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June/July 2019 | VOLUME 30, NO. 3


oscars - aBc/rick rowell • JcM - Mick rock • Virgin Voyages

38 46

HOW DID THE CAREER of Jake Resnicow lead him to mount what’s being billed as the largest single music event during NYC Pride Week?

30 TALES FOR A NEW GENERATION AS MURRAY BARTLETT PREPARES for the premiere of Netflix’s reborn Tales of

the City, he reveals what it’s like to be back in the land of Looking.

34 SIGNS OF RESISTANCE AS WE OBSERVE 50 YEARS since the Stonewall Uprising, we take a look at the visual images that set us on our march toward equality.

38 BILLY PORTER FROM THE STRUGGLES OF HIS early career through making a home for himself in Pose, Porter reveals his category: fierce, enduring realness.

42 JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL 20 YEARS AFTER THE DEBUT OF HEDWIG, its creator finds new ways to bring it to life - plus new projects alongside Glenn Close and Patti LuPone.


WHETHER YOUR FLAVOR IS family-friendly fun or scantily clad lads in the Caribbean sun, let us help you find community on the high seas.






met; 2,736 days after same-sex marriage was made legal in New York State; 1,230 days after he proposed, and 435 days after we first found the merry-go-round where we would wed. Yet to say I was not dealing with it well would have been a massive understatement. 41 Days Until I Do: I am shopping for something to wear to my “engagement shoot.” I’d never heard of such a thing when our photographer explained it was essential. About a month before the wedding, she’d meet us for the shoot. We’d get some nice pictures; she’d get a sense of how to get us wedding shots we’d love. However, I had embarked on a nine month plan of diet and exercise that I estimated would have me just barely ready for my wedding day. A month out, I was certainly not. I was also no longer sure of my size. Finally, I picked out a lavender sweater that seemed to just fit and headed home, upset. As I reached into the shopping bag to show it to Justin, I explained to him that I wasn’t ready. I was too nervous. I had spent most of my adult life accepting the idea that I, as a gay man, would never get married and that perhaps we were making a huge mistake.“It’s a really nice color,” he replied. 17 Days Until I Do: It was the kind of day I normally would have gone out after work, in order to not take the stress of the day home with me. But we had a “phone meeting” about the wedding. By that point, it seemed we were always meeting about something: food, music, accommodations, design. Justin - to his credit - had handled many by himself. But there were times we were expected to be the happy couple — and that day, I couldn’t find my blushing groom face. I had been constantly worried for months, secretly sure we’d created a very public opportunity to fail. I was exhausted: Done with running errands, picking poems and making decisions.“I will spend the rest of my life telling people to never get married,” I informed Justin, hot tears running down my face. I was still wiping them away when the phone rang. 7 Days Until I Do: I was determined to create a wedding ensemble as over-the-top as possible without inducing regret. The result was a melange of patterns that included paisley, checks, stripes, polka dots and a print that resembled extreme close-ups of butterfly wings. I had a top hat like something out of My Fair Lady and a rhinestone-encrusted bow tie like something out of Chippendales. And I had never tried them all on together. After the meeting meltdown, I ‘d actively tried to stop thinking about the wedding, lest I lose my nerve altogether. But I knew I had to do this. So I went out to a long brunch with a member of my wedding party and stumbled home emboldened by several Bloody Marys. Once I’d gotten it all on, I stared at myself in the mirror, wanting to believe it made some sort of sense. But I couldn’t escape the fear that I’d been fooling myself all along with the idea that I could be a groom. 1 Day Until I Do: In the final days, I wrestled with the idea that — although I’d spent my life inviting people to shows I’d written and performances I’d given, it might be preposterous to believe they’d want to watch me simply love and be loved. Mentally, I thought I’d made my peace with it by the time we’d reached Bear Mountain Inn, but my body had not gotten the memo. As I began to greet excited guests, I felt a shaking begin deep inside me. I did everything I was supposed to: giving out excited hugs, raising glasses of cheer. But I went to sleep that night wondering if I might still be shaking when I walked down the aisle the next day. I awoke with new and unexpected calm. I ate breakfast and carefully copied my vows for the ceremony. I tried not to look like I was freezing as I posed for pictures in the January cold. And when the big moment arrived, I stood beside my Mom and stepped to the head of the aisle in the glow of the merry-go-round, where I felt the greatest outpouring of love I’ve ever known. I made my way to my husband-to-be and wept with joy and relief. We kissed, and the painted ponies went up and down, and the evening was so splendid, I wish I could say I should never have worried. But then I couldn’t say: I wouldn’t have changed a thing. ■ JUNE/JULY 2019



Steve Gottfried Jeffrey James Keyes, Christopher Lisotta, Deborah L. Martin, Kevin Phinney, Jonathan Roche, Eric Rosen, Wade Rouse, Jennifer Schiavone, Jeff Simmons, Megan Venzin ADMINISTRATION Luswin Cote NATIONAL DISPLAY ADVERTISING

Rivendell Media 212.242.6863

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER David Miller EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR | Thomas K. Hanlon GENERAL MANAGER DIRECTOR | OPERATIONS MGMT Ray Winn DIRECTOR | ORDER MGMT Heather Gambaro MANAGER | MARKETING Erin Jordan SERVICES MANAGER | OPERATION MGMT Leonard Porter COORDINATOR | OPERATIONS Elvins Cruz MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT MARKETING Kristine Pulaski MANAGER CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER David Friedman DIRECTOR | EVENTS MGMT Rebecca Stolcz MANAGER | CREDIT & Rosa Meinhoffer COLLECTIONS Dan Finnegan For national advertising inquiries, call: 212.691.5127. Subscriptions: One year (6 issues): $19.95; 12 issues: $34.95. Reproduction of any article, listing or advertisement without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. The people, businesses and organizations appearing in Metrosource are supportive of the gay community. Mention of any person, business or organization is not a reflection of their sexual orientation. ©2019 Davler Media Group LLC. All rights reserved. Metrosource is a registered trademark of Davler Media Group LLC. Printed in the USA. Metrosource Davler Media Group 213 West 35th St., Suite 12W New York, NY 10001 212.691.5127

JUNE 26, 2019
















20 CULTURE 6 THE SCOPE Salute the year’s best queer literature, help save global lgBTQ refugees, and get details about some of the world’s best Pride parties.

14 SCREEN adam driver gets lost in Don Quixote, and dr. ruth reveals her intriguing past.

22 MUSIC Feel Marina’s Love and chaka Kahn’s Happiness.



Terence traces technology that helped him come out and save his relationship.

25 FINANCE if you think life insurance is only for heirs, think again.

BODY 20 MeTrohiv daniel Franzese on his vital work with elizabeth Taylor aids foundation and more.

51 HEALTH delicious beverages infused with garden goodness.

VIEWS 21 Pov Kevin explains why brotherhood is the role that makes him proudest.

28 DIARY Wade’s mom makes a daring choice in the wake of her son coming out.

56 LAST CALL The director of Rocketman turns Taron into elton.

This Page: The Man Who Killed don QuixoTe courTesy screen Media FilMs • PhoTo crediT: gavin Bond. © 2018 ParaMounT PicTures • crediT sean BlacK • sTocKPhoTo coPyrighT Francesco diBarTolo


June/July 2019 | VOLUME 30, NO. 3

Brian had his HIV under control with medication. But smoking with HIV caused him to have serious health problems, including a stroke, a blood clot in his lungs and surgery on an artery in his neck. Smoking makes living with HIV much worse. You can quit.



HIV alone didn’t cause the clogged artery in my neck. Smoking with HIV did. Brian, age 45, California

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night. Talk show host and noted musical theater enthusiast James Corden first hosted in 2016. Kevin Spacey took the mantle in 2017, which in retrospect probably did not play so well with fans of consent. And then came last year’s intriguing experiment, with Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban offering their unique, musical twist on the gig. This year, Tony is back in familiar territory as the King of Carpool Karaoke makes his return to the emcee’s microphone. While we won’t know who’ll take home the Great White Way’s ultimate accolades until the envelopes are opened, a few things seem certain. We




can expect gripping performances from the mythic folk opera Hadestown, delightful drag-fest Tootsie, and the ebulliently theatrical, LGBTQ-loving The Prom. We’ll likely see a Cole Porter vs. Rodgers & Hammerstein face-off between Kiss Me, Kate and Oklahoma. And, if past is prologue, the awards will continue to struggle to find ways to show off Broadway’s non-musical offerings. In those categories, winners could include Irish Troubles-era drama The Ferryman, Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harvey Fierstein’s beloved behind-the-queen’s slice-of-life Torch Song. Tune in to CBS June 9 for all the belting and ballyhoo.





THIS PAGE: DRAG cover by scott kirby • (left) sweetie by michael wakefield • (right) jackie beat by dusti cunningham • cyclist Photo by Pablo guerrero on unsPlash




outsiders. Today, in tandem with society’s increased acceptance of gay culture and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s rise as a TV juggernaut, drag has moved decidedly into the entertainment mainstream. So what better time to trace the evolution of the art form? Drag: Combing Through the Big Wigs of Show Business (Rizzoli New York; $35) boasts text by funnyman Frank DeCaro and a forward by entertainment legend Bruce Vilanch. It traces the drag’s unique blend of fashion and fun, illusion and extravagance through a number of milestones.


Just a few of these include Bosom Buddies and Tootsie, To Wong Foo… and Hedwig, La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots. You’ll find several recent nominees for the title of Metrosource’s “Legendary NYC Drag Queen We Love”here, including Hedda Lettuce and Lypsinka. Meanwhile, some of the other bold face dames who’ll grace its pages include Bianca del Rio, Miss Coco Peru, Varla Jean Merman and Charles Busch. With commentary, interviews and pictures chronicling over 100 years of drag around the globe, this is one lewk book no fan of drag should be without.


PEDAL PUSHERS “EACH YEAR, MORE THAN 2,800 PEOPLE FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY and world come together,” reports AIDS/LifeCycle. “Over the

course of a week, they make an epic 545 mile journey down the coast of California from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In AIDS/ LifeCycle 2018, 2,300 cyclists and more than 650 volunteers raised a record $16.6 million for critical HIV/AIDS services provided by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.” Since its founding in 2002, AIDS/Lifecycle has consistently raised millions of dollars for these invaluable organizations. And although we live in a world where attitudes toward HIV are more progressive than ever, such high-profile fundraisers serve a multitude of

purposes: People still depend on HIV/AIDS medical care, testing and prevention services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The event also raises awareness in a way that helps end the stigma surrounding HIV/ AIDS, while provide life-affirming experiences for those whose lives have been touched by the virus. What’s more AIDS/Lifecycle provides organizational support for activists and volunteers fighting to end the epidemic, and a way for our community to honor those who have passed from AIDS-related causes. This year’s AIDS/ Lifecycle journey will run June 2–9. Get more information on how you can ride, volunteer or fund raise online. METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019







LGBTQ people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, the Sultanate of Brunei has recently made headlines for allowing the stoning and state-sanctioned murder of members of the global LGBTQ community. But we’re finding ways to fight back: Modern Exodus is a new charity working with those who face prosecution or worse. They’ll assist with resettlement, provide temporary housing and transportation, and help people meet basic needs. Modern Exodus can even help some asylum seekers with obtaining VISAs for legal work. So far, the organization has received nearly 200 applications, and several companies have agreed to lend support. Celebrities are also standing up to support this mission. Notables include Tan France of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Vixen of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame. On Instagram, follow @ModernExodus to see striking images — both of these supporters and of LGBTQ people seeking safety from across the globe. Consider doing your part by making a donation in support of this cause in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall.




few thiNgs Call summer to miNd like a

delicious root beer float. However, when it comes to drinks, we’ve only got room in our diets for ones that will lift us up or chill us out. Fortunately, we came across Root Out root beer flavored whisky (a blend of root beer flavoring and Canadian blended whisky). Not only does it really taste like the classic soda, but it’s also the key ingredient in the“Root Out Float,”which will be sure to shake up your summer: Ingredients: 2 oz. Root Out Root Beer Flavored Whisky 1/2 oz. Vanilla Vodka 1 oz. RumChata Whipped Cream Ice Preparation: Pour ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Pour into a glass over ice and top with whipped cream. Enjoy raising a glass to summer and check out more tongue-tingling Root Out recipes online.




Kitchen at Pier 97 to party all weekend long. LA PRIDE West Hollywood always serves up glamor and celebrities for Pride. June 8–9 will bring thousands to West Hollywood Park, to see headliners including Meghan Trainor. Keep your eyes trained on the afterparties for some of your favorite heartthrobs from the world of TV, film and music. PORTLAND PRIDE The Rose City is one of the hottest food and beer destinations in the world right now.“Visibility. Celebration. Education,” is their Pride theme for 2019. Their waterfront festival and parade takes place June 15–16. NEW ORLEANS PRIDE Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence aren’t the only times to laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll) in the cultural capital of Louisiana. The weekend of June 7–8 promises a slate of events leading up to their Pride parade on Sunday. KEY WEST PRIDE While Key West almost always seems like a little slice of gay paradise, Pride is a particularly good time to stop by. Though it’s high summer, cross breezes (and plenty of tropical cocktails) keep revelers feeling cool. Celebrations take place from Wednesday, June 5 until Sunday, June 9.

this page: photo by Christopher smith Courtesy Netflix • float image Courtesy of root out root beer flavored whiskey



WORLDPRIDE For the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, New York is hosting WorldPride 2019. A month of LGBTQ events start on June 1. The action culminates June 30th when the biggest Pride march ever steps off from 26th St. and Fifth Ave. And, of course, no NYC Pride would be complete without dancing on the water. Head to Pride Island in Hell’s





community has had on the ever-changing face of New York. And as the world looks to NYC for WorldPride and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, some of the city’s finest cultural institutions will be showing that support in the form of dedicated exhibitions. For example, at the Museum of the City of New York, be sure to check out PRIDE: Photographs of Stonewall and Beyond by Fred W. McDarrah. This exhibit opens in early June and celebrates the work and life of the famed Village Voice photographer. Though not self-identified as LGBTQ, McDarrah chronicled many gay events throughout his long career as an ally, including Pride celebrations. His lens saw


From Left: Juliana Huxtable (American, born 1987). The Feminist Scam, 2017. Inkjet print, vinyl, magnets on metal sheet, 96 × 48 in. (243.8 × 121.9 cm) Courtesy of the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, NY/LA. ©Juliana Huxtable. (Photo: Joerg Lohse); Elektra KB (Colombian). Protest Sign II, 2017. Textile, felt, thread, 66 x 34 in. (167.6 x 86.4 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Elektra KB; Tuesday Smillie (American, born 1981). S.T.A.R., 2012. Watercolor, collage on board, 9½ x 11 in. (24.1 x 27.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Tuesday Smillie

plenty of action, including the historic Stonewall Uprising. ( Or you can head across the East River, where they’re considering Stonewall as a new beginning in Nobody Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall at the Brooklyn Museum. This exhibit showcases more than 20 LGBTQ artists born after 1969, which makes this much more of a contemporary exhibit than other shows looking back at Stonewall. Media which includes painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video chronicle the artists’ place in a world where queer identity has been constantly evolving. Organizers say that exhibit is also meant to explore “interconnected themes of revolt, commemoration, care and desire.”



of awarding LGBTQ excellence.“In the ongoing work for LGBTQ equality, literature plays a distinct and powerful role—offering roadmaps for loving, fighting, and thriving,” Lambda Literary Executive Director Sue Landers observes of the awards, known as “The Lammys.” Last year’s honorees include Lambda Trustee Award winner Roxanne Gay and Lambda Visionary Award winner Edmund White. In search of this year’s nominees, the foundation reviewed over 1000 books from more than 300 publishers. A panel

of some 60 professionals pored over the works. They ultimately nominated artists in categories varying from Gay Mysteries to Lesbian Fiction to Transgender Poetry to literature for LGBTQ Children and Young Adults. An estimated 600 guests will attend the 2019 awards ceremony June at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s ceremony host will be the ever-fabulous Mx. Justin Vivian Bond. Organizers report that the winners will be announced in time for you to stock up on queer literature across 24 categories to add to your summer reading lists. METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019



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.




BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects, including:

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%).

} 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

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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.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088. Your healthcare provider will need to do tests to monitor your health before and during treatment with BIKTARVY.


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Take BIKTARVY 1 time each day with or without food.

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} 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.

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about BIKTARVY. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn more.

} Go to or call 1-800-GILEAD-5. } If you need help paying for your medicine,

visit for program information.

BIKTARVY, the BIKTARVY Logo, DAILY CHARGE, the DAILY CHARGE Logo, KEEP PUSHING, LOVE WHAT’S INSIDE, GILEAD, and the GILEAD Logo are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc., or its related companies. Version date: December 2018 © 2019 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. BVYC0102 01/19


Because HIV doesn’t change who you are. BIKTARVY® is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in certain adults. BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS.

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Please see Important Facts about BIKTARVY, including important warnings, on the previous page and visit






as the premiere interactive institution for documents and objects which chronicle free expression and our First Amendment Rights. Therefore, it’s only fitting that they’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement with an exhibition called Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Civil Rights Movement. According to museum representatives, the exhibition will “look at popular culture’s role in influencing attitudes about the LGBTQ community through film, television and music, and explore how the gay rights movement harnessed the power of public protest and demonstration to change

laws and shatter stereotypes.” A variety of media will be presented to tell the story of the community’s extraordinary advances during the last half century. As the museum aims to be interactive, there will be something for every attendee (whether you’re more a reader, listener or viewer). As a fun bonus, the Newseum is partnering with the Hamilton Hotel to present “The Newsroom: Rise Up” suite. The room was curated with the guidance of famed LGBTQ actor, author and activist Alan Cumming and will feature artifacts and materials related to the exhibition.You can even enter a contest for a chance to win a stay at the suite.





massive explosions, loss of life and limb. And just when it seemed that June (Elisabeth Moss) would finally escape Gilead with her daughter and gender traitor pal Emily (Alexis Bledel), June turned back to rescuing her other daughter Hannah. We’ve been keeping our eyes out for hints about season three since we first glimpsed those supremely creepy pictures at the National Mall in D.C. with the Washington Monument replaced by a giant cross. Here’s what we know: Returning characters will include Bradley Whitford, now as a series regular, and Ann Dowd — though we don’t know how she will be changed by her character’s stabbing. Cast additions will include Christopher Meloni (Pose) and Elizabeth Reaser (Haunting of Hill House) as Commander and Mrs. Winslow, who’ll play host to the Waterfords. The show’s late premiere (June 5) means it will miss this year’s Emmy eligibility. So we’ll have to wait a while to see cast favorites like Samira Wiley get another chance at the podium. In better news, Atwood is returning to Gilead on the page with a sequel called The Testaments, slated for release in September 2019.




MADRID PRIDE Madrid is one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in Europe, where you can take in the Prado Museum and the Escorial Palace before or after celebrating a caliente Pride, June 28 through July 7. The main event, a massive parade, happens Saturday, July 6. ROME PRIDE Celebrate gay pride in the Eternal City! Since ancient times, Romans have known how to throw a party. This year, they’re celebrating 25 years (or venticinque anni) of Gay Pride Roma. The celebration takes place on June 8, beginnng at the famed Piazza de Repubblica in the center of Rome. MEXICO CITY PRIDE Considering tensions at the border, heading to Mexico City for Pride might be quite the political statement to make this year. According to organizers, this year’s Pride festival will be one of the hottest in Latin America. Las festas begin Thursday, June 27 and wrap Sunday, June 30. They include a parade and all-night party at the famed Zocalo. An estimated million people are expected to attend. mexico-city-gay-pride/ COLOGNE PRIDE Cologne (or Köln, as the locals spell it) is one of the gayest cities in Germany. And their annual Pride celebration will certainly celebrate their inclusivity with a decidedly Teutonic air. This year’s festival takes place July 5–8. Multiple parties and other events are sure to call to mind the spirit of Cabaret.

this page: photo by Maria bryk courtesy NewseuM • photo courtesy hulu



TEL AVIV PRIDE Attendees from all corners of the world head to the hottest city in Israel for Pride. There’s a full week of Pride events, taking place June 9–15. The festivities will include drag shows, floats, a parade and a host of other events celebrating the LGBTQ spirit in the Holy Land.

Š2019 FX Networks LLC. All rights reserved.




Dr. Ruth is the new Mr. Rogers, Charlize Theron is running for president, a delivery man is doing good with duffel bags of stolen cash, and Terry Gilliam is taking one last tilt at the tale of Don Quixote. BY JONATHAN ROCHE


of such wonderfully weird films as Brazil and The Fisher King. Gilliam has been famously trying to make a film about Don Quixote for 25 years. In his last major attempt, Johnny Depp was slated to play the title character. That failed attempt ultimately bore a pretty fun documentary about what an epic disaster the production was (Lost in La Mancha). Given its source material, it’s appropriate that this project has proven such an unobtainable obsession for Gilliam. The story of the man who tilted at windmills has become the very windmill at which Gilliam has been tilting. However, that metaphor only holds as long as the director fails to conquer his would-be giant. But, after a circuitous journey, the film is at last finished. At its center are excellent performances by actors Adam Driver and Jonathan Price (plus plenty of Gilliam’s surreal, magical-realist flair). The result is a story that blurs the line between illusion and reality, delusion and purposefulness. Toby (Driver) is a hotshot young



director phoning-in a commercial for booze that uses the Don Quixote story as its visual hook. He’s surprised when a copy of the student film he made a decade ago, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, mysteriously surfaces. And this sends Toby down a rabbit hole of his own as he explores past mistakes. That he’s sleeping with the wife of his boss (Stellan Skarsgård) adds to the chaos. Even more ensues when he discovers he has inadvertently coached his Don Quixote (Price) into madness. The feverish odyssey begins yanking Toby along. The narrative slips so frequently between reality and fantasy that audiences may soon not be sure whether there is any difference. THE WORD: Gilliam is a master, but what he’s attempting is a tight-rope walk of filmmaking that may not make it to the other side. Though it would be nice to congratulate Gilliam on finally slaying his giant, this Quixote may be one more windmilltilter — and yet another grasp for the film its creator truly dreams of creating. COMING TO: Streaming




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of horrifying. At the same time it’s also beautiful — a combination of qualities that aptly describes much of life in the end. In the case of this ďŹ lm, it’s particularly true of Diane’s life, which is full of love but also heavy with burdens and regrets. Diane lives alone in Western Massachusetts, where she ďŹ lls her days by taking care of other people. (However, she is not so apt to do the same for herself.) She makes it her business to be eternally on the move — visiting old relatives and sick friends, even serving the hungry at her church’s soup kitchen. Her greatest source of worry is her drug-addicted son (Jake Lacy - The OfďŹ ce, Carol), who repays all Diane’s care with unkindness. Throughout all this, Diane also appears to be holding on to something, some deep and unknowable guilt. And the harder she holds on to it, the faster her life seems to rush by her in a blur. In his debut feature (following his superb

documentary, Hitchcock/Truffaut) Kent Jones pursues one of the greatest questions in life: It’s a mystery so elusive that it can scarcely be put into words. And yet, in the role of Diane, veteran actress Mary Kay Place (The Big Chill, Being John Malkovich) manages to embody that in what is likely the greatest role in her long and esteemed career. The ďŹ lm’s release is likely far too early to sustain momentum through to next Oscar season, but this performance absolutely deserves a nomination. Place is backed by an amazing cast of actors including Andrea Martin, Estelle Parsons, Deirdre O’Connell, Joyce Van Patten, Phyllis Gallagher and Glynnis O’Connor. Together they inhabit one of the most subtle and lived-in movies I have seen in recent years. THE WORD: This must-see ďŹ lm is surprising, difďŹ cult to categorize and possesses nearly unfathomable hidden depths.You cannot always see them, but will feel them looming underneath you. COMING TO: Theaters


sayas (Personal Shopper, Clouds of Sils Maria, Carlos) lands a bit on the lighter side of his personal spectrum - or at least so it seems on the surface. Non-ďŹ ction leads audiences on a stroll through the lives of a few intellectual Parisians. They are busy working in and around — or more generally discussing — the ins and outs of the publishing industry and how it is changing. Naturally, there is more at play in their breezy conversations than the buying and selling of books. Characters who are introduced to us as effete and mannered, quintessentially intellectual and oh-so-French quickly relax into the shape of more normal people. This is to say that quite a lot of them are rather busy having affairs with one another. LĂŠonard (Vincent Macaigne - The Innocents, Chien) is earnestly trying to get his book published. However, Alain (Guillaume Canet - Tell No One) is trying to express in the most subtle way possible that he will not be the one to put it in print. Meanwhile, Alain doesn’t realize that the frumpy LĂŠonard has been having a long affair with Alain’s wife Selena (Juliette Binoche). The absurdity is heightened by the fact that Leonard has a habit of detailing his real relationships, thinly veiled, in his tales. But Alain himself is also busy having an af-

fair (as, by this point, audiences may come to imagine that most French people are). It’s worth noting there’s no drama surrounding these secret trysts. That’s refreshing, and allows the ďŹ lm’s energy to remain intelligent and civilized as the characters muse on upon art and life and the places the two intersect. THE WORD: Dry, wry humor is the order of the ďŹ lm. It may not be a comedy for everyone, but those in the mood for smart, French fare will ďŹ nd it rewarding and uplifting. COMING TO: Theaters METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019


ASK DR RUTH film about a thoroughly beloved public figure, Ask Dr. Ruth almost immediately seems a fitting companion to last year’s hit documentary about Mr. Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. True, she may have appeared more bawdy than he early in her career. However by now, the sight of this adorable and grandmotherly four-foot-seven-inch woman bouncing on her heels while enthusiastically declaring “Let’s talk about sex!” in a cartoonishly cute German accent will be at once familiar and heartwarming. For those unfamiliar with the disarmingly straight-talking sex therapist personality of the 1980s, there may be no better introduction than this delightful new documentary. Even those who remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer well will discover much about the stillvivacious 90-year-old that they did not know previously. For starters, she survived the Holocaust (although her parents did not). There’s also the fact that later in Israel, she was a sniper for a while — which is quite something to imagine. So is the picture of this tiny woman being thrown through a wall by a bomb, an incident that damaged both her feet so

badly that they almost had to be amputated. But most remarkable of all is hearing how Ruth responded (and continues to respond) to every hardship with boundless love and positivity. The peak of her fame was also the peak of the AIDS crisis, and she did a lot to enlighten during those dark years. Though diminutive in size, there is something undeniably tremendous about this woman. She seems at times to possess the strength of a lion while remaining gentle and friendly as a lamb. But the greatest thing about Dr. Ruth is the gift of self-acceptance and self-love she’s given countless people — echoes of which have made the world an incalculably better place. THE WORD: This film will leave you hoping this nonagenarian never ever leaves us. COMING TO: Theaters and Streaming

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this film) that the “fall of the American empire” takes place in Canada. Of course Canada is part of North “America,” but to most of the world the United States gobbled up the title of “America” long ago. In fact, there isn’t even an actual mention of America. There is, however, much mention of that highest held of American values: money.



That brings us to Jean-Claude. He works long hours doing package delivery to make a living even though he has a PhD in philosophy. He’s smart enough to do anything, but too intellectual to either sell out (even a little) or keep a girlfriend. And in accordance with his moral code, even though he’s pretty broke, he always gives his pocket change to anyone who needs it. But one day at work he discovers a lot more than pocket change. He finds himself alone in parking lot with two dead men and two massive duffle bags full of cash — a heist gone wrong. Unable to resist (or perhaps seeing a higher moral imperative at work), Jean-Claude takes the money and runs. However now he has a lot of new problems to deal with. He discovers it’s not so easy to get away with someone else’s crime. Fortunately Jean-Claude is clever. And when cleverness isn’t enough, his honesty sees him through. One by one, a cast of unexpected allies join his cause to launder the money and do something good with it. In this way the film definitely becomes something of fantasy, but not of the usual variety. Writer and Director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions, Jesus of Montreal) knows how to tell this kind of story, and why such stories need to be told. THE WORD: A feel good heist movie, where things come together instead of falling apart (for a change). COMING TO: Theaters

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writer/director Jonathan Levine (with the ďŹ rst two being cancer comedy 50/50 and Christmas Eve comedy The Night Before). Like its forerunners, Long Shot features an easy combination of humor and heart. However, this one also (and here’s the key) features Charlize Theron. It seems almost cosmically unfair that someone as statuesquely beautiful and dramatically talented as Theron should also have such strong comedic abilities. These powers have already been established (see projects such as Arrested Development and Young Adult). Nevertheless, they’re a refreshing delight every time they appear on screen again. In Long Shot, Rogen plays Fred, a principled and frumpish journalist drowning in a profession plagued by corruption and clickbait. His best bud Lance is played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ingrid Goes West), who continues to look and to charm just like his father (Ice Cube). When Lance takes Fred to a fancy party, Fred encounters his ďŹ rst childhood crush, Charlotte (Theron),

who just happens to now be the Secretary of State. Fred does a couple pretty brutal pratfalls, and before you know it is speechwriting for Charlotte’s run at the presidency, despite the eye-rolling of her main aide, played with particularly snarky are by June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie). At ďŹ rst, Fred’s ethics clash a bit with the political realities of Charlotte’s world. Then romance starts to smolder between the two. But can the most powerful woman in the world really date a scruffy and gaffprone guy like Fred? THE WORD: Long Shot is a nice mix of low- and highbrow humor, neatly packaged in a hopeful political fantasy that’s conďŹ dently reliant on the appeal of it’s A-list leads. Plus, who wouldn’t prefer Theron as president right now? COMING TO: Theaters

CHARLIE SAYS 4(% 4)4,%/& CHARLIE SAYS)3-/2% /-)./53 4(!.)4-)'(4!4 ďŹ rst seem. The ďŹ lm offers a feminine (albeit tragic) perspective on the infamous Manson Family and the murders they committed in the summer of 1969. Here, the actual murders take a back seat to looking at what made the Manson Family tick before hallucinogens and the megalomania of their leader (Charlie Manson) led to the horriďŹ c Tate/LaBianca killing spree. Where the ďŹ lm does best is in its leads. Matt Smith (Mapplethorpe, The Crown) lays down a solid Manson, and the script incorporates a lot of small details about the man and his cult that most audiences won’t even notice. But the ďŹ lm really belongs to Hannah Murray (Gilly from Game of Thrones) who plays the unlucky Leslie Van Houten with tremendous presence and pathos. Murray is somehow both slightly homely and also stunningly beautiful, and

it’s her gentle gravitas that holds the ďŹ lm together. She’s also backed up by actresses like Sosie Bacon (Thirteen Reasons Why) playing another of the ‘Manson Girls’ and the always-stellar Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie, Godless) as a counselor working to de-program these women in prison. Additional actors like Kayli Carter (who was so good in last year’s under-seen Private Life) and Chase Crawford (Gossip Girl) play other members of the family, whose brief and staggered appearances in the ďŹ lm suggest a lot was left on the cutting room oor to bring the ďŹ lm down to 104 minutes. THE WORD: The choice to focus on the experience of Van Houten and the other women who went to jail because of Charlie’s inuence is a strong one, but it also makes one long for a bigger and more complete dramatizations of this legendary true crime story. COMING TO: Theaters METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019




converged on the nation’s capital in early April to urge legislators to address the persisting HIV epidemic in the country. The annual AIDS-Watch advocacy event brings together many living with HIV and AIDS, organizational leaders and other advocates. Throughout the years, celebrities have helped raise the visibility of those messages. This year, HIV/AIDS service organizations partnered with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to host the 26th annual advocacy event April 1-2, and among those meeting with lawmakers — for the fifth time — was actor Daniel Franzese, known for his breakout role in Mean Girls and as a recurring cast member in HBO’s series Looking (where he played the HIV-positive Eddie). “We were in Maxine Waters’ office, Adam Schiff’s office,” says Franzese, describing the day’s packed schedule.“A lot of our job today is to thank them for what they’ve done already as very strong supporters.” Franzese, still riding a high from the day’s encounters, adds,“Just like most of us live in our own little worlds, they live in a Washington bubble — and have to be reminded what it’s like to be a real person.” Franzese’s entrée to AIDS advocacy came via a friend, Quinn Tivey, the grandson of Elizabeth Taylor. Franzese first turned to Tivey for advice after a friend tested positive for the virus. Impressed by the Foundation’s work and the Taylor’s “undeniable legacy,” the now-41-year-old Franzese soon enlisted as an ambassador. Since then, he has remained outspoken about the lack of prominent HIVrelated storylines on mainstream television. “In the six years that there wasn’t an HIV storyline on television,




there was a rise in new infections,” Franzese says ruefully. “There wasn’t a story that people could learn from.” The New York native who now calls Los Angeles home is passionate about educating younger generations, and laments that many aren’t even aware that the AIDS epidemic still exists. His 2015 role in the second season Looking finale brought him considerable acclaim when his character had to grapple with a mixed-status relationship — living a life once unimaginable for most HIV-positive people. “Even though my role on Looking is over, I feel like my role as an advocate has begun — not just for HIV and AIDS, but also to work on many other causes,” he says. That includes a fierce environmental advocacy focused on another plague, plastic waste, as part of Bacardi and Lonely Whale’s “The Future Doesn’t Suck”initiative for the planet to use a billion fewer plastic straws by 2020. So more than 15 years after taking on the Plastics in Mean Girls, he’s taking on plastics in the ocean.“Everyone knows I hate the plastics now and I have to end them once and for all.” He laughs, but doesn’t want to undercut his message:“It’s about my caring for the ocean.” “I’m at this point in my life where if I am aware of something wrong, I must be defiant,” he says.“Sometimes I like to be a voice [for those] who can’t talk, and in this case it’s marine life. The same thing for HIV, speaking for people who have been marginalized and stigmatized; or LGBT homeless youth.” Part of this journey also has meant coming to terms with his own identity. Franzese concedes that it was playing Damian in Mean Girls, one of the most recognizable LGBTQ characters in popular culture, that led him to come to terms with himself, then his family, and finally to be open publicly about his homosexuality in 2014. “I get letters all the time that remind me that Damian was pretty much the first character to be seen in a major studio teen-focused film that was queer and of size and was able to live a life without fear,” he says.“He was never shoved inside a locker. He was just able to live and exist in school.” His coming out led Franzese to more freely express his feelings on stage as well.“I always wanted to do standup, but in the golden age I didn’t feel like there was a place for a gay person,”he says.“Then when I came out it was the first thing I wanted to do.” Franzese now hosts a monthly standup show, the West Hollywood Brunch, at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, is touring with the “Yass! You’re Amazing!”comedy tour, and this spring was preparing to mark the Tiny Fey-directed comedy’s 15th anniversary with a special show at The Comic Strip in New York City on April 30. He now believes his future includes both acting and advocacy, and expects his work will continue with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to end the AIDS epidemic, remarking,“I am so in love with Liz Taylor’s family and her legacy and I’m all in it to win it with them.” ■




As he celebrates 15 years since Mean Girls, Daniel Franzesse reveals how he’s parlaying fame into fighting for the environment and people living with HIV. BY JEFF SIMMONS

SHE AIN’T HEAVY, SHE’S MY SISTER A gay man takes pride in surviving a nightmare childhood — only to stand by his sister as she endured a whole new slate of nightmares. BY KEVIN PHINNEY our family, because she used cooking, cleaning and ironing to try share the role that’s made me to win my parents’ approval. But if she forgot something, got it proudest in life: being big brother wrong, or put it off? “It’s the belt for you!” to my sister Barbara, who is virBarbara regularly went to school with black eyes after contually indestructible. fronting my stepfather. Often she’d confide in a whisper, “I Meet my family: Our mother sometimes wish he would kill me. At least people would know was a complex person and career who he is.” Barbara became my inspiration and soulmate. She got alcoholic. Married six times, she married at 15 to escape our stepfather. She had two kids in quick sent my older brother away for succession, Chris and Michael. By then our stepfather was dead her parents to raise when I was and our mother had married another three alcoholics. five. My sisters were soon placed Little Michael was struck by a car and died in Barbara’s arms in foster care after she suffered at five years old. It was otherworldly, like another dimension had what was then called “a nervous opened up and swallowed every beautiful thing in the world. breakdown.” While my father A dark cloud formed over my sister. She and her husband had was away with the Merchant Marines, my Mom’s party girl rep another son, then divorced. She then had a daughter, and set about led to not one, but two pregnancies. Evidence suggests my father trying to raise a family as a single mother. stood by her after the first, but not the second. Five years ago, that daughter had a psychotic break. She That’s when Mom met a man who understood he’d get Social stabbed Barbara 13 times and was found by the police, naked Security benefits for taking us in. Since he had a stable military and covered in blood, wandering the street screaming in a lancareer, she jumped at his proposal. And when I said goodbye to guage no one understood. Video reports led the local news. The my father, I had no idea I’d never see him again. cops said they’d never seen anyone survive losing so much blood. Soon we moved to Texas. That’s where we first discovered our After nearly being murdered, Barbara finally agreed to undergo the new stepfather was a sadist. This was not the kind of I-hate-my- counseling I’d been pleading with her to get since Michael’s death. parents” phase that many kids go through. He took delight in Soon after, Karen died suddenly from lung cancer — due in punishing us and his wrath was epic. I couldn’t have been less part to the cigarettes my parents bribed her with to do household what he wanted: bookish, small and next to useless at sports. chores. Then Barbara’s older son started to drink. Heavily. To the After my baby sister Vicky was born, my parents took to drink- point of liver failure. Doctors told Chris they’d put him on a waiting on a nightly basis. Every bill except their American Legion bar ing list for a new liver, but stipulated he’d have to quit drinking. He tab got paid late. On one occasion, my stepfather led a clothing did not. My sister lost her best friend and her son almost at once. drive for his umbrella of veteran’s organizations. Most donations Therapy helped Barbara bear up as Chris drank himself to were odd sizes or defective. He brought those home and told us death. She remains steadfastly Catholic. Since then, she and her to rummage through them for our school clothes. daughter have done a lot of work. While Barbara may never trust Barbara and I eventually ventured out into our El Paso neigh- her completely again, there is a real love between them now. borhood. There we learned that doing every chore a child could And just when you’d think that would have been more than (which left out little more than electrical repair and car mainte- enough, her youngest is now entangled in addiction, too. He teenance) was not the norm among our peers. Our block housed the ters between responsible behavior (with two kids from different families of several other retired military drunks — all of them moms) and periods where he simply disappears for days at a time. stressed by the struggle to make it to payday. One night, in a When I think of the trials our community has faced collectively, strange harbinger of things to come, one of them chased his kids it makes me incredibly proud to stand resolutely with them to face down the street with a meat cleaver. whatever comes next. And when I think of what my sister has When my stepfather’s shitfaced anger turned to my mother, I endured, how much one single person can take and still put on stood between them. So this 6’3” guy would take his fists to a nine a smile on in the belief that today will be better than yesterday, I year-old boy of about 60 lbs less than five feet tall. I held him off stand that much taller. I’m a gay man. I’m Barbara’s brother. And while my Mom ran to her bedroom to lock the door. If she tried to I couldn’t be more proud of either. ■ call for help, he’d rip the phone out of the wall. I defended my Mom. Barbara did the same for Karen (the next DO YOU LOVE SOMEONE WHO HAS MODELED RESILIENCE? oldest in line). Karen eventually became the real workhorse of SHARE YOUR STORY IN “GAY VOICES” AT METROSOURCE.COM. METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019







Hello Happiness (Diary Records / Island Records) THE QUEEN OF FUNK’S NEWEST EFFORT PROVIDES ANOTHER NOTCH IN HER LONG LIST OF ACHIEVEMENTS. HELLO HAPPINESS MARKS HER FIRST full-length offering in nearly a dozen years. It is by turns sultry, spirited and soothing. While its awash with contemporary,

cutting-edge production, it still sparkles with her signature pipes soaring over her disco-inspired melodies. Hello Happiness should appeal to longtime fans and many curious millennials and Gen Z-ers less familiar with her work. Highlights include the catchy title track, and the towering “Like a Lady,” which manages to sound both like a lost ‘70s gem and a current Top 40 radio jam. The similarly-titled album closer “Ladylike”takes a more minimalist approach: It employs a slower, R&B groove as its backdrop to set the stage for Chaka to take her vocals stratospheric. Clocking in at under half an hour over the course of just seven tracks, my only criticism is that there’s not much more to digest, dance to, and delight in! Regardless, Hello Happiness is a much-welcome return.







Queer singer-songwriter Jonny Pierce bounces back after a breakup, while Marina explores human extremes and Chaka Khan says hello to happiness. BY MATT GROSS

THE DRUMS Brutalism (ANTI-)


fronted by queer singer/songwriter Jonny Pierce — explore self-soothing in the wake of a painful divorce and a challenging stint living alone in Los Angeles. Deciding it was time to face his demons head-on and begin therapy, Jonny explains: “I was exhausted, depleted and sabotaging myself; partying so much, but in reality running away from pain. It was a downward spiral... It was do or die.” His introspection gave rise to what might well be The Drums’ most honest, relatable and straightforward music yet. As Pierce sees it, “In order to take care of yourself, you have to ask questions. Those are the things I needed to confront. It’s interesting talking about the past, dealing with things that are long overdue.”While its brimming with growth and transformation, Brutalism remains at its core a pop record. Working with Chris Coady (revered for his work with Beach House, Future Islands and a host of other indie artists), the album retains an emotional rawness but its layers are delicate, intricate and warm. Fans of early Depeche Mode, New Order and The Smiths will likely be ... smitten.


Love + Fear (Atlantic Records)

this page: the Drums creDit Nicholas moore • mariNa creDit Zoey grossmaN


Marina and the Diamonds) is a double release that finds the chanteuse offering material tailored to fit each half of its two-word title. Love deals with a yearning to enjoy life and a plea for unity. Conversely, Fear addresses such topics as gender inequality, systematic misogyny, insecurity and the search for self-actualization. Her mission: to showcase and explore dualities inherent in the human condition. Marina explains: “The psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross believed that there are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love; all negative emotions from fear. I can trace a lot of my behavior back to these two emotions, particularly in relationships.” In summary, she says her work“has always been inspired and shaped by traditional storytelling and social shifts in the culture. As a society we have experienced such major social change in the past three years — politically, digitally and psychologically. Love + Fear reflects this.”Predictably,the bulk of Love is florid and pretty (see “Handmade Heaven”) while the majority of Fear is considerably darker (see“Life is Strange”). Marina will bring these to life on an extensive North America tour this fall.




chatroom. It was the late 1990s and I was a sophomore in high school. I’d just gotten internet service and was poking around and happened upon a M4M chatroom. At the time, my sexuality was barely a pre-conscious thought. Yet sitting in my bedroom, I stumbled across the threshold of a community I didn’t know existed and had no idea I wanted to be a part of — until I found it. In the current age of marriage equality and PrEP, our collective memory seems to have faded about how the 1990s were a pretty scary time for gay people. Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead tied to a fence in a field in Wyoming. We knew how to effectively prevent HIV/AIDS, but not how to treat it. I was too young to witness its destruction firsthand, but not young enough to escape the fear that a diagnosis might bring. Yet in that climate of fear and isolation, the internet’s anonymity allowed us a surprising level of trust. Our digital footprints consisted solely of a clever screen name and a short text profile. Photos were rare and blurry. It was the perfect environment to assume whatever identity you liked — but it also offered the freedom to be ourselves to many who considered real life the place we actually did the most pretending. I was one of the first students in my high school to own a cell phone. It was one of those clunky Motorola phones that I paid for with my summer and after school jobs. I got it so I could talk to the guys I met in the chatrooms without fear of someone listening in on the landline extension or having my parents answer a call from an internet stranger. JUNE/JULY 2019


Once I got to college, I spent less and less time online. I started my freshman year outing myself by checking out one roommate’s ass and ended the year by hooking up with the other one. I had no idea when I applied, but I’d inadvertently picked one of the gayest colleges in one of America’s gayest cities. Gay men were everywhere, and I found a real-life version of the community I’d once only had virtually before. I also reached an age where I could go out to actual gay bars and clubs, and soon I was rarely turning to the internet for convenient, anonymous hookups. Then along came Facebook, where I was outed to my parents by a drunken relative late one night. By that point, I was mostlybut-not-all-the-way out. All my friends and some of my family knew, but I hadn’t yet come out to my immediate family. The reaction that my parents had to the news was dwarfed by the anger they directed at the cousin who made that post. But truth be told, gross as being involuntarily outed is in principle, in practice it was a huge relief. That post provided the final shove out of the closet that I’d never worked up the courage to take myself. A few years after that, I turned a hookup from a gay dating app into a long-term relationship. That was 14 years ago and I thought then that technology was done meddling in my life, but there was one surprise left: Things between my partner and I got really bad a few years ago, and since we’re both conflict averse and stubborn, I wanted to end the relationship. We were making arrangements to move out of our shared place and go our separate ways. Then one night, I was digging around in my computer files and stumbled on something I’d totally forgotten about. About 18 years ago, I’d turned on the “save messages” feature in my iChat (which later became Messages) which is still used by iPhones today. Because of that, my computer has been saving every IM and text message I ever sent into a hidden folder. I found the very first message I ever sent my boyfriend on September 8, 2005. I stayed up until 4:00 AM reading the entire story of us, from the very beginning in our own words. It reminded me why I had fallen in love with him, and that I still loved him. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I climbed into bed where he’d been for hours. I thought about how we found each other, how close we had come to losing it, how lucky I was that I still had it, and how I didn’t want to abandon it now. I hugged him extra tight and drifted off to sleep and couldn’t help but wonder: had I been born a few years earlier or later, would I be where I was or even who I was? At the most critical points in my life, technology gave me exactly what I needed to transform from a scared kid hiding alone in his bedroom into a man with a life full of friends, love and pride. ■




People complain that the internet is ruining the way gay men connect, but when I look back, I see all the ways it helped make me the gay man I am today. BY TERENCE O’BRIEN



and everyone else. After all, the subject inherently requires facing own deaths, and who really wants to think about dying? Eventually though, we all need to be adults and deal with that reality. On a positive note, there are numerous benefits to life insurance while you’re still living. Let’s consider what life insurance is, how it works, what policies are available, and how to best use those benefits while you’re still around.

WHAT IS LIFE INSURANCE? Life insurance is a planning tool designed to protect the financial future of your beneficiaries after you die or are otherwise unable to provide for them due to unexpected illness or disability. Essentially you agree to make regular payments to your insurer while you’re able, and your insurer agrees to pay out a set amount to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. With adequate coverage, your loved ones will have enough to cover any outstanding debts you leave behind, pay for your funeral or burial expenses, and (depending on the size of your policy) receive help maintaining their standard of living. However, even if you are an LGBTQ person without a partner or dependents who’d need support, certain kinds of life insurance may still be beneficial to you.

WHAT ARE MY LIFE INSURANCE OPTIONS? There are three main types of life insurance to choose from, which may be available bundled or purchased separately: • Traditional LIFE INSURANCE provides a lump sum benefit following the death of the policyholder. • CRITICAL ILLNESS INSURANCE provides a lump sum payment if the insured person suffers a serious illness or injury that is covered under the terms of the policy. • DISABILITY provides a lump sum benefit payment if the insured becomes permanently disabled and is unable to work.


HOW MUCH SHOULD LIFE INSURANCE COST? Costs vary greatly based on the level of risk a provider or insurer considers you to be. Ultimately, this risk is reflected in the premium you pay, which weighs such factors as: your age; how much you smoke or drink; your previous and current health; your occupation and your gender. While the main purpose of life insurance is to provide a death benefit that supports loved ones, that doesn’t mean you can’t also take advantage of these benefits while you’re still alive. Here are a few ways:

1. TAP INTO ITS CASH VALUE. Life insurance comes in two basic forms: term life and permanent life. Term life insurance is the less-

expensive option and will pay out a death benefit should a policyholder die while the plan is in effect. Permanent life is more expensive, but it has an investment component that allows policies to build a cash value over time. Permanent life insurance can be an attractive choice for those who want coverage and to have a ready source of money that can be used for any reason. People can tap into a plan’s cash value in one of three ways: • Loans: Rules may differ by company, but most allow people to take out a loan from the accumulated cash value for any reason. There is no set repayment schedule for these loans, but they will accumulate interest charges that can reduce the death benefit. • WithdraWaLs: Policyholders can withdraw money from the cash value and not worry about interest charges. However, a withdrawal may change policy premiums and could affect the death benefit. • surrender: Surrendering a policy means canceling it. That releases all the cash value to the policyholder. However, a person should be sure he or she either doesn’t need the coverage or can get coverage elsewhere before taking this step.




Think life insurance is only for lining the pockets of heirs and morticians? Think again. BY JENNIFER DAY

2. APPLY FOR LIVING BENEFITS. Living benefits are another way to tap into the value of a life insurance policy while you are still alive. These benefits typically allow a portion of the death benefit – usually up to 50 percent – to be paid in advance should certain criteria be met. These accelerated benefits are most commonly available in the following forms: • ChroniC iLLness benefits: A chronic illness is often defined as needing assistance with at least two out of six activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or eating. • terminaL iLLness benefits: Those who have been certified as terminally ill by a physician and have a life expectancy of fewer than 12 months may also be able to access living benefits. • Long-term Care benefits: Long-term care benefits may be available at an added cost. 3. SELL THE POLICY. Life settlements offer a final option for those who want to access money from their life insurance policy prior to death. These settlements may pay a lump sum or provide an annuity that offers regular periodic payments. Policies are typically purchased by investors on the secondary market for an amount that is more than the cash value but far less than the full value of the policy. The new owner takes over premium payments and becomes the beneficiary of the death benefits. Depending how you use it, life insurance can be much more than just a death benefit that ends up in someone else’s hands. And, appropriate to its name, it can help ensure both quality and financial stability in your life. ■ metrosourCe.Com JUNE/JULY 2019







He’s someone who doesn’t hesitate to share when he has a strong opinion. Maybe it’s genetic, since he sounds much like his celebrity sibling, Rosie O’Donnell. Neither shies away from controversy. Rosie recently reminded Danny that he too has a long history of standing up for what’s right at the launch of his campaign for New York City Public Advocate.“We had a bully neighbor who would tell us we were not allowed to walk on his sidewalk,” he says in retrospect.“I went up to him — as an eight-year-old — and told him the sidewalk is government property and he has no right to tell me I can’t be here.” O’Donnell has gone on to fight for equal rights throughout his life. That includes the right to walk down the aisle and marry the man he has loved and been with for four decades now. Born in Queens and raised on Long Island, O’Donnell became a public defender not long after graduating college, where he’d challenged institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system. Sixteen years ago, he made history as the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. Since then, has fought to reform the justice system, protect renters and advance measures to protect LGBTQ communities. “I’ve been an advocate my whole life,” O’Donnell says. He was a primary sponsor of Dignity for All Students Act (an anti-bullying law, the first to reference the rights of transgender and non-binary New Yorkers). He also cosponsored the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the conversion therapy ban. He recently sponsored legislation to turn all single occupancy restrooms into gender-neutral restrooms. O’Donnell also sponsored a bill to ban the“gay panic”/“trans panic”legal defenses, and a bill that would require insurance coverage for PrEP and PEP for preventing HIV transmission. But of all the moments that assure his legacy in the legislature, there is one that supersedes the rest: leading the charge for marriage equality in New York State long before the dawn of general public acceptance evolved. The State legislature ushered it into law in 2011. “My husband [John Banta] and I were plaintiffs in the original suit,”he said.“I wrote and passed the Marriage Equality bill five times.” Initially, he had few backers (about 40), and met ongoing resistance JUNE/JULY 2019


in the State Senate. But by 2011, support had grown substantially and paved the bill’s way to the desk of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature into law. “It is my proudest accomplishment,” he said. “I promised all of my colleagues that if they passed this, I would invite them all to my wedding. We had 450 people at my wedding. It was a great big party!” A fixture in Albany, he was once also considered for the U.S. Senate Seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. In late 2018, O’Donnell announced further plans to seek the Office of Public Advocate, which serves as New York City’s ombudsman and provides a bully pulpit for advocacy. The Public Advocate often serves as a check on New York City’s mayor. The position has also recently proved a springboard to higher office for others. He was initially one of two dozen candidates, and that number shrunk to 17 by election day. O’Donnell had positioned himself as a champion for the underdog. He wanted to give voice to the voiceless. However, O’Donnell also envisions the office as shielding the public from State and Federal initiatives that curb rights and cut funds. In our pre-election interview he made a promise: “The first thing I’m going to do is set up an AIDS 2020 Task Force.” On that subject, he said he’d planned to “bring people together to see if we are on track. Can we do this? And if we can, how can we do this? And are we getting the city, state and federal funding necessary to make this happen?” In regards to our efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the year 2020, says O’Donnell,“We are at Ground Zero with HIV and AIDS and can do a better job on behalf of all people.” Additionally, given the rise in bias and hate-related incidents across the country and in NYC, he’d vowed to establish a Hate Crimes Task Force.“Trans women of color are dying almost every day,”he said. While on the campaign trail, O’Donnell maintained his path to victory would have been one blazed “by standing up to bigotry and fighting injustice.” He puts it best himself: “When I get angry, I fight back.” Unfortunately, O’Donnell was not a winner this time around. But he won’t be silenced. “I come from a loudmouth family,” he explains. When asked about his relationship with his similarly voluble sister, he professes seniority. “I’m oldest, so I have the face first. I don’t look like her. She looks like me.” ■


We talked to Danny O’Donnell about his accomplishments, his famous sister Rosie, and his run for the office of NYC Public Advocate. BY JEFF SIMMONS

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PROUD OF HER BOY After coming out to his parents, Wade thought he might never see them again — until his mother unexpectedly called from a bus stop. BY WADE ROUSE





I’m callin’ from a pay phone in Rolla, Missouri, and I’m comin’ to see you.” “What?” I asked my mother in confusion. “I want to see you,” she answered. “And I want to meet Gary.” This was decades ago. It was just before Christmas, and I was working in St. Louis. Hearing my mother utter these words was the equivalent of my assistant saying,“Miss Sharon Stone is waiting outside your office.” I had come out to my parents mere months earlier, and my father had basically disowned me. After we’d spoken, he had sent me a letter that essentially ended our relationship. I had spoken to my mom only a couple of times the following few months. This was via clandestine calls from work, in which she had told me my father was forcing her to choose between me and him. I had been anticipating a depressing holiday season. “What about Dad?” I asked. “He was not willin’ or able to come with me at this point in time,” Mom said in only the way she could. I started to cry. My mother was running away from home because of me! When Gary and I picked her up, I was petrified. After all we’d been through, what would she think of Gary? Our life? Mom high-stepped it off the bus in her unique way. (My mother tended toward walking with the same speed and gait as a turkey.) Within seconds, Gary - a hugger - reached out and grabbed her tightly. In response, she went limp. “I thought he would be older?” my mother observed, looking at me. “Your father said Gary would be a much older, wily gentleman, perhaps in his late fifties.” “No, he’s younger than me,” I replied. “Despite what dad believes, I was not coerced into being gay. Nor was I seduced in a back alley. In fact, I’ve known forever.” “Well,”my mother began awkwardly,“it is nice to meet you - finally. Yes, yes, that is correct. Nice to meet you, sir.” I had warned Gary about my mother’s nervous talk. It was filled with odd tics and strange tales. But he was charmed. “I love your voice,” he said.“Very Steel Magnolias.” JUNE/JULY 2019


I clutched my breath. But my Ozarks Mom simply smiled at Gary, finally embracing him back. For the next hour, my mother — whose stories always walked a fine line between fact and fiction — told Gary a fictionalized tale of Shirley MacLaine’s life. I knew it was fictionalized in part because, for sure, she didn’t star in Funny Girl. She also proceeded to tell Gary how she believed that in previous lives she had been Clara Barton, a lioness and a blind cobbler, (not necessarily in that order). Gary told my mother he believed he had been an Egyptian goddess, a Russian dancer and close relative of Suzanne Somers (definitely in that order). I told both of them that I was in Hell. Neither seemed to care. They were too busy bonding, talking and laughing, like long-lost friends reconnected. My mother had immediately adored Gary, and he adored her right back. Gary and Geri were, in short, a match made in heaven. Despite all the family drama that preceded it, there would be no fights, no anger, no personal drama during her visit. That’s the thing about when you stop judging and start loving, accepting and understanding. You’re more aware, you live in a place of light, you move forward. By jumping on that Greyhound, my mother made a stand that changed my life, Gary’s life, and the life of my father, who came around not only to accept but also to deeply love me and Gary. He likely would not have without my mother’s bravery. Over the last 20-plus years Gary and I have been together, his parents have given me wonderful gifts my parents could not. And my parents gave Gary things his parents could not. On this, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we all must continue to make a stand for what matters in life, no matter the consequences. When we do, lives change dramatically for the better. When we don’t, things remain the same or get even worse. My mom’s show of strength — when all could have been lost for her — changed lives and continues to. My mother passed away in 2009. But when I’m down, when I need to feel strong and proud in the face of the world’s vitriol, or when I need a reminder to take a stand, I think of my mother buying a bus ticket, jumping on a Greyhound, and running away from home to show her son that she loved him. ■ Check out Wade’s latest novel under the pen name Viola Shipman, The Summer Cottage, and visit him online at





Javits Center in June will be the largest event he has ever produced – and the biggest Pride music festival in history. To offer a sense of scale, the capacity at Javits is ten times larger than that of any other single event being held during WorldPride. It’s a massive undertaking that has been in the works for more than a year and promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration with next level production, entertainment and surprises — all beneďŹ tting LifeBeat and the Stonewall Gives Back Initiative, the ofďŹ cial charity of the Stonewall Inn. So how was Jake Resnicow, a thirty-something New Yorker tapped to produce the Greatest Gay Show on Earth? Turns out his overnight success took years of experience. According to Resnicow, he started emceeing bar-mitzvahs and weddings and spinning at school dances when he was 14. “I remember loading up my 1990 Toyota 4Runner with all my DJ equipment every weekend,â€? he recalls. “And that was when I was ďŹ nally old enough to get myself to my own gigs. Before that, my parents drove me to my parties.â€? Resnicow was a studious kid with an interest in government. He grew up thinking he would one day become the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States. But then a trip to Barcelona spun him right ‘round, baby. He attended his ďŹ rst Matinee event — the WaterPark party, — and was entranced by the theatrics, pageantry, and the sea of gorgeous men. Resnicow instantly wanted to recreate that magic back home. After hammering out a licensing deal with Matinee, he launched his ďŹ rst event at NYC Pride 2010, transforming Manhattan’s Governor’s Island into an over-the-top, all day and night, outdoor music festival. It was a huge success. “Just this year, I received a letter from a couple who met at that ďŹ rst party, got married and are still going strong today, ten years later,â€? Resnicow says. “That made me smile. It’s a reminder that making people happy is the most rewarding part of what I do.â€? Resnicow lists his three key ingredients to a kick-ass

party: First and foremost is music. “Curating the right DJs and performers is crucial,â€? he says. Environment contributes as well. “Guests must feel safe, welcome and free to express themselves.â€? Then there’s originality. “Events must be unique and memorable.â€? He considers each event a blank canvas where his job is to color the party with unique, never-before-seen moments that wow crowds. “The element of surprise is everything,â€? he adds. His surprise factor was in full effect at last year’s LifeBall in Vienna, where Resnicow produced a spellbinding Main Floor event. “It has been an honor to work with LifeBall through the years,â€? he’ll say now. “The event has raised over 30 million euros that go directly to ďŹ ghting HIV/AIDS around the world.â€? He’s currently working on this year’s fundraising spectacular with fashion designer Patricia Field. The theme for the red carpet star-studded event is “United in Diversityâ€?. For this year’s Pride, Resnicow conďŹ rms there will be plenty of star power with several A-list talents already booked to take the stage. He won’t name names just yet, but will say that acts won’t be concert-style. He prefers that performances be seamlessly integrated into the production. And speaking of production, Resnicow promises that, too, will be epic. “We’re bringing everything into the venue: the lights, sound, staging and special effects,â€? Resnicow explains. He is employing several hundred staff to help him pull off the celebration in grand style. He’s even enlisted the production designer behind Coachella and Ultra Music Festival. “The 50th anniversary of Stonewall is a big deal,â€? Resnicow continues. “Millions of people from all over the world will be coming to New York, the city that launched the modern gay rights movement. I’m psyched to bring everyone together on one danceoor, to celebrate, and give back!â€? â– THE PRIDE MAIN EVENT TAKES PLACE ON SATURDAY, JUNE 29TH AT JACOB K. JAVITS CENTER AT 10PM. FOR TICKETS AND INFO ABOUT ADDITIONAL EVENTS, VISIT JAKERESNICOW.COM. METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019




began spinning the tales of a group of people whose lives revolved around 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. What began as a series of stories in San Francisco newspapers would go on to spawn nine Tales of the City novels, multiple musical projects and three seasons of television. Now, Netflix is bringing a new generation of viewers back to Barbary Lane with a fourth season that set to premiere June 7, 2019. Among the cast returning from earlier iterations of Tales are Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis. Linney plays Mary Ann Singleton, who was the wide-eyed young woman who first visited San Francisco at the beginning of the Tales series and decided to stay. Dukakis plays Anna Madrigal, the eccentric, trans, marijuana-loving landlady who plays surrogate mother to her tenants. The show will welcome a new generation of radically queer characters, including Ellen Page as Mary Ann’s daughter Shawna, Bob the Drag Queen as the manager of a local burlesque club, and Josiah Garcia as a young trans man named Jake. But the show’s returning central gay character, Michael“Mouse”Tolliver, will have a new face, that of an actor who famously helped tell another story of queer lives and loves in San Francisco as Dom on HBO’s Looking: Murray Bartlett. As he steps into the pivotal role, he offers some very clear and pointed opinions about why this show is so necessary now. METROSOURCE: Last time we spoke, the second season of Looking was just beginning to air. How would you compare the world of that show with the world of Tales of the City? MURRAY BARTLETT: The worlds are obviously very similar. There’s a lot of crossover because it’s the same city and it’s the same community. So there are a lot of parallels. I guess the difference for me is in the character. This character, Michael, is a little older than Dom and has a different sort of breadth of experience and a different connection to the history of San Francisco, particularly in terms of LGBTQ civil rights. And he’s HIV positive, so went through the AIDS epidemic in a different way than Dom did and also a little earlier. So he has a different experience of the city. You also happened to mention in that interview that you were a fan of Tales of the City. I was wondering what your experience with it was before this project and how you went about reacquainting yourself with the world as you moved into this new chapter. It’s very surreal to be honest, that I end up playing two gay men in San







Francisco. Tales of the City has always been such a special kind of thing for me. I saw it first in the ‘90s and it was this very important marker in a lot of our lives. Then it was very much an inspiration for Looking. Armistead sort of became our godfather. We hung out with him a few times, and there were very strong connections between the two shows. So I came to it with a lot of reverence and a lot of love. Basically what I did is, the month before we started shooting, I happened to be up in Provincetown. ... I read all the books again, and really just wanted to hear the stories direct from Armistead again, just really immerse myself in that and let him kind of give me Mouse. ... It was a wonderful way to dive in because they’re such beautiful books. And I hadn’t read all of them before. I’d read the first couple. So it was really intense and kind of overwhelming in the best way. You’ve once again managed to end up with some statement facial hair. Obviously Dom had his signature ‘stache, and now Mouse has this curly, bushy hipster beard. Was that drawn from the books or a decision you made with the creative team? I had some of that beard when I went to the audition. I’ve got a lot of gray in my beard. I’m not that much younger but a little younger than Mouse, so I feel like it was a little helpful [in showing his age]. And there’s a lot of beards going around, so it felt like it fit the character too. Fairly early on, his boyfriend Ben mentions Mouse spending two hours a day six days a week in the gym. Did they adjust that line to fit what you were actually doing ,or did you come to it and think, “Oh God. I guess that’s my gym regimen now.” It did freak me out when I read that. But I think he’s joking —




exaggerating. That’s the way I read it. [laughs] I’m fit, and I think that Mouse is a little bit vain and definitely aware of his body and wants to be in good shape, so that makes sense. But yeah, I think Ben’s poking fun at him and I don’t think he really spends that much time at the gym. Although it is kind of a statement on the fact that, as gay men, a lot of us tend to put you know a fair amount of emphasis on that, and it does tend to get a little obsessive. In the first scene we see Mouse, he’s taking his HIV meds. We also see him grapple with the idea of having unprotected sex after many years of not being able to. Then there’s also a moment when he realizes someone else has seroconverted when he comes across someone else’s meds. Would you agree that we’re just not seeing stories like these told anywhere else on TV right now? Yeah, I would agree, and I think it’s really important. There’s a big shift in terms of those kind of stories — in terms of the fact that you know the medication has changed. It’s interesting in Mouse’s story because when he was first diagnosed, it felt like a death sentence at that time. For a lot of people, it ended up being that way. And he moved through that and now it’s not that way at all. And it’s so fascinating. I think one of the reasons it definitely strikes a chord for me is: I grew up at a time when you know safe sex was like the ult- you know, a necessity and there was a lot of fear around it, fear that was probably necessary for survival. It’s different now. We have PrEP and there are a lot of different attitudes about sex, which is wonderful. We’ve become a lot more sex positive in a lot of ways, which is fantastic. But there’s a little bit of a disconnect between the two generations, and I think there’s a lot to be


Charlie Barnett as Ben and Bartlett as Mouse

gained from the two generations communicating with each other about what’s changed, what’s important about what’s changed, what went before and what’s important to remember about what went before. Did you see Episode Four [in which the generations clash at a dinner party}? I did. I thought that was a pretty extraordinary example of exactly what you’re talking about.

cis roles. And gay actors will be playing gay and straight roles. Now that we are in an era when we can see prominent gay characters even on network TV, what place does a show like Tales of the City have in pushing exploration of queer life even further? Two things come to mind. Firstly ... in most shows we have a predominantly straight cis story. And to have a show that is predominantly LGBTQ characters is – I mean – I think it’s something that a lot of people crave, particularly in the LGBTQ community. There’s such a lack of that, and it’s a wonderful perspective to bring into the world of TV and film because it’s an amazing community. .... It’s really important to have that as a counterbalance to the vast amount of straight cis-dominated shows that we have. ... I think it’s really about the writing and being specific and looking at what stories are really important in these communities and really talking about issues that are universal so that we can reach everybody with the show, which I think it does. And also looking at the intricate specifics of - you know, for instance, the character of Jake, looking at what that is for this young person to go


What’s amazing I think about the writing in this show — and particular in that episode — is it shows those two points of view of an older perspective and a younger perspective. And it allows you to see that you kind of agree and disagree with both. You can’t take a side. That’s what I felt anyway, which is amazing. It really throws [these differences] up in the air and will hopefully start a lot of conversations that we should be having, I think. Then you see beyond those scenes — scenes with Ben and Michael where they start to kind of bridge those perspectives, which what we really need to do (laughing). So I think it’s important that we’re telling these stories to shift the ideas about what it is to live with HIV these days and the realities of that, what people are facing through it, and also those intergenerational perspectives to come to grips with those. What was it like to work with the returning actors who are practically synonymous with the series? Because I came to Tales in the ‘90s when it first came [to TV], I feel like I’ve lived with it a long time. I also felt a lot of connection to Mouse throughout the progression of the books and from the beginning point. They were very different in a lot of ways, so it was this surreal experience to step into Mouse’s shoes and to be doing scenes with Laura Linney, who I still have strong associations with as Mary Anne, and the same with Olympia. ... They’re such phenomenal actors, and it’s such a beautiful experience to work with actors like that, that are so open and so available and giving. Doing scenes with those two particularly; I just look into their eyes and listen to what they’re saying and go for the ride. Now more than ever we’re hearing calls to see gay characters played by gay actors, trans characters played Bartlett shares a scene with Laura Linney as Mary Ann by trans actors. Do you think it will be important to fans that you are an openly gay actor? It’ll be interesting to see, yeah. I think it’s a really wonderful wave that we’re riding to be more inclusive in casting and across the board — in production and the whole team. I mean you see this with men and women, you know. For many years, particularly roles like directors and producers were played by men, and there’s a lack of women in those roles still. It’s partly because men have been given those experiences and so they have all this experience doing those jobs, so then it’s harder for women to get into those jobs. And I think the same has happened for gay and trans actors. The gay and trans roles have often been played by, you know, straight cis actors. And I don’t have a problem with that, but I think that it needs to be an equal playing field. What’s wonderful about this wave of inclusivity is that we’re saying, “Okay, let’s really focus on making sure that we’re trying to cast trans and gay actors in these trans and gay roles, because we haven’t before and we need to be giving opportunities to these people. Then hopefully as we go further down the track in the future, it will be a more even playing field and maybe that’s something we won’t need to be as aware of because there will be famous trans actors who are playing trans and

through a transition and all the sort of challenges and interesting things that brings up is fascinating. I think it comes down to having really great writers who are attuned to that and are telling great stories. And I think that we have that. We have a really diverse wonderful writer’s room who are very familiar with these stories, have a great love for telling stories about the LGBTQ community and I think that’s the key really is: whatever community it’s about, having good writers who are attuned to hopefully stories that are relevant and sort of enlightening in some ways and connected to hopefully what the community will want to see. How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year? I’m going to be up in Provincetown this year, so I’m going to be celebrating with whoever’s up there. That’s a beautiful place to celebrate up there. It’s a wonderful community, and it’s got its own kind of rich LGBTQ history. Do you know if this new Tales was designed to be a one-anddone or if there’s a possibility of more? I’m not sure at this stage. I think, I would love that too. We’ll see. ■ METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019





Hal Fischer’s Gay Semiotics Jock

cket Lawyer p 27_S.I.R. Po




characteristics of a culture. Sometimes the signifiers are auditory — much the way first responders’ sirens vary across the globe. But some of the most powerful tell their story visually in an instant. The study of those cultural transmissions is known as semiotics, and those images include not only the pyramids , but Stonehenge and the Stonewall Inn. Now a USC professor has assembled a book that zeroes in on the many ways we’ve sent our often-coded messages ricochetting through LGBTQ culture. That includes a time before it was legal to even appear queer in a public space identifying as anything other than cis heteros. Andy Campbell is an Assistant Professor of Critical Studies at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design who teaches critical studies history and theory to artists and designers. What he’s assembled in Queer By Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos and Graphic Art of LGBTQ is

an anthology of our trek from invisibility into Pride and beyond. It’s a fascinating record that contains images that also predate the Stonewall rebellion by a more than a quarter century. Campbell says it was the dearth of those signifiers collected in one place that told him his collection would fill a void.“The impetus for the book was that I was looking at such a range of LGBTQ scholarship,” he says, “and there really is so much in so many different areas. That’s when I started to identify places where people hadn’t already put a lot of energy. And I found that the same was not true of LGBTQ design. So I started by creating a list of 150 images or so, and thought about what objects would tell the most interesting and dynamic story about LGBTQ communities and histories, and I went from there.” Between the covers of Queer X Design, you’ll find photos that delight, artwork that seethes with rage, and images that have united METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019



Clockwise from top left: p 16_Something About Sailors One Magazine; p 30_Damron_s Address Book 1; p 30_ Damron_s Address Book 2; p 34_Physique Pictorial; p 72_Buttons





Clockwise from left: p 233_Pride Train 1; p XIII_Silencio equals Muerta; p 135_Come Out March on Washingotn poster; p 126_ Keith Haring_s Heritage of Pride Logo

the LGBTQ community in victories and setbacks throughout the struggle for equality. If one overarching theme jumps out, it’s the need to address police surveillance and violence. “Early on, we were simply outlawed,” the author says, “and a lot of early LGBTQ imagery and material was dedicated to not only making an argument about the validity of our existence and networking within our own communities, but countering overt state interference. One of the throughlines in the book is that tension, going all the way up through the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter is included in the book as an example, not only because two of the three founders of that movement self-identify as queer — but also because structurally, they’re essentially fighting for the same thing. They’re activating against police surveillance and physical violence. Like Black Lives Matter, for LGBTQ people historically, police violence was the awful occasion for organizing around a host of other issues as well.” But Queer X Design is much more than pages of rage. “I also love Hal Fisher’s gay semiotics photographs,” Campbell says with a chuckle. “They were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and Fischer, who was a photographer and an art critic, brought a healthy dose of Jewish humor to that project. He was living in San Francisco and making note of all the different ways men identified through what they wore. So he sort of pokes fun by creating these typological photos, feigning an anthropologist’s tone. But these photos, which are accompanied by an essay on gay male signaling culture, also have the capacity to teach the uninitiated how to identify with different elements of the community. It reveals something of an in-community way of identifying to a broader audience. There’s a kind of camp sensibility you can appreciate about them.” Included are both the AIDS quilt and the evolution of Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag. “That’s really fascinating,” says Campbell.

“In putting this book together, I found out a lot more about its history, and how it has never really been this static symbol. Initially, there were two large flags made, each with eight colors rather than the six that we know today. One of the flags had tie-dyed stars in a blue canton — similar to the U.S. flag. This original version of the rainbow flag is all but unknown today, and I think would surprise most readers. The story I tell is about the Pride flag’s change. Now cities like Philadelphia and designers like Daniel Quasar are adding brown and transgender stripes to it as well. People get grumpy about it changing, but it’s been in flux from the very beginning.” In assembling Queer X Design, Campbell noticed another disturbing trend: as LGBTQ Americans have become more visible and accepted, their output of cultural expressions have both dropped off dramatically and been increasingly appropriated by corporations looking to cash in. From his vantage point, Campbell asserts that our narrative has been one “of ever-evolving innovation around our visual symbols. And the activist is always trying to imagine the future. The LGBTQ community has always been futureoriented in that way.” But while collecting images, Campbell says, “I did arrive at a place of a little trepidation, and that’s how difficult it was to find visual examples of our movement in the 21st Century, which sounds surprising. So many of our signs and symbols — maybe it’s too strong a word — but “co-opted” is what comes to mind. You know, it’s not enough to see a corporate logo done in rainbow colors. That’s not what we have historically fought for. But that’s something I deal with in the book, that tension between assimilation and valuing difference as difference. As we have become assimilated, it has come with so many great things. But I think it’s important to have an identity that belongs to us in how we engage with queer symbology. And I have full faith in LGBTQ artists and designers to imagine a better future.” ■




Raised in a conservative Christian home, Porter spent much of his early life shunned by family as “an abomination.” He’s been pushing back ever since. As an actor, singer and Broadway star, his every public act and pronouncement could be seen as a demonstration of Pride. And when he stepped onto the red carpet at the Oscars dressed to slay in a Christian Siriano tuxedo gown, he put Planet Earth on notice: He’s here, he’s queer and he’s not going anywhere. After nearly a quarter century as an entertainer, Billy Porter can at last be called a celebrity. Anyone not looking closely might guess it all happened overnight. In 2013, his breakout role as Lola in the Broadway hit Kinky Boots landed him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Only a year later, he took home a Grammy for its cast recording. He’s released four albums over the last decade, and in 2018, his career got an unexpected boost when producer Ryan Murphy cast him as a gay warlock in American Horror Story: Apocalypse then turned his bit role as Pray Tell into one of the defining characters of the ballroom culture series Pose. The only one not surprised by his sudden ascent to the A List? Billy Porter. Born in Pittsburgh, Porter’s first memories as a performer were singing in church,“and then singing in school, and the teachers there hearing me sing and putting me in junior choir. But I grew up in a very religious household, so the only music in my house was gospel music. Until I could buy own music, that was all there was. Then in 6th grade I was introduced to theater — and that was the first time I got on stage — to do a musical.” Otherwise, Porter says, “my childhood was the typical ‘you’re going to Hell’ story. It’s the same one that we’ve all heard over and over again, so to regurgitate that again is really to give it way too much energy,” he says.“I was 15 or 16, and I was trying hard to not be gay. But there was nothing I could hide, which was a problem, a little bit. But that was that, so I just … left. My only goal was to get out.” It’s impossible to separate Porter’s less-than-welcome introduction to the world and his gritty determination to respond to bigotry with ferocious creativity. “I don’t know about all of that,” he says with a laugh. “At the time, my only goal was to get out of my situation. My circumstance in my youth was bullshit — so full of trauma — I just knew I had to get out. That was all that I was interested in doing. It was my entire focus. So whatever got me out was what I was gonna do; based on my talent, based on my skill. Whoever came into my life and treated me kindly and I felt like had my best interests at heart, I listened to them. I’ve had many angels in my life who reached out in that way, from middle school right up to today.” Like many performers, Porter gravitated toward theater because it represented both an escape and shelter from his home life. The way he sees it, “I just like people. And it was the collaborative theater geeks that were there for me, and present in the most difficult parts of my life and sort of saved my life. So for me, it’s a chosen familial energy that I relied on for a very long time. And I still do.” Apart from those chosen few, compassion was hard to come by elsewhere. And Billy understood he was different before he knew what that difference was.“We’re talking about before any of us knew what being gay really meant. I mean, I didn’t really understand that

at 11. But theater was a place that on the surface, if nothing else, was embracing. Theater embraced me in a way that people in my ‘normal’ everyday life outside actually rejected.” Porter left home as soon as he could. At the outset, he says, “I wasn’t going to college. Honestly, it was the teachers I had: my drama teacher and my mentors in high school who more or less pulled me by my hair when they caught wind I was moving to New York City at 17. And they said, ’No, you’re going to go to college and learn a craft and actually understand what you’re doing so you can work for the rest of your life.’ It turned out to be the best thing anyone ever did for me because it’s all about access and it’s all about understanding that.” For starters, Porter was informed that Carnegie Mellon was “a 10-minute drive from my house, and it was one of the top universities in the country.” “We don’t get that kind of access,” he explains. “I discovered that I had the kind of talent that cracked open a different kind of access for me. And I understood that immediately.” So much of success, he suggests, “depends on who you are. It depends on where you come from. As a black gay man from poverty and the ghetto, I needed education. I needed a degree. I needed to learn what I was doing.” Looking back, Porter muses that the source of his oppression ultimately proved his salvation. “Had I been able to pass for straight or whatever, I don’t know that anybody would have been challenged around me,”he says.“I don’t know that I would have been challenged to reach for anything different — because I would have been able to pass. And passing for straight was always considered better. And I couldn’t really do that naturally in a way that made other people comfortable, so I just had to lean into whatever it was that I had. Carnegie Mellon was very difficult because of that. My career was very difficult because of that. Theater people, the industry; as creatives we masquerade as being inclusive when it’s convenient, but we can be as homophobic as everybody else.” While in college, Porter’s appetites reached out in every direction, including his taste in music.“Oh my, yes!” he recalls.“When I got to a place where I could buy my own stuff, and do my own investigating and researching — well, we didn’t have the internet then. That’s when I dove into Michael Jackson and all of that stuff. And that’s when I really fell in love with theater. I would check out records from the Carnegie library and that was how I got my music for a while. Then I started buying it and that’s how I caught up with the rest.” To gain experience and add to his repertoire, Porter spent summers at Kennywood Park in a song-and-dance troupe called Flash. Their schedule was grueling. “There were a couple of groups,” he remembers.“Razzmatazz did Dixieland. They did a country show. It was six shows a day with a full band and three singers and every show was different. We did any kind of music you could think of, and I couldn’t even tell you what all. We sang every song you could ever imagine. Now I know the hooks to every song ever written because I did a music park show for three seasons. Flash was the singing and dancing ensemble, and we did our shows to tracks, and then the two casts came together at the end of the day for two nighttime shows.” A B.F.A. in drama led to a certification from the screenwriting program at UCLA. And when people ask if so much higher education is really necessary when the work is largely creative, his

prepares to pose again





After decades of waiting in the wings for his shot at stardom, Billy Porter is finally savoring the sweet taste of success. BY KEVIN PHINNEY

reply cuts the question to its core. “Look,” he says, “I didn’t have the same kind of opportunities as my white counterparts who were famous 20 years before I got this opportunity — because they’re white. So I needed to back my shit up with real stuff. I’m just being honest. When I walk into the room with an undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon, a graduate degree from UCLA and two honorary bachelor’s degrees, white people listen to me. Period. You’ve gotta know what the game is.” By 1997, Porter had already recorded his first album and appeared in two films, The First Wives Club and Twisted, in which he played a drag queen named Siniqua. The way he remembers it, “I was just showing up and walking through the doors that were open to me. It was the first time that anyone really gave me a job in film or TV. And it just happened to be a drag queen. I wasn’t really searching for it and I didn’t really feel like that’s who I was. I could do it, but I wasn’t pursuing female impersonating. “I think there’s this idea that if you’re gay you’re obviously a drag queen. There’s a mentality about that. I went through a lot of it when I started doing Kinky Boots I had to put the kibosh on that whole “How long have you been a drag queen?” kind of question. My response became, “Did you ask that of Robin Williams when he made Mrs. Doubtfire? Did you ask Dustin Hoffman that after Tootsie? Stop it. What are you talking about? Why would you just assume because I’m black and because I’m gay that I’m a drag queen? No shade about being a drag queen, because I loved doing it. But I’m an actor who played a part and the part just happened to require me being a drag queen.” Just as quickly as it began, his career slipped into retrograde. “I went out to Los Angeles and I made Broken Hearts Club in 1999 and




else — because I wanted everybody in the business to be clear: I know what I’m doing, and I’ve been doing it for 30 years. Please don’t question my skills anymore.” His Kinky Boots Tony gave him the legitimacy he’d sought for so long, although he’ll admit: “it’s less about the award for me and more about being able to continue doing the work.” Over the years, he’d also run into Ryan Murphy “in the sort of Gay Mafia circle that was just forming and coming up. We weren’t really friends; we just kind of knew of each other. And then he started doing all his stuff and heard me singing all these things, and I thought he was a person who would sort of understand me because his brand became taking all of this rarefied talent and exposing it. And really running toward it; not being afraid of theater people and the ‘bigness’ of us — which is something when you’re doing film and television that was always sort of a negative for me because of the choices I made. “I knew he would understand me, so I just sort of started speaking him into existence. Ryan Murphy. Ryan Murphy. The law of attraction. I started writing him in my diary and saying for three years that Ryan Murphy will get it. And I got him, too. I saw Glee, American Horror Story, O.J. Simpson and I said, ‘Yeah, this is the guy.’” When Murphy began casting Pose, Porter went in for an audition and knew immediately it was not the part for him. “Pose came before American Horror Story. I got called in for an audition just the regular sort of way through my manager. “But by this time I had a Tony Award and a Grammy Award and a good reputation, and speaking up for myself would not be perceived as overstepping my bounds anymore. So I went in and read the part I was called in for, and then I said, ‘Okay, listen: I lived through this era. I think it would serve everybody if I was in that world because I’m from that world.’” Porter pitched the possibility of playing a mother in one of the houses, then heard that Murphy wanted transgender actors in the roles. “I said, ‘That’s an amazing idea, but they’re going to need a father figure,” Porter recalls. “They’re going to need a male energy over there, right? Like a godfather, and there wasn’t one. There wasn’t a male leading man in the show. There was a lead boy, but not

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it came out in 2000. And there was this thought in my brain that I could go out to Hollywood and ride on this gay thing. But it wasn’t quite the time, so I was there for almost three years and didn’t really have many auditions and didn’t get much interest. I was searching for my place in the business; my own lane. There weren’t a whole lot of things for me to be doing, based on the color of my skin alone. So when I heard Kinky Boots was going to be a musical and having seen the movie, I thought, ‘Well, that’s a part I could play.’ Had I been in London, I could have played that role in the movie. But when they announced it would be a musical, I sort of knew in my spirit that it was my shot. I never had a doubt in my mind. There were people around who thought I couldn’t do it, or had their doubts because I had taken myself out of the business for a while and hadn’t been on Broadway in 13 years. There were lots of questions.” Porter wouldn’t be denied a second time. “So I jumped through my hoops of fire just so that I could shut all that bullshit down. That’s why I stayed for three years, and why I stayed longer than anybody


a grown man. So he called me in for a meeting and I just sat and talked to him. And so we talked about the emcee, and he had five lines in the first episode and it was not a character. And so he said,‘Come in and I’ll create something for you.’ So that’s how it came about.” Now that the show is about to debut its second season on June 9, Porter has only one comment. “The only thing I’m authorized to say — because Ryan has said it — is that Season 2 opens the day Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ was released.” From a broader view, he’s happy to be doing work that’s not only popular and recognized, but fills in some important blank spaces in cultural history. “I’m grateful that we’re finally telling the story of people of color,” he says.“We have made a lot of strides in LGBTQ storytelling and for the first 25 years, the mainstream version of it has mainly been about white people. I’m excited that people of color are at the front of our narrative and it’s being told by the people who were in it, who were from that space.” Knowing that his work, like his fashion choices, are staking a claim for queer dignity make him Proud. As he told Vogue after his Oscars TuxGown went viral, “my goal is to be a walking piece of political art every time I show up. To challenge expectations. What is masculinity? What does that mean? Women show up every day in pants, but the minute a man wears a dress, the seas part.” It’s all part of Porter’s manifesto — that living well is not only the best revenge — it’s better than revenge. “My ministry is something different,” he says. “It’s authenticity in the face of abject oppression and phobia. Now, I think there’s a process of constant healing of fissures in my immediate family. But elsewhere I still hear the same kinds of abomination rhetoric I was hearing four years ago. “You can go online and see all the comments,” says Porter,“and some of them are my people. There are people who would prefer me dead than to be successful. They’re talking shit on me still. Today. There’s always been this idea from the religious part of my life that these people are concerned for my soul, and that’s what motivates them to be hateful. That’s not what Jesus did; that’s not what the Bible says to do. F**k you. Get out of my life. I’m done. Don’t masquerade as Christians and blame your hate on Jesus. Stop doing that. What would Jesus do…? None of what you motherf**kers are doing. It’s in the Bible, what he did. I had to release that, because if you hold onto that energy, it will destroy you.” ■ METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019




and the Angry Inch, he’d still be a queer icon. Certainly the show’s punky aesthetic and social subversion place him in the pantheon of those writers he admires most: Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward and Joe Orton. But at 55, Mitchell remains relentlessly creative. In 2006, his film Shortbus dared to create a genre all its own. While the movie captures kinds of intercourse — actual, not simulated — Shortbus is really about people using sex to create a kind of communal intimacy. Mitchell subsequently directed Nicole Kidman’s Oscar-nominated performance in the 2010 film Rabbit Hole, and in 2015 he received a Special Tony Award for playing Hedwig on Broadway after Neil Patrick Harris won Best Actor in a Musical in the role only the year before. Now he’s alternately a series regular on the new Hulu comedy Shrill and crisscrossing the country in a Hedwig backstory musical called Origin of Love. All this while he’s readying a new musical called Anthem: Homunculus starring Patti LuPone and Glenn Close — among others— to debut as a podcast. It’s a 10-part series sans visuals now streaming on a new service called Luminary. We caught up with multi-hyphenate Mitchell at a West Village coffee shop when he surfaced momentarily between projects. METROSOURCE: Should we start with talking about your heroes? JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL: Sure. My favorite theater makers were always Beckett and Pinter. And Joe Orton came out of all of that with his particularly queer bomb-throwing questioning of conformity added to it. He’s also kind of the dirty punk grandchild of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward — who couldn’t always say publicly what they would say among their friends. Wilde still wanted to be accepted by those people, as did Noel Coward. They wanted to be amongst the hoi polloi; but they were also the court jesters of the era. The King always likes someone who can irreverently tell the truth, but still not have the power to hurt.

Wilde was always questioning the rules of propriety and sexism in high society. Noel Coward not as much, but he definitely was also poking fun in a gentle way. Because they were elitists, too. Joe Orton was much more blue collar, and closer to someone like John Lennon. So it’s ironic that The Beatles commissioned a screenplay from Orton, and it was too radical even for them. I mean, Orton had them playing crossdressing terrorists. I wonder: Would there even be a Hedwig without Joe Orton? MITCHELL: Not without me having read Orton. I mean, the first time I ever did drag was in Orton’s What the Butler Saw. I was kind of scared of it, but kind of forced into it as well. In that same way, I was forced into doing Hedwig, because Tommy Gnosis started out as the main character. Hedwig was a smaller role, but because we developed it at a drag club, I had to do the female character first. The thing is, the character obviously doesn’t fit into any category. And I don’t think Orton would want to be pigeonholed either. In fact, don’t ever recall him using the term “gay.” I think he liked being outside all of it, including the gay mainstream. Hedwig is not really trans. He was a gay man doing drag. He got forced into a reassignment by a patriarchy, because they required one or the other: you could call it the bi-narchy. I think Orton eschewed the binarchy as well, but he also kind of fetishized masculinity. He had all the foibles and all the perspective of an intelligent outsider. You seem to have given Orton’s work some serious consideration. Is there a thematic thread running through what you’ve done? In terms of what I write, I would say there is. My work tends to be about misfits and people trying to create communities of misfits. I moved around a lot as an Army brat. First it was comics and sci-fi, then it was theater and film and subcultures and enclaves — usually about people who have things they can teach about mercy, empathy and imagination. And what about the parts you choose to play? METROSOURCE.COM JUNE/JULY 2019





City, Kansas. That’s where I’m from — and “Wicked Little Town” name checks it in Hedwig. It’s a special small town, but not anywhere you’d wanna stay, So it’s kind of a “what-if” story. What if I was the same person, and had not shared my creative work, not come out, and not taken the chances I did? And this is in production? It’s a podcast musical series called Anthem: Homunculus just out on a new podcast network called Luminary. It’s years in the making; five and a half hours over 10 episodes. It’s a musical like Hedwig, except that it’s all audio with no video. There’s 40 actors and 40 pieces of music. Included in all of that is my boyfriend Jack, who passed away from his addictions. In a way, I had more opportunities before me than a standard autobiography, so I could do something more creative. But there are a lot of liberties taken. Glenn Close plays a version of my Mom. She’s a Scottish painter who travels the world. She’s a lost a child, as we lost my brother after he died from heart problems when he was four. She reacts by becoming more religious — an anti-abortion activist, among other things. Patti LuPone is in


Right now, I’m in a show called Shrill that’s just started streaming on Hulu. I play the mean gay boss of Aidy Bryant, and it’s a fun small role. It’s also a great gig for my Mom’s healthcare, so ... I hope it gets picked up. But I really don’t like to half-ass anything. Even in my most crass money-making schemes; I try to invest myself in completely, because if you put out something half-assed, those are the kind of people you’ll reach. You put out something glib and shallow, that’s what it attracts. You have to be careful about what you put out into the world. I tend to put out things that I hope will be useful to people in their own lives. This being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, what goes through your mind when you think of Pride? Can you even imagine what kind of life you’d have had without the movement? Well, I had an idea to create a sequel to Hedwig that would involve a lot more of my own personal history. Ultimately it felt like too much. But I had the idea of a character out of his insurance, crowd funding for his life, and in effect created an alternate autobiography. In this case, my character never left my small town of Junction

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it as well. That sounds like a mountain of work. And yet, you’re still on the road playing Hedwig. Yup, in a show called Origin of Love. It’s about how Hedwig was made, including all the songs. It’ll be at Town Hall for three shows during Pride in June. Eric Bergrin created this transformer costume for me that becomes six different costumes. Mike Potter made an old lady Hedwig hairpiece that’s tinted for the Apocalypse. And it includes the songs by Steven Trask. So it’s largely about the people I met, the philosophical underpinnings of what it meant then and what it means to me now. It really is responsible for me meeting the most interesting people. And we’re also releasing a Criterion Edition of [the film adaptation of] Hedwig in June; so I’m working on that today. Those packages typically provide a ton of extras. Right. And there is a great documentary, art, and footage from since the film was released. It’s also exciting to have a remaster of the film going back to the negative that Warner Brothers preserved. I was also able to reposition a few shots to fix a couple of things. Since we shot on film, it also has its own gorgeous texture, because there’s actually more information on the images. Oh, and we’re pumping up the colors too; it’s very Hedwig. There’s some memorabilia and gorgeous goodies for fans. And somehow, you’re still able to host a monthly party at a bar in the West Village. Well, we forgot what fascism is, and look where we are now. I believe understanding history and appreciating your forebears is important, so we do this monthly party called Mattachine. It’s a party we do every month at Julius’. We honor a queer hero like Joe Orton, or heroine — or villain. We even put Roy Cohn up there once as an example. There are those who regard you as one of our best gay writers. How do you feel about that? Well, my queer spirit guides are Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, James Baldwin, William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Orton and Tony Kushner. Tennessee Williams, too. These are the great queer writers of the last hundred years, and they all came at it from a different angle. For me, I know that 75% of the good things that have happened to me are because of Hedwig. In many ways, it’s been like a personal ad that’s introduced me to people, places and experiences. And really, everything you put out is a personal ad. I actually think too much fame and money are corrupting. In all honesty, I only need enough money to do what I want. I’ve f**ked my way to the middle, and I’m very much happier for it. ■







vacation, hasn’t it? And if you’ve been considering getting out on the water, there’s never been a better time: Whether you have your heart set on fun in the sun, European shopping, glacier encounters or ancient ruins, there’s definitely a cruise for you. Gone are the days when cruises were tailored just for the nuclear family unit or shirtless dancing (don’t worry, there are still plenty of tea dance options, if that’s what you’re after). So, book a suite with your best friend, beau, or go stag and meet a ship full of new BFFs from across the globe. We went through hundreds of upcoming options to sail to Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and the Arctic circle and found ports of call at new and exotic destinations the world over.

ATLANTIS Atlantis Events is the world’s largest company specializing in all-gay vacations. Back in 1991, the company held its first all-gay resort event with 300 guests at a Club Med Resort in Playa Blanca, Mexico. Cruising with Atlantis offers a unique, all-gay way to see new places with a variety of opportunities for new experiences and ways to play. Enjoy incredible performances by artists like “Showbiz Spitfire” Paige Turner, Sutton Lee Seymour, Charlie Hides and NYC cabaret sensation Shanna Sharp.


• Europe’s Largest All-Gay Cruise… Ever (August 25th – September 1st, 2019): Atlantis is offering an opportunity to sail your way to enjoying the best of Italy, Spain and France with 5,400 guys from around the world. Step off the Barcelona coast and onboard the epic Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, one of the largest cruise ships in service. Here you can choose your own adventure with distractions like the oceanside AquaTheater, Studio B ice rink, zip-lining experiences, the Broadway hit musical Cats, designer shopping and more. The Oasis of the Seas features 17 decks with 29 loft suites and some 2,700 staterooms. Step off the ship to explore destinations such as Palma de Mallorca, Provence, Florence, Civitavecchia, Naples and the beautiful island of Capri.



BRAND G Brand g was founded in 2011 as “the next generation in gay travel.â€? They recognized that LGBT travelers were on the hunt for new and more exotic types of travel opportunities. The brand initially jumped on the river cruising craze to offer deluxe river cruise tours. Eventually, they added deluxe land-only tours to such countries as far-ung as Ireland, Japan and Scotland. The company has grown to producing and operating eleven trips annually.








Metropolitan Restaurant Celebrity Cruises

VACAYA “With only a few notable exceptions, options for our community have been SEVERELY LIMITED v ATTESTS 2ANDLE 2OPER #%/ OF VACATION COMPANY 6!#!9! h7EREREWRITINGTHEPLAYBOOKv 6!#!9!WASCREATEDBYAWARD WINNINGTOURISMANDTRAVELEXECUTIVESWITH more than a century 100 of combined experience in entertainment, hospitality, and travel. They believe they offer LGBTQ travelers a unique palette of choices TAILOREDTOTHEDESIRESANDNEEDSOFTHECOMMUNITY)NFACT 6!#!9!ISTHElRST large scale full-ship/full-resort LGBTQ vacation company to do a number of THINGSˆINCLUDINGOFFERINGAFULL RESORTTAKEOVERFROMThe Leading Hotels of the WorldS5.)#/ÂŞÂŞ(OTEL2IVIERA-AYA4HEYALSOOFFERGUESTSTHEOPPORTUNITY TOGIVEBACKTOTHECOMMUNITIESTHEYVISIT SAILONTHE#ELEBRITY3UMMITAFTERHER MULTIMILLION






RSVP Vacations, established in 1985, was a true pioneer in the gay and lesbian cruise concept. Their first cruise, “A Cruise to Remember,”left the New Orleans port just after Valentine’s Day in 1986 with 750 guests ready to soak up the adventure of a lifetime. Over the years RSVP has welcomed luminaries and legends of the LGBTQ community with events like High Tea with Quentin Crisp, a Q&A with Armistead Maupin, and discussions about Broadway with Harvey Fierstein and Anthony Rapp. RSVP Vacations aims to build a community with each and every cruise. They book an entire ship and“run it [their] way,”customizing each detail to LGBTQ tastes with events like singles dinners, sing-alongs, pool games and dance parties.

SOURCE EVENTS For the past 18 years, Source Events has “made dreams come true” by taking their clients on journeys to the world’s “most exceptional destinations, perfectly curated with only the most unique experiences.” Craig Smith, the owner of Source Events, left a successful law practice in the Bay area to follow his dream of creating extraordinary travel for the mind, body and spirit — designed to be experienced with like-minded friends. These cruises are more intimate voyages with 150300 guests so you can connect and meet other guests more easily. The company brings hosts, entertainment, DJs and a wellness team to offer yoga, meditation and educational talks at sea.

• All-Gay RSVP Summer in Alaska Cruise (July 14 – 21, 2019): Sail from Seattle northward to majestic Alaska. Have you ever dreamed of living your best Northern Exposure fantasy with 1900 fabulous new friends? Board the Holland America Oosterdam, with its blend of modern and classic, and prepare to take America’s 49th state by storm. There will be big performances in store on the Main Stage and at the Queen’s Lounge. Or you can get up close and personal with performers in a piano bar via popular programs like Billboard Onboard. Ready for a dip or a dance? Twirl with the kweens at Lido Pool, home to RSVP’s Legendary T-Dances and parties. The path of the cruise allows guests to take in the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, and ever-picturesque Victoria, Canada. We’ll see you up North!

UPCOMING SOURCE EVENTS INCLUDE: • A Voyage Around Iceland (August 13 - 20, 2019): Travelers will get a taste of one of the most gay-friendly destinations in the world. The trip, coinciding with Reykjavik’s Gay Pride celebration, will take guests in and around the “land of fire and ice” to explore the volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, waterfalls, fjords and gay culture of this unique island. The Star Breeze — an all-suite yacht — will travel to Reykjavik, Heimaey Island, Seydisfjordur, Akureyri, Isafjordur and elsewhere. The itinerary will include UNESCO World Heritage Sites, nature reserves, an “art canyon,” nature baths and more. • The Greek Islands Discovery (August 24 - 31, 2019): Guests will board the Star Clipper and Star Flyer, each carrying 170 guests from port to port in style. They will start and finish their voyages in Athens, and along the way venture to Milos, Santorini, Bodrum (Turkey), Mykonos, Sifnos and Spetses. On the to-do list? There’ll be the Acropolis, a beach expedition in Milos, a guided tour of the UNESCO site of Akrotiri, Halicarnassus (the location of the Tomb of Mausoolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the mythical birthplace of Apollo, and more.




OLIVIA The story of Olivia goes all the way back to 1973 when Judy Dlugacz teamed up with nine partners after singer/songwriter Cris Williamson recommended she start a women’s record company. In 1990, Olivia hosted its first “concert on a cruise.” This ultimately inspired “Olivia Travel,” which went on to become the premiere travel company for lesbians. “Our goal was to create a safe, free, inclusive environment for lesbians on vacation,” Dlugacz explains. Their vacations have featured a roster of headliners that over the years has included Melissa Etheridge, k.d. Lang, Heart, and the Indigo Girls. They’ve welcomed social justice pioneers like Billie Jean King and Edie Windsor, as well as groundbreaking comedians Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin and Wanda Sykes. While each trip has its own “special flavor,” Olivia always charters the entire ship so it’s “all women, all the time”.



R FAMILY VACATIONS R Family Vacations was founded by travel entrepreneurs Kelli Carpenter and Gregg Kaminsky in 2003. It would go on to be featured in HBO’s Emmy-nominated documentary All Aboard. R Family Vacations was the first travel company to create vacations for LGBT families (and their friends). Their inaugural cruises set sail in 2004 and since then over 20,000 guests have embarked on trips with Kelli and Gregg. However, R Family Vacations doesn’t just do family expeditions. They recently expanded to offer some LGBT adult-only options, with The Broadway Cruise V and a new partnership with TZELL Travel.

Virgin Voyages Virgin Voyages


UPCOMING R FAMILY VACATIONS CRUISES: • Out On The Danube (September 21 - 28, 2019): R Family Vacations teams up with U by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection for an all-inclusive, all-adult LGBTQ vacation on the Danube River. Depart from Munich (Regensburg) and prepare for stops in Passau, Linz, Melk, Wachau Valley, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Onboard the ship, indulge in mixology and cooking classes, dance parties, cabaret, LGBTQ comedy and more! • Hawaiian Islands Cruise (May 9-16, 2020): Board the NCL’s Pride of America, which bills itself as the only cruise ship that sails round trip from Honolulu throughout the year. Join a group of 60 to go island hopping, whale watching, volcano exploring and more! Along the way, see Honolulu, Oahu and travel to Kahului (Maui); Hilo and Kona (on the Big Island); and Nawiliwili (Kauai) before returning to Honolulu.

VIRGIN VOYAGES When we heard Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages and CEO Tom McAlpin were open for business, we immediately leaned in. Virgin Voyages’ first fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships,” with a tip of the hat to Virgin’s British heritage. An additional quartet of ships are currently on order over the next four years. The Scarlet Lady, the first of the fleet, will arrive at the Port of Miami in 2020 for her inaugural sail. This first season will include voyages to Havana, Cuba; Costa Maya, Mexico; and the Dominican Republic. Adult by design, Virgin describes the Scarlet Lady as “sanctuary at sea for the 18+ traveler.”The Scarlet Lady brings cosmopolitan cuisine to the sea and essentially “throw out the traditional cruise-dining rule book, with no buffet, no main dining room, no forced formal wear, no assigned seating, no assigned dining times.” But there will be plenty of chances for those on board to grab a bite, because they plan to keeping restaurant doors open until well into the night (in some cases into the early hours of the morning).” Among them, Razzle Dazzle will offer a Drag Brunch for guests to live it up with the Scarlet Lady’s resident drag performers and friends.

UPCOMING OLIVIA CRUISES: • Tahitian Paradise Luxury (August 24 - August 31, 2019): Take in “balmy days, sultry nights and islands that appear to float just above the breaking waves” on this seven-night itinerary with stops in Papeete (Tahiti) and Huahine, Bora Bora and Moorea (Society Islands). Accommodations for eight nights and seven days aboard Paul Gauguin Cruises’ Paul Gauguin, a six-star luxury ship. Announced entertainment includes Teresa Trull, Barbara Higbie, Gina Yashere, and DJ Rockaway. • Gems of the Italian & French Riviera Luxury Cruise (October 512, 2019): Sail the Mediterranean expedition with stops in Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Portovenere, Portofino and Monte Carlo. This cruise promises the winding cliffside roads and seascapes of Sorrento, the palaces and museums of Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo.

SOME UPCOMING VIRGIN VOYAGES INCLUDE: • Scarlet Lady is officially open for bookings with voyages beginning April 1. Havana After Dark, the inaugural voyage, departs from Miami. The ship is scheduled to stop at a private club (the Beach Club) in Bimini, Bahamas before making its way to Cuba. Plan to take in the scenic back alleyways of Pata Vieja, seek out the many artists among the bohemian bars of Cayo Hueso, or chill with the locals outside the Malecon. • Sir Richard Branson’s Birthday Voyage (Departing July 15, 2020): Join Sir Richard Branson and his cadre of celebrity friends for a four-night Havana After Dark voyage. Cabins are available starting at $3,100. • Mayan Sol is a five-night adventure that weighs anchor in Miami on Friday, April 10. Expect to sail to the relatively pristine shores of the Yucatan Peninsula. Then venture on to Costa Maya and the Beach Club in Bimini with a stop to explore a landscape strewn with ancient ruins for good measure. ■




See how often testing is recommended. Visit © 2016 Gilead Sciences, Inc. All rights reserved. UNBC3150 06/16


Keep your health and fitness goals on track this summer with the help of uplifting herbal tonics and mocktails. BY MEGAN VENZIN

far too much - approximately 9.5 drinks per week or 494 drinks per year. That’s according to Aaron White, senior scientific advisor to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Trading in a few of those alcoholic beverages for herbal tonics can have a dramatic impact on one’s overall health and well-being. “Substitute alcoholic beverages with soda water, lime and bitters for a night out on the town with friends who are drinking,” TrAshley suggests. “Drink two or three of these tonics. Play around with the citrus, herbal simple syrups, fresh herbs and bitters with your bartender — while also drinking plenty of water. See how it feels to connect [while] sober and how you feel the following morning as you wake up and roll out of bed.” Dehydration is a common side effect of drinking in excess. That‘s compounded when alcohol is consumed in combination with commercial mixers like juices and sodas that are high in sugar. “The common hangover varies person to person, but is rooted in ethanol intake from alcohol which metabolizes as a diuretic, meaning it causes one to ‘break the seal’and release excess vital fluids the body craves to stay hydrated,” TrAshley explains. However, you can slug back a few herbal mocktails and kiss those nasty hangovers goodbye. TrAshley and her colleague Sarah Wu, Co-Founder of Envision Festival and a Clinical Herbalist, encourage anyone curious to look to no farther than their gardens for mocktail ideas. “Growing your own herbs or sourcing from your yard or farmers market is an empowering feeling and typically costs less over the long term,” Wu suggests. “By doing so, you can familiarize yourself with knowledge of your local environment and use those experiences to connect with friends and neighbors in a fun and interesting way. Plan a mocktail party and invite friends over to help harvest and process herbs before the party as a way to become connected with your food from start to finish.”



rooftop party invites are in full force. Social obligations seem endless this season, and while each boasts a different guest list and special occasion, there always seems to be one common denominator: booze. But what if you can’t drink or simply don’t feel like it? Thankfully, sobriety is a look that’s always in, and there has never been a better time to explore an exciting range of herbal mocktails. Let us not forget that plants can be medicine. With each herbal mocktail, sippers have a keen opportunity to kick-start their health while enjoying something fresh, exotic and delicious. “Herbal tonics and natural foods do not imply a compromise on flavor, texture or aroma — quite the contrary,” attests Jill TrAshley, Founder of The NOHM Project, an organization whose mission is to encourage conscious consumption and conversation by facilitating experiences steeped in tradition.“By utilizing natural, local and living ingredients you can expand and explore your palate while activating all of your senses.” TrAshley, a Folk Herbalist and “Village Witch” uses ingredients like Butterfly Pea Flower, Rosemary and Chlorophyll to create tasty guilt-free concoctions. Her herbal expertise can be experienced at The NOHM Elixir Bar at Envision Festival in Uvita, Costa Rica (, where infused tonics with exotic ingredient lists are served up to restore, revive and reinvigorate bodies and minds. This booze-free watering hole is changing the way festival goers interact with one another, one glass at a time. “The largest benefit I witness when choosing non-alcoholic over alcoholic options is that it simply changes the energy of how you connect with others and yourself while in a social setting,” TrAshley says. “Citrus, for example, is an amazing and familiar genus that is known to alkalize your PH levels and naturally boost your mood. Hops, on the contrary, is a natural sedative we as herbalists consume to aid in deep uninterrupted sleep.” Knowing this, it’s easy to see how a citrus-infused tonic is the better option for people who plan to engage in lively conversation or high-energy activities like dancing on their big night out, rather than a hop-heavy alternative, like beer. “Once at home and looking to decompress,” she advises, “you can steep a sleepy time tea boosted with a couple bitter hops flowers to slip into an epic slumber.” Alcohol isn’t evil — in and of itself. After all, it is a powerful extraction agent that can be used to create the very herbal tinctures that add a healthy punch to tonics and mocktails. “Alcohol, being derived from plants, is also a carrier for driving the medicinal properties of plants deeper into the body on a cellular level,” the herbalist explains. However, the way average people tend to consume alcohol in social settings deserves a second look: In general, Americans are drinking


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Hydration MerTINI

TRASHLEY’S HERBAL APOTHECARY AND TOOLKIT CHECKLIST Tools: • Measuring spoons • Mortar and pestle • Classic bar tools (stir spoon, jigger etc.) • Glass/Ceramic Drinking Vessels




Full-proof mocktail apothecary: • Fresh and organic citrus: naturally energizing and alkalizing which helps to elevate your mood and uplift you out of any funk you may find yourself in. • Local and raw honey: meant to boost your immune system and give you a taste for the bioregion in which you reside • Raw apple cider vinegar: to alkalize the PH levels of your body and assist in digestion and overall well being • Culinary herbs: such as rosemary, sage, lavender, basil, mint, and thyme, for their aromatherapeutic and medicinal properties as well as unique flavors • Base: Think club soda, spring water, ginger beer • Local tinctures (set in alcohol or glycerin), like aromatic bitters, CBD oils, etc. • Ice





this page: photo by aVL Dispensary at fLagship eLixir bar in asheViLLe, nC • baCkgrounD stoCk photo CreDit seamartini

Ingredients: • Hydration Martini essential oil blen d (Rosemary and Litsea cubeba): by Essential Oil Wiz ardr y (Check out Dr. Nick Berry’s “Conscious Bartendin g Drops” by visiting • Fresh + organic lime • Pink salt by Celtic Sea Salt • Chlorophyll by Herbs Etc. • Club soda • Ice • Mason jar • Spoon + knife • Fresh sprig of Rosemary (optional ) Recipe: 1. Fill a 12 oz mason jar with ice 2. Add 2 drops of “Hydration Mart ini” 3. A healthy pinch of pink salt 4. Fresh squeeze a lime wedge (1/6t h of a lime) and leave the lime wedge in cup 5. Add 1 dropper of chlorophyll 6. Top off with club soda 7. Stir and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary


MOTHER’S MYLK Ingredients: from • Stinging Nettles; dry loose herb s Herb Rose Mountain • Oat Straw; dry loose herb from Mountain Rose Herbs r • Fresh spring water or filtered wate • Mason jar • Spoon • Ice and Lemon (optional) Recipe: electric kettle, let water rest 1. Boil water on the stove top or in for a moment way (3 oz. in volume) with 2. Fill a 32 oz mason jar 1/8 of the

equal parts Nettle + Oat Straw stir contents 3. Fill mason jar with hot water and 6-8 hours on the counter for 4. Rest lid on jar and allow to steep top re, sipping slowly 5. Strain and serve at room temperatu yment or serve chilled enjo al throughout the day for optim n wedge lemo over ice garnished with a fresh mason jar and re-steep your 6. Save the strained contents from your plants with. feed to s in hot water for another 2 hour it is strained a once elixir this Note: Only water plants with erature! temp room to n dow second time and has cooled

Ingredients: • Yerba mate tea bags by Guayaki native nut mylk • Oat Mylk by Oatly! or any alter • Local honey from your region • • • •

Organic Cardamom powder Metal tea strainer Mason jar Measuring spoon

Recipe: electric kettle, 1. Boil water on the stove top or in jar n maso 2. Add 1 tea bag to 12 oz rve nutrients 3. Splash with cool water to help prese water for 3-4 ng) boili not 4. Steep in 4 oz of hot (but minutes stirring to blend 5. Add 1 tablespoon of local honey, 6. Fill mason jar with ice alternative 7. Top off with oat mylk, or other mylk m amo card of dash a 8. Stir and garnish with



Summer calls us to the shore, but not all beach behavior was created equal. Check out our guide to staying healthy and happy, while also managing to play well with others. BY JEFFREY JAMES KEYES



jump into the nearest lake, ocean or river. But before you pack up the beach towels and rummage through your cabinets for your favorite sunscreen, it’s important to consider beach etiquette that will help you make the most of your seasonal treks to the shore. If you abide by these simple beach do’s and don’ts, you can stay off anyone’s beach buzzkill list and maximize your fun in the sun.



Different beaches have different codes of conduct. If it’s your first time going to a specific beach, check to see if they have a website with established ground rules. This is especially helpful if you’re looking to bring children or animals. With kids in tow, it’s always advised to choose a beach with a lifeguard on duty. Also, many beaches do not allow dogs, and you don’t want to show up with Fido if he’s going to remain tied up in the parking lot. Didn’t check the website? Look for posted rules or ask your fellow sun worshippers. Important: if you’re going to a nude beach, be sure to identify any locations where you’re required to don a suit or cover your crown jewels with a sarong or towel. This is extremely important: Often the conditions of the water change from day to day. Be sure to look for and read any special advisories before jumping into the water. You never know if the current may be too strong, if riptides are present, or there might be an abundance of bacteria, algae, red tide, sharks or even a colony of jellyfish in the area. If the signs advise against swimming, pay attention! You can probably still slather on that SPF and lay out, but head to a nearby pool if you’re in serious need of dunking.

s BRING A TOWEL: It might seem so simple, but how many times have you seen people arrive at the beach only to realize they’re missing perhaps the most important accessory? If you plan on both swimming and sunbathing it might be a good idea to bring two. You can use one to claim your spot and the other for drying off. (When dry, it also makes a nice comfy beach pillow). An additional towel can come in handy if you want to cover any parts of your body that might have gotten too much sun or need to protect those sensitive areas from the sun’s rays. Plus, if you’re at a nude beach and need to cover anything up in a hurry for (ahem) unplanned reasons, they can come in quite handy.




s RESPECT THE PERSONAL SPACE OF OTHERS: The shoreline can get crowded, so you might end up close to individuals who aren’t necessarily in or of your party. Be sure to give yourself enough space so you’re not crowding them or interrupting their quiet reading time. Feel free to offer to share in snacks and libation, but avoid crowding or disturbing them.

s HAVE FUN! Let your inner child out, but if everything doesn’t go according to plan, try to roll with it.



s LITTER: A fact sheet from points out that over 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the substance was introduced in the 1950s. Imagine how much of that is now bobbing in the surf, let alone below the waterline. Do all future beachgoers a favor and pick up every single thing you bring with you (including that soda cap you that might have popped off into the sand). If you see someone else’s stray plastic bag, straw or cigarette butt on your walk, pick it up and throw it in a trash can. Be a part of the solution.

s PACK YOUR SPEAKER TO BLAST MUSIC: Sure you have great taste in music, but that doesn’t mean everyone in earshot shares it. Bring your headphones or earbuds, and rock out to Lizzo’s latest hit on your towel. Alternately, why not ditch the beats and let the sounds of waves pounding the shore take you away?

s TAKE PICTURES OF OTHER SUNBATHERS! Okay, we get it. The guy slathering on his tanning lotion may be built like he’s born for InstaFame, but don’t snap his pic — especially if you didn’t ask. While it’s inevitable there might be a stranger photobombing when you’re snapping shots of you and your friends catching rays, it’s important to respect other people’s privacy. This is especially the case when spending time at your local nude beach. Even if you don’t care if others snap you in your birthday suit, it’s never okay to take nude pictures of without someone’s consent.

s SHAKE IT OFF: Sand happens. We get it on our towels, hats, shoes, socks, all over (and inside) our bodies. Be mindful when shaking your sand off , especially if it’s windy.You don’t want to have to apologize to the cute otter on the other side of your towel. s OVERDO THE PDA: This especially goes for a nude beach. We are, for the most part, all wearing less than usual (if anything) at the beach. While getting intimate in a public setting might be

hot at the Folsom Street Fair, it’s likely not the done thing at the shore. Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid any unwarranted attention.

sGLARE AT OTHER BEACHGOERS: Yes, we know your eye needs to travel, but seriously: Don’t Be a Creeper! s DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE: Seagulls shouldn’t be eating Cheetos or the remains of your hot dog. Feeding wild animals ultimately leaves them maladjusted. Shy ones may lose a natural fear that helps to protect them. Others that might appear friendly enough may become a nuisance or turn aggressive. And you certainly don’t want tossing your leftovers to the birds to suddenly mean you’re now starring in a sequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror flick of the same name. sSMOKE: Cigarette filters are generally made of cellulose acetate, a plastic that can take well over a decade to break down. While it may seem convenient to get your fix and flick your butt into the water, it’s unkind to ocean life. If you must smoke, keep a respectful distance from other beachgoers, collect any detritus after and place it in the trash.

s RUN: Now we know you want to live your Baywatch fantasy but if you don’t have Pamela Anderson’s experience (and really, who does?) we don’t want you to trip, fall, and hurt yourself. Yes, beach running can be an excellent physical activity for an experienced beach runner. So, if you want to work your way up to getting some mileage along the shore, start in small bursts — of say, 10 or 15 minutes. Take your time and make sure you’re planting your feet as firmly as possible. Uneven sand poses quite the stability challenge. Note if your hips or knees start protesting — and give them a break. ■










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hemian Rhapsody, studio execs turned to Dexter Fletcher to finish the film, which went on to win a Best Actor Oscar for Rami Malek as frontman Freddie Mercury. Now Fletcher is back with a cinematic fable called Rocketman featuring Kingsman star Taron Egerton as a shy, bespectacled pianist known as Reginald Dwight who took the world by storm as Elton John. We caught up with the director as he was putting the finishing touches on his project, which hits theaters the Friday before Pride month.

Metrosource: You worked with Taron on Eddie the Eagle. Then Taron and Elton worked together on The Kingsman sequel. But how did the three of you fall in together on Rocketman? Dexter Fletcher: Well, Elton and Taron connected on The Kingsman, and the director of that film is Matthew Vaughn, who produced Eddie the Eagle — and is now the producer of Rocketman. Matthew is a huge Elton fan and tried to get Elton into the first Kingsman film, then ended up with him in the second. And I started hearing mumblings that Elton wanted Taron to play him and that Matthew Vaughn wanted to produce. I just knew this was a genius idea, because I know Taron and know that he has this incredible voice as well as an amazing range that’s been untapped as an actor. So I started actively pursued Matthew, saying, “If you’re doing this you’ve gotta give me a hat in the ring to direct it because it’s Elton, and it’s Taron playing Elton.”It’s a really amazing opportunity, and I think Matthew had it in his mind anyway. He knew that Taron and I had a very good working relationship. With Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s hard to tell what’s yours from what Singer left you. Isn’t directing a film different from finishing one? I’d actually worked on Bohemian Rhapsody before, when it was in a different iteration at a different studio a few years ago. I wanted to tackle it in a different direction than the way it ended up being. I wanted it to confront more, challenge more in dealing with certain aspects of Freddie’s life. But that was something that was very clear from the outset that they didn’t want to discuss or get into, and I always felt that it was an opportunity missed. So creatively, that was how that version came apart. With Rocket-




man, Elton has lived such an incredible life and I’m interested in telling that story in a more grown up way. ... When I finished Bohemian Rhapsody, I can tell you every frame I shot; but some work is done for love and some you do for money. So I had the opportunity as a director to practice the craft, but not too much of the responsibility. It was not the way I would have chosen to make the film, but that’s not what I was there for. I was there to finish the work. What we’ve seen of Rocketman so far feels reminiscent of both Moulin Rouge and the Beatles musical Across the Universe. I think they’re wonderful comparisons to make. I love Moulin Rouge, and I think it’s just an incredible, stunning piece of work and Baz Luhrmann is a visionary filmmaker. He has his own voice and I love the humor and pathos and drama and spectacle of it all. So Rocketman is more a fantasia than a strict docudrama? Well, Elton is telling us his story. He’s our narrator, and the film opens with him entering group therapy. Then he sits down to tell us the story as he recalls it. So it’s different from Bohemian Rhapsody in that it’s a kind of third person point of someone from the outside looking in. And I wanted to tell a story about what the personal real experience was like being inside him, how the emotions felt. And memory is fallible. You can talk about seismic events in your life, but then they’re blurred by time and what we think we remember. So that really allows you to engage in fantasy. Once you’re in the realm of memory, anything can happen... Exactly. It meant I could say to the costume designer, let’s take inspiration from Elton’s costumes, but it’s his memory of them, how he would want them to be. When Elton saw them, he said, “God, I wish I f**king had that! That is great!!” That ended up happening. I took the first costume design to Elton for dinner, and he’s like,“That’s really great.”You know, this fantastic blinged-out orange suit with bat wings and horns on his head. But as you say, the imagination is freed and we can play with storytelling and bits of fantasia. That’s why I don’t really have any dates in the film. How much of these liberties existed in the original screenplay? “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” was always in the script the way we shot it. Lee Hall had written it as a big dance number, and I took it and changed it to use it as a turning point for young teenage Reggie. Once I understood that as a musical, the songs go where they work best, it wasn’t a traditional biopic anymore. I freed myself from all of that and it was a huge liberty. But what I wanted to do was celebrate the music, and the best way I think that we could do that was by taking the songs and have them tell a story within the film, which gives them an emotional currency. If I’d stuck to the action timeline, I might have lost out. Rumor has it you’ve been asked to tone down Elton’s sexuality. I was always very clear about this: You can’t make a film about a person who’s so publicly known without addressing it. It’s a movie about Elton, so you know he’s going to wear glasses. He’s going to play the piano. And he’s going to kiss a man. Taron and I wanted to create a great intimate moment that is about a first sexual encounter that nine times out of ten are awkward and fumbled and full of nerves. But when we look back at them, you think,“God, that was a beautiful moment I had there.” ■


After stepping in to finish Bohemian Rhapsody, Director Dexter Fletcher tells us he has a very different agenda for telling the story of Elton John in Rocketman. BY KEVIN PHINNEY

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Metrosource - June/July 2019  

Metrosource, a division of Davler Media, is an LGBT glossy lifestyle and entertainment magazine, and a multi-media platform, providing onlin...

Metrosource - June/July 2019  

Metrosource, a division of Davler Media, is an LGBT glossy lifestyle and entertainment magazine, and a multi-media platform, providing onlin...