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Gay Icon, Judy Garland, Dies at the Age of 47 (June 22, 1969)

Judy.beautyshotThe 1960s began with the death of the tormented Marilyn Monroe and it ended with the death of another embattled star, Judy Garland.  She died in her apartment in London on June 22, 1969 at the age of 47.  Like Monroe, the cause of death was determined to be from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.  Sadly, much of Judy's adult life was a series of mental breakdowns and career triumphs with serious financial difficulties regularly lurking in the background.  Her tragic end arrived much too soon.

 

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Older_judy_garlandYounger_judy_garlandGay men (at least the older generation) seem to be drawn to Garland not only by her tremendous singing and acting abilities but by her struggles with pills, booze and weight fluctuations.  And while there's no indication that she specifically acknowledged her gay fan base (she exclaimed that she adored everyone in her audience) it's interesting to note that her father as well as her second and fourth husbands, Vincente Minnelli and Mark Herron, were all gay.  (And then there was daughter Liza's gay hubbies Peter Allen and David Gest.) 

 

Judy's body was returned to the U.S. and her funeral was held in New York on June 27.  Legend has it that despair over her death was the spark that ignited the Stonewall riot in Greenwich Village the night of her funeral.  However, such stories have largely been disputed, with some saying that the basis for it was a snide remark made by a homophobic newspaper reporter. 

 

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Here's a marvelous (or, as Judy pronounced it, "maaah-velous") moment of levity to remember Judy by from an animated 1964 interview  with Jack Paar:

 

    

 

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Favorite Songs About New York - From a Gay Perspective

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Wikipedia has compiled a comprehensive list of songs about New York that has more than 500 titles.  I came up with a more selective list of eleven favorite songs from my gay perspective.  Although none are explicitly gay in content, they have a gay "sensibility", either because of the performer, or simply because I own the CDs/records.  Here they are:

 

I Happen to Like New York.  This is my most favorite, a love letter to New York written by Cole Porter and powerfully sung by Judy Garland.  I first heard it on the late Jonathan Schwartz's radio show on WNYC in the early 1980s, and it was years before I tracked it down on CD.

 

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Native New Yorker.  This is the most commercially successful of the songs on this list.  It was popular in the winter of 1977-78, the year before I moved to New York.  It's instantly recognizable by its saxophone intro.

 

New York City Rhythm.  This song was recorded during Barry Manilow's peak popularity in the late 1970's (when he still had a human-looking face).  I always enjoyed his tip of the hat to NYC's Latino population with the "Nueva York" interlude near the end of the song. 

 

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Manhattan Shuffle.  A light and bouncy dance tune from 1980 with a percolating beat.  (By the appropriately named group Area Code 212.)  It's about how one has to hustle and sustain blows to self-esteem to make it big in New York: "In the city of dreams, built up on plenty of schemes ...   

 

(Take Me For) A Night in New York.  From 1984, the song's Big Band style by Elbow Bones & the Racketeers brings to mind Dr. Buzzard or Manhattan Transfer. 

 

New York City Boy.  Not be be confused with the 60s song Boy from New York City by the Ad Libs, this danceable trifle by the Pet Shop Boys evokes images of Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen and the West Village.  Sample lyric: "So young, so run into New York City".  The video for the song is a fun one, about a boy being drawn to the City from the suburbs.

 

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New York, New York.  Not the Sinatra classic, but rather an ode to NYC's decadent nightlife by Moby and his signature electronica style, with vocals by Deborah Harry.  It's by far the newest of this list's songs, released in 2006. 

 

New York, You Got Me Dancing.  Former porn actress Andrea True is best known for her disco hit More, More, More.  Her far less popular follow-up (at least with mainstream audiences), New York, You Got Me Dancing, pays tribute to some of New York's gay dance clubs of the mid-to-late 1970s.   

  

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New York by Night.  This song celebrates the alluring and tawdry side of NYC nightlife in the late 70's/early 80's.  Its chorus sums up the sentiment: "This is New York by night, this is New York by night, filled with laughter, drama, glamour and spice (such a pretty city)".  It was sung by Dennis Parker, a porn actor who was later signed by Casablanca Records to record a disco album.  Sadly, he committed suicide in 1985 after being diagnosed with AIDS.

 

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In The Evening.  This great dance number from the mid-1980s was sung by Sheryl Lee Ralph, a few years after her star turn on Broadway as Deanna Jones in Dreamgirls (the role played by Beyonce in the movie version).  The song contrasts daytime life in New York, with all its hassles, with the glamor of its nightlife.  As Sheryl Lee sings, "New York, life in the city can be so hard.  But after dark, new energy finds me, I light up the night and live like a star!  In the evening ...

 

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Am I Ever Going to Fall in Love in New York City?  This song is from Grace Jones' second album, titled Fame.  Hearing it always makes me chuckle because of the verse about her "being so far away from Tennessee".  Of course, thinking of Grace growing up in Tennessee is funny, but in actuality she grew up in the equally unglamorous snowbelt city of Syracuse, NY   

 

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Likes & Dislikes of Gay Life: One Gay Man's Perspective

 

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When I started writing this post my plan was for it to be only about those aspects of gay life that bother me.  But as I worked on it I decided I didn't want to come across as a jaded queen, especially because there is plenty I enjoy about the gay milieu.  Therefore, I chose to give both sides equal time. Originally penned in the winter of 2012, I've updated it somewhat during the spring of 2014.

 

THUMBS DOWN

  • The insipid music of Katy Perry
  • Bravo's Andy Cohen for inflicting the Housewives of ... series on us, a sorry celebration of misogyny and anti-social behavior if ever there was one.

 

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  • Porn stars who think they're going to have a second career as professional singers. 
  • The complete lack of sexual chemistry between Modern Family's Cameron and Mitchell

 

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  • Photos of Chaz Bono bare chested
  • Out Magazine's "Nipple Count" feature.  And speaking of Out, why don't they just combine it and the Advocate; after all, they're delivered together in the same polybag.
  • Completely shaved armpits

 

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  • Little kids on the ferry to the Pines
  • Fawning over Anderson Cooper
  • Boys who sashay
  • Groups of loud, straight women at gay bars.  No, you are not Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda.
  • The occupation known as a "nightlife promoter"
  • Gay Republicans

 

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  • Tourists who insist on holding hands and clog Times Square are very annoying, and I feel the same about gay couples who do it in crowded bars, with one pulling the other behind him through the throng.
  • Michael Lucas and his laughably silly Donald Trump pout 
  • An air-brushed Ellen DeGeneres, who looks increasingly like a pre-pubescent Ricky Schroeder
  • Glee
  • The sad decline of Christopher St. and 8th Ave. in Chelsea
  • The closing of Splash Bar after 23 years

 

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THUMBS UP!

  • Tim Gunn, Carson Kressley, Michael Musto, John Waters, Joan Rivers (RIP), Kathy Griffin - and a very honorable mention to Hugh Jackman!

 

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 Hugh_jackman

 

  • Classic Disco night at the Monster
  • Lady Gaga, Madonna and Cher
  • A tattoo on the nape of the neck, base of the tailbone or on one pec  - and nowhere else (in other words, tasteful understatement).

 

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  • Fire Island beach walks; summer afternoons lazing about Christopher St. pier
  • New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni (below), who replaced the highly regarded, and gay friendly, Frank Rich (who now writes for New York Magazine)

 

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  • Low tea at the Blue Whale
  • "Broadway Bares" and "Broadway Backwards"
  • Openly gay athletes, such as diver Tom Daley, gymnast Danell Leyva, basketball player Jason Collins and football player Michael Sam

 

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Tom Daley

 

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Danell Leyva

 

  • The homo websites Towleroad, Subway Crush, JustJared, TheBackLot and MenTwoGether
  • Same-sex marriage in New York state and throughout the Northeast
  • Nathan Lane as Pepper Saltzman on Modern Family

 

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  • Gay men and lesbians who acknowledge their spouses/partners at awards shows
  • The Tony Awards, especially when Neil Patrick Harris is the host

 

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  • Beyonce's song Love on Top (for its title alone!)
  • Gay gents who follow sports (whether at Gym Bar or not)
  • Next and MetroSource
  • The glamour of the Supremes

 

Supremes

 

  • Gotham Volleyball, and other gay sports leagues (including Front Runners)
  • The fact that Kylie Minogue and the Pet Shop Boys have never been embraced by the US mainstream makes them even more special.
  • An appreciation of "camp"  
  • HBO's gay drama Looking.
  • Sunday Beer Blast at the Eagle in the summer (but for how much longer?)

 

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So it turns out the pluses edged out the minuses, 24 to 19.  And if I failed to mention something or someone it suggests indifference, which may be the worst sentiment of all.


LGBT Time Capsule: 1961

 

1961

 

April 5, 1961 - Barbra Streisand makes her 1st TV appearance, on The Jack Parr Show.

April 25, 1961 - Judy Garland gives an acclaimed performance at Carnegie Hall.

June 17, 1961 - Acclaimed Kirov Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev defects in Paris.

Sept 28, 1961 - Dr. Kildare, starring Richard Chamberlain, debuts on NBC.

Oct. 5, 1961 - The movie Breakfast at Tiffany's opens in theaters.

Dec. 19, 1961 - The movie version of The Children's Hour opens in theaters, starring Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn.

 

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