On one strange day a couple weeks ago I found myself watching Divorce Court on daytime television. A couple weeks later it shows up on DListed. How bizarre. Bizarre because this is the only Divorce Court episode I've seen in a LONG TIME and yes, it was exceptionally awesome. You must watch this woman hum her anger away.
September 30, 2010
In my constant reverence for the diva in all shapes and sizes, I shine the light, now, on Miss Deborah Harry. The woman is 65 years old and one of the most iconic women of punk rock of all time. Really, who rivals her? Patti Smith, sure, Chrissie Hynde, OK. But Patti and Chrissie were grungy, dirty girls in all black with busted faces. There’s no doubt that Patti’s Horses (1975) beat Debbie to the punch with the whole “girls can rock and don’t mess with us” thing. But with 1978′s Parallel Lines, Harry and Blondie hit it out of the park. And boy did they have style doing it.
Blondie’s first was their self-titled album in 1976, attempting to cash in on the synergy of art, rock, glamour and punk evidenced by the success of NYC joints like CBGB, Max’s Kansas City, and Studio 54. Harry had been in some bands before Blondie: a folk rock outfit called The Wind in the Willows in the late ’60s, then a rock band called The Stilettos, where she met her soon-to-be-boyfriend and co-band leader, Chris Stein. By then, Harry had been a waitress, a dancer, and a Playboy bunny, and it was her famous two-tone blonde mane that attracted plenty of Hey Blondie!‘s from many a drive-by truck and a-hole. Well, she certainly cashed in on that crass catcalling in the most powerful way possible: becoming a music and fashion icon.
The band’s first two efforts were more or less commercial duds. But somehow the stars aligned with Parallel Lines and four of the album’s biggest hits have sold twenty million copies since its September 1978 release: Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl, One Way Or Another, and my absolute favorite, Hanging On The Telephone. This was also an album that meshed nicely with the emergence of music video culture; Heart of Glass and Hanging are GREAT videos where Harry’s cool, casual lip-synching are overshadowed by her expressive eyes and glossy, red lips. Or, furthermore, by the uncanny control of her voice, especially with Hanging, during which her voice often transforms into one of the sexiest growls in rock history.
The following two records did fairly well with 1980′s Autoamerican giving us Rapture and The Tide Is High, but it’s Hanging that, to me, represents the perceived mad woman, the woman on the edge of insanity, the woman who’ll destroy your world if you let her.
She’s the woman I want to know. She’s a woman I wish my world could’ve overlapped with 32 years ago.
I just read about a gay teenager in Indiana—Billy Lucas—who killed himself after being taunted by his classmates. Now his Facebook memorial page is being defaced by people posting homophobic comments. It's just heartbreaking and sickening. What the hell can we do?
Gay Bullying Victim Who Survived
Another gay teenager in another small town has killed himself—hope you're pleased with yourselves, Tony Perkins and all the other "Christians" out there who oppose anti-bullying programs (and give actual Christians a bad name).
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates—classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.
Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.
"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."
I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
So here's what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.
I've launched a channel on YouTube to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don't dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we've gone and things we've experienced—that we would've missed out on if we'd killed ourselves then.
"You gotta give 'em hope," Harvey Milk said.
Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.
The video my husband and I made is up now—all by itself. I'd like to add submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds. (Go to www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject to find instructions for submitting your video.) If you're gay or lesbian or bi or trans and you've ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, "Fuck, I wish I could've told him that it gets better," this is your chance. We can't help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don't think they have a future—and we can help them.
They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.
Thanks, Dan Savage.
My friend Ann's:
September 29, 2010
“I love Rachel and she’s taught me everything I know. But there’s a point where either I do it now or I’ll never know what it’s like to spread my wings and soar," says Brad.
"We couldn’t stop hugging and we couldn’t stop crying. He did this with such class and elegance. And I get it. I just told him, ‘I’m here for you always.’ We have a relationship that’s not normal. I jump into bed with him and wake him up and we have these pow wows and he’s like, ‘Wow, I haven’t brushed my teeth,’ I don’t want to hire somebody for the purpose of the show, we just got lucky. No one’s ever going to be Brad to me," says Rae-Rae.
Come to Philly, Brad. Let's make a stylish life together.
September 28, 2010
Catching Up With the Voice of She-Ra, Melendy Britt
To celebrate the cartoon's 25th anniversary, we chat with the voice of She-Ra about feminism, the show's transgender angle, and why she was such an icon for the gay community.
By Noah Michelson
If you were a girl or a burgeoning homo growing up in the mid-'80s, chances are you couldn't get enough of the beautiful blond cartoon ass-kicker known as She-Ra. First introduced in March 1985 in the animated feature film, He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (She-Ra [aka Princess Adora] is He-Man's [aka [Prince Adam's] twin sister), She-Ra was soon after given her own spin-off television series, She-Ra: Princess of Power, which began airing in September 1985.
To celebrate She-Ra's 25th anniversary, Mattel and Classic Media are rolling out commemorative programs. Mattel will release collectibles on www.MattyCollector.com throughout the year, including a She-Ra action figure and Classic Media is releasing the entire She-Ra series on DVD as well as making episodes from the first season available on iTunes and Hulu.
We caught up with the voice of She-Ra and Princess Adora -- as well as many other characters, including Batgirl -- Melendy Britt. An actress, voice-over coach, and horse lover, Britt chatted with us about She-Ra as a feminist, She-Ra's transgender angle, and why the superhero was such an icon for the gay community.
READ THE INTERVIEW AT OUT DOT COM!
September 21, 2010
Remember "Money Can't Buy You Class"? Yeah, that was Countess Luann's contribution to the cause. Oh, and "Don't Be Tardy For the Party"? Yup, that was Kolciak's brilliant debut single. Now we have THIS to make fun of:
September 20, 2010
Let’s talk flip flops, gentlemen. They are not acceptable with just about any pant, and especially unacceptable with jeans of all kinds. So you’re going to say ‘But it’s 90 degrees out and I can’t handle socks and shoes!’ or ‘I just don’t give a shit about my shoes.’ Well, summer’s over so Excuse #1 is finally null, and as much as you don’t give a shit about your shoes, I give a shit about not seeing your disgusting toes.
There are acceptable uses for flip flops, sure: college and gym showers, when wearing shorts (still questionable) and at the beach. If you’re going out to bars and clubs with enough sense to put together an outfit that you are hoping to attract sex with, why not just put some damn shoes on. Sneakers, loafers, Keds, moccasins, espadrilles (yes, they exist for men), boots, anything will do, really. As we discussed earlier, pants may be rolled up or cuffed to expose your ankle if you feel that your dogs are just going to DIE from the heat.
What’s sad is that the flip flops phenomena is so widespread and it appears to be a generational marker. If you’ve taken your dining hall footwear out into the real world, chances are you were born after 1975. Our elders think it’s gross and indicative of a lazy, self-absorbed wave of youth that believes they don’t need to obey simple customs of civility. Can’t you just envision a tween walking around your city with ultra-skinny jeans and flip flops texting their bff, sunglasses on and iPod buds in, running right into a 50 year old professional on the sidewalk. It’s embarrassing.
To make matters worse, these flimsy little pieces of rubber passing for footwear tend to make the most obnoxious thwack noise, don’t they? And trust, you can learn to wear flip flops and NOT make those sounds. But, perhaps to rub it fashion’s face, young folk will just thwack-drag-thwack it up, intentionally making as much noise as possible. That’s when you want to rip them off their feet and push them into a pile of broken glass. Don’t make us do that, please.
For Very Glossy.
September 15, 2010
Dolan, left, Schneider, right.
When Michael Kowalinski interviewed Xavier Dolan for us earlier this year, the 21 year old French Canadian director remarked, ‘When people play hard to get it turns me on.’ Dolan might just as easily have been describing the theme of his second film Heartbeats, which screens at the Toronto International Film Festival today. The film tells the story of two best friends, a young gay man (played by Dolan) and his best girlfriend (Monia Chokri) who meet a drop dead gorgeous guy (Niels Schneider) with ambiguous sexuality, and quickly become consumed in their efforts to woo him, at the cost of their friendship. Wisely realizing that his second film would inevitably be compared to his award-winning debut I Killed My Mother, Dolan created a film that could hardly be compared to it. Bearing the stylistic influence of directors like Wong Kar-wai and Pedro Almodovar, Heartbeats seems almost like the work of a different filmmaker. The most thrilling moment occurs midway through the film in an impeccably edited sequence when the two friends watch their obsession dancing while The Knife’s ‘Pass This On,’ plays on the soundtrack. A simple love-triangle story at it’s core, the energy and style that Dolan brings to the film as director, producer, and editor makes Hearbeats both unique and effective. The film screens at 6:15PM today, while an exclusive engagement begins Thursday, September 23rd.
Text C/O Butt.
September 9, 2010
See, when I first started this blog I was nuts about it and posted like 45 things a month. The past week I've been mesmerized by my favorite, not so gay author, Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. Here's a little Esquire piece about it:
The first thing people are going to want to know about Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28) is if it measures up to Franzen's last novel, The Corrections. It measures up. In fact, if you liked The Corrections, you may like Freedom even better. Or not quite so much. It doesn't matter. Some like Sticky Fingers and others like Exile. Some say Bird. Others say Magic. These are fun arguments,1 but they're not important ones. The important thing is that The Corrections is a great novel. So is Freedom.
Great isn't a term much associated with American novels these days. That's partly because so many Americans have given up on big books.2 But it's also because many of our writers have given up on the very notion of greatness. Franzen hasn't. David Foster Wallace may have cashed in his chips, but Franzen isn't just hanging in, he's doubling down. And so Freedom kicks against the pricks like a thing intent on being. Whatever else Freedom is, it's a great slab of a book. Check out the specs: 576 pages (small font, tight spacing). Check out the sweep: a large cast of intergenerational characters, a narrative that covers more than 30 years and engages issues ranging from the influence of Big Coal on our politics to the way sex can both create love and destroy it. This is a book that acts as though people still had long conversations, still read long books.
This makes Franzen a writer deeply at odds with his times. While his contemporaries content themselves with small books about nothing much or big books about comics, Franzen delivers the massive, old-school jams. It's not that Franzen's prose makes other writers seem untalented; it's that he makes them seem so lazy, so irrelevant, so lacking in the kind of chutzpah we once expected from our best authors. Freedom doesn't name check War and Peace for nothing. It's making a claim for shelf space among the kind of books that the big dogs used to write. The kind they called important. The kind they called greats.
Is all this talk of greatness hopelessly out of touch? Probably. The Great American Novel has likely gone the way of the Great American Radio Drama. But I hope not. I hope that books like Freedom will still play a role in the culture, still engage us in a serious conversation about the anachronistic things that matter most — our families, our lovers, our country, our planet. Freedom reminds us just how much these things matter, reminds us that they matter more than Scotch and jeans and Jake Gyllenhaal. It lets us know that these things are worth thinking and fighting and maybe even reading about.3
1. Correct answers: Let It Bleed and Jordan.
2. According to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll, in one year, the typical American reads four books. One in four adults reads none.
3. If you disagree and dislike both The Corrections and Freedom, I'd be interested why. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest some better contemporary novels.
In fashion we love a good portmanteau. You know, the blending of two words like man and nanny to make a manny. One of the most egregious and depressing fashion manifestations of this hobby? Manpris. Capris are, by all definitions, a typically female item of clothing, a functional halfway point between shorts and pants. So why can’t men indulge in such functional fashion? Because they are ugly as sin on a man and should be banned from public view and eliminated from retailers worldwide.
Worldwide is an important word, here. Europeans seem to love them. And, to be fair, they’ve been employed for reasons of sport. Capris have also been called pedal pushers because they’ll stay out of your greasy bike chain and a Google image search will turn up plenty of Euro tennis players bouncing around the court in manpris. OK, fine. But for walking around town, touristing and cafe-ing? Please, for the love of all things holy, keep those manpris at home.
Plenty of ink has been shed on the tragedy of the manpri. A fun StyleCaster post lists eight trends men wear that women hate and a Huffington Post story about the Stupidest Mens Products That Should’ve Never Been Invented, include the manpri and in the HuffPo post a disturbing combo of manpris and mantyhose (yup, spanks for dudes). Anything you can do to stop men from wearing these horrible fashion mistakes is much appreciated.
September 2, 2010
And he dishes on bitches left and right!
Some favorite excerpts:
On designer Isaac Mizrahi, who Tim calls a “snob”: Don’t even get me started on Isaac Mizrahi. In my view, he’s one of the world’s biggest divas. One time, I saw Isaac throw a fit about a security guard from the second-floor showroom at Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Times Square offices. Why, you may ask? Was the guard stealing? Harassing guests? Showing up late? No, he was wearing brown. Can you imagine having your senses so offended by a color that it provokes such an extreme reaction?… Oh, please, I was so kind to him. I mean, I wouldn’t have the words to describe some of the more abhorrent behavior. He really is a terrible, terrible, terrible person.”
On Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis: “One of the angriest people I’ve ever met. [She] kept cursing under her breath in anticipation of her mother coming — ‘goddamn bitch,’ almost as if she had Tourette’s syndrome… I was so horrified by how she treated her mother in front of a lot of people. Good heavens, you’re an adult!”
On having an earth-shattering relationship, and how he hasn’t gotten laid in a while: Gunn also writes about a terrible relationship he had over 20 years ago, which ended with a betrayal so wounding, he has not risked a romantic involvement since. It’s been decades since he has had sex, he says, though he stresses he’s happy with the decision. “I wanted to say that, whether you’re gay or straight, you can live a celibate life and be perfectly satisfied and happy.”
On Padma Lakshmi being unprofessional: I go for long periods of time when I feel like casual politeness is extinct. I received an e-mail recently from a certain glamorous host of Top Chef. I won’t say who she is, but she was once married to a world-famous novelist. She was looking for a designer for her jewelry line, and I said I would put up my radar and send her anyone I thought might be a good fit. Well, I found someone terrific, discovered she was available, and sent along her résumé. I was very proud of myself for making such a great match. Then I never heard back. Nor did the designer. I was so embarrassed. Here I had this great designer all excited, and then it was as if I’d made up the whole gig. Either the glamorous host should have followed up with the designer or written one of us back to say, “I found someone, but thank you so much.” Without acknowledgment I have to assume she didn’t really want my help after all, so I’ll keep that in mind if she ever asks for anything again.
This visit would be full of stark contrasts. It was as if there were two different Baghdads — at least. I would interview men from Sadr City, one of the poorest, most dangerous districts, who talked about friends killed by sprays of bullets in drive-by shootings, their gathering places firebombed, their names posted on lists, others raped and disappeared by militia-infested police squadrons at checkpoints.
I would see a hospital where the bodies of gay men had been dumped, their anuses closed shut from a heavy glue used to torture them. I would visit a safe house, chatting with gay men and transgender Iraqis who hid for safety, yet at the same time were welcoming and life-affirming, teaching me gay Arabic slang and joking about sex with gay Saddam-look-alikes.
And I would meet other men from different parts of Baghdad, young, fashionable, masculine, with far less to fear, who did in fact cruise along the colorful banks of the Tigris on Abu Nuwaz Street and spend their evenings at fashionable cafés popular among gays in West Baghdad, flirting with men they met through the website Manjam as they sat back in comfortable seats visible from the street.
I would grow to fall in love with a newly vibrant Baghdad. Not that I didn’t still have much to fear as a visiting gay journalist — from conversations that could be tapped to entrapment, spies, and the bullets of panicked Iraqi soldiers. In the end, there was much that didn’t fully makes sense — for me, for the local gay men, and for anyone living in this ancient cradle of civilization, a place somewhere between war and peace.
Just a little excerpt from a really inspiring series from a gay journalist.
When you mention the name Sally Kern, most people think of the now-infamous speech she gave two years ago, declaring homosexuals more dangerous to America than terrorists. But that is the first of many misconceptions Kern says she wants to clear up.
“Here in America we’ve had what maybe three known real big terrorist attacks on our nation,” Kern said. “But every day our young people especially, all of us, but our young people especially are in a sense bombarded with the message that homosexuality is normal and natural.”