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June 2016

Remembering lllustrator Robert de Michiell (1958 - 2015)

 

DeMichielle

Robert de Michielle

 

While watching last week's Tony Awards I was surprised, and saddened, when, during the In Memoriam segment, Chita Rivera said the name of illustrator Robert de Michiell (who had died in October 2015 at the age of 57).  Although I didn't know him personally I knew of his work through a friend who participated in an erotic drawing workshop that met weekly at the Leslie Lohman Gallery in SoHo.  Robert was one of the regular attendees and I bought a number of his sketches (two which are shown to the right) at the gallery's first Dirty Little Drawings show in 2003.  It exhibited work by participants of the workshop (all submissions were 4X4 inches square).  Once I knew his style I recognized his work in Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker.  He also produced a series of colorful Fire Island postcards that captured the carefree, body-beautiful atmosphere of the Pines. 

 

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One of the postcards in de Michiell's Fire Island Pines collection

 

Robert de Michielle chest
Another of his drawings that I own

 

Robert de michiell man on beach towel
Having spent a number of summers in the Pines, might I have been the inspiration for this sketch? 

 

New yorker cover by robert demichiell
March 1, 1993 cover illustration

 

I often found myself confusing de Michiell with another gay illustrator, Robert W. Richards (still alive, at the age of 80), who also participated in the erotic art workshop.  Their drawing styles, however, differ - de Michiell's hot and masculine men are a blend of caricature and cartoon while Richards' men are more lifelike and have pretty faces with a high-fashion flair.

 

Robert richards
An example of Robert W. Richards' work

 

After a number of Dirty Little Drawings exhibits the organizers of the workshop compiled nearly 300 of the sketches and published them in a handsome hardbound book (like the drawings, 4X4 inches) titled, you guessed it, Dirty Little Drawings.  de Michiell had four of his sketches published and eight of Richards' were chosen.

 

Dirty Little Drawings

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2016 Tony Awards Air on Same Day as Homophobic Attack in Orlando (June 12, 2016)

 

James.corden.2016tonys

 

Who could have imagined that the highlight of the Broadway season, the gay Super Bowl, would be held on the same day as the nation's deadliest attack against America's LGBT population?  Yet it did on June 12, 2016.  Before the opening of the telecast, master of ceremonies James Corden soberly, yet compassionately, addressed viewers at home with his back to those attending the awards ceremony.  With his brief commemoration completed, the coronation of Hamilton began.  During the telecast, comments about the slaughter of 49 patrons at Orlando's gay club, Pulse, were made by Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jessica Lange, Frank Langella and Barbra Streisand (yes, Babs made her first appearance in 50 years).  And everyone was sporting a silver ribbon on their lapel or gown in a show of solidarity for the city of Orlando.

 

Of course, in this day and age of 24/7 news, the coverage of the attack was continuous and unnerving.  This was in stark contrast to the indifference shown more than 40 years earlier after the previous deadliest attack against gays, in June 1973, when 32 patrons of the New Orleans bar Upstairs Lounge died in an arson fire.  Sadly, hate continues in the present day, but this time it was publicized worldwide rather than ignored.      

 

NOW, ON WITH THE SHOW!

The lovable James Corden was wonderful - and such a relief from the silliness of last year's hosts, Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenoweth.  (Actually, Corden's love of Broadway is similar to that of another former host, Hugh Jackman.)  The introduction of Corden at the top of the show was genius, replicating the rap patter of Hamilton and sung by cast members.  It poked fun at Corden being relatively unknown.  One excerpt:

CBS said, "This collision of theater and television needs a risk taker, it needs a rule breaker, it needs a troublemaker, a mover and a shaker - It needs that chubby dude from 'Into the Woods' who played the baker."    

 

Jame corden dancing tony awards  

 

PROUD PAPA

Lin-Manuel Miranda had plenty of opportunities to beam as Hamilton won 11 Tony's.  The widespread acclaim the show has received is no doubt the biggest reason the telecast's rating was the highest in 15 years.

 

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Lin-manuel-tonys

Proud

 

CALLING THE FASHION POLICE!

There's always one and this year it was Cate Blanchett, resplendent in raccoon-eye makeup and an "outfit" that looked like it was made from a sweatshirt and leather harness.

 

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80+ NEVER LOOKED BETTER

At 83, the vibrant Chita Rivera introduced the In Memoriam tribute, a list she's not likely to appear on for many years.

 

Chita rivera 2016 tony awards

 

A COMEDIC TRIBUTE TO "LAW & ORDER"

There was a hilarious routine about various Broadway actors who may be better known for their roles on Law & Order than on Broadway (ending with six roles by Fiddler's Danny Burstein).

 

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Billy Porter ("Shuffle Along")

 

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Daveed Diggs ("Hamilton")

 

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Danny Burstein ("Fiddler on the Roof")

 

SKEWERING TRUMP

There were three swipes at Donald Trump.  In applauding the diversity of the Tony nominees, Corden said that Donald Trump had threatened to build a wall around the theater; Nathan Lane said he learned about the great importance of winning awards at Trump University; then, near the end of the show, in a real slap at him, there was a little routine about a show about Trump coming to Broadway in the fall titled "House of Moron".

 

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HEY, HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT DRESS BEFORE?

 

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Renee Elise Goldsberry, 2016 Tony Winner

 

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Alicia Vikander, 2016 Oscar Winner

 

UNDERSTATED CHARM

I found myself enchanted by the number, If You Knew My Story, from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's nominated show Bright StarThe song had a countrified charm, and the stage setting's soft blue hues brought to mind a water color.

 

Bright.star

 

BECAUSE OUTRAGEOUS TICKET PRICES DON'T RAISE ENOUGH REVENUE 

New York senator Charles Schumer was applauded for passing legislation providing tax breaks for Broadway.  The cynical question in my mind - does that mean ticket prices will go down?

 

Charles.schumer 

 

CUTE, HORNY BOYS IN KNICKERS

The number from Spring Awakening had the cutest display of boys in knickers since the Tony ceremony from a few years ago that featured a number from Newsies.

 

Springawakening

 

EMILIO RUINED THE SURPRISE

In introducing a number from Get on Your Feet, Emilio Estefan spoiled a surprise when he mentioned that wife Gloria wasn't at the podium with him because she was appearing in the number.  I loved the two little boys dancing the rumba while playing maracas; the Ricky Martin-esque lead also got my attention.  One of the songs in the medley was Estefan's remake of Turn the Beat Around, but for me only Vicki Sue Robinson's original version will do.

 

Getonyourfeet  

 

THE REVIVAL THAT WON'T DIE

There was a special shout-out for the 20th anniversary of the revival of Chicago, but I found it odd that no mention was made of its original run 40 years ago.

 

Chicago

 

LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM, LOVE HIM!

Lin-Manuel Miranda gave a powerful, emotional acceptance speech upon accepting his Tony for Best Score.  The most memorable, emphatic line alluded to the day's tragedy in Orlando: "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside" .

 

Lin_manuel miranda tony awards 

 

THE LIGHTS OF BROADWAY ARE SO BRIGHT SHE'S GOTTA WEAR SHADES

 

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Anna Wintour, as always, showed up wearing sunglasses.  And, again, she went home without a Tony.

 

DIVERSITY, THY NAME IS THE TONYS

 

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The night's much-touted "diversity" included presenter Daniel Dae Kim, starring in "The King & I"

 

THRILLED JUST TO BE NOMINATED

 

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Jane Krakowski ("She Loves Me")
 
Jonathan.groff
Jonathan Groff ("Hamilton")
 
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Brandon Victor Dixon ("Shuffle Along")
 
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Michelle Williams ("Blackbird")

 

PAYING TRIBUTE TO CLASSIC BROADWAY

During commercial breaks cast members of the nominated musicals would rush outside and do a quick verse from a classic Broadway show, for all of 10-15 seconds.  The giddy energy brought to mind young kids putting on a show, a la Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

 

Lin-manuel_miranda.beacon theater
At the end of the song from "Rent" sung by the cast of "Hamilton" it was amusing to hear Lin-Manuel Miranda doing light shilling for CBS, shouting, "The Tonys, only on CBS!"

 

LOVE THOSE CROWD SHOTS!

 

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Something must have been going on in the cheap seats ...

 

TWO MORE "HAMILTON" FANS

 

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The president and first lady briefly talked about, what else?, "Hamilton", offering an anecdote about seeing a version of the show in its embryonic stage at the White House a number of years ago.

 

"SHUFFLING" PAST 11:00

Unlike the Oscars, the Tonys have a reputation for ending on time, but this year the telecast went until 11:15.  Perhaps it would have ended at 11:00 if it weren't for the need for presenters to say the official title of Shuffle Along ("Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed").  Because it received ten Tony nominations it was mentioned throughout the night.

 

Shuffling.along

 

THEN ... AND NOW, THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD!

If your DVR stopped recording at 11:00, you missed the uplifting closing few minutes, featuring a number from, no surprise, "Hamilton",  with lyrics that were so very apt on this day:

Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now ... we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world - in the greatest city in the world! 

 

Hamilton_2016tonyawards

 

Here are reviews of previous Tony Awards:

2015 Tony Awards

2014 Tony Awards

2013 Tony Awards

 


The Year in LGBT History - 2016

 2016 rainbow 

Jan. 24, 2016 - Openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon (who came out in Oct. 2016) wins the Men's US National championship. 

 

Adam rippon - us figure skater

 

Feb. 11, 2016 - SiriusXM Satellite Radio unexpectedly pulls the plug on its LGBT radio network, OutQ, after 12 years on the air. 

April 3, 2016 - After 27 years, Waylon Smithers finally comes out on tonight's episode of The Simpsons.  To celebrate the occasion Homer and Marge throw him a coming out party, creating a guest with the help of Grindr.

 

Waylon.smithers

 

May 17, 2016 - 47-year-old Eric Fanning is confirmed as the first openly gay Secretary of the Army.

 

Eric.fanning

 

June 12, 2016 - A gunman mows down patrons at the gay club 'Pulse' in Orlando, FL just before closing, killing 49 and wounding many others.  At the time it is the worst mass shooting in US history.

June 24, 2016 - President Obama declares Greenwich Village's Stonewall Inn, site of 1969's Stonewall riots, a national monument, the country’s first LGBT site to receive such an honor.

June 26, 2016 - During an interview Pope Francis says that Christians owe apologies to gays and others who have been offended or exploited by the church: "The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times." 

 

Pope francis

 

June 30, 2016 - The Pentagon lifts its ban on transgender people serving openly in the military.

July 21, 2016 - The NBA announces that it will not hold the 2017 All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a reaction to state legislation passed earlier this year that eliminated anti-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

 

Nba allstar game in charlotte

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July 22, 2016 - The new Star Trek movie, which opened in theaters today, features a gay Mr. Sulu, which is subtly revealed when he's shown embracing his male partner and their daughter upon arriving home from a mission.  (In the original 1960s TV series Sulu was played by George Takei, who came out years later).

 

Gay mr sulu star trek beyond

 

Sept. 11, 2016 - Erin O'Flaherty, Miss Missouri, is the first openly gay contestant in the 95-year history of the Miss America pageant.  (However, she is not chosen as one of the fifteen semi-finalists.)

Sept. 12, 2016 - Two months after the NBA announced it would not play the 2017 All Star Game in Charlotte as planned, the NCAA announces that it has moved championship games for seven different sports from North Carolina in protest of the state's anti-gay legislation passed earlier in the year.  

Dec. 25, 2016 - Singer and songwriter George Michael dies unexpectedly at the age of 53.

 

George michael

 

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