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February 2012

Broadway Legend Tommy Tune Born (February 28, 1939)

Tommytune Today in 1939 tap dancer/choreographer/director Tommy Tune was born in the north-central Texas town of Wichita Falls.  Of twenty-four persons of note born there (according to Wikipedia) Tune is probably the most famous (followed by TV actress Phylllis Coates who played the original Lois Lane on the Adventures of Superman).  Perhaps Tune's destiny as a Broadway legend was determined by his name (yes, that's his actual last name).  Besides the name, what's also given him distinction is his height - 6'6-1/2".



Tommy_tune When I was in high school I remember watching Tommy give his acceptance speech for his first Tony Award in 1974 for Seesaw (he's won nine in total).  It was memorable because he made a cutting remark about the folks from his hometown and said it was doubtful anyone there was likely to be watching anyway.  It was probably a relatable moment for many gay men and lesbians who also felt out of place while growing up.  (Tune's 1997 memoir Footnotes is available on Amazon.)  


Dayinhollywood_nightintheukraine Myoneandonly I saw a number of shows that TT won Tony's for - A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (which I saw on New Year's Eve 1980) and Grand Hotel.  I always wanted to see him and Twiggy in My One & Only but never got around to it - the cast album is great.  And I didn't see Will Rogers Follies either.   




He built a beachfront home out at Fire Island Pines in the 1970's, and although he no longer owns it residents there still refer to it as the Tommy Tune house (the way property owned by Calvin Klein still bears his name).


Tune shares his birthday with two other show business legends - movie director (and Liza's dad) Vincente Minnelli (1903-1986) and Broadway favorite Bernadette Peters (born in 1948).   

The Party's Over: Recapping the 2012 Oscars (February 27, 2012)

Oscar_statuesSince the Academy Awards telecast is considered the gay Super Bowl, naturally there will be every type of post-event scrutiny from the LGBT ranks, and ZeitGAYst is no exception.  My accolades and withering criticisms of the 84th Oscars ceremony (broadcast on Feb. 27, 2012) begin below:




  • Let's start with a big hug and kiss to Christopher Plummer for his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  In the movie Beginners he was a gay father who waited until he was in his 70s to come out (pictured below).  The last time an Oscar went to an actor playing a gay role was three years ago when Sean Penn won Best Actor for portraying Harvey Milk in Milk.  Additionally, at age 82 Plummer became the oldest person to ever win an Oscar.




  • As usual, Meryl Streep looked like someone called a few hours before the ceremony to remind her about it and she quickly threw on something found in a JC Penney shopping bag at the bottom of her closet.  Still, her school-marm frumpiness is part of Meryl's charm (although I was rooting for Viola Davis).




  • Melissa McCarthy obviously decided on the Scarlett O'Hara curtains option when choosing her gown.  Also, since the skit she did with Billy Crystal was a take off on Bridesmaids' airplane lavatory scene, the show's producers shouldn't have chosen that scene when her clip for supporting actress was shown.




  • Jonah Hill has got to be the most "mature" looking 28-year-old I've ever seen (but kudos to him for slimming down!).  Then there was 39-year-old Octavia Spencer who slowly ambled onto the stage to accept her Best Supporting Actress Oscar as if she was 70 years old.  Since she was the favorite in her category, whoever advised her on her choice of gown did Octavia a disservice by not suggesting a style that would allow her to easily walk up the steps to the stage.




  • Couldn't the show's producers have chosen a different clip of Viola Davis'  performance from The Help?  The crying scene was similar to her scene from Doubt that was shown when she was nominated a few years earlier.  I would have picked the scene in which she tells the little girl she looks after, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important".




  • For the second year in a row Melissa Leo appeared on stage in a supremely unflattering gown, very similar to last year's.  Perhaps it was?   
  • Demian Bichir looked genuinely touched by Natalie Portman's comments about his Best Actor nomination for A Better Life, comments she was reading from cue cards.  He looked so adorable.  It was a pity this was the only time he was shown on camera.




  • I found the Cirque de Soliel segment silly but as I fast forwarded through it I stopped when I saw one of the male gymnasts take off his shirt while doing a handstand.


  • Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise both looked more handsome than usual.  Hanks' face was less white and puffy while Cruise looked less boyish and more manly.  Billy Crystal, on the other hand, looked like a preserved basketball.






  • During his acceptance speech I didn 't understand why the director of The Artist, Michel Hazanavicious, made a disparaging remark about the movie's dog star, Uggie.


  • Loved the Wizard of Oz focus group skit but was disappointed that Parker Posey and Jane Lynch weren't part of the Christopher Guest troupe.  I also enjoyed Will Farrell and Zach Galafianakis' appearance with the cymbals.  Chris Rock was funny too.  However, I'm not a fan of Billy Crystal.  His humor is too "Borscht Belt" for my taste.  And this is how the Academy expects to attract younger viewers?




  • Emma Stone was a delight when she presented with Ben Stiller.  (It took attention away from the huge, cumbersome bow around her neck.)   I also got a kick out of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph's banter about their length and width preferences of movies (wink, wink).




  • Sandra Bullock came on stage with such a somber demeanor that at first I thought she was doing the "In Memoriam" tribute.  


  • I was somewhat disappointed that the Pakistani woman who won for her documentary Saving Face didn't make a more strident comment about misogyny in Muslim society.


  • With the exception of Nick Nolte, all the men looked great.  Take your pick - George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman - all so debonair and classy.  The lead actor from Best Foreign film, A Separation, exuded Persian animal magnetism.  And People Magazine's Sexiest Man of 2011, Bradley Cooper, was looking good too with those devilishly sparkling eyes of his!








  • The montage of stars reminiscing about their favorite movie going experiences was not flattering to those chosen.  Barbra Streisand and Warren Beatty looked especially dissipated.  Even the much younger Julia Roberts didn't look that great.     

Ricky Martin Wows 'em at the Grammys (February 24, 1999)

Ricky_martin_grammyawards Rickymartingrammys-57bb73153df78c87631c343e27-year-old Ricky Martin went from being a sexy Latin pop star to a studly mega-star overnight after his hip-swiveling performance of his international hit The Cup of Life (La Copa de la Vida) at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 24, 1999.  It was a performance that ranks up there with Michael Jackson introducing his Moon Walk in 1983 at the Motown 25th Anniversary special and Elvis' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  However, truth be told, I thought Martin's performance was relatively tame, and what I found curious was how unresponsive the audience was - at least until the very end (perhaps it was because the song wasn't a hit here in the U.S.)  View the clip here


A few months later Martin's single Livin' la Vida Loca (from his first English language CD) was released and zoomed to #1, where it stayed for five weeks, vying with Cher's Believe and Deborah Cox's Nobody's Supposed to Be Here as the song of the summer.  The song's video featured a woman dripping hot wax on Ricky's chest. 





After about eighteen months Martin seemed to take on a lower profile (relative to 1999 levels).  Perhaps it was due to some backlash after he performed at the inauguration of George Bush in 2001.  An uptick in attention occurred in 2004 when a young guy named William Hung gained notoriety on American Idol for his tone-deaf rendition of Martin's single She Bangs.


In the 21st century, Ricky Martin's life entered a new phase.  After fathering twin boys in 2008 he finally came out as gay after years of speculation (he described himself as "a fortunate homosexual").  Then at the end of 2010 he published his autobiography titled simply Me.  In 2012 he added acting to his resume, playing the role of Che in the Broadway revival of Evita.  And in 2018 he appeared in Ryan Murphy's FX mini-series The Assassination of Gianni Versace, playing the role of Versace's boyfriend.  Happily, he's eased into middle age very nicely (he turned 45 at the end of 2016) - and is still as hot as ever. 




The Year in LGBT History: 2009


Jan 10, 2009 - Patti LuPone stops in the middle of her performance in Gypsy and has an audience member thrown out for snapping a photo. photos.

Jan 24, 2009 - The TV movie Prayers for Bobby airs on Lifetime, starring Sigourney Weaver.

Feb 8, 2009 - The first Mr. Gay World pageant is held and 37-year-old Max Krzyzanowski of Dublin is crowned in ceremonies held in Whistler, Canada (British Columbia).  19 nations participated but the U.S. entrant withdrew.


Feb 26, 2009 - Dustin Lance Black wins the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Milk; Sean Penn wins for Best Actor for the same picture.

March 25, 2009 - Grindr, a "hook-up" app for men seeking other men in their neighborhood for sex, is introduced.


March 29, 2009 - Zurich, Switzerland elects a lesbian as mayor, 48-year-old Corine Mauch. 

March 29, 2009 - The Oscar Wilde Bookstore in Greenwich Village closes its doors after 42 years (37 of those years were spent on Christopher St.)



April 19, 2009 - Miss California creates a controversy at the Miss USA Pageant when, during the Q&A portion of the pageant, she declares her opposition to same-sex marriage.

April 27, 2009 - The first same-sex marriages take place in Iowa.



April 30, 2009 - The off-Broadway play The Temperamentals opens, a drama about the founding of The Mattachine Society. 

May 19, 2009 - A preview episode of Glee airs after American Idol.

May 20, 2009 - Adorable Kris Allen is the surprise winner of American Idol, beating gay glam rocker Adam Lambert, who was the favorite.


June 7, 2009 - Neil Patrick Harris hosts the Tony Awards for the first time (he also hosts the 2011 and 2012 telecasts).

June 11, 2009 - Chastity Bono announces that she plans to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

July 10, 2009 - Hx Magazine, one of New York's two weekly gay entertainment guides, publishes its last issue after being purchased by rival publisher, Next Media.


July 10, 2009 – The movie Humpday opens, a comedy about two straight male friends who, on a dare, agree to make a gay porn film with each other.



Aug 12, 2009 - Harvey Milk is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Sept 17, 2009 - On Parks & Recreation Deputy of Parks, Leslie Knope, unknowingly marries two male penguins at the town zoo and becomes a hero of the town's gay population.  

Sept 23, 2009 - ABC's new sitcom Modern Family debuts.  It features three couples, one of which is gay daddies Cameron and Mitchell. 



Oct 4, 2009 - On Saturday Night Live, Lady Gaga and Madonna appear in a skit together in which they have a catfight.

Oct 11, 2009 - On tonight's episode of Mad Men, closeted art director Sal (played by out actor Bryan Bratt) is fired after rebuffing the advances of the Lucky Strike client.  This would be Sal's last appearance on the series. 

Dec 11, 2009 - The drama A Single Man, directed by fashion designer Tom Ford and starring Colin Firth, opens in theaters.



Dec 12, 2009 - Houston becomes the largest city in the U.S. with a gay mayor when it elects lesbian Annise Parker to the office.


(To read about LGBT history and pop culture from other years, double click here.)

Acclaimed Lesbian Movie "Pariah" Gets Little Distribution (Winter 2012)

PariahIndependent films have a tough row to hoe.  Even the most acclaimed of them find it difficult to gain wide distribution in theaters.  So imagine the challenge faced by the movie Pariah, an indie that tells the story of an African American teenager in the process of coming out as a lesbian.  Even Tyler Perry's broad comedies starring Madea open in half as many theaters as a typical Adam Sandler flick, so the hurdles faced by an indie movie targeting a niche audience (lesbians) within an already niche audience (African Americans) were great.  Spike Lee, who was executive producer of Pariah, has expressed similar frustrations with the marketing of his own films. 



Pariah2Despite the critical acclaim it received at Sundance last year, Pariah never appreared in more than a handful of theaters nationwide (and it received no boost in theaters during February's Black History Month).  But where it played it did well (based on per-screen revenue), but it will still gross less than $1 million.  Thankfully for those who live outside the few markets where the movie played there's always Netflix.  



A Look Back at Gay History From 2008




April 8, 2008 - A singer who goes by the name of Lady Gaga releases her first single, Just Dance.  Nine months later it would reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

May 11, 2008 - On ABC's Sunday drama Brothers & Sisters, Kevin and Scotty get married.


May 15, 2008 - Three months after San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, California's Supreme Court overturns the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

May 20, 2008 - Portland, Oregon elects a gay mayor, 44-year old Sam Adams.


May 30, 2008 - The first Sex & the City movie opens, four years after the TV series ended its run on HBO. 

Aug 21, 2008 - Hallmark introduces a line of wedding cards celebrating same-sex marriage.

Aug 22, 2008 - In a major upset, Australia's openly gay diver, Matt Mitcham, wins a gold medal in the 10-meter diving competition at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Sept 8, 2008 - The Rachel Maddow Show debuts at 9PM on MSNBC.


Nov 4, 2008 - By a narrow margin, voters in California overturn the state's Supreme Court ruling that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, thus putting somewhat of a damper on Barack Obama's election as U.S. president.

Nov 15, 2008 - Beyonce performs a hilarious Single Ladies skit on Saturday Night Live with three men as her backup dancers, one of whom is Justin Timberlake.

Nov 26, 2008 - The movie Milk opens in theaters.

Nov 27, 2008 - A giant helium balloon honoring graffiti artist Keith Haring makes its first appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Nov 30, 2008 - On a segment of 60 Minutes Anderson Cooper challenges Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps to a race but disappoints by wearing dorky swim trunks instead of a slinky Speedo like Phelps'.

Dec 13, 2008 - Hong Kong holds its first Gay Pride Parade.


(To read about LGBT history from other years double click here.)


From Icon to Punchline: The Tragic Demise of Whitney Houston

Whitney_houston_nypostAs much as I enjoyed her music (see the list of my favorites below) I found myself more angered than saddened by Whitney Houston's death.  She seemed to have it all but squandered her talent, much of her fortune and the public's goodwill.  Ironically, one of her hit songs was titled Didn't We Almost Have it All?  For a brief time it seemed she did. 


She was embraced in gay circles for her various dance-oriented hits which evolved from upbeat pop in the early years to cynical commentaries on life.  These later songs, It's Not Right But It's OK and I Learned from the Best, became huge club hits.  


Whitney_closeupThe defiant tone of her later hits corresponded with her confounding downward spiral.  Sadly, the more of a mess she became the more popular she seemed to become with her gay fans.  A parody of her video for It's Not Right that was regularly shown in gay clubs showed a female impersonator with coke coming out of her nose interspersed with the "crack is whack" comment the real Whitney made during her infamous interview with Diane Sawyer.  She went from being an icon to a punchline.




Whitney_crackUnlike icons before her who also died young, e.g., Marilyn, Judy and Diana, I doubt Whitney will ever be thought of in the same loving way as they are.  Sure, she was a tragic figure, but nowhere near as sympathetic a figure as the other three.  Of course, the others didn't live during the era of reality TV.  Unfortunately for Whitney her reputation never recovered after she appeared on her husband's reality series Being Bobby Brown.  But even before this show she had become notorious for being a nasty bitch with a huge chip on her shoulder.    


Although she's gone her magnificent body of work remains - and we'll no longer be witness to the train wreck that her life turned into over the past 15 years.


And now for my twelve favorite songs (in chronological order):  

  • WhitneySaving All My Love for You
  • Hold Me in Your Arms - A beautiful duet with Teddy Pendergrass.
  • Take Good Care of My Heart - Another great duet, this one with Jermaine Jackson. 
  • Love Will Save the Day
  • So Emotional
  • I'm Your Baby Tonight - Perhaps my favorite of all her songs.
  • After We Make Love
  • Lover for Life
  • Exhale (Shoop)
  • It's Not Right But it's OK - a grrreat dance song!
  • I Learned from the Best
  • Million Dollar Bill - From her comeback CD of a few years ago, it has the more bubbly tempo of her earlier hits. 

LGBT Time Capsule: 2007



Feb 1, 2007 - The Sarah Silverman Program debuts on Comedy Central.  Two of the sitcom's characters, Brian and Steve, are a schlubby gay couple who are the antithesis of the Chelsea boy stereotype.




Feb 6, 2007 - Snickers causes a mini-controversy with its ad during the Super Bowl showing two blue collar types who inadvertently kiss each other on the mouth while eating a Snickers Bar.

Feb 22, 2007 - The Graham Norton Show premieres in the UK on BBC Two, a follow-up to his previous two chat shows, V Graham Norton and So Graham Norton

Feb 25, 2007 - Financial expert and frequent Oprah guest, Suze Orman, comes out in the New York Times.



March 10, 2007 - The iconic Roxy dance club on West 18th St. in Chelsea closes after 29 years.

March 22, 2007 - On Ugly Betty, Betty agrees to play the role of gay co-worker Marc St. James' girlfriend when his mother comes to town (he played by Michael Urie, she played by Patti LuPone).  However, when mom makes disparaging remarks about Betty's flamboyant 14-year old nephew, Justin, Marc lashes out and tells her he's gay.




April 5, 2007 - The TV character Devon Banks (played by Will Arnett) makes his first appearance as Jack Donaghey's gay nemesis on 30 Rock.  (Donaghey was played by Alec Baldwin).

May 22, 2007 - Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary gives birth to a boy.

May 25, 2007 - Rosie O'Donnell's turbulent tenure on The View ends after she has one last on-screen outburst.

July 9, 2007 - The Advocate announces that it will send its magazine through the mail without a plastic overwrap unless otherwise requested by a subscriber.

Aug 9, 2007 - Democratic presidential hopefuls debate LGBT issues on LOGO.

Aug 17, 2007 - Disney Channel's wildly popular High School Movie 2 premieres to record ratings and features perhaps the gayest musical number ever devoted to baseball.  The song is called I Don't Dance and in it show tune-loving Ryan demonstrates to the school's jocks how the leaps and pirouettes of dancers aren't dissimilar to the acrobatics engaged in during a ballgame.  The song's chorus, "Hey batter, batter, hey batter, batter - SWING" is delightfully catchy.




Sept 10, 2007Gay judge David Young’s syndicated TV show debuts.   It’s tagline is “Justice with a snap”.  Despite the gay angle (however, plaintiffs/defendants were of all sexual orientations) the show was unable to make headway against the glut of judge shows already on the air and was cancelled after two seasons.




Sept 28, 2007 - Harry Potter author JC Rowland reveals that Hogwarts' chief wizard, Dumbledore, was gay.




Dec 31, 2007 - Comic Kathy Griffin and CNN reporter Anderson Cooper bring in the New Year together on CNN for the first time.




(To read about LGBT pop culture and history from other years double click here.)

The Year in LGBT History: 2006




Jan 15, 2006 - Johnny Weir wins the U.S. Men's Figure Skating Championship for the third year in a row.

March 5, 2006 - Ang Lee wins the Oscar for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain but the movie fails to win Best Picture.  

March 5, 2006 - Philip Seymour Hoffman wins the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Truman Capote in the film Capote.

April 23, 2006 - The British play History Boys opens on Broadway and wins the Tony for Best Play seven weeks later.

June 4, 2006 - The animated series Queer Duck (which aired after episodes of Queer as Folk) has its premiere as a feature-length movie.




June 8, 2006 - Alison Bechdel's comics-style memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, is published.  (Seven years later it is turned into a Broadway musical, which wins the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2015.)

June 14-15, 2006 - Rufus Wainwright performs at Carnegie Hall Judy Garland's acclaimed 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. 

July 19, 2006 - With not much of a career left to jeopardize, former N-Sync singer Lance Bass comes out in the pages of People.  His is perhaps the first case of an entertainer using coming out as a career move in order to keep his name in the press.

July 29, 2006 - One week after Gay Games 7 ended in Chicago the first World Gay Games opened in Montreal with nearly twice as many as participants.

Aug 8, 2006 - Washington D.C.'s Gay Men's Chorus is the first gay chorus to perform at a professional sporting event when they sing the National Anthem at the start of this evening's Washington Nationals baseball game.




Sept 19, 2006 - The temperature of the already homoerotic Nip/Tuck heats up a few more degrees in tonight's episode, which featured Mario Lopez showing off his beautiful butt cheeks during an exquisite shower scene.




Sept 29, 2006 - Closeted Republican congressman Mark Foley (from Florida) resigns after IMs of a sexual nature between him and a male Congressional page are revealed.

Oct 6, 2006 - After 18 years as weatherman at New York's WABC, Sam Champion moves to Good Morning America.

Oct 25, 2006 - On 30 Rock straight Liz (played by Tina Fey) is set up on a blind date with a lesbian.  And although Liz develops a platonic crush on her, the lesbian refuses to play the game of chasing after a straight girl.




Nov 3, 2006 - Actor Neil Patrick Harris reveals that he's gay.

Nov 3, 2006 - Ted Haggard, founder of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs steps down from his evangelical ministry after a male escort/masseur/personal trainer revealed a 3-year affair with him.

Nov 14, 2006 - The most memorable image of the year is that of actor Daniel Craig, starring as the new James Bond in Casino Royale, walking out of the surf in a mouth-watering sky blue square cut swim suit.  The movie opened this weekend.




Nov 14, 2006 - South Africa is the first country in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage.




Dec 20, 2006 - A nasty (and idiotic) feud between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump begina.


(To read about LGBT history from other years double click here.)

The Supremes Make 1st TV Appearance Without Diana Ross (February 15, 1970)

Supremes_with_jean_terrell The Supremes were a favorite of Ed Sullivan.  In a 5-year period between 1964-69 they performed on his Sunday variety show fourteen times - and on February 15, 1970 they made their first appearance on the show since Diana Ross left the group in January.  Now led by Jean Terrell, they performed their first single Up the Ladder to the Roof. (If I were a drag queen this is one of the songs I'd love to perform.)  They wore marvelously outrageous form-fitting sequined jumpsuits in Valentine's Day red (see video clip below).    


Diana_ross_1970 Legend has it that Diana was pissed that these new Supremes hit the charts first (especially since Someday We'll be Together was originally supposed to be her first single rather than the last as a member of the Supremes.)  But "Miss Ross" would more than make up ground later in the year with her #1 smash Ain't No Mountain High Enough.  After that she had eleven more top-10 hits (five which topped the Billboard Hot 100).


And although their first two singles, Ladder and Stoned Love, were top-10 hits, the new Supremes would have no other singles to chart that high (but they'd have a number of #1 dance hits including I'm Gonna Let My Heart Do the Walking). 




An assortment of The Supremes' TV appearances are available on Amazon on the DVD The Supremes - The Definitive Performances 1964-69.