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Calendar: events through Jan. 23

Birdie LaCage, gay news, drag, Washington Blade

Birdie LaCage hosts a ‘Grease’ sing-along Tuesday at JR.’s. (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

Friday, Jan. 17

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts “Kickoff” featuring DJ Matt Bailer tonight from 10 p.m.-closing. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) holds a happy hour from 5-7:30 p.m. tonight with all drinks half price. Music begins at 11 p.m. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is $5 after 9 p.m. Must be 21 and over. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit towndc.com.

POV Live is tonight with Glorious, a “livetronica” drummer and D.C.-area native, performing with DJ Tempo at the W Hotel (515 15th St., N.W.). She also plays Saturday night with DJ Oz. Free. RSVP at whappenings@brandlinkdcrsvp.com.

Saturday, Jan. 18

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) at 11:45 a.m. today. You will be paired with a dog on a leash to walk around and play with. Wear casual clothes. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Bistro Bistro (1726 Connecticut Ave., NW.) hosts “Let Freedom Ring,” a Martin Luther King weekend ladies bash, tonight from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. Enjoy music from two lesbian DJs with the cast of lesbian web series “District Heat.” There will be giveaways by Style is Freedom, a lesbian clothing line. Cover is $10 before midnight and $15 after midnight. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over.

Onyx Cocktail Party and Gear Show, a leather/BDSM auction, is at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill (400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.) today from 2-6 p.m. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to SMYAL, a local organization that aids LGBT youth in the District. For details, visit leatherweekend.com.

Several Species: the Pink Floyd Experience,” a Floyd tribute show, is tonight at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.). Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35. Details at thelincolndc.com.

Merrifield Garden Center starts its winter/spring series of free seminars on gardening and landscaping today with events at each of its three locations. A session on orchids with the Smithsonian’s Jonathan Kavalier will be held at the Merrifield location (Merrifield Community Hall, 8104 Lee Highway, Merrfifield, Va.). “A Gardener’s Calendar” with plant specialist David Yost will be held at Fair Oaks (Fair Oaks Meeting Room, 12101 Lee Highway in Fairfax, Fa.). Terrariums with Regina Lanctot, a tropical plant specialist, will be held at the Gainesville location (Our Garden Room, 6895 Wellington Road, Gainesville, Va.). Visit merrifieldgardencenter.com for details.

Sunday, Jan 19

Del Ray Artisans (2704 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) hosts “From Board Game to Book,” a workshop to create a hand-bound notebook or journal with a board game as the cover, today from noon-4 p.m. Recycle any cardboard board game into an art book using traditional bookbinding methods. Supplies will be provided. Tickets are $48 for Del Ray Artisans members and $53 for non-members. For details, visit thedelrayartisans.org/bookmaking.

Patty Boom Boom (1359 U St., N.W.) hosts “Free to Be,” an LGBT dancehall event, tonight from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Dance to reggae, dancehall and roots music to raise funds to support J-Flag, an organization dedicated to supporting LGBT people in Jamaica. Entry is free. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit pattyboomboomdc.com.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Monday, Jan. 20

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a free relationship workshop for lesbian couples today from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. It’s the first workshop in a series of six. This workshop focuses on sex and intimacy led by professional relationship coach Jayne Kelly. Bring your partner and lunch to learn how to have a healthy and sexually satisfying relationship. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W..) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them today, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Tuesday, Jan. 21

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop and Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.  at the Atlas Center (1333 H St., N.E.) tonight at 7 p.m. Duties include ushering the event and a chance to watch the concert. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Special Agent Galactica performs “Intoxicating” with Peter Fields at Banana Café (500 8th St., S.E.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The show is a mix of jazz, burlesque and modern hits. No cover. For details, visit pinkhairedone.com.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit thedccenter.org or greenlanterndc.com.

Birdie LaCage hosts a “Grease” sing-a-long at JR.’s (1519 17th Street, N.W.) tonight at 10 p.m. Drinks are two-for-one ‘til midnight.

Wednesday, Jan. 22

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

The D.C. Center and Professionals in the City host speed dating for women in their twenties and thirties at Finn and Porter located inside the Embassy Suites Hotel (900 10th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. Dating is approximately one hour. After enjoy a mixer with fellow speed daters. Cash bar. Check in is at 7 p.m. and dating begins at 7:20 p.m. Complimentary valet parking offered to anyone who purchases two drinks or other items from the bar or restaurant. Cost is $30. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Thursday, Jan. 23

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) hold a meeting at The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. GLOV works to reduce violence against LGBT individuals through community outreach, education and assisting members of anti-LGBT violence. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.) tonight. Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit rudeboientertainment.wordpress.com.

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts “Café SMYAL,” a fun event to get out of the cold, today from 4-5 p.m. Drink hot cocoa, play board games and make new friends. For more information, visit smyal.org.

Whitman-Walker provides free and confidential HIV testing at Miriam’s Kitchen (2401 Virginia Ave., N.W.) today from 4-6 p.m. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

16
Jan
2014

Leto, McConaughey win Oscars for ‘Dallas’

With Ellen, a tribute to “Wizard of Oz” and a performance by Bette Midler, it was a pretty gay Oscars.

Most notably on the gay front, Jared Leto (who’s straight) won Best Supporting Actor for playing trans in “Dallas Buyers Club” and gave a shout-out to gays in his speech.  Matthew McConaughey (also straight) won Best Actor playing an AIDS patient for the same film.

The adult children of Judy Garland — Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft sat together for a tribute to the 75th anniversary of “Wizard of Oz.” Pink sang “Over the Rainbow.”

Variety has a complete list of winners here.

03
Mar
2014

Tone balancing

Brief Encounters, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

The cast of Kneehigh’s U.S. tour of ‘Brief Encounters’ by Jim Cox. (Photo courtesy STC)

‘Brief Encounter’

Through April 13

Shakespeare Theatre Company

The Lansburgh Theatre

450 7th Street, NW

$30-75

202-547-1122

ShakespeareTheatre.org

Conventional wisdom says don’t mess with a classic. Typically the result is a letdown. But there are exceptions. Case in point is the UK-based Kneehigh Theatre’s delightful production of “Brief Encounter,” an adaptation of the same-named 1945 British film.

In bringing the iconic screen romance to the stage, director/playwright Emma Rice blends theater and film incorporating projections, musical numbers and myriad clever touches, all now on display at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre.

The David Lean film is based on Noël Coward’s “Still Life,” one of many plays the gay sophisticate wrote and performed with longtime pal Gertrude Lawrence. It follows the short-lived romance of two married people who meet cute at a train station when Alec, a handsome doctor, removes a cinder from housewife Laura’s eye. The pair begin meeting weekly, mostly in the station tearoom or restaurants, and though their feelings are intense, their relationship remains chaste, never going beyond a kiss. And while the inevitable return to their respective respectable lives and practical mates happens as expected, it’s still a painful outcome. Rice’s adaptation draws from the film and the play.

The action kicks off in the Lansburgh lobby with a zippy string quartet of cast members dressed as ‘40s movie theater ushers performing a selection of vintage tunes. Inside, the stage’s usual curtain has been swapped out for one that’s brighter and redder, reminiscent of those found in old movie palaces. There’s a big movie screen that plays black-and-white footage, a nod to the source film and an exploration of the protagonists’ experience. When not on stage, Alec (Jim Sturgeon) and Laura (Hannah Yelland in her Tony-nominated role from when the show ran on Broadway in 2010) can sometimes be found seated amongst the audience; after all, their first date was a trip to the cinema. They also may slip through a slit in the movie screen only to reappear as bigger-than-life projections.

While meeting in public, the pair is reserved. Their muted passion is represented by film of fast moving clouds and raging tides. As the romantic tension mounts, Laura begins to grapple with doing the right thing. It’s she who suggests they part ways.

Director Emma Rice’s precise and inventive staging is wondrous, the cast is superb and her team’s spectacular technical, multi-media design is top notch. Neil Murray’s set is ingeniously serviceable and his period costumes are impeccably drawn. As the besotted but staid lovers, Yelland and Sturgeon play it straight, never mocking the necessarily formal dialogue. But the supporting ensemble has no such restraints. They’re free to camp it up and play for laughs, and they do, expertly. It’s an effective balance.

The tearoom’s other regulars are its manager Myrtle (Annette McLauglin), an amusingly genteel type whose breaks are spent trysting with the amorous station manager Fred (Joe Alessi); and Beryl (Dorothy Atkinson), a cheeky waitress who is dating the cute young station snack seller, Stanley (Damon Daunno). The cast play multiple parts and along with Dave Brown and James Gow, they also sing and play instruments. Songs include Coward’s “Mad About the Boy,” “A Room with a View,” and melodic original music.

The music is put to especially good effect with another Coward song, “Go Slow, Johnny” sung poignantly by Daunno during a key scene in which the Alec and Laura are alone drying off after having fallen out of a rowboat.

Most of the play takes place in the train station. Not surprisingly, there’s a moment when it seems that Laura might throw herself on the tracks and end it all. But no, she’s too sensible for that. Instead, she returns home (two leather club chairs and a big radio) where her patient husband (Alessi, again) and young son and daughter (a pair of life-sized puppets) are waiting.

“Brief Encounter” is part of the really terrific STC Presentation whose mission is to present world class international productions to D.C. audiences. This memorable production is a testament to both the vibrancy of theater and Coward’s enduring genius.

02
Apr
2014

Jasmine Guy’s world today

Jasmine Guy, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress Jasmine Guy says her passion for black culture in the early 20th century has kept her doing ‘Raisin’ Cane’ for five years. (Photo by Calvin Evans)

‘Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey’

Starring Jasmine Guy and the Avery Sharpe Trio

Saturday, 8 p.m.

Publick Playhouse

5445 Landover Rd.

Cheverly, MD

$55 VIP (includes pre-show reception)

$40 general

301-277-1710

Actress/singer Jasmine Guy will be in the D.C. area this weekend for a one-night-only performance of “Raisin’ Cane: a Harlem Renaissance Odyssey.”

We caught up with her by phone from her home in Atlanta where she answered questions about the show, gay rights, her work on the hit ’87-‘93 sitcom “A Different World” (she played spoiled Whitley for the show’s entire six-season run) and more. Her comments have been slightly edited for length.

 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Tell us about “Raisin’ Cane.”

JASMINE GUY: I’ve been doing the show over the past five years in various places all over the country. It grows and changes and morphs every time we do it. I do it with three other musicians — a jazz violinist, a percussionist and our composer, Avery Sharpe and we cover the decade between 1919 and 1929 of the Harlem Renaissance, right after World War I but just before the Great Depression when there was a lot of money flowing into Harlem and a lot of artists were flourishing. Painters, poets, writers, philosophers, so it was a pretty rich time in our American history. A lot of what has come down to us as Americans has come from that period as far as ways of thinking and ways of articulating our needs.

 

BLADE: Are you playing a specific character?

GUY: I’m like a teacher taking you through this journey. Along the way, whatever lesson needs to be taught, that’s what I do. I either reenact a scene or become another character or I dance or sing or tell a story or recite a poem — there’s a lot of all of that involved in the show.

 

BLADE: How did you come to the work?

GUY: Avery Sharpe and I have been friends for over 30 years and when he brought the piece to me, it started as a reading and an experimental piece to see where the interest was with people and over the last five years, it’s just continued to grow and grow. I stayed involved because of my passion for that decade and what was happening politically and historically in that time as well as artistically. It was such a fun and exciting time where jazz was birthed and we had poets like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and painters like Aaron Douglas and philosophers like W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey who were claiming freedom in their own way.

 

BLADE: African-American themes are recurring in your body of work. To what degree have you sought them out versus had them come to you?

GUY: Sometimes they intertwine. There are the roles that we pick and the roles we kind of cross paths with and we don’t really know why. There have been certain projects where I feel like I’m part of telling the truth, whether it’s “A Different World” or “Queen” (“The Story of an American Family”), or “Stompin’ at the Savoy” or “Dead Like Me,” there seems to be a certain truth to the quality of the work we’re doing at the time and I think that truth is what draws me in. I love that we tell stories that haven’t been told yet and that I’m able sometimes to get an audience to think as well as to laugh. I’m not sure which is more important, but I like that I can do both.

 

BLADE: Some have said gay activists who draw parallels to the Civil Rights movement are overreaching. Is that a valid line of reasoning in your opinion?

GUY: I have had friends over the years who have resented the comparison. … I think what we really all want is to be treated equally and have the right to make our own choices in our lives and in that respect, both gay rights and African-American rights have been stifled in this country and we’ve had to fight for those rights. We are still fighting in certain ways for those rights. … For some … the fight has shifted. I mean, we’re able to vote legally, we’re able to integrate, but there are still very specific things that are disproportionate in this country. There’s a huge class difference and whether you’re black or gay, there are still things we need to speak up for because in principle, it’s all the same principle. We are really all fighting for the same thing.

 

BLADE: With all your work in the entertainment industry, you must have worked with a lot of gays over the years. True?

GUY: Oh absolutely. I mean, you know, my world is full of gay people. I’ve been so entrenched in the gay community that it has never been a second thought to me. We are all family and because of that, I’m even more sensitive to what my gay friends go through. I’m 51, so I lived through AIDS and although I was very young when AIDS came to be, that’s when I first realized how segregated the gay community was for the rest of the world. Sometimes you forget that the world is not accepting and it takes something bad like the AIDS epidemic for you to realize. That’s when I started to realize my gay friends were heroes in their own right for having the courage to live the lives they know they want and the need and fight for the right to do that. And I don’t use that word fighting lightly, you know. I have friends who have fought all their lives, physically and emotionally. Some who have not had the support of their families. I don’t think people really understood what it means to be gay until very recently, in the last decade or so, whereas for me, it was just always a part of what I knew and understood.

 

BLADE: You’ve done so much work on stage, film and TV over many years and stage work, of course, by its nature is very ephemeral and fleeting. You can be on a hit show like “A Different World” that was seen by 20 million people each week, yet in some ways, it’s a small part of your overall body of work. Has that ever been a source of frustration for you?

GUY: That was frustrating for me at the beginning. I started as a dancer with the Alvin Ailey Company and yeah, I felt that, you know, my best work is probably the work that most people haven’t seen. I did have to come to terms with that because I mean, just the sheer degree of difficulty of being a dancer and being a gypsy as I was for eight years before I got “A Different World,” compared to the relative ease of being on a hit TV show, I used to think, “OK, I’ve got to make sure everybody knows that these other things are so much more worthy.” I felt it was my personal cause to let people know that, yes, I’ve worked with Judith Jamison and I know Debbie Allen and worked with Courtney Vance in “Six Degrees of Separation” and so and so. … I’ve really been surrounded by greatness and amazing talent and I’ve been in the wings of so many performances where I saw that happen before my eyes and that’s not something we’ve always been so great at being able to recreate on television. … But things are so different now and we have access to everything in a way we did not have before. That was a real turning point for me to realize that. We can say things now we could never say before on a major, major scale and we can create our own audience. It’s always interesting to me when people come up to me, what they come up to me for. I guess I’ve had enough people say, “Oh, I saw you in ‘Chicago,’” or “I remember you years ago on the Academy Awards — I didn’t know you could dance.” They might have seen that thing I thought nobody was watching. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the 20 or 30 million people that watched “A Different World” every week, but I am also proud and happy to have been part of that, too. But these other little sidebars, enough people have commented that I’ve been able to say, “OK, there’s somebody out there who’s seeing the other stuff too.”

 

BLADE: That said, do you have a favorite episode of “A Different World”?

GUY: My memory of certain episodes is kind of from the inside out. Like I remember doing things more than the effect it may have had on other people. I wrote a couple, so of course I remember those and, hmmm, let me see. Oh my God — we had so many great shows. I tended to like the shows where we had guest stars.

 

BLADE: Like Gladys Knight — I remember her appearance so vividly.

GUY: Yes, that was huge. I was so excited to get to be a Pip and sing with her and meet her. On the set at one time we had both “Superfly” and “Shaft” because Ron O’Neal played my dad and Richard Roundtree played Charnele’s (Brown, who played Kim) dad. We had Diahann Carroll, Patti LaBelle, Jesse Jackson. We had the cast of “Sarafina!” on when we did a show about apartheid. Those were the most memorable moments for me. These people would come through and we would just sweep ‘em up because by that time we had a rhythm. We just kind of knew we could be funny no matter what we talked about and that was a good place to be for the show.

 

BLADE: So many iconic sitcom characters don’t work as lead characters. Garry Marshall said they knew better than to try to have Fonzie carry his own show. Other times they tried and it didn’t work — like Flo from “Alice.” I know “A Different World” was still an ensemble cast at heart, yet it seemed like the show really jelled in the second season after Lisa Bonet left and your character Whitley was much more in the lead spot. Why do you think it worked so well when traditionally that type of thing hasn’t worked?

GUY: Well, we certainly weren’t sure it was going to work. That first season, I always felt we weren’t gonna make it. I had never been on a show before but it just seemed kind of dysfunctional and I didn’t feel we were putting out our best product. I was kind of thinking, “OK, that isn’t gonna work, but at least I paid off my American Express.” Then as the show grew and we were picked up year after year and with the legacy of “The Cosby Show” behind us, I started to realize we were part of a wave, a real era of change on American television. I didn’t understand at the time we were at the end of that wave. I didn’t think it would just snap back and never be seen on TV again, you know with the number of female writers and the diversity we had on our show. …. I just thought there would be a whole lot more “Different Worlds” after our show and there really weren’t. … At the time, I think I was able to make that transition because I just did what was given to me to do. I just did what was in front of me. I never thought at the time, “Oh, if Lisa leaves the show, we can still continue if Dwayne and Whitley get together” — there wasn’t any of that. That was all Bill Cosby, Debbie Allen, NBC, the writers — you know this whole team of people that revamped that show and by the second season they had totally revamped it in a way that had more of a realistic HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) feel and they just capitalized on the actors that were already with the show. They brought in Cree Summer and Charnele Brown, but there was an absolute choice made to keep that show going based on what had and hadn’t worked that first season.

 

BLADE: That opening credit sequence from the second season on was really incredible the way it looks like it was shot in one continuous take with the camera moving from room to room left to right. It couldn’t really have been one take, though, right?

GUY: Oh no, it took like all day long. It was green screened and there were double images — like two of me in the same shot. It was before a lot of computer graphics and things we’re able to do now so yeah. That was the brainchild of Debbie Allen and it was an all-day-long thing — like 12 or 14 hours to do that.

 

BLADE: Thanks for your time and good luck in the show.

GUY: Thank you.

06
Feb
2014

‘80s resurrection?

Kylie Minogue, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Kylie Minogue’s ‘Kiss Me Once’ is slated to drop March 18. (Image courtesy FlyLife)

Is your iPod ready for some major gay action? Before we get to the spring releases, though, a couple albums that dropped in February you might have missed.

Coinciding with the premiere of the latest season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the queen of all drag queens, RuPaul, released her sixth full-length studio effort, “Born Naked” on Feb. 24.  RuPaul enlists the help of who’s who of underground pop including Weather Girl/dance legend Martha Wash, Australian soul singer Clairy Browne and My Crazy Girlfriend vocalist Myah Marie. “Born Naked” also features a cover of “Let the Music Play” featuring Michelle Visage.

Catie Curtis released her 13th studio album “Flying Dream” on Feb. 25 which treats her fans to 10 new tracks which the out singer/songwriter describes as a “lustrous long player with subtle jazz, electronic and AM pop shadings.”

Hitmaker Pharrell Williams dropped his highly anticipated studio set “GIRL” this week. Packed with star-studded collaborations featuring Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus and Daft Punk, “GIRL” promises to take listeners on a pop-funk joy ride.

Gay pop legend George Michael is slated to release his first album in seven years, “Symphonica,” on March 18. Recorded during his Symphonica Tour in 2011 and 2012, Michael’s latest album will feature live classics and covers.  The first single is dramatic ballad “Let Her Down Easy.”

Sure to be on repeat into the summer is Kylie Minogue’s latest album “Kiss Me Once” scheduled for March 18. Lead single “Into the Blue” picks up where “Get Outta My Way” left off with dance-infused goodness. Minogue collaborated with pop hit-makers Sia and Pharell Williams this time around and features Enrique Iglesias on the duet, “Beautiful.”

Another gay pop legend, Boy George, makes his first return to the music scene since 1995’s “Cheapness & Beauty” with the March 25 release of “This Is What I Do.” George’s latest full-length LP features an eclectic sound with jazz, country and soft rock stylings accompanied by George’s signature soulful voice.

Cyndi Lauper celebrates the 30th anniversary of her hugely successful album “She’s So Unusual” with a re-release scheduled for April 1. The two-disc commemorative set features signature hits “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time After Time” on disc one and a combination of remixes, demos and live recordings on disc two.

Speaking of Lauper, fresh off a Tony- and Grammy-winning turn in her hit “Kinky Boots,” out Broadway legend Billy Porter will release “Billy’s Back on Broadway” on April 15. Lauper guests on “Happy Days”/”Get Happy” on the standards-heavy set.

Ally Joan Osborne is back with her eighth studio album “Love and Hate” dropping April 8. The 12-song collection features an American roots music sound with poetic lyrics.  Osborne enlisted the help of producer Jack Petruzzelli.

Soulstress Kelis is hungry to get back into the music game with her latest LP “Food,” scheduled for an April 22 release. Departing from the EDM club sounds of 2010’s “Brave,” Kelis is venturing into a varied sound with “Food” complete with a full band that includes a horn section and string orchestra. Lead single is the raw and delicious “Jerk Ribs.”

Dolly Parton is a back with her years-in-the-making “Blue Smoke” on May 13. Parton promises a “little bit of something for everyone.” The 12-track release features the Grammy-nominated collaboration with Kenny Rogers, “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”

LGBT supporter Tori Amos returns with her 14th full-length effort, “Unrepentant Geraldlines” due May 13. The album sees Amos returning to her roots after a departure toward more classically inspired albums. “Unrepentant Geralines” combines Amos’ signature piano and  thoughtful contemporary pop sound with her appreciation for visual art.

Originally discovered by none other than Madonna, bi singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello, is preparing for the reveal of her 11th studio album, “Comet, Come to Me” slated for a June release. Ndegeocello’s latest offering features a groove-driven and infectiously melodic sound. Lead single is the laid-back soul number “Continuous Performance.”

Out Music Award winner Matt Zarley is gearing up for the release of his latest release, “Hopeful Romantic” also expected in June. Supporting the release is uplifting dance cut, “Somebody 4 Everybody” which saw a single release in early February.

Out organist Cameron Carpenter releases his Sony Masterworks debut “If You Could Read My Mind” on April 22.

07
Mar
2014

‘Rough and tumble show biz epic’

Rufus Wainwright, gay news, music, Washington Blade

Rufus Wainwright (Photo by Sean James; courtesy Slate PR)

‘The Best of Rufus Wainwright’

With Lucy Wainwright Roche

Lincoln Theatre

1215 U St. N.W.

Wednesday at 7 p.m.

$45

rufuswainwright.com

ticketfly.com

Rufus Wainwright took a few minutes during a tour stop in Warsaw a few weeks ago to talk to us by phone about his show next week in Washington.

Touring behind two projects that were released last month — hits package “Vibrate” and the Blu-ray video “Rufus Wainwright: Live From the Artists Den” — Wainwright, 40, says he’s at a logical career mid-point that inspired revisiting his catalogue.

WASHINGTON BLADE: Are the audiences significantly different in Europe versus the U.S.?

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT: It really varies. I did shows in Latvia and Lithuania recently and you could have been talking about the East Coast and then the West Coast in terms of differences and it’s fascinating how it’s real peaks and valleys on this continent. It’s a little daunting. Occasionally you get some kind of icy folks, but mostly they’re very happy I’m here.

 

BLADE: The Artists Den show was recorded in May 2012 but just released last month for purchase. Did you always plan it as a home video release?

WAINWRIGHT: I just thought it would be a TV special and then we did a good job on it, so it made sense to keep the ball rolling. I’ve always concentrated really hard on my live performance and making sure that the pinnacle of my career is really what you see on stage in front of you when you’re in the room. I put a lot of faith in my live work, so it’s good to release it.

 

BLADE: So this is an entirely different show from the Artists Den show?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh yes, very different. Now I’m mostly promoting the “Vibrate” CD, the best-of CD, so I’m just doing a lot of songs from the expanse of my career and even a couple of new ones to whet people’s appetite. But it’s a much more intimate show, just one on one. Or hopefully one on a thousand, at least. But yeah, you’re hitting the core of the matter when you come see this new show in the spring.

 

BLADE: It’s a solo show? No band?

WAINWRIGHT? Just me and either piano or guitar.

 

BLADE: You have a strong body of work built over many years. What’s your philosophy of set list construction? To what degree is it informed by what you’re promoting at any given time?

WAINWRIGHT: Well there’s a few projects now so it’s definitely dictated to some degree by what I’m trying to sell. There’s lots of good stuff to talk about. For instance, I’m raising money now to record my opera “Prima Donna” (pledgemusic.com/projects/primadonna) which will be my next album, but I also sing some of my mother’s material (the late Kate McGarrigle) to promote some of her work, because I feel she was a great genius. And there’s also just the fun of making music.

 

BLADE: About how long do you play on average?

WAINWRIGHT: About 90 minutes.

 

Rufus Wainwright, gay news, music, Washington Blade

Rufus Wainwright (Photo by Sean James; courtesy Slate PR)

BLADE: In addition to the aforementioned projects, you also had a lavish box set out a couple years ago. Are you curating your body of work in a sense?

WAINWRIGHT: Well, I have a lot of it and I hit 40 so I have 40 years left to fill up in terms of my career so yeah, I’ve definitely spent the last five years going over what’s happened and putting it in its rightful place. I’ve also been writing another opera, “Hadrian,” and now I’m working a lot on some films for Hollywood and putting together some other tracks for another pop record but we’re definitely at the middle point right now. The best is yet to come.

 

BLADE: It’s obvious, though, that you put some care and thought into these things. Fans can always tell when they’re just slapped together by the label. Yours clearly were not.

WAINWRIGHT: Well, I have a lot of supportive and very intellectual people who helped me do that along the way. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys was influential and instrumental I should say in putting together the list of songs for “Vibrate.” And, you know, I had such a great band for the Artists Den recording. You know, you’ve got to have good people around you.

 

BLADE: What was it like singing with Joni Mitchell at her birthday tribute last year?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh, that was wild. Really amazing. I can’t say that I was the biggest Joni Mitchell fan growing up. Not so much because I didn’t like her music but my mother was very jealous of Joni Mitchell. My mother was a very well known Canadian songwriter as well, so we weren’t allowed to listen to much Joni Mitchell in the house. So I wasn’t really that familiar. So it was really an amazing education and kind of a baptism by fire and the last lesson was singing with her on stage. It was a lot of fun.

 

BLADE: Did you get to interact much with her aside from what we saw on stage?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh yeah, a lot. We hung out a lot. I went to her house a few times because my husband (Jorn Weisbrodt) runs the festival, we had to really work with her on everything so we spent a lot of time together, Joni and I. It was a great honor.

 

BLADE: In interviews, she’s never been one to mince words. Is that how she is when the camera’s not rolling too?

WAINWRIGHT: Oh yeah, there’s no filter there whatsoever. You know, she’s lived in her own universe for so many years, there’s no way to really encapsulate and explain what she is. She’s kind of transcended what it is to be real.

 

BLADE: With the operas, which came first — the concepts or the commissions?

WAINWRIGHT: Well, I’ve always wanted to write operas, that desire was always there, but you really cannot write an opera in a vacuum. You need a commission to really hold on to because it’s such a laborious and intense process so yes, thankfully, I did receive one commission and now I’ve received another so I’m continuing that journey. But yeah, you can’t really write an opera on the side. It doesn’t work that way.

 

BLADE: Your vocals manage to be both full voiced and big, yet also have a world weariness to them. How do you do that?

WAINWRIGHT: I think part of it is due to my love of opera. They have to project in these huge halls so I try to kind of emulate that. But growing up, even before I became a big opera fan, my other influences were people like Judy Garland and Al Jolson, these, you know, much older kind of vaudevillian performers who, again, had to project. I think that kind of thing always attracted me more than, I don’t know, some kind of high quality recording. I was more into the kind of rough-and-tumble show biz epic. My voice is a very unusual and mystifying monster to me. I mean, I love my voice and I’m indebted to it eternally, but on the other hand, it puts me through hell sometimes trying to figure out what it is, where it’s going to go and what it needs. It has a life of its own. I’m just dragged around.

 

BLADE: You’ve said your last studio album (2012’s “Out of the Game”) with (producer) Mark Ronson was the most pop album you’d ever made. Do you think about pop and commercial appeal when you’re writing?

WAINWRIGHT: When I talk to my accountant I do (laughs).

 

BLADE: But do you with the muses as well?

WAINWRIGHT: A little bit. I know a lot of people who are very successful in the industry in terms of pop music. You know, Elton John or Neil Tennant. People who’ve had real hits. Norah Jones. So it’s around me and I see it happen and I wonder, you know, why not me? It’s always important to have a dangling carrot in front of you in the arts. You always have something you haven’t quite attained yet, so I’m thankful for this as an impetus.

 

BLADE: Is your stuff too smart perhaps for the masses?

WAINWRIGHT: I think that might be an issue. When I sing, it tends to grab your attention fully. I’m not very good background music. It seems like most pop music today is made to be played in restaurants really.

 

Rufus Wainwright, gay news, music, Washington Blade

Rufus Wainwright (Photo by Sean James; courtesy Slate PR)

BLADE: How gay is your fan base would you say?

WAINWRIGHT: Well, that’s an interesting question. I’ve never felt supported by my own kind. I think there are a lot of great gay music fans out there and definitely a strong nugget of wonderful queers who get it, but I’d say like the majority kind of mainstream gay sensibility really kind of runs countercurrent to what I’ve been trying to put forth. I’ve never felt that embraced by gay culture, especially by gay men. But that’s also part of my aesthetic. If I felt accepted by them, I’d be far too happy. (laughs)

 

BLADE: Do Jorn and (3-year-old daughter) Viva travel with you?

WAINWRIGHT: Jorn sometimes but he’s busy with his festival. We kind of run into each other along the way. My daughter lives with her mother (Leonard Cohen’s daugher, Lorca) in Los Angeles so I see her once a month or so.

 

BLADE: Did you see the Judy tribute at the Oscars?

WAINWRIGHT: No, I didn’t. What was it? Was Liza in it?

 

BLADE: Well she and Lorna and Joey were there but it was clips from “Wizard of Oz” and Idina Menzel sang. Do you know Liza well?

WAINWRIGHT: Well, I know Lorna a lot better. I don’t think anybody really knows Liza that well.

 

BLADE: You do so much work aside from the traditional writing/recording/touring cycle of a typical recording artist. Do you think you would have been doing as many other things had you been doing all this, say, a generation before?

WAINWRIGHT: I think if all of this had been happening even 15 years earlier, it would have been a whole other story. Financially, well, you know, there was just more of a kind of market and structure in the record business to support developing artists. I don’t think the deals were particularly good, but you were nonetheless kind of strung along more and there were more platforms to really express yourself whether it was TV or the radio. There was more to do. But I’m happy. I don’t know — I probably would have branched out anyway, now that I think about it. I tend to be pretty slippery.

10
Apr
2014

Ready for Hillary group hosts Town event

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Ready for Hillary is a grassroots organization that supports Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential run. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ready for Hillary, a grassroots organization that supports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential run, hosts “Out and Ready for Hillary” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) Tuesday from 7-9 p.m.

Ready for Hillary was formed last year and has grown to more than one million supporters and 25,00 donors. The event is the LGBT kick-off in the District. Clinton has not stated her plans for the 2016 election.

Tickets are $20.16. For more information and to RSVP, visit readyforhillary.com/events/outdc.

08
Jan
2014

More ‘Mega’ networking with gay chamber

Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, CAGLCC, the Chamber, Town Danceboutique, gay news, Washington Blade, Mega Networking Event

CAGLCC Mega Networking Event. (Washington Blade file photo by Joe Tresh)

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CAGLCC) hosts its sixth annual “LGBT Mega Network and Social Event” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) on Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

CAGLCC has brought together thousands of LGBT professionals to mix, mingle and recruit new employees in a social setting for the past three years. Through CAGLCC’s partnership with 30 other LGBT networking and social groups, LGBT professionals are able to make connections at the District’s largest LGBT professional networking and social event.

Admission is free. For more information and to register, visit caglcc.org.

20
Feb
2014

Calendar: March 21-27

Wonder Women, gay news, Washington Blade, calendar

‘Wonder Women!: The Untold Story of American Superheroines’ screens tonight in Germantown. (Still courtesy BlackRock)

Calendar for the week ahead in LGBT D.C. events:

Friday, March 21

Iron Crow Theatre Company presents a “pay what you can” performance of “The Homo Poe Show,” a “queering” erotic performance of Poe, at Theatre Project (45 W. Preston St., Baltimore) tonight at 8 p.m. The show, created by Steven J. Satta-Fleming, features work from Daniel Talbott, Megan Gogerty, Rich Epsey and more. The show runs through April 5. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit theatreproject.org.

BlackRock Center for the Arts (12901 Town Commons Dr., Germantown, Md.) screens “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines,” tonight at 7:30 p.m. The movie chronicles comic book character Wonder Woman’s legacy and how powerful representations of women reflect on gender roles. Tickets are $8. For more information, visit blackrockcenter.org.

Gay District, a facilitated group discussion focused on building understanding of gay culture and personal identity for men ages 18-35, meets at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 8:30-9:30 p.m. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) hosts a happy hour today from 5-9 p.m. All drinks are half price. Admission is free. For more information, visit numberninedc.com.

Saturday, March 22

Bishop Allyson Abrams brings “It’s Her Season,” a welcome back concert, to City of District Heights Municipal Building (2000 Marbury Dr., District Heights, Md.) today at 2 p.m. The concert brings Rick Brown of New Hope Baptist UCC Church and psalmists from around the local area as they celebrate Bishop Abrams’s return to the D.C. area.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts “Bearracuda D.C.,” the largest bear dance party in the U.S., tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Music will be played by DJ Matt Consola and Bil Todd. Cover is $7 before 10 p.m. and $10 after. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.

MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) hosts a CD release party for Kylie Minogue’s latest release “Kiss Me Once” tonight. DJs will be playing Kylie Minogue songs all night. Drink specials are $6 for bottom shelf drinks and $9 for top shelf drinks. Martinis are $3 extra. For more details, visit movalounge.com.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts a free relationship workshop for lesbian couples today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. This workshop is led by professional relationship coach Jayne Kelly and focuses on family. Bring lunch and learn how to address spoken and unspoken needs and how to strengthen your bond with your partner for a healthy family. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts “Direct Action: What is It Good For?,” a community discussion about direct action protests, today at 3 p.m. Kelly Cogswell, community activist and author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger” and Wayne Turner, co-founder of ACT UP D.C., are featured speakers. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Sunday, March 23

Australian indie-pop singer Betty Who performs at Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St., N.E.) tonight at 8 p.m. Her debut EP “The Movement” has received critical acclaim. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $16. For more information, visit rockandrollhoteldc.com.

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit perrysadamsmorgan.com.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts a drag brunch today with two shows at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Alexandria PetSmart (3351 Jefferson Hwy., Alexandria, Va.) at 12:15 p.m. today. You will be paired with a dog on a leash to walk around and play with. Wear casual clothes. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Monday, March 24

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit uhupil.org.

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit nelliessportsbar.com.

Tuesday, March 25

Genderqueer D.C. holds a discussion group at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.)  at 7 p.m. tonight. The group is for anyone who identifies outside of the gender binary. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) offers all drinks half price tonight until 2 a.m. Enjoy pool, video games and cards. Admission is free. Must be 21 and over. For more details, visit bachelorsmill.com.

Wednesday, March 26

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts “Café SMYAL,” a fun event to get out of the cold, today from 4-5 p.m. Drink hot cocoa, play board games and make new friends. SMYAL also provides free and confidential HIV testing from 3-5 p.m. For more details, visit smyal.org.

Thursday, March 27

Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) hold a meeting at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. GLOV works to reduce violence against LGBT individuals through community outreach, education and assisting members of anti-LGBT violence. For more details, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly Poly Discussion Group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for new comers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit thedccenter.org.

Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.). Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit rudeboientertainment.wordpress.com.

20
Mar
2014

Youth Pride is May 3

Youth Pride, Dupont Circle, Washington Blade, gay news

Youth Pride (Washington Blade photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Youth Pride Day is May 3 from noon-5 p.m. in Dupont Circle.

All LGBT youth in the region and allies are welcome. This year’s theme is “Be bold, be beautiful, have pride.”

Youth Pride Alliance handles the event. Visit youthpridealliance.org for details.

24
Apr
2014