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8 posts from June 2009

Jun 29 2009
The Death Of "Perez Hilton" Comments (18)

I hope Mario will read this all the way through without overreacting to the title; I know he reads my stuff and I've sent him words of encouragement from time to time, so I trust he will. And in truth this is less about Perez Hilton than it is about what he has come to represent, in both meanings of the phrase.

SafariScreenSnapz004Problem with the evil tongue? It's also realllly cool.

Long before my recent seeming defense of Perez Hilton on several issues (herehere and here), I wrote a lot about the culture of negativity in celebrity journalism and the at times hatred the public feels GossipGals_retroinside toward its anointed stars, specifically throwing my hands up at the popularity of his site, which was built up as quickly as it could tear others down. I did not always "get" Perez; I still am not so much a fan as I am an admirer, and there is a difference. I used to resent his power (he steals ideas and images, he can't spell), but now I think I understand what fuels it and I do see his work as a whole, with its plusses (stars should not go unchallenged, he's funny, he's pro-gay) and minuses (that use of faggot was pretty stupid, who is he to act like the death photo of Jacko was beyond the pale compared to what he's done?). I can sometimes be a black-and-white, love-or-hate person, but I am nothing if not against irrational, unparsed stances.

Common-viper--vipera-berus Actually, the negativity of which I speak struck me before I'd ever heard of Perez, but I found it in the same place I found Perez—on the Internet. Make no mistake—I am a viper. I have joked about death, about maiming, about others' misfortunes. I have done it both out of a lack of sympathy depending on the subject, out of political competitiveness and for less dishonorable reasons, such as a desire to break the tension, gallows humor. I am capable of saying almost anything and thinking even worse. But even I was shocked at the things I saw on the Internet when it came into being because people—anonymously—began to make public forever the kinds of heinous comments that previously had rarely if ever been unleashed except in private. They were called trolls, but to me they were worse because trolls are imaginary.

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The bile was aimed not only at celebrities, but the worst of it seemed to plague the famous, who if they were considered beautiful would be savagely criticized for every minor flaw, if they were considered elegant would be dragged through the mud. Even deaths were mocked before bodies were cold.

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This should not have surprised me. Throughout entertainment history, there has been a cutthroat media thriving on negativity as well as positivity. The negativity didn't come out of nowhere; it was actually conjured up by the celebrities themselves, though without their knowledge.

PreviewScreenSnapz002 In order to capitalize on a star in the biggest possible way—a necessity since stardom is based on commerce—all of their positive attributes had to be blown out of proportion by their promoters. This was resolved via a new invention: publicity. Which can mean spreading the beneficial truth (she donates to charity!) but more often has meant spreading bald-faced lies. Tell the people what they want to hear—he's not gay, she's not promiscuous, they're not divorcing, he never did drugs, there was nothing suspicious about her last husband's death—and they will love you for it.

And they do.

Until they hate you.

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Jun 28 2009
Guydar: NYC Gay Pride—Shirts Comments (0)

(Note: A bunch of these people might not be gay; they were shot near the festivities, not always in them.)

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More after the jump...

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Guydar: Gay Pride NYC—Skins Comments (11)

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The above two are Michael Lucas. Discuss.

Thirty-plus more after the jump...

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Jun 22 2009
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Rotation (But Were Afraid To Ask) Comments (14)
**If anyone knows the names of any of the unnamed guys in my post/pictures/videos, comment away!**

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Broadway Bares all.

IMG_2590 Last night was Broadway Bares 19.0, the 19th annual version of an event founded by Jerry Mitchell (who I interviewed last year when I was minding Towleroad for a week) featuring Broadway's hottest dancers and some well-known names performing in broad burlesque skits with original choreography set to familiar songs. The point—other than who wouldn't want to pay $50 to see the hottest bodies in New York next to naked?—is to raise cash for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Each Broadway Bares installment has a theme, this year being the Internet, hence the title "Click It."

IMG_2574Keep reading for more like this.

IMG_2531 I went with my friends Jason and Anthony and met up with their friends Phil and Guy (pictured—aren't they so cute?). After basically holding El Azteca on 9th Avenue hostage for hours on end followed by a brief appearance at Vlada that would have been considered a cameo if any of us were stars and if Vlada were a Russian expressionist film, we showed up at Roseland only to find the line wrapped all the way around the block. I was literally further back in line than I was for Madonna! So much for the recession keeping gay men from handing over cash in exchange for access to people's underthings.


Highlights from throughout the show.

IMG_2456 Once we got in, we migrated to the side, where we were as close to the stage as possible considering our perilously late arrival. This was when I took it upon myself to arrange a quick photo op with Michael Urie from Ugly Betty, who's currently starring in the play The Temperamentals. (The staffer who took the shot took a pic of his own fact first. Cute.)

IMG_2455 Though it later turned out that Urie didn't even perform in the show (he just did an ending speech which had been provided to him and which he mock ruefully pointed out was 13 pages in length)—Jason sniffed, "It's Broadway Bares, not Off-Broadway Bares!"—he was still a sweetheart.

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Careful—private browsing isn't really private!

IMG_2470 Truthfully, the show this year was somewhat lacking compared to last year's more vibrant and creative series of Alice in Wonderland vignettes, mainly because the Internet theme was a weak idea and had to be stretched beyond recognition in order to provide material for just over an hour's worth of numbers. (Pictured, a "surfing" as surfing sketch.)

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There are tons of superhot women in the show, too...but notice the crowd's focus.

But there is no denying the good-natured vibe of this show, peopled by a cast of thousands of asses attached to shit-eating grins and, when the night ends and the dancers go into "Rotation" and strip for cash, stuffed with enough money to pay Dolly Parton to abandon Broadway forever.

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As always, the aerial portions were the be-all end-all.

Though I think some of us were shocked that the ended as quickly as it did, there were some noteworthy highlights aside from the uniform excellence of its uniformless participants. The best number starred most of the night's best-looking, best-built guys—the Fantasy Football Dancers. "I'm not afraid to admit to a jockstrap fetish," one guy near me said, which is like admitting you like vodka at an AA meeting.



One of the nicest surprises was seeing Norm Lewis from The Little Mermaid in the altogether—nothing little about him.


IMG_2493 Allison Janney was pretty hilarious as that annoying Mac color wheel alongside beyond-sexy Matt Skrincosky's PC hourglass, cracking herself up as she randomly pulled out her bepastied breasts one by one and later lampooning her own reputation in 9 to 5 ("poor thing can't sing or dance," people are saying) by shouting that Susan Boyle can't sing.


So, too, was Sutton Foster, who exulted in the freedom this appearance brought, the freedom to sport big hair, a little dress and to say the word "fuck" a lot.

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Sutton Foster got carried away by Shrek's Dennis Stowe.

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Bares vet Christopher Sieber read us the "what a riot!" act.

IMG_2537 The main reason to patronize Broadway Bares is for Rotation, where you're allowed, even encouraged, to approach all your favorite dancers of the night and stuff money into, well, whatever tight spot they'll allow. Most were demure enough to attract dollars in respectable places, like hooked under the waistbands of their Aussiebum boxerbriefs, though a few daring rumpshakers sported jockstraps, which paradoxically provided fewer and more places to slip it to them.

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Definitely a stand-out was Jockstrap Boy. Wish I'd brought a roll of quarters.

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One of the Fantasy Footballers was definitely a tight end.

The most surprising hottie was writer/satirist Mo Rocca, who had done a cartwheel and high kick onstage, and who had no problem wiggling alongside Broadway's hottest, dancers Nick Adams (he of the Mario Lopez bicep imbroglio) and Spencer Liff.

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Nick and Spencer: So cute together.

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I was (a lot) like a fat kid with his hand in the cookie jar.

Speaking of Nick, he wound up getting $40 from me; I felt he deserved $20 for the bother and when it was all over he was still my favorite and I hadn't donated nearly enough, hence the repeat. He was a great sport and got on all fours the second time for a chaste spank. You know you've been married 15 years when these things mean so much to you.


There were several others who captured my heart and my ones and fives, as you'll see from the photos and videos.

Highlights from Rotation.

All in all, I had a great time and I'm glad Broadway Bares dances on. They should make this a permanent show on Broadway—I feel like it would attract an audience, which is generally what happens anytime attractive people disrobe let alone anytime talented people gather in a group and sing and dance. I'm thinking this 19th version might have been lacking due to Mitchell's absence (he's working on Catch Me If You Can in Seattle) and the possibility that everyone's saving up to make next year's 20th even more fant-ass-tic.

A word of advice—sell tickets to a pre-show meet-and-greet/photo op. You'll make more money than you've ever made.

Believe it or not, more pictures after the jump...

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Jun 20 2009
Ill Will & Graceless Comments (11)

SafariScreenSnapz001 Max Mutchnick is the co-creator of Will & Grace, so you might expect him to be intelligent and witty. (Despite his past work on The Dennis Miller Show and Evening Shade.) Maybe he is, but you can be both of those things and still be capable of having idiotic opinions.

He recently wrote on HuffingtonPost a completely reactionary diatribe against the most visible celebrants during a pride parade, including "Dykes on Bikes, Tarzana Trannies, Jewish Leather Daddies and Kathy Griffin's mom." In his post, he says he loves these people, and yet he states, "They fought for my rights and taught me how to dance. But they should no longer be representing 'the pride.' It's a different time...What I'm trying to say is that 'unremarkable' mainstream people are gay, too."

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Dykes on bikes are among his dislikes.

First, you're not unremarkable and mainstream when you're worth tens of millions of dollars, have a legal same-sex marriage and are raising children. Those are all outside the norm for gay people at the moment.

WillGrace And frankly, I found Will & Grace to be pretty unremarkable and mainstream myself. I enjoyed it a lot in the beginning, and I never stopped liking Debra Messing, but overall, for me it was just some boring rich white gays whose snooty insularity was what informed the humor. It had its moments, but it was...not must-see TV. In spite of that, I wasn't embarrassed by it, nor am I unable to say that a show like that gave visibility to gay people that has paved the way for today's broader acceptance of gay issues. But it was NOT its unremarkable and mainstream qualities that did so, because to non-gay people, it was the opposite—its sexual innuendoes were remarkable and, most importantly, its flamboyant, caricatured gay buffoon Jack was anything but mainstream.

Justjack "I'm depressed. Why is this the voice speaking for me?" Mutchnick moans, referring to a hypothetical random, party-minded twink "cackling" on local TV news coverage of a pride parade. Well, I found it pretty depressing that closeted Sean Hayes wouldn't say a word about gay issues in all the years he was on Will & Grace, playing EXACTLY the kind of dumb bunny Mutchnick is so offended by. But ultimately, I didn't mind so much that that voice was speaking for me because I'm secure enough to know that there are plenty of other voices speaking for me, including my own.

Joe at Joe.My.God. says it best every year in his post about why gay people who profess to be embarrassed by flamboyance are superassholes. But it shouldn't have to be said every year.

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Jun 12 2009
White Night Comments (2)
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José and I (left), Betty & her boys.

We just got back from Disney's genius (since it benefits me) Guys' Night Out event to promote the release of The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock (who, as Kenneth pointedly pointed out, is in fact not 40 but 44...yet still not 46), Ryan Reynolds and Betty White. The concept is they invited mostly gay men and lured us by dangling an in-the-flesh appearance by Betty White before our jaded eyes. Who doesn't like Betty White? (Not counting Bea Arthur, and she's no longer with us.)



I'd shamelessly begged my Disney contact for a picture with Betty, but he couldn't promise anything. As it turned out, she didn't appear at the pre-screening cocktail party (the one to which we arrived 15 minutes early...we're so smooth), leaving us to congregate outside the IMAX theater at Broadway and 68th, feasting on the kinds of delicious, fattening hors d'oeuvres the no-waisted thirtyish muscleboys seem to be able to eat with impunity.

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Kenneth, who just turned 42 two days ago and doesn't look a day over it (hehe...more like 32).

We met up with the aforementioned Kenneth (of KennethInThe212 fame) and his friend/contributor Marc, and struck up a convo with two cute youngsters assigned to take pictures for HX until it was time to descend two flights to the theater where the action would happen. I chose a seat on the aisle four rows back, knowing that Betty's speech before the film would occur directly in front of us. But when nobody sat in front of us, that just set us on a crash course to wind up smiling next to Betty.

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The international (L) vs. domestic (R) posters.

I realized as she made her entrance that this was really just a grown-up, gay version of Disney's recent smart "surprise appearances" promotions involving stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, except without the surprise. I felt like a giddy Miley fan as Betty made her way down the aisle shaking hands with her adoring fags, I mean, fans. I held her hand as she passed and was satisfied. Her comments were short but sweet and I think her warm words about Sandra Bullock being totally down to earth and the kind of person no one ever says a bad thing about could apply just as easily to Betty.

35976A5614635975EB300A Then, as she departed, my contact more than came through, setting up a quick photo op with Betty and whichever audience members happened to be nearby—including José and myself. I was accused of jumping on Betty, but the photos reveal I was actually keeping a quite respectful distance. It was exciting to be next to someone whose work I so revere—I mean, Sue Ann and Rose are just indelible.

The Proposal turned out to be mindless fun. I really liked Sandra Bullock's performance as a bitch on heels who falls in love with her assistant after blackmailing him into marrying her so she can stay in the country illegally. (Actually, lots of ill-advised things happen in the movie, including, but not limited to, an unsupervised 89-year-old setting a fire in a wooded area, the faking of a heart attack, some wildly unsafe motorboating.) I think she and Reynolds have classic chemistry that overcomes a lot of head-scratching plot twists, and Betty White is radiant and funny—she has one of the biggest roles for a person her age in recent memory, since "that old lady dropped it into the ocean in the end."

Photo Best of all, Reynolds and Bullock get totally naked, covering the good parts with well-placed hands. Bullock is a curvaceous knock-out and Reynolds is, well, perfection.

The audience didn't seem too thrilled at the part where White's character speaks of not being around in the future; it's uncomfortable to contemplate a world without her in real life. Luckily, she seems to be in excellent shape. If the film's a hit, I smell a sequel, even if I'm unlikely to get a sequel to this wonderful photo op.
 
 
Jun 11 2009
Bernhard: With A Vengeance Comments (5)

IMG_2441Confession: She's still a pretty (funny) lady.

Sandra Bernhard was in rare form at her one-night-only 20th (or so) anniversary 0408-SandraBernhard-3.5x4.6875-4c-3-thumb performance of Without You I'm Nothing at Town Hall in Manhattan last night. Rare because, as much as that original show completely cracked me up (even if I only ever experienced it as the mind-fucking hilarious avant-garde documentary) as both funny stand-up and as an unembarrassed flaunting of a performer's encyclopedic pop-culture knowledge, she has almost never truly amused me since.

IMG_2442Without Madonna, she's something.

Of course, being a Madonna stalwart, it was hard to continue embracing Bernhard after their highly public rift because instead of letting it go she has seemed to IMG_2444 continue bashing Madonna ever since. Maybe Madonna was a total cunt to her, maybe she never fucked Bernhard but did fuck her girlfriend Ingrid Casares—I have no idea. But whatever happened, and no matter who was to blame for breaking up the so-called "Snatch Batch," it affected Bernhard so deeply it seemed to me she was knocked off her game and has never recovered it fully. She was a highlight of Will & Grace, but she's never had a creatively satisfying follow-up to Without You. (I'm Still Here, Damn It didn't do it for me, damn it!) Maybe the fact that this latest tour has incorporated the best bits from that ground-breaking set will be rejuvenating; her fresh material still is not being taken as seriously by Bernhard (it's delivered as traditional stand-up and not in that bewitchingly self-absorbed cabaret persona that delivered the original show and she had to consult her notes to remember some of it), but it's pretty damn funny.

After entering the (not sold out) hall to a partial standing O, Bernhard—an ageless 54 in a slinky black cocktail dress, her hair up—generously walked us through the Carol Kruger tear-jerker (reinvented as narcissistic knee-slapper) "The Commitment," segueing into a pastiche of classic showtunes (a highlight being a fragment of Barbra Streisand's "People" sung with Ethel Merman's sensitivity) before some funny remembrances of her recent stint in England.


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Jun 03 2009
Night At The Museum: Singin' Through The Pain Comments (3)

IMG_5852"Nobody knows who Debbie Reynolds is."—Debbie Reynolds

When José suggested we consider seeing Debbie Reynolds at Café Carlyle—apparently her first IMG_5834 Manhattan engagement in over 25 years in spite of a busy schedule of nightclub appearances—it was a no-brainer. It's not as if we have a Debbie poster in our living room and know everything there is to know about her, but she's one of the last of the legends from Hollywood's Golden Era (if she'd never done anything else but Singin' in the Rain, that would have been enough) and one of the last of the vaudeville-type stage stars who's still in good working condition. Plus she was a highlight of Will & Grace—what would have stopped us?

IMG_0748The late Bobby Short is memorialized in the Carlyle's lobby.

We'd never been to the Carlyle, but figured springing for the VIP seats would not break us if we were already committing to a menu IMG_5835 with $25 apps. We arrived at 6:30 and were promptly seated directly next to the teeny-tiny stage. The room is only a 70-seater, so it was quite cozy. This is where Woody Allen still religiously plays, and it definitely has a jazzy air to it, what little air there is in this breakfast nook of a New York institution. 

 

The captain and waiters were as austere as the room, but in a New Yawk way; this is not a place for European royalty, but for guys and dolls who've made their fortunes working hard and then wheeling and dealing. They are facelifted and be-suited, jeweled and jaded, but they know what's what and were not about to blush in spite of Debbie's reputation as a somewhat bawdy old dame.

She's still here!

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