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241 posts categorized "TOTALLY AWESOME '80S"

Feb 26 2017
Actor Bill Paxton Of TITANIC & BIG LOVE Fame Dies Suddenly @ 61 Comments (0)

664_1_largeBill Paxton: May 17, 1955—February 25, 2017 (Image via HBO)

Via Bill Paxton, the handsome, affable leading man who appeared in a string of Hollywood blockbusters in the '80s and '90s and was acclaimed for his performance on five seasons of HBO's Big Love, has died at 61.

According to a family statement, Paxton's unexpected death was the result of complications from surgery — what kind was not specified, but rumor has it he underwent heart surgery and suffered a fatall stroke.

The statement read, in part:

It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away," the family statement read. "A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker. Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable. We ask to please respect the family’s wish for privacy as they mourn the loss of their adored husband and father.

Paxton's death is all the more shocking because he just appeared at the People's Choice Awards in January and at the NAACP Image Awards on February 11,and appeared to be the picture of health.

Paxton began his career as a filmmaker, shooting and starring in the early-MTV music video “Fish Heads” for the creepy song by Barnes & Barnes, a short that appeared on Saturday Night Live in 19880. He also appeared in Pat Benatar's “Shadows of the Night” music video in 1982 as a Nazi, and in a later Limp Bizkit clip.

As an actor, his first movie credit was in the Bill Murray comedy Stripes (1981), and he had a small role in 1984's The Terminator. Thanks to the latter, he became the only actor to do battle with a Terminator, a Xenomorph (Aliens in 1986) and a Predator (Predator 2 in 1990).

SourcePaxton in Weird Science (GIF via Universal)

Though Paxton did fine work in the acclaimed dramas One False Move (1992) and Brock_Lovett A Simple Plan (1998), he is probably best-remembered for his role in Titanic (1997), then the highest-grossing movie of all time. He traveled to the actual Titanic with director James Cameron for 2003's Ghosts of the Abyss documentary.

He also had memorable turns in Tombstone (1993), True Lies (1994), Apollo 13 (1995),  Twister (1996) and Nightcrawler (2014), and continued working until his death, appearing in the current TV series Training Day.

TwisterWith Helen Hunt in Twister (Image via Universal)

Big Love was Paxton's crowning achievement on TV (and he was super hot in it — Work Unfriendly). Elsewhere on TV, Paxton was Emmy-nominated for Hatfields & McCoys (2012). He has also been nominated for SAG and Golden Globe Awards.

As a director, Paxton turned in the features Frailty (2001) and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005).

He is survived by his wife of nearly 30 years and two children.

Feb 15 2017
6-PACK — Hot-Guy Break + Malaysia's Hard-On For Conversion Therapy + Basquiat At Home + Parisian Riots + Puzder Is OUT + Paris VOGUE Breaks Ground! Comments (0)

WIDGETABOVE: Swimmer's body. Out seeks most eligible bachelor — HELLO! Meet Khasan Brailsford.

10802489_1498601480399885_995668116_n(Image by Julio Gaggia)

WIDGETMalaysian government endorses conversion therapy to combat homosexuality.

WIDGETIncredible snaps of Jean-Michel Basquiat at home in the East Village back in the day.

WIDGETRiots hit Paris over alleged rape of black man at the hands of cops.

WIDGETTrump's first Cabinet pick to NOT get confirmed won't even get a vote: Puzder out.

WIDGETParis Vogue's first trans cover:

C4jNU28WMAE8uBO-1(Image via French Vogue)

Feb 08 2017
You're Just Jealous 'Cause You Can't Be Me: Michael Griffiths Shows He CAN Be Madonna Comments (0)

DSC01552You were expecting Lady Gaga? (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Tuesday night, I took my Encyclopedia Madonnica 20 designer Anthony with me to 54 Below Unnamed for an evening of expensive scallops, microscopic dessert and a waiter who was serving ass for days, so we could take in the one-night-only show by crooner and pianist Michael Griffiths, In Vogue: Songs by Madonna.

If you've never seen or heard Griffiths, he's a nattily dressed cabaret performer who brings to life the oeuvre (said with all of Madonna's pretension) of the Queen of Pop, giving her songs the Cole Porter treatment while sardonically narrating her life and career.

The part of his show that takes some getting used to is that Griffiths addresses the audience as Madonna, but doesn't attempt to mimic her voice. For die-hard fans, his needling of Madonna's grandiosity and, at times, even her songwriting skills, can be alarming, but as the show unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that he's the type of person to keep his friends close and his icons closer.

DSC01540A Truth or Dare black-and-white moment (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)


Griffiths has a beautiful, clear voice that he uses aggressively, squeezing out phrases brusquely and with precision. At times, his renditions were so fabulously inventive and fun to hear (“Die Another Day,” for example), it was frustrating that he would cut things short in order to be funny ... but funny he was.

Some of the songs that received relatively full renditions include her obvious best work, like “Vogue” and “Like a Prayer,” but one highlight of his curation was his selection of “Cry Baby” from I'm Breathless: Songs from and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy, a gem of a tune that he rewrote in order to skewer Madonna's failed marriage to Guy Ritchie.

For me, the most interesting part of the show was a brilliantly compiled mash-up arranged to capture Madonna's movie career (aw, he referred to Evita as a Musical and/or Comedy), using snippets of her movie songs to sketch her (now long gone) desperation to be accepted as an actress. It was probably his most intelligent use of his spoken-word vs. sung-song approach, and was a harbinger of the poignancy he achieved by show's end.

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 12.23.12 AMTwo faces of Griffiths — serious 'n' silly (Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Griffiths is currently on a mini-tour, singing the songs of Cole Porter (presumably sans bitchy asides about Cole's contempt for Lady Gaga). Catch him if you can regardless of what he's warbling, but if you get a chance to witness him being like a Ciccone, live out your fantasies of Madonna as torch singer there with him.

DSC01569My flash almost died waiting for this! (Image by Anthony Coombs)

Keep reading for his full set list:

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Feb 07 2017
Best Friends Forever: A Review Of Nora Burns's DAVID'S FRIEND Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.52.01 PMA story with heart (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

My cultural benefactors John & Sheldon — not really, but they do get me to go see things I'd otherwise not get motivated to see — invited me to David's Friend, the show by Unitard comic Nora Burns, a few weeks ago. I bought my ticket knowing next to nothing about it. By the time I entered the Club at La Mama this weekend, it was already touted as a hot ticket.

Check out my 2015 Unitard review here!

In 60 minutes, Burns (pictured) provides an unapologetically sentimental Bioremembrance of the original best friend forever, David, a fellow Massachusetts teen who joined her in running off to NYC at the end of the '70s, and the beginning of what would beecome a live-fast-die-young adventure.

Except Nora survived.

Over time, the eventual artist has been driven to memorialize their toss-my-salad days, when she stripped and he hustled and both did so many drugs this might be why Quaaludes became scarce, and when both became friendly with the types of artists drawn to the city back when it was seedily affordable. She is reliving that era onstage in a joyous way that gives contact euphoria and a sense of connection to the audience, and also in a way that sloppily and then — with unexpected precision — provides a sketch of her fallen friend and their eternal friendship so vivid it's hard to believe he wasn't a member of the cast.

2-6Back in the gay: Nora & David (This & photo booth image via Nora Burns)

At times, it's as if she is taking our hands and putting them into her side; her approach to show and tell is to skip both and instead to conjure and to make manifest.

The story is deceptively slight; the two danced their asses off. In fact, they met dancing on a speaker and seemingly only climbed down when he eventually became sick with AIDS and when she, later on, settled down with a husband and children. Their time on the speaker sounds like a mad dash from one party to another, and from the safety of suburbia to the more interesting, more dangerous nooks and crannies of a city that no longer exists.

While nostalgic and affectionate, the show is never whitewashed — plenty of STIs, jealous fits and jobs from hell are recalled, and her Valentine to NYC is spiked by a recurring image of the city in the '70s and '80s as a pile of junk teeming with rats and predators. But if you're one of those people who thinks the city is now a Giulianified shell of its former self, you will understand her longing for not just her friend but their grimy stomping grounds.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.54.39 PMPage from a drag calendar David put together (Image by Matthew Rettenmund)

Nora's delivery is utterly sincere. It is also funny, except for when it veers into Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 1.43.25 PM sadness, when it becomes difficult to imagine how she puts herself through such a naked (and public) connection to still-raw grief each performance.

She is so uncompromisingly honest, it might make you squirm when she cheerfully announces she needs gay men to provide the witty Oscar banter these days (she's got to be kidding! she's hysterical!) or when she drives home that she is a classic fag hag. There is a degree of supplication, but I think it's also just a reflection of her devotion to the best person she ever met.

David is beautifully remembered in this warm and scrappy show in a way he may never have been able to imagine, knowing Nora as he did then — and never getting to know Nora as she was later, is now.

Due to an outbreak of raves, David's Friend — directed by Adrienne Truscott and also featuring Billy Hough —has been extended. Along with other lessons, one the show offers is: Spend your time wisely. This applies to theater, too.


Separate from my review, something that struck me about the show is that it is another example of something that elicits from me a longing to have been a part of the era that came just before me, which is also always laced with gratitude that I barely missed the inevitability of AIDS.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 12.09.55 PMSelf-portrait of Dillard from one of his books (Image by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard)

Hearing of David's recklessly fabulous life at Studio 54 and strolling Manhattan's dives and clinics in silver hotpants and leather definitely ignited that dormant fascination, as did the name-dropping of the ubiquitious Patrick McMullan (such a dishy appearance his name makes in the show, and he later shot it) and also of Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, the so-called Naked Poet.

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Jan 31 2017
Lead Singer Of Rock Group Asia, John Wetton, Dies @ 67 Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 1.56.09 PMJohn Wetton: (Images via Geffen)

Sad news: John Wetton, co-founder, lead singer and chief songwriter for the '80s group Asia, ASIA_ASTRA-101308has died at 67 of colon cancer.

Wetton had recently canceled upcoming tour dates to embark on a new cycle of chemo, but seemed optimistic that he had more time left.

I loved that first Asia album. I remember being captivated by the Heat of the Moment and Only Time Will Tell music videos, with their cheesy (but, back then, new) visual gimmicks, like the slow-mo face slap, the flaming cymbal, that hammer-crushed hourglass, the TV screens with disembodied faces, the gymnast's eternal flips.

(I also found the drummer, in his skintight white vest, awfully cute — he had such a good time making that first video. Carl Palmer?)

Also good: “Sole Survivor.” It's hard to believe now, but their debut album was the #1 hit of 1982, and it did so on the strength of just one #4 and one #17 single. Nothing else charted in the U.S. on the Hot 100.

I kept up with them through their next record, too, with these gems (love the Indiana Jones knock-off):

Wetton is survived by his wife, a son, a brother and his mom.

Jan 27 2017
Grace & Grace: The Moving Bond Between A Girl & Her Gay That Changed Them Both Comments (0)

49513590.cached(Image via Nora Burns)

Via Kenneth in the (212): Nora Burns is known for her loopy comedy shows, but it's the return of her acclaimed David's Friend that has become a hot ticket in Manhattan.

The show, while considered comic, is tinged with sadness, chronicling her intense friendship with a man who was struck down by AIDS in 1993, just before the rise of life-extending drugs for HIV. 


".....David Burns.....He was my best friend. We met dancing on a platform one night at #BostonBoston when we were 17. We spent the rest of the night rolling each other around the Fenway in a shopping cart with a boom box and didn’t leave each others side for the next several years. I moved to #NYC that fall and he came several months later, it was 1979. We had amazing adventures and spoke a language I’ve never had with anyone else. He died in 1993 and I miss him more than I can say, but he left me a wonderful legacy: many of the people I love and admire most I met through David so I would just like to say, Thank you David, I love you" - by Nora Burns #davidsfriend #whatisrememberedlives #theaidsmemorial #aidsmemorial #neverforget #endaids

A photo posted by The AIDS Memorial (@the_aids_memorial) on

Burns was besties with David Burns — they were so close he changed his surname to hers — in the '70s, '80s and '90s, forging a bond that was legendary around town, with David instrumental in the running of Wigstock:

Would she and David have enjoyed a different sort of dynamic in any other sort of time or place? Burns demurred. “When you’re kids, you’re kids, no matter when it is—even now.”

Her tale is not so much about that time as it is about their lives at the time. Even though they ran in admittedly fabulous circles—including the fabled Studio 54 and later populated by colorful characters such as prominent drag artists Joey Arias and Lady Bunny (David helped the latter run the raucous and iconic Wigstock annual festival in the late ’80s)—Burns does not claim that hers is the definitive account of the setting. “I don’t go, ‘So we were at this party with Halston and then Liza showed up!’ It was everyone’s world, a smaller world then. There are far more fabulous people with star-studded stories to tell, and I leave it to them to tell.”

Check out Luis Damian Veron's interview with Nora Burns at The Daily Beast, and get your tickets for David's Friend here.

Jan 26 2017
Animating Season: An Interview With The Animation Director Behind The WHO'S THAT GIRL Titles Sequence! Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 4.29.19 PM(Image via Warner Bros.)

As this piece argues, the titles sequence to Madonna's 1987 dud Who's That Girl (I'm aware many of her fans find it a fun movie) is the best part of the whole 90ish minutes.

Now, check out some of the back story, straight from the animation director who was in charge of the whole sequence, and who worked with the late artist Danile Melgarajo.

According to Ric Machin, his task was clear-cut:

My specific job was Animation Director. The soundtrack had already been selected by Warner Brothers — Madonna’s “Causing a Commotion” — and an Argentinian artist, Daniel Melgarejo, had been drafted in to help with concept sketches and the general style of the piece. After a week or so, I had a catchy song and a pile of unconnected drawings and the brief to turn it into a three-minute animated sequence.

Madonna was hands-off:

Apart from seeing the rough cut of the film, which they approved, and a fleeting visit to the twelfth floor of the Broadway studio, Madonna and James Foley left the entire project in my hands.

More here!

Jan 18 2017
Teri Hatcher & Co. Cover The Weather Girls — No, Really! Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 10.42.06 PMThis production number is two tons of dumb! (Video still via ABC)

Yes, I remember the Titanic and the Andrea Doria, but I think this white-ized, staccato rendition of “It's Raining Men” (featuring Teri Hatcher!) from an '80s Love Boat is the worst thing to ever happen at sea ...

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