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HEALTH The Hard truth about Viagra

Gay & Lesbian Cit y Living



february 2011





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Paul Gallant, Krishna Rau CONTRIBUTORS

Nicola Betts, Dino Dilio, Derek Dotto, Anna Von Frances, Tania Ganassini, Peter Knegt, Serafin LaRiviere, Alice Lawlor, Keith Loukes, Bruce Mayhew, Brian Phillips, Corey Pierce, Michael Pihach, Adam Segal, Pam Shime, Annemarie Shrouder, Richard Silver, Michael Thorner, Chris Tyrell, Doug Wallace, Lulu Wei ON the cover

To learn more, please visit


Hyphen Photography


issue 09

views | living & health | insight | listings | Art & design | sex





DUOMO D’UOMO Dsquared2 in Milan by Derek Dotto


Sunny Fong The work/home studio of VAWK designer by Gordon Bowness



AND BABY MAKES THREE Sandro D’Ascanio, Sean McKenna and their son Cameron by Bruce Mayhew


Toronto Talk Exchange


Toxins in cosmetics by Brian Phillips


Home Turf: The Junction by Alice Lawlor

CELEBRATING DIVERSITY Discover Canada by train. Great deals all year round at

21 Neighbourhood in Focus by Richard Silver 23

Stylin’ with Chris Tyrell


Buenos Aires by Doug Wallace


Cross-country skiing by Gordon Bowness


29 red line: love of Hockey by Krishna Rau 30

The Grooming Game with Dino Dilio


Relationship Advice with Adam Segal


Toronto Women’s Bookstore by Annemarie Shrouder


Embrujo Flamenco by Pam Shime


Billy Elliot the Musical by Serafin LaRiviere

43 director Mary Ellen MacLean by Paul Gallant 45

Display Case: textile art by Gordon Bowness


Sex and Health with Dr Keith


Caught in the Act by Michael Pihach TM

Trademark owned by VIA Rail Canada Inc.

toronto talk exchange

VIEW FINDER → GROUP OF 7½ At this time of year, life in Toronto is all about geography. We locals are either hiding from it, fleeing it or cursing it (though some hardy individuals embrace it; see page 28). Mr Canadiana, Doug Coupland, has taken iconic Group of Seven images and flattened them into basic abstractions. His works are part of Landscape, a group show of gallery artists at Clark and Faria up until Sun, Feb 6. With Roy Arden, Holger Kalberg, Greg Girard, Justine Kurland and Evan Lee. 10am to 6pm (5:30pm Sunday). 55 Mill St, bldg 2. (416) 703-1700. monteclarkgallery.com.

Kai Wa Yapp

In their own words Doug Guildford


February 2011

→ “The

sacred is profane.”

“I want to create a holy picture to honour and to celebrate the dead and to emphasize that you are entering a temple where truth and beauty are revealed,” writes Doug Guildford, outlining his vision for The Not Forgotten Wall, a memorial inside Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. “My intent is to build up successive layers of black and off-white/ochre/gold drawing over the surface of the whole wall — a vulnerable tattooed skin. The drawing will be composed of simple sexy graphic marks — an organic calligraphy that wanders suggestively between male and female. The names of the remembered will be painted by hand

on the bottom of the drawing on either side of the entrance.” The Not Forgotten Wall, began in 1994 when Buddies moved into its home at 12 Alexander St in Toronto, is an ongoing memorial to those within the company‘s expansive artistic family who have died. At the end of 2010, Guildford added the following names: Elizabeth “Luscious” Baxter, Jackie Burroughs, Patrick Chevalier, June Falkner, Ed Fielding, Nigel Gough, John Morris Healy, Andrew Hull, Will Munro, Richard Payne, Christopher Skinner and Tracy Wright.

toronto talk exchange Sound off 1 Girl 5 Gays

How Tweet It is Delicious rumours

→ You’re

f***ed up for thinking that gay guys are super slutty!” David Robert gives a typical sound bite from MTV Canada’s quarrelsome Toronto-based talk show 1 Girl 5 Gays

“I think what the show does really effectively is give a lot of different twenty-something homosexual voices. People can tune in and see a really diverse part of our community.”

1 Girl 5 Gays cast member Mike Yerxa

“I think the people who think it’s exploiting stereotypes are the people who sort of glance at it. They might hear an effeminate voice, or they might hear someone talking about Barbra Streisand and think that’s a stereotype. If you watch the show — and I sit and listen to these guys — they’re all unique individuals who have their own unique tastes and interests.”

1 Girl 5 Gays producer Garrett Wintrip

“It’s great that MTV Canada is making gay celebrities that aren’t necessarily designers on the HGTV network. This show lets you hear what gay people are talking about, which is awesome. My concern would be that kids in smaller communities watching the show would think that you have to talk and act in order to be gay.”

Entertainment blogger Mike Morrison, mikesbloggityblog.com

“MTV is taking a step towards MTV-fying gay culture. I find it degrading to listen to these people talk so shallow about pointless material. It becomes a contest of who can share the most intimate, shocking things. That’s what the appeal is of reality shows like Real Housewives or The Hills.

Entertainment blogger Ryan Porter, dramarama.ca

1 Girl 5 Gays New episodes air Fridays at 11pm on MTV Canada. Check out our behind-the-scenes video report on intorontomag.com.

→ Delicious doesn’t lie. While using the popular social bookmarking web service for amassing, storing, sharing and discovering web bookmarks, I noticed that I misspelled my Delicious bookmark tag for Martin Scorsese, accidentally omitting an “e.” While making the correction, I looked over at the upper-right column of my Delicious webpage to view my top 10 tags — tags being singular, searchable words I use to describe web pages I have visited over the past five years or so. In order of maximum usage those word tags were: 2010, howto, blog, music, inspiration, toronto, cinema, film, portfolio, illustration. It was a telling portrait as to what my passions and interests are, interests that are shared with a global network who may want access to the same information, or better yet, share that information. In many ways, those top 10 tags reminded me again of just what inspires me in life, and I took the list as confirmation and sanction to continue investing my time in the pursuit of information that I so passionately gather and parse through using those tags. This reflective moment was a great way for me to embrace what lies ahead in 2011. Due to a business document leaked on the internet in December 2010 the web was all aflutter with rumours that Yahoo was killing Delicious, created by Joshua Schachter in 2003, and sold to Yahoo in 2005. Twitter and other networks were flooded with outraged chatter. Yahoo quickly clarified its position, stating that what Continued on page 11





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toronto talk exchange Hollywood’s Gayest Night Oscar Is Back and Gayer Than Ever

Continued from page 9

By Peter Knegt they really meant by listing → and t he t oas t er goes t o. . . Natalie Portman and Annette Bening battle for Oscar playing two wildly opposite types of characters.

Delicious under their “sunset” umbrella was that they wanted to unload and sell the service to a potential buyer. With Yahoo’s technology now so inte-


rom the moment it was announced that James Franco and Anne Hathaway would host the Sun, Feb 27 Academy Awards ceremony, the cards began falling into place for Hollywood’s gayest night to out-gay itself. Sure, hosting choices have been pretty gay in the past, both literally (Ellen DeGeneres), and not so literally (Hugh Jackman), but Franco and Hathaway offer quite the combo. She’s an outspoken LGBT rights advocate and a soon-to-be full-fledged gay icon (she’s set to play Judy Garland). He has a knack for playing gay historical figures (Allen Ginsberg, Harvey Milk’s lover, James Dean) and

has directed a bunch of very gay short films. And he’s not hard on the eyes, either. The two of them together on stage — likely with singing and dancing involved? Top that, Ellen. But hosts are just the tip of the gay iceberg given that two of this year’s most nominated films are Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right. Swan more or less involves a drug-fuelled tryst (or psychotic fantasy?) between the characters played by Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis — okay, not exactly optimal lesbian representation. But Kids is the very first best picture nominee directed by an open lesbian, and Cholodenko grabbed a nomination for co-writing the

script. Her film offers one of the most honest portrayals of a lesbian relationship mainstream cinema has ever seen. And none of its queer characters are dying or watching their lovers die. One of Kids’ stars, Annette Bening, has a decent shot at winning best actress; the woman most likely to beat her is Ms Swan herself, Natalie Portman. When Portman or Bening win (it’s highly unlikely anyone else will), they’d actually become the fifth person in the past 10 years to win a lead acting Oscar for playing a queer character (Sean Penn, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman are the others). That’s a quarter of the overall awards. Even though they are all heterosexuals playing gay characters, that recognition kind of makes up for refusing to give the biggest prize to Brokeback Mountain in an act of arguable homophobia and definite cinematic injustice. While they have yet to award an even semi-openly gay actor (and no, Jodie Foster and Kevin Spacey don’t retroactively count), Oscar has had an openly gay host, an openly gay screenwriting winner (Milk’s Dustin Lance Black) and, in the past two years, three of its 10 director nominees were gay (and one was even making a film about gays). What’s more, Milk producer Bruce Cohen is co-producing the ceremony this year, following Adam Shankman and Bill Condon as the third openly gay Oscar maestro in a row. It seems that while Oscar was always a gay icon, all of a sudden he’s in on the joke.

grated and intertwined with the Delicious application, the jury is out on who might even want to purchase the service. If Delicious does go away at some point, users may need to be prepared. Any new service that is developed in place of Delicious will have to be able to import what many users have been amassing on Delicious for the past seven years. Several startups are promoting importing tools to assist users to migrate their information over to new applications. There are other online bookmarking service options out there, such as Pinboard, which is subscription-based, and Springpad, which is free. Are the days numbered for Delicious? Time will tell. I, for one, hope not. It’s hard to let go of something so familiar; something that, well, works. Don’t get me started on the non-consensual profile template upgrades being imposed on Facebook and Twitter users. Like anything or anywhere else, change is the one constant on the internet. Rapid change. I’m just glad I took the time to correct the “martinscorsese.”

Michael Thorner tweets at twitter.com/ michaelthorner



fa s h i o n

spaghetti western → Dean

and Dan Caten sent saddle-ready dudes down the runway in Milan Writer Derek Dotto


duomo d’uomo Toronto’s hottest design exports Dean and Dan Caten, better known as Dsquared2, opened the last day of Milan Fashion Week’s menswear collections with a tribute to the North American pioneer. The icy mountain backdrop set the tone for a sombre show. The Fall/Winter 2011-12 line marked a change of pace for the twins, who are known for their ultra-glamorous, sexed-up spectacles. Models walked the runway in a muted palette of black, white, beige, grey, and navy blue. Key pieces included aprons worn as vests, wool denim pants and jackets, washed leathers and shearling outerwear.

DSQUARED2 dsquared2.com.


The icy mountain backdrop set the tone for a sombre show. intorontomag.com


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Dirty little secret →There

are poisons lurking in your bathroom cabinet Writer Brian Phillips | Illustration Corey Pierce


etween pharmaceutical drugs in our drinking water, frying our brains with cell phones and the irradiation of nutrients out of our food, add another health risk to the list: toxic chemicals hidden in our personal care products. Canada has a new Consumer Product Safety Act, passed in December, but it does not cover cosmetics. Many of the skin, hair and hygiene products that we slather on our bodies daily contain chemicals that are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors and reproductive toxicants. Since 2005, the Toxic Nation project has tested Canadians across the country and found that all of us have varying levels of harmful chemicals in our bodies. “Pollution is now so pervasive that it’s become a marinade in which we all bathe every day.” says Dr Rick Smith, one of the project’s organizers. “Pollution is actually inside us all. It’s seeped into our bodies. And in many cases, once in, it’s impossible to get out.” Enter Toronto-based Environmental Defence’s new “Just Beautiful” campaign. Developed by the same folks who got all those nasty plastic baby bottles with bisphenol A off the shelves two years ago and BPA listed as a toxic chemical in Canada — the first country in the world to do this — the new campaign targets heavy metals, parabens, sulphates and phthalates in personal care products. Lead, mercury and arsenic, which play havoc with our bodies, are used in cosmetics like lipstick, nail polish and mascara.

Methyl, butyl and propyl paraben are widely used as cheap preservatives and studies show they affect normal hormone activity and have been linked to cancer. Sulphates are surfactants that allow oil and water to mix; they are also skin and eye irritants. Phthalates, commonly used in plastics and fragrances, cause reproductive abnormalities in males that scientists now call “testicular dysgenesis syndrome” or TDS. Testicular cancer and impaired sperm are just two of the results of heavy phthalate concentration. In many parts of the world, the European Union and Japan for instance, some of these chemicals have been banned in mass-market products. The “Just Beautiful” campaign hopes to engage Canadians to push for better protections as well as legislation for full disclosure on all product packaging. In their bestselling book from 2009, Slow Death by Rubber Duck, Smith, executive director of

Environmental Defence, and fellow activist Bruce Lourie, president of the Ivey Foundation, detail their mad toxic experiment, purposely exposing themselves to typical household stuff most of us use all the time. Locked up in Lourie’s condo, they slathered on the drug store products, ate lots of tuna from cans, plugged in air freshners and microwaved meals. Their follow-up blood tests showed that the levels of toxins in their blood had shot up, in some cases more than 2,000 times. After a detox period, the BPA and phthalate levels reduced, but were still evident in their blood, proof that these chemicals are everywhere in our environment. Smith and Lourie’s conclusion: “Making different choices the next time you go to the grocery store can alleviate some of your family’s pollution in the short term. But for a longterm fix, only improved government regulation and oversight of toxic chemicals is the answer.”

The David Suzuki Foundation’s recent report, “What’s Inside that Counts,” follows our daily exposure to a “dirty dozen” of toxic ingredients, highlighting the dangerous substances in our shampoos, deodorants and cosmetics. In one of their surveys, three out of five people check the ingredients on labels, which means more people are paying attention, but with so many hidden chemicals, as consumers we are really still in the dark. Depressed yet? Here’s the good news. The “Just Beautiful” campaign cabinet is comprised of a group of smart, passionate and very focused individuals from different disciplines who will be working hard over the next three years to bring more awareness to these issues, press government to adopt needed change and offer healthier alternatives to Torontonians and Canadians in general. Smith’s two young boys Owain and Zachary don’t play with the rubber duckies anymore, and since phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, they already are living in a safer world. When asked what the future holds, Smith remains hopeful. “I’m optimistic about the significant change we’ve inspired,” he says, “and will continue to inspire in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier life for Canadians.”

Join the “Just Beautiful” campaign at environmentaldefence.ca. Find out where the “dirty dozen” toxic chemicals are in your personal care products at davidsuzuki.org/issues. intorontomag.com




Fire & ice →

Smokin’ street style for the slopes Writer Derek Dotto

Whether you’re cuttin’ the pow pow on a bird day or chillaxin’ in the chalet, you’re going to need some sick threads to make a statement on the hill this season. Snowboarding and downhill skiing have taken on a casual, street-influenced feel for 2011. Here’s a rad look that will keep you looking cool from the mountain face to après-ski.







pro-tec riot xs Helmet

Think Technicolor when guarding your cranium. Pro-tec helmets come in a rainbow of colours, so take your pick. Another tip: Go for one with a peak at the front. It’s what all the cool kids are wearing. Available at pro-tec.net. 2

burton touchscreen Glove liner

No more frozen fingers with these bad boys. The T-Ink technology in Burton’s Touchscreen Liner allows you to control your phone or music player without exposing yourself to the elements. Wear them under your regular gloves. Available at burton.com.



February 2011

vans hi standard boot

Finish of the look off with a boot that can go from slope to street. The Vans Hi Standard snowboard boot draws from the brand’s iconic skate shoe aesthetic. Available at Hogtown Extreme Sports (401 King St W; hogtownextreme.com) and vanssnow.com. 4

Spy optic soldier snow leopard Goggles

For bad-ass eyewear, look no further than Spy Optic’s Soldier line of goggles. With a mirrored bubble lens available in a range of colours, they cut the glare and look hella cool. Available at So Hip It Hurts (323 Queen St W; sohipithurts.ca) and spyoptic.com.


foursquare melnik Jacket

Take a page from the hipster handbook and go for a plaid or buffalo-check jacket. This three-in-one Melnik jacket from Foursquare represents fashion and function at its best. Available at Sporting Life (2454 Yonge St; sportinglife.ca) or foursquareouterwear.com. 6

Burton The jeans

Made famous by Shaun White and the American Olympic snowboard team, Burton’s Gore-Tex board pants, called The Jeans, look like denim but have all the warmth and protection of your standard ski pants. A must have this season. Available at So Hip It Hurts and burton.com.






A Dance For The Lesbian Community At Palais Royale

Tickets $2000



Available at: www.ticketweb.ca Palais Royale 1601 Lake Shore Blvd W 416-533-3553 x 22 Copy Cat Reproductions 746 Danforth Ave.



Light box →

Sunny Fong creates his luxury women’s wear line, VAWK, out of a spartan one-bedroom apartment overlooking the Church/Wellesley village Writer Gordon Bowness | Photography Nicola Betts


February 2011


What’s going on here? This room is a work in progress. Everything is moveable; everything is breakdown-able, if that’s a word. The space transforms itself depending on what I need it for: work studio, meeting room or showroom and sometimes party room. I used to have a living space in here but I never used it and I needed more work space, so I got rid of everything. If I had a bigger space, it wouldn’t be any different. What furniture and objects will you hold onto? Everything can go but my bed. I love my bed. I love lying on it in the sun. And my books. They are sacrosanct. They give me so much inspiration... and they aren’t all fashion books. I love and need to be able to hold an image in my hand; online isn’t enough. If I like an image, I have to touch it.... My friends always make fun of me. There’s nothing on the walls. It’s like a showroom, this way I can picture how the product will be displayed. You like spartan. I like it bare and clean. I clean before I start the day’s work. It clears my head. Is the lack of separation between work and home ever a problem? That’s why I don’t have a coffee maker. When I’m busy, specially leading up to Fashion Week, I’m in here all the time. It starts to feel like a little fashion prison. So I have to go out for coffee, see what’s happening in the world outside.

What was the most important lesson you got from winning Project Runway Canada? To trust my instincts, that my first idea is the best. We’d have 10 to 15 hours to complete a project and I’d spend the first two to three hours doubting myself... only to return to the original idea. You and your business partner Ben Barry have made a conscious effort to target women of all shapes and sizes. I’ve always liked girls with curves, boobs and ass, a woman. I’m not interested in a 17-year-old still in development. Maybe because I came of age during the reign of Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer, curvaceous women with personality. And I think there’s a good business case for sending a range of sizes down the runway, from 2 to 18, so our customers can see that my clothes will look great on them. My client base is not a stick. They are women who have grown into their bodies.

world. Which is totally a dream come true. How do you describe the VAWK look? Feminine with an edge. How do you describe your personal look? Easy. Latest fashion purchase? I’m not going to invest money in clothes. I’ll invest in anything that will give me inspiration. But I did treat myself to a Givenchy scarf. I can’t afford it; it just means I’ll have to work that much harder so I can. What’s coming up? I’ll give you a hint for my Fall/ Winter 2011 collection: Savile Row meets Himalayan mountain climber. VAWK is at vawk.ca & vawkcollection.ca.

Your luxury label VAWK launched in 2004, went on hiatus, and relaunched in 2009 after winning Project Runway Canada. How’s the business going? Really well. The response has been amazing. We had 85 percent sellthrough of our first line in The Room [the Bay’s high-end fashion salon in downtown Toronto]. I love The Room. I mean, my stuff hangs beside international designers like Jason Wu, Gianfranco Ferré and Giorgio Armani. That means I’m competing with the best in the

Most unusual design feature? I have these long strips of LED lights along the base of the walls. Got them for $100 in Hong Kong. They project any colour light up the walls, behind sheer curtains that I put up. I also have a suspended clothing rack similar to what most retail shops have.




Home Turf The Junction by Alice Lawlor It’s hard not to feel at home in The Junction. Yes, the neighbourhood at Dundas and Keele is still gentrifying, but the mélange is part of its charm: Die-hard locals rub shoulders with scruffy hipsters, baby boomers and a good dose of lesbians and gays.

When I bought a house just down the street, I was seduced by the romantic century homes, big trees and happy dogs. I still love that stuff, but what I appreciate even more is getting a kick-ass espresso or rooting out a restored ’50s armchair without ever leaving the ’hood. Here’s my guide to The Junction, the best-kept secret in the west end.





Start early at hip brunch spot Little Fish (3080 Dundas St W) and ask about their daily scramble. For lunch, choose between organic bison burgers at The Beet (2945 Dundas St W; thebeet.ca) or chicken tarragon sandwiches at Cool Hand of a Girl (2804 Dundas St W; coolhandofagirl.com). For dinner, it has to be Curry Twist (3034 Dundas St W; currytwist.com), an Indian restaurant that’s been earning raves for its mouthwatering Moghlaistyle cuisine. After dark, head to Margret (2952 Dundas St W), a favourite hangout of queer westenders (Cherry Bomb’s Cozmic Cat DJs there on first Fridays).

The Junction is a haven for naughty-but-nice foodstuffs. Crema (3079 Dundas St W; cremacoffee.ca) was voted Krupp’s best café in TO when it opened in 2008 and still draws coffee geeks from far and wide. Delight (3040 Dundas St W; delightchocolate.ca) is the place for handmade fairtrade chocolates and ice cream (try the infamous blue cheese). Next door and just as yummy is The Junction Fromagerie (3042 Dundas St W; junctionfromagerie.com): cheeses from across Canada, fresh bread from Thuet, homemade preserves, chutneys and crackers. Diet be damned.

In recent years, The Junction has been quietly developing into a rather fine décor district. Post and Beam (2869 Dundas St W; pandb.ca) does a brisk trade in reclaimed architectural details, while Cornerstone (2886 Dundas St W; cornerstonefurniture.ca) is packed with eclectic finds from around the world. Smash (2880 Dundas St W; smash.to) and newly opened Metropolis Living (2989 Dundas St W; metropolis-living.com) are full of intriguing found objects (think sewingmachine desks and vintage cookie jars). If your taste is more minimalist mod, Mjolk (2959 Dundas St W; mjolk.ca) has a great range of Scandinavian design classics.

February 2011

→ block part y Neighbourhood hot spots Curry Twist, Crema, Mjolk and Post and Beam are all along the same strip.

And when décor fatigue sets in, take a break at Pandemonium (2862 Dundas St W; pandemonium.ca), a book and music store with a fabulous collection of literary and vinyl classics.

ALICE LAWLOR Is an editor at Totem and on the book review panel for Herizons. She moved to Toronto from London, UK, in 2005 with her partner Amy. They moved to The Junction in 2009.




ry S

in focus


e Sh


r Che



—Waterfront by Richard Silver


ou should check out the plans for the West Don Lands, Lower Don Lands and Port Lands, what the city and province call the “New Blue Edge” (waterfronttoronto. ca). The concepts for development are bold; with the new Regent Park, preparations for the Commonwealth Games and what has happened on the eastern side of Queen’s Quay, there should be lots of excitement down on the waterfront in the next 10 years. Unlike the Beach or Beaches which has the charm of smalltown England, the new development is modern and built with lots of parks and waterways. “If you build it, they will come” seems to be the motto of Waterfront Toronto. Which stores, shops and restaurants will augment the street life, however, remains to be seen.

→ Lower don lands Artist’s rendering of the Trinity St crossing

may also be a big boon to workers in the downtown core who are tired of commuting to King and Bay from the burbs. With the first Baby Boomers turning 65 this year there will be lots of downsizing in the real estate market. The Bad News The reality of the waterfront in winter is cold. And while in summer, the cooler temperatures are much welcome, they also attract crowds that gum up transit, parking and quiet parks. The Bottom Line Nothing is perfect but the “New Blue Edge” might be a great place to enjoy downtown life and Lake Ontario.

The Good News If you love new modern construction, want to be by the lake and part of a really interesting vision then you should do your due diligence on this project. It

RICHARD SILVER is a salesperson with Bosley Real Estate and blogs at torontoism.com



the dish

POTATO & CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA FRITTA —by Tania Ganassini → “This recipe is deceptively light, using the humble potato — an ingredient rarely seen on pizza in North America. Be daring with your toppings; any variations of cheese and vegetables works well. Buon appetito!”


face, divide the dough into 4 equal

1 cup/142 g flour for rolling dough

sized portions. Roll dough into 1/8

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes

inch thick round pizza base.

2 sweet yellow onions, sliced thin

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1 bag/1 lb fresh pizza dough

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a sauté pan over medium heat; fry

1 cup/235 ml garlic-infused olive

pizza dough until golden on each

oil or extra virgin olive oil

side. Let dry on paper towel.

1 tsp/5 ml chili flakes Olive oil for frying

Preheat oven to 425F. Assemble the pizzas: Brush each

2 cups/450 g good goat cheese

fried dough with generous amounts

2 cups/85 g baby arugula

of garlic oil, then arrange with car-

Kosher salt and black pepper

amelized onions, marinated potatoes, sprinkle with chili flakes and


top with crumbled goat cheese.

Place potatoes in a medium pot

Season with salt and pepper and

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bake in the oven, either on a hot

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salt and cook on high heat until

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Ensure the potatoes are not over-

Remove from oven and place

cooked: They should hold their

baby arugula on top. Slice and

shape when sliced. Remove from

serve immediately.

heat and let cool. Slice potatoes

Makes four small-sized pizzas.

with skin into 1/8 inch slices. In a bowl, combine sliced potatoes and

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medium heat. Add 2 tbsp/30ml of

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olive oil with the thyme and sliced

garlic oil; toss to coat. Heat a large sauté pan over

onions and cook until caramelized. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the thyme and let onions cool.

TANIA GANASSINI is Chef de Partie at Canoe. 66 Wellington St W. She recently completed the postgraduate Italian Culinary Arts Program at George Brown College. THE CHEF’S HOUSE The student-staffed restaurant at George Brown hosts Viva Italia Cucina. Tue, Feb 22-25. 215 King St E. (416) 415-2260.


stylin' with chris tyrell → There

can’t be a more over-used word in fashion than modern. But if by modern we mean culturally attuned then Natalie Lecomte fits the bill — always a head-turner at the city’s most important and fun fashion events in signature bold tailoring or fluid draped jerseys of deceptive simplicity. As assistant buyer for designer women’s wear at Holt Renfrew, she is a magnet for people interested in fashion and design and a great supporter of Canadian fashion brands.


Favourite local designers?

What are you wearing?

A “new guard” of Canadian designers making a splash: Denis Gagnon, Greta Constantine, Jeremy Laing, Mikhael Kale and Todd Lynn.

Todd Lynn leather jacket with fur trimming. Hanni Y strapless top with belt. Uniqlo slouch pant. Vintage chainlink necklace. Giuseppe Zanotti metallic and leather ankle bootie. My

International designers?

hairdresser is Adrian Carew at Hair2Inc in Yorkville.

Raf Simons for Jil Sander who celebrates the purity of design with minimal details.

What items of clothing can you not live without? Greta Constantine jersey dresses, for their ease, versatility and aesthetic.

If money were no object what would be your fashion purchase?

Do you have a fashion pet peeve?

Shoes, shoes and more shoes!

Your first fashion memory?

What should every guy/girl buy this season?

Talking to my hairbrush in my best Jeanne Beker voice “hosting” Fashion Television.

Something in leather, be it a perfecto jacket, skirt or dress in supple washed skins.

Underwear lines. Seamless is the way to go. Also, bad shoes. It pains me to see a well-coordinated outfit and then look down at bad, unpolished shoes. Always put your best foot forward!

Go from city lights to desert nights. New, non-stop to Palm Springs.



Toronto to Palm Springs



Luxurious golf courses. Unforgettable shopping that fits any budget. Indulge in infused cuisine. Rest and relax.

Book by February 8 for travel on select days until April 30, 2011.* Book today at westjet.com or call your travel agent. *Book by February 8, 2011 (11:59 p.m. MST) for travel on Wednesdays and Saturdays until April 30, 2011. Fares on other days may be higher. Taxes, fees and surcharges are extra where applicable. Fuel surcharge still applies to Air Miles™ redemption bookings. Seats at these fares are limited and may not be available on all flights. New bookings only. 100% non-refundable. Flights may not operate on certain days. Offer combinable with other fares. All fares shown are one-way. See westjet.com for details.

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In Toronto Magazine


Final file is PDFX1A

All colours are printed as process match unless indicated otherwise. Please check before use. In spite of our careful checking, errors infrequently occur and we request that you check this proof for accuracy. TAXI’s liability is limited to replacing or correcting the disc from which this proof was generated. We cannot be responsible for your time, film, proofs, stock, or printing loss due to error.





fabulosa → Exotic,

playful and a little weird — affordable Buenos Aires should definitely be on your travel shortlist Writer Doug Wallace


ands up. How many of you have at least half of the Evita soundtrack burned into your mind? Gay patron saint Madonna brought Buenos Aires to the attention of so many who would otherwise have thought South America was just one crime-ridden, financially challenged region after another. She should get a cut of the pink tourism dollars that steadily flow into this enthralling sprawl of urbanity, the Paris of South America. Here’s a brief list of ways to play in BA, things to do and where to get them done. 24

February 2011

SET UP CAMP There are many neighbourhoods to hit, but establish home base in the fashionable, comfortable Palermo, which is broken down into three sub-hoods: Palermo-Viejo, Palermo-SoHo and Palermo-Hollywood. From there, break up your days visiting other parts of town. The core (Microcentro), San Telmo, La Boca, Recoleta and Barrio Norte, just to scratch the surface. Our pick of the boutique bunch in terms of Palermo hotels is Home Hotel (Honduras 5860; homebuenosaires.com), whose name really

suits it — fantastic décor, a cool spa, a terminally cute back garden and pool, and some of the best cocktails in town (see below). For best value, though, consider renting a condo and getting a bunch of friends to travel with you. There are many websites that can set you up comfortably and easily, in particular, Buenos Aires Habitat (buenosaireshabitat.com). That’s how my friends and I found a condo at Live Hotel (Nicaragua 6045) with its amazing rooftop pool with almost-360-degree view, great for reviving after a hot afternoon in the considerable heat.

OGLE THE LOCALS Nothing can adequately prepare you for the devastating swarthiness of this city. It will have you weak at the knees, even on the subway. Shocking heads of hair are everywhere. The proportion of gym-going guys is high, not that your little belly will stick out in any way if you’re carrying one. Cute dads in the park, scruffy lads on the street, linen-clad businessmen with suede loafers — there’s something for everyone. As the gay action is congregated in patches throughout town, load your phone with the Gayjin


Martin St-Amant (Wikipedia CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Buenos Aires App ($4.99; the App

Thursday to Saturday. If you can

back of which then opens out onto

Store). It has very handy little

work in a disco nap before din-

a ’20s-style lounge. Suspender-

pointers on not only the gay stuff,

ner, we recommend you show up

wearing bartenders specialize only

but art, architecture, food and

at 3am or 4am, after the lineup has

in drinks fashionable from that

accommodation as well. You’ll get

wound its way inside. That’s when

era, and the well-dressed mixed

lots of ideas from it, depending on

the real club people tend to arrive.

crowd is interesting and friendly.

whereabouts in town you’re sit-

The people-watching is phenom-

uated, and you don’t need data

enal. Kinda trashy, kinda straight

roaming to find a good time.

and not too druggy.



→ CRY FOR ME Suitably for the only South American country that recognizes same-sex marriage, the offices of the Argentine president are housed in the Casa Rosada, or Pink House. And yes, that’s the Evita balcony in the middle.

lunch. Most art galleries and muse-

Take time for the obligatory sites,

ums are closed on Tuesdays.

Step back in time at old Argentian

even if some of them are merely a

Recoleta Cemetery (Junín 1790)


breeze-through. Don’t miss the

exhibits a maze of above-ground

fer from FOMO (fear of miss-

(Parana 1048) and see the town’s

Plaza de Mayo, a key commer-

crypts old and new, where lie the

ing out) include: gay-ba.com/en,

gay/mixed beautiful people at play.

cial area, bounded on one side by

city’s well-to-do. The mix of archi-


But speaking of bygones time, you

the Casa Rosada, the pink pres-


htm and the popular whatsupbueno-

could get old waiting for the bar-

idential palace with the world-

snapshots and the beauty is sur-


tenders to wet your whistle.


to so

check you



in suf-





famous balcony (and just try not

prisingly un-creepy. This is where

The Woody’s of BA seems to be

Not that far away, the new

to sing that song). Trip through

Eva Peron is buried, so make sure

Sitges (Córdoba 4119), a familiar

Frank’s (Arévalo 1445) has a Get

the chaos of Florida Street, hope-

you get the obligatory photo.

name to those who have been to

Smart-type entrance, where you

fully side-stepping the pick-pock-

If you really need to see an over-

the little Spanish gay resort town

buzz in by dialing the “secret code”

ets. The Japanese Garden is a per-

priced tango show, by all means.

of the same name. Both boys and

in an American phone booth, the

fect chance to get away from it all

Try Rojo Tango at the Faena Hotel

for an hour or so, as is the Museo



Evita, which is filled with memora-



bilia and some cool souvenirs.

sons, soccer games, flea markets,

girls hit this lively but comfortable, medium-sized bar with turquoise light bathing brick walls. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a cool drag show at 1am, about the time people start showing up. For clubbing, there are a few choices, the largest being Amerika (Gascon 1040), which crams 2,000 people




Nothing can adequately prepare you for the devastating swarthiness of this city. It will have you weak at the knees.





Set aside a solid two hours for

city tours, sky diving… the sky is

the marvelous Museo de Arte

the limit in this town. If there’s



time a short trip to the Pampas,

Aires or MALBA (Avenida Figueroa

a sail through the River Plate or

Alcorta 3415; malba.org.ar). The

a train ride to the little town of

café there is top-notch if you want

Tigre are all within easy reach.

to schedule your visit around

Continued on page 26




L I V I N G & H EA LT H Continued from page 25

of the stores make dropping serious cash even more special.

TREAT THE TASTEBUDS The restaurant highlight award


goes to Tegui (Costa Rica 5852;

Beware of the bling! Flashy jew-

tegui.com.ar), for gorgeous meals

ellery, watches and the like say

in a glam setting. Tuna carpac-

“I have money” and “my bag

cio with shaved foie gras, veal tar-

likely has a nice phone in it.”

tare, sea bass, stuffed quail, amazing



Bank machines are few and


far between, so stock up when

that look as if they just stepped

you see one, unless it’s at night

out of a Bel Ami video — you get

(never a good idea). Expect line-

the picture. Patrons are buzzed in

ups, especially midday.

through a graffiti-strewn entrance, enhancing the mystique.

Tread carefully, the concept of picking up after your pet has not reached Argentina. Described by the guidebooks

ity, the top steak place or parilla,

as “relaxed social atmosphere,”

constantly busy to overflowing.

customer service is hit and miss.

Small vegetarian restaurant Bio

Customers and retailers actually



chat, sometimes for many min-

com.ar) is a delightful fresh-flavour

utes. Be prepared to watch wait-

experience, and a huge break from

ers buss a table for a full five min-

the barrage of beef. Swedish res-

utes before wandering over with

taurant Olsen (Gorriti 5870; 4774-

a menu.


4191) is great for brunch or dinner,

City of Buenos Aires, official tourism.bue.gob.ar.

Make La Cabrera (Cabrera 5099; parrillalacabrera.com.ar) a prior-

Have fun!

affordable and with portions that won’t overwhelm like other spots. Very comfortable atmosphere and a secluded, serene front garden. HIT THE SHOPS Palermo in general is full of amazing little shops filled with gorgeous things. For menswear, a stroll down two streets will have you covered. Felix La





and 1624)

are two small but mighty men’s stores almost side-by-side. Roman Cirasa (Armenia 1525) is a wellrounded




(right beside Kiehl’s) that will help you fill up any extra space in your suitcase. The seriously stylish and enormous Key Biscayne (Armenia 1735) is brimming with jeans and jackets, belts and the like.




casual goodies at Garçon García (Honduras 4702) will have you fishing out your credit card for a variety of well-made shirts, socks and swim trunks in the span of a few minutes. Chunky, Eva-Gabor-like shopping bags handed out in most 26

February 2011

→ Neighbourhoods From Palermo, home to restaurants like Tegui (bottom, left) and the boutique hotel Home Hotel (bottom, right), venture out to see the sights of La Boca (middle left), San Telmo (top, left) or Microcentro (top, right).

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beat the winter blues →The

Zen-like joys of cross-country skiing

Writer Gordon Bowness | Photography Lucinda Wallace


ross-country skiing is my first love,” says Toronto graphic designer Lucinda Wallace. It’s a bit of a shocking statement since Wallace was an avid competitive cyclist and former cochair of the Friends for Life Bike Rally, the giant fundraiser for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. “I still love cycling,” she says, “and cross-country skiing shares many characteristic with road cycling, that sense of covering a lot of distance — on your own steam, as opposed to downhill skiing. You can go slow and admire the scenery or you can go fast and race.” Wallace skied as a child growing up in Sarnia and reconnected with the sport when she began freelancing with a cross-country ski magazine in 2001. Now she’s a regular weekend warrior, usually on her favourite trails near Barrie at Hardwood Hills. “I just love being outside and making the most of winter. There’s nothing better to shake those winter blues than to be out on the trails on a sunny day. There’s definitely a Zen-type feel


February 2011

→ waxing poetic Whether you are looking for serenity or heart-pumping action, there’s nothing quite like crosscountry skiing.

to it. The gliding feels like flying. It’s so exhilarating because you are working every muscle in you body: core, arms, legs, back, cardio.” A chance lesson on skate skiing tapped into Wallace’s need for speed. Like its name implies, skating technique involves constantly pushing off the edge of each ski like a skater and less gliding. The skis are usually shorter and totally smooth; they don’t require the grip of kick wax or scales like in classic technique. And the poles are longer because you are always pushing with your arms. Skate skiers don’t slide along tracks but need wide packed-down trails. “You’re going fast all the time. That feels really powerful. You’re working hard all the time but it doesn’t feel hard because it’s so fun. “Cross-country skiers have this unique quality. I have never seen more happy smiles on people’s faces than I have at Hardwood Hills on a sunny day. Okay,” she continues, laughing. “it’s kind of cultish.”

Happy trails FAVOURITE SPOTS Hardwood Hills

BEST STORE Velotique

One hour and 20 minutes from Toronto, north of Barrie. hardwoodhills.ca “Best groomed trails in Ontario,“ says skier Lucinda Wallace, “especially good for beginners trying to get comfortable.”

1592 Queen St E velotique.com “More expensive but best quality and service,” says Wallace. Look for the YouTube channel for helpful equipment and technique videos.

Highland Nordic

GROUPS & EVENTS Out and Out Club

Two hours from Toronto, near Collingwood highlandnordic.on.ca “These trails go through beautiful countryside, up and down the Escarpment,” says Out and Out Club’s Wade Allen. “You even have views of Georgian Bay.” IN TOWN Don Valley

“Someone’s always cut a trail by the time I get out to the ravine,“ says Allen.

outandout.on.ca Hosts weekly day trips with carpooling. Prospective members welcome (especially those with cars). Mansfield Cross-Country Ski Weekend

Fri, Feb 11-13 activities@outandout.on.ca Out and Out hosts a three-day all-inclusive ski weekend. “It’s a very rustic, laidback event,” says Allen.


Power play →The

thrill of hockey, on and off the ice

Writer Krishna Rau | Photography Nicola Betts

→ RED LINE Reconnecting with his love of hockey transformed Robert Thompson’s life.


t was the locker room jokes that forced Robert Thompson out of hockey as a teenager. For a young man uncertain of his sexuality, the constant homophobia and comments about women were enough to drive him from the game he loved. “I started feeling very uncomfortable with the banter in the dressing room,” says Thompson. “I didn’t understand my sexuality, but I didn’t like the jokes. I started feeling very uncomfortable and I denied my sexuality for a while. I was very upset. Hockey had always been a part of my life.” Thirty-odd years later, the founder and commissioner of the Toronto Gay Hockey Association (TGHA) can laugh. “The jokes in the gay dressing room can be crude, as well. Guys are guys.”

But Thompson, 48, credits the establishment of the TGHA 24 years ago with changing his life around. Growing up in Agincourt, he says he had started skating at the age of two on a rink his father made in the backyard. He had even figure skated for a while, although again he says it was the jokes that forced him out. So not being on the ice had left a void in his life, and the TGHA not only returned him to the game, but helped him find himself. “I had a very hard time coming out as a person, and sports gave me [confidence]. Hockey gave me that. It helped me to come out and be who I am. It’s about the friendships you’ll make, about the relationships you might have.” In fact, Thompson says his first gay relationship was with a man he met while playing on one of

Toronto’s gay volleyball teams. But Thompson missed hockey. And when he found there was no organized gay hockey he decided to do something about it. “I started doing shinny, I advertised for likeminded players to come out and play at Upper Canada College. We had a great time. I met a guy named Hank in that first shinny game, who’s still my best friend today.” In the second year, they had enough players to form a team. Since Montreal already had a league, they then set up an annual friendship game. Four years later, they had three teams. “Today, we have nine teams, 120 members. We’re the largest gay-friendly hockey association in the world.” Thompson says that playing hockey has also led to more success in his professional life as the director of sales for an audio-visual company. “Hockey is all about team play, just like the corporate world. There’s no difference. But I didn’t get that from the corporate world, I got it from hockey.” Given its diverse makeup Thompson admits there are some tensions in the league. He says 70 percent of the players are gay men, 10 percent are lesbian, five percent are trans and 15 percent are straight. “We do have people who believe the league should be just for gay men. There’s always a few like that. But we refuse to discriminate on race, colour, sexuality, gender or anything else.” The result, Thompson says, is a perfect alternative for those who

TGHA Stats Players: 120 Teams: 9 Games: Most Sundays, September to April. Playoffs begin Feb 12 Location: Canlan Ice Sports, York University arena Average age: mid-30s, ranging from early 20s to 70s All skill levels welcome: Bob Thompson suggests people at least learn to skate first. Most arenas offer skating lessons, and many also offer hockey schools. “It’s better if you have a little bit of physical conditioning first, just to get yourself in shape. There’s no body checking, but it is hockey and hockey is a physical game” Equipment: Thompson suggests first-time players buy second-hand equipment. He recommends visiting a store like Play It Again Sports (three locations in Toronto; playitagainsports.com). He adds that players are often willing to donate equipment to newbies. “I always have something sitting around the house.”

may not want to hang out in bars or clubs. “It’s great for those people who are not necessarily out on Church St. It’s made up of downto-earth people. It’s what hockey is, and it’s also what gay represents to me. “If you’ve always had that dream, if you want more out in your life, if you want to meet people, this is for you. You’ll become more confident as a result.”

Toronto Gay Hockey Association gayhockey.com. intorontomag.com



the grooming game

— with Dino Dilio All the men we admire from Justin Timberlake



use the edge of a makeup wedge


sponge from the dollar store.

wear makeup when appearing on

These two important steps are

television, in film and on the red

key for effective and undetect-

carpet. It’s all part of the groom-

able results.

ing process. Their gorgeous guy

3. Clean up concealer: Choose a

veneer is cleaned up and polished

concealer that matches your

for public presentation.

overall natural skin tone. The

Many men take the brave step

colour should virtually disap-

and reach for concealer to cover

pear and merge with your com-

the flaws. But in too many cases

plexion. Use to paint away and

they are given one that is too light,

disguise minor under eye shad-

too shimmery or too hard to work.

ows, redness and blemishes.

Selecting a concealer for a man is

4. Under eye shadows: Banish seri-

very different than for a woman.

ous bluish shadows with a con-

Going too far runs the risk of fem-

cealer that has an undertone

inizing the eyes and removing

of peach/salmon for light skin

the “natural character” instead of

or orange for deep skins. The

refreshing their appearance.

orange factor neutralizes and

My recent concealers are the

cancels out the blue shadow and

clever pen types that dispense the

refreshes the eyes’ appearance.

product from the package through

Target application to the dark-

the brush. It’s easy to control and

est part only, usually deep into

self sets. No powdering required.

the tear duct. Stipple and blend

Tip: After your initial first use,

edges into skin. Stay away from

which can involve up to 30 clicks,

concealers that are yellow-based

check the brush before application

as these will turn the area green

to avoid overload. Blot excess with a tissue.

and sallow. Who wants that? 5. Eye bags: Lower head and raise

Recommendations: YSL Touché

your eyes to the mirror and paint

Éclat and L’Oreal Visible Lift Tone

a concealer that is half a shade

Enhancing Concealer.

lighter than your face into the groove that sits under the bot-


tom of the pouch. This line of

1. Prep and prime: Always start with

light is applied thinly. If painted

clean and moisturized skin. Use a

too wide it will look like war

tissue to blot excess product oth-

paint. Stipple and blend edges

erwise you’ll get poor adhesion

carefully. This approach will lift

and difficult blending.

and level the area out with sur-

2. Stipple: Pat and layer on a product in an up and down fash-

rounding skin. 6. Removal: Makeup comes off

ion. No wiping or rubbing. This


gradually builds up the coverage

cleansing cloths.



and opaqueness. Blend: Fan the edges of a product out to merge into surrounding skin tone. I

Next column: We venture into debonair detailing.

like using the ring finger for this because the heat helps make it easier. If your fingers are too big, like my Aunt Josephine, then

Dino Dilio is a freelance makeup artist, writer and resident beauty expert on CityLine. dinodilio.com.


Meet Your Perfect match

relationship advice

—with Adam Segal → My partner and I have been mostly happy for six years in a committed monogamous relationship. About five months ago he admitted to having had an affair with someone he volunteers with. He is and has been consistently remorseful. We have talked extensively about what happened but I’m still struggling. I am still very much in love and feel that he is doing his best to reassure me that he knows what got him off the rails. How do I stop obsessing about this and regain my trust in him? Pablo

Moving past an affair requires

calmer by now, but five months

the strength of an emotional war-

really isn’t that long. Give your-

rior and I commend you for giving

selves permission to take some

it an honest go. Especially when

time with this. Make sure you are

we live in a culture that sees any

respectfully communicating your

affair as a betrayal so traumatiz-

feelings as they change over time.

ing that any attempt at salvaging

If he is committed to seeing the

a relationship seems simply naïve.

relationship through this crisis, he

I feel differently: Too many good

will be open to revisiting your feel-

relationships end after an affair

ings and concerns as much as is

when they don’t necessarily have


to. While

While it is absolutely your partsome




ner’s fault for acting out, eventu-

might be spewing the whole “leop-

ally both of you will need to look at

ard doesn’t change its spots” stuff,

how each has contributed to ongo-

being a “cheater” is not an identity

ing relationship issues. Consider

or orientation. Everyone is capable

enlisting a couples therapist for

of cheating and it doesn’t mean

back-up support — it’s helpful to

that he will definitely graze outside

have a third party around when

the relationship again. However,

pursuing an emotional archeolog-

it’s important to examine your

ical dig. This recent pitfall could

partner’s integrity in general: Is

actually be an opportunity for

deception a problem in other ways

your relationship to deepen and

in his life? Does he tend to act out

become more intimate.

or distract himself instead of tak-

The hard truth is that there are

ing responsibility for his needs

no guarantees of fidelity in any

and behaviours? Have any of your

relationship. We could all choose

friends expressed concerns about

to live comfortably in our caves to

how you’re being treated?

avoid the potentially heart-flat-

I’m hoping that your guy has

tening risks of getting close to

found some other ways to volun-

another person. It sounds like you,

teer his precious time. If not, you

healthfully, view the chance at

have every right to ask him to do

true intimate connection as being

so. Be clear about your boundaries

totally worth it. Good luck!

and needs. If you need extra oneon-one time, or the opposite is true, and you need more time with your friends, just ask for it. I know you wish the seas were

Adam Segal is a writer and therapist who works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental health question at relationship@ intorontomag.com.

Fa m i ly

Fathers’ little dividend →A

couple’s desire for kids brought them closer together — then sent them on a wild, emotional journey through the adoption process Writer Bruce Mayhew


“Because there’s no how-to manual online to help anyone get through the process, we had to make up our own plan.”


he offical confirmation came early December 2009. Sean McKenna and Sandro D’Ascanio were getting a very special Christmas present, their son Cameron. After approximately two years hard work negotiating the private adoption process, an agency announced that the two men had been accepted as parents. With only two weeks to prepare for their son’s arrival, McKenna and D’Ascanio’s home life, relationship and careers were quickly tested as never before. The two successful business professionals soon found themselves stay-athome dads, trading off paternity leaves. “In those early months we got to watch Cameron’s personality form,” says D’Ascanio. “There’s no reward like it,” McKenna adds.


hen McKenna and D’Ascanio began dating in 2004, they quickly discovered they both have strong family ties and wanted to be parents. These became two of the many connections that drew them together. McKenna, 40, and D’Ascanio, 39, both work for large firms. McKenna is in finance with an entertainment company and D’Ascanio is in marketing with a top consumer products/foodservice organization. Their professional experience proved invaluable when they began their adoption journey. “Our backgrounds really helped in the sense that we approached adoption like a project with a big payoff

in the end,” says McKenna. “The project had a beginning, middle and an end. And, because there’s no how-to manual online to help anyone get through the process, we had to make up our own plan.” McKenna and D’Ascanio knew that becoming parents wasn’t going to be easy. Their research told them that success was their responsibility. Agencies would gladly register you — take your processing fee and at the end of the meeting say “good luck.” “We learned early on that we had to drive the process,” says D’Ascanio. “Our research told us that just because we were approved to adopt, it wasn’t necessarily going to happen. No one is waiting to give you a baby.”

Their plan covered four main points. First, they did their homework, researching best practices and developing a comprehensive set of objectives and action items. They wanted to make sure they maximized their opportunities for success. Second, they defined what success looked like. For McKenna and D’Ascanio that list was pretty short — they wanted a healthy infant. Third, they knew they had to outline their own best features — considering of course the needs of potential birth parents. Finally, they had to market themselves aggressively — and that was the biggest and the most emotional work. McKenna and D’Ascanio decided to work with private agencies. This

meant the birth mother (and possibly father) would be involved in the selection of the adopting parents. This also increased the amount of work McKenna and D’Ascanio would have to do. “With private adoption it’s really up to the adopting parents to keep themselves top of mind,” says McKenna. “There are lots of small players in the adoption field so it’s important to stay in touch and to always market yourselves.” The role of the adoption agency is similar to the role of a hiring agency a business might use. The adoption practitioners work with the birth parents to define what they’re looking for and then provide profiles of adoptive parents who meet their criteria. It’s a process that typically takes would-be parents between two and five years. For McKenna and D’Ascanio, marketing themselves meant registering with many agencies and making themselves as accessible as possible. To make it easy for agencies and potential parents to reach them, McKenna and D’Ascanio even established a dedicated 1-800 number and printed personal business cards. Marketing also meant giving every agency they registered with a comprehensive “Profile Book,” which included a biography of McKenna and D’Ascanio, family histories and photos. McKenna and D’Ascanio Continued on page 34

→ T WO WEEKS NO TICE Sean McKenna and Sandro D’Ascanio got a special Christmas present in 2009, their son Cameron. intorontomag.com



→ MARKE TING CAMPAIGN D’Ascanio and McKenna relied on their experience as business professionals to make the most of the private adoption process.

what you’ve done all day. It becomes immediately clear that everything revolves around your infant. At work you are independent and autonomous. But as parents to a newborn you become part of a hugely regimented home life where you have much less autonomy — you are a cog in a machine that feeds and changes and manages naps — to create the routine that babies crave. But you also get immediate feedback and payback. The couple encourages all prospective parents (gay or straight), to share parental leave — even a month or two. “Being home with an

Continued from page 33

be dads the pressure was on for

would be taking paternal leave for

infant is such valuable time,” says

developed a schedule to ensure each

McKenna and D’Ascanio to hit the

six to nine months. “The entire orga-


agency was contacted every month

ground running. But something

nization is very family oriented,”

by email, a hand-written letter or a

happened they hadn’t planned

says D’Ascanio. “My boss, my staff

changed now that they’ve become

personal phone call.

on. To add chaos into the mix, the

and the company were terrific.”

parents? No, they say. “We’ll proba-

Being a gay couple didn’t make a

day after McKenna and D’Ascanio

difference with the adoption agen-

found out they were going to be


cies. In the end it all depends on the openness of the birth parents.





bly work a little longer than we oth-


erwise would have,” says McKenna.

dads, D’Ascanio had to leave for an

Insurance premium. This is a

Both agree they have to manage

11-day business trip to Italy.

pretty big financial deal as the

their time better now. “We can’t

Employment Insurance (EI) allow-

easily stay late or go into the office

D’Ascanio’s up

employer his

McKenna and D’Ascanio’s hard

McKenna reflects on that time,

work and dedication paid off. On

laughing. “I had to prepare every-



early,” says D’Ascanio. “We’re both

Dec 23, 2009 they brought Cameron

thing. I ran through the big three

mately 30 percent of a profes-

very aware that any time either of

home for his first Christmas.

department stores in a panic buy-

sional’s income — and D’Ascanio

us has to work late, it puts all of the

ing everything in sight knowing we

took the first six months (the win-

responsibility onto the other to feed

n the day McKenna and

would return whatever we didn’t

ter months, he reminds McKenna

Cameron, bathe him and get him to

D’Ascanio found out they

use. We also borrowed as much as

with a smile) with Cameron.

bed. We have focused our time at

were going to be dads elation, then

we could from friends and family.”


panic, set in.



As part of their research they

work to be as efficient as we can.”

discovered that when a child

“There’s been a bigger hit to our

comes to you by birth, EI covers 12

social life. Those outings become

“In those early months we got to watch Cameron’s personality form.... Being home with an infant is such valuable time.”

months of at-home parental leave.

more sparse,” says D’Ascanio. “We

However, for adopted parents EI

both still play volleyball once a

only covers nine months. Still,

week, but other than that we often

McKenna and D’Ascanio took as

either go out separately or ana-

much advantage as they could by

lyze outings against the additional

splitting the time between them.

expense of hiring a babysitter.”

involves years of emotional highs

about was how their employers

and lows — you may get short-

would respond. Even with virtu-

Caring for a baby brings on a very

listed but not selected. In these

ally no advance notice both of their

different type of tired than work at

cases, if you over-prepare you may

employers were amazingly support-

the office. McKenna and D’Ascanio

magnify your disappointment.

ive. D’Ascanio was only able to give

recall that there’s often a point

his boss two weeks notice that he

when you look around and wonder






Being adoptive parents doesn’t give you the nine months to plan that birth parents have. Also, while adopting parents are advised to be fully committed to the process, they’re warned not to invest time and emotional energy into preparing their home. This means not setting up a baby room, buying strollers, clothes and the like. Why? Because




So now that they were going to 34


February 2011

Adjusting to parenthood took

One big question remains: Would

time. “You have to fill your day

the couple like a bigger family? No.

but a baby isn’t very interactive

“We’re done,” says D’Ascanio. “We

at first,” says McKenna. “They eat,

think we hit the jackpot with this

sleep and go to the bathroom.”

little guy,” adds McKenna.

ALL PHOTOS Hyphen Photography. hyphenphotography.com.

insight Sm a l l b u s i n e s s

Restlessness is the mother of reinvention →A

career change breathes new life into the Toronto Women’s Bookstore Writer Annemarie Shrouder | Photography Lulu Wei


ictoria Moreno never dreamed she would own a bookstore. But last spring the 41-year-old business woman was feeling restless; it was time for a change from managing a language school, time to realize some big dreams. On a whim, she decided to check out the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (TWB) website, and her life changed. Having worked for TWB part time in 1989, Moreno had kept abreast of developments at the indie bookstore; she had heard of its financial troubles. Moreno thought perhaps she could help by volunteering, consulting, or assisting in restructuring. Instead she found that the bookstore was for sale. She sent off an email. Four months later the transfer was complete. Moreno had reinvented herself. Again. With help from family, friends and the community, she is breathing new life into the 37-year-old institution. There are physical changes: The counter is in a different place, the light streams in through the large front window onto a table with chairs, there is a bell hooks quote on the wall, and a small café at the back. The store is inviting and warm, and Moreno hopes the community will continue to feel welcome. “My vision for the bookstore is to keep it as what everyone has known it to be ­— a feminist bookstore, catering to women, inclusive of everyone.” That welcoming feeling, Moreno hopes, will keep the bookstore not just alive but thriving at a time when the “big monster” chains like Indigo threaten the existence

→ SECOND HOME Victoria Moreno discovered owning a bookstore demands incredible committment, but she’s used to that.

of indie bookstores. Moreno’s business plan is to turn the store into a cultural hub, hence the café and a back patio space in the summer (both with Wi-Fi). There are plans for an internet TV presence celebrating art-

“My vision for the bookstore is to keep it as what everyone has known it to be — a feminist bookstore, catering to women, inclusive of everyone.”

ists and the arts. “It is an amazing idea,” says Moreno. “It combines both the virtual world and real-life experience.” An online store is also in the works. The TWB’s reopening in July 2010 was celebrated last fall with a cabaret that ran for three evenings — a taste of things to come. TWB was founded in 1973, but began its life as a shelf in a women’s resource centre. TWB filled a need for books for women, by women and about women. Until it was sold last year, it was not-for-profit, first run by a collective and then by comanagers. The mandate, however, remained relatively the same over the years, and will continue under Moreno’s watch: dedicated to promoting anti-oppression politics

and feminist politics, and providing books by women writers, especially marginalized women. It’s said to have one of the largest selections of trans books in the city. Moreno’s plans are inspired by the inclusive and welcoming environment she first found at TWB. “I wanted to keep that community space, that safe space where you can be whoever you are and not be judged. That was really important to me.” Community events have always been a staple at TWB and Moreno hopes the community will continue to make the space their own. And she’s open to suggestions. “It’s a good way to include the community,” she says. “There are so many things that can be done.” Moreno is no stranger to hard work or running a business. In the 1990s she built, ran and eventually sold a successful English as a second language school in Toronto. But she has never worked harder. “This feels like my second home,” she says with a smile. Hopefully that sense of place, and her commitment to it, will help TWB to beat the odds.

Toronto Women’s Bookstore 73 Harbord St. (416) 922-8744. womensbookstore.com. UPCOMING EVENTS Launch of the music issue of Shameless magazine, Sun, Feb 6 at 3pm. Launch of Mythili Rajiva and Sheila Batacharya’s new book, Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives on a Canadian Murder, on Thu, Feb 24 at 6:30pm. intorontomag.com







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Moulin Rouge Closing night for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Art & Photography Salon Group show of gallery artists with Bette Woodland, Daniel Colby, R Kelly Clipperton, Roger Hupman, Troy Brooks and more. Closes Sun, Feb 27. Penitmento Gallery. 1164 Queen St E. (416) 406-6772. pentimento.ca. Kai Chan Retrospective at Textile Museum. See page 44. Luis Jacob Pictures at an Exhibition, recent and new works including large scale canvases from 2008’s They Sleep with One Eye Open and Album X, the latest in a series of narrative sequences consisting of hundreds of images culled from a variety of published sources. As part of MOCCA’s new partnership with the National Gallery in Ottawa, Jacob also


19 Man2Man Kwame Stephens’ play at Studio Theatre

curates Cabinet with objects drawn from various collection areas of the National Gallery not ordinarily displayed together. Also showing in the Special Project Room Geoffrey Pugen’s two-channel installation Sahara Sahara. Opening. 8pm. Fri, Feb 4. Till Mar 27. MOCCA. 952 Queen St W. (416) 395-0087 mocca.ca. Positioned as Desired Photographs from the Wedge Collection exploring African Canadian identity. Contemporary shots by photographers like Fred Herzon, David Zapparoli, Stacey Tyrell, Zanele Muholi and Michael Chambers resonate alongside archival images. $24. Until Sun, Mar 27. Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canada. ROM. 100 Queen’s Park. (416) 586-8000. rom.on.ca.

Of a Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical Bruce Dow as Leigh Bowery, at Rhubarb

David Blackwood The Art Gallery of Ontario mounts the first major museum retrospective of the Newfoundland artist now living in Port Hope. Black Ice: David Blackwood — Prints of Newfoundland. $20; free Wed eve. Sat, Feb 5-June 12. AGO. 317 Dundas St W. (416) 979-6648. ago.net.

Books & Print Freedom To Read Week The annual event drawing attention to intellectual freedoms in Canada runs Sun, Feb 20 to 26 (freedomtoread.ca). Local events include The Good Fight: The Legal Limits of Free Expression, a panel on libel and public interest with Toronto Star public editor Kathy English, Globe and Mail columnist Rick Salutin and media lawyers Brian MacLeod


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Rogers and Paul Schabas. Erika Ritter moderates. Includes the presentation of The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Freedom to Read Award. Free. 6pm. Tue, Feb 23. Gladstone Hotel. 1214 Queen St W. PEN Canada presents Child Soldier: Banned in Canada?, a panel discussion with authors Afua Cooper and Mark Kingwell and activist Judy Rebick; Carol Off moderates. $10 (all proceeds go to PEN Canada). 7:30pm. Fri, Feb 26. Toronto Reference Library. 789 Yonge St. (416) 393-7131.

Design The National Home Show Joining

more than 700 retailers are design and reno gurus Debbie Travis, Bryan Baeumler, Janette Ewen, Colin and Justin and Frank Ferragine. The

Positioned as Desired Works by Michael Chambers and other contemporary artists resonate alongside archival images at the ROM until Sun, Mar 27.

2011 Boulevard of Dreams features two model homes, a man cave, landscaping and outdoor living. Art + Design: A Gallery of Our Future is by interior stylist Janette Ewen. $13. 11am-9pm. Weekdays. 10am-9pm. Sat. 10am-6pm. Sun. Fri, Feb 18-27. Direct Energy Centre. Exhibition Place. 100 Princes’ Blvd. (416) 263-3000. nationalhomeshow.com.

Classical & jazz Take This Waltz Art of Time

Ensemble explores the waltz, from Johann Strauss’s Emperor Waltz, through Shostakovich, Korngold and Liszt, to Bill Evans, Tom Waits and Steven Page. With Page (formerly of the Barenaked Ladies) performing with Andrew Burashko and 10 other fabulous musicians. $25-$59. 8pm. Fri, Feb 4&5. Enwave Theatre. 231

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Queens Quay W. (416) 973-4000. artoftimeensemble.com. Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Andrey Boreyko conducts Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 in G Major and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony. With Garrick Ohlsson on the piano. 8pm. Thu, Feb 10 & 12. Vasily Petrenko makes his TSO début with Stravinsky’s earthshaking The Rite of Spring. Award-winning Canadian pianist Andre Laplante completes the program with Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1. 8pm. Wed, Feb. 23 & 24. $32-$141. Roy Thomson Hall. 60 Simcoe St. (416) 593-4828. tso.ca. Anne Sofie Von Otter Love Song. The celebrated mezzo turns to a jazz repertoire accompanied by Brad Mehldau on piano. Mehldau’s settings of poems by Sara Teasdale, plus works by Jacques Brel, Michel Continued on page 38

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l i s t i n g s & ev e nts

Continued from page 37

Writer Anna Von Frances | Photography Michael Pihach

Theatre & Dance Billy Elliott the Musical Previews begin

Tue, Feb 1. Opening is Tue, Mar 1. See page 41. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Located in the heart of Leslieville and perched on the high end of coffee snobbery in Toronto, is Mercury Espresso Bar. This place is so intense that it warranted a warning from my dog-walking companion who lives nearby the first time I walked in. He turned to me just before we entered and said, “Be careful, they’re like the Soup Nazi for coffee.” But Mercury lives up to its reputation of offering the best coffee in Toronto, or at least that’s what the whispers in other posh coffee shops like Dark Horse and Blondie’s will have you believing. It seems there is no cup of Joe quite worthy of the title “excellent” without the footnote, “almost-as-good-as-Mercury’s.” In terms of space, there’s not much to it. Located on a cozy corner of Queen St E between Morse and Logan, Mercury is a tiny couple-a-seats kinda place. In the summer they post up a few chairs outside as well. They sell fair trade coffee in 100 percent biodegradable cups (you can buy it by the pound to take home as well) and have daily specials that they keep customers abreast of on their website and 38

February 2011

→ BROWN CROWN No place has been able to snatch the title of “best coffee in Toronto” from Mercury.

Twitter accounts. There’s also great organic muffins and other biscuits for take away. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and can sometimes come off as snobby hippier-than-thou types — but meh, so’s the lady at the Chanel counter in Holt’s — that’s part of the charm. I wouldn’t spend hours lingering here, although I’m sure some people do. Since it’s a bit small and clearly built for speed and volume it’s not exactly a spot for meeting, more for meeting up. But they sure do make a great cup of coffee and if I lived in Leslieville, I’d bet dollars to donuts I’d be in there every morning en route to work. It’s a flavour of the neighbourhood spot that isn’t easily replaced. And until I find a better cup, turns out Mercury Espresso Bar is the best coffee in town.

Mercury Espresso Bar 915 Queen St E. (647)435-4779. mercuryespresso.com.

The all-male ballet troupe has been skewering the pretensions of ballet for more than 30 years. Be assured. These guys aren’t a joke, hilarious, yes, but they provide topnotch athleticism, artistry and wit. $39-$120 Thu, Feb 10-12. The Winter Garden Theatre. 189 Yonge St. ticketmaster.ca. trockadero.org. Barrymore Christopher Plummer reprises his 1997 Tony Award-winning role in William Luce’s play celebrating the storied life and career of US actor John Barrymore (grandfather of Drew). The original creative team, including three-time Tony Award-winning director Gene Saks and scenic and costume designer Santo Loquasto, is reunited with an eye to filming the production at the end of the run. $55-$155. 8pm. Mon-Wed. Fri & Sat. Until Mar 9. Elgin Theatre. 189 Yonge St. (416) 872-555. tickemaster.ca. Canadian Opera Company The COC

presents a new production of The Magic Flute, Mozart’s delightful opera, designed by Myung Hee Cho and directed by Diane Paulus. With Radion Pogossov, Aline Kutan, Mikhail Petrenko, Lisa DiMaria and John Easterlin. Michael Schade and Frédéric Antoun share duties as Tamino; Isabel Bayrakdarian and Simone Osborne share Pamina. Johannes Debus conducts. $70-$317. Continuing until Fri, Feb 25. The young stars of the COC’s Ensemble Studio also perform the lead roles in their own performance of The Magic Flute under the direction of the same artistic team as for the mainstage cast. $22-$55.

7:30pm. Thu, Feb. 17. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St W. (416) 363-8231. coc.ca. For Nixon in China, see page 42.

Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde

Montreal choreographer Dave St-Pierre returns to WorldStage with more naked and compelling dance (A Little Tenderness for Crying Out Loud) a work for 20 dancers. $15-$49. 8pm. Wed, Feb 2-5. Fleck Dance Theatre. 235 Queens Quay W. (416) 973-4000. harbourfrontcentre.com. Soulpepper László Marton directs Oleanna, David Mamet’s 1992 exploration of gender and power set on a university campus. Starring Diego Matamoros and Sarah Wilson. Thu, Feb 3-Mar 5. Joseph Ziegler directs The Fantasticks. Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones’ off-Broadway hit musical from the 1960s about children of feuding neighbours falling in love. Starring Albert Schultz, Krystin Pellerin, Jeff Lillico. With musical direction by Paul Sportelli and choreography by Tim French. Mon, Feb 14-Mar 24. Rick Roberts directs A Midsummer Night’s Dream with set and costume design by Ken Mackenzie. Wed, Feb 23-Apr 15. $28-$60. Young Centre. 55 Mill St, bld 49. Distillery District. (416) 866-8666. soulpepper.ca.

Elaine Yau, 1988.

in spot Mercury Espresso Bar

Legrand, Leonard Bernstein, Joni Mitchell and more. $25-$65. 8pm. Fri, Feb 25. Koerner Hall. 273 Bloor St W. (416) 408-0208. rcmusic.ca.

Forever Yours Marie-Lou Théâtre

français de Toronto presents the 40th-anniversary production of Michel Tremblay’s À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou. Two sisters reconnect 10 years after the deaths of their parents and brother, bringing to life a terrible and tragic family story. Staring Mélanie Beauchamp, Janick Hébert, Marie-Hélène Fontaine and Guy Mignault; Diana Leblanc directs. $33-$57; PWYC Wed. 8pm. Wed-Sat. 3:30pm. Sat. 2:30pm. Sun. Fri, Feb

→ T he Eyes of Luis Jacob Pictures at an Exhibition opens at MOCCA on Fri, Feb 4.

4-19. In French with English surtitles: 8pm. Feb 4, 9, 11, 16 & 18. 3:30pm. Feb 12 & 19. Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs. 26 Berkeley St. (416) 534-6604. theatrefrancais.com. Saint Carmen of the Main The premiere of

Linda Gaboriau’s new translation of Michel Tremblay’s 1976 tale of hustlers, hired killers and the revolutionary potential of country music. Starring Jackie Richardson, Karen Robinson, Laara Sadiq and Ron Kennell, this Canadian Stage and National Arts Centre English Theatre coproduction is directed by Peter Hinton. $22-$99. Thu, Feb 10-Mar 5. Bluma Appel Theatre. 27 Front St E. (416) 368-3110. canadianstage.com. Divisadero: A Performance Michael Ondaatje

adapts his Governor General’s Award-winning poetic novel about fractured love and

lis tin gs & eve nt s

individuals orphaned by violence. The Necessary Angel production stars Liane Balaban, Maggie Huculak, Tom McCamus, Amy Rutherford and Justin Rutledge; Daniel Brooks directs. $25-$35. 8pm. Tue-Sat. PWYC. 2pm. Sun. Tue, Feb 8-20. Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. 16 Ryerson Ave. (416) 504-7529. necessaryangel.com. AllOneWord Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie present six works by James Kudelka, including three world premieres. Though no thematic movement connects the pieces, they are all inspired by and set to Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Guardian Angel Sonata (arranged by John Oswald). With Bill Coleman, Laurence Lemieux, Xiao Nan Yu, Ryan Bourne, Rhonda Baker, Valerie Calam, Luke Garwood, Graham McKelvie, James Leja and Christianne Ullmark. Part of NextSteps. $28 & $38. 8pm. Thu, Feb 10-12. Enwave Theatre. 231 Queens Quay W. (416) 973-4000. colemanlemieux.com.

Moulin Rouge High kicking, absinthe and Toulouse Lautrec. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet returns to TO for the first time in eight years with its sparkling full-length story ballet choreographed by Jorden Morris. $44$138. 8pm. Thu, Feb 10-12. Sony Centre. 1 Front St E. (416) 872-2262. sonycentre.ca. Cabane DanceWorks presents Fortier Danse-Création’s surreal duet between dancer Paul-Andre Fortier and multidisciplinary artist and musician Rober Racine. $33.50. 8pm. Fri, Feb 11 & 12. Fleck Dance Theatre. 231 Queen’s Quay W. (416) 973-4000. danceworks.ca. Man2Man Two men at different stages in their lives are attracted to each other after meeting at church. Kwame Stephens’ play navigates religion, family, lust and love. Starring Frederick O’Neal and Tawiah M’Carthy; Canute Lawrence directs. Part of Kuumba festival. Free. 8pm. Sat, Feb 12. Studio Theatre. 235 Queen’s Quay W. (416) 973-4000. harbourfrontcentre.com/ kuumba. Rhubarb Festival Two exciting weeks of new works showcasing more than 100 artists, including the return of performance group emergency exit, a community consultation imagining the future of Toronto by Small Wooden Shoe and the sacrilegious impersonation of Tom Cruise and Madonna by Winnipeg’s out of line theatre. Special presentations include the Canadian premiere of Post-Living Ante-Action Theatre (PoLAAT) by LA-based collective My Barbarian, a talk with Glasgow-based performance artist Adrian Howells, Montreal’s 2Fik , rAiz’n Ensemble’s Beauty Project, and Ecce Homo Theatre’s Of a Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical, written and directed by Alistair Newton, where performance legend

Leigh Bowery hosts a musical exploration of Lady Gaga. Performed by Bruce Dow, Nick Green, Tyson James, Anthony MacPherson, Kimberly Persona, Chy Ryan Spain and Clinton Walker. One night only. 10pm. Sat, Feb 19. There’s also a new free offsite series. $20 per evening. 8pm. Wed-Sat. PWYC Sun. Wed, Feb 16-27. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 12 Alexander St. (416) 975-8555. buddiesinbadtimes.com. South Pacific Dancap brings back the touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit-packed musical of love and hair care in the South Seas during World War II. Starring Jason Howard (not all performances) and Carmen Cusack; Bartlett Sher directs. $35-$190. 7:30pm. Tue-Sat. 1pm. Wed, Sat & Sun. Tue, Feb 15-Apr 10. Toronto Centre for the Arts. 5040 Yonge St. (416) 644-3665. dancaptickets.com.

in spot Embrujo Flamenco

Causes & Events Soirée Rouge A gala

party following the premiere performance of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Moulin Rouge. $200 (inc performance). Thu, Feb 10. Sony Centre. 1 Front St E. (416) 872-2262. Snow Ball This year’s gala fundraiser for AIDS hospice Casey House is called There’s Snow Place Like Home, a Wizard of Oz-themed event featuring a performance by SNL alumnus and Wicked star Ana Gasteyer and a dress code of black tie and red shoes. The event features live and silent auctions, dinner, dancing and presentation of The Casey Awards to Jay MacGillivray and Fife House Foundation. Seamus O’Regan hosts. $500. 6pm. Sat, Feb 26. Four Seasons Hotel. 21 Avenue Rd. (416) 962-4040 ext 238. caseyhouse.com.

Writer Pam Shime | Photography Lauren Van Gijn

The mother of all tapas joints in Toronto, Embrujo Flamenco, run by the three Fernandez sisters, is flourishing.

→ SPANISH FL AVOUR & MUSIC Embrujo Flamenco offers a tasty, elegant night out.

For meat eaters, the liver paté

Upstairs, suede banquettes pro-

infused in Spanish sherry is worth

vide a view of the stage where fla-

a try. Adventurous types can go for

menco dancers strut their stuff to

the pork belly and pig ears. If you

accomplished Spanish guitarists

want to splurge, Embrujo exclu-

(Wednesdays to Sundays; perfor-

sively offers Jamon Iberico, cured for

mances are short and don’t over-

three years from the cerdo negro or

whelm dinner). Downstairs, on

black pig. Vegetarians enjoy a range

Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll


find Café Madrid, Embrujo’s bar,

con Cabrales y Nueces de Castilla

opened last year.

Tostadas, meaty beets sprinkled

The menu is stacked with regional specialties,






with cabrales cheese and toasted


walnuts. The restaurant holds an

favourite of locals in Spain, Tinto de

annual paella festival and its varied

Verano is that mix of Pepsi and red

paellas are on offer year round.

wine you just won’t find at Woody’s

While you peruse the exposed

or Slack’s. For the more butch drink-

brick and pipe, gothic sconces and

ers, there’s the Goya Martini, vodka

notes of Spain throughout the sleek

and Spanish olives. And for the

space, beg your server, perhaps the

rest of you, order up the Granada,

fabulous Michelle or Claire, to have

a luscious deep purple martini with

Embrujo bring back the Chocolate

pomegranate and lime juices.

Shrimp. It’s award-winning, but

Take note: If you hate ancho-

inexplicably off the menu.

vies, it’s true what they say on the

Dessert: Not on the dessert

menu. The delicious Boquerones

list per se, but highly recom-

en Vinagre, a Spanish staple of

mended, is the Baked Goat Cheese



with Honey. The classic Crème

gar and extra virgin olive oil, are

Caramelo boasts hints of orange.

nothing like the kind we know

We finished with Spanish Latte

here. The Gambas en Anis, with

con Godiva Liqueur. Yum!



perfectly cooked portobello mushrooms in a sweet cream sauce, melt in your mouth, as do the creamy cod croquettes.

Embrujo Flamenco 97 Danforth Ave. (416) 778-0007. embrujoflamenco.com. intorontomag.com


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With the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony


MARCH 1 - 6, 2011 416-872-2262 | sonycentre.ca | grouPs 10+: 416-368-4343

Breathtakingly gorgeous!” – Boston gloBe

Presented by ArmAni Artist mAnAgement & river street Productions







ART & DESIGN T heatre

an Endurance test → Billy

Elliot explores growing up different in a macho world Writer Serafin LaRiviere | Photography Joan Marcus

→ HIS OWN MAN Cesar Corrales is one of four boys cast as Billy Elliot. Writer Lee Hall talks about adapting his hit film for the stage.


t’s been more than a decade since Billy Elliot first danced his way from indie film premiere to worldwide cinematic phenomenon. Given the movie’s massive success, screenwriter Lee Hall could have easily sat on his laurels and burnt money for fun, but with a little help from one of England’s most successful pop stars, Hall has breathed new life into the story of a miner’s son who just wants to dance. His adaptation of the film for stage is called Billy Elliot the Musical, and features music by Elton John and lyrics by Hall. John fell in love with Billy Elliot at its first screening in London. Growing up in working-class England, John understood only too well the story of an gifted young boy feeling trapped in a hypermasculinised community that dismisses the arts as effete and unnecessary. “The lovely thing was that when Elton saw the film he just burst out into tears,” says Hall. “It made me

realize that Billy Elliot is basically his story. He went to the Royal College of Music at the age of 12 to be a concert pianist, and had all these problems with his father who didn’t want him to do it.” Hall based Billy’s story on his own childhood dreams of being in the theatre. But he worried that the idea of a young boy growing up in a mining town in northern England and dreaming of a life in ballet might be a little too far-fetched. A few phone calls to the Royal Ballet quickly put those fears to rest. “There were so many there that had a similar experience,” Hall

“you can’t fake it for three hours. It’s a bit like doing Hamlet, at age 12, singing four songs and dancing eight numbers.”

says. “Some of the best dancers there had dads who were miners. It was quite a revelation.” Three of the four boys cast to play Billy in the Toronto production — Cesar Corrales, Myles Erlick and Marcus Pei — attended the National Ballet School of Canada. The musical adaptation delves further into the community aspect of a small mining town in the early 1980s. Having seen firsthand the poverty and appalling working conditions that the miners endured, Hall wanted to convey the hope that their rising star’s journey engenders. “Billy becomes a figurehead for their aspirations,” says Hall. “You have to remember that it was a real sort of depression for 10 years. During the strike, there were a quarter of a million men down in mines that were owned by the state, with the profits going back to the government. There was a lot of hopelessness.” As in the film, Hall’s play purpose-

fully side-steps the issue of Billy’s sexuality, keeping the focus firmly on his family life and aspirations. There’s still a nice homo element with Billy’s gay friend Michael, but the lead character’s orientation remains very much an enigma. “I wanted to balk expectations from people that might come with prejudices,” Hall says. “Billy’s sexuality is a mystery, but I still wanted to deal with the issue of growing up gay in that sort of community. He’s very broadminded about Michael, and understands growing up and feeling different.” Hall wanted to explore a character who is trying to carve out his own sense of what it means to be a man within a community — not outside of it. Billy’s dad and brother may be studies in rough machismo, but Billy’s choreography and characterization are still very much those of a young man testing his own endurance both emotionally and physically. “The truth about ballet is that it’s so exacting physically, and so athletically demanding. The story is almost better suited to a stage play because you get a real sense of how demanding dance is. “In film, you know it’s been done in separate takes, but onstage you can’t fake it for three hours. It’s a bit like doing Hamlet, at age 12, singing four songs and dancing eight numbers. That’s the real thrill of live theatre.” Billy Elliot The Musical Previews begin Tue, Feb 1; opening Tue, Mar 1 . $33-$200. Canon Theatre. 244 Victoria St. (416) 872-1212. ticketking.com. intorontomag.com


A RT & D E S I G N T heatre

When worlds collide → And

giant egos jostle for their place in history

Writer Gordon Bowness | Photography Ken Howard


ixon in China is mindblowing musical theatre — poetic, profound, with grand, surprising music that sounds very contemporary. It rocks. Most of us today are jaded by the hackneyed symbolism of political photo-ops and stage-managed summits. But back in 1972, when the arch-conservative, red-baiting US president Richard Nixon went to communist China and met the aging revolutionary leader Mao Tse Tung, it was an epoch-defining moment that riveted millions of TV viewers around the world. It was as if George W Bush had travelled to North Korea or Iran... and if those isolated, inward-looking regimes ruled a quarter of the world... and if Bush was intelligent. Nixon’s surprise gesture was high stakes diplomacy of the first order. No one knew what was going to happen. The successful visit helped pave the way for formal diplomatic relations between China and the US. China opened up to the world and assumed its place as an emerging superpower. Nixon cemented his reputation as a senior statesman — and won re-election later that year. Composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman (along with original director Peter Sellars) told the story in a wholly surprising way. This isn’t a satire of “Tricky Dick” nor a polemic against Mao the mass murderer. Nothing much happens: A plane lands, the two men meet, Nixon’s wife sees the sights, they have a weird moment at an opera, the major players feel tired at a banquet. But at any moment, one second can erupt and bloom and hold an entire life, a whole world. “It’s thrilling,” says baritone Robert Orth who plays Nixon in the 42

February 2011

Canadian Opera Company production opening this month. “Like the entrance of that jet, after the chorus has sung their thing and the music builds, and then, waaaw! It’s like those pictures of the guy sitting in front of a stereo with his scarf and his hair blowing back.” Even though Nixon in China premiered to mixed reviews in 1987, it has gone on to become one of the most popular and celebrated modern operas. With sets by Allen Moyer and James Robinson directing, the COC co-production began in St Louis in 2004 with Orth in the title role; he’s sung it now about seven times (there’s a Naxos recording from 2008), including a different production in Vancouver last year. The Met in New York also presents the English National Opera’s version of Nixon this month. Goodman’s libretto makes for a beautiful, if at time dense and head-scratching, read; its meaning is elusive. “Like much art,” says Orth, “it means whatever you think it to mean.

“It’s absolutely fascinating to me how we bring a sense of tragedy to the opera. We know what’s going to happen... Watergate and Nixon’s downfall and resignation. “I don’t know of any other opera that’s quite that way. Sure, like Traviata, we know she is going to die — all those operas we know she’s going to die — but it’s not the same because we see her die and we see the build-up to her death. In [Nixon] it’s just this grand moment of his life, his crowning achievement, but we know what comes just months later. It makes the opera grand, tragic. “I think [Adams, Goodman and Sellars] chose this because they were great archetypes and it was a great story, a big, big, big story which could hold big music and big emotions.... I just see it as a huge palette for ideas about cultures meeting and clashing.” Obviously Orth is a fan of Nixon in China; he has a passion for all types of new opera. His premieres include the title role in Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk and Frank Lloyd Wright

→ HUBRIS Robert Orth plays the title character in Nixon in China.

in Daron Aric Hagen’s Shining Brow. “I love doing new pieces so much. First, they are American. So many have this combination of European art form and American musical theatre. And they are in English. I love singing in English; you have an immediate connection with the audience. “I’ve done lots of Figaros and Count Almavivas. But there are like 50, 80, 100 recordings of those, to which I’m inevitably compared. Well, now they get to be compared to me because I’ve been recording [the new works]. “The [older repertoire] to me is like living in a museum — what a privilege, living in a museum surrounded by all that art and beauty. But this feels like being out on the street everyday and part of the real world.”

NIXON IN CHINA $62-$281. Sat, Feb 5-26. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St W. (416) 363-8231. coc.ca.



hen Mary Ellen MacLean left Halifax in a U-Haul bound for Toronto about a year ago, she defied the classic lesbian stereotype. It wasn’t her second date, or even a date at all. “It was just me and my stuff. I wasn’t moving to somebody,” says MacLean. Perhaps best known for her one-woman show Frankie, whose gangly gang of queer and homophobic class-reunion attendees have graced stages across the country, MacLean left her home province and artistic playground for something she couldn’t exactly put her finger on. Her 20-year labour of love, the Jest in Time physical comedy group, had disbanded in 2003. During its winding down, she had appeared in fellow Nova Scotian Daniel MacIvor’s Wilby Wonderful and Marion Bridge (on both occasions, alongside pre-fame Nova Scotia native Ellen Page). Wanting to try something new, MacLean sold her house, reached out to artsy people in Toronto and downsized herself into a place at Davenport and Dovercourt. A year into her Toronto adventure (and a few months into a new relationship which she’s shy talking about), MacLean finds herself directing The Big League, which opens at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People on Thu, Feb 3. A play about the competitive pressures on young hockey players, it’s a project that’s transported her right back to her own roots again.

t h eatre

Deke! →New

play celebrates the love of hockey while exposing its darker side Writer Paul Gallant | Photography Iden Ford

“I was the only girl playing in the boys’ league. In 1971-’72, I think it was, I got this all-star girl award in the Squirt league,” says MacLean, who grew up as an army brat in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. “I had a ball playing, although the boys didn’t like it when I checked them or took the puck from them. When I got older and I wasn’t allowed to play hockey anymore, that’s when

→ T EAM CAPTAIN James Durham’s play for young people, The Big League, is directed by hockey enthusiast Mary Ellen MacLean.

I realized I was going to be treated differently because I was a girl.” Times may have changed — in the past year MacLean’s signed on with a couple of women’s hockey leagues — but in The Big League,

the team’s only girl Bobby (played by Tamila Zaslavsky) is still pointedly reminded of her gender. For MacLean, though, the play’s challenge is not so much its sexual politics but its traffic flow. On a stage that’s been transformed into a rink, all the actors are on rollerblades. Who would have thought that her last pet project, Velocipede, which featured 21 bicycles in motion on stage, would be such good training? “Standing still is really the hard part,” says MacLean, who, despite her love of hockey, pleads innocent to ever having a mullet. Written by James Durham, The Big League explores the pressures placed on kids in the game, from competition, friendships and parents. It features a character called Don Berry, played by Mark McGrinder, obviously modelled on a certain iconic sportscaster who, at Mayor Rob Ford’s swearingin ceremony, expressed his contempt for bike-riding pinkos. It’s a label that, by any definition, would apply to MacLean — especially the bike-riding part. But this fictional loud-mouthed Don is smart enough to stick to what he knows: sports, not politics. “He’s a fun character because he’s so cut and dried. For him, it’s not so much about people’s feelings,” laughs MacLean.

THE BIG LEAGUE Recommended for Grades 2-8. $10-$20. Thu, Feb 3-24. Lorraine Kimsa Theatre. 165 Front St E. (416) 862-2222. lktyp.ca.

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A RT & D E S I G N

display case by Gordon Bowness 1

Spinning a good yarn Don’t let winter’s cold get to you. Snuggle up to warm and vibrant textile art. Take your pick: silk thread, dissolved fabric or Canadiana on acid. Across town this month, artists are weaving together disparate practises and traditions to create accessible, seductive art. 2 1

Kai Chan’s Silk, 2008

Kai Chan: A Spider’s Logic is The Textile Museum of Canada’s 35-year retrospective of the Chinese-born Toronto artist. Made from everyday objects like twigs, thread, toothpicks and buttons, Chan’s work reconfigures sculptural traditions to evoke nature and small moments. The Textile Museum show, up until May 1, is part of a twoheader exhibition; the Varley Art Gallery in Markham show closed in January. Chan is in conversation with Lyn Carter at 6:30pm on Wed, Feb 23 at the Textile Museum. 55 Centre Ave. The $15 admission is waived on Wednesday evenings. (416) 599-5321. textilemuseum.ca.

boutique sofa $1595*

2 Grant Heaps & John Webster’s The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game

Textile artist Grant Heaps has woven and stitched found textiles, cotton, wool, silk, polyester and nylon to create a rug based on John Webster’s collage of animal and hunting designs popular on old knitted sweaters. Part of the Made at Home interior design show at Made until Sat, Feb 12. 867 Dundas St W. (416) 607-6384. madedesign.ca. 3 Amanda McCavour’s Scribbles

Often Amanda McCavour sews intricate illustrations and designs into a special fabric that dissolves, leaving her stitched images intact. For the recent Hard Twist 5 show at the Gladstone Hotel, she created works (pictured) that blur the line between kids’ crafts and adult craft. McCavour is part of the Avian group show at Lonsdale gallery until Sun, Feb 20. 410 Spadina Rd. (416) 487-8733. lonsdalegallery.com.


Thousands of fabrics and furniture models to choose from

173 King Street East Toronto, Ontario 416.214.1377 jamiealexander.com *starting grade fabric good looking man not included

s ex s p o n s o r e d b y s p a e x c e s s

sex & health —with Dr Keith

→ “Which one of the erection drugs is the best choice? Viagra?”

Many guys can and do benefit

four or five hours only. All three

from the use of erection-enhanc-

drugs need to be taken about 30

ing drugs. Seeking a prescription

minutes beforehand.

for these medications is often

Secondly: Are you going to be

filled with embarrassment but

drinking alcohol or eating? In that

shouldn’t be. These pills are not

case, if you are choosing a shorter-

just for those who have true erec-

acting drug, Levitra is the better

tile dysfunction (significant prob-

option since Viagra needs to be

lems arising with erections) but

taken on an empty stomach. This is

also guys who need a little con-

why I personally tend to prescribe

fidence-booster — a little extra

Levitra more between the two.

“wood in their trunk.” Anything






from stress and anxiety to medical

three include nasal congestion,

conditions like diabetes can inter-

skin/face flushing, and headache.

fere with your performance.

Viagra may cause more temporary

Erectile drugs belong to a class

visual disturbance or bluish vision,

called phosphodiesterase-5 inhib-

while Cialis may cause more gas-

itors (PDE-5 inhibitors). Erections

trointestinal upset in users. Guys

are caused by blood flowing into

with blood pressure or heart prob-

the penis, achieved when a sub-

lems should check with their phy-

stance called cGMP is released dur-

sician before using. Anyone tak-

ing arousal. In turn, cGMP is bro-

ing nitrates like nitroglycerine or

ken down by the PDE-5 enzyme.

poppers (amyl nitrate) should not

PDE-5 inhibitors work by blocking

use PDE-5 inhibitors since they can

PDE-5, allowing cGMP to carry on

cause dangerous and even fatal

giving you a very solid erection.

drops in your blood pressure.

Choosing the right drug for erec-

The costs of the drugs per pill

tile dysfunction can be confusing.

are more or less equivalent. Since

There are three federally approved

Cialis lasts longer, you get more

drugs currently on the market:

“bang for your buck” (couldn’t

Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. While

resist, sorry). Always ask for the

Viagra is certainly well known due

double strength ones since they

to its prominent ad campaigns and

cost the same and you can chew

being first on the market, it may

off half, cutting down on costs.

not always be the best choice to perk up your droopy little guy.

In conclusion: Cialis works longer, Levitra is better with food and

First question to ask: Are you

alcohol, they are all expensive (ask

looking for a short-term result or

for the double dose) and never use

something long-acting? For those

with poppers or nitroglycerine.

who anticipate having sex repeat-

Happy humping!

edly over a longer period of time (like a weekend), then Cialis is the better choice since it lasts up to 36 hours (although I have had patients report up to two to three days of benefit). The others last

Dr Keith Loukes works in emergency in a Toronto hospital. Send him your sexual health question at sexhealth@intorontomag.com. This column should not be viewed as medical advice; always consult your physician.

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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Toronto Magazine: February 2011  

IN Toronto Magazine: February 2011 Issue: 09 IN Toronto Magazine's February 2011 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

IN Toronto Magazine: February 2011  

IN Toronto Magazine: February 2011 Issue: 09 IN Toronto Magazine's February 2011 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.