Carol Channing Vital VOICE Exclusive
Mike Isaacson & Project StL St. Louis Icons
1 Out of 10
La Cage Aux Folles
appy 2012 and welcome to our annual ICON issue! Admittedly—this is one of my favorite themes each season. It was our first effort as the newly rebranded Vital VOICE Magazine in January 2010 and over the past two years, we’ve celebrated 14 LGBT and allied St. Louisans who both enrich and empower our prismatic community each day. What’s more—we’ve featured exclusive interviews with national figures like St. Louis native Andy Cohen and last Spring unveiled the wildly popular ICONOGRAPHY photo shoot and gallery event, where many of our city’s celebrated figures were placed in the middle of some of the more iconic images ever committed to print.
Continuing with the ICONIC – don’t forget Vital VOICE will be hosting the first annual Miss Spirit of St. Louis Pageant. Join us for the hottest new preliminary to Miss Gay Missouri America on Jan. 15th at Attitudes nightclub. Who knows—one of our two representatives just might be the next Miss Gay America! It’s a new year St. Louis and we have great things in store for you. Stay tuned. In Pride,
Colin Murphy, Executive Editor
This year we’re proud to honor one individual and one organization as part of our St. Louis ICONS series. Muny Executive Producer Mike Isaacson and local non-profit Project St. Louis have distinguished themselves over the past several years, and Associate Editor Josh Barton and myself are excited to share a bit of their respective stories. Vital VOICE is equally delighted to have legenday entertainer and LGBT favorite Carol Channing grace this month’s cover. West Coast scribe Corey Stulce does a stellar job of giving us a peek behind the curtain of a lifetime spent in show business. Also, please note my interview with Broadway veteran Christopher Sieber who stars in La Cage Aux Folles playing at the Fabulous Fox, Jan. 3-15 and watch our Facebook page for special La Cage givaways.
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At Elmhurst, you’ll find an exceptionally welcoming campus community. We embrace individual expression. We see our differences as sources of strength. And we clearly, openly, emphatically want you here. Scholarships for LGBT students Our Enrichment Scholarship specifically benefits academically qualified students from minority groups—including LGBT students. The scholarship covers one-third of tuition. More than that, it underscores our commitment to affirming the identities and advancing the dreams of each individual student.
“People at Elmhurst are accepting and supportive, from the faculty and staff to my friends and fraternity brothers. My experience here has helped me embrace my sexuality and become the person I am today.” Joey Carrillo
A wealth of programs and resources We support our LGBT students through a variety of campus organizations and events. The student group EQUAL (Elmhurst Queers and Allies) promotes awareness through events and advocacy. SAFE (Staff, Administrators and Faculty for Equality) offers a support network for the LGBT community. An annual guestship and other special events focus on issues of concern to the LGBT community. Our faculty is adding courses in LGBT studies. A step ahead of the rest “In a small but meaningful step, Elmhurst College is now officially telling applicants that gay students are welcome on campus. The private liberal arts college is the first college in the U.S. to ask potential students about their sexual orientation or gender identity on its application....The question is meant to increase diversity at the school, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, and to direct incoming students toward services that might ease their transition into college life. It’s also a strong signal that the school will embrace LGBT students and will do its best to support them.” —Chicago Sun-Times, August 26, 2011
“Elmhurst College does a great job of nurturing and supporting LGBT students. Coming out was hard for me, but I’ve been blessed to have an accepting community to come out to.” Felicia Diaz
Hear our students’ stories: www.elmhurst.edu/lgbt Contact us: (630) 617-3400 • email@example.com • www.elmhurst.edu/admission • 190 Prospect Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois
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Volume 13, Issue 1
On the COVER: Legendary Entertainer and Gay Icon Carol Channing Strikes a Pose. Photography by Michael Davis
The Vital VOICE Team
Darin Slyman Publisher/Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Colin Murphy Executive Editor/Senior Writer email@example.com
Joshua Barton Associate Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Kapfer Art Director JeffKapfer@gmail.com
Leon Braxton/Dieta Pepsi Executive Assistant /On Air Hostess Dieta@thevitalvoice.com Jimmy Lesch Director of PR/Communications Jimmy@thevitalvoice.com Janae Johnson Business Assistant email@example.com
Writing: A.J. Bockelman, Corey Stulce and Jonathan Peck Photography: Alex Galindo, Tim Brenner, Colin Murphy Paul Kolnik, Todd Alan Vilmer, Cameron Harrol, and Darin Slyman
William A. Donius, Thom Halter, Colin Murphy, Jay Perez, Pam Schneider, Kellie Trivers, Sharon Tucci.
Vital VOICE Magazine. 4579 Laclede Ave #268. Saint Louis, MO 63108 VitalVOICEmag@gmail.com 314.256.1196
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8. Online @theVitalVOICE.com 10. Mike Isaacson. 13. La Cage Aux Folles 17. Political Voice. 20. Project St. Louis. 22. Well – Hello, Carol! 27. St. Louis Icons. 31. The Q Quide. 33. Fitness Foundations. 35. Cocktail of the Month. 36. Playdates. 38. Dishin’ With Dieta. 40. Scene & Styling. Vital VOICE is printed on recycled newspaper and uses soy ink for a 100% recyclable product.
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All That Glitters: Rebel Youth Part 2
Rebel Youth returns in part two of Vital VOICE’s feature series on the lives of our queer youth. This time we take you into the wild, wonderful and wicked world of GlitterBomb Productions where a troupe of young queens and kings are marrying the night with a new brand of drag.
The Skinny Chef
Introducing Vital VOICE’s newest scribe, “The Skinny Chef” who’s out to shatter that old saying, “Never trust a skinny chef.” Our restaurant reviewer will be giving you the “skinny” on St. Louis eateries. Check out his debut review of The Vine Café & Bakery.
Talking With Michael B. Perkins
VV Theater Correspondent Andrea Braun recently caught up with St. Louis ‘Reinassance man’ Michael Perkins and the two talk acting, Shakespeare science-fiction in Anonymous, and his work in the upcoming St. Louis production of Briefs: A Festival of Short Gay and Lesbian Plays.
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Transgender Day of Remembrance began in 1999 to reflect on the murder of Rita Hester, a transwoman whose 1998 murder has never been solved. Since then, the day has become a worldwide memorial to those lost to transphobia and gender based violence. In this essay, Robyn Carolyn Montague delivers her take on transgender stigma and why everyone under the umbrella of LGBT should be fighting for trans* equality.
Stay Connected with us 8 |
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St. Louis ICON: Mike Isaacson
For the Love of Mike Written by Colin Murphy – Senior Writer/Editor Photography by Tim Brenner
“Film takes all of this artifice to tell a lie, while theatre takes all of this artifice to tell the truth. People go to movies to believe the lie. People who go to the theatre somehow feel a truth to varying degrees. It’s that human connection on stage–it’s that human connection around you.” – Mike Isaacson “I’m just living me,” says Muny Executive Producer Mike Isaacson when asked if he’s living the dream. Isaacson’s first memory of the theatre was a regional production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown in Deerfield, Illinois and his love for the art form has grown ever since. The Wisconsin native enrolled at St. Louis University in 1982 where he volunteered as an usher at the nearby and newly renovated Fox Theatre and later co-founded a theatre company to bring popular musicals to campus. Following graduation, Isaacson worked at SLU for eight years– first as assistant to Father Biondi and then as vice president for institutional advancement. “I was in my early 30s and didn’t want to work in a university my entire life,” he explains. “So I actually quit before I knew what I was going to do and focused on finishing up my MBA.” 10 | January, 2012
A friend made the prophetic suggestion that Isaacson should just do what he loves and become a Broadway producer. He soon found himself having lunch with David Fay who he knew from being a journalist at SLU. “It was just one of those weird things where the timing was right,” he shares. “I said why don’t I do something for you over the summer–basically, I’ll work for free for you for three months and we’ll see if we’re simpatico here. But the deal is–if you like what you see you have to hire me on Labor Day. And he said, okay–we’ll do that.” Isaacson would eventually head Fox Theatricals with partner Kristin Caskey. Together they produced Broadway musicals: Red (2010 Tony Award); Everyday Rapture; The Seagull starring Kristin Scott Thomas; Legally Blonde: The Musical; ‘night, Mother; Caroline, or Change; Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002 Tony Award Best Musical); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (2001 Tony Award); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Death of a Salesman (1999 Tony Award). For the IPN: Spamalot and The Color Purple. West End: Legally Blonde: The Musical (2011 Olivier Award, Best Musical); Thoroughly Modern Millie. National Tour: An Evening with Sutton Foster and Traces (Off-Broadway).
“It is a part of me,” he explains about theatre. “I’m not quite sure I even to this day understand it–but I have accepted it. It requires something. There’s a certain amount of determination, there’s certainly an amount of sacrifice. It’s hard, but you really have no right to complain, because I feel so lucky.” For centuries, LGBTers have found employment and safe haven in the artistic embrace of the theatre. What’s more–our stories are oftentimes told first from the shadows of the stage. Theatre has always been at the cutting edge of social change.
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“Gay people have always played an important role in the life of the theatre and the creation of the theatre–they are attracted to it and it’s very welcoming,” says Isaacson. “That’s very moving to me. It’s gone from being a covert thing–to an overt thing–to just understood. And everyone in the theatre community–gay, straight or whatever is very accepting.” Isaacson came out to friends at 25 while working at SLU and officially on campus after a co-worker publicly asked about the tan he’d gotten at the 1993 March on Washington. “Denial’s a pretty powerful force,” he says. “But there was finally a moment where I realized, you know what, this isn’t just about you anymore, you are kind of messing with other people’s lives. The ramifications of ‘the lie’ of other people began to bother more than it did on me. So I just sort of took a deep breath and came out.” A firm believer in giving back, Isaacson served on one of the early fundraising committees for St. Louis Effort For AIDS, helped organize the first Dining Out for Life event in St. Louis, is an HRC Federal Club Member and has worked with every production he has been involved with to benefit Broadway Cares. “We’re in such an interesting middle ground because the people before us really blazed the trail and the ones after us are getting all of the benefits,” he states. “If you think about just what’s happened to us in our adult life–I never thought any of that was possible in my 20s. We certainly did our part. I think one of the surprising events of the AIDS crisis was it forced us to get real and be honest and stop pretending on so many levels.” Earlier this year, Isaacson accepted the job as Executive Producer of the famed St. Louis Municipal Opera (The Muny), succeeding Paul Blake. His personal charge is to make sure the beloved outdoor theatre is around for future generations to enjoy. “One of the reasons I so wanted to do it is its roots are ultimately civic,” he explains. “One of its pillars is the idea of: let’s have a place in St. Louis where everyone feels welcome and we all come together during the summer to experience stories. I think that’s extraordinary. It’s mind boggling. There’s no theatre like this in the country or in the world.” “The challenge is to make audiences eight to 80 feel welcome,” Isaacson concludes. “People think it’s about the politics of the show, and it’s not. It’s about the experience. That’s what I’ve tried to show in the arc of my first season. You look at it and go—oh, there’s something here for everybody. And that’s what it has to be.” v
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1 O ut of 10 Ain’t Bad! A LOOK INTO LGBT LIFE - PAST & PRESENT
Written by Colin Murphy – Senior Writer/Editor Photography by Paul Kolnik
a Cage Aux Folles is a contemporary classic that just keeps improving with age. For each time the musical has marqueed Broadway, it has pranced away with the Tony Award for Best Musical. It’s just that good. The camp sensation takes the stage of The Fabulous Fox Theatre, January 3-15 and promises to charm audiences both gay and straight alike. The show tells the story of Georges (George Hamilton), the owner of a glitzy nightclub in lovely Saint-Tropez, and his partner Albin (Christopher Sieber), who moonlights as the glamorous chanteuse Zaza. When Georges’ son brings his fiancée’s conservative parents home to meet the flashy pair, the bonds of family are put to the test as the feather boas fly! La Cage Aux Folles is a tuneful and touching tale of one family’s struggle to stay together—stay fabulous—and above all else, stay true to themselves. theVitalVOICE.com | 13
I recently caught up with Sieber by telephone to chat about the show, which he admits is the most vocally demanding of his career given the five different voices his character requires. Life is good for the Broadway veteran and two-time Tony nominee. He was recently married to his longtime partner, Kevin Burrows and is excited to be back on the road after 20 years. (His last national tour was Meet Me in St. Louis). Sieber, 42, holds the distinction of having played both lead characters in La Cage Aux Folles over the past year and a half. He played Georges on Broadway across from queer Icon Harvey Fierstein—and now plays the flip side as the over-the-top Albin opposite Hamilton on tour. He admits he’s the better actor for the experience. “I got into the show and I was working with my dear friend Harvey Fierstein, who played opposite me as Albin,” says the celebrated thespian. “And of course, Harvey wrote the show —so getting the insights and watching him play Albin like he wanted it played—the way he wrote it—and to be able to watch him do what he did was very helpful for me when I switched over.” And in case you’re wondering—he thinks Harvey is a much better kisser! La Cage Aux Folles enjoys a rich history—it debuted as the original French play by Jean Poiret (1973) and has enchanted in every medium, including the popular French film (1979) and two sequels, the smash Broadway musical (1983) and two revivals—and an American film remake, “The Birdcage.” Sieber remembers vividly seeing the French film for the first time in his teens when it came out on video. “I was trying to sneak it in to watch it because I knew it was about gay people, and I didn’t know much about it, but I heard about it from somewhere,” he recalls “I watched it alone in my parents basement on the VCR because I was afraid to come out at that point. I watched this movie and thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen.” But the story has a serious vent as well and the tale of two men spending their lives together and having to fight for acceptance of their relationship feels quite timely in today’s Marriage Equality climate. Sieber has seen first hand that La Cage Aux Folles can break through even the most conservative of hearts—even if only through the glorious songs of Jerry Herman. “I think if you just like theatre in general this show has so much to offer,” Sieber concludes. “Whether you’re gay or straight it doesn’t matter—it’s such a great story with an amazing score. It’s ultimately so satisfying when you leave the theatre—you leave uplifted. It actually gives you a sense of hope for the world—it’s a hopeful show and a happy ending. What more could you want?” Performances of La Cage Aux Folles are Tuesday-Saturday evenings, 8pm; Saturday & Sunday matinees, 2pm; and Sunday, January 8 at 7:30pm. There is also a weekday matinee on Thursday, January 12 at 1pm. Tickets are available in-person at the Fox Theatre box office, by phone through MetroTix at 314.534.1111, online at www.metrotix.com or check out www.fabulousfox.com. v
14 | January, 2012
“The great message about the show is that it’s about family and love–and it’s not about who you love, but that you love–and a family can be a family no matter what,”
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Why You Are the Icon Written by A.J. Bockelman Photography by Colin Murphy
his month’s theme seemed like an easy one to write about. Icons of our community, movement, politics—they’re all over, right? In a Google search for LGBT icons, it returns a great Wikipedia page of a veritable who’s who of iconic people throughout history. There were holy men like St. Sebastian, rumored to be gay, who was admired by 19th century poets like Walt Whitman, and playwrights like Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams. There are the great examples like Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera or Sylvia Plath – all deeply personifying and propelling a portion of our movement along at differing times and in meaningful ways. When there are so many, how can that list be culled? When I look at icons and apply those characteristics to our modern-day political climate, I come back with a problem. Here too, there are amazing personalities who stand out – Joel Burns for his message around anti-bullying or Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin who will likely be our first out lesbian US Senator. However, in today’s political
climate, or even in our social realm, icons are often held up and then summarily torn down. That’s just human nature, right? We build ’em up, and we tear ’em down, particularly if they are in politics. The person whom one group may identify as a hero, another group may view as a villain. That got me to thinking, and for those history professors among our readers, please forgive two years worth of poli-sci crammed into a couple of paragraphs. You see, our political structure in this country was designed from the start to be ad hoc; we form a type of government to overcome a problem, and when that problem is solved, we disband the group of collaborating individuals until a future problem is identified. The Federalist Papers, in particular Federalist 10, lays out the notion that our system was never meant to be permanently run by one faction or another and is multi-layered in order to ensure that one faction did not wrest control from another. The Founding Fathers envisioned governing our new country by weaving a network of local networks overcoming theVitalVOICE.com | 17
local problems, overlapped by a state or provincial oversight and reporting up to and superseded by a Federal government. When viewed in that light, the iconic image of Cincinnatus comes to mind - the citizen farmer, turned politician who rose in political status in ancient Rome, but then returned to the farm for a more basic life after achieving his goals. We also know that over time, our system of government experienced painful breaks when one political ideology bore out too much control over the public sentiment and dialogue. We experienced those painful times during the Civil War and again through the Great Depression. As
18 | January, 2012
a country, we moved forward on major social issues during those tumultuous times. Looking at our current political world, we have two divergent factions dominating the news over the last couple of years— the Tea Party and now the Occupy Movement—both wanting change but ideologically opposed to one another on a number of issues—while also sharing some common goals. In the middle of this chaos, we have you. The individual. The citizen farmer, so to speak. This is the kind of time when new icons are born—during unrest, during oppression— when there is an overwhelming need
for change and a frustration that is not addressed by classical means. This is the time when a citizen farmer steps forward and rises to the occasion. We need those leaders and those icons in order to move everyone forward. Those leaders are out there now, waiting, and most don’t even know it. They’ll step forward at a critical time, use their voice, and move us forward. It could easily be you. We all just need you to exercise your voice and take action. This is how you become the next icon of our movement. v
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St. Louis ICON
St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON •
St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON •
Written by Joshua Barton Photography by Colin Murphy & Todd Alan Vilmer
odd Alan Vilmer knew this “project” was doing something right when he met a mother and her five-moth-old child. “We were doing the NoH8 St. Louis campaign all over the city and I was contacted by this woman who wanted to know if she could bring her baby to get a photo together with the NoH8 campaign. She wanted people to look at this photo and know that her children would never be raised around hate or discrimination. It was so heartwarming and it was exactly what we were trying to convey,” he says. Todd sits at a table at Just Johns where the first NoH8 St. Louis photo shoot was held and where Project St. Louis took its very own baby steps in the world of LGBTQ community work. “The NoH8 campaign here in St. Louis was one of the most amazing community projects to happen here because it was a true COMMUNITY effort. It was truly amazing to see everyone who came out of the woodwork and said they wanted to be a part of this campaign: blacks, whites, gay, straight, young and old,” he says. Project St. Louis has since become a recognized and active partner in LGBTQ philanthropy and has even put its own rainbow stamp on staple St. Louis events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Planned Parenthood’s ChoiceArt and Effort for AIDS’ Thirst and Dining Out for Life. Today, the NoH8 photos that once lined the walls of Just Johns are now housed at the LGBT Center of St. Louis as the single largest private art donation ever to an LGBTQ Center. But Project St. Louis’ work has extended beyond that massive photo shoot. We caught up with Todd Alan and talked to him about Project St. Louis and how he envisions its role in the future of St. Louis’ LGBTQ community. 20 | January, 2012
How did Project St. Louis begin? It all really got started when Proposition 8 was passed in California and the NoH8 campaign began to get lots of mainstream press . We wanted to figure out how we could convey that same message here and so under the direction and guidance from the NOH8 Campaign’s website we began to formulate our own Missouri contribution and Project St. Louis was born. We raised over $10,000 for the Human Rights Campaign, PROMO and other groups fighting for equality with our St. Louis based project and had about 1,400 people photographed for marriage equality including Mayor Slay and even some state representatives. We began asking ourselves what was next and what more we could do after the campaign so we changed our name from NOH8STL to Project St. Louis so we could convey that we are more than that campaign. We’re a network of volunteers who want to contribute to LGBTQ community building all over St. Louis. What were the conversations like to get people on board with the NoH8 St. Louis Project? What was amazing about the process was
that we didn’t have to ‘pitch’ the idea to really anyone. After the fist photo shoot we did at Just Johns all the bars were contacting us asking to bring the photo shoot to them. So many students and SLU kids were also so passionate about the project and getting the word out and bringing in four to five hundred people every night to get their photos taken. We were also fortunate to have media partners with Vital VOICE, ALIVE and the RFT and it just blew up. Shane Cohn was also instrumental in getting our local politicians and the Mayor into the photos. We just took the original seed idea and it just exploded. How did you get started in LGBTQ activism here in St. Louis? It really snuck up on me. I used to go to this restaurant in Webster called Zinnia all the time and there I started to meet people who were involved with PAWS. So through meeting them, I started going to PAWS events and volunteering for them. This was about 15 years ago and it kinda morphed into this passion. Then, seven years ago I started Thirst for Life for the organization which is the bar and coffee house version of Dining Out for Life.
• St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON • St. Louis ICON
Do you ever worry about burning out? Yes, but there are so many great people here. People don’t give St. Louis credit. It is a vibrant community and even if I go home tired and I feel like I can’t do this anymore I remember who I’m helping. So far I’m not tired of it yet [laughs].
Where do you see Project St. Louis fitting into LGBTQ community work in STL? We want to begin raising significant amounts of money that can go to benefit a variety of different LGBTQ organizations like the Gateway Men’s Chorus or Pride or Doorways. We want to be a catalyst for collaborative community work and partnerships in the community. We definitely want to support The Center and help take it to the next level with fundraising, finding grants and private donors.
there are some organizations that are too big for that but it would allow the smaller ones to remain independent but have access to more support. How does it feel to be named as an Icon organization in St. Louis? It’s humbling to have someone recognize the organization like that. The NoH8 Project meant so much to all of us that it is honoring that people are putting an icon label on the project. What do you hope to accomplish in 2012 with Project St. Louis? We want to help raise the LGBT Center to the forefront of St. Louis and with an election year we hope to work with PROMO to hold our elected leaders accountable for promises made. Also, look out for a greater community wide program that allows patrons of dozens of participating restaurants, bars and retail outlets to make a difference with every purchase, all for local charitable organizations. Keep your eyes open because we have a lot of great things coming. v
So is cohesion then the biggest challenge in the future for our LGBTQ community organizing? Definitely. For me, the utopia would be for all of these amazing smaller LGBTQ organization to be under one roof... ideally The Center where all of our resources are housed together. Obviously theVitalVOICE.com | 21
22 | January, 2012
Well – Hello, Carol! Written by Corey Stulce Photography by Carol Channing Archive
No need to find her an empty knee just yet, fellas. Carol Channing: Still glowin’? Check! Still crowin’? Oh, yeah! Still goin’ strong? Was there any doubt? 2012 may be the Year of the Dragon for some, but it’s also poised to be Year of the Channing—with a fun and insightful documentary about her life being released nationally this month in theatres. She also croons on a new album of patriotic standards, “True to the Red, White and Blue.” The stalwart performer turns 91 on January 31. When Vital VOICE caught up with the legendary star of stage and screen, she was rehearsing for a holiday show in Palm Springs—ready to knock ’em dead with standards like, St. James Infirmary and The St. Louis Blues. The longtime gay icon has wonderful memories of performing in St. Louis, where she graced the stages of The Fox, The Muny and The American theatres, with shows like Hello, Dolly!, Sugar Babies and “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds.” “St. Louis is dear to me,” she says. “We would pass through the Arch each time. That Arch was inspiring. And the newly-decorated Fox Theatre. Gee, it’s hard to reach in a movie house all the way to the third balcony. We did it. … It’s the most beautiful theatre. You just keep looking at the ceiling.” She continues: “I got to sing the National Anthem for the big football game and St. Louis won. And they kept saying they won because I sang the National Anthem first.” Local cinephiles got an early peek at “Carol Channing: Larger Than Life” when it played the St. Louis International Film Festival in November. The charming look at her life and career is bookended by a love story—which began when Carol was a middle-schooler in San Francisco and became just wild about Harry Kullijian.
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“We fell in love with poetry together. Harry fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe and ‘Annabel Lee.’ I was in love with Elizabeth Barrett Browning,” Carol says.
listen that having the arts in schools are essential to the future of this country.
A shared passion for the arts never faltered, though they parted ways when her sweetheart Harry Kullijian entered military school. Fast-forward nearly 70 years, and Harry read about himself in Carol’s autobiography, “Just Lucky I Guess.”
Carol likes to paraphrase Barrett Brown on the subject: “What of the wing that used to soar, the feet that plead to dance, shall not a heart hold long and more to master circumstance. You executives of the board of education, you are the circumstance, and it’s up to you to get arts back in the public schools.”
They reunited, quickly were engaged and married, while both in their early 80s. “I think it takes that long to figure it out!” Carol laughs.
Carol was nervous about speaking to 500 high school drop-outs at a Job Corps event.
The Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts takes up most of their time these days, as they strive to convince boards of education, congress people and anyone who will
“I said, ‘Harry, what am I gonna say to these children?’ He said, ‘Tell them about your experience. Tell them what happened to you because you were exposed to the arts,’” she says. “Did you know
24 | January, 2012
all those 500 drop-outs went back to school? One of them said, ‘I always wanted to be an engineer.’ So they said, ‘Alright, we’ll give you an engineering course.’ Now he’s an engineer today. I’m proud as punch.” “Larger Than Life” chronicles Carol’s rise to stage icon and features reminiscing with Chita Rivera, Lily Tomlin, Bruce Vilanch and Carol’s former roommate, Betty Garrett, in her final interview, who shares a fun tale about their first on-screen kisses—Betty with Frank Sinatra and Carol with Clint Eastwood. Some people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and much to the legend’s delight, she been emulated by generations of drag queens, including the late Missouri Entertainer of the Year Dominique Sanchez, who sang live. “I don’t know who they’re doing. I can’t imagine who that person is. And why are they all men? Do I have a glandular imbalance of some kind that nobody wants to tell me about?”she quips. “It’s with all the affection in the world that they do it, and I’m very grateful.” Many people associate Carol with one of her most-famous roles—as Dolly Gallagher Levi—and “Larger Than Life” shares some behind-the-scenes insight into that iconic character and musical. Carol is quick to remind, though, that she and Dolly share little in common. “I don’t see it. Dolly’s a meddler. She’s aggravating. She misses her dead husband. She keeps talking to herself,” Carol says. “She had a New Yawk accent. She’s not like me at all.” Carol won a Tony for Dolly! and never missed a performance— sans a portion of one show, when she had food poisoning. On the road with the musical, Carol suffered from ovarian cancer and received treatment as Dolly! traveled city to city—again, never missing a show, the documentary reveals. “I felt like I was trying to come up to an impossible mission. The audience, they saved their hard-earned money. They got babysitters. They drove in from God-knows-where. They wanted to see the show and then I’m not there? I can’t do that. So I got there. Every. Single. Performance,” she says. “I reached to the heavens to get the show out and that’s your best performance, the one you can hardly get out.” Lifting lives is what Carol Channing is all about some 80 years after she fell in love with the arts and being in the spotlight. When nominated for secretary of the student body in fifth grade, she didn’t know what to say, so she did an impression of the school principal. It got laughs, and taught Carol her first lesson in comedy: no malice. “Then I did Mr. Schwartz, who blew up the chemistry lab once a term. Mr. Schwartz, I adored him. He yelled out from the audience, ‘You have immortalized me!’ I was so encouraged I went home and did more members of the faculty. Naturally, I was elected by a landslide,” Carol chuckles. She used her time reading the morning minutes to encourage students to save their pennies and go to the theatre to see the likes of her heroine, Ethel Waters, in “As Thousands Cheer,” as she did at the famed Curran Theatre in San Francisco. “The box office man knew me. They’d say ‘Yes, we saved your
seat for you.’ I’d sit there and Ethel Waters came out and sang, ‘Suppertime, I should set the table.’ I wanted the woman in my life and she became a friend after I got billing,” Carol says, leading one tale into another. “I was in a little revue. A revue is my home territory because I get to jump from character to character. I got to meet Ethel Waters because the critics kept reviewing it. They kept saying, ‘the most promising young…’ I got ‘the most promising young…’ so many times, I thought I would never come to fruition! It was ridiculous. That led to Cole Porter having something for me. I chose Gentlemen Prefer Blonds because I preferred it. That opened my life tremendously.” And Carol’s never stopped performing. Even now, she sings nearly every day, she says. “I do just because I like to sing,” Carol says. “And to see those children’s eyes light up, it’s wonderful for me. It’s the essence of life.” v
theVitalVOICE.com | 25
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26 | January, 2012
ONES TO WATCH
St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS • St. Louis ICONS Written by Colin Murphy – Senior Writer/Editor & Joshua Barton – Associate Editor Photography by Alex Galindo In deciding on who to feature as this year’s Vital VOICE ICONS, we invariably found ourselves with a solid list of deserving candidates. We also found ourselves returning to the compelling stories of a few younger LGBT movers and shakers and earmarking them as “ones to watch.” Indeed—we expect great things from these individuals in the coming years and wanted to share a bit of their stories.
The Politico Andrew Shaughnessy, 25
Regional Field Organizer at PROMO Andrew Shaughnessy is a campaigner, human rights activist, and community organizer originally from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. He holds his B.A. in Philosophy from Missouri State University and his Masters in Human Rights from University College London. After graduating from MSU in July 2007, Shaughnessy took a position with the French Embassy teaching English in Bordeaux, France. He then moved to London and attended the Rubin School of Public Policy at University College London 2008-2009, where he focused his attention on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and international law—working closely with Stonewall U.K. and the British Institute of Human Rights. Upon returning to the States in 2009, Shaughnessy volunteered and interned with PROMO. He also worked on multiple campaigns in St. Louis including Thomas Peters for the Children, Missourians for Fair & Impartial Courts and the Barbara Fraser for State Senate. Currently, Andrew works as the St. Louis and Southeast Missouri Field Organizer for PROMO. He is an active volunteer with S.A.G.E. Metro St. Louis as a SAGE Friend and is a member of the advisory committee for the LGBT Center of St. Louis. “My experiences in growing up and coming out in rural Missouri was a catalyst for my desire to fight for equality,” he explains. “I feel a strong sense of duty, not only to myself, but to the broader community, to return to Missouri with my knowledge and experiences to affect change for the betterment of the LGBT community.” theVitalVOICE.com | 27
The Volunteer Adie Bennet, 29
Volunteer at the LGBT Center of St. Louis and Shadow Board Member of PRIZM at UMSL. What’s your role at The LGBT Center of St. Louis? I’m a volunteer. At the center, every volunteer chooses their own level of involvement. Some people just answer the phones while some give tours or clean the space. I’m one of the more active volunteers. What made you want to get involved? I think I was Facebook stalking Dieta Pepsi [laughs] and the Center popped up. I wanted a way to get involved with the community. I love it! It’s so rewarding to give back. You have also worked with the LGBTQ student group (PRIZM) at UMSL? I actually came OUT at one of their drag shows and from there I started volunteering at the shows and as they got bigger so did my involvement. I was the social chair for the organization so I got to plan the social events as well as many of the educational ones. I love PRIZM! What do you feel is the greatest challenge facing a LGBTQ youth movement? When I visited the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, they had displays out at the time of private donations from The Lavender Scare. I saw pamphlets from the fifties about how to avoid the cops when they would raid bars. It was upsetting but it also put history into perspective. It’s one thing to see or read about these things in a movie or book but it is another to see evidence of it in front of you. I sense that there is a sense of complacency and a lack of activism from the fact that many of our LGBT youth don’t know their history. I’ve met gay kids who don’t even know what Stonewall was! We have to know our history and how far we’ve come or else we’ll get complacent and ignore it.
The Educator James Walker Moon, 26
Program Coordinator at St. Louis Effort For AIDS Georgia native James Walker Moon felt like the odd ball out growing up. It wasn’t typical for the men in his rural family to take ballet and voice training, but his parents allowed him to explore his strong artistic interests. Accepted into The Conservatory for Theatre Arts at Webster University, Moon moved to St. Louis in 2004, but soon mulled a change in major and jumped at the chance to study abroad in Thailand. 28 | January, 2012
“I volunteered at an HIV/AIDS Clinic and Orphanage there,” he explains. “Seeing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a Third World Country has made a profound impact on me that I will remember for the remainder of my life.”
Coordinators. Further, he leads the LIFE Program, an educational program for men who are HIV positive and a group through the mpowerment project dedicated to providing social activities for local men of the LGBT Community.
Moon decided to pursue a love of science and graduated from Webster in 2010 with a BS in Biology. While there, he also embraced his sexuality and came out—stating that Webster is one of the more welcoming places to do so.
Moon regularly volunteers with Winter Outreach through ONE St. Louis at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis; at Food Outreach and Pride St. Louis. He attended the Rainbow Conclave and can frequently be found at The LGBT Center of St. Louis.
Since January 2011, Moon has worked at Saint Louis Effort for AIDS as one of two MSM (men who have sex with men) Program
In June 2012, Moon will participate in the AIDS Lifecycle 11, a 545 mile bike tour from San Francisco
The Mother Steven Fields, 24
Prevention Specialist at Project ARK You mention working in YOUR village when it comes to HIV/STD prevention and outreach. What’s your village and why is it important for you to give back to it? For me, the village is the black, gay community. I have a wonderful mentor, Anthony ‘Ladybug’ Hardaway, and I call him my mother. He’s always brings it back to the concept of family and uses the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. If it wasn’t for my village, I wouldn’t have survived, and I believe that my duty is to educate the children under me. I want to let them know they’re loved and supported. What are the unique challenges with prevention/outreach work within the black MSM community? It’s multifaceted. I don’t think it’s a lack of ‘knowledge’. We know about prevention and it’s applications. The challenges are connected on a spiritual, mental and physical level. Research has shown that a majority of African Americans have a strong type of spiritual or religious connection and that can be conflicted by society’s thoughts on sexuality. I hear you have “children”. How many do you have? I have 13 children and it is challenging! But if I didn’t have these kids I would feel like something was missing. Chronologically I am a peer to some of them but spiritually I know I’m an elder. I was raised around older people and I feel that was purposely done. They’ve changed me. I was always looking for love but what I learned was that I already had love by virtue of giving it . That was an epiphany for me. Why is the “gay/queer” family structure important for the black LGBTQ community? I’d be willing to say it is more intimate than saying this person or that person is your “mentor”. I’m even hesitant to call Ladybug my ‘mentor’…No, she’s my MOTHER. The mother role is more than a title. These children will always be my children. Period. Some of them out there who aren’t mine will even call me auntie or uncle. You can’t take away the family element. It’s just the way we keep it.
to Los Angeles that raises awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS research and programs. He is also working on several projects at EFA to encourage community members to be tested for HIV and Syphilis. “My passion and drive has led me to serve the community in any way I can,” said Moon. “Education and public service is everything.”
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Monthly Networking Happy Hour Our Goals:
Expand Your Network of
Check our website for an online directory of our members!
To promote networking within the LGBT community & build support for both LGBT owned & LGBT friendly businesses, professionals and consumers!
www.gatewaybusinessguild.org 30 | January, 2012
Guide To Iconic Queer Lit They wake you up in the western prairies of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and they grab you by the throat and penetrate your mind in Burrough’s violent and coked out Naked Lunch. They can even make you realize that you are in fact, a lesbian, while reading Ruby Fruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. THEY are the controversial, provocative, subversive and liberating words of iconic queer literature and our Icon Issue wouldn’t be complete without a look at some of the most iconic novels inside the queer cannon. Here are five of our personal favorites you can find in the library of The LGBT Center of St. Louis, 4337 Manchester Avenue.
Faggots by Larry Kramer Love him or loathe him, Larry Kramer is an icon. His 1978 novel, Faggots caused gay and straight hysteria with his unapologetic and raw look into the sexual hedonism and self-loathing of gay men as they moved in and out of Manhattan discos, bathhouses and Fire Island orgies. The straight press recoiled at the novel’s explicit, hard-core sex scenes and gay reviewers panned the book for its barebacked take on promiscuity and drug use within the gay community. But it’s more than just a story about gay men’s search for love. It’s a poignant document on the gay identity before the virus. Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography is the classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy becomes an immortal woman who genderfucks across 18th and 19th Century Europe. The work is also known as Woolf’s semi-biographical tribute to her lover and English author Vita Sackville-West and in the fantasy Woolf sends Orlando through 300 years of adventures, androgyny and revelations. A must have for the gender transgressive bookshelf.
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin Burn it. That was Baldwin’s publisher’s reaction when he read Giovanni’s Room. It was 1956 and Baldwin was pushing the cultural envelope by portraying the complexities of passion and love in this bisexual love triangle. In Giovanni’s Room readers were introduced to an American man who struggles between choosing a life of convention with his female fiancée or a life of passion with Giovanni, an Italian bartender who opens a floodgate of repressed desires within the young American. A true classic and one of Baldwin’s finest works. The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal
The City and the Pillar is a classic coming of age story and one of the first post-modern novels to feature a strong, openly gay protagonist. The book was extremely controversial with its themes of early gay liberation and acute social realism. Vidal was blacklisted by the national press for six years for it but he eventually had the last laugh as the novel has become one of the most recognized and read works of queer literature.
Zami: a new spelling of my name by Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde is a hero of queer liberation and in her biomythography Zami she sets out to tell the surreal and mythical story of her life growing up black and lesbian in “straight white america”. Zami is a critical piece of queer theory and racial analysis but what makes it iconic are Lorde’s illuminating prose and poetry that tell her story of survival and liberation against a homophobic and racist American society. Get into her.
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32 | January, 2012
Fitness Founda ons
How to Build Your Bubble Butt Written by Jonathan Peck NASM, Lead Trainer at Lionheart Personal Training Photography by Darin Slyman
e tend to forget about our lower body once we walk into the gym. But if you want a better butt then you have to use it or loose it. Building a strong, well shaped butt isn’t hard. It just takes time and effort. Here are a few simple ways to build a perfect bubble butt: Squats: Squats are the most efficient and effective ways to build the butt of your dreams. Parallel Squats, (weight bar across your neck dropping your hips parallel to the ground) and Hack Squats, (Bar across your chest just below your throat with both arms crossed holding the bar) are both effective ways to fill out those jeans. Remember: Always sit back as if onto a chair to engage your butt as you squat and clinch it as you rise from the parallel position. Secondly, push hard down through your heals as you descend and ascend in the squat. Make sure you don’t let your weight roll you up onto the balls of your feet (hint: If you have space between the ground and your heels then you’re too far forward). Box Jumps: Plyometric box jumps are another way to build a strong, firm butt and add a little power in your step. You want to be explosive as you jump straight up and down from small 12” to 18” boxes. Keep your elbows close to your body, firing them forward on your way up aiming for 6 inches above the box. Remember the same two rules from above and that butt will pop in no time. Lateral Box Squats: Starting on a box squat off to the left (to Parallel) and quickly power back up and over the box dropping and squatting on the opposite side. (Use a box or step that has your hips and knee in alignment when one leg is on the box). Lunges: People don’t think about doing lunges to work the glutes but that’s a big mistake. Use a set of heavy dumb bells to balance you laterally. Keeping them at your side, lunge forward and keep the knee from moving in front of the toe by pausing when the back knee is just above the ground. Pushing up hard with both legs and clinching the butt as you elevate will let you feel the burn in all the right places. Keep your chin up and chest out to reap the maximum benefits and keep the weight moving up and down instead of forward. Straight Leg Dead Lift: This will strengthen your hamstrings as well as lower back to help you get the perfect base to compliment that butt. To start, stand in front of the Olympic bar with your feet no more than shoulders width apart. Bend over keeping your knees locked until the bar touches your waist. Then return towards the floor not letting the weight touch the floor. Remember, to keep your chin up and the back straight through the entire exercise. For more info please contact Jonathan Peck at Lionheart Personal Training at 314-452-2392 or find us at lionheartfitness.com. v
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OF THE MONTH A Lush’s Guide to the Best Libations in Town.
The Ultimate Libation It’s a new year and we’ve looked all over the city trying to find a cocktail that captures the feeling of celebration and we’ve found it! If you’re looking for a drink that illuminates your taste buds then check out the Ultimate Libation at Copia Urban Winery and Market. The origins of the name Copia is from the Roman goddess of abundance, wealth, pleasure and harvest and if you’re sitting in this urban oasis while having this cocktail, you’ll start to feel like a god or goddess yourself. Ultimate Libation combines 10 Cane Rum, peach nectar, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice—and once it’s topped off with Moet & Chandon champagne, you’re left with a cocktail that lives up to its name… because this is truly the Ultimate Libation! Try it for yourself! Copia Urban Winery and Market 1122 Washington Ave, Downtown
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Welcome to the Play Dates section of Vital VOICE. Each month the VV team will select a number of signature events to keep on your radar. For a complete list of all vital happening in St. Louis log onto thevitalvoice.com/events. To submit your next event, simply email email@example.com with event name, date, location and a 20-word description.
La Cage Aux Folles
January 3rd–15th The Fabulous Fox, 527 North Grand Blvd., StL 63103 Winner of three Tony Awards® including the award for Best Musical Revival, La Cage Aux Folles comes to The Fox full of glitz, glamour and tons of camp! La Cage is a classic musical-comedy and it tells the story of Georges (George Hamilton), the owner of a glitzy nightclub in Saint-Tropez, and his partner Albin, who moonlights in drag as the glamorous Zaza. When their son brings his fiancé’s right wing parents to meet the family, the wigs fly off and the bonds of family are tested. You won’t want to miss this hilarious and heartwarming tale. For show times, ticket prices and purchase please visit www.metrotix.com.
Showroom Showcase Presented by Pride St. Louis and Plaza Motors
January 14th, 8:00pm–12am Plaza Motor Company, 11830 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, 63141 Pride St. Louis and Plaza Motors invite you to enjoy an evening where cars and celebrities take center showroom! Guests will walk the red carpet while enjoying hot vibes from DJs Shawn & Shawn, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, fabulous cocktails from master mixologist Robin Schubert of Absoluti Goosed and amazing performances by Nikko Smith, The Woo Daddies, Trish Busch and Dieta Pepsi. Tickets are $20 at the door and all proceeds go to benefit Pride St. Louis 2012. For more information you can contact Tracy Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miss Spirit of St. Louis Pageant
January 15th, 7:00pm–1:30am Attitudes Night Club, 4100 Manchester Ave, St. Louis 63110
4 1 15
Remember seeing your first drag competition? Makeup! Gowns! And if you were lucky, seeing a wig fly off! Vital VOICE is bringing the pageant circuit back into the spotlight with our first Miss Spirit of St. Louis Pageant on January 15th. The Miss Spirit of St. Louis Pageant is the newest preliminary to Miss Gay Missouri America. Contestants will compete in categories of male interview, evening gown, on stage question, solo talent and talent. The pageant begins at 7pm. Contestant entry fee is $30, general admission is $10. And now the time has come for you to lip sync…for your LIFE! For more information visit mgmpageantry.com.
36 | January, 2012
MLK Birthday March
January 16th, 10:00am Old Court House, 4th Street and Market, Downtown St. Louis St. Louis will mark its 42nd observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s birthday with its annual MLK Birthday March on January 16th. The march starts at the Old Court House in Downtown St. Louis and ends at Powell Symphony Hall on Grand Blvd. Once at Powell Hall, guests will be treated to a concert in honor of Dr. King. Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s message was equality for all and 43 years after his death we are still fighting for equal rights for everyone in this country, including those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. Come out and march for equality! The annual event is free for all.
21 Squirrel Appreciation Day January 21st Nationwide
Fluffy-tailed rodents of the world unite! On January 21st, take a moment to celebrate and honor our acorn loving, dumpster diving, Cardinal-rallying St. Louis squirrels! Squirrel Appreciation Day was started in 2001 by Christy Hargrove of Ashville, North Carolina and is a day devoted to looking at our furry neighbors with admiration and respect. Did you know that there are more than 200 different species of squirrels around the world and that the common Gray Squirrel can be traced back 50 million years through fossil records found in North America?! So raise a glass and toast to all your favorite Squirrelfriends!
theVitalVOICE.com | 37
tI ar, I thougmhore e Y w e N e h Since it’s et a recipe that walds lose those k a m ld all cou wou endly”. Weon’t think I’m going ri f re u ig “f OT!!! I nds, but d holiday pouy on ya’ll, ‘cause I’m tN I can cook all health to show my fans tha next! just want Vegan could even be healthy.
Roasted Chicken Brea st with Mushroom Gravy Ingredients
• 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts • 4 Green Onions cho pped (Whites and Greens) • 12 Button Mushroom s chopped • 2 Heads Broccoli cho pped • ¼ Cup vegetable sto ck
Total Time: 30 Minute s Serves: 4 • 1 Package Uncle Ben ’s Ready Whole Grain Brown Ric e • 1 Package Durkee Gra vy Mix (optional) • 1 Can Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Spray Pam in a large non-stick skillet. Set oven to 425. Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper. Cook chicken until golden brown on both sides for about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to greased baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes or until juices run clear when poked. Remove from oven and set chicken aside to rest. Prepare gravy according to package directions. If omitting gravy skip this step. Add mushrooms and onions to skillet. Cook for 10 minutes. Add gravy to skillet with mushrooms and onions. Cook an additional 5 minutes. If too thick, thin with vegetable stock. In second skillet, add vegetable stock and broccoli. Cover with lid and cook until desired tenderness. Prepare rice according to directions. Place rice on bottom of plate. Set chicken on top and spoon gravy over chicken. Serve with steamed broccoli. Eat your heart out, Rachael Ray.
38 | January, 2012
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PRIDE St. Louis Presents COATure Trivia Night Brown Shoe Company December 3rd
On December 3rd, Pride St. Louis held its 3rd annual COATure Trivia Night. From casual chic to cool and sleek, guests came out dressed in their best interpretations of style and fashion. This night was filled with fashion, fun and games that benefited two local charities. Coats, blankets, and cold weather gear donations were accepted for local non-profit Isaiah 58 and shoe donations went to the Sole for Souls program, through Brown Shoe Company.
40 | January, 2012
Hollaâ€™Day Tree Trimming Spectacular The LGBT Center of St. Louis December 4th
It was all Fa-La-Lahs and lots of gay apparel as The LGBT Center of St. Louis hosted its Hollaâ€™Day Tree Trimming Spectacular on December 4th at 4337 Manchester. Squirrelfriends and their guests came out for an old fashioned tree trimming and decked the halls of The Center with their favorite holiday inspired decorations. Ornaments for the tree were also donated by community members who relaxed between decorations with homemade cookies and some family friendly Eggnog.
theVitalVOICE.com | 41
More Music in the Morning weekdays at 8:00am
Hit Music for St. Louis
listen to Z107-7 on your phone 42 | January, 2012
FIERCE. FEATHERED. FABULOUS. WINNER! BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL • 2010 TONY AWARD®
HOTOS BY JOAN MARCUS
GEORGE HAMILTON Christopher Sieber
FOX THEATRE • JANUARY 3-15 314-534-1 111 • MetroTix.com