Gay Up or Shut Up
Ross Mathews E! Entertainmentâ€™s
On Celebrities, Camp & Creating a Moment
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December 2013 | Volume 14 | Issue 12
Contents 4. advertisers at a glance 7. Editor’s letter 8. One out of 10— The New Chameleon Queens
13. Wes mullins: man of the cloth
14. Lez be Real-
Broadcast television: Gay up or shut up
18. Style— Absolute Zero 22. Milestones & Moments 32. the 10 worst holiday specials
It's not about us: straight women love homoerotica
38. Penelope Wigstock— camp through the decades 40. Nancy Novak: Exposed 46. Mikey's morsels— chicken & Dumplings
46. playdates 48. scene in the city
26. On the
Cover From pop culture fanatic to the new queen of all media, Ross Mathews is more than a gimmick and here to stay.
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Dear Friends, 2013 will go down as a historic year for the LGBT community filled with myriad headlines that culminated with the Land of Lincoln living up to the promise of its namesake in passing full marriage equality on Nov. 5. What’s more, equality across the river was quickly followed by Hawaii as 32 percent of states in this country now recognized same-sex marriage. Make sure to check out our “Milestones and Moments” for a look back at some of the local and national stories that have impacted our tribe. In keeping with the celebratory season, welcome to our annual CAMP/HoliGAY Issue. We had a blast interviewing December’s cover boy Ross Mathews who’s all kinds of over-the-top with his
breakout E! Network chat fest, Hello Ross. Also within these pages are a feast of features from two up-and-coming queens, camp throughout the decades, straight women loving gay erotica and so much more. With the New Year, comes some exciting news. Vital VOICE will be expanding to the Kansas City market with our January 2014 ICON Issue. We’re looking forward to telling Kansas City’s stories. We're kindred cities with dynamic LGBT communities and our stories will resonate across the I-70 divide. Happy Holidays and here’s to an incredible 2014!
Until next time,
Colin Murphy, Executive Editor thevitalVOICE.com
Mary Shino & Lexi SanDiego:
10 ain’t bad!
Written by Colin Murphy – Editor Photography by Jonathan Pfeifer Hair by Tabitha Giselle Sexton
Most of us familiar with the drag scene here in the Midwest know that with talent, drive and that intangible but essential brand I.D., you can have a career that spans some 10, 20 and yes, even 30plus years. But there’s a host of up-andcoming, cutting-edge queens making waves and given this month’s “camp” theme, two in particular came to mind.
been doing female impersonation for the past three years.
Kirk Kristoffersen, 27 and Robert Scates, 25 are partners both on and off the stage and bring their creative and quirky illusions of Lexi SanDiego and Mary Shino, respectively, to St. Louis stages. Indeed, the two have a keen eye for all things camp.
There’s a noticeable rhythm to their banter as we talk. The duo, who have been together just under a year, play off each other like old pros.
“It’s just an over the top extreme,” says Kirk. “It’s pulling out all the stops – eyebrows and hair to heaven and whatever else you can get on there.” “The bigger the hair, the closer to God and that means more hair that Tabitha Giselle Sexton has to tease,” adds Robert. “She does everything wig style for us – amazing hairstyle after amazing hairstyle.” Kirk, a California native, has lived in St. Louis on and off since 2007 and has
“Robert then decided he wanted to do it and I was all for it, helping him out,” he says. “He regrets that now,” quips Robert, who was raised in Shawneetown, Illinois.
“We are very open and critical of each other and we know how to fix things easily so we don’t take it personally,” Kirk explains. “We definitely notice good and bad things about each other’s performances and will let each other know.” “Mostly what I hear is get your arms out,” adds Robert. “Move more! Act like you care,” jokes Kirk. Evidently there is room for two queens in one household. But let’s just get the proverbial kai kai question out of the way:
“We don’t have sex or we barely even kiss when we’re in makeup at all, whether we’re in a dress or not,” Kirk asserts. “When the makeup is starting to be applied there really isn’t anything that happens there. We have once in awhile just on stage [kissed] for shock value, but other than that, no.” “There’s usually that one point when we’re putting our makeup on that I’m like, ‘alright, we’re almost to that point, give me one last kiss,’” offers Robert. As Lexi SanDiego, Kirk summons his creative side designing and bringing to life off-the-wall looks while Robert’s Mary Shino is a kitschy character steeped in old Hollywood mystique. “I love these Queens,” says St. Louis burlesque sensation Charlotte SumTimes (who the “girls” both adore, by the way). “Mary is so unique and fresh and Lexi can costume on the pro-level.” “It really is just an expression of personal performance art,” offers Kirk. “I like to select music that helps convey whatever message I’m feeling, the costumes – along with the show theme and things like that.”
We don’t have sex or we barely even kiss when we’re in makeup at all, whether we’re in a dress or not... —Kirk Kristofferson thevitalVOICE.com
“Personality-wise, it’s just a mixture of both of my grandmas because I looked up to both of them a lot,” explains Robert. “Especially, one in particular – you need to be prim and proper but you can also be backhanded. I’m not very comfortable in drag unless I’m prim and proper because I feel it’s the way that a woman can be emulated with the most respect.” Lexi SanDiego and Mary Shino are working hard to develop their brand around town and have started appearing regularly at the Grey Fox. But as the show tune says, “art isn’t easy.”
“I actually had a lot of fun doing it,” adds Robert. By day, Robert is a chef at a restaurant downtown and Kirk is a hair stylist (even though he doesn’t do his own wigs.) “I don’t have time for that BS,” he states. But jokes aside, there’s a serious vent to these entertainers who share an appreciation for their peers and those who paved the way in the art form.
“I like Jinkx Monsoon, the way she handled everything,” says Robert of the Drag Race champ. “She never lost “Certain groups are certainly supportive,” her temper and kind of kept classy about the whole thing. I love Michelle says Kirk. “Others are absolutely not. McCausland’s comedy They won’t even and could listen to her all contact us for day. I like Victoria Rose’s information. That’s versatility, how she can trying to be as nice get out there and do her as possible in terms drag thing and the next of when are you Mary grew up around moment be lip syncing going to book me for politics. Her family some Def Leppard. Of a show situation.” is friends with the course, Lexi and Tabitha “I just try to put – I look up to both of late Sen. Paul Simon myself out there them. Tabitha is a former family; Simon's and be as positive Miss Gay Illinois and daughter is as I can,” counters Kirk’s the one who puts Leut. Gov. of Illinois. Robert. “It bites me up with me all the time in the ass once in and fixes my makeup a while. But most when I screw it up.” of the time I find the more I’m getting “I take inspiration from Hedwig and the out there the more respect I’m kind of Angry Inch to Pandora [Boxx] and Raja getting.” and Chad Michaels,” adds Kirk. “…Mozie Earlier this summer, the pair both PornWood from Orange County, Siren, entered Plastix Produxtions’ “Drag Madison Elise.” Race” produced by Akasha Royale and Janessa Highland. Mary won. Lexi came While the pair has learned from myriad entertainers, they’re quick to point out that in second. the more established queens could pick “It definitely pushed my limits,” recalls up a thing or two from the younger set. Kirk. “I made things I definitely thought “Get outside your boxes a little bit,” I wouldn’t be able to make… it really offers Robert. got me out there and on stage and I really got to understand who I was as a “Stop using your same damned shtick," performer and all that.” echoes Kirk. "Which is always something
Did you know?
I think chameleon queens are the backbone of the industry with the situation as it is. —Kirk Kristofferson
I’m on Mary about because for the first while she did the same song and it drove me up the wall because for the first two years of me doing this I would not repeat a single performance. It was not until 'by request' for certain people that I started repeating things.” As for the future of drag, Kirk and Robert see their generation stepping up and Lexi and Mary making their mark (or at least until they have a child): “It’s such a chore to get vomit out of the sequins as it is.” “I think chameleon queens are the backbone of the industry with the situation as it is,” explains Kirk. “If you can do a drag queen number in high whore drag and eight inch pumps and big ass hair and then in the next set be a boylesque performer and then go back into it and pull out some Cosplay anime or whatever bullshit or Captain Hook with a dildo on your hand, then by all means.” “I see ourselves as the future of drag but we’re also going to be a part of everyone else – it’s not just us – there are a whole slew of people," Robert concludes. "Since the scene here is getting really cliquey, you have to achieve certain standards to perform with these people and you can’t just do the boy in a dress thing anymore. It has to be polished – you have to be able to learn from other people.” v thevitalVOICE.com
Man of the Cloth
Written by Lauren Wagner – Staff Writer Photography by Rich Aten (Headshot Image) & Lauren Wagner (Building Image)
Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis (MCCGSL) welcomes a new Senior Pastor as they celebrate this holiday season. After an extensive pastoral search, MCCGSL invited Rev. Wes Mullins to lead their congregation. As a young accomplished pastor, Rev. Mullins has been approached by many congregations, but none inspired him to leave the Pikes Peak MCC congregation in Colorado Springs that he had been serving for over five years. That is, until he received the call from MCCGSL. As Mullins explains, “The church there just seemed like a really good match for my skills, and God seemed to keep leading us [the church and I] to one another.” Despite the fact that he is in his early thirties, Mullins brings 16 years of experience at the pulpit to his new home at MCCGSL. Mullins was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where church played a major role in his upbringing. He belonged to the small evangelical denomination Churches of Christ. Beginning in high school, Mullins had conflicts between his emerging sexuality and the church he cherished. After asking for help he was sent to Nashville for reparative therapy through an affiliate of Exodus International, the ex-gay Christian organization which has since closed. Following reparative therapy and getting his Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies, Mullins went to Abilene Christian University in Texas to pursue a Master of Divinity. Halfway through his program, he was kicked out of the school for being gay and
described it as, “one of the most traumatic events in my life to be kicked out of the church I was raised in.”
Having heard of his situation, Texas Christian University offered Mullins a full scholarship and he completed his Master of Divinity, graduating at the top of his class. Despite his pain and rocky road to the pulpit, Mullins describes his journey with a magnanimous tone. Throughout his career, Mullins has spearheaded young adult ministries, incorporated interfaith organizations, and been involved in the community working towards equal rights legislation for LGBT people. When asked about his greatest accomplishment from his time at Pikes Peak MCC, Mullins answers: “As a spiritual leader, I’m proudest of taking the people in Colorado Springs on a journey to becoming more open minded people, helping them to have a spirituality that is open to other faiths and spiritual community.” This holiday season, Mullins is not only the new Senior Pastor, he is a newlywed. After over four years together, he and his husband Kevin Sullivan-Mullins were married in early November. Just weeks after their wedding, Mullins and his new husband packed up their home and set off for St. Louis with their dog and two cats in tow. When asked what most excited them about St. Louis, Mullins replied: “We fell in love with St. Louis. It is a city filled with character--great food, amazing architecture, tons of stellar (and free) attractions, fascinating history, and a 'gay church' downtown that knocked our socks off! We are also excited to get involved with the LGBT community as it seems like the city boasts a very engaged group of LGBT folks and other open-minded, progressive allies. How could we say no!” V thevitalVOICE.com
Lez BE REAL
Gay Up or Shut
The Fosters' aired T V's first gay wedding since DOMA
LGBT couples and individuals have become more and more prevalent on TV shows over the years. Shows like Ellen (1994-1998) and Will & Grace (1998-2006) paved the way for future LGBT characters. Ellen was the first show to have the main character come out, which occurred in 1997's “Puppy Episode." Will & Grace was the most successful TV show with gay principal characters at the time of its original run. LGBT storylines have advanced since then on shows such as ER, The O.C., Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, Scandal, Chicago Fire, The Fosters, Glee, Modern Family, and so many others. The LGBT characters and their storylines seem to reflect the general attitudes towards LGBT issues, which is both exciting and disappointing.
a long way in the portrayal of LGBT characters but where is the diversity? These stereotypes of LGBT women perpetuate the idea that women are simply sexual beings designed to marry and raise children. This is in no way an accurate representation of LGBT women in the world. It is comforting to know that popular shows thrive not in spite of, but often because of their LGBT characters. It is rather disappointing to have characters reduced to very specific roles thus, validating only a subset of LGBT women.
GLAAD reports that there are 46 regular LGBT characters on broadcast and they are evenly split between men and women. Despite having an equal number, the portrayal of men and women LGBT characters is vastly different. The women on The O.C. and Pretty Little Liars are more feminine and are attracted to other feminine women.
Modern Family was supposed to be just as it sounds, a portrayal of today’s families. The LGBT community was so excited to have a gay couple as a central storyline on primetime television. But there is a lack of affection between Mitchell and Cameron. Their first and only kiss to date is in the background of a scene. It is almost as if it didn’t happen. Scandal is definitely moving forward with its LGBT characters. The President’s Chief of Staff, Cyrus, is married to a journalist, James. They share several kisses and two scenes insinuating intimacy, but their scenes are rather awkward and very brief. It seems as if they are entered simply to say that there
The same is true for Grey’s Anatomy and The Fosters, where these women also fulfill typical ideas of family by getting married and having children. These characters are often seen showing affection, kissing, and having sex. I appreciate that we have come
However, LGBT female characters are doing a lot better than the male characters. There is a serious lack of intimacy. Will & Grace may have done better justice to gay men in the early 2000s than the shows today.
is gay representation on the show rather than do the characters justice. In both of these shows, these couples are married with children. Again, perpetuating the idea that an LGBT couple must have a family in order to be valid. While television sexualizes LGBT women, it desexualizes LGBT men. These couples are put into boxes, packaged into what media deems to be an acceptable LGBT person. GLAAD reports that only 3.3% of regularly appearing characters on TV are LGBT, 6.7% shy of reality if we accept the widely quoted 1-in-10 statistic. Not to mention the lack of transgender characters. Glee is the only broadcast TV show with a trans character, just one character on one show. (Orange is the New Black is not included as it is only available to Netflix subscribers). Television is entertainment but it also reflects society and it does not accurately portray the LGBT community. We shouldn’t be satisfied with the fact that we have simply made progress. Media representations of the LGBT community are important. There is an entire organization, GLAAD, dedicated to that very notion. You never know what LGBT child is watching television hoping to find their story, hoping to find validation on their favorite show. I challenge us to expect more from our entertainment, they just might deliver. V
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zero Written and Styled by Ryan Moore Photography by Jonathan Pfeifer
ith the change of season comes a change of apparel and accessories. Winter ushers in layers, scarves, high necks and cozy knits. White, winter white, ivory and cream bring a sleek brightness to the cold weather attire. These colors are neutral, so they pair beautifully with almost everything. Silver and sequins are also a simple and easy way to add glamour to any look. To avoid looking like the Tin Man, keep your metallic pieces simple and understated. Outerwear this season comes in numerous shapes, colors, styles and textures. Splurging on a great coat may seem absurd, but it will instantly take your look to the next level. Fur coats will always be a fabulous option for the winter months; they add great texture (as well as warmth) to any look. V
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Milestones Moments and
Once More Around The Sun Written by
This year has been a big one for the LGBT community—both local and national. There were major victories in striking down laws limiting gay rights, and nations passing laws essentially making it illegal to be gay. We found an ally in what seems like the most unlikely place, and more states passing marriage equality legislation. There were also political leaders voicing support for the LGBT community. On a more local level, a beloved bar closed its doors. We also had victories in Missouri municipalities passed non-discrimination acts, and St. Louis and Kansas City received a gleaming award from the HRC.
Let’s take a look at some of the national events that made headlines, like
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was passed by the senate this fall.
The Fall of DOMA & Prop 8,
which were arguably the biggest victories of the year; perhaps of the last decade. In the landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8, allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying once again in California. With the fall of DOMA, however, same-sex couples who were legally married were now able to file federal income taxes jointly and receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples, regardless of whether their home state had legalized gay marriage. Which meant that couples living in Illinois and New Jersey could receive all the benefits of heterosexual couples, because
New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island and others all legalized same-sex marriage this year. That meant that couples living
in New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Delaware all now get the same rights, benefits and tax breaks, regardless of the gender of its members. These states join Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland and the District of Columbia as states that have legalized samesex marriages. These states legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t the final legislative victory our community had this year, because
ENDA is a blanket protection law that prevents discrimination in the workplace based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Unfortunately, the bill has hit a wall in the Republican-controlled house. No longer would residents of Missouri have to worry about being fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or any other spectrum of our rainbow. Even though it hasn't become law, it's still a victory for our community; which is far more than any LGBT citizens can get in Russia, because this year
Vladimir Putin passed laws banning “gay propaganda,”
including discussions and acknowledgements of homosexuality in school, Gay Pride parades, and essentially anything else involving homosexuality. In short, Putin made it illegal to be openly gay in Russia for fear of arrest and incarceration. The discovery of this new law came at an unfortunate time, as the 2013 Winter Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in Sochi, Russia. Many Olympic athletes and pro-LGBT organizations wanted to take some kind of action to show support for the oppressed LGBT population in Russia, including boycotts, small rainbows displayed on uniforms, calls to move the games from Sochi, and the public dumping of Stoli Vodka. Putin has since announced that LGBT athletes and spectators will be safe in Russia this winter, but we’ll have to see. While Russia’s leader is condemning homosexuality, we found an ally in an unlikely place, as
Pope Francis announced his support of the LGBT community and said that The
Church needs to stop its obsession with homosexuality and abortion. While the Pope’s PR people were quick to jump on his earliest statements and say they were a “change in tone” not a “change in doctrine,” that didn’t stop him from voicing support on numerous occasions. But even though there haven’t been any formal or official changes to the doctrine or attitudes of the Catholic Church… I mean, it’s The Pope. Who knew we’d be able to count him among our allies? On more of a local scope, we had our fair share of victories. Like back in March, when
PrideFest moved from Tower Grove to Downtown,
marking one of the biggest turnouts in PrideFest history. Hundreds of groups joined the parade that marched down Market, right in front of the Capitol, and into Soldier’s Memorial. The move was not without controversy, as the community was initially very opposed to the move. However, as time went on and PrideFest crept up, the community began embracing the change, and once Pride Weekend arrived, the festival turned out to be one of the most successful Prides in its history. Despite the amazing turnout at PrideFest this year, the weekend also came with its fair share of controversy, as
Sen. Claire McCaskill announced support for same-sex marriage. While she wasn’t
the first Democrat to support it, she was a liberal voice in a pretty red state, one which has a same-sex marriage ban on the books. It was a pretty big victory for Sen. McCaskill to publicly announce her support, and we thank her for it. Even though Missouri is a traditionally conservative state,
St. Louis and Kansas city received a perfect score on the HRC Municipal Equality Index.
The MEI is a sort of test that is given each year to over a hundred cities throughout the nation, including each state capitol, and the most populated cities in each state. St. Louis received a perfect score on the 2012-2013 MEI; Kansas City received an 85. Kansas City vowed to achieve a perfect score this year, and they achieved the goal. In addition to St. Louis and Kansas City getting a perfect score on the MEI,
Clayton, Maplewood and Kirkwood all passed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances, meaning hardworking LGBT
employees in those municipalities won’t have to worry about being fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a great step forward for Missouri, and while we don’t have marriage equality, these were steps in the right direction. While St. Louis itself wasn’t passing nondiscrimination ordinances, one major milestone was when
Novak’s closed its doors for good.
The announcement came days before PrideFest, with Nancy saying on Facebook that the bar would close its doors after Pride. However, the Monday after Pride Weekend, the bar was open, to much public outrage. People felt that Nancy had tried to pull a fast one on the community, and there was considerate backlash. Days later, it was announced that the bar would close down and reopen in the future under new management with a new name. Regardless, the community was hit hard when Novak’s left us. Whether you loved or hated the bar, or Nancy herself, it was a loss for the community when its doors closed. And even as all these events made headlines throughout the year, one that was happening right here to the magazine was when
Vital VOICE underwent a complete brand overhaul. Our entire magazine, brand
and website changed. We launched our new brand in September, and brought you a clean, sleek and modern look to accompany the same great content you’ve come to know. Vital VOICE is very excited for what our rebrand has brought for the company, and what is to come in the next year, and we look forward to spending it with you. V
Good Bye 2013
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Q & A Ross with
Celebrities, Camp & Creating a Moment proud to do it my way. Because I think Written by Colin Murphy – Editor there are so many different ways that Photography by NBC Universal people do pop culture conversations and I feel like I’m an elected delegate If you don’t know who Ross Mathews is for all super fans so this show is really by now, then chances are you’re Amish interactive and the audience is my coor have been banished to your room host. I’m really so proud of that because without any modern comforts for the it’s exactly the show I wanted to do. past 12 years. The falsetto-voiced funny man has been entertaining audiences Do you think that gay men are since 2001 when he broke out on The better at drawing out people’s Tonight Show as the over-the-top Ross secrets or personal stories? I the Intern interviewing everyone from think, personally, we must have Oscar winners to British royalty. some special gene – the “step Since then, the pop culture fanatic has been a staple on television whether dishing on Chelsea Lately or prowling the red carpet on E! Network’s award show coverage. From web and radio shows to his best selling book, “Man Up!,” the out media sensation has been serving up celebrity gossip, fangirling and campy conversation as the new queen of all media. Earlier this year, he premiered his new pop-culture chat fest, Hello Ross – the new fan destination where the intersections of celebrity gossip and pop culture collide. Vital VOICE recently chatted with the flamboyant phenom on topics ranging from his love of camp, pop culture, celebrities and more. Hello Ross airs Fridays 10/9c on E! Network. Join the conversation at #HelloRoss or follow the media queen on Facebook at Hello Ross.
This is our annual CAMP issue – what’s the campiest thing you’ve seen or done this year?
In the past year? Oh, jeez… wake up! I am a fan of camp. I think more is more – I think the frosting on the cake is more frosting. People are always editing me. I can’t think of anything specifically, but I’m a big fan of camp.
Congratulations on Hello Ross. I mean - gossip, pop culture and celebrity interviews – how can you go wrong? It’s like a gay heave. [Giggles] You know, it is and I’m so
into my parlor, gene,” ya know? I think for the most part, we’re just kind of fun – sort of creative, interesting people. I don’t want to generalize – but a lot of my staff here are gay and the reason is because they’re fun and they’re interesting and they’re creative and they have a point of view and they’re curious. I find that with the straight staff as well. But I think what I bring to the table is all of those things. It’s just in my nature to be curious and to care and be passionate about people and about pop culture.
When did you first realize that you were able to connect with people and sort of get them to tell their stories?
Well, I remember my mom’s friends would come over to the house when I was a kid and I would sit at the dining room table and gossip with them. It was almost like I felt like I was interviewing them. In a weird way, I’d kind of pretend it was a talk show even back then. They’d be having wine and smoking and I would just sit there and eat Fritos and get all the town gossip. I was just fascinated by it and I felt like I would get more out of them if I paused and didn’t talk for a second. So there were interview techniques I would try out on my mom and her friends as a little kid.
I’ve heard comparisons of your show with the UK’s The Graham Norton Show – thoughts? Oh my God, I’m thrilled with that comparison. I remember the first time I went to London. I had never seen Graham Norton and I went there and I thevitalVOICE.com
I've had a laser focus to get here and now that I'm here I'm not going anywhere for a while.
saw him and then I went to a studio and interviewed him right away. He was so super nice to me and then he came to L.A. and did a show here and I went and saw him and he remembered me. I had been Ross the Intern for like six months, at this point – this is really early, almost 12 years ago. I remember thinking, when I get my show—it’ll be very different because I bring something different to the table, but what will be similar to his is the energy and the spontaneity. I watch a lot of talk shows that are so boring to watch because I love television. Where it’s like, God, you know they rehearsed that and you know the host had three talking points to get to and that’s all – but there was nothing spontaneous, no moment. And from the early days on Leno, when I would just interview celebrities on the red carpet, it was never really about getting some dirt or getting the latest gossip, it was about creating a moment. That’s what I do well and that’s what we do on the show. If you look at the very first two episodes, we created a moment in the audience talking about those pop culture stories, we created a moment in the field piece, we created a moment with Sky Blue and Lance Bass and Joey Fatone. It felt special, you know what I mean?
Yeah, exactly. What drives you? You’ve had a really rapid rise from intern to where people are starting to call you “the new queen of all media.”
I’ll take it! Listen, it doesn’t feel like a rapid rise because I’ve been here in the trenches for 12 years working really hard and sort of having to prove myself. I started as Ross the Intern, which is a wonderful way to start – we all start our own way. But a lot of people just considered it this gimmick, where as I had, since eight years old, wanted to be a talk show host and a broadcaster. So when that happened, I thought well, I’ll just take this and run with it. This will be how I get my in – because there’s no one way. There were a lot of great things that came with that: working, exposure, learning. But what also came with that was sort of a label as a “gimmick” and to sort of prove to people that not only do I have a last name, but I have a point of view and skills has been difficult. But I’m here now and I’m thrilled and I wouldn’t change a single thing. Because you talk about all media and that’s really where I want to go. You know, I wrote a book called “Man Up.” It’s a best seller and I’m so proud of it because it’s so funny but it has this great message. I do a radio show with Josh Wolf called The Josh and Ross Show – it’s a podcast. And now with this
talk show – I really feel like I’m establishing a brand and that brand is about positivity and spontaneity and sort of good natured fun without being cheesy.
Let’s dive into some fun questions. What pisses you off? Uh, Assholes.
When was the last time you had a diva meltdown? A diva meltdown… [Laughs]. I don’t know if I have a diva meltdown. But when I do – like my Salvador knows – he knows it’s time to go if I’m over shopping or over a party or something, I always say, “My feet are hot, I’ve gotta go.” That’s the most diva thing I do, I can’t fake it. So if I’m at a thing too long and like I’m just so over it or not into it – I can’t fake it – that’s my biggest meltdown is that I can’t be insincere.
What is your strangest encounter on the red carpet?
My strangest encounter was probably—I write about it in the book. Gwyneth Paltrow was the forward because I met her on the red carpet and asked her to be my best friend and she said yes – and then she emailed me the next day and we’re still best friends. Nothing will ever top that in terms of rockadoodle.
Who is your latest celebrity crush?
know I’m into politics, let me go cover it and like legitimately cover it.” And we went and it was so successful. I covered the conventions – I had a 15 minute interview with the First Lady, I interviewed John McCain, I sat down with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. To get to do that and really ask questions that never talk down to the E! audience (because I thought that was really important) was great. You know, The Washington Post ended up writing a story about our coverage. So it was a real turning point to me because I don’t think Ross the Intern would have gotten those interviews but I’m so thrilled that Ross Mathews did.
Who would be your dream interview?
Well, I would want to interview Oprah because I would love to just sort of pick her brain and I feel like you get better being around people like that. I’ve been interviewed once or twice by Howard Stern and I felt like a better broadcaster when I left that room because of how good he was. So I would love to just soak up some of her. But I’d also love to interview Lady Gaga because I’ve never met her and because the nature of my show is all about fans and pop culture coming together – I would love to provide that for the fans. And also, I don’t really know who she is on the inside so I’d like to try to crack that nut.
Well, I mean Justin Timberlake has my heart forever. But then Clint Eastwood’s son was just on the blogs, they did a picture for something, did you see that??
I don’t think anybody’s cracked that nut yet.
He’s super hot.
Finish this sentence: In 20 years Ross Mathews will be…
What’s going on there!!?? Where’s that been hiding? Don’t keep that behind closed doors, that’s good eatin’.
He could talk to an empty chair and get away with it. [Laughs] He might turn me Republican.
Speaking of politics, you were the political reporter for E! News last year. Is it true that politicians are just ugly celebrities?
I love politics as much as I love pop culture, because to me it feels like homecoming court voting but on a large scale and open to the public. It feels like the Oscars but we get to see the behind the scenes ugliness of it. That’s why I love politics. So when I was talking to the E! News people and they said, “What would you want to do”? I said, “Let’s make it special, let’s make it unexpected. People don’t
I’d like to be the guy that does it. I think I’m the man for the job.
In 20 years Ross Mathews will be one of those names synonymous with talk show hosts, like a Rosie O’Donnell or an Oprah or a Donahue or a Jay Leno or a Chelsea Handler. When you think of them, you think of this job. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve had a laser focus to get here and now that I’m here I’m not going anywhere for awhile.
Last question – we’re based out of St. Louis – I know you’ve been to St. Louis before. What’s your take on the scene here? I’ve been to St. Louis before and I love it. I had one of the best dinners in my life there. But I really like it a lot. Midwest people are nice. I come from a small farm town in Washington State and we are polite people, so I feel really at home in the Midwest. I really like it. v thevitalVOICE.com
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I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
This TV movie centers on the less known character, Rerun, who is one of Lucy’s brothers. Rerun envies Charlie’s relationship with Snoopy. He decides he wants a dog as well and asks Snoopy to contact his brother, Spike, as a possible new friend. The story is rather uninteresting and strays from the typical Peanuts feel. After A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, this special is a huge disappointment.
Written by Hanna
Holiday them or Specials: we eith lov er such a w e to hate them love . There is ide marg are eithe in for er ror, rg or a flop oing to be a ho they me run . We hav flops. He e re at the compiled the 10 worst specials through h the years oliday . Enjoy.
Rating: 7/10 A Chipmunk Christmas (1981) In the spirit of Christmas, Alvin gives away his prized harmonica to a boy who is sick with cholera. Cholera? Yeah, cholera. On Christmas. Alvin spends the rest of the episode trying to raise the money to buy a replacement harmonica so he can perform with his brothers on Christmas Eve. This episode includes a trippy dream sequence involving Abraham Lincoln as Santa and elephants as Santa’s reindeer. Strange dreams and cholera sound like the perfect children’s Christmas to me. Not.
Rating: 5/10 32
Shrek the Halls (2007) Christmas Comes to Pac-Land (1982)
The Shrek Christmas special aired as a short on ABC. The story is wildly unoriginal. Shrek has never celebrated Christmas before and has a very “bah humbug” attitude. He goes in seek of the Christmas spirit in order to create the perfect holiday for his wife and ogre kids. In typical fashion, Shrek tries his best to create the best Christmas but ruins it, chasing all of his friends away. This special is complete with a dancing roast turkey and Pinocchio singing “Don’t Stop Believing." Honestly, those were the best moments in the short.
First, they actually made a TV show based on the video game? It is about as bizarre as it sounds. There is a little Pac-Family running around eating ghosts and “power pellets." In the Christmas episode, Santa crash lands in Pac-Land and teaches everyone all about Christmas. The family feeds and helps Santa get back on track. Basically, the Pac-Family saves Christmas, blah blah blah, typical Christmas storyline.
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
A Very Brady Christmas (1988)
This holiday special is the cheesiest thing I have ever seen. It is about Chewbacca’s efforts to return to his Wookiee family for Life Day (similar to Christmas). More than half the movie is spent watching the Wookiee family await Chewbacca’s return, meaning that more than half the special is in Shyriiwook and we have no idea what is being said. This is the holiday special every person involved in its creation wish to never speak about. Star Wars’ creator, George Lucas has said, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Carrie Fisher, who plays Princess Leia, says that she shows it at parties at the end of the night when she wants people to leave. One thing the Star Wars Holiday Special is good for: ending a party.
The Brady Bunch was never a well-acted show but I swear the acting got even worse when they became adults. This Christmas special is a Brady family reunion after all of the kids have grown up and moved away. Each child is faced with real life problems and each problem is solved in an oversimplified manner. Every line is delivered in the choppiest manner and with a lack of emotion. There is a lot more talking rather than acting. But if you are a die-hard Brady Bunch fan (are there such fans?), you might enjoy seeing where the characters are as adults. Other than that, don’t waste your time.
Alf’s Christmas Special (1987) In a series of unfortunate events, Alf finds himself delivered to a hospital in a toy sack. He is presented to a dying girl, Tiffany, as a gift. He spends much of the episode fulfilling his role as a doll until he decides to befriend the girl. The Tanner family comes to the hospital to retrieve Alf so he and the girl must part ways. It is presumed that Tiffany dies as the episode is dedicated in memory of a Tiffany in the closing credits. Whoever decided illness and/or death should be a central theme in a Christmas episode was seriously misguided. Most depressing Christmas special ever created.
Rating: 4/10 Rating: 4.5/10 Rating: 1/10
The Village People in Can’t Stop the Christmas Music— On Ice! (1980) Wouldn’t you love to see this?! So would I. There is literally no video footage of this Christmas special. I would like to think those that participated are trying to hide this atrocious yet delightful piece. Supposedly, Bruce Jenner made an appearance to help The Village People save Christmas after Santa (Paul Lynde) got a hernia. This is either the best Internet troll or the best-kept secret. Either way, I would pay to see it!
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (2000) Yes, it is a movie based on the obnoxious Christmas song. Lines from the song appear all throughout the movie. Santa runs over Grandma with his sleigh and whisks her away to the North Pole for medical treatment. There is a whole subplot revolving around the family business and Grandma returns to settle the dispute. The sleigh hits grandma again because apparently her famous fruitcakes contain “reindeer nip." As a result, Santa is put on trial for “sleighicular negligence." The movie is just as strange as the song. The voice acting and animation are as terrible as the plot, Grandma sounds like she has inhaled helium.
Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) Singing military men, screaming Pee Wee, arts and crafts, k.d. lang, Dinah Shore, Cher, Charo, Joan Rivers, and so much more. This special is probably the gayest thing I have ever seen. And for that reason I love it. And hate it. It is so bad that it is fabulous. They butcher all of my favorite Christmas songs in the best of ways. The combination of cartoons, cheesy affects, talking inanimate objects, and humans all together make you feel like you’re tripping on something. Supposedly there was a plot somewhere amidst all of this but I was laughing too hard to notice. This is a holiday must see. 10/10 for side-splitting laughter and use of so many gay icons.
Rating: 10/10 thevitalVOICE.com
It's Not About Us Straight Women Who Love Homoerotica Written by
As I always tell my gay male counterparts, I may be the only straight female here, but we can all agree that we enjoy and love the same thing — penis. So when you say that there are TWO involved with hot muscular, lusty bodies, I’m so in. I’m not the only straight woman who’s intrigued. It’s a well known fact that more and more heterosexual females are falling in love with homoerotica. Whether it is in novels, movies or porn, the flourishing industry of M/M romances (male-on-male) is enticing the unpredictable audience. I talked with gay romance author Damon Suede on exactly why straight women
are so infatuated with homoerotica. Damon is the author of the hit gay romance novels, Bad Idea and Hard Head and the current President of Rainbow Romance Writers. He even has self-proclaimed and unofficial fan club of women called “Damon’s Bitches.” According to Damon, the average gay romance author’s audience typically consists of 90% heterosexual women and 10% gay men. “Everyone jokes around that guys like girl on girl, right? And actually, women love boy on boy,” Damon says. “I believe that what gay romance offers is male vulnerability. It’s male emotional availability. Suddenly, they are allowed to sneak peak into the emotional landscape of people of an XY chromosome. That’s very sexy.”
He goes on to explain that romance in general is a woman's genre. It's no secret that people love to be loved but it's the woman who likes to read and watch it happen. For me, it’s interesting to see and hear the male side to sex and romance. Sure, there’s passion in heterosexual relationships, but I've seen that and I've experienced it. It's most definitely nothing new and I get bored easily. The energy and emotions are completely different in homoerotica and unlike anything I've ever encountered as a straight woman. In homoerotica, you get to see into the minds of both parties and it’s a plus that both are male, especially if you are watching it. “So if you look at women reading gay
Featuring Damon Suede thevitalVOICE.com
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says. “You are going to have a different reaction to her. If I am a gay man writing a gay romance, in a way, I occupy a fantasy space.” For me and other straight women alike, it’s like I’m looking at something I’m not supposed to— it’s something forbidden. To women, that’s hot and it makes them aroused. I still enjoy reading heterosexual erotica, but I'm not going to lie, it gets hard to relate to some of the female characters. Most of the time, they are in such deep turmoil from something that happened to them in their past and it's overwhelming to deal with another woman's problems. I always think to myself 'Can you just get over it and get to the sex part?' With homoerotica, there are problems but problems straight women have never encountered.
Damon’s theory on why straight women like gay men involves the fact that gay men tend to be more versatile in emotion and boundaries. Initially, he believes that it’s stemmed from the physical differences between men and women. “I believe that when little boys are born they believe that their entire world is on their outside of their body,” Damon says. “They can look down and they can see what feels good and they know what’s a problem and everything is totally exposed to view.” “Little girls know that things have interior spaces,” he explains. “They have to explore and analyze. So they are always probing, digging and subjectifying things, while men are busy objectifying things.” So with gay romances and erotica, straight women are able to see how men function. Women in general have difficulty understanding the thought
romance, it’s two for the price of one,” Damon says. “You don’t just have one man being emotionally available but two.”
process of men. We are constantly asking, “Why does my boyfriend think?” or “Does he love me?”
So if you go to a lesbian romance... what are you getting them, where are the dudes? -Damon Suede
Let’s face it. Females just can’t let things go and are always searching to find the answer. That’s why women can relate to gay men because they can find their answers through them as opposed to their mysterious straight partners. With gay romances told by an LGBT person, you get to see how not one but two men’s thoughts unfold. “And it’s one thing if the person writing your romantic fantasy is a woman and you were a straight woman,” Damon
This thought is similar to other forms of homoerotica. Take porn for example. In porn that involves a man and a woman, it's a little difficult to relate or get aroused to the sight of large breasted female that looks nothing like you. With gay porn, there's two men and no thought to even compare yourself to either one. Plus, straight men like lesbian porn, so why can't straight women like M/M erotica? Lesbian erotica, specifically with novels, has not hit the same popularity as M/M erotica has. "The thing with lesbian romance is that I believe that because romance is traditionally a female genre, meaning most of its readers are heterosexual women," Damon explains. "Because most of those readers are heterosexual, they want male vunerability. Male emotional availability. So if you go to a lesbian romance... what are you getting them, where are the dudes?" Straight women especially thrive for something different and raw, which just so happens is M/M erotica. Homoerotica is a way for many heterosexual women to make both emotional and sexual fantasies into reality. It's dramatic and sexy. With that, M/M erotica will only gain more straight readers. V thevitalVOICE.com
Mention the word “camp” to most heterosexuals, and they begin reminiscing about fond memories from their youth’s summer or Bible camp. Say that same word to many gay men, and expect anything from a line-by-line recitation of dialogue from Mommy Dearest to endless quips about Divine, Liberace, and Charlie’s Angels. Although various forms of 'camp' have existed since the 1950’s, the term itself gained momentum as a mainstream concept after writer Susan Sontag penned an essay in 1964 entitled “Notes on “Camp.’” In the piece, Sontag deconstructed camp and pointed out that it “emphasized artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness and shocking excess as key elements…” (Sontag, 1964). Please note that, unlike Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, I do cite my sources…but I digress. The 1950s most likely serve as the origins of camp because, although many Americans were doing well financially and prospering, the collective tastes of the country were dubious-some might even say tacky. Drag performances also have strong roots in the world of camp; according to the book “Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America” by Esther Newton (1979), the commonly accepted behavior of gay men behaving effeminately evolved into the concepts of “swish” and “drag.” The former related more to hyperbolic language and the latter to behavior. Okay-so enough with the history lesson…however you define it, camp can be shit-loads of fun as illustrated through these classic examples:
Valley of the Dolls
Most queens over the age of 40 collapse into a puddle of goo when they watch this movie. The bitchy dialogue. The Hollywood setting. The pills and booze. I don’t know about you, but watching that bathroom smack-down scene between Patty Duke’s character, Neely O’Hara and Susan Hayward’s Tinseltown Diva, Helen Lawson, is like taking a master class in ham-fisted acting. That movie largely inspired me to pursue recreational drug use and casual sex to a degree that still unnerves my psychiatrist to this day.
“Sparkle, Neely! Sparkle!!!”
John Waters is a gay god who has arguably contributed more to gay pop culture/camp than almost any other film-maker in history. This one may not be your favorite John Waters vehicle (my personal pick is probably Pecker), but it made him more famous and accessible. Ticking off the items in this celluloid freak-parade is like listening to one of those “What’s Hot in NYC” segments by SNL’s Weekend Update guest “Stefon.” It’s got an obese drag queen, heroin sellers who peddle to school children, and a cut-throat competition for the title of “Filthiest People Alive.” If you like the proverbial kitchen sink being tossed in for your sense of grotesque fun, then this one has your FILTHY name written all over it.
Throughout the Decades 1980s
(1981-1989) There is debate on this one. Some claim that this was a straightforward “TV drama” and doesn’t therefore qualify as “camp.” Others—those of us who are lucid and actually watched the show-fully understand its over-thetop ridiculousness and melodramatic perversions. While the outfits alone are worth checking out (who doesn’t wear an all-white evening gown around the house during the day?), it was the insane cat-fights between Alexis (Joan Collins) and Krystal (Linda Evans) that hooked us and kept us tuning in week after week for generous helpings of gaudy excess. On a side note, I am still petitioning to have Darin Slyman, Colin Murphy, and Yours Truly dress up for Halloween next year as Alexis, Sammy Jo, and Dominique Devereaux respectively (but not respectfully).
Welcome to the Dollhouse
This Todd Solondz helmed horror show is epic in its celebration of nerdy teenagers, suburbia, and cultural fascinations with awful pop music (Debbie Gibson) and the searing pain of adolescence. The main character, Dawn Weiner (“Weiner Dog”), is physically unattractive and socially awkward in the same way that Sarah Palin is a little “slow” and a tad mean-spirited. Weiner Dog and her desperate attempts to “fit in” with the popular kids will make you cringe in ways that you never imagined. The scene of her writhing around on the hood of a car while trying to catch the eye of an older male classmate is worth the price of admission alone.
The mere mention of it elicits a chorus of giggles and groans. This one is so catastrophic that it essentially ruined the career of its star, Elizabeth Berkley. Granted, her most well-known role before this was as Jessie Spano on the god-awful “Saved By the Bell,” so it wasn’t like she was on her way to inevitable Oscar gold, but still… When you pair up the writer of “Basic Instinct” and the director of “Robocop,” you really should expect a dismal flop, but no one could have anticipated just how hysterically hideous the whole thing would turn out to be. Three words:
Angry Vegas Stripper. thevitalVOICE.com
E posed Written by Jimmy No Show Photography by Jonathan Pfeifer
Nancy Novak is arguably one of the most polarizing members of St. Louis’ LGBT Community. Love her or hate her, her name extends beyond the invisible borders of our community. In August of this year, after 17 years in business, the doors closed to Novak’s Bar and Grill amid a firestorm of rumors and speculation. Despite being around for so long, Novak has never spoken on record about her life and her story until now. Upon entering the restaurant where the interview took place, one of the waiters (who was straight for the record) recognizes Novak and greets her with a smile. “I think he’s more into me, than he is you,” she jokes, so I ask about her sexual identity. “I am bisexual and always afraid to say I was.” Novak got her start bartending at Attitude’s Nightclub, a lesbian bar at the time, and at that time she identified as such. “In my 30 years, I’ve had five relationships that were full-on lesbian,” she says while going on to explain that she hasn’t had a heterosexual relationship in 30 years. Like a lot of Novak’s life, the B in LGBT has always been met with a variety of reactions and skepticism. When I ask her if she was afraid of coming out as bisexual for fear of alienating her clientele, she seems to affirm the idea, but sidesteps the question, offering that on National Coming Out Day she announced she was bisexual on Facebook.
Facebook has become a common thread in Novak’s life. It can be her best friend and worst enemy. She could be the poster child for the over-connected. When she’s celebrating, her friends are there to champion her, and when she stumbles, the naysayers are quick to lunge. “I didn’t know about my enemies before [social media] and you think, ‘Oh my God, I have so many people that hate me in St. Louis,’” she explains. “Especially after this thing where I lost my bar and then reopened, I thought about killing myself. It’s just the bottom of the barrel. People hate me now.” “I would never kill myself though,” Nancy pivots. “I like myself too much!” It’s difficult to get a sense of Novak’s true emotions. The honesty of the moment dies in her humor, trying to put on a brave face. She goes on to discuss her take on adult bullying and social media. Having teased this article early on, I witnessed first hand how quickly Novak’s enemies surface. I asked myself though, is she to blame for feeding into the frenzy by firing back? Would she be less revered if she kept her head up and her mouth closed? So much controversy and gossip has surrounded Novak personally and professionally that it’s understandable for her to be so quick to defend herself. Certainly there are people out there who
have done far worse. But where others were able to shake the stigma of their mistakes and move forward, Novak has stood her ground, wanting to clear the air and resolve the issues. Unfortunately, it usually comes off more as ‘be quiet’ and ‘leave me alone’, than ‘setting the record straight’, which is what I wanted to offer her the chance to do. From the day it opened, the dynamic of Novak’s was unique. “Not only did the women like it, but the gay guys started coming in,” Nancy recalls. “Since I had just come out of the closet, I had a lot of straight friends that also came in. I realized that all three of them could get along.” It’s easy to overlook the significance of this, but given the context of the time, it was truly unique. “Around 2005 or 2006,” roofing issues forced the original Novak’s to move across Manchester Ave. in the Grove. While the relocation and renovation of the new location took place, Novak opened a temporary location upstairs from Magnolias. “We called it MagNovak’s,” she jokes.
I think any kind of mistake I’ve ever made... they started with good intentions thevitalVOICE.com
that everybody hated me so much. Everybody [was] calling me greedy and, ‘What the fuck is she doing?’ It started making me not want to come out and show my face.” During this time, Novak opened a third bar immediately next door to Novak’s called Bar 5. It was essentially a Novak’s annex. “Both were open for about a year,” she says. “When we moved into the new Novak’s, we doubled in size, which made my bank account go high.” Nancy's best friend quickly became her business confidant. “We started taking trips and spending money like crazy,” she offers. “We still had the money to open up Nancy’s Place. We put everything on credit cards. Then the economy hit. Then I got sued. Somebody got hurt. Then all of a sudden, I had no money to open Nancy’s Place.” An employee was injured on the job, and lapse in workman’s compensation meant a lawsuit for Novak. This was coupled with an additional lawsuit, which involved a girl who was tragically killed driving home from Novak’s. “That’s what broke me,” she continues. “Plus the economy was bad. People think I’m greedy because I opened two other bars. Two other bars and taking time to shop and vacation really broke me.”
The new location opened, and a few years later plans to expand the Novak Empire were coming to fruition in the form of Nancy’s Place, where Meyer’s Grove now stands. “The lesbians were begging me for the old Novak’s,” she explains. “The crowd was too gay, too many men for them, and good ole’ me decides to open a new place—Nancy’s Place.” Nancy’s Place positioned itself as a female-only bar: “And that was a mistake. I’m a beer kind of girl, so I opened up Nancy’s Place with this fancy wine, fancy martinis, and the girls all came but it wasn’t for them. Everything was different about Nancy’s Place. It wasn’t laid back enough.”
Poor attendance meant a quick change of gears for Nancy’s Place. “Guys were pissed because they weren’t allowed, and at the last minute we changed it to ‘OK, guys are welcome,’” she continues. “That’s when people started getting pissed at me. They called me greedy. That’s when I started feeling backlash from the community and realizing that people just weren’t happy with me.” It seems understandable that lesbians would feel betrayed. Novak abandoned them, instead of the upscale touches that seemed to be alienating the intended lesbian audience. The backlash began to wear on Novak, “I started losing my oomph by going to the bar all the time. I got into the mindset
In the one breath, Novak describes being broke and admits excessive shopping and vacations. A testament to what caused the financial collapse of the time, living large, but paycheck-topaycheck. “I’ve never been good with money,” she states. “I’m the first to admit that. I like to spend it. I like doing what I want to do. All my life, I’ve had money, but I’ve spent it.” Money hasn’t been the only demon in Novak’s life: “I went to rehab in March. I went to a 30-day rehab because some friends suggested I go. I was on a plane the next day, and it was the best experience of my life. I don’t practice being sober anymore.” She seems convinced that she never had a real problem: “The whole time I was in rehab, I knew it wasn’t for me, but I participated and I try to control what I
drink. I didn’t go to rehab for drugs, I went for alcohol,” she offers. Alcoholism was not Novak's only rumored demon. I point blank ask her about accusations of cocaine abuse. Again, she sidesteps: “I’m a big reactor and it’s gotten me in trouble on Facebook,” she says. “But I’m trying to take some time before I react to people. This whole rehab thing has really been a blessing in disguise. It’s really strange how God works.” As she steers back toward Facebook, and being bullied, I redirect asking if she’s ever had any serious drug issues, or if it was just recreational. She asks me to leave out the specifics, and admits to dabbling in the usual suspects, but only in the past, at Novak’s original location. Any other business would have crumbled much sooner. It's a testament to Novak's — none of the rules apply. Novak’s intended closing event was schedule for the Sunday of PrideFest 2013, and no good party comes without a cover charge. “Everybody came out and loved it,” Nancy smiles. “Everyone was excited about my retirement and I was too!” A few days later, after the cover had been counted, Novak’s was back open for business. She explains the original plan was for a trusted friend to take over the business, allowing her to retire, and collect a monthly check — a silent partner type situation. “None of that happened.” At the last minute her friend pulled out and a new partner was introduced in the mix. Politics aside, Novak seemed aware of the plans to remain open, “He [her to-be new partner] was contacting me all weekend wanting to reopen, and we decided to wait until the end of the weekend to make the announcement. We made the announcement on Monday, and it all went downhill from there.” I reached out to her intended partner, who explained that Novak announced their new partnership prematurely, prior to a formal agreement being
established. He went on to explain the businesses’ closing, cover charges, and all other decisions were made exclusively on Novak’s end. Novak, he claims, was given a date she had to vacate by, and at the last minute decided to remain open until that date. He eventually made the decision to walk away from Novak’s due to her excessive debts. I asked Novak if she had any feelings of dishonesty withholding that information? “I was still retiring, that was still for sure at that time.” Novak went on to explain that the public backlash caused her new partner to drop her, and make a fresh start (In the world of Nancy Novak there’s a scapegoat born everyday.). Due to the fact her lease was on a month-tomonth basis he was able to convince her landlord too. It all begs a bigger question. The bars and nightclubs are where our community comes together. Did she ever feel a responsibility to be a community leader? “Absolutely,” she offers. “The reason I didn’t do more was because for the last five years I’ve been broke, trying to get caught up from the other two bars that took me down. It’s just been a really tough business. I understand how the community could see my reopening as a scam. So I think any kind of mistake I’ve ever made… they started with good intentions. I’m not a bad person. I don’t lie to people. I don’t steal. You’ll never catch me doing any of that. I’m scared of the public.” The closing of Novak’s seems to have ushered in some much needed peace and stability into her life. “I miss my old life before the bar business,” she concludes. “I wanted to hug everybody. I wanted to kiss everybody. Unfortunately when you’re in the bar business, you start thinking ‘business, business, business,’ you know? Are people going to come in tonight? Where are all my friends? If I could do it all again, I would be more…” She pauses, holding back tears, “I just lost so many people. I lost my best friends.” V
Getting to Know The Pictures:
“Back in the old Novak’s, I learned this craft where you tear a picture all the way around and it gives it this little white border, so I wanted a decoupage on the wall back then, then it just grew from there.” On the annual NBFD float trip:
“No Big Fucking Deal! It’s a campout. We call it NBFD because the day we went camping, it was a spur of the moment, and we forgot everything. And everything became “it’s no big f*cking deal.” On having glasses to match every outfit:
“I just like lots of colors. If you’ve got to wear something on your face, you might as well have one of every color.” On her dogs, Linda & Charlie:
“When you’ve got two pitbulls, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Linda eats dogs; Charlie eats people,” She laughs. “But really, they are very gentle with me and my friends, but they protect us.” Favorite Novak’s Event:
The Employee Christmas Party – “I tell you what, I’ve seen naked people on the bar, filled with whipped cream. We got wasted, and just had a fun time.”
Christmas... A Time For Giving!
Christmas Is Wednesday, December 25 (314) 352-7575 | www.wkf.com
Chicken & Dumplings Written & Photographed by Mikey
Prep Time: 25 mins Cook Time: 30-35 mins, 6 Servings For the month of December I thought it would be nice to have a warm meal that you could enjoy on a chilly day. A comfort food that would make your house smell like grandma's did when you were a kid and came over to visit.
2 Tbsp. of butter (or margarine 1 ¼ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, quartered 1 ½ cups chopped onions 1 cup chopped celery 3 cloves garlic (minced 1 can of corn (14.5 oz.)
1 can of carrots (14.5 oz.) 1 can of green beans (14.5 oz.) 1 ¾ cups of chicken broth 3 Tbsp of chopped parsley 1 tsp of Montreal Chicken Seasoning ½ tsp salt ½ tsp pepper 1 cup of milk 1 /3 cup of All-purpose flour 1 can of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (5 biscuits) ½ tsp. of paprika
1. In 4-quart saucepan, melt
butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onions, celery and garlic; cook 7 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink.
2. Add vegetables, broth, parsley, Montreal Chicken Seasoning, salt and pepper; mix well. 3. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. In small bowl, make a slurry by mixing the milk and flour until smooth. 4. Add to chicken mixture 5. Cook and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat to low. 6. Separate dough into biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. 7. Place biscuit pieces on top of chicken mixture and sprinkle with paprika. 8. Cover tightly and cook 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are fluffy and no longer doughy!
Elf The musical
at the fabulous fox Theatre www. fabulousfox.com (314)- 534-1111 For a complete list of showings, visit www.fabulousfox.com The hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole is unaware that he is actually human. Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
12/6 & 12/7
A conversation with edith head at sheldon concert hall www.TheSheldon.org (314) 534-1111 Time: 8 p.m.
Susan Claassen stars as Hollywood costume designer Edith Head in this one-woman show. Edith Head’s fashions have become iconic, and now is the time to hear all about them from “Miss Head,” herself! With wit, wisdom and just a touch of gossip, spend the night hearing all about how the Academy Award-winning costume designer styled stars from Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor to Grace Kelly and Shirley MacLaine! Show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are available for purchase for $40.
Paws 'n' claus at taubman prestige outlets www.taubmanprestigeoutlets.com
Santa Claus is coming to Taubman Prestige Outlets on Saturday, December 7th and December 14th from 11am until 3pm. Get a photo of your fourlegged friend with Santa and a special doggy treat, too! Visit www. taubmanprestigeoutlets.com for more details and “like” us on Facebook for the latest event updates.
moscow ballet's great russian nutcracker at the peabody opera house www.peabodyoperahouse.com 1(800)-745-3000 Tickets: $90, 60, $45 $35 at 5 p.m.
The holiday favorite dramatizes the traditional story of Masha meeting her “Prince” and, exclusive to Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, adds a tribute to world peace as well. The “Dove of Peace,” for which 2 dancers become one bird with a 20 foot wingspan, escorts Masha and Prince to the “Land of Peace and Harmony.”Celebrate the beauty of the holidays and the best of Russian ballet in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!
Martina mcbride: "The Joy of Christmas" at the Fabulous fox theatre www. fabulousfox.com (314)- 534-1111
A 12-piece band complete with a string section will back Martina, and a video screen depicting scenes of the season will complement Martina’s versions of traditional and contemporary holiday classics, which are sure to put concert goers in the Christmas spirit. The Joy of Christmas Tour will include the three-time Academy of Country Music “Top Female Vocalist” award winners Christmas classics like “Let It Snow” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” to hymns like “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Holy Night.”
beyoncÉ: the "Mrs. Carter Show world Tour" at the Scottrade center www. scottradecenter.com 1(800) 745-3000
The "Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" starring Beyoncé, the Biggest Tour of 2013, with its explosive special effects and intricate, strobe-laden light show, is an artistic triumph and the entertainer’s most ambitious undertaking to date. It is bigger in scope than any of her previous shows, fittingly designed for the vastness of arenas and stadiums. “All the single ladies” will be putting their hands up on the 14th for this eye popping, show stopping performance! “Now get your hands up!”
donnie & marie Christmas Tour at the scottrade center www. scottradecenter.com 1(800) 745-3000
Donny & Marie mix the holiday songs and spirit of their early television specials and recordings with a nostalgic look back on their storied career in a dynmaic stage show showcasing fan favorites including “A Little Bit of Country, A Little Bit Rock ‘n Roll," “Paper Roses,” “Puppy Love” and “It Takes Two.”
Scene city in the
Photography by Mikey Berner
Rehab Bar & Grill
1. Jonah GodfatherofDrag and Denise Peachez Lipinski-Gibson at Rehab Bar & Grill 2. March for Equality in Springfield, Illinois 3. Raquell Lord, Widow Vonâ€™Du, David Freklz Hunter & Tajma Stetson at Missouri EOY, The Franklin Room. 4. April Glasscock and Casey Cagle in The Grove
Scene in the city 5. Christian Lucas & David Tennyson at Hamburger Mary’s 6. Jason Slavik & Jeff Luster at Bastille 7. Ed Horner, Crash & Jerry Jurak at JJ’s Clubhouse 8. Margaret Beanna Little & Lindsey Schoen at Just John 9. Robyn Hearts & Kenadie St. James at Hamburger Mary’s 10. Lawerence Eloachee, Chris Sander and Raphael Rivera at Just John
Just John thevitalVOICE.com
1 2 Howard 3 4 5
This is our annual Camp issue. Can you tell me the campiest outfit you’ve ever worn? I was Grand Marshal for Pride one year and I wore this outfit that I really regret, and I think Darin [Slyman] even told me to wear it and I could just kick his little butt! The outfit was very sheer. There were lots of colors and sparkles. It had boas, and the pants were so sheer I had to wear something black underneath to hide everything.
Where is your favorite place in the area to sit and boy-watch? Right here [at Just John]! I also like The Wild Flower in the Central West End for lunch. Tons of people walk by there in the nice weather.
Campbell Written by Brent Peterson Photography by Jonathan
Howard Campbell is a community mainstay. Everyone knows the nearly-80-year-old Caseyville, IL native from his extensive work with the community and his unforgettable sense of style.
Though he never “officially” came out, Campbell knew he was “different” since grade school. Since then, it’s been an automatic thing with his sexuality – he never felt any reason to come out. Campbell began his work with the community when his lover of 38 years, Elmer Tucker, died back in Autumn 1997. He felt that, to avoid dwelling on the loss, he had to get involved in the community. He was a member of the Pride committee for 11 years, and he was the Pride Vice President from 2003 to 2004.
We tracked down Howard at one of his favorite spots to ask him a few questions about camp, his favorite gay bars of yore, and where he likes to ogle the guys.
You’ve been in the community for a long time, and you’ve seen gay bars come and go. Which one is, or was, your favorite and why? I always liked The Drake. It was a slower kind of place. It was a piano bar back then. I also like Clementine’s… Come to think of it, Clem’s is a great place for boy watching, too!
As a veteran of the LGBT community, you’ve experienced some huge changes, but what single thing stands out the most to you? The biggest deal for me is how acceptable gay people are compared to back in my day. Even 10-15 years ago. Back then, we never even thought about getting married. Now the marriage equality movement is everywhere.
What are three pieces of advice you would give to Younger Howard if you could? Have fun, enjoy people, and get along with everybody!
The Campy Issue - Vital VOICE Magazine - St. Louis, MO