By Jeff Walsh
Nick Nolan's "Strings Attached" is a fun beach read of a book. I can safely say that, as I read it on a beach all day today. But seriously, this novel starts out like your typical gay young adult novel, but then adds a lot of additional layers and metaphors to make it an even more compelling read.
When the book starts, Jeremy has to call 911 for his drunk mother, who almost died... again. He ends up living with his aunt, with whom his mother had a falling out after the death of Jeremy's father. This aunt is incredibly rich, with butlers and a huge mansion overlooking the ocean. In short order, Jeremy goes from poverty to posh.
As you know is a gay young adult novel, you start lining up all the things that will likely happen, and most of them don't. Or few things happen as you initially suspect. If anything, I'd go as far as to say Jeremy's awakening about being gay, while integral to the story, is less dramatic than the family drama around which it is set.
By Jeff Walsh
A lot of times, when reviewing gay movies, I think that I am judging them far more critically than they may have been intended. Usually this frame of reference occurs when I think of the number of movies I have enjoyed in packed theaters of gay audiences, where every sassy comment and sexual remark was met with roaring laughter and people yelling back at the screen.
When I'm writing a critical review of a movie, I often wonder, would I have enjoyed this movie if I had watched it in that setting, as opposed to just popping in a DVD at home, myself, after work? It doesn't mean the movie would be any better, of course, but just shows how much the power of community can inform the experience.
On Sunday, I had the opposite experience watching an almost-completed print of "We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco." I knew it was going to be a heavy movie, given the subject matter, but I had no idea just how palpable the depths of sorrow flowing through the audience would be.
By Jeff Walsh
When we last caught up with Robin De Jesus, he was nominated for a Tony for the role of Sonny in In The Heights. He didn't win, but the show did win Best New Musical. De Jesus ended up performing that role on Broadway for two full years. Then, with just a two week break, he went to the new revival of the La Cage Aux Folles musical.
(If you want to read our earlier interviews first, we first chatted with him the day In The Heights was first opening Off-Broadway, and then nearly a year and a half later, when the show was on Broadway, and De Jesus was nominated for a Tony Award)
You may know La Cage Aux Folles better as The Birdcage, the movie with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a long-time gay couple who run a nightclub with a nightly drag show. There's a lot of twists and turns in the plot that I won't go into (but, if you're so inclined, they're detailed on Wikipedia). The main differences are that this is the musical version with a book by one of my heroes, Harvey Fierstein, and music by Jerry Herman. And, in this revival, the Robin Williams role is played by Kelsey Grammer, aka Frasier.
De Jesus plays Jacob, the supposed maid to the couple who desperately wants to prove to Zaza (the Nathan Lane role), that he's ready to be in the drag show. As you can see from the photo, De Jesus does a good amount of drag in the show. Not that he's a stranger to drag, as he performed as Angel in Rent on Broadway before.
And, to stick with tradition, De Jesus is once again Tony-nominated for his role in La Cage, and I'll certainly be rooting for him on June 13. He is always such a generous, positive spirit, it's always great to catch up with him.
Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
Watching "8: The Mormon Proposition," it's hard to get past the central irony of the Mormon church fighting against alternative marriage, given the church's polygamist roots. But this documentary covering the Mormon's church's fight against gay marriage does make you almost sorry for people who can put such questionable religious teachings above their own family members, friends, and loved ones.
The documentary sheds light on one of the core problems the Mormon church has with gay marriage, which is related to their concept of an afterlife. I will write it out without editorial comment for the sake of brevity. In a nutshell, when you die, you go to your own planet, are reunited with your spouse, and you then have babies and repopulate your planet. I can't watch such nonsense twice to see if I'm missing any details here, but suffice it to say if they allow gay marriage, then their afterlife doesn't work because you have two guys sitting on a planet alone, OK?
By Jeff Walsh
Let's address the obvious straight away. Evelyn Evelyn, the conjoined twin sister singing duo that played San Francisco this weekend, aren't lesbians, or gay, or trans, which may raise the flag of why I'd be reviewing their show for a gay youth site.
I find this sort of thinking to miss the mark entirely. Growing up as conjoined sisters gives them a unique take on life, sure, but it still shines the same light on all of the same issues we see here on a regular basis: difference, adversity, trying to fit in, and trying to pull away from a gift that you were given at birth. For the Neville sisters, it's one another; for everyone else, your sexuality.
As they sing in the bridge to their namesake song: "I never asked for this! I never wanted this! All that I want is some time to myself!" Sound familiar?
With that out of the way, seeing the sisters in their reluctant spotlight at the Great American Music Hall on Sunday night was inspiring. Even with the adoration from the crowd, the sisters always seemed timid and uncomfortable being center stage. In the darkness, they told the tale of their horrible upbringing through an inventive use of shadow puppets, giving us a peek at the tragedy that hangs just underneath the surface of their songs.
By Jeff Walsh
When you watch a movie called "The Big Gay Musical," you know what you signed up for. The only question is, will it deliver? Thankfully, this movie gives you all the laughs, songs, hot guys, and camp that you expect going in.
The movie centers on two actors playing Adam and Steve in an Off-Broadway musical. It has a queeny God, hot muscular angels, and a lot of campy dialogue with double entendres, like this one from their time in the Garden of Eden:
Adam: Last night, you figured out how to pull the skin back! It's so much better that way.
Steve: I know! Now, I really like bananas!
So, yeah, that's the kind of show to expect.
Offstage, the guy who plays Adam is sorting out how he feels about dating, monogamy, and hookups, whereas the actor playing Steve isn't out to his highly-religious parents, who are coming to opening night. With a few other characters and the slutty angels in the show, it ends up being just campy enough, just sexy enough, and with just enough heart to make it fun to watch.
By Jeff Walsh
When I first saw the program for Girlfriend, a new musical based on Matthew Sweet's 1991 album of the same name, I was surprised to only see two names on the cast list. I knew the show was about two teenaged boys who fall in love, but where would the drama come from? It just seemed a tall order to have no outside pressures or voices.
Watching the beginning of the show, though, made me think of a lot of the journals I see here on Oasis on a regular basis, and then I immediately remembered that gay teens don't need external forces to create drama. You can do enough damage on your own.
Girlfriend obviously takes place in the recent past, as the popular student Mike gives the nerdier gay boy Will a mix tape of songs he likes. Like, a literal cassette tape (You can see what one looks like here). Will, of course tries to figure out why this boy, who has all but ignored him for years, is now giving him cassettes and wanting to talk on the phone right before graduation. The mix tape becomes the soundtrack of their relationship, the songs they sing alone and together, and the way they can let their feelings come to the surface in ways they don't when they're just awkwardly talking.
Justin came out on Ugly Betty last night, and this is one of the sweetest, most subtle handlings I've seen on TV. If you want to catch up on the story line, check the four previous videos documenting the lead up to last night's episode by clicking this video and seeing the previous videos uploaded by this same user.
The writers, producers, ABC, and of course, Mark Indelicato all deserve a lot of credit for something so beautiful:
By Jeff Walsh
This past Saturday, Gavin Creel was in New York City, talking to me on the phone.
18 hours after this interview, a car picked him up early in the morning, and took him to the airport, where he boarded a jet to London. In a few weeks, he and the rest of the Broadway tribe of Hair will open the show in the West End. Creel was Tony nominated for his turn as Claude, the conflicted hippie who has to decide what's important for him as the summer of love overlaps with the Vietnam War.
I reviewed the show back in January, but didn't realize at the time that Creel was openly gay. Having figured that out at some later point, we had a few interview attempts, but our schedules weren't lining up.
With the clock ticking on how long Creel would be on American soil, before bringing his magical show of peace and love to London, we finally made it happen. Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
I was surprised to find out that, despite watching the show for many years, I've never interviewed a Project Runway contestant for Oasis before. This year, I was interested to talk with Jay Nicholas Sario, who lives in San Francisco, works for The Gap, and as of this writing, is still going strong on the show. We set up the interview recently through the show's publicist, only to discover that we work within a block of one another. Jay jumped on the phone call just as my automated corporate teleconference voice announced that the call was being recorded. He immediately jumped in.
Oh no... I'm nervous!
But there's no video?! They video'd you on Project Runway. This is just audio and it's not even going to be broadcast.
I'm not in the habit of promoting other sites. Usually, my role is telling people Oasis isn't a place for them to just join and start trying to divert traffic away from here in their first post. If you don't see a lot of these posts, it's because I delete them.
But, my friend Bradford is working on a new site called fabulis, and it seems like it'll be a classy venture, because, well, he's involved.
The reason I'm posting it here, though, is I know how many of you like FREE stuff, and right now, if you shoot a video of yourself, saying why you're fabulis, they'll send you a free T-shirt. If a lot of people like your video, you may even get a free iPhone, so since I know ya'll love the free, I figured I'd break the rules a bit.
Everything you need to know is here. If you want, feel free to post your fabulis video as a comment here, and we can all vote to help you get an iPhone!
I just got home from Sacramento, where I went to see the FINAL show in the FINAL CITY of the Rent Broadway tour, which is the FINAL time Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal will ever be in the show.
The crowd was electric, filled with many former cast members, and people who flew from all corners of the globe to be there.
When Adam Pascal walked out with his guitar, the crowd erupted. It seemed like it couldn't get much louder. Then Anthony walked out, and I realized I was wrong. The crowd was on its feet before they could even hit their marks, and they stopped and gave the crowd the time to calm down.
Anthony didn't start in with his normal opening line and instead said that this show, like every show, is dedicated to the memory of Jonathan Larson. Then it began.
Hey Oasis people in Texas and nearby, you should definitely try and catch the world premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's new pop musical comedy Give It Up! if you can. It is playing from this weekend through February 14 at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas.
Based on Aristophanes' ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, in which a group of women refuse to have sexual relations with their husbands until they end the Peloponnesian War. Beane and Lewis Flinn, who wrote the music and lyrics, bring the classic tale of the battle of the sexes to a contemporary American college (Athens University) where Lysistrata Jones is the head cheerleader at a school where the basketball team is content to lose every game. Determined to inspire them to become winners and care for something more than themselves, the ladies decide to hold out on “giving it up” until their team breaks the 30-year losing curse by winning a game.
By Jeff Walsh
I was interested to see the wildly-popular revival of Hair on Broadway because I think the gay and hippie movements are intertwined, as both really got started in the late 60s. While the history of the gay rights movement links the Stonewall Riots to the death of Judy Garland, as they happened during the week of her funeral, to me it's always seemed like the culture was already shifting sexually, spiritually and culturally in ways that demanded that homosexuality express itself more naturally.
In the 40-odd years that have passed since Hair first played Broadway, hippies have become a bit of a cultural joke, but a lot of their legacy is still with us: the sexual revolution (including LGBT acceptance), health food, drug culture, expanding consciousness in other ways such as eastern religions, and of course, the music.
So, it is interesting to see Hair through that lens in its current revival, as a snapshot of a huge cultural shift. Of course, if you could care less about any of that, you'd still be in luck, since it's just a fun time capsule of a show brought expertly to life with an exuberant young cast.
The Tudors: The Complete Third Season - starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as a young King Henry VIII, is now available for the first time on DVD this Tuesday, December 15th from Showtime and Paramount Home Entertainment. Set includes every sexy, scandalous episode PLUS royal DVD exclusives you can’t see anywhere else.