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Contents Become Who You Are

7

Life According to Joan

9

Mexi Mike Detroit’s Latin Legend

11

By John LoPorto

By Joan Stevenson

Interview by Chris Bansale Photos by Tony Lowe

In the DJ Booth with Julissa Veloz Interview by DJ Jace

16

Straight Girl Gay World 19 By Alysha Calamia


John LoPorto

T

he ending of “Schindler’s List” is by far one of the most touching scenes in cinematic history, and it poses one of the more interesting questions of humanity: When does kindness and altruism reach its limit?

“We cannot save the world on our own, nor should we have to.”

Altruism is a very human tendency. It is arguably what makes us human, and it is our greatest characteristic. But altruism must have its limits: you cannot live your life for the sole purpose of disregarding your own personal desires for the needs of others. Of course, there are many brave souls that do just that. But for the majority of us, there is a point when we must say, “No, I need to think of myself first.” We all have been there in some form, and it is a difficult notion to even admit to ourselves. You cannot, for example, give every panhandler a dollar. You would starve yourself! You cannot volunteer consistently for 24 hours. You would die of exhaustion! Those ideas are simple; it becomes a matter of life or death. But what about the harder questions to comprehend? For example, in “Schindler’s List” Oskar Schindler regrets not selling his personal possessions in order to save more people. That is very selfish thing! He had the ability to save lives, yet he thought of himself first.

Of course we don’t think of Oskar Schindler as terrible person. In fact, he is an example of the good we can accomplish. We recognize there is a limit to the good one can do. More importantly, we recognize the innate tension between altruism and the needs of the self. There must come a point when you put yourself first. Even the most philanthropic need to eat, need to spend money, and need to rest. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises when we do not recognize this fact and expect the impossible from both others and ourselves. We need to realize the limits of kindness because we are finite people; we cannot save the world on our own, nor should we have to. The lesson we can all learn from Oskar Schindler is that we should help one another; the world needs more altruism. But we should also remember that we need, from time to time, to think of ourselves first. This is not to promote selfishness, but rather to alleviate guilt when we cannot, for various reasons, help everyone with everything. We should always do our best to be a good person, but remember you too are a human being with wants and desires that deserve attention.


a drink called the “Constant Buzz.” By noon the streets were teeming with people. Now, I have been to many festivals and seen many, many crowds, but there was something special about this bright, shiny mass of humanity mixing in the noonday sun.

Puff, Puff, Pass …

T

his past weekend I was witness to an explosion of culture, a melting pot of humanity. An annual rite of spring here in the metro Detroit area … well, Ann Arbor really. A "coming out" if you will. I'm talking about Hash Bash, that festival of peace, love, and the right to smoke some herb. Hash Bash originally started as a result of political activist and poet John Sinclair being arrested for possession after giving an undercover narc two joints. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969 and his subsequent imprisonment led to much outcry and protest. In 1971, there was a huge rally and concert with many musical artists, including Stevie Wonder and John Lennon, and political activists such as Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale showing their support. Three days after the rally, John Sinclair was released when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state's marijuana laws were unconstitutional. The students on the University of Michigan campus threw an impromptu celebration festival, a mass smoke down, and this became Hash Bash which is held annually on the U of M campus on the first Saturday in April. For years I have heard about the Bash. At first from overhearing adults' conversations, then when I got older from my peers who had attended. What I heard is that it was a free-for-all: Oh yeah! It all goes down at the Bash! Singing and dancing and smoking in the streets! This is what I was curious to see. This year the date happened to fall at my birthday, so I was invited to go with a group of friends who try to attend every year. We got there around 10 a.m. to make sure we had a comfortable spot to hang. There is a bar/restaurant called Dominick's right there on campus and they open their balcony patio at 11 a.m. so we had a great view of all the action. It's a great place, by the way; I recommend

They were all walks of life: old and young (some, I fear, were definitely too young), poor and the well-to-do, white, black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, lesbian, gay, straight, bi, trans – even Obi Wan Kenobi and SpongeBob stopped by. (No kidding, there were people there dressed like that!) Pretty, scantily-clad girls; hot shirtless boys; old school hippies all in tie-dye and sandals; new school hipsters all Starbucks and iPhones. If you're looking for a place to people watch, you can't get any better than this. Everything was mellow; there wasn't a bad vibe for miles. There was peace and harmony. Everyone was there to have a good time. All races, creeds, and colors united by their love of the green and the freedom to smoke openly. Wow, you would have thought this was Amsterdam and not Michigan! Harold and Kumar would have pitched a tent and stayed for days! Now some of my friends smoke, and I admit to occasionally indulging, but some of these people were definitely experts. If smoking was an Olympic event, there would be some real medal-winners here. I think Bob Marley himself would have raised an eyebrow at the size and shape of some of the joints I saw. Last year, my friends were actually lucky enough to meet and smoke with Tommy Chong! No such luck this year, but the Jerry Garcia sightings were numerous. Since Michigan is a medical marijuana state, it was good to see that the dispensaries were out in full force to promote their shops, as was a popular long-standing head shop. The only food vendor? Kettle Corn. And believe me, they were cleaning up BIG time! Occasionally, my gaze drifted across the street toward an impromptu self-expression circle. It was better than TV. It started off with a bunch of skater bois each taking turns doing a trick to show off how bad ass their skills were. (They all sucked.) Later, that gave way to a hacky sack circle. (They all sucked, too.) Much later, this gave way to a young man dancing with a glitter encrusted hula hoop. (He wasn't bad.) I saw a dog whose owner had painted him with the American flag. I saw a sweet little old hippie lady who was dressed as what could only be described as “The Weed Fairy” handing out green beads. The one thing I was looking forward to, aside from soaking up the atmosphere, was the music. I was waiting to hear the music. I just knew there would be some great bands here. I figured there would be some

modern rock, of course, but I was definitely counting on some old school rock. You know, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, or maybe some reggae grooves. I can't tell you who any of the bands were. All I can tell you is that there was more than one, and they all were God awful. The whole string of bands was like listening to someone who's slightly intoxicated try to put a cogent sentence together i.e., nothing made sense. I have NO idea what was going on and I don't think the organizers did either. I must admit that it really bothered me – so much so that I think I annoyed my fellow Bashers by periodically voicing my dislike. I guess as an entertainer I'm always into the music side of things, but I thought if any event should have great bands, it should be Hash Bash. Maybe the organizers thought that stoners would be too stoned to care about the music? (Well, to some extent that was true. There were some who were so high that they wouldn't have noticed.) But most were standing around waiting for some jams. We did not get them. It felt like you were waiting for the sucky warm-up band to get done so you can get to the main event you came to see – except in this case the main event NEVER happened. It almost put me off entirely. The only glimmer of hope was that in between they played some Pink Floyd on the sound system, but at very low volume. Other than that, it was a very pleasant afternoon. After lunch and a few Constant Buzzes (I lost count. I'm telling you, it's a GREAT drink!), we decided it was time to leave this lovely, peaceful potpourri of beautiful people and head on home to let the party continue without us. All in all, I had a great time! It was a nice way to spend my birthday. Over the clouds of smoke wafting through the early spring air, all walks of life came together for a few hours of joyful communion. In light of all we as a nation have to deal with lately, it was nice to see people letting go of their troubles, smiling, being friendly to each other, and happy – if only for a few hours. If smoking a little green is all it takes for everyone to get along, then I say LEGALIZE IT!!! Joan Stevenson is an entertainer in the metro Detroit area. Find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter HYPERLINK "https://twitter.com/lady_j_8"@Lady_J_8 #theworldaccordingtojoan on Tumblr HYPERLINK "http://houseofwonderandchaos.tumblr. com/"http://houseofwonderandchaos.tumblr. com/, and on Reverbnation HYPERLINK "http://reverbnation.com/joanstevenson"http:// reverbnation.com/joanstevenson


MEXI MIKE

Detroit’s Latin Legend

Interview by Christopher Bansale Photographs by Tony Lowe


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Muy Caliente”? Well, I think, it being the month of May and with Cinco de Mayo just around the corner the name "Mexi Mike" pops into my head. Mexi Mike's first debut on the stage Gigis Café for his birthday bash. This spiraled into a journey making him not only one of the sexiest Latino dancers in Detroit, but also making him a feature at Legends of 2012 in Windsor, Ontario. Now, even though he works it from time to time on stage making sure each and every show is hot and exciting, this Saginaw native's true greatest moments are with the ones he loves. Being that Mexi is a good friend to many he also is very active in the community working closely with not only Detroit Latin@z , a group of empowered LGBT allied leaders representing and supporting Detroit, but also events at Affirmations, the LGBT support center in Downtown Ferndale. Having Mexi as a friend has been one of the most liberating experiences in my life today. Wise upon his years, the guidance he gives to me and most his friends are what keep our friendships so tight knit. A representation of love, humor, and loyalty to his peers, he is a true icon in the community. Chris: If you had the chance to perform with an entertainer of your choice, WHO would it be and WHY? Mexi Mike: Jennifer Lopez. She’s an amazing singer and because I feel that we both have a lot in common. She’s a performer and I love to perform as well. Plus we both have our Latina sides that we are both very proud of. C: What do you think is this community’s biggest obstacle, if any? How can we overcome it? MM: I think that this community’s biggest obstacle is that we let our differences individually get in the way of our ultimate goals of growing together in the community. I feel that we can overcome our differences and grow stronger by having more of an open mind and understanding by taking the time to get to know each other better before making premature assumptions before knowing what others are about. Also we need to show LOVE not HATE by just being the best people that we can be and treat others how we would want to be treated. C: What would you say is your life motto? MM: “Always be respectful of others and to keep friends and family as close as possible.” Those values are what I consider to be a rich and plentiful way of life. C: As a Latino, do you often face the stereo-type of being a Latin lover? MM: Yes I do face that stereo-type ha-ha. Me being a dancer and Latino that puts me in the position to be viewed as somewhat of a sexual icon.


C: So the word on the street is you’re a big ol’ bottom? MM: Ha ha only on days that end with a Y. Actually I’m much diversified in that area. Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t. To be completely honest, being a gay guy usually requires work from both ends to have a healthy, yet FUN sex life. C: What is your ideal man? MM: Someone that is loving, passionate, funny, and dependable. Somebody that knows that you’re having a bad day and never gives up on trying to making my day better. Also, someone that is passionate is just as important because it’s just someone that you can connect with deeply and feel complete comfort and love with. Someone that is funny when it is needed is also a good factor for a man, especially for the days I just need a good laugh, or even just to lighten the mood at the right time. C: What do you think is going to be the most memorable fashion trend of 2012? MM: The color mint green because a wise woman (Lady GayGay) once told me before she married the night that it was going to be big in fashion this spring . Simply because she’s an influential fashion icon that has set so many trends over the year, whether it be risqué or something simple, so therefore she would be a credible source. C: What do you do for a living? MM: I am currently a project/ operations manager for a design build firm located in Sterling Heights, Mi. My job consists of working with many entrepreneurs and business owners, manage job costs, a little bit of supervision here and there, I play many roles in the business, it varies from day to day. C: Who’s the most influential person in your life? MM: I would have to say my grandma. She’s a leader. A leader to me and the whole family. She’s always teaching me the things I need to know in life whether it be the small things or valuable lessons that needed to be learned. I look up to her because her life isn’t measured by money or success, but by being a blessing to our family. She has a much fulfilled life without all the material things, which in turn inspires and influences not only me but my family as well. C: What is your biggest pet peeve? What really gets under your skin? MM: When you’re on a date with someone and they’re on their phone the entire time. It absolutely drive me nuts because I feel when you’re hanging out with someone you’re trying to get to know, you’re attention should be on them. It’s like a slap in the face. RUDE! lol You can catch Mexi Mike see regularly Mondays and Fridays at GiGi's Gay Bar in Detroit and at Stud Sundays at Liberty Bar in Pontiac.


white party MAY 28TH

16920 W Warren Ave Detroit, Mi


J

ulissa  is  a  close  friend  of  mine.  We’ve  known  each  other  for  a  few  years  now.  While   I  was  planning  Motor  City  Pride,  we  had  a  little  chat  and  I’m  excited  to  say  that  she’ll   be  joining  us  in  the  festivities.


Julissa!  So  good  to  talk  to  you  again.  I  gotta   pick  your  brain  for  a  minute  here.  I  think   most  people  know  you  from  your  days  on   “American  Idol.�    I  don’t  think  we  need  to  talk   about  that  for  six  hours,  but  I  do  have  one   question:  What  is  life  like  on  “American  Idol�?

minimum  age.  From  age  10  to  15,  I  was  clas-­           different  languages.  I  got  super  freakin'  bored   and  decided  to  do  some  R&B  and  pop  music.   The  rest  is  history. You  grew  up  in  New  Jersey.  Where  do  you  live   now  and  do  you  like  it?

AHHH!  NOT  AGAIN!  Haha!  Just  kidding.   “American  Idolâ€?  was  an  eye-­opener  for  me  in   regards  to  how  crazy  the  music  industry  really   is.  I  had  cameras  shoved  in  my  face  24/7  –   even  when  I  was  sleeping,  which  I  barely  got   to  do.  It  tested  me  and  my  ambition.  After   being  cut  due  to  laryngitis,  I  got  some  serious         freakin'  make  it  by  my  own  merit  in  my  own   way.

DIIIIRRRYYY  JERRRZZ!!!!!  I  actually  don’t   really  live  anywhere  now.  I  travel  so  much   that  I  just  kinda  have  my  stuff  and  a  bed  in  a   room  and  I  crash  there  every  once  in  a  while   to  spend  some  time  with  my  family.  I  like   traveling  a  lot;  I  get  to  meet  so  many  different   characters  and  people  who  support  my  music,   although  being  away  from  my  family  sucks   major  balls  –  especially  the  food  aspect.

It’s  got  to  be  a  huge  learning  experience  to  go   from  where  you  were,  to  “American  Idol,�  to   where  you  are  now.    What  did  you  learn  about   life,  music,  and  the  people  in  the  business?

Talk  to  me  about  your  latest  tour.  You’re   about  to  do  a  shit  ton  of  pride  festivals.    Are   you  excited?  Why  do  you  like  working  with   the  gay  community?

Life:  If  you  don’t  lose  80  percent  of  your   sleep,  energy,  and  sanity  to  get  to  your  dream,   you’re  not  working  hard  enough.

HELL  YEAH!  I’m  SUPER  stoked  to  be  ac-­ cepted  by  the  gay  community.  I  have  the   utmost  respect  and  admiration  for  my  boys   and  girls,  and  they  love  and  embrace  me  and   my  music  with  open  arms,  which  is  a  HUGE   DEAL.  As  soon  as  I  walk  through  the  door  at  a   gay  venue,  I  feel  the  love.  Plus,  I  consistently          and  that  if  they  weren’t  gay  they  would  do  me.   Compliments  all  around.  It’s  win-­win.  Love  it.

Music:  I’ll  be  damned  if  I  have  to  sing  other   people’s  songs.  I  write  my  own  music. People  in  the  business:  It’s  a  business.  The   people  are  focused  on  your  earning  potential,   not  your  talent.  It’s  a  very  underwhelming  and   harsh  reality.  I  had  to  learn  to  play  both  roles   –  the  decision  maker  AND  the  artist  –  all             to  make  a  buck. Let's  talk  about  your  life.  You  started  sing-­         get  into  that,  and  what  type  of  music  did  you   sing? YEAH!  Well,  my  family  was  hella  broke,  so  if   we  wanted  to  do  any  extracurricular  activities,   they  either  had  to  be  free  or  by  scholarship.  I   started  singing  like  most  people  do:  singing   along  with  the  radio.  My  parents  realized  that   I  wasn’t  atrocious,  so  by  the  age  of  10  I  had   auditioned  for  a  scholarship  program  at  the   Neward  School  of  the  Arts.  I  was  allowed  in   two  years  before  the  mandatory  twelve-­year  

What  type  of  music  do  you  really  want  to  get   into?  You’re  pretty  well-­known  in  the  dance   world  with  a  handful  of  Billboard  hits.  How   does  that  feel? Well,  people  know  me  as  the  rebellious  bad   ass  that  does  tons  of  crazy  shit  –  which  is   mostly  true.  I’m  not  really  good  at  writing   sappy  music,  so  I  will  most  likely  continue  to   write  and  produce  edgy  pop  music  with  a  rock   edge.  I  really  fucking  love  Pink  and  see  myself   going  more  that  route  in  the  future  –  but  my   own  way,  of  course. What’s  the  next  single? Well,  I  have  18  records  coming  out  this  year.   The  next  one  is  a  damn  toss-­up.  I  wrote  a  

fantastic  festival  song  called  “Overloadâ€?  which   will  most  likely  be  the  next  hit  unless  I  write   another  before  that.  I’ll  keep  you  posted! Now  it's  time  to  get  serious.  I  know  you’ve   been  an  activist  for  gay  rights  in  the  past.    Tell   me  about  that. As  I  said  previously,  I  admire  and  respect  the   gay  community.  It  takes  a  lot  of  fucking  balls   to  get  ignorance  spat  at  you  from  left  and   right  and  still  rise  above  and  push  for  equal-­ ity.  I  have  lent  my  talent  as  an  entertainer   many  times  to  raise  money  for  the  community   and  will  continue  to  do  so  until  that  bullshit   ends.  Sorry,  I  curse  a  lot  when  I’m  pissed. Do  you  think  we’ll  ever  see  a  day  when  we’ll   have  equality  for  all  in  the  country? Honestly,  total  equality?  No.  As  a  society  we   have  so  many  preconceived  notions  about   people  of  different  races,  genders,  sexual  pref-­ erences‌  and  to  completely  eliminate  all  of   them  without  brainwashing  the  entire  human   race  would  be  impossible.  I  know  personally             purple,  magenta,  or  like  Stacy  or  Bob.  If  you   treat  me  right  and  respect  me,  I’m  here  for   you.  Sadly,  my  perspective  on  people  “differ-­ entâ€?  than  me  is  not  the  general  consensus  of   our  society. What  steps  do  you  think  we  could  take  to  try   and  make  it  happen? Education.  Educate  ignorant  people  on  how   we  aren’t  different.  We  are  skin,  bones,  and   blood,  just  like  they  are.  Just  because  you   were  born  to  like  Michael  instead  of  Michelle   doesn’t  mean  you  are  any  less  of  a  person  or   have  any  less  rights  than  the  person  next  to   you.  People  who  aren’t  around  the  gay  com-­ munity  like  to  live  and  make  judgments  off   of  what  others  tell  them,  which  is  completely   irrelevant  and,  most  of  the  time,  incorrect.   Why  not  educate  them  and  remove  the  lies   and  taboo  from  being  gay?  If  people  could  see   the  hostility  and  blind  hate  that  the  gay  com-­ munity  sees  daily,  they  wouldn’t  be  so  damn   quick  to  judge.  They  would  admire  the  gays  as   much  as  I  do.


S

o far, the most important thing I’ve learned during my 21 years on this earth is to love yourself. I’m quoting RuPaul here, but home girl has a point: “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anybody else?” Couldn’t have said it better myself! First and foremost, being human, insecurity sucks. I’m not saying I’m perfect; that’s physically impossible – unless you’re in a box that says “Barbie.” Everyone has flaws, we wouldn’t be human without them. I not only want to write this column in order to share my stories and make you laugh, I want to inspire you and inspire anyone else who is willing to read my column. Having confidence and knowing who you are is the best way to represent yourself. Overall, having a positive outlook on life is something everyone should strive for. I want people to realize that they are beautiful, different, and loved just the way they are. We’re all here for reasons that can’t be explained to us, and we have to take every day as an opportunity. Whether that opportunity is to rise above or fail, it’s all about growing as a person. I will be truthful to you and admit that I do need to practice what I preach, but with girls like RuPaul running around, it’s hard not to catch the positivity bug! I realize that you must have a story. We all do. To whatever depth your story goes, don’t you think it’s time to start celebrating it? Celebrate your life, who you are, where you came from, and what you love to do! Just know that you’re on this planet for a reason, so embrace it! If you have a passion, follow it. If you have something to say, say it! It’s time to start celebrating here, now and together. Can you tell I was raised by hippie parents? Haha, I’m proud of it though. My mother taught me to treat others with respect and give everyone a chance. The gay culture inspires me so much; that’s where all of this inspiration comes from. So thank you, for always inspiring and always fighting. You give little straight girls like me a speck of hope when we fall down. With Motor City Pride about a month away, I thought this column would come out at a great time. Be proud of what you have overcome and SHOW US YOUR PRIDE! Come meet me and the rest of the Flame Magazine team at Pride! I would love to meet all of you and hear your stories ... if you’re willing to share.



Flame Magazine May 2012