June 2013August 2013 

 

9 posts from July 2013

Jul 21 2013
Coming Out Of Somewhere: A Q&A With And Gay Pop Cultural Opinion Of Steve Grand Comments (49)

Steve-GrandConstant craving.

Steve Grand, 23, seemed to come out of nowhere earlier this month when he released his song "All-American Boy" and its accompanying video, an instantly iconic treatment of the oldest story in the gay world: falling for a guy who seems to feel the same way, but who ultimately does not. Like a microcosm of the reaction to Brokeback Mountain in 2005, the video was mostly enthusiastically received—1.6 million YouTube views and counting, national TV appearances—and yet has had its share of detractors, most of them gay.

At least some of the criticism of Grand is simply misplaced, resting squarely on the otherwise extremely helpful Buzzfeed piece that almost single-handedly got his name out to the world. In the post, Grand was tagged as "the first openly gay male country star," even though he was not the first, nor does he pretend to be a country artist, nor is he a star—yet.

But several other negative reactions made the Grand phenomenon more interesting to me than it might have been otherwise (readers of my blog know I'm rarely drawn to singer-songwriters, no matter how talented or cute). An inflammatory piece at The Bilerico Project (which was initially headlined in such a way as to imply the singer himself was a "sad, predatory drunk") accused Grand of trading on his looks, demonizing his "pouty lips and sculpted abs," while selling a Boys in the Band-like "self-loathing" message. It was even suggested that Grand's actions in the video could have led to "some serious gay bashing," the implicit message being that this bewitching Billy Budd would've had it coming. (The author of the piece later said his only regret had been maligning The Boys in the Band.)

Boys-in-the-Band"Oh, Mary, don't ask."

Fratmen-pornOn my own Facebook page, one person said I should ask Steve which thing about him did he feel made him more of a gay stereotype, the fact that he cries a lot (Grand's Good Morning America interview had a touching Johnnie Ray moment) or the fact that he's been through ex-gay therapy, as if either were something to be ashamed of. Still other armchair critics of the right way to be gay have sniffed at the video for making Grand's character seem powerless (love and lust are apparently signs of weakness...God forbid the character turns out to be a bottom!), have said it was wrong for Grand to work with [Work Unfriendly] an actor who did porn (it's apparently wrong to have anything to do with porn actors unless you're watching them fuck their brains out for too little money) and have complained that smoking is glamorized.

In short: Hey, pretty boy, how dare you not be the kind of gay person I want you to be?

Considering the self-aggrandizing, materialistic, superficially sexual, outright obnxious things that pop up in most every other enthusiastically adored music video today, I saw Steve Grand's achingly vulnerable song and video as honest. The most dangerous thing he does in the video is jump into that fetid swamp. But anything for love...

All-American-BoyBorn in the U.S.A.: Scenes from "All-American Boy."

What also interests me about Steve Grand is the fact that he didn't come from nowhere—no one does. His backstory is one many gay people can relate to: He fell for a camp counselor at 12, was outed to his conservative parents by an instant message they discovered and was sent to therapy to try to overcome "unwanted same-sex attractions." They were unwanted, but not necessarily by Grand. He has cycled through various identities—his days as a model and as cover artist "Steve Starchild" are readily documentable via Google—and has settled on being himself.

So forgive me if I take umbrage at the critics who think Steve is less than perfect, because it seems clear to me he knows he isn't. This "bad role model" has survived Catholicism, parental disapproval, ex-gay therapy and body issues to emerge as an unapologetically out performer, unafraid to be vulnerable, which in my opinion makes him a wonderful, if humbly relucant, role model for young people, gay and otherwise.

Everyone is so heartbroken when a troubled gay teen commits suicide, so why not cheer one on when he is able to rise above his struggles, embrace who he is and give back to the world in the form of art?

As I found over the course of three conversations, two on the phone and one during his quick visit to NYC for a CNN interview and some business meetings, Grand is the least marketed singer you've ever heard of, has no media training, has only a family friend as an advisor, isn't wholly comfortable with so much as profiting from his music (his YouTube account, as of this writing, seems to have no ads) and, unlike so many of the young performers I've spoken with in the past 15 years, cares more about making a personal connection with his audience than he does about scoring a merchandising deal or getting free clothes to wear from designers.

He's got talent, humility and sincerity—even without the abs, I think that's a good recipe for the right kind of gay...

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Jul 18 2013
One Gay At A Time: A Hollywood Show To Remember Comments (11)
  Kim-Richards Richard-Chamberlain Kristy-McNichol
June-Lockhart

McKenzie-Phillips
Glenn-Scarpelli Pat-Harrington

Anne-Jeffreys
Larry-Wilcox-CHiPs
Susan-Blacklinie
Tommy-Kirk
Sharon-Farrell
Don-Murray
Drea-De-Mateo LAWRENCE-MONOSON

Dick-Gautier

The above gallery, in order: Kim Richards, Richard Chamberlain, Kristy McNichol, June Lockhart, Mackenzie Phillips, Glenn Scarpelli, Pat Harrington, Anne Jeffreys, Larry Wilcox, Susan Blacklinie, Tommy Kirk, Sharon Farrell, Don Murray, Drea de Matteo, Lawrence Monoson & Dick Gautier.

For the first time in years, I'd decided to skip The Hollywood Show in L.A., held at the painfully glamorous Westin LAX (a poignant backdrop for a room filled with celebs whose careers have had more take-offs and landings than Jet Blue)—I didn't want to spend the cash and didn't think I'd miss the guest list this time. At the last minute, I splurged and went, which meant I had only a couple of original photos for the stars to ooh and ahh over before signing.

When I first walked in, there was an immediate difference between this and previous shows...a huge crowd! A long line was queued up for the cast of Sons of Anarchy, including star attraction Katey Sagal. With that show, Married...With Children and Futurama, she had probably a third of the attendees drooling over her. I skipped her.

The room was hot as hell (flop sweat is a great look for picture day) and crowded, thanks in part to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kim Richards, who had a large crew documenting her every move.

But I survived, as all of the stars there had.

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Jul 11 2013
On The Level: A Modelizing Look Inside The LVL XIII Luxury Sneaker Shoot Comments (6)

On the Monday of my week-long 4th of July break, I spent the day at a big shoot for LVL XIII, a new brand of luxury sneakers officially launching July 22. I'd been invited to cover the shoot and talk to the brand's creative director and CEO, Antonio Brown, but wasn't sure what else to expect.

Antonio-Brown-LVL-XIIIBrown, taking it to another LVL.

LVL-XIII-sneakers
Lvl-xiii-shoes
LVL-XIII-luxury-sneakersThe shoes range from $550 to $1,200, with only 3,000 pairs being made.

Hot-partner-of-Antonio-BrownUsually when I arrive to shoots, they're in full swing and I'm ushered over to quickly accomplish what I'm there to do. In this case, I arrived at the very beginning. I was greeted by Brown's adorable, soaking wet (pictured; it was raining out) partner and directed upstairs at Son Cubano on W. 27th, where I found a darkened bar filled with giddy models attempting to look sullen.

A guy videoing for the brand's site was stealing shots here and there, so I joined in, filming what caught my eye. Everyone I filmed—as if trained to do so—ignored me. A voyeur's dream.

Hot-videographerHot videographer.

Model-LVL-XIIIModels can read, y'all.

The concept of the shoot, by Clay Nielsen, was twofold: A recreation of The Last Supper and a representation of a stark naked Adam and Eve.

Antonio-Brown-LVL-XIII-associatesBrown & associates go over details.

The Last Supper took most of the day, involving a careful arrangement of the stunning, culturally diverse models Brown had selected. Brown, with his muscles and precise grooming as much of a model as anyone there, was extremely particular about the placement of his wild-looking sneakers (zebra! gold!) as well as about the vibes given off by the models.

MAKEUP-lvl-xiii
Makeup2-lvl-xiiiMaking up is not so hard to do when you start out looking perfect.

"Jesus," he said, addressing model David Anderson by the character he was playing in the shot. "I'm not getting Jesus from you." Fix it!

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Jul 08 2013
Ain't The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name Grand? Comments (12)

Steve-Grand

If I were Grand, I'd consider a legal letter RE the defamatory, leading headline.

Sorry, it isn't going to be all Steve Grand, all the time around here, but this piece at Bilerico really struck me as something worth writing about.

Mark S. King, writing for Bilerico, certainly has a right to criticize any artist he likes, even budding gay ones. Also, I share his belief that words and images mean things, even—maybe especially—when it comes to silly pop songs. But I was really taken aback by his brutal comments against Steve Grand's "All-American Boy" song and video, found here.

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Jul 07 2013
Room With A View: Part 2...My '90s Walls Comments (6)

Matthew-Rettenmund-1991-Madonna-roomI believe the three on the right are from just before I moved into the ones on the left.

Once I graduated college, you might think I'd have graduated from gonzo wall décor fronted by Madonna. Nope. In 1991, I was living in Chicago's "Boys' Town" (I never called it that) on Belmont with my buddy John, who made incredible Madonna, Debbie Harry and you-name-it plasticized crucifix jewelry that I coveted (I still have my Blondie one somewhere).

My room was my oasis: I was 22, I had been through college (and Depeche Mode and Bjork and Kate Bush) and I was reverting to my go-to girls (Madonna, Marilyn, Debbie) and adding in lots of found art, things like the frameworthy headline placards from the Chicago Sun-Times and Trib outdoor newspaper dispensers (a favorite read, in stark lettering, "WHAT DID REAGAN SAY").

In the above mish-mash, taken the night of a party thrown by my professor's T.A. Shari Roberts that required fancy dress (hence my vintage usher's jacket...before Usher was Usher...with it's "10 cents a dance" button), I can spot:

Madonna, George Lamond (he of "Bad of the Heart" fame...I met him at a release party, introduced by my stripper roommate/ex, Floyd Underwood, a dicy chapter in my story), my mom, Debbie Harry, Marilyn Monroe, Matt Dillon (and the rest of the Bloodhounds of Broadway cast...what an underrated gem of a movie...Ebert liked it!), Sade, Elizabeth Taylor, myself by Leo Hsu from the University of Chicago production of Torch Song Trilogy), a vintage ciggy ad, a signed David Lynch 8"X10" (I raided my boss's Roladex and wrote him a mash note over the Wild at Heart car-crash scene), Liza Minnelli (raided the same Roladex and sent her a Valentine's Day card via her later-hated stepmother, for which I received three Results-era autographs!), my friend Sandra Engle's 720550-Mface stretched on a Xerox matchine, Ramon Novarro, Faye Dunaway, Lynda Carter,Tony Ward (with Madonna on the cover of a large promo poster for Italian Moda, courtesy of my X-rated penpal/Madonna swapper Mauro Bramati), Ken Wahl (regrets, I have a few), porn (I had XXX-rated stuff on one wall just to be that way), Andy Warhol (one of my pop idols, and I now own 2 of his Polaroids, a feat unimagined 20 years ago), Gavin Geoffrey Dillard ("The Naked Poet," to whom I'd written a love letter and with whom I enjoyed a short but interesting burst of correspondence)...and more.

There are many other incarnations of "the room." In some ways, it lives on, via more high-end art and actual framed objects. I hope to have a nice party soon and if I do and the place is up to it, I'll post the shit I have up now.

Madonna is not entirely absent.

 
 
Jul 05 2013
Room With A View: My '80s Walls Comments (4)

80s-room
I didn't come out until the very end of high school, but I was slowly, inexorably working my way out via the décor of my room. I started slowly. The first poster I had up was Cyndi Lauper by Lynn Goldsmith. I'd bought it in Hawaii, but it had gotten a little crushed, so it was waved through the entire poster. I learned quickly that posters have souls.

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Jul 02 2013
NYC Gay Pride: Married To A Gay Mob Comments (0)
Jwoww-gay-pride-parade
Check out my video from NYC's Gay Pride Parade after the jump, with celebrity cameos by Christine Quinn, Edie Windsor, Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer, Shane Bitney Crone and...JWoww???...

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Jul 01 2013
Save Up All Your Piers: Cher Serenades The Faithful Comments (3)
Cher
DSC03897 Cher 19
DSC03767 Cher 4
DSC03769 Cher 5
DSC03773 Cher 6
DSC03791 Cher 9
DSC03813 Cher 10
DSC03830 Cher 12
DSC03834 cher 13
DSC03863 Cher 15
DSC03866 Cher 16
DSC03875 Cher 17
DSC03911 Cher 20
DSC03896 Cher 18

Above: A gallery of 14 Cher shots!

As of yesterday morning, I was not going to the Gay Pride Pier Dance to see Cher perform. I regretted not buying a ticket, though. I've never been a huge fan of her music (I do adore her for her TV series and think she gives GREAT interview), and yet I felt like this might be a good opportunity to see her in a setting more intimate than, say, a Vegas casino.

CHER-FANSCould've been you.

At the last minute, I asked a friend who'd had extra tickets, but he'd sold them. Another friend had one cheap, but I'd have to get to TriBeCa for it. A third was begging off and offered to sell it to me when we met for brunch, but then I skipped brunch when I realized eating it would have meant missing the entire Gay Pride Parade.

Cher-stage
Cher-fansLove is in the Cher.

Luckily, I caught up to him at brunch's end and snapped up the $75 ticket. This, in turn, led me to lackadaisically inquire with her publicist as to when she would actually hit the stage—the event was scheduled to run from 3PM to 10PM. I was not expecting it, but I was then bumped up to VIP status and told to expect Cher around 9:30PM...things got interesting!

Deborah-Cox-1
Deborah-Cox-3
Deborah-Cox
Deborah-Cox-4Cox definitely  didn't suck.

After cabbing (!) along the West Side Highway for what seemed like an hour (not a great mode of transportation during Gay Pride and with LGBTQs running wild along the river), I was dumped near-ish to Laight Street, the entrance to the event. It was around 7PM, and opening act Deborah Cox was just beginning her set. All the fans had to walk around a city block to get to the entrance, then were third-degreed by some cops—no ticket, no entry, so I was lucky I hadn't relied on my VIP status alone. (Meanwhile, keep in mind this is a massive migration of hundreds of shirtless, clone-like hardbodies who could recite random episodes of Designing Women, and me).

At the media table, I was told I had VIP access, but that when the show started, VIPers would need to exit the special area and fend for themselves in the crowd. This sounded like we could get Sebastian Venabled, but I kept a positive attitude.

Once inside, I and my sparkly VIP wristband made our way forward, past every body type imaginable, from superfit to superlean to superbuff to...wait, there wasn't actually much variety, was there?

I ran into the delectable Andrew Glaszek, who informed me that in order to get into VIP, I'd have to circle back behind the Port-o-Potties. Makes sense that at a gay event you have to cruise the johns to get to where you're going. Along the way, I spotted adorable actor Matthew Wilkas, who was so effective in Gayby. He later Facebooked me his amazement that I'd gotten a good candid of him without his knowledge. It's a gift. That I give myself.

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