Tonight, you'll finally be able to get a load of Hustling, an original Web series conceived by, written by, directed by and starring Sebastian La Cause, a staple of Broadway Bares perhaps most famous for his titular turn on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Hustling is about Ryan Crosby, a turning-40 hustler still turning tricks even though he's now more of a rentman than a rentboy. He's sick of that life—and also of his fading porn career—and is looking for something else he's really good at (hint: you'll be drooling watching him do it).
Oh, that Sebastian La Cause!
If you think the hooker premise is well-worn (said the writer of the novel Boy Culture), I can assure you the execution is very fresh. I attended a private screening of several episodes on Monday in TriBeCa and was thoroughly impressed that La Cause—a first-timer behind the camera—had come up not only with an interesting and likable character but with a witty script filled with unexpected humor and situations.
The series also looks good (important when you're filming your own gorgeous physique); it has an edgy but unpretentious style to it. My only criticism would be that the sound mixing is definitely problematic in some spots. But considering the episodes were churned out on passion and empty pockets, they are quite an achievement.
I was curious about the U.S. adaptation of the series Shameless, which stars William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin, but I'm not sure I'll become a regular viewer after seeing the pilot.
The show's about a permanently down-on-their-luck family from Chicago who will do anything and everything to survive, and about the same to have a good time. It's got plenty of energy and Rossum—whose series it appears to be much more so than Macy's—displays nice range, but I'm afraid the show's edginess feels pretty forced at times, even desperate. I didn't find it too funny.
Jeremy Allen White supplies a gratuitous booty shot in the pilot...shameless!
There is a gay angle worth nothing—17-year-old Cameron Monaghan (pictured in a detail from a promo shot) plays an army dreaming ROTC boy who's having a secret affair with his boss, a (hot) married Muslim man (Pej Vahdat) and whose sexuality is discovered by his tough but loving big bro (Jeremy Allen White).
Their conversation about anal sex as it relates to smoking might serve as a litmus test for who will like the series and who will turn the channel. For me, it started out kind of realistic, with the older brother not understanding homosexuality at all, and ended kind of sweet, with the younger brother putting him in his place and both sharing a laugh. But I didn't think it played naturally.
As of midnight tonight, it will be exactly five years since my first post. It's hard to imagine it's been that long, and a lot's changed—the tone and subject matter are different, how often I post, my limits (no nudity in a couple of years due to ad constraints). I've devoted a crazy amount of time and money and energy to this blog for a very small financial return (you couldn't guess low enough), but it's always rewarding to have this forum with which to express myself, keep my writing ability fluid, perhaps influence a couple of people here and there, share obsessions with strangers (in both senses of the word) and learn new things.
Take That's Howard...can you believe this happened onstage at a pop concert?
Here are some of the posts that were most important to Boy Culture's history. For the uninitiated, some of the oldest ones refer to Boy Culture, the movie made of my novel; I started the blog at the time Boy Culture was being filmed as a way to keep people informed of the progress...and it all snowballed from there.
Some of these posts are milestones when it comes to the hits they provided but most are filled with original writing and/or photography and video and are just the posts of which I'm proudest. I hope you'll take some time to click on them and send their links around to others—and some time is what you'll need...
FROM BOY TO MAN: BC B.C. (2007): The entire history of my novella, novel and movie Boy Culture; might be my ultimate post.
From '07, one of my faves. Old iPhones were better because they were worse.
"Your pictures suck" (2008): An art critic attacks me, but not without sustaining some hits in return.
GUYDAR (since at least January 17, 2008) & ENDS OF THE WORLD (since at least January 13, 2008): Attractive men of the world—I got your backs. Your fronts, too.
TriBeCa is for Boy lovers...
BOY ON FILM (2006): An account of the NYC launch party for Boy Culture as it played the TriBeCa Film Fest.
Did you catch Glee's Rocky Horror Picture Show episode last night? Right off the bat, I must admit—I never liked the movie. I saw a live show in Chicago 15 years or more ago and that was only okay to me, too. Further, I've not been a big Glee fan. So a marriage of two gay-positive, pop-culture phenoms should have been enough to help me shake my reservations. Instead, it was just two times the shrug.
Are we really going to pretend that Hot in Cleveland is great or even good TV just because it has (a miscast) Betty White in it? It's incredibly broad, the situation—three high-powered women move to Cleveland because they are hot in comparison to the other women there—is so far-fetched it's not funny (literally) and of the three leads, only Jane Leeves seems to be doing more than a send-up of herself.
Betty's handed a bunch of odd-old-lady jokes, but nothing too spectacular.
I can understand why the ratings were initially high; if it continues to be popular, I will have to chalk it up to White's charisma.
I was invited to a special screening of Coco Chanel, a new mini-series on Lifetime
that stars Shirley MacLaine as latter-day, jaded, feisty Coco and Barbora Bobulova as young, struggling, horny Coco. The reception had original costumes and great food, but the film itself was a little shabby chic for me (long, romance-novel syrupy and wooden except for MacLaine's brief scenes). Still, the experience was a blast because MacLaine was there in person and sat for a 30-minute gab with Cynthia McFadden.
MacLaine has looked scary in some candids recently, but looks divine in person—her legs are fab, so she made a point of crossing them prominently before her, even making mention that she is "a former dancer."
McFadden had a silly, too-familiar air about her canned questions, but they're obviously pals. MacLaine was in top form, saying she has "a problem" with young actresses today who spend too much time wrapped up in their "presentation" and not wrapped up in their characters. McFadden asked if she felt women today dress for themselves, for men or for other women, and MacLaine said, "For the red carpet, and—" gesturing to the lone camera recording her replies—"for these, for the cameras."
MacLaine reminisces about wearing faux Chanel in her twenties.
Of course, she was decked out in real Chanel, but her self-deprecating demeanor trumped that inconsistency. Referring to her spiked heels, she was prodded by McFadden to tell the story of how she'd just asked for chocolate. "They wanted me to go back out and get it; I said, 'I'm not walking back there in these. Bring it here.' Ten years ago, I would be called a bitch. Today, I'm a senior citizen who wants the chocolate here." (Continued)
Last Friday, José and I went to Las Vegas to do some girl-watching; specifically, we had tickets for Miss USA.
I'm not a pageant person at heart. When I was young, pageants did fit nicely in my fantasy-world outlook—they had glamour for its own sake, they turned women into sex objects (just like I did with my drawings, though for different reasons) and they were usually billed as "special events" on TV, back when there were only a handful of channels and deviations from their lineups were indeed rare.
At some point, I began listening to the girls' answers to The Final Question and was turned off—they always spoke in ways that seemed to me to be in opposition to all that had just preceded that moment. They trumpeted family, the military, Christian values. They struck me as huge phonies—why couldn't anyone see they were sizzling, sexual monsters, not future homemakers of America? It was like how nobody noticed Michael Jackson was a flamboyant queen. In both cases, maybe sequins acted as a protective force field...?
I was wrong, of course—those values did not contradict conservative values. There is a sexual side to conservatism, too, it's just that the male/female sex roles are much more rigidly defined. It's okay for women to be sexy beasts, to flaunt their assets, as long as it's clear they are aimed at pleasing men. Young, hot girls can avoid being liberal sluts if they use their cleavage to attract old, not-so-hot, established men or use their anatomical gifts to satisfy husbands who did things like playing football or fighting our enemies foreign and domestic.
Bombshells are as American as cherry pie; if she talks the talk of the right ("My platform is saving sick children through Bible study!"), the swath of her hips can successfully pass over both the left and right sides of the catwalk.
Of course, some pageant girls in recent years have seemed to break the mold, to not wear their Christianity like a crusading shield, choosing apolitical answers, floating in an irreligious aura, caring about HIV/AIDS. Perhaps we'll have one soon who's against "bullying," a code for queer tolerance.
Of the major pageants, Miss Universe is the cool one despite being owned by Donald Trump, the one less likely to produce Ann Coulters in swimsuits—the girls are from outside the USA (except for Miss USA, who this year is from Texas...which might as well be a foreign country to some other citizens). José is my "Mr. Universe" not because of his Schwarzeneggerdly muscle mass, but because as a Puerto Rican, Miss Universe has been an unending fascination for him for 38 years, ever since they won their first crown. (Check out how different Miss Universe 1970—PR's first—and Miss America 1970 looked, at right.) Now, 56 years after the first contest, Puerto Rico is second only to the U.S. with five crowns, and there is every reason to believe they'll snatch their sixth this year with Trump favorite Ingrid Marie Rivera. (Yes, she really was pepper-sprayed...there was proof!!!)
The winner of Miss USA goes on to Miss Universe, explaining why we were arriving at the show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on April 11.
The universal beauty of Planet Hollywood.
The second we arrived, we got out of the cab and saw Chace Crawford of Gossip Girl—his sister, Candice, was Miss Missouri—checked in, saw Donny Osmond (another Republican childhood diversion and, with his sister, the show’s co-host) and then went to the adjacent upscale mall to eat.
The place we wanted was closed and we only had a few hours before showtime. As we walked to our second choice, I spotted a beauty in pink seated at a Brazilian restaurant. “Isn’t that her?” I asked José. I’ll never forget his face as his blank expression was colored with shock—it was her, it was Miss Puerto Rico. She was eating dinner with an entourage that included some cute guys, her trainer (Miss Universe guru Magali Febles) and her frenemy Miss Dominican Republic. She looked lovely, with flawless hair and giant eyes—every inch una ganadora.
Reinas: José with (L-R), Miss Venezuela Dayana Mendoza, Miss Puerto Rico Ingrid Marie Rivera and Miss Washington (who is part Puerto Rican) Michelle Font.
I’m sometimes reticent to ask for photos in a situation like that, but this was an emergency situation—it’s not just, “Oh, there is Famous Person A, I should get my pic with her,” it’s, “There is the embodiment of a hobby I’ve had for 38 years. I’m getting the picture if I have to hold her down.”
Ingrid saw José’s reaction and quickly finished a bite (of salad), washed it down with water and stood to greet us and pose for pictures. She was gracious and composed. “Likewise,” she said when I told her I was pleased to meet her, just like a pageant queen would have said back in the early days of the contest.
When they walked past our restaurant later, José had the video on them and they gave him the sweetest video ever, one that overcame any redness-of-face I experienced as our fellow diners stared at us like we were paparazzi storm troopers.
The Chace is on.
The show itself was lightning fast. I was more interested in pageant-people-watching than anything else—I hadn’t seen so many boobies since What Would You Say To A Naked Lady?—and the moms, whether surprisingly disheveled or preserved like lamb fetuses in embalming fluid, were as fascinating to look at as their too-perfect daughters. Our seats were four rows from the stage (you can see us on the telecast), way ahead of Chace Crawford’s clan. Emboldened by José’s earlier maneuver, I was able to get my pic with Chace, who was as gracious as Miss Puerto Rico and is now my choice for Mr. Missouri.
Candice Crawford emerged, after losing, in a spectacular short-shorts outfit.
We had an excellent view of all the judges—yes, Heather Mills was booed by a couple of people, not shocking from a crowd for whom legs are everything—allowing us to see how Rob Schneider and Christian Siriano had to sprint to the restroom at commercial breaks:
The most noteworthy things during the show: How Donny and Marie Osmond would go from “on” to “off” at breaks, huddling with serious faces when the cameras were not on. Professional to the nth degree. Marie at one point mouthed, “I’m too old for this!” of her dress and laughed, clearly to undercut anyone who might think she was, because she didn’t think she was, and she wasn’t. Donny also went over to chat with Miss South Carolina Teen USA Lauren Caitlin Upton, she of the infamous “maps” answer, after teasing her mildly from the stage. I later got a pic with her. I asked, "Could I trouble you for a photo?" and, living up to her rep, she cooed, "No, not at all!" meaning yes. My head's giant in our shot, but she has a Marilyn-in-All-About-Eve quality.
After, all the judges filed past—I got footage of Days Of Our Lives queen Kristian Alfonso, an obsession of my friend Frank Anthony Pllito who is immortalized in his upcoming book Band Fags!—and José got still more footage of not only Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Dominican Republic, but also Miss Venezuela, Puerto Rico’s always-rival for the crown. Seeing those exotic beauties in the audience as America’s contestants duked it out could not have been comforting to the ladies on stage; I don’t see the impressive Miss Texas as a world-class contender, but we’ll find out July 13 at Miss Universe.
As Project Runway's Nick Verreos told us, "There's the Miss Universe Top 3 right there!"
I had a lot of fun with my Miss USA experience, even if I suspected I’d have little in common with most of its most hardcore devotees, mainly because I focused on the aspects that united us—a shamelessly visual appreciation of startling beauty, a kneejerk tendency to tear it apart, a voyeuristic love/hate with celebrity and a tribal worship of anything on the tee-vee.
The cast of The Big Gay Sketch Show at Therapy in New York (February 18, 2008). Check out Stephen's "moist" split, Paolo's body by God, Nicol's my-lunch-with-Elaine story and Paolo and Colman...all over each other?
The first season of LOGO's The Big Gay Sketch Show was hit-and-miss last year, but like MAD TV before it, the hits made me reluctant to miss it. With memorable characters like Fitzwilliam (Kate McKinnon), a British boy hard up for his very own vagina, store greeter "Elaine Stritch" (Nicol Paone) and on-point assassin Svetlana (my gifted buddy Stephen Guarino), it quickly built up charm points among viewers.
The second season looks even more promising. Though absent two cast members Dion Flynn and Michael Serrato (a very sweet guy who had been an obvious comic stand-out; I hear he was axed for an SNL audition that failed to pan out), the new skits are a lot more hit than miss, and the hits are stronger and edgier. Characters like Naldo of WeHo Express (frosh Paolo Andino), SuperLiza (Julie Goldman), a trash-talkin' Maya Angelou (newbie Colman Domingo, pictured) and product-placement prince Ty Pennington (Guarino) all cracked me up.
Though I'm going to miss Tranny 911 and the suburban bear, I'm looking forward to watching Season Two, either on TV or online.
Last night, I hung out at Therapy in Manhattan to see the cast along with second-season guest star Christine Ebersole. The new first lady of the theater was oddly detached from the festivities, like she might secretly be as quirky as her various stage personae, but nonetheless looked lovely and was all smiles. In this video, she speaks a little about her theatrical past and her devotion to the stage, her Grey Gardens uniform, the pets she and her hubby live with (including her mom!) and also the new Lifetime TV pilot she's landed called Libertyville.
Angela & Tenia: Getting down with their bad selves.
Looking for edification from reality TV? You're more likely to find a diamond ring in a pile of dog poop. Reality TV is so cynically manipulative and flat-out made up—and we the audience tolerate it, willingly suspending our disbelief—that rather than looking for positive role models or inspiring situations, you're better off searching for the intentional and unintentional messages being sent by the participants, producers and networks.
For example, I have an easy time watching Crowned on The CW, the mother/daughter pageant that, thanks to the evergreen writers' strike, is must-see TV. The things I like about the show are the same reasons stern taskmasters ban TV in their households: it's got pointless catfights, it reinforces our culture's angriest observations about various groups (particularly women, the wealthy and blacks) and it's easy to watch and watch.
Crowned had one of the best first episodes of trash reality TV ever in that it ended with a shocking elimination fake-out—the losers are expected to be "de-sashed," but the team asked to pick up the scissors were told to put them to use on another team who'd already breathed a sigh of relief. Since then, the show has been fairly routine, though the creators get kudos for finding interesting (in a bad way) personalities to people their bitchfest. Or at least women willing to pretend they're bitches for the duration of the series to make good TV—we all participate in our cultural delusions.
The most striking aspect of the show has been its increasing refusal to punish the phony villains it's created; usually, there is one nasty person—a loud black woman does the trick every time—who is allowed to survive eliminations by the skin of his or her fangs before getting poetic comeuppance. In the case of Crowned, there are multiple baddies, spoiled, malicious, holier-than-thou, fake, disrespectful moms and daughters, and so far they've outlasted a majority of the goodies, the kinder, often more naive, teams, like the clueless professor and her daughter (Annette and Alana) who named themselves "Silent But Deadly" without realizing why that moniker stinks.
But as always, the worst offender is a black woman, in this case Angela. Is this because black women are total bitches? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's because the majority of the viewing audience thinks, on some level, that they are, and seeing a cartoonish black woman with a bad wig sneering about her bling is appealing on a gut level. Intentions aside, Angela and her daughter Tenia—who've christened themselves "Skin Deep" with no irony at all—more than live up to the stereotypes. Their nastiness is palpable. I hope they were acting and I hope they got paid, because if they were my neighbors I'd move.
Nearly as contemptible are Patty and Laura, optimistically dubbed the "Redhead Bombshells." (Wait, isn't this a beauty pageant?) Skin Deep reinforces racial disdain, but Patty and Laura seem to work my last class nerve—I have no idea if they're rich, but they come off as privileged, more entitled than titled. Laura is a powerful yet unpleasant musical-theater singer and Patty is a slip of a woman with fake boobs as hard as her stubborn daughter's pointed head. The face on that mom could be hired for a PSA against elective surgery. Together, they've hissed in laughter at one of the show's obvious heroines' "atrocious" figure, apparently never having heard that men can handle extra junk if the upper region does not require a paper bag.
As you can tell, I take pleasure from watching this show. I guess it's better than trying this crystal meth and barebacking everyone's talking about. But it's poison.
A poisonous apple is still an apple; it tastes good going down. And if you survive the poisoning, you might get hooked and, like every good addict, cockily feel you can control your intake and its effects indefinitely. That's where I am right now, because I wouldn't miss an episode.
Just one of the gays.
Also, Crowned stacks up well against that other beauty-contest (don't believe them when they say it's not about beauty anymore) series, TLC Discovery's Miss America Reality Check, on which viewers will vote for a girl who will actually be one of the finalists to win that venerable pageant. Sure, Carson Kressley—one of Crowned's judges—is the new Franklin Pangborn, but it's less depressing to watch a 38-year-old openly gay queen mix it up unapologetically with contestants competing in made-up challenges than it is to watch 26-year-old Michael Urie from Ugly Betty—who is from the Sean Hayes school of "I won't lie, but I won't talk about it"—hosting contestants who are making speeches against gay marriage and pre-marital sex and never having the balls to speak up. Oh, it's for money, it's for career—I forgot, that makes it okay. I guess he'd make a good pageant queen. (I did like "celebrity consultant" Jeannie Mai confronting some purity-preaching sash-wearers by directly asking, "Are you all virgins?" which led to stammers, silence and tears.)
Bravo's new Make Me A Supermodel does not deserve its prime spot following that network's charming, thoughtful, informative Project Runway, which is probably one of the best reality shows ever for me. Where Crowned is as satisfying as a really good, bad tabloid, Project Runway is interesting, the personalities less contrived, the situations fun and spirited. I guess I should have realized that Tyson Beckford could never have cooked up a show as sweet as Runway, but the results are still shockingly annoying.
On the premiere episode, watching Beckford and co-host Niki Taylor critique modeling aspirants, I was struck by what a dick he is—can't seem to help being. Part of it was what I perceived as a homophobic or at least gay-unfriendly vibe coming from the former supermodel. While demonstrating to two scared-shitless young guys how best to strut on a runway, his advice is to imagine a beautiful girl at the end of it...it never enters his mind that either guy might prefer a beautiful boy. Later, one of the judges dismisses one male model as being "too effeminate," and it's callously suggested he might make a better girl model than boy model; the initial remark did not come from Beckford but, more confoundingly, from the effeminate male judge. Am I ready to picket? No. Do I think it's depressingly self-defeating? Yeah!
The tone of Make Me A Supermodel is closer to American Idol in that hopefuls are shot down cavalierly by Beckford and mistily by Taylor. The difference is that Idol gleefully trashes idiotic people with zero reason to believe they should be singing, while Supermodel superdisses misters and misses who are pretty damn pretty and deserve more respectful treatment.
Of the three new-ish reality shows, I think I have to crown Crowned, whose participants at least appear to be fully on board with the false-is-the-new-true business plan.
Google "gay twins" and you might wind up with something unexpected—a new reality show from MTV's Logo called Jacob & Joshua: Nemesis Rising and starring the Miller Twins. Don't get too disappointed yet. They're not having sex with each other, or in the vicinity of each other, while leering at the camera. But still, the show, while bound by some of the seemingly unavoidable concessions all reality shows face (namely, tons of the situations are made up), should be as addictive as crystal meth to the gay community. Except, you know, way less bad for us.
You've seen the promos for the show for weeks, and a music video for "#1 in Heaven" by the Millers' band Nemesis has been #1 on Logo's bizarrely static Click List (fending off evergreen clips from Jason & Demarco, God-des and Dangerous Muse) longer than "The Hampsterdance Song" has been on Radio Disney. But it's all build-up for the October 16 premiere of the series. Which, in turn, is all build-up for (finally) launching the career of Nemesis.
If you can accept these cynical commercial realities (did Logo's viewers really conveniently vote the song to #1?), the show is a treat.
Jacob and Joshua Miller were raised in a strict Jehovah's Witness family in Montana. When Jacob discovered his sexuality in his first same-sex relationship, Joshua figured out what was going on and contemplated ratting his own twin out to the church, which would have kicked them out and forbidden all of its members from associating with them. Instead, he wound up being gay, too. Aside from manflesh, the brothers also craved fame and the spotlight and shared a love and respect for music. The latter led them to form their band, and their humorously adversarial relationship inspired the pithy name: Nemesis. They're even rocking opposite hair colors.
The first episode quickly establishes their family history via some slightly forced conversations with Jacob's partner of six years, Nick, whose homebody pose in the show is balanced by his hardbody pose on MySpace (see image) and the unambiguously gay duo's power manager, Garry Kief (of Barry Manilow fame, natch). Along with witnessing some hilarious unscripted banter between Mr. Night and Mr. Day that at times is reminiscent of bickering hubbies, we're also brought up to speed that their record label Curb is ready to pour some dollars into their careers if they're willing to market themselves as openly gay, using the one reality that almost no one in Hollywood ever uses.
Gay's okay, but Curb wasn't as flexible on the sex-appeal thing—they weren't born with bodies like that, their hair reflects careful thought and owing to a flaw in one of Jacob's irises, he wears blinding sunglasses throughout their first video. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder—they remind me of the famous Naked Poet Gavin Geoffrey Dillard (pictured with snake)—and homosexuality is not, so it's interesting that Curb would sweat the small stuff and embrace the 800-pound gay elephant in the room.
Years ago, I met Nemesis. They were working a rock sound that had a bit of a religious aftertaste to it (much like their new single, while secular and sexual, manages to reference "heaven"). They were perfectly nice guys, seemed smart and were more analytical than the usual aspiring musicians. They corrected each other in front of me with a Moonlighting-esque pace and they impressed me with their talent. Nice-looking then, they've clearly been working out every minute since—they appear shirtless at every turn in their show and Joshua disrobes right up to the point where Logo must shyly divert its gaze. As much as they've developed their bodies since I met with them, they've also clearly worked hard on their whole image and outlook.
The constant refrain in the first episode is that this coming-out gambit could destroy them. It makes for dramatic TV, but I don't buy that. The way I see it, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exposing themselves—almost, but not quite literally—to an enormous, curious new audience. Radio would never play some new duo on Curb Records. Radio still may not. But fuck radio when you've got your own TV show. Good music, whether it's deep and serious or just three minutes' worth of pure fun, can no longer wait around for radio to get over its singular obsession with hip-hop. Hip-hop was once the underdog. It's now the oppressor. So when you're a pair of white "faygs" (as they say it) from Montana with a snappy pop sensibility, what do you have to lose by letting it all hang out on TV? Not a thing.
Pretend you're worried for them, enjoy their witty skewering of each other (undermined just often enough by their obvious love) and check out their music when it comes out. Jacob and Joshua Miller are choosing a ballsy way around the usual path to fame by coming out. If you think their song is as catchy as I do, let's make sure they have a reasonably supportive fanbase to come out to.