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Several Martin Luther King events planned for region

Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, monument, gay news, Washington Blade

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Several local Martin Luther King Jr. memorial events are planned for the coming days.

Restore Together hosts its annual “Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast” at Willard Intercontinental Hotel (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.), the hotel where King finished writing his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Saturday morning from 8-11:30 a.m. Admission is free.

AFI Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, Md.) screens “King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis,” a compilation of documentary footage of King from the Montgomery bus boycott to his assassination in Memphis, Monday at 11:30 a.m. Admission is free.

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (9601 Cedar Ln., Bethesda, Md.) hosts an interfaith, multicultural celebration of Dr. King’s birthday Sunday at 3 p.m. The program includes a multicultural musical ensemble with excerpts from King’s writing and prayers and readings from world religions. Admission is free.

 The Mansion on O Street (2020 O St., N.W.) hosts “Martin Luther King Day Power Lunch” Monday from noon-3 p.m. Celebrate the life of Dr. King with a gourmet buffet lunch and deserts. After, explore the museum’s 100 rooms and 70 secret doors. Tickets are $45. To purchase, visit

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) and Georgetown University present “Let Freedom Ring,” a concert featuring the Let Freedom Ring Choir on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Monday at 6 p.m. Dionne Warwick is slated to perform. Admission is free but tickets are required and will be distributed the day of the event at 5 p.m.


Auction features work by 30 artists

Jill Finsen, auction, gay news, Washington Blade

A painting by Jill Finsen. (Image courtesy Vander Zee)

The Vander Zee Foundation hosts its ninth annual art auction at Vander Zee Gallery (105 South Lee St., Alexandria, Va.) Saturday from 6:30-9 p.m.

The auction offers work from about 30 artists for sale, including 20 original paintings by gallery owner Rob Vander Zee. Different types of paintings are offered from abstraction to realism.

The silent auction is from 6:30-9 p.m. The live auction starts at 8 p.m. For more details, visit


Gays out in force for Cher

(Washington Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

(Washington Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

Special to the Blade

Friday night gay and pop culture icon Cher brought her current “Dressed to Kill Tour” to the Verizon Center for an evening filled with hits, new songs and lots of glam.

The tour was announced shortly after the release of her first album in 10 years, “Closer to the Truth,” and fans were beyond thrilled.  In 2005, Cher ended her nearly three-year “Farewell Tour” at the Hollywood Bowl and said that was it as far as touring was concerned.

In 2008, the diva did an elaborate three-year run at the Coliseum in Vegas and while she loved the show, she had said in a few interviews she wasn’t crazy over the crowds and missed going out playing for her fans.

Nearly three years later here we are and Cher is out on the road again gaining rave reviews since the start of the tour in Phoenix two weeks ago. After some opening night mishaps (ill-fitting costumes, flubbed lyrics and missed cues) it seems the tour is now off and running like a well-oiled machine.

“I’m on my way out there. You better be good too or as my mother would say, ‘Cher don’t make me get off this couch,’ ” came Cher’s voice unexpectedly before the start of the show turning the packed arena into a frenzy. Young, old, gay, straight, black, white, everyone turned out for Cher’s (this time she supposedly means it) final tour. Fans dressed in tour shirts sporting the legend’s face, others opted for home-made shirts that showcased song titles and the tour logo. Surprisingly, I didn’t see one Cher look a-like roaming the arena.

Starting the show with a montage of clips, the white curtain dropped and there she stood  atop a giant pedestal dressed in a massive feather headpiece and looking every bit like an Egyptian goddess belting out “Woman’s World.” Disappearing briefly, she remerged (sans headpiece) performing “Strong Enough” from 1998’s “Believe” before chatting with the crowd.

“My life’s goal is to make you happy,” she said. “Who cares if I stand on top of a 20-foot high pillar, standing on a space the size of a desert spoon singing out my lungs before plunging into the ground; these are my thoughts,” she told the audience before sipping Dr. Pepper and going on a rant about her love of Dr. Pepper and how the only thing they’ve given her is a cooler and a six-pack.

During her opening monologue which she said wasn’t as scripted as her previous tours, she went off on a variety of topics. “Gaga doesn’t do that,” she said. “I’d rather stand and talk than have some chick vomit on me. Call me old fashioned. I’m just that funny kind of gal.”

Story topics ranged from her aunt who was the first woman in Little Rock to have shock treatment, her near arrest in Nashville and when she got toilet paper stuck to her fingernail on the opening night of the tour. Despite all the talking and fun you could tell she was having with the audience, she closed her monologue with the news that this is her “Farewell Farewell Tour” — but not without giving a few winks.

After a brief video interlude that turned the Verizon Center into a stormy red inferno Cher emerged from the floor of the stage riding a chandelier belting out “Dressed To Kill” in a sheer body suit with a flowing black train.

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

Next up was Cher from the Sonny & Cher days. After a video montage played clips of the famous couple to the tunes of “Little Man” and “All I Ever Need Is You,” the set turned to black and white and dancers emerged to the opening of the “The Beat Goes On” before being joined onstage by Cher dressed in a sparkly red mini skirt and black-and-white feather boa. After finishing the tune, the icon that’s been a staple of pop culture since the ’60s told the crowd since this is her last time out, she was going to do something she never thought she’d be able to do.

“It took me forever to be able do this and frankly I didn’t think I would be able to do this” she told the crowd before doing a video duet of “I Got You Babe” with her late partner and husband. Despite lots of ups and downs in their relationship, they were arguably America’s favorite entertaining duo and seeing her perform again with him was touching.

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

Next up was a group of circus-attired dancers and a gypsy garbed-Cher to sing a medley of ’70s hits like “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Dark Lady” and “Half-Breed,” which she sang while wearing an elaborate feathered headdress.

After a montage of acting clips, she came back out to sing “Welcome to Burlesque” as Tess, her character from “Burlesque,” the 2010 bomb she made with Christina Aguilera. She said “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” which she sang next, was one of the hardest she ever tackled.

“We call this song ‘the beast’ because sometimes I made it through and sometimes I don’t … and I’m very brave. The few times I made it through, it was quite wonderful” It was probably just suspense-building banter as she sang it powerfully and near flawlessly.

Two male dancers performed acrobatic stunts before Cher entered the stage in a giant Trojan horse dressed in gold armor belting out fan favorite “Take It Like a Man” from her new album.

Steering the show in a stripped-down direction, Cher entered the stage in simple black slacks and an off-the-shoulder black top performing “Walking In Memphis” after a video played showing her love of Elvis and seeing him with her mom as a kid. In between sips of Dr. Pepper she told the crowd she had foot surgery and called herself a “crazy bitch” at the thought of launching a tour.

Since this is the “Farewell Farewell Tour,” she did “Just Like Jesse James,” a song she has admitted she doesn’t like and reiterated that sentiment again before performing it for the D.C. crowd. Moving onto a song she does like, she performed her favorite, “Heart of Stone.”

Long time background vocalist for Cher, Stacy Campbell, performed “Bang Bang” with new Cher recruit, Nikki Tillman against a video backdrop of past performances of the song.

To the opening of the ’80s hit “I Found Someone,” Cher entered center stage looking just as she did then — big hair, leather jacket, knee high boots and sheer peek-a-boo body suit. Removing the jacket, Cher belted out one of her signature hits, “If I Could Turn Back Time” prancing across the stage bringing the crowd to its feet.

“Believe” was presented as a crowd singalong. She sang the monster hit while wearing a revealing glittery outfit with a red heart on the chest.

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

(Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

“I Hope You Find It” was the encore, sung with Cher standing on a small platform that flew above the crowd letting fans everywhere get an up close view of the icon before she landed back onstage and called it a night nearly two hours after the show started.

Throughout the show, Cher’s voice was top notch and you could tell 99.9 percent of it was live. It seemed she enjoyed shaking up her set list a bit and added some songs that were a bit more challenging than before.  Though its early in the tour, not once did she seem like she was going through the motions. Instead of just talking during the opening monologue and the sit down portion of her show like previous tours, she chatted and joked with the crowd between numbers and made the arena tour feel a bit more intimate and less staged.

The interludes between numbers worked well to blend the songs and visuals so you felt like you weren’t waiting long between costume changes. Speaking of costume changes, while Bob Mackie opted out of doing the new tour, some of his outfits were there, rehashed from previous tours along with new outfits from Hugh Durant. You really couldn’t tell whose outfits were whose and Cher did a great job blending all the elements together so everything ran like a big Broadway show.

If this is truly Cher’s last tour, it’s one hell of a last hurrah. It’s obvious this was a labor of love and I don’t think I ever saw Cher have this much fun on stage. A lot of time was spent making this production one that would be entertaining and also one that pushed Cher to the limits.

Pat Benatar opened with her husband, Neil Giraldo (the Blade interviewed him here). They’re celebrating their 35th anniversary together.

Cher apparently is a fan of Benatar’s and performed the rocker’s “Love Is a Battlefield” during her 1992 “Love Hurts Tour” and the first leg of her 2008 Vegas show.  For Benatar/Giraldo’s hour-long set, they focused solely on hits and turned the Verizon Center into one big karaoke parlor. Pat’s voice is still as strong today as it was then and that sexy, husky growl is still there as she belted out hits such as “Love is a Battlefield,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Heartbreaker.”  I’ve seen Pat three times before this show and while I loved each time, I really enjoyed the extra production that went into opening for Cher. The band sounded fuller, backing vocals were added and Pat’s voice was front and center instead of blending into the mix. If you’re reading this Pat, a new album would be fantastic!  The musical duo performs with Cher until April 14. Cyndi Lauper takes over thereafter.


Pat Benatar:
Shadows of the Night
All Fired Up
We Live For Love
Promises In The Dark
We Belong
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Let’s Stay Together
Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire

Woman’s World
Strong Enough
Dressed to Kill
The Beat Goes On
I Got You Babe
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
Dark Lady
Welcome to Burlesque
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me
Take It Like a Man
Walking in Memphis
Just Like Jesse James
Heart of Stone
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (performed by background vocalists)
I Found Someone
If I Could Turn Back Time
I Hope You Find It




Waters gets ‘Filthy’ — again

John Waters, gay news, Washington Blade

John Waters (Photo by Greg Gorman)

Legendary director and photographer John Waters presents his one-man show “This Filthy World” at the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Waters gives a humorous lecture on his career memories and influences while touching upon his views on pop culture. Waters is best known for his films “Hairspray,” “Cry Baby” and “Pink Flamingos” all of which feature his hometown Baltimore.

Tickets are $45. For more details, visit


Minister gives one-woman show

Elizabeth McCain, gay news, Washington Blade

Elizabeth McCain (Photo courtesy of McCain)

Minister Elizabeth McCain performs “A Lesbian Belle Tells All” as part of Capital Fringe Festival at the Goethe Institut (812 7th St., N.W.) July 12, 17, 20, 25 and 26.

McCain tells stories about living in Mississippi, her family and coming out with a focus on identity, love and healing. McCain is also a professional storyteller and grief counselor.

Show times vary by date.  Tickets are $17. For more information, visit


2013 Year in Review


Three for a Song starts new monthly series

From left, Kari Paludan, Alex Hassan, Doug Bowles, Three for a Song, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Kari Paludan, Alex Hassan and Doug Bowles are Three for a Song. (Photo courtesy Grossman Arts)

The Tin Pan Alley group Three for a Song, featuring gay band leader and tenor Doug Bowles, soprano Kari Paludan and pianist Alex Hassan, starts a new monthly engagement Saturday at Germano’s (300 South High Street, Baltimore) at 7:30 p.m.

They’ll also perform there on March 2, April 6 and June 1. Tickets are $15 general admission. Reservations are required for the Cabaret room. Call 410-752-4515 or visit for details. The performance is billed as “the greatest songs you’ve never heard.”

The group will also perform a Valentine’s Day-themed show on Feb. 14 at Creative Cauldron (410 South Maple Ave., Falls Church, Va.). Tickets for that show range from $35-150. For details, visit


Calendar: March 14-20

Hump Film Festival, calendar, gay news, Washington Blade

A still from one of the films to be screened next week as part of the Dan Savage ‘Hump’ Film Festival at Woolly Mammoth. (Still courtesy Justin Morrison and Kelly O.)

Calendar for LGBT D.C. for the week ahead.

Friday, March 14


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

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts free vodka Friday tonight from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Free rail vodka 11 p.m.-midnight. Two DJs on two floors. Cover is $10. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit


Saturday, March 15


The Latino Queer Bilingual Writing Group hosts its monthly workshop today at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The focus will be on memoirs. Open to writers of any genre and levels of experience to share creative work in Spanish or English. Workshop is free and no prior experience is necessary. For details, call 202-682-2245 or email

Young Artists of America perform an orchestrated version of Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World” at Winston Churchill High School (11300 Gainsborough Rd., Potomac, Md.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. For details, visit

Mr. D.C. Eagle 2014 hosts “Leather Invasion: 17th Street N.W.,” a St. Patrick’s Day weekend bar-crawl. The crawl begins at the Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) at 7:30 p.m. and ends at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) at 12:30 a.m. for the “Bears Can Dance” party, Jell-O shots and a price raffle. Money will be raised for SMYAL.

GLBT Outreach and Engagement (GLOE) hosts “Masquerade and Mischief: Purim Drag Ball” at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center (1529 16th St., N.W.) tonight from 8:30 p.m.-midnight. There will be a drag performance by Ms. Hilda Seaview and an amateur drag/costume parade and contest with prizes. Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. There is a free open bar for anyone who comes in costume. Food and desserts are included. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts “Bare: Military Appreciation St. Pattie’s Day” tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Admission is free for those with a valid Military ID. There will be beer pong and flip cup on the first floor. Jameson and Fireball shots are $3. Domestic beers are $5. Music by DJs Rosie and Keenan Orr. For more details, visit


Sunday, March 16


Chick Chat, an ages-50-and-over lesbian singles group, celebrates Women’s “Herstory” month with a tour of the Clara Barton House (5801 Oxford Rd., Glen Echo, Md.) today at noon. For details and to RSVP email

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


Monday, March 17


United Soldiers and Sailors of America, a non-profit organization that supports combat wounded and their families, hosts a St. Patrick’s Day event at Jake’s Boiler Room (5018 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) from 4-11 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes a complimentary green beer and St. Patrick’s Day mug. There will be $5 Smithwicks and Harp, $8 Irish car bombs and $15 corned beef and cabbage platter. All proceeds benefit United Solders and Sailors of America. For details, visit

Rainbow Theatre Project presents a reading of the Noel Coward play “Long Island Sound” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Source (1835 14th St., N.W.). It tells of an author seeking peace and quiet at a friend’s house who is interrupted by a large gathering of boisterous artists and socialites of whom he becomes the main attraction. About 20 local and student artists will present the reading. Rainbow Theatre Project is a new LGBT-specific theater company.


Tuesday, March 18


Transgender Legal Advocates of Washington (TransLAW) hosts its annual celebration and fundraiser tonight at Lost Society (2001 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 6:30-9:30 p.m. There will be an open bar with wine and specialty cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres from 6:30-7:30 p.m. There is a suggested $10 donation at the door but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. For more information, visit

“Elton John: The Million Dollar Piano,” a filmed concert special of John’s “Million Dollar Piano” show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, plays at AMC Mazza Gallerie (5300 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. as part of a special two-night event. There will be another showing on March 26.


Wednesday, March 19


Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses “The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered” edited by Tom Cardamone at the American Foreign Service Association (2101 E St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.


Thursday, March 20

Freestyle Fitness presents “Go Live and Rewind,” a fitness dance party that benefits Capital Pride 2014, is at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-11 p.m. Enjoy music from DJ miGGL from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today from pop, hip-hop, Latin and more while getting a workout. For more details, visit

Congressional Chorus presents “New York, New York: An American Cabaret” at Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. through March 23. A cast of 85 singers and dancers perform musical selection from notable people in the music industry from New York City including Stephen Sondheim, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. Tickets are $45. For details, visit

Dan Savage, gay author and co-founder of the “It Gets Better Project” brings his “Hump!” Film Festival to Woolly Mammoth Theatre (641 D St., N.W.) tonight with showings at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. These 15 short films discuss sexual situations and include straight, gay, lesbian and transgender stories. Tickets are $20. Screenings go through March 22. For more information, visit

Whole Foods (1440 P St., N.W.) hosts “Drag Bingo on P Street” featuring the Imperial Court of Washington tonight from 7-9 p.m.  There will be prizes and snacks. All proceeds benefit Whole Planet Foundation. For more details, visit

LGBT personnel assigned to the Pentagon meet at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd St., Arlington) today from 5-7 p.m. for happy hour. This monthly event (the third Thursday of each month) is open to military, Department of Defense civilians and military contractors who work in and around the Pentagon.

The band cut/copy plays Echo Stage (2135 Queens Chapel Road, N.E.) tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35. Visit for details.


The circus has come to town!

Taylor Albin, Taylor the Tailor, Built to Amaze!, Ringling Brothers, gay news, Washington Blade

Taylor Albin as Taylor the Tailor (third from left in back row) in ‘Built to Amaze!’ It runs through Sunday at the Patriot Center. (Photo courtesy Ringling Bros.)

‘Built to Amaze!’

Ringling Bros., Barnum  & Bailey

Patriot Center

Through Sunday



Growing up in Mineral Wells, Texas, Taylor Albin shunned the Friday night lights of the high school football games and dreamt of having different lights shining down on him — those from the “greatest show on earth.”

“I went to the circus every single year with my family and fell in love with it. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a clown; it just looked like so much fun,” Albin says. “Whenever they came out, they made people laugh and that’s definitely something I wanted to do and saw myself doing.”

One of his favorite pastimes was watching the Ringling Bros. video “How to be a Clown”; he aspired to be one of the greats like Tom and Tammy Parish, Chris and Gina Allison, Michael Frum, Jeff Schott and Todd Zimmerman.

Of course, wanting to be a clown and actually doing it for a living are two different things. Like most people, Albin had absolutely no idea how to go about it. It was in 2009, while in college, that he read that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was holding open auditions in New York, so he flew to the Big Apple and auditioned.

“It was a year later when they called and told me I was just what they were looking for,” he says. “I was still in college, but a year later I was with them and doing what I consider to be the best job in the world. My dream had come true.”

Albin says that being gay has never been an issue with anyone at the circus and that the atmosphere among his fellow clowns and other performers has been very supportive.

“The circus is such an open community and an environment that accepts all people — I mean not only do we have people from different lifestyles but we also have people from all parts of the globe,” he says. “The circus is a place anyone can feel comfortable in and I feel fortunate to work in an environment that people accept you for who you are.”

In his clown persona, Albin is Taylor the Tailor and he dons a large black wig that sticks up, wears funny glasses and has loud and colorful striped pants.

“The best part is I designed my look and who I wanted to be,” he says. “One of the best things is that we get the freedom of creating who we are and what we want to look like.”

You can check Albin out locally now as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Built To Amaze!” at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va. It opened last week and runs through Sunday. It’s a show that promises plenty of high energy, high jinx and hilarity.

“What I enjoy most about being a part of Ringling Bros. is that I have the honor and privilege to see kids so happy and vibrant, and for their parents to be right in the moment with them,” he says. “There’s something magical about seeing a family forgetting their worries and just having fun! Your heart is filled with so much happiness and joy.”

For those children (and adults!) who are afraid of clowns, Albin says that everyone is very sensitive to their feelings and they work hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and having a fun time.

“We have people who come to the shows from all sorts of life and when we see people startled, we don’t approach them and we let them approach us,” he says. “Parents have their kids come to see us and we’ll bend down and talk to them on their level so we are not an ominous figure. We always take caution when we talk to children.”

Albin has been with the circus for five years and currently serves as the Boss Clown, meaning he is the liaison between show management and all the clowns on tour.

“I make sure everyone stays on top of their tasks and are prompt and at the end of the day that we all have fun,” he says. “When you wake up excited to do what you do, nothing can stop you. If there is a challenge, I would say it’s not seeing my family as often, but I am going to Texas soon so will see them then. At the end of the day, I love what I do.”

In addition to the fun of the clowns, the circus will include nine-time international award-winning comedic animal presenting duo Alex and Irina Emelin of Russia; the Tower Tumblers, a troupe of competitive aerial athletes from the Ukraine who launch themselves from trampolines to scale, repel and pass through a three-story high translucent tower; and a spirited and fiery competition of basketball with the next generation of whirling unicyclists, the legendary King Charles Troupe hailing from New York City.


‘Drag Race’ champ Bianca and finalists at Town

Ru Paul's Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Drag Race’ winner Bianca Del Rio. (Photo courtesy Logo)

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” season six winner Bianca Del Rio and fellow contestants Darienne Lake, Adore Delano and Courtney Act perform two shows at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) at 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. Saturday night.

There will be a sold-out meet and greet from 7-9 p.m. The first drag show begins at 9:30 p.m. Guests are encouraged to arrive early for the first show since having a ticket does not guarantee attendance to the show. At 1 a.m. there will be a second performance. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over.

Tickets are $25. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more details, visit