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closets are for clothes: but has coming out lost its political punch?

Gay & Lesbian


The technical wizardy of Robert Lepage Meet the new prettIES oF 1 Girl 5 Gays

behind the scenes Design guru Glen Peloso makes a home out of the spotlight with partner Sheldon Mahabir

Travel: A visit to hedonistic Istanbul

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issue 42 NOVEMBER 2013

views | living & design | insight | listings | Arts & entertaiNment | sex



sex is easy to find

love isn’t.





OUT on MTV 1 Girl 5 Gays enters its 5th season with a new cast of pretty boys


Riverdale romance At home with interior designer Glen Peloso and Sheldon Mahabir


coming out can change lives for the better But does it still change society?


the aestheticization of substance abuse Robert Lepage's Needles and Opium a post-modern homage to Jean Cocteau and Miles Davis


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20 November events calendar and listings 22

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dallas buyers club a cinematic clichÉ

28 Christopher House celebrates 20 years at TDT 29 Greg Kearney's lovable losers 33 Sex geek: She shoots she scores 34 Caught in the Act Photos

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toronto talk exchange Sound off TV therapy by Jason Yantha → At Bell Media headquarters in downtown Toronto, a modest, colourful TV studio with open windows is home to

many Much and MTV Canada productions. But when the sun goes down, the party really gets started. With windows closed and curtains drawn, five gay men gather to share very personal stories about love, sex, family and relationships. But why on earth would any guy want to air his dirty laundry on national TV? Enter the fifth season of 1 Girl 5 Gays, a frank and sometimes funny show that aims to tackle some pretty heady issues head on: is it okay for a woman to hit a man in a relationship? How much say should a man have in a woman’s choice to have an abortion? Is not being attracted to a certain ethnicity racist? Part LGBT activists, part local celebs, the new batch of prettys are more than happy to put their private lives on parade. But how do their loved ones feel about it? Who cares, it’s all in the name of free therapy.

Patrick maziarski Age: 26 Hometown: Trenton, Ontario Occupation: TV producer 3 words that describe me: Ambitious, hilarious and persistent

IN Toronto: As a brand new member of 1 Girl 5 Gays, how familiar were you with the show before you auditioned? Patrick Maziarski: To be truthful, I never watched a full episode before I auditioned. But a couple of my close friends were previous cast members, so through them I knew that the show could be a foothold for positive influences in the gay community, despite a lot of preconceived notions that the show’s only about sex. IT: Was your boyfriend nervous about you going on the show and discussing your personal lives?


PM: He was happy for me, but also reluctant about it. We’ve had very frank discussions about how he wanted certain things kept private and I was on board with that. We’re on the same page. IT: Some people on the show can be a little too open about their sex life, while others can be completely tight-lipped. You seem to fall somewhere in the middle. PM: That’s what I’m striving for. I can be raunchy, but I don’t want to be raunchy about someone in particular. I am happy to talk about sex, or give advice on having sex in the woods or something, but I shy away from the “Tell me about the guy who did this to you.” Sex doesn’t bother me. Usually I’ll have something to say about it, but I take a moment to think about how I’m going to make myself look before I answer. IT: What will you bring to the show that no one else will? PM: I’ve been in a relationship for three years, so my sexual adventures and misadventures add perspective. I’d like to be someone that the audience can relate to for that aspect of gay culture. If I can inspire someone or say something about my past seven years of being an [out] gay man that resonates, then that’s perfect.

J.p. larocque Age: 30 Hometown: Toronto, Ontario Occupation: Journalist/ filmmaker 3 words that describe me: Funny, awkward and analytical IN Toronto: Being on 1 Girl 5 Gays can be like sharing your private diary with the world. Why be on a show like this? J.P. Larocque: I’m a writer and a filmmaker, so I’m used to being behind the camera. For me, having an opportunity to be in front of the camera and be open with people felt like a challenge. It takes me out of my comfort zone and that’s a thrill. I also like that the show has a very interactive element with the community. IT: Go back to when you filmed your first episode. What was it like when host Lauren Collins started asking you a bunch of

personal questions in front of four people you’d never met? JL: When I first shot, I was very nervous, and then within that initial half hour, I completely forgot that the cameras were there. I’m very lucky that the guys I’ve had a chance to film with are all really sweet and down to earth. You feel like you can be open and share, without being defensive. IT: What did your parents say when you told them you were on the show? JL: It was really funny because in doing the show, I had to reapproach the sex and sexuality conversation with them. I think everyone’s parents have trouble thinking of their kid as a sexual being, so when your child is now talking about themselves as a sexual being on national television, it kind of becomes something bigger. But they were really cool about it. My mom’s biggest concern was that she didn’t want me to swear too much. IT: The show can have a reputation for being just about gay sex and scandalous stories. What else is 1 Girl 5 Gays? JL: I think it celebrates sexuality. Obviously it’ll go into raunchy questions, but those are conversations that we all actually have with our friends. We want to take some of the shame out of talking about sex… that idea that we

November 2013

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toronto talk exchange aren’t allowed to talk about certain things. It allows other LGBT people to see that there are other people going through similar experiences.

want them to see that they don’t need to necessarily [be labeled] “the circuit kid” or “the butch gay guy.” They can be whoever they want to be. We’re all just regular people. IT: As the new season just starts to air, are you anxious to see what the audience has to say about the new gays? GR: I’m guessing that there’s going to be a lot of feedback, and a lot of comparisons to the older cast. But I think that with every change, whether you enjoy it or hate it, it’s going to get people talking. It’ll be a ride.

gabriel rojas Age: 25 Hometown: Tegucigalpa, Honduras Occupation: Graphic designer 3 words that describe me: Friendly, funny and witty IN Toronto: What was your impression of the show before you became a cast member? Be honest! Gabriel Rojas: If I can be completely honest, I thought that the show was a little staged and that a lot of the guys were fake. Some of the stories that they told sounded pretty outlandish. When the producers asked me in my audition what I would bring to the show, I said, “Realness.” IT: When you found out that it wasn’t fake and that you were going to have to share some real stuff, what did you do to prepare for your first episode? GR: Honestly, I took two shots of vodka and a Red Bull. IT: Surely there are young gay kids in the closet watching 1 Girl 5 Gays for advice. What do you want them to know? GR: What I hope these kids take away from the show is that being gay doesn’t need to be a stereotype. The panel consists of five very diverse guys, with very different ideas on life, sex and society. I

rafay agha Age: 28 Hometown: Toronto, Ontario Occupation: Interactive media specialist 3 words that describe me: Thoughtful, witty and annoying IN Toronto: As a new member of the 1 Girl 5 Gays cast, what are you most looking forward to? Rafay Agha: When I first started the show, I was in a relationship. As of a few weeks ago, I am no longer in that relationship. It lasted eight years, so it will be interesting to see how my perspective on things changes in the next little while. The show is like free therapy, so it’s great. IT: That must be hard to talk about on TV, but there are going to be a lot of people watching who will be able to relate to you.

RA: Yeah. I’ve seen a lot of the messages sent to the 1g5g Twitter account, and for us it’s just something fun to do, but the show does mean a lot to people. Even being on the panel, I find I can relate to the other guys in a lot of ways. And it’s not all serious business; it’s like any conversation you might have with your friends. IT: Emotions can run high on the show. Are you more likely to shed a tear on camera, or get into a heated argument? RA: If I had to answer this question before filming, I would’ve said I’d be flipping tables and ripping people’s weaves out, but that’s not at all what happened. I’ve already teared-up on one episode. There was a question about bullying, and I had a not-so-fun experience in university so it definitely hit a chord. IT: If a show like this was on when you were in high school, how would it have affected you? RA: Things would’ve been completely different. I feel like there was no face for what it meant to be gay so you had to kind of keep it your own personal secret. Today, there’s a lot more representation in the public eye, so it definitely makes it easier to feel comfortable in your own skin and not have to treat your sexuality like a dirty secret.

IN Toronto: Did you watch 1 Girl 5 Gays before you were cast? Steven Grant: Every single episode! When you’re growing up, you sometimes think, “Is it right to have these gay thoughts?” and seeing other gay men talk about the same stuff that you’re thinking, you feel like you fit in. It’s comforting. IT: You’ve been filming the show for two months now. Have any questions stumped you? SG: There are a couple of questions that stumped me. One was about politics; I don’t know much about politics, and everyone else had very well thought-out answers and I’m sitting there, thinking, “I have no idea what I’m going to say about this….” IT: You’re the youngest cast member. Have you felt that “little brother” syndrome where people might not take you too seriously? SG: That’s what I was worried about. Because I’m the youngest, people would think I’m a ditz or naïve. I don’t want to come across like that. But everyone’s so much older and more experienced, I feel like they have really smart answers. IT: The cast of the first four seasons garnered a pretty diehard following. That can put some pressure on the new cast. Are there big shoes to fill? SG: Yes! Those guys have done such a good job and they made the show [what it is now], so it’s hard to live up to that image. I see on the 1g5g Facebook page that the fans are already expecting us to fill those shoes… so, yes, there’s plenty of pressure.

steven grant Age: 22 Hometown: Acton, Ontario Occupation: Microbiology student, University of Guelph 3 words that describe me: Strange, positive and witty

1 Girl 5 Gays airs Fridays at 10pm ET on MTV.


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23/10/2013 3:03:11 PM

toronto talk exchange VIEW FINDER → RAISE YOUR PADDLES This annual fundraising auction offers a line-up of contemporary art by Canada’s hottest artists all in support of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Hosted by cabaret sensation Shawn Hitchins, the event puts on the block a collection of visual art curated by Chris Ironside, Derek Sullivan, Lauchie Reid, Meera Margaret Singh and Winnie Truong, including a commissioned limited-edition series of prints from celebrated Canadian painter Kris Knight. And, of course, the return of Keith Cole‘s Rock Hudson Memorial Tuck Shop. $25 ($100 VIP). 7pm. Thu, Nov 7. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com.

In their own words By MICHAEL PIHACH “Are we born gay?” That is the question Bryce Sage has asked himself ever since he came out to his parents at age 19. “I grew up in Lindsay, Ontario, where few people, if any, were gay,” says Sage, now 31. “You’re so different from everyone else, and I didn’t choose it, so I wondered, ‘If I wasn’t born this way, why does [being gay] exist at all?’” Sage finally found some answers. In his latest documentary, Survival of the Fabulous, premiering on CBC’s The Nature of Things this month, the Toronto-based filmmaker sets out to find biological explanations for men being gay. “Or, are we ‘born this way?’ as Lady Gaga would put it,” says Sage. “We are,” says Sage, “but the questions are, ‘What makes us gay? How could genes that make us less likely to produce survive generations of natural selection?’” And with that, Sage and his camera crew set out on a journey, tracking down scientists around the world for answers. “It’s shot from my point-of-view,” says Sage, who originally made the film for his masters thesis in documentary filmmaking at Ryerson University. Complemented by the narration of star scientist David Suzuki, Sage, the main subject of the film, takes viewers on a cross-country adventure, starting at Northwestern University in Chicago to try a penile plethysmograph, a metal wire that wraps around the penis to measure blood flow


→ “To what extent our destiny is controlled by something we can’t control is something I think a lot of people question.” that, in turn, can supposedly determine one’s sexual preference. “Before you can say, ‘I’m gay,’ or ‘I’m bi,’ you have to prove it,” says Sage. “Scientifically speaking, of course.” Sage then introduces a cast of queer-minded subjects from all over: researchers at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, studying the fraternal birth order effect (which states that every time a woman has a son, it increases the likelihood that her next son will be gay), scientists in Los Angeles studying homosexuality in identical twins, “gay sheep” in Montana, a geneticist in Italy decoding the genetic patterns of homosexuality in families to even the fa’afafine, a community of thirdgendered people on the island of Samoa. At one point Sage even asks his supportive parents if they raised him differently than his straight brother. “The biggest challenge was coming to terms with the fact that I set out to find black and white answers,” says Sage, who shot the film in six months. “But there aren’t. There are multiple explanations and causes for being gay.” While his message is, “Yes, we are born gay,” he insists his “whacky science documentary” isn’t part of some political agenda. “When you make something political it runs the risk of never being seen. It’s not good storytelling. “This was a fun scientific project.”

Survival of the Fabulous airs on The Nature of Things with David Suzuki on Thursday, November 28, at 8pm on CBC. survivalofthefabulous.com.

November 2013

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behind the spotlight → Interior designer Glen Peloso (left) and partner Sheldon Mahabir make their home a refuge of calm Story Derek Dotto | Photography Jenna Marie Wakani


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L I V I N G & D ES I G N


he name Glen Peloso might not be recognizable, but his




Whether on CTV’s Marilyn Denis Show or in reruns in 82 countries on Restaurant Makeover, or as a columnist in myriad magazines and newspapers too numerous to mention, the interior designer has spent the better part of 20 years bringing beauty and purpose to living spaces. Chances are your neighbour has a new bathroom or kitchen by Glen Peloso Interiors. But when it comes to his own Riverdale home, which he shares with his partner Sheldon Mahabir, he’s as down to earth and low-key as they come. “When I bought it,” says Peloso, “it was owned by a lovely Portuguese couple. It was much more closed off and bright pink—Pepto-Bismol pink.” An easy fix for a man of Peloso’s skill set. But as we’ve seen on any one of the other reality series he’s


starred in, Take This House and Sell

choice to stick with neutral tones.

It, and Renovate My Wardrobe, no

“[My work is] colour, all day, every

job comes without a few challenges.

day. So coming home, I wanted it to

“Originally, the kitchen was going

be a palette cleanser; I want to get

to be completely open,” he says.

that out of my head and have a sort

“Never did I anticipate a chimney

of nothingness.”

would run through the middle of

Because behind closed doors the

the house. I could have taken it out,

focus is on time with Mahabir, who

but it would have affected the whole

Peloso joyfully admits is often mak-

house, structurally.” Ever the prob-

ing dinner by the time he arrives

lem solver, the design dilemma was

home. “Sheldon is a fantastic cook.

tackled simply by covering it with

It’s really good food and good for

the same tile he used for the kitchen

you. By the time we sit down for din-

backsplash, pulling the whole room

ner and spend time talking about


our day, it’s time to go to bed.”

The couple’s home is warm and

The neighbourhood is another

inviting—and ironically, minimally

source of solace for the couple after a

decorated—adorned with charming

long and tiring work week. Mahabir,

accent pieces like a bicycle, which

who works in corporate governance,

rides on the road and sits pretty in

placing board members at corpora-

the house, as well as a hand-cast,

tions across Canada, doesn’t hes-

stainless steel chair by Philippe

itate to gush about the charms of

Starck (pictured bottom right). Says

Riverdale: “I like the fact that it’s

Peloso: “It was one of those stupidly

close to downtown, but feels as if

expensive things that I probably

you’re far removed from it all,” he

The pair have lived here together

the slightest of eye rolls. Mahabir

shouldn’t have bought. But I thought

says. “I don’t feel as if I’m living on

for four years. Naturally, they met

asked for his opinion on tiles for his

it was extraordinary.”

top of someone else. I like the open-

at a tile store. Though it was hardly

parents’ foyer, but, unlike the oth-

The rooms aren’t cluttered with

ness and the fact that I can walk

love at first sight. “Often, what hap-

ers, Mahabir doesn’t watch TV and

colour either. Not a trace of pink in

into the backyard and there’s grass.

pens to me when I go to places

had absolutely no idea who Peloso

sight. “It’s essentially black, white

Living downtown, you walk outside

where people are buying home

was. As usual, the designer shared

and grey with little splashes of

and you’re in it. Here, there are peo-

decor, people stop and say, ‘Can you

his wealth of knowledge. Putting it

orange and red,” says Peloso of his

ple walking their kids to school. It

tell me what you think about this?’ I

a bit more flowery, says Peloso, “He

has a real neighbourhood feel.”

say, ‘Sure,’” Peloso explains with just

November 2013

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→ Palette cleansing Peloso and Mahabir are calmed after a hectic day by the neutral tones of their Riverdale home.

ning and time to go to bed for her

their own furniture line. But when

when it’s 10 in the morning here.

you ask Peloso about his profes-

But when she comes to town for

sional bucket list, he goes far beyond

those two months, Peloso ensures

designing a new line of chairs with

Elix has a space to call her own.

his name on it. “It’s reasonable now

want to date the edited version

“For her, having a bedroom gave her

to build a pop-up, a restaurant or an

of Peloso’s on-screen TV persona.

a sense of permanence or a sense of

event space where you can digitally

“That is who I am,” says Peloso, “but

place. It feels like home to her.”

change the entire thing,” he says,

that’s me at work, which isn’t me

With nearly two decades of décor

going off on a tangent that’s indica-

probably thought, ‘What a f*cking

all the time. Having someone who

industry experience, the design vet-

tive of his passion to forever refresh


didn’t know me like that was actu-

eran’s career continues to evolve. He

and reinvent spaces. “We could

ally kind of endearing.”

recently joined forces with another

start the evening at the pyramids

That fateful meeting led to several dates, though Peloso’s career in

But what really keeps Peloso

designer dynamo, Jamie Alexander,

and end up in New York City. We

the media spotlight wouldn’t come

grounded is his 11-year-old daugh-

to form Peloso Alexander Interiors.

can digitally project anything and

up until one night when a bottle of

ter Elix, who for 10 months of the

Now the duo tackles both commer-

change what happens on every wall.

wine showed up at their table, cour-

year lives a world away with her

cial and residential projects, build-

Your environment can continually

tesy of the restaurateur. But Mahabir

mother in Dubai, something that,

ing on Peloso’s international portfo-

change. We’re in a place where our

wasn’t impressed: “In my head,

in an off-camera moment, makes

lio. “My background is fine art. I’m a

attention span is Twitter. So does

I thought, ‘Oh my God, he brings

the on-air veteran visibly emotional

creative guy,” says Peloso, recogniz-

space have to adapt to keep us inter-

everyone here. How did I get myself

about missing his little girl. The story

ing that his own shortcomings made

ested?” And don’t get him started on

in the middle of this? I’m smarter

of Elix’s conception is something out

the merger a no-brainer. “Jamie’s

3D printers that will soon be able to

than that. I can read through this,’”

of a movie, like one of those puppy

background is business, so he has

spit out entire buildings. “One day

he recalls.

love promises we all make but never

that organizational skill. He’s also a

soon, instead of going to the hard-

actually keep: “Her mother and I

very capable designer. Plus we have

ware store to buy a screw, we’ll sim-


went to high school together. We

a very similar aesthetic.”

ply print one out. How long will it be

romance. “I had it in my head that

made this deal that if we got to be

Their team works with up to a

until we’re able to say, “I’m having

he was an accountant,” Mahabir

35 and neither us were married or

dozen clients at a time, including a

a party and I’d rather have 10 chairs

says, laughing. A breath of fresh air

had kids, we would have a child.”

current project converting a funeral

than a sofa. Print. A lot of people will

for the designer who was thrilled to

Incredibly, they did. But time zones

home into a loft space for a law

say we can’t do that. And you’ll say,

finally meet someone who didn’t

have always been a factor. “It’s eve-

firm. They’re also looking to launch

‘Why?’ “

Until that point they’d kept career chatter





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Hedonism & Hospitality → Istanbul is full of eye candy and other Turkish delights Story and photos Paul Gallant


es, I know. A T-shirt emblazoned with “Beyoglu” ˘ is more likely to attract bewilderment than envy. But that’s only because not enough of the world has visited Istanbul’s most seductive district. Fatih district, across the Haliç Hattı inlet, is certainly the more famous one. Fatih boasts the Hagia

Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, attractions that have made Istanbul one of the world’s most visited cities. But travellers who have done their touristic duties filling their cameras’ memory cards with ancient architecture might eventually crave some fun. Beyoglu’s ˘ of-the-moment galleries, flashy clubs, friendly bars, steamy hamams, au courant cafés and trendy shopping means they might never have to cross the Galata Bridge. At Beyoglu’s ˘ heart is Taksim Square and before I continue gushing, I should offer a short political orientation. Taksim Square, for all the time it spends in the news, is surprisingly small, as is adjacent Gezi Park, where last spring and summer police cracked down on people protesting a mall development. It’s a strange place for a mammoth concrete and steel structure, unless one presumes the mall is intended to scatter the park’s existing user base—gay men, secular intellectual types, joggers and drunken partiers staggering home from nightclubs. Then it all makes perfect sense. And it makes sense that many of the protesters were LGBT people. The clashes in Taksim/Gezi express a national tension in Turkey between secularism and religiosity, liberalism and conservatism, diversity and conformity, where the progressive people of Istanbul represent the former and the police, deployed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ˘ whose voter base lies mostly beyond the city limits of Turkey’s biggest city, represent the latter. This fall’s ban on the gay hookup app Grindr, which is used by an estimated 125,000 Turkish men, is also meant to put a symbolic squeeze on the secular permissiveness. Ugly as it is, Erdo˘gan’s tactics demonstrate the difference between what’s happening in Turkey and, say, in Russia.


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L I V I N G & D ES I G N

nightclub next to gay patrons going into theirs and women in miniskirts walk abreast of women in veils. So we’ll now head south from Taksim onto Beyo˘glu’s broad main street, Istiklal Caddesi. Pedestrianonly, except for the cute red trolley that runs its length, the street takes us away from politics and towards Istanbul’s intoxicating brand of hedonism and hospitality. Packed day and night, Istiklal Caddesi is a colossal artery of shopping, dining and entertainment running through Beyo˘glu. For the first few days I assumed the crowds were coming or going from sporting events, but gradually realized it was a popular Istanbul



being seen. The neon signs on the side streets lure visitors to bars both chic and divey, as well as overpriced nightclubs





gorgeous Smaller

streets wind downhill toward the Bosphorus River, offering glimpses of the waterways and the city’s Asian side. At markets and in the streets, delivery boys scoot around with trays of tea, the small curvy glasses sitting delicately on patterned saucers. There are streets full of cafés—squares full of cafés. A visitor wonders if anybody works.

→ A Modern ancient city (Clockwise from top left) An olive merchant at an outside spice market; shopping at the Grand

The business district, with its tall

Bazaar; a trolley on the Istiklal Caddesi; inside the Blue Mosque.


modern buildings, is hidden out of There are moments in Beyo˘glu— when you see nightclubs setting off fireworks to attract patrons or gangs

While Vladimir Putin seems to be

of young people buying beer at

trying to eradicate gay identity,

convenience stores or men loitering

the best Erdo gan ˘ can do is throw

outside the city’s oldest (straight)



brothel—when Istanbul feels like the

Istanbul’s LGBT population and the

Las Vegas of the Muslim world. East?

rest of its cosmopolitan citizens. The


Grindr ban? One of the first things

questions shrink before Istanbul’s

any gay guy in Istanbul will tell you is

capacity to deliver pleasure. The

how to bypass government internet

place is all these things and more.


censorship mechanisms. Gay apps that are more popular have not been



am inside an exhibit at Istanbul

from on high, Istanbul remains

Modern (Liman ls‚ letmeleri Sahası Antrepo 4, istanbulmodern.org/en)

a city where rainbow flags flap

when the lights go out. The soar-

proudly outside gay cafés, straight

ing classical music stops. It is really,

patrons respectfully line up for their

really dark. I had to pass through a







November 2013

12 13 14 15.INTO.Travel.indd 14

23/10/2013 2:48:19 PM


thick curtain of feather boas to see

twinks rule and not just hipsters

pestamas (a Turkish sarong) with

ble in the wet areas. Then a mus-

artist Hale Tenger’s Strange Fruit,

have beards.

other men in pestamas. A friend

cular show-off arrived in the steam

of mine went to a touristy one and

room, setting off a buzz of excite-

erzan Ozpetek’s 1997 classic,

found himself getting an aggres-

ment. Ah, I was among family. After

Steam: The Turkish Bath, about

sive massage in front of a room of

a perfunctory massage, I chatted

“Over here,” calls out the secu-

an uptight Italian who inherits a

men and women—including his

with a few locals who complained

rity guard. But I decide to stand for

dilapidated Istanbul bathhouse from

mother. The ones with a predom-

about their government when they

a moment and enjoy the silence.

an eccentric aunt, is essentially a

inately gay clientele don’t adver-

weren’t teasing me and each other.

The image of one of the glowing

commercial for the city’s hamams, a

tise the fact (hamams are required

Though the hamam was certainly a

globes—which has the South Pole at

sales pitch I couldn’t resist. Though

by law to offer women-only hours).

gay space, it was not an entirely sex-

the top, though the labelling is right-

these fancy bathhouses were his-

I thought I had chosen a touristy

ual one, more bar than traditional

side up—has burnt into my brain.

torically hangouts for men of all

hamam on a small Beyo˘glu street

bathhouse. Upon departure, patrons

Born in the western city of Izmir,



known for its antique stores. The

are wrapped in heavy warm tow-

Tenger’s playful and poetic politics

tion serves, from what I can tell,

place was built in the early 1800s

els, while they sip tea by the stove

seem particularly Turkish—tough-

two niches: tourists and men who

and featured a wooden stove in the

and make plans to go clubbing later.

minded but sophisticated and beau-

really, really like to hang around in

rustic dry area and opulent mar-

What could be more civilized?

two rotating globes lit by a projected constellation of stars, and I am alone in the room.




tiful. Her piece Turkish Delight features a cartoony terra cotta figure with a massive phallus, tattooed with an Ottoman-era blue pattern, a wink and a slap at the slow pace of change in the country. Her Dancing Queen installation from 2005 invited the viewer to dance to ABBA under a glass umbrella—pop music as a protection from the elements. Speaking of music, it’s everywhere in Istanbul. In my week there, I never once heard the Muslim call to prayer, but couldn’t escape the galloping beats of pop hits. Simultaneously mournful and campy, Turkish pop is taken very seriously. At Chianti Bar (Istiklal Caddesi, Balo Sokak 31, second floor), young bearded men in jeans take turns singing karaoke, though everyone in the bar sings passionately along to each song, including the bartenders. The place is small, narrow and full of easygoing locals who joke with each other mercilessly. A couple of blocks away, the crowd at Frappe (Istiklal Caddesi, Zambak Sokak 10A, frappeistanbul. com) is artier and more fashionable, but even here patrons can’t help singing along to the music videos

Turkish Delights MUST-SEES No matter how many hotties distract you, it is unforgivable to miss the following Istanbul sites. Firstly, the Hagia Sophia, whose exterior is not so impressive up close, but whose interior is as enthralling as any world-class museum. Secondly, just across the park, the Blue Mosque’s airy serenity will take your breath away. Thirdly, the Grand Bazaar may have more than its fair share of overpriced kitsch, but wandering its maze of vendors will reward those who know how to haggle. Fourthly, a cruise on the Bosphorus gives you a chance to admire all those beautiful buildings from a distance. Fifthly, Galata Tower, though there’s not much inside it, will give you a bird’s eye view of the city. CRASH PADS The W Hotel (Suleyman Seba Cad 22, Akaretler, wistanbul.com.tr) is off the tourist drag in a hip waterfront neighbourhood. Installed in a stretch of row houses, many rooms have their own private cabanas overlooking a courtyard. If it’s stumbling distance from the nightlife you want, the five-star Marmara Taksim (Taksim Meydani Taksim 34437, taksim.themarmarahotels.com) is at the top of Istiklal Caddesi—and right across the street from the airport bus. If being close to the historic sites is a priority, then Diva’s Hotel (Binbirdirek Mah. Katip Sinan Camii Sok. 31, divashotel.com) offers gayfriendly, kitschy charm.

playing over the bar. At Club Tekyön (Siraselviler Caddesi 63/1, clubtekyon.com), one of the most reliable gay clubs in an ever-changing roster, the DJ does add some Western songs to the mix, perhaps to please the tourists. The Tekyön crowd is older and, since it’s Turkey, hairier than the average North American

MEET THE LOCALS Many of Istanbul’s gay spots are resto-café-bars that might be full of diners one minute, dancers the next. The best daytime spot is Sugar & Spice Café (Istiklal Caddesi, Saka Salim Cikmazi 3/A, facebook.com/sugarvespice) which overflows onto its pedestrian street when busy. Haspa Café Bar (Küçük Parmakkapı İpek Sokak. 18/2, haspacafebar.com)

has a pub-like feel and friendly staff. If you’ve got the energy to go up three floors in order to chill, Mor Kedi Café (Istiklal Caddesi, Imam Adnan Sk. 7, third floor) has a nice selection of light meals, a devoted crowd of regulars and Turkish music that isn’t too, too loud. Club Tekyön (Siraselviler Caddesi 63/1, clubtekyon.com) is nothing fancy, but remains the busiest dance bar and, unusual for Istanbul, has no cover charge. TEA TIME Although it’s hard to take two steps in Istanbul without passing a café, the laneway called Katip Mustafa Celebi Mh. Cukurlucesme Sk. in Beyog˘ lu has some of the cutest places you’ll encounter. Avam Kahvesi, at number 4/A, also serves obscure Turkish sodas made by companies so retro you can’t imagine they’re still in business—Coca-Cola eat your heart out. EAT LIKE A PASHA Although booze in Istanbul can be pricey—well, the same as in Canada—food is an excellent value. In Beyog˘ lu, Klemuri (Büyükparmakkapı Tel Sokak 2, klemuri.com) serves Mediterranean cuisine in an adorable apartment-like space. Rumeli Meyhanesi (Asmali Mescit Sok 16, egerummeyhanesi.com) offers more traditional Turkish fare and live music. The ERC Group has three beautiful venues, the nicest of which is LTERA (Yeni Çars‚ ı Cd Alman Kültür Merkezi 32, literarestaurant.com/index.php), on the top floor of a cultural centre. The restaurants under the Galata Bridge are overpriced and typically unexceptional, but the romance of watching the boats on the waterways may just be worth it. If you’re hungry stumbling out of Club Tekyön at odd hours, you can soak up the alcohol in the sandwiches and pitas served up at Bambi Café (Sıraselviler Caddesi 2 and other locations).

crowd. This is not a country where intorontomag.com

12 13 14 15.INTO.Travel.indd 15


23/10/2013 2:48:38 PM




8:14 PM


relationship advice

— with Adam Segal C


→ I’m a 21-year-old gay guy who would love a boyfriend. I see myself as a pretty decent catch. I’ve been told I’m handsome and get along with pretty much anyone. I just put a profile on a dating site and have been chatting with a few different guys. The one thing that really hinders my confidence is penis size. Ever since puberty (and to be honest, from when I first started watching porn) I’ve felt incredibly inadequate. When I’m erect I’m still only about 4 inches and I’m aware this is significantly below average. I’ve only hooked up with two guys before, one went fine and the other actually referenced my small cock, and it really hurt. I’ve tried herbal supplements and a penis pump and I’ve come to accept there is no physical solution, but I’m terrified it will limit the dating pool severely and I can’t shake wishing it was different. Antoine







I’m glad to hear you’ve kiboshed any




bodies, the less you’ll feel like an exception.

products and remedies: if there

But I can’t lie: some men might

were a functional and effective way

be so size-focused that they pass

of enlarging a penis, its inventor

you by. Not to sound trite, but are

would have won the Nobel Peace

these the guys you would really

Prize. While your penis might be

want in your world? We live in

on the smaller end of a scale, I

a culture that encourages us to

caution you about the assumptions

see our sexual selves as strictly

you might be making based on the

limited to our genitalia, which

generous endowments you are

propels a whole host of insecurities

inundated with in mainstream gay

and narrows what sex can really

porn; a majority of people would

become. By all means, enjoy the

feel small watching some of these

cock that life gave you, but be


sure to not over-identify with that



their weight around. The best thing you can do (besides improving your own confidence and self-acceptance) is learn how

single hunk of flesh. (And that goes for those amply-stocked men out there, too.) Oh,





to be an attentive and spirited sex

encyclopedia of the day, Wikipedia,

mate; because while there are a

the average human erect penis size

lot of men who may outsize you, a

is 5.1-5.9”, so you really aren’t as

skillful lover is a rare and treasured

below average as you think.

specimen. It’s important that you recognize, as you enter the dating game, that many of the men you are meeting with will have their own set of insecurities. The less you imagine that everyone else is feeling perfectly content in their

16.INTO.Rel Col.indd 16

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

23/10/2013 2:22:16 PM

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insight INSIGHT

Open closet policy → Does coming out even matter anymore? Story Paul Gallant



s it possible, here in Canada,

But I’ve noticed that most celebri-

the subject matter they write about,



ties who come out end up adopting

their charity work, camp sensibility

point where the most per-

their outness as a project. If it’s not

or penchant for adoption, do they

sonal of political acts is no longer

a major part of their oeuvre, then

cease to be LGBT, regardless of who

necessary to woo the hearts and

they’ll take up a cause. Jesse Tyler

they’re sleeping with?

minds of our straight peers, to win

Ferguson and Sean Hayes take gay

This inability—lack of interest?—

rights and acceptance and a place

roles, Rosie O’Donnell does her gay

in distinguishing between a famous

at the table? Now that we know

family cruises. Neil Patrick Harris

person’s interests and their sex-

that Anderson Cooper is family,

plays his gayness off his suave dude-

ual orientation is a quintessential

that the world’s most valuable

ishness, turning his every perfor-

ingredient of James Franco’s allure.

brand, Apple, is run by an openly

mance into a conspiratorial wink.

His superqueer indie projects like

gay man, that Steven Sabados and

Canadian comedian Trevor Boris,

Interior Leather Bar and role as gay

Chris Hyndman rule daytime TV,

who came out on stage while his

activist Scott Smith in 2008’s Milk

that former Canada AM co-host

father was watching, knows that his

have fuelled more gossipy dinner

Seamus O’Regan got married to

gayness is a component of his fame.

party conversations than any num-

a man without our noticing, that

“Maybe being openly gay has kept

ber of photos of Zachary Quinto

we have a lesbian premier and

me from getting certain things, but

shopping with his boyfriend. Gossip

that Ellen remains the most pop-

it has also opened a lot of pretty fab

columnists like Perez Hilton see

ular celebrity after Oprah—I mean,

double French doors for me,” Boris

sexual identity encoded in clothes,

hasn’t all the heavy lifting been

says. “I don’t want to be known as

party choices, musical tastes and

done? It used to be newsworthy to

a gay comedian, as I think I’m much

facial expressions. Zac Efron’s abs

be a confident and proud lesbian;

more than that, but I also some-

are too ripped to be straight. But

now it’s newsworthy to be a tor-

times think I get things because CBC

then, some people are obsessed with

mented one. Look at how few rip-

needs a gay comedian to round out

gay-spotting and these zealots are

ples Kathleen Wynne’s orientation

a panel and, listen, I’m just happy to

rarely straight.

has made.

be working.”



maggie cassella

When straight media gets excited

Obviously, people should come

In Canada, at least, it seems pos-

about a prominent gay person—say,

out for their own reasons. Staying

sible to put the information out

this fall, when openly gay Brigadier

in the closet makes it hard to invite

there and walk away. Although Rick

general John Fletcher was appointed

people to your same-sex wedding.

Mercer came out in Maclean’s mag-

Chaplain General of the Canadian

Your boss needs to know so you

azine in 2004, his gayness failed to

Forces—gay people often yawn. A

can attend the company’s LGBT

register with most Canadians, even

51-year-old clergyman in a 16-year-

Network parties—a closed closet

when he started promoting groups

relationship is exactly the kind of

door should never come between

like EGALE Canada and CANFAR at

out person who makes gay people

you and an open bar. Nobody wants

Pride events. Only when he deliv-

seem “normal”—but perhaps a little

something extra to earn its bold

to go through life lying to other peo-

ered a 2011 rant on his show, about

too normal. We have grown accus-

type. The coming out this summer

ple about who they’re dating, who

an openly gay teenager who com-

tomed to out ministers, out health-

of Wentworth Miller, best known

they find cute or what kept them

mitted suicide after being bullied,

care workers, out journalists and

as star of Prison Break, was per-

out until 10am Sunday morning.

did Mercer become “officially” gay.

perhaps even out design gurus and

fect for the times. He leaked his let-

Coming out changes people’s lives

Douglas Coupland came out qui-

fashion designers. Now if Fletcher

ter declining an invitation to attend

for the better. But does it still change

etly and that was that. Ann-Marie

was a Canadian Forces sniper—

the St. Petersburg International Film


MacDonald? Didn’t she get married

that’d be something.

Festival, citing Russia’s treatment

Trevor Boris

When you look at the demands

to that guy? You have to wonder: if

It’s as if only novelty will deliver

of LGBT people. There was no pre-

we put on the famous, we obvi-

an out person doesn’t keep remind-

the social change needed in the hin-

sumption of his own importance; he

ously think so. Come out! It will help

ing the world of their homosexual-

terland of our suburbs and small

let the veil slip only to make a polit-

us and it won’t change your career!

ity through the characters they play,

towns. Each new outing requires

ical statement. Humble and worthy!

November 2013

18 19.INTO.Coming out.indd 18

23/10/2013 2:23:19 PM


Miller will be doing lots of gala fund-

out people are entertainers. Where

extreme, sexless political purpose;

Church minister before he went

raisers in the future.

were the out philosophers and sci-

at the other, a sleazy underworld-

into politics. He was also Robinson’s


entists? I asked him to name a scien-

fueled wit. By the time Robinson

assistant before winning his vacant


tist of any orientation. He suggested

pled guilty in 2004 to stealing a ring

seat in Parliament. “It’s not as oner-

not judging—at last year’s Oscars

David Suzuki—who also happens to

at an auction, declaring mental

ous as it once was to come out.

was so awkweird, it might actu-

have been an entertainer. I called

health issues and ending his politi-

I used to tour around the coun-

ally outshine Ellen’s Time magazine

the CBC science show Quirks and

cal career, Canadians knew enough

try doing workshops and people’s

cover. The sports world equivalent

Quarks to see if they could think of

about LGBT people—their friends,

understanding of what a gay man

of Ellen’s coming out, NBA player

any out Canadian scientists and,

family and co-workers who resided

looked like looked a lot like me,

Jason Collins in Sports Illustrated

after putting me on hold for a while,

between the two extremes—that

because I was the only one they had

they confessed they were draw-

Robinson was able to retreat quietly,

ever met,” says Siksay, who retired

ing a blank. It just doesn’t come up.

not as an unmasked Buddy Cole, but

in 2011. “That puts certain pres-

For all we know, all Canadian scien-

as somebody who was genuinely

sures on you about how you lead

tists might be queer—perhaps that’s

struggling. Average Canadians had

your life. When there are more peo-

why Prime Minister Stephen Harper

filled in the gaps celebrities didn’t.

ple out, you don’t have that same





coming because

has muzzled them—but nobody has

Setting aside scandals, which are

pressure and that’s a good thing

always delicious, the relationship

because no one person can repre-

Nerds have claimed computer sci-

between the personal and public life

sent a community.”

entist Alan Turing as a queer hero,

of politicians is a nebulous thing.

partly because he was treated so

Nobody is surprised when an MP

stand-up comedy 24 years ago, she

badly. (Speaking of the James Franco

from a farming community advo-

tried to represent. She knew exactly

effect, Benedict Cumberbatch—he

cates for an agricultural bill, but is

who she didn’t want to be: that les-

of the Cumberbitches and officiat-

that good for the cause (“He knows

bian comic in comfortable shoes,

ing a gay wedding—plays Turing in

exactly what farmers need!”) or bad

taupe pantyhose and short hair. She

an upcoming film.) I think there’s

(“Of course, he wants to boost potato

wore pumps, short skirts and fash-

a reason why Turing is a rare bird.

exports, he’s from PEI!”). The clos-

ionable suits. “I did it on purpose.

The best scientists profess to leave

eted politicians I have known have

I did it because I was trying to rep-

their feelings and personal baggage

kept a distance from LGBT issues,

resent myself as a lesbian. I call it

behind in pursuit of “the truth.” The

their personal vulnerability dimin-

my oppressive foot-binding period

best entertainers flaunt their feel-

ishing their capacity to improve

because I wasn’t comfortable.” It’s

ings and baggage in pursuit of an

their own world. (Female politicians

hard to imagine a younger lesbian

artistic truth. “What careers lead us


comic feeling that pressure.

to know about people’s personal and

from women’s issues, as if to closet

family lives? I don’t think scientists

their own femininity.)

bothered to ask.

Kathleen Wynne

or corporate people. Unless they’re









That’s the enduring value of coming out. Comfort rather than repre-


sentation. And by living in comfort

dirty or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, it

ing LGBT issues are such rare crea-

and abandoning defensiveness, the

doesn’t have the same impact,” says

tures—unicorns, really—we hardly

caricatures that may have formed

comedian Maggie Cassella. “That’s

know what to do with them. Even

in the minds of straight people dis-

why we keep coming back to poli-

the most extreme advocates of out-

solve around us. We’re left with

ticians and entertainers. It makes a

ing propose outing only enemies. Is

our own actions, not worrying over

difference when we don’t talk about

there something to punish about a

what our supposed ambassadors


person who’s advocating for what

are doing.

For a long time, former NDP MP

he really believes while pretending

Svend Robinson was probably the

to be someone he’s not? That seems

“I don’t think you have to be out

only gay Canadian most people

an incredibly high bar. I’d rather

if you are well-known because I do

this spring, came 16 years later, a

could name. Sure, there were oth-

see the world change for the better

believe everyone is entitled to their

longer lag than anyone would have

ers, but Robinson was all over the

than know every detail about every-

privacy,” says Boris. “At the same

liked. But professional sports is a

national news—you couldn’t avoid

body’s personal life, but that’s just

time you should be aware of the

tough world, one of the last bastions

him. Robinson came out in 1988,

me. I don’t assume anybody’s sex-

message you are sending by not

of socially acceptable homophobia.

the same year The Kids in the Hall

ual orientation until they announce

coming out—I’m looking at you,

It’s hard to imagine anyone in the

debuted. One might imagine a

it or I experience it or witness it first-

Taylor Lautner! Actually, I’m hop-

NFL adopting Foster’s self-indulgent

rural Canadian, whose only avail-

hand. But others want to judge by

ing he’s gay and that I have a chance

insouciance. Jason Collins earned

able channel was the CBC, mak-

appearances, which is why flamboy-

with him.”

any kudos he got.

ing vague connections between the

ant types, the flamers and butches,

tidy white dude in Question Period

have been the gay rights pioneers

friend of mine recently com-

and the lisping barfly that was Scott

whether they liked it or not.

plained that too many famous

Thompson’s Buddy Cole. At one

Rick Mercer


But then again, it’s fun to speculate.

Now that’s a good reason to pressure someone to come out.

Bill Siksay was out as a United intorontomag.com

18 19.INTO.Coming out.indd 19


23/10/2013 2:23:34 PM

listings & events

november IN THE CITY


Dallas Buyers Club Opens



Claudia Moore in Escape Artist Closes at the Dancemakers Centre for Creation


Austin Wong’s Gaysian At the Reel Asian Film Festival

Moss Park opens At Theatre Passe Muraille





Swan Lake Opens at the Four Seasons Centre

AN TE LIU’S MONO NO MA Closes at the Gardiner Museum

midori plays mozart At the Royal Conservatory of Music

VIC AND FLOW SAW A BEAR Opens at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Art AN TE LIU: MONO NO MA For the second exhibition of the Gardiner’s Artist Intervention series, artist An Te Liu explores the space around things. Drawn at first to the burnished surfaces and anthropomorphic features of funerary ware found in the Gardiner’s Ancient Americas collection, Liu has transformed discarded styrofoam packing from consumer goods into ceramic sculptures that evoke a multiplicity of references. Using remnants of the contemporary world, Liu conjures forms recalling iconic works of both the ancient and modern periods. While each sculpture bears the imprint of an object in use today, the ambiguity of their origin invites reflection upon our relationship to things, both utilitarian and artistic, old and new. As such, the 19 works stand like fossils of an evolving, unconscious present. $6-$12.

20 21 22.INTO.calendar .indd 20

10am-6pm. Mon-Thu. 10am-9pm. Fri. 10am-5pm. Sat-Sun. To Mon, Nov 11. Gardiner Museum. 111 Queen’s Park. 416-586-8080. gardinermuseum.com

Books 34TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS Highlights of this year’s fest include Helen Humphreys, whose latest work, Nocturne, is an intimate memoir written after the sudden death of her younger brother. See her in discussion with other authors in Trusting the Muse (4pm. Sat, Nov 2.); S. Bear Bergman reads from his latest collection of essays, Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter, which challenges perceptions of gender, sexuality and family in intriguing and humorous ways (11am. Sun, Nov 3.); and don’t miss Rewriting the Rules of Family (11am. Nov 2.), moderated by Susan G. Cole, S Bear Bergman and Alison Wearing, author of Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, a

memoir about growing up with a gay dad. Compare notes about writing the queer experience with their unique perspectives on the changing face of the Canadian family. Plus Anthony De Sa reads from his latest book Kicking The Sky (12pm. Nov 2; 11am. Nov 3.), detailing the aftermath of a grisly murder through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy. (For more on De Sa, see page 30.) To Sun, Nov 3. Harbourfront Centre. 235 Queen’s Quay W. $18. 416-973-4000. ifoa.org.

Community FUGGINBITCH This monthly LGBTQ dance night was created for east end queers and straight allies with performances from a wide range of local talents. $5; $10 after 11pm. The Dominion. 500 Queen E. facebook.com/fugginBToronto.

Dance TAJ Built around exquisite kathak dance choreographed by 82-year-old South Asian legend Padmabhusan Kumudini Lakhia, 10 dancers from India along with Toronto's Sashar Zarif as a Sufi mystic round out the international ensemble. This unique Canada-India collaboration by Lata Pada transports audiences to 17th century India. Through theatre, dance, multi-media and original music, glimpse the passionate history of the Taj Mahal. $59-$64. 8pm. Fri, Nov 1. Flato Markham Theatre. 171 Town Centre Blvd. markham.ca ESCAPE ARTIST Moonhorse Dance Theatre presents the world premiere of Escape Artist, an evening of four solos performed by artistic director Claudia Moore and choreographed by Paul-André Fortier, Susanna Hood, Christopher House and Gadfly. $20-$25. 8pm. To Sat, Nov 2. Dancemakers Centre for Creation. 9 Trinity St. moonhorsedance.com.

23/10/2013 2:24:31 PM


our guide to your month Francisco International LGBT Film Fest and the 2013 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Fest, Reaching for the Moon brings to life 1950s Rio in a tale about poet Elizabeth Bishop and her love affair with architect Lota de Macedo Soares, the designer of Rio’s famed Flamengo Park. Based on a true story and the bestselling Brazilian novel Rare and Commonplace Flowers, the film follows American poet Bishop as a creative block prompts her to accept the invitation of a college friend to stay with her and her partner, Lota, on a sprawling country estate. Bishop is a fish out of water in her new lush and bohemian setting, until the instant chemistry between her and Lota boils over. Initial hostilities make way for a complicated yet long-lasting love affair that dramatically alters Bishop’s relationship to the world around her. Part of the 7th Annual Brazil Film Fest. $13. Thu, Nov 28-Dec 1. TIFF Bell Lightbox. 350 King St. W. brazilfilmfest.net

ian stival

Fundraisers The Gay Heritage Project Opens at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

ELEVEN ACCORDS Christopher House celebrates his 20th anniversary season as artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre with Eleven Accords, a major new work and a choreographic counterpoint to Music for 18 Musicians by American minimalist composer Steve Reich. $25-$40. 8pm. Wed-Sat. 2pm. Sat. Wed, Nov 6-9. Fleck Dance Theatre. 207 Queens Quay W. 416.973.4000. harbourfrontcentre.com. (See interview with Christopher House on page28.) SWAN LAKE One of the central works of the classical ballet canon, Swan Lake has enthralled audiences since its premiere in Moscow in 1877. Set to a timeless and famously evocative score by Tchaikovsky, the ballet is marked by a thematic and stylistic dynamism that embraces the fantastic and mythic while remaining rooted in the most universal of human emotions. The emotional and thematic complexities that are revealed in choreographer James Kudelka’s re-telling of the story are heightened by Santo Loquasto’s vibrant sets and costumes, both conveying the ballet’s tragic beauty and powerful artistry. $25-$184. 7:30pm. Sat, Nov 9-17. Four Seasons Centre. 145 Queen St W. 416-345-9595. national.ballet.ca.

Film DALLAS BUYERS CLUB This film is based on the true story of homophobic Texas electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped establish

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a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies. Opens Fri, Nov 1. Check your local listings. (See review on page 26.) Blue is the warmest color This film became the first same-sex romance to win the Palme d’Or. With explicit sex and breakout performances, the film follows the emotional love affair between two young women. Watch for a scene in which Emma teaches Adèle how to eat an oyster. Opens Fri, Nov 8. Check your local listings. REGENT PARK FILM FESTIVAL The 11th annual festival includes two filmmakers and two community arts groups with pieces that explore the struggles, triumphs and motivations behind grassroots arts activity through the broader theme: What Brings Us Here/What Takes Us Away? This year’s programme also features dance documentarian Kathleen Smith, along with Regent Park’s own dance troupe, Southside Swag, and filmmaker Richard Fung. Free. Various times. Wed, Nov 13-16. Ada Slaight Hall. Daniels Spectrum. 585 Dundas St E. For full festival programming, visit regentparkfilmfestival.com. REEL ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL Highlights of this year’s fest include Sprung, a project that aims to look at the ways in which both dance and film represent culture, histories and identity. In Sonia Hong’s Waack Revolt, Emily Law and Diana Reyes play characters forced to keep their love behind closed doors as they come up against public outrage. Hong is a Toronto-based filmmaker whose quirky projects often explore elements of gender identity and empowerment. In Paruparo by Shasha Nakhai and Catherine Hernandez, a migrant Filipino nanny takes centre stage and externalizes her interior pain through

ART ATTACK This annual fundraising auction offers a curated line-up of contemporary art by Canada’s hottest artists all in support of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Hosted by cabaret sensation dance, utilizing brilliant red fans in a Shawn Hitchins, the event features a dizzying and riveting blend of traditional collection of visual art curated by Chris Filipino and modern improvisational dance. Ironside, Derek Sullivan, Lauchie Reid, Catherine Hernandez is a proud queer Meera Margaret Singh and Winnie Truong, woman of colour and single mom. And and the return of Keith Cole‘s Rock Hudson making its Canadian premiere is awardMemorial Tuck Shop. Also up for grabs is a winning director Zero Chou’s Ripples of commissioned limited-edition series of Desire, a period drama from Taiwan. Chou prints from celebrated Canadian painter has won numerous awards for her films Kris Knight. $25 ($100 VIP). 7pm. Thu, Nov chronicling the Taiwan LGBT community. 7. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. 12 Plus the short film Gaysian by Austin Wong, Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com. (See a romantic comedy about an Asian gay man page 8.) confronting racism in the dating world that FOWL SUPPER For four decades, the makes him reconsider his own prejudices. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives has Gaysian: $12. 8:30pm. Thu, Nov 7. Jackman kept our stories alive. The theme of this Hall, AGO. 317 Dundas St W; Sprung: $12. year’s 40th anniversary gala is Disco to 8pm. Wed, Nov 13. Innis Town Hall. 2 Sussex DJ. So trade in your stetsons for stilettos Ave; Ripples of Desire: $12. 7pm. Sat, Nov and cowboy shirts for glitter Ts for a 16. Richmond Hill Centre. 10268 Yonge St. night of bubbly, dinner, live entertainreelasian.com. ment, a live auction and dance party. PLANET IN FOCUS FILM FESTIVAL The $150. 6:30pm. Sat, Nov 16. Bram and 14th annual event brings art with an Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto environmental theme to film audiences. Reference Library. 789 Yonge St. clga.ca. Whether drama, documentary, experimenBLOOR STREET ENTERTAINS This tal or animation, the emphasis is on films glamorous gourmet gala has raised that educate and inspire. $15 (includes $2 to more than $5 million for CANFAR since plant a tree in the Planet in Focus Forest in its inception. Each dinner in boutiques Alberta). Various times. Thu, Nov 21-24. Var- and galleries in the Bloor/Yorkville ious locations. For the complete procorridor is made possible by the gramme, visit planetinfocus.org. amazing support of venues, chefs and VIC AND FLOW SAW A BEAR A freshly florists who donate their time, talents released ex-con and her lesbian lover and resources. $150 (includes access to become targets of suspicion, prejudice and the Twilight pre-party, a stand-up gruesome revenge when they settle in the dinner/cocktail reception and after-pardeceptively serene Quebec countryside. By ty). $1,000 (access to the Twilight acclaimed Canadian auteur Denis Cote pre-party, sit-down dinner and (Bestiaire). $13. 12:15pm & 7pm. Fri, Nov after-party). 6:15pm. Wed, Nov 27. Corel22-28. TIFF Bell Lightbox. 350 King St W. tiff.net. li Gallery. ROM. 100 Queen’s Park. 416 REACHING FOR THE MOON Winner of the 361-6281 xt. 234. dosske@canfar.com. Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2013 bloorstreetentertains.ca. Inside Out Film Fest, 2013 Frameline San

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Music (Classical) THE ROYAL CONSERVATORY Violinist Midori is joined by Turkish-American pianist Özgür Aydin for a program of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 25 in F Major, K. 377; Ernest Bloch’s Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, “Poème mystique;” Paul Hindemith’s Sonata in E Major; Gabriel Fauré’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major, Op. 13; and Franz Schubert’s Rondo for Violin and Piano in B Minor, Op. 70, D. 895, “Rondeau brilliant.” ($35-$90. 8pm. Fri, Nov 8. Koerner Hall.) Musicians from Marlboro return for their annual concert, featuring alumnus Scott St. John on violin, joined by emerging artists Michelle Ross (violin), Emily Deans (viola), Matthew Zalkind (cello), and Gabriele Carcano (piano), in a program of Beethoven’s Variations in G Major on Müller’s “Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu,” Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana, Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Trio in D Minor and Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 4 in E Minor. ($32. 7:30pm. Mon, Nov 18. Mazzoleni Concert Hall.) Telus Centre for Performance and Learning. 273 Bloor St W. 416-4080208. performance.rcmusic.ca.

Stage MOSS PARK Bobby and Tina are back with baby in tow, and their struggles to make ends meet continue. A fast-paced dark comedy, Moss Park is an intimate look at two young people as they confront an uncertain future. In this follow up to Tough!, George F. Walker takes Bobby and Tina on a journey as they fight to map a life that doesn’t include poverty. $20-$32.50. 7:30pm (Sat matinee at 2pm). Mon, Nov 4-16. Theatre Passe Muraille. 16 Ryerson Ave. 416.504.7529. passemuraille.on.ca. THE VALLEY A dramatic police encounter illuminates a son’s pain; a police officer pulled away from home because of duty; two mothers search for answers. A touching story of the unexpected shared lives of strangers that goes behind the headlines to the core of complex issues surrounding mental illness, parenting and law enforcement. $21-$53. 8pm. Tue-Sat. 2:30pm. Sat-Sun. Nov 6-Dec 15. Tarragon Mainspace. 30 Bridgman Ave. 416.531.1827. tarragontheatre.com THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL OF BERNICE TRIMBLE This heartbreaking portrait of a family in crisis, directed by Obsidian Theatre’s Dora Award-winning AD Philip Akin, stars Karen Robinson as Bernice, a widowed mother of three grown children. When Bernice’s doctor confirms that she has fast-advancing, early onset Alzheimer’s, Bernice enlists her daughter Iris’ reluctant support to bow out with dignity. $23-$45. 8pm. Tue-Sat. 2pm. Sun.

20 21 22.INTO.calendar .indd 22

Thu, Nov 7-Dec 1. Factory Theatre. 125 Bathurst St. 416.504.9971. factorytheatre.ca. THE GAY HERITAGE PROJECT Gifted performers Damien Atkins, Paul Dunn & Andrew Kushnir set out to answer one question: Is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they shine new light on contemporary gay culture and fantasize about the prospect of legacy. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives. $26-$37. 8pm. Tue-Sat. 2:30pm. Sat-Sun. Sun, Nov 17-Dec 8. Buddies in Bad Times. 12 Alexander St. 416-975-8555. buddiesinbadtimes.com. HEAVEN ABOVE, HEAVEN BELOW Twenty years after dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, a couple run into each other at the wedding of a mutual friend. By Linda Griffiths. Directed by Karen Hines and performed by Linda Griffiths and Layne Coleman. $20-$27.50. 7:30pm (2pm. Sat matinees). Tue, Nov 19-Dec 7. Theatre Passe Muraille. 16 Ryerson Ave. 416.504.7529. passemuraille.on.ca. THE LITTLE MERMAID Titled Ontario’s O-fish-al Family Musical, Ross Petty leaves behind the Brothers Grimm and enters Hans Christian Andersen territory, marking his first-ever foray into a family-friendly fishy fairy tale. Straight from Broadway, Chilina Kennedy stars as the Little Mermaid. Petty himself plays Ogopogo the evil sea wizard. And Jordan Clark, winner of So You Think You Can Dance Canada season four, and star of Family Channel’s The Next Step TV series, makes her pantomime debut as Ogopogo’s slithery assistant. $27-$85. 7pm (2pm matinees). Fri, Nov 22-Jan 4. Elgin Theatre. 189 Yonge St. 1.855.599.9090. rosspetty.com. THE DOUBLE This adaptation of the Fyodor Dostoevsky novella of the same name combines Dostoevsky's prose with physical theatre and original music to create a theatrical Molotov cocktail. An exploration of alienation and paranoia, The Double speaks to our own fragile hold on reality in a time when our identity is as fluid as our Facebook and Twitter profiles allow. $21-$53. Tue-Sat. 8pm. 2:30pm. Sat-Sun. To Sun, Nov 24. Tarragon Extraspace. 30 Bridgman Ave. 416.531.1827. tarragontheatre.com. ONCE The eight Tony Award-winning musical, based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. $35-$130. 8pm. Tue-Sat. 2pm. Wed, Sat & Sun. 2pm. Nov 26-Jan 5. Royal Alexandra Theatre. 260 King St W. 416-872-1212. mirvish.com.

in spot Men Essentials Story & photography Derek Dotto

It’s easy enough to write off any guy with a meticulous grooming routine as a princess. Nobody wants to fit that stereotype, right? But a few minutes in MenEssentials will convince you that grooming can be one of the manliest of pursuits. Let’s start with shaving. MenEssentials brings us back a century or so to a time when men used straight- and double-edge razors to keep their facial hair in check. Both shaving tools have seen a major resurgence in popularity recently. “There’s the nostalgia factor,” says managing director Seth Harman. “We have people in all the time who talk about how their grandfather shaved with a straight razor. This is about as traditional as it gets.” And then there was that scene in Skyfall when James Bond gets a shave from Moneypenny. “Straight razor sales leapt by something like 400 per cent in two days after the movie came out,” says Harman. Speaking of the Brits, MenEssentials carries products from a number of companies that have supplied the Royal Family. “These are full-blown apothecaries that have operated stores since the turn of the century in the UK,” explains Harman. Who wouldn’t want to shave like a king? If you’re ever in doubt about the importance of skincare, Harman doesn’t hesitate to tap into his well-

spring of grooming knowledge. “Since the skin is on the front lines, protecting you from the sun, pollution and dirt, your body is constantly doing things to your skin to keep it going,” says Harman. “By using skincare products, you’re helping your body be able to perform its best.” A tough case to argue against. Beyond the shaving kit, the shop’s exposed brick walls, glass shelves, and wood cabinets are peppered with the manliest of primping products like sandalwood soap, beard conditioner and stainless steel manicure sets in rugged leather cases. And for that final touch, a little eau de something fancy? You won’t find Acqua Di Gio here. Only traditional fragrance companies like Penhaligon’s, an English perfume house that’s been concocting scents since the 1860s. But if you don’t want to spend an hour in the bathroom every morning, here are the essentials from MenEssentials: “You need a good cleanser. You need a good exfoliator. You need a good moisturizer.” See? No cucumber facial masks here.

men Essentials 412 Danforth Ave. 1-800833-1055. menessentials.ca

23/10/2013 2:25:11 PM

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23/10/2013 2:25:40 PM


Collecting only a click away → Buying artworks online a trendy and accessible way to discover new talent Story Pamela Meredith


discover and acquire much of the culture (high and low) in my life online: books, music,

television, fashion and design.


rarely go to the record store or while away the hours in a book store like I used to. Instead I point and click. But art is a different matter. Or is it? Tentatively, carefully, I’m coming around to the virtual. Make no mistake, there is no substitute for looking at the “real” thing when it comes to acquiring art. There are a multitude of tangible (scale, texture) and intangible (call it aura or affect) qualities that only an artwork can convey. Magazines, catalogues and a computer screen can only get you so far. becoming


But it’s easy


conduct research on artists and collections,









preferences and perhaps make a purchase, all without leaving home.

A Cindy Sherman from paddle8.comm

A Maggie Groat from paulandwendy.com

Hundreds of online art ventures have popped up in recent years. This is a selection of sites that

tapped into a conceptual vein, much


her special facility with paint, but the

I frequently visit, each offering

of it rooted in the rich bounty of

similarly offers artworks in a limited

style and subject matter is uniquely

a unique method of education,

the Winnipeg art scene with artists

edition format, usually 50 at most,

her own. Exhibition A also does a

discovery and acquisition.

such as Marcel Dzama, Neil Farber,

and all two-dimensional. Super-hip

weekly Q and A with collectors from

and Michael Dumontier (founders of

New York artists like Nate Lowman,

the just-getting-started to the very


The Royal Art Lodge). Brainy work

Dustin Yellin and Hanna Liden

established with some celebrity

multiples on their straightforward

by Micah Lexier, Derek Sullivan

have participated in their weekly

collectors sprinkled in for fun. It’s

e-commerce site. I could do an

and Maggie Groat are particularly

releases—and all sold-out relatively

encouraging to read that essentially

entire column on my love and

elegant and affordable examples

quickly. Nabbing a signed edition by

everyone collects “what they love;”

respect for multiples (I think I will!).

that get to the heart of each of their

Kim Gordon or Mark Borthwick is a

there is no right or wrong way to go

For modest budgets or otherwise,

artistic practices. Groat’s image, in

wise move, but my picks are the two

about it.



her signature collage style, classifies

works by Cynthia Daignault. This is

are one of the best ways to start a

and organizes fragments of shapes,

an amazing young painter whose


collection or add important artists

lines and colours in a particularly

future looks brighter than bright.


into the mix. Paul & Wendy have

satisfying, resonant way.

The edition can’t necessarily convey

contemporary art with more than

Paul & Wendy (paulandwendy. com)








If Exhibition A curates an of-theselection,







November 2013

24 25.INTO.Art.indd 24

23/10/2013 2:26:26 PM


A Stan Douglas from Artspace.com

50,000 available works. Where to

benefit auctions taking place. The

begin? Well, conveniently, Artsy

selection will have changed by the

has pioneered The Art Genome

time you read this, but currently

Project, which breaks down each

there is an exciting selection of

work of art into “genes” including:

work benefiting the Or Gallery in



Vancouver that includes Brian

feeling, style. Like some music

Jungen, Geoffrey Farmer, Hadley &


Maxwell and Garry Neill Kennedy


content, use



process the music that you like and


A Cynthia Daignault from exhibitiona.com


among others.


Wow. Literally seconds before

you will likely enjoy, Artsy does

I wrote these words, I purchased

the same. For example, if I do a

an artwork on Artspace. As I was

search for Sarah Anne Johnson—a


Winnipeg-based artist who I’ve

(artspace.com), I spotted a new

made no secret of admiring in


these pages—Artsy will pull up

Graham, an artist that I have long

13 of her works that are for sale,

loved, but have never had the

other works in public collections, a

opportunity to collect. This is a

short essay about Johnson’s work

potential pitfall of online art sites:

and other artists I should look at.

it’s just too easy to slap down the

I can discern why the suggested

credit card. Artspace is the full

artists were singled out for me

package with editions, original

and, while none rocks my world,

works, partners in the gallery

I appreciate the opportunity to see

world such as David Zwirner and

10 fresh names.

303, and non-profits like DIA Art











Foundation and Artists Space, and

online auction house, which adds

critical writing. The online essays

the potential frisson of bidding

are as varied as “Can Brazilian Art

and acquiring an artwork at a

Make it in America?” to “How the

savings (it can go the other way,


too). At any given moment, there

Art.” Artspace also tailors your art

may be 10 or more site auctions or

and news to your preferences, not



unlike the Genome Project (hence Rodney Graham popping up on my opening screen). And finally, there’s homegrown Wondereur For






future?), this Toronto-based site has recently received accolades and shout-outs far and wide for its unique mixture of storytelling, education









scour the globe for undiscovered, usually



who are profiled in beautifully photographed




cities and studios. Their artwork is available for purchase with a simple click of the mouse.

A Tanja Rector from wondereur.com

PAMELA meredith Is TD Bank Group’s senior curator. intorontomag.com

24 25.INTO.Art.indd 25


23/10/2013 2:26:49 PM



Buyer beware → Film a clichéd and questionable portrayal of the magnitude of the AIDS crisis Review Peter Knegt


n Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas

room, he announces to his fellow



cowboys: “You hear Rock Hudson



was a cocksucker?” Unknown to

International Film Festival to strong

Woodroof is the fact that he, too,

reviews and lots of Oscar buzz—

has AIDS, but he finds that out soon

the most powerful demographic in

enough. Before the 10-minute mark,

America is used to tell a story about

he’s collapsed and is taken to hospi-

a devastating disease that has his-

tal, where he wakes to find two doc-

torically had very little to do with it,

tors telling him that he has “tested

except when it came to the people

positive for HIV,” despite the fact

ignoring, stigmatizing and inadver-

that it’s explicitly noted that it’s July

tently killing people with AIDS.

1985, 10 months before the term




Yes, Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story and, yes, there are

virus that causes AIDS.

indeed straight white men who

“I ain’t no faggot motherfucker,”

have died from AIDS, and even more

Woodroof responds when asked if

tured, left). After meeting at the hos-

who’ve shown nothing but love and

he has ever had homosexual rela-

pital, Rayon becomes Woodroof’s

compassion for people affected by

tions. Thus begins the film’s core

right-hand gal, and a scene of the

the disease. But it’s been 20 years

narrative: Woodroof—faced with a

two of them shopping is obviously

since Philadelphia, the last major

diagnosis of 30 days to live—fights

intended to express his progress.

her; Woodroof, on the other hand,

Hollywood film about an epidemic

for his life by heading to Mexico to

Woodroof, now stigmatized by the

who also struggles with addiction,

that’s killed more than 650,000 in

find drugs not yet approved in the

disease and ostracized by his own

gets off with far less judgment.

the US, more than half of them gay

US and bringing them back to Dallas

social group, defends Rayon when

In the end, Woodroof dies. But in

men. So all I could say to myself

to use on himself and to sell to the

one of his former friends harasses

typical heroic style, his death is sug-

going into this film was, “This better

largely gay demographic of people

her. But, by this point, Woodroof’s

gested as an achievement in survival,

be a really good movie.”

in town suffering from the same

acceptance of Rayon seems to be

his final moments being cheered on


born more out of desperation than

by nameless gays and lesbians after

The film begins with images of


“HIV” was ever used to describe the

→ not buyin’ it Matthew McConaughey (right) plays a homophobic American cowboy with AIDS not worthy of the heroic status the film attaches to him,

cowboys and American flags at a

I fully expected his evolution from

compassion. She’s almost all he

returning from a largely failed legal

Texas rodeo before introducing us

this point forward would work

has left, yet his derogatory remarks,

battle in California against the FDA.

to its alleged hero, Ron Woodroof

toward making Woodroof worthy of

though now uttered with an under-

But Ron Woodroof is no hero, just

(Matthew McConaughey), who is

the heroic status the film attaches to

lying affection of sorts, continue.

a guy that—like countless others of

having sex with two women under

him. That his intentions in selling

Worse is the film’s depiction of

the time—found creative ways to

the stands. It’s the first of many,

the drugs would appear less selfish

Rayon herself, who rarely moves

survive. Is it really worthy of becom-

many times in the film when we’re

and that he himself would learn to

beyond caricature. We never find out

ing one of just a handful of films that

bombarded with images of female

love the gays. But it’s never entirely

much about her beyond her relation-

represent this harrowing time in

flesh, cowboy hats and other sym-

clear that either evolution fully takes

ship to Woodroof; though she has a

American history? No. Even worse

bols of macho Americana. Just

place, while it does become increas-

boyfriend, present in many scenes,

is that DBC is simply not a very

in case it wasn’t very, very clear

ingly clear that the film offers pretty

we never even find out his name.

good movie. With lazy and unin-

that Woodroof is as straight and

questionable representations of the

And while the film consistently lion-

spired direction, and a cookie-cut-

American as they come.

few actual queer characters given

izes Woodroof without showing that

ter screenplay, it fails to portray the

What’s also quite clear is that

more than one line of dialogue. The

he deserves it, Rayon is continu-

magnitude of the health crisis. As a

Woodroof is as homophobic as they

most prominent example is also the

ously victimized—a Hollywood tra-

result, you don’t end up caring much

come. With a newspaper headline

main catalyst for whatever progress

dition for queer characters—largely

about what’s on screen, even if it

announcing Rock Hudson’s death

Woodroof makes: Rayon, a trans

through her inability to overcome

never should have been up there to

from AIDS on the table in a back

female, played by Jared Leto (pic-

a drug addiction that eventually kills

begin with.

November 2013

26.INTO.Film.indd 26

23/10/2013 2:27:19 PM

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24/10/2013 3:03:04 PM


Choreographing queer → Christopher House celebrates two decades at Toronto Dance Theatre—and the body’s erotic potential Story David Bateman


transforms anything that appears to be too story-based. “I resist ideas that tend to be clearly narrative or didactic,” says House. “In this question of how to be literal there is always a feeling of ambiguity in the work I make no matter now clear the relationship or task is.” He has done at least a dozen duets for men and feels that this is a big part of his self-expression. Men dance with men as often as women dance with men in his work, a fundamental part of his overall approach. Articulating the gender demographic, House explains his own position within this queer equation: “I am obviously a queer man, so this is an authentic expression of who I am,” he says. “There have been periods of time when for no reason but for how the dice rolls every man in the company is queer or every man is not, but they all dance with the same commitment. No one would want to work with me if they resist this. You wouldn’t audition or express your interest if you didn’t want to work in that environment. In some ways it’s like scientists in a lab, a very sensuous lab looking at all of these questions about the erotic potential of the body, and sensuality, in different ways.” As one of Canada’s most respected dance artists, House was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1955. In 1979, he joined Toronto Dance Theatre and became artistic director in 1994. His upcoming production of Eleven Accords includes a duet between two men that he feels “is in some ways deeply intimate, but also speaks of a strength and a shared sense of power in using each other, literally, by doing things they couldn’t do on their own.”

House speaks passionately about the universal spirit of dance movement as a fundamental aspect of artistic expression. But he takes it one step further so that his art resonates with viewers long after the theatre goes dark. “Making art is always a political act,” says House, “because you are looking at questions of representation and the ethics of representation. You have to be very careful to show that the work is an attempt to embody the world as a better world.” His work is spontaneous, energetic, risky and joyful with a sense of play, all of which promise to unfold in the production of Eleven Accords as 10 extraordinary dancers explore exciting fields of kinetic curiosity set to the music of celebrated American minimalist composer Steve Reich. First performed at New York’s Town Hall in 1976, Reich’s musical masterpiece, titled Music for 18 Musicians, embodies a pulsing journey of complex rhythm and harmony. The idea of dance as theatre, embodied in the name of the company that House helped build, has become a historically timely evolution as he prepares to celebrate his 20th anniversary with TDT. “The early sixties post-modern period was an era where all kinds of questions about body and the role David Leyes


he stereotypical debate rages on. In Dance Magazine (November, 2006) Joseph Carman wrote an article entitled Gay Men & Dance: What’s the connection? He included a concise example of how queerness in choreographic circles has been bantered about, ad nauseam, in a most deceptive way. He writes, “Lest anyone think that men in tights are always gay, let’s not forget that ballet’s biggest box office attraction was Mikhail Baryshnikov, a ladies’ man who made a number of straight men think ballet class might be a good way to meet chicks.” Carman further articulated his position by explaining that the word “tribe” often pops up in the discussion of the bonding that happens among gay men. He goes on to quote American performance artist Tim Miller’s thoughts on tribal activity within queer dance culture: “Maybe boys changing into their dance belts and tights are the closest thing we could be to a tribe.” Christopher House, artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre for the past 20 years, is no stranger to this debate on sexuality in dance. Queerness, for him, in the broadest sense of the word, is integral to dance. “Dance by its very nature is queer,” says House. “It’s all about showing difference and inhabiting the body in ways that are different. Men of my generation have searched for expression, vulnerability and sensuality.” By articulating these impulses through the physical body, House has frequently paired two men in duets that are not necessarily sexual, yet hint at this notion of ambiguity that represents his general approach to choreography. He says that he

of the performer were being asked,” says House. “During the seventies things swung back around physical fitness, becoming about being inventive and fabulously virtuosic,” adding that “people began to look at contemporary dance as a broader literature in our culture.” Today, House would agree that contemporary arts across all disciplines use the word choreography in different ways. But as he prepares to celebrate two decades of dance creation with TDT, he continues to bring his audiences an exciting approach to what can be seen as the choreography of queer as it has evolved in the past 50 years.

ELEVEN ACCORDS opens November 6 at the Fleck Dance Theatre. 207 Queens Quay W. 416.973.4000. harbourfrontcentre.com. (See page 21 for complete listing info.)

November 2013

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B o o ks

Self-doubt, self-sabotage & no edit button → Greg Kearney’s cast of lovable losers will make your head spin and heart break Story Gordon Bowness


s a fiction writer, Greg

Greg Kearney is something else. He

Kearney is a Tourette’s-

uses words like “hinterland,” “aus-

addled savant. His deluded,

tere” and “stultifying” to describe the

narcissistic characters say and think

Kenora of his childhood. “Natural

every inappropriate comment that’s

wonders were lost on me.

ever darkened your mind, and, I’m

“I was hugely effeminate, very

sure, quite a few that haven’t.

ornately effeminate, very particu-

A writer of short stories, some very,

larly effeminate, like how much I

very short, and winner of the ReLit

was really into Sandy Dennis. That

prize for the 2011 collection Pretty,

was painful. And my parents, who

Kearney expands his off-kilter cre-

were deeply blue-collar, were con-

ative palette with his first novel, The

founded by me.

Desperates, out this month from

“According to my Facebook cro-

Cormorant Books. It’s a jaw-drop-

nies who’ve chosen to stay in

ping debut, a thrilling, confounding

Kenora,” he says, “the town hasn’t


really evolved. Or it may have been

Opening in 1998 Toronto, the

evolved the whole time and I just

hunched-over spine of the novel is

the process, so….” The caller wants

and mother! a composter!—makes

had such phobic blinders on that I

the story of Joel, a shell-shocked and

cock and ball torture.

it her dying wish to fuck up some-

never actually saw it.

baffled 19-year-old fresh off the boat

A world where cognitive behav-

body’s marriage because they said

“I was kind of an hysterical, erratic

from the remote northwest Ontario

ioural therapy and cock and ball tor-

something mean? Why couldn’t she

child. I was out to myself so early

town of Kenora. A virgin with ques-

ture bump against each other with

rise above?,” she asks herself. “Better

that even as a preteen I’d begun

tionable hygiene, Joel has no job

equal emotional weight is quintes-

to be a vengeful person who finishes

the systematic process of shutting

and no vocation, save some very

sential Kearney. He has been min-

what she starts than be a radiant

down. So even if there were any kind

vague notion that he’s a poet. He is

ing the singular realities of an incon-

person who doesn’t do anything.”

of queer allies or nourishing experi-

plagued by an inner voice that never

gruous world for years (I was one of

“The story of Joel and his mother

ence [in Kenora] I wouldn’t have

shuts up, that constantly criticizes

his editors at Xtra where he had a

definitely contains some autobiogra-

known because I was so pathologi-

him and those he meets. Even the

humour column from 1999 to 2005).

phy, if only in the particulars,” says

cally inward.”

most mundane of choices swell into

After a number of hilariously mor-

Kearney. The Toronto-based author,

Whether self-imposed or not, the

morality plays of epic proportions;

tifying incidents in Toronto, Joel

40, was born in Kenora. His mother

gulf between Kearney and his envi-

he swoons with imagined tragedies

heads back to Kenora. His mother,

died in 1997. “I had been devoid of

ronment cracked wide open with

and sublimities. Joel’s ineptitude,

Teresa, the only person he’s ever

life skills and my life had sort of

the death of his older sister when

social and sexual, will leave you

really connected with, is dying fast

imploded in Toronto. And that dove-

he was only six. “It turned me into

laughing out loud.

of cancer. She, too, says and thinks

tailed with my mum being diag-

an artist—that moment,” he says. “I

His first day working at a phone-

inappropriate things. Her dying wish

nosed with terminal cancer. So I just

think I was playing with the rubber

sex line finds Joel confronted by a

is to sleep with the town’s mayor as

packed up and helped her through

rim off a mason jar in the driveway

breathy caller requesting CBT. “CBT?

a way of wreaking revenge on his

the palliative stages. But my mother

when I heard my mother scream



wife, the mother of a boy who once

wasn’t as plucky and headstrong as

over the phone that my sister had

Joel responds. “I don’t know if this

bullied Joel. But Teresa has last-min-

Teresa. My mother moved meekly to

been hit by a car. And instantly

is the right line to be calling for that,

ute doubts: she’s wearing a clown-

her death. Teresa is dragged scream-

after that, if I wasn’t already, I was

although I did that for a few months

ish cancer wig and can barely stand

ing to hers.”

turned into a perpetual observer.”

in grade eight. Didn’t really do much

from painkillers.


for me, but I didn’t really give over to

“What grownup woman—a wife

Growing up gay in a rough north-

In Kearney’s case, that perenni-

ern town is one thing; growing up

ally queer, bifurcated perspective intorontomag.com

29 30.INTO.Books IFOA .indd 29


23/10/2013 2:28:13 PM


has always skewed to the macabre.


“Even as a small child I was aware

Desperates even more amazing

of terminal illness and the process

is that Kearney completed it after

of dying, acutely aware of mortality

being diagnosed with an HIV-related

at every turn.”

neurocognitive disorder. His short-




Death stalks The Desperates: a

term memory is shot. “I’m on dis-

beloved babysitter chokes on a hot-

ability and dealing with that. And

dog, a mother’s mesothelioma, a

dealing with not trusting the dura-

lover dead from AIDS—which brings

bility of my health. It’s a nervous,

us to the novel’s third main charac-

enervating state. So I’m very famil-

ter, Edmund. He offers an intrigu-

iar with [Edmund’s] nether world.”

ing counterpoint to Joel and Teresa.

Kearney says it’s crucial to be open

Edmund is wise and accomplished.

about his current health issues.

But he’s just as lost. He’s an AIDS

“That’s the reality of HIV in the 21st

survivor who is barely surviving.

century. There are still huge physi-

Edmund spends his days listen-

cal and emotional challenges that

ing to his empty, silent house. His

no one is talking about.”

→ BOOKS: A tale about a turbulent Toronto summer Story Alice Lawlor Antonio Rebelo, a sensitive 12-year-old boy who lives in the heart of the Portuguese community. The freedom he took for granted is suddenly gone and, like the city itself, nothing will ever be the same again. The symbiotic relationship between Antonio and

lover died of AIDS years prior and

In the book, Kearney character-

Edmund fully expected to follow

izes the PNP scene as bereft of true

him to an early grave. But he didn’t.

connection. But some outrageous

his world is at the centre

Because of then new antiretroviral

characters drift through this emo-

Reading Kicking the Sky is like

drugs, Edmund rises from his death-

tional limbo. Edmund is introduced

watching a newspaper clipping

bed to find a life devoid of purpose,

to meth by Binny, a kid he picks

come to life. It begins in 1977 with

meaning and friendship. Until he

up in a bar, a scrawny hustler with

the real-life rape and murder of

finds drugs, specifically meth.

“a fist of a face, wind-burned and

Toronto shoeshine boy Emanuel

“There’s such a gap in AIDS liter-

blunt, with small, spiteful grey eyes

Jaques, a character that appeared

ature,” says Kearney. “It all stops

and a tight, angled mouth, like a

in Anthony De Sa’s first book, the



hasty hem.” Binny lives only for the

Giller-nominated Barnacle Love.

Alexandria], Paul Monette [Borrowed

now; he makes sense of a tough life

The killing had a profound effect

Time: An AIDS Memoir]. So nobody

solely through the songs and one-

on the city, and on De Sa himself.



line bios of female pop stars. “I’ve

“In retrospect, I’ve been writing

switch in ’96 [with the introduction

been beaten and raped and stabbed

this book in my head since the age

of antiretroviral drugs] when peo-

and left for dead,” says Binny in

of 11, trying to make sense of an

ple who were dying suddenly were

one of his distinctive refrains, “but

event that shook my community

not. And so many of them who have

I am a soul survivor, like Diva Tina,

lived have not known what to do

Wildest Dreams Tour presented

with themselves.”

by Hanes Pantyhose realness. So it

and redefined a city,” he says. As well as shock and fear, the sexual aspect of Emanuel’s murder unleashed a wave of homophobia that resulted in the gay community being blamed for the crime. It’s hard to believe that the kind of scenes De Sa is depicting—angry mobs marching on city hall with hateful placards—are part of our relatively recent past. “It was a volatile period in the city,” agrees De Sa. “The increasingly vibrant gay community was pitted against an emotionally charged Portuguese community and city denouncing gays.” A petition was started to “stamp out” gays and, most dangerous of all, the distinction between paedophilia and homosexuality became confused. “To many, including some media, the two had melded into one,” says De Sa. Set against the backdrop of a turbulent Toronto is the story of

of the book. “I simply wanted to parallel a boy’s quiet journey in defining who he is with that of a city, which is desperately redefining itself.” There are echoes of the author’s own childhood, too. Before becoming the head of a high school English department, an author and a father of three, De Sa grew up in Toronto’s Portuguese community. He remembers that time very vividly. “The summer Emanuel Jaques was murdered was the same summer that the Son of Sam murders were terrorizing New York City,” he says. “I know this may sound strange but, as kids, we sensed that our murder had catapulted us into the realm of these other big cities in North America.” It’s just one way that Kicking the Sky highlights how far we’ve come since then, not least in the area of gay rights. “Members of the gay community became the scapegoats for this murder. They were victims of an anti-gay rhetoric that saw many within that community retreat,” says De Sa. “Since then, the LGBT community has gathered and marched; they have voiced their concerns and have quashed antigay authority. In fact, I cannot think of any other community that has evolved from the aftermath of such an awful murder to take its prominent place in defining the City of Toronto.”





Despite the comedic situations

is all good.” The book is peppered

that Kearney is so adept at invent-

with Binny’s mind-boggling riffs

ing, his characters ring true. “All of

on pop diva “realness.” His charac-

Edmund’s narrative I’ve been privy

ter reveals Kearney, a self-described

to in my sexual adventures,” says

“singer/songwriter hoarder,” at his

Kearney. “I mean, I’m a huge fan


of group sex and I’ve observed that

unexpurgated best.




intimately and often.



Self-sabotage is a recurring theme in The Desperates. Self-doubt, sec-





goals… Kearney’s characters rarely






get it together. But they are churn-

me as the

ing with need, always striving and


seldom mean. They’re lovable.


person… it was



The Desperates is an exceptional novel by one of Canada’s most unique literary voices.

Given its The Desperates, Cormorant Books, $21.95 30

Lost Souls

De Sa reads from Kicking the Sky on November 2 at 12pm and November 3 at 11am at Harbourfront Centre. (See IFOA listing on page 20.)

November 2013

29 30.INTO.Books IFOA .indd 30

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Romantic substance abuse → Robert Lepage’s Needles and Opium a theatrical odyssey and mammoth collaborative vision Story David Bateman


n the late 1940s, Jean Cocteau left France to bring his work to new audiences in New York. At

the same time, Miles Davis made the same trip in reverse. For both, it was tural integration. In 1991, French Canada’s Robert LePage staged the first production of Needles and Opium, a kind of post-modern homage to the lives of Cocteau and Davis. Now Lepage’s masterwork is being re-mounted and re-imagined, a co-production between Canadian Stage, Ex Machina productions, and Théâtre du Trident and Théâtre du Nouveau Monde in Quebec. Davis and Cocteau both struggled with drug use and the vein LePage traces in Needles and Opium bears grand symbolic properties. Cocteau’s experiences with opium and Davis’ heroin addiction give LePage’s theatrical odyssey its concise and seductive title as they are viewed through the lens of a contemporary late 20th-century Québécois who finds himself lonely and heartsick over the loss of a lover. Set in the Hotel La Louisiane in Paris, emotional turmoil ensues that reflects the addictive journeys that Cocteau and Davis followed at various periods in their lives. The overall theatrical drive becomes one of great musical leaps and poetic bounds as desperation forces the protagonist to take a harrowing look at his innermost emotions in order to release himself from love as a kind of romantic substance abuse, the substance of emotional dependence. Both Cocteau and Davis represent, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, artists who embody the disintegration of life in all its glorious disarray: Davis perfected his

and sensually amorphous art and personalities of Cocteau and Davis, LePage is the perfect extension of Jocelyn’s current focus. Recent economic downturns may make this production seem a formidable act of impossible wizardry to some, and a breath of fresh, fleeting air to others. Nevertheless, LePage’s fin de siècle masterwork will most certainly punctuate Canada’s timeworn addiction to never quite grasping its own identity in times of great international mayhem. Like the central character in Needles and Opium, we’ve been suspended between two worlds that must openly embrace multiculturalism. With its intricate balance of word and full-blown theatricality, the upcoming production of Needles and Opium promises to be a spectacular re-invention. LePage created the original as a one-man tour-de-force where he played all the characters. In the latest version he will direct two actors within a theatrical environment filled with a form of grand technical wizardry that has become LePage’s trademark aesthetic principle throughout his career. Jocelyn describes LePage’s technical prowess as a central guiding force, saying that Lepage “is always trying to invent the perfect technologies that best reflect the emotional core of the story that he is telling. It is a magic trick that is the symbolic core and how this is best materialized onstage.” Jocelyn adds that Lepage consistently imagines “a huge technical sophistication that doesn’t exist yet.” It is then left up to a team of gifted artists and technicians to assist Lepage within

Marc Labrèche in Needles and Opium

“All life, all beauty results from being broken down” —Jean Cocteau his mammoth collaborative vision. Jocelyn says that, with Needles and Opium, Lepage “swoops down with the same technique of displacement and suspension that he has used in other works as he perfects the machinery that reveals what we can do in the air.” Having opened last month in Quebec City, Needles and Opium has already garnered praise for its spectacular technical properties. The Charlebois (Canada’s online performing arts magazine) called the production “mind-blowing and mind-boggling,” the reviewer adding, “Once again director Robert Lepage fills us with wonder with his hypnotic multimedia projections. We are transported in literal and figurative terms between Paris and New York… between lost loves and addictions… the rotating stage takes us deep into the characters’ hearts, minds and even the absences they are surviving.”

Needles and Opium runs from November 22 to December 1 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. 27 Front St E. For tickets, call 416.368.3110 or visit canadianstage.com. intorontomag.com

31.INTO.Stage.indd 31

Nicola Frank Vachon

a fortuitous act of coincidental cul-

own take on a vigorous collaborative approach, so crucial to great jazz, as he allowed musicians to use intuition as a primary guide; while Cocteau’s art passionately embraced many forms, from novels to films, plays, painting and sculpture. For Canadian Stage artistic director Matthew Jocelyn, Needles and Opium represents the apotheosis of his vision for the company, a chance to reflect the work of Canadian artists and Canadian themes in collaborative works. With Lepage’s work in mind, Jocelyn speaks of coming to Canadian Stage as a director interested in re-shaping the company mandate, feeling the need to include more great Canadian performing artists who have, historically, not found a secure home on Canadian soil. The uneasy tension that continues to exist between English-speaking Canada and French Canada appears to play a part for Jocelyn as he attempts to attract artists who have, time and again, proven themselves outside the confines of English Canadian artistic circles. Jocelyn speaks carefully and respectfully of these issues and attributes them to a variety of sources ranging from decreased arts funding to a lack of theatres that possess the technical infrastructure and audience capacity for the kind of spectacle LePage has premiered internationally throughout his career. Under Jocelyn’s guidance, a fine repertoire of international theatre has found a resting place at Canadian Stage, and Needles and Opium promises to be a spectacular addition. As a queer artist taking on a variety of diverse topics, ranging from an intense interrogation of French Canadian Catholicism in his film Le Confessional (1995) to the current remount of the sexually


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Egale Gala Queerversaries at the Ritz-Carlton






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Profile for IN Magazine

IN Toronto Magazine: November 2013  

IN Toronto Magazine: November 2013 Issue: 42 IN Toronto Magazine's November 2013 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

IN Toronto Magazine: November 2013  

IN Toronto Magazine: November 2013 Issue: 42 IN Toronto Magazine's November 2013 issue, featuring stories on gay and lesbian living.

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