In the Sixties and early Seventies, America was agog over Joe Dallesandro, the openly bi, frequently nude superstar of Paul Morrissey's Andy Warhol films. The most famous of these are Lonesome Cowboys, Flesh with Candy Darling, Heat with Sylvia Miles, and Trash with Holly Woodlawn (whom George Cukor tried to get nominated for an Oscar via a write-in campaign, unsuccessfully). But Little Joe has worked widely beyond those movies, making over forty films, including eighteen in Europe, as well as Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club, John Waters' Cry-Baby, and Steven Soderbergh's The Limey. He is also the cover model for the Rolling Stones' notorious Sticky Fingers and for The Smiths' The Smiths. Thrice married, he turns sixty today and lives with his cat, still in Hollywood, where he manages a motel. His official website has bits of news for his admirers, one of whom has compiled these clips in tribute. On February 13, he will be presented with a special Teddy award, celebrating lgbt movies at the Berlin Film Festival.
Dubious, but in the spirit of promoting gay books, here's the link to Queerty's "top ten books of 2008 that belong on a gay's bookshelf." At number one is queer friendly straight man Jonathan Ames' roman a clef called The Alcoholic, and more bizarrely at number five is Curtis Sittenfeld's not at all disguised novel about the departing first lady (with no mention of any gay content). The highest ranked of the nonfiction titles is Terrance Dean's Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry, followed by openly gay John Barrowman's showbiz memoir Anything Goes.
Piscataway's funniest son tripped through several dead ends -- Yale, copy writing, stage set painting, satiric novels for Knopf -- before hitting his stride as a playwright in his 30s with I Hate Hamlet and Jeffrey. At the same time he was an uncredited contributor to The Addams Family and the sole screenwriter of its sequel, Addams Family Values. He also wrote parts of The First Wives Club and all of Sister Act for Bette Midler, though successfully sued to have his name removed when it was rewritten as a Whoopi Goldberg vehicle. His first and only major studio gay movie was inspired by Tom Hanks' Oscar acceptance speech for Philadelphia. Grossing $63.8 million in 1997 In and Out did half the business of The Birdcage the year before. Rudnick's movies since then have been either disappointing or atrocious (Marci X, Isn't She Great, and The Stepford Wives), but he redeemed himself with his faux movie reviews by Libby Gellman-Waxmner. More recently he's written "Shouts & Murmurs" pieces in The New Yorker imagining the Vatican's homosexual screening quiz, obscene books for children, Christian gym bunnies, or gay sheep. Unlike David Sedaris or David Rakoff, Rudnick never met a gay cliché he didn't want to put on a big pink pedestal festooned with glitter, sparklers, and disco lights. Camp is the one thing he's chest-thumpingly serious about. He complained to the New York Times:
''There's a tradition of gay flamboyance that would be shameful to lose. My God, if every gay character has to become the responsible district attorney or the crusading senator, then who will ultimately benefit? Yes, we will prove that gay people can be every bit as dull as everyone else. I guess, on a political level, it could be important to make that point. But certainly not for my entertainment dollar!''
Taken during our visit in September. (Like so much in Alaska, the town name is a complete misnomer. Obviously.) Today in North Pole, AK the sun will rise at 10:55 am and set at 2:45 pm. That's just over twenty hours of night. The high temperature will hover around 7 degrees, which is above their average. Warm and bright holiday wishes to all readers.
Born in Seattle to an Afghan father and Italian mother, Adbullah Jaffa Bey Khan had asthma and wore braces on his feet, and, to strengthen his breathing and his legs, began studying dance at twelve. At sixteen he fell in love with a twenty-two year man in the Coast Guard named Gerald Arpino. A few years later they moved to New York together and Joffrey made his debut at "nineteen" with Ballets de Paris. (Probably he was twenty-one; all evidence suggests he lied about being born in 1930.) Becoming a soloist in May O'Donnell's troupe from 1950-3, he realized at 5'4" his prospects as a dancer were limited, and concentrating on choreography and teaching, he longed to start his own company. With Arpino, he did. The Robert Joffrey Ballet won great acclaim for their originality (especially emphasizing male virtuosity in what had traditionally been a ballerina's world) and they struggled financially. In 1963 President Kennedy invited them to perform at the White House and they toured Russia, sponsored by the State Department, to thunderous applause; upon returning to America they lost their funding. When he was forty-five and still living with (though no longer in a sexual relationship with) Arpino who was co-director of the company, Joffrey fell in love with a twenty-six year-old art gallery manager named Aladar Marberger. Both men contracted HIV and died of aids within months of each other in 1988. Arpino became artistic director of the Joffrey that year and in 1995 moved the company to Chicago. He died this past October, still connected with the company he and Joffrey created.
God bless Bob Smith, the first openly gay comedian on The Tonight Show and the author of the funniest sign at New York's Prop 8 protests. Oh, yes, he's also the author of Selfish and Perverse the Publishing Triangle Award nominated first novel covering a few months in the life of Nelson Kunker, a handsome, endearingly hapless television writer from Los Angeles who falls in love with Roy, a salmon fisherman, and spends the summer with him in Alaska. Dylan Fabizak, a hot actor / recovering addict / compulsive flirt wheedles his way into their lives; quips, sex, and danger ensue, sometimes simultaneously. Smith said he would cast Seann William Scott as Dylan. He's working on his second novel, which will be mandatory reading when it comes out.
Michael Jensen at After Elton has posted a whopping fourteen-page recap of all things gay in entertainment during 2008. More than a month by month review, it's almost minute by minute. I'm not much of a television user, but did I know that back in January candidate Obama said as his favorite character on The Wire was Omar Little [above], the gay robber who only robs drug dealers and kingpins? How much has changed. (Omar died this season.) Jensen ends with three lists of ups, downs, and a much needed category "sideways" for the likes of Nip/Tuck and Sarah Silverman. Take some time to relive the whole year.
Six years after winning the Rome Prize for architecture in 1973, Frank Israel went Hollywood and designed sets for the first Star Trek movie and Roger Vadim's Night Games. From there he jumped to designing offices for production companies, and soon catapulted himself to the forefront of architects creating dramatic private residences in southern California. Among his most notable houses were those for Robert Altman, Howard Goldberg, and Joel Grey. In the mid-1990's, when Israel was in his late forties (young in architect years), he was honored with a show of his work at Los Angeles's Museum of Contemporary Art. At the same time he was battling aids. He died at fifty, survived by his partner Thomas Haase. Click here to see a gallery of his work or here to see him on Charlie Rose.
Baby boomers who act like they invented being young at sixty are forgetting about Elsie de Wolfe who at sixty-one in 1926 attended a costume ball in Paris dressed as a Moulin Rouge dancer and made her entrance doing handsprings. When she turned seventy, the world's most famous interior designer wrote her autobiography and noted that her daily exercise regimen still included yoga, headstands, and walking on her hands. Her design style was nearly as dramatic, banishing the dark, heavy Victorian look for new openness, airiness, and light. Starting at forty, she received her first major commission for Stanford White's Colony Club, after which she designed the interiors for the premiere families of her day, the Fricks, Morgans, Vanderbilts, and Windsors. Ten years into her success, in her early fifties, she stopped to become a nurse in World War I in France and earned the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. From her late twenties onward she lived with Elisabeth Marbury, one of the first women to work as a theatrical agent, representing among others Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. They spent thirty-three years together as a classic butch-femme couple, mentoring a whole generation of younger lesbians including Mercedes de Acosta who would become Greta Garbo's lover. Then de Wolfe up and married Sir Charles Mendl because she wanted a title. Now Lady Mendl, she expected nothing to change with Marbury, given that her marriage was completely platonic, and the women remained lovers for seven more years, until 1933, when Marbury died.
The next time you discuss outing and public figures and privacy, you might bear in mind that in 1926, the New York Times ran a front page story calling de Wolfe's wedding "a great surprise" because "she makes her home with Elisabeth Marbury at 13 Sutton Place." Not that everything can be explained by early experiences, but the woman who spent her life making things beautiful grew up listening to her mother tell her she was ugly. When she was seventy, Parisian fashionistas named her the best dressed woman in the world. She is immortalized in song lyrics by Irving Berlin and by Cole Porter:
Joining China, Russia, and every voting nation of the Axis of Evil, the United States stood alone among major Western nations yesterday refusing to sign a United Nations declaration condemning executions, torture, detentions, and arrests of lgbt people worldwide. The U.S. sided with the Syrian delegation which opposed the declaration on the grounds that it would "legitimize pedophilia."
The current U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is Zalmay Khalilzad, born in Afghanistan and the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration.
In a historic first, France and the Netherlands sponsored the declaration which they drafted with a broad coalition including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, and Norway. (For a full list of the U.N. lgbt activists pictured above who helped make it happen, click here.) Despite strong opposition from the Vatican, Arab leader, and many African states, sixty-six nations signed the document, among them every member of the EU and six African countries. After intense lobbying, the Holy See reversed itself and -- another first -- "indicated to the General Assembly today that it called for repeal of criminal penalties for homosexual conduct," though they still opposed the declaration.
Note that several of the sixty-six countries have very recent histories of hostility toward gay people, yet they signed:
Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The incoming ambassador to the U.N. is Susan Rice, who will be the first African-American woman in that post. She is married to Ian O. Cameron, the executive producer of "This Week with George Stephanopolis."
Flashback to 1949: South Pacific opened on Broadway, James Gould Cozzens won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, All the King's Men won the Oscar for Best Picture, and in France, Jean Genet received his tenth criminal conviction, which meant he would be sent to prison for life. In the preceding five years he had published his five groundbreaking novels, as well as three plays and dozens of poems, all of which were greatly esteemed by his European contemporaries despite his focus on petty thieves and his inclusion of gay sex. As news of his dire situation spread, rather than ostracizing Genet, the leading intellectuals rallied to his defense, and with a public push from Cocteau, Sartre, and Picasso, among others, Genet was pardoned by the French president. It is safe to say Harry Truman would not have done the same because at that point Genet's fiction was still banned in the United States. Genet never returned to prison after that, nor did he ever publish another novel, although he continued to write plays, poems, and a memoir, Un Captif Amoureux, published in 1986, the year after he died of throat cancer. For the full story, treat yourself to Edmund White's Genet: A Biography.
Of course homophobia in sports is a major problem, and yes out celebrities have fewer endorsement opportunities, but seriously if you choose to wear cobalt sateen Alexis Colby - Krystle Carrington castoffs covered with spangles, and style your hair to maximize its poofiness, and emote on ice to Neil Diamond serenades, do you really have the right to ask a judge to seal your ex-partner's palimony suit because someone might think you're gay? Canadian ice dancing dynamo Brian Orser thought so in 1998. The judge thought not. So, long after turning pro, ten years after The Battle of the Brians when Boitano took the Olympic gold and he settled for silver, Orser was dragged out of the closet. With no harm to his career. Now forty-seven, Orser is a big supporter of aids charities and gay equality and has been in a committed relationship for a decade.
Although the controversy over his 1934 WPA painting The Fleet's In! was sparked by homophobia and led Henry Latrobe Roosevelt to remove it from the Corcoran show, Paul Cadmus was always aware that the outcry helped establish him. For the rest of his life, he said he was grateful for it. By 1937 his paintings at the Midtown Galleries in New York attracted more than 7,000 visitors. He had grown up in Manhattan and was fascinated by sailors, frequently hanging out at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park, where he was often propositioned by navy men on leave but was too shy to go with them, preferring instead to sit on the benches with them and talk. By his twenties, he was over his shyness and traveled through Europe for three years with his lover Jared French, who urged him to quit advertising and paint fulltime. Back in New York, they formed a circle of prominent gay artists including George Platt Lynes, who used Cadmus as a model, and Lincoln Kirstein, who married his sister, Fidelma Cadmus, and fifty years later wrote the catalog as Cadmus was being rediscovered. He enjoyed more than a decade of increasing interest in his work before he died, eleven days after 300 friends had gathered to celebrate his 95th birthday. He was survived by Jon Anderson, his partner of more than thirty-five years.
Three and a half brilliant performances, obviously. Bet you never heard this before, but Meryl Streep is a marvel. She finds whole worlds in a simple sentence. Unfortunately, simple describes other aspects of Doubt, which wants depth and profundity on a number of issues about faith and certainty, gender and race, comfort and change swirling around the Did He or Didn't He question of a priest's attention to a boy. The play won the Pulitzer Prize, but I found the movie slow and a little obvious and wasn't really engaged until an hour twenty-five minutes into it. (Do you like listening to church sermons? Doubt has three.)
One problem is the wide chasm between the characters' reactions in 1964 and what 2008 audiences arrive already knowing about the abuse scandals in the priesthood. So there's a lot of disbelief and tiptoeing and alluding to, and once again we're given a (partially) gay movie in which no one is out or comfortable or happy or even able to say the word. In the most generous view, that's its way of examining the perils of the closet. In the most paranoid view, Hollywood keeps making movies where the gays are in the past (Wilde, Gods & Monsters, De-Lovely, Brokeback, Capote, Milk, Doubt) to equate homosexuality with misery and use the excuse, Hey, those were the times. But, to repeat myself, where are the big, important Hollywood movies that show healthy, contemporary gay people?
Prolific actor, singer, songwriter, and author of stories, three memoirs, and more than fifty plays, Noel Coward learned the importance of work early: At fourteen he began an affair with Philip Streatfeild, a thirty-four year old society painter whom he met only because his mother was Streatfeild's charwoman. Two years later, Streatfeild was dying of tuberculosis and urged his elegant friend Mrs. Astley Cooper to nurture the "delicate" Coward, which she did. He began appearing in plays, was discharged from WWI service for ill health, and had his first writing success at twenty-five with The Vortex, scandalously popular in London and New York for its wit and veiled hints of drugs and gay life. While the times changed, Coward did not; he kept that veil cemented in place for the next five decades.
Although many of his sophisticated camp comedies play peekaboo with the closet, especially the bi threesome in Design for Living (1932) and less popular later works like Song at Twilight (1966), the urbanely glamorous Coward never actually came out. The times were against him. A friend of King George, Coward traveled widely to perform for WWII troops and secretly worked as a spy, hiding behind his high life persona. The press attacked him for his excesses during wartime. The king suggested a knighthood, but Churchill disliked his "flamboyance" and blocked it. After the war, Coward fell in love with the actor Graham Payn and they stayed together nearly thirty years. In the 1956 they became tax exiles, landing first in Bermuda then in Jamaica where they were neighbors to the constantly bickering Mr. & Mrs. Ian Fleming. Coward enjoyed a revival in the 1960s and finally was knighted in 1970. He died in Jamaica in 1973, still with Payn. In 1984, the Queen Mother unveiled a statue of him in Poets' Corner.
Regent Releasing has posted a full length trailer for Paul Morrison's Little Ashes, about Salvador Dali's affair with Federico Garcia Lorca and their joint friendship with Luis Buñuel. The title is not explained in the preview but comes from this painting by Dali. At sixty-four, Morrison knows offbeat love stories; his 1999 feature, Solomon and Gaenor, about a young Jewish man and young Welsh woman who fall for each other against her family's wishes in 1911, was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar. Regent has not yet announced a theatrical release date.
When's the last time you heard a sports icon discuss the need for gay rights using the expression "easy peasy"? Wednesday night, if you saw Billie Jean King at B&N. Her new book, Pressure Is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes, offers insight and advice for success off the court, but virtually all of the questioners wanted to know about tennis. Who's the best player in the world right now? What kind of serve did you use? If Serena played McEnroe today, who would win? Funny, friendly, open, she brought up lgbt issues several times, calling it a "no brainer" that gay equal rights including gay marriage should be passed. She was even more vocal about gender inequality, repeatedly citing "Ninety percent of the media is controlled by men." Title IX is thirty-odd years old and still not fully implemented. She was dumbstuck telling us about schools without women's teams where parents are suddenly outraged when football has to be cut. Rather innocently for a sixty-five year old who has seen so much, she asked, "Why is that?" She pointed out that male players are praised for what they do for tennis but female players are congratulated on what they do for women's tennis. Yet she is gratified that still today men constantly stop to thank her for playing (and beating) Bobby Riggs, telling her they've raised their daughters, and their sons, differently because of that match thirty-five years ago.
In Italy in the 1960s, Massimo Consoli was so eager for gay activism he subscribed to ONE and The Mattachine Review, despite having only a scant grasp of English. His own pioneering work for gay equality caught the attention of SID, which interrogated his neighbors, cost him his teaching job, and impelled him to move to the Netherlands. From that safe refuge, he published his Manifesto Gay in 1971 and as a result gay activists immediately formed FUORI! with branches in Rome, Milan, and Turin. Consoli attended the Gay May Day events of 1972 and arranged Italy's first commemoration of Stonewall on June 28, 1976, just one of the hundreds of political events he organized, ranging from demonstrations to conferences to book lectures. In the early 1980s he lived in New York and became good friends with Vito Russo, but after witnessing the emerging aids crisis he returned to Italy to educate people about safe sex. He was the first person to discuss anti-gay violence with the Italian police, who then established a liaison to the gay community; and in 1992 he initiated the demonstration at the Vatican against Cardinal Ratzinger's antigay writings which discuss homosexuality in terms of "an intrinsic moral evil." Consoli started the magazine Gay News Rome and wrote forty books, two standouts of which are Homocaust, about the Nazi's persecution of gay men, and an autobiographical novel Andata and Ritorno. He led pilgrimages to the tomb, outside Rome, of Karl Ulrichs, annually on his birthday August 28, and last year he helped get a statue of Ulrichs placed at the grave. Consoli himself died in November 2007, of stomach cancer. His papers dating before 1998 are in the Italian national archives and those after '98 are in a gay archive.
You live in a world where Tropic Thunder earned twice as many Golden Globe nominations as Milk. Also, where the movie about the priest maybe molesting the boy received four times as many nods as the biopic of the courageous gay rights leader. Just saying. In total, Milk earned one nomination, for Sean Penn. He will be competing against Brad Pitt, above.
Most nominated were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, and The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry, the silver fox who made Billy Elliot and The Hours. He used to be gay and says he is "still gay" despite marrying his wife and having a baby with her.