Page 1

H G H R G U R B ‘ U B X I ‘ P X I P


Mar2013 2013 Mar












Pittsburgh Dance Council Presents

Les Ballets Trockadero

de Monte Carlo

“ Vivacious splendor!” — Cleveland Plain Dealer “Outrageous as ever!” — Oxford Times, UK

Friday, April 5, 2013 » 8pm » Byham Theater Box Office at Theater Square » 412.456.6666 » /dance » Groups 10+ 412.471.6930 Media Partner

Pittsburgh Dance Council is a division of

Photo credit: Sascha Vaughan


With special guest hostess Lady Bunny!

Sunday, April 28, 2013 • 6 PM

Pittsburgh Opera • 2425 Liberty Avenue • Pittsburgh, PA 15222

We’ve got food, booze, a DJ, entertainment and CA$H! Tickets are $20 in advance; $30 at the door. Order online at All proceeds will benefit and



2 Impulse Pittsburgh



I Hate My Ex!

Bettis Grille, North Shore Facebook: Impulse Pittsburgh


DAYLIGHT SAVINGS Set your clocks!


Think You’re A Diva? Renaissance City Choirs East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 7:30 PM

Indigo Girls

With 14 albums to their credit and a career that spans decades, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers continue to challenge themselves creatively, adding to a body of work that contains such hits and fan favorites as “Closer to Fine,” “Galileo” and “Love of Our Lives.” Byham Theatre

Daylight Savings Time starts tonight!



PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT Join us for a free EQUAL Magazine Q&A session with the cast following this performance! Enter discount promo code EQUAL1213 Benedum Center



Feeling Green presented by Hot Metal Hardware & the Bridge City Bombshells Cattivo

The Fairmont Downtown

19 & 24




E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Naughty or Nice Pajama Party

Comfy or cozy....naughty or nice... wear your favorite PJ's and win prizes for the naughtiest and funniest ones! Friends Bar Squirrel Hill


S Bar South Side

ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE Step off is at 10 AM for Pittsburgh’s largest gathering of the Irish!

PFLAG FUNDRAISER Whether you’re a parent, family,


friend, or straight ally, come and enjoy the culinary creations of New Orleans Chef Chad Radecker, former Executive Chef at the Pentagon, at the coolest house in town!

A deconstructed burlesque show consisting of a variety of talented Pittsburgh entertainers. Hosted by Pittsburgh’s First Lady of Drag, Kierra Darshell. Caberet at Theatre Square trust


G2H2 16


Smart House, Mt. Washington


2nd Annual




See the toughest gals on roller skates when the Steel City Derby Demons host the Battle of the Burgh Championship


Eat, drink, and be entertained by Pittsburgh’s finest and most fabulous drag queens! Buckhead Saloon, Station Square

BachDAY Bash Join the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh as they celebrate the March birth of the one and only Johann Sebastian at their 5th annual fundraiser and auction. Mansions on Fifth




EASTER SUNDAY Enjoy your day

From Provincetown to Pittsburgh! The PATF is thrilled to welcome Varla Jean Merman as the featured entertainer at its 27th annual benefit. Pittsburgh Opera

Photo by Abra Alani ©2012


hopping down the bunny trail!


Equa lMa ga z

CONTRIBUTORS Jack Bellas is Partner of Revive Marketing Group and resides in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Jack’s love of the city is rooted in its culture, growing restaurant scene, and continuously evolving nightlife. G. Michael Beigay is a freelance photographer and special education professional for Allegheny Intermediate Unit. He has used his photography skills while at work to provide educational tools to provide instruction to those students who have cognitive disabilities. He also has worked with a media specialist at his LGBT welcoming church to develop some multi-media productions for various activities. Michael has photographed for two publications in Pittsburgh (Cue and Whirl Magazine). He came in 4th place in a recent photography contest for VisitPittsburgh. He is the photographer and one of the hosts for Pittsburgh’s G2H2 on a monthly basis, and is excited to be a part of Equal Magazine.

John Britt, proud graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, his BA in Political Science and did his post graduate studies in Information Systems. Mt. Washington was home for 22 years, before moving baack to his hometown, Jeannette, PA, to be closer to family. (A wise move, but my dearest friends are still in the ‘Burgh.) Karla Doolittle is a mother, wife, writer, artist and advocate. Residing in Regent Square with husband Devon, a professional singer, artist, advocate. Her daughter, Anastasia, is an aspiring writer, photographer, advocate.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Alicia Sophia wanted to be a writer since she was 8 years old. She has lived in 5 states in 10 years, she loves coffee, and her socks never match. Stacey Federoff is a Sutersville, Pa., native, Penn State alumna, and reporter living in Park Place near Regent Square. She has written about theater for The Daily Collegian and The Chautauquan Daily as well as local news for Trib Total Media. She loves music, vinyl records, coffee, running and volunteerism. Ignacio Filippini is a Bikram Yoga Instructor since 2010. He has a past life in design and marketing strategy. He’s thrilled to be part of Equal.

Philip Ezzo, one of the tallest men in Pittsburgh, is currently a pastry cook at the Duquesne Club downtown. He has been a writer and columnist in LGBT publications for 4 years and is happy to become a contributor for Equal Magazine. He is known for his sense of humor and charming personality. In his spare time, Philip is a chapter leader with Gay 4 Good: Pittsburgh, where he is an outreach coordinator.

Caldwell is a self-taught photographer about town who has been documenting the queer and trans community for a number of years and who has called Pittsburgh home for 6 or so years. The most exciting news in Caldwell’s life is that they will be having a small exhibition of photos in the Warhol Museum that will be opening Pride weekend of this year.

Roy J Gloeckl II is an aspiring voice actor/children’s author with a BA in Creative Writing, Minor in Theatre and Certificate in Children’s Literature from Pitt. Said degree does not assist in the tending of bars, but he remains optimistic. In the meantime, our intrepid writer continues to seek a rabbit hole, down which he may tumble — or a Prince who will carry him off into the sunset.

Mara Rago specializes in portraits, fine art, pets, events, model portfolios, legal, and corporate photography. She has a studio in the East End of Pittsburgh and shoots in studio as well as on location. Photography is Mara’s life. It’s a passion. Capturing visions in her little black box is a gift... and, every day, she is grateful.

Ramon Harmon has worked in the beauty industry for over ten years, as a professional hairstylist and freelance makeup artist. Ramon can also be found on stage as the drag personality Anna Steezia.

Tiff Waskowicz is a Civil Rights Attorney. A large percentage of her practice is representing individuals in employment discrimination, retaliation, sexual discrimination, whistleblower, Family and Medical Leave Act, and sexual harassment cases. Tiff received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2006 and a B.A. from Amherst College in 2000, where she emphasized her study in creative/persuasive writing. Tiff is a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan, and, in her spare time, she enjoys cross word puzzles, reading, and jogging.

Kimberlee Jarrett is a proofreader and writer who has been writing since she could hold a pencil. She is a Georgia Peach without the fuzz, hailing from the home of Gone With The Wind: although be assured she is more of a Rhett than a Scarlett. She is 34, lesbian, heavily involved in PFLAG and other gay rights groups, and happily engaged to her partner Allison.

KARAOKE Underwear Karaoke

1st Thursday of the month


Every Thursday

Shot Boys

Every Tuesday & Friday




965 Liberty Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (412) 391-9990 Open 2 PM to 2 AM 365 days a year!


Dear Friends- Welcome to the March Issue! I’m very encouraged about this opportunity as your new Editor in Chief. (I’m secretly hoping this position comes with a sash and a tiara)…

We’ve got more allies to introduce you to (both gay and straight) with features on Doug Shields and Jim Sheppard (pages 32 & 16 ) .

I’m grateful to the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh for their trust and guidance as Equal Magazine continues to grow and evolve. I’m also excited to continue to help shape and share the stories that keep our community so vibrant and cutting edge. I’m especially grateful to the talented team of writers, contributors, photographers and designers who have had a part in bringing this issue to life. They are truly stars who work tirelessly chasing stories, following leads and dedicating much of their free time to make each issue shine. You can find their names and a few of their faces on pages throughout this issue and their voices and helping hands on each and every page. When you see them out in our community seek them out and share your story ideas. I hope you will engage them about each issue, find out what they’re working on and consider buying them a beer. These talented folks are the eyes and ears of our community and Equal is here to highlight many of the issues that keep our community and the diverse, beautiful, people in our lives informed, entertained and enlightened. Maybe you might even want to sign up for a subscription so you don’t miss a single issue. (hint-hint)

Is it just me or does drag seem to be everywhere these days? Could drag queens that historically have been on the fringes of the gay community be helping to gain inroads into mainstream acceptance? We think so, as two of our stories help transform the make-up of the community into full color consciousness with features on the all male ballet company, Le Ballet Trockaderos (page 40) plus there is a fun Q&A with drag legend Varla Jean Merman (page 40)

This issue of Equal is proudly March-ing forward with a feature on the openly gay marching band that performed for President Obama’s Inauguration. (page 39) and our Scouting for Equality story is still hoping for a badge of acceptance. (page 18)

Our cover story shines on Pittsburgh’s very own Billy Porter who is about to step into the role of a lifetime…in six inch heels, as he gets ready to open in a glittering new Broadway musical: “Kinky Boots” written by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein (page 24) It’s definitely a must read! We’ve got event photos, a delicious Irish inspired recipe and tips to help get you in shape for warm weather…but wait there’s more…Hot girl reads a book, a guide to gay friendly breweries to support this Saint Patrick’s day, the calendar of events and so much more. Check our facebook page for additional content and contests you won’t find anywhere else. I look forward to hearing from you about the exciting things coming your way in this and future installments as we all strive to become Equal. In the mean time I’m going to continue my quest for an Editor in Chief sash and tiara. LGBTQIA visibility everywhere,

Joe King Editor-in-Chief


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg



Riffer Maddness- The Hollywood theater is


Gays Marching- the LGBA comes out in full


Kinky Boots: Billy Porter puts his heels down in his newest role. Trocks Ballet- Pittsburgh welcomes the boys of the

colorguard for the Presidential Inauguration.



encouraging talking back during the movies!

barre. Chasse, Chasse, Chasse!





04 Calendar of Events- Your monthly guide to some of the diverse happenings and not- to be missed events in the ‘burgh. 10 Beer Guide- Green beer might not be your thing but these are the top breweries that support equality. 12 Hot Girl Reads a Book - our monthly feature a real person, real book review…did we mention she’s hot? 16 Out at Work - Jim Sheppard talks “openly” at work. 18 Equally Important - Boy Scouts-  Morally Straight or gaily forward? 19 In Memory - Klavon’s - Heavenly sweet tribute to a dear friend. 20 Travel- Getting out of your comfort zone and into a shark cage! 22 Gay and Goin’ On- Snapshots of the community we call PIX ‘burgh. 28 Big Gay Map 30 Fitness- Medicine balls to the wall. 32 Ally- City Councilmember Doug Shields represents. 33 Fashion- Suede from Project Runway shows and tells all. 34 Caldwell- Reminding us why we fight back. 36 Q & A- Varla speaks to us no T no Shade. 44 Food- Shepherd’s Pie will make you feel very lucky, indeed. 46 Perspective- The LGBT community in Pittsburgh do we WANT equality?


Equa lMa ga z


Beers for Queers A Sham-Rockin guide to the keg of gold at the end of the gay rainbow. Coors Brewing Company is the biggest brewery supporting the LGBTQ community, and has been since 1993. Coors encouraged the organization of its gay and lesbian employees into the Lesbian and Gay Employee Resource (LAGER) in 1993. In May 1995, Coors became the 21st publicly traded corporation in the United States to extend employee benefits to same-sex partners. They are followed in suit beer wise by Guinness IceHouse Keystone all Miller brands Milwaukee's Best Steel Reserve However, if you want something with a little more kick, there is always Canadian Mist Ketel One Tanqueray Jack Daniel's Southern Comfort Bailey's Captain Morgan and Jose Cuervo

When you’re buying drinks this month, think of how refreshing and tasty Equality really is! *facts verified by the HRC Buyer's Guide*


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Publisher: The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh Board Members Gary A. Van Horn Jr. President Louise F. Stutler Vice President Brian J. Stankavich Secretary Peter J. Karlovich Treasurer Samuel C. Badger Michael G. Bartley Daniel M. Catanzaro Steven R. Herforth Jim Sheppard Emeritus Board Members Charles W. Honse William R. Kaelin Donnie R. Thinnes Charles P. Tierney

Editor-in-Chief Joe King Art Director Jonathan Fobear Advertising Director Chris Bryan Emotional Support

My gay husband The one who makes homemade soup and cookies Mark Coffee Gin For questions, comments, and advertising inquiries, please email info@ EQUAL Magazine, PO Box 100057. Pittsburgh, PA 15233.

The mission of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh is to increase awareness and understanding of and improve the quality of life for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the Pittsburgh region. Opinions and claims made by advertisers are those of the advertisers ONLY. Equal accepts no liability for claims made by advertisers. All rights reserved. Š2013 Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.



Vi g or Vul g ar VERY VARLA VIBRANTVarla JeanVerMerman bal









PURCHASE TICKETS AT WWW.PATF.ORG For more information call 412 345 0593 or visit


FRANCES SOUTHWICK on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

By Frances Southwick Gone Girl chronicles a His and Hers rollercoaster journey leading up to and during a criminal (and amateur-independent) investigation of Her disappearance. Nick and Amy leapfrog through first-person journal entry chapters. I love that this story is sharp, current and brave enough to encompass and explore the recent American economic downturn. I feel satisfied; I have a new reference to our generation’s unique successes, plight, and culture: we started out fresh faced and were promised we could have anything as long as we could dream it up. We are learning that it takes more than hard work and a lofty goal; it also takes smart financial moves and the ability to be flexible enough to change with the times, even if the times are going in the wrong direction. There are also personal and relationship struggles addressed: what happens when one bottles up one’s emotions over a lifetime, for example. Our parents’ voices in our heads. Secret mental worries about what our partners are really doing when they don’t call us. The uncomfortable truth that surfaces when a relationship goes through rough spots; you start becoming the things you once judged in your friends. This book is targeted and most appropriate for 25-40 year old professionals, especially straight married ones, but I think 15-65 year olds in the GLBT community whether partnered, married or single alike can certainly relate to at least one of the main characters and very much enjoy it.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Warhol EQUAL MAG Keith.indd 1

2/13/13 3:36 PM


By Roy Gloecki II

able and the local The art of making bad cinema beirarlig hts on. theater using it to try to keep the Does your boyfriend watch the Twilight movies religiously? Is your “roommate” obsessed with the Transformers series? Before you drive a sparkly stake through your eye or jump in front of an 18-wheeler, you may want to consider an option that can make even these flops incredibly entertaining. They are called Rifftrax, and they are here to make bad movies better for all who suffer at the hands of money hungry, remake-happy studios full of subpar writers. Rifftrax are downloadable audio files that you purchase to play along with your favorite, or least favorite, movies in the comfort of your own home. You can also enjoy the occasional real-time heckling


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

with Rifftrax Live, special one-night events broadcast to movie theaters all over the country (if you couldn’t tell from the name, it’s live). Be they B-movie or blockbuster, no films are safe from the Rifftrax team. The geniuses behind Rifftrax are the same gents who brought you the cult television comedy series known as Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. The show, affectionately referred to as MST3k, found host Mike (Nelson) and his two robot companions Tom Servo (Murphy) and Crow (Corbett) trapped aboard an orbiting satellite and forced to watch terrible B-movies by a mad scientist

bent on world domination. The art of publicly mocking a film to make it exponentially more enjoyable has found its way down from outer space to the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. Appropriately titled “So Bad It’s Good,” this monthly movie series showcases a film of questionable quality with live in-house commentary by local performers, currently the improv troupe known as Hustlebot. The first movie in said series was none other than Flashdance, and according to Kahmeela Adams, the driving force behind “So Bad It’s Good,” this is the best way to watch it. The heckling continued with Jean-Claude Van

Damme’s Sudden Death in February. The Hollywood crew has yet to pick a movie for March’s event but they do know it will be on Thursday the 21st. Mark your calendars. Right now. After all, it goes to a great cause. The Hollywood Theater is a non-profit, volunteer run movie theater and, in case you haven’t heard, it is in danger of going dark. Theaters all across the country are being forced to convert to a new digital format and as you can imagine, it isn’t cheap. According to Chad Hunter, Managing Director at the Hollywood, with all the changes needed and the equipment required the grand total for such a conversion is somewhere around $75,000. Through donations, marketing, fundraising, memberships, slide advertisements, and even a campaign on, they hope to raise enough money to keep the theater open. But movie studios are not making it easy. One of the Hollywood’s most popular events is a bi-weekly showing of the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not only do they encourage the audience participation familiar to die-hard fans of the film, there is also a “shadow-cast” performance with each showing. A group of actors, “The Junior Chamber of Commerce

Players,” dresses as the characters and essentially lip-synchs right along with the movie. With each showing, the Hollywood brought in well over $700 but they recently received news that they can no longer show the movie the way they have always done, with a Blu-Ray/DVD player attached to a projector. The powers-that-be decreed that the Hollywood Theater must either convert to the new digital way of the future or they cannot screen the movie. This is not the only studio to deliver this type of news, either. A certain mouse has made a similar declaration and, as we know, they own almost everything. Despite these setbacks, the crew at the Hollywood Theater presses on. Along with the ongoing “So Bad It’s Good” series, they are putting on a number of special events. In March, be sure to catch their Night of the Living Dead program, where the cast and crew will be in attendance to show the film, sign autographs and mingle with you, the fans. They also teased an upcoming 80’s theme party. Check out their website for the up-to-date event calendar and don’t hesitate to get involved at www.thehollywooddormont. org. They welcome volunteers. And money. Money’s good, too.


Mystery Science Theater 3000 was the bane of many a B-movie director from 1988 to 1999. A total of 11 seasons and 197 episodes! Between their time on MST3k and Rifftrax, Mike, Kevin & Bill heckled films under the short-lived title “The Film Crew.” Of the few movies they tore apart, the first and most popular was Hollywood After Dark, starring gay fave Golden Girl, Rue McClanahan. The Hollywood Theater was the victim of a nasty little hoax when someone pretending to be Ed Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show and Pixar’s Up) pledged to help save the theater by doubling all donations. Stephen Chbosky, author/director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is a prominent supporter of the Hollywood Theater. He was so taken with one of their shadow cast screenings of Rocky Horror that he came back to introduce one of the performances, joined the advisory board at the Hollywood and even filmed a scene for Perks at the theater!


Equa lMa ga z


Out to Make

A Difference By Roy Gloecki II

The activist working to better our city, and the mayor who has made it possible Politics. Wait! Don’t turn the page. This is about the good side of politics. Yes, it exists. There are those in the political world that use their powers for the benefit of mankind and, in this case, man-on-mankind. People like the out and proud hero of our story, Jim Sheppard. Sheppard is Special Assistant to the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, a position he has enjoyed for four years now. In that role, he is charged with community outreach, not only to the southern portion of the city of Pittsburgh, but also to the LGBT community. Sheppard also heads the mayor’s LGBT advisory council, started in 2007 by Ravenstahl as a way to ensure that Pittsburgh earns its title as the most livable city in the US for all residents. Along with his community outreach duties, Jim Sheppard is the President of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats (the largest, most active LGBT political organization in western Pennsylvania), and he is involved with Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations (CHR). The CHR is there to deal with issues of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. In case you weren’t aware, sexual orientation is a protected status in the city of Pittsburgh. So, when a member of the Equal Magazine team was asked to leave a restaurant over a simple public display 16

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

of affection, Sheppard flew in to save the day. Technically he didn’t fly, but he did offer sound advice on the proper legal actions one should take after such an offense. And that’s just as nifty. Given that Sheppard attended a Catholic high school, he found it rather difficult to find acceptance. “I never would have envisioned such a change in just ten years’ time.” The refreshing lack of adversity that Sheppard has encountered in regards to his sexual orientation is certainly indicative of the marvelous changes taking place in the city of Pittsburgh. Sheppard mentioned just how proud he was to be working for Luke Ravenstahl who is “not only a great leader for our city but also incredibly supportive of me, as a person,” not to mention the entire LGBT community. Add to that the fact that our mayor just “came out” in support of marriage equality, I am inclined to agree with Sheppard. So, should you encounter discrimination or injustice here in the city of Pittsburgh, fear not. Simply flash the Sheppard signal into the night sky. Or call his office. Jim Sheppard will be glad to help. If you have a question or issue, you can reach Jim Sheppard at Jim.Sheppard@ or 412-255-2632.

For FREE Race Registration, Help Training and FUNdraising Help, Join Our Team:


PITTSBURGH ARL is a Partner Charity of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, Sunday, May 5, 2013. The 5k and Kid’s Marathon will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013. For FREE Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay Team, 5k and Kid’s Marathon registration. JOIN our team of fundraising runners, walkers and virtual runners.

Learn more at Register at The sooner you register the smaller your fundraising minimum. We will do an interactive training session followed by a run once a month. More information or questions, contact Ann Yeager at 412-345-0346 or

Even if you do not want to run or walk, you can still be part of the fun by being a virtual runner and raise money for our animals!

Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested!

6620 Hamilton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 412-345-7300 •

Find us on Facebook —


Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2.5 million boy scouts (youth) and more than 1 million boy scouts (adult).

THE BOY SCOUTS By Tiff Waskowicz

Will the Boy Scouts of America mature into a tolerant and inclusive group?


When I was kid, there was nothing I looked more forward to than “sleep-away” camp. What could be better than staying up late with friends playing “truth or dare,” eating six pancakes for breakfast because your parents aren’t there to tell you otherwise, playing endless games of Marco Polo, making friendship bracelets, getting a piggyback ride from your favorite counselor, and closing each day with singing the same cheesy songs by the campfire.

which was incredibly liberating.

The laid-back camp environment helped me to feel less constrained than I did at school, although I loved school, and served to alleviate the omnipresent anxiety I felt as an adolescent; which I suspect stemmed from my sense that I was somehow “different” than my friends. At camp, I was encouraged to be as goofy, as creative, as dramatic, or as adventurous as I wanted to be. Accordingly, I practiced, perhaps for the first time, being my pure, unadulterated self,

Very generally, the United States Supreme Court held the forced inclusion of a gay Scoutmaster ran afoul of the Boys Scouts’ First Amendment Right of Expressive Association and its official position that homosexuality is immoral behavior.

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Thus, years later in 2000, when I read that the United States Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts’ revocation of an adult Scoutmaster’s membership because he was gay in the case, Boys Scouts of America v. Dale, I could not help but grieve for all the gay boy scouts or boy scouts questioning their sexuality who would be impacted by this message of intolerance.

Although the Boy Scouts’ experience does not always take the exact form of summer camp (though Boy Scouts do offer some sleep-away camp options), the Boy Scouts’

experience provides for interaction among adolescents outside of school in a more relaxed environment akin to the camp experience. However, unlike my childhood camp experiences, gay boy scouts or boy scouts questioning their sexuality may not enjoy the same freedom of being their pure, unadulterated selves in a more relaxed environment, but rather, they may have to deny who they are or even practice being someone they are not. Currently, it is estimated that there are more than 2.5 million boy scouts (youth) and more than 1 million boy scouts (adult). Thus, the United Supreme Court’s decision has impacted thousands if not millions of gay youth or gay youth questioning their sexuality over the years, not to mention the millions of heterosexual boy scouts and boy scouts’ parents who have effectively been

IN MEMORY told that having a gay friend or a gay son is unacceptable. Now, thirteen years later, the Boys Scouts’ stance on homosexuality appears to be evolving. Indeed, very recently, on January 28, 2013, the Boy Scouts released the following statement: “Currently the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation...” I welcome such a discussion and yearn for the day when the only consideration a child has when he or she attends camp or joins a club is simply how much fun he or she is going to have. UPDATE: On February 6, 2013, as this article was on its way to print, the Boys Scouts released the following statement: “After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of American’s Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberative review of its membership policy.”

Portrait By Rene e Rosensteel

Ray Klavon

(1949 -2013)

By Alicia Sophia Photos by Michael Beigay

Girl Scouts’ Stance on Homosexuality

The Girl Scouts’ policy with regard to the sexual orientation of its members, volunteers and staff states, “There are no membership policies on sexual preference.”

The Girl Scouts is an active member of several organizations that support LGBT rights.

Former Director of Administration for the Girl Scouts, Lynn Cothren, was open about being gay without incident.

In 2007, Girl Scout CEO, Kathy Cloninger stated, “I feel like we/[the Girl Scouts] cannot be the nation’s expert on girl issues without dealing with how issues of sexuality affect the girls of this nation.”

In 2011, Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, was the Girl Scouts’ convention speaker.

Pittsburgh is famous for many things: hockey, football, baseball, the sandwiches with the French fries on them, but none of these are as sweet as Klavon’s Ice cream Parlor. In 1932, James and his wife Mary Klavon opened Klavon’s as a pharmacy and worked hard at the family business until James died in 1979. The establishment then shut its doors for 20 years. In 1999, one of James Klavon’s eight grandchildren, Ray, was inspired to reopen the building’s doors as an ice cream parlor when he retired from his career as a grade school art teacher at Pittsburgh Public Schools. Ray Klavon was a simple yet whimsical man, setting the scene in the parlor to resemble something out of a 1920’s ice cream parlor, with the tile floors, the swivel chairs, and the candy hidden behind the glass counter. Klavon’s quickly became a favorite sweet escape for the cities many patrons. Ray was always there when he was needed; he was always lending a helping hand and contributing whenever he could. He was a private man, said his sister. Though one thing he was passionate about was selling monthly tickets to OUTrageous Bingo. Some say that Ray was the sweetest thing at Klavon’s. Earlier this year, Ray left us, as he succumbed to lung cancer. He will be missed by so many in the community but his legacy lives on with family, friends and patrons alike sharing memories and stories of “Ray the Ice cream man. “ Perhaps the best lasting memory is the giant mural of Ray that is painted on the side of the building as he stands watching over Klavon’s for many years to come.


Equa lMa ga z


Shark’s Tale

First Class seats, a private car with a driver, and a luxurious suite in the most opulent hotel...these are all things that comprise a fabulous vacation and NONE of the things that I had when I went cage diving with The Great White Sharks off of Guadalupe Island in the Pacific! When the idea of a cage dive with Great Whites was posed to me as a “vacation”, I can say that 50% of me was dreading it and 50% of me was intrigued. I thought that it would be amazing & picturesque…and it was. A 36 hour boat ride starting in San Diego took me far into the Pacific where the journey was peppered with blue whale sightings and various other sea life that is seldom seen.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Waking up on the first day of four consecutive days of dives was so exhilarating! A full wet suit, a weight belt to ensure you sink to the bottom of the 20 foot deep cage, and an air hose are all I had as I stepped onto the top of the floating cage. The lid opens and in I went! 30 minutes in, 30 minutes out of the cage is how the day goes. The water is chummed to ensure the Great Whites come out to play…the good news is, they do! These creatures are much larger than you can imagine, but move in the most graceful way I have ever seen. There were several things that we were told to look for when in the cage, but the one that I was most focused on was something I was not seeing, until my last dive. Many people think that sharks have black eyes... the truth is that the most outer edge of the

By Jack Bellas

shark’s eye is the most crystal clear blue you will ever see…and if you are lucky enough to see it, it will take your breath away. In summary, I said that First Class seats, a private car with a driver, a luxurious suite in the most opulent hotel were what made a vacation. What I took away from this experience is that though these are all things I want on the standard vacation…a day outside of my comfort zone and in the waters of the Great Whites is something that if I missed, I would be without. The beauty of traveling is that no trip is the same…a weekend in New York is the Apple (pun intended), and a weekend with the Great Whites is the Orange!

Getting a handle on your

coverage. And


your budget.

HEALTH PLAN KNOW-HOW MADE EASY With a phone call or an online visit with Member Services, Highmark can help you easily understand exactly how your health plan coverage works. Which means you’ll be able to make the best decisions for yourself and your family. And with Highmark’s online resources like our “Compare Costs and Save” tool, you’ll become an expert at saving on your out-of-pocket expenses, including prescriptions, procedures and more. So you can keep your family — and your budget — as healthy as can be.

An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Coverage subject to the terms of your benefits program.


Equa lMa ga z


What’s Gay and Goin’ on? Photos by G. Michael Beigay

ead Saloon

h Jan G2H2 @ Buck


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Equal February Is Party @ Taste o sue Launch f Dahntahn

Lez Liquor Hour @

Cruze Bar

Persad Spice Dinner

Outrageous Bingo


Equa lMa ga z


Kickin’ Up

East Liberty native Billy Porter steals Broadway’s heart (again) 24

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

By: Karla Doolittle

‘Kinky Boots’ is a film based on the story of Charlie Price, a shoemaker in Northampton England trying to save the family business after the death of his father. Help comes in the form of a drag queen called Lola who insists the shoe factory broaden its products to a more creative clientele in order to stay successful. This 2005 comedy has become a Broadway play starring Pittsburgh native, Billy Porter who plays Lola; along with Stark Sands as Charlie Price. Just off the heels of a five week run in Chicago with rave reviews, the cast prepares for its Broadway opening on April 4th. ‘Kinky Boots’ for the stage is written by Harvey Fierstein with original score by Cyndi Lauper, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell.

Porter has several notable and impressive credits under his belt including starring in the original cast of ‘Miss Saigon’, ‘Five Guys Named Moe’, ‘Grease’ and ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’. He had an album debut in the 90s as well as in 2005 and he’s working on another recording project due out later this year. He also performs and choreographs for local theatre when in Pittsburgh. Porter took time from his busy rehearsal schedule to chat with me about the musical among other things. First, it is important to note that he hails from East Liberty and not Homewood which is often reported. “My zip code is 15206. I don’t know if people thought it sounded better to say Homewood at the time since it was considered a bad area and something good was coming from it border but it was East Liberty!” The character of Lola was always that of

drag but straight. I asked how the sexuality change came about. “I think I sort of moved it in the gay direction. I have always been gay and now I have the biggest career defining moment of my life and they want me to be straight? That just didn’t make sense! It would be irresponsible of me to show up to be this amazing character and say I’m straight! This is a part that will let people walk away from the play understanding differences and having empathy. It’s about changing the world when we change our minds!’ Of course I needed to know what it was like prepping for his role each night and how long the process was and I got much more of an answer than I had expected, “It takes about 45 minutes. Someone does my makeup and I get into costume. It’s my job, I get to do what I love for a living so it’s not an issue! I get to dress up, sing and dance for a



Equa lMa ga z


Billy Porter: Attended Allderdice High School 1/2 day and CAPA High School 1/2 day graduating in 1987. Attended Carnegie Mellon University graduating in 1991.

living! I haven’t been on Broadway since 1999, I feel blessed and grateful!” When the role came about, Porter wanted to bring all of himself to it as a black, gay man. “This part was tailor-made to my strengths as an artist. The timing of who Lola represents is so much bigger; bringing an archetype in a forum where we’ve not really changed much in a popular way” He went on to explain, “You can be who you are when it’s popular. Twenty-five years ago it wasn’t popular to be gay. Not even sure it’s popular now but we’re part of the conversation. Everybody is out now but it’s all white. I’m a powerful, gay black man! I feel so lucky to be introducing the newness of this on that level! “ After a recent photo shoot for ‘Vanity Fair’ as Lola, he thought “Look how far we’ve come, but we’ve got a long way to go.’


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Appears on 1996 soundtrack for the film ‘First Wives Club’ singing “Love is on the Way’. How does he feel about Cyndi Lauper’s score? “Her score is brilliant and people who are fans are not going to be surprised! Her imagery is quite stunning! She was writing better music back then than we have now. I am not saying we don’t have good music now because we do but she’s a master as what she does. She can write a hook and knows how to write a hummable melody. You may not know every lyric but you’ll leave the show remembering the songs, all of them.” The Chicago performance reviews have been rave but I wanted to know what Porter has heard. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback and people are embracing the way Lola opens hearts and minds. I don’t know of anything negative because I don’t allow that in my face!”

Released his own albums in 1997, ‘Billy Porter’ and another in 2005 titled ‘At the Corner of Broadway and Soul’ Performed ensemble and character vocals on Fox Animated Studios film, ‘Anastasia’

What is Porter’s take on life and what is something we don’t know about him? “Ninety percent of the time life is glass half full for me. I get to be special and I embrace that now. Not something I knew at an early age and I would never want to be born any other way than I am. I’m a closet introvert. I have to work at being an extrovert, real extroverts don’t work at it. I’m perfectly content at home watching television alone.” This Pittsburgh native stays true to his city, you can hear the pride in his voice when he speaks of his training at CMU, his love of the local theatre, symphony and cultural district. “I love Pittsburgh! I really think it’s a wonderful place. It took awhile to realize it but I like coming home. The creative energy in Pittsburgh rival anywhere in the

world. CMU is one of the top five acting schools in the country!” His favorite things to do when he’s home aside from visiting the theatre? He attends Mt. Arat Baptist Church, he spends time with friends and family and he enjoys eating out. “I never knew about Pittsburgh restaurants. Salt of the Earth is my favorite! I’ve been all over the world and the food is right up there with the other places I’ve been to! Kevin Sousa is an amazing chef. I love Union Pig & Chicken and his other place Station Street Hot Dogs, that place is crazy good. Those hot dogs are slap your mother silly, good!”

Porter encourages his friends back here at home to schedule a trip to New York to take in a Broadway show while taking in the show’s message of acceptance and love. We couldn’t be more proud to call him one of our own and are excited his boots are made for super-stardom! Kinky Boots opens April 4 at the Al Hirschfield Theatre, 302 West 4th Street, New York. For tickets, visit

Kick up your KINKY BOOTS for our hometown Lola! Birdie Blue

Angels in Amer ica


Equa lMa ga z

S 18th St

Col lins St

Blv d

S Highland Ave

sA ve alla

S Millvale

Blo om fie ld Bri dg e

elo w

SD S Dallas Av e

Square Cafe 1137 S Braddock Ave

Ba tes St


Forbes Ave

EC ar so nS t





Greenfiel eld The Link 91 Wendel Rd



Haz Ha azelwood

ra dd oc

ge rid South Side lB eta M Works t Ho

kA ve

Sixth Prebyterian Church 1688 Murray Ave Forw a


Beech wood B lvd

rd Av e


e Brid g

Libe rty

ls nne ert y Tu Lib


Blv d Cro ssto wn

nt S t


e Brid g

Smi thfie ld



Fed era l St

Wa Merri mac St ba sh Tu nn el ff S t

s Ave


Murray Ave


s Av e

Murray Ave

Wo o

Wilk in


(Herminie, PA) Arlington gto

ilton A

ve dy A

St 8th S1

City Theatre Arlington Ave 1300 Bingham St.

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg 19



Frankst o


Av e



8th S1

r St Beele



Pe nn

ve 5th A

Beechwood Blvd


Arlington ton

First United Methodist Church 5401 Centre Ave

P*Town 4740 Baum Blvd


ve oln A Linc


St Irvine

There Ultra Lounge 931 Liberty Ave



5th Ave


ve ey A

E Warrington

Blvd of the Allies


Bro ad S t



E Carson St

e rth Av



r Fo



13th St



ve tre A Cen

e Av Forb <— S Bo > qu et e— St Av es

le N





e es Av


cle S nn Cir

St ege Coll


GLCC 210 Grant St




lvd mB Bau





Pen n

Animal Rescue League 6620 Hamilton Ave. Homewo


ve en A S Aik

30 Ca rso nS t PJ M cAr dle Rdw E C y arso nS t


Spin 5740 Ellsworth Ave


St ville N Ne d n Blv Con Billy


Forbes Ave—>

idge S 10th St Br



Birmingham Bridge



un tT Pit


Images 965 Liberty Ave

<—5th Ave



ert yA ve S c Bloomfield iot d aS t

h 5t

Centre Ave

Harris Grill 5747 Ellsworth Ave


t aig S N Cr


St th 40




Club Pittsburgh 1139 Penn Ave

Robinson St



Cent re


5801 Video Lounge 5801 Ellsworth Ave Penn Av e

ve on A Herr





lv wB elo Big


Cruze Bar 1600 Smallman



the A



St ick patr Kirk

Blvd of


ge rid tB hS 16t




Penn Ave y rt e Lib

NT arson St HINGT ON

t For



St 9th t 7th S l St

Heinz Field

1-5 79



PNC Park Stage AE 279

St E Ohio ley Press



St hio EO



n Ave Herro


Ave North

W Oh io St


Rivers Casino


e North Av

rn Ave Weste Ave Ridge

ve en A


Pittsburgh Opera 2425 Liberty Ave.

Persad Center 5150 Penn Ave.

44 th St

Ave Liberty

Park Pa

EONS 5850 Ellsworth Ave

ve Penn A

31s tS tB rid g St. e n a m ll a Sm e Ave Av nn rty Pe Libe <—


Pittsburgh Public Theater 621 Penn Ave

Mancheste te er



Brewers Hotel 3315 Liberty Ave

941 & Tilden 941 Liberty Ave

The Warhol 117 Sandusky St


Donny’s Place Leather Central 1226 Herron Ave

Bigelow Blvd

g Sprin


Real Luck Cafe 1519 Penn Ave

St B



Humane Society 1101 Western Ave



H 79 1-2



But ler St


Shepherd Wellness Community 4800 Sciota St.

All e


St Lamar Essen St

n Ave Stanto

e Stanton Av

e le Av ysvil Perr




d sR iam

ircle W


East Liberty Presbyterian Church H hland Hig a 116 S. Highland Ave



Pen nC


Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force 5913 Penn Ave

S Ne




xp y


Mornings gside

Blue Moon on Butler 5115 Butler St

Cattivo 146 44th St en yV all ey E

Sta nto n Av e



N Ave


y Rd Seave

Rd an ffm Ho


East St

Parker St

n HOV L 1-279 en Rd Evergre

ale S t




own Ave





The Strip’s best Happy Hour just got even better!



First Fridays with Kierra Darshell Starring: Dimitria Blackwell, Shantel Cummings, and Sasha Nolan


80’s Night Leg warmers & Members Only jackets optional!

Like us on Facebook

Follow us @cruzebar

1600 Smallman Street • 412.471.1400 • • Open Wed-Sat 5PM-2AM


Equa lMa ga z


Trim your

WINTER WAISTLINE By Ignacio Filippini Photo by Mara Rago

3 0

March is officially the Month of Pudge. Old Man Winter has taken its toll, leaving a flabby, unsightly version of us behind to deal with. If the thought of shedding clothes for the warmer weather terrifies you, you’re not alone.

Warm Asparagus, Fennel, and Spinach Salad

We asked Jay Obertance, a personal trainer and self-proclaimed gourmand, for some advice. Jay was born and raised in Toronto, OH and attended Franciscan University in Steubenville. He works at Edgeworth Club in Sewickely and ultimately plans to open a wellness center in Pittsburgh focusing on his two passions: nutrition and physical training. “You could say I was inspired to be as good a cook as the rest of my family. It’s almost like when you watch something so many times you become fascinated by it,” remembers Jay. This fascination for cooking has led Jay to assemble a collection of recipes he calls his cooking Black Book. We asked him to reach into his Black Book and find us an easy-to-make recipe that features Asparagus. This vegetable will make its way back to the grocery store shelves this month, and it’s chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Here’s what he came up with:

medium fennel bulb (about 1 pound) 
tablespoons water
tablespoons olive oil
teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
teaspoons lemon juice
ounces asparagus spears, trimmed
cups fresh spinach
cup shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg



1. Trim off stem end of fennel; quarter fennel but do not remove core. Place fennel in a small microwave-safe dish or pie plate. Add the water. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 4 minutes or until nearly tender; drain.
 2. Meanwhile, for dressing, in small bowl combine oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; whisk until smooth. Brush fennel and asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the dressing; set remaining dressing aside.

3. Grill fennel on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Add asparagus to the grill; grill vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes more or until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally.
 4. Transfer fennel to a cutting board; cool slightly and slice into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices, discarding core. Divide fennel and asparagus among 4 dinner plates. Arrange spinach on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Top with Parmesan cheese and basil. And what about getting our bodies back in shape? We asked Jay to suggest a simple do-it-at-home work out that can easily be done outside as the weather begins to warm up. Here’s what he recommends. “Use a medicine ball; it’s amazing! You can do total body workouts from your home without the clutter of dumbbells, and you can even use it for cardio so there’s no need to buy expensive machines,” starts Jay. “Also use a weight that is challenging. The balls can weigh anywhere between 5 to 30 lb. I usually recommended 8lbs for new clients.”



Squat to Pass Technique. Stand holding a medicine ball close to your chest with both hands, your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart [A]. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor [B]. Then simultaneously drive your heels into the floor and push your body back to the starting position as you press the ball over your head. [C]. Lower the ball back to the start. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.





Stepper Crunch. (really target core) Lie on your back with your legs straight. Use both hands to hold a medicine ball above your head and barely off the floor [A]. Simultaneously raise your torso and bend your right knee toward your chest as you bring the ball over your knee and toward your foot. [B]. Reverse the movement and repeat, this time bending your left knee. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

Medicine Ball Push. Starting in a traditional push-up position, toes tucked under, place your palms on the medicine ball, and shift your bodyweight forward until in plank position. [A] Keeping the core tight, and the head aligned with the spine, slowly lower the chest toward the ball until it nearly touches, keeping the elbows pinned tightly at your sides. [B] Finish the move by pressing upward through the arms until theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re fully extended. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.


45 Degree Twist. (really targets the obliques) Grab a medicine ball and sit on the floor. Lean back at a 45-degree angle, raise your legs and feet off the floor, and hold the ball with both hands in front of your chest, your arms straight [A]. Without dropping your legs or arms, rotate the ball and your torso as far as you can to the right [B]. Then reverse direction, rotating all the way to the left. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.


Medicine Ball Push up. (Adjusted) With one arm on the medicine ball do a push up. After one push up roll the ball to the other arm and repeat. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

3 1

Equa lMa ga z


Shielding Civil Rights Our hometown Constitutional Avenger/talented cook By Roy Gloecki II

Doug Shields, honorary lesbian. I kid you not. The Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents bestowed the former City Council President with this title after his public denunciation of Oklahoma Representative, Sally Kern. If you don’t recall, she was the lady who claimed gays were a bigger threat to the nation than terrorists. When she attacked Pittsburgh specifically, Shields, being the outspoken supporter of civil rights that he is, did not let that slide. He wrote an open letter to Kern, condemning her hateful statements and calling for not only an apology, but her resignation as well. And that is just one example of the many outstanding actions he has taken in support of our rights here in Pittsburgh during his twenty years on the City Council. From participating in the Shepherd Wellness AIDS Community Center’s Thanksgiving Dinner to protecting the patrons of the Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue, Shields is there to ensure no one violates the rights he says you received simply by being born. “If you have civil rights problems, you’ve got a friend in me!” And what a friend he has been.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Who would have known that Shields’s most notable achievement would come about as a result of the night he was “purchased” by a local lesbian couple at a charity auction event. Over Shields’s home-cooked Italian meal, the couple asked for his assistance in bringing same-sex benefits to the Pittsburgh community. Soon after, Shields, along with openly gay Councilor Bruce Kraus, sponsored the “Mutual Commitment Registry” bill which went into effect on June 13, 2008. What’s next for Shields? Well, he’s cooking for his wife, teaching a Master’s Degree Political Leadership class at Duquesne University and generally enjoying a break away from the allconsuming lifestyle that comes from working in a governmental position,. Oh, and battling the Marcellus Shale drilling that has made its way into Pittsburgh. Like he says, “If you can make the world a little better for the next guy, you did alright.” You’ve done alright by us, Doug. Thanks.

Ever notice those white lines that radiate outward in front of the Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue? That was Shields’s way of making sure people could come and go freely without incident. You can get more information on Pittsburgh’s same sex registry on the city’s website by searching for “Ordinance 2008-0408.” In 2009, Shields was named a Grand Marshal for the Pride Awareness March.



Style By Joe King You’ll remember Project Runway’s bad boy Suede. He is perhaps best known for the loud pop of color in the front of his blonde faux hawk, as well as his strong sense of rock-n-roll design. Suede has continued to make his mark in the fashion world since appearing on Runway while putting his “Suede Says” brand into everything he creates. His designs have been favorites of Natalie Portman, and his winning dress was put into production and sold out on in less than an hour. The designer has now teamed up with Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores to launch a hot new line of textiles and patterns with “every person” in mind. The fabrics are on-point with the latest trends. The colors and are made to inspire creativity. Suede’s unique patterns invite the imagination to play with hem lengths and allow for easy alterations while encouraging young designers to learn what works for their individual body. “Modify, redesign, re-cut.” Each pattern pack offers different looks and personalities. “I’m interested in people having fun with clothes and creating something that makes them feel fabulous.” The “Suede Says” line is now available exclusively at Jo-Ann Fabric stores worldwide. The high-end line of textiles are perfect for formal occasion dresses, while remaining classic enough for everyday wear. Suede says, “Step into fashion this spring and create something amazing.”


Equa lMa ga z


The Queer Linker

Photos and recap by Caldwell Linker I went to a lot of events this month, but one had a large impact on me. It was a rally in support of several LGBTQ community members who were beat up in the South Side, and targeted for non normative gender presentation. This is the third rally for LGBTQ folks who have experienced targeted violence that I have attended in as many years. The most recent incident occured in the southside at the bar, Margaritaville. Two studs (masculine presenting African American lesbians) were frequently verbally harrassed by a group of (presumably) straight men with disparaging comments to the point that the studs and the folks they were with stayed off the dance floor because the men who had been giving them trouble were there. Finally one of the agressors stepped right in front of Jourdyns face in an intimidating manner, and Jourdyn (a previous winner of the Black Pride Pageant) said that she did not want any trouble, and the man punched her in the face. A fight broke out, which was quickly broken up. After all parties were removed from the bar the aggresors punched Jourdyn in the face again, and things escalated. In the end Jourdyn, and one of her friends, a femme woman, both needed hospitalization for their injuries.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg


A subscription to Equal Magazine would make the perfect gift for you or that special someone. Plus it’s the only way to guarantee that you’ll receive it!


Rates start at just an issue and help defray the cost of postage:

$10 = 11 issues ($0.91 an issue) $18 = 22 issues ($0.82 an issue) $24 = 33 issues ($0.73 an issue) Subscribe today at


Equa lMa ga z


Varla! Equal caught up with the queen of drag comedy to ask her a few questions By Jeffery Roberson When did you realize you wanted to be a performer? I used to come home from school and watch The Carol Burnett Show in re-runs. She was so hysterically funny. But my best memory of the show, was a skit that in the situation that would later become Mama's Family with Vicky Lawrence. Eunice (Carol Burnett) was on The Gong Show and she was gonged! The look on her face was devastating. Heart breaking. I was so upset as a child but it stuck with me. I realized that so much comedy is actually based on tragedy and humiliation. I decided to laugh at myself before anyone else could!

3 6

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

It's been said Varla Jean Merman is the "spawn" of Ernest Borgnine and Ethel Merman. Why these two? Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine were actually married for 38 days. When I was in college, a friend told me to read the Ethel Merman autobiography. There is a chapter entitled "My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine." When you turn the page, it is blank! I love this bitterness, and in print! Well, I guess, in NO print. I thought if they would've had a child, Merman would've sent it away because it reminded her of a relationship that was too painful and horrible. Varla was born. Who was/is your biggest influence/idol/inspiration? Carol Burnett, Joanne Worley, and Ann Margaret! Who would you LOVE to work with? All of the above! SquareCafe_EqualAd_PRINT.pdf


What's an average day like for Varla? Varla doesn't have days. Only nights. Very late nights. What does Jeffery do in his down time (if he has any)? I was morbidly obese for 28 years of my life. I now thrive on exercise. I am a big CrossFit fanatic. Care to share a guilty pleasure? I love the television show "Nashville!" What's next for Varla? Varla is doing a version of "Designing Women" playing Charlene in New Orleans in May. And then she will do her new show in Provincetown this summer. What the hell that is, or will be, is anybody's guess at this point! Varla doesn't like to insult an audience with a "prepared" evening.


Have you ever been to Pittsburgh, PA? And if so, what was your favorite experience? If not, is there anything you're looking forward to experiencing while here next month? I have been to Pittsburgh before. I did a run of my circus-themed show "Under a Big Top" at City Theater, and I also made my Broadway touring debut in the first national touring company of "Chicago" at the Benedum Center. I don't know if I still have my "favorite experience's" phone number. I guess I'll have to look back in my journal. Oh, I don't keep a journal. Well, here's to some new experiences! You can experience Vara Jean live and in person when she twirls into Pittsburgh for a special one night only performance for the PATF 27th Annual Benefit-see the ad on page 11 for more information Special thanks to contributor Chrissy Costa.

1:57:20 PM










Equa lMa ga z


By John Britt

Monday, January 21, 2013 will go down in history as not only the Martin Luther King holiday but also the Inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second term. The crisp Washington DC morning brought us the swearing in of our 44th President, the reading of the Inaugural Poem “One Today,” (read by the first Latino and opening gay American), the “singing” of the National Anthem by Beyonce, and an inspirational Inaugural Address that referenced the historic Stonewall uprising for the first time in history. The flags were waving, the crowds were cheering, then the real fun began…..the

3 8

E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Inaugural parade. Prominent in this year’s parade was the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, a conglomeration of twenty-seven Lesbian and Gay bands. This is a repeat appearance from President Obama’s first inauguration 2009, when the LGBA became the first Lesbian and Gay marching band to march in an Inauguration parade. While they proudly walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, the 215 member group played loud and proud, holding a prominent Lesbian and Gay Band Association banner, playing an eclectic

mix of music, ranging from “Somewhere” from West Side Story, “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, “Give Me Everything Tonight” by Pitbull and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic/Simple Gifts” medley. This was the day they could all come together, walk and play together for such an important and prestigious event: the Inauguration of the President of the United States. Each band operates in their own communities, performing concerts, marching in parades and participating in Pride Events. Often several will collaborate in Pride Parades or visit other cities. Capital Pride Band from Columbus, Ohio performed


in the 2012 Pittsburgh Pride March, so their talents were visible to Pittsburgh residents. Adam DeRosa is the current president of the LGBA, and has been since October 2011. He is a member of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble. According to Adam, the purpose of the LGBA exists to provide a network of lesbian and gay bands and to promote community bands. But they do much more than participate in their local communities. Witness the Capital Pride Band appearance in Pittsburgh. According to Mr. DeRosa, any member of the 27 groups that comprise the LGBA was able to participate in the Inauguration Parade. Pre-registration had to be completed by the end of October. After credentialing by the Secret Service, each member paid the registration fee and made arrangements to travel to Baltimore, where the group stayed and practiced. Each participant was responsible for paying for their own transportation to Baltimore. Fundraisers were held, the most popular being $30 in 30 days in which participants and other members of LGBA each raised $30 in 30 days. The registration fees and fundraising proceeds were used to transport the group from Baltimore to Washington DC.

in one of the member cities, performing concerts and marching in the Pride Parade of the sponsoring city. Recently, it was Dallas, and this year at Atlanta Pride in October 2013. Next on the agenda is the Gay Games in Cleveland in 2014. Can Pittsburgh be far behind? Highlights from last year were LGBAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appearance at the 2012 AIDS Walk on Washington and 2012 World Pride in London. These were prestigious events and it demonstrates the Lesbian and Gay Band Associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national and international reputation. They do it for the pride of performing and pride in their community: their local communities and the Lesbian and Gay community. One of their shining moments was performing in the Inaugural Parade. You could sense their pride as the Lesbian and Gay Band Association marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and played for the President of the United States. Strike up the Band!

Each year LGBA has an annual meeting

3 9

Equa lMa ga z




All-male ballet company injects humor into high art Dancer Robert Carter had only half-finished his make-up by the time he was able to speak on the phone before a performance in England. Since 1995, he has prepared for shows with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo by applying liberal amounts of eyeshadow, donning a tutu and strapping on pointe shoes. “No one really joins this company to do the male roles,” he says of the troupe known as “The Trocks.” Formed in 1974, the New Yorkbased all-male group performs traditional ballet with a satirical yet respectful look at the art. Now the troupe travels the world, performing 120 shows per year, including an April 5 appearance at the Byham Theater.


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Once the shock of visible chest hair on otherwise prima ballerinas wears off, the audience can gawk at perfectly executed choreography just before they guffaw at perfectly funny pratfalls. Carter says the performances, including 50 repertory pieces with scenes from “Swan Lake” to “Sleeping Beauty,” are more of a commentary on the art than an imitation of female ballerinas. “Explaining the joke kind of takes the humor out of it … it all depends on the perspective of who’s watching,” he says. Down to the Trocks’ stage names – like Carter’s

Tiaras, Testosterone and Tutus By Stacey Federoff

“The drag aspect of it is merely an element, it’s not what it’s all about,” he says. “We’re first and foremost a dance company.”

“You don’t see that much comedy in ballet,” he says. “It’s good for the art form to keep humble. We can be very stuffy in the ballet world.” aliases Olga Supphozova (“Olga is a glamour girl, but she’s also got a lot of fire.”) – humor can help ease the audience into a conversation about gender performance, says Peter Merz, associate professor and head of ballet at Point Park University. “You don’t see that much comedy in ballet,” he says. “It’s good for the art form to keep humble. We can be very stuffy in the ballet world.” Especially in early English ballet, men played many female parts. Even today, female characters performed by men include the evil fairy godmother Carabosse in “Sleeping Beauty,” the stepsisters in “Cinderella” and the Widow Simone in “La Fille Mal Gardee.”

These men are meant to create imposing or evil personas when matched with ethereal feminine leads, Merz says. With the help of companies like the Trocks, more non-genderspecific ballet roles have been created and same-sex partner dances have become more widely used, he says. Carter, 38, originally from Charleston, S.C., says during his 18 years with the Trocks, the dancing has improved while the wit has remained the same. “The drag aspect of it is merely an element, it’s not what it’s all about,” he says. “We’re first and foremost a dance company.”

Pointe-rs for Men

Toe shoes and classes more common for men at a young age By Stacey Federoff Even though Kerri Angeletti has worked at Dancer’s Pointe in the Strip District for 11 years, she sees most of the silk ballet shoes go out the door with women. “Dancing on pointe really works different muscle groups than what male dancers typically work,” she says. As manager, Angeletti has sold only three or four pairs to men, but those men may have been students at Point Park where dance professor Peter Merz says he encourages them to at least try pointe. “I’ve suggested it to my male students who want to test their flexibility and strength in their feet and ankles,” he says. Balancing on pointe shoes, like the members of Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, takes more practice for the heavier body, slimmer pelvis and higher center of gravity in a man. A dancer has to master the mind-body connection that comes with performing on their toes, as Merz did when he himself danced on pointe in the past.

Robert Carter, a dancer with the Trocks, started taking pointe at 11 years old, when young girls usually receive their first pair of toe shoes as a rite of passage. It was the reason he stuck with dancing. “Years ago it wasn’t so common,” Carter says. “Nowadays, not only is there encouragement to try it, there’s a lot of interest.” Merz says the Penn Avenue store stocks up to a women’s size 12, equivalent to a men’s size 10. Shoes worn by the Trocks have been as big as a size 17. Regardless of gender, fitting and sizing can last between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the foot of the dancer. “Everybody’s feet are different and it’s just finding the shoe the dancer’s feet are most comfortable in,” she says. Dancer’s Pointe, 2821 Penn Ave., Strip District sells pointe shoes for between $55 to $96 and is open noon to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.


Equa lMa ga z

The group has not visited Pittsburgh for at least 15 years, says Paul Organisak, executive director of the Pittsburgh Dance Council. “The Trocks have always put quality of performance first and it’s why I love them and why they were selected for the Dance Council season,” he says, adding that Pittsburgh Ballet will perform “Cinderella” April 19 to 21 to close the 2012-13 season. But, he was unsure if men or women will be playing the stepsisters. Les Ballet Trockaderos de Monte Carlo performs at 8 p.m. April 5 at the Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St., Downtown. Tickets for the show, presented by Pittsburgh Dance Council and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, are between $19 and $48, available by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg


is coming

MONDAY, MAY 13, 2013



Equa lMa ga z


Eat that

Shepherd’s Pie. By Phil ip Ezzo The thought of Irish cuisine often brings to mind the stereotypical images of potatoes and whiskey. Do we really believe that was all our Irish forebears ate? I’m sure if we thought hard enough we might also envision a pot of meat stew… cooked with potatoes. Variety is definitely not synonymous with the origins of Irish food, but there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before we pass judgment on a seemingly bland menu. Ireland has always been a farming country, filled with livestock and vegetables. Therefore, their food choices were often influenced by what they had available, and their uncomplicated way of life influenced the preparation of those ingredients. Irish food was, and continues to be, down-to-earth. It is true that potatoes and whiskey have had a remarkable impact on the Irish people from the Middle Ages onward, but they also used Lamb and Mutton quite frequently as well as corned beef, cabbage, and oatmeal. My dad always said that meat and potatoes would put hair on my chest. I guess it worked! The use of dark beers during the cooking process has also become a widely practiced tradition. Guiness is probably the most popular brand of Irish beer, which is actually a dry stout, which gets its burnt, caramel-like flavor from the roasted unmalted barley. Using Guiness in stews and during the braising of meats are both popular ways of putting the stout to non-traditional use in the kitchen. If you intend on using it in any recipes this St. Patty’s Day, make sure to get extra so you don’t end up drinking all of your ingredient. Corned beef, while not exclusively Irish fare, is very often associated with the country’s cuisine. It is a salt-cured beef that gets its name from the “corns” of salt, which are used to treat the meat. Throw that on a sandwich, next to a pile of mashed potatoes, and I’ll be your dinner guest, most definitely! Shepherd’s Pie is one of the more interesting dishes that I’ve come across. Although the recipe also has origins in Britain, it is considered a traditional Irish favorite. You may have heard it referred to as “cottage” pie in some circles, but they are both essentially meat pies made with either lamb or beef (or both). For the sake of ease, I’ve decided to include a basic Shepherd’s Pie recipe designed for the novice home chef. If you are more comfortable in the kitchen than some, feel free to experiment!


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

Simple Shepherd’s Pie


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Peel and quarter potatoes; boil in salted water until tender.


2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt a half stick of butter in large frying pan.

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 1 onion chopped 2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas 2 lbs. potatoes 1 stick butter 1/2 cup Guiness Stout 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, or any other seasonings you may want to incorporate

3. Sauté the onions in butter until tender over medium heat. If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked. 4. Add ground beef and sauté until brown. Add salt and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Deglaze the pan with a half a cup of Guiness and cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 10 minutes, adding more as necessary to keep it moist.

5. Smash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste with garlic powder, salt and pepper. (Adding some chives is also a really great idea.) 6. Distribute beef and onions evenly in baking dish. (I recommend stoneware or ceramic) Spread mashed potatoes on top. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes. The goal is to create peaks that will brown nicely under the broiler. 7. Cook in 400-degree oven until bubbling and brown. It should take about 30 minutes. Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

JOIN EQUAL FOR BROADWAY NIGHT IN PITTSBURGH! Equal Magazine is pleased to partner with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to provide a discount ticket code to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Anything Goes!


Visit and enter EQUAL1213 in the promo box to receive your discount.


Equa lMa ga z


Is “Gay Culture”

EVOLVING or DYING? By Gary Van Horn

I attended my first gay pride in 1995, and remember all too well the fear that grew inside of me as I headed towards Mellon Park. But as I walked around, and saw people who were “just like me”, my fear turned into freedom, strength and pride. And I remember watching activist after activist on stage, screaming and yelling. They were using words not meant for the public ear; they were angry and fed up and demanding equality. Fast forward to 2013, and I see an interesting phenomenon taking place…. “gay culture” as we know it is changing in Pittsburgh’s LGBT community and changing quickly. The bars are no longer a place to hide and “be gay” anymore. Pittsburgh has established some great social groups such as G2H2, Lez Liquor Hour, Pittsburgh FrontRunners, and Gay for Good. These groups are out and proud and making some outstanding contributions in the community. And yet I continue to hear—mainly from the “old gay guard,”--a criticism of these groups taking their business to heterosexual establishments. As we continue to fight to be treated equally, should we only support gay owned and operated establishments or should we be collaborating and working with companies and businesses that want to reach out and support us? For many in the gay world, this evolution that everything that gay people do isn’t just gay is both a triumph and a threat. It is a triumph because it is what we always dreamed of--a world in which being gay is a non-issue among our families, friends, and neighbors. But it


E q u a l M a g a z i n e. o rg

is a threat in the way that all loss is a threat. For many of those “old guard” who grew up fighting a world of now-inconceivable silence and shame, distinctive gayness became an integral part of who they are. It helped define them not only to the world but also to themselves. Letting that go is as hard as it is liberating, as saddening as it is invigorating. It is a fact that in Massachusetts, the term “gay marriage” has been abolished. The marriage licenses gay couples receive are indistinguishable from those given to straight couples. On paper, the difference is now history. In the real world, the consequences of that are still unfolding. So where does that leave our great City of Pittsburgh? Believe me Pittsburgh still has a ways to go before it is known as a gay mecca. Back in 1995, Pride was held in a small park in the East End. Today, Pittsburgh Pride shuts down Liberty Avenue for two days and attracts 85,000 people, making it one of the busiest

It is a fact that in Massachusetts, the term “gay marriage” has been abolished.

weekends of the year in the city. For the past two years people have spent their lunch hour watching a “flash mob” in the streets, dancing and singing along, without thinking twice that it was just performed by the LGBT community and their allies. The Pub Crawl that kicks off Pride weekend no longer consists of just gay and lesbian bars, but now includes bars such as the Rivers Casino and Taste of Dahntahn. And we are soon embarking on a monthly bingo event that will bring together traditionally straight organizations in an effort to work together and bring these folks to the table with us. It’s time for people to realize that“gay culture” as we know it is coming to an end. Not the end of homosexuality, but rather that there will no longer be a separate community. That the distinction between gay and straight culture will become so blurred, so fractured, and so intermingled that it may become more helpful not to examine them separately at all. We will be treated as equals and no one will feel the fear I did in 1995. My hope is that everyone will be able to feel the pride and freedom I felt that day, and I still feel every day as I walk through Pittsburgh and see two lesbians kissing goodbye, or a drag queen walking to a bar in Lawrenceville, or a couple who are at a gay event for the first time. I see the transition of their faces from the beginning until the end of the event, and witness once again the same transition I felt at my first Pride.

INCLUSION ENERGIZED BY LANXESS Corporation proudly supports diversity in the Pittsburgh region. With 13 businesses on 5 continents, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been helping our industrial partners make life, and the world, a little better in more than 3,000 ways. For more information, visit


Equa lMa ga z

illustration by robert rodriguez



April 16-21 • HEiNZ HAll

RACHEL YORK B ox o ffic e at t h e ate r s q ua r e • 412-392-4900

groups 10+ TiCKETs 412-471-6930

pnc bRoadway acRoss ameRica-pittsbuRgh is a pResentation of the pittsbuRgh cultuRal tRust, pittsbuRgh symphony and bRoadway acRoss ameRica.

anythinggoesthemusical .com

R o u n d a b o u t t h e at R e c o m pa n y i s a n o t- f o R - p R o f i t o R g a n i z at i o n .

Equal Magazine March 2013  

Our March Issue featured the larger than life tony-nominated Billy Porter on the cover. This issue was a lot of fun to design it was the fir...