A NEW PLAGUE IS WELL UNDERWAY, PAGE 18
F E B R U A R Y 1 4 , 2 0 2 0 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 7 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M
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SALES 424-477-2451 Hours Mon-Sat 9a-8p Sun 10a-7p
SERVICE 423-218-4811 Hours Mon-Fri 7:30a-6p Sat 8a-3p Sun closed
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BAKERSFIELD 8915 Rosedale Hwy Bakersfield, CA 93312 661-588-7953 facebook.com/ AshleyHSBakersfield
COLTON Exit Mt. Vernon Ave. 855 Ashley Way Colton, CA 92324 909-433-5303 facebook.com/ AshleyHSColton
BURBANK East of the 5 Exit Burbank Blvd 401 N. 1st St Burbank, CA 91502 818-840-5620 facebook.com/ AshleyHSBurbank
COLTON OUTLET 1601 Ashley Way Colton, CA 92324 909-572-2260 Mon. - Sun. 9am - 5:30pm facebook.com/ AshleyHSColtonOutlet
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HAWTHORNE East of 405, Rosecrans Exit 14600 Ocean Gate Ave Hawthorne, CA 90250 310-349-2083 facebook.com/ AshleyHSHawthorne
HUNTINGTON BEACH 7212 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647 657-237-7595 facebook.com/ AshleyHSHuntingtonBeach LAGUNA HILLS Just North of the Laguna Hills Mall 24001 El Toro Rd Laguna Hills, CA 92653 949-461-0829 facebook.com/ AshleyHSLagunaHills LONG BEACH West of the 605 in Long Beach Towne Center 7410 Carson Blvd Long Beach, CA 90808 562-766-2050 facebook.com/ AshleyHSLongBeach
LOS ANGELES South of the 10, Exit Convention Center 1810 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90015 213-745-2980 facebook.com/ AshleyHSLosAngeles LOS ANGELES In the Venice Crossroads Shopping Center 8985 Venice Blvd., Suite A-3 Los Angeles, CA 90034 310-596-4335 facebook.com/ AshleyHSWestLosAngeles MONTCLAIR Located South of Montclair Plaza 5055 S. Montclair Plaza Ln Montclair, CA 91763 909-625-4420 facebook.com/ AshleyHSMontclair
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MURRIETA 25125 Madison Ave Murrieta, CA 92562 951-894-7988 facebook.com/ AshleyHSMurrieta
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SAN DIEGO 7770 Miramar Road San Diego, CA 92126 858-408-1701 facebook.com/ AshleyHSSanDiego SAN MARCOS 1050 Los Vallecitos Blvd San Marcos, CA 92069 760-539-4663 facebook.com/ AshleyHSSanMarcos
SANTA ANA Located in the Westfield MainPlace Mall 2800 N Main St., #2100 Santa Ana, CA 92705 714-558-5300 facebook.com/ AshleyHSSantaAna
VICTORVILLE North of Victor Valley Mall 12704 Amargosa Rd Victorville, CA 92392 760-261-5386 facebook.com/ AshleyHSVictorville
SANTA CLARITA Center Point Market Place Across From Sam’s Club and Super Walmart 26520 Carl Boyer Dr Santa Clarita, CA 91350 661-284-7200 facebook.com/ AshleyHSSantaClarita
WEST COVINA Located in the Eastland Shopping Center 2753 E Eastland Ctr Dr #2050 West Covina, CA 91791 626-938-1480 facebook.com/ AshleyHSWestCovina
TORRANCE 19800 Hawthorne Blvd Suite 140 Torrance, CA 90503 310-953-3480 facebook.com/ AshleyHSTorrance
YORBA LINDA Just North of Fwy 91 22705 Savi Ranch Pkwy Yorba Linda, CA 92887
*Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. No interest will be charged on promo purchase and equal monthly payments are required equal to initial promo purchase amount divided equally by the number of months in promo period until promo is paid in full. The equal monthly payment will be rounded to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. ‡Monthly payment shown is equal to the purchase price, excluding taxes and delivery, divided by the number of months in the promo period, rounded to the next highest whole dollar, and only applies to the selected financing option shown. If you make your payments by the due date each month, the monthly payment shown should allow you to pay off this purchase within the promo period if this balance is the only balance on your account during the promo period. If you have other balances on your account, this monthly payment will be added to the minimum payment applicable to those balances. ††Ashley HomeStore does not require a down payment, however, sales tax and delivery charges are due at time of purchase if the purchase is made with your Ashley Advantage™ Credit Card. Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. No interest will be charged on the promo purchase if you pay the promo purchase amount in full within 12 Months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the promo purchase from the purchase date. Depending on purchase amount, promotion length and payment allocation, the required minimum monthly payments may or may not pay off purchase by end of promotional period. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases and, after promotion ends, to promotional balance. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Promotional purchases of merchandise will be charged to account when merchandise is delivered. Subject to credit approval. §Subject to credit approval. Minimum monthly payments required. See store for details. ‡‡Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic®, Stearns & Foster® and Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid™ mattress sets, Hot Buys, floor models, clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery fee, Manager’s Special pricing, Advertised Special pricing, and 14 Piece Packages and cannot be combined with financing specials. Effective 1/1/2018, all mattress and box springs are subject to a $10.50 per unit CA recycling fee. †Subject to availability. Order must be entered by 4 PM. SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. Stoneledge Furniture LLC., many times has multiple offers, promotions, discounts and financing specials occurring at the same time; these are allowed to only be used either/or and not both or combined with each other. Although every precaution is taken, errors in price and/or specification may occur in print. We reserve the right to correct any such errors. Picture may not represent item exactly as shown, advertised items may not be on display at all locations. Some restrictions may apply. Available only at participating locations. Ashley HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2020 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd. Promotional Start Date: February 4, 2020. Expires: February 17, 2020.
Equal Insurance HIV Act introduced Bill proposes to end discrimination in life and disability insurance By KAREN OCAMB Perhaps the most egregious lie President Trump told during his State of the Union address was his promise on healthcare. “I have also made an ironclad pledge to American families,” Trump claimed. “We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.” But the Trump administration is in court trying to repeal almost the entire Afforable Care Act, an effort Trump has also back in the Republican-controled Congress. The ACA, or Obamacare, was signed into law in March 2010. It prohibited insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions as an excuse to deny health coverage.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and State Sen. Lena Gonzalez at Feb. 11 news conference in Sacramento.
However, 25 years after the miracle drug therapy that turned HIV/AIDS from a presumed death sentence into a treatable chronic medical condition with long life expectancy, insurance companies are still denying life and disability insurance to people with pre-existing conditions based on outdated ELISA tests and an outdated,
discriminatory insurance underwriting law. On Feb. 11, State Sen. Lena Gonzalez of Long Beach, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Equality California announced the introduction of the Equal Insurance HIV Act, a bill that would prohibit insurance companies from continuing that practice. “Everyone deserves access to life and disability income insurance, regardless of preexisting conditions,” Gonzalez said in astatement. “I am so proud that my ﬁrst bill introduced in the legislature will ensure access to these critical resources for residents who are HIV-positive. It is time that we end the practice of insurance companies refusing to provide services to those who need it most.” “A person should not be deﬁned by their HIV status and it should not be the only factor when determining their right to insurance protection,” said Lara. “People living with HIV
are raising families and seeing their children grow up just like anyone. This legislation is crucial to ensure they have equal access to the same kinds of insurance that helps us all plan for the future.” “Thanks to modern medicine, people living with HIV lead happy, healthy lives,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “It’s time for our laws to keep up with the science and protect Californians living with HIV from insurance discrimination. Our goal to end HIV by 2030 means ending all HIV transmissions, deaths and stigma. This bill is a critical step to getting there.” “The life expectancy of people who are HIV positive has dramatically changed in the last two decades thanks to highly effective I treatment regimen including new antiretroviral drugs and existing antiretroviral therapy,” said Dr. Tasnim Khan, Chief Medical Officer of One Community Health, adding that it’s time to “acknowledge
Wiener introduces bill to OK rapid syphilis testing Measure attempts to curb STD epidemic By KAREN OCAMB Out State Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco is working on the big picture. He recently introduced SB 859, legislation that would require the state of California to develop a master plan to comprehensively address the I and STI epidemics. Now he seems to be working on the speciﬁcs. Emphasizing the links between the decreasing rates of new HIV infection rates -thanks to PrEp and other preventions – and the skyrocketing rates of sexually transmitted infections, Wiener introduced SB 932 on Feb. 5 to authorize HIV counselors to perform rapid syphilis tests. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), syphilis infections were up almost 15% from 2017 to 2018. For some obscure reason, state
California State Sen. SCOTT WIENER Photo via Wiener’s Facebook page
authorization to conduct rapid testing for HIV, a sexually transmitted disease, does not include the other STDs --- syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea --- even though it is widely known that PrEP may prevent the transmission of HIV but not sexually transmitted diseases without the use of a condom.
04 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
SB 932 covers all three STIs, though it speciﬁcally addresses the existing -minute rapid syphilis test, which is inexpensive and easy to use. If the result is positive, the person can then receive medical care to treat the STI and prevent its spread to others. The bill does not include a funding stream, however, which means the non-proﬁts need to ﬁnd funding to purchase the rapid syphilis test kits. SB 932, which is co-authored by State Sen. Lena Gonzalez of Long Beach, also mandates that HIV counselors undergo an I counseling training course certiﬁed by the California Office of AIDS. This is serious. New STI infections have reached epidemic rates, with the highest reported rates among young people ages 1524, people of color, gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, according to the CDC. “Syphilis is a major public health threat, and infections are increasing across the country and in California. Other STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are also on the
rise. We currently have the tools to quickly get people tested for syphilis and get them the care they need. Our healthcare providers must be allowed to actually use those tools as they are developed and approved,” Wiener said in a statement. “Expanding access to rapid syphilis and other STIs testing is a key part of helping people know their status and get quick and effective treatment. It makes all the sense in the world to allow HIV counselors – who already perform rapid HIV tests – to also perform rapid syphilis and STI tests at the same time,” he added. “Many cities throughout the state face growing STI rates. I am proud to co-author this important bill, to provide easier access to rapid STI testing,” said Gonzales.“By allowing HIV counselors to perform these tests, we can help increase the number of people getting tested and prevent the transmission of STIs statewide.”
DeMaio vs. Issa in 50th CD GOP slugfest Ammar Campa-Na ar making inroads By KAREN OCAMB Pollsters and pundits have already determined that the 50th Congressional District is so Republican red, the winner of the March open primary election to ﬁll disgraced anti-LGBTQ Duncan Hunter Jr.’s seat will surely be one of the remaining members of California’s GOP clan in the November general election. And they may be right. Hunter eked out a reelection victory in 2018 despite being under federal indictment for campaign fraud, crimes for which he subsequently pled guilty and resigned. But Democratic businessman and former Obama administration official Ammar Campa-Najjar — who lost to Hunter by 51.7 percent to Campa-Najjar’s 48.3 percent — is running again in the conservative northern San Diego district and thinks he has a shot at the seat as Trump Republicans slug it out. And Campa-Najjar may also be right, if a recent straw poll following a forum presented by The Valley Center Business Association (VCBA) and Valley Roadrunner on Feb. 8 is any indication. The survey of local business and community leaders gave Campa-Najjar 61% of the vote, compared to gay radio talk show host and former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who received 22%. DeMaio’s chief rival, former Rep. Darrell Issa received 8%, while Republican State Sen. Brian Jones got 9%. “While an unofficial poll, this victory aligns with recent polling the past few months showing Campa-Na ar’s consolidation of his party base while Republicans battle it out,” said the VCBA press release. “DeMaio came away with a big victory over his party rivals, but this race has one month to go with voting just starting.” And therein lies the nub of the race. For the most part, the GOP battle appears not over the issues San Diego constituents care about but who will best serve Donald Trump. “In the reddest district in the county, you have to be the Trumpiest of Trumps to rally the most support in a divided ﬁeld,” Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa
Carl DeMaio challenges Darrel Issa during a local forum. Screen grab from the forum feed
College, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “DeMaio is running as Trump the Populist, (an) anti-elite, anti-establishment candidate, blasting Issa for being a professional politician and part of the Washington establishment swamp,” Luna said. “Issa is running as Trump the Social Conservative, stressing Issa’s pro-life, pro-conservative causes (and) voting record, while dredging up any and all comments DeMaio made in the past which weren’t 100% pro-life.” The battle has been brutal with Issa launching an anti-DeMaio campaign ad that starkly referred to the younger conservative’s sexual orientation – including images and quotes from an interview DeMaio did with the Los Angeles Blade. Interestingly, the backlash was so intense, it gave DeMaio a kind of sympathy vote and forced Issa to backtrack and claim the ad was not intended to be homophobic. Now the two are targeting each other over who’s the best for Trump. “Darrell Issa has shown himself in 18 years to be all bluster and very little result,” DeMaio told San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board. “In
2018 when his party needed him — when the president needed him — to run for reelection and defend his seat, he chickened out. He choked. He quit. He let down the president.” DeMaio’s referring to Issa’s decision not to seek reelection in the 49th Congressional District, which was ﬂipped blue with the handily won victory of Democrat Mike Levin of San Juan Capistrano. Issa has gone after DeMaio by accusing him of being a “Never Trump liberal,” using his comments to the Blade as evidence. “In a interview with Los Angeles Blade, DeMaio described Trump as ‘rude, crude and unattractive’ and said Trump’s ‘behavior at times is abhorrent and certainly not what you’d want as a role model for your kids,’” the UnionTribune reports, noting what Issa left out - that DeMaio went on to say Trump’s behavior didn’t matter because he’s getting the job done. “Our country — the issues have been festering for so long and people are so dissatisﬁed that they are willing to tolerate some bad parts of Donald Trump as long as the toilet gets unplugged,” the Union-Tribune
quotes DeMaio as telling the Blade. “It’s unfortunate. I wish I could have a president where I would say, ‘Look, this is someone who epitomizes on a personal level in their conduct the very best of our country.’ But that unicorn don’t exist.” The Union-Tribune also cites another comment DeMaio made to the LA Blade that – in light of Trump’s current recriminations against anyone perceived to be disloyal - may be modiﬁed or walked back should the married gay conservative win. DeMaio said his job “isn’t to support Donald Trump or oppose him.” “My job is to call him out when I think he’s wrong and when I think he’s right, I’ll support him,” DeMaio told the Los Angeles Blade. “But I don’t blindly give my allegiance to anybody. And I hope no one does…. I’ve called him out for telling white lies and exaggerating. I’ve also done that with Democrats.” But in this Trumpian day and age, calling Trump out has more dire consequences than the time not so long ago when DeMaio took that stance.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 05
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Due at lease signing is $0 customer cash or trade-in equity and includes - $600 GM Select Market Incremental CCR, and $1,500 GM Competitive Lease (Must qualify for either GM Competitive Lease) FOR THIS OFFER Total Due signing $2,075 includes - first month payment, $650 Acquisition fee, $80 documentation fee, $30 Electronic license filing fee. Does NOT INCLUDE - sales tax, license fees, and any applicable government fees. MSRP:$34,355.00 Subject to vehicle availability LL193069 . Must lease through GM FINANCIAL, on approved above average credit. Lessee is responsible for Excess wear and tear plus $.25 per mile for mileage over 10,000 miles a year. Disposition fee of $595 due lease end. $_0_Security deposit waived on Tiers A+/A. Picture may not represent actual vehicle. See dealer for detail
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Bloomberg scores Black support despite ‘stop & frisk’ tape ‘To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist’ By KAREN OCAMB Donald Trump has a thing for Michael Bloomberg, who towers over him in the wealth department: Bloomberg is worth $61.8 billion; Trump is thought to be worth between $2-3 billion. And Trump’s attempts to diminish the former three-time New York City mayor only make the president look small. “A very bad night for Mini Mike!” Trump tweeted, using his schoolyard nickname for Bloomberg as the New Hampshire Primary exit polls came in Feb. 11. But while Bloomberg may be looming large through his millions spent on campaign ads, he was not actually on the primary ballot. He did win, however, in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, a small town that wrote him in for three of their ﬁve votes. Bloomberg’s absence from the ﬁrst four Democratic contests as he runs a national campaign has critics complaining that he is not being scrutinized, tested and vetted like the other candidates. But his very presence creates controversy for some who argue that he’s a billionaire trying to buy the election or who loudly decry his disastrous “stop and frisk” policy that allowed NYPD officers to detain, question and search anyone for possible weapons or illegal contraband. The majority of those stopped were African Americans and Latinos. “Put a lot of cops in the street,” Bloomberg said during a Q&A at The Aspen Institute in 2015 discussing what other cities could learn from the policing policy. “Put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods,” the uffington Post reported Feb. 11. “One of the unintended consequences
Democratic candidate Mike Bloomberg meets with faith leaders. Photo courtesy Bloomberg campaign
is people say, ‘Oh, my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. That’s true. Why did we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is,” Bloomberg is heard saying in the audio clip posted on Twitter by podcast host Benjamin Dixon. “95% of your murders, murderers and murder victims, ﬁt one M.O,” Bloomberg says. “You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops: They are male, minorities 16 to 25. That’s true in New York. It’s true in virtually every city.” The policy was apparently also intended as a deterrent, without considering the trauma it might cause. “The way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk ’em. And then they say, ‘Well, I don’t want to get caught.’ So they don’t bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home,” Bloomberg explained. In 2013, a federal judge ruled that stopand-frisk was unconstitutional, a ruling
Bloomberg appealed. The case was settled in 2014. Bloomberg apologized for stop-andfrisk at a Black megachurch in Brooklyn before he entered the race. “I was wrong and I am sorry,” he said. “The fact is, far too many people were being stopped while we tried to [reduce crime] and the overwhelming majority of them were Black and Latino. That may have included, I’m sorry to say, some of you here today.” The apology was accepted by some while many were just surprised to hear Bloomberg apologize for anything. Bloomberg quickly issued a statement after the 2015 audio was posted, saying those past comments “do not reﬂect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.” “I inherited the police practice of stopand-frisk, and as part of our effort to stop gun violence it was overused,” Bloomberg said. “By the time I left office, I cut it back by 95%, but I should’ve done it faster and sooner. I regret that and I have apologi ed
and I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities.” Trump, who encouraged Chicago police in 2018 to implement stop-and-frisk, according to the Washington Post, shared the clip on Twitter. “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!” wrote Trump, the real estate developer/reality TV star who created the birther movement and refused to apologize for calling for the death penalty for the innocent Central Park Five, in a subsequently deleted tweet. Trump later retweeted hashtag #BloombergIsRacist. “The President’s attack on me clearly reﬂects his fear over the growing strength of my campaign,” Bloomberg said. “Make no mistake Mr. President: I am not afraid of you and I will not let you bully me or anyone else in America.” Trump’s tweet hit just before a prescheduled meeting between Bloomberg and more than 20 faith leaders, including several from California: Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, Pastor and CEO of the First African American Episcopal Church of Los Angeles; Rev. David Isom, Pastor of the St. Stephen CM Church in Fairﬁeld ev. Claybon Lea, Jr., Pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Fairﬁeld and Suisun City and Rev. Shane Scott, Senior Pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Led by Rev. Alisha Gordon, Bloomberg’s faith outreach program director, the group issued a joint statement in reply. “While Donald Trump was calling Mike Bloomberg a racist, Mike was continuing his conversation with African-American clergy from around the country,” the statement reads. “He expressed regret over his past insensitivity regarding policies like stop and frisk and showed a continued interest in restorative justice. “To be clear: None of us believe that Mike Bloomberg is a racist. Actions speak louder than words, and Mike has a long record of ﬁghting for e uality, civil rights, and criminal ustice reform.”
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 07
IMPORTANT FACTS FOR BIKTARVY®
This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY and does not replace talking to your healthcare provider about your condition and your treatment.
MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: } Worsening of Hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV, your HBV may suddenly get worse if you stop taking BIKTARVY. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to check your health regularly for several months.
ABOUT BIKTARVY BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS. Do NOT take BIKTARVY if you also take a medicine that contains: } dofetilide } rifampin } any other medicines to treat HIV-1
BEFORE TAKING BIKTARVY Tell your healthcare provider if you: } Have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis infection. } Have any other health problems. } Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY. } Are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take: } Keep a list that includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements, and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist. } BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Ask your healthcare provider and pharmacist about medicines that interact with BIKTARVY, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all your other medicines.
Get HIV support by downloading a free app at
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POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF BIKTARVY BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including: } Those in the “Most Important Information About BIKTARVY” section. } Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY. } Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY. } Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat. } Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain. } The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%). These are not all the possible side effects of BIKTARVY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new symptoms while taking BIKTARVY. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY. HOW TO TAKE BIKTARVY Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food. GET MORE INFORMATION } This is only a brief summary of important information about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more. } Go to BIKTARVY.com or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. } If you need help paying for your medicine, visit BIKTARVY.com for program information.
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California getting primed for Super Tuesday But which candidate can best beat Trump? By KAREN OCAMB If you’re not a super fan of MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace, you might have missed it. But mid-afternoon the day after the New Hampshire primary, gay “Never Trumper” Republican strategist Tim Miller told fans of “Deadline White House” one of the most signiﬁcant missed points of the previous night after former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the all-important delegate count. “I think that a lot of times people here in New York don’t maybe give the appreciation that is deserved for how ridiculously amazing and astounding it is that an out, married, gay man is leading the delegate race,” Miller said. Emblematic of the American divide, the day after that, on Feb. 12, recent Medal of Freedom recipient and longtime antiLGBTQ conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh posited a spiteful scenario using the same image. Chumming up crude and rude stereotypes during his commentary on the Democratic presidential candidates, Limbaugh concocted a scenario of voters looking at Buttigieg on a debate stage going toe-to-toe with his fantasy macho man, Donald Trump. “You’ve got Fauxcahontas way back there in the background barely out of the tepee bringing up the tail end,” Limbaugh said, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “Biden’s gone. So you’re faced with a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who’s not even a Democrat [and] a gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages,” The Hill reported Limbaugh as saying, referring to former ice resident Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders I- t. and Buttigieg, respectively. “Can you see Trump have fun with that?” Limbaugh was having too much fun to let Buttigieg go. “Then they’re sitting there, and they’re looking at Mayor Pete, a 37-yearold gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to
Pete Buttigieg in WeHo March 2019. Blade photo by Karen Ocamb
kiss his husband on the debate stage. And they’re saying, O , how’s this gonna look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband onstage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What’s gonna happen there?’” “They gotta be looking at that,” Limbaugh continued, “They’ve gotta be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great ‘wokeness’ and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don’t they?” Actually, gay Republican Tim Miller addressed that very point after the Iowa debacle. “The Iowa Democrats’ epic fail robbed not only Mayor Pete, but all of us, of a
10 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
rare moment of progress and shared joy in a political era that almost seems like it’s designed to deny us those things,” he wrote Feb. 4 in The Bulwark. “Buttigieg’s success in the lead-off caucus wasn’t ust about Mayor Pete or his supporters—it was a moment for gay and lesbian Americans across America. And they deserved a moment to revel in it. Mayor ete was poised to be the ﬁrst gay person to ever win a delegate for a major party presidential nomination and he was about to do it in startlingly strong fashion.” And as Mayor Pete closed his speech, the crowd chanted “Chasten! Chasten!”— a point missed by vaunted anchors more interested in whether Buttigieg declared victory.
“But while our jaded political class missed the signiﬁcance of Mayor ete’s moment, Iowans got it. Say what you will about the state being unrepresentative, white, and bland—but the same voters who horsetraded in high school gyms Monday night were the catalysts for Barack Obama’s campaign and among the ﬁrst activists to ﬁght for gay marriage in their state,” Miller wrote. “Many of them saw this as another opportunity to be on the front end of a something.” Something they dare not dream. “The idea of a married gay man winning the Iowa caucuses? Absurd,” Miller wrote. “As it turns out, it wasn’t absurd at all, the absurdity was the caucus process itself.” West Hollywood wasn’t thrown by the absurd idea of a gay presidential candidate, at least not after Buttigieg’s stunning performance at the CNN Town Hall at South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas on March 10, 2019. And certainly not after Buttigieg and his exploratory committee came to WeHo four days later and was greeted by a long line for a “meet and greet” at Bar Lubitsch. “The path is narrow, but I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t see a path,” he told Fox11 after the ebullient gathering. “What we found is, if we get in front of people, they respond.” Since then, Buttigieg has almost turned Los Angeles into a second home. The LGBTQ community is expected to turn out to make history on March 3, though most will underscore that the LGBTQ community is not monolithic and they are not voting for Buttigieg simply because he’s gay. Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg’s closest rival in Iowa and New Hampshire, also has concentrated on California and its treasure trove of delegates. e has a huge staff, a huge following – including a huge LGBTQ following - and his style of raising small dollar donations means the cash keeps coming. But Sanders often turns his appearances into campaigns for other causes, especially housing and rent control issues raised by AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In fact, their ideological relationship is so close, AHF used a spoof of Sander’s logo on billboards throughout LA to promote STD testing. “Feel the burn,” caught the eye of local voters and
LOCAL news casters. Former Vice President Joe Biden is beloved by many Democratic establishment politicos in LA but he has not been as accessible to “the people.” After his lackluster ﬁnish in Iowa and New Hampshire, some LGBTQ voters who bought Biden’s claim of inevitability are now looking elsewhere. In fact, many L BT voters who favored Biden or Sen. Kamala Harris before she dropped out started shifting to Elizabeth Warren, expecting her to do very well in Iowa and her neighboring state of New Hampshire. While some started seeing hiccups in her authenticity, others had fallen and love and are not deserting her after her disappointing ﬁnish in both states. “Super Tuesday will tell for Warren. Most people I know in California are voting for her!” political consultant and grassroots organizing strategist Torie Osborn tells the Los Angeles Blade. “No idea how she’ll do, but I’m keeping hope alive that she’ll kick ass in California and Texas - where the Castro brothers are working hard for her and she’ll surge again in all 12 states March 3 as I think she’s the best possible candidate.” Like Biden, the Warren camp is talking up the diversity of the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina rimary, both of which they hope will give them momentum into Super Tuesday. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is apparently hoping just to raise enough money to get through the next two contests, without having made signiﬁcant overtures to L BT s in California. Meanwhile, most politicos are organizing on the ground, trying to explain the voting process to new voters – independents and people registered in parties other than Democrat or Republican – can vote in the open Democratic primary but they must speciﬁcally ask for a Democratic ballot to be able to vote. The Republican primary is for O registered voters only. arly vote-bymail started on Feb. 3. “While Stonewall has not yet taken a position on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, we are watching the process with great interest,” Jane Wishon, Political Vice President of the Stonewall Democratic Club, tells the Los Angeles Blade. “It’s difficult to determine what, if any, impact the New Hampshire primary will have on the diverse voters who comprise the California electorate, especially
A F billboard spoofing Bernie’s name for a point. Screen grab from TV news
considering that Nevada and South Carolina voters will also weigh in before March 3rd,” she continues. “More than 300,000 Californians have already voted in the March 3rd primary. While replacing Donald Trump remains the highest priority, we urge all eligible voters to participate, not just in the presidential election, but on every race up and down the ballot.” “California has always voted on its own terms. As the most progressive and diverse state in the nation, the candidate we have always supported has been reﬂective of California alues,” Mark on ale , the out chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic arty tells the Los Angeles Blade. “California voters are watching, but likely won’t be swayed by what’s happening in other states. Obviously that changes as candidates suspend their campaigns.” The biggest donkey in the proverbial
Democratic room is multi-billionaire former New ork City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is skipping the ﬁrst four state contests and going all in for Super Tuesday. “Mayor Bloomberg has a great infrastructure here in LA, and is spending a lot of money to get his name out there,” says Gonzalez. “With the focus on money in politics, he’s going to have to work hard to explain to Democratic voters that his money is in the best interest of Democratic Party values and defeating Donald Trump.” There is more and more talk about a brokered convention as Sanders gains momentum but not really an expanded base – and collectively the moderates are asserting themselves. But it looks like Bloomberg is just biding time, waiting for his opening, while softening up the ﬁeld with millions in advertising and social media. “We’ll see what happens,” says Gonzales.
“With the new DNC ules on Superdelegates, it’s going to have an affect across the board. In the end, Democratic voters will make the best choice to take on the president in November.” But what is the best choice? LGBTQ politicos are waiting to exhale. “There is deep anxiety that we’re not publicly communicating around what is potentially emerging as a Bernie Sanders ascendancy, with the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party, and the prospects ... that Bloomberg moves into that and you are in a place of civil war,” ov. avin Newsom tells Politico. And that’s what Super Tuesday in California looks like welcoming to friends but super nervous about who can best beat Donald Trump, the man with the fake Florida tan. No one knows yet if it’s the young gay man who likes to kiss his husband on the debate stage.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 11
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The tan line. The hair. The Twitter photo by William Moon distributed by “White House Photos” of President Donald Trump on the White House lawn Feb. 7 sure looked real. Memes soon followed, including comparisons with creamed-face Mrs. Doubtﬁre. Eventually, Trump couldn’t resist. “This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good? Anything to demean!,” Trump wrote on Twitter,” apparently showing a cheesy taste for that Travolta “Grease” pompadour. But while photo capping the image might be fun – there’s a very real concern about how LGBTQ people consume news and the very scary billion-dollar social media disinformation campaign to re-elect Trump hitting Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, as McKay Coppins describes in The Atlantic magazine. For his investigation, Coppins created a MAGA-liking Facebook account and found Facebook’s algorithm prodding to follow Fox-friendly sites and “a variety of fan pages with names like ‘In Trump We Trust.’” After watching the impeachment hearings, he found “slickly edited video” and “out-of-context clips” from the Trump campaign that “recast the same testimony as an exoneration.” The scariest part, Coppins started being lured in. “I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I’d assumed that my skepticism and media literacy would inoculate me against such distortions,” he wrote. “But I soon found myself reﬂexively uestioning every headline. It wasn’t that I believed Trump and his boosters were telling the truth. It was that, in this state of heightened suspicion, truth itself—about kraine, impeachment, or anything else felt more and more difficult to locate. With each swipe on his phone], the notion of observable reality drifted further out of reach.” The point: reader BEWARE!
“In California’s so-called forward thinking, it is not enough to burden religion in California; it must go further and coerce other States to increase burdens on religion within their own borders.” - Texas Attorney eneral en axton on ﬁling a lawsuit against California for its L BT -related travel ban.
“Ours tells the truth — even though it’s a fantasy. My life can’t be sugarcoated, and I didn’t want it to be.” – Sir Elton John to Variety about his biopic “ ocketman” versus “Bohemian hapsody” about ueen front man Freddie Mercury, at his AIDS foundation beneﬁt in West ollywood after winning his second Oscar.
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12 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
A time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back.” – Macaulay Culkin to s uire about his lifelong friendship with the late singer Michael ackson and the Neverland.”
BO documentary, “Leaving
Gov. Polis hopes 2020 Iowa caucuses ‘will be the last’ Vows to veto any anti-LGBTQ legislation By CHRIS JOHNSON Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, in a wide-ranging interview with the Blade, said he hopes we’ve seen the last of the Iowa caucuses. In the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses debacle in which both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders claimed victory and uncertainty lingers, Polis said he’s hoping a different system will come in 2024. “I’m hopeful that this will be the last Iowa caucus,” Polis said, “and that states will move toward primaries that are much more fair and encouraging participation for people who work in the unions, who have disabilities, who can’t get out or don’t have transportation. So it’s a much more fair way of making sure that everybody’s voice is counted.” Polis pointed to his own state of Colorado, which is set to hold a presidential primary on Super Tuesday for the ﬁrst time after moving away from the caucus system. Colorado’s decision to move away from a caucus system, Polis predicted, will “accelerate that trend.” On Sunday, the Iowa Democratic Party reported Buttigieg had marginally edged out Sanders in winning a plurality of delegates in the quadrennial caucus, although Sanders secured about 6,000 more votes. Irregularities in the caucus system, as reported by the New York Times, included misreported results and a phone app that failed to record votes for absentee caucus-goers, contributed to the uncertainty. Asked if Iowa needs to face any sort of consequences, Polis replied, “I just hope they move to a primary like Colorado has, like many other states have — Kansas, a number of others.” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price said in a news conference over the weekend “by most accounts” state organizers ran successful caucuses, but the Democratic Party Operations Committee is conducting an independent review on the caucus system going forward. “This review will take however long is needed, and its report will be delivered directly to the
Colorado ov. AR P IS indicated he’d veto anti-trans legislation that reaches his desk. Blade photo by Michael Key
state central committee,” Price said. Polis, speaking to the Washington Blade at the annual meeting of the National overnors Association in D.C., said he wasn’t ready to announce support yet for a presidential candidate, but hinted that candidates who have sought to woo Colorado voters will likely be at the top of the list. “Like a lot of Democrats I’m concerned with who will defeat President Trump,” Polis said. “I’m also excited by the different visions the candidates have offered, and particularly thrilled with the candidates who have spent time in Colorado in the last few weeks. Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg have spent time in Colorado, listening to Coloradans and campaigning.” Although Super Tuesday is set for Mar. 5, Polis said he doesn’t have any plans “one way or the other” to endorse a candidate before the day of the contests. olis spoke to the Blade more than a full year after he had become the ﬁrst openly gay person elected as governor in the United States, then the ﬁrst openly gay person inaugurated as governor. Asked if he had any advice as an openly gay candidate who has won at the state and district level for Buttigieg as he pursues wins in presidential primary contests, Polis said staying on message is key. “His historic victory in Iowa — very exciting
that he was able to to win the Iowa caucus,” Polis said. “I think he’s now being challenged in New ampshire and coming up in the Super Tuesday states. You just stay on message and stay positive, and I think people want that compelling vision of what it looks like for us to be united rather than to engage in divisive and hateful rhetoric like the current occupant of the White House.” eﬂecting on his ﬁrst year in office, olis ticked off several of his accomplishments since becoming governor, including the expansion of kindergarten and access to health insurance. “You can make such a great positive impact at the state level,” Polis said. “We were able to get full day kindergarten done and available for every kid in our state … We were able to pass landmark new legislation to save people money on health care, including a reinsurance program that reduces rates in the individual market by 20 percent on average across our state. So just the impact of the speed of that impact is much greater than it is in Washington.” Among those accomplishments was signing into lawa measure prohibiting widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy for youth. Asked if that was personally signiﬁcant for him as a gay man, olis said it was “even more signiﬁcant for some of the survivors of conversion therapy that joined us at the signing ceremony.” “For them, this was a really important personal vindication, really knowing that they could pay it forward and prevent others from having to go through the kind of torture that they had to [go through],” Polis said. “Fortunately, I had a supportive environment, as had many of my friends, but we know that there are too many gay and lesbian Americans across the country that still have parents who don’t accept them for who they are.” Asked if anything had come up in the past year as the ﬁrst governor with a same-sex spouse, Marlon eis, that would have been different if he had a spouse of a different gender, olis denied that was the case. “The ob of a ﬁrst woman or ﬁrst man is a difficult one for anybody. And Marlon is doing a great job and really has very little to do with the fact that he’s the same gender as me,” Polis said. “It’s the same ob as if he was a different gender.” Last week, Polis proposed in his annual State
of the State address before the state legislature setting up a public option in the health insurance exchanges. Asked if that means he’d prefer a candidate that proposes greater options in health care, such as Buttigieg, as opposed to candidates who want an entirely governmentrun system, like Sanders, Polis denied that was the case. “I have a high degree of conﬁdence that any democratic president of anybody who’s running would grant a waiver for a state-based public option,” Polis said. “Whatever else you might be pursuing through Congress, I think they would support that level of innovation for the state.” Some of the presidential candidates are also running on the concept of a reen New Deal, which as introduced in Congress calls for 100 percent zero-emission energy sources in the United States within 10 years. Polis ran and was elected on a plan to make his state carbon-emission free by the more modest goal of 2040. Asked whether running on the reen New Deal was a good idea, Polis focused on his goal for Colorado and achievements that have already been made along the way. “From the Colorado perspective, we’re focused on achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 or sooner and working with our utilities including Xcel and Tri-State to get there,” Polis said. “We would welcome federal assistance in achieving that goal. We also want to empower our local communities to achieve that goal ahead of the state. We have two communities in Colorado — Glenwood Springs and Aspen — that already have 100 percent renewable energy today.” Colorado is one of many states where legislation is pending in the legislature that would criminalize providing transition-related care, including puberty blockers, surgeries and hormones, to transgender youth. A version of that legislation was killed this week in South Dakota. It’s extremely unlikely the measure would reach Polis given Colorado’s legislature is controlled by Democrats, but Polis made a general comment about rejecting anti-LGBTQ legislation when asked about the bill. “If any anti-LGBT legislation reaches my desk, I’d veto it,” Polis said.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 13
Md. House holds hearing on name change bill A Maryland House of Delegates committee last week held a hearing on a bill that would waive the publication requirement for people who are undergoing a name change procedure through the courts. State Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery County) introduced House Bill 427 that was before the House Judiciary Committee. “Publication right now may be to publish your old name and your current name in the newspaper,” Lee Blinder, executive director and founder of Trans Healthcare MD told the Blade. “And a lot of newspapers place it online forever.” “There are a couple of groups who would be very positively impacted by the removal of this re uirement,” testiﬁed Shetty, stating the requirement can have “devastating and dangerous results” for victims of domestic violence and transgender individuals seeking to change their names for reasons of safety and privacy. C. . offman, the interim legal director for FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ
advocacy group, testiﬁed “the big concern for the transgender community is that we are subjected to heightened discrimination and violence compared to the broader community and publication can make this worse in a lot of ways.” offman, who uses they pronouns, stated the current publication requirement “can make our trans status ust a oogle search away.” “Persons who desire to transition, particularly at a younger age, may not be in a supportive environment and may face resistance and harassment from others who learn of their intentions,” eremy Browning, founder and executive board chair of Annapolis Pride, told the Blade. offman explained trans individuals escaping abusive families face a return of that abuse once their name change becomes “ oogle-able” and outs them as a result. They testiﬁed at Wednesday’s hearing about a University of Maryland professor whose name change was the ﬁrst result on a oogle search, ahead of his list of numerous publications.
Trans ealthcare MD xecutive Director LEE BLINDER Photo courtesy of Blinder
The professor was thus outed as trans before anyone could read and evaluate his work. However, previous versions of the bill, one for adults and one for minors, failed last session, and committee members still had questions for this current version.
Biden mocks Buttigieg’s youth in new ad Joseph Biden’s presidential campaign came out swinging late last week with a whopper of a TV ad taking a backhanded compliment approach to criticizing Pete Buttigieg. The 60-second ad, which the Biden campaign unveiled in New Hampshire days before the primary on Tuesday, at ﬁrst blush commends both Biden and Buttigieg for their records in public service. But the ad goes on to say while Biden’s experience as vice president consisted of negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, Obamacare and the 2009 stimulus package, Buttigieg focused on smaller projects, such as providing decorative lighting for a park bridge in South Bend and ensuring neighborhood pets have homes. “Both Vice President Biden and former Mayor ete Buttigieg have taken on tough ﬁghts,” the
voice-over in the ad says. “Under a threat of a nuclear Iran, Joe Biden helped to negotiate the Iran deal, and under threat of disappearing pets, Buttigieg negotiated lighter licensing regulations on pet chip scanners.” As Buttigieg — who as an openly gay presidential candidate pulled off a historic win in Iowa — struggles to win support from black voters, the ad also highlights issues the candidate has had with black people in his city, including ﬁring a black police chief and ﬁring a black ﬁre chief. For the incident with the black police chief, the ad depicts an image of Buttigieg from a New York Times article in which Buttigieg’s youth is very apparent. Buttigieg is 38, while Biden is 77. Chris Meagher, a spokesperson for the Buttigieg campaign, said in a statement
14 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
JOE BIDEN was criticized for his attack on Buttigieg.
criticizing Biden the ad represents a “classic Washington style of politics” from which Americans want to move away. “While Washington politics trivializes what goes on in communities like South Bend, South Bend residents who now have better jobs, rising income and new life in their city don’t think their lives are a Washington politician’s punchline,” Meagher said. “Pete’s on the ground experience as mayor, turning around a Midwestern
The hearing concluded with no opposition testimony, which offman said was a change from last year when creditor, newspaper and parent lobbying groups testiﬁed. PHILIP VAN SLOOTEN industrial city, is exactly why he is running for president. The vice president’s decision to run this ad speaks more to where he currently stands in this race than it does about Pete’s perspective as a mayor and veteran.” Biden’s ad came after the former vice president ﬁnished in an embarrassing fourth place in the Iowa caucuses compared to Buttigieg’s win in the awkeye State. Biden similarly ﬁnished well behind Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire this week. Annise Parker, a former mayor of Houston and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement the Biden ad is “petty and demeaning, especially given Biden himself said he avoided becoming a mayor because the ob is so difficult.” “As a former mayor myself, I ﬁnd it insulting that he would belittle the important role mayors play in the everyday lives of their residents,” Parker said. “Few jobs are more demanding – you take on enormous responsibilities and must constantly produce, because you will be held accountable. There is no hiding or scapegoating or blaming party politics like we see so much in Washington.” CHRIS JOHNSON
Sanders wins, Klobuchar surprises in N.H. By CHRIS JOHNSON The big winner on Tuesday night in the New Hampshire primary was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who pulled in a plurality of the votes in the Democratic primary, but Sen. Amy lobuchar D-Minn. pulled off a surprising third place. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders claimed 25.7 percent; Buttigieg was narrowly behind him with 24.4 percent of the vote, while Klobuchar won 19.8 percent. Stephanie Taylor and Adam Green, co-founders of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a joint statement Klobuchar’s third place demonstrates she has staying power as a presidential candidate. “Amy Klobuchar had a stellar debate performance this week, she deserved a bounce this week, and she got one. lobuchar ﬁnished th in her backyard and 3rd tonight, Warren has placed 4th and 3rd,
Vermont Sen. BERNIE SANDERS narrowly beat out Pete Buttigieg in this week’s N.H. primary.
and Biden now trails both women,” Taylor and Green said. “If media now start covering the women in this race as we head toward
the big trove of delegates on Super Tuesday, that would be great.” ete Buttigieg who pulled off a historic ﬁrst in the Iowa caucuses by being the ﬁrst openly gay candidate to win the most delegates in a state presidential nominating contest also pulled off an impressive second place in New Hampshire. Buttigieg, who was criticized for claiming victory early after the Iowa caucuses, was cordial in his speech Tuesday night. “I admired Sen. Sanders when I was a high school student, and I want to congratulate him on his strong showing tonight,” Buttigieg said. Continuing his trend of uplifting speeches, Buttigieg drew on Americans of all stripes, from Dreamers, to autoworkers displaced in the new economy to a young woman in a hijab enduring taunts because of her religion. “That better future can be ours and that better future we are creating is not just a
new chapter in American history, it is a new and better story in our everyday lives,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what’s at stake.” Annise Parker, CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Buttigieg’s second place shatters barriers for LGBTQ candidates everywhere. “The electability assumptions of political pundits are tumbling down all around us,” Parker said. Although Sanders got slightly more votes than Buttigieg, both candidates won an equal amount of delegates because the two obtained a similar percentage of the primary vote. Finishing in an embarrassing fourth place was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who badly needed a strong showing in a state neighboring her own to continue forward. Finishing in ﬁfth place was former Vice President Joseph Biden, although the upcoming primary in South Carolina, where he has polled strongly among black voters, will be the real test of his prospects.
N.H.’s gay congressman defends primary By MICHAEL K. LAVERS New Hampshire Congressman Chris Pappas on Tuesday defended his state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. “ t’s certainly a tradition, and New ampshire is one of the first states to open up its process and say the party bosses shouldn’t be selecting our presidential candidates, the people should have a direct say in who the party nominees are, Pappas told the Blade during a telephone interview. “That’s something we can all celebrate. Pappas noted the parties have chosen New Hampshire and three other states — owa, Nevada and South Carolina to go first in the nomination process because they “represent the diversity of this nation. “It’s important that there are states with a smaller scale that go early in the nominating contest to make sure that candidates can hear directly from the people and that there are authentic conversations that happen, he told the Blade. Pappas also noted New ampshire’s role
.S. ep. CHRIS PAPPAS (D-N.H.) Photo courtesy of Pappas for Congress
in educating candidates on issues, such as the opioid and addiction crisis that came to the forefront ahead of the state’s 2016 primary. “Candidates came into our living rooms and heard some really heartbreaking stories in New ampshire, he said. “There
is value to the process that New ampshire is a part of. really hope the rest of the states following will continue to have these types of conversations and will be a part of the process too. Pappas, 9, has represented New ampshire’s 1st congressional district, which includes Manchester, the state’s largest city, since 2019. Pappas’ family owns the Puritan Backroom restaurant in Manchester. Pappas is one of nine openly LGBT members of Congress. Pappas on Monday voted absentee ballot at Manchester City all before he returned to D.C. Pappas did not tell the Blade for which candidate he voted. “ t’s a secret ballot, he said. “ didn’t make an endorsement because I want the voters of my state to be out in front of the process. “This is a process, added Pappas. “New ampshire is blessed to go at the beginning and ’m really looking forward to what the
results are tonight. For me this is about making sure there’s a fair and open process and think as an elected official, ’m really just content today to let the voters decide this one. Pappas did, however, say Pete Buttigieg’s “candidacy has been on the minds of a lot of voters. “It’s refreshing to see an out candidate for the highest office in the land, said Pappas. New Hampshire in recent years has added gender identity to its state nondiscrimination law and banned socalled conversion therapy for minors. State Reps. Gerri Cannon (D-Somersworth and Lisa Bunker (D-E eter , who are both openly transgender, were elected to the New ampshire ouse of Representatives in 2018. Pappas noted New Hampshire’s recent LGBT rights advances. e also told the Blade “it looks like all these candidates on the Democratic side are in the right place on that.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 15
VOLUME 04 ISSUE 07
A tribute to Deborah Batts, ﬁrst out federal judge ‘Giant of the legal community who blazed new trails’
Kathi Wolfe a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.
“Lets kill all the lawyers,” Shakespear says in “Henry VI.” It’s easy to bash lawyers! A non-lawyer, I’m shy among lawyers at a party. Reading about court rulings, it’s hard to visualize judges as human beings rather than as gods. But if you’re queer, you know how vital lawyers have been to protecting the rights of our community and other marginalized groups. That, due to homophobia and transphobia, L BT folks have had difficulty breaking into the legal profession. Few people were more human and humane that Deborah A. Batts, the ﬁrst openly gay or lesbian judge to sit on the federal bench. Batts died on Feb. 3 at age 72 at her Manhattan home from complications after knee replacement surgery. Batts was the ﬁrst African-American faculty member at Fordham Law School. After being appointed to the bench, she continued to teach at Fordham. Batts is survived by her wife, Dr. Gwen Zornberg, and her children, Alexandra S. McCown and James Ellison McCown. Batts and Dr. Zornberg were married in 201l. On June 23, 1994, during Gay Pride Week, Batts was sworn in, The New York Times reported in its obituary of Batts. In the early 90s, she applied to be a federal judge. Her application went nowhere under the George H.W. Bush administration. Her idea “of what a federal udge should be” differed from theirs, she said in a 2011 interview. For 25 years, Batts served as a federal judge (on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York). When she was
16 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
nominated to be a federal judge, her sexual orientation wasn’t a sticking point — even though Batts wasn’t closeted about being gay. It’s hard to believe today, but Batts was conﬁrmed by the Senate by a voice vote. “It was like having Jackie Robinson, putting him on the ﬁeld and no one saying anything about it,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals told the American Bar Association Journal. The fact that Batts sailed through her conﬁrmation was “remarkable after several hundred years of an absolute barrier,” he added. One of the most well-known cases over which Batts presided was the Central Park Five civil case. This case involved black teenagers who were wrongly convicted of and incarcerated for the 1989 beating and murder of a white woman. The defendants ﬁled a lawsuit against New York City. In 2007, Batts ruled against New York when it tried to have the suit dismissed. Batts ruled over cases on issues from terrorism to corruption. She was scheduled to preside over the trial of Michael Avenatti, the lawyer accused of embezzling $300,000 from a former client, porn star Stormy Daniels. It’s hard to overstate how much of a pioneer Batts was. J. Paul Oetken, the second openly gay federal judge wasn’t appointed until 2011. In May, three other openly LGBTQ judges spoke at an event to commemorate Batts’s work. “There was this lone wolf sitting up here in the Southern District of New York, and I can’t tell you – I can’t tell you how happy I was when I got company.” Batts was “a giant of the legal community who blazed new trails for justice and equality,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. Sometimes it’s difficult to be out without having our queerness become the only thing that folks see in us. Batts was out. Yet, she didn’t want people to think of her as the “gay judge.” “I’m a mother, I’m an African American. I’m a lesbian,” she said in an interview with the New York Law Journal. Batts retired from the federal bench in 2012. But she didn’t stop working. Until the end of her life, she worked with RISE, a Southern District program that works to keep former offenders from going back to prison. Thank you for being a trailblazer for all of us, Judge Batts. R.I.P.
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55 years of noble deeds International Imperial Courts want a Bayard ustin postage stamp
Nicole Murray Ramirez is a San Diego City Commissioner who has served the last seven mayors of San Diego. Ramirez is also known as Empress Nicole the Great, Queen Mother I of the Americas, and has been a Latino/LGBTQ activist for over half a century. hoto by Ben Fink
As I have said so many times: A community — indeed, a civil rights movement — that does not know where it came from and whose shoulders it stands on does not really know where it’s going. Fifty-five years ago, World War II veteran Jose Julio Sarria was crowned “Empress I Jose of San Francisco.” In 1961, this proud Latino-American became the first openly gay candidate to run for public office. Yes, in 1965, the first Chapter of the International Imperial Court System was established in San Francisco — and now, 55 years later, there are Imperial Court Chapters in 70 cities within the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico. The Imperial Courts have raised millions of dollars for countless causes, organizations, and agencies inside and outside the “LGBTQ community.” We were there fighting and raising money against the homophobic campaigns of Anita Bryant and John Briggs, among others. Imperial Courts, especially in the 1960’s and 70’s, helped established many LGBTQ community organizations, including Pride Parades. The Imperial Court of Reno founded the first “Gay Rodeo” — and the rest is history. We of the Imperial Court System have mastered letter writing campaigns using our 70 city chapters to produce huge letter writing and lobbying efforts that are responsible for not only the Harvey Milk
U.S. Postage Stamp but the U.S.N.S. Harvey Milk, the first Naval ship to be named after an openly gay leader, which last month began to be built in San Diego. The ship is expected to be christened and launched in 2021. We were rightfully at the White House for the unveiling of the Milk Stamp and at the Secretary of the Navy’s official announcement of the U.S.N.S. Harvey Milk. The Imperial Courts also founded and established the “National LGBTQ Wall of Honor,” now in the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, which was dedicated last une during the th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. We were also one of the first to establish LGBTQ Student Scholarship Programs (1979) and currently our International Jose Julio Sarria Scholarship Program has raised , . We are also proud that we have raised over $230,000 for the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s “Erase Hate” and anti-bullying campaigns. We also, along with the Supervisor Bevan Duffy, successfully led the campaign to have Jose Sarria become the first Gay San Franciscan to have a city street named in his honor. Last year, we met with State Senator Scott Weiner to discuss our ongoing national letter writing campaign to get a Bayard Rustin U.S. Postage Stamp honoring the longtime Black gay civil rights activist.
That discussion led to Senator Weiner, the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus and the Black Legislative Caucus formally asking Gov. Gavin Newsom for a pardon for a decadesold homophobic arrest in Pasadena that was still on ustin’s record. We spoke at the State Capitol news conference in Sacramento in which Governor Newsom not only pardoned Bayard Rustin but established a procedure where other LGBTQ Californians can receive pardons for unlawful arrests in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s for homosexuality, as homosexuality wasn’t decriminalized until 1976 in California. We are proud to have had the National LGBTQ Task Force and the Harvey Milk Foundation as major sponsors on many of our projects. I am proud and humbled to be mpress I Jose’s Heir and Successor and to have been crowned by her as “Queen Mother I of the Americas” and to be the titular head of the oldest LGBTQ organization in the world. We are an all- volunteer organization with no paid staff and we are most sincerely grateful for the love and support we have received these last 55 years from our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, allies and families in support of our Noble Deeds. For more information on Rustin’s pardon and the procedure to be pardoned for a homophobic arrest, please see the Rustin story at losangelesblade.com.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM •FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 17
A Chemse town hall forum will take place on located at 2 N. San icente Boulevard.
ednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. at the City’s Council Chambers Public Meeting Room,
A second plague is well underway Newest monster at the chemsex party is fentanyl By JIMMY PALMIERI
It’s not news to anyone that some gay men like to chase drugs (chems) with sex, seeking the ultimate orgasm an e perience that in reality might only happen once. Nothing will ever match the overwhelming dopamine rush of first time use, but don’t tell the chem-sex crowd that. They will spend the rest of their addiction (for some, the rest of their lives) hoping to repeat that first high. Chemsex is simply the old PnP or party and play, using drugs and having sex, most commonly crystal meth. Crystal Meth is a stimulant that has been used to self-treat AD D and obesity. t can be snorted, smoked or “booty bumped (a little mi ed with liquid in a syringe and pushed into the rectum without a needle . Or, for the “ultimate and most harmful high, you can “slam it (injecting the drug mixed with a liquid into the vein), usually without any self-regard. This, when sharing or using dirty needles, can lead to , hepatitis, serious abscesses, infections and a host of other problems.
Other drugs that are “usually used in this scene can be G B, cocaine, and even heroin, which is making a strong come back (said to be used to calm users down after a night of sex and stimulants). Contrary to urban legend, chemse has never left the gay scene. t has been around for decades, but every once in a while there are articles that say the culture has declined. Empirical evidence recovery facility bed nights, emergency room visits, deto bed nights, and overdoses have remained constant and high, however. Providers that serve the City of est ollywood report meth as the primary addiction, along with secondary and tertiary addictions, among their clients. The new monster at the party, though, is fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The user usually has no clue that it has been mi ed in with their drugs and it can kill in moments. There is no standard safe dosage, as everyone is different. f there is no biological intervention with something
like Narcan, (an anti-opioid drug that stops overdoses sometimes within two minutes), an overdose can turn fatal uickly. Now also available are fentanyl test strips. When the test strip is dipped into a small amount of the drug to be used, that has been mi ed with water, the strip will indicate if there is a presence of fentanyl. It is assumed that dealers are mixing fentanyl into their product, to either stretch their drugs further and make more money or to get their clients hooked more quickly, as fentanyl is extremely addictive. The outcome is a rash of overdoses, with many of the victims never knowing there was fentanyl in their stuff. Another unfortunate phenomenon is mi ing chemsex with undiagnosed pre-existing conditions, whether physical or mental. An asymptomatic and undetected heart ailment can turn into a full-fledged cardiac arrest with meth or fentanyl laced meth use. Mental illness, treated with proper medications or not treated at all can, after
1 8 • V O LU M E 0 4 • I S S U E 0 7 • A M E R I C A’ S LG B TQ N E W S S O U R C E • LO S A N G E L E S B L A D E . C O M • F E B R U A R Y 1 4 2 0 2 0
substance use, induce hallucinations leading to self harm or injury to others. “I liked sex on TINA (crystal meth) and G (ghb), cu could get fucked for eight hours straight. liked it because I could take multiple huge cocks for long periods of time. liked it because was totally detached from my spirit and didn’t care what happened to me,” says one recovered chemsex player. They now have more than a decade of recovery, through hard work and a 12-step program “Now unashamedly like the same, but, without chemicals, and am present. Another recovering addict says, “Chemsex… made doing ATE ER wanted to do O . t made orgasms feel like a 20 on a 1-10 scale. t helped me to validate myself. The more sex I had, the more validated felt. Sober se was hard at first, but now it is seriously enjoyable and am able to have multiple orgasms in a healthy way. They are celebrating more than 11 years clean and sober. These are not uncommon stories. Chemsexers claim they have sex for hours even days on end. But they begin to not have erections, even with the tightest of cock rings, and cannot reach an orgasm. They masturbate sometimes until their penis is bleeding, raw, cut or abraded into open wounds, rendering it unusable for long periods of time. Sometimes the damage is permanent. It is an unintended consequence, but sadly a common profile for the chemse crowd. n the slippery dark digital world of instant hookup se apps, chemse ers can match with potential partner in just a few minutes and even fewer clicks. They can score drugs, find each other for chemsex or hustle for money or for exchange of sex for drugs. Looking at any dating or hook-up app, there are countless mentions of “the clouds,” “get to the point, “PnP, and “Tina sprinkled throughout thousands of profiles. Those are some of the code words and camouflaged phrases used to seek out other chemse ers at online dating sites and hookup apps. There have been a rash of “gay baiters” preying on gay men in search of drugs or partying on some apps. The result is a straight guy or crowd waiting where the meeting is supposed to take place. They will rob, beat, harm or kill the chemse er, who may be already partying and unaware of what is actually happening. Holidays that advertise love, togetherness, family and friends, are many times the cause of a relapse. Gay men are still socially ostracized and may be estranged from families, may be loners or just lonely. Underlying depression or undiagnosed mental illness e acerbates the feeling of loneliness, which can cause a return to the familiar chemsex scene.
Relapses can sometimes be more harmful than first use. The brain, psyche and body may not be healed and rates of relapse among meth users e ceeds 90 percent. Everyone is different, of course. For those able to seek help, recovery services and programs are available. Many insurance companies will cover 0 0 90 days of in-patient treatment. But for those with no assets or insurance, there are free services. The system is not easy to navigate and beds are not always immediately available. There are 12-step meetings in almost every city and at multiple times during the day or week, easing the stress of waiting to check into an available facility. For now, there is still no biological intervention for meth. Users of the drug – as well as professionals in the medical field – remain hopeful that biological intervention may be just around the corner. Let us all hope an intervention comes sooner rather than later. It is said no one can help an addict get sober better than another addict. Sober crowds and groups e ist nearly everywhere and gay enclaves like est ollywood thrive because of them. Call it the collective will-power of the tribe. t saved us before and it will save us again. The second great plague on the gay community is most certainly well underway. — Jimmy Palmieri is founder of The Tweakers Project and currently serves as a West Hollywood Human Services Commissioner. Note The City of est ollywood works through its Social Services Division to provide services to community members through agencies that provide substance abuse, recovery, and other health and mental health services. For additional information, visit www.weho.org wehocares. RESOURCES CRYSTAL METH ANONYMOUS, (8 8-4 7 , www.crystalmeth.org ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, ( 2 9 -4 4 or (800 92 -8722, www.lacoaa.org AL ANON (for relatives and friends of Alcoholics , (818 7 0-7122 www.alanonla.org AIDS PROJECT LOS ANGELES, (21 201-1 00, www.apla.org Addictive Behavior Specialists. Individual therapy, groups and community events for individuals with HIV BEING ALIVE, ( 2 874-4 22, www.beingalivela. org. Provides substance abuse counseling for HIV positive community members BLVD. TREATMENT CENTER, (8 821- 917, www.blvdcenters.com , Day and evening intensive
outpatient program and sober living. BREATHE LIFE HEALING CENTER, ( 10 99088, www.breathelifehealingcenters.com, 0-90 day substance abuse rehab in Laurel Canyon CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, ( 2 0-24 0, www. chla.org, Substance abuse programs for youth 1224 years old. CITYx1, www.city 1.com, Youth group made up of youth leaders from the community. All activities alcohol drug- and tobacco-free for youth ages 1424. FRIENDS COMMUNITY CENTER, ( 2 4 1 01, www.friendsresearch.org, Provides HIV prevention and substance use treatment to MSM and trans women including one-on-on counseling, groups, street outreach and technology-based interventions (mHealth and eHealth) LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER, ( 2 99 -7448, www.lalgbtcenter.org methrecovery, Provides Crystal Meth and addiction recovery services and programs MCINTYRE HOUSE, ( 2 2-08 , www. mcintyrehouse.org, A residential substance abuse recovery and sober living facility for men. No one turned away for lack of funds. SAFE REFUGE, ( 2 987- 722, www. asaferefuge.org, Residential substance abuse co-occurring mental health treatment, A DS services, and recovery support services TARZANA TREATMENT CENTER, (888 7778 , www.tar anatc.org, Comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center for adults and teens THE TWEAKERS PROJECT, facebook. com groups thetweakersproject Resources and referrals for addiction and recovery. The Tweakers Project also distributes condoms and safer sex kits to individuals and groups in need, at no cost TWIN TOWN TREATMENT CENTERS, ( 10 2 -1477, www.twintowntreatmentcenters. com, Outpatient alcohol and drug treatment. Government-funded services are available to young adults under the federal “Access to Recovery” program. Private pay options accept most insurance plans and or fle ible payment schedules. VAN NESS RECOVERY HOUSE, ( 2 4 -42 , www.vannessrecovery.org Day Treatment, Residential, Sober Living and Aftercare drug and alcohol recovery services targeting LGBT men and women. 12-step meetings throughout the week (AA, OA, NA , SCA WEST HOLLYWOOD RECOVERY CENTER, ( 10 0-48 www.thewhrc.org, 12-step group meetings WESTWIND RECOVERY RESIDENCES, (800 22 - 7 9, westwindrecovery.com, Sober living residences.
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Women kicking ass on stage in ‘Revenge Song’
True story of cross-dressing French swordswoman By JOHN PAUL KING
Margaret Odette: She’s kind of difficult to describe because her life was so vast and so different from a lot of women existing in her time – and I’m sure from a lot of women existing today.
evenge Song’ runs Feb.
at the effen layhouse.
ampire Cowboys have taken up residence in the Geffen Playhouse, and they’re inviting you to come and pay them a visit. Before anyone becomes alarmed, rest assured that statement is not nearly as frightening as it sounds. Vampire Cowboys are an OBIE Award-winning theatre company that is about to take the stage in the Gil Cates Theater with their newest creation, a work commissioned by the Geffen from their coartistic director, Qui Nguyen – who is also a lauded playwright (his “Soul Samurai” was a GLAAD Media Award nominee) and TV/Film writer. The latest work from Nguyen and his troupe is titled “Revenge Song: A Vampire Cowboys Creation,” and it tells the story of Julie d’Aubigny, a real-life 17th century Frenchwoman who became a scandalous and legendary figure as a cross-dressing swordswoman and opera singer after spending her youth in the court of King Louis XIV, where she had been a concubine from the age of 13. The company, which rose to New York success as purveyors of “Geek Theatre, is known for a trademark m lange of fiercely theatrical elements, blending drama, humor, music, and action, as well as for its dedication to diversity in its casting; the new production is no exception, promising in its press release to turn this historical fantasia into “a hilarious, historical comedy with hip hop, rock and epic fight scenes. Actress Margaret Odette, who plays Julie, spoke to the Blade about her role, the show, and what it’s like to be a Vampire Cowboy. Our conversation is below: Los Angeles Blade: Let’s start with your character. What can you tell us about Julie d’Aubigny?
Blade: History doesn’t tell us much about her beyond the basic facts of her life. Odette: History is very patriarchal, in its reporting, so unless you are royalty or you had some kind of political activism within your lineage, as a woman, you just fade into the abyss – but that’s what’s so exciting about getting to portray her, and about getting to bring her into people’s consciousness. [Laughing] Even though, in our production, we are exploding the information we have about her into a Vampire Cowboys aesthetic. Blade: From what we do know, it seems that she lived what from our modern perspective looks like a queer life. Odette: I’m not clear on what language existed around gender expression and sexual identity in 17th-Century France – certainly it was not as comprehensive and expansive as we have today. I’m not sure that Julie would identify [as queer] back then, but I think in today’s terms, she would certainly be along the spectrum of gender expression, and sexuality expression as well. It’s so exciting to learn about someone like this, from this time, because we think the struggle for sexual and gender identity is a modern experience – but it’s as old as socialized human existence, and it’s been swept into the closet… for lack of better expression. Blade: Her story also resonates with the struggle for women’s rights. Wasn’t she essentially sold by her father as a concubine to a count? Odette: That becomes the driving force behind what she wants, throughout our tale. It’s in the journey to this revenge, against this person who committed this cardinal sin against her, that she encounters people that expand her notions of what love and intimacy can be. And she gets to kick a lot of ass. What’s wonderful about working with Vampire Cowboys is that all of their projects put women at the forefront of the narrative, and put people of color in roles that may not have historically been a person of color – and they are not the ‘sidekicks,’ they are always the heroes, not just of their own lives but of the universe within the play. In my experience as an actress of color, that’s really still quite rare. It’s exciting to get to share this with audiences, and have them see multiple bodies of color playing out heroic figures on stage – and having just a kick-ass time, you know? Just having fun on stage.
Blade: Vampire Cowboys is also known for taking a blockbuster approach to theatre, right? Mixing singing, dancing, action, drama – kind of an entertainment spectacular? Odette: At the core we’re really all a bunch of nerds in this company – we grew up loving comic books, and watching action movies, loving things that we could only experience on those pages or on the silver screen. And we love juxtaposing really high octane, funny moments right up against moments where it’s just the characters, on a deep level. You get a nuanced emotional landscape out of these plays. What’s so fun about these plays is that because of all these stage elements that we bring to it, you’re truly getting an experience you can only have live, it’s like you’re seeing a movie, in live action, in front of you. In this show, we use all those big elements to get Julie to that core enemy that she’s had since she was a kid. And you’ll have to come see to find out how she handles that in the end. Blade: In playing Julie, was there a personal connection that helped you find her journey Odette: What excites me about getting to inhabit her is how universal the experience of being an outsider is – the feeling of not fitting, especially as a woman of color in an industry that is still dominantly white, cisgender, heteronormative, and male. It’s a space where I often feel like I am “the only,” or one of the “very few,” and it sometimes seems like something that just isn’t built for me. Julie created spaces for herself everywhere she went – she had to in order to survive, and to thrive as the person she continually discovered herself to be. find a lot of parallel to that in my life – with her fighting her way in and thriving in that space, with the support of her colleagues. Blade: Is that where you are now? Odette: I feel completely on the path that I’m meant to be on, as an artist, in my life, and I love using the opportunities that I have to bring more artists of marginalized experience into this world that is so enjoyable and so fulfilling for me. Blade: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Revenge Song,” besides a swashbuckling good time? Odette: Hopefully they are not just entertained, but really excited to see more stories about women that come from the vast canon of historical experience. I hope it inspires people, not just audiences, but other artists and writers, to think about incorporating more women characters that expand our notion of what historical women were like. And it’s really fun to watch women kicking ass onstage!
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 07, 2020 • 21
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22 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Dishing with Ross
You know, some of these stories are when I had my dreams come true from people I’d loved forever, and some of these stories are about people who really disappointed me when I met them but I always say no celebrities were harmed in the making of this book. I tell the reader exactly what happened but I’m not out to hurt anybody.
‘Drag Race’ judge shares ‘rossipes,’ cocktails, celebrity gossip and more
BLADE: And these are all your own creations? MATHEWS: Yes
By JOEY DiGUGLIELMO
BLADE: How did you get into that? MATHEWS: So the cocktails are all sort of like my spin on cocktails that already exist and I make them original to me. The rossipes are all things I actually make. I’ve always lovd cooking. I learned from my mom and I loved watching her. I love going to a restaurant and trying something and thinking, “Oh, I’d do it this way,” and then going home and cooking. I do that with Food Network too. I watch and go, “Huh — I would make it with this,” then I try it. Cooking is art — just another way to create.
Ross Mathews got his start on “The Tonight Show with ay Leno where he was known as “Ross the intern. The fabulously out gay guru has since been seen on many shows such as “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Insider,” “Celebrity Big Brother” and, of course, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” where he’s been a staple at the judge’s table since season seven in 201 . He launched his book tour for “Name Drop: the Really Good Celebrity Stories I Usually Only Tell at Happy Hour” last week in New York. There aren’t currently any LA stops on the tour, but the book is out now. Mathews, 40, dished on all that and more while driving to his second home (he lives mostly in Los Angeles) in Palm Springs last week.
BLADE: Do you have a favorite? MATHEWS: Oh my gosh, I love them all. I make “Baked Ziti with a Z” for the Liza Minnelli story and that one’s really delicious.
BLADE: How are things? ROSS MATHEWS: Good. I feel like everyone has this sense of optimism this year that has been lacking the last couple years. People were like, “Ugh, God — this year can’t end soon enough,” but now, I don’t know, everyone I’ve talked to feels great about 2020 and so far so good. Also I’m driving to my place in Palm Springs, so I’m like in heaven. BLADE: How were your holidays? MATHEWS: It was really nice. I got to be with my family in Washington state and it was super nice, then I got to be back here in California and I went to Puerto Vallarta, which is another one of my happy places. BLADE: Tell us about your book. How did it come about? MATHEWS: The idea came to me in the shower. I was just like, “Oh my gosh, I wish I could tell everybody the stories I tell my friends at happy hour,” but then I thought, “But that’s so name-droppy.” Then I thought, “Screw it, just lean in — those are the stories people want to hear. So “Name Drop really is filled with celeb stories I usually only tell at happy hour and since it’s all about happy hour and I do cook every day, I thought why don’t I include some of my original rossipes in there so people can actually have happy hour while they’re reading the book, ‘cause that’s what the book feels like. It feels like you’re sitting down with me, ordering a drink and a bite and we’re just gushing over celebrities.
BLADE: Please tell me there’s a chapter on Omarosa (she and Mathews were on “Celebrity Big Brother” together in 2018 . MATHEWS: Absolutely! We do an Omarosa Mimosa and then just a TV dinner because that chapter’s all about reality TV. Which by the way, an Omarosa Mimosa is made with blood orange juice.
ROSS MATHEWS combines his love of cooking, cocktails and Hollywood in new tome ‘Name Drop.’ Photo by Ricky Middlesworth
BLADE: So it’s cocktail and food recipes? MATHEWS: Yes, there’s cocktails and rossipes for every single one and I pair them up with a chapter so for instance, I give Celine Dion “My Artichoke Heart Will Go On.” For Faye Dunaway, I give you my rossipe for “Endamame Dearest, and it goes on from there. BLADE: You had an encounter with Faye? Is she as scary as I fear she might be? MATHEWS: I was too scared to ask her what I really wanted to ask her, but I thought it was so fascinating that I got to meet her, so I included it in the book.
BLADE: What was going through your head in real time when she was telling you all that stuff during your little tete-a-tete on “Big Brother MATHEWS: Listen, I write all about that in the book. It was so surreal being locked away from the outside world for 30 days with cameras following us 24-7 and then Omarosa walks in and this was right after she had left the White House. I was fascinated by her and knew we had to talk about it or people wouldn’t think we were being real in that house. It’s impossible not to be real when they’re filming you 24 hours a day. So that conversation, to sit there and ask her those questions and what I was thinking and also what happened afterwards, which nobody knows about, that’s all in the book. BLADE: Do you get a clothing allowance on “Drag Race”? MATHEWS: No. I have to get my own wardrobe and of course, you have to step it up because you’re sitting next to RuPaul. Continues at losangelesblade.com
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 23
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Lovely ‘Portrait’ Out filmmaker casts e in lesbian romance By BRIAN T. CARNEY
ADELE HAENEL (left and NOEMIE MERLANT in Portrait of a Lady on Fire.’ Photo courtesy Neon
According to out French filmmaker Celine Sciamma, her award-winning lesbian romance “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” started with “a simple desire. er initial intent was “to dedicate a film to love and to write a great love story. From there, she says, “it got more comple . As she started to contemplate her new film, she started thinking about how love is born and about the rise of desire, about the memory of love and the philosophy of a love story. n French with English subtitles, “Portrait opens at area theaters today. Then she started thinking about characters. “ wanted to write about a woman artist at work, she says, “and to talk about the dynamic collaboration between the model and the artist, to have a love dialogue that was also a creative dialogue and that was the plot. The movie is largely set on an isolated wind-swept island in Brittany at the end of the 18th century. Marianne (No mie Merlant is a struggling young artist who is hired by La Comtesse ( aleria Golino to paint a wedding portrait of her daughter, eloise (Ad le aenel . There’s only one catch eloise must
not know that Marianne is painting her. hen La Comtesse travels to Milan to plan for the wedding, the two young women uickly become friends, then lovers, then finally collaborators. Sciamma’s interest in the intimate partnership between female artists also influenced her work behind the camera. “ e were mirroring the situation in the workshop of the painter, she says. “ t was very joyful, must say, very playful. e e plored the idea of mutual ga ing, of being very hori ontal, of being collaborative with the actresses and the crew. e created a new power dynamic. aenel, who is Sciamma’s long-time muse and former romantic partner, was the first actress cast in the movie. “The film was written with Adele in mind, Sciamma says. “ e really wanted to work together again, so the part of eloise was crafted for her. ith aenel attached to the project, the filmmaker decided to cast a stranger in the role of the painter Marianne. “Since was going to work with somebody know
very well, Sciamma says, “ also wanted to keep the pleasure of working with a new actress. She admits that Merlant was cast both for artistic reasons (her ama ing chemistry with aenel and for practical reasons (she was the right height . For the challenging role of La Comtesse, the impoverished noblewoman who desperately wants to make a good marriage for her daughter, Sciamma turned to veteran actress Golino. “ know her in life, the writer director says. “She’s a friend and a great actress. wanted to avoid the convention of the bitter old woman in the castle and to create a character with a future and a project and with her own desire to go back to Milan and party. thought aleria would be perfect for the role because she combines a childlike sense of wonder and a very adult melancholia. Sciamma notes that her friend has had an ama ing acting career that includes serious roles in European art house fare as well as leading roles in such ollywood fare as “Big Top Pee ee, “Rain Man, where she played Tom Cruise’s girlfriend, and the “ ot Shots movies, where she played Charlie Sheen’s love interest. Sciamma likes to tease her friend about her (literally si ling se scene with Sheen in “ ot Shots Part Deu . “ e’ll never forget that olive-in-the-belly-button scene, Sciamma says. “She hates it when say that Portrait of a Lady on Fire was a major hit on the 2019 festival circuit and finally opens wide in the United States on alentine’s Day. The film won numerous awards, including Best Screenplay and the ueer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as Dorian Awards for LGBT Film of the Year and isually Striking Film of the Year from GALECA, the Society of LGBT Entertainment Critics. The film was also named one of the Top Ten Movies of 2019 by the ashington Blade.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 25
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She Loves Me at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa
DON’T MISS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR DAVID IVERS’ DEBUT “WOW!…Golden age musicals don’t get more CHARMING or TUNEFUL or ROMANTIC or DELIGHTFUL”
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book by Joe Masteroff music by Jerry Bock lyrics by Sheldon Harnick based on the play by Miklós László directed by David Ivers
One kind deed can open up a world of possibilities in this romantic musical comedy based on the same story as You’ve Got Mail. RECOMMENDATION: Ages 12 & above. Contains recorded gunshots.
Brian Vaughn & Erin Mackey. Photo: Jordan Kubat
Currently on stage at South Coast Repertory (SCR is She Loves Me which will mark David vers’ SCR directorial debut in his first year as the theatre’s artistic director. Set in the 19 0s, at Marac ek’s Parfumerie, clerks Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. But, outside of work, they’re each falling madly in love with an anonymous pen pal, unaware that it is the other. She Loves Me brims with romance, charm and joy, with a book by oe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon arnick and music by erry Bock. The musical had its Broadway debut in 19 , with revivals in 199 and 201 . The all Street ournal called it “the most romantic of all Broadway musicals. vers is an unabashed musical theatre fan who finds magic when the feeling of music is combined with the narrative of song. “There’s something so specifically live about musical theatre that e cites me in ways that many plays can’t, he said. She Loves Me was inspired by the 19 7 play Parfumerie by Mikl s L s l , whose story gave rise to The Shop Around the Corner (1940, with immy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan and You’ve Got Mail (1998, with Tom anks and Meg Ryan . The show runs through February 22. For tickets and more information, visit www.scr.org.
Oscars 2020 surprises with diversity, a queer opening Elton ohn wins, Janelle Monae stuns By SUSAN HORNIK The 92nd annual Academy Awards started off with a bang, with gender fluid, panse ual singer actress anelle Monae and the illustrious gay actor singer Billy Porter killing it in their opening duet. Amid performers dressed as characters from snubbed films, she sang “ t’s time to come alive, because the Oscars is so white atching the e traordinary Monae perform, the influence of Prince on her music is evident. “ ’m so proud to stand here as a black, ueer artist, telling stories, she noted. Another highlight during the evening was the elo uent oa uin Phoeni , accepting his award for Best Actor in “The oker. “ ’ve been thinking a lot about some of the distressing issues that we are facing, collectively, and think at times we feel or are made the feel that we champion different causes, he asserted. “But for me, see commonality, Phoeni continued “ think whether we’re talking about gender ine uality, or racism or ueer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice. e’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender or one species has the right to dominate, control and use and e ploit another with impunity. Renee ellweger, who won Best Actress for her portrayal of udy Garland in the film udy, was circumspect in her acceptance about udy’s iconic stature in the gay community, mentioning only that udy was accepting of people. t was evident though she had intended a more full inclusion. “ udy Garland did not receive this honor in her time, the actress continued. “ am certain that
Billy Porter on the 2020 Oscars red carpet. Photo via Twitter
this moment is an e tension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set and is also representative of the fact that her legacy of uni ue e ceptionalism and inclusivity and generosity of spirit, it transcends any one artistic achievement. Ms. Garland, you are certainly among the heroes who unite and define us and this is certainly for you. am so grateful. Elton ohn was e cited to win Best Song for “Rocketman, the film that’s based on his life. “This is for my partner of years, he said in the pressroom. “ ithout him, wouldn’t be here. e starts the process. e gives me the lyrics, and then go ahead. ithout the lyrics, ’m nobody. This is the man who started the journey, and we are still together after years. have one of these already, but so wanted to get one for everybody involved in the film. e added This film has taken 12 years together. David, my husband, has been on and on about 12 years trying to get this made. n the end, we got it made the right way, the way we wanted to. ’m so thrilled for him, because love him so much. And Taron Egerton especially he should have been in
the the nominated category, as one of the best actors. For me, his was the best performance this year. At Elton ohn’s annual A DS fundraiser for his foundation, celebrity chef ayne Elias, one-half of the team behind Crumble Catering and Rockwell Table Stage in Los Feli , was hard at work creating ama ing, uni ue dishes for party attendees. “ e keep the menu current to healthy trends like to include Asian and French Cuisines and consider them classic meals that will also e ist, Chef Elias told the Blade. “ n order to create a menu that encompasses every guest, do not use any nuts in any of the dishes, in case of an allergy and source the best ingredients and produce from local farmers in California, Elias said. There were some fun items for the party menu, like ucchini fritters with tahini yogurt and espellette oil for starters, following with a parsnip and Granny Smith apple soup, a vegan option. “ e served a soup that is topped off with kale chips and lemon est oil, said Elias. “Guests could choose between a roasted bran ino with cauliflower puree and watercress emulsion entree or short rib with carameli ed yams, celery root mash, beech mushrooms and dijon shallot sauce. An arugula salad served with manchego cheese and citrus vinaigrette, while a pear raspberry tart with pear mousse, raspberry cream and matcha ice cream finishes off the dinner. Elias knows he must serve Elton ohn’s very favorite dishes. “Top of the list is the beloved Grilled Cheese, a favorite throughout the years. Gay celebrity stylist Michael O’ Connor talked with the Blade about all the Oscar red carpet e citement. “ am loving the richness of color the jewel tones are always the most flattering to skin tones and striking to see. E amples of this are in Sigourney eaver wearing emerald green, America Ferrera in garnet and dina Men el in fuchsia. Christy Met also looked incredible in ruby red. O’Connor loved how glamorous the red carpet was. “ loved Salma ayek with her Grecian Goddess inspired look, complete with a bejeweled laurel hair ornament. Rebel ilson looked SO e uisite. really enjoyed her swept over hair with jeweled clip, ason oo gown and intage Pomellato jewelry.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 27
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ornblower Cruises and Events is hosting romantic departures all weekend long from Friday, February 14 through Sunday, February 1 . Cruising is hands-down the perfect date idea if you’re looking for an e perience unlike any other in the LA area and Orange County, and the three-hour Romantic alentine’s Dinner Cruises on Friday and Saturday are the main attraction if you aim to impress. This evening e perience features a five-course seated dinner with onboard music and coastal views from a private table for two. ust picture you and your sweetheart dancing the night away with unforgettable sights Enhancements are available with the addition of select Celebration Packages these include a reserved window table with a preset chilled bottle of premium-brand champagne. Other alentine’s weekend options departing from Marina del Rey and Long Beach include two-hour, buffet-style brunch cruises on Saturday and Sunday. Free-flowing champagne and live ja entertainment make these e cursions ideal for couples who share a more casual love language or even for a close-knit group. Tickets and more information are available at Hornblower.com/Holiday or by calling 800-On-the-Bay.
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Northwest charm meets outdoor wonderland in Portland Gorgeous outdoor sites, friendly ueer nightlife, but beware of hidden hotel fees By BILL MALCOLM
Portland, Ore., makes for a perfect vacation that combines the stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest with great food and libations and a vibrant, hip scene where LGBT life is integrated into the mainstream (albeit offbeat culture. Getting there took a one stop on Southwest out to Portland. like Southwest because you don’t pay e tra for anything bag checking is free, there is no ticket change fee and the fares are competitive (especially without the add ons . My other favorite airline, Alaska, also has plenty of flights to the Rose City. Once at the airport, hop on the TriMet MA light rail to downtown or environs. The fare is just 2. 0. t is good for all MA trains, TriMet buses and the Portland Streetcar. Plan your trip at trimet.org. Portland is very walkable. The blocks are short and everything is close together. You won’t need a rental car and of course it has a bike-sharing system as well as scooters. f you do rent a car, don’t planning on pumping your own gas. t’s against the law. nstead, the gas stations do it for you. Where to stay Portland downtown hotels fre uently tack on a resort or “amenity fee of around 0 a night to their already high rates. Stay at the Park Lane Suites and nn instead and skip the fee and pay a lower rate. You get your own apartment and can enjoy the Goose ollow-Nob ill-Alphabet District neighborhood. t’s a short walk to the downtown attractions, ashington Park (and the
TRA EL Rose Test Gardens , and the bouti ue shopping and restaurants on both N 2 rd. and N 21st Avenue. Pick up a to go meal at the nearby aputo’s Grocery Store. Details at parklanesuite.com. What to do A visit to ashington Park and the Rose Test Gardens just west of downtown is a must. The views of Mt. ood are stunning and on a clear day you might catch a glimpse of Mt. St. elens. A visit to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (and Multnomah Falls is another must. Catch the Gorge E press Shuttle (columbiagorgee press. com from the Gateway Transit Center (on the Ma light rail line to Multnomah Falls. The short hike to the top of the falls is worth it. You can also catch the shuttle to the Rooster Rock State Park, one of the few state parks with its own clothing-optional beach. Finally, the Shuttle continues onto ood River for more views of the Gorge. You can catch the wind surfers in ood River. f you have a car, return along the ashington State side by taking the Bridge of the Gods at Cascade Locks. You may want to e plore Mt. Adams (the second highest volcano in the region by taking the ood River Bridge over to ashington. Another option if you have a car is the notorious Fruit Loop. ead north from ood River past fruit orchards, wineries and breweries. Details at hoodriverfruitloop. com. Meet the locals for a run or walk in the Frontrunners Club. Members meet Saturdays at 9 a.m. at the era at Esplanade Riverwalk on the illamette River. f you’re lucky, Poison aters (aka evin Cook may drop by for the warm up. They also meet Tuesday evenings. The Adventuring Group also has lots of hikes to the nearby (and far away attractions . A walk along the Park Blocks south of downtown towards Portland State University is very pleasant. A visit to the huge Powell’s Book is also a must. ust across Burnside Avenue from downtown, it’s located in the Pearl District (formerly the Northwest ndustrial District . The Saturday farmers market is also fun and from there you can walk along the Tom McCall waterfront park for miles. Nightlife No trip to the Rose City is complete without seeing Darcelle ’s drag show at the Darcelle Showplace (208 N. . rd . Darcelle (aka alter Cole at 88 is the oldest performing drag ueen in the world and has been doing the shows for 47 years. A movie about her life comes out in September and Oregon Public
Broadcasting did a documentary show on her called “That’s no lady that’s Darcelle. arning the Rhinestone Cowboy scene is not for the faint of heart. Tickets by calling 0 -2228. Ne t door is CC Slaughters and Rainbow Lounge (219 N. . Davis which is a lot of fun. Scandals Bar at 112 S. . arvey Milk (aka S. . Stark Avenue is the only bar left on what was once aseline Alley (the gayborhood . t has a great outdoor patio. t’s across the street from my favorite restaurant, ake’s (try the salmon and one of my favorite hotels, The Mark Spencer. Gentrification of gayborhoods across the country have taken its toll and Portland is no e ception. The notorious Majestic Steam Baths is now the Crystal otel. Portland still has two for now, Steam and awk’s. Other fun bars are Silverado at 10 N. . Couch and Stag’s at 17 N. . Broadway both have dancers. See portlandmercury.com for its LGBT bar review in the une -19 edition and a complete listing of all bars and clubs. More info Portland has a huge homeless population who literally camp everywhere downtown and along the 1-20 Freeway. t’s even worse than San Francisco. Also, the downtown hotel rates are uite high and come with surprise resort fees to boot. Staying on the east side near the convention center is a bit cheaper. The airport hotels are also cheaper but away from the nightlife. Bring an empty suitcase and replenish your wardrobe. Oregon has no sales ta (e cept on rental cars and hotels . For more information and travel ideas, pick up a copy of The illamette eek or The Mercury. The two alternative weeklies cover the city including LGBT activities. Portland is a more charming and down to earth version of Seattle with a better climate including in the summer (as it actually gets one . The weather stays dry through the middle or end of September and the best hiking in the nearby mountains is during this time. The people are friendly and it is definitely worth a vacation visit. f you have time, you can catch Amtrak up to Seattle or even ancouver, B.C. love the Northwest. ith the volcanos, nearby ocean and year round greenery, it’s also is one of the few places that still has a regional feel. You will want to come back. Bill Malcolm is a former resident of Portland, Ore. He now lives in Indianapolis where he writes the nation’s only LGBTQ+ value travel column as a hobby. It is a syndicated publication appearing in publications in Florida, Palm Springs, Chicago and other cities.
LOSANGELESBLADE.COM • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • 29
CANNABIS CULTURE 12 percent of adults smoke marijuana: Gallup Twelve percent of U.S. adults self-identify as cannabis consumers, according to survey data compiled by Gallup. According to the poll, men (15 percent) were more likely than women (nine percent) to acknowledge “smoking marijuana.” Those between the ages of 18 to 29 were most likely to use cannabis (22 percent). Those self-identifying as “white” were more likely to admit using cannabis than were those who identified as non-white (14 percent versus nine percent). Cannabis use was least likely to be reported by respondents over the age of 65 (three percent), those identifying politically as “conservatives” (four percent), and those residing in the southern region of the United States (seven percent).” Despite changes in the legal status of marijuana in several states, the Gallup poll reports that there has been little change in nationwide marijuana use patterns since 2015.
No association between marijuana, heart disease: study CHARLESTON, S.C. — Marijuana smoking is not associated with an elevated risk of coronary artery disease (CAD aka heart disease) in young to middle age adults, according to data published in the journal PLOS One. A team of investigators affiliated with the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of Texas assessed the relationship between CAD and self-reported cannabis use in 1,420 subjects. Participants in the study were all between the ages of 18 and 50, had experienced chest pain, and underwent a coronary CT angiography. Researchers reported that subjects with a history of cannabis use were less likely to show evidence of CAD as compared to subjects with no cannabis exposure. Marijuana using subjects also tended to be younger and were less likely to suffer from either hypertension or diabetes. “The results demonstrate a relatively low frequency of CAD in a younger, marijuana-using patient subgroup,” authors concluded, Their findings are similar to those of a longitudinal trial which found, “Neither cumulative lifetime nor recent use of marijuana is associated with the incidence of CVD (cardiovascular disease) in middle age.”
Australia decriminalizes cannabis possession in capital CANBERRA, Australia — Activities involving the personal possession and/or cultivation of cannabis in private are no longer subject to either criminal or civil penalties in the Australian Capital Territory, in accordance with legislation that took effect last week. Under the new law, those age 18 or older may possess up to 50 grams of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants per household without penalty. The use of marijuana in public remains prohibited. The ACT’s policy conflicts with Australian federal law, which defines cannabisrelated activities as criminal offenses. Between 2017 and 2018, Australian police made over 72,000 marijuana-related arrests – 92 percent of which were for personal possession. The ACT is the first Australian territory to eliminate penalties specific to marijuana possession. Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.
30 • FEBRUARY 14, 2020 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM
Liza strikes a pose
How did she get in that position? By BILLY MASTERS
“Thank you. I will drink until next morning.” — Bong Joon-Ho, winner of Best Director for “Parasite.» When people look back on the 2020 Oscars...well, God only knows what they’ll think. Here’s my general thought - confusion. Every time someone popped up around the theater to introduce a segment, I was bewildered. First off, I had no idea where to look. It was like a celebrity version of “Where’s Waldo” - minus the celebrities. Who were these people? I suppose using lesser performers made sense. You couldn’t have Diane Ladd hanging on for dear life from the rafters. I will deﬁnitely remember some of the outstanding performances. How fabulous was Cynthia Erivo singing “Stand Up” from “Harriet”? Even better, how fabulous was Cynthia keeping her gaze on the camera circling her to the commercial break? As great as she was and as great as the song was, I have to give it up to Elton - especially after his kick-ass rendition of “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” Admittedly, he had to look at music and lyrics (it’s not a song he’s performed often), but it was touching to see him and Bernie Taupin win their ﬁrst Oscar. Let me give a warning to any future award show singers - don’t go anywhere near Rita Wilson with a microphone. She’s got sheet music in her purse and is ready to hit the stage. Chris Rock and Steve Martin showed how valuable comedians are to an awards show. But, it’s not as easy as you think. The night before the Oscars, the two were at The Comedy Store in Hollywood and tried out their routine, including several jokes that didn’t make it to air. I believe James Corden and Rebel Wilson are carrying the mantle of Bob Barker by reminding us to spay and neuter our pets. I do have one question - do Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig have no gay friends? Not even one? Without a doubt, the winner of the Faye Dunaway Award for Award Presentation is Diane Keaton. My God, the only thing she didn’t do was exclaim “La La Land!” It’s sad when Keanu is the coherent one. On the ﬂip side, Martin Scorsese always looks like he’s having such a good time - even when he lost Best Director. Lastly, after the ﬁrst award of the night, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Scientologists had Tom Cruise on suicide watch. I’m assuming most of you don’t read “Variety” religiously. So it follows that most of you didn’t see the photo of Liza Minnelli on the cover of the magazine’s “Oscars” issue. If you did, you would have seen a youthful-appearing Minnelli, clutching an Oscar to her bosom, perched high upon a director’s chair, with one leg precariously swinging over the arm. This is in sharp contrast to the Liza who is usually captured by the paparazzi having enormous difficulty walking, and who approaches stairs as if she’s being asked to negotiate a medieval gauntlet. Which begs the question: How many people did it take to get Liza into this unusual position? And is she still stuck in the chair? The interview really seems secondary, but it did provide one illuminating moment. Given her protection of her mother’s image, and the fact that Renee Zellweger was nominated for (and ultimately won) an Oscar for playing her, the topic had to come up. Minnelli admits to not seeing (and having no interest in seeing) the ﬂick, but graciously added, “I hope she had a good time making it.” Now could someone please help me out of this chair?! Our “Ask Billy” question comes from Roger in Detroit: “I get a very gay feeling about [celebrity DJ] Calvin Harris. Maybe it’s ‘cause he’s so hot. But why did he stop doing underwear ads? And do you have anything hotter?” I ﬁrst became aware of Calvin when billboards started popping up around Los Angeles featuring his torso and his name - an odd way of promoting a DJ. But we’re in a time when one cannot be a great DJ or painter or aluminum siding installer without having a 6-pack
and pecs. Or maybe that’s just what I look for in someone banging around my home. With that notoriety came the underwear spread for Armani. That was around the same time as his liaison with Taylor Swift. Perhaps coincidentally, the Armani campaign ended when Calvin’s relationship with Taylor went kaput. Still, it made him comfortable enough in his skin to take more candid shots - such as the one on his manager’s birthday when he was just standing there in his fully packed boxer briefs. We’ve gotten a peek at what’s inside those briefs and, while most DJs specialize in 12-inches, Calvin’s sporting a good, solid eight inches. And, lest you question the veracity of the photo, our forensic experts insist that certain moles on that distinctive torso line up perfectly with this photo. Check it out for yourself on BillyMasters. com. When nothing comes between me and my Calvin, it’s deﬁnitely time to end yet another column. What a long night! I must confess, I’m exhausted. But let me quickly remind you to check out www.BillyMasters.com - the site that’ll perk you up. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Liza gets out of that chair! So, until next time, remember, one man’s ﬁlth is another man’s bible.
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