A reader contacted me on Grindr on Sunday morning to say:
I skipped Broadway Bares last year after getting reamed for taking photos at a Solo Strips, but returned Sunday for Broadway Bares 25: Top Bottoms of Burlesque, the silver-anniversary installment of Jerry Mitchell's unfortunately-still-necessary AIDS charity show that rounds up as many hot and talented chorus boys and girls from Broadway and Broadway-adjacent (and a few who just have roommates on Broadway) to put on a one-night only, two-times only, razzle-dazzle-'em-at-any-cost show.
I decided to go back because I missed the good time and knew the dancers always seem to like having photos to share, people affiliated with the show “like” them on Instagram, etc. Where we stood, everyone around us had their phones out. I think the rule about photos is a misguided fear that it will bite into the show's revenues. In reality, since it's a show that happens once a year, seeing photos from it just encourages people to come the following year, and/or to seek out the merch. I have had a lot of readers say they now travel in for the show thanks to the photos I've posted. So hopefully it helps.
You would think this year's title would mean it was going to be 100% up my alley (I am the original ASSMAN), but I found it to have no more or less tail than past editions, save for its hilariously sexy opening—the curtain lifted to just above waist-level to reveal a bevy of dimpled booties peeking out at the crowd. It was not unlike waving a turkey at a bunch of starving bums on Thanksgiving and saucily asking, “White meat or dark?”
I swear Nick Adams's ass and this tableau could be a Mel Odom illustration.
Directed by Jerry Mitchell and Nick Kenkel, who choreographed it with Laya Barak, Jim Cooney, Armando Farfan Jr., Peter Gregus, Ryan Lyons, Brice Mousset, Rachelle Rak, Michael Lee Scott, Kellen Stancil and Sidney Erik Wright, the show loosely followed the travails of a wannabe played by Nick Adams, he of the Mario Lopez-threatening biceps.
Orange is the new black corset!
Adams starts out too shy to be a stripper, but luckily falls in with the wrong crowd and everything works (and comes) out in the end.
Along the way, the show included 11 tight numbers (it felt super fast this go-round, and I hated the Hammerstein venue as compared to the more spacious and now vanished Roseland), often takes on classic show tunes, always ending with a little more nudity than you might encounter in a locker room.
Baby, if Callan's the bottom, I'm the top.
“Take It from the Top” was a sterling opener starring Harvey Fierstein and Callan Bergmann, a one-time Mr. Broadway, the latter of which as a great opener. Bergmann's were choice cheeks to inaugurate a buns-hun show, and he was one of the performers who really shone this year.
Seed Money is at once a sympathetic but unblinking portrait of Falcon founder Holmes, an impeccably curated collection of some of the most indelible clips from the unbearably erotic movies that have become a shared visual language among gay men, and a ribald cockumentary on the commodification of M4M sex.
Chuck Holmes (top) and Mike Stabile (bottom)—which might be wishful thinking.
The film will make you marvel at the fact that clean feet and fresh-from-the-package tightie-whities could make a guy so rich, and leave such an impression on so many others just like him. Even though Jeff Stryker is on hand to reminisce, the film's money shot is its honest portrayal of a gay kid from the sticks whose drive to make something of himself and whose struggle with and eventual celebration of his sexuality wound up all but defining the history of gay porn.
Seed Money is that rare documentary that you could easily jack off to (hello, Bill Henson ... how you doin', Buster? ... 'sup, Kurt Marshall?) but that never stops engaging your brain. Though it touches only briefly on the potentially problematic nature of Holmes's taste becoming the gay community's default position on all things randy (you'll cringe when Chi Chi La Rue tells it like it was regarding what black models were and were not allowed to do on Falcon sets), that portion of the film is emblematic of its thoughtful, nuanced approach.
A great shot of the actor best known as the human b'day gift from the movie version of The Boys in the Band (1970), in which he recreated his stage performance. He died of AIDS in 1986. Thanks to Michael Michaud for the shot.