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March 19, 2020

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CONTENTS

SPOTLIGHT

From streaming the Metropolitan Opera to Clyde’s delivery and carry out, we’ve curated ways to entertain and feed yourself. By Doug Rule

CLOSING CALLS

As the coronavirus pandemic hits hard, D.C.’s bar and restaurant industry closes its doors to help combat the spread. By John Riley

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Volume 26 Issue 44

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STRIP SEARCH

A sleuthing male stripper takes it off for justice in Netflix’s spicy Spanish soap opera Toy Boy. By André Hereford

FROM THE PUBLISHER: THE DIGITAL PATHWAY p.5 CHASING COVID-19 p.16 TAKING PRECAUTIONS p.18 PRICE IS RIGHT p.19 RUSH TO JUDGE p.20 SOUTH BEACH SCANDAL p.21 REDUCTIVE RANT p.22 MUSIC: CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS AND CARIBOU p.25 SCENE: RED BEAR BREWING CO. p. 27 FUN & GAMES: CONTESTS p.29 LAST WORD p.28 Washington, D.C.’s Best LGBTQ Magazine for 25 Years Editorial Editor-in-Chief Randy Shulman Art Director Todd Franson Online Editor at metroweekly.com Rhuaridh Marr Senior Editor John Riley Contributing Editors André Hereford, Doug Rule Senior Photographers Ward Morrison, Julian Vankim Contributing Illustrators David Amoroso, Scott G. Brooks Contributing Writers Sean Maunier, Troy Petenbrink, Kate Wingfield Webmaster David Uy Production Assistant Julian Vankim Sales & Marketing Publisher Randy Shulman National Advertising Representative Rivendell Media Co. 212-242-6863 Distribution Manager Dennis Havrilla Patron Saint Jonas Edward Salk Cover Photography Little Perfect Stock/Shutterstock Metro Weekly 1775 I St. NW, Suite 1150 Washington, DC 20006 202-638-6830 All material appearing in Metro Weekly is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of the publishers. Metro Weekly assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials submitted for publication. All such submissions are subject to editing and will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Metro Weekly is supported by many fine advertisers, but we cannot accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers, nor can we accept responsibility for materials provided by advertisers or their agents. Publication of the name or photograph of any person or organization in articles or advertising in Metro Weekly is not to be construed as any indication of the sexual orientation of such person or organization.

© 2020 Jansi LLC.

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Express Yourself

A glam rock spectacle serving self-expression realness June 6 8PM June 7 3PM Lincoln Theatre 1215 U Street NW Tickets: 202-888-0050 M-F 1-7pm or GMCW.org

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! S E AT D NEW G Visit

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From the Publisher

THE DIGITAL PATHWAY L

AST WEDNESDAY, AS WE WERE SENDING our 11th Annual Spring Arts Preview to print, I got word that I.M.P. — which runs the 9:30 Club, The Anthem, and other prominent concert venues — was canceling its entire slate of March shows due to the ever-growing coronavirus pandemic. Their announcement was sobering, unnerving, and, it turns out, prescient. Over the next two days, my inbox flooded with emails from arts and cultural organizations — including the biggest of them all, The Kennedy Center — noting that they were either canceling or postponing productions and events until further notice. In the week since, the situation has only worsened. Theaters canceled the remainder of their seasons. Bars and restaurants were instructed by Mayor Bowser to shut their doors. Cities across the nation ground to a halt, as businesses either moved to telecommuting or just closed indefinitely. It’s all for a good cause: Let’s do our best to stem the spread of COVID-19, let’s keep our city — our nation — as healthy as possible, let’s keep our health services from being pulverized by overwhelming demand. Let’s, as they say, each do our part to “flatten the curve.” “We’re all in this together” seems cliche, but it’s a cliche that has never been more resoundingly true. We all have a responsibility to humanity to keep each other safe — we have to do the right thing. And a bit of pain now will hopefully be lessened by the actions we take in this moment. Can humanity rise to the occasion? I hope so. I pray so. We must also look out for each other in ways that are challenging and extra-compassionate. We have encountered a massive boulder, and we must all work together to roll it up a very steep hill and push it off the edge, so it tumbles into oblivion. It would be all too easy to use most of this space to criticise the Trump administration for their clear and obvious mishandling of the crisis at the onset, or, even to this day, President Trump’s abhorrent, blatantly racist assignation of COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” I’ll save that outrage for another time, though I will admit that I am finally encouraged that our government appears to be doing the right and responsible thing. I have been publishing a print edition of Metro Weekly since May of 1994 — nearly 26 years and more than 1,250 physical issues. So it took a lot of intense soul-searching over the weekend to come

to the point where I could be at ease with the idea of suspending the print edition for a spell, shifting the emphasis to our already robust website — www. metroweekly.com — and this fully interactive Digital Edition, which can be downloaded to phone or tablet, or browsed in home offices, or swiped through while relaxing in bed. When you get down to it, it’s not the vehicle that matters, it’s the content. And I like to think our content matters. Quality has always been of paramount importance at Metro Weekly and that’s certainly not changing now. If we are asking you to invest your time with us, we’re going to do our best to make it worth your while. That said, I want to thank our staff and freelancers, who have been astonishing in adapting to this new normal and fully understanding of the sacrifices involved. I applaud them. They are a selfless group who understand that now, more than ever, it is our job to provide meaningful, informative, and entertaining content. They have been — and are — nothing short of extraordinary. Metro Weekly is lucky to have this particular group at this challenging moment in time. As some of you know, we have been publishing a digital version of Metro Weekly for a few years now, which replicated the weekly print magazine. This new Digital Edition, however, has required a gradual ripping up of the floorboards as we create something a bit different, a bit new. We are still in the midst of reinvention, and with each passing week, we hope to offer interesting new ways to engage with and explore the magazine. Watch for clickable links, both in content and to advertisers (and support those advertisers as best as you can). I personally invite you to be part of our journey as we explore this new version of Metro Weekly. When print returns — and it will return — it’s our hope the Digital Edition will remain as its own standalone entity, with many of the things we create over these next few weeks becoming permanent fixtures that you look forward to reading. As editor, I have decided to maintain some semblance of familiarity in the Digital Edition. Out On the Town may be on hold for the moment, but Spotlight is firmly in place, its purpose in a state of evolution. Last Word remains a permanent fixture at the back of the magazine, of course, and Todd Franson has devised a novel way to keep Scene alive with something called Selfie Scene (it’ll debut in next Thursday’s issue). MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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Please sign up for our email at www.metroweekly.com/join to be kept informed of how you can contribute to many of the exciting new sections we have planned! It’s important to note, I think, that while we will be reporting on COVID-19 and its impact on our local, national and globally impacted communities — LGBTQ and beyond — we’ll also be looking for ways to help you cope with what might be an extended period of self-isolation. Content can’t all be persistently grim or we’d all go mad with despair. So it is our intent to find ways to engage you with interactivity, to find ways to make you smile, and to surprise you. It’s also important to note the Digital Edition’s direct link to our website — www.metroweekly. com — which we are ramping up with even more daily content, as well as our social media outreach on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please follow us on all three, if you aren’t already — your support means everything to us. The underlying philosophy behind Metro Weekly has always been one of community service. That’s more vital than ever — and we hope that both the Digital Edition and the website will provide you ways to both support and gain support from our extraordinarily strong, amazingly resilient LGBTQ community. We intend to keep our quality high, find interesting interviews for you to dive into, and maybe even plumb into our archives with some special editions for you to enjoy during this period of mass hibernation. I encourage all merchants, theaters, restaurants, bars — everyone, everywhere — to join in our bold new experiment. When you post something to Instagram, tag us @metroweekly and we might add you to our ongoing story. Or send a story idea to editor@metroweekly.com. We are open to any and all ideas, because with the print edition on hiatus, the Digital Edition

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allows us to explore the world beyond our DMV boundaries. Yes, our primary focus will remain the local LGBTQ community, but digital has no borders or confines, and so we welcome any and all communities that need a place to find comfort, solace, and refuge in a good read. The situation we are all in is a profoundly negative one, to be certain. It’s one we don’t know the eventual outcome of. And that uncertainty is stressful, to say the very least. But at least Metro Weekly is in a position to help. We can help inform you. We can help entertain you. We can help enlighten you. We can be a companion when you need one. We can be a tiny sliver of good in a world suddenly and starkly turned upside down. Add us to all the other slivers of good out there — and there are thousands upon thousands of them — and you get one heck of a formidable slice. It’s that slice that will nourish the world in these seemingly impossible times. In short, we are here for you. And thank you for being here for us. Please stay indoors, wash your hands, FaceTime your friends and family, and most of all, please, please, please stay healthy. Randy Shulman Publisher / Editor-in-Chief rshulman@metroweekly.com / Twitter & IG: @randyshulman


KEN HOWARD / MET OPERA

Spotlight

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Metropolitan Opera’s Free Streams

ITH ITS OPERA HOUSE DARK AND ITS patrons quarantined at home for the unforeseeable future, New York’s storied Metropolitan Opera has opted to dip into its rich trove of “Live in HD” recordings of past productions. The goal, says General Manager Peter Gelb, is “to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times. The Nightly Met Opera Streams series offers one free, encore presentation every night at 7:30 p.m. “for the duration of the closure.” It’s free and accessible by the public. Each opera remains available for 20 hours on the company’s homepage (it’s also available for a fee on the company’s on demand streaming service).

This weekend offers two works by Donizetti — the comic opera La Fille du Régiment, on Friday, March 20, and his historical tragic opera Lucia di Lammermoor on Saturday, March 21. This will be followed by the 2007 production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin starring Renée Fleming on Sunday, March 22. Next week brings an all-Wagner slate, starting Monday, March 23, with the 2016 production of Tristan and Isolde conducted by Simon Rattle, and continuing with four nights of the four epic works that comprise the composer’s signature Ring Cycle, as staged in star-studded productions last decade. Get there early, there’s a virtual line. Visit www. metopera.org. — Doug Rule MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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Spotlight DELIVERING CLYDE’S COMFORT FOOD

Before COVID-19 — and as recently as last week — delivery wasn’t an option from any of the venues that comprise this iconic D.C. restaurant chain, which includes The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill, and 1789 in addition to its namesake locations. Now, through Caviar, you can order Clyde’s classic Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, offered with fries and coleslaw, and its prized Cheeseburger, made with locally ground chuck from Cedar River Farms and served with the usual fixings and a side. Or you might go for The Hamilton’s popular (and comforting) District Wings, presented with two sides of Mumbo sauce, or Southern Fried Chicken, served on a Big Marty bun along with house mustard, honey hot sauce, and pickle chips. You can also place an order online for pickup if that’s your preference. It’s also worth noting that Clyde’s has extended paid sick time for all of its employees. Visit www.clydes.com. —DR

WORTHWHILE LGBTQ READS

If days of Netflix chilling has left you feeling restless and you need something different to occupy your mind, look no further than the finalists for the 32nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, announced last week. Organizers with the Lambda Literary Foundation note that some of today’s best-known LGBTQ authors and playwrights got an early boost in their careers by being honored by the Lammys. Over 100 published works are nominated across 24 categories this year, ranging from fiction to romance, comics to science fiction and horror, and poetry to mystery, categories further divided into the sub-groups of the LGBTQ community. Playwrights nominated in the LGBTQ Drama category include Jordan Harrison for The Amateurs, Michael R. Jackson for the musical A Strange Loop, and Liza Birkenmeier for Dr. Ride’s American Beach House. The late Edie Windsor, Isaac Mizrahi, and Saeed Jones (Pictured) are among those recognized for their recently published memoirs. Other noteworthy titles include Samantha Allen’s Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States, the anthology LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia, and Brett Krutzch’s Dying TO Be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics. The Lammys are scheduled to be awarded on June 8 in New York City. Visit www.lambdaliterary.org. —DR

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Spotlight

CHAMBER DANCE PROJECT’S ONLINE AUCTION

Last week, the Chamber Dance Project decided to cancel its March 29 gala, the young contemporary ballet company’s biggest fundraiser of the year. At the same time, the organization announced its first-ever online auction, open to the public, with the hope that total funds raised through the bidding process will go some way toward making up

for the loss of the gala, responsible for more than 10 percent of its operating revenue. The auction, which continues through April 2, launched with over 50 items with more being added daily. Among the highlights: Local theater tickets to everything from Summer: The Donna Summer Musical at the National Theatre to Fun Home at Studio Theatre to Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre; gift certificates to dine at refined local restaurants the Estuary and Blue Duck Tavern; four premium seats to a Capitals game complete with catering; several Michael Aramdesigned furnishings; a weekend packaged excursion to New York City; and a couple of week-long stays at luxury resorts and spas in the Caribbean. Many of the items are offered with no minimum requirement, meaning the actual value could well exceed the winning bid. All bids are anonymous to the public. Visit www.chamberdance.org/auction to start bidding. —DR

BANGKOK JOE’S IMMUNITY-BOOSTING SPECIALS

A few days before the novel coronavirus became a pandemic and forced D.C. restaurants to suspend in-house dining and related offerings, Aulie Bunyarataphan, the owner-chef of Bangkok Joe’s, unveiled an impressive special “Feel Good Menu,” featuring appetizers and entrees that incorporate ingredients said to boost human health and the immune system, including classic Thai herbs such as ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and kaffir lime, citrus fruits, leaf greens, orange-color vegetables, high-fat fish, shellfish, and fermented beans. Since the city’s restaurant closings, the large Thai restaurant with a view of the Georgetown waterfront, has scaled back its special offerings, including Bunyarataphan’s holistic menu. Several of the items are still available for pickup or delivery, including Tom Yum Chicken Soup with Thai herbs, mushrooms, and lemongrass broth; Winter Squash Potstickers made of butternut squash and sweet potatoes, and served with a spicy ginger/soy dip; and Chicken Basil Kapow with green beans, scallions, bell peppers, and garlic-chili-basil. Bangkok Joe’s offers its own no-contact delivery service for orders over $30 with no delivery fee and 10% off the order. In addition, all orders over $50, including those for takeout, earn patrons another 10% discount to be applied to a future dine-in experience. Meanwhile, delivery is also available using third-party apps including Caviar, DoorDash, and GrubHub. Call 202-3334422 or visit www.bangkokjoesdc.com. —DR MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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DUPLEX DINER GETS GRUBHUBBY

Spotlight

TODD FRANSON

You can’t order a Lemon Squeeze — to say nothing of taking a trip to the Madonna bathroom — but signature menu staples including Pigs in a Blanket, a Broccolini Salad, a burger, and meatloaf can be procured from the 18th & U Duplex Diner (202-265-7828; www.duplexdiner.com) through the use of GrubHub and UberEats. You can also order takeout or delivery from the LGBTQ-owned institution’s sister restaurant a block away, Red, White and Basil (202-518-7021; www.redwhiteandbasil.com). The classic, affordable Italianstyle restaurant offers traditional fare from Just the Pasta and Sauce and a Caprese salad with burrata, to Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, and Vegetable Lasagna. We recommend ordering through GrubHub, given that the company decided to waive the normal fees it charges its restaurant partners in light of the devastating blow that COVID-19 has dealt to the smaller, independent venues. The company also established the Grubhub Community Relief Fund providing additional financial help to its drivers and restaurants impacted by the pandemic. —DR

PROVIDING RELIEF

Last weekend, Hook Hall reached out to the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) to become a partner in a multi-pronged approach to help those in the food and beverage industry, most of whom have lost their jobs, income, and livelihood in the wake of the coronavirus closures. The two organizations created a Coronavirus Workers Relief Fund that accepts donations for its work in helping those hardest hit or in greatest need in the industry and broader community, even in terms of basic supplies and meals. Meanwhile, a number of compassionate, concerned citizens have launched a growing collection of lists and resources to further assist in the cause. In less than three days, the new public Facebook group “DMV Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19” grew to include over 2,000 users, partly drawn to the Google Doc “DC Coronavirus Resource Needs,” a list of over 50 self-selected individuals — “waitstaff, bartenders, small business owners, freelance artists, yoga teachers” — who “need their income supplemented.” Similarly, a few residents have also created the GoFundMe page, “DMV Restaurant Worker Relief Fund.” And with the shuttering of all bars and nightclubs this past Monday rose another fundraiser specifically for bar staff, those who added their names and places of employment along with their Venmo or PayPal account for donations as part of “A DC Virtual Tip Jar.” —DR

Do you have a suggestion for something we should Spotlight? Email us at spotlight@metroweekly.com.

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CLOSING CALLS

As the coronavirus pandemic hits hard, D.C.’s bar and restaurant industry closes its doors to help combat the spread. By John Riley

LITTLE PERFECT STOCK

M

OVIE THEATERS, GYMS, SPAS, MASSAGE PARlors — all have been directed to shut down. Restaurants and taverns can only serve takeout and delivery. Nightclubs are shuttered. It was all part of a progressive series of orders from Mayor Muriel Bowser, that started on Friday, March 13. Washington, D.C. is, effectively, in hibernation. The order arrived as Bowser attempted to take extra-tough measures to discourage residents from carousing in public, in

the hopes that social distancing will reduce the rapid spread of the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “There is, of course, a lot more that we need to learn about COVID-19, but one thing we do know is that social distancing can mitigate the spread of the virus,” Bowser said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “At the moment, social distancing is our main tool.” Effective at 10 p.m. on Monday, all licensed restaurants and taverns were only allowed to offer carry-out or food delivery MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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—Ed Bailey, Trade and Number 9

to customers, but all dining or drinking on the premises was prohibited. The mayor’s Monday directive came on top of additional restrictions on restaurants and taverns that she introduced on Friday and clarified on Sunday, based on recommendations from D.C. Department of Health. The DOH guidelines called for limiting the number of customers to fewer than 250, suspending all bar seating, suspending service to standing persons, limiting the maximum number of people who could be seated at a table or booth to six, and placing six feet of distance between each table and booth. Bowser also announced that all licensed nightclubs or multi-purpose facilities would be forced to temporarily suspend operations. She warned that there would be repercussions for any establishment that attempted to flout the new rules, urging D.C. residents to report any bars or restaurants that continue serving seated customers. “As mayor, I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how I can shut down a business or order a fine,” she said. “But I'll do it.” Bowser’s words were underscored by actions earlier on Monday after the Hill Restaurant Group — which owns sever14

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LITTLE PERFECT STOCK

“There's a basic general understanding of what bars can do and how they can be part of the community. But EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT WHETHER THIS SITUATION IS SCARY OR WHETHER IT’S ANNOYING TO THEM.”

al D.C. restaurants, including Hawk ‘n’ Dove, Finn’s, Tortuga, Lola’s, Willie’s, Ophelia’s Fish House and Orchid — said in a private Facebook post that it would defy her earlier directive. After the post was made public, Bowser raised the possibility of using police, the fire department, the health department, and other city regulatory agencies to close down any bar or restaurant not complying with the DOH guidelines. Hill Restaurant Group later backtracked and agreed to comply, but managing partner Tom Johnson told The Washington Post that he would be forced to start laying off people due to the city’s restrictions. Bowser’s order, which remains in effect through the end of March, aligns with actions taken by other governors and mayors to lessen the severity of the epidemic and ensure that health facilities are not overwhelmed by a potential spike in infection rates. Also on Monday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced nearly identical actions meant to “flatten the curve” of the epidemic in his state. Other states, including New York, Ohio, Illinois, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington State, and California, as well as cities like New York City, have announced they are banning dining out in public, leaving the option of takeout or delivery open to their residents. But even ahead of Bowser’s most recent directive, establishments that could have remained operational were choosing to voluntarily close, saying it simply wasn’t worth it to stay open. The effect was particularly acute in establishments that primarily serve the LGBTQ community or are LGBTQ-friendly. David Perruzza, owner of Pitchers and A League of Her Own, had originally planned to close down the building that houses both bars six days of the week, but had hoped to get an exemption from D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to host a show tunes night on Sundays. Patrons would have remained seated at tables spaced apart according to DOH guidelines. “I called my insurance company, and the insurance doesn't do anything, because it's an epidemic,” he said. “They stopped covering that stuff after the swine flu. So I pay $54,000 a year in insurance to hope that no one falls down and sues me, and it doesn’t cover anything else. “In all honesty, the Eagle and myself are the only two bars that could stay open if we wanted to," Perruzza said, referring to the rigidity of the earlier DOH guidelines. “But, again, it’s not economical. And the shaming we get from people about opening is worse than everything else. The messages we got, just because we were open yesterday, you wouldn't believe. “I mean, people can be responsible and go out,” he continued. “Meanwhile, those same people went to brunch. You can shame a bar for being open, but you had no problem going to the grocery or gym, where those same people touched a thousand things that other people touched. But everyone's shaming bars, because they don’t give a shit. They look at service industry people as if they're ‘less than,’ and that pisses me off.” Ed Bailey, co-owner of Number Nine and Trade, said both bars would be closed going forward, but called the situation surrounding COVID-19 “new and uncharted.” “As a bar owner in D.C., this is not something we’ve had to


“Once we’re given the all-clear to reopen, we will do so, and welcome everyone back with open arms. Until then, IT’S BETTER FOR ALL OF US IF WE FOLLOW THE GUIDANCE AND POUR OURSELVES A MARTINI AT HOME.”

ANDI WHISKEY

navigate before, and so it has been complicated,” Bailey said. whether they be DJs, drag queens, or whatever — and tipped “Making decisions in an ever-evolving kind of atmosphere is workers are all going to be hit hard by this,” he said. “I think challenging and you always want to get it right. So you’re trying the city and federal government need to be looking at options to make your decisions based on some kind of principles and you to make sure that those people can apply for unemployment or have to have a clear understanding of what those principles are. other relief.” We operate — and have always operated — with the best interOn Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed emergency legislaests of our staff and community in mind.” tion, sponsored by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), to After Bowser sent tweets on Sunday clarifying her earlier allow small businesses to apply for grants to help cover costs, directive, it became clear to including payroll and operatBailey that the DOH guideing costs, as well as a sales tax lines were “going to force us payment deferral for February to operate in a manner that's and March. much different from the way The legislation also extends we currently operate,” which temporary unemployment also influenced the decision to benefits to employees, includtemporarily close the doors. ing tipped employees, who "While we feel like the bars are either quarantined or out provide a valuable service in of work because of the shutcreating an opportunity for downs, bars utility compapeople to feel connected to nies from shutting off gas and the community and the basic water services for non-payhuman need for social interment, and prohibits landlords action, now is not the time from evicting tenants who are for that," Bailey said. “We late in paying rent. probably need to take a break Justin Parker, co-owner of from that for the sake of all of The Dirty Goose, told Metro us. Hopefully, in the coming Weekly in an email that his bar weeks, the situation unfolds in decided to close on Monday a way that we could feel comand will reopen once the fortable and responsible about District issues guidance that it reopening.” is safe to do so. To assist their He said that reactions to employees during this difficult the potential closures of his time, the bar announced that two bars ran the full gamut 100% of all gift card proceeds from people questioning why will be distributed as “tips” to they were still open to people employees until the time that urging them not to close. the bar can reopen. “One of the difficult parts Other bars are taking simof this is there's a basic genilar actions. Derrick Jones, eral understanding of what marketing coordinator for the bars can do and how they Green Lantern, said the bar can be part of the commumanagers are trying to set up nity, but everyone has their a way for people to send tips own personal feelings about to their bartenders via Venmo whether this situation is scary or Cash App to support them or whether it’s annoying to while the Green Lantern them,” he said. remains closed. Miguel Ayala, a manager “When we announced the — Derrick Jones, Green Lantern at the DC Eagle, said that the closure, we had people reachclub could have stayed open, ing out, saying ‘What can we but owners made a decision to close after Bowser released her do to help,’ because they knew the staff would be negatively clarification of the DOH guidelines. impacted,” Jones said. “And this is the way we've figured out “I think the clarification on Sunday was much more helpful. that they can do something.” I don’t think a lot of people on Friday understood the guidance. Jones said that, outside of the Hill Restaurant Group’s spat with You’re technically not forced to close, but the spirit of what it’s Bowser, he hasn’t seen much pushback against the mayor’s orders. saying is: there are things we shouldn’t be doing right now,” “Everyone’s largely doing what they need to do, knowing that Ayala said. “For us, we don’t want to be a reason this pandem- the faster we take action, the faster we come out on the other ic gets worse. That guidance helped us understand we just side. And if that means outright closing, it means outright closshouldn’t be in operation right now.” ing,” he said. “Once we’re given the all-clear to reopen, we will Ayala noted that the city and federal governments need to be do so, and welcome everyone back with open arms, but I think taking steps to help shore up businesses and employees affected until then, it’s better for all of us if we follow the guidance and by the shutdown. pour ourselves a martini at home.” l “People who rely on hourly wages, on contract work — MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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C

Perspectives on the coronavirus from an expert virologist and a health journalist, as the world races to contain the pandemic. By André Hereford

ONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS WORLDWIDE are proliferating faster than any one organization can accurately track the spread of the disease. Prior to publication, the World Health Organization’s global tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to more than 190,000, while the total reported by HealthMap — which includes Oxford and Harvard Medical School among its contributing sources — has jumped to more than 200,000 cases. According to the WHO, two months ago there were 282 confirmed cases in four countries. The rapid spread of the disease, and ensuing fatalities, fear, shutdowns, and economic slowdown, have left folks reeling. And alongside the uncertainty, real and existential, that’s blanketed bustling cities like D.C., scientists like Dr. Thomas J. Hope are racing to grasp what makes the virus tick with enough certainty to be able to contain it. A pioneer in HIV research, Hope runs a lab in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. He also happens to have been one of the U.S. co-organizers of an emerging infectious disease meeting in Bangkok the third week in February, where, as Hope told Metro Weekly, the coronavirus identified as 2019-nCoV was a major topic of discussion. “This meeting kind of related [to] where it all started to blow up,” he says. “It was really fascinating to follow it since then.” Busily monitoring COVID-19, Hope has been able to apply his expertise related to studying the first hours of how viral infection is established. “I think the key is, this virus can be exposed 16

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in the environment and survive,” Hope explains. “HIV instantly would kind of dry out. Once HIV dries out, it's dead. I think that once COVID and other respiratory viruses dry out, they're actually in a more stable form. That's why they travel around the world. They sort of follow a less humid environment, which is advantageous for them.” Concerns about the virus had somewhat of a chilling effect on Hope’s February emerging viruses meeting. “A bunch of people canceled that trip to Bangkok, but a lot of people said they would wait and see,” he says. “I can tell you that it was very humid and hot there, and not an advantageous environment for the virus to transmit. At least, that's my interpretation of it.” Indeed, although the rate of infections is tipping upward in Thailand, the nation’s total number of cases — a reported 212, as of March 17 — still ranks well below the tens of thousands in China, Italy, and Iran. Nearby Cambodia has logged remarkably even fewer cases, but, as science journalist Andreas von Bubnoff reports from Phnom Penh, the disruption of everyday life familiar to people around the world has quickly swung into place there, too. “So what's happening here is that it's a little bit bizarre,” says von Bubnoff, who has years of experience covering viruses and vaccines. “And I thought it wasn't going to happen here that things were closing down. But now things are closing down.” Based in Kleve, Germany, where he’s also a professor of International Science Communications at Rhine-Waal University, von Bubnoff is visiting Cambodia, which announced

CORONA BOREALIS STUDIO

CHASING COVID-19


wanted to go there, then you're screwed. And I think even I underestimated the seriousness of the uncertainty of the situation. Maybe in part because I've just never lived through anything like this before. I don't know what it is, it's just so unprecedented.” Setting aside his concerns about getting home, von Bubnoff says he still believes “that the most import—Dr. Thomas J. Hope ant thing right now is to be humble, not to judge and to please, please not think you know it all. Everybody on March 14 a ban on tourists from Italy, Spain, France, the should engage and start being a little bit humble, and we should United States, and Germany. Attempting to depart on Monday, stop being too certain about anything because nobody really March 16, he found his flight to Germany bumped to Thursday, knows what the hell is going to happen and we need to admit that. You need to be able to admit that. Leaders need to be able to and all he could do was wait. “I don't know about you,” says von Bubnoff, “but I have lived admit that. Good leaders admit that they are not sure of things.” Dr. Hope invokes a similar view of staying humble in the fight through peaceful times, no extreme situations all my life, right? I never experienced a war. I never experienced any situation that to maintain public health. “I think that we — the world — has completely lost our proper really would affect public life at all. So I was not able to imagine respect for pathogens, which is part of the basis of this whole [this], because I'd never lived through it. “I reported for Nature on the 1918 flu virus ten years ago. I anti-vaxxer movement and things. It's like, ‘I don't have to worry reported on how horrible it was. It killed I think 50 million people, and it always sounded so far away. And then all these things came up like SARS and MERS, and Ebola and all this, eventually, it stopped. But this one... I don't know. It's so strange to wake up at night, and I'm usually a news junkie anyway, but now I really wake up at night and it's 4 a.m. and —Dr. Thomas J. Hope I can't sleep anymore. That's completely fucking insane.” While many fortunate residents hunker down with supplies and streaming options here in about that, that's not a problem.’ So this, I think, reminds everyD.C., from the other side of the world, von Bubnoff says that, “In body about this being a problem, and reminds everybody how several places where I was entering, they measured my tempera- things can spread fast. “Nobody took this seriously, and nobody expected it to come ture, and sometimes they will also at a club spray your hands. They won't ask you, they would just do it, they will just start to them. Because nobody expected it to be so easily transmitted, spraying your hands. And then you see people walking around and mostly be either asymptomatic or hardly symptomatic, in my apartment building spraying the entire hallway with some and that's like the perfect combination for trouble. It's like the un-perfect combination, because if you spread easily, and people kind of disinfectant. “The other thing is that obviously the hotels, hotel reserva- don't know you're infected, then it gets passed up and causes tions are going to fall off a cliff starting 30 days from now when big trouble in certain populations. That's about as dangerous all these foreigners are not going to be allowed to — I mean, as it gets. Because all of a sudden you don't think the virus is basically, people who are here already can stay, but the rest have anywhere, and it's everywhere. This week we get to see what to stay out, all those foreigners from those five countries at least everywhere means in the U.S., and it's going to be scary. “The problem is that we don't have the tests yet, but they're can't enter anymore. Hotels are starting to tell people that they coming,” Hope insists. “So it's easy to make a choice when there might have to lay off.” Even though visitors like von Bubnoff are being allowed to are no choices. And we have no choice — we have to isolate ourstay in Cambodia for now, “People are trying to get the hell out selves and social distance, or whatever you want to call it. And of here. But that's only been in development in the last 24 hours the world is just saying sit down and watch the TV and stay in your house. Think about some of our ancestors and the sacrifices and it's really like everything's changing so quickly.” Awaiting von Bubnoff’s safe return to Germany are his wife, they made for us. Our sacrifice is to binge-watch Netflix. Right? and a home country that is also freezing up quickly to curtail the But we need to do that for about a week, and then I think there's going to be tests all over the place, and then we’ve got to test spread. “Before I left, it was completely normal, and now one of the people and figure out where the virus is, and maybe we come German states closed all of their airports,” he says. “So if you out of this okay.” l

“We have no choice — we have to isolate ourselves. The world is just saying sit down and watch the TV and stay in your house. THINK ABOUT SOME OF OUR ANCESTORS AND THE SACRIFICES THEY MADE FOR US. OUR SACRIFICE IS TO BINGE-WATCH NETFLIX.”

“Nobody took this seriously. Nobody expected it to be so easily transmitted. All of a sudden you don't think the virus is anywhere, and it's everywhere. THIS WEEK WE GET TO SEE WHAT EVERYWHERE MEANS IN THE U.S., AND IT'S GOING TO BE SCARY.”

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PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITMAN-WALKER

TAKING PRECAUTIONS

Local health providers are scaling back non-essential services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By John Riley

Whitman-Walker Health

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S THE THREAT OF COVID-19 INFECTION LEADS states to shut down all non-essential services, local health care centers are also scaling back services in order to deal with the most serious cases and ensure that patients aren't unnecessarily exposed to the virus. As of March 17, Whitman-Walker Health has canceled all community events, walk-in HIV/STI testings, and non-essential medical appointments. It has closed its Youth Services location in Eastern Market and Whitman-Walker at LIZ (formerly the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center), and has closed down its weekly Gay Men's Health and Wellness Sexual Health and PrEP clinic through March 31. The health center's PEP services for post-exposure prophylaxis — a 28-day medication which must be started within 72 hours of exposure to HIV in order to be effective — will continue to operate, however they are closing at noon on Thursday, March 19 and plan to reopen at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 23. But legal services, insurance navigation support, and wellness visits will be switched over to phone or digital appointments. Whitman-Walker's pharmacies remain open, but patients are encouraged to utilize delivery services instead of showing up in person. The pharmacies provide same-day prescription delivery for District residents, and next-day delivery for those in Maryland or Virginia. Patients of Whitman-Walker who need urgent care are being asked to call 202-745-7000 before showing up in person, as staff may be able to treat them over the phone or virtually, thus lessening their own potential exposure to COVID-19. For patients and clients who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms of the virus, WhitmanWalker has also set up a cough evaluation sick clinic. However, people are urged to call 202-745-7000 before showing up so that the remaining medical staff can triage care needs and determine whether an in-person visit is absolutely necessary. Given that services will change in response to the severity of 18

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the COVID-19 pandemic, patients or clients are encouraged to check Whitman-Walker's website for updates and call before arriving in person for urgent medical care. In a similar vein, the Alexandria Health Department's Rainbow Tuesdays clinic, geared towards gay and bisexual men, has scaled back services, and will no longer provide STI screening or rapid HIV testing for asymptomatic persons. Those who have been notified that they are sexual contacts of people who have tested positive for HIV or STIs, have symptoms, or have positive lab tests are being seen, but walk-ins are not accepted. Appointments must be scheduled by calling 703-7464863 or 703-746-4976, and will take place on Tuesday between 4:30-6:30 p.m. The clinic is open to non-Virginia residents. However, the department's Rapid Monday Clinic HIV rapid testing and STI clinic, and its Wednesday HIV Rapid Testing, have been temporarily suspended. According to Deborah Dimon, a registered nurse and public health nursing supervisor at the Alexandria Health Department, much of the department's workforce is being reassigned to COVID-19 surveillance activities. The department will continue to hold STI testing and treatment, including HPV, and Hepatitis A & B immunizations, for the general population — by appointment only — on Monday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. NOVASalud, a program geared towards Spanish-speaking populations that provides free walk-in HIV rapid testing, gynecological screenings, Hepatitis C rapid testing and rapid syphilis testing, will continue to operate on Monday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. l For the most up-to-date information from Whitman-Walker Health, visit their website at www.whitman-walker.org. For the Rainbow Tuesdays clinic or other services provided by the Alexandria Health Department, visit www.alexandria.gov/Health.


PRICE IS RIGHT M

OST PHYSICIANS ARE SAYING THE SAME thing,” says Dr. Timothy Price, MD, who treats a number of LGBTQ patients in the District. “Rather than go to a doctor's office, or making an appointment, someone should contact their provider by phone and discuss their symptoms and let the medical provider make some recommendations about the best way to proceed. "What we don't want people doing is showing up in doctor's offices, emergency rooms, or urgent care centers, and infecting back, which is resulting in providers trying to triage cases and other patients or the medical providers that might be in that set- testing only those who are the most severely sick. To combat ting. They need to forewarn people before they present." the spread of the virus, public health officials have been implePrice, himself a member of the LGBTQ community, says menting restrictions designed to force people to self-isolate, many doctors are taking precautions by reducing face-to-face something with which Price agrees. visits and employing telehealth in "I think all people, to the largest degree possible, order to protect patients and medishould be isolating themselves and not be around other "In other countries most people, or certainly in crowded situations," he says. cal providers alike from contracting the virus. of these epidemics have "The only way we're going to stop the spread of this is Price notes that symptoms of by people taking personal responsibility to keep thembeen lasting for about COVID-19 infection are largely a selves healthy, and from a public health perspective, fever of more than 100.5 degrees, a three months or more. ensure they do not get infected or infect others." dry cough, fatigue, and shortness of He adds that the length of time recommended for To really flatten the breath. Any combination of those people to self-isolate could be much longer than origisymptoms should prompt a phone curve and keep people nally expected. call to a healthcare provider. "I think we're going to be looking at this social disfrom dying, WE'RE "We believe that most people tancing for several months," he says. "What we've seen GOING TO BE TALKING in other countries is that most of these epidemics have that get this illness, get more of a flu-like illness that does not progbeen lasting for about three months or more. So to realABOUT PEOPLE ress on to pneumonia,” he says. ly flatten the curve and keep people from dying, we're SOCIALLY DISTANCING going to be talking about people socially distancing “Those people will feel tired, achy, feverish, have a cough, with sympthemselves for months, not weeks." THEMSELVES FOR toms that are very similar to what For those who have become infected with COVIDMONTHS, NOT WEEKS." 19, Price says there's uncertainty about how soon people people might think of as a flu or a viral illness. So the advice to treat it who were infected can end self-imposed quarantines. is to take medications to take fever "Usually, you would say that if someone has all other down, rest at home, drink plenty of fluids, [and] stay away from symptoms that resolve, that person is probably not infectious other people. But it is really just a wait-and-see game until the after their symptoms have resolved for seven days," he says. symptoms resolve. "But there is no data to suggest that, because there have been "The thing that would be concerning would be if someone some people who are showing that still have the virus for up to a had those symptoms, and all of a sudden, had a deeper cough, or month after their symptoms resolve. If someone has symptoms, are short of breath, or have trouble catching their breath. Those you'd have to wait for a minimum of seven days after the sympare symptoms that this has moved into the pneumonia phase. toms have gone away, but we really just don't know." l That's the thing where an urgent medical evaluation is needed." Price says medical providers are being hampered by the lack For more information on Dr. Timothy Price, of available testing, and the length of time it takes to get results visit www.pricemedical.com. MARCH 19, 2020 • WWW.METROWEEKLY.COM

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BILLION PHOTOS - SHUTTERSTOCK

Dr. Timothy Price on COVID-19 symptoms, how to best approach your doctor, and the importance of social distancing. By John Riley


Steyn

FOW NEWS

News

RUSH TO JUDGE

Rush Limbaugh guest host blames gay people for San Francisco coronavirus lockdown. By Rhuaridh Marr

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GUEST HOST ON THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW has blamed gay people for San Francisco’s coronavirus-related shutdown. Mayor London Breed announced Monday that the city was being placed on lockdown for three weeks in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except to meet basic needs like grocery shopping and visiting the doctor, the San Francisco Examiner reports. But rightwing Canadian author Mark Steyn, guest hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show on March 17, said that the real reason the city had been put in lockdown was to prevent “all the gays dropping dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch.” Steyn, who also guest hosts for Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, called San Francisco “a big gay town” and said that gay people are “the ones with all the compromised immune systems from all the protease inhibitors and all the other stuff,” Media Matters reports. He added that if the city experienced “a big gay apocalypse…it would be Trump who would get blamed for it anyway. It would be his homophobia that would have struck down all these people.” “San Francisco has just ordered everyone to shelter in place, just to say, ‘Stay in your apartment. Don’t leave your apartment unless you need to go out to a grocery store or to a pharmacy or to a doctor’s.’ Why are they doing that? Why is San Francisco the first to do that? Because they’ve got all the gay guys there,” Steyn said. “It’s a big gay town, San Francisco, and they’re the ones with all the compromised immune systems from all the protease inhibitors and all the other stuff. And they don’t want all the gays dropping dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch. So that’s why they’ve got all that sheltering in place there.” He continued: “And even if it dropped, they all dropped dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch, if there was a big

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gay apocalypse, you know, the way this thing is going now, it would be Trump who would get blamed for it anyway. He’d be — it would be his homophobia that would have struck down all these people in San Francisco. So that’s why they’ve all been ordered to stay home. And it’s not easy staying home.” Health experts have noted that people living with HIV do not have any more severe reactions to COVID-19 than those without HIV, provided their viral load is undetectable due to regularly taking antiretrovirals. Steyn is no stranger to homophobic comments. In January, while again guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, he attacked the diversity of the Democratic candidates for president and questioned former Mayor Pete Buttigieg‘s sexuality. “Are we really sure he’s gay?” he asked. “I mean, he looks like some guy from the accountancy department. He doesn’t — that’s a very non-gay look. I don’t know.” The Rush Limbaugh Show’s titular host is also known for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric — nor to attacking Buttigieg’s sexuality. Prior to Buttigieg suspending his campaign for president, Limbaugh said that the former South Bend, Ind., mayor would look less manly next to Donald Trump because he “loves to kiss his husband.” “[Voters are] looking at Mayor Pete, 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage,” Limbaugh said in February. “And they’re saying, ‘OK, how’s this going to look, 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump? What’s going to happen there?” Buttigieg delivered a solid clapback days later in an interview with CNN. “I love my husband. I’m faithful to my husband. On stage we usually just go for a hug,” he said. “But I love him very much, and I’m not going take lectures on family values from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.” l


News

SOUTH BEACH SCANDAL

Former Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum found in hotel room with gay escort who allegedly overdosed. By John Riley being intoxicated but insisted that he had never used drugs. “I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends. While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines,” Gillum said in the statement. “I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement,” he added, referring to his work on behalf of Forward Florida, a political organization he founded after losing the 2018 election to Gov. Ron DeSantis by a narrow 0.4% margin. Gillum founded the organization in order to register voters and motivate them to cast votes against President Donald Trump and Republicans who run Florida’s legislature in the upcoming 2020 elections and beyond. Florida’s Miami-area NBC affiliate Local10 reported that Dyson, who identifies himself as a registered nurse on social media, was also an escort who had a profile on RentMen. com — which has since been deleted. In that profile, he went by the name “Brodie Scott” and identified himself as a “pornstar performer” who offered services including “gay massage.” The Miami New Times contacted Dyson on Saturday and asked him about the wedding celebration referenced by Gillum. “I perGillum sonally was not celebrating a wedding,” he said. “I don’t know if [Gillum] was in town for a wedding. He did not mention that.” Dyson added that he has known Gillum since they met sometime last spring, saying “We’ve been friends for a while.” He then went silent on the phone and has not responded to follow-up calls or requests for comment from the Miami New Times or any other media outlets since. On Sunday, Gillum announced that he would be entering rehab and asked for privacy for himself and his family. He announced he would be “stepping down from all public facing roles for the foreseeable future,” including as the leader of Forward Florida and as a CNN paid contributor, reports Politico. “After conversation with my family and deep reflection, FACEBOOK

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NDREW GILLUM, THE FORMER MAYOR OF Tallahassee and Florida’s 2018 Democratic Party nominee for governor, has announced he’ll be entering a rehabilitation facility for alcoholism after being found intoxicated in a South Beach hotel room with a gay escort who overdosed on what is believed to be methamphetamine. Police were called to the Mondrian South Beach last Friday, where they found paramedics treating Travis Dyson, a 30-year-old Miami man, for an apparent heart attack. Two other men — Aldo Mejias, 56, of Coral Gables, and Gillum, 40 — were inside the room. On the floor and bed were three clear plastic bags of a substance believed to be crystal meth. Police who responded to the scene claimed Gillum was too intoxicated to answer questions. He was not arrested, and left the hotel and returned to his residence. But Mejias told police that he had called 911 after he became concerned for Dyson’s health. Mejias said that he had given his credit card information to Dyson to rent the room and planned to meet him Friday evening. When he arrived at the room around 11 p.m, he found Dyson and Gillum “under the influence of an unknown substance,” reports The Miami Herald. Mejias said Dyson let him in the room, but collapsed on the bed and began having trouble breathing. He vomited and collapsed again, at which point he called paramedics and began performing chest compressions. He claimed he also saw Gillum throw up in the bathroom during this time. Dyson was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition. Miami Beach police said that no arrests have been made, though officers did impound the drugs. “We responded as a medical call,” Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told the Herald. “Though there were narcotics in plain view, no one was in physical possession of those narcotics.” Gillum, who is married and has three children with his wife of nearly 11 years, later issued a statement apologizing for

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News I have made the decision to seek help, guidance, and enter a rehabilitation facility at this time,” Gillum said in a statement. “This has been a wake-up call for me. Since my race for governor ended, I fell into a depression that has led to alcohol abuse. I witnessed my father suffer from alcoholism and

I know the damaging effects it can have when untreated,” he said. “I also know that alcoholism is often a symptom of deeper struggles. I am committed to doing the personal work to heal fully and show up in the world as a more complete person.” l

REDUCTIVE RANT

Gay conservative accuses LGBTQ groups of exploiting COVID-19 to "fuel fake victimhood narrative." By John Riley

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no evidence that people with HIV are more likely to contract the virus. He then cites an article — one of many that have been published in recent days — revealing that health experts do not believe people with HIV are any more likely to contract the virus than those without HIV, so long as a person remains compliant with antiretroviral medications. Polumbo also takes issue with the claim made by the letter’s signatories that gay or transgender people face discrimination in health care, at least as it pertains to treating COVID-19. “They provide no evidence of any gay or transgender person being turned away from coronavirus testing or treatment due to his or her sexual orientation, nor is there any to provide,” he writes. “It’s a long way from some doctors not wanting to be forced to provide sex-change surgeries and a refusal Polumbo to treat the coronavirus.” He then concludes that the letter is “just another cynical attempt by left-wing gay and transgender activist organizations to fuel the fake victimhood narrative they need to keep their donor base engaged.” Spokespeople for the organizations who signed the letter were not immediately available for comment. Polumbo made headlines in January for an article decrying Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in D.C., accusing leather enthusiasts of celebrating “debauchery” and pushing back the LGBTQ movement. “D.C.’s degenerate gay community was busy celebrating ‘leather weekend’ — giving us all a bad name and annihilating what progress we’ve made,” he wrote. “Homosexuals were wrongly maligned for centuries as perverts and deviants. Modern left-wing gay people seem determined to keep up the public displays of debauchery that keep this stereotype alive.” Polumbo labeled the annual event, which brings together leather and kink enthusiasts from around the globe, “an affront to gay acceptance, the fight for which was actually rooted in an appeal to family values and bourgeois norms.” l FACEBOOK

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N OPENLY GAY WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLumnist is accusing LGBTQ groups of seeking to enrich themselves by fundraising off of the COVID19 pandemic in an attempt to “turn the coronavirus into a victimhood issue.” Brad Polumbo, the deputy opinion contributors editor for the conservative newspaper, is citing a recent open letter signed by more than 100 LGBTQ or LGBTQ-supportive organizations warning health care providers and media outlets that LGBTQ people may be “particularly vulnerable” to COVID-19 than the general public due to underlying health issues. Among the groups that signed the letter were Whitman-Walker Health, Capital Pride Alliance, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. But Polumbo, who identifies as a libertarian conservative, claims in his column that casting COVID-19 as a significantly larger threat to the LGBTQ community than others is a ploy by left-leaning groups to get people to donate. “This is, frankly, ridiculous,” writes Polumbo. “The coronavirus is a virus. It does not care if you are gay. Efforts to somehow make a global pandemic evidence of anti-gay and anti-transgender oppression is a case of shameless self-victimization at its worst.” Polumbo then sets about examining the reasons why the groups believe LGBTQ people are particularly at risk of becoming infected or having negative reactions to the virus, and attempting to dismantle their arguments. For instance, he says, the fact that LGBTQ people are more likely to be smokers and, thus, more prone to respiratory illnesses, is a “ridiculous stretch.” “The coronavirus is a threat to smokers, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender,” Polumbo writes. “It has nothing to do with their sexuality or gender identity.” He notes that while some LGBTQ people may have compromised immune systems due to HIV (he calls it AIDS) seems “on the surface” to be a “reasonable assertion,” there is


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NETFLIX

Television

Strip Search

A sleuthing male stripper takes it off for justice in Netflix’s spicy Spanish soap opera Toy Boy. By André Hereford

A

S A SUDSY, STUDLY DIVERSION FROM SERIOUS DISRUPTION, SPANISH soap Toy Boy (HHHHH) fits the brief of breezy binging material quite nicely. Set in the primetime paradise of Marbella, a jewel bathed by the sea on the Andalusian coast, the Netflix show feels like a world unto itself, “here just to set you free,” as the theme song teases. That lyric might also be the battle cry of the Toy Boy revue, a buff lineup of male exotic dancers who keep the ladies screaming and tipping at a club called Inferno, the main backdrop for season one’s thirteen episodes of sex, murder, and escándalo. (Netflix says season two is on the way.) The Toy Boy team — Hugo (Jesús Mosquera), Iván (José de la Torre), Jairo (Carlo Costanzia), and Germán (Raudel Raúl Martiato) — are thick as thieves, but mostly law-abiding citizens, until Hugo becomes star suspect for a high-profile murder he did not commit. Convicted and sentenced to fifteen years for killing the husband of wealthy and powerful “client” Macarena Medina de Solís (Cristina Castaño), Hugo serves seven years in prison before he’s paroled with the help of an ambitious young attorney, Triana (María Pedraza). Together Hugo and Triana set out to clear his name, as the Toy Boy crew reunites to reignite the fading club Inferno. Seven years removed from their former glory, the now older if not wiser Toy Boy dancers add a newbie — eager Óscar (Carlos Scholz) — and can still whip their all-female audience into a frenzy. Although, for a Netflix offering, their act simmers more than sizzles. Fans seeking that titillating, thong-powered Magic Mike experience might be disappointed with the lack of nerve (or nudity), despite better than decent choreography by Fidel Buika, and an able cast of movers and shakers. De la Torre, in particular, supplies vibrant energy playing Toy Boy dancer/manager Iván, who otherwise suffers through a tired storyline of owing various thugs money and favors. As the most prominent Toy Boy, broodingly handsome Mosquera looks and dances 24

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the part, while projecting Hugo’s dogged commitment to proving his innocence. As a TV sleuth, however, he doesn’t establish a persuasive style or methodology to truly distinguish him as the next cool Columbo. Hugo wants answers, so he chases them down — there isn’t much method to his pursuit. But there are unexpected twists and resets (including a few biggies in episode three), most often befalling the murder victim’s wife Macarena, distinguished by Castaño’s luscious performance as the true star of this soapdish. The fiercely stylish, scheming Macarena rules over her family’s money and their construction business, fending off the rival Rojas family and trying to figure out what’s troubling her gay son Andrea (Juanjo Almeida). Unfortunately, despite the series’ mucho gay appeal, the leading queer character is the least appealing of the principals, portrayed as a whimpering brat by one of the show’s weakest actors. To a comical degree, Andrea likes to declare knowledge of some scandalous secret, then exit dramatically, neglecting to reveal what he knows. Yet somehow he attracts the affectionate attentions of Hugo’s Toy Boy teammate Jairo, who happens to be mute and communicates via sign language. Jairo, far better than stereotypically emo Andrea, represents the show’s comcontinues on page 26


CAMILLE VIVIER

Music

Christine and the Queens

Alternatives

Christine and the Queens hones a uniquely conceptual brand of pop, while Caribou brings electronica to challenging new levels. By Sean Maunier

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INCE HER 2014 DEBUT ALBUM, HÉLOÏSE LETISSIER, BETTER KNOWN AS Christine and the Queens, or just Chris, has marked herself as one of the most interesting performers in the nebulously-defined field of alt-pop, a genre already overflowing with innovation and talent. La vita nuova (HHHHH) is no exception. Her latest EP packs a lot of ideas and even more deeply felt feelings into a roughly 20-minute runtime. Letissier examines not just the end and aftermath of a relationship, but also her own complicity in it. Notwithstanding a highly addictive stage-setting opener, “People I’ve been Sad,” she bookends the album with French and English language versions of the same song that differ in subtle but key ways. In “Je disparais dans tes bras,” she is resigned and accepting of the end of the relationship, but by the end of the album, “I disappear in your arms” finds her far more defiant, asserting her own anger and frustration rather than simply accepting the reality of the situation. From the shimmering small-hours ballad “Mountains (we met)” and the prowling, pleading “Nada,” everything about the EP is meticulously controlled, from her vocals to the production. The 13-minute video (click here to watch it now) that accompanies the EP provides a stark visual contrast to the tight, measured songwriting on display on the songs. Beginning with Chris dancing alone on the roof of the opulent Opéra Garnier, the rest of the songs take us on a high-concept romp through the building’s otherworldly Second Empire interior, culminating in an explicitly vampiric dance party. The video is visually stunning and reflects the inner turmoil of the songs outward into a baroque

spectacle even though it raises more questions than it answers. Although the EP’s lyrics are multilingual, oscillating between English, her native French, and briefly, Spanish and Italian, multilingualism is by no means necessary to appreciate the boldness and intensity of the project. Countless albums deal with the fallout of a collapsed relationship, but few take on the subject with both intellectualism and rawness cranked to maximum. Christine and the Queens’ previous work successfully paired these elements as well, drawing on various referents but then subtly twisting, inverting and complicating them. La vita nuova, however, represents this approach at its most successful yet. AS ALBUM TITLES GO, Suddenly (HHHHH) would seem a misnomer. This is, after all, Dan Snaith’s first new release since 2014’s Our Love. From the first track, however, the change in tone from his last album is readily apparent. As Suddenly unfolds, it evolves and shifts its focus with staggering abruptness. Caribou has always been a somewhat difficult project to pin down, with albums varying dramatically in tone and theme, reflecting Snaith’s own circumstances and

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THOMAES NEUKUM

in a way that just works, providing a sense of consistency in an album that is often anything but consistent. On “Sunny’s Time” and “New Jade,” summery technicolor synths compete for space with elements borrowed from R&B and hip-hop. The closing track “Cloud Song” seems to drive home the point, beginning as a slow, atmospheric yet lighthearted wind-down track that without much warning, builds up towards a much more exuberant conclusion. Snaith’s vision certainly makes for an interesting album, but it is the relatively cohesive tracks that work best. The opening track “Sister” is light and subdued compared to the rest of the album, but its earnest vocals, acoustic elements and tight, sparing use of vocal samples makes a powerful impression. “Never Come Back” is a five-minute festival-ready bop shot through with an Caribou instantly likeable earnestness. preoccupations at a given time. While Our Love marked someSo many styles, themes, and references are present on this thing of an inward turn, Suddenly turns its attention back out album that most listeners should at least find something to like into the world, drawing heavily on introspective themes but in Suddenly, but by cramming them in at such close quarters, drawing from an overwhelming array of influences, shifting their individual effects are dampened, taking a backseat to a between catchy, approachable dancefloor beats and challenging, pervasive sense of deliberate chaos. Even when this complexity even unsettling electronica, often all in the very same track. is in many ways the entire point, it is nevertheless as jarring as Aside from the rapid-fire experimentation, this time Snaith’s it is compelling. Depending on the expectations brought into it, vocals are notably at the forefront in a way they have not been a listener may find Suddenly challenging, fascinating, frustrating, before. Every track features vocals that are soothingly plaintive or even all three at once. l Both La vita nuova and Suddenly are available on most streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music, and for sale on Amazon.com.

NETFLIX

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passionate approach to marginalized characters. While these melodramatic plots revolving around boardroom betrayals and Bolivian drug stashes rarely tread, even metaphorically, close to real-world politics, the show makes a point of standing up for the rights of Hugo and his pals to make their money as boy toys if they so choose. Constantly referred to as “a male prostitute from Marbella,” Hugo never hesitates to set the record straight that he’s a stripper, not a prostitute. He wants to be able to dance for a living, and be considered more than a piece of meat. Of course, the show tries to dangle its meat and eat it too, by gleefully and campily serving up the sexy objectification that it also insists should not define Hugo and his pulchritudinous posse. That’s a fine line to striptease across, and Toy Boy manages, at least in the four episodes reviewed, not to fall on its face. Shot like glistening action figures, the Toy Boys serve a kind of humble humanity that helps ground this fantasy, without shaking up the sense of escapism. Even murder barely intrudes on the sunsoaked aesthetics and Run Lola Run pacing of this glitzy, kitschy adventure to Spain’s Costa del Sol. l

Toy Boy is currently available for streaming on Netflix, in Spanish with subtitles or multiple dubbed language options. Visit www.netflix.com. 26

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Scene

Red Bear Brewing Co.’s 1st Anniversary - Saturday, March 7 - Photography by Ward Morrison See and purchase more photos from this event at www.metroweekly.com/scene

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FUN & GAMES! Enter to win great prizes! Simply click on these buttons to be taken directly to the contests and enter for a chance to win! And don’t worry — those Landmark Theatre passes are good nationwide through DEC. 31, 2021, so they’ll outlive this damn virus. If you’re a winner, you’ll have plenty of time to catch a movie after this is all over!

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LastWord. People say the queerest things

“They don’t want all the gays dropping dead on the San Francisco mayor’s watch. ” — Conservative author MARK STEYN, guest-hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show and blaming gay people for a lockdown in San Francisco as part of attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19. “It’s a big gay town, San Francisco, and they’re the ones with all the compromised immune systems from all the protease inhibitors and all the other stuff,” he said. “If there was a big gay apocalypse, you know, the way this thing is going now, it would be Trump who would get blamed for it anyway.”

“After conversation with my family and deep reflection, I have made the decision to seek help, guidance, and enter a rehabilitation facility at this time. ” — Former Florida governor candidate ANDREW GILLUM, a rising star in the Democratic Party, announcing that he is entering rehab after he was discovered intoxicated in a South Beach hotel by police alongside gay escort Travis Dyson, who had allegedly overdosed on methamphetamine. Gillum, 40, is married to a woman and has three children. Dyson was taken to a nearby hospital and is listed as being in stable condition.

“In the end, the state troopers forced every LGBTQ youth out of the capitol for no reason other than transphobia.” — IOWA SAFE SCHOOLS, in a statement accusing the Iowa State Patrol of breaking the law after ordering a group of LGBTQ youth to leave the State Capitol. The incident occurred after a state trooper told trans male youths to stop using a men’s restroom and instead use a gender-neutral facility, telling the children, “I’m not going to allow some underage female possibly to get touched or fondled or whatever else could possibly happen in there.... Your civil rights will be respected but not in that incident.”

“The fascinating study estimates that having an older brother increases the odds of being gay by 38 percent.” — Professor DAVID SPIEGELHALTER, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, speaking to the Daily Mail about a University of Toronto study which looked at 5,400 men and found that if a man has an older brother, he is 38% more likely to be gay. Spiegelhalter said that the findings support “the idea that a mother’s immune response to having a male child influences subsequent boys.”

“They’ve redefined family for the first time... in a piece of federal legislation, to include committed relationships. ” — Rep. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ), complaining to anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council’s radio program that he voted against the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) — which would provide free coronavirus testing, two weeks paid sick leave, and stronger social welfare programs — because it allowed same-sex couples to take paid sick leave if one partner had to care for the other or their children.

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Profile for Metro Weekly

Metro Weekly: The Coronavirus "Sorry, We're Closed" - March 19, 2020 (Vol. 26, #44)