 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision because the Department of Education in the county where I attended school got away with refusing to implement federal law for 10 years! The harsh policies, lies, verbal assaults, and abuse that come

8. Resist censorship from anybody: It’s an addictive habit and double-edged sword. Language changes so rapidly even our allies are bound to screw up. So chill out, and pay more attention to what people do than what they say. Allow artists to take you to dark places. David Wojnarowicz transformed his rage by exploring it,

knocked a hole in an airless room where we were suffocating. 9. Laugh: With my friends and lover. At my enemies, who sometimes shrink to a manageable size when we brandish a very small unthreatening object like a finger and shout “Riddikulus,” in our best British accents.

from the White House and are formulated in Congress not only affect African Americans but people around the world. Moving from a personal story to a worldwide story, the struggles of the African American is the same struggle for women, the LGBTQ community, the physically challenged, veterans, children, the economically deprived, and all others. Our struggle is everybody’s struggle. What is most disturbing to me is to see African Americans who have a national and sometimes global platform who could challenge white nationalism but have chosen to remain mute. History will show when all is said and done, however, that they are still Black and will have the same Black experience as the rest of us. Black History in 2018 is not a time to celebrate; it is a time to recognize how far we have come, our strengths and achievements. And we need to recognize and galvanize to perform the work that is in front of us that remains to get done. We need to ensure the accomplishments of our ancestors are not reversed and the clock is not turned back. The struggle is not over. Maurice W. Dorsey is author of “Businessman First: Remembering Henry G. Parks, Jr., 1916-1989 — Capturing the Life of a Businessman Who Was African American, A Biography,” a QBR Wheatley Book Award Finalist, and “From Whence We Come,” the story of an African American gay man who must come to terms with his mother, who, throughout his life, tells him she never wanted to have him. Both are available at Xlibris.com and Amazon.com. Contact Dorsey at mauricewdorseybooks.com.

510. Embrace Love. As friendship and sex. Kindness. Activism on my own behalf, and for us all. What do you do? Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.



Rump’s Words, Kadyrov’s Images, Gennarini’s Bile BY ED SIKOV


e begin this week’s Media Circus with a Golden Oldie: a transcript of Rump’s remarks (if you can even call them that) at a campaign event in Sun City, South Carolina, covered on CSPAN, in July 2016: “Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if

I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained

that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.” No further comment is necessary — or even possible. Thanks to the Daily Kos for this gem.

Okay, I confess: I watch too much TV. I can’t possibly miss “This Is Us,” “Victoria,” NBC 4 New York news at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m., “Nightly News with Lester Holt,” the three Chicagos (“Fire,” “Med,” and “PD”), “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” and the only one I feel ever so slightly guilty about, “Dateline NBC,” which, countermanding the network’s exhortation, I must watch alone because my husband won’t be in the same room with it. As a result, I see lots of commercials. Two fairly recent ones caught my attention: one for couples’ getaways at Pocano Mountain Resorts and one for New York State’s Department of Health. In the Pocanos ad, various couples are seen relaxing in bubble baths and hot tubs. There’s the good-looking straight white couple,

MEDIA CIRCUS, continued on p.25


Cuomo Needs to Step Up on Discovery Reform BY NATHAN RILEY


s anyone who spent three minutes listening to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reelection message knows, crime is down. New York City last year had the fewest murders since modern statistical methods started. And it isn’t just de Blasio; crime fell during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms. It’s been a long-term trend. Yet New York still clings to the harsh laws and practices that catapulted the state into the age of mass incarceration during the 1980s. Undoing these law involves decreasing the leverage of police and district attorneys, who typically keep an arrestee behind bars while negotiating a plea. Almost invariably, they are people of color and/ or the poor. Reformers are trying to end this hammerlock by changing the laws on bail, speedy trials, and discovery. A glimmer of hope swept through the legal community when Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State Address promised to “expand the discov-


ery process to include disclosure of information in a timely manner including evidence and information favorable to the defense; intended exhibits; expert opinion evidence; witnesses’ criminal history information; and search warrant information.” Discovery is where the other side in a legal case responds to your questions if it’s a civil case involving property, but in New York different rules apply in criminal cases where life and liberty are at stake. Disclosure becomes voluntary, the district attorney decides if the accused’s lawyer examines evidence. As Cuomo admitted in his recent address, New York law is indefensible, and there was hope that a cornerstone of the mass incarceration edifice would be removed. Then the governor’s “Public Protection and General Government Act” was printed as part of his preliminary state budget and reformers felt betrayed. “This bill does little to change a broken system” said Seymour W. James Jr., attorney-in-chief of criminal practice at the Legal Aid Society. “Prosecutors would have

blanket authority to redact any witness-identifying information — fundamental evidence needed for the defense to fully understand and investigate cases and properly advise clients.” The present system places the poor, especially those dependent on Legal Aid, in an impossible position. Their attorneys are asked to negotiate the length of a defendant’s prison term without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecutor’s case. An assistant district attorney has no obligation to inform the accused of their case, yet they press the defendant to enter a guilty plea. If a defendant declines to plead guilty, they could face a lengthy prison sentence should the prosecutor go for the top charge. “If your accused of something, you want to know to what it is your accused of,” argued a freshman state senator, Jamaal Bailey of the Bronx. The very first bill Bailey filed in the Senate sought to reform New York’s discovery law. An attorney who practiced civil law, he rejected the secretive practices in the criminal law. The system is palpably unfair. In a long New York Times enterprise story last August 7, the Queens and Manhattan district attorneys freely admitted that defense lawyers who have good relationships with prosecutors are “apt to get

an earlier crack at discovery than others.” Hire a former assistant district attorney and the voluntary system works in your favor. Be poor with a public defender and you will operate in the dark. Getting arrested is often a road to complete poverty. The Times story describes the case of Aaron Cedres, a bouncer in a Bronx nightclub, who was charged with gang assault after a fight broke out in front of the club. He knew he was innocent and that the cameras installed by his employer would prove he was innocent. Yet on the top count, he faced a 25-year sentence, and the Bronx DA, feigning magnanimity and claiming that the security tapes looked bad, offered him a five-year sentence in return for a guilty plea. Cedres, a 25-year-old father who had never been arrested, stuck to his guns and insisted that his lawyer review the tape. The DA refused and while this test of wills unfurled, Cedres lost his job, his wife and child left him, he became homeless, and he started to be arrested for quality of life crimes like fare-beating because $2.75 had become a big deal in his jobless life. With the felony charges hanging over his head, nobody hired him. Finally, the tape was turned

DISCOVERY REFORM, continued on p.25

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

MEDIA CIRCUS, from p.24

there’s the glamorous straight black couple, and oh my god there’s two gorgeous lesbians smooching in the foam! Cool! And hot! In the second, a group of people extol the virtues of the New York State of Health program, including Ethan, a cute trans guy who can afford his transition specifically because of the Obamacare coverage afforded by the New York State of Health. He looks directly at the camera and says, “I’m happy and healthy!” Good on you, Ethan! And also on New York State, which clearly values inclusion, at least in its commercials. On the website gizmodo.com, I found this amusing item by Matt Novak: “The leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan


over showing Cedres had told the truth — he threw two punches separating the owner’s son from the brawling mob and pulled him to safety inside the nightclub. Cedres was guilty of nothing more than doing his job. Reformers are asking that dis-

WOMEN’S MARCH, from p.18

and her brother behind in Honduras to come to the US. “I stand on the shoulders of my mother,” she said. “We are creating a path for our children that lets them know that we are not just people of color, that we are people of beautiful color, that we belong to the human race and we come from beautiful places that we cultivated with our bare hands.” Although the #MeToo movement was not mentioned by name, the ability to speak out about the pain of sexual harassment and abuse presented itself. From her wheelchair, Nadina LaSpina, an activist for people with disabilities, told the marchers that the disabled are not spared from sexual assault by medical professionals. “I was made to feel that I should be grateful because I was not as good as a non-disabled woman,” she said, the injustice clear in her voice. She also pointed out that in GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

Of course it’s our fault. “Sadly, extreme LGBT ideologues do not accept reality,” Gennarini spits. “As the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case shows, their goal, domestically and globally, is to impose social acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism even on those unwilling to celebrate it. Inevitably, they are running into some roadblocks.” No. I for one couldn’t give a rat’s ass whether some baker “accepts” me, let alone “celebrates” me. I do care about public accommodation laws that are supposed to prevent me from being refused service at a public establishment. If that baker ever refused service to Stefano Gennarini, we’d hear him screaming from the other side of the planet.

Kadyrov, was recently hit with US sanctions over human rights abuses such as his government’s torture and ‘purge’ of gay men. But there’s one thing about the sanctions that seems to particularly bother Kadyrov: Losing his Instagram account. “‘The closure of his Instagram account is a matter of Kadyrov’s image, of his prestige,’ Oleg Orlov, the founder of a Russian human rights organization called Memorial, told The Guardian. ‘When he feels offended, nothing else is important to him—whoever gets in his way must be destroyed.’ “Kadyrov’s Instagram account acquired over three million followers and became an incredibly important propaganda tool for the autocrat before it was pulled down.” But how is he going to follow the British diver and hunka hunka burnin’ love Tom Daley without an

Instagram account?

closure be mandatory and done promptly. The DAs claim that witnesses will be intimidated if the defense learns their names. Undoubtedly, that can be a problem, but prosecutors in Los Angeles and Chicago manage to protect their witnesses, and reformers argue in New York they could do so, as well, if discovery were manda-

tory. Cuomo would leave the DAs in charge of disclosure by permitting them to redact information. According to James at Legal Aid, “Key information based on a number of subjective criteria, including the defendant’s ‘character’ and ‘reputation,’ would remain secret. It maintains the tactical advan-

tages prosecutors have over defense attorneys.” Joe Lentol, the longtime chair of the State Assembly Codes Committee, is blunt in pointing out that the obstacle to reform is the political influence of the district attorneys. “The rules are in their favor,” he said. “Why should they change it?”

the struggle for equal pay, disabled individuals earn 37 percent less overall than the able-bodied. A hush fell over the crowd when the singer Halsey approached the microphone to share her poem, “A Story Like Mine,” her memories of being sexually assaulted as a child, sitting with her best friend in a Planned Parenthood waiting room after her friend had been raped, being forced to have sex with a “boyfriend,” performing onstage after a miscarriage, and realizing that her celebrity is not a protection from sexual abuse. The spoken words touched the generations, from three-year-old Adelaide Carter of Brooklyn, participating in her second Women’s March, this time walking with no need of her stroller, to 89-yearold Upper West Sider Mary Vanschaick, in a Women’s March for the first time with the help of her wheelchair. With Yoko Ono looking on, the singer MILCK performed “Quiet,” a song with the refrain,

“Let it out, Let it out now.” Barricades removed, women, men, and children, united, surged forward through the streets. An electric energy spread from person to person, especially when the marchers passed Trump International Hotel & Tower at Columbus Circle and then the Trump Parc on Central Park South, shouting chants: “Not a creepy tweeter, we want a leader,” “Love, not hate, that’s what makes America great,” and the repurposed, “Lock him up!” Many of the signs, such as artist Mary Frank’s poster painting “Don’t Tear Families Apart,” showed concern for the current crackdown on immigration and support of the DACA Dreamers. The banner “Marching For Everything We Hold Dear” was held at one corner by Lynn McMahill from Washington Heights who said, “I don’t know all the people holding the banner with me. People just joined in to help and, really, that’s

what this is all about, people joining together.” LGBTQ partners and friends, mothers marching with daughters, aunts with nieces, sisters marching with sisters and brothers, wives with husbands, the march had a feeling of family. Chandra Turner, who lives in Westchester, brought her 11-year-old daughter Madeline, “because I wanted her to be here and witness this and not feel alone. I wanted her to see that she is not the only one who feels the way she does, that there are other people who are standing up for equality. She is worried about children being deported who were brought here. Her father is not an American citizen. It’s scary to think about what can happen with this administration.” The day was peaceful, with the NYPD only a subtle presence, the sky devoid of buzzing helicopters, the focus being on the power of one’s voice multiplied by thousands.

“Regardless of where you stand on LGBT issues, everyone agrees human beings should be protected from violence and unjust discrimination, including when they subjectively identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise. But international coercion from the United States on LGBT issues can only lead to more violence and unjust discrimination.” This is Stefano Gennarini spewing — excuse me, writing — in The Federalist. Everyone except for the government and half the population of Chechnya, he means. The title of Gennarini’s article says it all: “How Their Refusal to Tolerate Dissent is Creating a Global Backlash Against LGBT People.” Why do people continue to throw us off of roofs and out of windows?

Follow @EdSikov on Twitter and Facebook.



Less Than the Sum of Its Parts A woman’s obsession with identical twins more clever than compelling BY GARY M. KRAMER ut gay writer and director François Ozon’s new film “Double Lover” plays with his favorite twinned themes of secret lives and shifting identities. Adapted from the Joyce Carol Oates novel “Lives of the Twins” (which the author wrote under a pseudonym), the film has Chloé (Marine Vacth) seeking help from Paul Meyer (Jérémie Renier), a psychiatrist, for what may be psychosomatic stomach pain. After a few sessions, Paul “cures” Chloé, and they quickly become lovers, eventually moving in together. Discord arises, however, when Chloé accidentally discovers Paul has an identical twin brother, Louis Delord (Renier, in a dual role). What is more, Louis is also a psychiatrist.



Directed by François Ozon Cohen Media Group Opens Feb. 14 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. Quadcinema.com AMC Empire 25 234 W. 42nd St. amctheatres.com


Jérémie Renier and Marine Vacth in François Ozon’s “Double Lover.”

Uncomfortable about this information, Chloé, unbeknownst to Paul, makes an appointment with Louis. He is brusque with her but, like his twin brother, Louis gets under Chloé’s skin. She starts seeing him

secretly on the side. Louis’ “treatment” is highly sexual; he initiates an affair with her, which complicates her life with Paul. “Double Lover” has some fun with its delicious premise that Chloé is emotionally satisfied with the benign, caring Paul, and sexually satisfied with the rough, bad boy Louis. There is even a dream sequence where Louis interrupts

Paul having sex with Chloé. Louis kisses Paul sensuously before the twins join Chloé for a threesome. This erotic sequence plays on the fantasy of having twins as lovers as well as Chloé’s merging of the brothers’ identities in her sexual life stemming from her obsession with them. In a therapy session with Louis, Chloé admits that when she is with him she thinks of Paul, and when she is with Paul she thinks about Louis. As she investigates the twins further, Chloé wants to know what caused them to forge their separate identities, including having different last names. They seem to only acknowledge the other when they have to. In time, the twins even confuse her — in one scene, she thinks she is with one when she is

TWINS, continued on p.39

An Idiosyncratic, Skewed Take on 1968 João Moreira Salles knows Paris, but not the larger meaning of a global outbreak BY STEVE ERICKSON razilian director João Moreira Salles’ sprawling documentary “In the Intense Now,” which could be summed up as a chronicle of the worldwide political revolts of 1968, begins with the promise of hope, change, and revolution. It ends with death, despair, and a Portugueselanguage pop song whose singer urges the listener to put red roses on her grave. This trajectory does a pretty good job of summing up how Western culture has changed over the past 50 years, I must admit. Salles himself was born in 1963 and uses almost no original footage, relying instead on newsreels, home movies (shot by his mother in China and Brazil), and other






A scene of the May 1968 Paris student protests in João Moreira Salles’ “In the Intense Now.”

documentaries. But “In the Intense Now” is lopsided, claiming to cover China’s Cultural Revolution and Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring but devoting the vast majority of its attention to May ’68 in Paris. The most interesting aspects of

Soviet tanks roll into Prague in August 1968, as seen in João Moreira Salles’ “In the Intense Now.”

“In the Intense Now” shows Salles engaging with the political implications of the material he’s using. For example, he analyzes the anonymously shot and directed “Reel 127” from 1968 Prague and suggests that its tendency to concentrate on men in the back of the frame is a

Directed by João Moreira Salles Icarus Films In Portuguese, French, and Czech with English subtitles Opens Jan. 31 Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org

pointer that the real power in that time and place lay with people who kept themselves hidden. Salles does this several times with found footage taken both in Prague and Paris. His engagement with the ideology of form recalls some of the films Jean-

1968, continued on p.39

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


Prejudice and Pride Daniela Vega shines as abused, dignified trans woman BY GARY M. KRAMER arina (Daniela Vega), the transgender title character in director and co-writer Sebastián Lelio’s compassionate, moving drama “A Fantastic Woman,” is first seen singing in a nightclub. Her boyfriend, Orlando (Francisco Reyes), has just arrived and his smile as he watches her perform indicates just how smitten he is. The couple soon head off for a birthday dinner, dancing at a nightclub, and sex in his apartment. The next morning, though, Orlando wakes up feeling uneasy, and he dies shortly after Marina takes him to the hospital. It is a sudden and shocking death, made far more hideous by the way doctors, police, and Orlando’s family treat Marina in its wake. Apparently, no one can — or wants to — believe that Orlando and Marina were two consenting adults having a healthy relationship. “A Fantastic Woman,” which just snagged a Best Foreign Language Oscar nomination, shrewdly portrays the aggressions, micro and otherwise, Marina experiences as a trans woman. The doctor at the hospital treats her like a criminal. She is asked for ID and addressed by her male legal name because her paperwork has not been updated. Orlando’s brother, Gabo (Luis Gnecco), seems to be trying to understand, yet silently he views the fact of Orlando dating a trans woman half his age as a delicate matter. Orlando’s ex-wife Sonia (Aline Küppenheim) is particularly offensive toward Marina, as is his son, Bruno (Nicolás Saavedra), who is anxious to evict her from his father’s apartment and take her pet dog. Marina is barely given the opportunity to properly grieve her loss of Orlando, yet she faces the onslaught of humiliations with dignity. Vega’s performance is especially notable for how she just stares at Sonia with an expression that can best be described as incredulous as the ex-wife makes a series of insulting remarks about Marina’s “perversion” and lack of a “normal life.” Their encounter culminates with




Daniela Vega in Sebastián Lelio’s “A Fantastic Woman.”

Sonia’s insensitive and emphatic directive that Marina not even think about attending the wake or funeral. Watching Marina silently absorb the shock of this exchange is harrowing, but also inspiring. “A Fantastic Woman” features a sequence where a detective, Adriana Cortes (Amparo Noguera), requires Marina to undergo a physical examination as part of her investigation into Orlando’s death. As she undresses behind a screen, Cortes explains to the male medical examiner that a trans woman should be called by her female name, but the scene is so clinical and awkward that viewers will feel the immense discomfort Marina is experiencing. Late in the film, Bruno, calling Marina a “faggot,” physically assaults her. Lelio does give his protagonist and the audience a few bouts of relief. There is a stunning nightclub scene featuring Marina in snazzy clothes leading a group of dancers in a choreographed routine, but it is a flight of fantasy fabulousness — a perhaps too-familiar trope in queer- and female-centric melodramas (“Living Out Loud” and “Precious” offering other examples). Another moment of magical realism, in which Marina literally walks headstrong against a harsh wind, is apt, though perhaps heavy-handed. “A Fantastic Woman” is better at the subtler scenes of Marina having visions of Orlando that trigger fond memories. To Lelio’s credit, the film does a very good job at establishing Marina’s character. A scene of her responding “You don’t ask that” to the question of whether she’s had gender reassignment surgery is a mo-

Directed by Sebastián Lelio Sony Pictures Classics In Spanish with English subtitles Opens Feb. 2 Film Society of Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater 165 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org Cinépolis Chelsea 260 W. 23rd St. cinapolisusa.com/chelsea.aspx Angelika Film Center 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St. angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc

ment of sensitive grace. And a scene of Marina, naked, with her face reflected in a hand mirror positioned in her crotch is a warm and beautiful moment. Even a running bit that has Marina taking out her pent-up aggression on punching bags never gets old.

Watching Marina regain her strength and purpose is what makes “A Fantastic Woman” so rewarding. A subplot involving a key Orlando left behind delivers an unexpected payoff, allowing Marina to confront his family in a scene at once funny, scary, and empowering. Vega is terrific in the film’s larger than life moments, but she is actually best when she underplays her role. She lends depth and shading to her character when Marina responds to her boss describing her as “mysterious” and as she sizes herself up in a larger mirror carried by movers who cross her path. The last scene of “A Fantastic Woman,” with Marina singing an operatic aria on stage (Vega is a trained mezzo-soprano), is a moment of transcendent passion and emotion. Despite some soap opera turns, the film is always respectful and perceptive. And it is a fabulous showcase for Vega’s many talents.















GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018



Telling Tales Two intriguing stories… and one that falls flat BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE ew human qualities pack the potency of being able to invent, tell, and believe stories. Along with the opposable thumb, it’s one of the things that distinguish us from the lower beasts. Our religions are based on stories. Our identities are the result of the narratives we tell about — and to — ourselves. Belief in stories can be so powerful that it sometimes cannot be shaken even in the presence of contradicting facts. Story is also the central element in literature and theater, where we often turn to make sense of our existence. This premise has seldom been more elegantly demonstrated than in John Lithgow’s one-man show “Stories by Heart” now at Roundabout. Using just words — and



American Airlines Theatre 227 W. 42nd St. Through Mar. 4 Tue-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $39-$149; roundabouttheatre.org Or 212-719-1300 Two hrs., with intermission JOAN MARCUS

A scene from “John Lithgow: Stories by Heart,” directed by Daniel Sullivan, at the Roundabout through March 4.

enough performance art to bring the stories to life — Lithgow draws his audience in and takes them on a wonderful journey through three stories. Two of the stories are classic short stories — “Haircut,” a 1925 tale by Ring Lardner and

the 1935 P.G. Wodehouse comedy “Uncle Fred Flits By” — but the third story is about Lithgow himself and his relationship to these stories and, in a larger sense, to his family. He starts with a large book of short stories, his only prop, and talks about how his family would read the stories together as his the-

atrical father brought them to life. Later in life, Lithgow the younger would become the narrator in the face of that too-often inevitable role reversal where an adult child becomes the caretaker of declining parents. The near universality of that experience gives the show its quiet poignancy and, like Roz Chast’s wonderful book about her dying parents, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?,” is both an acknowledgement of looming loss and a balm that lets us know we are not alone. Coming from a family that regularly read aloud to one another from Dickens, Shakespeare, and some of the same short stories Lithgow references, such as the perennially scary “The Monkey’s Paw,” Lithgow’s tale reminded me

TELLING TALES, continued on p.29

When Process Overwhelms Purpose Group dynamics run amok in savage Mad Ones comedy BY DAVID KENNERLEY pon entering the intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons, we are struck by Amy Rubin’s meticulously curated set of a Phys Ed teachers’ lounge. And it’s a very dumpy lounge at that. The room is stuffed with filing cabinets, desks, a conference table, mismatched chairs, and, of course, the requisite plaques and trophies. There are windows, but they open up to a drab tiled hallway, not the outdoors. Judging by the desktop computer, phones and drip coffee maker, the time period is circa late 1980s. An unframed inspirational poster warns DON’T PANIC. We can almost smell the soiled, battered sports equipment crammed on the shelves. This warts-and-all backdrop is perfect for “Miles for Mary,” created by the New York-based troupe The Mad Ones, about a well-meaning but acutely flawed committee planning its annual telethon at an Ohio high school. The fundraiser honors dear Mary, a student on the girls’ track team who died in a car wreck years before. In this blistering comedy of manners, group dynamics, and office politics, the staff is stone cold serious, doing its best to produce a success-





Stephanie Wright Thompson, Marc Bovino, Michael Dalto, Stacey Yen, and Joe Curnutte in The Mad Ones’ “Miles for Mary,” directed by Lila Neugebauer, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons through February 18.

ful event. There’s the veteran committee chair, Brenda (Amy Staats), who we first meet via speakerphone during a call with the group (she’s homebound recovering from an accident), offering measured criticism of her team’s efforts. Not everyone is pleased with the patronizing, touchyfeely management style of David (Michael Dalto), who leads when Brenda is not available. The newcomer to the group, Julie (Stacey Yen), struggles to make her mark without stepping on toes. Her husband, Ken (Marc Bovino), who runs the AV department, has trouble keeping up with new technologies. His presentation on the new

Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater 416 W. 42nd St. Through Feb. 18 Tue.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. Sun. at 7 p.m. $40-$65; phnyc.org Or 212-279-4200 100 mins., no intermission

phone system, via overhead projector, crashes and burns. Rod (Joe Curnutte) and Sandra (Stephanie Wright Thompson) make feeble attempts to contribute yet still hunger for approbation. The staff is so obsessed with the process — dutifully taking turns speaking, voting, making lists and charts, praising each other for offering up suggestions even if the idea sucks — that they lose sight of their purpose. As the date of the telethon draws near, the

MILES FOR MARY, continued on p.29

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


TELLING TALES, from p.28

of how my own love of literature grew â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and how favorite stories often revisited became part of our familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s identity. Of course, none of us had anywhere remotely near the storytelling skill of Lithgow. Under the direction of Daniel Sullivan, Lithgow brings the two short stories to life with specificity and verve, making each character â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and even each sound effect â&#x20AC;&#x201D; live in his telling. There is a wonderful economy in Lithgowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s performance that allows each story to expand and delight. Of course, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the power of nostalgia â&#x20AC;&#x201D; another uniquely human trait. I might have been back on my parentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; porch with my siblings on a summer night following the adventures of Oliver Twist. Instead, I was in a theater full of people paying rapt attention to a man reciting words. But then, it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just words. It was story, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what connected us all. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Thing with Feathers,â&#x20AC;? now at the Barrow Group is an

engaging psychological thriller nicely crafted, for the most part, by Scott Organ and tautly delivered by a strong cast of four under the direction of Seth Barrish. Like the best thrillers, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s real tension and suspense, and though the scale is small, it delivers a satisfying eveningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diversion. The play opens with teenager Anna sitting on her bed talking to a man on the Internet. Already, we know something isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t right. Anna lives with her mother Beth, a divorcĂŠe about to remarry. Of course, Anna is struggling to establish her own identity. When the disembodied man says he loves her, well, what teenager doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to hear that? Especially when it comes from a sensitive fellow who quotes Emily Dickinson. Still, this scene goes on too long, and it feels like the play is going to bog down into an angst-ridden family drama. Fortunately, playwright Organ is better than that, and as things get rolling the plot twists and revelations come along apace.



TELLING TALES, continued on p.35

    !      !


MILES FOR MARY, from p.28

meetings become more frantic and nerves grow more frayed, to ribtickling effect. That DONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T PANIC poster goes unheeded. With such farcical shenanigans, it would be tempting to label the play absurdist. Except that the details are so shrewdly observed and the dialogue (flecked with office jargon, psychobabble, and empty platitudes) so believable, it never crosses into Beckett/ Pinter terrain. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh my God. That is a gamechanger,â&#x20AC;? Sandra exclaims without the slightest hint of sarcasm when Ken announces he scored free office phones. Sure, they are three years old, but still an upgrade compared to their current system. No doubt this authenticity is the result of the rigorous collaborative process employed by The Mad Ones. How fitting that a play about group dynamics is created by a team that prides itself on consensus. In the spirit of this collaborative piece, it would be unfair to single out specific performers. The entire ensemble is outstanding â&#x20AC;&#x201D; each actor has several moments to shine. The portrayals are honest and nuGayCityNews.nyc | February 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14, 2018

anced, and much of the play feels brilliantly improvised, though the script is followed to the letter. The period-perfect costumes, by Ă sta Bennie Hostetter, are as unkempt as the teachersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lounge itself. They appear to come from a thrift store bargain bin, adding to the gritty realism. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Miles for Mary,â&#x20AC;? directed with uncanny precision by Lila Neugebauer, is the first production of the Playwrights Horizons Redux Series. The piece, which originated at the Bushwick Starr, was so remarkable that the producers at Playwrights became obsessed with bringing it to a larger audience. The play pulses with humanity. Like most engaging dramas, universal truths can be gleaned from the specificity. Who hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t endured the pitfalls of asserting oneself in an organized group setting, or tried to be politically correct while lying through their teeth, often at the expense of self-respect? The genius of the incisive, engaging â&#x20AC;&#x153;Miles for Maryâ&#x20AC;? isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t simply that it makes us feel deeply for these earnest, defective souls. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that, on some level, it makes us feel deeply for ourselves, too.







The Music of Mizrahi Designer, QVC maven, master raconteur now reigns at the Carlyle


Isaac Mizrahi sings at Café Carlyle through February 10.

BY DAVID NOH ow at the Carlyle for a two-week residency is fashion designer turned cabaret artiste Isaac Mizrahi. Always a fan of his designs — how well I remember his little boutique in Bergdorf’s, the first thing you’d see off the escalator, decorated with his genius stylized sketches, works of art in themselves — I caught one of his earliest cabaret gigs about 15 years ago, and was deeply impressed. The patter was as urbane and witty as I’d expected — he’s one of the truly great raconteurs — but it was his sheer musicianship that really struck me. This man is a total performer, and I was eager to sit down with him in his West Village building, where he owns both an apartment and office space, to hear all about it. “I’ve performed over the years at so many places that don’t exist any more,” he began. “The Ballroom, Eighty Eights. This is a new production: all new songs and patter and stories. What really makes it new, however, is the audience and what they bring every night. Always a new, interesting, and fun perspective, and they respond to different things. Although the mu-



sic is pretty much set, a lot of the patter is based on what happens. I respond to what they respond to, and I can sense when something is not going well and then — abandon!” Quick on his feet is key, which is no problem for Mizrahi, with his enormous personality, and it’s amazing how at ease he has always been in front of an audience, from the very beginning: “That spontaneity is what makes me the most scared about performing and yet that is the most exciting part. That fear converts into and becomes a kind of excitement. “I tell funny stories. You do this a few times and realize how challenging it can be, and after you do more and more, you wanna do it even more, and it becomes this crazy addictive thing. “I can’t act and be anything but myself. I’ve done a lot of comedy shows where I usually play myself, or some version of that. Unless you’re at ease, the audience senses that and are gonna eat you alive. The one who is best at that is Liza. I worked with her for a while, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a room of 60 or Radio City Music Hall. She comes in off the street and the energy is there! It’s such a balance of ease and really being in charge


Isaac Mizrahi with David Noh.

of that great energy. I learned a lot from her. “I went to the Rainbow once to see Lorna [Luft, Minnelli’s sister] and the show was so much more about Liza watching the show. People had one eye on Lorna and two eyes on her watching Lorna the whole time.” Like me, Mizrahi believes that picking songs people haven’t heard a zillion times before is important, for who needs to hear yet another rendition of “Hallelujah?” “I have a design assistant who’s a real theater queen and sees everything. He’s a good judge of material. I did a little run-through of this show last week at West Bank Café for a small audience of like 60. I did my own version of ‘Anything Goes,’ with lyrics I wrote which went over well, and my band, some members of which have been with me from the beginning, seemed to love it. So I’m keeping that in, because more than anything I want to please them. “I have a combo of piano, horn, bass, and percussion, which adds a certain luxe to the sound. I love a good trio — like Bobby Short, the master of this and the Carlyle. He had such ease and control over the club in the days when there were a lot more clubs to hear music, as

ISAAC MIZRAHI Café Carlyle $35 E. 76th St. Through Feb. 10 Tue.-Sat. at 8:45 p.m. Cover charge $55-$130 $75 food & drink minimum Ticketweb.com

opposed to now when there are so few. If you get booked now, you are really scrutinized, so I figured for this venue, you really want to up your game. “I do a good song, ‘The Laziest Gal in Town.’ Cole Porter wrote it for Marlene Dietrich. I do a great song, ‘Dance Only with Me,’ by Comden and Green, a sad little ballad, a good song by Charles Aznavour called ‘There Is a Time.’ I think I do Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ — we’ll decide on that one at the last minute.” Laughing, Mizrahi continued, “Oh no, my show is anything but edgy. It’s the furthest thing from edgy. I just hope it’s a lot of fun. I express myself and speak my mind.” Mizrahi has always done that. I

MIZRAHI, continued on p.31

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

MIZRAHI, from p.30

remember that in his early show I caught, he mentioned a design being stolen from him and spat out the name “Michael Kors!” “Oh yeah, exactly! Well, you see, things just come out! It’s funny — there are singers who come out with fashion collections that are really good. There are actors who branch out into design with licenses, too, but for a designer to sing is a whole other thing. I can’t think of any others who have done this, although there’s that great movie director — very tall, looks like an American Indian… right, Joel Schumacher. He was a fashion person, did windows at Kamali and Bendel’s.” His being anything but the laziest gal in town, I told Mizrahi, “You must be so incredibly busy.” “I appear on QVC twice a week and maintain that schedule all year long. I’ve also been writing this memoir for the past six years, literally devote every minute to that when I’m not developing these shows at the Carlyle. I am taking the show on tour now, to four or five different venues in other cities and it’s great fun, as I learn more and more about appearing in front of people.” The QVC gig is indeed a hard mistress: “I’ve been doing fashion for so long, and I have such a great bunch of people working for me. The design part is not the hardest thing, maybe a few meetings a month and lots of emails. What’s really challenging is meeting this schedule because there’s a lot of airtime. “I have two on-air hours on Monday at one and nine p.m., and usually Saturday morning, as well as other times during the week here and there. Once a month, we do special value and it’s literally 24 hours. You get there at midnight and you literally don’t stop until the following midnight — you have breaks in between but those are big, big days. You’re right, David, it is the Jerry Lewis Telethon of fashion! “It’s a challenge, but you know, I love a challenge. It’s like one huge trunk show, which I loved doing, especially in my favorite cities like Chicago, Los Angeles. Millions of people would show up and buy lots of clothes, rather than those GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

places where people would go, ‘Really, short skirts? Really, pants?’ Here and there, there would be problems.” Anyone who truly loves fashion, however, really misses the actual Fashion Week presence of Mizrahi, whose shows had a special and rare excitement all their own. “You know, I miss me, too! But I never really ended my actual line. I still have a tiny, tiny little couture studio where I make like three dresses a year for really close friends with two people working there. I also do my licenses, besides QVC, I work with Bed Bath & Beyond and Lord & Taylor. “But I stopped the couture thing in 2012 or 2013. Sometimes I have a great idea and think, ‘Damn, if only I had a studio,’ but mostly I don’t miss it because it really requires another portion of my brain, which has run out of energy. The design part is the fun part but that’s the least of it and if it were just that, I would do it for the rest of my life. But what it really is is checking, checking, and checking again. Quality control, more than anything else: bearing down on people to sew them beautifully, and ship them beautifully, and keep them in the stores looking beautiful. And I tell you, this is not the greatest job for me, personally. “I really love the idea of doing a cashmere sweater for QVC for $150 or pull-on pants for $50. And you’re right, there’s so much inexpensive fashion around now for people to enjoy, like Uniqlo, which is so good. “I feel personally that I had a big hand in pioneering with my Target line in 2003, which was before any of that. Certain clients said, ‘Are you kidding? Really? Then I can’t buy your clothes anymore.’ I was frankly glad to see those customers go.” I told Mizrahi that, for me, he is in a direct line of distinctly American fashion masters like Norman Norell, Claire McCardell, and Bonnie Cashin, with the cleanness of his work, mixing his considerable knowledge of fashion history and ethnicity with the freshest approach. “Wow! Thank you so much. I’m very pleased to hear that. Right now, everyone tries so hard and I trace it back to a point in fashion

where it became precious, like all about miniatures and structure and that’s not what I like. I like grand gestures and women and flesh: clothes that almost fall off the body. I do like men’s tailoring, something about it that plays with the softness of the boy. And I have done my share of ball gowns — I do love a ball gown — and corsets. “But at some point, it became all about being fabulous and not beautiful. Statement clothes and structure, and I’m sorry I don’t like what I see on the red carpet. And way too much makeup. I mean if it’s all about spending hours in a makeup chair for you, darling, then I can find a makeup artist who’ll spend twice as much time on you and make you look three times less beat and three times better and younger. I don’t understand these young girls who go out looking like some beat up drag queen and, by the way, nobody loves a drag queen more than me.” That memoir in the making really sounds like his biggest challenge at present: “It’s being published by Flatiron Press and due to come out a year from now. I keep

thinking of things to add. I’ve never written a full book before, only a comic book and screenplays that never got made. I started to keep a close journal in the middle ‘90s, probably should have started a decade before that. This book is a hardship to write because it has this major storyline, my story. It’s mostly done and been accepted by the publisher, but now I’m looking at it and saying, ‘Ohmigod, did I really say that?’ You kind of catch yourself and then go, ‘Well, you did. Too late, it’s being published.’ But you want to say it in a way where there’s less anger because I don’t want it to be filled with rancor. I jut want to tell my story, and if people think I’m making it up or am too angry, well that was my story. “I know you and everyone else wants to hear about the glory days of the ‘90s and the supermodels and the extravaganza shows, and I really try to dig into that. I hope I don’t disappoint anyone, but it’s a lot about my childhood and family and overcoming this Orthodox Jewish upbringing to be able to find myself and become this other person.”

“More Parks Sausages Mom!” “Please!” by Maurice W. Dorsey More than his ad, Henry G. Parks, Jr. was a man before his time. Pioneering in the American free enterprise system he embarked on a journey leading to a multi-million dollar industry. After many endeavors in business, The H.G. Parks, Inc. trading as Parks Sausage became a reality in 1951. With strong aggressive leadership, brilliant marketing and advertising, Mr. Parks build a business that never posted a losing year under his ownership. Park’s Sausage was the fi rst African American owned business to issue stock publicly. Mr. Park’s success caught the attention of some of the leading corporate boards in this country along with national organizations, city, state, and federal leaders. They sought to bring him aboard to share his knowledge, leadership skills, and ability with other leading American business, government and non-profit leaders. This is the story of a businessman who was African American and was optimistic and determined while achieving ultimate success. Available on Xlibris.com or Amazon.com

mdorsey10 @mdorsey10

Maurice W. Dorsey Maurice W. Dorsey



Kiarostami’s Final Scene Celebrating love, “24 Frames” hints at new direction late Iranian director had in mind BY STEVE ERICKSON 4 Frames” actually consists of 24 fourand-a-half-minute non-narrative short films made by the late Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. In 2016, three years into production on the project — created using software with the aid of visual effects supervisor Ali Kamali — Kiarostami passed away and the film was completed in postproduction under the direction of his son Ahmad and creative director Sam Javanrouh. It challenges a lot of preconceived notions about Kiarostami. When he was “discovered” in the West with his 1987 film “Where Is the Friend’s House?” and his 1990 semi-documentary “Close-Up,” he was treated as a re-inventor of neorealism and constantly compared to Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio de Sica. While Rossellini kept coming up with new challenges for himself, he never would have made a film like “24 Frames.” This is much closer to American avant-garde filmmakers like Ernie Gehr and Ken Jacobs. And while Kiarostami has also been praised for his humanist sensibility, people only appear in two of the 24 “frames,” while birds and mammals are a constant presence in the rest. “24 Frames” was intended to tie together two passions of Kiarostami’s: film and photography. The movie is based around his still photos, which



Directed by Abbas Kiarostami Janus Films No dialogue Opens Feb. 2 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org


A scene from one of the shorts that make up Abbas Kiarostami’s final film, “24 Frames.”

it animates using CGI. It’s always possible to tell what the base image is, but Kiarostami and his co-workers layered other images and effects on top of them. The Iranian landscape in winter is a favorite subject, and animated snow is a recurring image here. As a filmmaker, he began moving in this direction with his 2003 “Five,” whose signature scene of ducks walking through the frame gets repeated obsessively here. At the time, I thought “Five” was a weak imitation of North American avantgarde films — I suspect it worked better as an installation than when I saw it at MoMA’s theater — but “24 Frames” repeats some of its idees fixes and finally gets them right. This film challenges as well the

naïve notion that Kiarostami was content to record reality and reproduce it back with little alteration. It’s true that his work had a grounding in documentary — he made six medium-length or feature non-fiction films — but “Close Up” picked up the baton from Shohei Imamura’s “A Man Vanishes” and Orson Welles’ “F For Fake” in constantly making the spectator question the reality of what he or she was seeing. Jean-Luc Godard likened him to the Lumière brothers, who have been partially credited with inventing cinema, along with Georges Mélies; while the latter made fantasies about travel to the moon with the best special effects he could devise at the time, the former filmed workers leaving facto-

ries at the end of the day. It may surprise some people that Kiarostami embraced CGI. In quite a few shots here, it’s very obvious that the animals in them never existed outside a computer. In its creative use of CGI, “24 Frames” builds a bridge from today’s Hollywood blockbusters to video art made on a much smaller budget and shown completely outside the conventional world of cinema. But I must admit that the 24th frame is the one where the film’s meaning finally comes together, 110 minutes in. Animating a couple from an old Hollywood film off a TV set, Kiarostami brings them closer together until they kiss. This celebration of romantic love, heightened by the song playing on the soundtrack expressing the exact same emotion, is something he rarely allowed himself to depict in his narrative films. Afterwards, the TV set shows the words “the end.”

24 FRAMES, continued on p.39


Gypsies, Troubadours, and Divas The Met’s winning “Il Trovatore” revival was musically on point BY ELI JACOBSON n Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” everyone is fighting with each other, everyone fights back, and everyone loses. Still, despite the dark, convoluted story, this is an exhilarating opera with one

I 32

sensational tune after another. This season’s Met revival of the David McVicar production featured one familiar performer (tenor Yonghoon Lee) with three rising Verdi singers new to their roles in this house. The standout audience favorite was mezzo-soprano

Anita Rachvelishvili debuting as the crazed gypsy Azucena, whose thirst for revenge overwhelms her maternal instincts. In an interview, Rachvelishvili stated she wanted to bring her own individual stamp to the role and the aria “Stride la vampa” (new to her repertoire). She

found her personal approach by carefully respecting the pianissimo dynamic markings in the score, routinely ignored by barnstorming mezzos. This scrupulous musicality informed her entire performance

IL TROVATORE, continued on p.36

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

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


From Basketball to Modeling Mud Terri Mateer: The long, strange journey of a jock BY DAVID NOH decidedly unique human tale is being told as Terri Mateer unleashes her one-woman show, “A Kind Shot,” at TBG Studio Theatre. It’s recounts one wild roller coaster of a life, which sees this big beautiful Amazon as, variously, basketball star here and abroad, model, survivor of sexual trauma, and designer of Michael Jordan’s headboard. “This show is based on events in my life,” she told me, “but there’s been some tweaking to protect the guilty [laughs]. My father passed on when I was four, and then my mom took over. We had been living in one of the Navy barrack complexes in Virginia and she moved us to Rutherford, New Jersey, where we lived with my grandmother. My mom was really partying, so we then moved to Connecticut and, finally, Vermont. I went to lots of different schools and was always the new girl and the tallest.” Tall could be an understatement, for Mateer was six feet by the time she was in the fourth grade. “I went to a farm camp in the summer and one of the co-owners, Ed, was a former Los Angeles Laker. I used to be sort of a loner and he would see me on the rope swing for hours, pulled me off of it, and taught me basketball, saying, ‘You’re gonna be really good at this.’ “He befriended my mother, and we moved in with him. He taught me how to play for hours and hours and he became my father figure. I call him ‘Ed’ in my show but I remember waking up one morning and he was gone, without a goodbye. I was sort of used to this kind of thing happening in my life by this time. “I was going into the eighth grade in Brattleboro, and the first day I had my mother sew me a special outfit because I thought that’s what you wore your first day of school. It was a matching vest and skirt, but everybody was sloppy, and I was 6’1”, my hair was really long, and I looked like a schoolmarm. A kid asked me if I was a




TGB Studio Theatre 312 W. 36th St., Third fl. Feb. 3, 10, 17 & 24 at 6:30 & 8:30 p.m. Feb. 3, 11, 18 & 25 at 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at 8:30 p.m. $20; akindshot.com Or 800-838-3006


Terri Mateer appears at TGB Studio Theatre through February 25.

teacher and became a good friend, but then I met this girl named Ann Wheelock, who said, ‘We need to get you into basketball,’ and the team was undefeated. My very first game, they told me, ‘You are gonna be the center. You will stand in the middle, you will block the shot and get the rebound. I didn’t even know to put my arms down, so the whole game I’m running around with my arms up. This girl from the other team was dribbling and ran into me, looked up at me, and I hit her ball and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ [Laughs.] I don’t know if I really had a natural aptitude, I was just a hard worker and was big. Not a natural jock by any means to begin with, basketball was a

sport that especially eluded me. The required coordination seemed a gift from the gods never bestowed on me. Mateer’s advice: “You’d be surprised that it’s not as difficult as you might think. Start playing defense in pickup games. Most people don’t want to play defense, but you earn your stripes that way. I wasn’t even the tallest on the team: there were two other six-foot girls and another was 5’11”. “Our team went undefeated which got a lot of attention and local press. In my senior year I played in the all-star game, and by then I got letters from schools but I had no guidance. All I wanted to do was study architecture and play

basketball. For a poor kid like me, there were very few schools who offered scholarships for both things, but I managed to wind up at Rollins, in Florida.” From there, Mateer went to France, where she played in FIBA, the International Basketball Federation. “I was shocked that they were so into the sport over there. Lots of guys who can’t make a pro team here go there, and on the girls’ team three foreigners were allowed to join. So it was me, a French Canadian, and a German, but only two of us could play in any one game at the same time. “This was in the very middle of France, in a town near the mountain where Vichy water is produced. A lot of people on the local team lived there as well, and it was a part-time gig for them. Practice twice a week, and some of them were moms. I was playing with 40-year-olds who at halftime would go and talk to their kids, smoke a cigarette, and swig a beer. All so new to me, I was like an Olympic athlete playing with all these oochie-Puccis, you know what I mean, thinking, ‘How great is this? We can play until we’re in our 50s.’ It was awesome! We’d play these teams and the girls would look like supermodels, one was like Iman, kicking our ass, and I’d think, ‘Oh shit!’ “I’d move back there in a heartbeat. One of the ways I learned French was helping them to translate their rulebook into English. I even took classes where I learned architecture, although their system is totally different from ours,

TERRI MATEER, continued on p.36

February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc


THE THING WITH FEATHERS Barrow Group Mainstage Theatre 312 W. 36th St. Through Feb. 10 Mon., Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sun. at 7 p.m. $25-$35; 866-811-4111 Or barrowgroup.org/thing-feathersscott-organ Two hrs., with intermission TODD CERVERIS

Zachary Booth and Alexa Shae Niziak in Scott Organâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Thing With Feathers,â&#x20AC;? directed by Seth Barrish, at the Barrow Group Mainstage Theatre through February 10.


TELLING TALES, from p.29

To say more about the plot would spoil the fun, but the play is noteworthy because of how well the cast works together and the easy, fluid naturalism they find to bring the characters to life. Alexa Shae Niziak is wonderful as Anna. Robert Manning, Jr., is grounded and believable as Tim, a local cop about to marry Beth. DeAnna Lenhart gives a quiet and nuanced performance as Beth and is quite moving in her final scene. Zachary Booth as Eric, the disembodied voice who subsequently travels 900 miles to see Anna, is truly outstanding. Both charming and frightening, he never tips his hand as the character is revealed and has a real star quality that makes him consistently interesting. Perhaps only next to comedy, thrillers arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easy to bring off. Hopefully this short run isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the last flight for â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Thing With Feathers.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cruel Intentions: The Musicalâ&#x20AC;? has no idea what it wants to be. Does it want to be camp? Is it struggling to be satire? The show is based on an obscure, mediocre movie from 1999 that is a re-telling of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Les Liaisons Dangereusesâ&#x20AC;? set in a wealthy high school to a score of â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;90s pop hits from Christina Aguilera, REM, NSYNC, and others. Performed on a bare stage in the bar at Le Poisson Rouge, this could be the perfect opportunity for over-the-top hilarity that invites the audience to join the company in sending up this rotten movie, the kind of treatment â&#x20AC;&#x153;Valley of the Dollsâ&#x20AC;? got two decades ago. InGayCityNews.nyc | February 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14, 2018


Le Poisson Rouge 158 Bleecker St. btwn. Sullivan & Thompson Sts. Through Mar. 16 Mon. at 7 p.m.; Sat. at 5 & 8 p.m. Sun. at 3 & 7 p.m. $39-$109, plus bar minimum cruelmusical.com/#tickets One hr., 45 mins., with intermission

stead, this is a more or less earnest recreation of the movie, punctuated with songs that are forced into the story without any particular narrative reason. The show cries out for a point of view or a sense of the ridiculous, but that escapes co-creators Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin, who have turned a dull movie into an incoherent mess. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just plain ghastly. With non-existent direction, inept choreography by Jennifer Weber, and the worst sound mixing you can find in New York right now, the piece flails about on the stage as the truncated scenes and belted songs assault the audience. The company does the best they can, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s some real talent being wasted in this. Notably, Constantine Rousouli as Sebastian Valmont has a strong voice and presence and, despite some over-singing at the performance I endured, has the makings of a strong leading man. Similarly, Carrie St. Louis as Annette Hargrove, the girl Valmont and his stepsister, Kathryn Merteuil, try to ruin, has an impressive voice that she uses to good effect in the pop songs. Lauren Zakrin as Merteuil is sexy evil and another strong singer. They, and the rest of the company, deserve better. I hope they find it soon.



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TERRI MATEER, from p.34

with the plumbing on the outside.” When she got back to the States, Mateer’s next performance stage would be the legendary Cage, the basketball courts on Manhattan’s West Fourth Street. “And that’s when my game got even better and where I ran into Ed again. We began to get crowds, watching this girl play with all these black and Hispanic guys. He said, ‘You might want to doll it up a little.’ I would then wear a spandex dress over leggings before anyone else was wearing them. I would kill these guys. In a dress.” Mateer next began dressing up for modeling gigs, also courtesy of Ed. “He was a photographer, as well. This major human thread in my

life, from my basketball years into my modeling ones. His photos were really influenced by Helmut Newton, my hero. He helped me put together a portfolio. I did a lot of tests but not that many jobs as I was so tall and not a size eight but 12. “I did get a couple things. I did some test shots for a Borghese mud. I stripped bare, and Ed shot me like a beautiful statue, totally nude, covered in mud. I was hired for a gig where they wanted me to also fall down some stairs and I’d been training on how to do that from this stunt coordinator, who was also Robert De Niro’s bodyguard. They were paying $2,500 which was huge money in those recession days, when there wasn’t even a dime on the street. “But we got a call from the Bor-

ghese people, ‘There’s a problem because in the crotch area, it looks like you have a penis!’ The shadow of the mud indeed made it look that way! They said, ‘Because of insurance reasons, we need to know if you’re a girl. Can you come in?’ “I said, ‘And drop my pants? Okay.’ This was $2,500, mind you. “So, the next day I get to the set and they want me to fall off this landing like 40 feet high and land on a bunch of cardboard boxes. They dress me in a blonde wig, which was too small for my big head and slipping off the top, cowboy boots, and this denim shirt. It was ridiculous but I’d get that money and a SAG card. “They call ‘Action!,’ and I fall and as soon as I hit that cardboard, there was all this weird energy, and

IL TROVATORE, from p.32

with many passages sung lyrically with a bel canto approach. I was grateful for Rachvelishvili’s musicality and taste but this is “Il Trovatore” — there are certain passages in Azucena’s music that need to be burned in with uninhibited chest voice and blazing top. Rachvelishvili could have luxuriated a little more in the extremes of her big, vibrant mezzo voice — the character and the music demand it and the vocal resources are there. On the other hand, what a voice and what technical security! Her (still developing) characterization possesses convincing authority and humanity but seldom crosses over into larger-than-life obsession. Also impressive in his Met role debut was burly voiced Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey as a brutal Conte di Luna. Kelsey might be the man to revive the line of great American Verdi baritones at the Met and continue a tradition that ended with Sherrill Milnes. This is a broader, gruffer Verdi baritone, more in the line of a Cornell MacNeil than a velvety cantante like Robert Merrill. But like Rachvelishvili, Kelsey’s voice is absolutely the real thing as a Verdian instrument with a firm ringing top, unforced volume, and breadth of phrasing. The only thing lacking was bel canto finesse in “Il Balen,” but Kelsey’s energy, resonance, and projection more than made up for that. Kelsey and Rachvelishvili



Anita Rachvelishvili as Azucena faces off against Quinn Kelsey’s Conte di Luna in Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

need to be given priority in future casting for the dramatic Italian repertory. Soprano Jennifer Rowley stepped in for an indisposed Maria Agresta as the put-upon but rebellious heroine Leonora. (This seems to be a recurring theme in Rowley’s career, with breakthroughs as a last-minute replacement in the title role of “Maria di Rohan” at Caramoor and last season replacing Patricia Racette as Roxane in “Cyrano de Bergerac.”) An erstwhile lyric soprano, Rowley has only recently added spinto roles like Tosca (which she sang for one performance this season reportedly with great success) and the “Trovatore” Leonora, which she has sung in various theaters in

France. This precipitous assumption of heavy repertory seems to have added vocal weight at the expense of fine control in the upper register. Rowley has a full, blooming soprano with a velvety quality and round tone. Her opening aria “Tacea la notte” was sung with expansive, sensual phrasing but one or two exposed high C’s came out with tonal edge and spread. Rowley went on to cap the Act I trio “Di geloso amor sprezzato” with a stunning sustained high D flat. Rowley was, however, audibly tired by the Act IV prison scene, singing “D’amor sull’ali rosee” with edgy uncertain tones in the exposed high-lying phrases. She lost her

someone instantly grabs my arm. Done, perfect, in one take!” Mateer’s life has since calmed down considerably. Her architecture dreams have been met with her present day career as a landscape artist . She lives a nicely rusticated life up in Woodstock, “with my husband, Brian Mateer, who’s a carpenter and surrealist painter and makes beautiful work and is wholly supportive of all I do. I met him in Orlando, and in 30 days we got married. It’ll be 20 years this summer. We have two cats but no kids. “I never have had any interest in kids, never saw them as cute, and all that crying in the night? I need my sleep. I like other people’s kids, like I like other people’s horses. I like my freedom above all, and have other things to do, like survive [laughs].”

way rhythmically in the “Miserere” and the cabaletta “Tu vedrai,” only getting back on track in the duet with Di Luna. Rowley needs to get her voice in line and concentrate on heavier bel canto and early Verdi repertory — leaving verismo roles for the future. Tenor Yonghoon Lee never lost control as Manrico but his voice is monochromatic with a pressurized quality. He offers sturdy good phrasing and dependable technique but lacks tonal spin, and the color seems manufactured. He is a reliable house artist, not a star. Stefan Kocán is better suited to the lighter demands of Ferrando than the heavier Russian roles the Met casts him in that require more of a black bass. Marco Armiliato conducted with vivacity and forward propulsion yet could accommodate the singers’ needs for rubato, cadenzas, and ritards. McVicar’s production is inspired by Goya and presents a violent, wartime landscape where extreme desperate acts are normalized. This requires some simulated violence and depravity for the principal singers and chorus. Rachvelishvili and Kelsey threw themselves into the action with convincing aggression, while Lee and Rowley alternated between stolid stand-and-sing presentation and dutifully awkward attempts at realistic acting. All in all, this was a winning revival with musical vitality and convincing vocal quality from top to bottom. February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14, 2018



sion for his wife to receive a sperm donation from another man. “Application of existing case law involving different-gender spouses,” Mulvey wrote, “is inherently problematic,” and he added, “If the presumption of legitimacy turns primarily upon biology, as some earlier cases indicate, rather than legal status, it may be automatically rebutted in cases involving same-gender married parents. This result would seem to conflict with this state’s ‘strong policy in favor of legitimacy,’ which has been described as ‘one of the strongest and most persuasive known to the law.’ Summarily extinguishing the presumption of legitimacy for children born to same-gender married parents would seem to violate the dictates of the Marriage Equality Act.” The judge specifically noted that law’s requirement that married same-sex couples have the same “legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage” as different-sex couples have. Questions regarding the “legitimacy” Mulvey referred to, he said, “will need to be reconsidered.” Though the Legislature “has not addressed this dilemma,” he

SAFE USE, from p.6

manufacturers and distributors of opioid prescriptions,” said Jeremy Saunders, co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, in a news release as the issue was pushed to the top of the mayor’ agenda both by that action and by news reporting. “The truth is, that action was politically easy. If he wants to prove his progressive commitment to saving lives, he won’t just release this report, he will take immediate action to create safer consumption spaces in New York City.” Philadelphia will start such a program, and a story last week in the New York Post disclosed that the NYPD and the health department were reviewing such a program. While the NYPD hasn’t endorsed the program, comments from the department encouraged drug law reformers. “This is about the sanctity of human life, keeping people safe,


wrote, “we believe that it must be true that a child born to a samegender married couple is presumed to be their child and, further, that the presumption of parentage is not defeated solely with proof of the biological fact that, at present, a child cannot be the product of same-gender parents.” Biology aside, Mulvey found, Christopher’s petition has not “established, by clear and convincing evidence, that the child is not entitled to the legal status as ‘the product of the marriage,’” and so cannot rebut the presumption she is the two women’s child. Since there is no dispute that Christopher donated the sperm that led to the child’s conception, Mulvey applied the legal doctrine of “equitable estoppel” and found that “it is not in the child’s best interests to grant petitioner’s request for a paternity test.” In past cases, the judge noted, equitable estoppel has been applied to preclude “a man from asserting his paternity when he acquiesced in the establishment of a strong parent-child bond between the child and another [person].” In other words, the court is not going to let Christopher interfere in the established relationship that Nichole has with the child her wife, Jessica, bore. The paramount

goal, Mulvey wrote, is to “protect the status interests of a child in an already recognized and operative parent-child relationship.” The judge rejected the argument that the informal way the parties proceeded, without complying with the state’s donor insemination requirements, affects the presumption of Nichole’s parentage. The facts of the case, Mulvey found, supported the court determination. Christopher “was not involved in the child’s prenatal care or present at her birth, did not know her birth date, never attended doctor appointments, and did not see her for at least one or two months after her birth. He was employed, but never paid child support, and provided no financial support… By his own admission, he donated sperm as a ‘humanitarian’ gesture, to give respondents ‘the gift of life,’ and expected only ‘contact’ with the child as a ‘godparent’ by providing her mothers with ‘a break’ or ‘help.’” The judge added that “no aspect of his testimony or conduct supports the conclusion that he donated sperm with the expectation that he would have a parental role of any kind in the child’s life, and he never had or attempted to assert such a role.” Christopher only filed his peti-

tion, Mulvey noted, when the child was seven months old and “in an already recognized and operative parent-child relationship” with her birth mother, Jessica, and with her other mother, Nichole. Since the original Family Court determination, the child has been in foster care, and there are neglect petitions pending against the mothers. That development caused an attorney appointed to represent the child to support Christopher’s petition for genetic testing. The attorneys who appeared before the Appellate Division, however, did not know the details of that situation. Responding to news of that development, Mulvey wrote, “We find that the subsequent events, on which we take no position, do not alter our conclusion that respondents established at the [Family Court] hearing that petitioner should be equitably estopped from asserting paternity under the circumstances known to the Family Court at the time of the hearing.” Allowing new matters to be raised at this point “should not be permitted,” he added. “Doing so would continue to invite challenges to the then-established family unit into which the child was born, creating instability and uncertainty.”

making sure that people stay alive,” Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill told the Post, adding that the department is considering the issue thoughtfully but does not yet have a position. Asked if the dam had broken, Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an umbrella organization devoted to decriminalizing drug use, said, “I think so. We are not talking about whether to do it, but about how to do it.” But an informed conversation between advocates and city agencies is impossible without the feasibility study, funded with a $100,000 grant pushed by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson when he was chair of the Health Committee. These funds were made available more than a year ago, but the report was never released. Gay City News sent a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Act for the study and, on

January 11, was told it wasn’t yet finished. “This has never been solely about drug consumption; we’re calling for spaces that facilitate health and enable healing from trauma, stigma, and marginalization,” said Daniel Raymond, deputy director for planning and policy at the Harm Reduction Coalition. “Mayor de Blasio’s leadership would send a strong signal of hope and compassion.” The life-saving impact of safer consumption spaces is striking. After buying drugs on the street, users can shoot up at these facilities. The staff is equipped with naloxone, the drug that restores breathing when a user gets poisoned by opioids. After millions of injections of the life-saving medication, not one overdose death has been documented. Though overdoses occur frequently at safe consumption space, naloxone intervention stops these poisonings from turning fatal. Outside of such

facilities, deaths are frequent. Here in New York, where nobody injects in a supervised facility, overdose deaths have escalated and kill more persons than homicides and automobile accidents combined. According to the advocates’ press release, New York City saw more than 1,300 overdose deaths in 2016 alone — a 46 percent increase from 2015 and the sixth straight year of an increased overdose death rate. San Francisco plans to open facilities this year, and Saunders, the VOCAL-NY leader, taunted the mayor for his cautious response to the epidemic. “Despite an AIDS epidemic ravaging our city, syringe exchange was still illegal 25 years ago during the height of AIDS deaths,” he said. “Any rational and compassionate politician today will admit that was a mistake. Mayor de Blasio’s action will define how history will judge him.” February 1 – 14, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc

TWINS, from p.26

really with the other. Ozon uses the film’s doubling framework to examine how and why people lead double or secret lives. Louis is smart enough to know that Chloé is involved with Paul. And Paul catches Chloé in more than one lie when she claims to be seeing another therapist though in fact she is seeing Louis. These moments fail, however, to create much dramatic tension. Even when Chloé wants to break things off with Louis, the few suspenseful scenes that follow have little impact. As Ozon shifts into thriller mode, “Double Lover” feels silly, even campy, especially since the bulk of the film has more of a magical realist tone with its dream and fantasy sequences. The film certainly is atmospheric and full of symbols. Scenes set in

1968, from p.26

Luc Godard made in the ‘70s. Salles clearly knows a great deal about the May ’68 revolts and he takes us through a history of their beginnings as student protests, Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s reluctant emergence as a spokesperson, their increasing vehemence, the students’ inability to fully connect with workers who had serious grievances and used this period of radicalization to express them, and General Charles de Gaulle’s use of TV appearances to crush the rebellion. The closing credits of “In the Intense Now” include a bibliography on May ’68, as well as a long list of films from which he took images. If they have been romanticized, especially in France, Salles is out to demystify them. He says that his favorite film about May ’68 is Romain Goupil’s documentary “Dead at Thirty,” and he interpolates a long stretch of it describing the eventual deaths

24 FRAMES, from p.32

Obviously, this was the end for Kiarostami, too, as a person and artist. It’s the final scene of his final film. Several of his films, such as “The Traveler,” “Through the Olive Trees,” and “Taste of Cherry,” are structured around quests that remain unfulfilled or whose endings are ambiguous. That’s the real-life tale of “24 GayCityNews.nyc | February 1 – 14, 2018

the museum where Chloé is a security guard (she observes people, a twinning of a psychiatrist’s job) are formally composed. The museum’s flesh and blood works of art — large, amorphous blobs or an enormous tangle resembling limbs — are metaphors for Chloé’s thoughts and emotions at given moments. Likewise, the use of mirrors and windows throughout the film reflect and repeat images of the characters to clever effect. Chloé is doubled in multiple mirrors as she enters Louis’ offices, suggesting multiple identities. Paul’s naked body is reflected in a bathroom mirror as well as upside-down in a shaving mirror as he’s showering, suggesting he has nothing to hide. Windows are used to reflect images of the characters, and at times the glass breaks to indicate a split or

schism within one’s identity. Ozon’s imagery may be obvious, but it is extremely rigorous and deliberate — as is his presentation of the doubling motif in the film. An early graphic shot of Chloé’s gynecological exam is mirrored with a shot of her eye. This idea is repeated with her mouth and her orgasm later in the film. A scene of Chloé walking up a spiral staircase to an appointment with Paul is mirrored with a reverse shot of her on the staircase seen from above. Throughout the film, Ozon employs split-screens. There are several characters playing multiple parts. (It would spoil that gimmick to discuss it further). A cat has a rare genetic makeup that is exclusive to twins. Even when Paul and Louis “swap” places or appear together, it is more delightful than confusing. To Ozon’s credit, it’s always clear

which twin is which, except when it isn’t — and isn’t supposed to be. Renier seems to relish playing Paul and Louis, making each twin distinct, while also making each attractive and seductive. Vacth has the trickier role as the woman in love with them both. She plays Chloé with considerable aplomb, making her sympathetic even when the story takes some hairpin turns that feel unearned. Alas, despite all of the filmmaker’s skilled effects, Ozon fails to generate real emotion. Too much of “Double Lover” is skin deep. As much as Chloé must puzzle out the truth — of her emotions, of what is real or true — it all ends up feeling artificial and inauthentic. The film folds in on itself before it selfdestructs. For all the pleasures of “Double Lover,” twice only yields half as much.

of student radicals at a relatively young age. An iconic slogan of that era is “Sous le pavés, la plage,” which translates roughly to “Under the pavements, the beach.” Any fan of “Mad Men” might see this coming, but Salles claims the phrase was invented by two ad agency employees trying to find a way to share their ideals with their colleagues. To twist the knife even further, one of them killed himself in the ‘70s. But if it went on to inspire genuine radicals (“In the Intense Now” shows it sprayed on Parisian walls), does it matter whose imagination it originated in? “In the Intense Now” gets more than halfway into its 125 minutes before it heads to Prague, and Salles clearly doesn’t have access to the same amount of footage he had of Paris. All the images he has from China were shot by his mother on a 1966 trip there, and his perceptions of the country and the chang-

es it was then going through are filtered by his nostalgic memories of her. To put it mildly, this makes for weird politics: by omission, “In the Intense Now” winds up suggesting that May ’68 led to more deaths than the Cultural Revolution, although Mao killed off more of his own people than Hitler or Stalin. But all that seems to matter to Salles is that his mother found China a refreshing place to visit. It would’ve been an instant death sentence for any Chinese citizen to shoot even the kind of home movies he found directed anonymously in 1968 Prague, so he is dependent on her for that portion of the film while he can draw on a dozen professionally made documentaries about May ’68. The comparisons “In the Intense Now” has received to the late French director Chris Marker (whose great four-hour history of the ‘60s left, “A Grin Without a Cat,” gets excerpted) are wildly overstated. Salles

would have been better off making an 80-minute film about May ’68, whose history he seems to have down pat. The section on Prague feels like an afterthought, while the depiction of China brings back unpleasant memories of the way ‘60s leftists romanticized Mao (while Salles doesn’t exactly do that, he doesn’t criticize him either). The filmmaker also introduces an autobiographical element never fully developed. If the film seems haunted by suicide, perhaps Salles should not have left off-screen the fact that his mother killed herself in 1988, which lingers as subtext over her home movies if one knows about it. In this documentary’s last third, there’s a sense that he’s using politics as a pretext to speak about a personal tragedy or, at best, suggesting that her fate stood in for a generation’s. The material for a much better film existed here, but it called for a lot more editing and a different perspective.

Frames.” Kiarostami made more than 40 shorts for possible incorporation into this feature, and on his deathbed, he narrowed them down to 30 contenders. his son selected the final 24 after Abbas’ death. Auteurists will have to interpret this film with the knowledge that some of the key creative decisions about it were made after its director died, obviously outside his control.

I’m not one, but I’m very touched by its suggestion of a new direction Kiarostami could have followed. At the same time, “24 Frames” never would have received theatrical distribution in America if it weren’t made by a very well known and revered director of narrative films. For most directors, ending their lives and careers by singing the praises of love would be a rather ba-

nal touch. Given the sense of emotional repression hovering around the edges of Kiarostami’s work, the 24th frame achieves something moving and new in his work. It’s the moment in “24 Frames” where the entire film’s meaning comes together. And that’s the last word, with a diva singing the audience out as the credits roll over the image of the TV set.


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