Three Trans Student Wins 10
LGBT Memorial Visit from Orlando 12
Gay Footballers at Air Force Academy 14
Before & After Stonewall 1969 sparked a revolution, but NYPD, mob grip on bars remained Page 04 © GAY CITY NEWS 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DIANA DAVIES/ COURTESY OF NEW YORK IPUBLIC LIBRARY
FREE | VOLUME SEVENTEEN, ISSUE SIXTEEN | AUGUST 2 – AUGUST 15, 2018
In This Issue COVER STORY Corruption before & after Stonewall 04
PERSPECTIVE LGTQ rights in the Bronx then & now 15
COMMUNITY Reclaim Pride organizing for 2019 06
THEATER Culture keepers & queer history 23
POLITICS Sessions steps up the culture war 06 HEALTH New NYS push on hepatitis C 08
Straight white men & their minders 18
Casualties mount up on the London stage 26 FILM “Cameron Post” charts teen’s self-discovery 30
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
Volume 2 | Issue 3
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GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
COVER STORY: HISTORY
Corruption, Before & After Stonewall 1969 sparked a revolution, but NYPD, mob grip on bars remained
The Gallo crime family had Al Moss, aka Abe Moss, run The Barn and The Triangle at 675 Hudson Street/ 26 Ninth Avenue (as seen today), with John Horan and John Yaeger handling day-to-day operations, according to the Knapp Commission.
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
teve Wolf, the editor of a quarterly publication produced by the Homophile Union of Boston, and his partner came to New York City in June 1971 and made two visits to The Firehouse, the headquarters of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) that opened the month before. In a July 1971 letter that he sent to Jim Owles, a GAA leader who was among those who secured the lease on the three-story building on Wooster Street, he expressed his gratitude. “[O]ur joint impression was of stepping into another world,” Wolf wrote. “It was as if the gay-ghettobar-scene never existed, and the vibes that radiated from the unscheduled Saturday night dance were the best we had ever felt at any gay festival. For giving 2 visitors from cold, closety Boston a demonstration of what gay love is all about, our thanks and our congratulations.” The Firehouse was not the first LGBTQ community-operated space to open in New York City, but it was the largest at 10,000 square feet. The programming ranged from weekly dances with a sound system that rivaled the city’s nightclubs to film nights curated and hosted by
Vito Russo to political organizing, according to Michael Schiavi’s “Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo.” The main floor where the dances were held had a 40-foot mural that one activist called a “family portrait,” featuring Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Huey Newton of the Black Panthers, Owles, and Russo, Schiavi wrote. But The Firehouse was more than just a hub of politics and socializing for the three-and-a-half years until it was destroyed by an arsonist in October 1974. It confronted the organized crime-operated after-hours clubs that partnered with a deeply corrupt NYPD to give gay men and lesbians places to dance or have sex — and also to exploit them and brutalize them. When the newspaper Gay published a story about The Firehouse in June 1971, the editors titled it “Gay Power Challenges Syndicate Bars.” And there was much to challenge. Beginning in 1970, the Knapp Commission investigated NYPD corruption in a range of industries including bars. It focused its investigation into bars in the 19th Precinct on Manhattan’s East Side and the 6th Precinct in the West Village. The commission’s final report discusses the corruption and
DIANA DAVIES/ COURTESY OF NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Stonewall Inn in 1969.
the mob-run clubs only in general terms. A draft staff report to the commissioners is highly detailed and says that three organizations — the Genovese, the Gambino, and the Gallo crime families — were operating the unlicensed after-hours clubs in the West Village. The staff report is part of the Whitman Knapp Papers held at the Lloyd Sealy Library at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Knapp was the commission chair. The commission report concluded that a “seventeen-square block area” that was the “Gansevoort Meat Market” by day became “a haven for homosexuals who are drawn by the large number of completely illegal, unlicensed bars which cater to them” at night. The Stonewall Inn, which has an iconic status in LGBTQ community history, was a small part of a large criminal enterprise — run in 1969 by the Gambino family, but two later by the Genovese family. The clubs were in “sizable
lofts which accommodate as many as 700 men at a time. These bars generally consist of a large open space containing a bar and dance floor, and a connected ‘sex room’ or ‘orgy room’ where men practice homosexual acts on each other,” the commission report reads. Relying on federal law enforcement and NYPD information as well as its own investigators and informants, the staff report concludes that Anniello Dellacroce, who was a senior member of the Gambino family, Matthew Ianniello, who ran the Genovese family for a time, and the Gallo family were the owners of these businesses. It names the clubs and the men who were operating them for these organizations. The staff report names some of the police who were accepting payoffs to protect the clubs. It cites “a prominent federal official” saying that the captain of the 6th Precinct “personally collected payoffs
CORRUPTION, continued on p.5
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
This location at 835 Washington Street (as seen today) was operated by Al Moss as The Zodiac and later The Hayloft, before becoming The Mine Shaft, which was apparently not operated by organized crime and was closed by the city in 1985.
CORRUPTION, from p.4
from at least four establishments.” A sergeant in that precinct spent eight days vacationing in a Florida duplex owned by one of the front men and was observed meeting with one of the club operators. Payoffs ranged from a few hundred dollars a month to up to $3,000 a month. Police engaged in sham raids where they would seize a small amount of liquor with “accommodation” arrests or “stand-in” arrests, all to make it appear that they were policing the clubs. One description of a sham 1971 raid at The Exile on West Street suggests that the corruption went beyond the police. An informant named Pierre, a pseudonym, told commission staff that three detectives entered the club and said there would be a raid. When one detective said he wanted to “break up” the club, another detective told him to “Cool it.” They selected Pierre, who was collecting entry fees, and a bartender for arrest. The detectives seized “one case of beer and two or three half-filled bottles of liquor,” leaving many other cases of beer and liquor bottles untouched. “When Pierre was arrested collecting the money detective No. 1 told him to put the money in his pocket,” the staff report reads. “Later the same detective told him that everything was arranged, that Enid Gerling was his lawyer and that he should give the ‘door money’ to her.” Gerling was one of the few attorneys in the city who would represent gay men who had been arrested. At court, Pierre met with Gerling in the back of the courtroom where she told him that “everything had been taken care of.” He signed a form with a $20 bill attached to it and was done. He never appeared before a judge. “He never hired Mrs. Gerling, never paid her and never paid any fine,” the staff report reads. “He claims that when he was arrested, he was never fingerprinted or photographed.” Commission staff looked at police activity in eight clubs during 1970 into early 1971 and found there were 54 raids with 140 arrests, indicating that police typically arrested no more GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
An appeal to the US Supreme Court of a 1965 Nassau County conviction of Eddie DeCurtis, John Vignini, and Daniel Fatico for operating a “disorderly house,” maintaining a “disorderly house,” receiving “persons for purposes of lewdness,” and maintaining “a bawdy house and house for the resort of disorderly persons” in Island Park, Long Island.
than two or three people in any one raid. In a sample of 59 arrests, charges were dropped in 12 cases, and the remaining 47 pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Of the 47, 31 received a conditional discharge, while 15 paid fines ranging from $10 to $50. One man was arrested five times between November 1970 and February 1971, but apparently skipped court appearances. A warrant was issued for him, but it was never executed. When they learned that commission investigators were watching them, detectives wrote fake reports stating they had attempted to inspect a club, but were denied entry or the club was closed. Commission investigators were in the clubs on some dates when detectives said they were denied entry or the clubs were closed. The mob club owners were willing to use violence to protect their interests. In 1970, Robert Wood opened The Salvation in the West Village and was soon pressed by the Gambino family to pay them. After he resisted, he was murdered in Queens, but not before he sent a letter to federal law enforcement detailing his interactions with the Gambino family. In 1971, George Kelly, who was related to an NYPD officer, was shot to death in The Z Club on West 14th Street. Joseph Scudiero, his alleged killer, avoided prosecution for 30 years by faking his own death. He was arrested in the case in 2001, when he identified as an associate of the Bonanno crime family, but there was insufficient evidence to bring him to trial. Michael Umbers operated Christopher’s End in the building at the western end of Christopher Street that now houses the Bailey-Holt House, a residence for homeless people with HIV. That bar “bears the distinction of being the only such bar where the police physically smashed its interior
A page from the Knapp Commission report detailing payoffs to the NYPD by operators of gay clubs.
with axes and hammers,” the staff report says. The report says that the attack was ordered by Al Moss, who also went by Abe Moss, who was the front man for the Gallo crime family in the West Village who wanted the competition eliminated. It is also possible that police made the attack on their own because Umbers was not paying off. It is a curious note that Moss had a nephew nicknamed Red who “paid the police $2,000 per month” to protect The Barn, an after-hours club on Hudson Street, according to the staff report. This may be a reference to Red Mahoney, who was involved in running the annual Pride festival until it was taken over by Heritage of Pride in 1992. In 1965, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office convicted Eddie DeCurtis, John Vignini, and Daniel Fatico for operating a “disorderly house,” maintaining a “disorderly house,” receiving “persons for purposes of lewdness,” and maintaining “a bawdy house and house for the resort of disorderly persons.” DeCurtis and Fatico were members of the Gambino crime family. Gay City News could not find any information on Vignini. The case concerned The Magic Touch, a bar in Island Park, Long Island, that served lesbians and gay men. Using wiretaps, investigators learned that DeCurtis also operated Mask, a bar on 125th Street in Manhattan that served lesbians and gay men. When The Flame, a competing bar, opened in Island Park, it was subjected to a campaign of extortion, malicious mischief, robbery, and eventually an arson attack that destroyed it. Nat Warshaw, the owner of The Flame, told police that he “suspected the owner of The Touch, Big Eddie, of being behind the fire,” according to
CORRUPTION, continued on p.11
Reclaim Pride Hosts Forum on 2019 Parade Dissident coalition says it has met with Heritage of Pride, vows to keep pressure up BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ctivists who are challenging how New York City’s Pride Parade is run and how it represents the queer community held a town hall meeting to discuss this year’s parade and to plan next steps for the 2019 event that will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which marked the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. “We decided the most important thing of all, we created this march,” said Karla Jay, the author and a member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an early radical LGBTQ group that was involved in organizing the first march in 1970 that commemorated the riots. “You, the people who are here, you are the true inheritors of this march, we created it for you. We did not create it for Citibank.” Jay was among roughly 10 former GLF members who attended the August 31 town hall, which was held at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. More than 100 people attended the two-hour event.
The Resistance contingent in this year’s LGBTQ Pride Parade.
While New York City’s Pride Parade presents an image of unity to the large crowds that line the march route every year, it has frequently been the subject of controversy. In recent years, the most common complaint is that organizers have abandoned the event’s radical roots and turned it over to the corporations that sponsor the parade. The 2018 parade, which was a dry run for the 2019 parade, was notable for the frontloading of sponsors, elected officials and candidates for public office, and city and state government agencies
so that they could be seen in the three-hour live broadcast of the parade that was carried by WABCTV. Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that organizes the parade and related events, has argued that the corporations represent employee resource groups and their contingents are comprised of LGBTQ employees and their allies. For activists, the floats and large contingents fielded by sponsors are little more than ads that do not reflect the authentic LGBTQ community. The 2018 march route — which
began in Chelsea, headed south on Seventh Avenue, east on Christopher and Eighth Streets then north on Fifth Avenue to end at 29th Street — was controversial as was limiting contingents to no more than 200 marchers. The new route was supposed to reduce the duration of the parade, but it only shaved 24 minutes off of the 2017 parade, which ended at 9:38 p.m. The parade begins at noon on the last Sunday in June. HOP allowed 13 contingents, including 11 sponsors, to exceed the 200-marcher limit, after telling activists that part of the rationale for the limit was to reduce the size of sponsor contingents. “They failed at everything they wanted to do,” said Bill Bahlman, a longtime LGBTQ activist, referring to HOP. The Reclaim Pride Coalition, which represented the counter view on the parade this year, organized the town hall. Members of the Coalition confronted HOP at some of that group’s public meetings and, since this June’s parade, had at least one private meeting
RECLAIM PRIDE, continued on p.16
Jeff Sessions Steps Up Culture War Religious Liberty Task Force latest effort to undermine nondiscrimination protections BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n a further escalation of the Trump administration’s drive to privilege purported religious views over nondiscrimination and other laws and regulations applicable to the general public, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force. Speaking Monday at a Department of Justice Religious Liberty Summit, the attorney general lashed out at a secular culture he and other Christian fundamentalists have in recent decades found themselves out of step with, saying, “A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be con-
Jeff Sessions with President Donald Trump last year on the day the attorney general was sworn in.
fronted and defeated.” Sessions got specific about the dangers he sees, saying, “We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives,” in reference to provisions of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to
include contraceptive coverage in their health benefit plans. He also said, “We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips,” the Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. Phillips was vindicated in part by the Supreme Court, which ruled in June that Colorado civil rights commissioners had shown undue prejudice against his religious claims in deliberations over whether he violated state public accommodations law that forbids anti-gay discrimination. The high court, however, did not rule on the underlying question of whether someone can claim a blanket religious exemption from sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws.
JEFF SESSIONS, continued on p.13
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
New NYS Push Against Hepatitis C Cuomo responds to evidence treatable infection growing among young people BY NATHAN RILEY
ealth advocates are making a concerted push to raise awareness of a disease about which many people are uniformed despite its growing prevalence: hepatitis C. July 28 was World Hepatitis Day, with the World Health Organization focusing its efforts around the theme: “Test. Treat. Hepatitis.” And, now, New York State has started a Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force, announced July 27 by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The outbreak in the state is gathering force, and the best practices advice is now that when you get tested for HIV, get tested for hep C, as well. That’s not because of any specific link between the two epidemics, but rather due to the ease of managing your health care. In fact, many people who don’t consider themselves at risk for HIV could be infected with hepatitis C. Right now, such testing requires that a person ask for it. In 2016, an alarming 14,745 new HCV infections were reported in New York — more than five times the number of new HIV diagnoses for the same year.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force on July 27.
There is no obvious warning; a person infected with HVC can be otherwise healthy. The virus can hang out in the liver for years and cause no obvious discomfort. New York State is responding with a new plan to unravel a critical dilemma, with public health officials estimating that half the infected population doesn’t know it. That problem carries a twofold risk. First, hep C is treatable, so a person not
knowing their status can unnecessarily harm their health. Treatment simply involves completing a regimen of medication and the virus disappears. An untreated person can also spread the disease. The success in combating hep C is remarkable for a disease that wasn’t even identified until 1989. HCV lurks in the body and the blood. It was even spread by blood transfusion before it was identified. Until recently, public health officials focused on populations 45-65 and older, many of whom have now received treatment and so are not infecting others. The assumption was that HCV infection incidence was declining. That optimistic scenario is now outdated. The disease has spread, and young people are testing positive for it. There are many ways to become infected, but the activists from VOCAL-NY and Housing Works that prodded Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Health Department to prioritize the battle against HCV are active in keeping drug users healthy, through needle exchanges and other interventions. Injecting drugs is clearly one path
HEP C, continued on p.13
Racial Bias Found in Westchester Pot Arrests Suburban county’s law enforcement pattern mirrors NYC’s NATHAN RILEY
he apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to marijuana enforcement in New York City’s suburbs. Black and brown people are singled out for marijuana possession arrests in Westchester County, according to studies by the Drug Policy Alliance and suburban civil libertarians. A new study of Westchester arrests found racial disparities comparable to the ones that mar city enforcement and provide evidence that legalization of pot would provide real benefits to communities of color. Per 100,000 people in Westchester, 15 whites but 182 blacks and 84 Latinos were arrested for possessing pot. Some portion of those people of color arrested face the risk of deportation as the result of this enforcement pattern. The study, prepared by Kathy Kaufman of the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform, found that between 2013 and 2017, one in 63 of Westchester’s black adult residents was arrested on a low-level marijuana possession charge —
COURTESY OF WESTCHESTER COALITION FOR POLICE REFORM
Activists from the Westchester Coalition for Police Reform and the Drug Policy Alliance draw attention to the racial bias in marijuana arrests in the county.
a probability of arrest for black people that was exceeded only by Suffolk County outside of New York City. Young people of color were arrested more often than white youth, burdening them with a criminal record.
“Between 2013 and 2017, Westchester police arrested 1,059 youth under 20 years old for low level marijuana possession, accounting for nearly one in three (29 percent) arrests on that charge County-wide,” the study found. “Fifty-eight percent — a total of 2,322 people — arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Westchester County were 25 years old or younger.” The report “Marijuana Arrests and Enforcement in Westchester County: A New York Story” sustains the argument recently advanced by the State Health Department that legalization would communities of color because an “emerging body of research” shows that “the risks to public health and social wellbeing of legalizing marijuana are smaller than previously thought” and the “the detrimental effects of the current marijuana enforcement regime” cause more harm than the alternative of making pot available for adult use. The Westchester study was funded by the Drug Policy Alliance as it pushes for passage of laws to tax and regulate marijuana sales as is currently done in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
In adults with HIV on ART who have diarrhea not caused by an infection
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Enough is Enough Get relief. Pure and simple. Ask your doctor about Mytesi. Mytesi (crofelemer): • Is the only medicine FDA-approved to relieve diarrhea in people with HIV • Treats diarrhea differently by normalizing the ﬂow of water in the GI tract • Has the same or fewer side effects as placebo in clinical studies • Comes from a tree sustainably harvested in the Amazon Rainforest What is Mytesi? Mytesi is a prescription medicine that helps relieve symptoms of diarrhea not caused by an infection (noninfectious) in adults living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Important Safety Information Mytesi is not approved to treat infectious diarrhea (diarrhea caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite). Before starting you on Mytesi, your healthcare provider will ﬁrst be sure that you do not have infectious diarrhea. Otherwise, there is a risk you would not receive the right medicine and your infection could get worse. In clinical studies, the most common side effects that occurred more often than with placebo were upper respiratory tract (sinus, nose, and throat) infection (5.7%), bronchitis (3.9%), cough (3.5%), ﬂatulence (3.1%), and increased bilirubin (3.1%). For Copay Savings Card and Patient Assistance, see Mytesi.com
Please see complete Prescribing Information at Mytesi.com. NP-390-16 GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
RELIEF, PURE AND SIMPLE
• Upper respiratory tract infection (sinus, nose, and throat infection) • Bronchitis (swelling in the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs) • Cough • Flatulence (gas) • Increased bilirubin (a waste product when red blood cells break down) For a full list of side effects, please talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Should I Take Mytesi If I Am: Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant? • Studies in animals show that Mytesi could harm an unborn baby or affect the ability to become pregnant • There are no studies in pregnant women taking Mytesi • This drug should only be used during pregnancy if clearly needed A Nursing Mother? • It is not known whether Mytesi is passed through human breast milk • If you are nursing, you should tell your doctor before starting Mytesi • Your doctor will help you to decide whether to stop nursing or to stop taking Mytesi Under 18 or Over 65 Years of Age? • Mytesi has not been studied in children under 18 years of age • Mytesi studies did not include many people over the age of 65. So it is not clear if this age group will respond differently. Talk to your doctor to ﬁnd out if Mytesi is right for you
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Three More Wins for Trans Students Appellate panel reafﬁrms, with two district court echoing same view ARTHUR S. LEONARD
uring the week of July 23, three federal courts issued welcome rulings about restroom access by transgender students at public schools — in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Florida. In each case, the court agreed that schools are or may be obligated to allow transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, and rejected arguments that allowing trans students to use those restrooms violated constitutional or statutory rights of cisgender students sharing facilities with them. The most significant of the three rulings came from the Third Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia. In May, a three-judge panel of that court had unanimously affirmed District Judge Edward G. Smith’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction sought by cisgender students and their parents who objected to the Boyertown Area School District’s policy of letting trans students use facilities consistent with their gender identities. The case was so clear-cut to the appellate panel that they issued a one-paragraph ruling shortly after the oral argument, indicating they would follow up with a full opinion later. The full opinion, written by Circuit Judge Theodore McKee, was issued on June 18, and was joined by Circuit Judge Patty Shwartz and Senior Circuit Judge Richard Nygaard. McKee was appointed by President Bill Clinton, Shwartz by Barack Obama, and Nygaard by Ronald Reagan. The panel not only agreed with the district court in rejecting the constitutional and statutory challenge, but also addressed a “tangential” issue raised by the school district: that not letting transgender students use appropriate facilities could subject the district to potential liability under Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination by educational institutions receiving federal funds. This is a controversial position among Republican politicians, but it has won widespread support among federal
COURTESY OF LAMBDA LEGAL
Drew Adams, a victorious transgender plaintiff in Florida, in this year’s Pride Parade in New York.
judges. The Obama administration formally took this position in a letter issued jointly by the Justice and Education Departments in 2016, which was then “withdrawn” by the Trump administration a year later. However, the Trump “withdrawal” document did not adopt any position on whether Title IX would require letting transgender students use such facilities, stating the matter should be decided by state and local officials — though, of course, Title IX is a federal statute. Last fall, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his view that federal sex discrimination laws, such as Title IX, do not forbid gender identity — or sexual orientation — discrimination. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has stopped processing complaints under Title IX from transgender students regarding access to restrooms. Given the Trump Administration position, it is not surprising that the Boyertown panel ruling did not sit well with some Republican appointees on the Third Circuit, including Judge Stephanos Bibas, who was named by the president. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the religious right-wing litigation group representing the plaintiffs, petitioned for rehearing by the threejudge panel as well as by the full 11-judge circuit sitting “en banc.” On July 26, the court announced that the en banc petition failed to
win a majority vote of the circuit, but four members disagreed in a dissent written by Judge Kent Jordan and joined by Judges Michael Chagares, Thomas Hardiman (all three George W. Bush appointees) and Bibas. The dissent did not take issue with the school district’s “thoughtful and deliberative process” in adopting its policy but rather voiced “disagreement with the panel’s suggestion that it would have been a violation of federal law for the school district to adopt a policy requiring transgender students to either use a single-user bathroom or facilities corresponding to their biological sex.” Echoing the Trump Administration position, Jordan wrote that the question whether Title IX extends to gender identity discrimination is not settled — and the Supreme Court has, in fact, not addressed the question. Jordan faulted the panel for appearing to accept the school district’s argument that its policy was necessary to avoid federal liability. Apparently chastened by that dissent, the original three-judge panel voted to grant the motion for rehearing, but rather than schedule additional argument, it simply modified its opinion, issuing the new opinion on July 26. Even modified, however, the panel’s opinion drew criticism from the circuit’s four dissenters. “The revised panel opinion claims that ‘requiring transgen-
der students to use single user or birth-sex-aligned facilities is its own form of discrimination,’” Jordan complained, voicing unhappiness with the panel’s assertion that Boyertown “can hardly be faulted for… adopting a policy that avoids the issues that may otherwise have occurred under Title IX.” As far as the dissenters were concerned, this comment was not necessary to decide the appeal and thus should not have been made. But it was made, and seven of the 11 judges on the Third Circuit were content to let it stand. The panel’s position is consistent with the two other decisions issued last week, by District Judge Marco A. Hernandez, an Obama appointee, in a similar ADF lawsuit involving the Dallas, Oregon, school district, on July 24, and by District Judge Timothy Corrigan, a George W. Bush appointee, on July 26, in Lambda Legal’s suit on behalf of a transgender boy, Drew Adams, against the St. Johns County School District in Florida. The Oregon case challenged a decision by Dallas School District No. 2 to let transgender students use restrooms, locker rooms, and showers that match their gender identity. Judge Hernandez’s decision granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case outright because the plaintiffs failed to state valid constitutional or statu-
TRANS STUDENTS, continued on p.16
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
ation n evacu a e v a “I h ke sure will ma I . n la p s too.” ily doe m a f y m
The Knapp Commission reported that The Zoo at 421 West 13th Street (as seen today) was run by the Gallo crime family under the same team as the clubs at 675 Hudson Street/ 26 Ninth Avenue.
CORRUPTION, from p.5
state court records. What is striking is how unafraid the early activists were of both the police and organized crime. There is no doubt that they knew who their opponents were. In a statement issued immediately following the 1969 Stonewall riots, which mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, the Homophile Youth Movement wrote, “Legitimate Gay businessmen are afraid to open decent Gay bars with a healthy social atmosphere (as opposed to the hell-hole atmosphere of places typified by the Stonewall) because of fear of pressure from the unholy alliance of the Mafia and the elements in the Police dept. who accept payoffs and protect the Mafia monopoly.” The Mattachine Society of New York, an early LGBTQ rights group, repeatedly noted the presence of organized crime in bars and clubs in its newsletters and in communications with government officials. But there was also a matter-offact view of these businesses. Some of the mob-run clubs were listed in bar guides in 1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972 as well as in a 1968 Mattachine guide to city bars. Some were still listed as late as 1976. The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) twice protested outside of Umbers’ Christopher Street bar at a time when he may have been affiliated with the Gambino crime family, though his repeated interviews with the mainstream and LGBTQ GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
press are decidedly unlike a Mafia member. “I think certainly we were challenging the police and we certainly talked about syndicate control of the bars, but we just went ahead,” said Rich Wandel, a former GAA president who had moved out of New York City by 1974. “GAA never got any direct blowback from the syndicate.” When The Firehouse burned in 1974, the speculation was that it was organized crime that stole the sound system and spread accelerants throughout the building. “All I heard was that the Mafia had burned it down because GAA was competing with the Mafia with those very popular dances,” said Jonathan Ned Katz, the historian and author whose play “Coming Out!” was produced at The Firehouse in 1972. “That’s a rumor that I heard at the time.” The Firehouse was never a community center in the same way that the Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual & Transgender Community Center is, in that it never served as home to a large number of groups. In 1974, just GAA, Lesbian Feminist Liberation, and Dignity, the LGBTQ Catholic group, were meeting there. But it still holds a storied place in the community’s history. “It was fabulous, it was spectacular,” said Perry Brass, an author and member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF), an early LGBTQ radical group. “It was this whole queer building. Nothing like that had ever existed before.”
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From Whence We Come by Maurice W. Dorsey A story about a gay African American man born to a Catholic father who accepts his son unconditionally and a Methodist mother who is homophobic-- tells her son throughout his life that she never wanted to have him. Seymour reﬂects on 3 generations of emotional insecurity and feelings of being unloved and unwanted. At the end of his mother’s life, Estelle, through her years of malcontent, has him come to terms with mother and family history. This book is ﬁctitious but based on a true story. Available on Xlibris.com or Amazon.com @mdorsey10
Maurice W. Dorsey
Maurice W. Dorsey
Orlando’s Pulse Memorial Planner Visits NYC Club’s owner, envisioning her city’s response, views Hudson River tribute to hate victims BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n a beautiful recent mid-summer morning, Hudson River Park’s LGBT Memorial — which pays homage to victims of hate violence against the community, and to those lost and injured in the June 2016 shooting spree at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub, in particular — played host to the onePULSE Foundation itself, the non-profit established by the club’s owners to honor the tragedy’s victims, support the survivors, and educate the public about what happened there two years ago. On July 20, a group that included the Memorial’s designer, Anthony Goicolea, State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, Elizabeth Martin, the department’s project manager, Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and David Contreras Turley, the governor’s director of constituency affairs, welcomed Barbara Poma, who founded and leads the Foundation and was the nightclub’s owner since its launch in 2004. Poma was joined by Hilary Lewis, who sits on her board of trustees and is the curator and creative director of The Glass House, an architectural landmark of 49 acres in New Canaan, Connecticut, built by Philip Johnson, the late gay architect, between 1949 and 1995. Harvey explained that when Cuomo announced plans for the Memorial, just two weeks after the Orlando killings, a chief consideration was that it be located with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Allowing artists answering the request for proposals to know that it would be situated in the park near West 12th Street, she said, enabled them to make fully contexualized proposals. A native of Georgia, Goicolea recalled that when he first came to New York he became familiar with the park — “long an outdoor sanctuary for the LGBTQ community” — and sees it in many ways as a parallel to “the way a lot of nightclubs work.” The Memorial, in his view, was necessary to acknowl-
DONNA ACETO DONNA ACETO
Barbara Poma looks at the words of Audre Lorde inscribed in the one boulder in the LGBT Memorial that has a gap in it.
edge the devastation of “see[ing] a space like that invaded and to be made to be feel vulnerable there.” The circular arrangement of large bronze boulders, he explained, was intended to convey a “cove” or “safe harbor” just off the river. Whether in African megaliths, at Stonehenge, at Native American burial mounds, or just around campfires, he noted, circular spaces convey a sense of community. “If more than two people are within the site, they automatically form an impromptu community and there’s a dialogue between them, whether it’s verbal or in their shared presence,” Goicolea said. And it was important, he said, that the site not be “precious”; the stones are meant to be sat on and they invite viewer participation. He added, “I wanted there to be a sense of perpetual revelation.” The stones appear to be granite but in fact are cast in bronze, “cementing the memory,” Goicolea said. The glass that bisects six of the nine stones, he said, are intended to add a lightness, with refracted rainbows visible on the grass at certain times of day. But in uniting the boulders, he added, the glass, often seen as a fragile element, becomes a symbol of strength. His overall goal, he said, was to straddle the lines between solemnity and lightheartedness and between past and future. Listening to Goicolea talk about his design, Poma said that she has learned that narrative is key to the success of memorials. A sur-
David Contreras Turley, Elizabeth Martin, Hilary Lewis, Anthony Goicolea, Rose Harvey, Barbara Poma, and Alphonso David at the LGBT Memorial on July 20.
Barbara Poma and Hilary Lewis inspect one of the six boulders bisected by refracting glass.
Barbara Poma and Memorial designer Anthony Goicolea.
vey conducted by onePULSE found that the words most often mentioned as important for the memorial the Foundation is planning were love, hope, unity, strength, courage, and acceptance. In contrast, she said, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum speak to loss and solitude. Goicolea responded that his design aimed to “funnel” people into the site and provide elements of discovery. “There is this shifting dialogue that happens,” he said. “It makes you stay longer in a sense. It’s not handed to you. To me, the most successful memorials operate that way — the viewer has a role in interpreting it.” In Orlando, the Pulse club — which has been unoccupied since the tragedy — originally became an impromptu memorial site, with heartrending DIY tributes left around a fence erected to close off the building. Since then, a temporary memorial has made the site
more park-like, Poma said, and the Foundation just launched an ideas generator phase, which closes August 31, aimed at informing a request for design proposals to go out late this year or in January 2019. Poma has reached out broadly for input, with her “Ambassadors Council” including representatives from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum, as well as Judy Shepard, who launched the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her murdered gay son. The onePULSE Foundation is currently engaged in a three-year, $35 million capital campaign to fund not only the memorial, but an educational museum, scholarships in honor of the 49 people killed at Pulse, and ongoing care for survivors and first responders with long term needs. To learn more about onePULSE, its ideas generator effort, and its capital campaign, visit onepulsefoundation.org. August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
HEP C, from p.8
for new infections, but so are needles in badly run tattoo parlors and straws shared while snorting drugs. The delay in authorizing Safer Consumption Spaces, where drug users can inject under the supervision of health care workers who provide harm reduction information, is one of the stumbling blocks to effective prevention efforts. HCV infections canâ€™t always be traced to a particular behavior because, unlike HIV, the hep C virus can live outside the body. State health officials advise that it isnâ€™t easily sexually transmitted, but risks increase if partners have tears in their skin. It is also possible that infection can result from something as simple as sharing a toothbrush, given the virusâ€™ resiliency outside the body. The bottom line: get tested, and the only way to get tested is to ask for it. Every city sexual health clinic will test you for free. Go and ask for the full complement of STD tests, including for HIV, and tell them to
JEFF SESSIONS, from p.6
Religious opt-outs have become a new line of attack against LGBTQ rights, with right-wing litigation groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom seeking every opportunity to challenge laws and policies based on First Amendment free exercise and free speech claims. Most state courts that have considered such arguments in reference to public accommodation laws have rejected them, but so far the Supreme Court has shied away from taking a stance â€” though the issue will no doubt come before it in unvarnished form at some point soon. Concern over how the high court might view that question has been heightened ever since its controversial 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, where it found that a closely-held for-profit enterprise could claim a religious exemption from the contraception mandate Sessions talked about this week. Those concerns only grew with the confirmation last year of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch â€” maintaining the conservative slot long held by the late Antonin Scalia â€” and now the nomination of DC Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 â€“ August 15, 2018
test for HCV also. No appointments are necessary. If you visit your doctorâ€™s office, insurance will pay for the test. But, again, your doctor is unlikely to suggest the test. You need to ask for it. On my last visit to the cityâ€™s Riverside sexual health clinic on West 100th Street following a syphilis contact, I was in and out in an hour. The rise in infections among 18to 29-year-olds is particularly worrisome, that group including as it does women of child-bearing age. Infected young people, if untreated, will face major health problems later in life. Left untreated, HCV infection can be fatal. The cost of hep C treatment keeps falling, and in the face of the epidemic barriers to treatment are toppling. The new rule is that if you test positive, you get the treatment â€” patients must no longer demonstrate that their infection has become serious. New York State is now taking the epidemicâ€™s resurgence seriously, providing money to Medicaid to
who many worry will not carry on the consistent gay rights empathy shown by Anthony Kennedy. President Donald Trumpâ€™s success at winning confirmation of lower court federal judges is also fueling concerns about whether the federal courts can be counted to rule as state courts have in almost uniformly upholding the integrity of nondiscrimination protections. As the New York Times reported this week, Trump has now placed one out of every seven judges on the nationâ€™s federal courts of appeal. The newspaper quotes Judge Kyle Duncan, a new member of the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, saying that marriage equality â€œimperils civic peace.â€? Newly minted Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John K. Bush, based in Cincinnati, likened abortion to slavery. With Sessions explaining that his new task force will assist him in providing guidance to all Executive Branch agencies â€œon how to apply the religious liberty protections in federal law,â€? LGBTQ advocates were quick to respond. Noting that 85 percent of con-
JEFF SESSIONS, continued on p.17
cover treatment costs and allowing needle exchanges and similar service providers to become part of the testing network. The state plan is the first in the nation â€œto take up the challenge,â€? said Housing Works CEO Charles King. Referring to Cuomo, King said the plan is â€œvery much in line with his commitment in 2014 to end AIDS as an epidemic in New
York State.â€? This is an epidemic that affects heterosexuals as much as members of the LGBTQ community. Getting tested and then taking the medicine will cure the disease and eliminate the risk of transmission. Word of mouth always helps battle epidemics, so passing the information along to friends is a positive step everyone should take.
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PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
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Gay Footballers Arrive at Air Force Academy
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rom the Colorado Springs Gazette comes this heartwarming story, and no, I’m not being snarky for a change: “Air Force football player Bradley Kim comes out as gay in a first for military academies.” Penned by Brent Briggeman, the story is fascinating for several reasons, not the least of which is that Colorado Springs, which is where the Air Force Academy is located, is notable as one of the most right-wing places imaginable, and yet the Gazette’s coverage is pretty much celebratory. “While an increasing number of athletes have felt comfortable similarly going public with their sexuality,” Briggeman writes, “it is a rarity among football players and it had yet to happen for an active player at Air Force, Army or Navy.” Kim came out in person to his teammates and to the public via Instagram and the LGBTQ website OutSports. “‘I hope that I can serve as an example to those who are allowing their fear of acceptance to change who they are,’ Kim wrote on Instagram. “‘I almost gave up my dream of playing division 1 football for fear of not being accepted by everyone, but today I am happy to say that I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy playing the sport I love with amazing people standing behind me and supporting me. If anyone feels like they don’t have a voice or feel like they are alone, just know there are plenty of people out there like you and me, and more that are willing to talk to you about it. God bless all and thank you to everyone who has made me feel comfortable to live my most genuine life.’” I base my claim about the ultraconservative nature of Colorado Springs on the fact that 40 percent of the city’s economy comes from the military. In addition to the Air Force Academy, the city is home to Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD (part of which, for security’s sake, is buried deep within Cheyenne Mountain), and Schriever Air Force Base. Moreover, our good friends at the gay-
Bradley Kim, an out gay member of the football team at the Air Force Academy.
hating Focus on the Family are headquartered there. There are also many military retirees who passed through the city during their time of service and were so attracted by what the Springs tourist bureau touts as an average of 320 days of sunshine every year that they moved back in their golden years. (You may be wondering why I know these things; I was a visiting prof at Colorado College a number of times.) “‘I’ve spent too many years worrying what other people will think and letting it affect what I do in my daily life,’ said Kim — whose brother, Mitchell, played soccer and graduated from the Air Force Academy — to OutSports. ‘And I’m kind of done with that. It doesn’t affect my ability to play football. It doesn’t affect my ability to serve my country. No one cares here. We all go through the same thing, we all go through basic training. What we go through going through the academy goes way deeper than worrying about what someone will think.’” Kim’s teammates are thoroughly supportive. His fellow defensive backs responded to his announcement by giving him a standing ovation. “‘I can’t imagine the amount of courage it took for him to open up about this,’ teammate Demani Hansford said. ‘Love you bro! Always be yourself!’ added Tre Bugg. ‘Love you brother, so damn proud of you!’ James Jones IV said.”
Briggeman adds, “In his social media announcement, the Seattle native referenced Jeremiah 29:11, adding, ‘God made me this way for a reason.’” In case you’re wondering what’s in Jeremiah 29:11, here it is: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’” Take that, Focus on the Family. However, Briggeman repeats what OutSports’ Cyd Ziegler calls an outdated myth when he writes that coming out is rare among college football players. “By the time Bradley Kim came out to the world last week,” writes Ziegler, “he knew he and his team were ready for it. The Air Force football player had talked to many college athletes, including some in football, and heard nothing but positive stories about their teammates supporting them. “Yet a belief still exists, like the mythology of a bygone era, that gay athletes coming out to their teams, especially in football, will be roundly rejected. This defies the actual realworld experiences of Arizona’s MyKing Johnson, Kansas State’s Scott Frantz, Butler’s Xavier Colvin, Indiana State’s Jake Bain, Willamette’s Conner Mertens, Chapman’s Mitch Eby, and many others across the sport.” Ziegler continues, “I was at a dinner party recently talking about the widespread acceptance of gay athletes in high school and college sports with several gay men, none of them in sports. With every story of acceptance I shared, and every statistic I offered that showed an embrace by straight athletes, these men twisted themselves to explain that somehow every story and stat was faulty, and that football players in fact reject their gay teammates.” Maybe it’s time to ask why we insist on defining ourselves by our oppression. Follow @edsikov on Facebook and Twitter. August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
PERSPECTIVE: Insider Trading
LGBTQ Rights in the Bronx — Then and Now BY ALLEN ROSKOFF
aving been the lead lobbyist for the Gay Rights bill in the early 1970s, I got to know city councilmembers from the Bronx very well — and we received a decidedly mixed reception from them. The fate of our bill was originally in the hands of the longtime chair of the Council’s General Welfare Committee, Bronx Democratic Councilmember-at-Large Aileen Ryan — a staunch Roman Catholic who detested everything about us. She became a well-known figure in the gay community, notorious for being our number one enemy for quite a while. She claimed that she was sent a jock strap in the mail and that someone visited her parish priest to tell him she was a bigot. Another foe was Michael DeMarco, who represented a largely Italian area of the Bronx and also
wouldn’t budge on the bill. So we went to the Bronx and picketed DeMarco’s small private house, which remains a fond memory for me. Also dead-set against gay rights was Bronx Republican Councilmember-at-Large Joseph Ribustello, who owned a funeral parlor that we visited and leafleted. But we did have some friends, including City Councilmember Father Louis Gigante, a priest and brother of two legendary figures in the Genovese crime family, boss Vincent “The Chin” Gigante and top capo/ acting boss Mario Gigante. Councilmember Gigante called a press conference to announce his position in favor of the bill — shocking the press and community leaders who expected him to forcefully oppose it. His stance didn’t shock me, though. I helped write Gigante’s pro-gay statement in his car on his way to the press conference. Also in favor back then was Bronx
Borough President Robert Abrams and two councilmembers, Barry Salman and the wonderful Muriel Stromberg, who just loved us. Also supporting us was Councilmember Ramon Velez, a famed South Bronx leader who ran a large anti-poverty program and was the subject of Mayor Ed Koch’s ire. Koch referred to people of color like Velez who ran social service programs “poverty pimps” — which says a lot about Koch’s racial attitudes. When the bill was first introduced, the Bronx County leader was Pat Cunningham, who supported and even lobbied for it. He got in trouble with the law and was replaced by another supporter, Stanley Friedman, who also wound up in prison. In 1986, when our bill passed, Bronx Councilmember Freddy Ferrer introduced an amendment to exempt owner-occupied one- and two-family homes (originally the amendment would have exempted owner-occupied three- and fourfamily homes, as well). Ferrer claimed it was a “side agreement” with gay leaders needed to hold the Council coalition for the measure together, but it really was a “slime
agreement” with some community sleazeballs. Koch vetoed Ferrer’s amendment — perhaps the only good thing I can think of that Koch did in public life. Where are we now in the Bronx? The current county leader, State Assemblymember Marcos Crespo, voted against marriage equality twice and still holds that position. He is also anti-choice. He “credits” his religion for both positions. Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr., voted against marriage when he was in the Assembly and was one of the very last big-wig city Democrats to come out in favor of equality. He is the son of the notorious anti-gay, anti-abortion City Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr. — a former state senator — and has always supported his father’s bids for public office. In addition to Diaz Jr. and Crespo supporting arch-bigot Diaz, Sr., they also support Councilmember Fernando Cabrera — also a reverend who is anti-gay and anti-abortion. In a YouTube video he made while visiting Uganda, Cabrera praised that nation’s anti-gay forc-
and restaurants. In my neighborhood, there was a paucity of the most important symbol that states that gay people are welcome: the Rainbow Flag. I did a visual survey of establishments on Lexington and Third Avenues from 23rd to 34th Streets, searching for Rainbow Flags displayed outside. In the blocks, comprised of more than 150 establishments, I observed two flags on Lexington Avenue and five on Third. Keep in mind, the World Cup was also occurring and five bars had numerous flags of every participating country but couldn’t be bothered to hang a Rainbow Flag to celebrate citizens who live here. There was one restaurant that had international flags and a Rainbow Flag out as well and a second that had international flags outside and a Rainbow Flag in its vestibule. Tonic East is a large, multi-level bar on East 29th Street. For St. Paddy’s Day, it’s a vision in green and Irish-themed flags and is mobbed with revelers. On Gay Pride Day, it
had strings of international flags for the World Cup and barely anyone inside. Contrast that with Penelope on Lexington, with a large Rainbow Flag and a line of women wearing rainbow-themed accessories waiting to be seated. The city gave this neighborhood a potential economic boost by bringing this year’s parade to a close nearby. As I walked around, I saw lots of LGBTQ Pride stragglers in rainbow regalia who appeared to be looking for gay-friendly establishments to eat and drink. It’s a shame that in an area where numerous bars and restaurants look for any excuse to have a party, most ignored a celebration delivered to them tied up with a bow. In the future, I plan to frequent the seven — Penelope, Banc Café, Eros, the Chinese Club, Taproom 307, Street Taco, and Barlovento, a diverse group of Greek, Indian, Hispanic, and American-themed restaurants and bars — that made the simple effort to say that gay people are welcome.
BRONX THEN & NOW, continued on p.17
PERSPECTIVE: A Guest View
Why Did the East 20s Ignore Pride? BY ERIC GINIGER
magine you lived in a city that decided to end a major parade route into your neighborhood: one would think that the owners of restaurants and bars would welcome thousands of hungry and thirsty celebrants to their establishments. Alas, that was not the case for my New York City neighborhood. I live in the East 20s section of Manhattan of no particular name. Rose Hill, Kips Bay, TooBro, NoMad, and Gramercy Park area are some of the names that never seem to describe or endure for this particular location. When I first moved to this area in the 1970s, there were at least two gay bars nearby, one of which — Company on East 26th Street — was even a popular stop for the Fire Island Jitney. Now this GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
area is a destination for the postcollege set engaging in quasi-dormitory living and partying. Numerous bars and restaurants line the streets in this area and every “holiday” ends up being an excuse to hang flags and party. Come St. Paddy’s Day, Columbus Day, and Cinco de Mayo, the area is festooned with flags of the appropriate ethnic group and full of boisterous celebrations. This year, the city changed the direction of the LGBTQ Pride Parade. Instead of funneling paradegoers into the cramped West Village, the parade ended on Fifth Avenue in the high 20s. Marchers could then either go back west and downtown to the Village and Chelsea or go to the nearby east 20s. I was in both places that day. Eighth Avenue was chock-a-block with music and overflowing bars
TRANS STUDENTS, from p.10
tory claims. ADF’s imaginative complaint in Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District advanced eight legal theories, the most significant being that a policy that might expose cisgender students to sharing singlesex facilities with trans students would violate their constitutional right to privacy and their parents’ due process fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. Hernandez concluded, as had the original panel in the Boyertown case and, more significantly, the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the case brought by Ash Whitaker, a transgender high school student, against his Wisconsin school district, that concerns for the privacy of cisgender students could not overcome the rights of trans students to benefit from non-discriminatory access to facilities consistent with their gender identities. Judge Corrigan’s opinion in Drew Adams’ case confirmed the impression observers came away from the public hearing with: this is a judge who gets it when it comes to trans issues, having carefully studied the expert testimony and documentation Lambda submitted, much of it over the objections of the school district. Corrigan quickly accepted the proposition that Adams, who begins his senior year this fall, is a boy and should be treated as such by the school district, including for restroom access. The plaintiff’s case was assisted by the careful way he handled his transition, including getting a new birth certificate and a new driver’s license designating him as male. And, the school district’s unwritten policy on restroom use contrasted with its policies regarding everything else; it was willing to
RECLAIM PRIDE, from p.6
with HOP. “We presented them with a vision of a major civil rights march,” said Ann Northrop, a longtime lesbian and AIDS activist, referring to the 2019 parade. “This was a whole new idea to them.” While the town hall did not produce any concrete plans for 2019 or
treat Adams as a boy for all purposes except that one. By the end of his freshman year, Adams’ transition had proceeded to the point where he was presenting as male and wanted to use the boys’ restrooms. He began his sophomore year doing so, but soon some girls who saw him enter the boys’ room complained, and he was pulled out of a class and told he was restricted to using single-user restrooms (at that time only in the administrative offices) or the girls’ restrooms. In time, the school added more single-user restrooms distributed around the high school’s campus, and Corrigan, having toured the school, concluded that they were reasonably conveniently located. But that was not the point, because a key issue was the impact on Adams of being denied a major component of his transition — being recognized by his school as a boy and treated as such. Being required to walk past a boys’ restroom when he needed to use the facility in order to get to a singleuser restroom was stigmatizing, singling him out as different and undermining his ability to fit in. “Everyone agrees that boys should use the boys’ restroom… and that girls should use the girls’ restroom,” Corrigan wrote. “The parties disagree over whether Drew Adams is a boy. I can only answer that question with the evidence given to me at trial. Drew Adams says he is a boy and has undergone extensive surgery to conform his body to his gender identity; medical science says he is a boy; the State of Florida says so (both Adams’ Florida birth certificate and Florida driver’s license say he is a male); and the Florida High School Athletic Association says so. Other than at his school, Adams uses the men’s bathroom wherever he goes, including in this federal court-
house during the trial. Even the St. Johns County School Board regards Adams as a boy in every way, except for which bathroom he can use.” The judge continued, “When confronted with something affecting our children that is new, outside of our experience, and contrary to gender norms we thought we understood, it is natural that parents want to protect their children… When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.” Corrigan concluded that the school’s policy violated Adams’ equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment and his right to equal access to educational opportunity under Title IX, and that the rights of other students would not be violated by having to share facilities with him. Analyzing the constitutional issues, Corrigan noted that 11th Circuit’s precedent controlling on the court required him to apply “heightened scrutiny” to the school district’s justifications for its policies; the district had to come up with “exceedingly persuasive” reasons for subjecting Adams to unequal treatment, which it failed to do. A major part of the school district’s argument was that its policy was intended to protect against situations where male students might pretend to be transgender in order to get access to the women’s restrooms, a ridiculous proposition for which the school could provide nothing more than speculation. The district also advanced a “gender fluidity” argument: that some students might vacillate from day to day as to their gender identification and use restrooms at their whim, creating an unmanageable and dangerous situation. Corrigan responded that he was deciding the case before him of Drew Adams, the plaintiff, who is not “gender
fluid” and is not seeking the right to use whichever restroom he feels like on a given day. Corrigan’s injunction focused on Adams and did not deal with transgender restroom access more broadly. “The Court has had no occasion in the context of this case to determine what threshold of transition, if any, is necessary for the School Board to accommodate other transgender students,” the judge wrote. In a footnote, however, Corrigan stated, “Of course, nothing prevents the School Board from using this decision as guidance for future situations involving other transgender students. Notably, for some transgender students, the policy the school currently has may be sufficient, as the evidence revealed that not every transgender student is prepared to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.” Corrigan noted that in the Boyertown case from the Third Circuit, “permission for transgender students to use gender-specific facilities is granted on a case-by-case basis only after a student meets with trained and licensed counselors, and other school administrators as needed. Once a transgender student is granted permission to use the facilities matching his or her gender identity, that student is no longer permitted to use the facilities corresponding to his or her sex assigned at birth.” So much for the “gender fluidity” argument. Corrigan awarded Adams damages of $1,000 for emotional distress, noting, in rejecting a higher figure sought by him that he had made clear his lawsuit was mainly about restroom access, not about money. The plaintiff can, however, apply for attorneys’ fees and costs, which are likely to be substantial.
how the Coalition should proceed in its challenge to HOP, members did begin the process of organizing committees and they invited attendees to join them at regular Saturday afternoon meetings that are held at the Center. They agreed that they would continue to pressure HOP to change. Coalition members were told HOP would host a town hall about next year’s
parade on August 13. “We need to make this hurt for them,” said Alex Leitch, a Coalition member, during the town hall. Members were divided on what the 2019 parade should look like, with some expressing the view that a more celebratory event is correct and others wanting more overtly political content. There was some discussion of having an alternative
march. Founders and organizers of the Dyke March, which always takes place the Saturday evening before the Pride Parade, turned out to support the Coalition, but also to push back against any plan that would impinge on the Dyke March. “You absolutely cannot step on the Dyke March,” one organizer said. “We will fuck you up.” August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
BRONX THEN & NOW, from p.15
es as they were pushing a notorious law creating severe penalties for homosexual conduct â€” in its earliest drafts, the measure included the death penalty. Diaz, Jr. clearly plans on running for mayor in 2021. The thought of having a mayor who supports anti-gay and anti-choice candidates turns my stomach. The beep also recently endorsed State Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the supposedly disbanded rump Independent Democratic Conference â€” who long gave their votes to the Republican leadership. Many progressive elected officials are supporting Kleinâ€™s September primary challenger. Then there is out gay Councilmember Ritchie Torres, a rising star in city politics who has captured the attention of New Yorkers through his work on demanding better conditions for public housing tenants. Torres now heads the powerful Council Committee on Investigations. It is great to have a fighter who is gay, young, and charismatic in the room watching our backs in the Bronx. Torres will
go far in government â€” perhaps Congress, borough president, or citywide office. I admire Torres for his gallant effort to reign in the police with his Right To Know Law â€” but am disappointed that he caved to NYPD pressure at the end, producing a law that angered advocates who felt it was woefully insufficient. Torres tells me there is yet time to strengthen it. I certainly hope that happens. In 2016, Torres was a Bernie Sanders delegate but this year became an early supporter of Andrew Cuomo. So there is some inconsistency there, in my view. The Bronx also boasts other progressives who are dependable friends to the LGBTQ community, including State Senators JosĂŠ M. Serrano and Gustavo Rivera, and Assemblymember Victor Pichardo, as well as Congressmembers Adriano Espaillat and JosĂŠ E. Serrano, the state senatorâ€™s father. And, of course, come January, the Bronx congressional delegation will also include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose June primary victory as a Democratic Socialist was one of the most exciting political developments in years.
! ! I
JEFF SESSIONS, from p.13
tinuing care communities in the US are religiously affiliated, Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, or Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, in a written statement, said, â€œAttorney General Jeff Sessionsâ€™ announcement of a so-called Religious Liberty Task Force at the Department of Justice is one more effort by this administration to obliterate anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. LGBT elders â€” who rely on religiously affiliated providers for non-discriminatory care â€” have played a huge role in the â€˜changing cultural climateâ€™ that the attorney general condemns. They will not go back into the closet so that this admin-
istration can pander to the forces of intolerance and bigotry.â€? Sarah Warbelow, the legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, also in a written statement, said, â€œThis taxpayer funded task force is yet another example of the Trump-Pence White House and Jeff Sessions sanctioning discrimination against LGBTQ people. Over the last 18 months, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Jeff Sessions have engaged in a brazen campaign to erode and limit the rights of LGBTQ people in the name of religion. The attorney general standing shoulder-to-shoulder this morning with anti-LGBTQ extremists tells you everything you need to know about what todayâ€™s announcement was really all about.â€?
For more news & events happening now visit www.GayCityNews.nyc GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 â€“ August 15, 2018
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Hold the Testosterone Regular white bros squabble over games, snacks, and power BY DAVID KENNERLEY traight White Men,” the latest offering from Second Stage Theater, was not created by straight white men. The playwright is Young Jean Lee, in her Broadway debut, and Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County”) is at the helm. Which is a clue that this quirky comic drama is not just about these types, lately maligned as villains in American culture, but also about society’s perception of them. To emphasize that the piece is not controlled by straight white men, Lee has devised offbeat “persons in charge” — Kate Bornstein, the illustrious performance artist who identifies as nonbinary, and Ty Defoe, a member of the Oneida and Ojibwe nations who identifies as Two-Spirit. These hosts serve up a
Stephen Payne, Josh Charles, Armie Hammer, and Paul Schneider in Young Jean Lee’s “Straight White Men,” directed by Anna D. Shapiro, at the Helen Hayes through September 9.
wry pre-show speech about gender identity and “finding understanding for straight white men.” They preside over the proceedings like
wise, gentle spirits. The privileged men in question are three handsome brothers in their early 40s and their elderly
father, reuniting for Christmas in Dad’s comfy house somewhere in the Midwest. Drew, the youngest, is a teacher and popular author of socially aware novels. Jake, recently divorced with two kids, is a successful BMW-driving banker. The eldest, Matt, was a promising Harvard grad with multiple degrees but has lost his way. He’s moved back with his dad, working a temp clerical job, and performs housekeeping duties their mom did up until she died a few years earlier. He claims he is content. According to this play, straight white men regress to puffed-up brats when left to their own devices without women. They devour Nintendo. They gorge on snacks. They crack raunchy jokes. They fight over, well, everything. They perform rap nursery rhymes. They
STRAIGHT WHITE MEN, continued on p.25
Enough Is Enough Mavens and misfits in New York’s gritty late ‘70s nightlife scene BY DAVID KENNERLEY hen the Atlantic Theater Company announced a new rock opera about Studio 54 and the Mudd Club titled “This Ain’t No Disco,” featuring Stephen Trask on the production team, I was beyond thrilled. Trask, you may recall, was the creative force behind the cult rock sensation “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and the Atlantic was the birthplace of the revolutionary “Spring Awakening,” which went on to a spectacular run on Broadway. Alas, this ain’t no “Hedwig.” Directed by Darko Tresnjak, the wildly ambitious endeavor suffers from an identity crisis. One moment it lives up to its rock opera billing, the next it’s a dark drama, then a fi zzy farce. All sprinkled generously with mind-numbing
Theo Stockman and Peter LaPrade in Stephen Trask, Peter Yanowitz, and Rick Elice’s “This Ain’t No Disco,” directed by Darko Tresnjak, at Atlantic Theater’s Linda Gross Theater through Aug. 12.
clichés. “This Ain’t No Disco,” which credits music, lyrics, and book to Trask and Peter Yanowitz (Rick Elice also contributed to the
book), strives to patch together a coherent tapestry of multiple story lines, with little success. There’s Chad, a sensitive pretty boy kicked out by his dad for be-
ing gay. After turning tricks in squalid Times Square flophouses, he lands a highly coveted gig as a busboy at Studio 54. Improbably, with the help of a pushy PR maven named Binky (Chilina Kennedy), he is marketed as a hot graffiti artist in the mold of Keith Haring. Chad bonds with another misfit named Sammy, a troubled, black single mother who becomes a superstar singer, with a major assist from The Artist, a droll, bewigged character meant to evoke Andy Warhol. We also meet two starry-eyed artists employed as coat check girls at Studio 54, though they appear to do little work. One character abruptly admits they are transgender, yet the revelation is met with a shrug by their friends — and the audience. Studio 54 impresario Steve Ru-
AIN’T NO DISCO, continued on p.23
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Culture Keepers Pioneers in historic preservation reveal a secret queer history BY DAVID KENNERLEY vibrant, groundswell movement is afoot to preserve gay history. Groups have sprung up such as Making Gay History, which features podcasts of interviews with LGBTQ luminaries, and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which documents key queer cultural sites with online interactive maps. There are books on the topic, like “A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture” by Will Fellows. Now, dramatist Dean Gray has crafted an absorbing new play about queer culture keepers, titled “The Pattern at Pendarvis,” based on Fellows’ book. Unlike scads of other plays that re-enact queer history, this one portrays the importance of preserving queer history. Although inspired by a true story about Edgar Hellum and Robert Neal who, starting in the 1930s in rural southwestern Wisconsin, were pioneers in the historic preservation movement (and later, the farm-to-table culinary craze), the one-act drama is a work of fiction. The couple quietly set up house together for more than 40 years — gay men hidden in plain sight. Coming out about their sexuality would be unthinkable. The premise couldn’t be simpler. The year is 1997, and frail, 92-year-old Edgar has consented to a face-to-face interview with
AIN’T NO DISCO, from p.18
bell (played to the hilt by Theo Stockman) figures prominently here, though his character registers as a clownish cartoon, exposing little more than the predatory, coke-addled, control freak we already know. In jarring contrast to a vaudeville-esque ditty by Rubell about stashing loads of cash in the ceiling, there’s a plaintive ballad about self-cutting. Many of the lyrics are obvious and borderline puerile. And GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
Lawrence Merritt and Gregory Jensen in Dean Gray’s “The Pattern at Pendarvis,” directed by Joseph Megel at HERE Arts Center through August 5.
author Rich Farnsworth (a standin for Fellows, and perhaps Gray also). They chat about the extraordinary work Edgar and his partner, Bob, now deceased for more than a decade, did to rescue and preserve a group of cottages built by Cornish lead miners in the 1840s in a town called Mineral Point, Wisconsin. The prescience of the partners to save these distinctive structures while many others were being torn down cannot be overstated. The field of historic preservation as we know it didn’t exist back then. The site, by the way, is now run by the Wisconsin Historical Society. In one of the cottages, affectionately named Pendarvis, they opened a tiny restaurant serving
authentic Cornish fare that garnered raves from national magazines like Gourmet. People flocked there from all over Wisconsin, and beyond. The men did it to preserve the local Cornish culture. “We didn’t do it for the money,” Edgar asserts. “Lord knows we didn’t make any.” Tension develops when Norm Hansen, a crusty board member at Pendarvis, insists on sitting in on the interview to help fi ll in gaps of Edgar’s memory. It becomes clear, however, that his real goal is to steer the interview away from any talk of Edgar and Bob’s homosexuality, which is a focus of Rich’s upcoming book. Will the tenacious author be able to extract the information he needs? Under the direction of Joseph
it’s hard not to wonder about the anachronisms. Was the term “celebutante” common in 1979? Not that it’s all bad news. The score is a toe-tapping mix of rock, funk, disco, and new wave, and the throbbing dance numbers, with choreography by Camille A. Brown, often feature shirtless gogo boys gyrating in micro-shorts and tube socks. The hedonistic, polysexual, ethnically and socially diverse ethos of Studio 54 is nicely captured in these sequences, sharply contrasting with the grungy, dour aura of the
Mudd Club. Select musical numbers boast stunning solo turns by Sammy (Samantha Marie Ware), Chad (Peter LaPrade), and The Artist (Will Connolly). Jason Sherwood’s set, dominated by metal scaffolding and punctuated by signs evoking the XXX-rated Times Square of the late 1970’s, is astonishing. History has shown it’s not easy translating debauched club culture and gritty urban landscapes into potent musical theater. More often than not, the subject matter becomes sanitized, even trivial-
Megel, “The Pattern at Pendarvis” is a slow burn of a play. The first half is relatively static and expository, with Edgar doing his best to answer queries. Gray’s naturalistic dialogue and incremental storytelling holds our interest. It’s not until the final minutes that the play realizes it’s full dramatic potential. David Murray Jaffe, as Norm, and Gregory Jensen, as Rich, make the most of their slender roles. The standout by far is Lawrence Merritt, who embodies the soft-spoken Edgar with a delicate mix of caution, intrigue, humility, fervor, and, ultimately, pride. The conclusion: not only would the town of Mineral Point not exist if the duo didn’t step in to save the cottages and open an eatery, which became a booming tourist attraction, but it was their special brand of queer domesticity that made the enterprise work. Edgar says of Bob and their magnificent enterprise, “You know, none of it would have happened without him.” But that’s not quite accurate. None of it would have happened without the two of them, working in tandem as a loving, committed couple. THE PATTERN AT PENDARVIS | New Dog Theatre Company | HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave. at Dominick St. | Through Aug. 5; Wed.-Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sun. at 2 p.m. | $25 at here.org | Eighty mins., no intermission
ized. The Broadway musical “Taboo,” about Boy George, fell horribly flat. And remember “Radiant Baby,” the colorful but bland tuner about Keith Haring at the Public Theater years ago? I didn’t think so. THIS AIN’T NO DISCO | Atlantic Theater Company | Linda Gross Theater | 336 W. 20th St. | Through Aug. 12 | Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. | Wed, Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. | $81.50-$101.50 at atlantictheater.org | Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission
Working It... Well or Just Too Hard Stunning revival, disaster courted, and a lackluster revue BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE f you make no other theater plans in the next couple of weeks, do whatever you can to catch “Carmen Jones” at Classic Stage Company. This spectacular, intimate production of what has long been a problematic work is fresh, vibrant, and alive with extraordinary talent and emotion. John Doyle has stripped the show down to its essential humanity and the result is powerful and moving in a way that recalls the novels of Steinbeck. The show was originally presented in 1943, and it’s a retelling of Bizet’s “Carmen,” with his music and new lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Set in a military parachute factory and in Chicago during World War II, Carmen is a sexualized troublemaker who seduces the innocent Joe, a soldier sent to escort her to jail. Carmen manages to lead him away from his hometown sweetheart Cindy Lou and also escape, only to later abandon Joe to run away with the boxer Husky Miller. Joe follows Carmen to Chicago and, after many altercations, kills her in a jealous rage. The worlds of both the factory and the big city are fleshed out by company of 10 taking on many different roles. Doyle has cut the show down to 95 minutes and given it an accumulating tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The score has new orchestrations for six musicians, yet the sound is rich and resonant in the CSC space. The company is uniformly magnificent. Anika Noni Rose gives Carmen Jones a passionate ferocity amplified through her glorious voice. Clifton Duncan is splendid as Joe, and his beautifully etched suffering broke my heart. Lindsay Roberts as Cindy Lou brings an innocence and ethereal quality to the role that stand in perfect counterpoint to Carmen. David Aron Damane as Husky Miller is a powerful bass who exudes a kind of idealized masculinity that is at once both inspiring and a comment on the appeal celebrity exerts
Clifton Duncan and Anika Noni Rose in the CSC production of “Carmen Jones,” directed by John Doyle, through August 19.
on Carmen and the others. Music director Shelton Becton has elicited top-notch performances from the entire company. The choreography by Bill T. Jones is beautifully scaled to the space and brilliantly speaks to a sexually charged world. Ann Hould-Ward’s costumes play a vital role in bringing the world of the show alive on Scott Pask’s simple wooden set. The economy, focus, and emotional impact of this production reminded me of another “Carmen” I saw in 1983. To this day, I remember Peter Brook’s production at Lincoln Center performed in a dirt-filled bullring. I expect I’ll recall this “Carmen Jones” for the next 35 years. It’s asking an awful lot of a gay audience, in particular, that they have have sympathy for someone who said, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?” Yet, that is exactly the goal of John Strand’s play “The Originalist,” now at 59E59. The play seeks to portray late
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as a gruff-but-loveable grandpa figure who despite his animus toward the gay community was a good man underneath. In doing this, the playwright says in a program note, “What does it cost us to suppress our fear and distrust, rise from our own bunkers of certainty and dogma, take a step toward the middle, and sit down with the monsters?” Well, for one it would take an honest play, which this decidedly is not. Scalia reportedly hired liberal clerks to foster debate in his office. Fair enough. Strand, however, has created fictional characters who serve his dramatic ends but are false and contrived, as is the plot. He chooses as Scalia’s nemesis a black lesbian straight out of an elite law school. Rather than arguing about what the legal doctrine of originalism means in the context of a changing world, which might actually be an interesting if highly polemical play, Strand has written a tedious sitcom where Scalia is a jovial curmudgeon who introduces his clerk, Cat, to guns while she tries to get him to temper
his disgust toward homosexuals. Interspersed in this is a plot about Cat wanting to please her father who lies dying in a coma, and Scalia rushing to comfort her. There’s also a white, male law clerk, Brad, who is aggressively right wing, sycophantic to Scalia, and sexist with Cat. In other words, he’s a tired stereotype we’ve seen too much of. There are some attempts at humor, but they are “dad jokes” that fall flat. As for the character of Cat, one might accuse playwright Strand of cultural appropriation if all the characters weren’t half-written and shallow. Other than Cat being threatened with outing by Brad and her subsequent confession to Scalia who, we find, already knew, there is nothing in the writing that speaks to the black or lesbian experience. Cat is nothing more than a shallow device to argue that this Scalia’s morality is situational. The effort backfires and makes him even more offensive. Given how poorly written the characters are, one can almost forgive the bland, undeveloped performances. Tracy Ifeachor as Cat relies mostly on attitudes and pulling faces, underscoring that there really isn’t a believable character for her to inhabit. Brett Mack as Brad is equally general and tiresome as befits the stereotype. Edward Gero as Scalia is insufferable, as he attempts to swing from grousing grump to generous gramps with neither depth nor subtlety. Worse yet, Molly Smith’s turgid direction makes the 90 minutes more grueling than it needs to be. Ultimately, who cares what Scalia was like as a person? What matters is how Scalia’s public words and decisions shaped the culture and sought constitutional justification for bigotry and inequality. In that respect, Scalia was a monster. No little play is going to change that. “Relentless” is hardly a flattering term to apply to a revue. But that’s the only one that seems
WORKING..., continued on p.25
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
WORKING..., from p.24
to describe the aggressive, if not assaultive, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” now getting a revival at Stage 42. The show is comprised of 40 sings by Leiber and Stoller that pounds away at the audience for 90 minutes. There is no break between the songs, and each one is performed with an almost identical full-on belt. Emotional ballad or rollicking comic song, they’re all the same. Given this, fatigue sets in early on, and the songs become indistinguishable from one another. One would have expected more from
director and choreographer Joshua Bergasse, who has guided his company into a whole lot of mugging and predictable, uninspired movement. Sound designer Peter Fitzgerald doesn’t get a pass either. The amplification is a wall of sound throughout and is so high at times that it distorts the voices, making the lyrics incomprehensible. That said, the cast is mostly very good. John Edwards does a wonderful job with “I Who Have Nothing,” which is one of the only authentic emotional moments in the show. Nicole Vanessa Ortiz has an extraordinary voice, but
she repeats the same vocal figures again and again. Less would definitely have been more. Dwayne Cooper has a remarkable, versatile bass, and Kyle Taylor Parker delivers some of the only comedy that lands. This is a show so desperate to please that it ends up trying too hard, undermining its intention to entertain and making this one café you might want to avoid. CARMEN JONES | Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St. | Through Aug. 19: Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.Sat. at 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. |
dared to do stuff like put their balls on each other faces. And worse. With all the fighting and dancing and physical comedy, Shapiro needed to bring in a choreographer, Faye Driscoll. With her help, the actors make the moves seems effortless and entertaining. The twitchy, genre-busting drama asks if all straight white men must have naked ambition and a laser-focused career to succeed or if, like Matt, simply feeling use-
Kate Bornstein and Ty Defoe are the “persons in charge” in “Straight White Men.”
STRAIGHT WHITE MEN, from p.18
dance like they’re in a boy band. They turn into screeching monsters like “Pterodactyl Man.” They call each other names like “dickhead” and “shit-baby.” But as portrayed by Armie Hammer (Drew), Josh Charles (Jake), and Paul Schneider (Matt), their antics are suffused with charm and affection. If they weren’t likable on some level, the play would utterly fall flat. All three actors, known for their television and film work (remember how the foxy Hammer caused a commotion for his turn in “Call Me By Your Name?”), are newcomers to Broadway and command the stage with finesse. Their no-nonsense father (Stephen Payne, who, after plenty of backstage drama, is the third actor to fill the role) did his best to follow the rules and provide for his wife and kids. Not that all straight white men
are without feelings. When Matt suddenly breaks down in tears in the middle of their Chinese takeout dinner, the tone shifts and Drew overreacts. On the one hand he offers help, insisting Matt see a therapist. On the other, he berates his bro for showing weakness and settling for a life of mediocrity. Jake admits to being a pig, a common trait in straight white men. “I give my friends shit for acting gay,” he says. “I joke about which interns I want to fuck. Every single VP at my company is white… all I do is reinforce a system that keeps us on top.” Apparently, it is okay for straight white men to exhibit homoerotic behavior, as long as it’s just an act. Their roughhousing requires them to twist each other’s nipples and hump each other and karatechop each other’s junk. They recall a game played with their buddies called “Gay Chicken,” where they
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ful is enough. Jake answers that question. “It’s a world of pigs, and Matt is not a pig. But if you’re not a pig, you’re fucked!” STRAIGHT WHITE MEN | Second Stage | Helen Haye Theater, 240 W. 44th St. | Through Sep 9: Tue.Thu. at 7 p.m.; | Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m.; | Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. | $69-$149 at 2ST.com | Ninety mins., no intermission
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All’s Not Fair — In Love, War, Commerce The casualties mount up on the current London stage
MARK DOUET ALASTAIR MUIR
The cast of Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.”
Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley, and Ben Miles in “The Lehman Trilogy,” written by Stefano Massini and adapted for the English stage by Ben Power.
ANDY HUMM had a week of theater in London with a very high body count — from civilian victims of terrorism and war to postwar suicides to lives wrecked by infidelity. I saw one masterpiece, the world premiere of a 90-year-old gay-themed play, a joyful salute to a teen drag queen, and some wellintentioned misses. The improbable masterpiece is about the rise and spectacular fall of Lehman Brothers, the behemoth firm that was not too big to fail in the financial meltdown of 2008. “The Lehman Trilogy” at the National’s Olivier (to October 20) is directed by Sam Mendes and stars Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles, and Adam Godley. It is a theatrical miracle — a 2013 play by Italian Stefano Massini that has been adapted by Ben Power and his creative team into an epic tale of family and the overgrowth of capitalism in which these three brilliant actors take on all the roles from the three German Jewish brothers who emigrate to Alabama before the Civil War to their descendants — wives and even little children — to the supporting players in their enterprise. It is a model of engaging storytelling that we who are financially illiterate and even children can enjoy. I never thought I would live to see the day when I would join in a
Irfan Shamji in in Cordelia Lynn’s “One For Sorrow.”
standing ovation for a show about proto-capitalists who forged their empire on slave-picked cotton (becoming something new: “middle men”) and whose firm’s greed contributed mightily to the collapse of the world economy that brought misery to millions. There is a lot of less egregious investment in between — financing everything from the railroads and the Panama Canal to movies such as “King Kong.” They shaped our society by moving it to a consumer culture where “to buy is to exist.” But when they stopped funding innovation and just used money to make obscene amounts of more money, the die was cast. It all plays out ingeniously in their New York office at the
time of the crash without the men changing their 1840s outfits. When I asked the actors at a talkback platform the day after seeing it if they had a sense of foreboding doing this play given that financial regulation is once again being done away with, Miles said, “We’re all living in Act IV of this play.” Here’s hoping he and his brother actors have the stamina to bring the play to New York, the scene of Lehman’s flowering and demise. In 1929, Robert Graves (18951985), later famous for the novel “I, Claudius,” wrote “Goodbye to All That,” a successful World War I memoir. Maurice Browne, who produced the hit play “Journey’s End” about life in the trenches, asked
Graves to write a war play. Graves penned “But It Still Goes On” about the after-effects of the war, but incorporated primary characters who were gay and lesbian and trying to survive in a world that demanded heterosexual marriage of them. Graves was told by Browne that if he produced the play, Graves’ career would be over. Indeed, given anti-gay censorship in England that lasted into the 1960s, it is hard to see how it could have been staged in ’29. The Finborough pub theater is giving it its world premiere (to August 4 only — unfortunately). While the central character, World War I vet Dick Tompion (Alan Cox in top form) is a cynical heterosexual character given to searing and sometimes humorous tirades about the futility of life and love, his best friend, David Cassells (stoic Victor Gardener), is a handsome gay man out to marry Tompion’s doctor sister (prim Rachel Pickup), whose close friend Charlotte (sultry Sophie Ward) is a lesbian who wants to marry Dick in order to fit into an anti-gay society. The discussions of sexual identity are way ahead of their time. The melodramatic final scenes — including gay and non-gay suicides and an antigay murder — are not in keeping with the more sophisticated tone of most of the play directed by Fidelis Morgan, but perhaps Graves felt
LONDON STAGE, continued on p.28
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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Rhys Ifans in Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Eugène Ionesco’s “Exit the King.”
Sacha Dhawan and Julia Foster in Alan Bennett’s “Allelujah!,” directed by Nick Hytner.
who was Princess Margaret in “The Crown” series, though I saw her understudy Francesca Knight) trying to make it with her rich dad’s chauffeur, Jean (Eric Kofi Abrefa). Not only is there no one to care about in this pair, there is no big principle at stake in 2018. Thalissa Teixeira generates some sympathy as Kristina, the betrothed of Jean and servant of Julie, but that’s not enough to redeem this well-acted but empty production. You can, however, judge for yourself as it is transmitted to theaters starting Sept. 6 via NTLive. Much better is Patrick Marber’s new version of Eugène Ionesco’s 1962 “Exit The King” (to October 6), an intimate absurdist play about a dying 483-year-old king that is being given a grand production at the National’s big Olivier space. King Bérenger is played with panache by Rhys Ifans and supported by the formidable Indira Varma as Queen Maruerite and the always amusing Adrian Scarborough as the king’s doctor. The king is so arbitrary and capricious that he is tough to root for — despite his considerable age. It is hard not to be reminded of our even more oafish and malevolent chief executive as the king’s enemies close in on his besieged and dwindling court, though Ifans has said his character has nothing to do with Trump. What we are keenly aware of, though, is that good as this production is it has a tough time competing with the tragicomic absurdity of what we are now living through here in the US. “Consent” by Nina Raine is at the Harold Pinter Theatre to Au-
LONDON STAGE, from p.26
he had to make his characters pay for breaking norms in order to give it any chance of being produced. Still, homosexuality is treated with much more sensitivity than Lillian Hellman’s 1934 “Children’s Hour” and beat “The Boys in the Band” in breaking gay ground by 40 years. On a lighter and more heartening note, the musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” based on the true story of a gay boy from the Midlands set on being a drag queen, including at his prom, is packing them in at the Apollo (to October 6) and is set to be a motion picture. Written by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae and directed by Jonathan Buterell, it’s “Billy Elliot” meets “Kinky Boots” as sassy Jamie New (John McCrea) navigates high school with the support of his bookish Muslim friend Pritti Pasha (Lucie Shorthouse) and workingclass mum (Rebecca McKinnis), despite a scolding teacher and a dad who has blocked him. There is lively choreography from Kristie Skivington and an intimate design from Anna Fleischle that lets Jamie sparkle in his drab Sheffield school and home. Most impressive is the way middle England has taken to the show’s theme of daring to be different, rocking out to the beat of a gender non-conforming kid. All honor to the Royal Court Theatre for its dedication to new and timely plays, even if the current offerings are less than successful. “One For Sorrow” by Cordelia Lynn, in its smaller house (to August 11), imagines an upper middle class family in London coping not
just with a terrorist attack outside their doors but what happens when a stranger who is just as British but Muslim is given a place to hole up with them until the crisis passes. It’s an intriguing set-up that has its moments as when the visitor, John (Irfan Shamji), responds to the concern of the college-age daughter (Sarah Woodward) that trauma should not be normalized by saying, “Sometimes I think it’s stranger that we’ve got used to this way of living… Eating all the time, intoxicated all the time, television all the time.” John is the most interesting character amid liberal stereotypes who are not coping well. The pacing by James Macdonald, who gave us the absorbing “The Children” on Broadway last season, could be picked up. The war comes home to a British market town in Rory Mullarkey’s “Pity” at the Royal Court’s big house (to August 11) directed by Sam Pritchard. As the town is assaulted Mosul-style, the troupe of actors play it as a cross between a children’s farce and a music hall romp that worked so well in “Oh, What a Lovely War.” But “Pity” is silly without being trenchant and, as such, unmoving. Perhaps it a just revenge on us in the West for our genocidal wars on peoples of the Middle East. Also missing the mark is Polly Stenham’s version of Strindberg’s 130-year old “Miss Julie.” “Julie,” directed by Carrie Cracknell at the National’s Lyttleton (to September 8), sets the play today, when there is infinitely less drama over a spoiled rich girl (Vanessa Kirby
gust 11. What starts as a domestic drama involving friends on opposite sides of a rape case descends into bitter marital confrontations over fidelity and other values. Stephen Campbell Moore, the younger teacher in “The History Boys,” shines as Edward, a barrister good at defending indefensible clients but less capable when it comes to steering his own marriage through troubled water. Roger Michell’s pacing is bracing, but I’m not sure it is the kind of play to bring a partner to unless you’re very secure. Also On, Coming Up & Being Telecast: Out gay “national treasure” Alan Bennett is back with “Allelujah!” about a National Health Service home directed by Nick Hytner at his new Bridge Theatre (to September 29)… Bennett’s “The Madness of George III” will be transmitted to theaters starting November 20… “The Jungle,” about refugees in Calais, transferred from the National to the Playhouse Theatre (to November 3) and is a critical hit… Out gay Ian McKellen is also a hit in “King Lear” at the Duke of York’s to November 3 and telecast from September 27… “Antony & Cleopatra” with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo is on from September 18 to December 31 and telecast from December 6… Mark Rylance is doing Iago at the Shakespeare’s Globe in “Othello” (to October 13)… David Hare’s new “I’m Not Running” is at the Lyttleton (October 2 to January 31) and on NTLive from January 31… Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne’s “The Prisoner” is at the National’s Dorfman September 12 to October 4. August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 â€“ August 15, 2018
The Wrong Lessons “Miseducation of Cameron Post” charts teen’s self-discovery GARY M. KRAMER he gaining of self-knowledge is at the heart of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” bisexual filmmaker Desiree Akhavan’s (“Appropriate Behavior”) bittersweet adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s novel about a teen forging her independence and finding her identity in the face of repression. The film opens with a pastor (Steven Hauck) warning Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) and other youths in his church group that, as an adult, he has had to “undo what he did at your age, when we were vulnerable to evil.” He continues, “Fun is actually the enemy… closing the noose around your necks.” It’s standard fire and brimstone stuff, delivered in a way that Cameron, who is in love with Coley (Quinn Shephard), her best friend
Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, and Chloë Grace Moretz in Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” based on the novel by Emily M. Danforth.
in Bible Study, is sure to ignore. In fact, during their prom, Cameron and Coley sneak off to make out in a car, only to be discovered in that compromising position by
one of their dates. Following that, Cameron’s Aunt Ruth (Kerry Butler) sends her off to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy center for “re-education.”
Cameron instinctively knows there is nothing “wrong” with her same-sex attraction. She still thinks about watching “Desert Hearts” with Coley and getting frisky with her. But as she starts to assimilate at God’s Promise, Cameron starts to reflect more on her identity and what the folks who run the religious conversion camp call her “gender confusion.” The film generates its dramatic tension out of Cameron’s efforts to be true to her desires while toeing an appropriate line in the camp. The strength of Akhavan’s film is that it presents its characters authentically. Cameron is thrust into a world she is skeptical of and she learns how to cope by watching others. She sees how hard her roommate Erin (Emily Skeggs) tries to “convert” to straight, over-
CAMERON POST, continued on p.31
A Pimp’s Own Story Scotty Bowers’ revelations have muted flash in 2018 BY GARY M. KRAMER ilmmaker Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’ is an expansion of Scotty Bowers’ 2012 tell-all memoir, “Full Service,” about his experiences as a pimp for closeted celebrities. The film recounts Bowers’ experiences that began in the 1940s, when he worked at a Richfield gas station at 5777 Hollywood Boulevard. He arranged (and occasionally participated in) discreet hookups for men who liked men and women who liked women. Bowers got started “trying to help people out” — which is how he describes his particular work — when Walter Pidgeon invited the handsome young man to take a dip in his pool. Other offers soon followed, and Bowers eventually ‘hired” a coterie of attractive young men and women to provide services for celebrities
Scott Bowers in Hollywood in his heyday.
for $20 a pop — or blow, as it were. These trysts took place in nearby hotel rooms, a trailer, and even a bathroom, where a peephole was installed so folks could pay and
watch. Such was the enterprising nature of this Hollywood pimp. One of Scotty’s former hustlers, Lee Shook, who appears in the film, was a favorite of Charles
Laughton’s, and his experiences are recounted with all bravado and no shame. Bowers insists in the film (and in the book) that he felt he was doing nothing wrong, though there are concerns raised in the film about the ethics of Bowers outing dead celebrities like Pidgeon, Spencer Tracy, and Beech Dickerson who were his clients. There are also questions about whether or not anything Bowers claims is true. Tyrnauer raises these points — perhaps to demonstrate evenhandedness — but does not pursue them too deeply. For the most part, the film operates on the idea that Bowers is the real deal. How audiences respond to questions of veracity and ethics, however, will certainly color their appreciation of the man, the myths, and the film. “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” is mainly a profile
SCOTTY BOWERS, continued on p.31
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
CAMERON POST, from p.30
compensating for her same-sex attractions as a result. In contrast, Cameron’s fellow “disciples” Jane (Sasha Lane) and Adam (Forrest Goodluck) are both justly disillusioned by God’s Promise and the “treatment” that is absolutely not going to change who they are. She bonds with these like-minded teens on hikes — an approved, gender-neutral activity — and they help Cameron process her feelings and manage daily life in the program. Cameron is wary of Reverend Rick (John Gallagher, Jr.), an ex-gay instructor and Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle), the director of God’s Promise. Some of their therapy is useful to her, but when she is assigned an “iceberg” exercise — to identify behavior that needs correcting — she treats the activity with disdain. As Cameron gets to know the instructors and other disciples at God’s Promise, she is forced to confront her personal truth. Akhavan, who co-wrote the script with Cecilia Frugiuele, shrewdly contrasts faith in God with one’s inner knowledge of what they desire. When Cameron confesses she feels “phony” praying, the subtext is that she has no confusion when it comes to her sexuality. The honesty of each character in “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” illustrates how they understand themselves, their faith, and their sexuality. Cameron is a likable heroine in part because she comes to acknowledge that this program is designed “to make people hate themselves.” And she figures out how to navigate around that. Her struggles, as well as those
SCOTTY BOWERS, from p.30
— some might say hagiography — of Bowers, who turned 90 when the film started shooting. He has always been open about and unashamed of sex. Bowers even recounts his experiences being interviewed by Alfred Kinsey and taking the sexologist to an orgy where he monitored Kinsey’s erection. The Kinsey tale is one of the film’s few fascinating tidbits. Another is Bowers’ discussion of “big users” — men such as “The Seven Year Itch” GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
of other characters, are palpable. There is a very moving scene in which Cameron cries as she calls her Aunt Ruth, begging her to let her come back home. Another key exchange has a judgmental Erin confronting Cameron about shoplifting, trying to lead her down a righteous path. An intense scene between the roommates later in the film, however, casts Erin in a very different light. When Dr. Marsh subjects Adam to a haircut — she warns him on several occasions to keep his long hair out of his eyes “so God can see you” — we see the competing forces of control and defiance. The difficulties the teens here face hit home most notably in a scene involving a frustrated disciple who in time acts out on their frustration in a violent way. The episode’s violence compounds the emotional abuse these teens experience. As Cameron measures herself against the other teens as well as the adults, she learns she can empower herself by quietly rebelling and embracing her queer identity. Moretz gives a nuanced performance in the title role, artfully conveying thoughts and desires, both expressed and concealed. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is a somber drama that builds to a quietly powerful conclusion. In an age where gay conversion therapy still exists — and remains a threat to LGBTQ youth — Akhavan’s film is as timely as ever. Hopefully the film’s salient points don’t fall on deaf ears. THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST | Directed by Desiree Akhavan | Film Rise | Opens Aug. 3 | Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St. | quadcinema.com
star Tom Ewell and composer Cole Porter, who each asked Bowers to summon between 15 and 20 guys at once for sex. There is also some extraordinary footage from a 1965 drag show and orgy that took place at dancer and choreographer Tony Charmoli’s house. These naughty moments no doubt are thrown in from time to time to keep viewers’ attention from flagging. Far less compelling are present day scenes of Bowers climbing up
SCOTTY BOWERS, continued on p.39
Faith and Absolution In “Cocote,” the revenge instinct constrained by spirituality BY STEVE ERICKSON eople commonly say that the dividing line between art and entertainment is that only the former is challenging. But what exactly that means is up for debate: the books of Jane Austen and films of Howard Hawks certainly count as art, but there’s nothing particularly difficult about “Sense and Sensibility” or “His Girl Friday.” With time, the innovations of the past — like Frank Sinatra making the first pop album devised as a cohesive whole with “In the Wee Small Hours” — become commonplace and mainstream. On the other hand, present-day pop culture has a tendency to make its equivalent in the past a lot less accessible in retrospect: just ask anyone who has tried showing a Western to a teenager lately. Also, both the left and right tend to only praise art that reinforces the political beliefs they already had. If you’ve attended enough film festivals, “challenging” styles become familiar: in 2018, there’s nothing all that adventurous about “slow cinema.”
Vicente Santos in Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’ “Cocote.”
Dominican director Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias’ “Cocote” is a genuine whatsit, coupling a revenge narrative to an exploration of his country’s devout spirituality while constantly changing aspect ratio and going from color to black and white. One can assume that his audience — which, at least in
America, is going to be a rather secular arthouse one — is likely to feel engaged with the violent aspects of his story and detached from its depictions of Christian and syncretic religious ritual. So Arias went in the opposite direction. The religious services are shot in closeup, and he emphasizes their eu-
phoric power with percussive music. “Cocote” does not have much conventional narrative drive, and while it actually is a vigilante story of sorts, Arias is visibly bored with that aspect of his film and trying to distance himself and his audience from it. “Cocote” begins with black and white footage of fire and smoke, in an old-fashioned 1.33 aspect ratio. If I’m not mistaken, its protagonist Alberto (Vicente Santos) lurks in the background. Alberto’s father Eusebio has just been murdered, and he heads back to his hometown for the funeral. An evangelical Christian, he tries to live up to Jesus’ peaceful words as much as possible. But he learns that a powerful man in his hometown killed his dad. Pressure grows on him to continue the cycle of violence by avenging the murder. For me, the way “Cocote” often seems to be Arias’ bid to establish himself as a virtuoso director is off-putting. It includes several near-360-degree circular pans. The shifts of aspect ratio are frequent and seemingly random, but
COCOTE, continued on p.33
Le Mot Juste A man struggling to translate poetry and his grief BY STEVE ERICKSON ob Tregenza has worn many hats: distributor, director, cinematographer. His company Cinema Parallel released films by Michael Haneke, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, and Béla Tarr in the US before going under in the late 1990s. He went on to work as a cinematographer for Tarr, as well as Alex Cox. However, he’s only been able to direct three more films since completing “Talking To Strangers” in 1987, and although he’s American, his latest, “Gavagai,” was shot in Norway.
Andreas Lust in Rob Tregenza’s “Gavagai.”
The adventurousness of all Tregenza’s work comes with a real commercial price, but both “Talking To Strangers” and “Gavagai” are also the kind of films that show what independent cinema can achieve when aiming for aesthetic adventure rather than an audition for a Netflix series or a superhero movie. Made two years ago, “Gavagai” was rejected by almost every film festival to which Tregenza submitted it. It mystifies me how such a strong film could get passed over so consistently. I suspect
the only reason it eventually found an American distributor is that critic Richard Brody wrote a review raving about it in The New Yorker last September, at a time when its sole screening in this country had taken place in Maine. Austrian actor Andreas Lust plays Carsten Neuer, a man devoted to the project of translating Norwegian poet Tarjei Vesaas’ work into Chinese. He’s haunted by visions of a woman in chalky make-
COCOTE, continued on p.33
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
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COCOTE, from p.32
Arias shows a rare command of equally expressive close-ups and long shots. He stages key scenes so that the audience can hear the characters but barely see them with a deliberate desire to upend easy identification. He loves framing extreme long shots that reduce Alberto to a dot but nevertheless keep him visible. He has the skill to make the Dominican Republicâ€™s forests and beaches look pretty in a very conventional way, but he subverts this; the filmâ€™s narrative emphasizes the human ugliness amidst such natural beauty and Albertoâ€™s inability to get dragged into it. In the press kit, Arias lays out his intentions very clearly and bluntly. Heâ€™s out to resurrect the politically and formally radical Latin American cinema of the 1960s. He also wants to avoid the tropes of films like â€œCity of God,â€? although he doesnâ€™t mention it by name, which foreground violence as the central fact of Latin American life. â€œCocoteâ€? makes violence central to its narrative, then makes narrative itself subservient to visual style in its aesthetic. The film also reflects a lot of thought about sound design: dialogue overlaps between scenes, sound effects build to overwhelming crescendos,
GAVAGAI from p.32
up and traditional Chinese dress. But most of the film is devoted to his quotidian life, as he travels to rural Norway and meets a tour guide (Mikkel Gaup). The guide gives him a ride to a remote inn. As â€œGavagaiâ€? continues, we learn the probable source of Carstenâ€™s hallucinations: his wife, who was Chinese, has recently died. Thus, his project of translation has now taken on an added emotional weight. Carstenâ€™s eventual goal is scattering her ashes over a mountainâ€™s edge. Tregenza was fond of long takes well before he began working with Tarr. Even so, â€œGavagaiâ€? shows the influence of the Hungarian directorâ€™s tireless camera movements. Particularly in its first half, Tregenza, who also worked as his own cinematographer (and editor and co-writer), relies on Steadicam GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 â€“ August 15, 2018
and music blurs the line between melody and noise. Arias has emphasized his desire to depict Los Misterios, the indigenous Dominican religious synthesis of African and Catholic beliefs roughly akin to Cubaâ€™s SanterĂa. Returning home, Alberto is faced with the fact that his fairly conventional Christianity is actually somewhat alien in a rural context. Ariasâ€™ background lies in documentary; he has made a featurelength essay film, â€œSanta Teresa and Other Stories.â€? But if â€œCocoteâ€? has traces of non-fiction, it goes out of its way to remind the audience weâ€™re watching a carefully constructed film, especially through its constantly shrinking and expanding use of the screen. In some ways, it brings back certain debates about the necessity of political cinema being formally radical from the late â€˜60s and early â€˜70s. But the film also offers a sensual pleasure beyond that, even as it keeps trying to sabotage the commercial elements of beauty and violence it contains. Itâ€™s fascinatingly divided. COCOTE | Directed by Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias | Grasshopper Film | In Spanish with English subtitles | Opens Aug. 3 | IFC Center | 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. | ifccenter.com
tracking shots. In 90 minutes, this film contains only 21 shots. The interaction between the camera and characters is so complex that the film comes close to incorporating elements of dance in its framing and blocking, recalling Max OphĂźls as much as Tarr (whose bone-deep gloom it rejects, even as it takes grief as its subject matter). Shooting in 35mm, Tregenza captures an amazingly rich palette of shades of green. Some scenes look so uncanny that I wondered if the color was digitally altered in post-production, but Tregenza has stated his proud fondness for analog filmmaking. Tregenza has supplied a bibliography to accompany his film, relying heavily on philosopher Martin Heidegger. The title â€œlost in translationâ€? was already taken by Sofia Coppola, of course, but the word
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EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT STARTS FRIDAY, AUGUST 3 Q&As with Director MATT TYRNAUER OPENING WEEKEND! FRIDAY & SATURDAY after the 7:35 show and SUNDAY after the 3:00 show.
eeeUOgQWbg\Sea\gQ[S`QVÂ’%& $&!" GAVAGAI, continued on p.36
Several Solid Innings in Cooperstown Glimmerglass presents “Silent Night,” “West Side Story” BY DAVID SHENGOLD limmerglass presents two American works this summer: the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Silent Night” by Kevin Puts (libretto by the justly busy Mark Campbell) and centenarian Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.” I had seen and enjoyed the Puts/ Campbell piece before — moving but not mawkish in portraying World War I’s unofficial “Christmas Truce.” We have three groups of soldiers depicted — Scottish, German, and French — with some backstories and personal dramas given, including class tensions, family ties, and (oddly, when one thinks of it) only two love stories, both straight, one French and one German. What binds the warring troops together peacefully for a while are two things that the Betsy deVoses of the world have cut from our schools: music and languages. They’re united in the dashing form of Sprink, a noted tenor in the German army. His bravery and humanism transform the difficult situation in the trenches. Sprink’s character is supposed to be an established opera star, not a young novice, so I regret that the company didn’t call upon William Burden, who sang the role wonderfully in Minnesota and Philadelphia. Young tenor Arnold Livingston Geis coped pretty well in a testing part that suggests the contours and colors of Burden’s voice and requires his linguistic proficiency. As his diva girlfriend, promisingly powerful soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley acted well but sang flat at the top until well into the evening. The three baritone lieutenants — Jonathan Bryan the Scot, Michael Hewitt the German, and Michael Miller the Frenchman — all sang and acted well, as did tenor Christian Sanders as the bitter Jonathan Dale and baritone Conor McDonald in a charming turn as the barber Ponchel. Brian Wallin (German General) coped manfully with cruelly Straussian tenor writing. Tomer Zvulun staged the piece in telling strokes, balancing the comic and “human interest” mo-
K ARLI CADEL
Amanda Castro in the Glmmerglass production of “West Side Story.”
ments with the darker tragedy and fully utilizing a clever three-level set by Erhard Rom. As ever, Robert Wierzel lit with distinction. Victoria (Vita) Tzykun’s costumes looked very good but left too many officers resembling one another. Joe Isenberg staged plausible fights. The composer, who was present, and cast were lucky to have Nicole Paiement in utter command in the pit. “Silent Night” is a worthwhile and moving experience in the theater. General director Francesca Zambello brought in an enjoyable, show-bizzy “West Side Story.” Certainly, this 1957 creation by four amazingly gifted gay men (Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, and Arthur Laurents) belongs in the company’s musical series, and (heard July 16) David Charles Abell conducted with aplomb. Admirably, Brian Vu’s Riff was able to keep up with the more highly trained dancers among the Jets, and he voiced his music with good tone and an elegance rare in this macho part. But his speech (educated Los Angeleno) was as unconvincing as Joseph Leppek’s Midwestern Boy Scoutishness. Granted, most every Tony since the late lamented Larry Kert created the part have come off verbally as something far from the recently reformed street brawler Tony should be. Leppek deployed too-much Ben Platt-style tremolo in his singing and tended to one mezzoforte dy-
namic save for a few falsetto effects; surely a wide palette is needed. In her third Glimmerglass role, Vanessa Becerra contributed a likable, credibly acted, and notably well-sung Maria. Contrary to tradition, she sang the anthemic “Somewhere” — and did it very well. Her very best singing came where Marias’ pitch often falters, with the tricky “I Have A Love.” Becerra’s excellence in the duet “A Boy Like That” underlined that Amanda Castro, an electric Anita of riveting presence and a superb dancer, lacked volume for the heavily scored moments (though Abell responded considerately). Still, when Castro was onstage everyone else kind of receded. But Tesia Kwarteng (Rosalia) and Brennan Martinez (Consuelo) furnished fine, spirited singing in their scenes with Becerra’s Maria. Aided more evenly than the “Silent Night” cast by Kathryn LaBouff’s diction coaching, the whole ensemble performed well, if — inevitably — without much genuine sense of period or class tension. Hence we got pathos and laughs, but little danger. Only the persistent “mainland” denigration of Puerto Ricans seemed sadly timely. Zambello’s direction and Anju Cloud’s energy underlined genderfluid Anybodys’ heroism and insight — she’s often the only one who knows what’s happening. Michael Hewitt made Diesel as imposing vocally as physically. Olivia Barbieri (Teresita), Rachel Kay (Graziella),
and Joanna Latini (Velma) also showcased dancing chops. Perhaps too charismatic for his role, Schyler Vargas made more of Chino then one usually gets. Zachary Owen, with a fine speaking voice, was duly nasty as Lieutenant Schrank. Not for the first time at Glimmerglass, we got gay minstrelsy that had the baseball crowd chortling — this via the character of Gladhand. Julio Monge reproduced some of the original Jerome Robbins choreography that set “West Side” apart; but the Cooperstown stage proved too small to allow its full impact. Zambello likes — and as a director, copes unusually well with — epics like the “Ring” and “War and Peace.” Next year brings “Show Boat” and the — to me — cloying, politically retrograde “Ghosts of Versailles.” What about Glimmerglass finally doing “L’Elisir d’Amore” or “L’amico Fritz?” Or — as I heard several people saying at intermission — bringing back the Baroque works that helped put the festival on the map? “West Side” is effectively sold out, but one can try for returns; “Silent Night” continues through August 23; the bill also includes “Cunning Little Vixen” with Eric Owens plus Joshua Hopkins as Rossini’s lively Barber. Martina Arroyo’s “Prelude to Performance” series, presenting very young singers well coached by established professionals in staged performances, has become an established operatic highlight every July at Hunter’s Danny Kaye Playhouse. This year, due to limited funds, the troupe staged just one show apiece of two of the (very) few great operatic comedies, “Don Pasquale” and “Falstaff.” I could only attend the Verdi (July 13) and was very glad I did so. Thanks to Ian Campbell’s sensibly straightforward production — spare, save for handsome traditional costumes by Charles R. Caine — nothing encumbered our enjoyment of the quicksilver score. Replacing ailing music director Willie Anthony Waters on fairly short notice, the
OPERA, continued on p.36
August 2 – August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
Tireless Man of the Stage Austin Pendleton reflects on storied past, vibrantly active present BY DAVID NOH ustin Pendleton must be the hardest working man in New York theater; he always seems to be either acting in or directing some production. This year is an especially busy one for him, and I was thrilled for the chance to sit down with him in the quiet lobby of the Signature Theatre and get the full 411 — past, present and future — from this true gentleman of the stage, whose eyes, indeed, entire being, brim over with intelligence and kindness. Walking down 42nd Street with him later, we were stopped by a handsome young Italian fellow who asked him for a selfie. Pendleton smilingly obliged and the tourist said, “Thank you, Mr. Larrabee!” addressing Pendleton by his character’s name in the 1972 film “What’s Up, Doc?” That title and 1992’s “My Cousin Vinnie” are the two films for which he is most recognized. We first talked about “Wars of the Roses: Henry VI and Richard III,” which he adapted and direct and acts in for a limited engagement at the 124 Bank Street Theater through August 19. “Matthew de Rogatis is playing Richard,” he said. “I slightly knew him as he had played Hamlet and was impressive. He came to me and said he wanted to play the part and I said, ‘Okay, but can we put together parts of other plays that had been written before, like part three of Henry VI? Because at the beginning of part three you get a really touching portrait of Richard in relation to his father, who then is horribly murdered. Richard is traumatized by that and there is nothing left for him but to get the crown and there’s all these people in the way, so he gets increasingly murderous. If we make them all one play, which is not as long as either one of them alone, you get a real arc of Richard III and how he gets turned into an evil person.’ “I am playing Henry VI, which is actually a small part, and next
GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
Austin Pendleton, coming up on his 80th birthday, has a full slate of ongoing and upcoming projects.
season, I will be in ‘Choir Boy,’ by Tarell Alvin McCraney, which we originally did five years ago at Manhattan Theatre Club in the little theater on 55th Street. Now, MTC has decided to do it in their Broadway space at the Samuel Friedman Theatre, and Tarell has been doing revisions, which I didn’t think it needed, but they’re very good. “The play, directed by Trip Cullman, is set at a prep school for African-American boys. I am the only white person, a teacher, who marched with Martin Luther King in the ‘60s. Homosexuality is a big issue in the play, kind of set in the present day, and the hero, played by Jeremy Pope, is openly gay and sings in the choir. The choir is one of the great things about this school, and he has a spectacular voice, and a whole lot of conflict arises because of his sexuality.” On top of those commitments, Pendleton just directed a revival of the play “The Saintliness of Margery Kemp,” written by John Wulpe in 1958, which was having its first preview the day of our interview. “It stars Andrus Nichols of Bedlam Theater, who was the producers’ idea, and she is just wonderful.
She plays the title role, an actual woman who in the 14th century believed she was a mystic and left her husband and children to go on a pilgrimage, which you can imagine was not usually done back then. She dictated her experiences, which were turned into a book and some of the speeches in the play come directly from that. She was deluded, but also a very smart, interesting person. Wulpe is 90 and had presented me with about four of his plays, all of which I liked, and I chose this one to do, because this is not like any other play I have ever come across. “It was a catastrophe when it was done originally, with Frannie Sternhagen who is a brilliant actress and perfect for the part, so it must have been that everything else was bad. The playwright still can’t mention the reviews of the time without choking up. A couple of people at our invited dress said it was like a female ‘Peer Gynt’ and how wonderful that it is a journey play about a woman, for a change.” Mentioning his upcoming 80th birthday, Pendleton said, “You have to do two things I have learned in
this career: you have to care a lot, and not care at all, at the same time. “This business is so volatile, ruled by whim and opinion. One day you’re hot and then you’re cold as a slab of beef in the freezer. There was a point in my career when I did a season in Brooklyn, and all my reviews were terrible, and all of a sudden I couldn’t get auditions for anything. I would get work as a director but as an actor it was over. “People became aware that I was available so I would play Shakespeare sometimes in church lofts and basements and I taught, which was how I made a living, and directing jobs. My acting was just done in showcases, and its wrong to call them fallback positions, because they’re really interesting to do. If you get some real setbacks as an actor and you don’t go onstage for a while, and then you do, it’s too important for the wrong reasons. So I kind of learned that through a series of disasters. I teach this in my classes, tell stories about when directors said really harsh things to me. My students say, ‘Well, that’s terrible!’ And I say, ‘No it’s not. They’re trying to put on a show, and if you’re not pulling your weight they’re going to get mad at you and say so — and they have a right to. In his long career, Pendleton has worked with seemingly everyone, on stage and screen, and I kept throwing names at him, and here’s what I learned. Elizabeth Taylor, whom he directed in her stage debut in 1981 in “The Little Foxes”: “I was in that one as an actor before, directed by Mike Nichols, with Anne Bancroft, so when I was asked to direct it 14 years later, I knew this brilliant play very, very well. Taylor was great, I mean she had real presence on stage. You didn’t have to worry about that. She had stage sophistication and she was a great colleague with everybody, including me. She was one of the people.
AUSTIN PENDLETON, continued on p.39
GAVAGAI, from p.33
â€œgavagaiâ€? says something similar. Invented by writer W. V. O. Quine, it cannot be simply defined but alludes to the difficulty of fully knowing words in another language. When Carsten and Gaup, who is Norwegian, talk to each other, they speak in English, but in this filmâ€™s brief moments where Norwegians speak together, their dialogue goes unsubtitled. â€œGavagaiâ€? means to evoke the real insecurities of traveling in a foreign land: not everything is meant to be fully understood. Anyway, the dialogue generally seems less important than Carstenâ€™s voice-over delivery
OPERA, from p.34
experienced Richard Cordova led a secure, buoyant account. The workâ€™s tricky vocal ensembles never faltered. Manhattan School of Music grad JosĂŠ Luis Maldonado, a born Falstaff, enjoyed a personal triumph, singing in a resonant tone with fine legato, trumpeting high notes
of Vesaasâ€™ poetry. â€œGavagaiâ€? toys knowingly with Orientalist imagery, but puts it in context: it clearly belongs to Carstenâ€™s mental bank of favorite depictions of women, rather than Tregenzaâ€™s. In some ways, his whole project of translating Vesaas into Chinese comes to feel like a red herring, even an elaborate and unhealthy ruse to prolong coming to terms with the loss of his wife. â€œGavagaiâ€? avoids simplistic accusations about appropriation and Westernersâ€™ â€œincorrectâ€? interest in Asian culture, but its depiction of Carstenâ€™s fantasy life makes one wonder about how he might have viewed his wife as a muse. The film
builds towards an emotional climax, with a different rhythm than a conventional drama. Tregenza refuses to end with Carstenâ€™s catharsis, even if he places great importance on it. He even draws attention away from Lustâ€™s excellent performance during that scene by laying a voice-over on top. Filmmakers with whom Iâ€™ve talked have told me that festivals and distributors are increasingly looking for work thatâ€™s topical in a shallow and predictable way. An emotional and philosophical reflection on language and grief that values poetry (which might be a political statement when Forbes magazine publishes op-ed pieces calling for
public libraries to be destroyed and Amazon to take over their former functions), â€œGavagaiâ€? is not going to appeal to the arthouse audiences understandably looking for heroes in a hostile society the way the documentaries â€œRBGâ€? and â€œWonâ€™t You Be My Neighbor?â€? did earlier this year. But if one wants to see an inheritor to the mantle of Tarkovsky and Bergman, â€œGavagaiâ€? is essential viewing.
and unleashing comic oomph. The beautiful Alice, Nina Mutalifu, unveiled a pearly, career-worthy lyric soprano one size less expansive than this particular part demands. Gerardo de la Torre wisely didnâ€™t force his smooth lyric baritone as Ford. Maria Breaâ€™s gracious presence and upper register made her Nannetta pleasant company. The Fenton, Huang Te Yu, had jumped
in as cover; he projected best at the top and managed to keep his place, no easy feat. Molly Burke (Meg) showed a delightful comic persona and a strong, solid mezzo. Emily Skilling (Quickly), not free of the shtick character mezzos seem to channel from birth, won laughs and phrased musically but sounded vocally more apt for Handel or Mendelssohn. Kyu Young Leeâ€™s in-
cisive Dr. Caius and Christopher Nazarianâ€™s mordant-sounding Pistola also impressed. One left admiring these fine young talents but wishing this accomplished â€œFalstaffâ€? wasnâ€™t just a one-off occasion.
GAVAGAI | Directed by Rob Tregenza | Shadow Distribution | In English and Norwegian without English subtitles | Opens Aug. 3 | Cinema Village | 22 E. 12th St. | cinemavillage.com
David Shengold (shengold@yahoo. com) writes about opera for many venues.
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AUSTIN PENDLETON, from p.35
“We got so much attention, and would have press conferences in every town we went to, the only show I’ve ever been involved with that did that, like it was the most important event in the world! I kept wanting to say, ‘It’s a really good play and they’re all good actors.’ “Yes, Taylor’s eyes were really purple; she was beautiful, in every way, actually. And it was the last thing Maureen Stapleton ever did on stage. With her big scene at the top of Act Three, I had staged it like they always do it, for her big revelations. She said, ‘This is not the way this happens. When somebody is making a confession about drinking, they don’t sit still.’ “So I said, ‘Okay, you stage it.’ And she came up with this incredible staging where everybody was still and she kept moving around, sometimes behind people. Walter Kerr, who was the critic of the era, hated my direction but wrote that she had somehow triumphed in her great scene over the hideous staging of the director. I thought, ‘First of all it’s brilliant staging, and I can say that because I didn’t do it. You’re missing the whole point of the staging.’ That was brilliant, and in my whole directing life, I think I’ve staged maybe three scenes that were that good.” Lillian Hellman and Mike Nichols: “Mike came to DC when we were trying out ‘Little Foxes’ and we had breakfast the next morning. I miss Lillian — she was very difficult, like a lot of playwrights but the thing that distinguished her was she was very funny and she was also capable of being very amused by other people.
SCOTTY BOWERS, from p.31
a ladder to inspect a roof, shopping for cat food, and emptying a garage storage unit. Bowers shares his life with his wife Lois, whom he’s known for 35 years. The couple live in a very messy house; Bowers is a hoarder. Lois sings in nightclubs from time to time, and there is footage of Scotty enjoying her performances. She has no intention of reading her husband’s book. These moments reveal little, though a scene of Scotty tending bar at a party — in his 90s! —leads to a GayCityNews.nyc | August 2 – August 15, 2018
“Mike said, ‘The thing about Lillian is that she’s usually right but she usually sounds like she’s wrong.’ She would state things so dogmatically you’d think, ’Oh, come on!’ You would have to listen past the way she said things. She was a very sexy babe, and I got to know her quite well. She was as hot as a pistol — it was her brain - but she looked awful. God was kind, though, because she had to spend a lot of time in LA because of her emphysema, so she wasn’t there for rehearsals. When Mike directed ‘The Little Foxes,’ he finally just asked her to leave. “Lillian hated Anne Bancroft [playing Regina Giddens] and was after Mike all the time to fire her. But she was very good in it, and she saved me. I was going down for the count and Mike was so frustrated with me, with just cause. I thought, ‘I’m gonna be taken into a mailroom and murdered!’ “Anne noticed this and said, ‘You look unhappy.’ I said, ‘Well, Mike says he’s tried everything.’ ‘He says shit like that, don’t worry,’ she said and watched what I was doing. She said, ‘I figured out last night what he doesn’t like. It’s the way you move. You have to move differently. Your character is stupid and he knows he’s stupid. People who feel like that don’t lead with their head, they lead with their crotch. Now come into my dressing room and walk back and forth the way I say.’ “I did it, and instantly Mike was excited, and Anne said, ‘Don’t you tell him I said this.’ Many years later, I did tell him. I was fairly certain I was going to be fired and there she was, playing Regina, and she takes the time to think of this, the
kindness and also the smarts!” Tony Kushner and Meryl Streep: “I was in that production of ‘Mother Courage’ in Central Park, directed by George Wolfe, with Meryl Streep, and it was just as exciting as you’d think. One night my daughter and a friend of hers came and were backstage. Meryl was wonderful to them, and then we left and were walking from the backstage of the Delacorte Theater through the park. Almost everyone had already gone, but out from behind a tree pops Tony Kushner! “I hadn’t even been aware that he was there that night and he said, ‘Tonight’s performance meant more to me than any of anything I’ve ever written! Brilliant!’ That was a Sunday night, so when I returned for the performance on Tuesday night, the first thing I said to George Wolfe was, ‘Hey, Tony jumped out from behind a tree, and said never has any production of his been so good. How good is this? “George said, ‘Then why did I get 22 single-spaced pages of notes from him?’ “I said, ‘Well, if he hadn’t liked it, you would have gotten 55 pages.’ We were three performances away from press night and it’s a very hard play. Meryl handled it by saying, “Okay, let’s just take this a note at a time and figure out which ones we can actually do!’ She was so intelligently relaxed about it, whereas a lot of actors I know would have said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t take this on!’ “Tony writes with such density that you have to spend time trying to figure out a note, like ‘I think he just means faster!’ He’s so adorable. He would have even beaten down Ethel Merman, he’s just so
full of thoughts, but that’s why his writing is so good, too.” Billy Wilder, his director on “The Front Page”: “Adorable — he treated me like a prince because I was kind of a wreck, and he was lovely. I think that Jack [Lemmon] and Walter [Matthau] were having a rough time on that movie. I never sensed any tension in our scenes, but they’d confide, ‘He’s driving me crazy,’ and both swore they were never going to work with him again, which of course they did, they’re not fools. “I’d been in big movies before, but not in a while, and for some reason I was nervous about it. Billy picked up on this the first day and addressed it but not directly, like asking me point blank, ‘Why are you nervous?’ I would do a scene and he would just calm me down by saying, ‘Ok, we go again,’ and he would put his hand on my shoulder and not say a word, walk back, and call ‘Action!’ I teach directing down at HB Studio and realize that sometimes the best direction is to just shut up and put a hand on their shoulder.”
story about a threesome involving Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. How much sizzle is there in Bowers’ revelations? For many of the stars featured in the documentary, their queer sexuality has been discussed at length for years: Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, George Cukor, and Katharine Hepburn. Perhaps the only “surprise” — and it is no reveal for anyone who read the book — is Bowers’ discussion of procuring same-sex partners for the Duke of Windsor and his divorcée wife, Wallis Simpson, for whom Edward
VIII gave up his throne. Does knowing that stars had same-sex affairs — particularly in an era when that was forbidden, career-ending, and even illegal — make them more human? “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” thinks so, and Tyrnauer makes efforts to contextualize homosexuality in the industry in particular and society at large. There are brief discussions of the Production Code that led to morals clauses in Hollywood contracts that restricted sexual openness, how Confidential magazine
“named names” and killed careers, and how AIDS impacted Hollywood and America. Scotty Bowers, the film suggests, led a remarkable life. But at this late date, neither that life nor Bowers himself comes off as particularly remarkable. And that’s a significant point all on its own.
WARS OF THE ROSES: HENRY VI AND RICHARD III | 124 Bank Street Theater, 124 Bank St. btwn. Greenwich & Washington Sts. | Aug. 1-19: Wed.-Sat. at 7 p.m.; Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. | $25 at brownpapertickets.com/event/3396975 THE SAINTLINESS OF MARGERY KEMPE | The Duke on 42nd Street, 229 W. 42nd St. | Through Aug. 26: Tue.-Thu. at 7:30 p.m.; Fri, Sat 8 p.m.; Sun. at 7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. | $55-$92 at tickets.dukeon42.org or 646-223-3010 | Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission
SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD | Directed by Matt Tyrnauer | Greenwich Entertainment | Opens Aug. 3 | IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. | ifccenter.com
August 2 â€“ August 15, 2018 | GayCityNews.nyc
August 2, 2018