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4 posts from March 2012

Mar 29 2012
Weekend Of 100 Stars Comments (13)

IMG_6364My new pal Matt helps me prepare a Mitzi Gaynor sandwich

Last weekend, I went on one of my now monthly work trips to L.A., but had some time for a few very memorable playdates.

353b6daa_htf_imgcache_37020I was staying at the Beverly Garland hotel. If you're not familiar with her, Beverly Garland was a profilic TV actress perhaps best known for a stint on My Three Sons, but who was also a regular on Scarecrow and Mrs. King and 7th Heaven, along with appearing in countless other movies and TV shows. Her husband opened the hotels decades ago, including tributes to wifey's brilliant career in the lobby. Sadly, Garland died in 2008, breaking news I had not heard when I arrived until I Googled her. (Thankfully, I didn't ask the front desk if she might pop in during my stay!)

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IMG_4896Exterior, biographical video in each room, room-service menu, career gallery & lobby of the Beverly Garland

It's actually a lovely Holiday Inn, even if one can easily be mesmerized watching the badly dated video loop of all her most memorable appearances that plays on the default channel of every in-room TV. (My definition of badly dated is that it refers to Garland being in her second 50 years in the biz and very much alive.) The hotel used to host autograph shows of the ilk that I attend far too regularly.

IMG_6322Loved spending more time at the French Quarter in my buddy Roy's Baby Jane of Hollywood, the place for movie memorabilia and naked pictures of leading men. He hooked me up with some Jane Withers photos—the explanation for why I needed those comes later.

SafariScreenSnapz001But first, I was honored to be invited to have dinner with the great Billie Hayes, 80 this year, a respected stage actress with many TV credits to her name—yes, I am obsessed with her as Witchypoo from H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) with cute (and now dead from oral cancer!) Jack Wild and as Weenie the Genie from Lidsville (1970-1973). Billie told us wonderful stories about her friendship with Alice Ghostley (when Alice died, Billie took responsibility for her dog), her charity Pet Hope (she's lost count of how many times she's pulled over to save an animal in distress), getting to meet The Wizard of Oz's Margaret Hamilton (meeting Hamilton for The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, the ultimate witch told Billie she was her favorite witch!) and hanging with Kate Hepburn.

IMG_6328Meeting Witchypoo was a magical experience!

Her Hepburn story was unique in that Billie was coming from a place of not wanting to meet the legend—too intimidating—and then being impressed by how friendly Hepburn actually was. Imagine seeing Hepburn in Coco at the Dorothy Chandler and then being summoned to the small cottage she shared with Spencer Tracy for a late-night, informal gathering? I couldn't, but Billie described it so vividly I felt I'd been there.

ProcessormShe also talked about her fabulous friends Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde (with whom she debuted on Broadway in New Faces of 1956), describing them as polar opposites—Reilly gregarious and easy-going, Lynde rather tortured and serious.

Billie was a doll, very attentive to all her dinner companions—a group of gay dudes fixated on a kiddie show she'd done 40 years earlier. She graciously signed my Li'l Abner cast album, ticking off what had happened (as far as she knew) to the entire cast. [Did you know Valerie Harper was in that? Her face is even (barely) discernible on the LP sleeve!]

Picture 2If you click to enlarge, Val's the gal next to the boy in horizontal stripes

Are people who play witches always so the opposite?

IMG_6336On the red carpet and, for once, not wearing black

The next day, a group of us—myself, Don, Brian, another Matt and Julie—headed to The 25th Annual Gypsy Awards, a function of The Professional Dancers Society. This year, they were honoring Dame Julie Andrews and had attracted a lot of big names Pop109(and even more not-so-big names) to show up and in some cases participate. It was held at the Beverly Hilton and had a small red carpet but a medium-sized contingent of attendees who were strictly there to get autographs from and pictures of the old-time idols.

Some of the hardcore fanboys had items for people to sign. When I spotted one with an "Ann-Margrock" illustration, I figured Ann-Margret had to be coming.

But they had items for everyone from honoree Andrews to rumored participants who never even showed, like Debbie Reynolds. There were also multiple, still rather doable former-dancer gay menz in the house, many paired off like silver candlesticks. Any number of them could've been good candidates for work on IWouldntSayNoGramps.com. I was dying to pull them aside and ask them for all their stories from being sexy dancers in the Golden Age of Hollywood, but that will have to wait for an encounter I have set up for next trip.

IMG_6340With Miriam Nelson

SafariScreenSnapz001The first luminary we pounced on was Miriam Nelson, a famed choreographer and Paramount actress who at 89 looks and acts a good deal younger. She was charming, and was later feted from the stage by Mitzi Gaynor as one of the most good-hearted human beings of all time. I see she has a memoir out called My Life Dancing with the Stars with a foreword by Andrews and the late Blake Edwards—bet that's a lively read considering the list of stars she worked with (Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly) and the fact that she choreographed the opening day at Disneyland.

Marge Champion by BrianLet's hope we all live to 92 and look like this

Lens17250381_1294433771Marge_Champion_Snow_WhiteWhen 92-year-old Marge Champion (the original model for Snow White, pictured) entered with her strapping, 55-year-old director son Gregg, half the lobby descended upon her. Once the wife of famed choreographer Gower, Marge is no slouch herself in that department, apparently still teaching after having worked as an actress and choreographer throughout the '30s, '40s and '50s. She looks amazing and was happy to sign and only slightly less happy to pose for pictures, asking my pal Matt if he'd been a dancer himself. Actually, I owe him for helping me to "get" Marge, as her dreamy son seemed keenly interested in making blond Matt's dreams of an autograph with Mama come true.

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Marge IMG_6351Marge and in charge!

I missed a wheelchair-bound Teri Garr, 64, who suffers from MS, because I had been in a mad dash to replenish my batteries (time for a new camera). Jane Withers, 85, and nightclub singer Barbara Van Orden (around 70?) were milling about, as was Honeymooner Jane Kean, 87 (whom I've met).

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Mar 27 2012
There He Is: An Interview With Mr. Broadway Andrew Chappelle Comments (1)

1King of all he surveys

2012BwayBeauty228(3)Against a tough, hungry field of boards-treading beefcake, Mamma Mia's Andrew Chappelle recently claimed the title of Mr. Broadway at The 6th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. As usual, good looks and a body unlike yours (well, at least unlike mine) were prerequisites, but the show also tends to reward over-the-top talent, as in the case of Chappelle's hysterical stand-up routine about the ups and downs o high heels.

I pounced on Andrew in his moment of happiness in order to bring you this peek at the man behind the crown...

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Mar 25 2012
GLAAD You Came: The 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards Comments (8)

Bernadette PetersAgeless Bernadette Peters

The 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Marriott Marquis last night was a fun time once I decided I was for sure not dashing to Connecticut to support a friend's event starring Mickey Rooney. I'd already committed to GLAAD and couldn't quite wrap my mind around three hours (both ways) of travel for an hour of notoriously curmudgeonly Rooney fielding questions about his career and undoubtedly griping about the filth that passes for entertainment today, but I was happy to hear later that Mickey's gig was a treat in the end.

ThomasrobertsHere I am interviewing Thomas Roberts (photo from here)

José was my camerman (which removes a lot of the stress; having to stick a video camera directly into someone's face is awkward, especially when they're not performing sexual acts and high on whatever people get high on these days).

He and I and everyone I ran into were kvetching about how tired we were, didn't wanna do this massive red carpet, etc. But it wound up being rather cool.

I was next to a really fun girl whose hair, nonetheless, kept creeping into my face and all over my body (she had a mane on her). At one point, it worked itself under my MEDIA sticker and tugged it partially off like one of those cartoon vines. She apologized and I accepted, but I have enough hair all over me.

Cheyenne JacksonCheyenne Jackson

Johnny WeirJohnny & Victor Weir-Voronov

Kim WayansKim Wayans

Megan Hilty SmashMegan Hilty

Phillip SpaethPhillip Spaeth

Thomas RobertsThomas Roberts

Vinny G Jersey ShoreVinny Guadagnino

Wendy WilliamsWendy Williams

Zach WallsZach Wahls

More after the jump...

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Mar 24 2012
Beautiful Boys: A Review Of The 6th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant Comments (2)

IMG_6567And this bitch didn't even win!

IMG_6461This past Monday, I was thrilled to attend The 6th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant, a hilarious and ribald event staged at Symphony Space (before a sold-out crowd) to raise money for The Ali Forney Center.

As a member of the Host Committee, I'd pledged to sell $500 worth of tickets, which I absolutely did—mostly to myself! I took José, brought my pal Jason along 6a00d8341c2ca253ef016764157837970b-400wi(VIP tickets including the afterparty) and the rest went to a Boy Culture reader who later informed me he'd been a homeless gay youth just a couple of years ago and to a lucky, last-minute couple.

As much work as it was trying to interest people in tickets, the show would go on to sell out, raising a record-breaking $75,000.

Arrived early to cover the junior red carpet, but it was kind of a bust for me because as a hobbyist blogger, I don't have pro lighting and it was in a 100-degree antechamber that might as well have been a cave.

I grabbed a few quick tidbits from the contestants but skipped everyone else, including judges Jackie Hoffman, Michael Musto and Tonya Pinkins, feeling bad about taking up anyone's time when they were impossible to see. Speaking of which,I didn't see expected guests Paul McGill, Rachel Dratch or John Glover, but I did at least make the acquaintance of Broadway expert Richie Ridge, one of whose helpers turned out to be Alex, a Boy Culture reader who kept my spirits up in the stifling heat.

IMG_6464Probably lots of Preparation H on those fresh faces (in some cases, perhaps coincidentally)

IMG_6492Sat down just in time to see the show open, featuring hysterical emcee Tovah Feldshuh who, as she pointed out, starred in Broadway's longest running one-woman show—take that, Lena Horne. She cracked wise about Grindr, Boy Butter and her many unconsummated Tony nominations. She was, without a doubt, 10 times funnier than last year.

IMG_6481Tonya Pinkins, Jackie Hoffman, Ali Forney's Carl Siciliano & Michael Musto

IMG_6486With Body (& Soul) Beautiful, Carl Siciliano, the director of Ali Forney

KEEP READING FOR TONS OF PICTURES & VIDEO, SOME OF IT RATHER REVEALING...

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