VOLUME 6, NUMBER 17 JUNE 19, 2014
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL'S KITCHEN
The Rocky Road to Pre-K BY JOSH ROGERS Pre-K is like many things in life — you’re either in or out — so you might think there’s just two stories to tell, but really there are many more than that. Talk to Principal Alice Hom at Chinatown’s P.S 124 and she’ll tell you that she still has a full-day pre-K classroom to fill, and there’s only a few days before the first enrollment deadline, June 20. But she’s confident the last 18 spots will be taken by a mix of families. Some have not yet registered for their spot, others are on the waiting list, still more are outer borough people who work nearby and who have been coming in the last few days. It’s not surprising that Hom will not only be able to offer seats outside of her school’s small zone area, but also entirely out of sprawling District 2, which includes almost all of the broad Downtown area as well as parts of Midtown and the Upper East Side. Chinatown will be an oasis of pre-K this September as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s large expansion of full-day seats. But even with the expansion, nearly two out of every five of families who applied, including mine, were not offered any public school seats anywhere (we’re waitlisted at six). The number of waiting four-year-olds, 37 percent, has to be much higher in Downtown Manhattan — which so far has seen minimal expansion outside of Chinatown, even in places where there’s room. Chinatown actually has more full-day seats than it does eligible children — 145 spots for every 100 children — according to an analysis done by WNYC’s SchoolBook. But the two other Lower Manhattan sections grouped in the survey, each have only six spots for every 100 four-year-olds.
P.S. 234 PRE-K? That’s why Catherine McVay Hughes, Community Board 1’s chairperson, asked last week if a pre-K classroom could
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Landmark Book Gives Voice and Visibility to the Transgender Community BY RYAN HOWE When she was 12 years old, Laura Erickson-Schroth picked up her mom’s copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” She flipped through the pages, entranced by what she was reading. The book — which took a radical stance (for 1973) on women’s bodies, sexuality, and rights, was filled with stories from women of all walks of life and backgrounds. It spoke to the self-proclaimed tomboy. “I was always kind of dressing like a boy and playing sports, so gender was something that was always present in my life,” Erickson-Schroth said. “I was always being told what to do for gendered reasons, and reading this book with so many women breaking the stereotypes, it just stuck with me.” “Our Bodies, Ourselves” continued to influence Erickson-Schroth through her teenage years and into adulthood. Five years ago, the idea that women should be telling their own stories led her to start a project that would give transgender and gender non-conforming
people an outlet to share their own stories, and educate readers on trans issues. The result, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” was released by Oxford University Press on May 20. Taking her cue from “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” Erickson-Schroth wanted to produce something with voices from every part of the trans community and share trans health information with the public. “In ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ I was captivated not only by the quotes from hundreds of women, but the way they challenged the medical world’s monopoly on knowledge about women’s bodies,” Erickson-Schroth said. “That’s what we did with our book.” Reading as part educational, part memoir, part picture book, “Trans Bodies, Tran Selves” prides itself on being a book that is not meant to be flipped through from cover to cover. It is to be referenced, and picked
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One person with one good “ahha” moment can change the world. Now, it’s too late to be the one who came up with the great name (and the even better idea) that is “Lesbians Who Tech” — but as for joining the effort, you’re right on time. Founded in 2012 as a way to bring together queer women and allies in all area of the tech industry, this San Francisco-based summit is making its NYC debut with four days of workshops, talks, and panels. Led by queer women who represent the next generation of technical leaders, joined by the people who’ve paved the way, the conference addresses topics such as reframing the issue of diversity in tech, and using tech to support global LGBTQ activists. There’s also a session where entrepreneurs pitch apps to prospective investors, a “Queer Women Who Code” panel, and talks on mobile commerce technology, censorship, and controlling your personal brand. The event ends with an afterparty, at which facial recognition will be achieved without the assistance of software.
Photo courtesy of Lesbians Who Tech
Facebook’s Sara Sperling talks about the “improv mindset” as a fast track to tech bliss (part of June 20’s morning session).
June 19-22, at NYU Law School (40 Washington Square South). For a discounted pass, visit lesbianswhotech.org and enter the code LWTCHELSEA.
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Finding Community and Resources in ‘Trans Selves’ Continued from page 1 up and put down at different times, Erickson-Schroth explained. Complete with a glossary defining different terms used in the trans community and an introductory chapter providing an overview of terminology and concepts that will help readers delve into the rest of the book, the project is first and foremost an educational tool for the trans community, allies, and doctors. Another goal was to share as many viewpoints and personal stories as possible. The contributing authors come from multiple backgrounds with expertise in law, health, culture, and policy. Quotes from more than 3,000 people appear scattered through the chapters. When Erickson-Schroth studied at Middlebury College in Vermont from 1999 to 2003, trans issues weren’t something that was on people’s minds. It wasn’t until after she graduated that some of her friends came out as trans, she started meeting other trans people, and getting trans patients in medical
Photo by Rita Moreira
Laura Erickson-Schroth, editor of “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.”
school, that it became more present in her life. She quickly started noticing a disconnect between health providers and trans people. “Health providers were either hostile or uneducated about trans issues,” she said. “But trans people saw health pro-
viders as gatekeepers because that was their role for a really long time.” With information scattered all over the web, Erickson-Schroth and her team sought to compile all of the essential material into a book covering health issues, employment, social transition,
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Finney Boylan
Best-selling memoirist Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote the intro to “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.”
and community building. Psychotherapist and trans activist Laura Jacobs got involved with the
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A Landmark Resource for the Transgender Community ‘I have been working in the community for years, and this is the first book that really is geared toward educating the community and allies on a number of issues without it being written in an academic or medical way,’ Jacobs said.
Courtesy of Oxford University Press
“Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” was released by Oxford University Press on May 20.
Continued from page 3 project two years ago, when she met Erickson-Schroth while doing similar public speaking and activism. Jacobs contributed a few excerpts and helped edit the book — but to her, it was much more than that. “Trans
Bodies, Trans Selves” is providing a resource that she didn’t have growing up. Jacobs recalls that in the '70s and '80s there wasn’t much out there about trans issues except for scandalous stuff and porn. “To see this piece of work created is so incredible,” she said. When she transitioned in the early 90s, it was still difficult for Jacobs to find literature on trans issues. Even with the few books she could find in the library, and sneak out between other books, or find on the Internet, she was still left with very stigmatized information. She continued to look for information, or role models, or resources to help better her knowledge of the physical aspect or
the stigma issues. So to be a part of something that put a lot of the information in one place really spoke to her. “I have been working in the community for years, and this is the first book that really is geared toward educating the community and allies on a number of issues without it being written in an academic or medical way,” Jacobs said. “A high school student could pick this up and follow it.” Jacobs not only contributed to the book, but is also continuing the work of the project as she serves on the board of trustees for the Trans Bodies, Trans Selves nonprofit organization (see transbodies.com). The board is currently raising money to help get the
book into the hands of those who can’t afford it, or who need it most. They are also working on spreading the word about the book, and gathering more stories for future editions. Although the book incorporates thousands of trans identifying people, the goal is to get more people from outside the U.S. and Canada to tell their stories. The estimated date for the next book release is 2020. “Right now we are working on getting the first issue to as many people as possible,” Jacobs said. “What’s really wonderful about [the book], is that we got so many people to contribute. Every chapter is incorporating a different person’s perspective.” Erickson-Schroth hopes “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves” catches on like the book it was modeled after, and can continue to publish updates as time goes on. On the back cover of 1973’s “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” are the books last words: “Please share this book with others.” “That’s still the most important message I can share with people,” Erickson-Schroth said. “Spread the word. Share this book with everyone.”
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June 19, 2014
Trans Man Sues City After Being Tossed from Locker Room
Bryan Ellicott said he was “humiliated and embarrassed’ by being asked to leave a men’s locker room at a city pool last summer.
BY PAUL SCHINDLER A 24-year-old Manhattan transgender man is filing suit against the Parks Department and the city for being denied access to locker room facilities at a public pool in Staten Island that he and friends had used regularly since they were youths. Bryan John Ellicott alleges that on July 21 of last year, three staff members at the Joseph H. Lyons Pool, a Parks Department facility, ordered him to leave the men’s locker room as he was changing his T-shirt prior to using the pool. He was originally approached, he said, by one pool staffer, who explained he had received a complaint from someone who said he shouldn’t be there. When Ellicott asked to speak to a supervisor, two other staff members backed up the first one, telling him he needed to either use the women’s locker room or leave. “I was humiliated and embarrassed for being singled out,” Ellicott told reporters outside the New York County Supreme Court building in Foley Square on June 3. “It was sad and hurtful.” According to the complaint filed on his behalf
by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TDLEF) and pro bono attorneys from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, the third pool employee, the most senior of the three, “appeared uninterested in the matter,” telling him “something to the effect of, ‘If you don’t like it, you can leave.’” Ellicott said the staff members cited no specific law, regulation, or policy in ordering him to leave the locker room. He said he has not used public pools in the city since the incident out of fear of facing further humiliation. The lawsuit cites the 2002 amendment to city human rights law that bars discrimination based on gender identity and expression, alleging that the pool staff members acted in a discriminatory fashion in denying Ellicott access to a public accommodation. “We are asking the court to send a clear message,” said Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director. “Transgender people need to be treated equally. They can’t be treated differently, as second-class citizens.” The suit cites a variety of policies, in New York City agencies and according to federal government guidelines for its agencies, that afford transgender people access to single-sex facilities, including locker rooms and bathrooms, according to their affirmed gender. In “Guidelines Regarding Gender Identity Discrimination” issued by the city Human Rights Commission in 2006, the denial of such facilities to transgender people “suggest[s] that discriminatory conduct… has occurred.” Silverman explained that despite the 2002 nondiscrimination law, a 2005 appellate ruling in New York found that denying bathroom access to a transgender person was not discrimination because the individual was free, like anyone else, to use a facility corresponding to their gender identity at birth. “For transgender people, of course, that is meaningless,” Silverman said. “That ruling was wrong when it was decided, and it is wrong today.” The 2005 ruling came in connection with events that took place in 2000, two years before the city enacted its transgender civil rights protections. TLDEF, however, is looking to establish a clear
precedent that denying transgender New Yorkers access to single-sex facilities appropriate to their affirmed gender is discrimination under city law. The State of New York has no specific civil rights protections for transgender people, nor does the federal government, though two years ago the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a case brought by a transgender woman denied employment at a federal agency, embraced the view that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination, outlawed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. According to Silverman, prior to filing his lawsuit, Ellicott lodged a complaint with the city Human Rights Commission, which, despite its 2006 “Guidelines,” took the position that it lacks jurisdiction in this matter. Asked to clarify why it does not have jurisdiction over an area on which it established guidelines, the Commission, through a spokesperson, referred the question to the City Law Department. The Parks Department did not return a call seeking clarification about whether the treatment of Ellicott is official policy, and the mayor’s office did not respond to a request for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s view of how transgender individuals should be accommodated in city facilities. As a City Council member in 2002, de Blasio voted for the transgender civil rights law, and during his career he has typically been an LGBT community ally. In an email message, a spokesperson for the City Law Department, which defends the city in such litigation, wrote, “We will review the lawsuit when we are served.” In speaking with reporters, Silverman emphasized that what Ellicott experienced “happens all around the country every day.” Ellicott explained the precautions he routinely takes to avoid the type of problems he described in the Staten Island pool. When out with friends, he said, he often visits a restroom with a “buddy” to make sure he is safe. In 2012, he was assaulted in a public bathroom in Union Square and required medical attention at Beth Israel Hospital. When he is out on his own, Ellicott said, he typically tries to keep track of nearby venues like Starbucks that have gender-neutral, private bathrooms.
Sentencing in Trans Woman’s 2011 Murder Equan Southall, 28, was sentenced to 23 years to life in the 2011 murder of his 38-year-old girlfriend, Camila Guzman, a transgender woman who had immigrated to New York from Chile. Southall was convicted on April 29 of second-degree murder in a gruesome case in which he was found to have stabbed Guzman multiple times in the back and torso, bludgeoned her .com
in the head with a candlestick, and then wrapped a pillowcase around her neck and strangled her to death. Southall and Guzman lived together in an apartment on East 110th Street, where the August 2011 killing took place. At the time of the murder, anti-violence activists pointed to the case as an example of both the risks facing transgender women and the
incidence of domestic violence in the LGBT community. A May 22 press release from the Manhattan district attorney’s office announcing the sentencing emphasized the same themes. “Domestic violence can escalate in a heartbeat,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in the release. “It ends the lives of too many vulnerable individuals who may not know where
to turn for help. In this case, the defendant brutally attacked and killed his girlfriend, a transgender woman and a member of the LGBT community, at their apartment in East Harlem. I encourage domestic violence survivors to call my office’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 212-335-4308 and visit the Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street.”
—Paul Schindler June 19, 2014
Hagel ‘Open’ to Reviewing Transgender Military Ban BY RYAN HOWE In comments to ABC News, the Pentagon’s chief signaled his openness to reviewing the longstanding ban on transgender military service members. “I do think it continually should be reviewed,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Martha Raddatz on the May 11 edition of “This Week.” The ban on service by transgender personnel, based on what the military describes as “medical” considerations, continued even after the ban on gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans was lifted in September 2011. But, a March report from the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California at Santa Barbara that focuses on issues affecting sexual minorities in the military, concluded that there is “no compelling rationale for banning transgender military service.” The report also estimated there are 15,450 transgender service members currently serving in active and reserve military units, including the National Guard. Hagel said the ban on transgender
Glenn Fawcett/ Defense.gov
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
personnel focuses on the medical needs of those individuals and is “a bit more complicated.” He said his biggest concern is providing medical support to transgender individuals in “austere locations.” But, he said, he is “open to those assessments” that
suggest transgender service members can be accommodated. “I go back to the bottom line — every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it,” Hagel said.
Advocacy groups, including the Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance For All, wasted no time in responding to Hagel’s comments with cautious optimism. “We appreciate that Secretary Hagel recognizes that these medical regulations are over 30 years old, are inconsistent with current medical practice, and negatively impact military readiness,” said retired Army Captain Allyson Robinson, SPART*A’s policy director, in a statement. "We look forward to a prompt and comprehensive medical review of these regulations, which is long overdue." The National Center for Transgender Equality also responded to Hagel’s comments. “If the secretary were able to meet and talk with the trans service members I’ve met, he’d understand the answer is self-evident,” NCTE executive director Mara Keisling said in a statement. “These are amazing people who serve even though they must hide a basic part of who they are.”
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Hope on ‘Conversion Therapy’ Ban, but GENDA Seems Stalled TALKING POINT BY PAUL SCHINDLER With just two days remaining until the State Legislature in Albany adjourns its 2014 session, the lead Senate sponsor of a bill that would ban mental health professionals from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” (SOCE) with minors remains hopeful that the measure could win approval. “The bill is definitely moving in the right direction,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out, gay Manhattan Democrat. The Empire State Pride Agenda’s communications director, Allison Steinberg, agreed with Hoylman’s assessment that the effort is advancing and voiced optimism that sufficient votes will be there to secure passage. On June 16, the State Assembly, in an 86 to 28 vote, approved the bill, with the support of 10 Republicans. On the Senate side, even with the support of a majority of their colleagues, Hoylman and his fellow lead on the bill, Michael Gianaris of Queens, would have to persuade the leadership –– a coalition of Republicans and the five members of the Independent Democratic Conference –– to allow a vote. One source familiar with the effort to enact the measure suggested that process is moving forward, saying that Senator Diane Savino, a Staten Island member of the IDC, “has been incredibly helpful.” Savino’s office did not immediately respond to a query about her efforts on the bill or its prospects, but the Pride Agenda’s said that “all members of the IDC have been supportive” of the effort to enact the bill. Hoylman pointed to the public and behind the scenes support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office is lending to the effort. “The governor issued a strong statement of support yesterday, and I am in touch with the governor’s office,” he said. In an email message, Richard Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, said, “Gay conversion therapy is a discredited and outrageous practice that has no place in New York.” In a release late in the evening of June 16, Nathan M. Schaefer, the Pride Agenda’s executive director, said, “This issue is nonpartisan; we’re all in agreement that harming LGBT youth is unacceptable and we must put an end to this .com
damaging and discredited practice. We cannot let another day go by where our youngest New Yorkers are vulnerable to this avoidable harm.” In a statement in which he praised Manhattan Democratic Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the out lesbian sponsor of the SOCE legislation in that chamber, and Speaker Sheldon Silver. Hoylman sounded the same note as Schaefer. “Banning conservation therapy is a nonpartisan issue that should receive full consideration by my colleagues in the Senate,” Hoylman said. The Hoylman-Glick measure –– which is broader than its title suggests, also barring efforts to change a minor’s gender identity and expression –– is similar to legislation enacted in the past two years by California and New Jersey. The California law, adopted first, faced two court challenges from SOCE practitioners on the grounds that it violated their free speech rights, but last August a federal appeals court upheld the statute, distinguishing between the rights practitioners enjoy to advocate for the practice in public debate and the limitations on the therapeutic practices they can employ in their professional conduct governed by state licensing. Advocates emphasize that leading professional groups — including the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Associations, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — agree that SOCE, in treating homosexuality and gender nonconformity as mental illnesses in need of cure, actually increases mental health risks for young people in terms of depression, substance abuse, and suicide. In a June 17 action alert, the Pride Agenda launched a “Now is the Right Time to Do the Right Thing” campaign to push both the SOCE measure and the long-stalled Gender Expression NonDiscrimination Act (GENDA) over Now, the men have a state-of-the-art medical facility they can call their own, right here in Now, a state-of-the-artmedical medical facility facility they call their own, rightright herehere in thein the Now, men men havehave a The state-of-the-art theycan can call their own, top. heart of Manhattan. Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health provides men w of Manhattan. PrestonRobert RobertTisch Tisch Center Health provides men men with with heartheart of Manhattan. TheThe Preston Centerfor forMen’s Men’s Health provides access toaccess NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, medicine, gastroenterology, “Both of these bills have the potento NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, internal internal medicine, gastroenterology, urology, urol access to NYU Langone specialists in cardiology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, urology orthopedics medicine, physical therapy andphysiatry, physiatry, dermatology, ear, nose tial to save lives,” Schaefer said in that /sports/sports orthopedics medicine, physical therapy and dermatology, ear, nose and orthopedics/sports medicine, physical therapy and physiatry, dermatology, ear, nose and throat, mental health, plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiology. throat, mental health, plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiol release. throat, mental health, plastic surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, neurology, and radiology GENDA, which would extend comExperience what it feels like to have your healthcare tailored specifically for you. To make an Experience what it feels like toto have healthcare tailoredspecifically specifically you. mak what it feels like haveyour your healthcare tailored forfor you. ToTo make an appointment with an NYU Langone doctor, call 646-754-2000. Visit nyulmc.org /menshealth. prehensive nondiscrimination protections Experience appointment with an an NYU Langone Visitnyulmc.org nyulmc.org /menshea appointment with NYU Langonedoctor, doctor,call call646-754-2000. 646-754-2000. Visit /menshealth to transgender and other gender-nonconforming New Yorkers, won approval in the Assembly on June 10 –– for the seventh time.
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Wig On, BY SCOTT STIFFLER Long in the legs, and even longer in the tooth, Lady Bunny is mad as hell — and you’re going to take it, when the self-proclaimed “old pig in a wig” lipsynchs, struts, swears, mugs, and muses her way through an evening of “very, very independent theater” during which you’re constantly aware of how an iconic, oncegrand lady has been inexorably altered by changing times and tastes. Now, wait just a minute. Why would you think we’re talking about Bunny when we say “lady?” That’s transphobic…or is it? “There’s a loss of flavor in the area. It’s unbelievably sad to see New York City now, with XL as our only large gay nightclub,” says Lady Bunny, whose “Clowns Syndrome” is a relentlessly funny and joyously filthy one-drink-minimum show that lobs equally aggressive salvos at the gay community and the larger culture at hand. It’s sexually charged gay adult entertainment performed within cruising distance of Times Square — a defiant stand against respectability that’s as out of synch with the surrounding neighborhood as a nuclear family would have been three decades ago. That’s around the time when Jon Marc Ingle began to work the high heels and the even more vertically formidable hair that gave rise to Lady Bunny — and, soon after that, gave birth to the annual outdoor drag festival that brought crimes against good taste and gender conformity to the Village for over 20 years. Wigstock is consigned to history now, taking its place alongside recently closed Chelsea bars like Rawhide and Splash. “That’s how I made my living,” recalls the 51-year-old veteran performer and promoter. “I DJ’d at the closing party of Splash,” notes Bunny, who, although “never a circuit queen,” did spin wax at various stops along the once-robust Manhattan gay bar and club grid that kept many a queen in stockings and various stuffings. “Now,” she says, “there is no way that you could pretend New York City is a nightclub destination. It’s very embarrassing when my friends come to town and ask me, ‘What is there to do?’ ” More on that soon. But when Chelsea Now spoke with Lady Bunny, her thoughts at the outset of our conversation were as far from the Big Apple as her physical self — which, last week, had just deplaned in Kalamazoo. “I’m performing at their gay
June 19, 2014
pride tomorrow,” noted Bunny, who admitted to having never set foot in that part of Michigan before. “I wasn’t sure Kalamazoo was a real place. It sounds fictional, like a fairy tale. But here I am.” Far from the hardened Gotham venue that hosts “Clowns Syndrome,” would the good people of Kalamazoo be getting the same obscene, high-sodium jokes that endeared our trampy lady to a recent La Escuelita Cabaret Theater preview audience? “I tone it down a bit whenever I leave New York,” admits Bunny. “Some of these Gay Pride festivals are in the daytime, and sometimes, gays have families or invite the straight community. I like offensive and vulgar comedy, but I don’t like to offend. So I do it where it’s appropriate. One year, I performed at a Virginia Gay Pride and it was a little bit too much. There was a dildo incorporated into the act, and some church group took a picture of it dangling near a little girl. So no more of that. I don’t want to be known as a Typhoid Mary who closes down Pride because they can never get their permits again.” Free to let loose when performing “Clowns Syndrome” at La Escuelita, Bunny actually seemed disappointed that nobody’s hand went up when she requested a straight person head count. “What is this,” she asked with mock indignation, “Callen-Lorde?” Like a good many other jokes that night, it was followed by a well-timed rimshot. Ripped from the Vaudeville playbook, that time-honored punchline drumroll device, applied to Bunny’s act, was equally capable of giving a camp bump to the proceedings or leavening the bitter aftertaste of material calculated to provoke. Another calculated move on Bunny’s part: the show was co-written by Beryl Mendelbaum. “She has a comic persona on Facebook as a kind of bitter, seething, mean-spirited Jewish retiree from Boca,” says Bunny, “and we’ve become friendly [through Facebook]. Beryl is able to write for me in my voice.” That’s of particular value when Bunny abandons the lip-synching, broad physical comedy, onstage costume changes, and Shirley Bassey tributes to make forays into more sober territory. “I want to get some serious information out there,” says Bunny, “and Beryl has helped me soften those issues with a joke, so it’s not just a show of tirades. “When I’m saying that militant trans activists are going too far by saying that Jared Leto
Photo courtesy of DDPR
should not have played his trans role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ that they should have used a real trans women, I say that Bruce Jenner was not available.” Is that funny, transphobic, neither, or a little bit of both? In “Clowns Syndrome,” it’s a question that Bunny constantly asks herself and the audience, often with a honey-sweet yet insincere pledge to strip all future versions of the show (DVD, viral videos) from any mention of offending words, deeds, and references. But what’s in a name, and who has the right to use it? In our Chelsea-to-Kalamazoo phone conversation, we challenged Bunny to a bit of word association — which ended up being more of an inkblot test. Here’s what Bunny said, when asked about the meat and potatoes soapbox topics she covers in “Clowns Syndrome.”
THE “T” WORD LADY BUNNY: I know the word tranny from the London club scene, where it is used affectionately as an abbreviation for transvestite or transsexual. It’s never been a slur in my book and since it’s an abbreviation for transvestite, I’m free to use it. I wouldn’t use it to refer to a trans woman who doesn’t like it. I’m a drag queen. But I’m not going to be censored if I want to refer to myself as a tranny. A transvestite is someone who wears the clothing of the opposite sex, whether that’s Marlene
Dietrich in a men’s suit or [The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s] Frank N. Furter, or a man who wears women’s lingerie and masturbates at home. Drag queen typically means a type of transvestite who performs, who is normally, when they’re not in drag, a gay male. What’s really hurtful is that drag queens have always been the most accepting of the transgender community. So this infighting doesn’t make sense. They have every right to say “I don’t like it,” but they don’t have the right to tell me to stop using it. If you don’t like the word, you can take its power away, because you are what you answer to. I have a friend who is a post-operative transsexual and she actually coached Jared Leto on how to play a transsexual and these militants were slamming her and calling her a drag queen even though she is a post-op. If you are that, a drag queen is just about the meanest thing you can call someone. These activists are crying about being called ‘tranny,’ yet they are using hate speech themselves against members of their own community. Or against RuPaul. One of the most vocal of them tweeted, “I f***ing hate RuPaul.” I think that’s hate speech, when you say you hate someone. What’s really bizarre to me is that while they’re putting Laverne Cox on the
Continued on page 9 .com
Gloves Off Continued from page 8 cover of Time magazine and mainstream America is beginning to understand and accept what a transsexual is, the gay community is infighting — and that’s preventing us from moving forward on the goals that affect all of us. The real challenge that trans people face is not words on a silly reality show [“RuPaul’s Drag Race”]. The challenges they face are the same as drag queens and gay people. They’re discriminated against for jobs and housing and they’re targets for violence.
ASSIMILATION The gay movement is very conservative now. Fighting in the military is an establishment goal. Getting married? While I support equal rights, let’s be real. Marriage is often about property transferral. The gay marriage movement seems to be run by gays with money, and who are they? A friend of mine who’s black said he went to the celebration outside of Stonewall when New York got gay marriage, and he said he was the only person of color there. It just all seems very conservative to me, different than it was when we created Act Up and Queer Nation. These were radicals. They were taking on the Catholic Church and Big Pharma. Now, these gay men seem like, “Let’s kiss the government’s ass and achieve all these very conservative goals that uphold the establishment.”
NIGHTLIFE There’s a couple of things going on. Clubs are hit by the recession and they don’t take any chances with smoking cigarettes or people selling drugs. Let’s face it, that’s a reason people go to clubs. Now, to stay in business, they have this bottle service, which is geared to people who are dumb enough to pay $500 for a bottle of vodka that costs $50 in the liquor store. If you’re doing that, then you must be a banker trying to impress your model-slash-hooker girlfriend. I don’t know any fun people who have that kind of money to burn. If you do, chances are you’re not a good dancer, you’re not in a colorful outfit, and you’re not any of those other things that made New York great. I remember when you didn’t have to pay to be a VIP. You either were or you weren’t. That [attitude] is an insult to what nightlife used to be. Rawhide .com
was where you went to hook up with a minimum of conversation, but clubbing wasn’t just about finding sex. It was about learning new dances, and seeing fashion. And remember the lost art of conversation? Can we get an app for that? Grindr and online hookups also helped to killed the gay clubs. Gays don’t need to pay a cover charge to find a sexual partner. So today, I guess our safe spaces are online. But in the '70s and '80s, the clubs were the only place where you would see a large group of gay men converge. That’s where we fell in love. That’s where we ran to the dance floor with our hands in the air for every Diana Ross or Madonna song. That’s where we lived. Club culture was gay culture. Now, gays are assimilating into straight culture, and what do we have? A lot of younger gays feel comfortable in straight bars, and that’s great for them — but for me, I say I want all the equal rights that straights have, but I don’t want their culture, because I’ve always felt gay culture is better. We have better taste. It’s being lost on the younger gays who like the same Top 40 as everybody else. Straight DJs used to come to the gay clubs to find all the good music.
COMING THIS SUMMER - THE ALL NEW
GAYBORHOOD One positive thing that’s happened over the past few years, is how a lot of gay bars have opened up in Hell’s Kitchen, which they’re calling “Hellsea.” Chelsea was all about the circuit queens. Now, Hell’s Kitchen is for the twinks. When I moved to New York, it was the older gays and the clones in the West Village and the more alternative gays in the East Village. How is it the gays always move to whatever neighborhood is trending? I guess they’re just fickle. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve seen different scenes come and go. I’ll say this about New York, it is safer. That’s one plus. But it’s almost a little too safe. The open run of Lady Bunny’s “Clowns Syndrome” is performed Tuesdays, 8 p.m. at La Escuelita Cabaret Theater (301 W. 39th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For tickets ($19.95), purchase at the door or via brownpapertickets.com/event/629583. Online ticket sales end two hours before showtime. Cash only at the door; credit cards accepted for drink purchases (one-drink minimum). For venue and artist info: enyclub. org and ladybunny.net.
260 WEST 23rd STREET - 212-691-5519
The New Chelsea Cinema Will Feature:
Reserved Seating • Interior Box Office Upgraded Gourmet Treats Luxury Rocking Chairs • A Redesigned Décor
EVERY THURSDAY at 7:00PM HOSTED BY HEDDA LETTUCE
JULY 3RD JUNE 26TH For current Chelsea 9 movie listings and showtimes, please visit our website BowTieCinemas.com
June 19, 2014
June 19, 2014
Gender Role Rebels Become Comic Book Heroes Tale of costumed vigilantes has sass, spandex, substance BY SCOTT STIFFLER Well-rounded vigilantes don costumes, embrace their true identities, and risk their lives patrolling the mean streets of a square city unable to embrace their unconventional lifestyle — while twisted villains lurk in the shadows, hiding behind masks. That’s just one of the thrilling, action-packed aspects of this sassy, daffy, heartfelt, spandex-filled parable about self-acceptance. Part of The Brick Theater’s annual Comic Book Festival, both of the title characters from “The Astonishing Adventures of All American Girl & The Scarlet Skunk” do their crime
‘You Freudian types can’t stand anything that you can’t classify. Nothing bothers you more than looking at Hyena and not knowing how to define her.’ —The Scarlet Skunk
THEATER THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF ALL AMERICAN GIRL & THE SCARLET SKUNK
fighting in heels — but look closer, intrepid viewer, and you’ll see that one of them has an Adam’s apple! Playwright and director Charles Battersby plays the non-lethal gas-spraying Scarlet Skunk — whose uneasy alliance with a Jiu Jitsu-savvy, World War II vet-turned-underappre-
ciated-secretary-turned-nocturnal-hero (aka All American Girl) might just blossom into an epic romance. Golden Age comics, post-war gender roles, serial cliffhangers, women’s rights, “moral panic,” and transgender issues all get worked over like the henchmen who lob hurtful words and deeds in the direction of our fisticuff-friendly, titular couple. “You Freudian types can’t stand anything that you can’t classify,” says The Scarlet Skunk, while confronting an unenlightened adversary. It’s a super observation made powerful because it flows from the glossy red lips of a man who champions the right to present himself as a woman.
Written & Directed by Charles Battersby Wednesday, June 25 at 9 p.m. At The Brick 579 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn Subway: Take the L to Lorimer or the G to Metropolitan Tickets: $18 To order, visit bricktheater.com Call 212-352-3101 For artist info: charlesbattersby.com Visit pressxy.com (co-founded by Battersby, devoted to exploring transgender issues in gaming)
Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrical Photography
Alex Gray as All American Girl (left) and Charles Battersby as The Scarlet Skunk. Their astonishing adventure unfolds at The Brick’s Comic Book Festival.
June 19, 2014
The AIDS Generation, the Great PrEP Wa BY PERRY N. HALKITIS, PhD, MS, MPH Writing “The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience” has changed my life. It has done so in the obvious ways, namely the attention placed on the book, the numerous talks and presentations I have given throughout the country, the accolades associated with this work, and the development of a documentary inspired by the book. This book has also contributed to an ever-growing and powerful body of work honoring the early days of AIDS. Since the book was published last fall, my journeys have taken me from Los Angeles to Austin, Baltimore, and beyond — and in my own hometown, from GMHC and SAGE to the LGBT Center and the amazing Lower East Side bookstore, Bureau of General Services — Queer Division. During my many travels, I have been asked why so much attention is being placed on the early days of AIDS at this particular moment in time. I believe several factors explain this reemergence of the AIDS generation. First, we all took a necessary breather when the course of the epidemic was radically changed in 1996. After years of battling the virus as well as the stigma and discrimination and shortsightedness of our society at the onset of the AIDS crisis, we needed to grieve and regroup. We also were a little cautious with our treatment optimism, not so certain these new antiviral regimens would actually work. Would it just be matter of time before havoc and chaos and unbridled death returned? As we attempted to reconcile our grief and trauma, in both proactive and avoidant ways, it became clear that that these HIV medications were, for the most part, going to work for extended periods of time. And indeed, here we are, as older adults, ready to tell our stories. Middle age is, in fact, a time to make sense of one’s life and one’s place in the world. In doing so, thoughts of accomplishments and legacy emerge. It is perhaps in this reflection that we have come to realize that what we had accomplished as a generation is truly remarkable — a story of passion, bravery, and resilience. Despite the losses, which are too many to enumerate, we as a generation of gay men have overcome cataclysmic events to find ourselves as the elder statesmen in our population. With this realization comes an obligation to document those early days as a testament to our actions and to those we lost, as a statement of our collective resilience, and as a tome to eternally document that period of time to inform and educate future generations. It is the action and courage of our generation and those who preceded us (a group I refer to as the Stonewall generation) that laid the foundation for so many of the social and civil rights victories our population is beginning to experience. We also have an obligation to help those who are beginning their lives as young gay men, both HIVpositive and negative, perhaps easing this period of
June 19, 2014
Perry N. Halkitis, at bottom left, joined some of the men he interviewed for “The AIDS Generation: Stories of Sur
time as they find their places in the world, by sharing our wisdom on how to fight this horrible disease that continues to plague us. This book has changed my life, and it has also for so many of the beautiful men whose stories are shared in those pages. These men who now have become my friends have also been transformed over the course of the last two years. The group meets regularly for lunch and dinners, and a Facebook page, The AIDS Generation Veterans Association, was launched by Sean McKenna, one of the amazing men I have come to know. I recently spoke to several of the men depicted in “The AIDS Generation” about this article to assess their understandings. (The men have agreed to be revealed by their actual names rather than the pseudonyms assigned in the book). Jimmy Mack, now 57 years old, who has written about the growing interest in the AIDS Generation in his blog (on TheBody.com), said that the book “hailed the beginning of a renewed interest in the AIDS Generation as witnessed by the Broadway hit ‘Mothers and Sons,’ the documentary film ‘How to Survive a Plague,’ and the HBO movie ‘The Normal Heart.’ ” This renewed interest is not simply within the general public but also among those within our social circles, as noted in the words of Jimmy’s husband, Brian Mott. A New York City school teacher, now age 49, Mott said, “The friends of mine who read the book, who perhaps knew the outline of my story, were very clear that they gained a deeper
understanding and appreciation of the emotional turmoil of an HIV infection in that time in history. One of them even said something along the lines of, ‘I wonder how I might have been complicit in the stigma and the fear that was going around back then.’ ” Sean McKenna, 51, who has been right by my side intellectually, emotionally, and physically during this entire journey, has been vehement on numerous occasions in what being part of this project has meant for him. “It has brought me back to life by showing me there are others just like me. It took me out of my isolation and depression and made me happy again. I am now much more active and much more of an activist. It’s given me a reason to keep spreading the word about HIV/AIDS in a very positive way. It gave me my life back.” Jon Deleon, now age 55, who has been on a tour around the world this last few months (I have been following his travels on Facebook), said about his involvement in the project, “I’ve enjoyed a much greater sense of pride within my self. The book has helped me see heroic things in myself and others of the AIDS Generation.” And my wonderful friend Jason Osher, age 43, whom I met at GMHC in 1996 (and with whom I will be seeing Fleetwood Mac on October 6), described it as follows: “Being a part of the book project has definitely given me a sense a community among my HIV positive brothers. I knew few people living with HIV/AIDS who I regularly interacted .com
ars and Our Obligation to Young Gay Men
Photo by Sam Spokony
rvival and Resilience.”
with and this group has offered a built-in source of support from those who understand the issues we share.” (I think both Jason and I are grateful and amazed to be seeing the Mac in 2014 when it wasn’t clear we would live to see them again after our last concert together in 1997.) In part because of this book, many of us have found each other. Grassroots efforts are emerging throughout the country, support groups for poz men over 50 have been delivered at Friends in Deed, one of which I had the honor of facilitating this last month with my friend and colleague, Scott Kramer. GMHC, an agency that for years stood at the forefront in the fight against AIDS, is paying attention to us, having invited me and the men of “The AIDS Generation” to help the agency think through the programming that we most need. It is my hope that these and other similar conversations will help spur discussions and understandings that HIV is not simply a biomedical condition (a very limited conception that so many on the medical professionals have espoused in the last two decades), but rather a disease that is driven as much by social, structural, and psychological states as it is the actual biological transmission of a pathogen.
THE GREAT PrEP WARS All of this activity is occurring at a time when we have a new and promising tool to fight HIV, namely PrEP [Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis; a daily regimen, in pill form, meant to prevent HIV infection]. PrEP .com
Image courtesy of Oxford University Press
“AIDS Generation” author Halkitis is challenging his contemporaries to use their experience to benefit the PrEP generation.
is indeed an excellent weapon in our arsenal — but perhaps as powerful is the guidance, support, and compassion the men of the AIDS generation can provide to a new generation of gay men. We, who came of age while the AIDS epidemic was emerging, must use our understanding and support to bolster the uptake and effectiveness of new prevention approaches, like PrEP. Recently we all were subjected to the ill-informed and hateful comments of Michael Weinstein and Larry Karmer about PrEP. (Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart,” told The New York Times, “There’s something, to me, cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom. You’re taking a drug that is poison to you, and it has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything” — while Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “If something comes along that’s better than condoms, I’m all for it, but Truvada is not that. Let’s be honest: It’s a party drug.”) It is important to note that these men do not represent sole voices of our generation. In fact, the men of “The AIDS Generation” had a very different take on PrEP than both Weinstein and Kramer. “That controversy has taken over, and it’s a shame. Any weapon in the arsenal against HIV/AIDS is okay by me,” said McKenna. And the much-acclaimed musician depicted in the book, Steve Schalchlin, now 60 years old, said, “I think sometimes older people are weighed down by history and can’t see
the world through younger eyes. They’ve forgotten how intimate unprotected sex can be in a relationship. I hate to see people taking these meds, but I would rather they take it without AIDS than have to take it because they have AIDS.” In the last few months, I have wondered if the attitudes of men like Weinstein and Kramer are rooted in anger and resentment, an idea that Mott eludes to, albeit it in a healthy and loving way, when he says, “As for younger men using PrEP, my strongest feeling is one of regret for myself. I certainly would have used it had it been available back then. So I say more power to them.” In fact, we all likely would seek PrEP, and hope not to be judged, if we were young HIV-negative men, as Jim Alba, a superfit personal trainer, now age 53, shared with me. “I have one thing to say about the PrEP finger-pointing. I know, through conversations with my closest survivor brothers, had we been offered this choice back then, [1984,1985,1986], we would have been first in line.” I too am grateful as I witness a new generation of gay men that has additional tools to fight this virus — a generation that is coming of age when marriage equality is blossoming, and a generation that is being raised by parents like my cousin Ellaina who simply loves her newly out gay son, James — no questions, no judgment, just love. And so as we, the men of the AIDS generation continue our life journeys, our roles as elder statesmen continues to become increasingly important. We must allow our insights and our compassion help guide the lives of new generation of gay men, share our knowledge and experiences whenever possible, share our thoughts without judging, and muffle the cacophony of Weinstein and Kramer. On June 2, I attended the Lambda Literary Awards, where my book was nominated in the memoir/biography category. I didn’t win, but the evening was one of revelation. As I navigated the space with my always-exquisite looking husband Bobby, I found myself surrounded by a new generation of dressed-down, hipster, gender-bending gay men. (We, of course, were well-groomed, dressed in our finest suits, and lathered in our hypermasculinity.) I smiled as I considered the differences across the generations and how much has changed since I was twentysomething. I reflected on the losses and the pain and the bravery of my generation. I also came to understand that in getting older, there is no need for me to be more that what I am — no need to emulate or judge a new generation — but just be myself, serve as a role model, and be happy that I am “vintage gay.” Perry N. Halkitis, PhD, MS, MPH is Professor of Applied Psychology, Public Health, & Medicine, Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies at New York University, and author of “The AIDS Generation: Strategies for Survival and Resilience” (Oxford University Press, 2013). Visit perrynhalkitis.com. Twitter: @ DrPNHalkitis. June 19, 2014
Showing all games
on our 2 flatscreen TVs
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
2014 WORLD CUP BRAZIL
Special Pride Edition June 26 – 29, Thurs./Fri./Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. At New York Live Arts (219 W. 19th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). For tickets ($20, $15 for students, seniors), call 212-024-0077 or visit 10hl.org.
NY WRITERS COALITON: WRITING ALOUD READING SERIES
Photo by Steven Trumon Gray
An hour prior to the June 28 performance from 10 Hairy Legs founder Randy James will lead a workshop (pictured, James’ “Closing the Glass Door”).
10 HAIRY LEGS
Happy Hour FRom 3-7 pm June 12th TO July 13th
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June 19, 2014
With the go-go boys of Rawhide and Splash long gone, where exactly does one go to see well-defined men in various states of undress, dancing up a storm? Through June 29, some of those crumpled up singles you used to keep handy for “entertainment purposes” will gain you entry to New York Live Arts. That’s where 10 Hairy Legs celebrates the tremendous technical and emotional range of the male dancer. While not identifying as a gay company, founder Randy James notes, “We perform some gay-themed work, by gay choreographers. We also perform work by heterosexual men and women. Some of that is gay-themed, and some not.” That being said, James let us know that, like most current members of the company, he is openly gay (and there are two couples among the dancers). Now that they’ve got your attention, try focusing back on the best reason to be there: a rotating program with pieces including a reimagined version of David Parker’s physically intimate “Friends of Dorothy.” Tiffany Mills’ “Work for Five Dancers” is a recurring dream that begins with the same image, and then diverges according to the quirks and personalities of each dancer. Before the June 28 performance, James will lead a workshop about the relationship between live music and dance (register in advance, via the 10 Hairy Legs website).
Image courtesy of NY Writers Coalition
Meet some of the contributors to “Still Practicing,” at their June 25 book launch event.
Now in its tenth season, the Writing Aloud Reading Series gives the public a chance to discover what’s been developed during the free creative writing workshops offered by the NY Writers Coalition. This month’s Pried-themed installment features established poet and playwright Joan Larkin reading from her newest work (“Blue Hanuman”), alongside Writers Coalition alum who’ve just been published. Available for purchase at the event (which also serves as the official book launch), the material in “Still Practicing: Writing from the SAGE Center” is culled from those with ties to the Chelsea-based organization, SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Elders). The collection takes its name from a line in Bill Weimer’s work-inprogress memoir (“Still Practicing”), excerpts of which you’ll hear at the Writing Aloud event. Free. Wed., June 25, 7 – 9 p.m. at SAGE (305 Seventh Ave., btw. 27th & 28th Sts., 15th Floor). For info, visit nywriterscoalition.org and sageusa.org. .com
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June 19, 2014
Dear Readers: Thanks so much for your cards and letters of concern, while I’ve been recuperating from knee surgery (at the Fire Island time share of my favorite nephew, Scotty). Rest assured, I’m tired of resting — and will be back as of our July 3 edition. In the meantime, our Pride issue is the perfect time to dip into the vaults and rerun this doozy of a letter. Originally printed back in May, you should know that the reader has since taken my advice, sans viral video, to great success. So feel free to crib the following, should you run into a similar problem. With Love and Pride, Aunt Chelsea
Dear Aunt Chelsea, I’m in a bind. Two old friends are getting married and I just received the invitation for me and a guest. The problem is, I’m in a very serious triad relationship. How do I decide who to take? Would it be tacky of me to request plus one more? Triple Millennial Player
June 19, 2014
Although the angle of a “triad” (three people in one relationship) may add a fresh wrinkle to the rich tapestry of sexual dynamics being navigated by today’s young people, your quirky quandary boils down to a few simple, time-tested matters of nuptial etiquette. So let’s take them one by one, shall we? And hey, since you’ve obviously got the swing of doing it in threes, I’ll spice up my advice by breaking it into four parts. First, place a call to your friends and explain the situation. I’m betting this isn’t the only non-traditional choice they’ve seen you make. I’m also betting they’ll welcome all involved with open arms. So make plans to attend the wedding — and good luck finding three side-by-side seats on the plane! Second, take a page from the playbook of countless gays who’ve walked down the aisle and exchanged rings. Come reception time, you’re going to get a ton of well-meaning, but incredibly ignorant comments from basically decent people who haven’t the foggiest idea what your relationship is about, yet can’t resist rubbernecking. Be patient and pleasant ambassadors for your “lifestyle,” and have a little competition between the three of you: Best impression of the most stupid question gets to decide where to eat and what movies to watch for the next month! Third, have a great dance routine prepared. Tell the DJ to crank it up, take to the floor and give all in attendance a viral video sure to show the world that a triad relationship is just plain fun! Finally, each of you should bring your own gift — and make sure they’re all from the upscale end of the Registry list. This generous move will at least make a convert out of whoever catches the bouquet, because they’ll realize that the more triad couples they invite, the more presents they’ll get! Asking people to walk a mile in your shoes is all fine and dandy…but nothing wins hearts and minds like free stuff. Now go to that wedding and have a great time…and make sure Aunt Chelsea gets an invite when the legislature catches up with the changing times and greenlights your own marital ambitions, should they ever materialize. Toodles!
Golden Girls Aquarius A crisis at work calls for the smarts of Dorothy, the cunning of Sophia, the sunny disposition of Rose and the beguiling ways of Blanche. Pisces Learn a lesson from the field mouse and the brown bear: Be friends with your ex, but draw the line at mating! Aries You must improvise when a hurricane prevents the talent from showing up at that eight-hour telethon you’ve agreed to host. Taurus A traffic cone made to look like a monkey is an effective, but hardly practical, replacement for the lost love you can’t get over. Get over it! Gemini The apology offered by an old nemesis is like Stan’s toupee: obvious to all, and ripe for as many zingers as you can hurl at it! Cancer That Miami theme song Dorothy and Rose wrote was really quite good. Second place doesn’t always mean second best! Leo An offer on your home, a new moneymaking scheme, or a loved one’s possible move out of town will inspire a series of hilarious flashbacks highlighting your past few years. Virgo You don’t have to keep taking ice skating lessons just to prove a point or please another person. Quitting is acceptable when the alternative is misery! Libra Reign in your spending habits, extravagant Libra, or end up in Shady Pines instead of Hollingsworth Manor. Scorpio The expensive kitchen appliance you covet will end up like Coco, that gay cook from the pilot episode: used once, then never again. Sagittarius Beware that charming little hotel that beckons during a summer road trip. Their rates are reasonable, but you’ll be nickeled and dimed on the extras! Capricorn Tame your fiercely competitive streak or risk initiating an ugly field hockey incident that will force you to leave town. .com
Looking for PreK Room in Downtown’s ‘Desert’ Continued from page 1 be opened in Tribeca’s P.S. 234, which typically has long kindergarten waiting lists, but this year is under-enrolled by 27 kindergarten students — potentially freeing up one classroom. Drew Patterson, of the Department of Education (DOE), shot her suggestion down, immediately saying you couldn’t count on the space permanently. “The other thing with opening pre-K in a single year when a room is available is, what happens next year when fewer kids opt to go to private school?” he asked Hughes at the June 13 meeting of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s overcrowding task force. Actually, what would happen next year is that the pre-K students would apply for kindergarten, and a whole new crop of families would be denied a pre-K opportunity at P.S. 234 — but they also wouldn’t have been promised one. So it was far from clear what the problem was
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, left, at a May 19 town hall meeting, told the 75 Morton Task Force, “Yes...you can have a seat at the table.” To the right of her were CEC members President Shino Tanikawa (who is also on the 75 Morton Task Force) and Eric Goldberg.
that Patterson was identifying. DOE officials have been adamant so far about not creating temporary spaces with one notable exception — Silver, who wields much power in Albany, got them to open one tem-
porary full-day pre-K class at Spruce Street School. It’ll only be one year since the Lower Manhattan school community has been pushing for years for the DOE to stick to the plan to grow the
school into a K-8. Still, the Spruce addition did not give much chance to Lower Manhattan families without a sibling in the school.
Continued on page 18
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June 19, 2014
Harvard Admission Challenge Pales to P.S. 11 Continued from page 17 “It’s disappointing, but not surprising that our four-year-old didn’t get a pre-K spot in a local school,” Victoria Grantham, a Tribeca mother [who contributes to Chelsea Now’s sister publication, Downtown Express] told me. “There were very limited options in terms of full day programs — only two were relevant for us — and there were very few spots within those schools.” As it turns out, the P.S. 234 idea is not workable, primarily because the principal, Lisa Ripperger, is looking to fill the space with more kindergarten students. Like some other principals in the city, she is far from excited about opening pre-K. “That’s a separate budget — that’s federal money so it’s not supportive of anything else in the school, and yet it takes resources,” she said at Silver’s meeting last Friday. But there are District 2 schools which did want full-day pre-K seats and were denied, said Eric Goldberg, a member of the district’s Community Education Council (CEC). “The DOE missed an opportunity to maximize the pre-K seats in district programs,” he said in a phone interview this week. “We made repeated requests to open these seats in April, May, and June and there hasn’t been any movement.” The city is still scrambling to find 8,000 more full-day seats to meet the mayor’s goal of over 53,000 this September, so perhaps they are about to move. An Education Dept. official told me on background that some of the seats to come will be in public schools, which many parents say they prefer to the private school
options the city is creating. Goldberg has been leading the charge to expand pre-K in the district for years. He has dubbed the area a “pre-K desert” and said P.S. 340, a brand new building on Sixth Ave. and17th St. with some un-programmed classrooms, is a prime spot to open some full-day rooms. “P.S. 340 has three half-day sections, they wanted three full-day sections and they were rejected,” Goldberg said at CEC meeting on the night of June 17.
SIBLINGS BLOCKED The school is centrally located to accommodate parts of the “desert,” such as the West Village, with nine seats for every 100 children, Gramercy with zero seats for its 196 four-year-olds, and the neighborhoods in and around Chelsea, which has 17. P.S. 340 also might be a source to help solve a sticky situation for a group of perhaps a few dozen families who have been slighted at P.S. 41 and 3 in the Village, and P.S. 116 on E. 33rd St. At P.S. 41, 18 children with siblings in the school were rejected for half-day spots, shortly after they say the school promised them one. Adding to the muck, is that these same rejectees next year will jump ahead of the children admitted ahead of them to P.S. 41 pre-K this year. If there were to be a waiting list for next year’s kindergarten class, the new pre-K families could be bounced from the school even if they are within the zone, because many do not have siblings. “What we’re being told now is your four-year-old has to go to school somewhere else, and then
he or she will be grandfathered in kindergarten starting next year and there’s no educational justification for that,” said Maud Maron, one of a half dozen group of P.S.41 parents who attended the June 17 CEC meeting. She has two children in the school, but was denied a spot for her youngest because the city changed the school zoning lines a few years ago. She and other parents at the meeting said during the rezoning debates, the principal said the sibling rules would apply, and as recently as this month, they say they got an email from the parent coordinator saying they’d be able to register. But apparently the DOE never extended the sibling rules to pre-K. The CEC’s Goldberg said the city has quietly agreed to change the rules for next year, essentially admitting their mistake, but the DOE declined to respond to most questions for this article. Shino Tanikawa, the CEC’s president, said the DOE is trying to shift the blame onto to them, but added the DOE’s Elizabeth Rose, who was in charge of rezoning at the time, did not disclose any exceptions. “There was no mention of ‘for kindergarteners’ or ‘for first graders, not for pre-K,’” Tanikawa said. “She said clearly siblings would be grandfathered in so they would stay together.”
PRIVATE OPTIONS & CHELSEA The sibling rules have a decided effect in the P.S. 11 zone, where I live, since the school only has 18 pre-K seats. The only family I know that got accepted there has a sibling in the school, and I understand all of
the spots go to brothers and sisters of students. “It’s easier to get into Harvard than P.S. 11,” said one friend in a similar situation as me. My other neighborhood school, P.S. 33, also three blocks away, has two full-day rooms, so elder children in the zone are typically accepted, but we’re one block out of the zone. The DOE has been pushing what they now call Community Based Early Childhood Centers as an alternative. The mayor even called me a few days before my rejection letter to tell me no matter what the results of the public school application, there are other good options available. Under other circumstances, I would have of course been flattered and would no doubt have tried to speak with him more about pre-K and other city matters, but the call was a recording. One of the private options near me continues to get reimbursement for half-day classrooms there, but they were denied a full-day approval by the city. On a visit, a school leader told me another of their locations elsewhere in the city was approved, and they got a form rejection email denying them a spot without any info. It seemed like a fairly good program and I couldn’t guess why they were rejected, particularly since another program a little further away was accepted even though they have not yet set up their space, or hired a director or teachers. Harry Hartfield, a DOE spokesperson, said the private pre-K’s all received “rigorous” scrutiny, but he said he would not discuss any particular decisions. So many of us, the 37-percenters, across the city, wait.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Welcome, Down to Earth Farmers Market To The Editor: Re: “Easy Being Green: West Chelsea Farmers Market Now in Season” (news, June 6,2014): Thank you to the team at the Down to Earth Farmers Market for not only bringing to our Chelsea neighborhood the diversity of “home grown” fresh breads, baked goods, meats, poultry, fresh seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables — but also the community outreach and philanthropy that you have shown to all of Chelsea. We welcome you and wish you much success. Best of luck! Will Rogers
The 411 on 10-119 To The Editor: Re: “Libraries Must Expand Their Mission and Outreach” (Talking Point, June 5, 2014): I very much agree with Rannan Geberer’s statement about library events publicity: “Merely posting signs in the library itself won’t do.” Because events are not currently posted anywhere but in the library, only library patrons learn about them. There is a better way. Under NYC Administrative Law 10-119, if you or I post on city property we can get fined big time. Recently, the West 45th/46th Street Block Associations were fined almost $40,000 by the Department of Sanitation, over posting flyers on city property asking neighborhood residents to help redesign a local playground — an event that, I might add, was sponsored by both the Department of Parks and Recreation and [at the time, city councilmember and speaker] Christine Quinn’s office. However, 10-119 also states that city agencies and the city council (and groups under their direction) can post on city property. What this means is that Muhlenberg Library [209 W. 23rd St., btw, Eighth & Ninth Aves.] can post events flyers on city property. It also means our city council members and our Community Boards can post items of community interest on city property — and what may be most important, it also means that under the direction of any of these city organizations, community groups can post community notices without fear of outrageous
fines by the Sanitation Dept. Our city elected officials and our community boards have the power to make sure that what happened to the West 45th/46th Street Block Associations never happens again. Arnold Bob
Reader Comments from ChelseaNow.com LuV for Puma Perl
Re: “Needles, Knives, Past and Present Lives: (arts, June 5, 2014): It was ****LuV at FiRST SiGhT** the first time I heard and saw Puma Perl performing her poetry. I knew immediately that she was a clever, talented, and inspiring writer who cuts to the chase and opens the door, for me to connect. I still feel the same way each time I hear her. She is the real deal.
CLARIFICATION In our news article of June 4, 2014 (“Domestic Violence Comprises Half of Chelsea Felony Assaults”), we reported that a new program from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) would shelter domestic violence victims and also accommodate their pets. That program is, in fact, run by the Urban Resource Institute (URI). Called URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely Program), it’s the first and only program in NYC to shelter DV victims with their pets. For more information, visit urinyc.org/ domestic-violence/pals.
Speeding vehicles are the bigger issue RE: “Police Blotter” (an item in the June 4, 2014 issue, about the arrest of a bicyclist for riding outside the bike lane): Good lord, bikers are more a threat than speeding vehicles and reckless drivers? The facts don’t back that up, as there hasn’t been a fatality blamed on a bicyclist in five years. While there are terrible bikers (the example given above being one), it’s not nearly as big of an epi-
Continued from page 7 Advocates and the Senate’s lead sponsor on GENDA, Lower Manhattan-Downtown Brooklyn Democrat Daniel Squadron, continue to press for a floor vote, with the senator saying that the
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GENDA Seems Stalled
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
demic as fatalities caused by cars. I guess I’m confused as to what the big “tension” is between bicyclists and pedestrians and why this is a bigger issue than a statistically more dangerous issue of vehicular safety? Perhaps you all can explain as I live in Chelsea and don’t really see bikes being the bigger issue.
Editor Scott Stiffler
Assembly action sent “yet another message to the Senate leadership that it is time to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.” However, he recently told our sister publication, Gay City News, “I wish I could be optimistic” about its prospects for getting a vote. The Pride Agenda’s Schaefer
Sr. V.P. of Sales and Marketing Francesco Regini Retail Ad Manager Colin Gregory
Account Executives Bill Fink
John W. Sutter
would not say definitively that the votes are there to pass GENDA, but insisted, “The transgender community has been working on this for more than a decade. They deserve a vote.” Paul Schindler is the editor of our sister publication, Gay City News.
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June 19, 2014
Agenda Order May Impact CB4 Decisions BY ZACH WILLIAMS Seemingly small details can have big implications for local businesses negotiating the Community Board 4 (CB4) sidewalk cafe permit process. The board considers a number of criteria when deciding whether to recommend approval of outstanding applications to the city Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which ultimately oversees curbside dining. The potential impact to nearby residents, traffic, and the general neighborhood atmosphere often play critical roles in such decision-making — but in the case of one application, the order in which they appeared before the Business Licenses and Permits Committee (BLP) of CB4 may have played an influential role. “I thought it was interesting how the next item [on the committee’s agenda] had no problem [being approved],” said BLP member Lisa Daglian of the application of Willow Road (85 Tenth Ave., btw. 15th & 16th Sts.), which preceded that of West Bank Cafe (407 W. 42nd St., at Ninth Ave.) during the meeting. Both businesses sought to open sidewalk cafes outside their current respective locations until 11 p.m. throughout the week. However, in the case of Willow Road, the board ultimately recommended that their sidewalk presence end at 10 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays (through a “denial unless” verdict that staves off approval unless certain requested conditions are met by the applicant). According to Daglian, this denial might not have been the case had the BLP heard its application after, rather than before, West Bank Cafe. “Who knows what would have happened?” she added in a telephone
Photo by Zach Williams
A longtime presence in the neighborhood and support from residents enabled West Bank Cafe to secure support from CB4 for its ongoing sidewalk cafe application.
Holozubiec disagreed with Daglian when she raised the possibility that the application from Willow Road was unduly influenced by its place on the BLP’s agenda.
interview. Recommendations from the board, whether for or against an application, go to the DCA. The process through which CB4’s decisions are arrived at must be determined on a case-by-case basis, according to BLP committee co-chair Frank Holozubiec. At the June 4 full board meeting of CB4, Holozubiec disagreed with Daglian when she raised the possibility that the application from Willow Road was unduly influenced by its place on the BLP’s agenda. West
Bank is an “anchor establishment” with strong support from residents for its application, he said. “People differed on what factors were relevant to giving people longer hours. I am not convinced that the order affected the process,” Holozubiec added during a telephone interview, before adding that, “In my mind, it was nothing against Willow Road. It was just a newer business. It just didn’t have the good track record that West Bank did.” Zoning rules are also ambiguous as to how the presence of the High
Line directly above the sidewalk outside Willow Road should be interpreted, according to Daglian. A representative of West Bank Cafe declined a request for comment — as did Midmor Hospitality, which owns Willow Road. Concerns for efficiency are important in composing the order of business, according to CB4 District Manager Robert Benfatto. Large public turnouts for specific agenda items and the busy schedules of meeting participants are two examples he gave of why one item might be listed before another. “The agenda is put together by the Board Office and is efficiency driven,” he said in an email. In accordance with guidelines adopted in 2006, obtaining CB4’s recommendation to serve customers on public pavement requires more of business owners than simply attending a committee meeting and explaining themselves. Among them are requirements that go beyond those issued by the city for sidewalk cafes including wider buffer space between seating and nearby parking meters, traffic signs, residential entrances, and subway grating. In contrast to board policy recommending all sidewalk cafes close by 11 p.m., the department allows permit holders to operate as late as midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Architectural plans must portray surroundings in detail. The guidelines recommend submitting that on an 8x11-inch paper as well. “The review process for new cafes is sometimes slowed by ambiguous plans or a lack of communication.
Continued on page 21
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‘Denial Unless’ Verdict Curbs Sidewalk Cafe Applicant Continued from page 20 In order to ensure a rapid response from the Community Board, applicants must also meet these more stringent submission requirements,” the guidelines state. Convincing the board to support an application costs time, effort and money, according to Chelsea businesses that already have permits. A third party has represented The Diner (44 Ninth Ave., at 14th St.) at CB4 meetings over the last nine years, costing the business thousands of dollars, according to manager Dave Cohl who declined to give further specifics. “It’s a bit of a process,” he said. Once approved though, permit renewals come much easier, said Erol Doner, owner of the Istanbul Grill (310 W. 14th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). “It’s been almost ten years. It’s all the same,” he said of his outside dining area. “If you don’t change anything, it’s easy.” There are no specific criteria by design for gauging whether a prospective sidewalk cafe will add to community ambiance or become a nui-
sance, said Holozubiec. Otherwise, applicants may gear their efforts towards meeting defined standards rather than comprehensively cooperating with the board, he added. However, certain characteristics are recurring among successful applicants including time in the community and willingness to compromise with the board and adhere to its stipulated recommendations, according to Benfatto. “We review all applications on a case by case basis and saturation is one of many considerations like traffic, type of license, size of establishment, etc. we consider when rendering a recommendation,” he said in an email before adding “Willow’s application was not denied. It’s just standard language: “denial unless” certain stipulations are agreed to. We’ve been doing it that way for seven years now and the ‘denial unless’ language was developed in consultation with the [State Liquor Authority].” The process is not perfect, Daglian said. In one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in New York City, even small changes in the local fabric can involve a large number of concerned parties. “Rules of thumb” are
Photo by Zach Williams
The order of business during a recent CB4 Business Licenses and Permits Committee meeting may have unduly impacted Willow Road’s ongoing application for a sidewalk cafe, said committee member Lisa Daglian.
not the rule,” she said. Careful and delicate deliberation maintains public dialogue while allowing individual stakeholders in the neighborhood to fulfill their business ambitions in a manner mitigating the possibility of negative-
ly affecting others in the process, according to Daglian, who served as co-chair of the committee for about five years previously. “It’s about finding balance. It’s about making sure that it’s a neighborhood for everybody,” she said.”
How the Business Licenses & Permits Committee Works The BLP reviews liquor and cabaret license applications and applications for sidewalk cafes. Committee meetings provide an opportunity for community members to meet business owners who are applying for licenses. Often, community input leads to proactive changes in business plans that prevent problems later on. In the context of the 500-foot rule, the community opines on whether the new establishment is in the interest of the community. Applicants seeking approval, or residents with concerns about a licensed establishment, should contact CB4 with details of complaint. Some complaints can be resolved within the office through either the District manager or assistant district manager. If they are unable to resolve the problem directly, it will be referred to the committee. Items will be put on the agenda of the next committee provided .com
the board was notified more than two weeks in advance of the meeting. This allows time for proper notification of the community. Businesses preparing to come before the BLP should fill and submit the Liquor License Stipulations Application of the Sidewalk Cafe Stipulation Application well in advance of the meeting, including plans and evidence of neighborhood outreach. Items will be put on the agenda of the next committee provided the board was notified more than two weeks in advance of the meeting. This allows time for proper notification of the community. The next BLP meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tues., July 8, at the Intercontinental Hotel (300 W. 44th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For more info, call 212-736-4536 or visit nyc.gov/mcb4. June 19, 2014
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June 19, 2014
Community Contacts To be listed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of the North Shore/LIJ Hospital System
On June 21 & 28, tour Lenox Hill HealthPlex’s emergency department, in advance of its summer 2014 opening.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
LENOX HILL HEALTHPLEX OPEN HOUSE Later this summer, on the site of the former O’Toole Building, the North Shore/ LIJ Hospital System will debut the first phase of its Lenox Hill HealthPlex facility — in the form of a 24/7 emergency department. Over the next year, other elements of the medical center (on the upper floors) will begin providing health and wellness services. In anticipation of the emergency room becoming operational, the public is invited to attend an Open House, during which they can ask the staff questions about services, and learn about current and future plans for the HealthPlex. Sat., June 21 & 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (tours last approximately 30 minutes). At Lenox Hill HealthPlex (30 Seventh Ave., btw. W. 12th & 13th Sts.). To attend, RSVP by sending an email to email@example.com or just stop by. For more info on the facility, visit lenoxhillhealthplex.org
PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING INFORMATION SESSION The process has begun, during which residents of 10 Council Districts in NYC will decide how to spend $14 million of taxpayer money. District 3, represented by City Councilmember Corey Johnson, has been allotted $1 million. With so many worthy destinations for that money (improving parks, sidewalk beautification, school facility upgrades), how do we choose? It all comes down to your vote. But not so fast: the end game of Participatory Budgeting won’t be played until March/ April of 2015. That’s when, during a month-long process, a final list of project proposals will be voted on at various pop-up locations and through Councilmember Johnson’s office. At this information session, community members will learn about the intraicacies of Participatory Budgeting and begin to exchange ideas. Thurs., June 26, 6:30 – 8p.m. at The High Line’s Diller – von Furstenberg Building (820 Washington St., at the southern terminus of the park). For more info, visit pbnyc.org. RSVP encouraged. Contact Matthew Green, by calling 212564-77578 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4) CB4 serves Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. Its boundaries are 14th St. on the south, 59/60th St. on the north, the Hudson River on the west, 6th Ave. on the east (south of 26th St.) and 8th Ave. on the east (north of 26th St.). The monthly full board meeting, open to the public, normally takes place on the last Wed. of the month. The next meeting is Wed., July 30, 6:30 p.m., at the Hotel Trades Council (305 W. 44th St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves). There is no Aug. meeting. Call 212-736-4536, visit nyc. gov/mcb4 or email them at info@ manhattancb4.org. COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5) CB5 represents the central business district of NewYork City. It includes midtown Manhattan, the Fashion, Flower, Flatiron and Diamond districts, as well as Bryant Park and Union Square Park. The district is at the center of New York’s tourism industry. The Theatre District, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building and two of the region’s transportation hubs (Grand Central Station and Penn Station) fall within CB5. The board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thursday of the month. The next meeting is Thurs., July 10, 6 p.m., at Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th & 6th Aves., 2nd fl.). Call 212465-0907, visit cb5.org or email them at email@example.com. THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter.org or call 212620-7310.
GAY MEN’S HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC) At 446 W. 33rd St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves. Visit gmhc.org. Call 212-367-1000. DISTRICT 3 CITY COUNCILMEMBER COREY JOHNSON Call 212-564-7757 or visit council. nyc.gov/d3/html/members/home. shtml. STATE SENATOR BRAD HOYLMAN Call 212-633-8052 or visit bradhoylman.com. THE SAGE CENTER New York City’s first LGBT senior center offers hot meals, counseling and a cyber-center — as well as programs on arts and culture, fitness, nutrition, health and wellness. At 305 Seventh Ave. (15th floor, btw. 27th & 28th Sts.). Call 646-576-8669 or visit sageusa.org/thesagecenter for menus and a calendar of programs. AT 147 W. 24TH ST. (BTW. 6TH & 7TH AVES.) THE SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJECT works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. Visit srlp.org. FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) builds the leadership and power of bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color in NYC. Visit fiercenyc.org. THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing. Visit alp.org.
June 19, 2014
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June 19, 2014