Page 1

“Religious Liberty” Order Panders Bigly, Does Little 08

Suspect in Trans Woman’s Killing in Custody 14




COVER STORY Torpedo Obamacare, then grab a Rose Garden beer 03 MILITARY Anti-gay Army pick withdraws 07 POLITICS Resistance greets Trump return 10 REMEMBRANCE Ron Gold, William Hoffman 22, 29

PERSPECTIVE Denying Chechen gay torture 32

“Maurice,” Forster gem, revisited 36

FILM “Serial Mom” better than ever 37 THEATER “Six Degrees,” “Present Laughter,” “War Paint” 40 THEATER Asian nova in “Pacific Overtures” 42


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Torpedo Obamacare, Then Grab a Rose Garden Beer As Republicans hold premature party, LGBTQ health advocates respond in anger BY PAUL SCHINDLER


ven as Republican members of the House of Representatives jumped on a bus headed for a Rose Garden celebration of their Obamacare repeal vote — an event where President Donald Trump smirked before the cameras and then treated the GOP faithful to brewskies — LGBTQ health care and civil rights advocates joined other progressive groups in condemning the threatened dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. Though Trumpcare, formally known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where moderate and some other Republicans are likely to have problems with the measure — particularly given concessions made in recent weeks to the House’s hardright Freedom Caucus — the bill’s critics noted that what was passed on May 4 was an even harsher measure than the version that polled at only 17 percent earlier in the year. The measure passed by the House last week has not yet been “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office, but the AHCA, before the recent addition of more onerous provisions, was already estimated to throw 14 million Americans off their insurance by next year and 24 million by 2026. Revisions to the original measure proposed in the House, which took the form of an amendment from New Jersey Representative Tom MacArthur, “takes a bad bill and makes it worse,” said Dr. Sean Cahill, director of health policy research at Fenway Health, an LGBTQ health clinic in Boston. “If enacted, it would make it much more difficult for people with pre-existing health conditions such as HIV to obtain health insurance that is affordable. It would also permit the sale of health insurance plans that do not provide coverage for preventive care, such as screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, or substance use treatment. This amendment seems designed to make it harder to obtain coverage for health care, not easier.” That statement from Cahill referred to several, but not all of the objectionable aspects of the Republican | May 11 - 24, 2017


President Donald Trump, surrounded by top aides including Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump, watch as the House passes its Obamacare repeal on May 4.

bill that Fenway and other LGBTQ health advocates have focused on. The biggest complaint about the way the GOP measure became harsher over its legislative life involves the ability of states to opt out of the requirement of setting insurance premiums based on “community ratings” instead of “individual ratings.” If an insurance applicant is evaluated using an individual rating, their cost of insurance might become prohibitive if they have serious pre-existing conditions. The bar on health insurers charging higher rates for pre-existing conditions was one of the most popular features of Obamacare. In a written statement, Amida Care, a private nonprofit community health plan that offers health coverage and coordinated care for Medicaid members with chronic conditions, said, “The AHCA has the potential to take people living with chronic conditions like HIV back to the days when they were denied or could not afford health insurance coverage. Without regular, comprehensive health care, people with chronic conditions are hospitalized and visit the emergency room more frequently, require costly nursing homes, rack up high bills, and get pushed into poverty. Those burdensome costs are ultimately passed on to the government, insurers, and taxpayers.” Trumpcare’s defenders argued that Americans with serious preexisting conditions could access insurance through high-risk pools

established by the states, and in response to the outcry over the issue the president threw in $8 billion in aid to support such pools at the state level. Health care experts agreed that was a fraction of what the need would be. According to Amida Care, “Highrisk pools have repeatedly failed to provide affordable, quality coverage for people living with HIV and other pre-existing or chronic conditions. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, 35 states had high-risk pools with waiting lists and inadequate coverage. Coverage in high-risk pools often has excessively high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays along with limitations on eligibility for needed drug coverage and care.” Concern about pre-existing conditions was compounded by the AHCA’s allowing states to also opt out of a list of essential health benefits mandated for coverage. At particular risk is coverage for prescription medications, annual physicals, routine cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies as well as routine STD check-ups, substance abuse treatment, and mental health care. “We see this vote as a direct attack on our clients, many of whom may lose their health insurance and their ability to access PrEP,” said Kelsey Louie, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Along with other HIV/ AIDS service and advocacy groups, GMHC is aggressively promoting the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis by HIV-

negative New Yorkers at risk of transmission as part of the state’s effort to effectively end the epidemic by 2020. Trumpcare is particularly punitive in denying federal funding to Planned Parenthood. A statement from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted Planned Parenthood’s role in providing both HIV testing and gender transition-related care, and it is also a critical provider of mammograms, Pap tests, and other cancer screenings for women, especially those from low-income areas and communities of color. The Government Accountability Office has estimated that almost 400,000 women would lose access to preventive care and another 650,000 would have their access reduced under such a funding cut-off. Another aspect of the AHCA with potential dire consequences is the block grant approach the federal government will take toward Medicaid reimbursement. Under Obamacare, the federal government reimburses at least 50 percent of state Medicaid costs. By allocating Medicaid on a per capita basis instead, Medicaid expenditures are estimated to fall by $880 billion over 10 years, a 25 percent cut that will largely impact people with disabilities. In a Gay City News op-ed last month, Doug Wirth, Amida Care’s CEO, pointed out that as Indiana governor, Vice President Mike Pence drew on provisions of Obamacare’s

TRUMPCARE, continued on p.51



Trump’s Anti-Gay Army Chief Pick Withdraws Tennessee State Senator Mark Green out after Schumer opposition, McCain doubts BY PAUL SCHINDLER


ark Green, a Tennessee state senator and 20-year military veteran whose nomination to be the new secretary of the Army sparked intense criticism by LGBTQ advocates and others, has withdrawn his name from consideration. In a May 5 written statement, Green, citing “false and misleading attacks against me,” announced his decision. Since the time of his nomination, Green faced criticism for his strident opposition to marriage equality and his having characterized being transgender as a “disease.” Speaking to a Chattanooga Tea Party gathering last fall, he falsely claimed that being trans is listed as an illness in the psychiatric profession’s official diagnostic manual. He has also repeatedly offered encouragement to public officials in Tennessee who would choose to ignore the 2015 Supreme Court ruling recognizing the right of same sex-couples to marry. Earlier this year, he signed on as a “prime cosponsor” of legislation that would make it state policy “to defend natural marriage between one man and one woman regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” Last year, he pushed for a law that would bar the state and localities from penalizing any business — such as in the awarding of contracts — for any of their personnel or benefits policies, such as denying same-sex spouses insurance coverage customarily available to spouses. Green has also been faulted for inflammatory comments about Muslims and Latinos, agreeing at the Chattanooga gathering that Americans should “take a stand on the indoctrination of Islam in our public schools.” After more than a month of criticism from progressive advocates and doubts raised by leading Democratic senators about his fitness, Green’s political fortunes turned dire last week. Arizona Republican Senator John | May 11 - 24, 2017


Facing mushrooming opposition, Tennessee State Senator Mark Green, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Army secretary, withdrew.

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, at this year’s Human Rights Campaign New York dinner.

McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee that would have held hearings on his nomination, told USA Today on May 2 that the Tennessee state senator’s comments about LGBTQ and Muslim Americans are “very concerning.” “There’s a lot of controversy concerning his nomination,” McCain told the newspaper. “We are getting some questions from both Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committee. I think there are some issues that clearly need to be cleared up.” The following day, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, in comments first provided to Gay City News, announced his intention to vote no on the nomination. “Mr. Green’s intolerant, extreme, and deeply disturbing views, and disparaging comments toward the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Latinos, and other groups of Americans — all of whom play important roles in the Army and in our country — are dangerous to morale, cohesion, and readiness of our Armed Services and the fabric of America,” Schumer said in the statement he provided the newspaper. Had Schumer held all 48 Democrats in opposition, the defection of just three Republicans would have doomed Green, and McCain’s skepticism signaled doubts even among GOP senators most likely to hold his service in the Army and his graduation from West Point in high respect.

Green, in his letter withdrawing his name, insisted his views had been misrepresented. “Tragically, my life of public service and Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” he wrote. “While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the president the ability to move forward with his vision to restore our military to its rightful place in the world.” Green’s LGBTQ critics, however, had zeroed in precisely on his fitness to lead a united Army in uncertain times. In a press call last month, Stephen Peters, the press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a former service member discharged under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy whose his husband is currently an active duty service member, warned that Green as Army secretary “would send an incredibly dangerous message down the line of command. He cannot be trusted to lead the Army forward.” Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), a support group for partners, families, and allies of LGBTQ service members and veterans, said, “At a time of unrest around the world, all service members should have the confidence they have the full support” of the


nation’s leaders. Schumer today hailed Green’s decision as “good news for all Americans, especially those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments directed toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community, and more. He was the wrong choice to serve as secretary, and should not have been nominated in the first place.” Trump, the Senate minority leader said, should instead “nominate someone who can faithfully lead and represent all members of the US Army.” Green’s replacement nominee, if confirmed, would succeed Eric Fanning, the first out gay Army secretary, who assumed that post in the last year of the Obama administration. Following the Green withdrawal, Chad Griffin, HRC’s president, pledged to “continue to fight back against any appointment or policy made by this president that puts our community at risk.” Trump, however, has nominated Heather Wilson, a former Republican member of Congress who also has a long anti-LGBTQ record, as Air Force secretary, but progressive groups have been relatively silent about her. In last month’s HRC call about Green, David Stacy, the group’s government affairs director, said, “We’re not a big fan of Heather Wilson, either. But Green is above and beyond.”



Trump Panders Bigly, But Moves Ball Little “Religious liberty” executive order dodges LGBTQ issues, disappoints some on right BY PAUL SCHINDLER


or the second time in his young presidency, Donald Trump has pulled his administration back from an expected executive order explicitly providing sweeping religious exemptions for those wishing to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. “Today’s executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome,” Anthony D. Romero, the out gay executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said in a written statement issued shortly after Trump’s May 4 Rose Garden ceremony attended by conservative religious leaders, including a group of Roman Catholic nuns. “After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process. The order portends but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services.” Two days earlier, Politico had reported that two senior White House sources told the news site that the president would issue an order with more teeth, a story that alarmed not only LGBTQ advocates but also women’s health proponents concerned that basic services, including reproductive health and contraceptive access, could be denied by religiously-affiliated — and perhaps, as well, family-held for-profit — institutions. An unnamed religious conservative told Politico that they had seen the executive order and “the language is very, very strong.” That report sparked fear that an executive order along the lines of a draft leaked to The Nation magazine in early February was in the offing. In a press call on May 3, Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), warned that such an order would allow a potentially wide array of organizations receiving federal funding to claim a religious objection to providing services to LGBTQ people and afford employees of the federal



Donald Trump at the May 4 Rose Garden ceremony signing an executive order on “religious liberty.”

government and of organizations doing business with the government special religious rights that might exempt them from nondiscrimination requirements in doing their job. On the same call, Brigitte Amiri, a senior staff attorney in the Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU, said that under such an order any health care provider, including hospitals and universities, would be free to deny the services guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act’s women’s preventive care provisions, including access to contraceptives. Both Amiri and Warbelow emphasized that religious objections to single parents raising children and couples living together outside of marriage would also be privileged under the February draft. What Trump did, instead, was to assure religious conservatives that his administration would do everything it could under existing law to protect religious organizations from any penalties — in particular, a challenge to their tax-exempt status — for engaging in political speech and to give health organizations the maximum flexibility in preserving their “conscience-based objections” to providing certain reproductive health services. The New York Times is reporting that Trump assured the Rose

Garden audience that “members of the clergy should be allowed to endorse candidates without fear that their churches will lose tax-exempt status,” but the language of the order does not appear to provide that guarantee. One key provision in the order states, “In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office [italics added] by the Department of the Treasury.” The italicized language appears to preserve the existing limitation in the tax code on political endorsements by tax-exempt religious organizations. During the 2016 campaign and since assuming office, Trump has repeatedly pledged to do away with the 1954 Johnson Amendment, written by then-Senate Majority

Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, which codified the limitations on political activity by religious organizations claiming a tax-exempt status. His order yesterday does not purport to do that. “President Trump’s prior assertion that he wished to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news,’” the ACLU’s Romero said in his statement. An online posting by the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage reflected the disappointment many on the religious right felt about Trump’s order. “An executive order he signed today, while containing some helpful provisions for pastors and religious medical providers, falls far short of what is needed to protect people of faith from governmental persecution set in motion by the Obama administration,” the web posting stated. “Instead, he has punted the issue to the Department of Justice which, he says, will develop new rules to protect the religious liberty rights of people and groups. This is the second time that President Trump has backed away from signing a comprehensive order protecting religious liberty after LGBT groups complained about the proposed actions. We cannot accept this capitulation on such a critical issue and must fight back.” Disappointment on the right, however, did not keep progressives from warning about what this latest executive order from Trump portends. The ACLU was the most measured in its response. “The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed,” Romero said. “What President Trump did today was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive health care services. The Human Rights Campaign, in a fundraising appeal, raised stronger alarms.

EXECUTIVE ORDER, continued on p.14

May 11 - 24, 2017 |

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Anger, Resistance Greet Trump Homecoming Trip to Intrepid to meet Aussie PM spawns protests across Midtown Manhattan


Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns activists hoist a rainbow resistance banner created by the late Gilbert Baker, who died on March 31.



or President Donald Trump’s fi rst homecoming visit to New York City, protestors welcomed him with vocal resistance that flanked him every which way. During his brief May 4 stop in the city, Trump met with Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid to honor the 75th anniversary of a joint US-Australian victory over Japan in a battle during World War II. With Trump’s trip announced well in advance, protesters were prepared, launching vocal confrontations at strategic points throughout Manhattan. By 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, protestors organized by the Working Families Party were gathered at DeWitt Clinton Park at the corner of West 52nd Street and 12th Avenue, ready to march south toward the Intrepid at 46th Street. “We have a duty, an obligation to fight back and transform this energy across this country into a powerful and enlightened and informed electoral base,” said Public Advocate Letitia James to the crowd of several thousand that stretched down the avenue. Banging pots and pans, the protestors chanted, “Not My President!” and began their march toward the Intrepid.


“I have been totally consumed with anxiety listening to all the deregulation and all of the things he’s doing,” Maxine Lubow said of Trump. “So I’m lending my support and my voice to the resistance of our president.” When asked to name specific things she opposed during Trump’s fi rst 100 days in office, Lubow, an Orange County resident, countered, “You’d have to ask the reverse question, is there anything that I’m in support of?” The Working Families protestors were able to march as far as West 47th Street, where blockades were set up to prevent them from getting close to the Intrepid. A second group of several hundred protestors, organized by Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns, converged near barricades at West 44th Street and 12th Avenue, creating protest visuals from both the north and the south marring the hoped-for White House tableau of high level diplomacy on parade. Coming from Greenwich Village, Melvyn Stevens was decked out in a towering costume of Steve Bannon, the White House senior advisor, in a judge’s robe and pulling the puppet strings of marionette Trump “The man is just blatantly and sickeningly evil,” Stevens said. Asked how the city should welcome a hometown president up


Out gay City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn speaks to immigration rights advocates assembled several blocks below Trump Tower.



Melvyn Stevens as a Steve Bannon puppetmaster.

A protester near 44th and 12th Avenue.

from Washington, he said, “I just hope [Trump] stays down there and doesn’t ever come back.” Joining the symphony of resistance, Bronx resident Brian Yankou banged on a homemade drum kit of coffee cans and tomato tins to rally the troops. “Everything that he’s done so far has been based in hatred and fear, favoring the rich over the powerless, and we reject all of that,” Yankou said. “I can’t think of a single thing that he’s even accidentally done right.” Yankou said Trump’s actions ranging from pushing to repeal Obamacare to cracking down on immigrants and trying to block the entry of refugees, “has been

the opposite of what I think American values would stand for.” A third unit of several hundred protesters, organized by the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, mobilized at around 6 p.m. at the corner of East 54th and Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. “This is our New York and you are not welcome here,” Anu Joshi, the deputy director at the Immigrant Action Fund, said. “You cannot marginalize us, you cannot intimidate us, and you cannot divide us, Mr. Trump.” “Up to and including today,

INTREPID RESISTANCE, continued on p.11

May 11 - 24, 2017 |

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RoseAnn Rosenfeld Hermann and Cathy Marino-Thomas, activists from Gays Against Guns, marching on 12th Avenue.


A demonstrator from Housing Works protesting Trump’s anti-immigrant policies near the intrepid.


Trump has demonstrated again and again that he doesn’t care about the Constitution,” Joshi said. “Well, we’re here to say that doesn’t fly in this city, that doesn’t fly in our streets. Those aren’t New York values, this is our New York, and we’re here to stay.” Trump — who delayed his arrival in New York to host a Rose Garden celebration of that day’s House vote to repeal Obamacare — never made it to a meeting with Turnbull originally planned for Midtown ahead of the Intrepid event, and he opted not to sleep at his Fifth Avenue penthouse, instead heading for his New Jersey golf club after meeting with the Australian prime minister. Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C.,” Trump tweeted the day after his appearance on the Hudson River, “I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!” The field on Thursday wasn’t absent of Trump allies, though, as a couple of his supporters wandered around the Intrepid | May 11 - 24, 2017


Jay Walker, a leader at Rise and Resist.

area among a sea of protestors. Ron H., a Staten Island Trump supporter, said he showed up at the Intrepid to support his president, who was “trying to do good.” Surrounded by anti-Trump protestors on all sides, Ron sought to fi nd a pro-Trump refuge somewhere, repeatedly asking police officers, “Is there any nice people over there?” to which an officer quipped, “There’s nice people everywhere.”

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Suspect in Trans Woman’s Killing in Custody Police describe assault as “dispute between neighbors,” not a hate crime BY PAUL SCHINDLER


rosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office expect to charge a 26-year-old man, Joseph Griffin, in the April 25 killing of Brenda Bostick, a 59-year-old transgender woman who succumbed to injuries from a “blunt impact” blow to her head on May 4, Gay City News has learned. Bostick, a resident of the Bowery Residents Committee homeless shelter at 127 West 25th Street, was attacked at 343 Seventh Avenue, between 29th and 30th Streets, at about 10:30 p.m. on April 25 and was taken by EMS to Bellevue Hospital, where she died nine days later. In a May 7 email, Julie Bolcer, a spokesperson for the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner, wrote, “The cause of death is complications of blunt impact injury of head. The


People with information about this crime or other hate-motivated attacks can contact the New York City AntiViolence Project’s bilingual hotline at 212-714-1141 or the NYPD at 800-577-8477 or in Spanish at 888-577-4782.

manner of death is homicide.” Police describe assault as “dispute between neighbors,” not a hate crime Griffin was arrested shortly after Bostick was taken to Bellevue on a felony criminal mischief complaint of jumping onto the hood of a taxi near 352 Seventh Avenue, across the street from where the victim was found, and smashing in its windshield. Griffin was arraigned on that charge on May 6, with bail set at $25,000, though prosecutors asked for bail of $250,000.

Griffin’s is expected to be charged in the Bostick killing soon. According to police, Bostick is homeless, though some press reports say he once lived at the Bowery Residents Committee shelter, as well. The NYPD said the killing is not being investigated as a hate crime but rather as a “dispute between neighbors.” At the time the woman’s death was announced, Corey Johnson, the out gay city councilmember who represents Chelsea, released a statement saying, “I am saddened and angered

to learn that a transgender woman who was found by paramedics with head injuries in Chelsea has passed away… There must be zero tolerance for acts of violence, particularly against transgender individuals, who are disproportionately targeted by hate crimes and discrimination.” Shelby Chestnut, director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, released a statement saying, “In these tragic moments we must remember it’s on all of New York to ensure we end violence against LGBTQ people, especially transgender women of color.” Naila Siddiqui, Griffin’s Legal Aid attorney, did not return a call seeking comment. People with information about the attack on Bostick can contact the NYPD at 800-577-8477 or in Spanish at 888-577-4782.

ARTHUR S. LEONARD HONORED BY NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL Arthur S. Leonard, award-winning legal reporter for Gay City News and the editor and principal author of LGBT Law Notes online (, has been on the faculty of New York Law School since 1982. On April 26, he was honored as the school’s first Robert F. Wagner Professor of Labor and Employment Law, named for the US senator and New York Law graduate of the class of 1900 who wrote the Social Security Act and the National Labor Relations Act (known as the Wagner Act) during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Leonard’s long record of accomplishment was praised in an introduction by the out dean and president of New York Law School, Anthony Crowell, a former counselor to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Professor Leonard and US Senator Wagner share a bond as bold leaders of emerging social


“With a stroke of his pen, Donald Trump just issued an Executive Order directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man who has denied LGBTQ people equality under the law — to seek a license to discriminate across all areas of the government,” HRC’s Warbelow said. “This order is incredibly alarming, particularly for millions of LGBTQ


movements,” Crowell said. “He continues to be a passionate advocate, inspiring his students and his colleagues in the fight for equal rights.” Following his investiture, Leonard addressed

friends, colleagues, and students with a talk titled “A Battle over Statutory Interpretation: Title VII and Claims of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination” –– a subject he

has been addressing for decades and that has become more urgent as court rulings accepting anti-LGBTQ discrimination as sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are becoming more common –– a conclusion inching its way to the US Supreme Court. Leonard said that there is a “split in the circuits” on interpreting sexual orientation as sex discrimination, making it ripe for high court review, “but someone has to ask them to do it.” The Supreme Court still has a 5-4 pro-LGBTQ majority as currently constituted. But Leonard said that if full en banc decisions by the circuit courts continue to hold that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are covered “that may make Supreme Court review unnecessary.” Professor Leonard was the founder of the LeGaL, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, in 1978. –– Andy Humm

people and women across the nation, who are among those most frequently subjected to discrimination under the guise of religion. For years, anti-LGBTQ organizations have been trying to legalize discrimination under the guise of religion. Today, these groups are celebrating because Trump’s order could allow government contractors to decline to work with gay and lesbian couples on adoptions and other services. It

could also allow federal employees to refuse services to those whose benefits depend on marriage equality.” In a more calibrated written statement, Janson Wu, executive director of the GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said, “The president’s declaration today is dangerous pandering to a small but vocal segment of his political base, and a disturbing sign that his administration aims to shift the longstanding balance between

respect for all faiths and fundamental principles of non-discrimination and equality for all. This Order invokes ‘religious liberty’ as a license to undermine women’s access to contraception, and to chip away at the separation between church and state by promising churches and other houses of worship broader leeway on political lobbying — something the majority of Americans — including people of faith — oppose.”


New York Law School’s Robert F. Wagner Professor of Labor and Employment Law Professor Arthur S. Leonard (right) with the school’s dean, Anthony Crowell.

May 11 - 24, 2017 |

CRIME Owner Argues For No Jail Time US seeks up to 21 months in sentencing set for July 21 BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


awyers for the founder and chief executive of rentboy. com, the gay escort site shuttered by the federal government in 2015, are arguing that their client should be given a “non-incarceratory sentence” when he goes before a judge in Brooklyn federal court on July 21. “We respectfully submit that a non-incarceratory sentence for Jeffrey Hurant is sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the sentencing purposes,” Michael Tremonte, Hurant’s attorney, wrote in an April 29 sentencing memorandum. “Because the prosecution has put [] out of business, we respectfully submit that no further sanction is necessary for the corporate entity.” Hurant pleaded guilty to one count of promoting prostitution and, on behalf of the business, one count of money laundering during an appearance in Brooklyn federal court this past October. The government recommended a prison term in the range of 15 to 21 months. The government has already seized roughly $1.5 million that it said were proceeds from the business and held in various bank accounts. The sentencing memorandum was submitted in advance of a scheduled May 5 court day at which time Hurant was due to be sentenced, but prosecutors asked for an adjournment to prepare a response. Judge Margo Brodie rescheduled the sentencing for July 21. While the government and Hurant have not agreed on a sentence and Brodie would not be bound by such an agreement, Hurant has agreed that he will not “appeal or otherwise challenge a sentence with a term of 24 months or less of imprisonment,” Tremonte wrote. Perhaps complicating the sentencing, the US Probation and Pretrial Services System, which is part of the federal court system, has recommended a longer sentence in its pre-sentence report. | May 11 - 24, 2017


Jeffrey Hurant,’s owner, will be sentenced on July 21.


Protesters outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn shortly after the 2015 Department of Homeland Security raid on’s offices.

While that report is not public, it was quoted in Tremonte’s memorandum and in a second document that he filed objecting to parts of the pre-sentence report. Probation recommended 33 to 41 months in one part of its report and 30 to 37 months in another. It justified the longer prison term, in part, by characterizing the escorts who advertised on rentboy. com as Hurant’s victims, saying, “ had hundreds, if not thousands, of victims,” according to a quote from the report cited in

Tremonte’s memorandum. “However, Probation also noted that the government had not identified any victims of the offense,” Tremonte wrote. The website’s Manhattan offices were raided in August 2015 by the US Department of Homeland Security, and Hurant and six employees were arrested. Charges against the six employees were dropped last year. Hurant was indicted on one count of violating the federal Travel Act and two counts of violating a

federal money laundering statute. The Travel Act, which was enacted in 1961, makes certain state crimes a violation of federal law when they are committed across state lines or by using a phone, email, snail mail, or other forms of interstate commerce. The underlying state charges in the case were promoting prostitution and facilitating a crime by a person under 16. The raid and arrests sparked protests in four cities, including New York, and condemnations from LGBTQ groups. The New York Times editorial page called it “somewhat baffling… that taking down a website that operated in plain sight for nearly two decades suddenly became an investigative priority for the Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.” While Tremonte’s memorandum conceded that Hurant had violated the law, it presented him as a highly ethical and accomplished business owner and as an unalloyed good for escorts, the clients they served, and the LGBTQ community. Hurant offered escorts classes on managing their finances, on staying safe, and on sexual health. He awarded scholarships to escorts who wanted to go to college and raised funds for LGBTQ community groups. Tremonte filed roughly 70 letters that were addressed to Brodie from Hurant’s family, friends, escorts who used the site, employees, members of the New York City Council, heads of non-profit agencies and advocacy groups, and public health researchers and experts who testified to Hurant’s good character or to the site’s value in safely linking escorts to their clients while not allowing the exploitation of escorts that can sometimes be an aspect of sex work. At least two escorts wrote that freed them from exploitative situations and allowed them to run their own careers. The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which is headquartered in Brooklyn and is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.



Putin Agrees with Stoli’s Gay Defenders Kremlin sues, saying vodka sold here isn’t Russian, while US distributor replies, “No so” BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


ctivists who defended Stolichnaya vodka during a 2013 boycott of Russian businesses and products called after that nation enacted its infamous anti-gay propaganda law may be dismayed to learn that Vladimir Putin agrees with them that the Stolichnaya vodka that is sold in the US is not a Russian vodka. In 2014, the Russian government gave the trademarks for Stolichnaya to Federal Treasury Enterprise Sojuzplodoimport (FTE), which authorized Moscow Distillery Cristall, a private company, to produce Stolichnaya vodka for sale in the US. The government empowered both entities to sue SPI Group, the private company that currently holds the Stolichnaya trademarks everywhere except in Russia, and get the trademarks back. FTE and Cristall sued SPI in roughly 30 countries, including in federal court in the US in 2014, accusing the company’s owners, Yuri Shefler and Alexey Oliynik, of effectively stealing the trademarks in the early 90s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and of damaging the Stolichnaya brand by selling an inferior vodka that is made in Latvia. “Upon information and belief, in or about 2002, at the direction of Shefler and Oliynik, SPI began exporting vodka into the US under the Stolichnaya Marks that was produced and/ or bottled in Latvia — not Russia, where authentic Stolichnaya brand vodka is produced,” FTE’s lawyers wrote in an amended complaint in the case that was filed last year. “Defendants have imported, advertised, distributed, and sold vodka from Latvia bearing the Stolichnaya Marks in New York and elsewhere in the United States.” The anti-gay propaganda law effectively barred any positive representations or discussions of the LGBTQ community in Russia. Activists, including this reporter, responded with protests that included dumping Russian vodka in gutters and sewers outside Russian | May 11 - 24, 2017


Activists join the owner and bartenders from Boxers NYC in dumping Stolichnaya vodka outside the Russian Consulate in Manhattan in July 2013 to protest Vladimir Putin’s enactment of an anti-LGBTQ law.

sular offices and calls for a boycott of Russian products. Stolichnaya, which is probably the most recognized Russian brand in the US, and its supporters pushed back, saying that the vodka was Latvian, not Russian. “Technically, to define it as a Russian vodka in the US, it needs to be produced, bottled, and distilled in Russia,” Marco Ferrari, the chief marketing officer for SPI Group, told RIA Novosti, a Russian government news agency, in a 2013 interview. “Yes, it’s distilled in Russia, but it becomes a vodka in Latvia… Our ingredients are Russian, but technically it’s not a Russian vodka.” The company has held different positions on Stolichnaya’s Russianness over the years. Responding to FTE’s amended complaint last year, SPI group denied that it was a Latvian vodka, saying it was only bottled there. “The SPI Defendants admit that, in or about 2002, vodka sold in the United States under the Stolichnaya Marks was produced in Russia and bottled in Latvia,” SPI Group’s lawyers wrote in a counterclaim. “Except as expressly admitted, the SPI Defendants deny the allegations.” Responding to a 2006 lawsuit brought against Stolichnaya by Russian Standard, a Russian vodka, that alleged SPI was fraudulently marketing Stolichnaya as Russian, SPI wrote, “All Stolichnaya vodkas

sold in the United States are therefore now produced in, and exported out of, Russia under different brand names and then shipped for importation to the United States under the Stolichnaya name. SPI Defendants deny the allegation that the vodka produced for export to the United States for sale under the Stolichnaya brand is anything other than genuine Russian vodka.” SPI conceded that Stolichnaya was “filtered, bottled, and labeled” in Latvia in the Russian Standard lawsuit. In 2013, the same year that Ferrari said that Stolichnaya was Latvian, Kevin Sniffen, who was working for Stolichnaya’s outside public relations agency, told Forbes magazine, “We understand Stoli is probably the best-known Russian product outside Russia.” Also in 2013, Stuart Milk, the founder and president of the Harvey Milk Foundation, which has been a beneficiary of events that had Stolichnaya among its sponsors, and LGBTQ activists in Latvia objected to the boycott, saying the vodka was made in Latvia. FTE’s lawsuit was initially dismissed, but it was revived after FTE appealed. The parties are currently in discovery, with a trial scheduled for next year. Recognizing that it could lose the lawsuit and the trademarks, SPI filed the counterclaim asking that the tens of millions

it has spent promoting the brand since the early ‘90s be counted toward any judgment against it or be paid to it. Stolichnaya began life as a Soviet Union-owned brand in the late 1930s or early ‘40s. The Soviet government won the US Stolichnaya trademarks in 1969. It was consistently sold as an authentic Russian vodka. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and 1992, Shefler and Oliynik assert that they engaged in a series of legitimate transactions recognized by the government to acquire the brand and its trademarks. After Putin became Russia’s president in 2000, the government saw the brand’s value and successfully sued in a Russian court to get the Russian trademarks back. SPI no longer sells Stolichnaya in Russia. The government now wants global control of Stolichnaya. “Officials of the Russian Federation took notice of this success and sought to profit from it,” SPI wrote in its counterclaim. “Shortly after Vladimir Putin became Acting President of Russia in January 2000, these government officials sought to ‘recover’ the Stolichnaya trademarks throughout the world, which they observed to be in private hands.” The boycott faded after the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Russia. The recent government attacks on gay men in Chechnya, which is part of Russia, have not prompted renewed calls for a boycott of any Russian products. As the brand, now Stoli in the US, has expanded its sponsorships of LGBTQ community events and groups, there has been little pushback. Brian Cox, chief marketing officer for Stoli in the US, in an email, acknowledged that the company still sources ingredients in Russia, but asserted, “We are of Russian origin but since we are not now 100% distilled, filtered, and bottled in Russia we do not claim to be Russian Vodka but rather European Vodka. However, we are proud of our brand’s Russian heritage spanning 80 years (since 1938) and even prouder of our commitment to and partnerships with a diverse LGBTQ community.”



Roy Moore Now Running For US Senate Failing final bid to regain Alabama Supreme Court seat, anti-gay bigot soldiers on BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


he Alabama Supreme Court normally consists of seven justices elected by the state’s voters, but when Roy Moore, who was suspended as chief justice by order of the state’s Court of the Judiciary on September 30, 2016, sought to exercise his right to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court, all of the other justices recused themselves. What to do? The Supreme Court invoked a special procedure to authorize the acting chief justice (appointed to occupy Moore’s seat for the duration of his elective term) to “participate” with then-Governor Robert J. Bentley — who has since resigned because of a sex scandal — to create a substitute “Supreme Court” to consider Moore’s appeal. The two assembled a list of all the retired judges in the state deemed “capable of service,” then conducted a lottery to compile a short list of 50 potential judges, with the first seven names drawn making up this special substitute court. Moore was suspended because of his activities in opposition to marriage equality. After US District Judge Callie Granade ruled on January 23, 2015 that the Alabama Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act, both of which prohibited formation or recognition of same-sex marriages, were unconstitutional, Moore sprang into action. He under-


Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

took various efforts to block implementation of Granade’s order by denouncing it as illegitimate, then encouraging and later directing the state’s probate judges to refrain from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As chief justice, Moore both presided over the Supreme Court and acted as the administrative head of the state court system, in which capacity he could issue directives to lower court judges. As the marriage equality issue continued on its course to its June 2015 victory before the US Supreme Court in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, Moore remained outspokenly opposed, making every effort both publicly and behind the scenes to stave off the day when the same-sex marriage evil might be fully accepted in Alabama. Although he recused himself from some of the Alabama Supreme

Court’s actions after having issued his initial public denunciations of Granade’s rulings, he ultimately decided to participate in its decision in 2016 to dismiss all pending proceedings and allow the probate judges to do their duty. Moore wrote separately from the rest of the court, however, first to justify his decision not to recuse himself despite his prior actions and public statements, and then to inveigh against the federal constitutional ruling, reiterating his view that Alabama was entitled as a sovereign state to reject federal interference with its marriage laws. This led to allegations he was violating provisions of the ethical code for judges, and charges were filed against him before the Court of the Judiciary, which found a string of ethical violations and suspended him from office. In his appeal, Moore challenged the jurisdiction of the Court of the Judiciary to make its decision and contended he had not violated any judicial ethical rules. He also asserted that his suspension, which would run for over two years until the end of his elective term, was not warranted and was unduly long, far longer than any past disciplinary suspension of a sitting judge. The specially-constituted substitute Supreme Court disagreed with Moore on every point, announcing on April 19 its determination, unanimously, that “the charges were proven by clear and convincing evidence

and there is no indication that the sanction imposed was plainly and palpably wrong, manifestly unjust, or without supporting evidence,” so the court “shall not disturb the sanction imposed.” This might not be the end for Moore as a “public servant,” however. Earlier in his career, he was ejected from the Alabama Supreme Court for defying a federal court order to remove a 10 Commandments monument he had installed in the lobby of the high court’s building. He bided his time and eventually came back and won election to a new term as chief Justice. At 70, he is barred from running again for the state high court, but on April 26 he announced he would contest the US Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Donald Trump’s attorney general. Bentley, before resigning the governorship in disgrace, had appointed the state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to fill the seat pending a special election scheduled for December 12. Strange has already announced he will be a candidate for the Republican nomination, and the deadline for candidates to qualify for the August 15 primary is May 17. If no candidate wins an outright majority for the Republican nomination, a run-off will be held on September 26. Moore remains extremely popular with the Alabama electorate, who are apparently thrilled by his defiance of federal judicial authority and the gay menace. So stay tuned.


Second Circuit Rejects Gay Brazilian Refugee Bid In contrast to Ninth Circuit, NY-based panel focuses on official policy, not facts on ground BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


pening up a gulf in reasoning with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has insisted on a distinction between a government’s official policies and the facts on the ground when evaluating whether gay people would suffer persecution or worse in a particular coun-


try, a panel of the New York-based Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling by an Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals that a gay man from Brazil could not win refugee status in the US, despite the documented high rate of murders of gay men there and his claim the government is unable to do anything about it.

The unsigned April 24 opinion, from a panel consisting of Judges Reena Raggi, Peter W. Hall, and Denny Chin, is light on facts. The petitioner apparently came to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security due to a criminal conviction, but the court provides no details. He applied for asylum, withholding of removal, and/ or protection under the interna-

tional Convention against Torture — three different legal avenues open to refugees — all of which were denied by an Immigration Judge (IJ) in May 2014. That decision was affirmed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in September 2015. The IJ found that the petitioner failed to show he would

GAY BRAZILIAN, continued on p.24

May 11 - 24, 2017 |


Transgender Case Against Abusive Jailers Revived Appeals court finds tough employment claim standard need not be met BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD


he New Jersey Appellate Division has rejected Jersey City’s contention that the relatively high standard for determining a hostile environment for employment discrimination purposes need not be applied to hostile environment claims regarding public accommodations, particularly when that public accommodation is the county jail and the alleged harassers are police officers dealing with a transgender arrestee. Plaintiff Shakeem Malik Holmes, a transgender man, was arrested for shoplifting and transported to a Jersey City police station, where he contends that he was subjected to hostile treatment because of his gender identity. Though he was placed into a “female-only jail cell” and was “categorized as female for security purposes within the jail facilities,” that was not the basis for the hostile treatment claim he asserted under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), which prohibits gender identity discrimination in places of public accommodation. Holmes’ claim rests on his allegation that “police officers made demeaning, insulting, and threatening comments about his transgender status,” wrote Judge Susan L. Reisner in an April 27 opinion for the Appellate Division. “Specifically, he alleges that several officers referred to plaintiff as ‘it,’ referred to plaintiff’s situation as ‘bullshit,’ and stated ‘so that’s a fucking girl?’ He also asserts that one of the officers threatened to put his fist down plaintiff’s throat ‘like a fucking man.’” The Hudson County trial judge concluded that rude and insensitive comments “did not rise to the level of severe or pervasive LAD violations” and granted summary judgment to the defendants. The “severe or pervasive” standard is normally applied to determine whether verbal harassment can create a hostile workplace environment in employment discrimination cases. But this case concerns treatment in a jail, not workplace harassment. “In this case,” wrote Reisner, “the inquiry is whether plaintiff’s allegations, if true, could support a hostile environment claim under the LAD. | May 11 - 24, 2017

We find that they could, and that plaintiff is therefore entitled to present his claim to a jury. In reaching that conclusion, we consider that plaintiff, as an arrestee temporarily incarcerated in the police station, was in a uniquely vulnerable position; that the individuals making the hostile comments were police officers, who wield tremendous power over arrestees; and that the comments included a physical threat. Under all the circumstances, a jury could find that the conduct was sufficiently severe that a reasonable transgender person in plaintiff’s position would find the environment to be hostile, threatening, and demeaning.” The appellate panel pointed out that a previous ruling on which the trial judge relied, which apparently required a higher evidentiary standard for hostile environment workplace claims based on religion than for those based on race, “was overruled, in pertinent part… where the Court ‘unequivocally rejected the higher proof standard.’” Reisner also pointed out that the Appellate Division has recognized that “the prohibition of discrimination in relation to public accommodation is functionally distinct from the ban on employment discrimination” and that “in the context of public accommodation discrimination, hostile comments that might not suffice to create a hostile environment in a work context may nonetheless violate the LAD.” Reisner also wrote, “While a certain amount of strong language may be expected in the confines of a police department, defendant has not suggested that its personnel have any operational need to threaten, demean, or humiliate prisoners on the basis of their gender affiliation or membership in any other protected class. In fact, such conduct may encourage other prisoners to attack the harassment victim, thus undermining the orderly operation of the police lock-up as well as the safety of the transgender prisoner.” The panel concluded the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of Jersey City should have been denied, and the case was sent back for trial on Holmes’ claim. Holmes is represented by Deborah L. Mains of Costello & Mains.

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Ron Gold, Pioneer in Challenging Sickness Label, Dies Co-founder, in 1973, of Task Force led early protests of negative media images BY ANDY HUMM


on Gold, who told a committee of shrinks, “Stop it, you’re making me sick!,” in a 1973 speech as part of the successful campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from their Index of Mental Disorders, died at his East Village home May 1 at the age of 87. Gold died in the arms of his husband, Ali Akbar, his partner of 17 years. Lesbian activist Chris Marchitello, his friend of more than 40 years, said the cause was heart failure. Gold was a veteran of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance, a co-founder of what began as the National Gay Task Force in 1973, and an early leader in the fight for positive gay images in popular media. Dr. Charles Silverstein, founder in 1973 of the Institute for Human Identity, said Gold was chair of the group that agitated for the change at the APA. While it grew out of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), it was called The Ad Hoc Committee because GAA itself had a policy of “not cooperating or negotiating with the oppressor.” In 1972, Gold worked on a GAA zap led by Bill Bahlman at the APA convention at the New York Hilton. During a panel discussing homosexuality, Bahlman wrote, “we began to pop up challenging the panelists. ‘How dare you say I am sick?’ We shouted about the harm they cause gay people. From forcing people to suppress their sexuality, performing shock therapy and lobotomies. They were shocked and seemed totally surprised to come face to face with Gay people who were proud and happy with who they were and demanding that the APA change its ways.” At the APA’s nomenclature committee on February 8, 1973, Silverstein recalled, “I gave the professional presentation, Jean O’Leary gave the civil rights presentation,” and Gold got Dr. Robert Spitzer,



Ron Gold (left, in front row) with Dr. Howard Brown, Bruce Voeller, and Nathalie Rockhill, and (in back row) Martin Duberman, Barbara Gittings, and Frank Kameny at a 1973 press conference announcing the formation of the National Gay Task Force.

a member of the committee, to let him give his famous “Stop It!” speech at the APA’s Honolulu convention later that year. “Ron was filled with bombast and attacked them as murderers,” Silverstein said. “My approach was to use humor and take various diagnostic categories that had been used in earlier manuals and show how they were socially motivated and had nothing to do with psychiatric illnesses,” citing “‘vagabondage,’ ‘pathological mendacity,’ and ‘masturbation’” as things once classified as signs of mental illness. The committee voted to eliminate “ego syntonic homosexuality” (self-accepting) as a mental illness, leaving only “ego dystonic homosexuality” (self-loathing) in the manual. Gold told the APA in Honolulu on May 29, 1973, “Your profession of psychiatry — dedicated to making sick people well — is the cornerstone of oppression that makes people sick.” The APA’s executive board ratified the committee decision, which later survived a challenge before the full APA membership brought by the anti-gay Dr. Charles Socarides who, Gold noted, diag-

nosed gay people as having “wild self-damaging tendencies” and “onslaughts of paranoid ideation” — descriptions, Gold said, that were “based entirely on studies of patients in treatment that… don’t apply to most of your homosexual patients, and do apply to many of the heterosexuals.” Sue Hyde, a lesbian activist since 1973 and director, since 1986, of the Creating Change conference at what is now the National LGBTQ Task Force and, said, “Ron Gold was a visionary leader of our movement and his role in the de-pathologizing of homosexuality was key and pivotal to that victory. In my mind, that particular victory stands as the most important one for our movement because the lifting of the label of mental illness as it relates to homosexuality opened the door to many other victories. It aligned the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association and other professional organizations with the notion that LGBTQ people could be and are mentally healthy.” Hyde added, “He started as a reporter at Variety and knew the ways of Hollywood,” leading to his 1974 interaction with producers

of Robert Young’s “Marcus Welby, MD” on ABC about an episode called “Outrage” about a male teacher raping a boy, which conflated being gay with pedophilia. “His advocacy to get attention to the homophobia of that episode set a fire around the country for our movement to pay more attention to media representations of us.” In ‘74, Gold was also successful in getting NBC to edit an episode of “Police Woman” with Angie Dickinson that included a negative depiction of lesbians. “It’s our view that because we showed a little muscle with ABC, NBC took it off the air,” he told United Press International. “When gay people are on TV, they are always pictured as murderers or freaks or figures of fun. We don’t object to humorous portrayals, but not when they are offensive.” Gold went on to write the first media guide for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in 1986. Bahlman described Gold as a “fierce media spokesperson” for GAA. “I remember being arrested

RON GOLD, continued on p.23

May 11 - 24, 2017 |

RON GOLD, from p.22

with him along with Nath Rockhill,” Bahlman wrote. “Nath & I were blocking traffic attempting to enter the Brooklyn Bridge, Ron was on the sidewalk wearing a card that said media. The police swooped in on him to arrest him so as to rob GAA of our voice to the media. Ron wound up in the cell next to mine. He shouted relentlessly that he had been falsely arrested, that he was our media representative and demanded to be released. He was not silent the entire time we were in the cell block, at least three hours or so.” Rich Wandel, an early GAA leader and later head of the LGBT Community Center archive that houses Gold’s papers, wrote, “I think of Ron primarily in terms of media relations. He was one of the people who would write statements or short quotes which were then attributed to me as GAA president. His most important work was as a co-founder of GLAAD, in which he demonstrated both a willingness to work and also his media savvy.” | May 11 - 24, 2017

For the archive, Gold wrote of himself that he was born in Brooklyn on April 22, 1930, “entered Brooklyn College at 15, and took 12 years to get a degree. By that time he had been a junkie and had his head shrunk in Topeka, Kansas,” entered journalism, and “became a full-time gay liberationist at the age of 41.” After citing his work at the Task Force and challenging the APA, he wrote, “In the early 1980s he quit activism to ‘learn how not to have to be effective,’ which he learned so well that he hasn’t had a fulltime job since. He’s had four livein lovers since 1959 (he prefers to call them ‘mates’): a Cuban, two Puerto Ricans, and a Bangladeshi. It was while he was living in Bangladesh that he wrote his as-yet-unpublished book, ‘Polarity: The Psychology of Paul Rosenfels.’” (The book can be found at Veteran gay activist Steve Ashkinazy wrote, “Ron’s biggest contribution was authoring the booklet ‘20 Questions about Homosexuality,’ in 1970, which he expanded to ‘25 Question’s About

Homosexuality’ in 1972. For a long time that booklet was the only available information in print that spoke openly and positively about gay identity” –– along with Dr. George Weinberg’s “Society and the Healthy Homosexual.” “It was very instrumental in spreading GAA’s message of Gay Liberation, enabling people to come out, winning the support of new advocates, and leading to the creation of LGBT organizations across the country,” Ashkinazy wrote. The Task Force was the first national gay and lesbian rights group, and Gold was a co-founder of it in 1973 with Dr. Howard Brown (who came out after serving as New York City’s health commissioner), Barbara Gittings, Bruce Voeller, Martin Duberman, Father Robert Carter, SJ, Frank Kameny, and Nathalie Rockhill — legends all. Of that pioneering group, only Duberman and Rockhill survive. Jerry Gerash, who served on the Task Force board from 1974 to ‘82, recalled of Gold, “Our fierce advocacy for gay rights initially forged our friendship, spiced with

his wit and irony, and continued unabated until today.” He said Gold joined Duberman and Voeller in breaking from GAA to form the Task Force and “mount a national movement for gay and lesbian civil rights.” Gerash wrote that Gold’s “experience as a patient as a teenager at Menninger Clinic in Kansas” fueled his commitment to “eliminate the sickness label branded upon gays and lesbians.” Gold was involved in two great controversies later in life. He was the holdout juror in the Central Park Five jogger rape case trial in 1990, finally browbeaten into convicting the men. Gold’s reasonable doubts were borne out years later when the charges were withdrawn in 2002 and another suspect admitted to the crime — but only after the men had served long prison sentences. (As recently as last year, Donald Trump, who took out full-page ads at the time of the assault calling for a return of the death penalty for the suspects, insisted their convictions should not

RON GOLD, continued on p.35




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GAY BRAZILIAN, from p.20

likely be subjected to persecution or torture if deported to Brazil and also concluded he could resettle in a safer place in Brazil than where he’d come from. The BIA agreed the man had not met the burden of showing likely persecution or torture if sent back. The Second Circuit panel summarized the petitioner’s claims by writing, “his claim is that private parties have a pattern or practice of persecuting gay men in Brazil, which the government is unable to stop. [He] predicts that people in Brazil will discover that he is gay either from the Internet article about his crime, from his family, or from a future relationship with a man. He asserts that homophobic violence is rampant in Brazil, citing a State Department report that killings based on sexual orientation rose from 2011 to 2012, and a Chicago Tribune article on a 1995 study that found 59 percent of gay Brazilians had suffered some type of homophobic violence. He cites a study finding that a gay person’s risk of being killed there is 785 percent greater than in the United States and several high-profile cases of homophobic murders. He acknowledges that Brazil has gay marriage, active gay rights groups, and certain cities with anti-discrimination laws, but argues that this evidences shows that Brazil is willing but unable to stop the violence.” The BIA had acknowledged the evidence about violence and discrimination against gay Brazilians, but put more weight on the “official” developments — gay rights groups, marriage equality, annual pride parades, and city ordinances banning anti-gay discrimination — to conclude that the petitioner “failed to show the Brazilian government would be unwilling or unable to control those responsible for the violence and discrimination.” The appeals panel wrote, “Although the IJ and BIA decisions are sparse on reasoning, substantial evidence supports that finding.” The court emphasized that the Chicago Tribune article was more than 20 years old, and that the State Department report, while citing “338 killings based on sexual orientation, acknowledged the Brazilian government’s efforts to

fight discrimination and promote gay rights.” In reviewing BIA rulings, circuit courts do not conduct a de novo reconsideration, but rather judge whether the agency was “compelled” by the evidence in the record to rule in the petitioner’s favor. The Second Circuit found the BIA was not so compelled. On the petitioner’s claim under the Convention Against Torture, the court found that BIA “reasonably concluded that his predicted chain of events was speculative. Even if it is likely that [he] will have a romantic relationship with a man, the record did not compel the agency to find it more likely than not that [he] will be tortured by, or with the acquiescence of, Brazilian authorities.” Robert C. Ross of West Haven, Connecticut, represented the petitioner. The Second Circuit’s approach deviates from that recently taken by the Ninth Circuit in appeals by gay men from Mexico, another country where marriage equality has made major gains, some municipalities now ban sexual orientation discrimination, and formerly anti-gay criminal laws have been reformed, but anti-gay violence at the hands of criminal gangs, police officers, and family members of gay people remains a major concern. In an April ruling by that circuit, the court “made clear” that its earlier precedents on refugee claims by gay Mexicans “falsely equated legislative and executive enactments prohibiting persecution with on-the-ground progress” and insisted that US immigration authorities look beyond such “official” positions to consider the situation that gay people actually face in countries with pervasive anti-gay hostility about which the governments do little. The Ninth Circuit has been particularly emphatic in protecting transgender refugee applicants. In cases where local police officials are part of the problem, that circuit has chided immigration authorities for failing to recognize such harassment as being attributable to the government. The Supreme Court has yet to decide any case involving a claim for refugee status in the United States by a gay or transgender applicant. May 11 - 24, 2017 |


AIDS Walk 32 Set for May 21 Rain or shine, tens of thousands will hike, or run, to end the epidemic BY PAUL SCHINDLER


n Sunday, May 21, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are expected to pour into Central Park for Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ 32nd annual AIDS Walk, which over the life of the event has raised more than $150 million to support GMHC, the world’s first HIV services organization, and more than 40 other groups in the metropolitan area working to end the epidemic. Over the past three decades nearly 900,000 people have joined the Walk, and last year, the group raised over $4.5 million with more than 30,000 people taking part in the 10-kilometer hike. This year for the first time, participants have the option of running — five miles, that is, though through Central Park — rather than doing a 10-k walk. GMHC provides prevention outreach, services, care, and advocacy for more than 9,000 clients annually, and a current focus of its efforts is encouraging HIV-negative people who believe they may be at risk for transmission to consider PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which when taken as prescribed is highly effective at preventing infection. This year’s AIDS Walk comes at a perilous moment for people living with HIV or at risk for getting the virus, especially those with low incomes. With an Obamacare repeal having passed the House, its replacement, known officially as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but already dubbed Trumpcare, could throw at least 14 million people off the insurance rolls by next year — according to a scoring by the Congressional Budget Office, which completed its analysis before the bill was larded with even more hurdles for individuals seeking coverage. By 2026, 24 million Americans could lose coverage. GMHC’s CEO Kelsy Louie, responding to the House action in a written statement, said, “The US House of Representatives has made a terrible mistake in passing the American Health Care Act, | May 11 - 24, 2017


One participant envisioned an AIDS-free future.


This year, for the first time AIDS Walk participants can choose between walking 10 kilometers through the Upper West Side or running five miles in Central Park.


At the end of the 2016 AIDS Walk, participants held aloft signs showing more than $4.5 million raised.


Last year’s AIDS Walk underscored the goal of ending the epidemic in New York State by 2020.

a disastrous bill that puts millions of lives at risk. This empty legislation is no replacement for the Affordable Care Act, a true lifeline that increased access to quality,

affordable health care, guaranteed coverage for people with preexisting conditions, such as HIV, and covered recommended preventative services, including HIV test-

ing. We see this vote as a direct attack on our clients, many of whom may lose their health insurance and their ability to access PrEP. The potential outcomes are devastating, not just for the LGBT community, but for all Americans… We call on leaders in the US Senate to stop this dangerous bill from moving forward.” The May 21 event commences with an opening ceremony at 9:15 a.m. in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, featuring Javier Muñoz (the title character in “Hamilton”), Zachary Quinto (FX’s “American Horror Story”), Denis O’Hare (Tonywinner for “Take Me Out,” Drama Desk-winner for “Take Me Out” and “Sweet Charity,” and seen on TV in HBO’s “True Blood”), Raúl Esparza (Drama Desk-winner for “Taboo,” “Company,” and “The Homecoming,” and seen on TV on NBC’s “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”), and Carson Kressley (Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) At the conclusion of the Walk, the hilarious, unpredictable queen of sass, Kathy Griffin, will host a new feature of the event, a PostWalk Show. Griffin will be joined by Kressley, Bob the Drag Queen, Estelle, Jinkx Monsoon, Latrice Royale, Milk, and Trinity K. Bonet. Those raising $200 or more for the Walk get admission for one; those raising $300 or more win admission for two. Thankfully, food trucks will also be on hand at the finish line. To register for this year’s AIDS Walk, visit https://ny.aidswalk. net. Those up for running, visit



Bill Hoffman’s Mark on Artistic, Gay, and Jewish life Caffe Cino pioneer, playwright of Broadway’ first AIDS story, librettist was 78 BY LAWRENCE D. MASS


illiam M. Hoffman, who died at age 78 on April 29, was an important and beloved figure in at least three communities: artistic, gay, and Jewish. In each, he left an indelible mark. A pioneer of the precious gems of gay street theater that came together in an anthology he edited, “Gay Plays,” Hoffman, a native New Yorker, was a leading light of Greenwich Village’s legendary Cafee Cino. As a playwright, he is best known as the author of “As Is.” In 1985, it became the first Broadway play about AIDS, following Robert Chesley’s Off-Off-Broadway “Stray Dog Story” and preceding the premiere of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart.” “As Is” was a hit and is widely credited, together with “The Normal Heart,” for creating greater public awareness of AIDS and its impact on our lives and times. Following its run on Broadway, “As Is” became a film starring Colleen Dewhurst as the AIDS hospice worker. My eyes still swell with tears when I recall the coup de théâtre that concludes the play. Despite harsh condemnation of homosexuality by the Catholic Church, here was a nun whose compassion for humanity leads her to share the most deeply personal ritual of her charge, a gay man dying of AIDS. Reflecting on their last exchange, she lifts up her hands to reveal her nails, painted red. It was one of those moments that would mark William M. Hoffman as a master of theater, art, and the human heart. Perhaps the pinnacle of Hoffman’s achievement was “The Ghosts of Versailles,” the opera he co-created with his lifelong friend and collaborator composer John Corigliano. One of the most prestigious events in American operatic history, this very grand opera was a world premiere commission by the Metropolitan Opera to mark the 100th anniversary of the company. Still early in her career, Renée Fleming, now retiring from the opera stage, played the co-starring role of Countess Almaviva. The opera | May 11 - 24, 2017

William M. Hoffman, 1939-2017.

recaps, comments on, and develops the stories of some of opera’s most famous and beloved characters — that jack of all arts and trades (and hearts) Figaro and those paragons (and parodies) of nobility, the Almavivas. They are the protagonists of two of opera history’s most famous and beloved works, Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” and Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” “Ghosts” is also the story of their creator, Beaumarchais, and the fabled Marie Antoinette, the ghost of whom Beaumarchais’ ghost is in love with. The at-once historical and magical tale is deftly constructed around Beaumarchais’ lesser-known sequel to these plays, “La Mere Coupable,” which takes place in the throes of the French Revolution that the earlier plays take place on the cusp of. So long as there will be opera, it’s a certainty that “Ghosts of Versailles” will find an enduring place for itself alongside “The Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Though it hasn’t happened as such yet, it’s an ideal triology project for future directors and opera companies. A “Figaro” cycle, like the “Ring” cycle. In a life of contributions as rich and varied as Bill’s, this remembrance will perforce omit much.

But mention should also be made here of the work he did on restoring the reputation and place of the librettist as co-creator. Hoffman felt that just as Da Ponte is recognized and celebrated as the co-creator of Mozart’s operas, so should his own contribution be fully recognized, a co-equality likewise championed by composer Corigliano. It was an uphill battle he was never to win, at least not in our own times and in more traditional operatic venues. Bill went on to write and revise other plays, many of them with gay themes, one of which, “Cornbury,” was an adaptation of an earlier play about the mythic first governor of New York who was known to have cross-dressed. Panoramically, Bill recreated the early New York of the Dutch, Queen Anne, and the Indian wars. The political insights are as endless as the humor. At various points, he hoped to make the play into a musical, which tweaked the interest of Hal Prince. It’s hard to imagine another story that could so sweepingly recreate the early history of New York. There were many other projects, greater and lesser, that Bill worked on, most recently, “Morning Star,” a musical-dramatic co-creation with Ricky Ian Gordon of the infamous

1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, in which so many garment workers, most of them young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, perished. The story revolves around a Latvian Jewish family. “Morning Star” was a coproduction of the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Goodman Theatre and had its world premiere in Cincinnati in 2015. In the interstices of this work is another issue that hugely preoccupied Bill and which colors everything he ever wrote: his Jewishness. In the many revisions and stagings of his play “Riga” (his parents were Latvian Jews who escaped the Holocaust, in which most of their relatives were murdered), he was deeply concerned about anti-Semitism, past, present, and future. In the midst of his work on these plays, he established an informal network of artists and writers concerned about anti-Semitism, among whose regulars were soprano Regina Resnick, writer and feminist Phyllis Chesler, my partner Arnie Kantrowitz, and me. Like many artists, Bill left much undone. But just as there aren’t yet words to say how much he touched our lives, there aren’t yet measures to assess his impact. Because so much of what he had to show and tell us foretold of the future as it recreated the past, it’s certain that the story of William M. Hoffman, like few other artists of our communities and times, awaits a sequel, a “Ghosts” of his life and times. In his later years, he relocated from Soho to Beacon, New York, an hour or so up the Hudson River from Lehman College, where he headed the theater department and directed many original plays and productions for his students who loved him. There, he lived and worked with his husband, Russ Taylor. My last visit with them was in January. Bill had been suffering from increasingly serious and frequent illnesses, many of them stemming from severe arthritis. His role as perhaps my closest friend for more than a quarter century is inestimable. May he rest in peace. But may his ghost haunt us forever.



May 11 - 24, 2017 |


Mini-Stroke Symptoms in Third of Adults Despite warnings signs, only three percent take action BY PAUL SCHINDLER


new survey from the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association reports that roughly one in three US adults say they have experienced a symptom consistent with a warning or “mini� stroke. Yet, only three percent of those encountering the symptoms reported having taken the action recommended by health experts. These findings were released on May 1, the first day of Stroke Month, an effort to raise awareness about these warnings signs and to emphasize the steps that can be taken to minimize risk. The survey included 2,040 adults nationwide. According to the AHA/ ASA, 80 percent of all strokes are preventable, and high blood pressure is the most important controllable risk factor. Yet, strokes kill 133,000 Americans annually, and are a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Roughly an equal number of Americans have strokes and heart attacks each year. Warning or “mini� strokes are termed transient ischemic attacks or TIAs. The difference between a TIA and a stroke is that, in a TIA, the clot blocking blood flow to the brain is transient, or temporary. About 15 percent of strokes, however, are preceded by a TIA, and someone experiencing a TIA has a much higher risk of a stroke within 90 days than other people. The American Stroke Association urges adults to learn the acronym FAST to remember the warning signs: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty means it’s Time to call 911. Other symptoms include sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding; sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause. According to Dr. Mitch Elkind, chair of the American Stroke Association, “Officially, about five million Americans, or 2.3 percent, have had a self-reported, physician-diagnosed | May 11 - 24, 2017

TIA, but as this survey suggests, we suspect the true prevalence is higher because many people who experience symptoms consistent with a TIA fail to report it.� He added, “Ignoring any stroke sign could be a deadly mistake. Only a formal medical diagnosis with brain imaging can determine whether you’re having a TIA or a stroke. If you or someone you know experiences a stroke warning sign that comes on suddenly — whether it goes away or not — call 911 right away to improve chances of an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.� Among the survey’s other finding was that respondents who had experienced trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or a numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg were the most likely among all adults experiencing warning signs to call 911 — but even there, only five percent took action. The most common symptoms reported among those who experienced warning signs were sudden severe headaches (20 percent) and sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination (14 percent). Significantly, 77 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with the term transient ischemic attack. While 55 percent of survey participants said they would phone 911 if TIA symptoms emerged, only three percent had done so. If a diagnosis shows that a clot is blocking blood flow to the brain, a clot-busting drug might be used to address that. Alternatively, a stent retriever might be used to remove the clot, which can help reduce longterm disability. Those diagnosed with a stroke or a TIA will be advised to make lifestyle changes, may be prescribed medication to manage known risk factors, and might be put on an antiplatelet like aspirin to inhibit clotting. One in six Americans with high blood pressure don’t know it. Normal levels are below 120/ 80. At age 50, adults without high blood pressure have an average life expectancy five years longer than those with high blood pressure. For more information about strokes, its risks, and how to mitigate them, visit



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Denying Chechen Gay Torture — In Grozny, Moscow, and DC



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Seth J. Bookey, Anthony M.Brown, Kelly Jean Cogswell, Andres Duque, Michael Ehrhardt, Steve Erickson, Andy Humm, Eli Jacobson, David Kennerley, Gary M. Kramer, Arthur S. Leonard, Michael T. Luongo, Lawrence D. Mass, Winnie McCroy, Eileen McDermott, Mick Meenan, Tim Miller, Donna Minkowitz, Gregory Montreuil, Christopher Murray, David Noh, Sam Oglesby, Nathan Riley, David Shengold, Ed Sikov, Yoav Sivan, Gus Solomons Jr., Tim Teeman, Kathleen Warnock, Benjamin Weinthal, Dean P. Wrzeszcz



Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin ally, denies gay men exist in his country — so that he can continue rounding up, torturing, and killing them.







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hechnya wants to eliminate gay community by end of May,” the Britishbased’s headline states. Now how exactly does one deal with threats of imminent extermination? Stay away from Chechnya, for starters. Not that the wretched place has much to offer, although according to Trivago, you can get a hotel room in Grozny for $6 a night. The Independent continues: “Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov plans to ‘eliminate’ the country’s gay community by the start of Ramadan, a British foreign minister has claimed. Reports from Chechnya allege that more than 100 men have been rounded up and detained in secret prisons [aka concentration camps] by authorities on suspicion of being gay in recent weeks, with many beaten and tortured. At least four men are alleged to have been killed.” Kadyrov is, of course, a Putin pal, and he takes his gay-hating lead from the Trump-playing former KGB agent who is — and apparently always will be — president of the Russian Federation. “Speaking in Parliament during an urgent question on the persecution and detention of LGBT citizens in the Russian republic of Chechnya,

minister of state for the Foreign Office Sir Alan Duncan said he had been informed of alleged plans to ‘eliminate’ the country’s gay community by the start of Ramadan, which commences on 26 May,” the Independent goes on. “‘Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov,’ Sir Alan said.” “Sir Alan called the reports of actions taken in Chechnya, a largely Muslim country, as ‘utterly barbaric.’ One man told CNN people had beaten him with their fists and feet to try and get names of other gay men from him. ‘Then they tied wires to my hands and put metal clippers on my ears to electrocute me. They’ve got special equipment, which is very powerful. When they shock you, you jump high above the ground.’” Even the proto-fascist Breitbart found the story disturbing enough to cover it: “LGBT activists in Israel and around the world have pointed to footage of a survivor of one of the camps telling a French interviewer that Chechen authorities are now instructing the parents of gay men to kill their sons as a matter of family honor. ‘The authorities said to them: “Your son is a homosexual — sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves,”’ the survivor told the France 24 television station. ‘Now they arrest everyone.

They kill people, they do whatever they want.’” Of course, the Breitbart story resulted in the following response in the comments section by someone calling themself Messianic613: “How long will it take before ISIS rockets or other upheaval will descend upon Tel Aviv, The ‘Gay Capital?’ Committing and propagating perversions will bring disaster and divine punishment on the nation. The Torah hasn’t changed.” It certainly hasn’t. I’m sure that Messianic613 is abiding strictly by the proscription — Deuteronomy 22:11 — against wearing clothes made of wool and linen blend. And God help you, Messianic 613! STAY AWAY FROM RED LOBSTER ON PERIL OF YOUR SOUL! BuzzFeed News pointed out that Kadyrov denied that there were any gay Chechens, always an effective strategy: “Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called nontraditional sexual orientation. For thousands of years the people have lived by other rules, prescribed by God.” “We have never had them among the Chechens…,’” Pink News reported Kadyrov as saying, “…unless we are talking about those who aren’t Chechens but say they are so that they can get to the West.” Non-Chechen gay men flock to Chechnya so they can leave Chechnya for the West…. This is all so twisted I can’t even begin to comment on it, except to point out that Chechnya is mostly Muslim, and Islam was founded in the seventh century, so if the people of Chechnya have lived for thousands of years by other rules prescribed by God, the prophet Muhammad must be irrelevant. Somehow I don’t think that’s what Kadyrov meant. I’m certain we will be hearing about the Trump administration’s outrage over this contemporary pogrom any day now. Congress has responded forcefully with a letter signed by 47 Democrats and a whopping 3 Republicans. The “party of Lincoln” my ass. Gregory T. Angelo, the president of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin club — what’s that you say? Oh, excuse me, I mean the Log Cabin Republicans — has made a big deal about the Trump administration’s extraordinary record on LGBTQ rights so far. Ac-

CHECHNYA, continued on p.33

May 11 - 24, 2017 |


France at the Authoritarian Crossroads

treme left. In the final round, anti-Europe, anti-immigrant right-wing Marine Le Pen won thirty-four percent of the vote, drawing in not just voters from the center right, but poaching some from the extreme left. Like Trump, she also benefited from the many leftists who chose to stay home or vote blank and take their chances with virulent white nationalists, rather than vote for a centrist. At a recent political meeting, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, whose family literally had to hide from the Nazis, blamed the growing power of the racist, authoritarian National Front on the French failure to remember and transmit their knowledge of Nazi atrocities. That’s absolutely true, but I also blame the left worldwide for ignoring their own totalitarian past, so that when their candidate gets knocked out it’s no stretch for them to abstain or even to embrace an extreme right promising to sup-

port workers. After all, class trumps everything, from misogyny to racism and the abuse of human rights. And when they say class, make no mistake, it’s a white male factory worker they’re thinking of. It started with Stalin, who in the name of that working class, executed a million or so “enemies of the state” often identified by their ethnicity. He killed another million in the gulags and deliberately engineered famines that killed another five million, including more than a million nomads of Soviet Kazakhstan and 3.3 million in Soviet Ukraine. Poles were targeted, too. According to historian Timothy Snyder, “it was Stalin, not Hitler, who initiated the first ethnic killing campaigns in interwar Europe.” Not that anyone cares. Part of the problem with the left is that they are just as willing to ignore facts as any Trump voter. When it comes to Cuba, for instance, every report about the long-term failure of the 1959 revolution — the poverty, the corruption, human rights abuses, the racism, and homophobia — has been denounced as fake news. Every voice protesting the treatment of the opposition is dismissed as a CIA plant, or just dismissed. When I told a dyke acquaintance I’d never vote for the extreme left French presidential candidate JeanLuc Mélenchon — a re-packaged Communist — because he was too fond of tyrants, like Russia’s Putin, Syria’s Assad, and Venezuela’s Maduro, she first claimed the media made up those connections. And when I pointed out his recent, lengthy eulogy for Castro, she declared her own love for Fidel. And when I brought up the queers he threw in jail there — “including my girlfriend” — she sneered like I was pathetic for letting concentration camps stand in the way of embracing the Revolution. Most recently, Hugo Chávez in

Venezuela seduced the masses at home and abroad with his fancy Bolivarian speeches. But if you dare explain to someone that the country is now an economic and political disaster where dissidents are jailed, you can’t buy an aspirin or a roll of toilet paper, hospitals are closed, people are dying of hunger, and there are mass protests where demonstrators across the political spectrum are shot dead in the street… the typical leftist response is, “But they’re from The Right, aren’t they?” Call me a right-wing reactionary, but I find this callousness as monstrous as the bloated rage of any Trump or Le Pen, and just as racist. Instead of the exploitation of natural resources and labor, these colonialist revolutionaries worldwide prop up dictators with alt-facts, alt-narratives so they can play out their utopian fantasies. That the ordinary people in places like Venezuela and Cuba might aspire to the same standard of living, the same freedom and human rights that we enjoy in the US or France, is of no consequence whatsoever. This is playing out in France, too, where the left is determined to thwart Macron’s incremental proposals for economic reform. They see only that the rich might benefit, never consider why so many people of color and immigrants who voted Socialist for decades and got nothing might enthusiastically embrace the social mobility, jobs, and improved education that are largely the point of Macron’s plans. I get the idea that they want black and brown people to stay poor and pure, untainted by the privilege or money they themselves inherit, which they often pretend appeared under their pillow or grew on a tree.

Johnson has reported that in addition to Tillis and Rubio (who was last given a score of 0 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard), Senators Susan Collins and Pat Toomey, both Republicans, have each tweeted on the subject. Wow! 140 characters! What a forceful response to gay men being rounded up, forced into concentration camps, tortured, and murdered.

Meanwhile, our new secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has been utterly mute on the subject. In fact, according to The Ring of Fire (, a progressive news and commentary outlet, “Rex Tillerson, the former fossil fuel CEO who is now our secretary of state, says that if the US focuses on human rights issues abroad, it could hurt our interests in those countries. What he really means is that

we have to keep our mouths shut about these abuses so American corporations can continue to exploit their natural resources.” The Brits brought the matter up on the floor of Parliament as an “urgent question.” I’m sure it will be the subject of vital congressional concern any day now.


The French tricolor waves in the breeze as Parisians celebrate President-elect Emmanuel Macron’s victory outside the Louvre Museum on May 7.



t’s almost a miracle how, in just one year, centrist Emmanuel Macron and his supporters launched the grassroots movement En Marche! (On the move!) that not only got him into the second round of the presidential vote, but helped him win. Much of the work was done by folks who hadn’t been involved in politics before, including many women and people of color. Victories in the upcoming parliamentary elections, when voters are not facing the threat of white nationalist Le Pen, will hopefully confirm that democracy still works in France, and people not tapped into traditional parties can still have a voice if they are willing to knock on enough doors. Even if they win, France is still at a crossroads. In the first round, almost 50 percent of voters chose a populist from the extreme right or the ex-

CHECHNYA, from p.32

cording to, Angelo “noted, for example, United Nations Amb. Nikki Haley’s condemnation of reported Chechen abuse of gay men. Those concerns have been echoed by Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina.” The Washington Blade’s Chris | May 11 - 24, 2017

Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.

Follow @edsikov on Twitter and Facebook.


Grab a coffee, coffee take a survey, change the world. Making a Difference is Easy.


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May 11 - 24, 2017 |


RON GOLD, from p.23

have been vacated.) In 2009, Gold was invited to write a column for the Bilerico Project, an LGBTQ site, and his debut was titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Noâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to the Notion of Transgender.â&#x20AC;? After asserting, â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is no such thing as a male or a female personality. Personality is not a function of gender,â&#x20AC;? he went on to write, â&#x20AC;&#x153;So where does this leave the concept of transgender. In my view, down the tubes!â&#x20AC;? Even though he agreed that anti-trans discrimination should be banned, Gold wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I would, however, get after the doctors â&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the psychiatrists who use a phony medical model to invent a disease that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist, and the surgeons who use such spurious diagnoses to mutilate the bodies of the deluded.â&#x20AC;? The column caused an uproar, with hundreds of comments posted attacking his view and the column itself taken down by Bilerico â&#x20AC;&#x201D; though it was archived online by Wayne Dynes. Gold responded to the attacks by writing, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Next, somebody said, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be saying thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no such thing as homosexuality. As a matter of fact I think thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true (and no such thing as heterosexuality) and expect to say something along those lines in my next post, if Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not hounded off the site.â&#x20AC;? Becky Juro, the transgender host of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Becky Juro Showâ&#x20AC;? on radio, wrote, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Despite all of the other things he was and may have been, Ron Gold was a transphobic bigot.â&#x20AC;? The Bilerico Project, she said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;made a key mistake in believing that Goldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post, though controversial, would spur dialogue on trans issues at the site, when what it really did was deeply hurt

and upset a lot of people,â&#x20AC;? leading to the departure of many transgender writers there. Gold also held controversial views on the nature of sexual orientation, writing to PFLAG in 2000, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think, in fact, that gay people have a lot to teach the world about the real differences between human beings that are independent of gender â&#x20AC;&#x201D; if we, and the world, would stop thinking that nobody would be gay if they could help it.â&#x20AC;? He concluded, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d urge PFLAG to avoid the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nobodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d choose to be gayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; line like the plague, and to emphasize that gay love and gay pride *is* about morality, just like Jerry Falwell says it is, only itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the bigots who fall on the wrong side of the line.â&#x20AC;? I had my own clash with Gold in 1977, when I was booking a network radio show on NBC and the host wanted a debate on a gay issue. I called the Task Force, and Gold asked who else would be on the program. When he heard the host wanted â&#x20AC;&#x153;an opposing view,â&#x20AC;? Gold angrily told me, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do shows like that anymore! We will not debate the legitimacy of our lives!â&#x20AC;? On that point, he was surely right. Gold ended his famous 1973 speech to the APA by inviting the psychiatrists to the June Pride March. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And for those of you who are gay, a special invitation,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t let yourself be like the man at last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parade who stood quietly on the sideline, not daring to touch his loverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hand, while a friend of mine, one of his former patients, marched by, shouting, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Gay is proud.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Come along with me, hold my hand as we march, and say with me, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I am!â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;? At Goldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s request, no memorial service is planned.



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‘80s Film of Forster Classic Returns “Maurice” title character James Wilby recalls Merchant-Ivory gay gem ity on whereas Clive doesn’t. That’s what got me out of that kind of lazy way of thinking of carrying on what you’ve been told and pass on to your child.

BY GARY M. KRAMER he elegant gay romantic drama “Maurice,” adapted for the screen by filmmaking and life partners James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with a 4K restoration and a theatrical re-release. Based on E. M. Forster’s posthumously published novel — the subject matter forbid the book’s publication during the author’s lifetime — “Maurice” came out the same year that Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher engineered the enactment of Clause 28, which restricted “the promotion of homosexuality” by local governments and schools. The film’s Edwardian era message about expressing same-sex love still resonates now. “Maurice” kicks off a new series devoted to lost queer classics at the recently renovated Quad Cinema in the West Village. Maurice (James Wilby) attends Cambridge, where he meets Clive Durham (Hugh Grant), who falls in love with him. Maurice is shy, but he too falls for Clive. However, their love must remain platonic; Clive feels their reputations are at risk, especially after their classmate Risley (Mark Tandy) is arrested on immortality charges. While Clive decides to marry, Maurice seeks medical advice to “cure” his homosexuality, visiting a hypnotist, Dr. Lasker-Jones (Ben Kingsley). However, after Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves), the handsome gamekeeper at Clive’s estate, pays a nocturnal visit to Maurice while he’s visiting there, suddenly new possibilities emerge. Maurice is besotted, though he’s also afraid of the possible consequences — including blackmail — from a relationship with Scudder. “Maurice” lovingly details its title character’s journey to self-acceptance. On the phone from the UK, James Wilby chatted with Gay City News about playing Forster’s hero and making the queer classic. GARY M. KRAMER: Looking back, what can you say about taking a role like Maurice? Did you have concerns back in the day about playing gay at a time when actors largely resisted playing queer roles?




James Wilby and Hugh Grant in James Ivory’s 1987 “Maurice,” based on the novel by E.M. Forster, which went unpublished in the author’s lifetime.

MAURICE Directed by James Ivory Cohen Media Group Opens May 19 Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St.


James Wilby, Rupert Graves, and Hugh Grant in a promotional shot for “Maurice.”

JAMES WILBY: Not for a minute. As an actor you take on the role, you don’t worry about political contents. I played the role. At the time I was a nobody. It put me on the map and was a great experience. I got to be part of the Merchant-Ivory team. It was an amazing thing to have happened, a great role. He happens to be gay, but who gives a shit? I’ve gone on and played other gay roles. GMK: But the film came out the same year Clause 28 was enacted. Were there concerns? JW: It didn’t worry me at all. It was only a moderate success here, in the UK, where, dare I say it, the gay press were sort of mealy-mouthed about it. James Ivory couldn’t understand it. They couldn’t embrace it because of the political climate at time. It was very successful in New York and San Francisco and in France and Italy. We did a publicity tour of six to sev-

en cities in the US. I went up to say something after a screening in San Francisco, and when I said I had a wife the whole audience booed. GMK: Maurice seems shy, then righteous, then bold. He takes calculated risks, but soon comes to bare himself both physically and emotionally. What thoughts or judgments do you have about his character? JW: Reading the book tells you everything you need to know. One of the remarks, in the foreword, I think — it’s its not part of the narrative — Forster says he deliberately chose a character to be sporty, handsome, and mentally taunted. He dropped this ingredient in that he’s gay. That makes Maurice start to question things. We look around when we leave school and we don’t know who we are. Suddenly you challenge the things you have been force fed — or you don’t. Maurice is at the point where he could have carried on as a middle class stockbroker and have a sham marriage, and he decides to take his sexual-

GMK: What do you think Scudder sees in Maurice? Maurice doesn’t treat him well. There is a power struggle between them, especially as Scudder sees Maurice as an equal, no better than him. Why do you think Scudder pursues him? JW: I guess that’s the class thing going on. Is the master of the house gong to marry the servant girl? Generally not. There is an understanding that the servant class didn’t stand up to the landowner. Scudder is bold enough to do it, and Maurice is able to accept that he is his equal. Forster was such a forward thinker, challenging all these British ways of life. There’s always a character in his novels that represents change and [one] epitomizing everything Forster despises about the British. I played that character, Charles Wilcox, in “Howard’s End.” GMK: Do you believe in hypnosis? Are you talented at boxing or cricket? What can you say about Maurice’s experiences overlapping with your own? JW: Someone tried to hypnotize me to stop smoking and it lasted five hours. So I don’t believe in it, but maybe with a good hypnotist. I was a good sportsman in rugby, not boxing or cricket. I held school records. I was very sporty. If you’re a cricketer, you’d see I’m not one. But Scudder is even worse. GMK: What thoughts do you have on the film’s depiction of homosexuality, both in the historical sense and in the physical sense? Was the film too strong at the time, or do you think it was restrained? JW: We don’t see Maurice and Scudder bugger each other, but it’s implied. You do see them naked. I think Ivory got it right. If it had been overt, it would have done more damage than good at the time. Forster doesn’t dwell on the sex act in his book, so that’s accurate. I find it more erotic when you don’t see a sex scene. May 11 - 24, 2017 |


Mother, Mania, Murder, Manilow Bonus content abounds on Blu-ray of John Waters’ “Serial Mom” BY SCOTT STIFFLER ou’re in candid, charming, and proudly perverse company when watching a John Waters film with John Waters. “Now this of course is one of my favorite scenes,” the writer-director notes on his audio commentary, just moments before Baltimore housewife Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) beats an annoying neighbor to death with a leg of lamb. “It has everything; murder, shrimping, dog abuse.” Actually, the dog thing is up for interpretation. “No,” he quickly course-corrects, “it wasn’t dog abuse, basically, because you just put butter on your toes and a dog will lick your toes all night — one thing we discovered.” That odd little tip is among the many amazing facts and enlightening anecdotes awaiting the discovery of fetish neophytes and Waters completists alike, when they spend a few hours soaking in the bonus content on the Blu-ray collector’s edition of “Serial Mom” — just released from the Scream Factory imprint in time for, depending on her sense of humor, Mother’s Day. Before exploring other revelations peppered throughout the extras on that well-appointed release, this publication had to ask a tough, nagging question at the onset of our recent phone interview with the director who filmed such startling acts as anal stimulation via rosary beads (1970’s “Multiple Maniacs”), feces ingestion (1972’s “Pink Flamingos”), and puke (see most of his oeuvre). Are there, we asked of the “Serial Mom” scene with those buttered-up toes, other cinematic instances of canine-onhuman-shrimping? “There are a lot of shots where dogs shove their nose in someone’s crotch,” Waters deadpanned, “but I don’t know. There could be. But off the top of my head? My dogshrimping history? I don’t know that there’s another one; but I could be proven wrong.” No matter. “Serial Mom” can certainly claim its share of unique moments, as well as unprecedent-

Y | May 11 - 24, 2017


A whiz in the kitchen and a killer on the loose: Kathleen Turner as Beverly Sutphin.


Mink Stole and Kathleen Turner as, respectively, the victim and perpetrator of a cruel prank in a splitscreen scene John Waters credits 1959’s “Pillow Talk” for inspiring.

ed elements for a John Waters film: first sets to be built from scratch (interiors for the Sutphin home), first use of a stuntman (the concert immolation scene), highest budget ($13 million), and first casting of a mainstream Hollywood star in the lead female role. It’s also the most amount of money the director ever laid out for music rights (more on that later). Released in 1994, “Serial Mom” is Waters’ sendup of suburban banality and true crime dramatizations. Turner, as the well-composed titular menace, bristles at the slightest indignity visited upon son Chip (Matthew Lillard as a blood-and-gore film fan), blossoming daughter Misty (Ricki Lake, who had launched a successful talk show in September 1993), and husband Eugene (Sam Waterston, giving a richly flummoxed performance familiar to fans of his work on the Netflix series “Grace and

Frankie”). “She’s the Breck Girl gone crazy,” say Waters in a “making-of” featurette that’s part of the Blu-ray package, commenting on Turner’s cheerful but easily crossed mother — who secretly purchases books with titles like “Helter Skelter” and “Hunting Humans,” corresponds by cassette tape with Ted Bundy (Waters, in an uncredited voice-over), and phone pranks her divorced neighbor Dottie Hinkle (Mink Stole) into uttering obscenities. “She thought she was doing the right thing,” Waters told us. “Serial Mom had the right morals, she was just... well, talk about a reactionary.” Stopping short of condoning the ultimate punishment Sutphin doles out more times than you can count on one hand, the character’s creator readily admitted, “I agree with some of the stuff Serial Mom does, like no white after Labor Day.”


John Waters’ only regret in life is not accepting that offer for a Barry Manilow MasterCard.

Waters noted he’s also in the “no velvet before Thanksgiving” camp, adding, “I’m right wing on fashion rules.” Like wife-of-a-dentist Beverly, who makes a visiting detective spit out his gum, Waters told us, “I hate it. It makes me crazy if somebody’s sitting next to me on a plane chewing gum. I feel like I could drag them off, like United Airlines. That’s what I want to do when I see them, without asking them: just grab them by the feet, pull them right out of the chair and up the aisle, right to the jetway. Chew your gum there.” Vivid daydreams of assault, righteous though they may be, seem to come easy to Waters,

SERIAL MOM, continued on p.48



Sex and Death: Read All About It! Dandy Darkly brings his madcap horror stories back to the page BY TRAV S.D. or someone who can’t be pigeonholed — humorist? playwright? poet? clown? comedian? performance artist? horror writer? LGBTQ icon? — the phenomenon of nature known to the public as Dandy Darkly is totally distinctive. Living fully up to his pseudonym, Darkly is a Southern Gothic steampunk grotesque given to flamboyant recitations and flights of persiflage accompanied by courtly and commedia-like presentationalism. He is the personification of decadence, and he knows it, and audiences love him for it — from his local queer fanbase here in New York to his even more rabid one abroad, where he’s had four sold-out hit shows in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The popular performer has two undertakings to tout: a new book of his monologues entitled “Dandy Darkly’s Six Hundred and SixtySix Tales of Sex and Death, Volume One,” launched last week at the Bureau of General Services –– Queer Division, and a national Fringe Festival tour of his solo show, “Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth,” which starts this month at festivals in Tampa and Orlando, then moves to Providence in July, followed by Chicago and San Francisco in late summer. Dandy Darkly is the creation of Brooklyn-based Neil Arthur James, who began performing the character in 2010. Originally from rural Georgia, James graduated from college there in 1997 with a degree in theater, tried his hand as a conventional actor for a while, but began to have more success writing columns and opeds for publication. The character of Dandy Darkly emerged from a fiction blog James created. An invitation from the Stonewall Inn to perform his writings live is what first brought the character from the page to the stage. The typical Dandy Darkly monologue is extravagant, over-the-top, violent, and extremely ridiculous.




By Dandy Darkly Gaybird Press $7.99; 134 pages


Touring this summer, “Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth” is a caveman tale that takes a detour into the world of virtual reality — among many places.


Our favorite straight-shooting storyteller in a promo photo for 2015’s “Dandy Darkly’s Trigger Happy.” GAYBIRD PRESS

One of his more popular pieces is “Bearskinner,” a sort of horror-infused tween summer camp story — part pseudo-autobiographical confessional, part Dr. Seuss, and part “Silence of the Lambs.” “This little clown has been living inside me forever,” said James. “There is an eight-track recording of me at age five telling Georgia

ghost stories. My grandfather was a wonderful natural storyteller. He influenced me a lot. It’s been really rewarding, watching the process of Dandy developing organically over the years.” James is a wordsmith par excellence, forging great dense confections of self-expression that ought to be the envy of most armchair

writers and poets. The extreme musicality of his writing seems to contain echoes of great American authors, especially Southern masters like Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner, but ground up in a parody mill with other elements like hokey porn, horror, and fantasy. Shockingly, James claims to have grazed very little among the greats. “I’m really an outsider when it comes to that,” he said. “I come out of classical theater and clowning. I write and satirize popular culture, and as such I am a font of movie trivia and television tidbits — subconsciously I do perhaps tap into writing styles of authors like Thomas Wolfe, but it’s the theater and the horror cult film world I critique that I’m most enamored of. I’ve also been influenced by classic rock artists like the Eagles or the Beatles much more than fiction writers.” Oddly, you can see it. His monologues are imbued with the clarity and power of pop songwriting. The leap between his Cha-Cha the Caveman or Mister Timothy and the Beatles’ Rita the meter maid or Mean Mr. Mustard is not the size of the Grand Canyon. James also admires many contemporary performance artists. Names he mentions in this context include Penny Arcade, Taylor Mac, Desiree Burch, Paul Soileau, Justin Sayre, Peter Michael Marino, Killy Killer Dwyer, and Jenny Lee Mitchell. For someone who knows him

DANDY DARKLY, continued on p.48

May 11 - 24, 2017 | | May 11 - 24, 2017



Theater for Grownups Three sophisticated shows with pleasures aplenty BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE atire typically does not age well. Particularly in the theater, as times, society, and fashions change, new targets emerge and once-pointed plays become arcane curiosities. Happily, that is not the case with the still-trenchant and thoroughly engaging revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Twenty-seven years ago, John Guare’s play was a wry commentary on New York society and the glamorous, brightly lit world people yearned to break into. The play, however, takes on a particular edge in the current political climate, given that the plot is about a con man who, for a time, successfully dupes wealthy people into believing he’s the real deal. Flan Kittredge is a private art dealer, and his wife, Ouisa, is quite accustomed to their lux life on Fifth Avenue. Young Paul, claiming to having been mugged in Central Park, insinuates himself into their home, saying he is the son of Sidney Poitier, and even suggests that Flan and Ouisa might get cast as extras in his father’s upcoming movie of “Cats.” (Remember, it’s 1990 and “Cats” was in its eighth year on Broadway and a punch line for the cognoscenti.) As it turns out, the Kittredges are not the only dupes Paul has taken in, and soon Poitier’s putative son is revealed as a liar who has gleaned bits of information he can use to make the adults think he really is a friend of their kids in order to gain entrée into their homes. When confronted, the kids will have none of it and, in several humorous scenes, let their parents know exactly how lame they are for being duped. Yet here we sit in 2017, a nation that has been taken in by a con man who repeatedly shows himself to be ignorant and blustering. The truth is that cons often work; as Mary Sunshine says in “Chicago,” “they’ll fall for it hook, line, and sinker because it’s what they want.” Indeed, one of the questions the play raises is whose con is better? Is Flan any different in his profession when he convinces people to spend millions of dollars for artwork than Paul is in trying to




Allison Janney and Corey Hawkins in John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” directed by Trip Cullman.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION Ethel Barrymore Theatre 253 W. 47th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49-$149; Or 212 -239-6200 90 mins., no intermission

hustle a meal, a room for the night, and some kind of human connection? None of the characters in this play can really claim the moral high ground, despite their attempts. It falls to Ouisa to raise the elemental human question of how we are all connected to each other — as she says — by a chain of no more than six other people. One of the reasons this play is so unsettling is that it raises questions about our relationships to one another that most people ignore, and are invested in ignoring, in their quotidian existence. The engaging revival now at the Barrymore has been directed by Trip Cullman with crispness and a clear-eyed perception of the characters — in all their failures and foibles. It manages to be both sharp and warm, bringing us into the world and the characters, pricking at their pretensions and yet rendering them sympathetic. John Benjamin Hickey plays Flan as a tightly strung gamesman, his surface ebullience hiding more craven manipulations of people and sit-


Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter,” directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel at the St. James Theatre through July 2.


Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, and the company of Doug Wright, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie’s “War Paint,” directed by Michael Greif.



St. James Theatre 246 W. 44th St. Through Jul. 2 Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $59-$155; Or 877-250-2929 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

Nederlander Theatre 208 W. 41st St. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $75-$250; Or 877-250-2929 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

uations. Corey Hawkins is outstanding as Paul, who is lost and grasping at an identity and a place in the world. The sensitivity and depth of his performance makes him almost tragic. Allison Janney as Ouisa is the conflicted heart of the play. She is the soigné New York wife looking amazingly elegant in Clint Ramos’ costumes, but she reveals her ultimate and utter confusion about the deep separation between us given how very close we are to each other. How lovely to see a comedy made for adults, where sophisticated absurdity and rapid-fire repartee create a diverting and delightful evening. Noel Coward’s 1942 play “Present Laughter” is getting a smashing revival on Broadway, starring Kevin Kline and featuring a cast of Broadway veterans wonderfully directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. The play concerns an aging actor, Garry Essendine, whose chaotic and narcissistic life is full of satellite acquaintances, who are both frustrated with and reliant upon him, and dalliances with women who, literally in

some cases, throw themselves at him. The flimsy plotting ties together a series of set pieces and characters, including Garry’s ex-wife, his hardbitten secretary, a smitten, doe-like ingénue, his managers, and more. Each scene is wonderfully crafted in true Coward style, with the cumulative effect being hilarity and delight as physical comedy and verbal bantering are seamlessly integrated. Kline is at the top of his game as Garry. Always a wonderful comedian, his performance is expansive and larger-than-life, embellished with unforgettable grace notes of wit. Kate Burton, as Garry’s ex-wife, is a mixture of steel and style, and Kristine Nielsen as his seen-it-all secretary still manages to have a heart under her hard edge. As Garry’s life spins out of control on the eve of his leaving on a tour, the rest of the characters, including an earnest playwright, his conniving manager’s wife who wants to seduce Garry, all add to the escalating chaos until, like Charles Condomine in Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” Garry’s only option

PRESENT LAUGHTER, continued on p.43

May 11 - 24, 2017 |


Dubious Recipe for Love Old-fashioned romantic musical set in the East Village is contrived but charming MARRY HARRY York Theatre Company Theatre at St. Peter’s 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St. Citicorp Center Through May 21 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $67; 80 mins., with no intermission


Lenny Wolpe, Morgan Cowling, and David Spadora in Jennifer Robbins, Dan Martin, and Michael Biello’s “Marry Harry,” directed by Bill Castellino, at York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s through May 21.

BY DAVID KENNERLEY lthough The York Theatre Company is famous for carefully nurturing brand new musicals (its boffo hit “Cagney” has been running OffBroadway for over a year), its latest effort, “Marry Harry,” feels decades old. In this case, that’s not such a bad thing. For the winsome romantic comedy, despite being set in present-day New York, is a throwback to beloved classics like “She Loves Me” and “The Music Man” in all their unpretentious, starry-eyed glory. The book, by Jennifer Robbins, is a variation on boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy (possibly) reunites with girl. Harry Cudicini is pushing 30 and is stuck slinging red sauce at his pop’s East Village Italian eatery (called Cudicini’s, of course). Sherri, almost 30 herself, still lives with her rich, controlling mother on the Upper East Side and decides to dump her cheating fiancé. When Harry and Sherri meet by chance in the alley behind the restaurant, sparks fly and wedding plans are hastily made. Just as quickly, their dream falls apart. To be sure, much of the creaky, improbable plot is exceedingly silly, and the dialogue is infused with clichés. Yet what this endeavor lacks in logic it makes up for in boundless charm. Under the guidance of Bill Castellino (who also choreographed), the show musters moments that are genuinely moving.

A | May 11 - 24, 2017

Not that there aren’t a few fresh touches. Throughout the show a sort of gender-bending Greek chorus (a spirited Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian, and Claire Saunders) comments on the action through zippy vaudeville-style routines. They cycle through an eye-popping array of inventive costumes, featuring bridal gowns, bowler hats, fishnets, and garters, designed by Tyler M. Holland. What really keeps this enterprise afloat are the sweetly affecting performances by the leads, David Spadora and Morgan Cowling. Dreamboat Spadora is expertly attuned to the plight of Harry, torn between carrying on the family tradition downtown and becoming a sous chef at Felidia, the tony uptown restaurant owned by celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. His demeanor is so adorably unassuming and his vocals so clean and pure, it almost makes sense that Sherri would propose marriage after just one hot, gluttonous date. The supporting cast of Lenny Wolpe, as Harry’s crusty dad, and Robin Skye, as Sherri’s domineering mom, make the most of stock roles. The catchy score, by Dan Martin (music) and Michael Biello (lyrics), is a pleasant mix of comedic ditties and soulful ballads. James Morgan’s beautiful illustrated set of an East Village neighborhood, painted in watercolor hues, looks like something out of a children’s storybook. The intermittently enchanting “Marry Harry” is a reminder of the down-to-earth pleasures of vanilla

pursuits. This is unpolished, escapist theatrical entertainment, where the main message is “love will find a way.” If you’re looking for deeper topical themes, you won’t find them here. For instance, Cudicini’s is on shaky financial ground and threatens to close, yet there’s no mention

Office of the Mayor

of the insanely high rents driving out mom-and-pop shops throughout the city. New musicals can take many years to gestate, even ones based on old traditions (“Marry Harry” began as a reading at the Vassar Powerhouse Theater back in 2011). The York should be applauded for its efforts to champion this piece, which deserves a chance to evolve and improve.

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Orville Mendoza Is Magnificent A blinding Asian talent in “Pacific Overtures,” with the 411 from Sulu, too BY DAVID NOH orget all the hype about that certain former bathhouse diva turned megastar now returning in a warhorse vehicle to tumultuous ovations and lotsa ka-ching, the best show opening this spring is another revival — of Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures,” presented by CSC and brilliantly directed by John Doyle. The slightly insane m.o. of this show back in 1976 was to tell the history of Japan in modern times, presented in Kabuki fashion. It has been scaled down considerably, in terms of length, cast, and production (minimalist and utterly exquisite, with the most evocative lighting I’ve seen in years). Result? The very best version of this unwieldy, problematic, and spottily brilliant show I’ve ever seen. Gorgeously orchestrated for an 11-member orchestra — actually two more pieces than were in the last Broadway revival — Sondheim’s music thrills you to the marrow and cast members not only each get their individual moment to shine, but, in the process, make you seriously fall in love with all of them. Orville Mendoza, who plays Manjiro, the first Japanese to venture to America and then return to warn of the outside world’s encroachment, is an actor I’ve admired him since first spotting him as a joyously flamboyant drag queen, Tempura, in Christopher Durang’s campfest, “Adrift in Macao,” in 2007, sumptuously dressed by the late and quite fabulous Willa Kim. Since then, in role after role, this true character guy has impressed me with his limitless versatility and utterly irresistible, sheer performance joy. The show, itself, ordinarily runs two and a half hours with intermission. “Ours is 90 minutes, no intermission,” Mendoza smiled, meeting me at the Hudson Diner. “There have been major cuts. This is my third show with John Doyle. In Sondheim’s ‘Road Show,’ I played a Jewish character, and in his ‘Passion,’




Classic Stage Company 136 E. 13th St., btwn. Third & Fourth Aves. Through Jun. 18 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $71;


Orville Mendoza at the Hudson Diner.


George Takei and David Noh at the May 7 Lucille Lortel Awards.

I was Italian, so it’s nice to finally play an Asian here! When John does revivals, he is not interested in recreating or making a museum piece. He really wants to investigate and see what it is now. He worked in tandem with [book writer] John Weidman all through rehearsals, and the cuts are also run by Sondheim, of course. The original impetus of the show back in 1976 was to explore the notion of how you could tell the musical story of the opening of Japan through Kabuki. “So that’s already been done.

This new frame is very Brechtian, and John makes no bones about his techniques being just that: he wants the audience to know that we are just storytellers, not these actual historical people come to life. We do it in modern dress, with a few authentic Japanese items, to suggest kimono and other things, but very few to suggest time and place. John is more interested in what theater can do, as opposed to film, which is very literal. He says, ‘Film can tell a story very literally, and there is no way, even with the

biggest budget, that theater can compete with that.’ “What theater can do that is better than film is tap into people’s imaginations. It’s like reading a book: the reader engages with the author but they also create images in their mind. That’s John’s technique: he wants the audience to come halfway there. He’s never going to get 100 percent of the people enjoying his work, and he loves the fact that you either love or hate it. He does not want middle of the road. “As far as critical opinion goes, John says, ‘Eh! I could take it or leave it.’ He almost wants people to be angry like — ‘Why did they cut [the song] “Chrysanthemum Tea?”’ I don’t think it’s a secret to say that; we’re not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. No, you’re not going to see that song if you watch our version of the show. Sondheim, Weidman, and Doyle decided that, and you will see that it did not fit the way we were telling the story now. “It’s just so exciting to work on a piece where the authors are still alive. When I first met Sondheim, I said, ‘Mr. Sondheim, this is such an honor,’ and he said, ‘Uh, call me Steve.’ He likes to be one of the guys and doesn’t do well with all the fawning. He’s very gracious and really down to earth, and loves passing on what he’s learned to the next generation, so generous with his wisdom. Even if it’s a lame question about a song he wrote, he will give full attention to it and answer. “He trusts John Doyle implicitly and left a note for us on our first day

ORVILLE MENDOZA, continued on p.46

May 11 - 24, 2017 |


Italian Verismo with International Flavor New York City Opera shines with “La Campana Sommersa” BY ELI JACOBSON he reconstituted New York City Opera is a strange beast. Often their performances are co-productions with other theaters, utilizing their artistic and performing resources. The orchestra and chorus are pick-up groups, not a resident ensemble. So the company identity and artistic profile seem to change radically with each production. Last September’s double bill of Rachmaninov’s “Aleko” and Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci” was cocommissioned by Opera Carolina and had a whiff of regional opera about it: the unit set was workaday, the direction awkward, and the casting and orchestral playing uneven. However, the NYCO production of Ottorino Respighi’s fractured fairy tale “La Campana Sommersa” (“The Sunken Bell”) was worthy of an international festival, with stunning design, freshly assured vocalism, and flawless orchestral playing. This co-production with the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari unveiled the first New York production of the opera since 1929. Respighi lavished his orchestral wizardry (more familiar to us in symphonic showpieces like “The Pines of Rome”) on a bizarre fable of man versus nature with no perceptible underlying moral message. The libretto by Claudio Guastalla (based on a play by Gerhart Hauptmann) concerns the forbidden love of married bell-maker Enrico for a



is to cut and run. This splendid revival runs only until the beginning of July. Run out and see it. The new musical “War Paint” may be self-consciously structured to give equal time to its subjects — Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein — what with Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone, respectively, portraying them. But if the show, with a book by Doug Wright, music by Scott | May 11 - 24, 2017


The cast of Ottorino Respighi’s “La Campana Sommersa” in a co-production by the New York City Opera and the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari.

supernatural wood elf Rautendelein that leads to the sinking of the church bell and the death of the bell-maker and his wife. The story closely mirrors Dvorák’s “Rusalka” but also has elements of “Das Rheingold” and “La Sylphide.” Similarly, Respighi’s impressionistic post-Romantic score has elements of Debussy and Wagner with only the barest hint of verismo. The vocal writing is often awkward and repetitive, with memorable melodies emerging from the orchestra pit. Stage director Pier Francesco Maestrini tells this strange story straightforwardly without updating or symbolic stylization. Given the total unfamiliarity of the opera, it is helpful to see it presented as written. Video projections designed by Juan Guillermo Nova utilize high tech means to recreate a traditional neo-Romantic design aesthetic: lush forests out of 19th

century prints by Arthur Rackham but with moving water, fire, and trees. The heightened realism of the magical landscapes seems simultaneously real and dreamlike — perfect for this opera. The cast had both familiar and unfamiliar voices. Fabio Armiliato was forced to drop out as the tenor lead Enrico due to persistent sinusitis, but his alternate Marc Heller had the stamina to sing all four performances — twice on consecutive nights. (I first heard Heller over a decade ago at Caffè Taci uptown, where all night long he would perform one demanding aria after another; now he sings roles like Otello in Germany.) Heller’s dark baritonal tenor can turn dull with a worn timbre, but when the vocal line gets high and declamatory (as it often does in this opera) he rose to the challenge with tireless bright tones. Soprano Brandie Sutton also

Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, is often a labored, dual biography about the rise of two titans of the cosmetics world, it is gorgeous to look at, and the show is tailor-made for the talents of the two leading ladies. Arden and Rubinstein fought for their places in their business, competed fiercely against each other, enjoyed victories but also suffered setbacks, and had to do it at a time when women in businesses weren’t respected. Despite their success, they were still outsiders looking in

when it came to New York society and, at the end of their careers, were both conscious of what their successes had cost them. Ebersole and LuPone look and sound fantastic. Reveling in their talent is reason enough to see this show. If the score is at times uneven, it doesn’t stop either of them. These are actresses who know how to inhabit a song and a lyric with power and commitment. They each get an 11 o’clock number — a celebration of her stardom from Rubinstein and a medita-

commanded the difficulties of Rautendelein’s music with gleaming assurance. The vocal writing for the wood elf doesn’t require coloratura exactly but high-lying melismas sung full-voice over a heavy orchestra. Sutton’s rich vibrant tone danced over the difficulties without tiring. Baritone Michael Chioldi as L’Ondino (analogous to the Water Sprite in “Rusalka”) sang and acted with the same dash and assurance he displayed as the company’s Scarpia last year. Chioldi’s voice is superior to several current Met baritones singing his repertory. Kristin Sampson’s dark, tense soprano brought emotional depth to the one scene given to Enrico’s wife Magda. Renata Lamanda as the Wood Witch was commanding and idiomatic with her smoldering mezzo-soprano. Bass Philip Cokorinos made the Curate a powerful antagonist to supernatural creatures like tenor Glenn Seven Allen’s muscular, mischievous Faun. The Orchestra of the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari under Ira Levin (not the late novelist/ playwright of the same name!) played the symphonic score with ravishing detail and shimmering textures that revealed the full scope of Respighi’s musical inspiration. In an online exclusive at, Eli Jacobson writes about the Metropolitan Opera’s revival of Franco Alfano’s “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

tion on being trapped within one’s brand, the color pink, for Arden. Catherine Zuber’s costumes and David Korins’ sets are nothing short of spectacular, the perfect wrapping for this tale of guts and glamor. If the stars might sometimes be hampered by the book and score (which are not up to the same team’s brilliant work in “Grey Gardens”), Ebersole and LuPone’s talent, drive, and determination are more than enough to carry the day. Once again, what was true in life is certainly true in art.



Settling a Score Filipino director Lav Diaz draws on eclectic influences in tale of wrongly convicted ex-con BY STEVE ERICKSON or the past 10 years or so, Filipino director Lav Diaz has been a fixture on the international film festival circuit, although his films have been difficult to see in New York until fairly recently. There’s one major reason for this: their length. Diaz has even made an 11-hour film. At last, American distributors have started taking chances on his work, but the two Diaz films released in the US, “Norte, the End of History” and “The Woman Who Left,” each runs close to four hours. However, as the blog “The Art(s) of Slow Cinema” pointed out, such duration shouldn’t be an issue in the era of binge-watching. If people can watch four hours’ worth of HBO programs in a row, they should have the patience for a film like “The Woman Who Left.” That’s a good idea in theory, but the demands of “The Woman Who Left” are quite different from sitting through four hours of “Game




Charo Santos-Concio in Lav Diaz’s “The Woman Who Left,” which opens at Lincoln Center on May 19.

of Thrones.” It’s true that the former doesn’t require one to put up with any on-screen rape scenes, but it does feature a style far better suited to movie theaters than home viewing. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not particularly familiar with Filipino cinema — for instance, I’ve only seen one film by the late gay master Lino Brocka, widely considered to be the Philippines’ greatest director — and I’m sure I’m missing out on Diaz’ indigenous influences. Howev-

Directed by Lav Diaz Kino Lorber In Filipino with English subtitles Opens May 19 Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center 144 W. 65th St.

er, to me, his work seems to combine elements of neo-realism, especially its flirtations with melodrama, with the East Asian master-shot style of directors like Tsai Ming-liang. Wrongly imprisoned for 30 years, Horacia (Charo Santos-Concio) is freed after the woman who really committed the crime kills herself. She discovers that she was framed by her wealthy ex-boyfriend Rodrigo Trinidad (Michael de Mesa.) Now as corrupt as he is rich, he lives in seclusion, scared of the kidnappings

that have become an epidemic in the Philippines and asks a priest, “Why does evil overcome my soul?” One night, Horacia helps a rape victim, Hollanda (John Lloyd Cruz), who is referred to as a gay man in the film but would probably identify as some variation on trans in contemporary America. Hollanda, though suffering from severe self-hatred, feels a debt to Horacia and wants to help her as much as possible. A film like “The Woman Who Left” is grounded in a very real place and time: the Philippines in 1997. It opens with a radio broadcast describing the handover of Hong Kong to China and discussing tensions between ethnic Filipinos and Chinese-Filipinos. One of its characters sells the local delicacy of “balot” (a developing bird embryo). However, the story, while drawn from Tolstoy, could also have been inspired by any number of film noirs or crime novels from around the world. There’s a tension between the extremely

WOMAN WHO LEFT, continued on p.49

Stefan Zweig’s Anxious Fame Maria Schrader explores an Austrian Jewish writer’s reluctant wartime awakening BY STEVE ERICKSON n a better world, everyone would be free to define their identity — whether it be gender, religious, or sexual — as they pleased and let a million gray areas and nuances bloom between the binaries of male and female, Christian and Jew, gay and straight. Obviously, this is not the one we live in. In the 1920s, writer Stefan Zweig was the second most popular author in the German-speaking world, and his success was brought down only by the rise of Hitler. One can guess the reasons for that: he was AustrianJewish. As he described in his excellent memoir “The World of Yesterday,” his Judaism was only incidental for large portions of his life; he spent his adolescence and college years in a Vienna bohemia of aspiring Austrian writers. It seemed coincidental that





Josef Hader in the title role in Maria Schrader’s “Stefan Zweig: Farewell from Europe.”

almost all of them also happened to be Jewish. Thanks to the New York Review of Books’ re-publication of several of his novels and novellas and Wes Anderson’s nod to Zweig in his film “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Zweig has been experiencing a posthumous resurgence lately. This is undoubtedly

Directed by Maria Schrader First Run Features In English and German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese with English subtitles Opens May 12 Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St.

one of the reasons German director Maria Schrader was able to get her film “Stefan Zweig: Farewell From Europe,” about the last six years of his life, made. “Stefan Zweig: Farewell From Europe” consists of five sequences set in Argentina, New York, and Brazil, where Zweig (Josef Hader) and his second wife Lotte (Aenne Schwarz) died

in 1942. The film begins in 1936 at a Buenos Aires conference of the writers’ organization PEN, where Zweig is called upon to make an anti-fascist political statement he seems reluctant to do for some reason. This does not exactly endear him to the rest of the conference’s participants and observers. Elsewhere, he roams sugarcane fields with Lotte in Brazil and takes in guests in a claustrophobic New York apartment with his first wife Friderike (Barbara Sukowa). An epilogue set in Brazil covers the end of his life. Better known as an actress — especially for the lesbian landmark “Aimée and Jaguar” — than a director, Schrader proves quite talented behind the lens. Even Cinemascope is too narrow for her: she uses a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and often fills every centimeter of the screen with people and

STEFAN ZWEIG, continued on p.49

May 11 - 24, 2017 | | May 11 - 24, 2017



of rehearsal: ‘Do everything John says.’ Like John, he doesn’t give much credence to critical acclaim. On ‘Road Show,’ he took out everything Sam Mendes and Hal Prince had added to the script: ‘This is the show.’ Ultimately you have to do it for what you get, artistically. He doesn’t need another hit to make him relevant. I admire how he looks at pieces, trying to discover new things in them.” Mendoza is Filipino and hails from Victorville, California, “in the desert on the 15, going towards Las Vegas. My parents — Dad a retired medical technician, Mom an accountant at the same hospital — are very religious, and are both elders in the Church of Latter-day Saints. I went to private Adventists schools all through grade and high school, where theater was frowned upon and you would go to hell if you were an actor. Music has always been a part of my life, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I started flirting with theater.” When Mendoza told his parents he was changing his major to theater from pre-med, they said, “Oh no! You’re going to be a doctor!” But he told them, “‘There are so many kids in my program that actually want to be doctors that there’s no way I’m going to waste your money and my time.’ It’s such an Asian cliché, right? They said, ‘How are you going to make money?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but I think it’s going to be okay.’ And right after graduating school, I got the national tour of ‘Miss Saigon.’ Once they saw I could make a living at this, they calmed down, but they’re still not thrilled about me not going to church or observing the Sabbath — which Adventists do, the same way as Jews. Or being gay, that’s another religious issue with them. But they see that I’m happy and living life to the fullest.” Regarding his being gay, Mendoza said, “I think I rather underestimated them. I’m middle-aged now, but didn’t come out to them until I was in my early 30s. My Dad had had a stroke and, while I was driving to visit him in the hospital with my Mom, I decided to tell her that Brian [Myers Cooper], whom I’ve been with now for 10 years, was not just my roommate, but my partner. She said, ‘I know.’ I added, ‘I’m gay,


and Brian and I love each other.’ She said, ‘I know.’ Then I said, ‘I know I didn’t tell you for a long time because I didn’t want to make you choose between your son and your religious beliefs.’ “She really surprised me when she said, ‘You know what? That’s between you and God. My job is just to love you as my son.’ I had really thought they would not have that and would disown me. But looking back, I see that it was about that particular time, with my Dad not well, when you realize what’s important.” After seeing Mendoza being absolutely brilliant in Lloyd Suh’s 2015 “Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery,” along with cast mates Jennifer Ikeda, KK Moggie, Jeffrey Omura, and Peter Kim, it really struck me that, despite myriad setbacks and seemingly eternal offensive casting vagaries — Emma Stone cast as a Hawaiian, for one — we are nevertheless now living in a kind of Golden Age for Asian actors, with an escalating visibility of varied and highly impressive talent in film and TV and, especially, on the New York stage. “Did you see Qui Nguyen’s ‘Vietgone?’” Mendoza asked me. “It was the story of a father’s experience in Vietnam, and beautifully done, spoofing ‘Miss Saigon.’ Hopefully, more changes like that are coming, with greater opportunities for us. Yellowface was prevalent when ‘Flower Drum Song’ and ‘The King and I’ were originally produced, because it was hard to find trained Asian actors. Times have changed, and there are now so many actors coming out of Ivy League schools with impeccable training, and it behooves playwrights to write for them. “But we shouldn’t rely on Caucasian writers to tell our stories. Producers need to get behind Qui, Suh. Christine Toy Johnson is writing musicals for us. It’s not enough to just produce one Asian show, which may have flopped, discouraging any future efforts. You need to cultivate an audience for them. I get it — you gotta sell tickets, but, for example, CSC is trying to appeal to a younger audience, because, frankly, their audience is dying out and how many years can you just appease the same patrons? I do know that I would never want to be an artistic director.” Besides playing The Engineer

in ‘Miss Saigon,’ Mendoza has also been in that other Asian rep warhorse, “The King and I,” with Shirley Jones and John Saxon. “I played Kralahome — you know, the one who always comes in with the bad news: ‘She is dead! And her lover is dead, too!’ It was amazing — my first Equity contract — and Shirley was fantastic. Maybe it took her a while to get to the note but when she hit it, it was glorious! Her sons were beautiful, and they all came to see us when we were in Detroit. They played tunes on the piano in the hotel lobby. “When we were in St. Louis and Detroit, we were able to find Asian kids, but in Atlanta! We had this one beautiful baby girl, blonde as could be, with a huge Southern accent: ‘Mrs. Anna! Do not go away! We all are in great need of you!’ This is why we need to nurture Asian kid actors!” Mendoza also played the notoriously stereotypical houseboy, Ito, in ‘Mame,’ with Michele Lee, no less, at the Muny Theater in St. Louis, and I wanted to know how an Asian actor goes about trying to invest this stock, pidgin-English speaking, tittering racial cliché with some human dignity and truth. “Sadly, we only had a week and a half rehearsal, very summer stock, but she was a wonderful Mame, and we also had Ruth Williamson, who was fantastic as Vera. With Ito, it was really a question of dealing with the accent, which you never want to be the joke. Accents are always helpful — they tell you where a character is from. Ito was in America, making a living, and is more multidimensional in his devotion to Mame. They are friends — he is her confidante. He will tell her what’s up, but he is not just her servant. She thinks of him as a loyal friend who really wants to help, and the bond between them transcends the usual employer-employee relationship. To me, that’s the only way to approach it.” Mendoza lives in Harlem with Cooper, unmarried — as yet — and their “fur baby” and no plans for any other children. “I’ve loved all the opportunities I’ve been given — the New York City Ballet even hires me to sing ‘West Side Story’ selections when they dance to that music, and I’ve even been on tour with them. But none of it is super high profile. I don’t of-

ten get articles written about me. ‘I’ve always been a character actor, and was never in competition for the same roles as Paolo Montalbán or Jose Llana. I always wanted to prove myself to my parents, but all they knew about actors was ‘The Love Boat.’ No, I wanted to do Shakespeare in the Park and musicals, which I have done, to prove that I’m a serious artist and not just in it for the money or quick fame. “It’s fun getting recognized occasionally, but I’m a very private person. I don’t want to walk out of a porn shop and hear, ‘Oh, Orville!’ I want to be able to walk into a porn shop, pick up my supplies, and walk out proudly!” At the always fun and deeply enlightening Lucille Lortel Awards, on May 7 at NYU’s Skirball Center, I ran into Mendoza’s cast mate, George Takei, who has now become like everyone’s favorite uncle. He seconded Mendoza’s praise for their show: “It has everything to do with John Doyle’s signature on it. I saw the 1976 production and while it was spectacular, it certainly wasn’t as elegant, clear, or poetic as this production. I call it ‘theatrical haiku,’ because haiku is suggestion building toward a central idea: the breeze/ scented with cherry blossom/ my heart.’ And that’s what he does in the first half, which is elegant, courtly, stately, and pure, in classical Japanese, because it’s been so isolated. But the second half, when America comes, is absolute chaos, but it’s so much fun. ‘Please, Hello’ and that sets the cultural contrast. And that wonderful Sondheim music — our 11 musicians I think are more effective than the 30-piece orchestra they had on Broadway back then.” Though known everywhere for Sulu on “Star Trek, Takei confessed, “Theater is where my heart is. I love it. How do I stay so young? Last week I turned 80, an octogenarian in my ninth decade. I enjoy and live life with passion and optimism. Diet-wise, I eat mostly fish and poultry, lots of fruit and vegetables. I exercise every day. My husband, Brad [Altman, in faithful, humorously wry attendance] and I are bicoastal. My principal home is LA. That’s where my heart is, particularly in winter or summer. If you see me here in those months, you know I’m being paid to be here.” May 11 - 24, 2017 |


TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell | May 11 - 24, 2017

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.


DANDY DARKLY, from p.38

primarily through his stage work, the process of reading him is both familiar and disorienting. The voice is there, but disembodied, like an echo. On stage, there is a powerful visual component. Dandy Darkly is a clown, with an elaborate baroque costume and make-up that takes the artist over an hour to get into prior to every performance. “Believe it or not, I had one critic who said I shouldn’t perform the stories in costume, that the

SERIAL MOM, from p.37

whose director’s commentary to the film notes, “I have a huge true crime library, probably one of the better ones in America, and I thought, ‘God knows I know about this stuff.’ But nobody had ever made a movie that I could think of where you rooted for the serial killer to kill more.” Waters goes on to recall the casting of Patricia Hearst, as a juror who runs afoul of the aforementioned fashion stance regarding the seasonal shelf life of white. It’s Hearst’s second appearance in a Waters film (following 1990’s “Cry-Baby”), and the bonus content includes the backstory of how they met. Waters, who attended her 1976 trial, opines on the etiquette of courtroom hag subculture, and Hearst recalls the phone conversation they had during the June 17, 1994 O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase. What remains the most famous slow police pursuit in history happened just two months after the release of “Serial Mom” — which, longtime Waters ensemble member Mink Stole noted when we spoke with her by phone, contains an eerily predictive scene (the Sutphin family is followed by a phalanx of police cars as they slowly drive to from home to church). “There’s a shine on it,” Stole said of “Serial Mom,” which she called “polished in a way that none of his other films are. I watched it a couple of days ago for the first time in years and it holds up. There’s not a wrong note or an extra beat; it just works. I think you can credit Kathleen for a lot of that,” Stole noted, “but you can also credit John” for “a gradual progression


writing should speak for itself,” laughed James. “But I think it’s absolutely necessary. The part is shamanic. I need the mask. Dandy is more outgoing than I am, more of a people person. At the same time, I am more friendly and gentle. Dandy says horrific things. Horrible things happen in these stories. A pirate eats a mermaid!” Though Dandy was originally a creature of the page, for seven years now he has been living primarily in theaters and cabarets. Returning him to his original format has had its challenges.

“For the book, I needed to pull back a little. Onstage I do things like break the fourth wall and make asides directly to the audience,” said James, citing punctuation as an example of what “had to be conventionalized” to “fit into the constraints of the page. But the process was also helpful to me as a writer. Going back and looking over older work was instructive, seeing how the work progresses over time. I also noticed several tricks I have that I tend to repeat, and will know to look out for.” But that self-criticism is bal-

anced with a healthy supply of well-deserved self-regard. “Ultimately, I think as artists we need to be true to our voices and try to create work that makes us laugh the loudest, swoon the hardest, and weep the most willingly,” James said. “Some people may say it’s selfish or egocentric to be moved by your own work. I know some artists who are very detached from their work, but I’m quite the opposite. I love Dandy because he makes me feel totally comfortable in my skin, but also utterly like an alien being — which I adore.”

over the course of the years. I mean, we started out in eight millimeter, and now here we were in 35 millimeter and we had money! When we were making ‘Multiple Maniacs,’ there was no money for reshooting. You had to remember your dialogue from beginning to end. With ‘Serial Mom,’ we had the luxury of being able to afford retakes.” Stole said her performance was also a dip into uncharted waters, so to speak. “This was the first movie where John would tell me to take it down,” she recalled, “which was interesting — and an unexpected challenge. What was wonderful about this movie was there’s an element of restraint to it. Even the scene in the courtroom where I scream and lose control is not the same kind of lunacy as, say, ‘Desperate Living.’ I was aware that the whole film was understated, which is a total departure for John.” Stole was especially aware of abiding by that tone in the early phone prank scene, which sets up her Dottie Hinkle as innocent but easily goaded, while firmly establishing the cat and mouse sadism of its lead character. (Also notable in the commentary version of this scene is Waters’ nod to 1959’s “Pillow Talk” as the source of his affinity for the split screen technique.) “People do like it,” Stole said of the foul-mouthed exchange, in which Sutphin masquerades as a phone company rep who requires Hinkle to use the obscene language she’s been subjected to by her mysterious caller (Serial Mom, of course). “I had to allow myself to be pulled into her sphere,” Stole recalled of working with Turner, “rather than

her into mine, and that was great for me.” A later scene, again with Turner as well as Mary Jo Catlett as nosy neighbor and fussy Franklin Mint Faberge Egg collector Rosemary Ackerman, was “like being shot out of a cannon,” Stole said. “I was working with two women I consider consummate professionals. I didn’t want to be bad, and that made me nervous. But Dottie was a little stiff anyway. She had a personal rigidity, so I was able to incorporate that.” Taking it down more than a few notches paid off. Waters, during the feature commentary version in which both he and Turner watch the film, said of Stole, “I think this is my favorite role she ever did, actually. … The very first day in rehearsal, when I heard Mink calling Kathleen a cocksucker in my living room, I knew my worlds had come together.” Now back to the matter of what a $13 million budget can buy. That scene with Turner wailing on her neighbor with a leg of lamb (a favorite dish of Waters’ mother) happens as the victim settles in to watch a VHS copy of “Annie,” which she’s told video store clerk Chip Sutphin she won’t be rewinding. The murderous deed happens to the tune of “Tomorrow,” which, on the director’s solo commentary track, Waters pegged as costing $60,000$70,000. “I don’t know why they just didn’t say no,” he told us, about the process of acquiring music rights. “I’ve had many people say no before. They ask for content and I think, oh Christ, there it goes, they’re going to say no. But I think they gave us a really high price, thinking we

would say no, because not only do we murder the song, but Kathleen even kills a woman with a leg of lamb in beat with the music, in time. So I think it was worth the money.” Also of note is the 1976 pop tune “Daybreak,” which Serial Mom sings along with during a highstress driving situation. “I just thought that Serial Mom would like Barry Manilow’s music,” Waters told us. “I mean, I like it. But ‘Daybreak’ was a mainstream, Middle America hit, and good for him! Barry thought it was funny. He was totally for it.” On the commentary with Turner, Waters recalled, “Later, I got, from Barry, an application to get a Barry Manilow MasterCard.” Pressed for details during our interview, Waters confirmed it wasn’t mere junk mail, but a personal invite from Manilow himself. “I don’t know if it was a joke or not,” Waters said. “I didn’t get one because I already had a MasterCard, but I should have. If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t get a Barry Manilow MasterCard.” The “Serial Mom Collector’s Edition Blu-ray” ($34.93) is available now on retail shelves and via Shout! Factory’s genre entertainment imprint, Scream Factory (shoutfactory. com). Bonus material includes two feature commentary tracks (one from Waters, one with Turner and Waters); a “making-of” featurette; a conversation with Waters, Stole, and Turner; a “Serial Mom: Surreal Moments” compilation of interviews with cast and crew; the original theatrical trailer; and the featurette “The Kings of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman.” May 11 - 24, 2017 |


WOMAN WHO LEFT, from p.44

arty way Diaz tells his story and the pulpy material at its root. Duration may be the most original element Diaz brings to his style, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s far from the only one. He never moves the camera and uses very long takes. He has a penchant for nighttime black-and-white cinematography, sometimes lit and blocked so that one canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make out the char-


STEFAN ZWEIG, from p.44

activity, as well as showing an affinity for long takes. Toward the beginning, she slowly shows a banquet room filling up with a huge crowd and captures them taking their seats while also directing the spectatorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attention to a huge and colorful bowl of flowers in the center of the screen. Later on, she continues to use the widescreen frame in expressive ways, such as a scene in the Zweigsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; New York apartment where Stefan sits in the far left corner and Friderike all the way to the right, aptly conveying their alienation from each other. At worst, some of Schraderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s direc-

actersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; faces. The idea of a close-up or a quick cut seems completely anathema to him. This is hardcore austere cinema: while Diaz is Filipino, he probably has more in common with Portuguese director Pedro Costa than a somewhat more commercial arthouse director from his own country like Brillante Mendoza. I suppose itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inevitable that â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Woman Who Leftâ&#x20AC;? would turn into a revenge drama, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very

oblique one that dodges both actionmovie thrills and â&#x20AC;&#x153;revenge will corrupt your soulâ&#x20AC;? moralizing. The film winds up in seriously enigmatic territory closer to Michelangelo Antonioni than the noir roots with which it flirts. Antonioni, however, charted the emptiness that accompanied the rise of Italyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s upper middle class; Diaz is charting the downfall of the Philippinesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lower class. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not giving much away to say

that much of his ending splinters into disconnected fragments. One thing remains constant throughout the 229 minutes of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Woman Who Leftâ&#x20AC;?: an anger at human cruelty and the people who abuse each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goodwill, without completely demonizing figures like Rodrigo. While set 20 years ago, its bleak view of the Philippines as a kind of nocturnal junkyard is undoubtedly just as true under the Duterte regime as it was in 1997.

torial choices reek of empty virtuosity, particularly in the epilogue. This scene is mostly shown via a reflection in a mirrored door, which swings open to reveal the image of a dead body. I got the impression her whole choice to use the mirror existed for that shock device, yet it goes on for an additional 10 more minutes. The following hustle and bustle seems somehow beside the point. A certain amount of heavy-handedness is unavoidable in depicting this portion of Zweigâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life, but Schrader constantly violates the rule â&#x20AC;&#x153;show, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell.â&#x20AC;? She depicts Zweig talking about his reluctance to criticize the Nazis, then other people expressing

their dismay about his decision. In the third section, set in New York, Zweig, at length, expresses his anxiety about being asked to help desperate German- and Austrian-Jewish acquaintances â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including ones who panned his work 25 years before â&#x20AC;&#x201D; get American visas. He complains about constantly being harassed by visitors, but what we see of his life during this period doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look that terrible to anyone who values active socializing. The excessive talkiness of these segments contrasts with the sunnier second section, set in Brazil. Schrader and her co-screenwriter, Jan Schomburg, constantly throw in hints that the multi-racial Brazil appreciated by Zweig

(at least on the surface) represents present-day Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future as well. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europeâ&#x20AC;? dodges the structural traps and clichĂŠs of most biopics, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s far better directed than the typical life story of a great writer, as well. Zweigâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s writing was always quite accessible, so one canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exactly accuse it of betraying an avant-garde artist. But Zweig always had a light touch and reluctance to state the obvious; it was only with the approach of his own mortality that he came to explicit grips with the way the Nazis had ruined his life, in his novella â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chess Story.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a shame that Schrader and Schomburgâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s script doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t adopt the same aesthetic.

                 -  *$& $((&,$)")'(,&'$&$!&($%)&'$((&,( (!'%!,&'%$#'!, $&!%*(%&$!""!#!! $&(+( | May 11 - 24, 2017



May 11 - 24, 2017 |

TRUMPCARE, from p.3

Medicaid expansion to battle a sudden epidemic of HIV transmission among injection drug users in one of the state’s counties –– where state funding for Planned Parenthood had earlier been eliminated. States that chose to participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion saw dramatic reductions in the numbers of uninsured people. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the percentage of people living with HIV on Medicaid increased from 36 to 42 percent, while the Center for American Progress found that in the 31 states and the District of Columbia that participate in Medicaid expansion, more than 385,000 low-income LGBTQ people became insured. In addition to the damage Trumpcare could do to lowincome Americans, many middle class people will also face higher premiums, with tax credit subsidies on insurance costs no longer based on income or the cost of insurance, but rather solely on age. And age would now become something of a pre-existing condition, with insurers authorized to charge older people up to five times the lowest rate, rather than the three times limit in Obamacare. Tax credits are at particular risk for residents of New York and California, since such credits would not be available on policies that provide abortion services, which are mandated by both states. When House Republicans succeeded in eking out a victory last week on the Obamacare repeal, many Democrats said the measure would be dead on arrival in the Senate, and, in fact, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately announced that his body would start from scratch on drafting a bill. An analysis published on Vox demonstrated how the Senate’s rules could make the task of that chamber | May 11 - 24, 2017

ing common ground with the House even tougher. The whole Obamacare repeal effort has been predicated on getting it passed under what is called the budget reconciliation process — in which the Republican majority in the Senate would need only 51 votes, not a filibuster-proof 60. Vox spelled out how some elements that House Republicans threw into the AHCA could make the measure ineligible for the reconciliation procedures. On the other hand, the Huffington Post this week published a report suggesting that the House Freedom Caucus could just see its way clear to accepting some modifications from the Senate. For now, LGBTQ health advocates are not counting their chickens. Shortly after Trump’s election, Wendy Stark, executive director of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a Chelseabase LGBTQ health clinic, noting that Obamacare allowed the agency to help more than 4,000 clients become insured, said, “Interrupting or reversing these advances would be truly devastating to the health of our communities and to the healthcare system at large.” In a statement last week, GMHC’s Louie said, “The US House of Representatives has made a terrible mistake in passing the American Health Care Act, a disastrous bill that puts millions of lives at risk…. We call on leaders in the US Senate to stop this dangerous bill from moving forward.” David Stacy, the government affairs director at HRC, said, “Donald Trump and his allies in Congress are one step closer to ripping away care from millions of people, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people, and people living with HIV… With people’s lives on the line, we urge the Senate to stop this madness and reject this harmful piece of legislation.”




Patti LaBelle Deborah Cox DJ Lina SATURDAY, JUNE 24

Tegan and Sara Years & Years · Róisín Murphy · Gallant Dimitri From Paris · Occupy The Disco SUNDAY, JUNE 25

Nelly Furtado Chus & Ceballos Cindel · Scott Martin



May 11 - 24, 2017 |

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Gay City News, May 11, 2017

May 11 c  

Gay City News, May 11, 2017