By Jeff Walsh
Tales of the City, the musical based on the beloved books by Armistead Maupin, opens in San Francisco tonight. The story is set in the 70s and brings together a magic group of characters for a timeless story of self-discovery, family, and community.
The show fuses Maupin's books with some of the creative team behind Avenue Q, and music written by singer Jake Shears and musician John Garden of the dance pop band, The Scissor Sisters (My review of the show will run later this week).
I recently spoke with Shears during the show's preview run, and here's what we had to say:
By Jeff Walsh
Violet Tendencies is a fun fag hag movie, starring Mindy Cohn (Natalie from TV's Facts of Life) as the hag in the starring role.
The movie, which comes out on DVD May 24, opens on a wedding, as a fag hag is getting married surrounded by hot gay men. The bride notes that she was the last fag left, quickly adding, well... except for Violet.
Violet is so surrounded by gay men that she barely knows how to navigate the straight world, and when she does meet straight guys through an online phone dating service, her gay-tuned candor and humor sends them packing.
Violet's gay friends are all in some state of taking their lives from where they are at present to a next level, whether that is monogamy or adopting children. When Violet finally meets someone interested in her, a Mormon architect with whom she doesn't share much of anything in common, she abandons her gay life for a chance at happiness.
By Jeff Walsh
Nick Adams has been in three of my favorite shows: A Chorus Line, La Cage Aux Folles, and now he is one of the leads in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, a new musical on Broadway based on the Australian movie. Sadly at this point in time, I've only seen the movie version of Priscilla, which I've adored for years, but that will be remedied as soon as possible.
For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, Priscilla is a road trip picture with two drag queens and a transvestite on a road trip through the Australian outback with a lot of campy bitchery and disco anthems peppered throughout.
Nick, 27, became more visible when he appeared in the revivial of A Chorus Line. He got press when he landed a 2(x)st underwear campaign, landing the shoot over his Chorus Line co-star Mario Lopez, which the media turned into a feud that both actors deny (publicly, at least).
He then appeared as one of The Cagelles in La Cage, where he stole every scene he was in as the odd drag queen out. And now, he recently opened Priscilla on Broadway, landing one of the main roles in the show, as well as the funniest, bitchiest, showiest roles in the piece.
In the movie, his role was played by a young unknown Guy Pearce. There's a good chance that magic will repeat itself with Nick's career.
Nick and I chatted on a spotty phone connection this week, and here's what we had to say:
By Ambition 15
This book is one of the best I've read in a while. It Gets Better by Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller is a book all about "coming out, overcoming bullying, and creating a life worth living."
Based off of the recent It Gets Better YouTube phenomenon, where celebrities, LGBT people and authorities made videos stating that it gets better. The book is a collection of essays by the people who did the videos, including the author and his husband.
This is a must read for any LGBTQ teen, whether your being bullied or not. It made me feel great every time I read it, knowing that there are others who went through exactly what I go through now.
I have a confession: I should've written this review at least a month ago. Unfortunately, I haven't finished watching “Anotherworld” by Fabiomassimo Lozzi. And every time I had a long afternoon with nothing to do, I told myself to watch it. I put in the DVD, watched another five minutes. But I couldn't finish it. Perhaps acknowledging the unwatchability of the film is effective in and of itself.
The movie starts out as a fantastic idea - it's an experimental piece containing a series of short (one to three minute) monologues on the subject of homosexuality and homophobia. It's an Italian film with English subtitles and the characters cover a broad range of ages, sizes, fetishes, and stories. A skinhead talks about homosexuality, a priest talks about meeting with a male prostitute, a S&M sub talks about his first sexual experience. There are prostitutes, men in married heterosexual relationships -- just about every trick in the gay book.
There are two types of book in the oddly defined genre of “Young Adult Literature” that I've become sick of. The first is, unfortunately, books about queer youth. This is because they almost all have nearly the same plot line- young queer person discovers their sexuality. It gets old. The second type is books by two authors, in which each author narrates from a different character's point of view, simply because I find it grating.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is a young adult novel about queer youth by two authors, each narrating from a different point of view. Somehow, miraculously, the book is fresh, funny, fascinating, and, without question, good.
Strange, I know.
Green (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns, also an internet celebrity of vlogbrothers fame, heterosexual), narrates as Will Grayson. Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Wide Awake, and many more, very gay) narrates as Will Grayson.
Will Grayson and Will Grayson are two teens from two different suburbs of Chicago and two very different worlds. John Green's Will is a straight boy whose best friend is Tiny Cooper, “not the world's gayest person... not the world's largest person... but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large.”
Attention Gleeks! (and non-Gleeks),
Looks like this week's Entertainment Weekly is worth a gander. Here is how the EW staff describes the cover story:
Gay teens are suddenly popping up in major roles all over television, with Glee’s popular pairing of Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) leading the way. How did gay teens go from marginalized outcasts and goofy sidekicks to some of the highest profile — and most beloved — characters on the likes of 90210, Pretty Little Liars, and Skins? And more importantly, how is this affecting real-life teens still facing the daily high-school realities of bullying, discrimination, and ignorance? The new issue of Entertainment Weekly investigates the history of gay teens on TV — from the angsty Rickie on My So-Called Life to sensitive-soul Jack on Dawson’s Creek to the slew of groundbreaking characters on Degrassi. We talk to the producers who fought for such progress, the actors who held the career-defining roles, and the activists who cheer recent advances — but are still pushing for more.
Check it out, and report back with your thoughts!
Wow, it started as a monthly "magazine" style site, is now a community site, and at some point in 2011 should morph into a full-blown social network, but on December 1, Oasis turns 15 years old.
I launched the site in 1995 and am amazed by what it has become, as the site has always been driven, created, and supported by the people who share their lives here.
Some of our biggest assets were accidents that I now take credit for, such as not creating a girls forum and a boys forum, which has led to people realizing the problems are universal and the support is welcome from everyone willing to help. This is also useful more recently as our trans membership increases, saving my inbox from messages about reinforcing gender binaries, etc., etc.
I've been a bit absent lately as I've been at a the tail end of one job that was sort of spiraling out of control, and instead of the unemployment I expected, I actually have a 3-day weekend right into a new job with an even longer commute. The upside is that I will be earning enough now to hire a developer and get this site (and my vegan social network) developed in parallel.
So, thanks to everyone who comes here to share their lives, welcome others, and let people who need compassion and concern feel virtually what they might not feel in their offline lives.
I may have created this thing, but everyone reading this is the reason it has become such a special place online.
By Jeff Walsh
Andy South was the youngest gay contestant on Project Runway this season, and made it into the final three contestants who got to show an entire collection at Fashion Week. He may look familiar on the site because he wrote an article for Oasis about his thoughts on fellow contestant Mondo Guerra revealing he was HIV-positive on the show a few weeks back.
Sadly, Andy didn't end up winning the show, but he seems very aware that Project Runway is an opportunity to build on, and from now, it is up to him to succeed.
We spoke last weekend, two days after the finale aired, and the first day he remembers sleeping in for a very long time, as he transitions from being a reality show contestant back to being a full-time fashion designer.
Here's what we said:
As a support of the Dan Savage-led "It Gets Better" Project, it was great to see my composer friend (and future Tony Nominee) Jay Kuo assemble a lot of Broadway's young talent to capture this message in song. Check it out!
By Jeff Walsh
On last week's Project Runway, one of the best designers this season, Mondo Guerra, created his own fabric for the challenge. The pink fabric with the plus-sign design became high-waisted pants that won him his third challenge in a row. When he was asked about the inspiration for the print, he clammed up and just said it was very personal to him. Nina Garcia, one of the judges, said she wished she knew the story that inspired the fabric.
In that moment, Guerra's life changed. The 32-year-old designer made the decision to share what he had kept a secret for the past 10 years, one that his own family didn't even know. He is HIV-positive.
When Guerra said this, the designer had his fellow contestants crying, and as he finished speaking, you could literally see the weight coming off of his shoulders, and a designer we already adored became that much more human, vulnerable, and less troubled.
HIV is sort of this thing that we hear about, but it rarely is made real to us. I know people that have it, but it's like knowing someone with high blood pressure. They take some pills, and their life seems fine. But it is always important to remind ourselves that this is an important issue in our community, and one that should be taken seriously.
The youngest designer this season, Andy South (who we'll probably interview in Oasis before the season ends) is the same age now as Guerra was when he was became infected, so it really hit home for him. South was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on Guerra revealing his HIV status.
Whether you like Project Runway, fashion, or not, Guerra's story is still reinforcing a lesson that we all need to hear: that whatever private issue is burdening you in life is probably not worth the effort of keeping it a secret.
Here's what Mondo and I said this morning:
After seeing this past week's episode of Project Runway, where Mondo Guerra revealed he is HIV+ during the runway show, I knew I wanted to get him in Oasis (you can read my interview with Mondo here). I think HIV/AIDS is an important issue to bring up with LGBT youth whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Andy South is also gay and the youngest contestant on the show this season, which is why I already planned to feature him in Oasis as the season progressed. Because Andy is closest in age to the members of our site, I asked him to share his thoughts on Mondo revealing his HIV status on Project Runway last week. This is what he wrote:
"Mondo and I are 10 years apart in age, and knowing he has been living with HIV for that amount of time made me really think about where I am in my life. Mondo was infected when he was my age and it really opened my eyes to how unpredictable life is.
By Jeff Walsh
"Promises, Promises" seems to have everything going for it. Recently out Sean Hayes (known for his amazing turn as Jack McFarland on Will & Grace) stars with Kristin Chenoweth (from Wicked and Glee fame) in a revival of a show written by Neil Simon, with music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David, based on the amazing movie "The Apartment," written by Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine, and it seems like there's so much going for it, it couldn't miss.
But then, it does.
It's like a lot of good things that never congeal into a great thing. I like Hayes and Chenoweth so much that it takes a while to get over the enjoyment of seeing them perform to realize you don't necessarily want to see them perform this show. Hayes brings out the bubbly charm that made Jack the highlight of Will & Grace, but a lot of strange fourth-wall stuff and one-liners never seem to get us invested in his story here (and no, I didn't have any problem accepting him playing straight).
By Jeff Walsh
I'll be honest. I almost skipped the press screening for Patrik, Age 1.5 (which is now playing in the Bay Area and select cities, details here).
The premise seemed too cute: a gay couple who think they're about to adopt a year-and-a-half old baby, only to find there was a typographical error and they get a 15 year old who is an anti-gay delinquent.
You just knew it was going to have some touching moment where they talked, found common ground, and ended with a warm hug that Patrik wouldn't pull back from. It is nearly a sitcom premise! I don't watch the Hallmark Channel at home, so why go out to the movies to see it?
But the fact that it won the audience award at the Frameline gay film festival here in San Francisco is what made me curious enough to attend. I just don't think a very special episode of Blossom is the kind of thing they would all vote for, especially for a Swedish film for which they all had to read subtitles.
As it turned out, this charming, beautiful movie took every expectation I had and defied it. Every character had their own engaging narrative, and nothing worked out as it might seem at first glance.
By Jeff Walsh
Semi Precious Weapons stormed into our lives with their monster hit "Magnetic Baby" in 2008. It was an online sensation before it appeared on their "We Love You" album in September 2008 (I previously interviewed lead singer Justin Tranter in Oasis).
The band recently released "You Love You," its follow-up after signing to Interscope Records. The new effort repeats the killer tracks with amped-up reworked versions of "Semi Precious Weapons," "Magnetic Baby," and "Rock and Roll Never Looked So Beautiful." Despite the familiarity I had with these tracks from the earlier CD, these new versoins are the definitive versions to me now.
The band is currently opening up for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball tour and even after playing these songs hundreds of times, they really captured all of their raw energy and dirty glamour.
The new songs bring a cohesive feel to the nine-song "debut," combining up-tempo numbers like "I Could Die," live staples like "Put A Diamond In It" and "Sticky with Champagne," and emotional ballads like "Leave Your Pretty To Me" and "Look At Me."