8 posts categorized "TV REVIEW"

May 14 2021
His Good Name: A Review Of HALSTON Comments (0)

Halston-Ewan-McGregor-boycultureHalston refused to admit he had a problem — so does Halston. (Image via Netflix)

Halston suffers for having had a compelling trailer.

The trailer cheated, using a Depeche Mode song released the year Halston died rather than a disco tune evocative of his dominant era, but it was effective, mixing high drama with high camp and suggesting the kernel of a promising biopic. Would Ryan Murphy finally transcend his lust for getting the look right and hit rather than miss in the insight department?


Halston, a new five-episode series on Netflix, looks exquisite and contains a convincing, if flat, Being There-ish performance by Ewan McGregor as the boy from Indiana who restyled himself as a snob who was backed into marketing his elitism with the gusto of McDonald's slinging burgers. There is a lot to investigate, considering Halston was absorbed with the idea of changing who he was while retaining his birth name, and wound up losing that name.

But the work is strictly off-the-rack. Halston is a pretty, surface peek at a guy who — as Frédéric Tcheng's 2019 doc of the same name suggested — had a lot going on under the surface, enough to make you want to know much more than this series shares.

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Feb 25 2021
Looking Back Upon Our Lives: A Review Of IT'S A SIN — Spoiler Alert Comments (0)

Its-a-sin-actors-gay-aids-boycultureTheir stories are our stories. (Images via Channel 4)

When it comes to the early years of the AIDS crisis, I can't say, “I was there.” Rather, I was around there.

My youth wasn't so much directly shaken by AIDS as it was formed by the tsunami it created. I was already aware of what AIDS was before I had my first kiss in 1987, so by the time I was having sex, it was a fact of life. There was no meaningful before, during and after for me, just — after.

Instead of sexual abandon, I poured myself into collecting things, obsessing over music, making art and writing. I eventually worked out many of my frustrations in a novel that, in retrospect, exposes some of my AIDS-induced hang-ups — and I think It's a Sin could be read as similarly revelatory of the mindset of creator Russell T. Davies, for better and for worse.

Having received largely rapturous reviews, It's a Sin, a commercial, serialized, gay-told take on how AIDS ravaged the queer community in London in the '80s, is now experiencing a bit of a backlash, mostly from HIV activists, whose experience with the subject matter makes it impossible for me to refute their experience with the series. From the perspective of someone who narrowly missed the early years of HIV, and as an HIV-negative man, It's a Sin was always going to mean something different to me than it would mean to people who truly survived that era.

But I think the praise and the criticism are both valuable, and speak to the buttons Davies and his talented cast are pushing — buttons that should be pushed more often so we don't wind up, as we did when this first aired in the UK, with scores of young people expressing shock that AIDS ever happened in the first place.

Overall, I loved It's a Sin. Over the course of four episodes, I was engrossed in the story, impressed by the acting and surprised by Davies' deft ability to work in other aspects of gay life that I hadn't expected, including issues surrounding coming of age, coming out, meeting your first gay person, coming to terms with and exploring sexuality and dealing with parental, political and social pressures while attempting to nurture one's own sense of self. The series is not the story of HIV, after all, but the story of a group of people confronted by it, and it is most successful when not losing sight of that.

The fifth episode, however, failed miserably for me. It was so off the mark it caused me to reflect more deeply and critically on minor quibbles I'd had with the previous installments, and led me to decide I felt It's a Sin — which I urge everyone to watch — is a far better and more important work if one forgets the final episode.

Read on if you are okay with spoilers ...

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Sep 25 2018
Serial Thriller: MINDHUNTER Is In Session Comments (0)

13mindhunter-jumbo(Image via Netflix)

I've partially sampled a number of buzzworthy series on Netflix and beyond, but for every The Handmaid's Tale (on Hulu) there is a Maniac (Netflix) — something more stylish than it is engrossing, more interestingly cast than it is played.

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Jun 08 2017
The Family That Slays Together: A Review of MENENDEZ: BLOOD BROTHERS & A Discussion With Directors Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato Comments (0)

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 6.39.42 PMMyko Olivier (L) & Nico Tortorella (R) as Erik & Lyle Menendez (All images via Lifetime)

“This is a case Randy and I were gripped by when it happened,” acclaimed filmmaker Fenton Bailey told me of his work with Randy Barbato co-directing a new scripted film about the Menendez Brothers' murders. “Now, 25 years later, it felt like, 'You can take a new look at the story.' We're always drawn to stories where people are overexposed but, we feel, underrevealed.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 6.41.55 PMThe Menendezes as envisioned by Bailey & Barbato

From its creepy opening, showing idyllic images of Beverly Hills while the late Kitty Menendez (Courtney Love) types up her son Erik's (Myko Olivier) gory manuscript — ahead of a nightmarish sequence depicting the shotgun killings of Kitty and her husband Jose (Benito Martinez) by their sons — Menendez: Blood Brothers (Lifetime, June 11) is a gripping, suspenseful, stylish take on one of the most shocking crimes of the late 20th Century.

It is also, as promised, revelatory.

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May 12 2017
What Ever Happened To The Abbey? — But Ya Are In That Gay Bar! Comments (0)

Rs_1024x793-170322152300-ab(Image via E!)

E!'s What Happens at The Abbey premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/PT, and I've seen a sneak peek.

Is it as gay as WeHo? No. But it is, as the bar's longtime owner David Cooley has said, a diverse look at one of the most iconic gay watering holes in the country.

From a press release:

Located in the heart of Los Angeles’ West Hollywood neighborhood, The Abbey, hailed as the “Best Gay Bar in the World,”  is an institution where labels are abandoned, inclusion is paramount and everyone, regardless of their sexuality comes to mix and mingle with celebrities.

Presiding over one of the wildest nightclubs in Los Angeles, the team unapologetically embodies the open-minded mentality of The Abbey while fostering an environment of acceptance. Managed by owner David Cooley, the staff juggles delivering first-rate service to their VIP guests and celebrities while dealing with relationship drama, diverse sexuality and the pursuit of their own Hollywood dreams. It’s not all work, as this outrageous and unpredictable squad somehow manages to party even harder than their celebrity patrons.

So basically, a bunch of twentysomethings screwing each other, screwing each other over, getting wasted and tearfully fighting about things you forgot ever made you mad.

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Oct 06 2016
They Saw What He Did: EYEWITNESS Comments (0)

James Paxton Tyler YoungJames Paxton and Tyler Young (Images via USA)

Eyewitness, USA's new series premiering October 16 at 10/9c, is a moody, atmospheric thriller with a decidedly gay twist: Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 9.53.56 PMTwo teen boys in the middle of a hook-up in the woods see a shocking multiple murder, but decide to stay quiet in order to stay closeted. Meanwhile, a local sheriff (Julianne Nicholson, pictured) is hellbent on solving the heinous crimes.

The 10-episode arc is erotic, terrifying and beautifully acted. TV is just getting edgier and better—I think it's surpassed film, and it's certainly in more of a golden age now than it ever was in the' 50s or '60s.

Also, who could have ever imagined a show with a trysting pair of teenage boys back in the '80s? 

Watch it for its depiction of desperation, and how the closet can only make things worse.

Keep reading to check out the trailer ...

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May 10 2015
Need To Know: Live To Virtel + Larger Than Life + Basket Weavers + Bitch, He's The Director + MORE! Comments (0)

CEftiCgUgAAm77l.jpg-largeOn the outs

*widget boy cultureHe lost on Jeopardy, baby.

*widget boy cultureYou won't recognize Kevin Bacon in this pic.

*widget boy cultureGrace and Frankie is ... okay.

*widget boy cultureHomeless woman's new pad.

*widget boy cultureJack Black and James Marsden cruise baskets.

*widget boy cultureMadonna's next video will be by ...

*widget boy cultureNatalie Portman playing Justice Ginsburg?

*widget boy culture(Carol) Brady on Deflategate.

*widget boy culturePitch Perfect 2 ladies light up the red carpet.

*widget boy cultureHe was branded a pedo for having legal twink images.

*widget boy cultureSpeaking of which, Cody Simpson is single.

Cody-simpson-shirtlessNew to the market

Apr 20 2008
What Happens At Miss USA Doesn't Stay At Miss USA Comments (1)


Last Friday, José and I went to Las Vegas to do some girl-watching; specifically, we had tickets for Miss USA.

A1500_k26493_tcm23096_2I'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...?

Img_1778I 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 Previewscreensnapz001fascination 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.

Img_0520The 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.

QueensReinas: 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.

Img_1158The Chace is on.

Img_0252The 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.

Img_1189Candice 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 Img_1188would 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.

Img_1764As 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.

TONS of pictures and video after the jump...

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