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LESLIE JORDAN The Southern Fried Funny Man Spills The Tea On An OUTrageous Career


Will Roth & The St. Louis LGBT History Project

CURTAIN UP “Priscilla” & “Flashdance” Make Their StL Debut

TOP 5 GAY ICONS Who Made Penolopeʼs List?

Complimentary Copy

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FEBRUARY 21–24 2013



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Celebrate the Past, to Awaken the Future Proudly presents the 34th Annual St. Louis Pride Fest & Parade


4 | January, 2013

Editor’s Letter

As the Presses


Welcome to our fourth annual ICON issue where we pay tribute to the leaders, luminaries and organizations that are truly making an impact on our LGBT community. This is one of my favorite magazines to produce each year and we’re delighted to add Will Roth and The St. Louis LGBT History Project to our growing list of honorees. Also in this issue – that pint-sized, out and proud actor/comedian Leslie Jordan is this year’s celebrity icon. There’s definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to this southern-fried funny man. I’d like to take this time to welcome our new art director, Andrea Piamonte. Starting this month, she’ll be putting her artistic stamp on our publication and we couldn’t be more excited. To Jeff Kapfer – you will always be a part of the Vital VOICE family. You were one of the founders of the rebrand from newspaper to magazine in 2009 and your artistic vision and keen eye are second to none. We’ll miss you, sir. This issue marks our fourth year as Vital VOICE magazine and 14th year in publication. In looking through the past 36 issues, the evolution of this company is clear and we remain committed to our charge as your premier LGBT media source in 2013 and beyond. In Pride,

Colin Murphy, Executive Editor | 5




Volume 14, Issue 1 LESLIE JORDAN


The Southern Fried Funny Man Spills The Tea On An OUTrageous Career

Will Roth & The St. Louis LGBT

On the COVER:

History Project Leslie Jordan, the pint-sized, out and proud, funny man is our celebrity ICON for 2013 CURTAIN UP — “Priscilla”to & say. and the outrageous actor/comedian has plenty “Flashdance” Photography by Kelly Smith. Make Their StL Debut

The Vital VOICE Team

Darin Slyman


Colin Murphy Executive Editor/Senior

Who Made Penolopeʼs Writer List?



11. 21.

Matt Jamieson Staff Writer Complimentary Copy

Andrea Piamonte Art Director


Leon Braxton/Dieta Pepsi Business Manager Jimmy Lesch PR/Digital Communications Janae Johnson Business Assistant


Patrick Magnuson Advertising Sales Alex Galindo Photographer


Photography: Alex Galindo, Darin Slyman, Colin Murphy, Pat Johnson, Kelly Smith, Joan Marcus and Catherine Ashmore Writing: Colin Murphy, Matt Jamieson, Corey Stulce, Alex Galindo, Thiago Martins de Magalhães and Dieta Pepsi

Advisory Board 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 314.256.1196

Advertising Online 6 | January, 2013

Stay Connected with us



8. 11. Priscilla Queen of the Desert 17. Influence Among Icons 21. St. Louis Icon— Individual: Will Roth 23. Ones to Watch 24. Leslie Jordan 32. Penelope’s Top 5 Gay Icons 36. The St. Louis LGBT History Project 41. Dishin’ with Dieta 42. Flashdance— The Musical! 46. Playdates 48. Scene & Styling Vital VOICE is printed on recycled newspaper and uses soy ink for a 100% recyclable product. | 7

online @ Didn’t log on? Here’s what you missed!

St. Louis PrideFest Moving Downtown Pride St. Louis, Inc. is making some exciting changes in its 34th year. This year, the festival will be held in the heart of downtown St. Louis, at Soldier’s Memorial. That means tourists and visitors will be able to enjoy the festival as well as taking in the amenities and iconic scenery of the Gateway City. A town hall to discuss community reaction to the move has been scheduled for Jan. 21. Check out for details.

MEI Index Rates StL 100 Percent The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) has given St. Louis city a perfect score - due in part to its various LGBT inclusive benefits and nondiscrimination protections. The MEI is the first-ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law. The report shows that some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community. The MEI was issued in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Federation Institute and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute.

SCOTUS to Hear Prop 8, DOMA Cases The Human Rights Campaign heralded the news that the Supreme Court would hear the Hollingsworth v. Perry case challenging California’s Prop. 8 and the Windsor challenge to the discriminatory ban on federal recognition of married same-sex couples known as the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. The potentially landmark marriage equality cases will be heard in the next several months with decisions expected in June.

On October Mourning Joan Lipkin reviews Lesléa Newman’s most recent book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard (Candlewick Press) – a moving and evocative response to Shepard’s death that has been 11 and a half years in the making: “And now, Lesléa Newman has written an historical novel in verse that takes as its premise actual events but moves beyond statements of record. Brilliantly, this slim volume of 68 poems includes a far reaching universe. We read the imagined thoughts of his attackers, the bartender and the officer of the court, “Some days this courtroom feels so cold/it chills me to the bone.” Stay Connected with us

8 | January, 2013

“I’m proud of Mayor Francis Slay’s commitment to LGBT issues and to a progressive St. Louis. I know his positions are personal, not just political, because I’m a member of the community – as well as his sister.”

– Monietta Slay Democratic Primary Election Day is

March 5, 2013

To volunteer contact or visit our campaign headquarters at 4507 Manchester

Paid for by Slay for Mayor, Judy Murphy, Treasurer. | 9


HRC, Saturday, January 26th at Bad Dog Bar & Grill.

This is a night for the women in our community to come out and have fun, but ALL are welcome! We'll have spectacular entertainment featuring: • Kristen Goodman • Burlesque and Variety Performances from Lola van Ella Productions • DJ Irene Gonzalez Limited V.I.P. seating is available. Buy your tickets online at and support the work of HRC.



A J o u r n e y of H op e





Present this coupon at any Science Center ticket station for $2 off any full-price, non-Member admission to Wildlife Rescue. Limit 4. May not be redeemed for cash, duplicated or combined with any other discount. Tickets subject to availability. Coupon expires at the end of exhibition run Tickets: 314.289.4400 or

L I M I T E D 10 | January, 2013



EST. 1991


A look into LGBT Life- Past & Present

Priscilla Queen of the Desert­­ — The Musical! Outrageously Brilliant Written by Colin Murphy – Editor Photography by Joan Marcus

The wait is over. Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical struts onto The Fabulous Fox stage, Jan. 29 – Feb. 10. Check out for more details and ticket info. Outrageous and brilliant – this must-see show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. Based on the 1994 hit film, Priscilla boasts over 500 dazzling, 2011 Tony Award®-winning costumes and features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “Finally” and “I Will Survive.” Vital VOICE recently caught up with Bryan West who plays Adam/Felicia in this undisputed high-camp queer classic to chat about the musical, doing drag for the first time and his message to LGBT youth. So what was your reaction when you heard you’d been cast as Adam/Felicia in Priscilla’s first national tour? Part of me was like – do I really want to go on the road? But

I love the character so much, I love doing the show. I did the original show here on Broadway and to just be able to take that character and the show out to the rest of the country was just a really exciting feeling for me. You were a member of the Priscilla ensemble in both Toronto and on Broadway. Talk about that experience and what ideal preparation for this role! It was pretty great. We had the entire Australian creative team – it was their first Broadway show, so they were kind of doing everything “not by the book” – which I found really refreshing. It was all coming from a place of not trying to impress me but just keeping true to their version of the show. I’ve been in a lot of other shows where you have to answer to a lot of different people, so it was nice to be able to have them to look up to and hear the back story on the show. I loved the movie from when I was a kid – so reading the book and seeing that they were staying really true to that was exciting for me. And it was also really great to see how the audience—they just loved it. I’ve never been in a show where the audience reacted like this before. Just pure joy – and at the times in the show where it’s a sad moment, it just really hit home with New York audiences. | 11

The film is already considered a gay cinematic classic. Could you talk about your experience of first seeing the movie? I just remember not having ever seen anything like that. I think the closest that I’d ever come was The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something like that. But I think the outrageousness of the drag but still having those characters that are so real – they played off each other really well. And of course, the costumes were amazing and the makeup. I’d never done drag before doing this show and being in drag gives you this whole suit of armor and it’s really empowering. That was surprising to me.

Priscilla is uplifting and empowering – particularly to gay audiences. We still find ourselves starved for representation on the stage and screen. Could you speak to the power of a positive gay storyline? It’s a huge deal. There’s never been, as far as I know, a transsexual character on the Broadway stage like this, like Bernadette and then also having a gay drag performer who is a father. A lot of people will say gays have children all the time now and I think they miss the point that living in a drag community and working in a drag bar and all that kind of stuff – I would tend to think that the idea of having a child and having been married is pretty rare. So to be able to portray that to people and give them a new perspective on that is really important. Drag queens are underappreciated, I think – especially given their instrumental role in our history and at Stonewall. Have you found that the show serves as an educational tool as well as an entertainment outlet? Totally. The show is brilliant. It disarms people in the audience who may have preconceived ideas about what drag is. The show is just so fun, so immediately people are having a good time. And just when they’re having a really good time, we touch on really important things like getting gay bashed. My character, specifically – there’s a very violent moment where I get beat up in the show and I think it just shows people that we’re not cartoon characters. It’s also really great to see—we

12 | January, 2013

have a lot of drag queens who come to see the show and I know that when we’re out on the road we’ll have a lot of that. Just to represent to them and all the hard work that they do – it’s really important. Do you have an especially favorite moment in the musical? What is it and why? I enter the show from the sky on cables and I have a huge fear of heights. So dangling that far above the stage was something for me to overcome – and now I love it. I just love entering that way – I’m dressed as Marilyn Monroe doing “Material Girl” and then the dress gets ripped off and then I’m in just these stiletto heels and a bustier and then I become very androgynous. I love starting the number as a pretty Marilyn Monroe and ending it as a very androgynous, part man/part woman type character. That’s pretty powerful for me to do. What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical? Well, first of all I hope that they have as much fun as the people in New York did. I was thinking about all these new shows out right now that are representing new forms of families – Modern Family and The New Normal – and I just want them to see that you don’t have to be related by blood, we don’t all have to look the same, but that deep down what we feel on the inside is all the same and I think we show that really well. I love that you included a message to LGBT youth at the end of your Playbill bio. How was your experience coming out and coming up as a gay man? I definitely got teased a lot in school. I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore that wasn’t the best place. I didn’t know any other kid who was gay and of course, I hadn’t told anybody yet, but I got picked on for being gay all the time. I just really hung on to my passion for singing and writing music and all that kind of stuff and that really got me through it. I think now, to be able to play this character, it’s just really cool. Kids come to see the show, which I hope they do. I hope they take that away – that you can be different and still be successful and popular. v | 13

14 | January, 2013

Happy New Year


Bring in your Priscilla Queen of the Desert ticket stub before or after the show and get a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees! 3419 Olive Street - Saint Louis, MO - 314.446.1801 | 15

Wall Ball 2013 Saint Louis City Open Studio and Gallery

presents Wall Ball, an exciting evening of live artistry, DJs, delicious appetizers and a sweet treat raffle. Engaging an eclectic mix of artists, patrons, collectors and admirers, this annual event features amazing art at unreal prices through a unique silent auction.

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Saturday February 9 7-11 pm $30 General Admission $50 VIP includes beer/wine

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(314) 865-0060

Purchase tickets online


Friday, January 11th





Sponsored by


Influence among Written & Photographed by Alex Galindo | 17

Influential people come from many walks of life and they don’t always have to be celebrities. For even though we know a great deal more about the famous and their charitable works, they also have a seemingly endless team of support to be able to make those movements and donations. What about the quieter people from within our tribe – the silent movers and shakers who put so much of themselves into our St. Louis LGBT community? Take a step back from the national “A-List-ers” everyone knows and give some thought and thanks to these local ICONS. There are myriad individuals within our community who are influential from a business standpoint, to a personal one. They go above and beyond what is asked of them and show our community in a light in which we should all be proud! v

Above: Robert Graham Orange Polo (Neiman Marcus) Hugo Boss Harper Sport Coat (Neiman Marcus) Theory Marlo Trouser (Neiman Marcus)

Right: Parker Blazer (Neiman Marcus) Sold Design Lab Bootcut Jean (Neiman Marcus) Vintage Tom Ford Sunglasses (Byrd Style Lounge) Vintage Necklace (Byrd Style Lounge) Polka Dot Blouse (Neiman Marcus) 18 | January, 2013

Left: Jovani Fashion Long Gown (Neiman Marcus)

Below: On John: Striped Henley (Morris Fashions) Michael Kors Dress Shirt (Morris Fashions) Ted Baker Narrow Tie (Morris Fashions) On Jeromy: One90One Shirt (Morris Fashions) Ted Baker Wool Checkered Blazer (Morris Fashions) Ted Baker Skinny Tie (Morris Fashions)

Location: Vital VOICE

Models: Liz LaVenture, Christine Elbert, John Oberkramer, Jeromy Ruot and Sayer Johnson

Clothing From: Neiman Marcus, Byrd Style Lounge, and Morris Fashions

Special Thanks To: Liz LaVenture, Christine Elbert, John Oberkramer, Jeromy Ruot, Sayer Johnson, Cheresse Pentella and Julie Stotlar | 19

Ce l 10 ebra Ye tin ar g s! CAFE MADELEINE “Sunday Brunch” Tower Grove Park

Every Sunday we provide our patrons with a French inspired fresh & flavorful culinary experience. Anniversary Brunch Pricing Celebrate our 10th anniversary in the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi River featuring chef creations from our recipe vault! Buy one brunch at $22.75 and get one for $10.00 through January 2013.

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20 | January, 2013


St. Louis ICON – Individual:

Will Roth


very community has their pillars, their wise sage someone who has seen it all, done it all, and passes their wisdom onto the next generation. St. Louis’ LGBT community has that and more in Will Roth. The 65-year-old grew up in St. Louis in a Catholic family, working within his family’s business. Will graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1972, and has worked in various positions in St. Louis and Florida. Since coming out in the early ‘80s, Will has been in the fight for equal rights tenfold.

Written by Matt Jamieson – Staff Writer Photography by Alex Galindo

“I feel it’s important to get involved,” Roth said. “When I retired in ’06, I had the time to get involved, and so I did. I got involved in whatever organizations or events or whatever that was important to our community.” Will’s record of involvement is nothing short of exemplary - something that will be remembered for generations. He has been on the boards of the Gateway Stonewall Democrats, Pride St. Louis and the Primetimers. He is on the Governor’s Council of PROMO, a member of the Federal Club and Dinner Committee for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and been involved

with various protests, including the protest of the Westboro Baptist Church at the 2010 Lady Gaga concert at the Scottrade Center. He was also involved with unions, notably the United Food and Commercial Workers and participated in the 2003 strike against the St. Louis Food Employers’ Council. As an elder of the LGBT community, Will was witness to the formation of the equal rights movement in the 70s and 80s when he came out. He spoke about the improvement of life for those with HIV and AIDS. “I think medical science has made | 21

dramatic advancements in AIDS therapy,” he said. “I was active sexually when the AIDS epidemic started. I’ve lost friends to AIDS, and there wasn’t much lay people could do except to educate others about protection and so. It was mainly the medical advancements made by the medical community. People are living longer - it used to be in the beginning if you had AIDS you had a death sentence. Now people are living with AIDS for 20 years through the miracle of modern medicine.”

“I said, “I’m gonna try.” It took me six months of work to do it, but I did it,” Will recalled. “One of the reasons why is because I knew the governor and knew people close to the governor that could help with the effort. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Will’s service to the LGBT community goes beyond St. Louis - he has been involved on the campaigns of Missouri governor Jay Nixon, senator Claire McCaskill and state treasurer Clint Zwiefel.

“[He] has been absolutely terrific, we have almost unfettered access to him,” he said. “He has been the most remarkable president we’ve had, bar none, no other president in the history of this country has done as much as Barack Obama.”

“It’s important to have somebody who has been directly involved with them,” he said. “They know me by name, and they know that I have helped them in their efforts to get and stay elected.” The involvement from these campaigns led to one of Will’s best gifts to the community at the HRC St. Louis Gala - the inclusion of Gov. Nixon as featured speaker at the HRC Gala’s 20th anniversary dinner this past September.

22 | January, 2013

Politics is possibly one of Will’s greatest joys, where he believes progress will come for equal rights and he has nothing but kind words for President Obama’s record toward the national LGBT community.

As for the future, Will sees great things happening for the LGBT community of the United States, especially during President Obama’s second term. “I think we’ll get rid of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), if not through legislation, through the courts,” he said. “The reelection of President Obama means that within the next four years — two vacancies on the Supreme Court and it’s important

we get equality-minded people nominated to the court. I think that probably the safe school’s initiative is going to pass in the next five years.” With changing times, one thing Will would like to see is more interaction between LGBT youth and LGBT elders. “That’s how you learn. Back when in your late teens/early 20s, you think you know it all but you don’t,” he said. “There’s a lot of things you can learn from your elders because, first of all, we’ve been there before, we’ve experienced a lot of these things. We can steer you in the right direction or at least give you an idea of what kind of pitfalls they’ll encounter. It’s like any other generational experience — young people learning from the older.” And what Will wants to be remembered for most is the accumulation of his service to the LGBT community. “If there’s anything I want to be remembered by — it’s that I did my share for the community and for equality in particular.” v

Ones to


Written by Thiago Martins de Magalhães Photography by Alex Galindo

This year’s “Ones to Watch” features three young leaders in the St. Louis LGBT community: Cornelius Joy, Nicholas Catanzaro and Tiffany Parrett. They each toil away in some important areas of activism and engage in active roles in many organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, Saint Louis Effort for AIDS and Growing American Youth. There’s plenty more to come from them, so keep watch. We expect great things.


icholas Catanzaro works for Saint Louis Effort for AIDS (EFA), which services The StL by helping those dealing with HIV/AIDS and educating people about the importance of safe sex. EFA distributes condoms and offers testing services through its outreach program, in which Nicholas takes an active part. Nicholas also organizes fundraisers for EFA such as Dining Out for Life, Art of PAWS and Thirst for Life. He hopes that in the future the stigma of HIV/AIDS is reduced and to inspire more people in the community to become volunteers in AIDS service organizations. To the next generation of LGBTers in St. Louis, he says: “Life is too short to be someone you are not, so be the true you.” v


c ata n z a r o Saint louis effort for aids | 23 | 23


parrett Growing american youth


iffany Parrett has always been involved with the LGBT community in St. Louis. She has volunteered for PROMO and Show Me No Hate, but when she realized the lack of youth participation in these organizations, she decided to promote their actions in Growing American Youth (GAY) meetings. A year later, she became the Events Coordinator at GAY organizing the Pancake Breakfast, Car Wash Fundraiser and New Year’s Eve Lock-In, among other events. Furthermore, she takes part in GAY meetings where youth are given a safe place to gather and talk.

2012 24 24 | | December, January, 2013

“These are our leaders of tomorrow,” therefore “organizations should be engaging, educating, and empowering the youth.” Tiffany divides her time between her full time job at St. Louis Community College, attending university for accounting, photography and volunteering at GAY and the Society for Creative Anachronism. When asked why be an activist, she replied: “I think it is important to put effort into a cause that means something to you, especially when that cause personally affects your life.” v

Cornelius Joy

Human rights campaign


hen Cornelius Joy moved back to St. Louis, he decided to help the LGBT community in any way he could. He became a volunteer member of the Human Rights Campaign and has never missed an opportunity to be involved. He worked on the Steering Committee, Community Events, Federal Club, Gala Committee and Diversity, and due to all his contributions, he was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 2012. His newest accomplishment was taking the HRC’s First Friday to the next level by moving to other venues outside The Grove area. Cornelius is also part of the Delta Phi Upsilon Fraternity. He applies their principles, which are stronger, wiser, expressive and embracive, in everything he does. He explained that he “wanted to be part of a brotherhood ‘that which we embody.’” Cornelius’ plans for the future are to work on a national level with HRC and owning a business, “whether it’s a small boutique style hotel in the U.K/U.S. or a cocktail lounge with happy hour everyday where nights turn into a dance party.” His advice to LGBT youth is “to dream big because ‘life is limitless.’” v | 25



26 December,2013 2012 24 | | January,



Icon or “Sacred Midget”?


What happened when impish comic actor Leslie Jordan played it straight? He was shoved face-first into a boiling oil deep fryer by Jason Voorhees in the horror sequel, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It probably wasn’t that role that caused this magazine to consider Leslie a LGBT icon. Of course, he’s not too crazy about being referred to as an icon anyway. Such stature brings on waves of selfdoubt to the 4-foot-11-inch actor, he said. “I was a pioneer,” Leslie countered. “I was playing gay before other people were playing gay for sure.” One of the gay roles he originated for playwright and director Del Shores

Written by Corey Stulce Photography by Pat Johnson & Kelly Smith could certainly be considered iconic. That would be Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram from the play-turned-filmturned-TV-prequel Sordid Lives. Leslie’s portrayal of the Tammy Wynette-worshipping failed patient of de-homosexualization spawned plenty of catchphrases: “I think you are just an evil, bitter, old, alcoholic sex fiend who needs therapy yourself!” “Shoot her in the head, Wardell!” And, of course, “Ohhhkaayyyyyyy,” delivered multiple times with Leslie’s syrupy Southern dra-aw-al. When his frequent collaborator, Del, heard Vital VOICE was naming Leslie an icon, he said, “Well, doesn’t icon mean ‘sacred?’ So, sacred midget? KIDDING. He certainly is iconic to

me and others.” Leslie is probably best known as the foil to Anastasia Beaverhausen aka Karen Walker, as played by Megan Mullally on the pioneering (and iconic!) gay NBC sitcom, Will & Grace. He won an Emmy in 2006 for strutting and slutting through guest spots as Beverly Leslie. “I thought I smelled gin and regret,” Leslie purred, snatching every scene he was in away from Mullally— no small feat! “What I’m finding absolutely ridiculous is young people who don’t | 27

“Then if it gets ugly, I say, ‘Shut your hole, honey. Mine’s makin’ money.’ If it gets real bad, ‘Shut the fu*k up! Have a nice day!’”

28 | January, 2013

know Will & Grace,” Leslie said in a recent interview with Vital VOICE. “It just went off the air in 2006! If they were younger then, maybe they didn’t have any interest, but if they were gay I would think they would want to (watch). Maybe their parents didn’t let them.

“Maybe they’re giving in a quiet way. Not me. Honey, I gave $200 to the Obama campaign and everybody in Los Angeles knew. I told them. ‘This morning, I gave $200 to Obama.’ ‘Did you hear I gave $200 to Obama yesterday?’ ‘A week ago, I gave $200 to Obama,’” he said.

“So now, they’re probably 20. I did the math. If you don’t know Will & Grace, just give me your gay card!”

With nearly 100 film and TV acting credits throughout his 30 years in Hollywood, Leslie is still trying to “make it,” even though for all intents and purposes, he’s made it, honey.

He recited the rest of a possible conversation with a young gay: “What else were you on?” “Sordid Lives.” “Never heard of it.” “Give me your card!” Leslie said we should be well aware of who our current gay icons are, and added that he pales in the light of the likes of Ellen and Rosie and Anderson. (But he whispered that some of them don’t publicly do a lot for the gay community.)

When he’s not collecting young gays’ cards for not knowing Will & Grace and Sordid Lives, Leslie is writing and directing hysterical one-man shows like My Trip Down the Pink Carpet and his latest, Fruit Fly. He spends 45 weeks a year on the road with his live act, and recently took it to the high seas on a cruise from Barcelona to Casablanca to the Island of Ibiza. “And I’m sober. God. You can’t go to Ibiza SOBER,” he laughed.

Anyone who’s ever interviewed Leslie or seen him perform live knows he can spin multiple yarns at a time and easily veer off on a tangent, even though his plays are all tightly scripted. It’s a clever divisionary tactic to ensure the audience is paying attention and not too inebriated to keep up. To get back on track, Leslie says, “‘Now, help me remember where we were.’ That invites audience participation, which I absolutely hate. ‘No, no dear, I work alone,’” he adds, to silence those who get a little too vocal during his shows. “Then if it gets ugly, I say, ‘Shut your hole, honey. Mine’s makin’ money.’ If it gets real bad, ‘Shut the fu*k up! Have a nice day!’” Leslie’s parents were the babies of their families, as was he. He grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and recently bought his sisters, twins, a condo with the money he’s saved since sobering up more than a | 29

decade ago. “I’ve been able to keep this career afloat not being 30 paces deep in a beer bath,” he laughed. He was visiting with his kin over Thanksgiving and his sisters brought out boxes of all the awards Leslie has been honored with over the years—as a trophy case would not go with the French country décor Leslie has in his home.

Walker, Rosemary Alexander and Newell Alexander will perform the play live in front of an audience in January while cameras roll in an effort to bring the play to the big screen. The effort has been a long time coming, as raising funds for a gay-themed film about religious intolerance isn’t exactly easy. The

Out they trotted major theater performance awards, keys to cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis and a certificate naming Leslie an Honorary Conch of Key West. “They only give that to the biggies,” he shared.

It’s also very rural, so Leslie is throwing the ratings of shows like Hillbilly Handfishin’ and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo at them during his pitch.

“They should call me Liza,” he joked. “They should call me Liza Cher Diana Barbra— or some cute acronym like Brangelina. Hell, throw Elvis in there, too!”

Leslie and other performers from Dels’ troupe like Dale Dickey, Ann

The best lesson Leslie has learned after 30 years in the business is to not take anything personal, something he was constantly reminding himself of at the time of this interview. After not getting any TV bites for his one-man shows, he has written a script that he considers to be “shityour-pants funny,” and he’s begun shopping it around to the networks. It’s about a 24-year-old boy who has returned from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. Leslie’s not the lead, but he’s written himself a juicy part. “I will steal the show and win the Emmy,” he assured.

The 30-year career came rushing back to Leslie and he realized, hey, maybe a title like icon isn’t so inappropriate after all.

As of this interview, Leslie was about to return to another iconic Del Shores-penned role, Peanut, one half of a pair of bar flies who offer the comedic relief (and some heartbreak) in the play Southern Baptist Sissies.

queer!’ The funnier you are, the less they hit you. The other way is to put a face on it. I learned that during Will & Grace. I think the tide has turned now.”

message of the film isn’t antiChristian; it’s anti-hate and protolerance. “There are two ways to combat homophobia,” Leslie said. “One is humor. I learned that in the fourth grade during dodge ball. ‘Smear the

“Country people don’t watch that. They want to rise above. It’s city people watching Honey Boo Boo. They’re fascinated with the rural South,” Leslie said, and added with pride, “There is nobody that can write the rural South better than me.” v

“There are two ways to combat homophobia,” Leslie said. “One is humor.” 30 | January, 2013

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s n o Ic y Ga 5 Top Written by Penelope Wigstock Being asked to choose and discuss my five favorite gay icons was a daunting task. It would be like asking Marcus Bachmann to name his five favorite bath-houses...SO MANY CHOICES! Anyway, I know that the list won’t please everyone, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give a shit about that anyway, so enjoy!


1. Go ahead-get the fat jokes out of the way. While younger gay men might only know of “Liz” through those uber-tacky White Diamonds fragrance commercials, the rest of us worshipped her for her beauty, elegance, grace and most importantly, compassion. Besides being drop-fu@king dead gorgeous in her youth, she was a strong actress who snagged two Oscars and embodied true Hollywood glamour. None of the current crop of actresses in Tinseltown can touch her in terms of beauty or personality. If you think Angelina Jolie is the new Elizabeth Taylor, then you haven’t spent three hours 32 | January, 2013

with her and Brad and the kids at Six Flags. That broad might be smoking hot, but she’s also cuckoo for CocoaPuffs…allegedly. Taylor was a pioneer in the fight against AIDS. Before it was the cool-or even expected-thing to do, she created awareness and understanding about a disease that was misunderstood and even reviled by many in its early days. She didn’t give a damn that this cost her some fans; she saw her advocate role as much more important. Finally, she is part of my favorite screen couple everGeorge and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Good Times.


What? You were expecting Liza or Babs? I take my hat (or blouse) off to Liza Minnelli and Barbara Streisand, but those are such obvious picks. Freddy Mercury of Queen is an icon who transcends gender and orientation in terms of popularity and rock god status. You’re as likely to find a Queen CD in a soccer mom’s car as you are to see it in a queen’s record collection. How broad was the appeal of Mercury and his band? They played “We are the Champions” at pep rallies in my Catholic high school. Now, some may claim that they were shocked to discover that the man behind “Fat Bottomed Girls” was queer, but those of us in the know knew that he was doling out mustache rides to other dudes all along.

Freddy Mercury

Even if you didn’t dig the 70s gay porn look, Freddy rocked it out like few others. He may have looked like garden-variety rough trade from New York’s Greenwich Village, but when he belted out a rock ballad, people paid attention. And can’t we agree that anyone who doesn’t sing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” while watching Wayne’s World is just a douchebag?

3. Kathy Griffin

She’s crass, tacky and gossipy. She’ll annihilate you with a razor-sharp zinger.

gays that we deal with in our own sub-culture. Pretension is pretension regardless of the zip code.

Sound familiar?

Griffin can elevate a mediocre sitcom (Suddenly Susan) and leave an audience howling with laughter as she analyzes superficial relationships on one of the Real Housewives franchises. Her banter with her mother is priceless, and yet one can sense how much genuine affection exists between them.

Oh, I don’t pretend to be as witty and quick as Kathy Griffin, but she is my career template. I love that she’s always “on” and can plumb humor from the depths of almost any situation. I love that she calls out phony Hollywood celebs and selfdesignates herself as part of the “D” list. Many of us are drawn to this strategy as we see some similarities between her disdain for these social climbers and the self-appointed “A”

This little red-headed comedic troll delights millions with her self-deprecating wit, and I for one cannot wait until she encounters Gwyneth Paltrow at another red-carpet event. | 33

4. This diva has re-invented herself as many times as Cher. For almost 30 years, she has entertained, shocked, provoked and supported us. Whether her songs were background music for college sexcapades in the 80s (I scored a LOT of ass with “Crazy for You”) or musical fodder for self-obsessed club queens (“Vogue”), she always seems to zero in on the pulse of popular culture. She’s also had her share of misfires. With


the arguable exceptions of Desperately Seeking Susan, where she basically played herself or Evita where she proved that she did have some musical chops beyond all of the gimmicks and marketing savvy, she stunk up the big screen as much as Heather Graham. I’m still receiving electroshock therapy for being subjected to Shanghai Surprise.

The bitch is literally flawless. Whether she’s playing feisty white trash taking on corporate America (Silkwood) or an evil-ass corporate boss who makes Leona Helmsley look charming (The Devil Wears Prada), she delivers the goods 34 | January, 2013

Anytime I feel myself starting to get pissed off at her or losing interest, I think of the unbridled joy that I and others experienced during popper-fueled frenzies grinding to “Express Yourself” on the dance floor.

But we keep coming back for more because we know that she lives to

Meryl Streep Most gay men love her for one simple reason: she is flawless. I don’t’ mean this in the hyperbolic way that some queens do to exaggerate someone’s physical appearance or style.

entertain her audience. We’ve stuck with her through the Kabbalah phase and even the sophomoric Lady Gaga “feud.”

5. while making it look effortless. She could read an effing traffic citation and snag an Oscar nomination for it. I also love that she doesn’t seem to give a shit about her wardrobe. She’s not some aging Hollywood hag that shows up at red carpet events swathed in some ridiculous, body-hugging dress with stilettos and a $5k designer handbag. She basically gives the middle finger to the fashion police vultures who troll the awards ceremonies.

This is the actress who delivered the infamous “The dingo ate my baby” line and her career not only sustained after that, it continued its upward trajectory. Anyone who puts this much work into her craft is genius. I toiled away tirelessly for years at The Mustang Ranch in Nevada perfecting my craft, but all I have to show for it is a medicine cabinet full of penicillin. v


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St. Louis ICON –

Community Organization The

St. Louis LGBT History Project

Written by Matt Jamieson – Staff Writer Photography by Alex Galindo | 37

It all started with a blog. In 2008, Steve Brawley started writing about LGBT history in St. Louis, as a first attempt to see who else was looking for ways to document local LGBT history, and over the first year, things began to take shape. “People started trickling in with ‘Did you know this’ or ‘Have you heard about that’ and then folks started contacting me saying ‘How can we help’ - through that we started attracting attention,” Brawley said. “Things started rolling to make it more formal, from more of an idea to a full functioning project.” Three years later, Brawley has founded and established the St. Louis LGBT History Project, along with primary researchers Vital VOICE executive editor Colin Murphy and graduate student Ian Darnell. Brawley says that St. Louis has a rich LGBT history like other major urban cities that deserves to be told. “You have to imagine because of that size and scope there had to be thousands of LGBT people, who came to St. Louis, whether it was from a rural area or another city,” he said. “Because of the size and scope of the city you can blend in. There was this size and scope but it was a silent history - it just wasn’t documented. It’s now we’re really starting to get information coming in from sources that are around.” Brawley points to the 1950s and 60s as something tangible because that is where the LGBT History Project is getting some real gems of history - notably from the 1969 Halloween arrest of nine men in drag. 38 | January, 2013

“That is our Stonewall. Out of that there was a pinnacle there’s activism, there’s protests, there’s drag shows,” Brawley explained. “Out of that one event we’re able to sort of see what was happening in St. Louis that was mirroring New York. By that one event we can hear about all these different activities - what the police were doing, what activists were doing, what researchers at WashU were doing. All these things come into play. It’s really a good 180 degree look at what it was like to be an LGBT citizen in St. Louis in the late 60s and how does it impact the 70s.” The other big history point that Brawley cites is the first pride parade in 1980 - which wasn’t the easy task to get approved as it is now in 2012. “We had had the march on Washington [D.C.] in ’79, so St. Louis wanted to do something,” he said. “There was an issue of the politics - the mayor’s office really wouldn’t support it so we had to call it “walk for charity.” So that one event also gives a well-rounded look at the political side.” One of the main goals of the LGBT History project is to look at LGBT life in a well-rounded way — a task that Brawley is adamant to get from all facets of the LGBT community. “It’s not just about the bar life, not just about drag shows, it’s what it was like for everyday folks to live in a very social step forward,” he said. “Others remained in the shadows. The real battle is getting both sides of the story - the ones that went out and protested and held signs and didn’t care who knew

and the folks supportive behind the scenes or who didn’t want their picture in the paper, both sides of that help to tell our story.” The LGBT History Project continues to thrive and saw great success at this year’s PrideFest in Tower Grove Park, a moment that Brawley is very proud of. “We had thousands of people come through,” he recalled. “What really touched us was you had folks we had photos of and people would come up and say ‘That’s me!’ - they were able to be a part of the History Project, they are the history. The biggest part was the younger folks who were really engaged in the project. You had very young folks who would stop and absorb and ask questions. You have a young person standing next to one of our elders — they’re telling each other the story. It’s that connection and one of the main goals is to have that intergenerational mentoring.” In the future, Brawley hopes to bring parts of the project to the community through traveling displays - but that begins with fundraising. The St. Louis LGBT History Project is a program of The LGBT Center of St. Louis. “What’s great about those is that people bring in buttons, t-shirts, books - whatever they have,” he said. “Then it becomes a mixture - people all show up and they start telling stories. Every treasure drive we’ve had is not only a great deal for actual physical items, we end up with some other little nuggets or two people will connect that haven’t seen each other in years.” Brawley hopes that the structure the Project has created will help to sustain it for years to come. He created the Project because it needed to be done. “When I got into researching what was being done in other cities, I was like, ‘Wow— St. Louis has got at least this or even more history than some very well organized projects in other cities,’” he said. “Now we’re doing it in a smart, thoughtful way that will be sustainable. Every day something trickles in, and we feel there’s some big ‘aha-s’ to come. We don’t know when it is and that’s sort of exciting, waiting for the next ‘aha!’ It’s like every day is Christmas!” The Project will be hosting St. Louis LGBT History Treasure Drive III at The LGBT Center of St. Louis (4337 Manchester ) on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 1-4 p.m. Rustle through those junk drawers, attics and proverbial closets for local LGBT publications, posters, programs, bar matches, pictures and sundry queer items from back in the day. v

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I was in the Lindell Schuncks last week and I saw the most beautiful Red Tilapia in the seaf ood case and I knew I had to develop a recipe with it as the main ingredient. But what? Tilapia is such a bland white fish. No flavor, no taste, no nothing. I needed to drastically spice it up. Then it hit me. BAM !!! I remember watching an episode of Iron Che f America where Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto cook ed a whole Chilean Sea Bass using Thai spices so I thought the same spices would work on a Tilapia. Give it that Thai flavor. HOLLA! Plus the fish had such pret ty coloring I knew it would photograph well.

Active time: 35 minutes Total time: 55 minutes Serves: 4 Ingredients 4 Whole Red Tilapia 1 16oz bottle of Ken’s Lite Asian Sesame with Ginger & Soy dressing 6 large garlic cloves - 2 minced, the remaining left whole 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning 1 tbs Blackened seasoning 2 tbs Thai seasoning 2 limes, halved 1 bunch cilantro, chopped and divided 3 green onions, white and green parts chopped 4 balls of heavy duty aluminum foil 1 2 gallon zip lock plastic bag

Whole Roasted Red Tilapia with Thai Seasoning

Directions Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. NOTE: This fish could also be prepared on an outdoor barbecue. Gas or charcoal is your preference. Charcoal, however, is preferred. Preheat barbecue for about 30 minutes. (If you are using a charcoal grill let the coals come to a medium heat. Approximately 25 minutes after lighting.) Wash each tilapia thoroughly inside and out. Pat dry and place all 4 whole Tilapia in zip lock plastic bag. To the plastic bag add the entire bottle of Ken’s dressing, 2 garlic cloves minced, the old bay, blackened and Thai seasonings, and half of the cilantro. Shake bag to coat fish evenly. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Place 2 foil balls per cookie sheet. Remove tilapia from the bag, season cavity and mount each whole fish on a foil ball. It should look like the fish is on its belly. Sprinkle each fish with additional seasonings to taste and insert a garlic clove through the head. Roast for 20 minutes or until the eye of the fish is opaque. Squeeze lime over each fish and garnish with remaining cilantro and chopped green onions. | 41

Flashdance – The Musical

What a Feeling!


lashdance – The Musical slams the boards of the Peabody Opera House, January 8-13 as part of the second leg of the newly minted national tour.

The musical is based on the 1983 hit film starring lesbian icon Jennifer Beals and remains a gay favorite with its infectious, high energy soundtrack and story of prevailing against the odds. Flashdance is tailor made for the MTV generation and beyond, making generous use of video – and tells the compelling story of Alex Owens, a working-class girl from Pittsburgh striving to make her dreams of becoming a professional dancer a reality. She works by day at a

42 | January, 2013

Written by Colin Murphy — Editor Photography by Catherine Ashmore steel mill, where she catches the eye of her boss Nick Hurley. By night she works as a “flashdancer” at a local bar, but longs to become a student at the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy. Broadway stars Emily Padgett and Matthew Hydzik marquee the tour, playing Alex and Nick, respectively. A second company will be assembled for the creatively reworked production of Flashdance, which will begin performances on Broadway in August 2013 for an open-ended engagement. “Once Broadway opens, the tour will still be going on and then several of us from the tour company will move to Broadway – but

there will be two simultaneous companies,” Padgett tells Vital VOICE. “It’s nice because I feel like with a pre-Broadway trial you get six weeks to put it up and then that’s it. But with this, this is such a new show and it’s such an important one to get right, I feel like, for the stage. We want to take our time and really make sure we do it right. So it’s a great way to travel across the country and see if people like it and get the response and figure it out on the road.” Padgett will be among those making the move mid-tour to the Broadway production – but she’s no stranger to The Great White Way. She performed as a swing in Grease and was in the chorus of Legally Blonde before making

the jump from understudy to leading lady as Sherri in the hit musical Rock of Ages. “I was definitely a fan of the movie,” says Padgett of Flashdance. “I was a little young — it was a little bit before my time. But I was definitely a fan of the music and the hopeful idea of this tough girl— this girl who worked in a steel mill as a woman in the 80s – this bad ass girl who took care of herself, who was also vulnerable and wanted something so bad but had that paralyzing fear of failure.” In fact, Padgett had to come to terms with her own fear of failure when Flashdance – The Musical’s director and choreographer, Sergio Trujillo eyed her for the role two years ago. Like many Broadway performers, Padgett had grown up dancing, but focused on acting and singing because she wanted to play roles. “I did a couple of table reads and they wanted to have a big audition for the best dancers in the city to come in and audition,” Padgett recalls “He wanted me to come and really fight for the role and be “that girl” and I, like Alex, was so scared of failing and falling down and not being good enough, that I said no. I ran away and he auditioned a lot of other dancers but I think my vulnerable quality and that kind of thing was so like the character that he fought for me. He wanted me to do this.” “Ever since then he’s really invested in me and I’ve been in dance class every day and just really fighting to be where I want to

be,” she continues. “I have so many really good friends who are amazing dancers, so feel a very big responsibility to really dance and I don’t want anything to be dumbed down. It’s Flashdance and I feel a real responsibility to be that good. Because the movie is so iconic and people love that movie and I feel a responsibility to do it justice.” The original Paramount Pictures film was a worldwide smash hit that became a pop culture phenomenon, grossing over $150 million and featuring a Grammy Award-winning soundtrack. Flashdance – The Musical features a score including the hit songs from the movie, all of which became Top Ten hits on the radio around the world including the Academy Award-winning title song “Flashdance – What a Feeling,” “Maniac,” “Gloria,” “Manhunt” and “I Love Rock & Roll.” In addition to these hits, 16 brand new original songs have been written for the stage by Robbie Roth and Robert Cary. “The new songs were influenced by Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen,” Padgett explains. “They’re all pop songs but they are story telling songs that really help us tell the story, but keep it in the time period. It’s so great and the way it goes from a book song to “I Love Rock & Roll” – when you hear those hooks the audience is going to go crazy. It’s

such a great combination of new material and material that people love. And the projections and the video – it’s really going to be fantastic. I can’t wait to hear what audiences think.” Asked what she hopes St. Louis audiences take away from the musical and Padgett says without a doubt, it’s the story. “I hope people take away the message to not be afraid to be who you are and to not be afraid to fall down, you have to try,” she concludes. “I hope that when people come to see our show – it’s such a fighting show – all the characters are fighting for something. I hope people feel inspired and want to go out and fight for their dream or whatever that they think is right and feel good about themselves.” V | 43

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SPeCIAl lGBT HAPPy HOuR FRIdAy nIGHT AT 6:00Pm. Come listen to some music and enjoy an exotic cocktail, beer, or wine before the play starts and mingle!!

lIKe uS On FAC e B O O K ! | 45

January PlayD/a/tes

Welcome to the Playdates 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 the To submit your next event, simply email with event name, date, location and a 20-word description. Vital VOICE birthday – Jan. 1 In January 2009 Vital VOICE took the city by surprise with the relaunch of its rebrand from newspaper to life and style magazine. Hard news was moved to the newly redesigned website as myriad color stories, life/style features and profiles populated the pages of the publication. Thank you, St. Louis for your continued support. We couldn’t do it without you!

Bartender Review – Jan. 6 Just John, 8 p.m. Always a community favorite, the Bartender Review returns to Just John on Jan. 6 in The Grove. The event will be hosted by Dieta Pepsi and feature your favorite bar keeps like you’ve never seen them before! Community bars from across St. Louis are invited to join in the fun. The longtime fundraiser was started at Faces in 1984 and brings the community together to raise money for LGBT affirming organizations. All moneys raised from this year’s performances, Jell-o shot and raffle ticket sales will be donated to PROMO. Last year the event raised $2500 for The LGBT Center of St. Louis.

Flashdance, The Musical – Jan. 8 - 13 Peabody Opera House, 1400 Market Street, St. Louis, MO 63103 The stage adaptation of the 1983 hit film that defined a generation, will perform at the Peabody Opera House. Flashdance tells the unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a working class girl from Pittsburgh striving to make her dreams of becoming a professional dancer a reality. Performance Dates: January 8 -13. For more information and ticket purchase: performance/flashdance-the-musical

Stomp – Jan. 11- 13 The Fabulous Fox, 527 N. Grand Street, St. Louis, MO 63103 Stomp is explosive, provocative, sophisticated, sexy, utterly unique and appeals to audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered an armful of awards and rave reviews, and has appeared on numerous national television shows. For more information and ticket purchase: page_multi.aspx?usID=320

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday – Jan. 15 Let us pause celebrate the birth of a leader who fought and died for a better world – remember his dream of equality among people of different backgrounds and be inspired by his work. 46 | January, 2013

Obama Inauguration – Jan. 21 Obama won the latest presidential election with promises to push for laws and policies affirming LGBT equality. His inauguration is viewed as a victory for many nationwide, but it is important to keep a critical eye on his term. Inauguration Day is still Jan. 20th, but since the day falls on a Sunday - the public swearing in ceremony and Inaugural address will be held on Monday.

HRC Her – Jan. 26 Bad Dog Bar & Grill Save the date and join us for HER HRC at Bad Dog Bar & Grill. This is a night for women in our community to come out and enjoy live music, burlesque, and one of STL’s favorite DJs in a great atmosphere. For More Information & Ticket Purchase: 66/?context=create

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Jan. 29 – Feb. 10 The Fabulous Fox, 527 N. Grand Street, St. Louis, MO 63103 Don’t miss the most outrageously fun Broadway musical: Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical. This spectacular show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. For more information and ticket purchase: multi.aspx?usID=318 | 47


Scene  Styling

Photography by Mikey Berner

48 | January, 2013 | 49

50 | January, 2013


THE FABULOUS FOX THEATRE JANUARY 29 - FEBRUARY 10 Tickets: The Fox box office, 314-534-1111 &

January 2013  

The ICON Issue - Vital VOICE Magazine - St. Louis, MO

January 2013  

The ICON Issue - Vital VOICE Magazine - St. Louis, MO