June 30, 2009

And The Beat Goes On...

After the elation of all the "Stonewall 40" celebrations, there was also some sobering news this weekend in three incidents of anti-gay violence and unwarranted police actions:
  • Right here in NYC there was a brutal gay bashing the day before the parade on the upper east side.
  • A gay bar in Fort Worth was raided by the police and a number of patrons beaten and arrested (pictured here).
  • A fundraiser for a California democrat being held at the home of a lesbian couple was interrupted by a local sheriff who pepper sprayed some of the guests.
These incidents serve as a reminder that although the movement to secure equal rights for LGBT Americans has come a long way in four decades, there is still a long way to go. The bottom line is that the Federal rights of LGBT citizens have not changed one bit since the raid on Stonewall.

There has been a lot pressure recently on the Obama Administration and the President himself to step up to the plate on the issue of equal rights for LGBT Americans. (
Hendrik Hertzberg lays the situation out quite eloquently in the current issue of The New Yorker.) The President hosted an historic reception in the East Room of the White House yesterday, inviting LGBT activists and community members to celebrate Gay Pride. And though it's a wonderful gesture, the events listed above make it clear that real action at the Federal level needs to happen. Now.

June 29, 2009

I DO Feel Like Dancing

Here's a great clip I recently discovered on YouTube. It's the perfect way to start your Monday. Enjoy!

June 28, 2009

Happy Pride...With A Side Of History

Today is Gay Pride Day here in NYC. This year's march down Fifth Avenue celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969, which mark the start of the modern gay civil rights movement. The first Pride March was held in June of 1970 as a way of peacefully commemorating the riots that began with a police raid on the Stonewall bar.
Just around the corner from Stonewall is another notable bar which has it's own place in gay history. Julius, located on the corner of W.10th and Waverly Place, has been open since just after the Civil War began and serving the gays for many decades before Stonewall. The Bowery Boys have a thorough historical write-up all about Julius that's worth reading. And if you want to experience history first hand, stop by on the 3rd Saturday of the month when they hold the Mattachine party, hosted by PJ Deboy and JC Mitchell. You will dance like it's the old days (circa 1979).

June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

It was bad enough losing Farrah, but Michael too? On the same day? Man....it's like the day my childhood died.

Though Michael is probably most remembered for THRILLER and his later legal troubles and random craziness, my enduring memories of him will be as the dynamic child star who fronted The Jackson 5. So, in his honor, below is a link to a clip of Michael's first appearance on AMERICAN BANDSTAND at age 11. That's right, 11. This is the Michael I will always remember....

American Bandstand (1970) - The Jackson 5 - TV SHOW - MjTunes Vision - The Videos - Michael Jackson Radio Station

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June 25, 2009

The High Line Cabaret

As much as everyone tries to gentrify and clean up New York, this city is and will always remain full of characters. Case in point: a woman who is a former punk rock photographer and amateur chanteuse (only in NY kids!) has taken to serenading strollers on the newly open High Line Park which happens to run right next to her fire escape. Todays' TIMES has all the details along with a beautiful audio slideshow of her singing. This gal not only has chutzpah...she's got pipes!

June 24, 2009

Stonewall 40 Panels Today & Tomorrow

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which marked the start of the modern GLBT rights movement, there are two very special panels being held in New York this week.
Members of the Gay Liberation Front, which organized the first gay pride march in 1970 on the 1st anniversary of the riots, will be invovled in two panels; one at the 42nd Street NY Public Library this afernoon at 6pm and one at the Gay Lesbian Community Center Thursday at 6pm. There will be plenty of parties and dances and merriment this weekend so why not bone-up (!) on a little history before the celebration kicks in.

June 23, 2009

The Winnebago Man Gets His Own Movie

I recently went to the Rooftop Films screening of "Winnebago Man", a documentary about the Angriest RV Salesman in the World. Jack Rebney is the star of one of the original viral videos; a VHS of outtakes from a 1989 industrial for Winnebago that was duped and passed around until it ended up on YouTube in 2005, turning him into an international sensation.

Ben Steinbauer's indie doc "Winnebago Man" tracks down the reclusive Rebney and, in the process, ends up being a fascinating rumination on internet celebrity. The real-life Rebney is a bit of a puzzle at first but as the filmmaker gets him talking he reveals himself to be something of a noble and even tragic figure. But he also is just as profane and hilarious as his internet persona, if not moreso. Congrats to my friend Joel Heller who produced this doc. "Winnebago Man" is currently doing the festival circuit but hopefully will be released commercially soon.

June 22, 2009

"Look At Me, I'm Dancing!"

On Saturday, I was watching Channel 13's weekly old movie, the 1945 classic "Anchors Aweigh". This film is most famous for one of the Hollywood's first combos of live action and animation as Gene Kelly does a dance number with Jerry the mouse. Last season, "Family Guy" did a wonderful remake of this number with baby Stewie subbing for the rodent. Brilliant!

Here's the original clip from the show and below, a side-by side comparison from YouTube. Gene and Stewie are two of my favorite things so putting them together is like an awesome entertainment sandwich! Either way you watch, it's guaranteed to get your Monday off to a good start.

June 21, 2009

Porky's: Where Are They Now?

Meat became an insurance agent, the basketball coach coach a Broadway star and the howling, sexually crazed cheerleading chick known as Lassie turned out to be Kim Cattrall! (No surprise there) Moviefone has a nifty little roundup of the cast of my first R-rated movie as well as some great then/now pics. They have also posted the disturbing news that Porky's is being thrown in the studio sausage grinder. That's right...."Porky's: The Next Generation" will hit screens in 2011. Oink.

June 19, 2009

The Fairy Schedule

There is a new website up just in time for summer weekends that combines the LIRR schedule and the Fire Island ferries schedule for the Pines and the Grove. Genius. There is even an app that you can get for your iPhone that has the same info. Now all you need to do is find a friend's house with an extra chaise lounge to crash on. :)

June 18, 2009

Anderson Cooper's Mom Is Kind Of A Perv

Anderson Cooper's 85 year old mom, who used to be known as Gloria Vanderbilt, has just come out with an erotic novel entitled "Obession: An Erotic Tale". There's an article in today's TIMES that profiles her and includes some extremely weird and semi-racy excerpts from her debut novel, which is about a woman who is obsessed (duh) with her dead husband's erotic letters from a maybe-mistress. Check it out:
There are scenes involving dildos, whips, silken cords and golden nipple clamps, not to mention an ebony, smooth-backed Mason Pearson hairbrush purchased at Harrods. As the book explains, spanking with a Mason-Pearson is a “serious matter,” not the kind of thing that is rewarded with the “luscious afterglow of warm cocoa butter.” Mint, cayenne pepper and a fresh garden carrot are deployed in the book in ways never envisioned by “The Joy of Cooking.”
This sounds like it could be riotous out-loud beach reading, but actually erotic? Doubting it. One of the funnier things in the TIMES profile was the fact that a couple of her upper class friends advised her against writing this book, saying it would "ruin her reputation". Unfortunately, I think that happened back in 1980 when Ms. Vanderbilt (at a sprightly 54) was featured in TV ads sporting a pair of extremely tight jeans, a look which was then considered borderline slutty (see "Foxes"). As for Anderson's feelings about his mom's new, uhm, interests there is this direct quote:
“The six most surprising words a mother can say to her son are: ‘Honey, I’m writing an erotic novel.'"

June 17, 2009

I Heart Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin was on Larry King last night and she was a riot! Now I know that she makes fun of celebrities who are often some of the easiest targets around these days (Carrie Prejean anyone?). But seriously, this woman makes me laugh out loud. And her Bravo show "My LIfe on the D-List" is hilarious as well. Though I don't know how long she can keep saying she's on the D-List. In my book, she's totally B+. :)

Here's the first part of her chat w/Larry last night. If you can't get enough, part two is also on You Tube.

June 16, 2009

Flag Waving On The Evening News

I will admit that I am possibly the only person under the age of 60 who actually watches the network's evening newscasts. Compared to the Crisis News Network (aka CNN) and other even more hysterical cable news outlets, I still find some of the most informative and level-headed reporting about the day's events resides on these broadcasts. And, unlike Fox News, they are about as close to "fair and balanced" that you will find on a mainstream outlet.

So I was slightly disturbed to notice that recently both the CBS Evening News and NBC's Nightly News have been featuring the American flag as a somewhat prominent backdrop for their openings as well as more in-depth news segments towards the end. I don't have anything against the flag but what is it doing as the backdrop for the evening news? Have the networks finally taken all those complaints about their leftist, anti-American leanings to heart, brandishing the flag as some sort of defense from this inane criticism?

IMHO, it seems to be there as a subliminal message of patriotism, saying that we may report bad news about Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, et al but hey, we still love our country, dammit! But is this sort of flag waving appropriate on the supposedly independent and objective evening news? Just askin'....

June 15, 2009

Accidentally Gay Married

In what appears to be a small but growing trend, a gay couple here in NYC were accidentally married, according to an article in today's New York POST. The girl picture here on the right is actually a boy, with a boy's name (Jason!), but in a classic bureaucratic screw-up, no one quite noticed the bride was a dude. Which is maybe understandable looking at the picture. Less so when you think that the city might have some records on exactly what sex you are.

A similar "whoops" happened in
Tennessee when two guys, one in jail who was claiming to be a woman, got married last year. It took the state a year to figure that one out.

So, given the questionable status of legal gay marriage, in California and New York State and across the country as the Obama Administration shockingly defends DOMA, your best bet might be to find a nice set of pumps and a colorful summer skirt and see how far you can get through the system.

June 12, 2009

Figment Festival On Governor's Island

If you're looking for something unique to do this weekend, check out the Figment Arts Festival on Governor's Island. I was out on "The Island" (as I like to phrase it) last weekend for a bike tour and it's a pretty amazing place; a beautiful abandoned Coast Guard base/ghost town just 10 minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan. This weekend Figment will be turning the island into a living work of art with participation encouraged (i.e. an artsy Mini-Golf course on the theme "City of Dreams"). The festival runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the ferry leaves from the terminal right next to where the Staten Island Ferry departs. Oh--and it's all free, the perfect recessionary activity.

June 11, 2009

On An All Time High

Back in the early '90s when nightlife was semi-dangerous, I was invited to an outlaw party on the High Line, an abandoned stretch of elevated rail that ran through the then-industrial western part of Chelsea. By the time I got there, the party had been broken up by the cops so I never made it up to the tracks. Well, after 15-some years, I finally got up to there yesterday for a stroll on the first section of the newly renovated High Line park.

The new and improved High Line is a beautiful and unique addition to the city's burgeoning public parks; a clever mix of the old (railroad ties and wildflowers) and the new (a suspended amphitheater with a striking view straight up 10th avenue). It took nearly a decade of organizing, fundraising and building for Rob Hammond and Joshua David's dream of a new High Line to become reality. But it was well worth the wait. It provides a view of the city you've never seen before as you float 30 feet off the ground surrounded by a meticulously landscaped urban garden.

If I have any complaint, it's that the High Line currently stops after just 8 blocks at 20th Street. The next section is due to open in mid-2010 which will bring the park up to 30th Street. If you'd like to see what it looks like, there is beautiful slide show on the TIMES website (where this image is from). Or, if you'd like to walk it yourself, it's now open daily from 7am to 10pm. Outlaw parties start promptly at midnight--KIDDING! :) For more, info check out the official High Line website.

June 10, 2009

Tron 2: Coming Not As Soon As I'd Prefer

After recently writing about plans for "Ghostbusters 3" (20 years after GB2), a friend alerted me to the production "Tron 2.0". It's currently being shot in Vancouver in Sony Digital 3D with a budget that was initially rumored at $300 million (!) until Disney released a statement saying "it was nowhere near that". Meaning it's what...only $150 million?

Anyway, for those who remember the original "Tron", it was Disney's most expensive film to date back in 1982....even more than the megabomb "The Black Hole" (which lived up to it's name). The original Tron was no blockbuster but it did decent business on its release and has developed a loyal techie-cult following for it's odd neon-colored depiction of the inner workings of a CPU. Geek heaven, right?

There is mucho secrecy surrounding the new Tron, with very little info on plot or pictures or even trailers.
What is known is that two original cast members, Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner are returning. Last summer, Disney screened a sneak preview/trailer at Comic Con in San Diego and the crowd went totally berserkers. You can hear them in the bootleg copy of that screening below. It's curious why Disney has not posted this online themselves but my guess is that they want to build some serious anticipay-yay-shun, making the fanboys wait. And it's gonna be a long wait at that--IMDB has it scheduled for release in 2011. Sigh.

June 9, 2009

The 11 O'clock Number

A belated Tony post....Neil Patrick Harris wrapped up the awards show with a great musical riff on Sondheim's "Tonight". I thought he was a great host. And an excellent singer too! Lyrics were courtesy of the team who brought you HAIRSPRAY,Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. As a piece on the TIMES ArtsBeat blog explained, they wrote many variations of the song before the show that would account for many different outcomes. A brilliant idea and maybe one we'll see at next years Oscars, except there it would have to be The Midnight Number.

June 8, 2009

Land of The Lost Actor Comes Out

No--not Will Ferrell.  Please.  I am not even going to discuss that movie, which looks like its only relation to the TV show is the title.  I'm talking about the original 70's LOTL and the sexy, David Cassidy-esque "Will" of Marshall, Will and Holly.  On a routine expedition.  Who met the greatest earthquake ever knooooown!

The actor is Wesley Eure and he not only played Will for three seasons but he also sang that song too! He recently gave a lengthy and fascinating interview to fellow author Brent Hartinger on AfterElton with all sorts of details about his life in and out of the closet.  He talks about being a teen idol, dating Richard Chamberlain (!) and mentions his current partner, the surname-less Richard who apparently played for the NY Yankees.  A gay Yankee?  I think we need to know more about this...

June 5, 2009

National Doughnut Day is TODAY!!!!

That's right, today is National Doughnut Day...so I will use the official spelling, but only this once! When I first saw this on the Dunkin' website, I thought it was some sort of corporate promotion for their Design Your Own Donut contest, which ends today with the annoucement of the new Dunkin' Donut; "Toffee For Your Coffee". But apparently, NDD has been traditionally celebrated the first Friday of June since 1938. Who knew?! So join me in the festivities and hit up your local DD franchise for a FREE DONUT! Details are available on the DD site.

June 4, 2009

New Fest Opens Tonite in Chelsea

It took a little while but NewFest, New York's premier gay and lesbian film festival, has a homecoming of sorts tonite as the festival has its opening night (and the entire festival itself) in Chelsea. NewFest is taking over the gorgeous two-screen cinema on 23rd btw 8th and 9th that used to be Clearview Chelsea West until it was bought by the New School last year. Some notable films I'm going to try and check out are a documentary about Up With People, a thriller by directed by my friend Dave Kittredge called "Pornography", and a feature about Quentin Crisp's arrival in the East Village back in '81, "An Englishman in New York". For schedules and tix, you can go directly to the NewFest website. See you at the movies!

June 3, 2009

Judy, Judy, Judy

Until I was 23, I never got the deal with Judy Garland and the gays. I mean, sure, I liked "The Wizard of Oz" just as much as the next guy. But it wasn't until I saw "A Star Is Born" at film school, particularly her inimitable take on "The Man Who Got Away", that I truly understood the tragic fabulousness of Judy.

Recently, I was reminded of her unique talents when Michael Musto posted some lost footage of a show she did in her twilight years. It was a variety program called "The Hollywood Palace" and below are two versions of the show's opening number; one from rehearsal and one from the taping. Judy is looking a 'lil rough in both of them but there is something so utterly compelling about watching her perform...like a woman on a wire.

So check them out back to back and then, as they used to say in high school English, give me a 100 word compare and contrast essay on the importance of "Judyness".



June 2, 2009

NetPix: Ghost Town

I haven't had a good NetPix in a few weeks because the discs showing up in the mail have been subpar lately. Until "Ghost Town". Wow--this movie was awesome! Now I have to put a slight disclaimer up front here in that my favorite genre of movie is screwball comedy, especially those from the classic era of the '30s and '40s. But to those who say screwball is stuck in time, there have been many fine updates in recent years from 1974's What's Up Doc, 1994's Flirting With Disaster and even 1999's Fight Club (which even David Fincher himself admitted is basically a very f'ed up romantic comedy). I guess I should also mention that my first feature, the gayish wedding caper "I Think I Do" fits in this genre. [PLUG!]

Anyway, "Ghost Town" is a wonderfully screwy comedy written and directed with grace and old school panache by David Koepp. Who knew the screenwriter of "Jurrasic Park", "War of The Worlds" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (gaaaahhh!) had such a sophsiticated sense of humor. Not to mention style. "Ghost Town" features "The Office"'s Ricky Gervais as a dentist who begins to see dead people to hilarious effect, namely Greg Kinnear who is trying in true screwball fashion to stop the pending marriage of his former wife to a Ralph Bellamy-esque do-gooder. Tea Leoni is not only the gorgeously sassy wife but also a mummy-ologist at the Met, a clever nod to Cary Grant's scientist in "Brining Up Baby" (which Koepp actually acknowledges in the extras).

There is some great ensemble work going on here, especially in the scenes with Gervais and Leone as Kinnear, unseen by his former wife, mugs and gestures and tries to offer advice as the hapless dentist works his not-so-seductive moves. There is also a lively ensemble of ghosts, including notables such as Alan Ruck (who will always be Ferris' "Cameron" to me), Dana Ivey and a friend of mine, Jeff Hiller, plays the naked guy!

I loved this movie not just once, but twice. I watched it again the day after because there is so much going on, so many brilliant little throw-aways in addition to the big laughs, that it demanded further study. I don't know how or why this movie didn't catch on last fall when it was originally released. Someone suggested to me that mainstream audiences do go for comedies about death. Maybe. Or perhaps this movie appeals to people older than 16 and a half, which is the average age of moviegoers these days. It is literate and smart and nothing explodes. And, as the summer movie season is upon up, that is a blessed relief.

June 1, 2009

A Portrait of The President By...Everyone

The popularity of President Obama is visible across the culture; on t-shirts, signs in windows, bumper stickers and even portraiture. Additionally, our President has also become a very popular subject for artists and this weekend's TIMES had an article about this growing phenomenon. In fact, there are so many people painting Obama's portrait that, of course, there have been some pretty bad works of art created too. So many that there is a website specifically for these rightfully named badpaintingsofbarackobama.com. I have featured one of these paintings here but many more await your viewing pleasure on the website...notably the one with the Mexican flag flying over the White House as scantily clad men and women cavort around him on the South Lawn as he holds of pair of someone's underwear in his right hand. I am not making this up. Really.