Meeting Michaud (left) and Burr (right) in Los Angeles
In February, following an interview I did with Michael Gregg Michaud, the author of Sal Mineo: A Biography, I was pleased when he introduced me to Mineo's partner, Courtney Burr. Burr had been with the actor for years at the time of his tragic stabbing death and had provided Michaud with many invaluable insights into Mineo's personality because he "just wanted the story of what happened in our lives to be truthful and to reflect even the things some people might find strange."
I met with Burr, once looked down on as Mineo's "twinkie" and now a respected acting teacher in his sixties, and Michaud at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles on brisk day, but was immediately warmed by Burr's gift of gab. His story holds interest not only as a peek into the private life of Mineo, but as a candid look at how two men fell in love and made it work until it was taken away unexpectedly.
Continue reading to be regaled with Burr's memories of his lover's artistic vision, to find out if Mineo identified as gay, to get pissed off at how the Mineo family mistreated him after Mineo's murder, to get dish on the infamous Broadway version of Harold and Maude and to hear what it was like directing first Oscar winner Janet Gaynor...
Last week, I was invited to a special reception and preview performance of the revival of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, which you will—and should, immediately—find at the Golden Theatre. A show widely regarded as a seminal part of gay and AIDS history is having its Broadway debut; it is co-directed by Joel Grey and George C. Wolfe; and its stars include Ellen Barkin (finally good again in something good again!), Joe Mantello (the director's first acting gig since the original Angels in America), Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, John Benjamin Hickey, Patrick Brreen, Mark Harelik, Luke MacFarlane, Richard Topol and Wayne Alan Wilcox...for those reasons, sight unseen, this was always going to be a must-attend. But having seen it, I can't unsee it, am likely to forget it and can't recommend it highly enough.
Last night was the big party at Providence on W. 57th in NYC celebrating the season finale of season three of RuPaul's Drag Race, which—as you undoubtedly know by now—was unsurprisingly won by longtime front-runner Raja.
Women on the verge
I didn't do the bash, but did the preceding press event, which was probably five times or more larger than a similar event I covered last year. Nine (!) of the queens showed up (but no RuPaul and no judges) for our interviewing pleasure, and I got to meet an adorable Boy Culture reader from Passport, a candidate for Mr. Friendly Hunk-of-the-Year who works for Networq, an A-List: New York producer (I did not smack him, and he told me he loves all the boys, especially Ryan) and saw my pals Ian and Mike and Mark and more.
When I arrived, Raja, Carmen Carrera (barefoot!) and Mimi Imfurst were milling about outside, greeting fans. Mimi looked a bit put out that so much attention was being showered on Raja, but I think everyone knew Raja was going to win, and Mimi's look was not only fierce, it was fearsome—in a good way!—so maybe the fanboys and fangirls were a bit more shy.
Inside, we lined up to take pictures and video as the girls paraded before a step-and-repeat. A regal-looking (read: the bitch was carrying a scepter!) Manila Luzon definitely seemed to generate the most excitement, followed by a Goth Yara Sofia, looking like a gorgeous courtesan who'd just dug herself out of her grave for a second chance at life.
A queen and her subjects
It was kind of a Q&A S&M, which is what I call it ("round-robin" is too Tiger Beat) when you just have to grab whichever subject is closest for your questioning and/or stand in painfully long lines if others have beaten you to the punch.
Here are my thoughts, along with video—I asked each to tell me about their "last drag, first drag, best drag, worst drag" stories—to back them up:
Hot off the presses: It may be "The Hardest Thing" to believe, but 37-year-old former 98 Degrees star Jeff Timmons is teaming up and steaming up with Chippendales at Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from May 12 to June 5. Though he's got the body for it, will he actually be, you know, dancing? And if so, can you break this hundred for all ones and fives?
Cool down—he's billed as the emcee and special musical guest, so while Timmons will be shaking his moneymaker, in his case that moneymaker is his golden throat and not his pec-tacular physique.
It's been years since I last interviewed Timmons, one of the nicest people I've ever encountered in teen idoldom, but I got in touch with my old buddy with plenty of burning questions about his surprising gig...
It's taken me a week to write up my visit to The Hollywood Show, held April 2 and 3 at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, but these things take time—and the stars attending this type of event take cash, which makes the experience a furtive festival of feel-good and good-fee moments.
I couldn't help myself
A map of the stars...literally
This being my second such show (I also hit the frightfully fun Chiller Theatre not too long ago—see here), I'm ready to admit that while part of me approaches these things with an appropriate amount of irony and is there partly because the autograph subculture is so fascinating to spy on, another part of me is happy to take part in what's on offer—namely, trading some green to chat with, receive autographs from and take pictures of and/or with an array of people who are famous, were famous or boast a unique connection to a famous film, TV show or person.
This attendee has animation legends sign his arms then tattoos the sigs on
I have to say I thought The Hollywood Show felt somewhat small compared to Chiller Theatre, maybe because it was all contained in one big room with very little overspill. Also, some fellow attendees did gripe that the stars weren't that great this time. But I had a lot of fun, adopting the attitude of one guy I chatted with who was Marilyn Monroe-blond up top, "It is what it is." And these stars are who they are and were who they were, and I am in the same room with them with a wad of money I don't spend on booze or drugs, so why not go all in?
A Belinda Mason aka Carlisle autograph on a $3,500 check. A friend joked, "I didn't know you could buy coke with a check!" (She's clean now.)
Before I ever showed up, I had my hit list of must-gets. This was based on the long lines I experienced for some stars at Chiller, and the fact that some of the 75 stars scheduled to appear were only going to be there the first day. (It turned out not to be necessary, as Martin Landau was the only person with a line.)
Sunday's bail list...none were exactly missed
I had met my blogger pal Chexy at the hotel, only to discover right off the bat that one of the most currently relevant stars, Joey Lawrence ("Whoa—Dancing with the Stars!") had canceled due to having to work. Good for him, if that's true. I wasn't sure what to believe later on, since he had a big sign up both days and one of the volunteers implied to me on Sunday—not realizing I'd been there Saturday—that he'd shown up the day before.
Hello, Yellow Brick Road
The first star I nabbed was Margaret Pellegrini, one of the last four surviving Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the second oldest person there at 87. There's barely anyone left alive from Bewitched let alone The Wizard of Fucking Oz, people! She was in a Munchkin outfit and seemed a little dazed as she was spun slowly around for each person to meet and greet, but she knew to flash teeth for the camera. Later on, she was sharp as a tack when Connie Stevens asked how many times people asked her to say, "We're off to see the Wizard!" and Pellegrini waved her hand and said, "I can't count!"
"God bless"...on a naked picture with a snake?
Next, we approached Joanna Cassidy. I'll always associate her with 1983's Buffalo Bill—for which she won a Golden Globe—but she probably gets more play from Blade Runner as anything fantasy/sci fi/horror has crazed fans. I told her of my appreciation for the TV series (talk about canceled too soon!) and she smiled and said, 'Wasn't that a fun show?" It was more than fun—I remember that abortion episode like it was only a trimester ago. Of course she was also memorable on Six Feet Under and has a better laugh than Julia Roberts. She looks pretty stunning at 65.
I did get the impression she was kind of unthrilled to be doing this, like it was beneath her station. Not in a snobbish way at all, but in a way with which I might agree considering she seems to work pretty steadily.
It wasn't hard to find good help
I wanted to grab Jeffersons and 227 star Marla Gibbs, but she was busy eating a chicken plate (there was a buffet on hand for the stars so they wouldn't have to leave for lunch if they didn't want to), so I waited her out. No, I didn't snap a picture of "Florence" chowing down on some chicken, but I was tempted. When she and her chompers were free, we met her and her tablemate Ned Wertimer, who played Ralph on The Jeffersons. By a matter of months, Ned was the youngest of the show's three 87-year-olds and his doorman's instincts were on full display when I forgot to cough up the bread ($10 for him, a mere $5 for Gibbs, who must've been doing this for the heck of it). "Are you gonna pay us?" he asked with mock impatience. I was mortified—and this happened to me over and over—I kept forgetting to pay. I was thinking I'd gain a rep as the autgraph-show grifter, flashing a smile and getting free photo ops.
Anyway, both were supersweet, and it was a special treat that Gibbs—who hasn't looked her age since infancy—laughed so easily at everything I said, joking that I'd brought L.A. its bad weather. Can you believe she is turning 80 in June? (Or that Isabel Sanford, long gone, would be 93 if she were still alive? Or that practically the entire rest of the cast is dead? Only the relatively young Sherman Hemsley, age 73, "Jenny" aka Berlinda Tolbert and one "Lionel"—Damon Evans—are still around.) Gibbs must be very religious; she signed her autograph "in faith" and wished me a "blessed" day.
Rose Marie reminded me of my late grandmother
The oldest star in attendance was the feisty Rose Marie, 87, "Sally Rogers" of The Dick Van Dyke Show fame. (She was also on The Doris Day Show, which reminds me that a friend who works with Day just got me her autograph.) She was seated next to 74-year-old former child star Margaret O'Brien and O'Brien's sidekick Randal Malone.
Baby, was Rose Marie ever surprised when I told the happy- and healthy-looking but wheelchair-bound cut-up that my first exposure to her had been in the 1933 film International House with W.C. Fields, Burns & Allen, Rudy Vallee, Bela Lugosi and others. I asked her if she remembered her time as Baby Rose Marie (Raven-Symoné has told me she remembers almost nothing about being on The Cosby Show) and she said, "Sure!"
She proceeded to push her CDs on me with alarming vigor. Though I was ecstatic to have her autograph—as with all the ladies, I asked her to pick which of the photos she was offering was her personal favorite before signing it to me—and get my picture taken with her, I wasn't too keen on adding CDs to my collection. I wasn't sure if one was music or comedy so I asked, "Is it comedy stuff?" and she zinged me with, "What am I gonna do? Dramatics?" which cracked everyone up. Later in the show, when a guy was wheeling her back in after a bathroom break, she threw up her hands and announced to everyone, "He raped me!" He reminded her you "can't rape the willing." I don't think anyone felt particularly assaulted by her wisecrack, which Michael Musto reported on in the days after the convention.
She misspelled my name, but she's an actress not a professor so who cares?
Randal Malone is someone I only know of from this show. With Goth-black hair and eyebrows, he has a Michael Jackson/Jane Russell/Gerard Way look and is apparently LIKETHIS with many old-time stars (IMDb tells me he was a key part of the funerals for Ann Miller and Ginger Rogers, who as legendary dancers probably kicked the bucket in style). He was pretty funny, joking about skipping out on tabs at restaurants because he's always eating with a movie star.
O'Brien's special Academy Award for Meet Me in St. Louis was stolen—and returned to her 50 years later!
O'Brien is bird-like but far from an old fogey—look no further than her sparkly nose piercing to confirm that. She wore a brilliant orange suit the first day and returned in a sort of striped French sailor number for Day Two.
Will you be my Valentine?
While Chexy took a blogging break, I grabbed Room 222's Karen Valentine (pushin' 64) just before she was about to break for lunch. "We can do it now!" she reassured me, and beamed appreciatively when I told her I'd loved her as a kid. She was kind of the first Sandra Bullock, or the second Sally Field, but people wouldn't let her break out of that cutesy image. She was lovely.
I skipped the other Room 222ers (Michael Constantine looks alarmingly unchanged at age 83) because the show itself was kind of lost on me—my dad was a teacher, so I didn't get too fixated on fantasy classroom situations having heard from him on a daily basis about the real deal.
Hard to believe it, but Sally Kirkland will turn 70 later this year! It seems like yesterday she was freaking out the Oscars in outfits others wouldn't be caught dead in yet that seemed to frame her zest for life. She couldn't have been warmer, telling us she was returning to her beloved teaching this year (she taught Sandra Bullock and Kathy Griffin to act, with mixed results if you ask me, hehe) after a spell of illness caused by her legendary implants. I always associate her with that famous picture of her, Lee Grant and some others seated in an auditorium, Kirkland's then-perfect left breast exposed. Surprisingly, even though the implants made her sick, she was offering a print of that shot among the many things she would sign. I told her, "When I first saw that, I didn't even like girls...but it made me think twice!" She laughed but did tell me, "You know, I don't have those implants anymore." I told her it made no difference and we did a really cute picture after she did a few lines from Anna upon hearing me cite it as my favorite of her performances.
Fifty-three-year old Julian Sands is still looking fit. If anything, the meatier mid-life model is actually an improvement on the wispy Brit that once made teenage girls swoon. I informed him how much I loved Vibes when I saw it in the theater—first run! (Really, I think the first half of that movie is pretty great.) He agreed, saying he felt it was "much under-appreciated."
The devil made me do her
In researching the show, I'd stumbled across Georgina Spelvin's blog. She is 75 now, but was once an in-demand adult-film star best known for her hard(-inducing) work in 1973's The Devil in Miss Jones. Her blog was pretty funny so I sought her out and found her just as funny in real life. "You read my blog?" she asked in shock. But surely she has fans—after all, why else would she have completely run out of photos? When I got there, she'd just arrived back with freshly-printed shots taken of her at the show. She's said this was her last-ever signing, but we'll see—pornstars have a tendency to unretire all the time.
The real McCoy
One of the stars I'd been most interested in seeing was nowhere to be found until I noticed him chatting with a fellow actor far from his designated table. Matt McCoy is probably best known to you as "Lloyd Braun" on Seinfeld, though his place in the show was secured by his appearance in the Police Academy movies. He was as friendly as a used-car salesman except without any lemons in his lot, generously answering my questions about the reason I wanted to meet him so much—the saucy '80s sex farce We Got It Made. I'd expected him to brush it off, but he said it was a good experience and twinkled when I told him how erotic it had seemed at the time. (Now, I have no doubt it would play about as sexy as an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place.)
On Friday, I was thrilled to finally be able to go see my pal Simon Curtis perform live in his first-ever NYC gig. Curtis was just profiled by Billboard, which estimates his debut album 8Bit Heart's been downloaded 150,000 times and which previews four of his new tracks, yet he was setting foot in Manhattan for only the second time in his life as part of the supercool, superyoung SUPERFRAICHE concert put on by Arjan Writes and GUMBO.
I've been to Brooklyn's DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) fewer times than I've been to L.A. since moving to New York 18.5 years ago, but it was worth the trip; it's a beautiful area and despite being pitch-black as I made my way to the Galapagos Art Space, no one seemed too concerned about the deserted quality of the streets. Everyone was more interested in gazing at the majestic cityscape. I, however, was sprinting along since I had a pocket full of cash in advance of my Burbank trip the following day. Still, I slowed down and was able to scoop up some chocolate at a cute shop that was closing—I even got some free bark, which was no match for my bite.
Speaking of candy, I was then promptly carded at the Galapagos Art Space (always delicious when you're 42), which I would say is a sweet spot for this kind of showcase. Considering the youngsters (and a few oldsters) who gathered for a bill headlined by Sky Ferreira and featuring Curtis and newcomers Databoy and She's The Queen are probably more than used to standing around for G.A. shows, it was a treat to be able to sit down. The stage faces a lower level made up mostly of comfy circular booths with narrow runways between them, everything punctuated by mini-moats. Yes, there are metal railings everywhere, but after a few drinks, it's conceivable more than one party person might wind up not only soused but doused.
I had an excellent seat with a perfect view that was only occasionally marred when just one of the many photographers, who were not reined in at all, kept waltzing up the central runway to the stage and pausing to reflect on which angles she liked before taking countless shots without bothering to stoop or move along quickly. It's important to record events for posterity, but not important enough to wreck the view for a chunk of the audience.
Host with the most Arjan emerged in a natty red jacket to announce She's The Queen, a boy-girl duo with an authentically '80s sound but not as much stage presence as one would expect considering that fierth band name. I think they will improve over time, though, because the songs were tight and while the lead singer is a bit awkward when it comes to moving and presenting herself, she has a strong voice I'd like to hear again. Their EP hits iTunes April 12, 2011.
Next up was Databoy, a cute, quirky electro-duo who won me over with their loosely choreographed, in-sync pelvic thrusts, not to mention a sturdy performance that had the challenge of having to rebound after a sound issue thwarted their initial try. I don't know if heads rolled after that, but they did bob rhythmically to choice cuts like "Stupid." Plus, if you pronounce the word as "day-ta," then their group name is queerily appealing.
I was sitting next to a cute college student, Eric, who has a radio show on campus down in DC, so I asked him who he'd come to see. "Simon and Sky," he replied. This put me in prime proudness position, allowing me to brag that Curtis is a friend. Eric proceeded to school me on other acts I should brush up on, and in return I made sure he got a pic with my wunderkind buddy.
Curtis followed soon after, easily living up to my high expectations. He's been at this doggedly since I first encountered him when he was 17, and his devotion to it shows—he's a singer who owns the stage and knows it. He takes care to ensure that his act is more than just an excuse to win potential fans or reward devoted fans with readings of his songs.
He opened with new song "Don't Dance," a pained, line-in-the-sand expression of his determination as an artist:
Next up was one of his best new ones, "Pit of Vipers." Whereas 8Bit Heart was vulnerable and romantic, his new album RΔ (sounds a lot like "raw") is more reflective of what happens to boys who are vulnerable and romantic—they get stepped on and abused, and, in Curtis's case, they strike back:
I'm sure the crowd was jonesing for some familiar stuff, and Curtis served up one of my personal favorites, "Don't Wanna Be Alone," a stark contrast to what had come before:
Matt Skrincosky proves he's one bad apple, spoiling us a bunch
I was in L.A., so had to miss out on Broadway Bares: Solo Strips (please donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS) at Splash on Sunday, April 3. I sent my new pal and de facto BoyCulture.com stringer, Tim O'Leary...and he definitely didn't disappoint!
Charlie Sutton from Catch Me If You Can...and believe me, I'd try!
Keep reading to see videos from chorus-boy knock-outs including Matt Skrincosky, Tony Guerrero, Dave August, Rickey Tripp, Tyrone A. Jackson, Andy Mills, Charlie Sutton, Kellen Stancil and Brandon Rubendall.
Andy Mills had to split
And don't forget to take a lingering look at our footage of a slimmed-down and always sexy Christopher Sieber, your master(bator) of ceremonies...