Above, over 75 bonus shots from the night!
ABOUT THIS POST: Please let me know of any names I got wrong or am missing. Please feel free to pluck photos for posting on Facebook, but tag me and the people in them. Shots too naughty for this blog appear at my adult tumblr (Work Unfriendly). And finally, a whole separate post for "Rotation" photos is here. Enjoy, and please donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
As most of my readers know, I am obsessed with Broadway Bares, the annual show that benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Part of recovery is learning to admit you have a problem, and I have no qualms acknowledging that for someone wholly uninvolved with the production, I spend entirely too much time thinking about Bares.
I think about Bares so much that I have its many stand-out performers dancing around in my head in the days leading up to the show. This year, two days out, I spotted Peter Nelson—featured prominently in signage for the show—riding his bike, and promptly Facebooked that I'd seen him, and that it might herald the beginning of summer. Never mind that I've only met him briefly a couple of times. He gamely "liked" my comment and replied; a friend and I had been joking about this in terms of stalking, but I told him even most of my arresting officers agree that stalking has to be done on purpose, and chance encounters like this are just luck—his bad, my good.
Instead of laying off a bit this year, I doubled down—I decided to attend both the 9:30 and midnight shows. My reasoning was that perhaps I'd get lots of great photos from the first show and could then relax and watch the second one. This is the pretty lie I told myself.
I wound up with extra tickets for 9:30, so figured I'd pick them up early at the Roseland, around 3, and try to give them away. As I got my tickets, who is the only dancer walking up at 3 but Peter Nelson. We said hello and I promptly prayed for death; I hated the idea that he might think I was camped out at the theater hours early. If I made too much of a nuisance of myself, I worried I'd wind up in a half-Nelson, which isn't nearly as much fun as the full Monty.
I couldn't get rid of my tickets, so I offered the agents a swap—three G.A. tickets for VIP standing for the first show. Deal! I found myself in line with two really sweet guys, one of whom wound up being the boy pulled onstage by Brandon Rubendall in a video I'd shot for Boy Culture! It's a small, perverted world.
The most gorgeous guy ever came by selling souvenirs and making change; I just couldn't believe he wasn't a performer with an ass so bewitching it had something similar to the Medusa's power to turn men into stone upon viewing it. (Well, at least parts of them.) He gamely posed for a photo, thinking he'd never see it again. Later, I realized it was none other than Justen Kilmer, and had to beg him to let me post them. He thinks he looks out of shape, I think he looks like the last thing a straight man sees before swearing off pussy. You be the judge.
Not that we couldn't have watched the 250-pound drag queen working the entrance to Lucky Cheng's across the way all night, but it was a relief when they let us in early as a break from the steamy heat. Having never been to the first show, I was shocked to see very specific places to stand for priority vs. VIP vs. G.A. attendees, clearly marked off by ropes. I was afforded a spot flush against the central catwalk, a seemingly golden position. Determined to take great photos, I had to consciously overlook the wall-sized posters positioned everywhere, begging us to "respect the performers" and refrain from taking pictures. See, putting Peter Nelson's bare butt on a poster demanding that I not take a picture of it just does not work for me.
Unfortunately, my spot lost its charm early on. In spite of the gorgeous Latin guy across from me whose dark skin glowed under the blue gels, I had to deal with a jerk in front of me who pushed his way in after I'd staked my spot. He also maneuvered to get two more friends against the stage, pressing me into the seam between the catwalk and its circular termination. Not comfy, but a good way to brace myself for disrespecting every performer who came near. (Later in the show, he leaned back hard on me to get me to back off, so I said directly into his ear, "My shoulder is in the exact same spot it was when I first got here. You're pushing me. I'm not moving—at all—and I'm not going anywhere." He stopped.)
A male/female singing duo called The Skivvies took to to stage as the openers, or as they put it, the "fluffers." They were fun, singing a medley of America-themed songs. (But no "American Life," boo.) The adorable dude, Nick Cearley, went bare-assed at the end, but too quickly for me to shoot...yet another reason seeing both shows would come in handy.
Finallly, it was time for Broadway Bares 23: United Strips of America to begin. From here on out, I'm talking about both shows combined, mixing and matching the best of both worlds.
First, let me get out of the way my scant criticisms. (Hey, I'm slavishly devoted to the show, but it can't all be goodness and Judith Light.) I thought the show overall was less special than some previous years have been. I wasn't wild about the American theme, which gave us numbers based on states like Nebraska, Maine and Georgia, and the writing was not funny. It was also a huge let-down that Cyndi Lauper didn't "surprise" us; she did Bares one other time and she and the show's creator Jerry Mitchell just won Tonys for Kinky Boots, so a visitation seemed a shoo-in. There are so many gigantic stars on Broadway who would've been a treat to have pop up, not least of which was Bette Midler. If Bette had shown up in a towel, it would have been legendary.
But really, these complaints are not meant as attacks or to downplay the incredible stamina and talent of everyone involved; it's like ranking orgasms or Madonna tours...they're all amazing, even if some are your favorites and some are not.
On the plus side, the show, directed by Nick Kenkel, had to overcome not featuring some of its most high-profile performers from years past, including Matt Skrincosky, Josh Buscher, Matthew Steffens, Brandon Rubendall, Andy Mills, Guto Bittencourt, Steven Wenslawski and many others, and did so admirably, minting new stand-outs (though all had done the show before) like Nelson, Patrick Boyd, Jamal Story, Daniel Robinson, and others. And as for the choreography (by Kenkel, Derek Mitchell, Paul McGill, Michael Lee Scott, Al Blackstone, Jon Rua, Peter Gregus, Kate Rockwell, Marcos Santana, Mark Myars and Marc Kimelman), it was never less than rigorously entertaining.
Also catching my eye was the fact that the show felt more ethnically diverse, less overwhelmingly male and more peopled with mature men.
The show's conceit is that two gay lovebirds (my boo Michael Cusumano as "Jay" and formerly mustachioed Evita star Max von Essen as "Jason") are stranded on opposite coasts, so wil travel cross-country and meet in Nebraska (of all places). Both are beyond adorable, though were not given as much to do as last year's central pair, Kyle Dean Massey and John Carroll (neither of whom were in the show this time around). They do make a disturbingly cute couple—cute enough that I could've stood more flesh from both!
The kick-off number—"United States of America"—featured Christopher Sieber (revealing shots of him here) and Lesli Margherita as smarmy beauty-pageant hosts, sniping at each other as they announce the Top 10. Cusumano and von Essen are picking the show apart by phone, and wind up fantasizing what it would be like if the producers gave America what it really wants...which turned out to be drag queens and hosts who are way into the SM scene—and whose safe word appears to be, "Harder!" Sieber looks good in a harness, by the way.
Next up, my buddy Andrew Glaszek, one of the show's most visible stars year after year (he's done 10 in a row!), headed up Team "New York" as they offered their take on Madonna's "Vogue," playing a photographer who will bend over backwards to get the hottest shots of model Robb Sherman, who's never looked more striking.
The choreography was light on this one, more about hitting the poses, but I loved the styling; so much ginger and the strong brows on the likes of Dave August and Michael Prince were fierce. (Since a little more skin is always in, click here if you're not at work.)
"California" (snippet of video here) was up next, using Katy Perry's "California Gurls" as an excuse for delicious Daniel Robinson, a lifeguard, to perform mouth-to-mouth before getting into a conga line for a little mouth-to-ass. Speaking of ass, you can see his here in all its glory.
"Maine" turned out to be a lot more interesting than Maine (sorry, Mainers), a moody, artistic number featuring a ship's captain courting a mermaid. It's not surprising that McGill choreographed this exquisitely executed, thoughtful number. Tasteful nudes/semi-nudes here.
"Utah" took potshots at Mormons and the state of straight marriage, following Hands on a Hardbody's Jim Newman as he's stripped of his authority, his outerwear and finally his magic undies by his sister wives when he tries to add another to his collection. Newman was another of the show's mature studs, showing off a killer body. (Much more of it on view here.)
Probably the show's stand-out dance number for me was "Illiinois," a hot-stepping hit with Jamal Story in the lead. It captured what the recent take on The Great Gatsby was going for, but did so with just flesh-and-blood performers on a stage. Superhot strutting, and it ended with a bang—by revealing an end anyone would love to bang.
There was a humorous Rest-Stop Exchange involving Cusumano encountering a black cowboy (Tony winner Billy Porter) in a men's room, but the red-state jokes were pretty broad...they weren't as sharp as the performers were. But when Porter brandished his Tony Award, it brought down the house, and there is a lot to be said for both Cusumano's skin-tight pink jeans and human prop Justin Smith, who provided excellent "back"-up.
It didn't happen during the 9:30 show, but Adam Lambert came out at this juncture during the midnight show, wailing a rendition of the National Anthem that was just amazing.
Kenkel later noted that it was a cappella, saying, "I've worked with Beyoncé and she does use prerecorded vocals."
For "Georgia," the theme was boot camp. Julius C. Carter (check out his incredible backside here) turned it out and kept his men in line, even if he failed to keep them in their uniforms. Watching him strip down while managing to hold up something to cover his, um, bayonet—no-handed—was a sight to behold. These privates really let it all hang out in public.
Lawson is the aw-shucks, back-loaded young buck; Boyd the impossibly sexy, taut, gruff daddy; and Nelson the dreamy lead, imbuing his pregnant glances with, alternately, the strong-and-silent seductiveness of Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name and the bemusement of an accomplished Dancer About to Have No Pants. One of my favorite shots of the night shows Nelson exiting...but then I've always been a fan of a guy who looks as good goin' as comin'. Brokeback that thing up!
In "Nevada," which starts with a stark naked von Essen wondering what happened the night before, we are treated to a fleshback of a wild night in Vegas during which our hero is hustled and left 'cuffed, but not before encountering Siegfried and Roy and a female Elvis. Great energy in this, and a great opportunity to ogle von Essen's impossibly cute butt. It looks so perfect that you might be tempted to eat off of it. Or something like that. Seeing the second show gave me the warning I needed to catch the number's opening, which featured Max totally nude, handcuffed, from behind. If that wasn't worth the extra $65, I don't know what would've been.
Rubbing it in our faces that Cyndi Lauper wasn't there, Kate Rockwell belted a lovely rendition of "I Drove All Night," a song covered by Lauper in 1989 that became her last Top 40 hit. (My young co-worker only knew the Celine Dion version, so maybe half the room—the half on the stage—thought the same thing.) Still, it was nice to hear a live vocal.
The Rest-Stop Exchange bit was revived, this time with von Essen meeting up with a horny, drunken codger (Alan Cumming, who ad-libbed actual inebriation) who plans to vote for Sarah Palin in 2016, tailors all of his directions to the locations of Waffle Houses and quotes from Macbeth. Generously, Cumming bared Justin Smith's ample ass at the end of the aborted pick-up.
"Florida" was a high-energy explosion of salsa dancing, first between men and women and then, when necessity called, between two men. During the first performance, one of the leads, Kellen Stancil, had a wardrobe malfunction that was muy caliente! A joyous number overall.
Finally, in "Nebraska," we were treated to a massive marching band set-up, led by a tall drink of water (Timothy Hughes) with a hairy chest and a smooth ass, and spiked with humor thanks to a baton-twirler (Jami Keck) in a j-strap. All very energizing.
The "Nebraska" number segued into Katy Perry's "Firework" (some video here), the show's traditional aerial sequence. Armando Farfan Jr. outdid himself, building incredible, lighted spheres off of which his team's lithe bodies dangled through dizzying spins. It was a light show to remember, and signified the "spark" between lovebirds "Jay" and "Jason," who were reunited at last.
In the past, I've taken more video than photos, but I reversed that this year. One spot where video would have been better is this number, because Armando's brilliance is really, really hard to capture with a non-flash camera. Plus, I can't post nudes on this blog, so more of his booty-ful creation is over at my tumblr.
During Farfan's set, it was so difficult to focus on any one performer, but it just so happened that one who really stood out among the non-aerialists was fairly close to me. It's pretty fucking hard to take even a moment's attention away from Farfan's eye-popping fantasies-come-true. I took tons of shots of him, and at least one came out perfect. When I saw him during "Rotation," I made sure to give him money (I'm a gentleman...ask him!), and then after the show I spotted him leaving and asked for a pic-with. When I asked his name, he said, "Sean." I said, "What's your last name?" thinking this was utterly normal of me to ask since in my head I knew it was for blog ID purposes. He hesitated, then apologized and coughed it up. I realized it must have sounded like I was planning to show up at his job! Gorgeous, gorgeous guy, and his dancing was stellar. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get over to his job.
I wasn't exactly saluting the song choices for "America the Finale"—I just don't think "Coming to America" and "Living in America" belong together. But Eric Lajuan Summers (Motown the Musical) and Charl Brown gave it their all as the entire troupe took to the stage to gloat: They'd done it! Another successful year, another record-breaking haul of cash ($1.4 millions) for AIDS. As always, it was a thrill to see all of the performers on the stage at the same time.
After this, Jerry Mitchell and Judith Light emerged to thank all involved. At the midnight show, Andy Cohen popped out to honor the highest-earning dancers. Top honors—with over $20,000 raised in the fight against AIDS—went yet again to modest Reed Kelly. (He was modest because he refused to remove his pants—he wasn't wearing underwear—in spite of Cohen's flirty command.)
I got tons of great shots of dancers during this phase, since they were sitting ducks. My favorites are below, but the sexiest was a shot of Daniel Lynn Evans squatting in his pink thong. That image, coupled with the fact that he's blogged about bedding Rafael Alencar ("Can you take 10 inches? "Hell, yeah!") give the snapshot a lot of...depth. The entire situation allowed for a mini-gallery of (some of) the best butts of Bares.
"Rotation"—when the dancers make like go-go guys 'n' girls and let you stuff money into their g-strings and jockstraps—was an absolute misery ths year! It's never been so crowded with cheapskate looky-loos. Granted, I was spending time taking pictures and some video, but I was also stuffing big bucks into big pouches. (At the second show, a patron snootily told me and my friend, both of us sporting cameras, "It's supposed to be about giving, not taking!" I told him I'd given over $1,000 this year and asked how much he was giving. He couldn't even give me an answer!)
I'll admit I was thrilled that so many of my favorite dancers recognize me, but I was less than thrilled—and probably a little psycho—when my pal Greg failed to snap a photo op with Peter Nelson quickly enough. People were photo-bombing, I was grinning while swatting them away, the camera was doing nothing. It was such a disaster. I literally pushed two women away by their tits! Luckily, it all resulted in great shots with Peter and Patrick.
This overcooked, overwhelmingly cute twink (Peter Gaspar Kriss) suggested the pose, which was kind considering his previous client, an obnoxious hotelier, had boorishly attempted to expose his privates.
Overall, I enjoyed the first show more because I had a good spot (I was in an okay spot for the second show, but had one too many tall people in front of me), and yet I did note that midnight was slightly racier (and had both Lambert and Cohen as bonuses).
"Rotation" itself was far randier at midnight. (See raunchy "Rotation" photos here and here.) One jockstrapped dancer, who I think of as The Boy With the Fantastic Bubble, was spreading for dollars and encouraging spanking. "I could let you do that all night," he cooed to his most ardent (and very handsome) admirer, who replied, "I wish you would," as if it were a far-off fantasy. I told him, "Dude, if you can't close that deal, you've got problems."
Of course, it's not all about how hard Bares gets you, its about how hard everyone works to make it a success. It's about raising cash for AIDS and having fun with your friends and supporting all the creative types who put the show together and the self-sacrificing dancers who execute it. That's what makes the ever-racy Broadway Bares even better than sex—all the love.
Speaking of which, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all the performers involved. Here goes:
Cesar Abreu, Ashley Adamek, Dante Alan, Alicia Albright, John Alix, Matt Anctil, Christopher J. Anderson, Ashley Arcement, David Armstrong, Dave August, Brian Bailey, Heather Lea Bair, Purdie Baumann, Lamar Baylor, Sydni Beaudoin, Marcus Bellamy, John Bitley, Christina Black, Michael Blatt, Patrick Boyd, Thomas Bradfield, Steve Bratton, Eric Braun, Amy Brewer, Joshua Michael Brickman, Rachel Broadwell, Charl Brown, James Brown III, Summer Broyhill, Larry Bullock, Cameron Burke, Autumn Burnette, Peter Buzny, Sam J. Cahn, Michelle Camaya, Ashley Campana, Paul Canaan, Allyson Carr, Jennifer Carr, Julius Carter, Paula Caselton, Kristy Cavanaugh, Adam Chandler, Andrew Cheng, Olivia Cipolla, Ricky Colon, Jon Cooper, Adrienne Couvillion, Nikki Croker, Chris Crowthers, Michael Cusumano, Barrett Davis, Marlowe Scott Davis, Christopher DeAngelis, Ariana DeBose, Anthony DeCarlis, Zachary Denison, Philip Deyesso, Michelle Marie DiPerlizzi, Mark Donaldson, Sharona D'Ornellas, Michelle Dowdy, Elizabeth Dugas, Jennifer Dunne, Tommy Dziarmaga, Lynann Escatel, Daniel Lynn Evans, Kristin Ewing, Armando Farfan Jr., Alisa Fendley, Karlee Ferreira, Michael Fielder, Justin Flexen, Zach Frank, David Gamboa, Paloma Garcia-Lee, Judah Gavra, Stephanie Gibson, David Gilleo, Napoleon W. Gladney, Andrew Glaszek, Alexa Glover, Geoffrey Goldberg, Carlos Gonzalez, Shiloh Goodin, Alyssa Gray, David Gray, Matthew Griffin, Khadija Griffith, Tony Guerrero, Katie Hagen, Aaron Hamilton, Eric Harbin, Logan Hart, Mair Heller, Brian Hennings, Madeline Hoak, Tony Howell, Jeremiah Hughes, Timothy Hughes, Jere Hunt, Laura Irion, Christopher Figaro Jackson, Tyrone A. Jackson, Naomi Kakuk, Chris Kane, Olga Karmansky, Shari Katz, Jami Keck, Daniel Kermidas, Grasan Kingsberry, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, Caitlin Krause, Christopher Michael Lacey, Cody Scott Lancaster, Leah Landau, John Paul LaPorte, Marty Lawson, Marina Lazzaretto, Cedric Leiba Jr., Kourtni Lind, Janie Linn, Kevin C. Loomis, Ryan Lyons, Sean Maddox, Rebecca Magazine, Marissa Livanna Maislen, Nalina Mann, Christian Mansfield, Sarah Kay Marchetti, Lesli Margherita, Yuri Dmitrievich Marmerstein, Tommy Martinez, Gina Mazzarella, Jaysin McCollum, Sabra Michelle, Mahalia Miner-LeGrand, Marielys Molina, Ayana Momoki, Jacob Moody, Lindsay Moore, J.P. Moraga, Shina Ann Morris, Rusty Mowery, Michael Munoz, Peter Nelson, Jim Newman, Katrina Newman, Jennifer Noble, Anne Otto, Alfie Parker Jr., Kyle Taylor Parker, Eddie Pendergraft, Robert Pendilla, Ashley Perez, William Michael Peters, Annie Petersmeyer, Janice Picconi, Alexandra Piechota, Robert Piper, Kyle Post, Michael Prince, David Prottas, Antuan Raimone, John Raterman, Angel Reed, Madeline Reed, Jody Reynad, Elena Ricado, Ian M. Richardson, Adam Roberts, Arbender Robinson, Daniel Robinson, Kate Rockwell, Geraldine Rojas, Marissa Rosen, Celia Mei Rubin, Naomi Rusalka, Ben Ryan, Kevin Santos, Richard JMV Schieffer, Ricky Schroeder, Curtis Schroeger, Carly Blake Sebouhian, Ray Sheen, Robb Sherman, Allysa Shorte, Christopher Sieber, Amaker Smith, Justin Smith, Alison Solomon, Jeffrey Sousa, Whitney Sprayberry, Alexander Stabler, Kellen Stancil, Taylor Sternberg, Molly Winter Stewart, Chad Stone, Jamal Story, Danielle Strauss, Lauren Strigari, Eric LaJuan Summers, Ephraim Sykes, Nic Thompson, Courtney Tilford, Christopher Trepinski, Sheldon Tucker, Jena VanElslander, Donna Vaughn, Max von Essen, Richard Waits, Tonya Wathen, Micki Weiner, Morgan White, Randy Witherspoon, Jody Cole Wood, Ryan Worsing, Sidney Erik Wright and Samantha Zack.