the pride ISSUE NUMBER 23, VOLUME 2 08.25 — 09.07.2017
| AUG.T 25 – SEPT. 7, ‘17
THE LOS ANGELES LGBT NEWSPAPER
IS CALFORNIA FAILING LESBIAN COUPLES?
From this week’s (disappointing) conclusion of the landmark Videckis and White vs. Pepperdine suit to a case of Health care neglect in Alhambra, California’s Lesbian population is starting to feel the squeeze of the Trump era.
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08.25 – 09.07.2017
FROM THE COVER
⚫ BY ANNETTE SEMERDJIAN WITH HENRY GIARDINA
Is Calfornia Failing Lesbian Couples? From this week’s (disappointing) conclusion of the landmark Videckis and White vs. Pepperdine suit to a case of Healthcare neglect in Alhambra, California’s lesbian population is starting to feel the squeeze of the Trump era. There’s an old myth about lesbians and Victorian England that you’ve probably heard about one way or another--you might even have thought it was true at one point. Although homosexuality was famously criminalized during Queen Victoria’s reign, any specific reference to lesbian sex acts was left out, according to the fact that (they say) Victoria refused to believe lesbians existed. While the anecdote is most likely untrue, it’s impor tant to think about. Although our era may feel less primitive than Queen Victoria's in cer tain ways, in many others, oppressive remnants of the Victorian age live on. Throughout history, a feigned ignorance about (or pure denial of) lesbian individuals and par tnerships has lead to two things: An ability to fly beneath the radar of cer tain restrictive lifestyle-based laws, and a total and utter lack of representation. Today, this lack of representation, both in the media and in politics, is harming lesbians more than ever. Two cases in California this week show just how underserved the lesbian population is, despite the progress we’ve made in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. In the eyes of too many companies, politicians, and state laws, lesbians relationships are still viewed as invalid. Take Judith Dominguez and her wife Patricia Mar tinez. The two women live in Alhambra and have been together for 29 years, having tied the knot officially in 2013 when the Supreme Cour t finally legalized gay marriage on a federal level. For years the women have enjoyed coverage from the joint health care Dominguez received from her job. That is, until this January, when Dominguez re-enrolled only to be told her 29-year-long relationship did not meet her insurance's “one man, one woman” criteria for spousal benefits. Dominguez filed a suit and was met with a vicious counter-suit by the insurance company. But not before they
made sure her health plan was retroactively canceled, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in debt for services already performed and cleared by insurance. It doesn’t seem like something that could happen in California, or anywhere across the anti-Trump oasis of the West Coast. But cases like Dominguez’s are becoming more common in the wake of Trump’s election. Dominguez’s attorney Dan Stormer has been able to see the change first hand, in civil rights cour t cases across the state. “It is absolutely clear to us that once Trump was elected, these people saw their oppor tunity to carry out their bigotry,” Stormer told the Los Angeles Times, “[and] that without the election of Trump, the [federal] Civil Rights Division would clearly have moved on them, would clearly have determined that their actions were unlawful.” Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, another yearslong fight was coming to a close. Back in 2014, two college basketball players filed a lawsuit for discriminating against them because they were in a relationship with each other. Plaintiffs Layana White and Haley Videckis claimed that their coach at Pepperdine University had harassed them for their sexual orientation and blamed them (specifically their relationship) for losing games. Not only did Videckis and White claim that they were discriminated by their coach but also by the university, which failed to process White’s NCAA appeal to become eligible to play for the 2014-15 season after her transfer to Pepperdine. Pepperdine University is a private Christian university that “Niche” ranks as the 9th most conservative college in California and one of the more conservative universities in the United States. It is located in Malibu and is undoubtedly, as the plaintiffs’ lawyer described, “not a great university to be gay in,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The former players of the university’s basketball league stated the multiple times that the staff tried to pry into their relationship with questions about sleeping arrangements to gynecology records. The university even tried to argue that Title IX, which protects athletes in schools from gender discrimination, does not extend to protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The case was closed in early August, with the jury coming down on the side of University on the basis of a lack of evidence. The case still remains a landmark suit by being the first to go to trial under the Title IX law. When the case was ruled by a federal judge to fall under Title IX, it propelled it to tri-
White and Videckis have been fighting Pepperdine on a discrimination charge since 2014. Just this month, they lost the case.
al and ultimately told the American people that LGBTQ discrimination is inextricably linked to discrimination based on gender. The case not only gave LGBTQ athletes representation and courage to pursue legal action against discrimination in an academic setting but also marked the first of its kind under the Title IX law, fur ther proving its impor tance. If another academic institution tries to create a loophole through denying LGBTQ+ protection from discrimination in Title IX, the 2015 case ruling by the federal judge who allowed Videckis and White Vs. Pepperdine University to go trial will remain a star ting point for fighting against it. That landmark 2015 ruling by a California Federal judge opened up the Title IX anti-discrimination measure (first instituted in 1972) to apply to discrimination based on sexual orien-
tation as well, giving Layana White and Haley Videckis their well-deserved spot in history. But what good is a spot in history when the current legal system keeps failing you? Just this May, the two women underwent psychological evaluations to measure the extent of the stress caused by the lawsuit as well as their exclusion from the team. The moral of the case, if there is one, is that lesbian and queer-identified women continue to suffer from not being considered, heard, or taken seriously in our society at large. These cases can be taken as examples of Trump’s presidency has already star ted a wave of unpleasant changes in our cour t systems. They can also, however, be seen as progress. As women continue to be ignored and ill-treated by the government, they learn to push back harder every time.
08.25 — 09.07.2017 NEWS
WHAT’S THE POINT
⚫ BY GENNA RIVIECCIO
Point Foundation to Honor Jill Soloway for Her Contribution to the LGBTQ+ Community
If you don’t know Jill Soloway by now, you’re about to. The Point Foundation, which offers one of the most prestigious scholarships in the LGBTQ community, is honoring the prolific screenwriter/director/producer this fall at its annual Point Honors Los Angeles gala, to be held October 7. Soloway’s receipt of the Point Impact Award isn’t just well-deserved, but also a natural fit for her tireless work in portraying LGBTQ people in a positive light. More than just the most obvious part of her ever-growing canon, "Transparent," Soloway’s works have consistently explored and subverted the notion of conventional gender roles, both "Afternoon Delight" and the recent "I Love Dick" being prime examples of this. Soloway, who identifies as nonbinary, has always brought a fresh perspective on sexu-
ality through the lives of her characters. Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) is, ironically, perhaps the least interesting of her universe creations in this regard. Sure, she’s a comingout-late-in-life trans woman, but this pales in comparison to the complexity of, say, Sarah Pfefferman (Amy Landecker), Maura’s bisexual daughter who leaves her husband and two kids for her college girlfriend, only to break it off on their wedding day. Or even Rabbi Raquel Fein (Kathryn Hahn, the go-to Soloway muse), who is foolish enough to start up a relationship with ur- man-baby Josh Pfefferman (Jay Duplass). Soloway became all too familiar with the intricacies of the human psyche while working as a writer and co-executive producer on “Six Feet Under,” a show which served as her career launching pad. With a body of work that
now spans over a decade, Soloway has shown her commitment to consistently depicting LGBTQs as they truly are – no over the top caricatures, no cartoonish ghouls (we’re looking at you, “Modern Family”). So it’s no surprise that the Point Foundation has chosen to show reverence for her this year. For, as Soloway herself stated, “There’s a similarity between what I try to do in my work and what Point’s scholarship recipients are accomplishing in getting their degrees and living their lives authentically. My aim is to put people who often have not had a voice at the center of the story. Point Scholars are student leaders and newly minted graduates who are in control of their stories and are ready to change the world. Whether we are filmmakers, doctors, lawyers – we, as LGBTQ+ people, will not be silent or invisible.”
“Transparent” creator Jill Soloway will be honored in Los Angeles on October 7.
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08.25 – 09.07.2017
LESBIAN(s from outer) SPACE
⚫ BY ANNETTE SEMERDJIAN
West Hollywood is in Desperate Need of New Lesbian Spaces As lesbian bars continue to shut down across the country, L.A. needs new women-run spaces more than ever.
When Broadly came out with their video documentary “Searching for the Last Lesbian Bars in America” in 2015, it brought the conversation about disappearing spaces for queer women into deeper perspective. What’s more, an even greater number of iconic lesbian bars (including the iconic “Sisters” in Philadelphia and L.A.’s own Oxwood Inn) have been shut down since the release of the documentary. When small-town lesbians come to the big city in hopes of finding a space designed for people like them, will they only come to find gay-male centric nightclubs? L.A. is an eclectic place with so much opportunity for connection. The confluence of so many people living here – both transplants and natives to the area – has always made its lesbian culture unique. It’s the smaller cities within the major city of L.A. that makes it so diverse, with West Hollywood always having been the hub for gay culture. But WeHo is very much a boy’s town catered to the needs and desires of gay men.There are select nights for women who like women, such as Fantasy Fridays at the Robertson nightclub.Yet these nights are exactly the same as any other night, except the go-go dancers are all female.They are still marketed and produced along the same vein of their sexy male counterparts. And although that aspect is specific to L.A.’s nightlife and culture, it still isn’t enough to cater to women who like women in a way that puts them on an equal footing with queer men.The argument about equality and the lack of need to specify bars as gay or straight is an important one, but the growing intolerance in the United States begs stands in stark relief to this newer “label-free” ethos. Clearly, gay-male centric nightclubs generate much more profit because they present a space that is much more mainstream as opposed to a female-centric space, the likes of which have
West Hollywood has always been the center of L.A. gay culture – but where are all the lesbian bars?
always existed on the fringe of society. WeHo used to be host to a small bar next door to The Abbey called Truck Stop that had a popular girl party every Friday. It closed down the year before the “Broadly” documentary came out. The recently deceased site for gay women, AfterEllen (even virtual spaces for gay women are on the chopping block,) posted Truck Stop’s response to the shutdown which called out how “There has always been a hierarchy when it comes to gay events
in West Hollywood.” Here Lounge canceled Truck Stop's lesbian night “to be replaced with a gay boy night.” It is now the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star LisaVanderpump’s PUMP restaurant. If Lisa Vanderpump can have two restaurants in the area, with talks of opening a third one, all of which remain within walking distance from each other, then surely Robertson Boulevard can make room for a women-run lesbian bar, or at least a lesbian night. Will we ever see The Planet outside our TV
screens? Will a real-life Dawn Denbo and (her lover Cindi) ever bring She Bar to fruition in WeHo? It seems like ever since “The L Word” came out people have been searching for this magical lesbian heaven as much as they have been searching for a group of gay women to befriend – all to no avail. As talks of an “L Word” revival gain traction, perhaps it can bring back hope of the possibility of a community of lesbian and bi women having a prominent presence and space in West Hollywood.
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08.25 — 09.07.2017 ENTERTAINMENT PODCASTS
GIVE IT A LISTEN
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
Dan Savage’s “Hot Mic” is the Podcast We’ve All Been Waiting For
The "Stranger's" gayest self-help guru has done it again – with a new sex podcast featuring allstar guests.
Let’s face it: You’d have to have been living under a rock for the past 20 years not to know about Dan Savage. The “Savage Love” columnist, whose rigorous sex and love advice has been dominating gay media since roughly the early 2000s, is responsible for a lot of the work the queer community has been doing to help gay adults figure out their sex lives, encourage healthier relationships, and stop queer teen suicide in its tracks. His “It Gets Better” project, in response to the 2010 outbreak of gay and trans youth suicides across the country, was a landmark effor t, rivaling only the Trevor Project in terms
of focus and efficiency. He’s also, of course, a great sex columnist, in the (albeit fictional) tradition of Carrie Bradshaw. His podcast “Savage Love” has been on the air for a few years now. Each week, he advises a new batch of poor, unfor tunate souls as to the best route they could possibly take towards conjugal (or casual) bliss. And somehow, it never gets old. Which is why it’s such great news that Savage has star ted up a new podcast, with a performative twist. “Hot Mic,” Savage’s new broadcast on all things sex, humiliation, and pain, has been rolling out new episodes on Audible since November of last year. Since August 8, it’s been going wide with new episodes on iTunes each week. A combination of “Savage Love” and “The Moth,” “Hot Mic” features a new celebrity guest each week, with the likes of Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley,” “The Big Sick”) and Buck Angel (the
legendary trans male porn star) opening the episode by telling an embarrassing – if not mildly traumatic – episode from their sexual past. Some of these are more cringe-wor thy than others (see: “Scandal” actor Dan Bucatinsky’s story about keeping a hot classmate’s jock strap under his pillow in high school) but all of them are relatable, touching, and totally in line with Savage’s specific, ar ticulate brand of sex positivity and openness. One of the most exciting things about “Hot Mic” is how it opens up the floor to different stories from people of all ages, backgrounds, and identities. In one episode, newly-sober comedian (and “Sex and the City” script consultant) Greg Behrendt opens up about his less-than-ideal proposal to his wife, featuring a corny Christmas tree ornament. In the same episode, a woman describes being jilted by her date when he decides to propose to another woman in the same restaurant. There’s nothing more
relatable than stories about crappy romances, botched proposals, and pubescent run-ins with sex and obsession. Unlike “Savage Love,” in which love stories are presented as problems needing urgently to be fixed (either through better communication or a final breakup,) “Hot Mic” allows listeners to hear not just about the problematic aspects of love, but the ridiculous aspects that make the journey, though totally embarrassing, wor thwhile. “Hot Mic” is now available on iTunes.
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Dan Savage’s new podcast is a “Moth”-style half-hour about sexual mishaps.
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08.25 – 09.07.2017
ARTE POR L’ARTE
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
Realism and Fantasy in Los Angeles and San Francisco Prepare for new Yayoi Kusama Infinity Rooms at the Broad and a Walker Evans retrospective at SFMOMA.
It feels like you couldn’t find two artists more diametrically opposed than Yayoi Kusama and Walker Evans: One, a titan of realism, capturing the Depression-era devastation of the American Midwest, the other a master of whimsy and fantasy, designing immersive works of art that reflect life as it should be, not as it is. But that’s just at first glimpse. Something curious happens when you take a closer look, and then a closer one.Which, of course, is just what The Broad – which commissioned new works (specifically Infinity Rooms) by Kusama for October – and SFMOMA, borrowing heavily from L.A.’s Getty museum to mount a Walker Evans retrospective for September – are asking us to do. Kusama’s work has had something of a cult audience since the late sixties when she starting bringing her specific brand of protest art to life, and to the street. Her “body festivals” were a psychedelic infusion of polka dots, anti-war protesting, performance art, and good old-fashioned nudity. The artist, now in nearly in her ‘90s, has stayed true to her early aesthetic while popping it out into a full 3D experience. Each Infinity Room (specifically created for the Broad for this exhibit) is a twinkling paradise of lights, stars, shapes, and elongated gourd structures that invite the viewer to play, experience and live within the art, if only for a few moments.That might explain why the Broad usually has a 2+ hour wait just to get in.When it comes to Kusama, everybody and their Instagram account wants a piece of the pie. Walker Evans, on the other hand, focused on the tragically real – the world as it exists without the relief of fantasy. It was this that made (and still makes) his work so moving. For today’s audience especially, who has little recourse to images of the ‘30s and ‘40s outside of the hyper-glamorized output of Hollywood, Evans' work presents a picture of the past stripped bare of glitter and pretense. Evans’ contemporary audience wasn’t so different – they didn’t have many chances to see themselves represented as real, living beings, warts and all. Which is perhaps why Evans’ work was as controversial as it was back in the day, starting with his photo series co-written by James Agee, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” which was by turns exalted as brilliant photojournalism and criticized as exploitation.To be fair, it’s always been a bit of both with Evans. Which is how his
Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin” Infinity Room. Photograph courtesy OTA Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama.
Walker Evans, “Self Portrait,” 1927; collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
work ends up having something in common with the fantastical flights of Kusama after all. No matter how “real” reality gets, there’s always the mark of the artist’s brush upon it. Both Walker and Kusama knew this well, even as they traveled on their vastly different paths.
Walker Evans, “Roadside Stand Near Birmingham/Roadside Store Between Tuscaloosa and Greensboro, Alabama,” 1936; collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; copyright Walker Evans archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
08.25 — 09.07.2017 COMMUNITY CAUSES
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
Charles R. Drew University and OASIS Clinic Host PrEP Summit in L.A.
PrEP, the life-changing HIV-preventative medication, hasn’t been around long, but it’s already been able to change thousands if not millions of lives in the few years since its first U.S. release. Still, there’s a lot of work to be done. With only 7 percent of the directly affected population getting consistent access to the drug, many questions about PrEP – including who’s getting access and who should be getting access – remain unanswered. Charles R. Drew University’s OASIS clinic, the largest HIV provider in the South L.A. area, will be hosting a summit on the afternoon of August 26 to discuss the future of PrEP, as well as to strategize about how PrEP can be more widely distributed, both in Los Angeles and throughout the U.S. Although PrEP is over 99 percent effective at preventing users from contracting HIV/AIDS, the drug is still new enough that few locations in the U.S., outside of larger, more sex-positive cities like New York and Los Angeles, encourage PrEP usage through media campaigns and billboards. A study done by the PrEP-focused app PlushCare found that as many as one in three doctors throughout
the U.S. either don’t know about PrEP or are un- need for anyone to become infected. Any person munity Faculty at Charles Drew University, notes willing to prescribe it, showing that bias against having sexual contact with an HIV-positive per- that:“PrEP information and access has already and ignorance of HIV treatment still runs ram- son can prevent themselves from getting infect- spread through other parts of LA County, but pant throughout the country. At the South L.A. ed by taking PrEP,” states Dr. Wilbert C. Jordan, many of the people who come to our HIV testing PrEP summit, strategies, studies, and goal-oriented the Founder and Medical Director, OASIS Clinic. site have still never heard about PrEP.That’s unforresearch will be presented to attendees about “Likewise, an HIV positive person who is taking tunate because, in many ways, the need is greater “increasing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) use their meds and is undetectable is unable to pass here in South Los Angeles. Hopefully, this is the in key populations; [understanding] the concept the virus to others. Unfortunately, many of our beginning of better access for this community.” The South Los Angeles Summit is a free event of PrEP for HIV prevention, its efficacy, risk and newly-diagnosed HIV positive clients have not benefits; [learning] to identify candidates who heard of PrEP. Had they been aware and taken it, and will take place on August 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at W. M. Keck Hall on the campus of Charles would benefit from PrEP; and tools and strategies they would be HIV negative today.” Likewise, David P. Lee, MPH, LCSW, and Com- R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. for tailoring appropriate health communications.” The afternoon will feature a panel discussion with patients currently taking PrEP, as well as a talk by Dr. Leo Moore, Associate Medical Director for Offices Spaces in WestWorkspaces LA & Santa Monica Village the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Division of HIV and STD Programs. Dr. Office Spaces in West|LA & Santa info@VillageWorkspaces.com 310450-Monica 7070 Moore will discuss HIV statistics and solutions info@VillageWorkspaces.com | 310-450-7070 with a special emphasis on L.A.'s African-American and Latino populations and present research geared toward curbing the South Los Angeles rate of infection. Resident doctors at OASIS will also be in attendance to share their insight. “At this point in the HIV evolution, there is Spaces no Offices in West LA & Santa Monica
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“At this point in the HIV evolution, there is no need for anyone to become infected.” OASIS Clinic Founder Wilbert C. Jordan will be in attendance at the PrEP summit on August 26.
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⚫ CULTURE HISTORY
08.25 – 09.07.2017
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA, RESEARCH BY J.J. ENGLENDER
In 1967, Andy Warhol Brought “A Clockwork Orange” to Life with “Vinyl”
Five years after Anthony Burgess’s book – and four years before Kubrick’s dystopian masterpiece – Warhol shocked L.A. audiences with a tale of sex, violence, and compulsion.
Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange,” which follows a violent misfit through a dystopian near-future, might have been an instant hit as a novel, but it still had a ways to go before making a big-screen impact. Even before Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 1971 film starring Malcolm McDowell as the vicious, volatile Alex, Andy Warhol had been struck by Burgess’s stirring tale of a society gone mad. So much so, in fact, that he decided to adapt it for the screen before Kubrick had secured the rights (or perhaps afterward – Warhol certainly hadn’t sought them out for his own work.) And by “adapt,” of course, we mean basically rewrite the entire book to include wild Factory parties, gimp masks, and Edie Sedgwick in her first speaking onscreen role. This was “Vinyl,” Warhol’s 16th film to date, screened at Santa Monica’s Western Theater in 1967 as part of its scandalous “Movies at Midnight” billing, featuring more titillating fare such
Sedgwick and Warhol on the set of “Vinyl.”
as “Soul Freeze” (whose plot revolved around “mysterious sexual visions”) and “Mosholu Holiday.” “Vinyl’s” scandalous life had begun in 1965, when it was released as a three-shot “anti-film” featuring scenes of gratuitous violence and a soundtrack by some of the most cutting-edge bands of the day, including The Kinks,The Rolling Stones, and The Isley Brothers. From the start, “Vinyl’s” appeal seemed tied to its relationship to music. In 1966, Warhol's movie was screened at the Methodist Student Center in Austin, Texas. The event was billed as 'an evening of expanded cinema' and purported to feature a 5-D light show, featuring The Velvet Underground – who failed to show up. Still, “Vinyl” drew in the crowds for a time on mere shock value alone. The typically slow, un-cinematic adaptation of Burgess’s classic novel is notable for its infusion of queer elements (ahem, leather) into a mainly heterosexual story. While Burgess’s novel – and its famous Kubrick adaptation – both focus on the uncomplicated sadism of the near-future, Warhol chooses (as usual) to focus on the other half of the sadomasochistic equation. Without being anything like a faithful adaptation of the book, Warhol’s version adds an important addendum to the original text: Sadism can only live and thrive in a masochistic world. “Vinyl” is almost an optimistic take on the traditional bleakness of “A Clockwork Orange,” and a more forgiving one than most.
Photo: Steve Schapiro.
A 1967 poster boasts a midnight showing of “Vinyl” in Los Angeles.
A preponderance of leather doesn’t phase the calmly smoking Edie Sedgwick in “Vinyl.”
Photo : AdSausage.
08.25 — 09.07.2017 COMMUNITY 5K RUN
⚫ BY AMY PATTON
SOMEWHER OVER THE (GLITTER) RAINBOW
Running can be fun if you’re covered in glitter and grooving to Gaga
With the bleak potential of a civil war and nuclear war on the brink of our horizons, thousands of members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community fought back the potential looming doom – with glitter, and lots of it. The LGBT Center of Los Angeles hosted its inaugural Glitter Run 5K (GR5K) on August 20, where participants walked, rolled, ran and boogied through the streets of Hollywood covered in glitter, sequins and smiling faces. “Have you been feeling on edge because of the political climate in our country?” The Glitter Run’s website asks. “The Glitter Run is a creative and fun opportunity to brighten your spirits by doing something adventurous, something celebratory, something fabulous, and something you’ve never done before.” The GR5K kicked off with guest appearances by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Manila Luxon and “Wicked the Musical’s” Shoshana Bean at the opening ceremony as everyone glittered up their complimentary vial of glitter. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink glittering stations were set up throughout the 3.1 mile course so that by the end of the run, participants were all glimmering rainbows. “While some political leaders try to divide us based on our differences, the Glitter Run will unite us in a celebration of our wonderful diversity,” the Glitter Run website states. The GR5K ended in front of the LBGBT Center of Los Angeles for an after party, reminding everyone that even in the scariest of times, a rainbow – and a glitter one, at that – is always on the horizon.
A participant lays down and makes a “glitter angel” at the final glitter station.
Photos: Amy Patton.
⚫ ENTERTAINMENT MUSIC
08.25 – 09.07.2017
AN INTERVIEW WITH ...
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
Faulkner is the Venice-based Band with a Message We spoke with Dimitri Farougias of the L.A.based band on the importance of music, connection, and openmindedness.
As part of one of the freshest new L.A. bands with Venice roots and a seal of approval from none other than RZA himself, bassist Dimitri Farougias is making moves in the music industry. He’s also making a statement. Just this June, when Billboard approached Farougias, along with only a handful of other artists, to write an open letter to the LGBTQ+ community, he spoke candidly about his constrained upbringing in Greece, where diversity and acceptance were far from the norm. “To all our LGBTQ brothers and sisters; you’ve shown us and the entire world a level of courage, strength, and pride second to none.” Farougias wrote. “Against all biases, against all odds, you are still fighting and you are winning. We stand by you.” Now Farougias is currently back in Los Angeles to play two huge shows with Faulkner on their home turf: One at the L.A. LGBT center on August 18 as part of a mentor program, the other at Downtown L.A.’s The Resident on August 29. With a powerhouse set of new songs and a powerful backing from seasoned artists from all genres, Farougias, along with Faulkner, is poised to make a splash on the scene – right here where it all began. We sat down with Farougias to talk about the music, the fans, and his L.A. homecoming. The Pride: Tell us a bit about your background. Dimitri Farougias: I was born and raised in a small town northwest of Athens, Greece. That was a small town mentality, very very closed-minded and stupid. I moved to L.A. in I believe 2001. You noticed a difference? D: Absolutely.You go from like a very religious, strict, patriarchal kind of culture where whatever your priest and dad says is the law, and then you move to a place like L.A. where that kind of thing just doesn’t fly. And you’re like ‘holy moly, this is a whole new world and I’m just loving it.” You met all the other band members here? Yeah, we all met in the L.A. music scene through friends of friends. We started writing the EP in 2013, that took about a year just writing and recording, which is the “Revanchist” EP.The album has been an ongoing process.We keep on writing. But i think we have everything down for it. I think everyone’s happy with where
Photo: Courtesy Faulkner.
Faulkner, from Left to Right: bassist Dimitri Farougias, producer Eric Scullin, drummer Christian Hogan, and lyricist and vocalist Lucas Asher.
we are right now in terms of song selection.We should be releasing it sometime at the end of this year. How did you get involved with RZA? He’s been a huge supporter and collaborator of Faulkner. We met him through several different sources. We personally tried to reach out to RZA, we sent him a demo of at the time “New York Anthem,” which then sounded nothing like it sounds now. And he promised he would take a listen, which took a minute, but he kept his promise. And he came back to us and said: “I’m liking this, let’s do it.” He originally signed on to produce, which is what we’d asked him for, and then when we went into the studio in Malibu--the coolest part about that is that it was Bob Dylan’s house until five or six years ago--but we went in there, and we started working on it, and he got into so much that he actually grabbed a pad and pen and freestyled a verse. We couldn’t believe it. That was really a dream
come true. How did you end up booking the performance at L.A.’s LGBT Center? I think it’s the first event of its kind where they’re putting a bunch of artists together, primarily to help the LGBTQ+ center. I think it’s a music outreach program, where music companies will send songwriters out to hang out with the kids and write a song together. There are music companies that have a studio at their disposal where they’ll invite the kids to the studio, and even help them record the song they’ve written. I think it’s amazing that this is actually going into action. Clearly, I’m very biased when it comes to music, so yes to that. I can’t wait to perform there. It’s so cool what they’re doing! So creative and rewarding. How did you pick the name? I’m guessing it has something to do with the famous writer. There are a few different stories, but I prefer the
writer one. We’ll stick to that. We’re all fans of literature in general.We like our books, and especially Lucas [Asher,] our main guy who writes all the lyrics. He’s a bibliophile, to say the least. What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? I’m just really excited to release the album. That’s definitely number one at this point. I’m excited to keep playing more shows. I love doing it. I love traveling, going places we’ve never been before. Making new fans, meeting news ones. It’s an unbelievable experience.We were just in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. People think of it as “flyover country,” but when you actually go there and meet the people and talk to them, they’re super grateful and happy to have live music. In L.A. we’re super jaded because we have everything at our disposal 24/7. Smaller towns don’t get that privilege. So when you go there, you just see that excitement from people. It kind of makes it mean so much more.
08.25 — 09.07.2017 ENTERTAINMENT SOAPBOX
WINGS AND WHEELS
⚫ BY GENNA RIVIECCIO
The Abbey’s Heel On Wheels Steamrolls Through L.A. for Redbull Soapbox Race Finally, the best of both definitions of drag races collide. That’s right, this past Sunday, August 20, at Angels Point Road in Elysian Park, 64 teams – including those consisting entirely of drag queens – came together to create their own unique racing vehicles and went toe-to-toe, quite literally as The Abbey of West Hollywood’s ruby red slipper design proves. And yes, of course it’s inspired by “The Wizard of Oz.” Judy Garland was certainly watching over one of The Abbey’s most acclaimed drag stars Rhea Litré as she steered the heel toward glory. She also had four other queens at her side to help her in her quest. Even though The Abbey's “Heel on Wheels” didn't bring home the gold, they certainly put on a show. It wasn't just aesthetics that served the Heel on Wheels – though that certainly helped. These homemade soapbox crafts aren’t just a testament to the innovative and creative nature of drag and all that it touches, but also part of the craft’s full functionality. While the human-powered soapbox is just that – human-powered – there is a cer-
tain amount of technical skill to the lo-fi automobile as it must also come equipped with brakes and steering. To boot, the judges (including Ryan Seacrest) were on alert for the very best in showmanship and theatricality as teams made their way through the half-mile course. With the stunning backdrop of Elysian Park to punctuate the drama of the event, the Redbull Soapbox Race offered up the high-octane pitch one would expect from any drag show at The Abbey. And with Litré’s notoriously bawdy sense of humor, this race proved a laugh a minute. Multiple food vendors were found onsite, and the race provided a chance to meet with the competitors themselves when the pits opened at 10 a.m. Viewers had a chance to size up the soapboxes and vote for their fan favorites. Now in its twenty-sixth year of operation (mind you, it started out as a modest coffee shop,) The Abbey continues to solidify its mainstay status in the gay and drag community – they’ve got a soapbox to stand on to confirm it!
Photo: Courtesy Redbull.
08.25 – 09.07.2017
GIVE IT A WATCH
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
“Difficult People” is the Most Opinionated Show on Television That’s why it’s one of the best.
It is a truth self-evident that there is far too much TV in this world: Too much of it long, too little of it good. “Difficult People,” a show that made its reputation off of mocking the mediocrity of other shows, does not have this problem. “Difficult People,” as much a traditional half-hour comedy as it is a send-up of the traditional half-hour comedy, is, in fact, as close as one can get to a perfection of the art form. “All the people who used to say they didn’t have televisions are now saying ‘There’s too much TV to watch!” Billy Eichner says to a perpetually unamused casting agent with a bucket of kosher pickles on her desk. And so begins another foray into the world of Billy and Julie, two lovable out-of-work actors in their mid-thirties with no conscience to speak of, unless it comes to minor pop culture details. In that area, the two have plenty of moral stands to take, many of them inconvenient. Season three opens with a distinctive cross-carrying moment, as Billy and Julie martyr themselves at a performance of Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George” starring the entire cast of flyover-country favorite “The Big Bang Theory” (retitled “Bazinga in the Park with George.” Such lowbrow horrors, of course, will not stand for Billy and Julie, who storm the stage carrying signs saying “No Bazinga” and “Respect Sondheim’s Intentions.” These are the same two people who, just minutes later, will dump bags of roadside trash into the car of a Trump supporter (another moral judgment) and use their community service time to brainstorm ways of furthering their careers. “Difficult People” is, like so many shows set in New York, a comedy of misery. It’s also a comedy of pure democracy, with judgments freely cast and decisive opinions freely held. It's also one of the out-and-out gayest shows on television – that rare half-hour that will not only make explicit mention of gay sex by characters who actually engage in it (“I didn’t earn the title “shutter eye” JUST because of my anus!”) but gets closer to showing it than anything else on TV. This might not seem like a huge thing in 2017, and it shouldn’t be a huge thing in 2017. But this is Trump’s America and – surprise! – it is. In the same way that it’s groundbreaking to talk casually about gay sex on TV, it’s also groundbreaking to cast an Asian male as a gay love interest, which is exactly what “Difficult People” does, bringing on the magnificent John Cho as Billy's I'm-just-as-terrible-asyou-are perfect match.
Billy Epstein (Billy Eichner) plants one on guest star John Cho.
Many people equate the show’s caustic sarcasm and the selfishness of its characters with a bitter and cynical worldview. However, although Billy and Julie’s view of the world is strained, petty, and myopic, it also has an enormous amount of heart. Despite their disregard for others, their obsessive need for attention, and the way in which they use everything as a disastrous attempt to further their careers, the characters do, in fact, stand for something. More importantly, they stand against something. Perhaps it’s the dumbing down of our culture – the thing that makes a “Bazinga in the Park” seem not only possible but probable. Maybe it’s the idea that we should pretend to care about things that we will simply never care about. Maybe it’s the foolish pretense of having to go around the world – especially the world of New York – pretending like you’re not totally looking out for #1 all the time. Whatever the cause, “Difficult People” has stayed consist in fighting against the force that’s transforming their country into a plebeian black hole full of “Big Bang” lovers and Trump supporters. And that, in this day and age, is the real, selfless work.
Julie’s mother Marilyn (Andrea Martin) dabbles in a Pence conversion therapy scheme in Season 3.
08.25 — 09.07.2017
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
⚫ BY HENRY GIARDINA
From Lesbian Speed-Dating to Gay Gaming, there’s an App for Every Taste
Quick: How many times have you witnessed one of your throw up their hands say “there’s an app for everything these days!” I’m guessing more times than you can count. And frankly, it never becomes any less true. Each day there seems to be a new wealth of options for food delivery, online dating, car services, and dog grooming at our fingertips. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. And when it comes to the LGBTQ+ dating scene, each new app means a better shot at happiness. Or at least the best hookup of your life. Two new technologies that just busted onto the queer scene are promising to make life a bit easier for the adventurous, the curious, or the easily-bored. The first, the Danish-developed iPassion, is a gaming app for couples, one which promises to “spice things up” by quizzing you about your partner’s deepest, darkest desires.
What happens if you win? “Hot prizes.” Those you can figure out yourself, though the app has no shortage of suggestions. “We wanted to create a game that was a fun and entertaining way for people to improve their sex lives – by sparking fun conversations about their sexual preferences and fantasies,” says J. Martin Moeller, the iPassion founder. “According to our data analysis of users in the United States more than four in five couples would consider role-playing. Our app delves into what type of role-playing most tickles your fancy and in turn, can bring couples closer together.” You also get to dive deep into turn-offs, insecurities, and fears. Yikes. But hey, it’s all in the name of love, right? The second new technology-based service on the scene is the curiously-named Mixalot, a
company that’s been around for some time and has just recently started partnering with the likes of the HER Los Angeles app for queer women as well as L.A. Queer Jewish community JQ International to host a series of L.A.-based speed dating sessions for queer women. Since this is the kind of thing that’s best done in person, Mixalot, in addition to having just launched their website QueerSpeedDating.com, is working on sponsoring a mix of events throughout different L.A. locales to encourage participants to “match and mingle based on preference” via smartphone software. The goal is to get people from all different backgrounds talking, dating, and feeling each other out. The latest event, in association with Match.com, is titled “Quick Dates: Femmes 4 Femmes,” and will take place at L.A.’s Cellar 43 on August 31.
⚫ COMMUNITY EVENTS
08.25 – 09.07.2017
PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR
The best goings-on around and about L.A., period. Transgender Perceptions WHEN: Ever y second and last Friday of the month, from 8 - 9:30 P.M. WHERE: Highland Youth Center WHAT: A networking and suppor t group for trans individuals across Los Angeles. WHY: Meet new friends, ask the questions you’ve been too shy to ask, and find your people. Summer Happenings at the Broad: Oracle WHEN: August 26, 8:30 P.M. WHERE: The Broad WHAT: Ar tists, musicians, and performers come together to explore themed topics (see: Oracle) as the summer draws to a close. WHY: Have a trip, man.
WEST HOLLYWOOD SINGLE FAMILY HOMES JUNE SALES
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The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars WHEN: August 26 at 8 P.M. and August 27 at 2 P.M. WHERE: Renberg Theater, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza WHAT: The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles is back by popular demand with the ultimate Bowie tribute. WHY: Hear some truly otherworldly singing, and experience Bowie’s songs like you’ve never heard them before. Pariah WHEN: August 29, 7:30 P.M. WHERE: The Billy Wilder Theater WHAT: The award-winning 2011 coming-of-age (and coming out) stor y returns to the big screen for one night only.
WHY: Before Dee Rees was cherr y-picked to direct “Empire” and Dustin Lance Black’s “When We Rise,” she wrote and directed the moving stor y of Alike, a young lesbian who’s tr ying to come out, fit in, and figure out the perfect soundtrack to her life. McSweeney’s 50th Issue Celebration WHEN: August 29, 7:30 P.M. WHERE: Skylight Books WHAT: A literar y soiree celebrating the Quar terly Concern’s gigantic 50th issue. WHY: Kick back and listen to some of the best and weirdest comic writing around. A Star is Born WHEN: August 29, 2 P.M. WHERE: Bing Theater at LACMA. WHAT: Some call it Judy Garland’s best (and gayest) movie. Others call it her second best. No one can deny that it’s a cinematic experience like no other. WHY: Failure to show up will result in the revocation of your Gay card. True Sioux Foundation 2nd Annual Gala WHEN: September 16, 5 P.M. WHERE: The Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach WHAT: A fundraiser to help the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe receive infant care supplies, cultural programs, emergency food stores, and other necessities. WHY: Help give back.
Get your business SEEN with an ad in one of our papers today! For rates and sizes, contact Judy Swartz VP of Sales email@example.com 310.310.2637, ext. 134
08.25 — 09.07.2017 COMMUNITY VENICE
SOMEWHERE OVER (ANOTHER) RAINBOW
⚫ BY MELANIE CAMP
Fighting for a Permanent Rainbow The Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard tower is set for a paint job back to blue on Sept. 9, unless Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl can save the rainbow at the end of Brooks Avenue. Venice artist Patrick Marston and his husband Michael Brunt were responsible for bringing the rainbow to Venice Beach, pulling out their paintbrushes to transform the Lifeguard tower from its traditional blue to rainbow with the help of local volunteers. At the Board of Supervisors Sept. 5 meeting, Kuehl will introduce a motion asking the Department of Beaches and Harbors to let the rainbow lifeguard tower stay as a memorial to late Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl. On June 1, the stretch of Venice Beach where the tower is, which years before had been Venice’s unofficial gay beach, was named Bill Rosendahl Memorial Beach in honor of Rosendahl, the first openly gay man elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Kuehl is not the only elected official to back a permanent rainbow onVenice Beach. Councilmember Mike Bonin told Yo! Venice via email he “enthusiastically” supported the grassroots campaign and County efforts to make the pride-colored lifeguard tower a constant fixture on the beach. “The colorful lifeguard tower is an awesome celebration of inclusivity and LGBT pride, and I would love to see ‘the most Instagramable lifeguard tower in the world’ become a permanent part of our Ven-
ice neighborhood,” he wrote. A petition on change.org to save the rainbow tower has so far gathered more than 10,000 signatures. Head to: change.org and search for Venice Lifeguard Tower.
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Responsible for the rainbow - Venice artist Patrick Marston and his husband Michael Brunt.
Photos: Melanie Camp.
08.25 – 09.07.2017
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