Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a press conference with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, stars of the new comedy hitThe Heat, as well as the film's writer, Katie Dippold (Parks & Recreation) and its almost embarrassingly accomplished director, Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks & Geeks, The Office, the list goes on).
As I arrived, Bullock was just inside the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton saying hello to a woman who had apparently been hanging around to meet-and-greet her. She is pencil-thin and model-gorgeous in person, and was graciously trying to get the woman to stop standing in the heat (ironically) for hours to see her.
The other Heat, the movie, is about two law-enforcement officers (Bullock and McCarthy) who have to learn to work together in order to bust a major drug ring, one that has ensnared McCarthy's no-good brother. McCarthy's character is tenacious, completely not by-the-book, violent, blunt, devious. Somehow, she makes her likable in a way she failed to do with her Identity Theft character. Bullock plays an uptight FBI agent whose prowess on the job doesn't lead to promotions because she's annoying. You'd have to be pretty annoying for it to hold you back in the FBI, but she really is. And like McCarthy, she nimbly makes annoying likable.
I could almost have gone with the movie—how often do you see a movie in which a white cop beats a black culprit with a watermelon, only to have it turn into a knowing mini-rant about how it's racist?—if only the construct weren't so formulaic; the performances are enough to make it fun, and I wouldn't be surprised nor would I be judgmental if most viewers ate the whole thing up.
In college, I had a sexy Greg Louganis poster (amongst about 100 other things) on my dorm-room door. In the middle of his beautiful chest, I taped some found text from a magazine ad: "You'll Feel Warm Inside." Blush.
Louganis shared space with Warhol, Garbo, Monroe, Ciccone, Divine, Dietrich and, of course...Bros.?
When I moved to New York, the first celebrity pic-with I sought out and obtained (and possibly the first celebrity pic-with I ever had taken) was with Greg. He was acting in the gay play Jeffrey, which was juicy because he wasn't even out as gay. I don't remember loving the play, but I do remember being determined to wait for him and get that photo. He came out and signed my program and posed with me, looking fucking hot as ever. He left with an equally hot guy, which was so titillating to me...secretly gay Olympian slinks off to perform dry-land somersaults with sultry male lover.
Not long after, I was working in the newsroom at Reuters. It was peopled by liberal journalists, and yet when the news came out that Louganis was HIV-positive, (thanks to that diving accident) I had to listen to gleeful jokes about "Loug-ANUS." It was as disillusioning a moment about the press as had been the time when, during high school, the editrix of the Flushing Observer lamented to me that there were so darn many blacks at the local movie theater we were driving past. Really took the fun out of mocking up stories for extra credit at school.
Going for the silver...and the gold!
Flash forward 20 years after Jeffrey posted its closing notice and who do I see on my block but Mr. Greg Louganis. I didn't grab him when he walked by, very much the silver fox; I was juggling dogs and looked...messy. Regretting it instantly, I continued our walk but kept thinking, "What if he's still around when I turn the corner?"
Sure enough, he was standing on the corner as Hyphen, Sash and now 44-year-old Matthew crossed W. 42nd. I smiled and told him about Jeffrey and about my college poster (well, not the "hole" story of that poster). He graciously listened and thanked me, then said he wasn't in town for Pride but for some other stuff. I told him to have fun and that I hoped to bump into him in another 20 years, wink, then asked if he wouldn't mind doing something I hate: The self-taken cellphone photo. He was only too happy to oblige (he smells like patchouli).
This photo is about as much of a hot-mess photo of me as I'll ever post, but I kinda like it. It shows that life goes on—he's certainly in a better place than he has been in the past and hey, we're both here.
Dozens of images in the above gallery, kicked off by that heart-stopping Patrick Boyd snap.
ABOUT THIS POST: Please let me know of any names I got wrong or am missing. Please feel free to pluck photos for posting on Facebook (not the nudes), but tag me and the people in them. Shots too naughty for this blog appear at my adult tumblr (Work Unfriendly). And finally, my main Bares review is here. Enjoy, and please donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
In the gallery above, enjoy some hot images from the "Rotation" sequence of Broadway Bares: United Strips of America.
Below, a few stand-out images with dancers and/or situations identified.
ABOUT THIS POST: Please let me know of any names I got wrong or am missing. Please feel free to pluck photos for posting on Facebook, but tag me and the people in them. Shots too naughty for this blog appear at my adult tumblr (Work Unfriendly). And finally, a whole separate post for "Rotation" photos is here. Enjoy, and please donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
As most of my readers know, I am obsessed with Broadway Bares, the annual show that benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Part of recovery is learning to admit you have a problem, and I have no qualms acknowledging that for someone wholly uninvolved with the production, I spend entirely too much time thinking about Bares.
Peter Nelson...that's the ticket!
I think about Bares so much that I have its many stand-out performers dancing around in my head in the days leading up to the show. This year, two days out, I spotted Peter Nelson—featured prominently in signage for the show—riding his bike, and promptly Facebooked that I'd seen him, and that it might herald the beginning of summer. Never mind that I've only met him briefly a couple of times. He gamely "liked" my comment and replied; a friend and I had been joking about this in terms of stalking, but I told him even most of my arresting officers agree that stalking has to be done on purpose, and chance encounters like this are just luck—his bad, my good.
Instead of laying off a bit this year, I doubled down—I decided to attend both the 9:30 and midnight shows. My reasoning was that perhaps I'd get lots of great photos from the first show and could then relax and watch the second one. This is the pretty lie I told myself.
I wound up with extra tickets for 9:30, so figured I'd pick them up early at the Roseland, around 3, and try to give them away. As I got my tickets, who is the only dancer walking up at 3 but Peter Nelson. We said hello and I promptly prayed for death; I hated the idea that he might think I was camped out at the theater hours early. If I made too much of a nuisance of myself, I worried I'd wind up in a half-Nelson, which isn't nearly as much fun as the full Monty.
I couldn't get rid of my tickets, so I offered the agents a swap—three G.A. tickets for VIP standing for the first show. Deal! I found myself in line with two really sweet guys, one of whom wound up being the boy pulled onstage by Brandon Rubendall in a video I'd shot for Boy Culture! It's a small, perverted world.
The most gorgeous guy ever came by selling souvenirs and making change; I just couldn't believe he wasn't a performer with an ass so bewitching it had something similar to the Medusa's power to turn men into stone upon viewing it. (Well, at least parts of them.) He gamely posed for a photo, thinking he'd never see it again. Later, I realized it was none other than Justen Kilmer, and had to beg him to let me post them. He thinks he looks out of shape, I think he looks like the last thing a straight man sees before swearing off pussy. You be the judge.
Not that we couldn't have watched the 250-pound drag queen working the entrance to Lucky Cheng's across the way all night, but it was a relief when they let us in early as a break from the steamy heat. Having never been to the first show, I was shocked to see very specific places to stand for priority vs. VIP vs. G.A. attendees, clearly marked off by ropes. I was afforded a spot flush against the central catwalk, a seemingly golden position. Determined to take great photos, I had to consciously overlook the wall-sized posters positioned everywhere, begging us to "respect the performers" and refrain from taking pictures. See, putting Peter Nelson's bare butt on a poster demanding that I not take a picture of it just does not work for me.
In a twist of fate, I now own this giant "don't photograph the dancers" poster. Peter has to sign it!
Unfortunately, my spot lost its charm early on. In spite of the gorgeous Latin guy across from me whose dark skin glowed under the blue gels, I had to deal with a jerk in front of me who pushed his way in after I'd staked my spot. He also maneuvered to get two more friends against the stage, pressing me into the seam between the catwalk and its circular termination. Not comfy, but a good way to brace myself for disrespecting every performer who came near. (Later in the show, he leaned back hard on me to get me to back off, so I said directly into his ear, "My shoulder is in the exact same spot it was when I first got here. You're pushing me. I'm not moving—at all—and I'm not going anywhere." He stopped.)
A male/female singing duo called The Skivvies took to to stage as the openers, or as they put it, the "fluffers." They were fun, singing a medley of America-themed songs. (But no "American Life," boo.) The adorable dude, Nick Cearley, went bare-assed at the end, but too quickly for me to shoot...yet another reason seeing both shows would come in handy.
Finallly, it was time for Broadway Bares 23: United Strips of America to begin. From here on out, I'm talking about both shows combined, mixing and matching the best of both worlds.
First, let me get out of the way my scant criticisms. (Hey, I'm slavishly devoted to the show, but it can't all be goodness and Judith Light.) I thought the show overall was less special than some previous years have been. I wasn't wild about the American theme, which gave us numbers based on states like Nebraska, Maine and Georgia, and the writing was not funny. It was also a huge let-down that Cyndi Lauper didn't "surprise" us; she did Bares one other time and she and the show's creator Jerry Mitchell just won Tonys for Kinky Boots, so a visitation seemed a shoo-in. There are so many gigantic stars on Broadway who would've been a treat to have pop up, not least of which was Bette Midler. If Bette had shown up in a towel, it would have been legendary.
But really, these complaints are not meant as attacks or to downplay the incredible stamina and talent of everyone involved; it's like ranking orgasms or Madonna tours...they're all amazing, even if some are your favorites and some are not.
On the plus side, the show, directed by Nick Kenkel, had to overcome not featuring some of its most high-profile performers from years past, including Matt Skrincosky, Josh Buscher, Matthew Steffens, Brandon Rubendall, Andy Mills, Guto Bittencourt, Steven Wenslawski and many others, and did so admirably, minting new stand-outs (though all had done the show before) like Nelson, Patrick Boyd, Jamal Story, Daniel Robinson, and others. And as for the choreography (by Kenkel, Derek Mitchell, Paul McGill, Michael Lee Scott, Al Blackstone, Jon Rua, Peter Gregus, Kate Rockwell, Marcos Santana, Mark Myars and Marc Kimelman), it was never less than rigorously entertaining.
Also catching my eye was the fact that the show felt more ethnically diverse, less overwhelmingly male and more peopled with mature men.
Max and Michael (top and bottom...one hopes), envision a Miss America with testicles.
The show's conceit is that two gay lovebirds (my boo Michael Cusumano as "Jay" and formerly mustachioed Evita star Max von Essen as "Jason") are stranded on opposite coasts, so wil travel cross-country and meet in Nebraska (of all places). Both are beyond adorable, though were not given as much to do as last year's central pair, Kyle Dean Massey and John Carroll (neither of whom were in the show this time around). They do make a disturbingly cute couple—cute enough that I could've stood more flesh from both!
The hosts with the most attitude, Sieber and Margherita.
Daniel Lynn Evans and Sidney Erik Wright get a leg up on the competition.
Miss Georgia thinks of a polite way to threaten to "cut a bitch."
Giving America what it wants: Sidney Erik Wright's nipples???
John Paul LaPorte was pageant-ready.
They hope for world piece.
The kick-off number—"United States of America"—featured Christopher Sieber (revealing shots of him here) and Lesli Margherita as smarmy beauty-pageant hosts, sniping at each other as they announce the Top 10. Cusumano and von Essen are picking the show apart by phone, and wind up fantasizing what it would be like if the producers gave America what it really wants...which turned out to be drag queens and hosts who are way into the SM scene—and whose safe word appears to be, "Harder!" Sieber looks good in a harness, by the way.
Next up, my buddy Andrew Glaszek, one of the show's most visible stars year after year (he's done 10 in a row!), headed up Team "New York" as they offered their take on Madonna's "Vogue," playing a photographer who will bend over backwards to get the hottest shots of model Robb Sherman, who's never looked more striking.
Andrew Glaszek was the night's big shooter.
In the process of being Robbed.
For Jon Cooper and Michael Prince, there's nothin' to it.
Team New York, deep in vogue.
The choreography was light on this one, more about hitting the poses, but I loved the styling; so much ginger and the strong brows on the likes of Dave August and Michael Prince were fierce. (Since a little more skin is always in, click here if you're not at work.)
"I'll show you mine if you show me yours..."
Dodge and (Katy) Perry.
Daniel Robinson: Life's a beach and then you strip.
"California" (snippet of video here) was up next, using Katy Perry's "California Gurls" as an excuse for delicious Daniel Robinson, a lifeguard, to perform mouth-to-mouth before getting into a conga line for a little mouth-to-ass. Speaking of ass, you can see his here in all its glory.
Tonight was Madonna's Cinema Society-sponsored premiere for Madonna: The MDNA Tour on Epix, held at the Paris on W. 58th. Marlene Dietrich cut the ribbon on this theater in 1948...remember that, because it's on the test.
Outside the theater, fans hoping to get in.
I dashed up in the rain around 7:15PM. There was a small but determined crowd of contest winners and hopefuls across the street, peopled by most of the same folks we would later see shouting at Madonna from within the Golden Triangle on the big screen. These are the people who go everywhere Madonna goes without fail. Do they have jobs? Where do they get their money? (The same questions must be asked of me.) It's always fun to see them...and it feels like home.
Frankie & Isaac
I bumped into Frankie Grande, a dazzling NYC talent who was one of the Born Yesterday producers, was a former Mr. Broadway and who tells me his next work will be on stage in Pageant. He was with his adorable pal Isaac, and both looked spiffy in the muggy mist. This is a hard thing to accomplish.
Gabby was visiting the publisher Algonquin and did a dozen or so quick pic-withs.
Aside from the fact that my hair is a travesty (use voice of Vivian Vance), I had some fun at BEA, the big book-publishing convention. Grindr was quiet as a mouse (bookworms...harrumph!), but I was 0 feet away from Gabby Giffords (whose astronaut hubby was a tad overqualified to be our photographer), Tim Conway (who was scolded for not smiling by the random guy who took our shot, even though he did!) and Jim Carrey.
No interaction, but an honor to be in his presence. Got his new book, What's So Funny?, free.
Carrey's was the only real production, including a lengthy line and crazed fanboys and fangirls. One, Eva, wants to marry him and totally deserves to. They'd be cute together! Carrey was doing the quickie/across-the-table pic-withs, so that is always a great way to bring out my double chin. But the lovely girl who took the shot did well by us.
The photogenic editor or publicist photobombed everyone shamelessly.
When I had my 4 seconds to speak to him, I had figured I'd blurt out something about Phillip Morris, but I instead found myself referencing Duck Factory (!) before telling him to please keep giving 'em hell on Twitter, even if hell doesn't exist. "Yeah...it's a crazy world," he offered, perhaps thinking a promo even for a kiddie project wasn't quite the right place to dwell on deeper topics.
An adorable "power reader" (I prefer power bottoms) on line with me features in my video.
The only other celeb I bumped into was James Frey, and I didn't know it was him until after. He was very friendly. He kept eyeing me in a non-sexual way, and I later figured maybe he was wondering what my opinion of him was? Nice, though.