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Gay Playwrights Honored With Sidewalk Stars in Front of Lucille Lortel Theater


Lucille lortel theater


It may not rank up there with the glittering Walk of Stars in Hollywood, but the sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theater on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village pays tribute to about 50 esteemed playwrights - at least a dozen of whom are gay.  On a recent Sunday afternoon, rather than mindlessly walk over them as I trekked out to the Christopher St. pier, I took a moment to look upon this list of accomplished (somewhat of an understatement) writers, and was inspired to snap photos of some of their stars, and here they are ...


Lucille lortel west village 029
Looking down at the stars ...




Charles busch
The 67-year-old Busch made his reputation playing larger-than-life female characters (with flaming red hair) in shows he wrote, such as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom; Psycho Beach Party and Die, Mommie, Die! One show he wrote, but didn't appear in, was the Tony-nominated play, The Allergist's Wife.


Charles busch 






Charles ludlam
Ludlam was founder of The Ridiculous Theater Co. and is best known for writing The Mystery of Irma Vepp (one of 29 plays he wrote). Like Charles Busch he also directed and acted in many of his productions. He won six Obie Awards.
Charles ludlam





Christopher durang
Best known for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, for which he won a Tony in 2013.

 Christopher durang






Edward albee
Best known for writing Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Seascape; A Delicate Balance; Three Tall Women and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?  He wrote 34 plays, three of which won the Pulitzer Prize and two a Tony Award.


Edward albee2






Lanford wilson
Best Known for The Fifth of July; Burn This; Talley's Folly and Hot L Baltimore. Awards include one Pulitzer, one Drama Desk Award, five Obies and three Tony nominations. He was co-founder of the Circle Repertory Company.


Lanford wilson






Langston hughes
A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and '30s, he is best known for Black Nativity and Jerico-Jim Crow. At the age of 33 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.








Larry karmer
Best known for the Broadway plays, The Normal Heart and The Destiny of Me, both which captured the despair and rage created by the AIDS crisis.
Larry kramer washington square park





Tony kushner
With more than 25 plays to his credit, he is best known for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches; Angels in America: Perestroika; Caroline or Change; and Homebody/Kabul. He also worked on screenplays for the movies Munich and Lincoln.

 Tony kushner






Terrence mcnally
McNally is best known for writing Love! Valour! Compassion!; Master Class; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Frankie & Johnnie in the Clair de Lune; A Perfect Ganesh; and The Lisbon Traviata. Winner of five Drama Desk Awards, four Tonys and two Obies.







Tennessee williams
Perhaps America's most renowned playwright, Williams name easily brings to mind The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Sweet Bird of Youth; Suddenly, Last Summer; and Night of the Iguana.


Tennessee williams






Accomplished as a TV writer and producer, Crowley's biggest claim to fame is as the writer of 1968's Boys in the Band.

 Mart crowley






Marc blitzstein
Best known for 1937's The Cradle Will Rock and the Broadway adaptation of The Little Foxes.



















































FourTwoNine Magazine - Does an Upscale Magazine for Gay Men Have a Chance?

FourTwoNineMagazineThe magazine industry has struggled in the 21st century as digital media pulls ad dollars away and the Great Recession of 2008-09's effect on ad revenue lingers.  Magazines targeting a LGBT audience may be even more challenged since potential readership is 1/10 the size of the general population, and many of our interests are addressed in general market publications such as Vanity Fair, Opera News, Men's Health, Dwell, GQ and websites such as Towle Road, Just Jared, Outsports, etc.  Still, new magazines continue to be introduced.  One of them is a high-end gay lifestyle magazine with the title FourTwoNine (429 spells "GAY" on a telephone key pad.)  I was unfamiliar with it until I saw it among a stack of magazines in the pantry at my office.  It's a handsome publication, with large-sized pages (9" x 11") that makes it stand out from other magazines that, as a cost-cutting measure, have reduced the size of their pages.  As I paged through the last few issues it brought to mind a cross between Out and Metrosource, but at a premium cover price of $12.99.


Published out of San Francisco, FourTwoNine launched in September 2013 (after a rather tepid Kickstarter campaign raised $18,700).  Sarah Jessica Parker and Andy Cohen were featured on the cover of the premiere issue.  Kevin Sessums of Vanity Fair fame, and writer of the critically acclaimed memoir Mississippi Sissy, was editor-in-chief until last summer.  So far, just six issues have been published in 2½ years.  According to the publication's media kit a spring Film and Fashion issue was scheduled to be published in March 2016 but I've seen no evidence of it.  Its print circulation is just under 100,000.




According to a subscriber survey, median personal income of a subscriber is $125,000 (four times that of a typical US wage earner).  With such monied readers to boast about, it's no surprise the magazine carries ads from an array of high-end companies such as Lexus, Piaget, Grey Goose, Saks and the Tribeca and SoHo Grand hotels - but ads for HIV meds are conspicuously absent (a huge revenue generator for many LGBT publications). 


The publication touts its photography, features poetry and carries interviews with accomplished players in the worlds of fashion, literature and the arts - gay as well as straight (e.g., in the Summer 2015 issue there was a profile of San Francisco Giants baseball player Hunter Pence).  As part of its somewhat avant-garde vibe, the pages aren't numbered.  Issue Four received  attention for its feature on a James Franco interview with himself that broached the subject of his sexuality: "I like to think that I'm gay in my art and straight in my life.  Although, I'm also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse, and then you could say I'm straight."  Below are some photos that were published in issue Five:


Daveed Diggs plays the roles of Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in the Broadway smash "Hamilton".


The Riker twins, Derek and Drew, are celebrity photographers.


Part of a "Boys of Summer" fashion feature.


At $12.99 FourTwoNine is a bit too pricey for my taste, and I find that Out (the largest circulation gay magazine) serves my interests in LGBT culture just fine.  However, I'd be happy to pick it up if I again see it in the office, or if I find it in the waiting rooms of my doctor, dermatologist or eye doctor.





Saluting The Kennedy Center Honors' Roster of Gay Inductees

Kennedy center honorsLike the Academy Awards and Tony Awards, a considerable number of gay men have an affinity for the Kennedy Center Honors because of its celebration of personalities in the performing arts.  Since the first awards were handed out in 1978 a steady stream of accomplished gay men have been chosen as honorees.  However, not until 2015 year was a self-proclaimed lesbian awarded the honor - Lily Tomlin.  (But rumored lesbians such as Mary Martin, Claudette Colbert, Katharine Hepburn and Dolly Parton have been honored).  The ceremony takes place in early December, with the President and First Lady in attendance (the exception has been Trump and Melania); the telecast of the event usually airs a few days after Christmas on CBS.  Interestingly, the colors of the award's sash are those of the rainbow flag.  In 2002 DC's Gay Men's Chorus performed as part of the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor.


2014 honoree, Lily Tomlin


23 of the 213 recipients (through 2019) have been gay.  In four of the years there were two gay inductees: 1979, 1986, 1993 and 2010.  (In 1989 Claudette Colbert and Mary Martin were honorees).  The longest stretch in which no gay honorees were named was the five years between 2005-2009 (this drought might be matched next year depending on 2019's announcement).  Conversely, between 1979 and 1988 every year but one (1989) had a gay recipient.   



To be considered, a candidate must be living at the time of their induction.  Of the 23 gay honorees (listed below), eight are still alive.  The first gay honorees were Aaron Copland and Tennessee Williams in 1979.  One glaring oversight was playwright and director Arthur Laurents (who died in 2011 at the age of 93).  Perhaps it was because of his prickly personality?


Bill T. Jones


Aaron Copland (1979) - composer (died in 1990, age 90)

Tennessee Williams (1979) - novelist (died in 1983, age 73)

Leonard Bernstein (1980) - composer/conductor (died in 1990, age 72)

Jerome Robbins (1981) - choreographer (died in 1998, age 79)

Virgil Thomson (1982) - composer (died in 1989, age 92)

Gian Carlo Menotti (1984) - conductor/composer (died in 2007, age 95)

Frederick Loewe (1985) – lyricist (died in 1988, age 86)

Merce Cunningham (1986) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2009, age 90)

Antony Tudor (1986) - ballet choreographer (died in 1987, age 79)

Alwin Nikolais (1987) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1993, age 82)

Alvin Ailey (1988) - dancer/choreographer (died in 1989, age 58)

Stephen Sondheim (1993) - composer/lyricist (born in 1930)

Arthur Mitchell (1993) - dancer/choreographer (died in 2018, age 84)

Edward Albee (1996) - playwright (died in 2016, age 88)

Fred Ebb & John Kander (1998) - lyricists (Ebb died in 2004, age 76; Kander is still alive, born in 1927)

Van Cliburn (2001) - pianist (died in 2013, age 78)

James Levine (2002) - conductor (born in 1943)

Elton John (2004) - singer/composer/pianist (born in 1947)

Bill T Jones (2010) - dancer/choreographer (born in 1952)

Jerry Herman (2010) - lyricist and composer (died in 2019, age 88)

Lily Tomlin (2014) - actress/comedian (born in 1939)

Michael Tilson Thomas (2019) - conductor, pianist and composer (born in 1944)


Michael tilson thomas


Other lesbians worthy of consideration for future induction may include Jodie Foster, Cherry Jones, Melissa Etheridge and Cynthia Nixon. And Johnny Mathis, Terrence McNally, Tommy Tune and Richard Chamberlain are worthy candidates on the gay male side.  



Although not gay themselves, sixteen recipients, all women, have the distinction of being gay icons.  The most recent was Cher, in 2018.  Another icon, Maria Callas, likely would have been honored but she died the year before the first Kennedy Center Honors (at the very young age of 53).



Ella Fitzgerald (1979)

Martha Graham (1979)

Leontyne Price (1980)

Lucille Ball (1986)

Bette Davis (1987)

Katharine Hepburn (1990)

Aretha Franklin (1994)

Judith Jamison (1999)

Angela Lansbury (2000)

Chita Rivera (2002)

Elizabeth Taylor (2002)

Dolly Parton (2006)

Diana Ross (2007)

Barbra Streisand (2008)

Barbara Cook (2011)

Cher (2018)



Chanticleer - Voices of Angels (In Tuxedos)

Chanticleer.christmas2014Chanticleer is an all-male vocal ensemble based in San Francisco.  Best known for its interpretations of Renaissance music, the group also performs a repertoire that includes jazz, gospel and standards.  The group came to my attention in 1992 when I saw a video for their version of Responsorio Desundo de SS Jose from the CD Mexican Baroque.  In addition to this CD I later bought a few others.  Then ten years ago I bought a DVD of their Christmastime performance at the Metropolitan Museum.  It was magnificent.  And this year (2014) I attended their Christmas concert at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan (where Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis' 1994 funeral was held).






The ensemble is comprised of a dozen male singers who I'd say are between the ages of 30 and 50.  Although they're not officially considered a gay group they certainly send out a gay vibe.  (In this year's concert program  one singer made it known that he's straight.)  The group was formed in 1978, which happens to be the same year the first gay choral group, San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus, was formed.

The A+ List of Well-Known Gay & Lesbian Celebrities

Neil.patrick.harris NeilPatrickHarrisTonyAwardsShow2011_article_story_main Nph_motherAs I perceive it, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, Ryan Murphy and Rachel Maddow are today's most overexposed gay personalities (or, as Barbara Walters might refer to them as, the most fascinating).  However, a Google search I did on more than 300 gay celebs turned up many others who seem equally high profile (the top 50 can be found at the end of this post).



Harvey.fierstein Melissa.etheridge20 years ago there were very few "out" celebrities so it made sense that the token few, e.g., Harvey Fierstein, Melissa Etheridge and kd lang, received extensive media coverage.  Since then there's been a proliferation of openly gay celebs (a good thing), but an inordinate amount of attention still goes to a rather select group. 



Calvinklein Steve.kmetkoOf the 300+ included in this analysis, the typical celeb had 500,000 search results.  They ranged from 16,000 (for Steve Kmetko - remember him?) to 19 million (Calvin Klein).  There were thirteen well-known LGBTs whose names each generated more than 5 million search results - I guess you can call them the gay A+ List.  At the other end of the spectrum, there were 50 celebs/former celebs with fewer than 100,000 mentions.  (For some perspective, I, a mere gay mortal, had 5,000).



Natesilver TomdaleyNaturally, some of the names among the top 50 have been in the news of late, including newly out actress Ellen Page, figure skater Johnny Weir and stats guru Nate Silver (pictured, far left).  (Surprisingly, neither Michael Sam or Jason Collins were in this select group, ranking 59th and 61st).  By age, six of the top 50 were older than 65, with Giorgio Armani, at 78, the oldest.  Seven were younger than 30, with Tom Daley (pictured) being the youngest, at 19.  Ellen DeGeneres had the most search results for lesbians, but only ten others joined her.



Tim.cook.apple Annie.leibovitzActors, singers and fashion designers dominate the upper echelons of gaydom, comprising two-thirds of the top 50.  (The designers were, no doubt, boosted by their eponymous clothing labels.)  Outside of these fields we have  statistician Nate Silver; personal trainer Jillian Michaels; Apple CEO Tim Cook; photographer Annie Leibovitz; blogger Perez Hilton; interior designer Nate Berkus; and drag performer Ru Paul



Rachel.maddow Anderson.cooper.vanity.fair EllenshowAnd where do the five I thought were most overexposed rank?  Neil Patrick Harris is second; Ellen is fifth and Anderson Cooper, 30th.  Rachel Maddow and Ryan Murphy, however, are further down the list at 65th and 68th, respectively.  Still respectable but not nearly as high as I expected.



Robbie.williams Jason.wu JakeshearsWho was I surprised to see among the elite 50?  Besides Calvin Klein at #1, I was also taken aback by the inclusion of singers Robbie Williams (pictured, far right), George Michael, Mika, Tracy Chapman and Boy George; Jillian Michaels fom Biggest Loser; fashion designers Alexander Wang, Jason Wu (pictured) and Zac Posen; and British actor Steven Fry.  And those who I was surprised to see lower than the top 100 include ABC's Robin Roberts (#112); fashion guru Tim Gunn (#142); sexy Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters (#164, pictured near right); diving legend Greg Louganis (#177) and gay blogger Andy Towle (#294).


(Ranked by # of Google Search Results)
    Search Results
  Profession (In Millions)
Calvin Klein Fashion Designer 19.1
Neil Patrick Harris Actor 14.6
Elton John Singer/Songwriter 12.7
Marc Jacobs Fashion Designer 11.0
Ellen DeGeneres Talk Show Host 10.8
Michael Kors Fashion Designer 10.6
Robbie Williams Singer 10.0
Ricky Martin Singer   9.8
Tom Ford Fashion Designer   9.4
Mika Singer   7.1
George Michael Singer/Songwriter   6.7
Pet Shop Boys Pop Music Duo   5.8
Adam Lambert Singer   5.4
Giorgio Armani Fashion Designer   4.6
Tegan & Sara Pop Music Duo   4.5
Rosie O'Donnell TV Personality   4.3
Alexander Wang Fashion Designer   4.3
Ellen Page Actress   4.2
Frank Ocean Rap Singer   3.6
Portia de Rossi Actress   3.4
Tim Cook Business Executive   3.0
Johnny Weir Figure Skater   2.5
Jillian Michaels Trainer   2.4
Jason Wu Fashion Designer   2.4
Zachary Quinto Actor   2.3
Don Lemon News Anchor   2.3
Jodie Foster Actress   2.3
Tracy Chapman Singer/Songwriter   2.2
Perez Hilton Blogger   2.2
Anderson Cooper News Anchor   2.2
Jean Paul Gaultier Fashon Designer   2.1
Zac Posen Fashion Designer   2.0
Lily Tomlin Actress   2.0
Nate Silver Statistician   2.0
Andy Cohen Cable TV Executive   2.0
Ian McKellen Actor   1.9
Annie Leibovitz Photographer   1.8
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Actor   1.7
RuPaul Drag Performer   1.7
Boy George Singer/Songwriter   1.7
John Galliano Fashion Designer   1.7
George Takei Actor   1.7
Nate Berkus Interior Designer   1.6
Graham Norton Talk Show Host   1.6
Matt Bomer Actor   1.6
Wentworth Miller Actor   1.6
Stephen Fry Actor   1.6
Diana Nyad Swimmer   1.6
Tom Daley Diver   1.5
Chris Colfer Actor   1.5
(For period 3/20-24/2014)    


Celebrating DRA's Fire Island Dance Festival

Dra_fireisland_dancefestivalFire Island Pines is surrounded by beauty - natural, architectural and physical.  And in the summer of 1995 Dancers Responding to AIDS further enhanced this rarefied environment when it organized the first DRA Fire Island Dance Festival there on August 5.  Showcasing dancers and choreographers from various highly regarded dance companies, the event was held outdoors, using Great South Bay as its background - lending its natural beauty to the breathtaking performances on stage. 





This first event didn't have the best weather as it was foggy and on the cool-ish side, but the event struck a chord and soon was a regular part of the Pines social season.  An early evening show was added, then a performance on Sunday afternoon.  The Saturday evening performance has proven very popular as it offers the opportunity to view a breathtaking sunset as a bonus.  In its second year, the event moved to the third weekend of July.  I shared a house in the Pines with one of the coordinators of the program, so it became part of our house's culture - and we were always aware of any behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the event.





Of course, because it's an outdoor venue, weather is always a concern and some years have been blistering hot, others gray and threatening (thankfully, not the norm).  An unforeseen challenge for the evening performance was the formation of condensation on the stage, which could be perilous for the dancers, so it had to be wiped down constantly in between numbers.  One non-weather event put a somber tone to the event in 1999, as the dance festival occurred the day after John Kennedy Jr.'s plane went down off Nantucket.  It made gazing out at the water of the bay somewhat sobering. 


Alan_cumming Richard_moveEach performance opens with the DRA Fanfare, created and donated in 1999 by Philip Glass.  Hosts have included BD Wong; Bebe Neuwirth; Whoopie Goldberg; Bruce Vilanch; Alan Cumming; Ana Gasteyer; and Richard Move as Martha Graham.  Another host was Kate Shindle, Miss America of 1998, who joked that she was sorry she didn't have her crown because she wanted to toss it in the pool to see how many queens in the audience would jump in after it!  Photographer Bill Cunningham from the NY Times has often attended one of the performances and his photos have appeared a week or two later in the Sunday Arts & Leisure section - lending the event even more cachet.


Celebrating its 20th year in 2014, the Dance Festival has raised more than $3 million.  For more information about this year's DRA Dance Festival, double click here.




And for other ZeitGAYst posts about Fire Island:

"Invasion" of the Pines

Coming & Going in the "Meat Rack"

A Postcard Trip to the Pines & Cherry Grove

Summertime Memories: A Photo Tribute to the Pines & Cherry Grove

Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall: A Performance for the Ages (April 23, 1961)




Forgive some of our gay elders if they look askance when the younger generation gushes about seeing the likes of Cher, Barbra or Madonna in concert.  This may be because, in their minds, they saw the concert, i.e., Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.  This wildly acclaimed performance took place on Sunday, April 23, 1961.  And although she was a showbiz veteran, at the time of the concert Judy was still only 38 years old (just four years older than Marilyn Monroe).


Judy's career had been somewhat fallow since the mid-1950s when she appeared in A Star is Born in 1954.  She and her managers decided 1961 would be the year for a comeback.  After all, she still had quite a reservoir of goodwill from fans to tap into - and she was saddled with debt.  Her Carnegie Hall concert was part of a larger tour that went on during April and May.  (In addition to the concert tour, she also landed a small, but pivotal, role in the movie Judgment at Nuremberg, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.)  In May she returned to Carnegie Hall for another sold-out performance, and then in July she performed at the Forest Hills Tennis Club in Queens.   




Judy's live concert album won five Grammy Awards and was the nation's #1 album for 13 weeks.  The following year she starred with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in an acclaimed TV special.  Due to its ratings success CBS decided to give Judy her own variety show the following year.  Unfortunately, it lasted just one season, largely because it had the misfortune of being scheduled opposite Bonanza.  Still, Judy was back!




45 years later out singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, who wasn't even born until 1973, gave the very same concert at Carnegie Hall on two nights.  He seemed to have much fun as Judy did - and the audience was almost as adoring - but the reviews weren't nearly as glowing.  Here, below, is his version of Judy's San Francisco.  






AIDS Strikes Down Famed Graffiti Artist Keith Haring (February 16, 1990)




Few well-known personalities have died of AIDS at such a young age as graffiti/pop artist Keith Haring, who was 31 at the time of his death on February 16, 1990.  And with the exception of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele, who died in their late 20s, no other accomplished artist was younger at the time of his death as Haring.  But he accomplished a lot during his career in the 1980s and was known worldwide.  He left behind an estate worth $25 million.


I remember seeing Haring's curious "creature graffiti" on the walls of the Sheridan Square/Christopher St. subway station in 1981 when I moved into Manhattan.  His art was playful and otherworldly with a touch of foreboding. (Not only was he known for his art but for social activism as well.)  The style evoked that of the Incas and Mayans.  His work has appeared on T-shirts, exterior and interior walls, postcards, greeting cards and CD covers.  Many books have been published about his life and work including Keith Haring: Life for Art as well as a number of documentaries including Universe of Keith Haring




Three other noted pop artists died in the three years preceding Haring's death (pictured, from right to left): In 1987 Andy Warhol died at age 57 (complications after surgery); Jean-Michael Basquiat died in 1988 at 27 (heroin overdose) and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died from AIDS complications at the age of 44 in 1989.


Andy_warhol Jean_michel_basquait Robert_mapplethorpe





New York Gay Life as Depicted in Postcards


I've previously published posts that were based on my collection of magazine covers and print ads (e.g., "Print Ads w/Gay Vibe").  I also have an extensive collection of postcards.  Some of the best are freebies found in postcard racks at restaurants and bars that describe the zeitgeist of the time.  This post looks at some of my favorites gathered between 1995-2001.  So, let's begin our trip in my time capsule ...


In the 1980s Uncle Charlie's was undoubtedly the most popular gay bar in New York City, but its popularity waned after Splash opened in the early '90s.  The bar had locations on 3rd Avenue in Murray Hill as well as on Greenwich Ave.  Between 1990-1992 I lived in an apartment that was across the street from the Greenwich Ave. location.  From my kitchen window I could watch who went in and out as well as observe an occasional cat fight.




This off-Broadway play 2 Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter's Night was the first production of Rattlestick Theater, located on Waverly Place.  It opened in the spring of 1995.





This is one of the most beautiful postcards in my collection.  It was for a benefit for Bailey House, which provides housing for homeless individuals with AIDS.  It's located at the west end of Christopher St. near the West Side Highway.




Raymond Dragon (pictured below), a porn actor and director, had a stint as a designer of swimsuits and workout gear in the second half of the 1990s.  He owned a popular clothing store on 7th Avenue in Chelsea.  I bought one of my favorite swimsuits of all time there in the summer of 1997 -  a vivid blue square cut with a vertical strip of metallic silver on one side.  Dragon turned 52 this summer (2013).






The very popular Food Bar opened in the early 1990s just as gay life in NYC was moving northward into Chelsea (Splash opened at about the same time).  Located on 8th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets, it closed in 2009.  (A Chipotle is now there.)  Candy Bar was another nearby restaurant, but it didn't meet with the same wild success as Food Bar.





Antonio Sabato, Jr. was ubiquitous in the first half of the 1990s as a Calvin Klein underwear model (along with Marky Mark).  You could find him in magazine and TV ads, on one of Times Square's giant billboards and on free postcards like this one.  Sabato turned 42 at the end of February 2014.




This was a great series of ads for Chanel for Men.  Each had a scent packet on the back of the postcard.  The only line of copy was in small type on the bottom of the card and said either, "If he wears nothing else", or "What should he wear?"




Ah, our Patti!  At the time of this 1995 ad campaign LuPone was in her mid-40s.  Career wise, her stint on the ABC drama Life Goes On had ended a few years earlier, and in 1994 she was unceremoniously fired by Andrew Lloyd Weber from the London production of Sunset Boulevard (before it came to Broadway).




Varla Jean Merman was a popular drag performer, who claimed to be the daughter of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine.  Besides having a great singing voice, Varla Jean was also known for being able to sing while spraying an entire can of string cheese into her mouth.  She had a daytime job (as Jeffrey Roberson) in the creative department of ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding, where I also worked (between 1995-2001).  I remember seeing her perform at a number of company holiday parties.  This postcard is promoting her 2001 Christmas concert at Town Hall, a benefit for God's Love We Deliver.




This sexy postcard was an ad for a hair salon on West 16th St.




Body Positive promoted its 1998 Academy Awards benefit/party with this postcard.  It was held at the club Twirl, located on West 23rd St.  Back then, the Oscar telecast aired on Monday night in late March.




In the late '90s the sports bar Champs opened a few blocks north of Splash but it couldn't compete, and closed after a few years.  This postcard was for one of its theme nights.  10 years later, a more successful sports bar, Gym Sports Bar, opened on 8th Ave near 19th Street. (Its website incorrectly touts itself as being NYC's Original Gay Sports Bar.)




This postcard was for the first Tulips & Pansies AIDS benefit, held in 2001.  It was like the Tournament of Roses Parade, but with the floral arrangements worn as headdresses.




This next postcard promoted a CD in which songs composed with men and women singing to the opposite sex were performed in same-sex fashion.  There was a separate CD for men singing to men, and women singing to women (and another postcard in which two women are in the foreground).




The "Trocs" are a troupe of accomplished male dancers dressed as ballerinas.  Each dancer has a wonderfully daffy Russian name.  I saw them perform a number of times at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea (two doors up from Gym Bar).




Here's something for the ladies, a lesbian dance party.  It was held at the club Industria on Washington St. in the West Village, and was a benefit for a show titled Vegas Girl.  The party promoter also organized a regular women's event called Planetgirl.




The Gay & Lesbian Community Center opened on West 13th St. in the mid-80s.  The building, a former high school, was in disrepair, so in the late '90s a renovation began.  During that time the Center temporarily relocated to the Meat Packing District (before it became a yuppie/Gen X magnet).  This postcard announced the Center's re-opening in the spring of 2001.







First Lady Jackie Kennedy Gives Televised Tour of the White House (February 14, 1962)

Jackie_kennedy_whitehouse_tour On Valentine's Day 1962, 32-year-old First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a televised tour of the White House.  It aired on CBS and NBC (and on ABC a number of days later).  In addition to discussing the renovations and redecorating she was overseeing, the program also served as a lesson in U.S. history as Jackie told anecdotes about a number of the presidents.  This broadcast marked the first time a First Lady had been given TV airtime.  Not surprisingly, the special was very popular and drew an audience of 56 million (back when the US had 140 million fewer people than it does today).  



Jackiekennedy_on_tv My first exposure to the special was in college in 1976 when it was shown on Friday "movie night".  I was so surprised by Jackie's soft voice, peculiar accent and her almost childlike demeanor.  However, there was charm in her youth and the simplicity of her presentation.  And her outfit resembled something First Lady Michelle Obama might wear today (especially the flats).   



Sal_Romano_MadMen This special was incorporated into the storyline of an episode of Mad Men during its second season (in 2008).  It amused me because it showed the show's various female characters entranced by the broadcast - as well as closeted gay character Sal (played by out actor Bryan Batt) who seemed more excited about watching it than his girlfriend!