Interview

Alan Cumming: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Alan Cumming does it all well: actor, screenwriter, director, novelist, singer... hell, he even has his own fragrance. I got the chance to sit down with Cumming (that's my hand on his shoulder) when he was in town for the showing of Suffering Man's Charity at the San Francisco gay film festival back in June.

As these things often work, the interview is done in the afternoon on the day the movie is screening, so you basically interview him about a movie you haven't seen, and then once you see it, he's out of town. I was holding the interview to time it with the long-passed DVD release of "Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World," which never seems to show up in my mailbox. So, I figure, we'll just run the interview on Thanksgiving, since Alan is someone for whom the community is thankful.

In Rick & Steve, Cumming plays the elderly, HIV-positive Chuck, who adds a lot of un-PC color to the amazingly funny proceedings. Back when I reviewed that, a few of you did the math regarding his four-year relationship with his 19-year-old boyfriend, and were rightfully appalled. Hopefully LOGO goes for another season of Rick & Steve, which is just amazing work from queer cinema wunderkind Q. Allan Brocka.

Of course, like a true theater queen, I start the interview with the Cumming that I know best, the one who injected an amazing amount of fresh energy into Cabaret for its restaging on Broadway a decade ago. His Tony-winning role as the emcee ratcheted up the role's sex appeal and the good news (possibly an Oasis exclusive?) ... he might be hitting the boards again for the show's anniversary:

Julie Anne Peters: Interview

by dykehalo

I was really excited when I got a private message from Jeff asking me to do an interview with Julie Anne Peters. Originally I declined because I was too nervous and scared; after all I'm 15 year old who has no experience at doing any kind of interview. Eventually I asked Jeff if the offer was still good, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up on.

I can still remember the day I picked up Keeping You a Secret; it was Saturday August 5, 2006. KYAS (as many people refer to it) is the one GLBT themed book that has made the greatest impact on my life. To this day it is STILL my favourite book even a year later and after reading about 20 other GLBT themed books.

Julie has written 5 teen/young adult books: Keeping You a Secret, Luna, Between Mom and Jo, Far From Xanadu, and Define Normal. All of which are pretty great. My dog liked Define Normal the best; he ate all the corners of it.

The interview was done via e-mail, which wasn't bad because it meant I could take time, think of questions, consult my friends at lunch and consult Jeff.

Even though it was done via e-mail, her personality still managed to come out. She would e-mail me to let me know the answers were coming soon, and best of all actually, spell my name properly which is always a bonus when you spell a normal name a weird way.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is leading a new independent cinema in Thailand. His film "Tropical Malady" explores the relationship between two Thai men in a very natural, realistic way. The film is shown in two parts, though. The couple meets and develops their relationship in the first half, and then, in the second half, one of the men becomes a tiger and the other, a soldier, hunts through the jungle trying to find his lost love. It's definitely an experimental movie and, I assumed, telling some cultural myth or somesuch.

Recently, I attended a two-night program on Tropical Malady presented by the Pacifc Film Archive on the UC Berkeley campus. On the first night, an audience watched Tropical Malady on film. On the second night, we watched it on DVD and Apichatpong controlled the remote, stopping to tell stories about the filming, what he was trying to achieve, and any audience member could yell "Stop!" and ask a question.

So, when the movie hit the midway point, I was hoping to get some story of how there is some traditional Thai story of a boy who takes the shape of a tiger, and that would give me some cultural background that would help illuminate the second half. Instead, he only said, "And now, his boyfriend is tiger." So, apparently, I already knew everything I needed to.

John Amaechi: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

John Amaechi is the first NBA player to ever come out of the closet. His new book, "Man in the Middle," has started a dialogue about homophobia in the NBA, which was confirmed when another former player went on an anti-gay tirade when asked about hypothetically playing with an openly gay player on their team.

Not being a huge sports fan (which is a nice way to say I really don't like any sports), the book was a surprisingly easy, entertaining read. There were some amusing gaffes as a result, though. At one point, Amaechi talks about something putting him on the DL, and I kept thinking, "Umm, you've pretty much been on the down low for the duration of this book?!" Of course, he meant disabled list. There are a few sports terms that cross that line throughout, although contextually, it's more humorous than confusing.

Amaechi is currently working with the Human Rights Campaign as part of their coming out program, and recently spoke with Oasis about his life since the book's release.

Dan Gillespie Sells of The Feeling: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

The Feeling are a great pop band out of the UK, who have already delivered consecutive hit singles from their brilliant debut album "Twelve Stops And Home." The album was recently released in America, and the band is currently touring the country as part of VH-1's "You Oughta Know" tour with Rocco DeLuca and The Burden, and Mat Kearney.

The album has so many amazing songs on it, and really wins you over with its amazing lyrics. The first single "Sewn" (in Entertainment Weekly's Hot List this week) is a slow ballad that builds beautifully with a great melody, although my favorite track on the CD is "Never Be Lonely," which has a lot of emotional messages going on under the hood of a fun, upbeat pop tune.

The Feeling were recently in San Francisco, and I had the chance to interview lead singer and guitarist Dan Gillespie Sells on the band's tour bus, our interview ending 20 minutes before the band would take the stage. Despite the laidback vibe of the band on their bus, they all came alive onstage, working the crowd and bringing a great energy and enthusiasm to the stage.

Anonymous's picture

What No Feedback On My Interview?

Oh come on now guys, that was my very first interview! How about a little feedback. Did I sound okay? Too stiff? Too dopey?

Pat Nelson Childs: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Pat Nelson Childs isn't a stranger to Oasis members.

He found the site when looking for avenues to promote his book, Orphan's Quest, but realized there was more he could do here in addition to book promotion. He's taken the helm of the Gay Like Me anthology project, and is an active member of the community here.

It did present a slight problem, though, as Pat happens to write in the small sliver of stuff that I just can't get into as a reader. I don't really do fantasy, sci-fi, comics, or anything like that. (I do have a small window available for sci-fi if it is about some dystopic future, but otherwise I can't read that sort of stuff.)

So, the workaround: we're going to get someone else to do the review at some point (there's already an excerpt available here). Pat and I had a chat about his planned trilogy of Orphan's Quest books, his coming out, his background, his being HIV-positive, and the ability to have sex with guys as a teenager without questioning your sexuality.

Cris Beam: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

"Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers" tells two stories, the story of young minority trans girls coming to terms with themselves in Los Angeles, and author Cris Beam's journey from being someone who ran away from her own mother at a young age who becomes the foster mother of Christina, the main subject of the book. Cris and I recently chatted about how she started writing this book, what it taught her, and what she hoped people could learn from it.

The thing that was interesting to me in the book was... as much as I work with youth, it's all online, so there's a built-in distance. And reading your book, there was no way I would have been able to deal with everything. It was way too much drama for me.

Yeah, there was a lot of drama.

Was that something you had to learn to deal with, or do you just have a better tolerance than me?

There was a lot of drama, for sure. When Christina came to live with us, I was certainly overwhelmed a lot of the time, and made a lot of mistakes. So, it was definitely tough. I got used to it gradually, I think, because I was teaching at the school. So, I acclimated in a way.

Christina from Transparent: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

When I went to the San Francisco stop on the book tour for Cris Beam's "Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers," I got a chance to chat with Christina, the trans girl Beam primarily wrote about in her book. While Beam was busy signing books, we went outside on Castro Street for a quick chat for Oasis. Having read about the shy, withdrawn Eduardo in the book, it was certainly a much different story being with the boisterous Christina, who had such a great energy about her:

So, you first met Cris when you were how old?

I was around... 15? 14? It was briefly that I met her at the school, the first time. As she explained, I was always running off. I never wanted to be in class. I was just not a school for learning. Everybody was doing their own thing, having their CD players, going to the computer room. The teacher was never, like, around so...

What kept you showing up at all?

Exactly, huh? When I could have hung out anywhere else? I think the fortunate thing was my parents were always implementing education on me? And even though they weren't demonstrating how, because my parents never graduated, or completed junior high.. so it just gave me a reason to keep on going. I wanted to prove how good I can be.

Tommy Roddy of Pride High: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

"Pride High" dumps the metaphors. The characters in this comic book aren't 'mutants' just for the sake of indirectly talking about homosexuality. Nope, they are young, gay superheroes.

The comic's creative force, Tommy Roddy, recently (we're stretching the bounds of "recently" here, it was back in December, I think) spoke with me about his comic book (episode 3 of 12 was just released), the process of creating a comic, what's in store for the future of Pride High, as well as some of his own backstory and coming out.

Pride High is out now, so what was the origin and the gestation period for it?

It was probably about five years, I think. It started off as a round-robin fiction group. I forget the exact number of us, but it was over 10 writers. We created all these characters in the same, shared universe in anticipation of the online roleplaying game "City of Heroes." The game was in development for far longer than any of us expected, so we had years to write stories and build up our own little mythos. When the game finally came out, the stories took a backseat to actually playing the game. But I eventually began to miss the stories. I took time out from the game to write a novel-length narrative about teen heroes who would go on to become Pride High. The reaction from friends was very positive. However, the consensus was that the story would make a much better comic book than novel, given the superhero genre. I agreed.

Howie Michael Smith Interview

By Jeff Walsh

After seeing some Broadway shows over the holidays, one of the truly breakout performers I got to see was Howie Michael Smith in Avenue Q. In the dual role of Princeton and Rod, Smith is a flurry of activity. You can see his pure joy of being up onstage and bringing two distinct personalities and voices to his characters in the show.

Princeton is the character that moves to Avenue Q at the start of the show, wondering what he can do now with his B.A. in English. He started apartment hunting on Avenue A, but couldn't afford any of the rents until he got way out until Avenue Q. He falls in love with Kate Monster, and even has a sex scene during the show.

Rod is the older, closeted character that sits home and reads books about Broadway musicals. He seems to be fashioned after Bert, with a hidden crush on Nicky, his Ernie. (Not that Bert and Ernie are gay or anything!).

Douglas Carter Beane: Interview

By Jeff Walsh

With "The Little Dog Laughed," Douglas Carter Beane got his play about a closeted gay celebrity, the hustler he falls in love with, and the actor's domineering chatterbox of an agent on Broadway. The show explores the fascination we all have with the sexuality of celebrities, and the pains people will go through to make sure stars are seen as heterosexual by the majority of the ticket-buying public.

Beane is best known for writing, "Too Wong Foo, Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar," which had Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo in drag back in the 90s. No matter how successful he is with "Little Dog Laughed" or "As Bees In Honey Drown," To Wong Foo will always serve as his calling card for many people. In a few short months, Beane's book for a Broadway restaging of the Olivia Newton John's camp classic "Xanadu" will also hit the stage.

Beane recently chatted with me about Little Dog's closing on Broadway, fatherhood, Xanadu, gay porn, actors' bad taste, Perez Hilton, and celebrity closets.

Byron Katie Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Two years ago, I saw a notice for a book event by Byron Katie, whom I had never heard of prior to receiving that bookstore e-mail. I'm always game to hear new voices, and the name of her then-new book, "I Need Your Love -- Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead" was certainly intriguing. So, I showed up early for the lunchtime event in San Francisco's financial district. I grabbed a copy of her book, figuring I'd decide during the event if I were going to buy it and get it signed after she spoke.

The chairs slowly filled up, and people from the bookstore started passing out "Judge Your Neighbor" worksheets, in case we wanted to do "The Work" with Katie during the event. People around me whip out their pens and are all excited for the opportunity. "Are you going to do The Work," the man next to me asks. I told him I don't know what he's talking about. He smiles and says I'll know soon enough.

Finally, the place is standing room only and Byron Katie appears, except there seems to be some communal understanding that she is just "Katie" to everyone. Her presence is so at ease and embracing, my first impression was that whatever she uses to get to that place, sign me up.

Sal Sapienza Book Review / Interview

By Jeff Walsh

In "Seventy Times Seven," Salvatore Sapienza's debut novel, Brother Vito is living a double life. By day, he teaches the boys in his high school religion class. But at night, he might be anywhere from a Pet Shop Boys concert, a dance floor, or a sex club.

It's not the book you're thinking, though. Vito isn't living a double life. The brothers in his house know he's gay, and his gay friends know about his religious life. Throughout the course of the novel, Vito struggles to choose between two sides of his being that seem perfect and whole to him, except they can't coexist.

Obviously, you might hazard a guess at which side wins out, because otherwise they'd be writing this book up on religious websites instead. But the journey is interesting because of that duality. Vito has a true yearning for the gift that he finds in his religious life and its spirituality. It isn't the closeted priest and the big declaration or scandal that people might expect. As Vito weighs the pros and cons, he keeps making good points for each. It isn't that he just has a blind spot that prevents the decision.

Robin De Jesus Interview

By Jeff Walsh

Like many people, I first saw Robin De Jesus when he played the lead role in the movie Camp, which continues to be one of my favorite gay movies. The movie features teens dealing with their emotions, crushes, and sexualities at a summer camp that puts on different plays and musicals the whole time. I felt that he was the heart of the movie, and beautifully captured the awkwardness of that age.

Since that time, I've kept tabs on Robin, seeing if he's in any shows whenever I'm planning to go to New York City and such. This past trip, when I saw the Rent theater, for a moment, I wondered if he was still in the company, but I already had tickets for other shows.

The day before I flew back west to San Francisco, Robin posted a bulletin on MySpace that previews for the new show he's in were starting the following day, so while I was landing in Oakland, he was performing in "In The Heights" at the first preview. The show opens tonight Off-Broadway (Break a leg tonight, Robin!) and sounds like a fun night out at the theater. I'll let you know in a few months.

Alex Sanchez Interview

By Jeff Walsh

With the trilogy of books that began with "Rainbow Boys," Alex Sanchez created indelible characters that have helped thousands of gay young adults see fiction that reflected their lives. In his latest book "Getting It," Sanchez has fun with the idea of a straight teenager who wants to get the girl and, after seeing Queer Eye on TV, enlists the help of the gay kid in his high school to help him win her heart.

Sanchez spends most of his time writing in Thailand these days, so we did an interview over Skype recently.

Well, let's start with Thailand. That's interesting to me, because I spent six weeks there and actually wrote my novel longhand down on a beach on Koh Samui.

Oh, cool. When was that?

A little more than ...two years ago? Three? I'm just finishing it up now.

Excellent.

Gideon Glick Interview

By Jeff Walsh

I've already reviewed "Spring Awakening" back when I was on the east coast for the holidays. The Broadway show has really stuck with me, both the music, the story, the visuals, everything... so, I was pleased to find out that Gideon Glick, 18, whose character Ernst is seduced by another boy in the show, is openly gay and willing to chat with Oasis.

We spoke recently about the show, his thoughts on being an openly gay actor, and how his desire to see Queer as Folk brought him out of the closet in the seventh grade.

But, of course, we start off with Spring Awakening...

What a great show you ended up in there...

Yeah, it's quite fun!

Were you in it from the whole Off-Broadway production and everything?

Yeah, I got in on the Off-Broadway production. There were workshops and all beforehand, but I started Off-Broadway.

George Takei Interview

By Jeff Walsh

One of the breakout shows on television is Heroes, which tells the story of a group of people who discover they have special powers and a role in saving mankind.

One of the storylines involves Hiro Nakamura, played brilliantly by Masi Oka (who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance), a Tokyo programmer that can manipulate the time-space continuum. On the episode airing on NBC this week, the character's father will enter the series, played by Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei.

And he has personal experience as a hero. Takei came out as gay in 2005, in response to a gay marriage bill in California, revealing to the press that he was gay and has been in a relationship for what is now going on 20 years.

This weekend, I got the chance to chat with George from his home in southern California by phone. While I'm not the biggest Star Trek fan, I've certainly seen nearly every Star Trek episode and movie at this point. But, still, as soon as he answered the phone, his unique voice was unmistakable. We had a relaxed, fun chat with a lot of laughs that also touched on a lot of topics, such as his being held in an American interment camp as a Japanese American during World War II, his role on The Howard Stern Show with his signature "Oh my!" tagline, the fight for GLBT equality, and the correct pronunciation of his last name (after I screwed it up). But, our conversation started off discussing Heroes and his latest role.

Brent Hartinger Interview

By Jeff Walsh

This week, the second sequel to Brent Hartinger's "Geography Club" will be released. "Split Screen" is actually two books in one. One book, told from Russel's point of view, is entitled "Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies." The other covers the same timeframe, but is told from Min's point of view, and is entitled "Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies." This time, Hartinger's cast of characters are spending time as extras on a horror movie being shot in their hometown.

Brent and I had a long chat that went into all different areas, but covered a lot about his view on writing sequels, a lot about writing in general (a LOT), our shared belief that there is no writer's block, and why he thinks the younger generation that is supportive of the GLBTQ youth movement are going to be the people who change the world for the better.

Reichen Lehmkuhl Interview

By Jeff Walsh

In his book "Here's What We'll Say: Growing Up, Coming Out, and the U.S. Air Force Academy," Reichen Lehmkuhl provides an eyewitness account of the Air Force Academy under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The book chronicles his growing acceptance of his sexuality and the eventual formation of an underground group at the Academy, started by Reichen, which enabled gay cadets to provide alibis for one another to protect their sexuality from being known. The book's title is taken from the phrase the group used to preface their alibis. Reichen recently spoke with Jeff prior to his book tour appearance in San Francisco. Here's What We Said...

So, what prompted you to write the book?

I wanted to write the book since I was a cadet at the Academy. I always tell people 'Someone should write a book about this place,' or 'Someone should make a movie about this place.' So, I wrote the book. About two years ago, I started, and it was right around the time that I was separating completely from the Air Force and the Air Force Reserves.

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