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Tim Gunn Urges "Project Runway" Competitors to "Make it Work!" (Dec. 1, 2004)

Tim.gunn2On Dec. 1, 2004 the fashion-design reality show Project Runway debuted on Bravo and its viewers were introduced to the debonair, yet avuncular, co-host, Tim Gunn, and his catch phrase - "Make it work!".  (Not to be confused with RuPaul's catch phrase - "You better work!", from 12 years earlier.)  A few years later the show moved to Lifetime where it still airs - and Gunn is still part of the show.  Like the cast of another Bravo that debuted the year before, Queer Guy for the Straight Guy, Gunn distinguished himself with his approachable nature.

 

At the time he was hired for Project Runway Gunn was dean of New York's Parsons School of Design.  Since then he has hosted another reality show, Tim Gunn's Guide to Style; left Parsons to become chief creative director of Liz Claiborne; was hired as a spokesman for Macy's; and has published four books, the first which was titled Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style.

 

 Cher_snapoutofitWith all of this professional success, it came as somewhat of a surprise when Gunn revealed that he has been single and celibate for nearly 30 years, ever since a relationship ended that he never got over.  Reading this, I thought of a friend of mine who lost a partner in a car accident and another whose partner was murdered.  Both bounced back from these crushing losses and started new and successful relationships.  So when I read how Gunn has chosen to deal with his heartbreak I wanted to slap him like Cher did Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck and scream, "Snap out of it".  

 

 


Mario Lopez Teases & Pleases on "Nip/Tuck" (September 19, 2006)

Sean_christian_niptuckThe TV drama Nip/Tuck was created by Ryan Murphy and aired on cable network Fx between 2003 and 2010.  It told the story of two high-living Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, Sean and Christian, and their high-end clients and sexual conquests.  Although they were heterosexual and bedded plenty of women, the two had a big-time bromance going on between them, and a homoerotic vibe characterized the series. 

 

Niptuck_showersceneEnter Mario Lopez, who was introduced early in Season 4 (Sept. 19, 2006 to be exact).  He played a recurring character, a plastic surgeon, Mike Hamoui, with a killer body.  Christian encountered Mike in the shower at the gym and couldn't keep his eyes off him, jealously ogling his beautiful butt and washboard abs.  It's one of those scenes you want to watch over and over again.  To watch it in its delectable entirety, double click here.

 

Mario_lopez_a_chorus_line Mario_lopez_louganisAt the same time as this jaw dropping appearance, Lopez was also competing on Dancing with the Stars (he and his partner came in second).  Nine years before his Nip/Tuck shower scene, he had another water-oriented acting role, portraying Olympic diver Greg Louganis in USA Network's movie Breaking the Surface.  In this role he spent considerable screen time strutting around in a Speedo.  And two years after Nip/Tuck, he made his Broadway debut in A Chorus Line, playing the part of Zach, the director (pictured, far right).  It was reported that Lopez demanded more form fitting clothing, especially since hunky Nick Adams, who played the assistant director, got to wear tank tops that showed off his great physique.  


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. 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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


Gay Actor Rupert Everett Plays Gay in "My Best Friend's Wedding" (June 20, 1997)

Rupert_everett_best_weddingTwo months after Ellen DeGeneres made headlines by personally coming out and then having her character come out on her ABC sitcom as well, Rupert Everett played gay in the movie My Best Friend's Wedding.  He was besties with Julia Roberts' character, a bereft single woman driven to sabotage the wedding of the man she loves - her best friend in college, played by hunky Dermot Mulroney.  Everett agreed to play along as Robert's fiance as a way to make Mulroney's character jealous.  Awkward moments and madcap comedy ensued  Everett's role was somewhat of a watershed because he was a gay actor playing a gay role.

 

Dermot_mulroney2Dermot Mulroney, the man who breaks Julia Roberts' heart, should not go ignored since I think he was at the peak of his sex appeal when the movie came out (he was 33 at the time).  Perhaps if the movie had been released 15 years later he and Everett's character could have been the ones getting married.

 

Rupert_everett_bestfriendsweddingThe movie was a hit, grossing $300 million worldwide and Everett got raves for his supporting performance.  There was a talk of him getting an Oscar nomination but, alas, he was passed over; however, he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award (he lost to Burt Reynolds who was in Boogie Nights).  The snub left him somewhat bitter and he alluded to the fact that he wasn't nominated because was openly gay and that made Hollywood nervous.  The following year he had a role in Shakespeare in Love which was another box office smash, grossing nearly as much as Wedding.  

 

The 54-year-old Everett hasn't done a whole lot in the past six years, but he did have a role in the 2012 indie film Hysteria as the somewhat mad scientist who helps in the invention of the vibrator.      

 


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

 

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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.   

 

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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!

 

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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.  

 

 

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Carlos Santos - The Year's Sexiest TV Pitchman?

Carlos_santos Carlos_santos_metropcsA few years ago metroPCS had, in my estimation, some of the worst advertising on TV, with ads that dealt in dreadful Pakistani stereotypes.  This year, the company's ads caught my attention again, but this time in a very positive way because of their sexy, new spokesperson, actor/comedian Carlos Santos.  His jaunty swagger combined with a cute wink and broad smile at the end of his sales pitch are pretty irresistible.  Double click to see it here.

 

Santos joins a long line of appealing pitchmen from previous years:

  • Actor Matt Walton for Optimum Voice:

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  • The duo from Liquid Plummer Double Impact:

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  • The Right Guard guy from a few years ago ("The Man Your Man Should Smell Like"):

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  • Finally, Lucky Vanous, who in 1994 was ogled by appreciative female office workers as he drank a can of diet Coke at a construction site.

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With TV ads like these, why would anyone want to fast-forward through the commercials?

 

 

 

 

 

 


Paris Elects a Gay Mayor (March 18, 2001)

Klaus_wowereit_gay_berlin_mayor Bertrand_delanoe_gay_mayor_parisBack in 2001, in the space of just three months, two openly gay candidates were elected mayors of "world class" European cities.  First, 50-year-old Bertrand Delanoe (pictured, near right) was elected mayor of Paris on March 18.  This made Paris (with a population of 2.1 million) the largest city in the world with a gay mayor.  Then in June voters in Berlin (population 3.4 million) took that distinction away from Paris when it also elected a gay mayor, 47-year-old Klaus Wowereit .  (Coincidentally, the German city of Hamburg also elected a gay mayor that very same year.)  Delanoe remained mayor through the spring of 2014 when he was replaced by his deputy mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who became the first woman to hold the office in Paris.  

 

18 months after his election Delanoe was stabbed in the stomach as he walked through a street festival by a Muslim immigrant with homophobic views.  After surgery he remained in the hospital nearly two weeks.  (This happened a week before I arrived in Paris for my first visit.)

 

1213-annise-parker-houston-mayor_full_600 And then in 2009 Houston became the first U.S. city with 1 million+ residents to elect a gay mayor, lesbian Anisse Parker.  Before that, the largest U.S. cities with gay mayors had been Portland, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island.

 

 

 


Billionaire Malcolm Forbes Outed by Outweek Magazine (March 11, 1990)

Malcolm_forbesBesides his financial acumen, high-profile billionaire Malcolm Forbes was also well known for his hobbies of motorcycling and hot air ballooning, as well as his much publicized friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.  He died on February 24, 1990 at the age of 70, and two weeks later the fledgling weekly gay magazine Outweek ran a cover story outing him (cover date of March 18).  It was written by gay journalist, and rabble-rouser, Michelangelo Signorile.  (Although the cause of Forbes' death is listed as "heart attack", it is rumored that he actually committed suicide upon learning that he was HIV-positive.)

 

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OutingThe story about Forbes was actually just part of the story as the thrust of the article was about the double standard used by the media when it came to reporting on the private lives of closeted gays and heterosexuals.  The act of "outing" was controversial not only with the general public but within the gay community as well.  Because of its potential negative ramifications a debate raged about how ethical it was to reveal a person's sexual orientaiton before they were prepared to do so themselves.  Twenty years later it seems to be reserved mostly for closeted politicians who support anti-gay legislation. 

 

Outweek_final_issueOutweek_first_issueAs for Outweek it lasted for just two years.  Both its first (near right) and last issue (far right) were published during Gay Pride Week.


Suitable for Framing: TIME Magazine's Classic Cher Cover

Cher_TimeMag_1101750317_400 Now a single woman, and starring in her own variety show, 29-year-old Cher was in the midst of Version 3 of her career.  (V1 was as a singing duo with Sonny in the mid-1960's; V2 began in 1971 with their CBS variety show).  Her "emancipation" warranted a TIME Magazine cover story* and this glamorous cover from the mid-March 1975 became an instant classic.  (And since then Cher's career has continued its iterations, including Hollywood Cher; Disco Diva Cher; Infomercial Cher; and Retirement Tour Cher.) 

*Cover date of 3/17/75 but on newsstands March 11. 

 

 

EltonJohn_TimeMag_1101750707_400 LizaMinnelli_1101720228_400 LindaRonstadt_TimeMag_1101770228_400 Four months after Cher's TIME cover Elton John would get one of his own as well.  Other gay icons bestowed with covers have included Liza Minnelli (1972)*, Linda Ronstadt (1977), Madonna (1985) and Bette Midler (1987).  But none compare to Cher's in terms of "Wow!" factor (But Rondstadt's sultry cover comes close).

*Surprisingly, while Liza merited a cover story her even more iconic mother never had one.

 

    

 

    

 

 


Cher Gives Birth to Chastity Bono (March 4, 1969)

Chastity-bono-sonny_and_cher Cher was 22 years old when she gave birth to daughter Chastity on March 4, 1969.  Very few children who weren't actors (like Shirley Temple) or the offspring of presidents (e.g., Caroline and John-John Kennedy) received the amount of media attention as did Chastity Bono.  As a toddler she was carried out on stage by her parents to say good night at the end of every telecast of their CBS variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (which began as a summer replacement series in 1971 when Chastity was 2-1/2 years old.)   

 

 

Chastitybono Once the show went off the air in the mid-70s Chastity was able to grow up without the glare of cameras.  However, attention returned when she was a young adult.  First, she started a band named Ceremony and then she came out in the Advocate in 1995.  Her visibility took off upon becoming a guest columnist for the magazine, took a high profile positon with GLAAD and became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. 

 

 

Chaz_bono Chazbono_dancingwiththestarsAnd then in 2009 Chastity captured more headlines by announcing that she was transitioning to a male and had her name legally changed to Chaz Bono.  A documentary about this transition, titled Becoming Chaz, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and in May 2011 had its TV premiere on Oprah Winfrey's new OWN cable network.  Then in the fall of 2011 Chaz was chosen to compete on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.  More recently, Chaz went on a weight loss program and slimmed down, losing nearly 50 pounds by February 2013. 

 

Chaz's story about coming out to his parents (about five years before his public announcement) is told in the 1998 book Family Outing while a second book The End of Innocence: A Memoir, published in 2003, talks about his band and some trying relationships.