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May 29 2016


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(All images in this post by Matthew Rettenmund, unless otherwise noted) 

I've watched every season of RuPaul's Drag Race, I've done drag as Samantha Fox and I just co-wrote a book with none other than Alaska, so count me in when another RuPaul's Drag Race: Battle of the Seasons event hits NYC.

Alaska60(Image via Producer Entertainment Group)

This past week's extravaganza was a blast! I was able to do the VIP meet-and-greet hour, where I shot all the girls—Manila Luzon, Miss Fame, Sharon Needles, Katya, Jinkx Monsoon, Violet Chachki, Adore Delano, Ginger Minj and Alaska herself—and then even managed to work my way backstage for some quality time with the low-lifes in high heels.

IMG_6278The merch available was incredible.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 12.28.20 AMThe Ru queens attract more female than male fans. Discuss.

IMG_6348Alaska's necklace really got into the groove.

IMG_6346Purr-fect Adore Delano

IMG_6300Bettie Page-ing Violet Chachki! Bettie Page-ing Violet Chachki!

IMG_6373A fan, in the pink

IMG_6311She skipped her hometown (Atlanta) show because Katya wasn't in it, instead hopping on a plane to NYC!

IMG_6287BeatenFaceTime with Courtney Act

IMG_6291America knows good drag queens when they see them. Here, actual girls give drag a woman's touch.

IMG_6321The Miss Fame game

IMG_6352Who killed Marilyn Monroe? Ask her! Sharon Needles serves old-time glamour.

IMG_6310Ginger Minj goes blonde. Does the carpet match the drapes? Honey, what about that curtain rod?

IMG_6377Katya, in the act

IMG_6390Jinkx Monsoon season

IMG_6331It takes two, it takes two ... Michelle Visage and friends

IMG_6362With so much feminine beauty around, I still couldn't help noticing the boy of anyone's dreams.

IMG_6423This one also would not have to sashay away.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 12.58.50 AMEven Bianca was “there.” I could only think of this book cover. (Book cover via Simon & Schuster)

Backstage was a hoot. Or a hooter.

Sharon was friendly as could be, and embracing a far less Goth look, one of which Eve Arden would approve.

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May 28 2016


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IMG_7605(Image by Matthew Rettenmund) 

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If The Bernie DMX Video Is Fake, It Certainly Wasn't Faked By His Opponent ... UPDATE: It Was Fake

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UPDATE: I've received the following statement from Edwin Acuna, the artist who created the Bernie Sanders DMX video, which had many mainstream and gay blogs hopping today:

So long story short, this was a social experiment, and everyone seem to fall for it. Im a Bernie supporter but one of the main things that I set to prove is the medias ability to rewrite headlines and make everything seem twisted. The video was a joke at first, I imagined a 70 year old man walking out to a song that has a hard intro (subtract the homophobic lyrics, which is why it isn't in the video) but as i thought about it, i knew everyone would go nuts, i just want to give a major shout out to boy culture for keeping a level head about the situation. The video was faked, if you're going to support a candidate dont do it cause of a viral video, and if it sparks you're interest, let the flame burn a lot longer than just voting and walking away, we as american citizens have more power than we think, and to all those people thinking they got a 1up on Bernie….I say this…

Meme(Image provided by Edwin Acuna)


Now that the Sanders campaign has provided info showing that the infamous clip of Sanders allegedly entering a rally to the strains of a homophobic DMX song was faked, they and their diehards are pushing the theory that it was made to tilt California to Hillary.

The primary is over a week away. Would a savvy political saboteur really ham-handedly fake this video and seriously think no one there would speak up and disclaim the music? Be logical.

The person who posted the video originally seems to be Sanders supporter Edwin Acuna, a visual artist: 

His feed is pro-Bernie:

His release of the video seems very deliberate, so there are exactly two possibilities: The video is real or he made it up intentionally:

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 4.11.23 PM

(Image via Twitter)

So if he made this up, and he is pro-Bernie, does it not seem that the most likely reason he made it up is that it's a playful Bernie's so bad-ass statement? I doubt it was intended to make any comment one way or the other on the anti-gay lyrics.

But even though a Sanders supporter probably made the video, you can bet Sanders supporters will continue pretending this must have been a vast left-wing conspiracy by the Clinton campaign.


Quite Like A Virgin

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Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 2.12.24 PM(Video still via St. Barthe)

Artist St. Barthe (FKA Stacy Barthe) turns in a dramatic use of Madonna's “Like a Virgin” in her new “Virgin.” Betcha Madonna loves it ...

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Okay, Two Reasons A Gay Sanders Supporter Should Be Disillusioned Today—And Should Demand Apologies From Bernie

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If you're a Sanders supporter, have you ever been disappointed by something—anything—he's done?

I'm curious because in the past week, the Sanders campaign has done THREE TWO egregiously stupid things that I frankly can't see anyone but the blindest of his followers supporting or excusing.

First, the Sanders campaign is threatening in a letter to disrupt the Democratic convention unless Barney Frank and Dannel Malloy are disqualified from serving as platform committee chairs. Why? They're the maaaan:

The letter calls Rep. Frank and Gov. Malloy “self-proclaimed partisans intent on marginalizing Sanders Campaign supporters.”

Two good, solid Democrats are too much a part of the system to be trusted to help run the Democratic party. So says the presumptive loser of the nominating process, who actually was  given—in a concession—power in choosing some of the major players at the convention, and chose Cornel Freakin' West, who thinks Barack Obama is a “counterfeit.”

Sanders, day by day, continues to show that his true goal is simply to gum up the works for the Democrats. He is like Nader on free steroids, and I don't think that is going to end when Hillary clinches, and I'm not at all confident it will end at or after the convention. Trump recently laughed that Bernie gives him some of his best lines.


UPDATE: The following section includes information about a video clip purporting to show Sanders enter a rally to a homophobic song. The campaign has provided info that shows the video is fake, and of course they are—Big Brother-style—insisting it was manufactured to tilt California to Hillary. More in the post following this.

Second, Sanders used an infamous “shoot the gays” DMX rap song at a rally. Seriously? Why would that song have ever been chosen, and the lyrics not vetted? These lyrics:

I show no love, to homo thugs. Empty out, reloaded and throw more slugs. How you gonna explain f*ckin a man?

Even if we squashed the beef, I ain’t touchin ya hand
I don’t buck with chumps, for those to been to jail
That’s the cat with the Kool-Aid on his lips and pumps
I don’t f*ck with niggaz that think they broads

If Hillary did this, it would be a top-of-the-electronic-fold story on every single gay blog, gay groups would be addressing it and the mainstream press would be reporting on it.

More importantly, Hillary's gay supporters would be expressing disbelief and anger, and would add it to the list of things about her that we see as strikes. I'm sure an apology would wipe away any chance of longstanding resentment, but it would not be excused and blown off. Hillary's principled gay (and gay-positive) supporters hauled her to the carpet when she made her Nancy Reagan AIDS gaffe, for which she apologized and which led to a meeting with AIDS activists.

This song was an intentional choice; it's no coincidence that it was used but cut off before the homophobic and transphobic lyrics began:


Third Second, the Sanders campaign—apparently miffed that AIDS activist Peter Staley rightfully dressed it down for mischaracterizing Bernie's own meeting with AIDS activists—attacked Staley in a way that's really unforgivable:

Warren Gunnels—Bernie's policy director— tweeted that Staley, whose activism he put in quotes, was running a campaign of hate and had made a fortune from big drug companies.

This is libelous and malicious, not a dumb misunderstanding. It's also another reflection of the singleminded, addled world view of the Sanders Cult—everyone but they are on the take, a part of the establishment, ruled by cash.

13315465_10209789104023787_3204187200986729441_n(Image via Twitter)

The first misstep I wrote about above is proof that the Sanders campaign isn't going to be happy with any structural or procedural concessions, and looks ready to try to make the Democratic convention a huge mess. That means they're committed to harming Hillary Clinton as a nominee in any way possible. If you're still clinging to the argument that Sanders has made the Democratic Party stronger, or are still peddling the idea that he, like all past also-rans, intends to be helpful to Hillary post-convention, this should at the very least give you pause. (If you are a #NeverHillary person, this doesn't apply to you.)

The second misstep is dumb as hell and warrants an apology, though I wouldn't say it means Bernie chose the music (!) or knew about the lyrics. It does show callous disregard for the LGBT community by someone or someones on his staff.

The third second misstep is something I truly do not think should be excusable unless Sanders apologizes and fires Warren Gunnels. He went after Peter Staley personally. Peter Staley is a hero to the LGBT community, and just because he is a Hillary supporter; he does not deserve to be smeared in this very serious way.

Gunnels later deleted his tweet. That's not fucking enough.

I had a FB friend who went ape when Hillary made her Nancy Reagan gaffe, and he declared because of that, in spite of being a fan of hers for decades, he would never vote for her again. He also began posting highly inflammatory, negative Clinton memes. I wonder if he will be able to allow how much more serious this misstep by the Sanders campaign is, and how much more fairly it could be argued to reflect Sanders' own commitment to HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues?


The Empower Station: Cyndi Lauper & Boy George's Bangin' Bang A Gong Show

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(10 images in above gallery by Matthew Rettenmund)

I've seen Cyndi Lauper perform live probably a dozen (?) times, going back to her True Colors World Tour in (December 14, 1986) and including the Twelve Deadly Cyns World Tour (in NYC sometime in 1994-1995), She's So Unusual: 30th Anniversary Tour (October 20, 2013), her opening slot for Cher (May 9, 2014) and quite a few of her holiday and fundraising gigs (like this one). She's great, but I wondered if I really needed to see her yet again, as I did at the Beacon Theatre here in NYC on Thursday night.

Img151My room, 1987. (L) Full Madonna-cover mags in bags on the wall, plus Eurythmics, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyndi Lauper. (R) View of my ceiling, with Madonna, Molly Ringwald, Marilyn, Cyndi, Ally Sheedy, Debbie Harry, Sade and ... Boy George! (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

The real draw for me was Boy George. I absolutely loved Culture Club as a teen; I vividly recall the day I bought Colour by Numbers at a record store in Flint in the '80s. I even had a promo poster for one of the group's video collections on my ceiling, with a huge image of George in full makeup. I also remember the very first time my pals Mike Ashton (at his house) and Eric Olson watched the video for “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (1982) on MTV and openly discussed the novelty of the dude who totally looked like a girl. Liking George was somewhat of a political statement in a small town—in any town, really.

But even without the tantalizing gayness, I thought Culture Club created two amazing albums (and the other not-half-bad ones), records I listened to and memorized. I was a pretty fair voice mimic for George, too.

Back in the day, Culture Club had a bad reputation as a live act, and I didn't summon the guts to attend any pop tour until Eurythmics' Revenge Tour on August 21, 1986, by which time Culture Club was kaput. Also, I'd heard more recently that George didn't sound so hot on a reunion jaunt, but I believe that was due to vocal issues.

So when I failed to get tickets and the joint gig between Cyndi and George (with Rosie O'Donnell as a special guest) neared, I reached out to a friend with a connection and, after his previous invitees fell through, I found myself seated in the fourth row for what turned out to be a thoroughly satisfying show.

DSC08639You better pink! (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi came out first, weirdly; I'd expected George would open for her, considering her relative success and being 3/4 of the way to being an EGOT. She looked great in her pink hair and punky leather get-up, and thanked us all for being there while also ensuring she educated the young'uns about the days when R&B and country were quite close in form. This was relevant because she's recently released a C&W album, Detour. Her roots with Blue Angel make this a good idea:

As reluctant as I was to see her again (at some point, seeing an artist over and over can almost dull my enthusiasm), and as little interest as I had in hearing her do country stuff, her set wound up being phenomenal. She had us on our feet the whole time and was in superb voice.


DSC08598Cyndi is an instrumental part of my musical taste (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi gave us four hits and four C&W covers from her new record:

(1) “Funnel of Love” (originally by Wanda Jackson)

(2) “She Bop”

(3) “I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart” (originally by Patsy Montana)

(4) “Walking After Midnight” (originally by Patsy Cline)

(5) “The End of the World” (originally by Skeeter Davis)

(6) “I Drove All Night”

(7) “When You Were Mine” (originally by Prince, covered by Cyndi on her first album)

(8) “Money Changes Everything” (originally by the Brains, covered by Cyndi on her first album)

For her encore, she treated us to one more cover and two of her biggest hits:

(9) “Misty Blue” (originally by Eddy Arnold)

(10) “Time After Time”

(11) “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (with Rosie O'Donnell on the drums)

DSC08644A moment when she was mine (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Just a fantastic performance from her, and I couldn't believe I'd been unenthused going in. She also said something that relates to my false fatigue while she was honoring Prince. She said: 

I hope you appreciate all the artists while you have 'em.


DSC08737Wanna be a cowboy 'n' you can be my cowgirl... (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Her other remarks about Prince were respectful without attempting to make it seem she was a major part of his story (she sang his “When You Were Mine” on She's So Unusual, an excellent cover that she performed live at the show perfectly):

I did one of his songs on my first record, and when he passed I couldn't believe it and it broke my heart—a bright light went out ... Life is short. But he was funny, and he was smart as a whip ... he was quirky—but I loved him.

Cyndi joked about Madonna's English accent but quickly said she loved her, and also gushed about being on Sire Records now, a label she had always considered to be so creative, the home of so many punk acts and also Madonna.

DSC08885Cyndi Lauper is 62 years old, y'all! (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Cyndi loves Madonna and Sire, but there was no love lost on Donald Trump when Rosie O'Donnell took the stage for what amounted to a quickie cover while Boy George and his band prepped behind the curtain. Awkwardly, George's voice and other distracting noises were coming through on the monitors, so Rosie kept getting interrupted and eventually just had to shout over it all—glad it was her and not, say, Mindy Kaling.

DSC09117Rosie's set trumped anything The Donald could ever say. (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Rosie used her brief time onstage to lambaste Donald Trump. Though she declared the Beacon a Trump-free zone, that wasn't quite true—it was more like an anti-Trump zone, and rightfully so:

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Now THAT Is How You Read A Magazine

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You're Welcome: Lukas Galdikas

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 (All images via

Feast your eyes on 20-year-old Lukas Galdikas, hunk who won third place at a junior physique contest back home in Lithuania and went Top 6 the following year among seniors.
Keep reading to watch him work out ...

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