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JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM


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CONTENTS

January 16, 2020

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Volume 26 Issue 35

CREW CLUB TO CLOSE After 25 years, the iconic gay men’s spa will shutter its doors on Feb. 29. By John Riley

OUT OF THE BOX

Eight years ago, Russwin Francisco was faced with reinventing a legendary D.C. leather store. In the process, he created a new, lasting icon: Bite the Fruit. Interview by Randy Shulman Photography by Todd Franson

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ROAD WERK

Fasten your seatbelts, RuPaul fans, Netflix’s AJ and the Queen is one hell of a bumpy ride. By André Hereford

SPOTLIGHT: PUPPY PARK XII AT MAL p.7 OUT ON THE TOWN p.10 REBUILDING COMMUNITIES: KEVIN O’CONNOR p.12 BREATHE AGAIN: ANTHONY GREEN p.16 COMMUNITY: BAND OF BROTHERS p.25 COMMUNITY CALENDAR p.25 STAGE: SHELTERED p.39 NIGHTLIFE: GREEN LANTERN p.43 NIGHTLIFE LISTINGS p.44 NIGHTLIFE HIGHLIGHTS p.45 SCENE: AVALON SATURDAYS p.51 LAST WORD p.54 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 Saints Vern Stewart & Ralph W. Hoar, Jr. Cover Photography Todd Franson 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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RANDY SHULMAN / FILE PHOTO

Spotlight

Puppy Park XII at MAL A DECADE AGO, A LOT OF PEOPLE COULDN’T find outlets for being a pup,” says Alpha-Wolf Ursus. “These days, there are more pup-centered events around the country and the world because of events like Puppy Park at MAL.” Ursus is a member of Luna Grove, a bicoastal pack of human pups with members on the West Coast and in the greater Philadelphia area. “There are moshes popping up all around the country,” Ursus continues. “The more people see the fun that pups are having and the welcoming energy of the events, the more people get interested in trying it out, if they’re curious about exploring that part of their kinks or fetishes.” Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend’s annual Puppy Park, which transforms one of the Hyatt Regency’s ballrooms into a space where human pups can scamper about, play with toys, nuzzle and sniff each other, and frolic without a care in the world, began about 12 years ago as a small group of pup play enthusiasts, says Tom Buckley, operator of the Puppy Park and a member of Centaur MC, which organizes MAL Weekend.

Once MAL moved to the Hyatt Regency in 2011, and the Centaurs were able to find more space for the pups to frolic, interest in the Puppy Park peaked. Attendance grew each year. At some point during the middle of the two-hour-long pup mosh, Buckley typically introduces a gimmick or special “guests” — it may be a mailman, a dog catcher, a cat, Cruella de Vil, even a human-sized squirrel — to roust the pups. “I like to keep it moving, keep it flowing, and keep the energy going,” says Buckley. “After an hour or so, I’ve noticed that the energy starts to die down. So about halfway through, I introduce some kind of chaos to pick that energy back up and keep the excitement going.” Buckley is tight-lipped about what this year’s puppy pick-me-up will be, though he alludes to a single clue: Ball “I have something special set for this year that I've never done before,” he says. “I’m not a hundred percent sure how it's going to work, but I'm hoping it's going to be a lot of fun.” —John Riley

Puppy Park XII is Saturday, Jan. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, in Regency Ballroom B, C, and D. For more information on Puppy Park or Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, visit www.leatherweekend.com. JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Spotlight ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN

More timely now than ever, Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 film documents the work of the Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in uncovering the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation. Robert Redford stars as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman, Bernstein, in the acclaimed political thriller that Rotten Tomatoes sums up as “a taut, solidly acted paean to the benefits of a free press and the dangers of unchecked power.” The film, which explores the inner-workings of a daily newspaper and the quest to not only get the story, but to get it right, is part of Landmark’s West End Cinema hump-day series Capital Classics. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. West End Theatre, 2301 M St. NW. Happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.50. Call 202-534-1907 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com.

THE OUTWIN 2019: AMERICAN PORTRAITURE TODAY

TOM ATWOOD

Every three years, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery showcases finalists of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. A total of 46 works are on display from the latest edition, selected last year by a panel of jurors from more than 2,600 submissions, all from American artists who were instructed to respond “to the current political and social context.” Notable finalists with LGBTQ themes include Tom Atwood’s Alan Cumming and Louie Palu’s Nikki in Chinatown, a black-and-white photo of a young teen member of Check It, D.C.’s black LGBTQ collective. Now to Aug. 30 at the National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets NW. Call 202-633-8300 or visit www.npg.si.edu.

RARE ESSENCE

Dubbed the “Wickedest Band Alive,” Rare Essence has been chugging away at go-go for more than four decades — ever since a group of elementary students at St. Thomas More Catholic School in Southeast D.C. got together to tinker around with a then-new percussive style of funk. Now one of the premier outfits of this thoroughly homegrown, locally popular sound, the group presents a concert with special guests Dupont Brass, a young, soulful brass ensemble originally formed by Howard University music majors who busked at local Metro stations. Sunday, Jan. 19. Doors at 7 p.m. The Hamilton Live, 600 14th St. NW. Tickets are $25 to $35. Call 202-787-1000 or visit www.thehamiltondc.com. 8

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Spotlight MATTHEW BOURNE’S NEW ADVENTURES: SWAN LAKE

JOHAN PERSSON

Matthew Bourne’s choreographed works are internationally celebrated for their unique, bold approaches to familiar material, elaborate, dazzling designs, and more often than not, profound LGBTQ content. Bourne, who has won every major theatrical award imaginable — from Tonys to Oliviers — often multiple times over, brings his dance company New Adventures to present his fabled all-male spin on the classic Swan Lake. Performances begin Tuesday, Jan. 21. To Jan. 26. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $29 to $109. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

BILLY WINN’S SENSORY OVERLOAD

A homegrown D.C. R&B/dance artist and veteran performer at Capital Pride, Billy Winn will perform at a concert kicking off a new monthly LGBTQ+ Music Residency at Red Bear Brewing Co. Winn will also host the third-Thursdays showcase featuring other queer musical acts from the area, plus prizes and giveaways for the audience. Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. Red Bear Brewing, 209 M St. NE. Call 202-849-6130 or visit www.redbear.beer.

CHRISTIAN STEINER

NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC: JUPITER SYMPHONY

Piotr Gajewski leads Strathmore’s resident orchestra in an all-Mozart program headlined by the Austrian composer’s towering and majestic Symphony No. 41. Orli Shaham (pictured) will perform the Piano Concerto No. 20 along with a cadenza written by Beethoven that evokes the energy and intensity of the work. Written when he was only 19, Mozart’s charming Overture to Il re Pastore “The Shepherd King” kicks off the program with a quintessential blend of drama, elegance, and ease. Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md. Tickets are $29 to $79. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.

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INDIQUE

Out On The Town

CHAKA KHAN WITH THE LET FREEDOM RING CHOIR

The 10-time Grammy-winning artist performs at the Kennedy Center as this year’s headline performer at the free celebration honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. The program, a co-presentation with Georgetown University, will see the 18th Annual John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award bestowed on Sandra Jackson, executive director of House of Ruth, which provides safe and stable housing to women, children, and families in the area affected by homelessness and abuse. Monday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Free tickets will be given away two per person on a firstcome, first-served basis starting at 4:30 p.m. on the day of the show. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. Compiled by Doug Rule

FILM AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

Ranked No. 9 on the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list, the Oscarwinning 1951 classic returns to theaters across the country for two days this month as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series presented by Fathom Events. Directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner, and featuring extraordinary music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, An American in Paris stars Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly, who also choreographed the dance numbers — including a climactic 17-minute ballet, which cost almost $500,000 to shoot. Sunday, Jan. 19, at 1 and 4 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. Area theaters including Regal venues at Gallery Place (701 7th St. NW), Potomac Yards Stadium (3575 Jefferson Davis Highway), and Majestic Staadium (900 Ellsworth Dr., Silver Spring). Tickets are $15. Visit www.fathomevents.com.

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I HAVE A DREAM INDIE FILM SHOWCASE

The Arlington Cinema ’N Drafthouse hosts a special screening of 10 student-created short films, all winners of the Teens Dream Video Contest, and each touching on one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Presented by Little Known Stories Productions, the program will also screen 16 other powerful short features and documentaries by adult filmmakers addressing hot-button topics, many of which were also key concerns for Martin Luther King, Jr. — from police brutality to teenage pregnancy to immigration. Set to take place on the eve of MLK Jr.’s birthday, the program also features a panel on bullying, plus a filmmaker Q&A. Sunday, Jan. 19. Doors at 6:30 p.m. 2903 Columbia Pike. Tickets are $20, with a percentage of proceeds going to Bernie House and the Maryland-based charity’s work helping victims of domestic violence and their families. Call 703-486-2345 or visit www.arlingtondrafthouse.com.

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KING: A FILMED RECORD... MONTGOMERY TO MEMPHIS

The American Film Institute celebrates MLK Day by offering a free 50th anniversary screening of a documentary featuring footage of the civil rights legend. King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis includes his stirring “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and features narration and commentary from Sidney Poitier, James Earl Jones, Paul Newman, Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte, and Ruby Dee, among others. Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz co-directed and produced the 1970 film. Monday, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are free, available day-of at the box office starting at 10:30 a.m. Call 301-495-6720 or visit www.afi. com/Silver.

MLK JR. DAY FILM PROGRAM

The Kennedy Center honors Martin Luther King, Jr. with a double feature of films drawn from the writings of James Baldwin. The program launches with I Am Not

Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s 2016 film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, connecting the lives and assassinations of three of Baldwin’s close friends — King, Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X — to the racial tensions and portrayal of African-Americans today. It’s followed by If Beale Street Could Talk, the 2018 adaptation of Baldwin’s novel, evocatively set in 1970s Harlem, directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and starring Regina King and Stephan James. Monday, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. The Justice Forum in the REACH. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www. kennedy-center.org.

TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING! JULIE NEWMAR: BRUNCH SCREENING

Hollywood was quick on the heels of the global box office smash and Oscar-winning Australian comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, churning out only one year later an essentially American take on the three-queens-on-theroad comedy, remade with a trio of male action stars improbably portraying drag queens en route to Tinseltown. Next weekend, both


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Virginia Alamo Drafthouse cinemas screen the 1995 film starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo as part of its “Hindsight Is 20/20” series revisiting a select number of underappreciated films from previous decades. Your appreciation will surely be enhanced by partaking in the accompanying brunch, offered with a themed mimosa. Whether you leave thinking it was “the most fabulous brunch you’ve ever had,” as organizers boast, no doubt you’ll feel a buzz from the bubbly and the film’s warm overall message of community and acceptance. Sunday, Jan. 19, at 11:40 a.m. Alamo Drafthouse - One Loudoun, 20575 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn, Va. Call 571-2936808. Also Alamo Drafthouse Woodbridge, 15200 Potomac Town Place, Ste. 100, Woodbridge, Va. Call 571-260-4413. Tickets are $10 for the screening only. Visit www. drafthouse.com/northern-virginia. THIS OLD HOUSE

TROOP ZERO

REBUILDING COMMUNITIES

At the Home + Remodeling show, Kevin O’Connor will discuss rebuilding Paradise in the new season of This Old House.

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HY ARE PEOPLE REBUILDING IN PARADISE, WHEN THEY KNOW IT IS A FIREprone, wildland-urban interface area?" Kevin O’Connor has heard a variation of that question over the last month as PBS stations started airing new episodes of This Old House featuring the fire-ravaged California town. His answer? “Because it’s home. That’s what I've learned visiting a lot of these people and places after these disasters.” As the show’s host, O’Connor has led excursions to document recovery efforts and help with rebuilding after major disasters in locales such as New Orleans, New Jersey, Texas and California. Everywhere, he has come to realize, it’s the same: “There's no stopping people from going back to the places where they grew up, where they were born, where they have family, community, church. So let's help them go back as safely and as soundly as they can.” Currently, the focus is on three young families who are among the first to return to Paradise. The small town in the Sacramento Valley has struggled with an extreme housing crisis ever since a devastating wildfire in November 2018 left most of its residential homes destroyed. “It's still early [in the rebuilding process],” O’Connor says. “I don't have a sense as to how many people will come back. I do know that people will come back, I just don’t know how many.” Those who do will come back stronger. “When you're starting from scratch, you can build a house that is extremely resilient [to most disasters],” he says. “And you can build a house that will substantially increase the chance of surviving a wildfire.” O’Connor will elaborate on the progress in Paradise plus provide other insights and behindthe-scenes looks into This Old House’s 41st season as a speaker at the Home + Remodeling Show. After the presentation, he will take questions from the audience — including, invariably, from “the folks who try to come and stump [me]. They bring you the crazy: pictures of the thing that makes no sense, or the sound that they can't seem to figure out. It becomes a challenge for me to try to figure out. It's kind of like trying to diagnose what caused a death without having access to the body.” —Doug Rule Kevin O’Connor will speak on Friday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18, at noon and 2 p.m., from the Main Stage at the Dulles Expo Center in Virginia, as part of The Home + Remodeling Show. The show is Friday, Jan. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 19. Tickets are $9 to $12 per day. Call 703-378-0910 or visit www.homeandremodelingshow.com. 12

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A year after Variety put Bert and Bertie on its list of “10 Directors to Watch,” the world finally gets a chance to see the first major release from the female directing duo, a hit at last year’s Sundance. Distributed by Amazon Studios, Troop Zero centers on a spunky young girl (McKenna Grace) who decides to form her own scout troop after getting rejected from the high-and-mighty Birdie Scouts. Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, and Mike Epps are part of the supporting cast in this outsider comedy full of girl power. Opens Friday, Jan. 17. Area theaters. Visit www.fandango.com.

STAGE A MEASURE OF CRUELTY

In only its third season, Montgomery County’s 4615 Theatre seems more determined than ever on becoming known as the most daring, adventurous and unconventional theater company around. Case in point: A Measure of Cruelty. For starters, the play is set in a real, fully operational bar: Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle, one of the oldest pubs in Bethesda. Theatergoers take seats wherever they choose throughout the sprawling space, where they are immersed in the action as a bar-owning father and his son, a recently returned war veteran, become entangled in a local tragedy and are forced to confront their demons. Characterized as “nail-bitingly intense,” A Measure of Cruelty is a site-specific work written and directed by Joe Calarco and featuring Scott Ward Abernethy, Nick Torres, and Ethan Miller. The production runs for a limited engagement of four shows. Saturday, Jan. 18 and Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, at 2 p.m. 4844 Cordell Ave, Bethesda. Tickets are $16.50 to $20, plus a one-item minimum purchase of food or drink from


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DIYANNA MONET

and loving oneself (“So Fly”). But that was released all the way back in 2012, when Varner was only 22. She then spent the better part of the last decade fighting her label to release Four Letter Word, only to see that sophomore set eventually shelved by RCA Records before the label dropped her. Last summer, the singer-songwriter resurfaced with Ellevation, which ultimately registers as a natural progression of her style and sound, led by the singles “Pour Me” featuring Wale and the female empowerment anthem “Kinda Love.” The emerging R&B singer-songwriter J Brown, a native of Detroit with familial connections to Motown, opens as Varner’s special guest. Friday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. City Winery DC, 1350 Okie St. NE. Tickets are $32 to $44. Call 202-2502531 or visit www.citywinery.com.

LIVING THE DREAM... SINGING THE DREAM

PRETTY BOI DRAG: 4TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY

Former DC King Pretty Rik E and co-producer Lexie Starre have helped keep alive the art of drag kings in D.C. with a regular series of shows taking place over brunch or during nighttime parties and featuring nearly two dozen local performers. The 4th anniversary party promises to be their biggest show yet. Sunday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m. Union Stage, 740 Water St. SW. Tickets are $25 to $35. Call 877-987-6487 or visit www.unionstage.com. the bar. Call 301-951-0115 or visit www.4615theatre.org.

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS

The lives of two Afghan women are inextricably bound together in a play adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma from the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner). Carey Perloff directs Hend Ayoub and Mirian Katrib leading a 12-member cast at Arena Stage in a show billed as a “gripping and heart-rending fight for survival [that] will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.” Previews begin Friday, Jan. 17. Runs through March 1. Kreeger Theater in the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.

PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD

Mosaic Theater Company presents a romantic comedy about Muslim and American identity full of unexpected twists from Yussef El Guindi, the Egyptian-American playwright and recipient of the Steinberg New American Play Award. Shirley Serotsky directs. Now to Feb. 16. Lang Theatre in the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit www. mosaictheater.org.

PIPELINE

Studio Theatre presents a searing drama written by Dominique

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Morisseau, focused on the struggles an African-American single mother faces in pursuit of a good education for her teenage son. Awoye Timpo directs. Runs through Feb. 7. 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit www.studiotheatre.org.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

Aaron Posner helms a Folger Theatre production of the delightful comedy of love, money, deception, and the power of women, as the ladies of Windsor serve Falstaff his comedic comeuppance. In previews. Runs through March 1. 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $27 to $85. Call 202-544-7077 or visit www.folger.edu.

MUSIC AMERICAN POPS ORCHESTRA: THE PIED PIPER

The latest program from D.C.’s hip pops orchestra, led by Maestro Luke Frazier, is named after the character from medieval folklore who demonstrated music’s magical ability to help and heal (or at the very least its power to lure rats and children). Hilary Morrow, Jose Raul Mangual, and Karen Vincent will join the APO in working to captivate audiences at this Family Production, suitable for Pre-K up. Everyone of all ages will be encouraged to sing along to the symphonic renditions of pop hits and musical standards on tap, a wide-ranging set list that

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includes “9 to 5,” “You Turn Me Right Round,” “Mambo Italiano” to “I Put A Spell On You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and “I Say A Little Prayer.” Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Molly Smith Study at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Tickets are $17 to $32. Call 202-488-3300 or visit www. theamericanpops.org.

CHRIS MANN: FROM GERSHWIN TO GAGA

The star on Broadway and in the long-running national tour of the Phantom of the Opera’s 25th Anniversary production, Chris Mann first came to national fame as a finalist on NBC’s The Voice as mentored by Christina Aguilera. At the moment, he’s paying tribute to the long and diverse career of Tony Bennett in the cabaret show “From Gershwin to Gaga: Celebrating the Tony Bennett Songbook,” which includes hits ranging from “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” to “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Saturday, Jan. 18. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda. Tickets are $35 to $55. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.ampbystrathmore.com.

ELLE VARNER

This young R&B starlet charmed us practically right out of the gate, with her debut studio album Perfectly Imperfect, full of songs about getting drunk but still being responsible (“Refill,” “Oh What A Night”)

A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and federal holiday comes the annual choral tribute presented by Washington Performing Arts and featuring the men, women and children of the WPA Gospel Choirs. These choristers will be further bolstered by the Choral Arts Society of Washington — 300 voices strong — to perform in honor of King. Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $25 to $70. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

THE BUMPER JACKSONS

Formerly an Artist-in-Residence ensemble at Strathmore, the D.C.based roots and folk act, which throws street jazz, early blues, and country swing into the mix, started out as a city-meets-country experiment between singing songstress and multi-instrumentalist Jess Eliot Myhre and banjoist Chris Ousley. They return for another show billed as “a party where everyone’s invited, and the dance floor never sleeps.” Friday, Jan. 17. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda. Tickets are $22 to $36. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.ampbystrathmore.com.

THE INSERIES: LE CABARET DE CARMEN

Bizet’s famed opera Carmen comes to life in a unique and intimate tango-cabaret experience led by the In Series’ young and innovative new director Timothy Nelson. Cara Gonzalez performs as the intoxicating and immortal titular chanteuse accompanied by the More Tango Quartet and with musical direction from Emily Baltzer. The cast, performing in French with English supertitles, also features Brian Arreola as Don Jose, Kelly Curtin as Micaela, Alex Albequerque as Escamillo, Kyle Dunn as Host, and Lydia Gladstone as Madame Pastia. The concert comes with a warn-


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ing, “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content.” Runs to Jan. 19. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $21 to $46, or $31 to $56 for Opening Night & Celebration. Call 202-204-7763 or visit www.inseries.org.

URBANARIAS: GLORY DENIED

BREATHE AGAIN

Inspired by a classic ode to sisterhood, When Boys Exhale celebrates friendship between black gay men.

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E COULD TAKE ALL DAY AND SEVERAL PAGES DISSECTING THE affinity many gay men feel for fierce femme foursomes, from the Golden Girls to Girlfriends from Designing Women to Sex and the City. But playwright and director Anthony Green pinpoints concisely what he sees in the fabulous four ladies whose friendship holds the center of Terry McMillan’s 1992 novel Waiting to Exhale. “It would be the commonality between the black female experience and the black gay male experience,” Green says. “There's actually a lot more commonalities than people would think.” (Read: Men.) The hit 1995 film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett might have made those commonalities clear, bringing the romantic travails of Savannah, Bernadine, Robin, and Gloria to car-torching life. And Exhale continues to live and breathe in the hearts of generations of women and men, Green among them, who relate to the strength and refuge that ’Vannah, Bernie and friends found in each other. Green — whose original theatrical play When Boys Exhale premieres January 25 at Anacostia Arts Center — found refuge from a painful loss by turning to Exhale for inspiration. “A friend of mine recently passed away and the one thing we would always do would be to get together and watch Waiting to Exhale,” Green says. “And when we would watch the movie, we saw ourselves in the film, but we didn't see ourselves on the screen. The two representations of gay characters were very stereotypical. But the experiences that the women were encountering were more similar to what we were actually experiencing in our everyday life.” Those real-life stories form the foundation of When Boys Exhale. “In our last conversation, I promised to write a story about his life. And I did that through the lens of Waiting to Exhale, with the characters, the Easter eggs to the original movie, and featuring the music.” Green, who slayed the competition for Best Comedy at the 2019 DC Black Theater & Arts Festival, says his play is neither recreation nor parody. “For copyright reasons I wanted to make sure it was an original story,” he says. “I had the spirit and a lot of the same themes as the original movie. But no, it won't be like a carbon copy.” In fact, this production might be just the first of a future franchise. “I want to do a lot more plays that celebrate the black gay man's role in black culture,” says Green. “Whether it be taking specific moments from history or taking specific movies that have cultural appeal. Because after this show, we're going to work on one loosely based off of Set it Off called Run That Stunt. That one will be coming this summer.” —André Hereford

The nationally recognized local contemporary American opera company presents a brand-new staging of an opera based on the gripping true story of Col. Floyd “Jim” Thompson, an American POW during the Vietnam War. Glory Denied, with music and libretto by Tom Cipullo, was adapted from Tom Philpott’s book of the same name, which focused on the marriage and family back home that became the real victim of the Viet Cong’s capture and prolonged confinement of Thompson. Thursday, Jan. 16, through Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Call 202-265-3767 or visit www.urbanarias.org.

DANCE GREGORY MAQOMA’S VUYANI DANCE THEATRE: CION

South African star choreographer Gregory Maqoma brings his company to the Kennedy Center for the first time performing a piece inspired by Cion, the novel from his compatriot Zakes Mda and danced to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. Set in a graveyard with the cries of people in mourning and the a cappella music of Isicathamiya singers in the background, Cion is billed as a “powerful requiem” and an “innovative, visually stunning full-length work that brings literature to life.” Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $25 to $79. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

KANKOURAN WEST AFRICAN DANCE COMPANY

For over 35 years, KanKouran has offered an annual presentation celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, and showcasing the influences that African dance and culture has had on contemporary dance styles. Led by the company’s co-founder and artistic director Assane Konte, the concert features the senior and junior companies of KanKouran as well as the children’s company and the community class. Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-2691600 or visit www.danceplace.org.

COMEDY UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE

When Boys Exhale is Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m., at the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE. Tickets are $15 before the day of the show, $20 at the door. Visit www.eventbrite.com and use key words When Boys Exhale. 16

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Like the funniest extroverts at the party, the improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade riffs on D.C. and audience-members alike. The brigade


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THEODORE GREENE: NOT IN MY GAYBORHOOD

Subtitled Gay Neighborhoods and the Rise of the Vicarious Citizen, this book from an associate professor of sociology at Bowdoin College draws on ethnographic, archival, and interview data collected from iconic gay neighborhoods in D.C. and Chicago. Greene will discuss his work at a free talk at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum presented in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition A Right to the City (see separate entry under Art & Exhibits). Saturday, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m. 1901 Fort Place, SE. Free with RSVP. Call 202-633-4820 or visit www.anacostia.si.edu.

ROY COX

ART & EXHIBITS

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: HOLST’S THE PLANETS

Two years after its centennial celebration, Gustav Holst’s transcendent trip through the solar system is commandeered by the National Symphony Orchestra, with Gemma New (pictured) of the Dallas Symphony making her NSO debut. New will conduct the NSO bolstered by the Women’s Voices of the University of Maryland Concert Choir in four performances over the next week. Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. all at the Kennedy Center. Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. the work will be presented by New and the NSO in a “ditch your tux” casual concert at The Anthem. Tickets to the Kennedy Center performances range from $15 to $114. The Anthem performance costs $15 to $30. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

has many famous alumni, including Amy Poehler and Ed Helms. They return for a biannual performance at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 day-of show. Call 202-408-3100 or visit www.sixthandi.org.

WASHINGTON IMPROV THEATER: ROAD SHOW

D.C.’s leading troupe for longform improv offers its annual “wintry mix” of vignettes featuring different ensembles, with each plot developed on-the-fly, spurred by a single audience suggestion. Each show is different, but all offer a grab bag of spontaneous comedy and longform improv, including the all-female-identifying group Hellcat, the slyly named all-African-American group Lena Dunham, the improvising playwrights of iMusical, and the improvised rockers in Heavy Rotation. To Feb. 2. District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets are $15

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to $18. Call 202-462-7833 or visit www.witdc.org.

READINGS & DISCUSSIONS ADRIAN SHANKER

Adrian Shanker, an activist and organizer for LGBTQ health equity who also serves as executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, Penn., comes to D.C. for a free talk about a new anthology for which he served as editor. Bodies & Barriers: Queer Activists on Health features a collection of essays by 26 activists shining a light on the myriad and pervasive health issues that queer people confront throughout their lives. Sunday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m. The Potter’s House, 1658 Columbia Road NW. Call 202-232-5483 or visit www.pottershousedc.org.

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BONNARD TO VUILLARD: THE INTIMATE POETRY OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Over 60 rarely seen works by a leading group of European post-impressionist artists who worked together in the 1890s under the name the Nabi Collection, a transliteration of the Hebrew word for prophet. Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Aristide Maillol, Paul Ranson, Ker-Xavier Roussel, and Félix Vallotton are all represented in this temporary exhibition at the Phillips Collection, which ranges from painting and prints to stained glass to ceramics, and showcases how the Nabis used flat colors, decorative patterning, and silhouetted forms to convey their responses to the world. To Jan. 26. The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. Tickets are $12. Call 202387-2151 x247 or visit www.phillipscollection.org.

HOME: STRATHMORE JURIED EXHIBITION

For Strathmore’s 29th annual juried exhibition, jurors Terence Nicholson of the Hirshhorn Museum as well as the American University Museum and Erwin Timmers of the Washington Glass Studio and School called on artists to submit works offering interpretations of the structural, communal, and emotional aspects of the spaces we inhabit. In paint, collage, graphite, and ink, artists examine the pleasures, disparity, symbolism, and meaning in the perception or place we call a home. Represented among the nearly 90 artists in the display are Cathy Abramson, MK Bailey, Jennifer Barlow, Michaela Borghese, Kimberley Bursic, Lulu Delacre, Songmi Heart, Saralee Howard, Wayson Jones, Chau Nguyen, Robert Sullivan, and Andrew Wodzianski. Also represented are Leslie Felbain and Daniel Pinha, performance artists who will present the piece In The Attic on Saturday, Jan. 18, and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 12:30 and 2 p.m. Opening Reception is Thursday, Jan. 16, at

7 p.m. On display through Feb. 23. First Floor Galleries in the Mansion, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.

JUDY CHICAGO: THE END-A MEDITATION ON DEATH AND EXTINCTION

Through nearly 40 works of painted porcelain and glass, as well as two large sculptures, famed artist and feminist icon Judy Chicago reflects on her own mortality while appealing for compassion and justice for all earthly creatures affected by human greed. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the first venue to feature this new series, executed in the bold graphic style that has become Chicago’s hallmark — stark images as a visceral antidote to a culture that prizes youth and beauty, and often ignores the suffering of other creatures. Grouped into three sections, The End features works that personify the five stages of grief, ruminates about the artist’s own demise, and offers a visual catalog of species endangered by the action, or inaction, of humans. To Jan. 20. 1250 New York Ave NW. Admission is $10. Call 202-783-5000 or visit www.nmwa.org.

LONG VIEW GALLERY: NEW YEAR/NEW ARTISTS

The small, private LGBTQ-run Long View Gallery welcomes three new artists to D.C. for its first show of 2020. Works by Jeremy Brown, Bryan Coleman, and Ken Schiano will be featured at the Shaw gallery. Opening Reception is Friday, Jan. 17, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. On display to Feb. 16. 1234 9th St. NW. Call 202232-4788 or visit www.longviewgallery.com.

PRESENT TENSE: DC PUNK AND DIY RIGHT NOW

The 17th Annual D.C. Artist Solo Exhibition at Logan Circle’s boutique gallery Transformer features powerful photography by Farrah Skeiky that documents and celebrates D.C.’s hardcore punk music scene — as it exists today, that is. The exhibition, based on Skeiky’s forthcoming photo book of the same title, is fortunately not another nostalgic look back at the counterculture genre’s 1980s heyday. Present Tense reflects Skeiky’s experience as a witness, in her role as an established concert and event photographer, and also as an active participant, via time spent in the hardcore trenches as a punk guitarist, most recently with the queercore group Homosuperior. Opening Reception is Saturday, Jan. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. An Artist Talk is planned for Saturday, Feb. 1, between Skeiky and Cynthia Connolly, a photographer, curator, and author who helped inspire Skeiky and her work by virtue of Connolly’s seminal title Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes


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FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY: NOT JUST ANOTHER DAY OFF

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is celebrated with a free day of readings at the Folger, combining poetry with historical speeches from Dr. King, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune, and others. Per the theme “Injustice is here,” this year’s event focuses on incarceration and features poet and scholar DaMaris Hill reading from her collection A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing. Co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. Monday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are free, with registration strongly suggested; donations of dry and boxed food items also requested for the Food Pantry of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. Call 202-5447077 or visit www.folger.edu.

KENNEDY CENTER’S LUNAR NEW YEAR 2020 CELEBRATION

WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS

Over the next week, the Edlavitch DCJCC presents five films as part of “The Cinematters: Social Justice Film Festival,” which explores themes of racial inequality and civil injustice. A standout of LGBTQ note is We are the Radical Monarchs, Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s portrait of a new mission-driven youth troop in Oakland, Calif., launched by two queer women of color in which members earn badges by completing tasks showing them to be an LGBTQ ally, a steward of the environment, or a disability justice advocate. Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby will engage in a conversation following the documentary’s screening on Sunday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m. The lineup also includes Thirst for Justice (Saturday, Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m.), Always in Season (Sunday, Jan. 19, 2 p.m.), True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality (Jan. 22, 7 p.m.), and All Rise (Thursday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m.) At the DCJCC’s Cafritz Hall, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets are $13 per screening. Call 202-777-3210 or visit www.jxjdc.org.

from the DC Punk Underground (7986). Exhibition runs to Feb. 29. 1404 P St. NW. Call 202-483-1102 or visit www.transformerdc.org.

RECLAIMED REUSED REPURPOSED: SUSTAINABLE ART FOR THE PLANET

The first in a series of exhibitions addressing climate change at Dupont Circle’s Studio Gallery highlights artists who have been getting creative in their use of materials — finding ways to reuse byproducts and waste from the manufacturing industry. As curated by Molly Ruppert, the exhibition features Jessica Beels, Robin Bell, Julia Bloom, Gloria Chapa, Pat Goslee, Liz Lescault, and Erwin Timmers. To Jan. 25. 2108 R St. NW. Call 202-232-8734 or visit www.studiogallerydc.com.

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THE TOUCH OF COLOR: PASTELS AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART

Known for its brilliant colors and its delicate, velvety texture, pastel is one of the most colorful and versatile materials in the history of art. The medium’s history, from the Renaissance to today, is on display via 64 exquisite examples drawn entirely from the National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection, yet they are rarely exhibited due to the fragility of pastel as a medium. Featured in the exhibition are works by Rosalba Carriera, Edgar Degas, James McNeill Whistler, Henri Matisse, and Roy Lichtenstein. To Jan. 26. Ground Floor, East Outer Tier in the West Building, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call or visit www.nga.gov.

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ABOVE & BEYOND ELVIS’ BIRTHDAY FIGHTCLUB

Elvis Presley hosts an underground fight club in what is billed as a comically lowbrow theater event from Astro Pop Events (Countdown to Yuri’s Night). Now in its 10th year, the production features the King accompanied by sardonic sidekick Kittie Glitter, plus “a little more conversation” in the form of hilarious color commentary during seven comical, choreographed matchups full of cartoon-like violence and below-the-belt comedy, as burlesque dancers keep the audience “all shook up” between fights. Friday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 18, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Baltimore. Tickets are $28. Call 410-276-1651 or visit www.creativealliance.org.

For the traditional Chinese calendar, the new year begins on the new moon — which in 2020 appears on Saturday, Jan. 25, when the Kennedy Center presents its popular Family Day to celebrate the Year of the Rat with free activities for children of all ages, capped off by a free performance at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage of the Beijing Bamboo Orchestra, featuring more than 30 types of instruments made entirely out of bamboo. The traditional celebration lasts two weeks, and the Kennedy Center mostly follows suit with its 5th annual Lunar New Year slate of (mostly free) activities, with showcases of both Chinese and Korean culture. This year’s celebration is centered in the complex’s new outdoor campus the REACH, festooned with 100 stunning Winter Lanterns consisting of 10,000 LED lights depicting the Chinese Four Symbols and 12 Zodiac Signs, Panda Grove, and Mushroom Garden. The display of lanterns will be enhanced Thursday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 26, with performances celebrating China — ranging from a Magician from Shenzhen, a sugar painting, shadow puppet demonstration, and calligraphy; and then Thursday, Jan. 30, through Sunday, Feb. 2, with performances celebrating Korea, from a drum and spinning-dishes show from Freelak Company, to a group Mural Painting led by Julia Chon, to kite-flying led by a South Korean master. The festivities kick off with a special concert by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, led by Muhai Tang and featuring specialized instruments including erhu or Chinese violin, dizi or bamboo flute, sheng or multi-reed wind instrument, ruan or moon guitar, and zheng or zither. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $59. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org. l


CASSIDY DUHON

theFeed

Flick (L) and Allen

CREW CLUB TO CLOSE After 25 years, the iconic gay men’s spa will shutter its doors on Feb. 29. By John Riley

T

HE CREW CLUB, THE DISTRICT'S BEST-KNOWN men's spa serving the gay community, will close its doors on Feb. 29, according to founder and co-owner DC Allen. Allen and his husband and business partner, Ken Flick, sold the building that housed the club to brothers Matthew and Norman Jemal, of Douglas Development Corporation, four years ago, when they felt the real estate market was at its height. That deal finalizes on April 6. "I had this big file of realtors trying to get me to sell the building," he says. "So I decided to do a deal." Records from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue show that the couple purchased the building in 2003 — after renting the space for the Crew Club's first eight years — through a company called Caldwell Middleton LLC for about $2 million. Allen says he and Flick tried to reach a new rental agreement with Douglas Development Corporation that

would have allowed the second floor of the club to continue operating, but negotiations failed. The pair also looked for other space for a possible relocation, but were unable to find anything. Additionally, Allen, who suffered a heart attack two-anda-half years ago, said he felt it was time to retire. He and Flick are currently residing in Wilton Manors, Fla., having placed daily operations in the hands of the club's manager, David Carter. "I would have kept going, but my husband is 70 and I'm 63 and it's time," he says. "If I was 50 this would not be the case." Allen, who moved to D.C. from the Boston area in 1994, said he was compelled to create the Crew Club a year later, in part, because he wanted to provide a space for men to go and be safe from anti-gay violence and harassment. Twentyfive years later, he's seen significant changes, both in real estate and where LGBTQ-targeted businesses are located, as

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theFeed well as in terms of broader societal acceptance. "In terms of gay businesses, it was 17th Street, it was P Street. It's all moved around over the years. And not just here, across the country," he says, referring to the closures of some longtime gay establishments. "We had to be in our tribal areas to be safe before. You had to move someplace where all the gays were. "Twenty-five years ago, we were not getting married, and then we had eight years of unprecedented gains in gay rights under Obama and now we're slipping back," Allen adds. "So yes, we are safer than we were and more accepted than ever before in history, except at the moment by our President." With regards Crew Club joining the growing list of LGBTQ-owned and LGBTQ-focused establishments that have shuttered their doors in recent years, Allen notes that many of the owners are close in age to him, and, after having spent decades serving the D.C. community, don't have the time, money, or energy to tackle a new venture or relocation. "Everyone I know has retired," he says. "If I put all this money into a new place, I can't get it out before I'm in a nursing home. So it just doesn't sort of work." Throughout the course of his 25 years operating the Crew Club, Allen notes that there have been ebbs and flows in terms of foot traffic. "Probably about 10 years ago, we started to drop off as the apps became more prevalent, but that stopped about three years ago, and things started to go back up," he says. Asked what he believes fueled the reversal of that trend, Allen says: —DC "How do you like spending three hours sitting there and then it's 11 o'clock and everybody goes to bed? And how would you feel about maybe just being able, after work, to walk over to the Crew Club and then be home by eight or nine and in bed.... You start up [on the apps] in your 20s and by the time you're in your 30s, you're sick of crap and bullshit. It makes total sense to me." Over the years, Allen has been honored for his efforts giving back to the community, most notably the Crew Club's successful campaign encouraging its patrons to get tested and treated for syphilis in order to combat a spike in infections that began in the early 2000s. "We've worked with Whitman-Walker [Health] and various other agencies doing testing," he says. "We took our advertising budget and we turned it into a syphilis campaign, and we, personally, one business, lowered the syphilis numbers by 3%. I just kept thinking: 'Well, if we actually took all the gay bars and all these [government] agencies' advertising budgets, we could've eradicated it.'"

Because of his business' efforts to promote sexual health, as well as his philanthropy, Allen has been honored with awards from a plethora of local groups, including Casa Ruby, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, MPD's former Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, the greater Washington, D.C. STD Community Coalition, the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, The DC Center, and Brother, Help Thyself. "I do have one major word of wisdom, and that is: if you are in business to make money off the gay community, then you probably are not going to work out that well," Allen says. "But if you're in business to be of service to the community that you love, and you give back to the community that you love, then it will more than likely work out just fine. Money comes, but there's got to be a love here somewhere." Currently, Allen has 15 employees, who have been working at the Crew Club for anywhere from 25 years to three months. Once the sale to Douglas Development Corporation officially goes through on April 6 — per the terms of the contract negotiated four years ago — he and Flick will issue checks to those employees that "express our gratitude for them being here." The Crew Club's gym equipment will be donated to the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs in Washington. The towels and sheets will likely be donated either to local homeless shelters, or (if the shelters refuse the donation) to animal shelters, which are always in need of linens. The merchandise behind the front desk will all be sold, and the club will be trying to contact Allen any people with outstanding 30-day memberships to refund their money or negotiate some type of settlement. While rumors of the club's pending closure have been circulating for a while, Monday was the first time that Allen confirmed them, so he hasn't received any feedback from clients yet. But he's sure that some people will wax nostalgic as the club’s final weeks pass by. "People come up and tell me all the time, 'I met my husband here,'" says Allen. "I'm afraid people are going to be very upset." Allen and Flick are unsure of whether there will be a closing party on the Friday and Saturday of the club's closing weekend, which coincides with his birthday. Plans for such an event, if it occurs, will be announced at a later time. "Maybe I will have a birthday party on the Friday night and a blowout on a Saturday night, but I'm not sure yet," he says. "Ken and I wanted to sort of thank everyone who's been to our clientele. We hope we've done well by you, and provided you with [a] clean, safe space over the years." l

“People come up and tell me all the time, ‘I met my husband here.’ I’m afraid people are going to be very upset.”

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Community FRIDAY, Jan. 17

SATURDAY, Jan. 18

GAY DISTRICT, a group for

KHUSH DC, a support group

GBTQQI men between the ages of 18-35, meets on the first and third Fridays of each month. 8:30-9:30 p.m. The DC Center. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.gaydistrict.org.

Weekly Events ANDROMEDA TRANSCULTURAL HEALTH

offers free HIV testing and HIV services (by appointment). 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Decatur Center, 1400 Decatur St. NW. To arrange an appointment, call 202-291-4707, or visit www.andromedatransculturalhealth.org.

BET MISHPACHAH, founded

by members of the LGBT community, holds Friday evening Shabbat services in the DC Jewish Community Center’s Community Room. 8 p.m. 1529 16th St. NW. For more information, visit www.betmish.org.

DC AQUATICS CLUB holds

a practice session at Howard University. 6:30-8 p.m. Burr Gymnasium, 2400 6th St. NW. For more information, visit www.swimdcac.org.

HIV TESTING at Whitman-

Walker Health. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at 1525 14th St. NW. For an appointment, call 202-7457000 or visit www.whitman-walker.org.

KARING WITH INDIVIDUALITY (K.I.) SERVICES, 20 S. Quaker Lane, Suite 210, Alexandria, Va., offers $30 “rapid” HIV testing and counseling by appointment only. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Must schedule special appointment if seeking testing after 2 p.m. Call 703823-4401. www.kiservices.org.

METROHEALTH CENTER

offers free, rapid HIV testing. Appointment needed. 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 700. To arrange an appointment, call 202-8498029. www.metrohealthdc.org.

PROJECT STRIPES hosts LGBTaffirming social group for ages 11-24. 4-6 p.m. 1419 Columbia Road NW. Contact Tamara, 202319-0422, www.layc-dc.org.

The DC Center hosts a monthly TODD FRANSON

The DC Center hosts an LGBTQ GAME NIGHT where participants can play board and card games and socialize with other people from across the LGBTQ spectrum. All welcome. 7-9 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. Visit www.thedccenter.org.

for LGBTQ South Asians, hosts a meeting at The DC Center. 1:30-3 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ khushdc.

LGBT ASYLEES SUPPORT MEETING AND DINNER for

BAND OF BROTHERS The Centaur MC are a social club dedicated to brotherhood, philanthropy, and promoting the leather/kink community.

C

ENTAUR MC STARTED AS A MOTORCYCLE CLUB,” says Todd White. “In the beginning, you had to have a motorcycle to be a member of any motorcycle club. But the Centaurs, in their history, changed that ruling to include motorcycle riders and those who were interested in bikes or bikers.” Now, Centaur MC lists itself as “a Levi/leather social club,” says White, the group’s current president, but biking is still represented. “We still organize or participate in bike rides for those members who have bikes. We set up programs for people to get their license if they want to become motorcycle riders. So, that aspect is still part of the club. But it's mainly the whole socializing and brotherhood of the organization that takes center stage.” Centaur MC, of course, is the organizer and host of the annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in Washington, D.C. This weekend, from Jan. 17-20, the group’s members — dressed in either their club colors, T-shirts with the club’s logo, or their trademark hoodies — will be registering attendees and facilitating the weekend’s various events at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Since its founding in 1970, Centaur MC has participated in a number of philanthropic events on behalf of local nonprofits or community organizations. The club also organizes the leather contingent for the Capital Pride Parade each June, and often reaches out to smaller clubs to help them with bar nights or special fundraisers, as the club’s well-established reputation can help draw a larger crowd to any event. Unlike other leather organizations, Centaur MC does not have an open pledge period. Rather, offers of membership are made on an individual, invitation-only basis. “You can hang out with us, get to know us, and show up at bar nights,” says White. “Of course, when you attend meetings, you know where we’re going to be, what we’re doing, and eventually the club will decide whether you get invited to join or not. It took them five years to invite me, and it was the best five years of my life. I felt just as much of a brother then as I do now, just without the responsibilities.” Those interested in joining the organization should ask themselves the question Are you willing to be part of something bigger than yourself? “There’s no real superstar in the club,” says White. “The club acts as one whole unit. It’s made up of every single walk of life within the community. It very much is a band of brothers.” —John Riley For more information on Centaur MC, visit www.centaurmc.org or www.facebook.com/groups/centaurmcva. For more information on Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, visit www.leatherweekend.com.

LGBT refugees and asylum seekers. 5-7 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org. The DC Center hosts a meeting of its LGBTQ PEOPLE OF COLOR SUPPORT GROUP, facilitated by Dakia Davis. 1-3 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

Weekly Events DC AQUATICS CLUB holds a

practice session at Montgomery College Aquatics Club. 8:3010 a.m. 7600 Takoma Ave., Takoma, Md. For more information, visit www.swimdcac.org.

DC FRONT RUNNERS running/ walking/social club welcomes runners of all ability levels for exercise in a fun and supportive environment, with socializing afterwards. Route distance will be 3-6 miles. Walkers meet at 9:30 a.m. and runners at 10 a.m. at 23rd & P Streets NW. For more information, visit www. dcfrontrunners.org.

SUNDAY, Jan. 19 ADVENTURING outdoors

group hikes 9 moderately strenuous miles on the Billy Goat Trail and the C&O Canal towpath near Great Falls, Md. Optional stop at Old Angler's Inn beer garden afterwards. Bring beverages, lunch, sturdy boots, layered clothing, and a few dollars for fees. No dogs allowed, per Park Service rules. Carpool at 9 a.m. from the Tenleytown Metro Station. For more information, contact Jeff, 301-775-9660, or visit www. adventuring.org. Volunteers are needed to help prepare CASA RUBY’S MONTHLY DINNER. Held on the third Sunday of each month, in conjunction with The DC Center and Food Rescue DC, the event provides a hot meal to those housed at Casa Ruby. Homemade or store bought

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meals welcome. 7-8 p.m. Casa Ruby Shelter, 1216 Kennedy St. NW. For more information, contact lamar@ thedccenter.org, jon@thedccenter. org, or visit www.casaruby.org.

offers services in English, 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and in Spanish at 5:15 p.m. 1525 Newton St. NW. For more info, call 202-232-0900 or visit www.saintstephensdc.org.

Weekly Events

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF SILVER SPRING

LGBT-inclusive ALL SOULS

MEMORIAL EPISCOPAL CHURCH

celebrates Low Mass at 8:30 a.m., High Mass at 11 a.m. 2300 Cathedral Ave. NW. 202-232-4244, www.allsoulsdc.org.

DC AQUATICS CLUB holds a

practice session at Wilson Aquatic Center. 9:30-11 a.m. 4551 Fort Dr. NW. For more information, visit www.swimdcac.org.

DC FRONT RUNNERS running/

walking/social club welcomes runners of all ability levels for exercise in a fun and supportive environment, with socializing afterwards. Route distances vary. For meeting places and more information, visit www.dcfrontrunners.org.

DIGNITYUSA offers Roman

Catholic Mass for the LGBT community. All welcome. Sign interpreted. 6 p.m. St. Margaret’s Church, 1820 Connecticut Ave. NW. For more information, visit www.dignitywashington.org.

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST wel-

comes all to 10:30 a.m. service, 945 G St. NW. For more info, visit www. firstuccdc.org or call 202-628-4317.

HOPE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST welcomes GLBT community for worship. 10:30 a.m., 6130 Old Telegraph Road, Alexandria. Visit www.hopeucc.org. Join LINCOLN

CONGREGATIONAL TEMPLE – UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST for

an inclusive, loving and progressive faith community every Sunday. 11 a.m. 1701 11th Street NW, near R in Shaw/Logan neighborhood. Visit www.lincolntemple.org.

METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA services at 11 a.m., led

by Rev. Emma Chattin. Children’s Sunday School, 11 a.m. 10383 Democracy Lane, Fairfax. For more info, call 703-691-0930 or visit www.mccnova.com.

NATIONAL CITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, inclusive church with

GLBT fellowship, offers gospel worship, 8:30 a.m., and traditional worship, 11 a.m. 5 Thomas Circle NW. For more info, call 202-232-0323 or visit www.nationalcitycc.org.

ST. STEPHEN AND THE INCARNATION, an “interracial,

multi-ethnic Christian Community”

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invites LGBTQ families and individuals of all creeds and cultures to join the church. Services 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. 10309 New Hampshire Ave. For more info, visit www.uucss.org.

MONDAY, Jan. 20 CENTER FAITH, an interdenominational network for LGBTQ people and LGBTQ-affirming churches, holds a monthly meeting at The DC Center. 7:30-9 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

GLAA, the all-volunteer, nonpar-

tisan political organization that defends the rights of LGBTQ people in the nation’s capital, holds its monthly meeting at The DC Center. 7-8:30 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.glaa.org. Join LGBTQ people from around the D.C. area for a biweekly BOARD GAME NIGHT, hosted by a local Board Gamers Meetup group. 6-9 p.m. Panera Bread, 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, basement level. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/DC-LGBTBoard-Gamers. The Metro D.C. chapter of PFLAG, a support group for parents, family members and allies of the LGBTQ community, holds its monthly meeting at The DC Center. 7-9 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

Weekly Events DC’S DIFFERENT DRUMMERS

welcomes musicians of all abilities to join its Monday night rehearsals. The group hosts marching/color guard, concert, and jazz ensembles, with performances year round. Please contact Membership@ DCDD.org to inquire about joining one of the ensembles or visit www. DCDD.org. The DC Center hosts COFFEE

DROP-IN FOR THE SENIOR LGBT COMMUNITY. 10 a.m.-noon. 2000

14th St. NW. For more information, call 202-682-2245 or visit www. thedccenter.org.

US HELPING US hosts a black

gay men’s evening affinity group for GBT black men. Light refreshments provided. 7-9 p.m. 3636 Georgia Ave. NW. 202-446-1100. Visit www.ushelpingus.org.


WASHINGTON WETSKINS WATER POLO TEAM practices 7-9

p.m. Newcomers with at least basic swimming ability always welcome. Takoma Aquatic Center, 300 Van Buren St. NW. For more information, contact Tom, 703-299-0504 or secretary@wetskins.org, or visit www.wetskins.org.

TUESDAY, Jan. 21 CENTER BI, a group of The DC

Center, hosts a monthly roundtable discussion around issues of bisexuality. 7-8 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. Visit www.thedccenter.org.

THE HEALTH WORKING GROUP

of The DC Center hosts a “Packing Party,” where volunteers assemble safe-sex kits of condoms and lube. 7-9 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

Weekly Events THE GAY MEN'S HEALTH COLLABORATIVE offers free

HIV testing and STI screening and treatment every Tuesday. 5-6:30 p.m. Rainbow Tuesday LGBT Clinic, Alexandria Health Department, 4480 King St. 703746-4986 or text 571-214-9617. www.inova.org/gmhc

OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS

holds an LGBT-focused meeting every Tuesday, 7 p.m. at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 915 Oakland Ave., Arlington, just steps from Virginia Square Metro. Handicapped accessible. Newcomers welcome. For more info, call Dick, 703-521-1999 or email liveandletliveoa@gmail.com. Support group for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 meets at SMYAL. 4-7 p.m. 410 7th St. SE. For more information, contact Dana White, 202567-3156, or visit www.smyal.org.

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 22 DC LAMBDA SQUARES, the

LGBTQ line-dancing group, hosts a class for new dancers on Wednesdays. Students will be taught and learn the basics of modern Western square dance. Cost is $90. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th St. NW. For more information, call 202-930-1058 or visit www.dclambdasquares.org. The HEALTH WORKING GROUP of The DC Center holds a monthly meeting focusing on LGBTQ health issues, including drug use, safe sex, and HIV prevention and treatment. 6:30-8 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

LAMBDA BRIDGE CLUB meets at

The Dignity Center for Duplicate Bridge. No reservations needed. Newcomers welcome. 7:30 p.m. 721 8th St. SE (across from the Marine Barracks). Call 202-841-0279 if you need a partner.

Weekly Events AD LIB, a group for freestyle con-

versation, meets about 6-6:30 p.m., Steam, 17th and R NW. All welcome. For more information, call Fausto Fernandez, 703-732-5174.

FREEDOM FROM SMOKING, a

group for LGBT people looking to quit cigarettes and tobacco use, holds a weekly support meeting at The DC Center. 7-8 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org.

HIV TESTING at Whitman-Walker

Health. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at 1525 14th St. NW, and 9 a.m-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. at the Max Robinson Center, 2301 MLK Jr. Ave. SE. For an appointment, call 202-745-7000 or visit www.whitman-walker.org.

JOB CLUB, a weekly support program for job entrants and seekers, meets at The DC Center. 6-7:30 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more info, email centercareers@thedccenter.org or visit www.thedccenter.org/careers.

WASHINGTON WETSKINS WATER POLO TEAM practices 7-9

p.m. Newcomers with at least basic swimming ability always welcome. Takoma Aquatic Center, 300 Van Buren St. NW. For more information, contact Tom, 703-299-0504 or secretary@wetskins.org, or visit www.wetskins.org.

THURSDAY, Jan. 23 Join people from all over the D.C. metro area for an LGBTQ SOCIAL IN THE CITY at The Embassy Row Hotel’s Station Kitchen & Cocktails Lounge. Free to attend, but registration is required. The first 100 people to RSVP for free on Eventbrite.com guaranteed entry. 7-9 p.m. 2015 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Dupont Circle Metro is two blocks away. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/GoGayDC. The DC ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT, a group dedicated to combating anti-LGBT hate crimes, holds an open meeting at The DC Center. The meeting is open to all and the public is encouraged to attend and give feedback on future initiatives. 7-8:30 p.m. 2000 14th St. NW, Suite 105. For more information, visit www.thedccenter.org. l For more events, visit metroweekly. com/community/calendar.

JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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Out of the

BOX Eight years ago, Russwin Francisco was faced with reinventing a legendary D.C. leather store. In the process, he created a new, lasting icon: Bite the Fruit. Interview by Randy Shulman Photography by Todd Franson

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“We're sort of like a hospitality booth,” says Russwin Francisco. “‘Oh, you forgot your toothpaste?’ We're kind of like that.” Except at this “hospitality booth,” the items in question aren’t minty fresh mouthwash, but rather poppers, vibrators, and lube. “‘Did your silicone cock ring snap? We have that!’ Actually, what a lot of people say is, ‘Somebody stole my silicone cock ring.’” Who would steal a cock ring? Francisco shrugs and flashes a smile that is easy, broad, and seemingly perpetual. “Maybe you leave it on somebody and they walk away?” he says. Francisco is the owner of Bite the Fruit, and the store, which since 2012 has occupied the Connecticut Avenue space that, for 33 years, was home to the iconic Leather Rack, has for the past several years found itself in a catbird seat at Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend’s Exhibition Hall, also known as the Leather Marketplace. Bite the Fruit’s table is nestled alongside a considerable length of wall, directly next to the escalators leading patrons into the very heart of MAL Weekend. “We're never giving up that space,” he laughs. The 54-year-old native of the Philippines has lived in the DC area since 1982. He opened Bite the Fruit (first as Adam and Eve), after his close friend and colleague Jim McGlade decided to shutter his fabled leather store. “He had worked with me for eight or nine years,” says the 67-year-old McGlade. “He kept the books up-to-date, and did the marketing. Around 2010, we knew the Leather Rack was fading. We started thinking about it, and Russ says, ‘We need to do something. I think we need to change the concept and make it more for the millennials and the younger crowd.’ Not necessarily leather people, and not necessarily gay people, which we predominantly were known for. “So in 2012, I decided it was time for me to pass the baton on to him. He's a young man, and he's very creative.” McGlade is still involved as an advisor — “It seems like I go into the store almost every other day,” he says — but Francisco, put his entire might behind the challenge and rebranded the legendary store, in the process creating a new legend for the city. Sales for Bite the Fruit are already 13 percent higher than last year, says Francisco — no small feat for a brick and mortar establishment in these retail-crushing days of online shopping. And while Bite the Fruit has a web presence, most of its sales are from walk-ins, which Francisco attributes to the fact that people desire a more tactile shopping experience with products of an intimate nature. Even though Bite the Fruit broadened its outreach — from

mainly gay men to men and women of all stripes and all kinks — it refuses to abandon its roots. “We're absolutely proud that we are gay-owned and gay-operated,” says Francisco. “We fly the rainbow flag all year long, not just in June. And even today there's a leather flag flying right next to the rainbow flag. We will always have our first love with the LGBTQ leather community. That's how we came to be. We have our roots in it.” Francisco, whose first partner, Ralph W. Hoar, Jr., succumbed to cancer in 2001, has been married to William C. Scaggs since 2006. He splits his time between his apartment in Washington, D.C. and the couple’s home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The store may be his life’s love, but he still makes time for painting, writing, and, most of all, singing, one of his greatest joys. He’s often a guest artist with the local cabaret group, La-Ti-Do. Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to get to know Francisco, even on a casual basis, immediately feels his warmth. His approach to life is sanguine, his nature giving and charitable, and his attention to the tiniest detail, unmatched. Says McGlade, “One of the things he used to say to me all the time is, if we were painters, I'd be doing the broad strokes, and he'd be doing the fine strokes. I'd be doing the wall and he'd be painting the trim around the glass.” Francisco is forthcoming about the impact McGlade has had on his life. “Jim is my best friend,” he says. “When we first started, we fooled around a bit and then, about a month after, we decided we would be better off as friends and business associates. We would talk about ideas for businesses. I have a very entrepreneurial brain and so does he — we do not lack for ideas. In terms of our personal relationship, I trust him with my life.” It’s taken time, but Francisco has found his own path in the leather community. “I've sort of reached a level where I'm really comfortable in my skin, I'm comfortable in the relationships I have and my participation in life,” he says. “Am I done? Of course I'm not done, but I've just reached a level of comfort in who I am. People will say I'm unapologetic about it, and it's true — I am unapologetic in that when I am authentically expressing myself. This is who I am.” For those about to embark on their first MAL Weekend, Francisco has sage advice: “Use the weekend to explore some kind of authentic self-expression. It's the perfect venue for it. Show up as a pup if you want, show up as a dom, with a police cap and the full gear. Show up in a way that expresses some truth about you. This weekend is the best way, and the best time, to do that.”

“MAL is important because it shuns the status quo. It challenges what's normal. We wake up to new definitions, like the idea that a man in shiny leather pants, a vest, and a cap is a powerful and sexy image.” 30

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METRO WEEKLY: Let's start, as we often do, at the beginning. You

were born where?

RUSSWIN FRANCISCO: I was born in Manila, in the Philippines,

in 1966. My father is an architect and my mother was a restaurateur. Both my parents are very musical. In fact, my mother sang opera until my baby sister was born and she had to give that up. My dad loved Peter, Paul, and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, and Frank Sinatra. So I grew up with that kind of music — classic opera as well as folk music and American jazz. We were well-to-do. We lived in a family compound with my grandparents, my uncles and cousins, so there was always somebody to play with as a little boy. But pretty early on I liked to just have my alone time. I would crawl onto the branch of a mango tree right outside my window and would sit there for hours in the summer, daydreaming or crafting stories. I wrote a lot of stories and poetry when I was a little boy. MW: You were in the Philippines through the '70s, when the President Marcos turmoil started. What was life like at that point in Manila? FRANCISCO: Martial law was declared by Marcos in 1972, and it became the law of the land for a while. All TV stations and radios were shut down — there were only one or two government-approved stations that were allowed to exist. Eventually, the laws became a little more friendly, but there were still curfews. You still had to be home before a certain hour depending on who you were. Most people had to be home before midnight. I remember as a little boy it was kind of scary. You would hear gunshots on the street and weren’t quite sure if somebody was getting killed or somebody violating curfew was being arrested. It was a scary time for the Philippines. Marcos, of course, was ousted in ’86. MW: Did his reign directly impact your family in any way? FRANCISCO: Some of my family members were impacted because they were involved with the government. They were political. But my immediate family — my parents — were not involved in politics. My grandfather was an engineer, my grandmother ran pawn shops. So we were outside of all of that. And when I was a little boy being in that compound, sitting in that tree, I could just imagine that I wasn’t there at all. I had a relatively happy childhood. MW: You eventually wound up in America. FRANCISCO: Yes. My parents divorced because my dad loves women, and my mother didn't want to put up with it anymore. [Laughs.] So in 1982, she took us children — four kids — to the States. We had applied for green cards for residency status ten years earlier. My grandmother was living here at the time and petitioned us. It was approved 10 years later in 1982 and we immediately got our tickets and flew to Arlington, Virginia, to be with my grandmother. MW: How old were you at the time? FRANCISCO: I was 14. I went to Washington Lee High School. That was a shock that first full year. I had to speak English full time. When I was in high school, I was in theater and madrigals and school choir and all that stuff. We would sing the National Anthem for all the football games. Because I wanted to be in theater, like as a career, I purposefully learned to get rid of my Filipino accent. MW: Upon coming here did you encounter racism?

FRANCISCO: Oh, yeah, definitely. I still do, to this day. [My hus-

band] Bill and I live in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The beer lady at the Giant loves him to death, but she can’t even bear to look at me. I told Bill this and he’s like, "Oh, that's really unfortunate because she's really a nice lady." I said, "She sort of just grunts at me, tells me how much, I give her the cash, and I'm on my way." Gettysburg is apparently full of very conservative, racist Republicans. MW: How does encountering that make you feel? FRANCISCO: When I was younger, I really took it personally. It devastated me that people would just choose not to have

anything to do with me, or tease me, or mock me because I was different. So I found a circle of friends, mostly theater types, and just hung out with those folks. I grew a thicker skin and let it roll off my back. At one point I was thinking maybe I could change people's attitudes or change people's minds, but I realized that was just too much work. In terms of my high school experience of bias and bigotry and all that stuff, it naturally calmed down because there were only a few Filipinos when I first started. But then there were more of us at the end, and then the Vietnamese came in, and it opened people's eyes. Not just the students, but the faculty. So it sorted itself out. MW: Let’s add another layer onto this conversation. When did you realize you were gay and how did you cope with it at the time? FRANCISCO: Being gay was really tough for me when I was in my early teens. I was teased as a little boy for being effeminate — name-calling and stuff like that — by other children in the neighborhood. For Holy Week, my mother would leave me at my grandparents. She would take me to this country house and I would play with the country children. And they were really cruel. I might have made a gesture or something, moved my arms a funny way, whatever, and before long I was just the effeminate faggot, essentially. They didn't use that word. But we have other cruel words for little boys who acted feminine. So, when I was 14, I swallowed a bunch of pills. My body rejected whatever it was I swallowed, and I ended up just throwing it all up. I'm glad I botched it up. MW: What specifically drove you to try to kill yourself? FRANCISCO: I thought my father was never going to be proud of me. My mom asked what's going on, and I came out to her. And then we moved to the States. So it was like, whatever issues I had, I had to just somehow deal with it, suppress it, move on. JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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“Bite the Fruit is successful because our focus is on customer service. I tell my staff, ‘You don't say, 'I don't know.' You say, 'I don't know and let me find someone who might know.’” MW: How did your mother respond? FRANCISCO: She told me that it didn’t really matter if I'm gay or

straight to her, she loved me regardless. I was a very sensitive boy. I just took everything personally, took everything to heart. MW: What’s the attitude towards homosexuality in the Philippines? FRANCISCO: There’s no laws against being gay. There might be laws against things like sodomy and that kind of stuff, though. I think people would just prefer that gays were just in the closet and did everything hidden. It's a very Catholic country. So unless the Pope says something, I don't think they'll ever openly say that homosexuality is fine. It's all linked to the Roman Catholic system. As far as they're concerned, homosexuality is a sin. MW: Do you hold dual citizenship? FRANCISCO: No, but I've had a green card since 1982. MW: Do you worry that the current administration will revoke it? FRANCISCO: There was a time when I wasn't even thinking about it, but now I am. I'm absolutely concerned that they could take it away. Because of the current administration, now there is a concern that they could take my green card away because somebody just hates people with my color. You've got Stephen Miller with Trump's ear in the White House. MW: So let's add yet another layer to this, because of what you do for a living. You have an affection for leather and kink, I’m assuming? FRANCISCO: Personally, I'm very vanilla. But I am vanilla after having tried rocky road and strawberry and salted caramel. I realized I am homemade French vanilla. That's what I prefer. I love snuggling and conversation, that kind of thing. But I have played around, and I have used a lot of the same toys and things that we sell — everything from wrist restraints to floggers. I've tried both being dominant and have tried being submissive. I prefer being more dominant because I'm a control freak in general, anyway. Any kind of repression, suppression or restraint thing on me — things like blindfolds drive me bananas — I tend not to enjoy very much. So I proudly say I'm kind of vanilla. MW: It's good to know that you're doing your own product testing. Managerial quality control. FRANCISCO: [Laughs.] We don't require staff to be BDSM people. There’s no requirement for my employees to be sex-toy savvy. What's required is that they listen to the customers and they have an attitude of service. Bite the Fruit is successful because our focus is on customer service. We do our best to try to accommodate our customer's expectations, whatever that may be. I tell my staff, "You don't say, 'I don't know.' You say, 'I don't know and let me find someone who might know.’” So we always take it to the next level, the next step. Listening — really listening — to customers is very important. It's a business art that’s gone by the

wayside. You've heard about the retail apocalypse, right? It kind of started in 2010. It's getting worse. I think about 9,600 stores closed in 2019 and already 1,200 are scheduled to have closed in 2020. Bite the Fruit is thriving while all these other places are closing across the country, nationwide. MW: Why do you think that is? FRANCISCO: Because our customers need to have that tactile experience. Regardless of what's going on online in the digital age, people will always want to come to a store, pick up a toy, feel its heft, feel its texture, feel how it vibrates. They want that. That's like a basic human need. We offer that. When you come to Bite the Fruit, we fully expect that you're looking for a tactile experience. Bite the Fruit is also successful because we cater to everyone. That was probably the most fundamental shift from The Leather Rack to Bite the Fruit — that we cater to straights, gays, men, women. All kinds of kink, all kinds of experience levels. And then, of course, the final thing would be community involvement — that's carried over from The Leather Rack days. We continue to participate in the community, whether that would be beautification of and security for the neighborhood, whether that would be some kind of coordinated marketing effort with Dupont Circle businesses, or whether that would be supporting charitable causes. LGBTQ youth homelessness is very important to us. So is AIDS and HIV education and awareness. If we're not writing a check, we're volunteering time and showing up at things. And, of course, we love the leather community, so even though we've broadened our focus, we're still in love with the leather community. MW: Do you think the leather community is still in love with you? FRANCISCO: There's parts of it that recognize who we are and recognize that we contribute. I just got a really nice email from ONYX about participating in a certain way for this coming MAL. I think they recognize that we're still a viable part of the leather community, even though we have a broader focus. MW: When The Leather Rack closed, you faced an uphill battle to reinvent it. FRANCISCO: Yeah. We first tried the Adam and Eve name because I really liked that name, but then the Adam and Eve people in Pennsylvania did not like us using that name, even though I did my research — I always do my homework — and they don't own the copyright to Adam and Eve. Nobody can. It's a 5,000-year-old myth. MW: How did you settle on Bite the Fruit? FRANCISCO: When I decided Adam and Eve was no longer, I said, "Well, what is the point in that story, anyway?" And the JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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“People will always want to come to a store, pick up a toy, feel its heft, feel its texture, feel how it vibrates. They want that. It’s like a basic human need and we offer that.” point of that story was — if you took out all of that judgment and sin and punishment and just focused on the crux of it — there was this tree of knowledge and you bite the fruit from the tree of knowledge and you open yourself up to another level of consciousness. So to me, Bite the Fruit is a euphemism for a sexual epiphany. You give yourself a chance, you bite into this fruit because you want to give yourself an opportunity to explore the edges of pleasure in hopefully a healthy, responsible, and enjoyable way. Bite the Fruit is a euphemism for a sexual epiphany. That’s how I look at it. You’re purposefully choosing to challenge yourself, to go to the edge of what you think is status quo or normal and challenge yourself to go beyond where you decided your box was. And actually, that's the reason for the logo. It's a box with a little bite out of it. We're not asking you to get rid of your box. Your box is comfortable, it's there for a reason. Sometimes the reason is to protect you from yourself. But we're asking you, "Just take a little bite. Just take a little bite and live outside of the box, just a little bit. Just taste it. See what it's like." MW: Notably, you did away with some things that were iconic to The Leather Rack, things like custom leather. FRANCISCO: Right. We tried to bring it back. I was seriously planning on having somebody to do the leather work. We can't find that person. We've been hoping that we would. In fact, we're holding onto our leather sewing machine. It's in storage right now, but we're holding onto it just in case this actually happens. MW: Back in The Leather Rack days, custom leather was probably considered a limited market. It seems to have exploded exponentially in the past two decades. FRANCISCO: There’s so much competition. Unless you're really, really good, you really can't survive making leather goods because there's so much available. And of course, China is in on the game now, too. You see these floggers from China. Of course, they fall apart after a couple of uses. You pick them up and you can tell that this is going to fall apart after a second use. We ordered something from a supplier, and he sent us red harnesses. The red color came off on your skin. We sent it back and we're not going to order from that guy ever again. So you have to be careful. But the folks coordinating MAL — the Centaurs — are really good about the vendors that are there. When you walk around the Leather Marketplace, you get the impression, “Oh my gosh, everything in leather is just well-made and great.” But the truth is there's a lot of trash out there that didn't make it to the event. The Centaurs do a good job of keeping it at a high level. MW: Do you personally have a favorite vendor? FRANCISCO: My favorite is Rubio. I'm always looking at what new stuff they have. MW: They're pretty legendary. FRANCISCO: Last year, I got a vest and suspenders and from them. Now that I've lost a bunch of weight, I'm probably going 34

JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

to be looking for leather pants. MW: If you were not in the industry, do you think that you would have an inclination towards leather? FRANCISCO: Oh, yeah. Definitely. MW: Why? What does leather bring to you? FRANCISCO: I think this is one of the reasons why MAL is very important because, again, it shuns the status quo. It challenges what's normal. We wake up to new definitions, like the idea that a man in nice shiny leather pants, a vest, and a cap is a powerful and sexy image. Even to this day, it still flies, but it's not considered universal. I think more women will think a man in a suit is sexy rather than a man in a leather vest and chaps. I think it's a fetish, a preference. I look at a guy wearing a leather jacket and leather pants and boots, and I say, "Wow, that looks really sexy and powerful." MAL is a celebration of LGBTQ sexuality and sensuality and it's uncompromising, even if you just dip in and dip out and you choose not to live a fulltime leather lifestyle. The times that I have allowed myself to play, to let myself go and give myself permission, those moments gave me a lot of insight about what turns me on, gave me a lot of insight about who I am, gave me a lot of the insight into what's exciting. But even more important than that is because I have reclaimed these pieces of myself, I know how to take care of myself a little better. I know how to nurture myself a little better, and I'm a better lover. And hopefully, I'm a better person as a result of having experimented or taken an adventure. MW: Out of the box. FRANCISCO: Yes, taking it out of the box. MAL gives you that. Newbies get to explore what turns them on. They get to meet other people and find kinks, and they get to do it for just that weekend. Maybe they get to express something really authentic about themselves that they won't necessarily express at another venue. For the old-timers, MAL is a community builder. A lot of these guys have forged lasting and meaningful relationships through their shared love of leather and all things kinky. The old-timers come back and reconnect and experience community again. Reconnecting is really very important, feeling yourself as a part of something. We feel empowered when we feel like we're part of something larger, when we feel less isolated. When we feel connected, it's very empowering. MAL is very important in that sense. It's an important outlook not just for leather people but for the LGBTQ community. It’s for people who care about authentic self-expression. I think it's very important that we always celebrate it. l Bite the Fruit is located at 1723 Connecticut Ave. NW in Washington, D.C. For hours, call 202-299-0440 or visit www. bitethefruit.com. For more information on Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, visit www.leatherweekend.com.


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BETH DUBBER-NETFLIX.

Television

Road Werk

Fasten your seatbelts, RuPaul fans, Netflix’s AJ and the Queen is one hell of a bumpy ride. By André Hereford

R

UPAUL CHARLES, THE EMMY-WINNING HOST OF RUPAUL’S DRAG Race, and sometime Supermodel of the World, makes an auspicious debut as a series lead actor in Netflix’s rambling road odyssey AJ and the Queen (HHHHH). Unfortunately, Mama Ru’s considerable charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent aren’t enough to carry the show, which he co-created with Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King, over some really rough patches in its overextended journey from New York City to Dallas. Ru has a sidekick along for the ride on this sentimental journey of drag performer Robert Lee a.k.a. Ruby Red (RuPaul), who takes in a feisty, semi-abandoned 10-year old neighbor named AJ (Izzy G.), after the kid stows away in Robert’s rundown RV. The odd couple fights, jokes, bonds, and schemes their way across America, making stops along the way for Ruby Red’s club performances in cities from Louisville to Little Rock. They also take plenty of time to learn lessons, as AJ plans to start a new life in Texas with an off-the-grid granddad, while Robert struggles to put behind the heartbreak of learning that his hunky ex-fiancé Hector (Josh Segarra) is a no-good grifter. Actually, maybe Robert doesn’t want to leave that heartbreak behind, because he dwells on it in every episode of AJ and the Queen’s spotty ten-episode season. During each hour-long episode — all at least ten minutes too long — Robert barely turns a corner in getting over Hector. For every gorgeous minute of high-drag highlights, like Ruby Red and her old pal Fabergé Leggs (Latrice Royale) performing “Push It,” or Ruby giving us full-on Diana Ross in a real Bob Mackie dress, there seem to be ten minutes of limp dramatic padding, like Robert deciding in Episode Six whether or not

to finally dump the “Hector” folder from his desktop. That same episode finds AJ obsessed with digging up a diamond at an RV park that hypes itself as an untapped mine of precious gems. The poor kid digs and digs, before admitting to the pipe dream that bringing a diamond to granddad might encourage the man to take in little orphan AJ. On cue, Robert informs the tearful moppet, “You don’t need to bring Pop-Pop a diamond. You are a diamond.” And that’s this show: an hour spent on this kid digging for diamonds where everyone knows there are none, just to arrive at an obvious message, delivered not that convincingly. Ru’s Ruby earns tens across the board for her drag, but he gets maybe a six for his acting. In a more compact form, the series might have impressed with its ambition, serving up bittersweet romance alongside road-tripping comedy, family melodrama, drag production numbers, life lessons, and copious cameos from Drag Race starlets and other celebrities. But stretched out to these incomprehensible lengths, AJ and the Queen winds up burying nuggets of gold under heaps and heaps of dull material. l

AJ and the Queen is now available for streaming on Netflix. Visit www.netflix.com. JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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TERESA CASTRACANE

Stage

Safe Havens

Set during the eve of WWII, Alix Sobler’s thought-provoking Sheltered nails the ways history repeats itself. By André Hereford

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OMEWHERE IN AMERICA, CONSCIENTIOUS FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS are debating the rights of asylum-seeking children who have been separated from their parents and now pass their days and nights alone among hundreds inside a detention center. Or, the topic stirring passions around the dinner table might be the startling rise in hate crimes, or whether to remove this president, or how to respond to aggression from foreign nations, or a planet on fire. Context varies, but the question often comes back to, how can good people just stand by and do nothing? Alix Sobler sets the first act of her sharp-witted drama Sheltered (HHH and a half) at a private dinner party in Providence, in 1939, where the characters and context carry their own complicated meanings, and yet the big questions raised are resoundingly recognizable. As Hitler’s Nazi party tightens its grip around Germany and Austria, and Jews are being systematically pushed out of public and private life, two comfortably middle-class Jewish couples in Rhode Island, one more well-off than the other, debate over signs of impending world war. Their greatest fear is for what the future holds for those Jews who don’t or can’t escape Nazi Germany before it’s too late. Men, women, and children already are being taken into custody, vanishing from their homes. What might be next, and how can good people stand by and do nothing? Finely attuned to the script’s pendulum swings between dinner party levity and wartime gravitas, Adam Immerwahr’s production at Theater J captures the rhythms of a conversation most of us have taken part in, on one heated topic or another. And, often, on the other side of the argument, one might find a fellow guest like Marty Blum (Alexander Strain), a guy who can hear how a situation has deteriorated from bad to horrible, and not much care if it gets worse, as long as the storm doesn’t darken his

door. The accountant son of Jewish immigrants, who dropped the family name Blumenthal for Blum, Marty’s hustled his way up the Providence social ladder and he’s inclined to wave off the Nazis as a storm that soon will blow over. Strain’s performance turns the cocktail-swilling husband and father, alternately jovial or brusque, into an intriguing study of a man who practices the wait-and-see politics of the willfully oblivious. As Marty’s more compassionate wife Roberta, Kimberly Gilbert offers another study in intriguing characterization, a woman aggrieved but not willing to bring up the matter of why. The play adds a meaty layer of tension to the evening’s soirée by conveying an unspoken issue of estrangement between the Blums and their hosts, Dr. Leonard and Evelyn Kirsch (David Schlumpf and Erin Weaver). Apparently, it’s been ages since the Blums and Kirschs dined as a foursome, and Roberta feels slighted. Thus Gilbert’s textbook performance as the wounded Roberta, who wants her friend Evelyn to know that she feels aggrieved but has no intention of bringing it up, unless she is asked — which, eventually, Evvy does. The manipulation is droll and petty and

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TERESA CASTRACANE

one-hundred-percent credible, and, in the larger scheme of the play, it also presents a lighthearted parallel to how Evvy will call on her own tools for manipulation. She and Len have ulterior motives for prompting this urgent discussion of whether the U.S. will take in refugee Jewish children from Europe. They’ve decided that they want to be part of the effort to shelter said children from whatever Hitler has planned in Europe, and they’ll need more than their money and connections to ensure the dangerous project is a success. Most distressingly, they’ll need at some point to choose which children they cannot save. Inside a hotel room in Vienna, likely under surveillance by the Gestapo, Evvy and Len have to sort through photos and files of children, deciding whom to take and whom to leave. “A line has to be drawn,” Evvy declares. Despite the raised stakes, and Weaver’s well-modulated performance, the quiet intensity that envelops the first-act at the Kirschs feels depleted in the Vienna-set second act. Evvy engages in a contest of wills and negotiation with a mother, Frau Mueller (McLean Fletcher), whose son might be chosen by the Kirschs for shelter in America. But without the edge of hurt feelings and personal history volleyed between Evvy and Roberta, the exchange between Evvy and Frau Mueller doesn’t cut as sharply to the quick. Although, in the end, still lingering powerfully over their choices and compromises is the question that they started with, the one that faces all good people when times turn terrible: to act, or to just wait and see if things get better on their own. l Sheltered runs through Feb. 2, at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets are $39 to $69. Call 202-777-3210, or visit www.theaterj.org.

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NightLife

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Scene

Green Lantern - Thursday, January 9 - Photography by Ward Morrison See and purchase more photos from this event at www.metroweekly.com/scene

DrinksDragDJsEtc... Thursday, January 16 DC EAGLE $4 Rail and Domestics for guys in L.U.R.E. (Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Etc.) • Lights Dimmed at 8pm • Former Mr. MAL, Centaur MC and Mr. and Ms. DC Eagle Bar Night, 10pm-1am • DJ Scott Howard, 9pm-2am • $5 suggested donation

Friday, January 17 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 5pm-3am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything

until 9pm • Video Games • Live televised sports DC EAGLE Birds of Prey Drag Show, hosted by Boomer Banks and Brooklyn Heights, 10:30pm • $10 Cover • Hummer Gear Party in the Annex, 10pm-4am • DJs Erik Grüber, Ultra, and Phoenix Rise • $25 Cover, $40 gets Weekend Pass to Friday and Saturday Night Parties • Tickets available via www.hummer-dc. brownpapertickets.com • Furball DC MAL 2020 (See separate listing below) • Shuttle available from Hyatt Regency MAL Host Hotel • 21+ FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • Karaoke, 9pm-close

FURBALL @DC Eagle Fetish and Gear Edition, 11:30pm-5am • Leather and Fetish Wear encouraged • Music by DJ Dan De Leon • Hot Furry Dancers • Clothes Check available $15 Tickets in Advance, $30 at the door • Shuttle available from Hyatt Regency MAL Host Hotel • 21+

MAL WEEKEND @Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill 400 New Jersey Ave. NW Super Heroes Meet Up in Yellowstone/ Everglades Room, 5-7pm • Rubber Cocktail Party in Congressional A/B, 7-9pm • Highwaymen TNT presents Impact: Sauvage in Regency B, 10pm-3am • Music by DJ TWiN

GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $3 Rail and Domestic • $5 Svedka, all flavors all night long • Rough House: Leather Edition — Hands On, Lights Off, 10pm-close • Music by DJs offAxis (Only Friends, BOS) and Lemz upstairs • Music by Sean Morris and The Barber Streisand downstairs • GoGo Dancers • $5 Cover before 10pm, $10 after 10pm (includes clothes check)

NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Open 3pm • Beat the Clock Happy Hour — $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm), $4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of Beer, $15 • Weekend Kickoff Dance Party, with Nellie’s DJs spinning bubbly pop music all night

Destinations A LEAGUE OF HER OWN 2317 18th St. NW 202-733-2568 www.facebook.com/alohodc AVALON SATURDAYS Soundcheck 1420 K St. NW 202-789-5429 www.facebook.com/ AvalonSaturdaysDC

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NUMBER NINE Open 5pm • Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm • No Cover • Friday Night Piano with Chris, 7:30pm • Friday Night Videos,

9:30pm • Rotating DJs PITCHERS Open 5pm-3am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Foosball • Live televised sports • Full dining menu till 9pm • Special Late Night menu till 2am SHAW’S TAVERN Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers TRADE Doors open 5pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 5-10pm • Beer and wine only $5 • Otter Happy Hour with DJ StrikeStone, hosted by Kunj, 5-11pm • Late Night Music by Dean Sullivan, 11pm-close

UPROAR Bear Happy Hour: Leather Bear Party, 5pm-close • Free Appetizers • Drink Specials, 5-10pm • $5 Rail Cocktails, $5 32-oz. Draft Pitchers of Bud Light and Shock Top • No Cover ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS Men of Secrets, 9pm • Guest dancers • Rotating DJs • Kristina Kelly’s Diva Fev-ah Drag Show • Doors at 9pm, Shows at 11:45pm • Music by DJ Jeff Eletto • Cover 21+

Saturday, January 18 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 2pm-3am • Video Games • Live televised sports

DC EAGLE 3701 Benning Rd. NE (202) 455-6500 www.dceagle.com

NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR 900 U St. NW 202-332-6355 www.nelliessportsbar.com

FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR 555 23rd St. S. Arlington, Va. 703-685-0555 www.freddiesbeachbar.com

NUMBER NINE 1435 P St. NW 202-986-0999 www.numberninedc.com

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GREEN LANTERN 1335 Green Ct. NW 202-347-4533 www.greenlanterndc.com

PITCHERS 2317 18th St. NW 202-733-2568 www.pitchersbardc.com


NIGHTLIFE HIGHLIGHTS Compiled by Doug Rule

PEACH PIT & SHADY PINES AT DC9 Named after the popular hangout spot on Beverly Hills 90210, Peach Pit celebrates the pop music of the 1990s and has been a monthly entity for a full decade now of its own. Patrons are encouraged to arrive as close as possible to the 10:30 p.m. start time this Saturday, Jan. 18, or else risk waiting in a long line in the cold outside once the intimate DC9 reaches capacity. The result could be a “you’re frozen” moment when DJ Matt Bailer decides to spin your favorite Madonna jam of the decade — when you’re heart’s not open, Mm! Admission is $5 before midnight, $8 after. 21 and above. The next day, Sunday, Jan. 19, at the same venue comes the other decade-spanning monthly venture from Bailer, this one geared to those who wanna dance with somebody who loves them while reminiscing about a time when doves cried and people were hungry like the wolf. Oh, and also when a certain Ms. Ciccone cried, “I’m burning up!” and in due time you clapped back, “with your love!” Named after the retirement village where the gay-popular TV series The Golden Girls took place, Shady Pines focuses on the ’80s, when pop music was wild and formulaic, eclectic and overproduced. The party is from 3 to 7 p.m and takes place on DC9’s enclosed, heated rooftop. Admission is free. DC9 is at 1940 9th St. NW. Call 202-483-5000 or visit www.dcnine.com. AVALON SATURDAYS Closed for a private event. DC EAGLE Open at 5pm • Happy Hour until 9pm • BRÜT MAL Weekend, 10pm-6am • DJs Dan Darlington and Morabito • $40 Tickets available at tickets. hedonicproductions.com • Empire MC and Excelsior MC on the Club Bar • Hummer Gear Party in the Annex, 10pm-4am • DJs Erik Grüber, Ultra, and Phoenix Rise • $25 Cover, $40 gets Weekend Pass to Friday and Saturday Night Parties • Tickets available via www.hummer-dc. brownpapertickets.com FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Saturday Breakfast Buffet, 10am-3pm • $14.99 with one glass of champagne or coffee, soda or juice • Additional champagne $2 per glass • Crazy Hour,

4-8pm • Freddie’s Follies Drag Show, hosted by Miss Destiny B. Childs, 8-10pm • Karaoke, 10pm-close GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $5 Bacardi, all flavors, all night long • The Bear Cave: Retro to Electro, 9pm-close • Music by DJ Popperz • No Cover MAL WEEKEND @Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill 400 New Jersey Ave. NW Puppy Park XII in Regency B/C/D, 11am-1pm • Onyx Fashion Show and Fundraiser in Congressional A/B, 1:30-6:30pm • Leather Cocktails in the Regency Ballroom, 7-9pm NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Drag Brunch, hosted by Chanel Devereaux, 10:30am-12:30pm and 1-3pm • Tickets on sale

SHAW’S TAVERN 520 Florida Ave. NW 202-518-4092 www.shawstavern.com TRADE 1410 14th St. NW 202-986-1094 www.tradebardc.com ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS 1824 Half St. SW 202-863-0670 www.ziegfelds.com

CHANELLIE’S DRAG BRUNCH In case you were wondering, there is not a new queen on the scene named Chanellie. Rather, Chanellie is the name of the game at Nellie’s Drag Brunch ever since Chanel Devereaux ascended to the throne as queen of queens for the venue’s popular brunch. This weekend, Devereaux will slay, sashay, and serve alongside Deja Diamond Jemaceye, Sapphire Ardwick Ardmore-Blue, and Celestia Cox at all four shows and seatings. In addition, those at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, will also feature Indiana Bones, Chicki Parm, and Synchottia C. Diamond Blue, and the shows at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, will have the additional delights of LaBellela Maffia, Alexa V. Shontelle, and Holly Whatt. The All-You-Can-Eat Brunch Buffet includes roast pork, vegetarian pasta, cheesy grits, soups, salads, fruit, and dessert, as well as everyone’s first mimosa or mary mixed by “your favorite shirtless bartender,” Andrew Sweeney. Ages 21 and up. Nellie’s Sports Bar is at 900 U St. NW. Tickets are $41.91. Call 202-332-NELL or visit www.nelliessportsbar.com. SPARK AT A LEAGUE OF HER OWN When we lost Cobalt last year, we also lost one of the city’s longest-running queer women’s dance events, the third-Saturdays Bare. Promoter Karen Diehl and her LURe DC team found a way to reignite last fall with a new party at a new venue, and a new sense of purpose. The next Spark at A League of Her Own in Adams Morgan strikes this Sunday, Jan. 19, starting at 9 p.m., with music by DJ Honey and drinks by ALOHO staff plus guest bartenders Jewel Murray and MJ Egan. In addition to luring like-minded queer folk to dance, drink, and deepen their bonds, Spark also aims to raise money and/or awareness for a specific cause, organization, or “awesome” person. A portion of proceeds from the first “party with a purpose” in 2020 will go to the Obong Belton Foundation, a local nonprofit that supports women and young girls who have marginalized because of their gender. A League of Her Own is at 2319 18th St. NW. No cover. 21 and up only. Call 202-733-2568 or visit www.pitchersdc.com. UPROAR’S ROAR SUNDAY BEER BUST & 4-YEAR ANNIVERSARY This Sunday, Jan. 19, Tammy Truong’s improbable little bear bar that could will roar into another year of business by first feeding the hungry furry fellas for free, via a three-hour Complimentary Dinner Buffet starting at 3 p.m. It may be well before the normal dinner bell, but many a bear will be there with bells and bibs on. An hour into the feeding frenzy, DJ Mike Babbitt, one of Uproar’s signature DJs, will crank up the heat and bring in the beats for a five-hour frisson of happy, poppy, housy music, fueled by the Beer Bust special of $17 Bottomless Bud Light on tap. Those who aren’t yet busted or ready to bust after the clock strikes 9 p.m. are in luck, as Uproar will honor the special occasion of its anniversary with a nighttime party and closing set from DJ Bo Bear from Miami. Uproar is at 639 Florida Ave NW. Call 202-462-4464 or visit www. facebook.com/uproarloungedc. l JANUARY 16, 2020 • METROWEEKLY.COM

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at nelliessportsbar.com • House Rail Drinks, Zing Zang Bloody Marys, Nellie Beer and Mimosas, $4, 11am-3am • Buckets of Beer, $15 • Guest DJs playing pop music all night NUMBER NINE Doors open 2pm • Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 2-9pm • $5 Absolut and $5 Bulleit Bourbon, 9pm-close • THIRSTY, featuring VJ Chord Bezerra, 9:30pm PEACH PIT @DC9 1940 9th St. NW 1990s Dance Party, 10:30pm-3am • DJ Matt Bailer • $5 before midnight, $8 after midnight • 21+ PITCHERS Open Noon-3am • Video Games • Foosball • Live televised sports • Full

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dining menu till 9pm • Special Late Night menu till 2am SHAW’S TAVERN Brunch with $16 Bottomless Mimosas, 10am-3pm • Homme Brunch, Second Floor, 12pm • Happy Hour, 5-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers • Noche Latina, 11pm-2am • Food and Drink specials TRADE Doors open 2pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 2-10pm • Beer and wine only $5 • Gay Bash: Goth Night 3, 10pm • Hosted by Donna Slash • Featuring Jane Saw, Ana Latour, Pariah Sinclair, Domingx

• Music by The Barber Streisand ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS Men of Secrets upstairs, 9pm-close • Fully nude male dancers • Ladies of Illusion Drag Show with host Ella Fitzgerald in Ziegfeld’s • Doors open at 9pm, Show at 11:45pm • Music by DJs Keith Hoffman and Don T. • Cover 21+

Sunday, January 19 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 2pm-12am • $4 Smirnoff and Domestic Cans • Video Games • Live televised sports • Lure DC presents Spark, 9pm-2am • Featuring DJ Honey and Guest

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Bartenders Jewel Murray and MJ Egan • Partial Proceeds benefit Obong Belton Foundation • 21+ DC EAGLE Open at Noon • Happy Hour until 9pm • BLUF Tea and Cigar Social, 4-10pm • Free for BLUF members • Everyone else $5 in advance, $10 at the door • Dominatrix Drag Show with Brita Filter, 10:30pm • $5 in advance, $10 at door • Late Night Cruise/ Afterhours Dance Party until 5am FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Fabulous Sunday Champagne Brunch, 10am-3pm • $24.99 with four glasses of champagne or mimosas, 1 Bloody Mary, or coffee, soda or juice • Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • Karaoke, 9pm-close

GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • JOX: MAL Edition, 9pm-2:30am • DJ UltraPup • GoGo Dancers • Drink specials all night • $10 Cover (includes clothes check) • Karaoke with Kevin downstairs, 9:30pm-close MAL REACTION DANCE @9:30 Club 815 V St. NW Reaction is The Official MAL Weekend Closing Dance, 8pm-2am • Shuttle available from Hyatt from 7pm-1:30am MAL WEEKEND @Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill 400 New Jersey Ave. NW Brunch in Capital A/B and Congressional A/B, 10am to Noon • Mr. MidAtlantic Leather Contest, 1-4pm

NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Drag Brunch, hosted by Chanel Devereaux, 10:30am-12:30pm and 1-3pm • Tickets on sale at nelliessportsbar.com • House Rail Drinks, Zing Zang Bloody Marys, Nellie Beer and Mimosas, $4, 11am-1am • Buckets of Beer, $15 • Guest DJs NUMBER NINE Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 2-9pm • $5 Absolut and $5 Bulleit Bourbon, 9pm-close • Multiple TVs showing movies, shows, sports • Expanded craft beer selection • Pop Goes the World with Wes Della Volla at 9:30pm • No Cover PITCHERS Open Noon-2am • $4 Smirnoff, includes flavored, $4 Coors Light or $4 Miller Lites, 2-9pm • Video


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Games • Foosball • Live televised sports • Full dining menu till 9pm SHADY PINES @DC9 1940 9th St. NW 1980s Tea Dance, 3-7pm • DJ Matt Bailer • 21+ • Free SHAW’S TAVERN Brunch with $16 Bottomless Mimosas, 10am-3pm • Closes at 5pm TRADE Doors open 2pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 2-10pm • Beer and wine only $5 • Leather Casual: Recovery Tea, 5pm • Music by Dean Sullivan & StrikeStone! • ASMR Performance by Kunj • CHURCH: Leather Weekend, 10pm • Music by Wess the DJ and Dvonne • Hosted by JaxKnife Complex • Performances by BratWorst and Geneva Confection UPROAR Sunday Beer Bust and 4th Anniversary Party, 3-9pm • Complimentary Dinner Buffet, 3-6pm • Beer Bust with DJ Mike Babbitt, 4-9pm • $17 Bottomless Bud Light on tap • No Cover

Monday, January 20 DC EAGLE Manic Mondays • Food served, 2-6pm • Happy Hour until 9pm, $2 off all drinks • Free Pool play • $2 Bud & Bud Lights, $15 bottomless premium drafts

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FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • Singles Night • Half-Priced Pasta Dishes • Karaoke, 9pm GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $3 rail cocktails and domestic beers all night long • Singing with the Sisters: Open Mic Karaoke Night with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, 9:30pm-close NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Beat the Clock Happy Hour — $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm), $4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of Beer, $15 • Half-Priced Burgers • Paint Nite, 7pm • PokerFace Poker, 8pm • Dart Boards • Ping Pong Madness, featuring 2 PingPong Tables NUMBER NINE Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm • No Cover SHAW’S TAVERN MLK Day Brunch with Bottomless Mimosas, 11pm-3am • Happy Hour, 5-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers • Shaw ‘Nuff Trivia, 7:30pm TRADE Doors open 5pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 5-10pm • Beer and wine only $5

Tuesday, January 21 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 5pm-12am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything

until 9pm • Video Games • Live televised sports DC EAGLE 2-4-1 Tuesdays • All Drinks, Buy one, Get one free • First Drink Free for Guys in Jockstraps FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • Taco Tuesday • Karaoke, 9pm GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • $3 rail cocktails and domestic beers all night long • Tito’s Tuesday: $5 Tito’s Vodka all night NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Beat the Clock Happy Hour — $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm), $4 (7-8pm) • Buckets of Beer $15 • Drag Bingo with Sasha Adams and Brooklyn Heights, 7-9pm • Karaoke, 9pm-close NUMBER NINE Open at 5pm • Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm • No Cover PITCHERS Open 5pm-12am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Foosball • Live televised sports • Full dining menu till 9pm • Special Late Night menu till 11pm SHAW’S TAVERN Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers • Half-Priced Burgers and Pizzas, 5-10pm • Schitt’s Creek Watch Party, 9pm TRADE Doors open 5pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 5-10pm • Beer and wine only $5 • Sissy

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That Tuesday: A Monthly Cabaret hosted by Pussy Noir and Friends, 8pm • Music by WesstheDJ

Wednesday, January 22 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 5pm-12am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Live televised sports DC EAGLE Happy Hour until 9pm • Karaoke by D&K Sounds from 9pm-1am • $4 Rails, Wines & Domestic Drafts FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • $6 Burgers • Beach Blanket Drag Bingo Night, hosted by Ms. Regina Jozet Adams, 8pm • Bingo prizes • Karaoke, 10pm-1am GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4pm-9pm • Bear Yoga with Greg Leo, 6:30-7:30pm • $10 per class • $3 rail cocktails and domestic beers all night long • Karaoke, 9pm NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR SmartAss Trivia Night, 8-10pm • Prizes include bar tabs and tickets to shows at the 9:30 Club • Absolutely Snatched Drag Show, hosted by Brooklyn Heights, 9pm • $3 Bud Light, $5 Absolut, $15 Buckets of Beer NUMBER NINE Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm • No Cover PITCHERS Open 5pm-12am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Foosball • Live televised

sports • Full dining menu till 9pm • Special Late Night menu till 11pm SHAW’S TAVERN Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers • Piano Bar and Karaoke, 8pm TRADE Doors open 5pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 5-10pm • Beer and wine only $5

Thursday, January 23 A LEAGUE OF HER OWN Open 5pm-2am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Live televised sports DC EAGLE $4 Rail and Domestics for guys in L.U.R.E. (Leather, Uniform, Rubber, Etc.) • Lights Dimmed at 8pm FREDDIE’S BEACH BAR Crazy Hour, 4-8pm • Karaoke, 9pm-close GREEN LANTERN Happy Hour, 4-9pm • Shirtless Thursday, 10-11pm • Men in Underwear Drink Free, 12-12:30am • DJs BacK2bACk NELLIE’S SPORTS BAR Beat the Clock Happy Hour — $2 (5-6pm), $3 (6-7pm), $4 (7-8pm) • $15 Buckets of Bud Products all night • Sports Leagues Night

NUMBER NINE Happy Hour: 2 for 1 on any drink, 5-9pm • No Cover • ThurSlay, featuring DJ Jack Rayburn, 10pm PITCHERS Open 5pm-2am • Happy Hour: $2 off everything until 9pm • Video Games • Foosball • Live televised sports • Full dining menu till 9pm • Special Late Night menu till 11pm • Thirst Trap Thursdays, hosted by Venus Valhalla, 11pm-12:30am • Featuring a Rotating Cast of Drag Performers • Dancing until 1:30am SHAW’S TAVERN Happy Hour, 4-7pm • $3 Miller Lite, $4 Blue Moon, $5 House Wines, $5 Rail Drinks • Half-Priced Pizzas and Select Appetizers • Half-Priced Bottles of Wine, 5pm-close TRADE Doors open 5pm • XL Happy Hour: Any drink normally served in a cocktail glass is served in an XL glass for the same price, 5-10pm • Beer and wine only $5 ZIEGFELD’S/SECRETS All male, nude dancers, 9pm-close • “New Meat” Open Dancers Audition • Music by DJ Don T. • Cover 21+ l For more specials not featured in print, visit www.metroweekly.com/ nightlife/drink_specials.


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Scene

Avalon Saturdays - Saturday, January 11 - Photography by Ward Morrison See and purchase more photos from this event at www.metroweekly.com/scene

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LastWord. People say the queerest things

“Are we really sure he’s gay?” — MARK STEYN, conservative commentator and Fox News guest host, speaking about former Mayor Pete Buttigieg while hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show. “Are we really sure he’s gay?” Steyn asked during a segment criticizing the Democratic candidates for president. “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 situation is completely out of control, harming consumers, societies, and businesses. ” — The NORWEGIAN CONSUMER COUNCIL, in a report accusing dating app Grindr of outing its users as LGBTQ to more than a dozen companies. Grindr, Tinder, OKCupid, and seven other apps reportedly share sensitive user data — including location, sexuality, political views, gender identity, and other factors — with “a large number of shadowy entities,” including advertising networks that reach 1,000s of partner companies.

“We have to stop putting trans women who are incarcerated into prisons with men where they are at risk. It is our responsibility. ” — Sen. ELIZABETH WARREN, during a campaign stop in Marshalltown, Iowa. Warren’s comments drew outrage from conservatives, who responded on social media with various transphobic comments slamming both Warren and the trans community.

“I feel judged, she feels judged, just very devastating for us. ” — KIMBERLEY ALFORD, mother of 15-year-old Kayla Kenney, speaking to Kentucky NBC affiliate WAVE after Kayla was expelled from Christian private school Whitefield Academy for wearing a rainbow sweater and posing with her rainbow birthday cake in a Facebook photo. The school said the photo “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.”

“I understand what it’s like to feel like an outsider — to question whether I’ll be accepted for simply being who I am. ” — GRAY ELLIS, a Democrat running for state Senate in North Carolina, in a new campaign video. Ellis is the first openly transgender man to run for office in the state. “I’m one of the voices not heard in North Carolina politics,” he says in the video. “It’s important to have a voice of reason and knowledge representing you — a voice who understands how it feels to be marginalized.”

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Profile for Metro Weekly

Out of the Box: Russwin Francisco and Bite the Fruit - January 16, 2020