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Recapping 2020's Oscar Telecast: Not So Gay

Stage at 2020 oscarsAccording to Nielsen 62% of the viewers to 2020's Academy Awards telecast were women, so since the Oscars are considered the gay Super Bowl should I infer that the remaining 38% were gay men?  The rating for the telecast dropped 20% from last year (6 million fewer viewers).  Perhaps it was due to the alienation of two viewing groups - those who were upset over the under representation of women and blacks in key awards categories, and those who become tired of the constant harping about thise under representation. 

 

Besides a dearth of women and blacks in the major awards categories, the same absence seem to apply to those of the LGBTQ persuasion. Unlike the previous three years (when we had Green Mile; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Call Me By Your Name; and Moonlight), there were no Best Picture nominations with gay themes.  Furthermore, there weren't a lot of gay "moments" in general during the telecast.  So what gay moments were there?  

  • Janelle Monae shouting out that she's queer
  • Elton John performing and winning Best Original Song
  • A Verizon Wireless commercial with a coming out theme
  • Billy Porter in all his fabulosity  
  • Judy, the movie about Judy Garland, won the Oscar for Best Actress

 

And now for some highlights/observations:

 

  • As Janelle Monae made her on-stage entrance at the start of the show, she noticed that the middle button on her blouse had come undone and buttoned it as she sang without giving it a second thought.

 

Janelle monae's popped button

Janelle monae

 

  • Mindy Kaling and Kristen Anderson-Lopez stood out in their vibrantly colored gowns in yellow and green.

 

2020 oscars mindy kaling

 Kristen anderson-lopez at 2020 oscars

 

  • Bradley Cooper usually attends the event with his mother so I was curious about the fellow sitting next to him, but was unable to find any mention of him in news reports the next day.  It seems the only Bradley Cooper chatter was about him being in the presence of his ex, Renee Zellweger.

 

Bradley cooper and mystery man at 2020 oscars

 

  • I chuckled when I saw Diane Keaton's coat because it was similar to a lost glove I spotted on a fence in my neighborhood a few weeks ago.

 

2020 oscars_diane keaton and keanu reaves

 Lost glove

  • Timothee Chalamet "owned" his offbeat formal wear.

 

 2020 oscars timothee chalmet

 

  • Taika Waititi, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for Jo Jo Rabbit got my Oscar for Sexiest Man On Stage, with Oscar Isaac a close second, and Mahershala Ali third.

 

2020 oscars taika waititi

 

  • Disney chairman Bob Iger was in the audience, but may have been upstaged by another attendee, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.  (However, Iger's seat was much farther forward.)

 

Jeff bezos at 2020 oscars

  Bob iger at 2020 oscars

 

  • Did anyone else think that female conductor, Eimear Noone, bore a striking resemblance to actress Leslie Mann?

 

2020 oscars eimar noone conductor

 Leslie mann

 

  • A touching commercial from Verizon Wireless aired in the middle of the telecast.  It featured a young guy who said that he couldn't talk about his homosexuality face to face with his family, but after moving to New York his mother signed the family up for Group Chat, and now the things they couldn't say to each other in person were a lot easier to say when sent in a text.  He closed his story with, "I've never lived further away from my family, but I've never felt more connected to them."

 

Verizon wireless gay son

.

  • It was ironic that the best thing about the movie Rocketman, the performance of the actor who portrayed Elton John (Taron Egerton), was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, yet its bland song won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

 

Elton john and bernie taupin at 2020 oscars

 

  • Last week I was enthralled by the stunning 50-year-old J-Lo as she performed her physically demanding halftime routine at the Super Bowl, and a week later 82-year old Jane Fonda looked equally stunning as she closed out the ceremonies.  But why did she bring her coat with her - was coat check full?

 

2020 oscars jane fonda

 

Now, some final comments ...

 

  • King & Queen of the prom.

 

Scarlett johanssen and colin jost

 

  • Regal ...

Cynthia erivo  2020 oscars

 

  • Elton must have had a spare pair of eyeglasses.

  Billy porter at 2020 oscars

 

  • Where have you gone, Dolores Claiborne?

 

Kathy bates at 2020 oscars

 

  • The most touching moment of the night was actress Diane Ladd's reaction upon hearing the name of her daughter, Laura Dern, as winner of Best Supporting Actress.

 

Diane ladd and laura dern

 

 

  • Greta Gerwig vied with Mindy Kaling for most exquisite necklace.

  Greta gerwig at 2020 oscars

 

  • And lastly, as Salma Hayek so amusingly put it, she finally got to hold an Oscar on onstage.

 Selma and oscar 2020 oscars

 

 

 


Some TV Game Shows That Trigger My Gay Sensibilities

Devin goda price is rightAlthough my viewing of game shows is limited to the times when I'm visiting my mother, I find them mildly entertaining, especially The Price Is Right, Jeopardy, Let's Make a Deal and Wheel of Fortune.  Perhaps it's because they serve up a steady diet of eye candy, whether it's the on-screen "talent" or the contestants. It's a very different viewing environment from when I was a child.  Unlike the boyhood crushes I had on some of the actors from shows in primetime, hosts of game shows in the '60s and '70s were a rather bland lot, such as Jeopardy's Art Fleming, Dick Clark from The $20,000 Pyramid, Hugh Downs from Concentration, or The Match Game's Gene Rayburn.  (Let's Make a Deal's Monty Hall was the closest to being a bit cute.) 

 

Art fleming _jeopardy
Art Fleming

 

So what is it about the game shows I watch, that arouse my gay sensibilities?  Read on ...

 

LET'S MAKE A DEAL - Of the four shows, Deal's host Wayne Brady is the sexiest (with or without eyeglasses).  As for the rest of the show, I have no interest.

 

Wayne brady let's make a deal

 

THE PRICE IS RIGHT - In the fall of 2012 the show began featuring male showcase models.  The ones I've seen are Rob, James and Devin.  Occasionally they appear bare chested, but even fully clothed they're a pleasure to ogle.  I also like host Drew Carey, who's good-natured and cute in a stocky way, a LEGO™ character come to life.  I'm also dazzled by the colorful sets.  Lastly, the show has a lot of cute male contestants as well, some who are busting out of their t-shirts as they jump around.  And it's not uncommon to hear them shouting out to boyfriends and husbands.  (And when this is happening on a show as main stream as this, there's no going back.)

 

Price is right male model james
Price is Right model James

 

Price is Right Stud
Eye-candy contestant (sexual orientation unknown

 

Priceright7
Sexual orientation known as Anthony said hello to his boyfriend in the audience.

 

JEOPARDY - Has had its shares of gay contestants (or brainy types that give off a gay vibe) but they're usually not dressed that well, and can be a bit full of themselves (this applies to the straight contestants as well).  And despite aging, host Alex Trebek has always possessed a bit of sex appeal (although, befitting a show that celebrates book knowledge, he's a bit aloof).

 

John-presloid-jeopardy-winner-january-21-2019-300x258
Gay contestant John Presloid (Jan. 2019)

 

WHEEL OF FORTUNE - This one's all about Vanna.  Letter turner Vanna White is somewhat of a campy delight in her Cher-like gowns - and still looks amazing after nearly 40 years on the job.  Additionally, in episodes I've watched in the past 12 months, three contestants were members of San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus.  As for the rest of the show, the host (rodent-like host Pat Sajak) and the contestants are sort of a sad lot, shouting out "Big Money!" as they spin the wheel.

 

Vanna white

 

 

 

 

 

 


LGBT News Headlines of 2018

 

2018

 

January 17 - The limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace (produced by Ryan Murphy) premiered on FX.  It starred Edgar Ramirez as Versace; Darren Criss as Andrew Cunanan; Ricky Martin as Versace's lover; and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.

 

Versace in pool

 

February 7 - Bermuda became the first country to repeal its law that legalized same-sex marriage.

February 7 - A revival of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003-2007), now simply called Queer Eye, premiered on Netflix.

March 4 - James Ivory won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Call Me By Your Name.

March 16 - The gay teen romance Love, Simon opened in theaters and became the eleventh highest grossing film with a gay theme or prominent gay character, taking in $41 million at the domestic box office.

 

Love  simon

 

March 25 - 25 years after its first Broadway run, a revival of Tony Kushner's AIDS drama Angels in America opens.

April 27 - A documentary about former Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley, The Gospel According to Andre opened in theaters.

May 21 - Although he didn't win a medal for the US in the Men's Singles Figure Skating competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics, openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon won Dancing with the Stars: Athletes.

 

Adam-rippon-jenna-johnson-dwts-5-21-2018-billboard-1548

 

May 31 - A revival of Boys in the Band opened on Broadway in the 50th anniversary year of the play's original Broadway debut.

June 4 - In a 7-2 vote, the US Supreme Court ruled that a baker in Lakewood, Colorado could refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

 

Gay wedding cake

 

July 9 - After a previous rainbow sculpture celebrating gay pride in Warsaw (the capital of Poland) was repeatedly vandalized, a new one was unveiled that is "unbreakable" - a hologram projected on a curtain of water, making it resistant to most forms of defacement.

 

Warsaw rainbow

July 20 - Eight years after his suicide, at the age of 40, a documentary about fashion designer Alexander McQueen opens in theaters.

July 25 - Cher is announced as one of this year's recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.

July 30 - Land O'Lakes Inc. named Beth Ford as its CEO, making her the first openly gay woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

 

Land o lakes

September 18 - Sesame Workshop, the education organization behind the children’s program Sesame Street, issued a press release stating that the beloved characters Bert & Ernie “do not have a sexual orientation.”

November 6 - 43-year-old Jared Polis became the first openly gay person elected governor of a US state (Colorado).

November 22 - A same-sex kiss was aired on Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for the first time. The kiss was between two female characters during the conclusion of a number from the Broadway show Mean Girls.

 

Macys thanksgiving parade same-sex kiss


Adam Rippon - The Pumpkin Spice of Gay Celebrities?

Adam-rippon-olympicsAdam Rippon is everywhere, and I wouldn't be surprised if his middle name were "Ubiquitous".  It all began at this year's Winter Olympics where he competed in Men's Figure Skating.  (Prior to 2018 Rippon had a modicum of success upon winning the 2017 Men's US Figure Skating Nationals).  And although he didn't medal in the individual competition (and his two teammates finished ahead of him) he, curiously, received media adulation usually reserved for a medal juggernaut such as swimming icon Michael Phelps

 

 

Since the Olympics Rippon has taken the world by storm.  He's been on Dancing with the Stars (which he won); attended the 2018 Academy Awards; was chosen as one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential (with a gushing tribute penned by Cher!)' modeled in the buff for ESPN Magazine's 'Body Issue'; and has made appearances on just about every daytime and late night TV talk show.  Reese Witherspoon and Sally Fields both made a huge fuss about him on social media.

 

Adam Rippon - Figure Skating Magazine
A year before the media frenzy
 
Adam rippon - 2018 oscars - getty images
And at the 2018 Oscars wearing, inexplicably, a leather harness

 

Back in the 1990s Harvey Fierstein was everywhere as the media's go-to person for gay commentary, but that was understandable since in that era there were almost no openly gay celebs to talk to except for Harvey.  That's not the case these days, where it seems there are more openly gay and transgendered personalities in the public eye than there are straight celebrities.  Yet Rippon has managed to monopolize the media's attention.

 

Harvey fierstein
 

As a skater Rippon has beautiful, ethereal style, and I applauded him for turning down a meeting with our homophobic vice president at the Winter Olympics.  It's also to his credit that he's openly gay, a decision that may have even hurt him with some of the judges at the Olympics, who seem loathe to acknowledge the participation of gay men in the sport.  However, I'm put off by how self-absorbed he seems, and his need to tell interviewers how fabulous he is. 

 

Adam rippon and reese witherspoon

 

The media's gushing over him brings to mind its obsession with the unbearable personalities of reality shows, which celebrate anti-social behavior (I've previously bemoaned the toxic "entertainment" Bravo's Andy Cohen has inflicted upon us with his 'Housewives of' franchise).  And like a reality star, Rippon embraces these vapid personality traits, boasting in interviews of being trashy, slutty and fierce.  GLAAD recently stated that Rippon is someone every LGBTQ teen can look up to.  But is he, really?  While self-confidence and a sunny disposition are wonderful personality traits to possess, it's undermined by boastfulness.  The intoxication in our culture with this type of "celebrity" is what helped put the disgrace we call president in the White House.  But I digress ...

 

As with pumpkin spice flavoring, does Rippon have to be an ingredient in everything of our pop culture?

 

 


2018 Oscars - Plodding and Predictable, But Still Enjoyable to Watch

Jimmy kimmel and oscar statueSince I'm easily entertained I don't bitch and moan about the Oscars telecast since I always find it engaging (and since I record it I fast forward the lame parts of the show and get through it in about three hours rather than four).  I enjoy the spectacle as well as the anticipation of controversial remarks during acceptance speeches.  Furthermore, I enjoy the camera shots of audience reactions, the demeanor of  presenters and their fashion choices.  I've categorized my observations of this year's broadcast into the following categories: Thumbs Up; Thumbs Down; Touching Moments; Gay Moments; Eye Candy; Reaction Shots; and This & That. 

 

THUMBS UP


 

2018oscars5
The over-the-top, but stunning, set design (which changed colors throughout the evening)

 

Jimmy-kimmel-oscars-live-stream
Reflecting on last year's Best Picture fiasco, Jimmy Kimmel cautioned this year's winners, "When you hear your name called don't get up right away, perhaps give it a minute just to make sure."

 

2018oscars9
Helen Mirren gamely played "Price is Right" model for the jet ski that would be awarded to the person who gave the shortest acceptance speech.

 

Taraji p henson
Perhaps the night's most provocative look was Taraji P. Henson's, who was in full 'Cookie' mode as she introduced Mary J. Blige.


 

THUMBS DOWN

 

Christopher walken 2018 academy awards
I don't recall what award Christopher Walken presented because I was just hoping he didn't fall because he seemed so frail. Also, with his pants hiked up above his waist he looked like one of the characters from "The Sunshine Boys."


 

Gael garcia bernal
The intro to the song "Remember Me" was sung by Gael Garcia Bernal and it was pretty painful (I found it more trying than Fergie's jazz rendition of The National Anthem).



Emily blunt
Emily Blunt's dress was somewhat of a matronly affair, what Mary Poppins might wear (perhaps it was intentional since she's playing Mary Poppins in an upcoming movie). The embroidered space on her bodice looked like it was missing a posting of "Today's Dinner Specials".

 

 

TOUCHING MOMENTS

 

Eva-marie-saint-oscars-20027962
Eva Marie Saint's comments before giving out the Oscar for Costume Design were touching and, at the age of 93, she was remarkably lucid.  I got a kick out of her calling Alfred Hitchcock, "Fred".  (Earlier in the evening Sam Rockwell called Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Phil Hoffman").



Timothee and armie
Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer look on happily as James Ivory accepted his Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "Call Me by Your Name."

 

2018oscars11
Frances McDormand's joyous expression when co-star Sam Rockwell of "Three Billboards" won for Best Supporting Actor.

 

Jordan peele
Jordan Peele's stunned, but happy, reaction after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".

 

2018 academy awards
I was smitten by Rachel Shenton, the writer of the documentary short "The Silent Child", which tells the story of a deaf four-year-old.

 

Miguel-oscars-remember-me-coco
The performance of the song "Remember Me" (from "Coco") for some reason made me teary-eyed, perhaps because I was thinking of a dear friend who died much too young at the beginning of the year.

 

Happy at oscar ceremony
Allison Williams watches proudly as her director, Jordan Peele, gives his acceptance speech after winning Best Original Screenplay for "Get Out".

 


GAY MOMENTS

 

Coco director
Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson, the openly gay director and producer of "Coco" (Best Animated Feature), thanked their husband and wife, respectively.

 

James ivory wins oscar
James Ivory's win for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Call Me By Your Name." And at the

 

Elio and oliver
One of the clips for "Call Me By Your Name" showed Elio and Oliver passionately kissing. This followed a comment earlier in the evening during Jimmy Kimmel's opening monologue directed at our homophobic vice president: "Hollywood doesn't make movies like "Call Me By Your Name" to make money, we make them to upset Mike Pence".


 

Daniela vega at oscars
"A Fascinating Woman" won for Best Foreign Film and the movie's star, transgendered Daniela Vega, had a regal bearing as she stood on the stage. Later she introduced the Best Song nominee from "Call Me By Your Name."

 

This is me from the showman
From the movie "The Showman", nominated song "This Is Me" could be adopted as a gay anthem, like "I Am What I Am" or "Born This Way."

 

EYE CANDY 

(Your tastes may differ)

 

Oscar at the oscars
Oscar at the Oscars (Oscar Isaac)

 

Chadwick boseman
"Black Panther's" Chadwick Boseman

 

Ansel-elgort-oscars-baby-driver
Ansel Elgort ("Baby Driver")

 

Jordan peele oscar winner
Jordan Peele

 

Oliver and elio
Armie Hammer

 

 

REACTION SHOTS

 

2018oscars
Margot Robie ("I, Tonya")

 

Sam rockwell 2018 oscars
Sam Rockwell

 

2018oscars8
Sam Rockwell and Common


 

Oscars4
Lupita Nyongo during the show's black & white newsreel opening

 

Actor from get out
"Get Out's" Daniel Kaluuya

 

Leslie manville 2018 oscars
Leslie Manville's look brought to mind the glamour of old Hollywood.

 

2018oscars10
Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalemet


 

2018oscars2
Jennifer Lawrence

 

Viola davis 2018 oscars
Viola Davis claps along enthusiastically to the rousing performance of "This is Me."

 

Oscars2018
Gleeful director Guillermo del Toro after verifying that his movie had indeed won Best Picture.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

Annabella s
At first glance I mistook Annabella Sciora for Tina Fey when she came onto the stage.

 

Viola davis 2018 oscars
The way she hobbled out to present the night's first award, it appeared Viola Davis was walking off a charley horse!

 

Mexican actor
I had no idea who two presenters were, so I had to Google their names. Wes Studi, a Cherokee actor, introduced clips from war-themed movies while Eugenio Derbez (pictured), a well-known actor in Mexico, introduced the song "Remember Me" from "Coco."

 

Mary j blige
And the Oscar for the night's most big-ass earrings goes to ... Mary J. Blige.

 

Benjamin bratt 2018 oscars
Benjamin Bratt kept his cool despite there being a huge piece of confetti, part of the "Remember Me" number, on his coiff.

 

Previous Oscar recaps:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

 



 


 

 

 

 


An Appreciation of Bette Midler

Bette midler 1970sAlthough I wouldn't call myself a devout fan, there's a soft spot in my heart for Bette Midler, a powerhouse of talent whose music, movies and TV appearances I've long enjoyed.  (Truth be told, I was also never a rabid fan of Judy, Marilyn, Liza, Barbra or Cher).  I wasn't yet living in New York during her Continental Baths years, never saw her perform live in concert, nor did I see The Rose or Beaches, but over a career that's spanned five decades I've had my share of exposure to her prolific creative output.  I'm happy she's had such a successful and enduring career (some might even refer to it as "divine").  Now, with her triumphant starring role in the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, this seems a perfect time to salute her through my memories.

 

 

Bette midler hello dolly
In "Hello, Dolly!"

 

FAVORITE SONGS

My playlist is comprised of songs that were released between 1972-1977 and 1988-1992.  But nothing after 2000.

  • Friends (1972, The Divine Miss M) - Listening to it now, I find the line, "I had some friends but they're gone, someone came and took them away," chilling, since 10 years after the album was released this verse would hit home for many of us as the ravages of AIDS began decimating the gay community.  

 

Bette midler - divine miss m
Her first album

 

  • Do You Want to Dance? (1972, The Divine Miss M) - This was Bette's first song to enter the Billboard Hot 40.  I bought it as a single.  In the late 1980s Bette sued the Ford Motor Co. when it used a singer with a voice very similar to hers in a TV commercial.  A district court ruled against her but an appeals court overturned that decision.
  • Twisted (1973, Bette Midler) - A brassy cover of a song first released in 1952, the following year it was one of the tracks on Joni Mitchell's album Court and Spark.
  • I Shall be Released and Higher and Higher (1973, Bette Midler) - Both start out quietly, then build to a roar.
  • Strangers in the Night (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - Remake of Frank Sinatra's classic, but with more pizazz.
  • Old Cape Cod (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - A cover of a song from the late '50s which Patti Page made famous.  When I'd walk at night in Provincetown on a moonlit night I'd have Bette's version playing in my head.

 

Provincetown - captain jacks wharf
Captain Jack's Wharf in Provincetown, a place I stayed a number of times when I vacationed in P-town.

 

  • Tragedy (Songs from the New Depression, 1976) - Not to be confused with the Bee Gees disco hit by the same name, this is beautiful, plaintive song.
  • Yellow Beach Umbrella (Broken Blossom, 1977) - This one always makes me think of the Club Baths, where I first heard this tune.  And it was perfect in that setting with lyrics that suggested anonymous encounters, such as "and nobody there will ever know me well", "gonna be a mystery to everyone", and "nobody there will ever find out who I am".  The song was previously recorded by Perry Como, Andy Williams and Three Dog Night, which I found very peculiar because the song has such a female vibe to it.

 

Bette_Midler_-_Broken_Blossom

 

  • The Wind Beneath My Wings (1988) - Schmaltzy as hell but I always loved it, and I liked its beautiful music video as well.  It was Bette's only chart topper.  Three years before she made it an overplayed smash I bought a 12-inch dance version by a group called Menage

 

Bette midler - the wind beneath my wings
Performing the song at the 2014 Academy Awards

 

  • Miss Otis Regrets (1990, Some People's Lives) - Written by Cole Porter in 1934, Bette revisits the genre that was her trademark early in her career.
  • From A Distance (1991) - Brings back memories of the first Gulf War.  It peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • Stuff Like That There and Billy-A-Dick (1991) - From the movie For the Boys, both songs were written during WWII, bringing Bette back to her roots when she was identified with tunes like the Andrew Sisters' Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Glenn Miller's In the Mood.

 

Bette midler - for the boys
"For the Boys"
  • Ukulele Lady (1998, Bathhouse Betty) - A perfect, quirky with a retro feel to it that is vintage Bette.
  • In These Shoes? (2000, Bette) - This is a cover of a song by the late Kirsty MacColl from her 1996 album.

 

MOVIES I'VE SEEN

She's appeared in more than two dozen movies but I've only seen a handful: Big Business (1988, with Lily Tomlin); Ruthless People (1986, with Danny DeVito); Down & Out in Beverly Hills (1986, with Richard Dreyfus); Outrageous Fortune (1987, with Shelly Long) and For the Boys (1991, with James Caan).

 

Bette midler - down and out in beverly hills
"Down & Out in Beverly Hills"

 

TV SHOWS, MAGAZINES, ETC.

Guest starred on Cher's CBS special (Feb. 12, 1975) along with Elton John.  This was one of the pop culture highlights of my senior year in high school.

 

Bette midler - 1975 cher special

 

In People Magazine's June 30, 1975 cover story, there was a photo of Bette planting flowers in front of her brownstone on Barrow St. (the block off Seventh Ave. South).  I live near this street and think of this photo every time I walk on that block.

 

Bette midler - people magazine

 

A great Vanity Fair cover as well as an amusing photo spread inside the issue (Dec. 1991).

 

Bette midler - vanity fair

Midler_vf

Bette midler - vanity fair mowing lawn

 

Serenaded Johnny Carson (May 21, 1992).  Perhaps the highlight of Johnny Carson's last week hosting the Tonight Show was Bette hopping on his desk and singing You Made Me Watch You.  This affection was sincere since Carson launched her career when she appeared on his show for the first time in the summer of 1970 (however, her first national exposure was earlier that year on the much less popular David Frost Show). 

 

Bette midler - johnny carson

 

Starred in the TV version of the musical Gypsy (Dec. 12, 1993).  It took 10 years of cajoling before the show's late creator, Arthur Laurents, agreed to allow the  project to go forward.  The telecast was the fourth most popular show of the week and it won Bette a Golden Globe (but no Emmy).  Sadly, the movie's director, Emile Ardolino, died from AIDS complications the week before the movie was telecast.

 

Bette midler - mama rose in gypsy

 

Appeared in an episode of Seinfeld (May 18, 1995).  Playing herself, she's injured after Jerry slides into her at a charity softball game (his girlfriend is Bette's understudy in a musical called Rochelle, Rochelle).  While recuperating in the hospital Kramer decides to take care of her and presents here with a tiny likeness of herself made out of macaroni ("macaroni Midler").

 

Bette midler - seinfeld

 

Her love of nature and the people of New York City was the impetus behind the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit that Bette founded in July 1995.  It has championed neglected community parks throughout the City, restoring them through clean-ups and the planting of trees and greenery.

 

Bette midler - new york restoration project

 

Starred in a CBS sitcom in 2000-01 titled Bette.  (In the pilot episode her daughter was played by 13-year-old Lindsay Lohan.)  Unfortunately, this show was not a hit, and it's since been used as a prime example of how a big name doesn't necessarily mean a show will be a success with viewers.

 

Bette midler - cbs sitcom

 

During the 2011 holiday season Bette was featured in a commercial for the Honda Acura as an over-the-top Christmas caroler.

 

Bette midler - honda ad

 

Finally, the Caricatures ...

Bette_midler_risko
Artist: Robert Risko

 

Bette midler - al hirschfeld caricature
Artist: Al Hirschfeld

 

Bette midler - david coles caricature
Artist: David Coles

 

And if the 22 images in this post leave you wanting more, try the 2000+ images on this Pinterest page devoted to the Divine Miss M.

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Calling All Armpit Lovers (Round 3)

Nick jonasA lady friend of mind has long been puzzled (and a bit amused) over the appeal of the fawning posts I've written about men's hairy armpits (both rank among the 25 most-visited posts I've penned).  All I can reply is, "It's a gay thing, sweetheart".  To meet the unquenchable demand of devotees for pics of this sexy body part, here's a third "sampler", titillating with a dozen more delectable selections from TV, magazine covers and advertisements.

 

 

Thick, black armpit hair
In this era of body grooming it's a rare treat to see such untamed pit hair on a young buck like this one.

 

Nick-jonas-attitude-magazine-cover-mister-scandal
It seems that singer Nick Jonas' "money-maker" is his armpits, which he seems to flaunt at every photo shoot.

 

Hairy.armpit.madmen
Actor Bruce Greenwood played a suitor of Joan's in the final season of "Mad Men". Here he casually shows some nice pit hair during a post-coital chat.

 

James dornan interview mag
Actor James Dornan in the pages of Interview magazine, June 2014. He portrayed Christian Grey in the movie version of "50 Shades of Grey". Looks much hotter here.

 

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James Franco, in a favorite pose for armpit lovers.

 

NBA Armpits
A hot Sports Illustrated cover. Although I hate the long, baggy shorts worn nowadays by NBA players, the sport gets points for its open display of armpits.

 

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Have I mentioned that Nick Jonas likes to show off his armpits?

 

NEW 2016ArmpitAd
This enticing poster ad for New York Sports Club got my attention as I waited to cross the street.

 

NEW black.armpit
I nearly tripped over my feet when I came across this ad at the 42nd St. subway station as I was rushing from the Times Square Shuttle to the Number 1 train during rush hour. 

 

NEW dennis rodman
Before he became a total flake and marred his appearance with tattoos and body piercings, NBA star Dennis Rodman was a sexy guy.  He was one of countless celebs of the day who appeared in the famous Milk Mustache ad campaign of the 1990s.  However, he was the only to show off his pits.

 

NEW reindeer.dancer.snl
This hottie was one of 4 dancers who appeared as reindeer in a holiday skit on SNL.

 

Nick jonas2
If I haven't yet convinced you of his favorite pose ...

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And here are the two other posts that pay tribute to armpits:

A Celebration of A Man's Sexiest Body Part

Paying Lustful Homage to the Male Armpit

 

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Gymnastic & Diving Studs Strut Their Stuff at the 2016 US Olympic Trials

Dames 42nd streetIf you're a gay man you're no doubt familiar with the musical number Dames from 42nd Street (the movie as well as Broadway show), the intro to Follies (Beautiful Girls), even the 'Parade of States' at the beginning of the Miss America pageant, all which feature a bevy of beauties to be ogled.  I thought of this as I watched the US 2016 Olympic trials for Men's Gymnastics and Diving.  I sat transfixed by the parade of hunks as they showed off their talents.  Muscles, handsome faces, nice nipples, sexy armpits. They have it all! 

 

 

Sam mikulak
Sam Mikulak

 

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Alex Naddour

 

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John Orozco
 
 Danell leyva people mag
Danell Leyva

 

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Steele Johnson

 

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David Boudia

While watching I found it interesting/amusing/annoying how every few minutes NBC's commentators felt compelled to mention that diver David Boudia was recently married and had a child.  Perhaps this is due to the public's perception that divers are gay, especially after the success of openly gay divers Tom Dailey, Matt Mitcham and Greg Louganis and gymnast Lleyva.  But as Freud once said, sometimes a diver is just a straight man. 

 

 David boudia and daughter


Finally, while researching this post I discovered that 17-year-old diver Jordan Windle has two fathers who adopted him as an infant from Cambodia after he was orphaned.  I didn't hear any mention of this during the telecast (of course, it may have been mentioned at the telecast's onset which I missed).

 

Jordan windle and two dads

 

I've previously written posts about gymnast Danell Lleyva and how divers are sexier than swimmers.  

 

 

 

 

   

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

James.corden.2016tonysWho 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.  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's relative unknown.  One excerpt:

CBS said, "This collision of theater and tele-vision 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.

 

Cate.blanchet.2016tonys

 

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".

 

Book.of.moron

 

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 countrfied 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

 

Anna.wintour.2016tonys
Anna Wintour, as always, showed up wearing sunglasses.  And, again, she went home without a Tony.

 

DIVERSITY, THY NAME IS THE TONYS

 

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

 

THRILLED JUST TO BE NOMINATED

 

Janekrakowski
Jane Krakowski ("She Loves Me")
 
Jonathan.groff
Jonathan Groff ("Hamilton")
 
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Brandon Victor Dixon ("Shuffle Along")
 
Michelle.williams
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!

 

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

 

TWO MORE "HAMILTON" FANS

 

Barack.and.michelle.obama.tonyawards
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

 


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.

 

Fourtwonine.sarahjessicaparker.andycohen

 

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

 

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

 

FourTwoNine
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.