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December 2011

A Glance Back at 2011 - From a Gay Perspective

Cuomo_at_gaypride_paradePolitics - The two biggest stories of 2011 were New York state's legalization of same-sex marriage(coinciding with Gay Pride weekend) and the ending of the U.S. military's shameful "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.  But we could still count on continued intolerance by Republicans as they booed a gay soldier during one of the Republican debates.



Bill_cunningham_nytimesFashion - Critically acclaimed documentaires were released about New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham (left) and designer Yves St. Laurent; an exhibit of late fashion designer Alexander McQueen's work was a huge draw at the Met; John Galliano, head designer at Christian Dior was fired after making drunken anti-Semitic remarks to patrons at a restaurant in Paris.


Gay-themed Movies of Note - Weekend; Heartbeats; Beginners; and the documetary Making the Boys.


Aaron_schock_menshealthThorBodies Beautiful - Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love; Chris Hemsworth in Thor (near right); Taylor Lautner in the latest Twilight sequel; and supposedly straight, rightwing Illinois congressman Aaron Schock on the cover of Men's Health.  Finally, after performances of his acclaimed one-man show Hugh Jackman occasionally auctioned off his sweat soaked t-shirt.


NYC Nightlife - The cowboy bar Flaming Saddles opened in Hell's Kitchen; Boxers joined Gym Bar as Chelsea's second sports bar; Splash celebrated its 20th anniversary; Viceroy and Vinyl restaurants in Chelsea closed.  Meanwhile, Next Magazine's page size continued to shrink.  


Ladygaga_billboardmagazine_bornthiswayMusic - Erasure's Then I Go Twisting and Kelly Rowland's What a Feeling; in February Lady Gaga's single Born This Way became the 1,000th song to hit #1 in the history of Billboard's Hot 100 chart.   



RIP - Pioneering gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny; AIDS angel Elizabeth Taylor; John Geddes Lawrence, plaintiff in landmark Lawrence v Texas anti-sodomy Supreme Court case; disco diva Loleatta Hollaway.


Chazbono_dancingwiththestarsChaz Bono - A documentary and book about Chaz's female-to-male transition received considerable attention as did his appearance as a male contestant on Dancing with the Stars.  (Carson Kressley also competed).




Milestones - Crisco turned 100 and Ricky Martin hit the big 4-0.


Fire_island_pines_fire_advocateA fire in November in the harbor of Fire Island Pines destroyed the Pavilion dance club and Sip-n Twirl bar (and a number of other businesses).



Actor Zachary Quinto came out (not to be confused with actor Jeremy Sisto).  Still not out: Olympic gold medal figure skaters Evan Lysacek and Brian Boitano; singer/actress/Cover Girl spokesperson Queen Latifah; Emmy Award winning actor Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory).


Nate_berkusTalk Show Roulet - Without Oprah's presence housewives apparently weren't interested in an entire hour of Nate Berkus (left) as his home design show was cancelled after just one season.  The same fate may await Anderson Cooper's snoozer of an afternoon talk show which debuted in the fall (housewives may not be as enamored with him as gay men at the David Barton Gym are).  And Rosie O'Donnell tried for a comeback with a talk show on Oprah's OWN cable network.  


NeilPatrickHarrisTonyAwardsShow2011_article_story_mainNeil Patrick Harris continued to dazzle as host of the Tony Awards.  The theme for this year's teleast was: "It's not for gays anymore!"  Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play, out actor John Benjamin Hickey won for Best Featured Actor and Ellen Barkin for Best Featured Actress.


SubwaycrushA fun new website was launched in June named "Subway Crush"which gives riders an opportunity to share pics of cute guys they've admired riding the subway.


Gay_guy_happyendingsSofia_vergaraThe new ABC sitcom, Happy Endings, (following Modern Family) features a slovenly gay character, Max, who has few stereotypical gay traits.  And speaking of Modern Family, who do you love more, Sofia Vergara or gay daddies Cam and Mitchell?


On Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David coined the term "pre-gay" to describe his girlfriend's delightfully precocious young son who showed all the obvious traits of being gay (he was a big fan of Project Runway).  The little boy is the spitting image of Kurt from Glee




Threeway_snlSaturday Night Live aired a music video titled "It's OK If It's In a Threeway", featuring Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Adam Samberg.  The show also had a hysterical skit about a game show called "Who's on Top?" in which non-gay male celebrities were paired up and constestants had to choose which one would be the "top" if the celebs were engaged in gay sex. 


Still MIA: Rupert Everett


SheridansquareFinally, as the year came to a close a sexy billboard for Manhunt Mobile went up, overlooking Sheridan Square, bringing back fond memories of the gay West Village of the '70s and '80s.



Terry Dolan, Closeted Anti-Gay Republican Operative, Dies of AIDS (December 28, 1986)




AIDS sometimes had the unintended consequence of outing closeted celebrities, clergy or homophobic politicians.  A case in point was Terry Dolan.  Dolan was co-founder and chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee and an early proponent of dirty politics to advance the Republican party's agenda.  (He was born the same year as Karl Rove who, in 1973, beat Dolan to become chairman of the College Republicans organization.) 


Although an outspoken critic of gay rights Dolan frequented DC's gay bars.  (I thought he looked a bit like gay porn star Sky Dawson (pictured below).  According to a Wikipedia entry author/activist Larry Kramer once threw a drink in Dolan's face at a party and berated him for having sex with men despite using homosexuality to motivate conservatives to contribute to Republican campaigns.  Dolan died from AIDS complications in the early years of the plague on Dec. 28, 1986 at the age of 36.  His obituary in the Washington Post alluded to his homosexuality but the New York Times avoided the subject.  




Six years later an even more loathsome, deeply closeted and homophobic gay man, attorney Roy Cohn, also succumbed to AIDS.  Cohn's infamy made him famous when playwright Tony Kushner portrayed him in his Pulitzer Prize winning play Angels in America on Broadway.   



Katharine Hepburn Stars in the Broadway Musical "Coco" (December 18, 1969)




The thought of Katharine Hepburn singing seemed as preposterous as Liberace playing the banjo - and yet somehow it came to pass.  She starred in the Broadway show Coco, a musical about the life of famed fashion designer Coco Chanel.  It opened on December 18, 1969 and ran for nine-and-a-half months.  Nominated for six Tony Awards, including Hepburn for Best Actress, the show won in two categories (Rene Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor and Cecil Beaton for Costume Design).  No doubt tickets for this show were in the Christmas stockings of many gay men that holiday season.  







Hepburn was 62 at the time and this was the only musical production of her career.  Legend has it that Chanel was miffed when she realized it was Katharine and not Audrey Hepburn, twenty-one years younger than Kate, who would be portraying her.  Chanel died a few months after the show closed (at the age of 87.)  


Nearly forty years later, in September 2008, Shirley MacLaine portrayed Chanel in a made-for-cable movie on Lifetime (a non-musical version).  She played the older Chanel while another actress played the younger Coco.  (It was jarring that while the younger actress affected a French accent MacLaine didn't bother with one.)




The number from Coco that was performed at the 1970 Tony Awards was the lengthiest in Tony history - 16 minutes!  Here is a portion of it:




Finally, Coco is also noteworthy because Michael Bennett, just 26 years old at the time, was its choreographer.  He received a Tony nomination for his efforts, as he did for Promises, Promises the year before.  Then almost thirteen years to the date of Coco, he directed and choreographed  Dreamgirls, which opened on December 20, 1981.  This time he won the Tony for choreography.  (And in between those two shows he directed and choreographed A Chorus Line.) 




Mighty Real: A Tribute to Sylvester




One of the shining lights of disco, Sylvester, died on Dec. 16, 1988 from AIDS complications.  He was 41.  Best known for one of the biggest dance anthems of the disco era, the joyous You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Sylvester also had a string of other dance floor favorites (all featuring his captivating gospel-tinged falsetto), including I Need You; Do You Wanna Funk? (the song of summer 1982); Take Me to Heaven; and Lovin' Is Really My Game.  (The book The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the 70's in San Francisco pays tribute to the performer as well as the early years of disco.) 


Other celebrated names in the world of disco to die from AIDS include Patrick Cowley (pictured, near left), producer of some of Sylvester's biggest hits (died in 1982 at age 32; Jacques Morali, who wrote a number of songs for the Ritchie Family and created the Village People (1991, age 44); Paul Jabara (pictured, far left), who wrote Last Dance (1992, age 44); Sharon Redd, who sang the classic In the Name of Love (1992, age 46); and Dan Hartman, who had two huge hits with Instant Replay and Vertigo/Relight My Fire (1994, age 44) 








Bette Midler Stars in Christmas-Themed TV Ad for Honda's Acura




Although no auto manufacturer has yet to feature a same-sex couple gifting each other with a be-ribboned car in the driveway, for now we'll have to settle for Honda's Acura choosing gay icon Bette Midler to star in one of its Christmas commercials during the 2011 holiday season.  She's at her Divine Miss M best, eagerly grabbing center stage among a group of suburban Christmas carolers.  She's like a sparkly Christmas ornament, all glittery and a wonder to behold.  Double click here for 30 seconds of holiday cheer.    


If you'd like more of Bette in a holiday mood check her 2006 CD Cool Yule.





Paying Tribute to Irrepressible Tallulah Bankhead




Actress Tallulah Bankhead succumbed to double pneumonia on December 12, 1968 in New York at the age of 66.  Over the years stories of her merry debauchery have been passed from generation to generation.  Because of these stories it might be easy for those unfamiliar with her to equate Bankhead with the likes of Paris Hilton or Jersey Shore's Snookie.  However, that would be an insult to her memory because she wasn't merely famous for being famous - she had talent!  Absolutely Fabulous' sybaritic duo of Eddie & Patsy may very well have been created using Tallulah as their template.  (In her later years she bore a striking resemblance to Bette Davis' Margo Channing from All About Eve.)


Career highlights included the Broadway plays The Little Foxes and Private Lives, and the 1944 Alfred Hitchcock movie Lifeboat.  She even appeared on the covers of Life (1939) and Time (1948).  Later in her career she made TV appearances on primetime shows such as the Lucy & Desi Comedy Hour; Batman; the Red Skelton Show; and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour






Known for her wit, a few of my favorite Tallulah quotes are: "I'm as pure as the driven slush" and "Daddy warned me about men and alcohol, but he never told me about women and cocaine" (she carried on affairs with the likes of Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo).  In 20101 Valerie Harper (pictured, below) portrayed her in the one-woman show Looped.  It was well received on the West Coast (Pasadena Playhouse), but ran for only a month in New York.  




Wikipedia goes much deeper into Bankhead's life while the book Tallulah: My Autobiography is one of a number that provide insight into the life of this one-of-a-kind personality.   

Remembering the Thrill of "Subway Crush" - A Website That Captured Young Studs in Transit




The short-lived website Subway Crush displayed photos submitted by admirers of cute/hot guys riding New York City's subway lines (New Jersey's PATH as well).  It went live in June 2011 after its creators met with success with their London site called Tube Crush.  Because the photos reflected the taste of those submitting them, there was an array of types to salivate over.  Some of the cuties were dressed in workout gear; others were wearing suits; some displayed bulging biceps, hairy thighs or muscular calves.  They were shot in various poses, i.e,. eyes closed; sitting with legs spread; standing at attention while grasping the pole in the middle of the car; leaning against the subway door.



Most of the guys appeared to be in their twenties or early thirties.  Although most were hooked up to their music or engaged by their iPad, a few made eye contact with the camera.  There were hundreds of photos to look through - and admirers could rate them.  Besides the photos, amusing titles and brief, witty commentaries were provided by the site masters.  These comments were written as beguiling come-ons and never used as an excuse to trash the subject.  


It was great fun looking over them, wondering if you might come across someone you recognized - or perhaps even seeing yourself!   It's a pity that it's no longer in service, apparently taken down in early 2014.  In its honor, the photos below were those I took in the summers of 2017 and 2019, which I would have considered submitting ...


Subway crush
Intently reading, on the Downtown 1 train



Subway aug 21
On the E train, summer of 2019. Perhaps he was taking a picture of me?






"Village Voice" Nightlife Columnist Michael Musto Born (December 5, 1955)




Gay bon-vivant Michael Musto was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 1955.  He is best known for covering New York City nightlife and writing about it in his column "La Dolce Musto" in the Village Voice.  His specialty is the "blind item" whereby he describes celebrities' indiscretions without revealing who these individuals are.  In the fall of 2011 he published a book of essays humorously titled Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back.  


In my mind, Musto is a cross between Mr. Rogers, Rollerina, Quentin Crisp and Liz Smith - but with a decided edge.  And although he has a lot of "dirt" on celebs he's not heavy handed about how he uses this information, unlike Perez Hilton - or J. Edgar Hoover.  And despite being a keen observer of the celebrity demimonde he doesn't come across as star struck.  He's just a kind, avuncular sole with a droll sense of humor. 




Somewhat like the New York Times' fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, Musto can be spotted riding about town on his bicycle.  And on a number of occasions I've seen him strolling on the beach in Fire Island, usually dressed similarly to how he dresses in the City.