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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.



MAL, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather, Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend, gay news, Washington Blade

Last year’s Mid-Atlantic Leather festivities. (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend

Friday through Monday

Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill (host hotel)

400 New Jersey Ave., N.W.

MAL Full Run Package — $200

Limited number available at 3 p.m. Friday in the

registration area at the Hyatt

Weekend admission passes also available

Full weekend schedule and admission information

available at

It all began with a party and a cock ring.

That was the basis of the first Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in 1976 and over the ensuing 37 years, the event has grown into one of the most popular and anticipated leather/fetish events in the world.

Friday through Monday, thousands of leathermen, skins, gearheads, kinksters and rubber freaks will descend on the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill for a four-day-long party of fetish fun.

“We have lots of things going on at the hotel 24-7 so to speak, such as MIR hosting a meet and greet on the Friday night, and they haven’t had an event with us before,” says Patrick Grady, chair of the event. “People need to just come out to the lobby and see the mass humanity of people. It’s the largest gay bar in the city over that weekend.”

Steve Ranger, past president of Centaur MC and Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2005, says the number of events in the hotel have expanded this year, including three new parties. Last year, several new dances made their debut and will return and this year’s new entries will see Sigma (once again sponsoring the dungeon parties) bringing a demonstration and instruction on safe practices. New parties include those thrown by the Boys of Leather and the Highway Men.

“A lot of the guests really like the ability to stay in the hotel and really enjoy themselves, so we have made a concerted effort to provide more events and themed parties,” Ranger says. “There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood and people just have a great time and people accept you for who you are.”

The heart of the weekend is the historic leather formal Saturday evening cocktail social, Leather Cocktails. This year marks the 30th anniversary that the Centaur MC has hosted the party and it will commemorate the event with specialty cocktails and 3-D miniature mock-ups of what the stage will be like for the event. Additionally, Leather Archives is bringing in an award that has been handed down over the years.

“The focus will be on the fact that this is a weekend that started from a simple cocktail party and has grown into what it has become and a big focus on the back-patch leather clubs in the District,” says Todd White, president of Centaur MC. “The Centaurs are honored and blessed that the community trusts us with their tradition and the weekend, and we appreciate that it’s a joint effort of all the clubs in the D.C.-area coming together. Without the parties planned by the clubs throughout the weekend, it just wouldn’t be the same.”

Some welcome news came in early January when the D.C. Eagle, a popular gay bar with many of the attendees in year’s past, announced that it would remain open throughout the weekend of the show, having previously thought it would be closed as it made way for construction of a new office building.

“We will have a shuttle bus for our package holders taking them to the Eagle and the Green Lantern,” Ranger says. “People who have come to Washington for many years are used to going to the Eagle, so this is a chance for them to say farewell.”

There’s been a lot of change in the region’s leather community of late.

Eagle co-owners Ted Clements and Peter Lloyd are working on transporting the venue to a three-story warehouse building at 3701 Benning Rd, N.E., proposing to operate as a tavern and restaurant and offer live entertainment, dancing, a rooftop “summer garden” and a small retail gift shop.

On New Year’s Eve, the L Bar, a popular leather bar in Rehoboth, closed its doors after 16 years and will reportedly reopen as a non-leather, non-gay bar.

The leather community also lost a dear friend and Centaur brother Jim Raymond before New Year’s, and many look to honor his memory at the celebration.

The Weekend also includes official events organized by weekend hosts, Centaur MC that include a bustling Leather Exhibit Hall, Sunday brunch, Mr. MAL Contest and the official Sunday night closing party, REACTION.

“This weekend is a time to see friends who come from all over the country, Canada, Europe and even Australia and socialize, enjoy cocktails and have one comfortable social environment filled with camaraderie,” Ranger says. “You can wear your clothes, your leather, your gear all around the hotel and it’s a very welcoming environment.”

The contest has changed a great deal since Ranger took home the award in ’05, with a much better prize package being offered and more people letting down their inhibitions and competing.

The hotel is already sold out and the pre-numbers that Centaur MC are seeing reflect possibly the biggest turnout ever.

“It’s definitely going to be one of our biggest ones in recent history,” Grady says. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. The leather community is very friendly. For those who want to come out or maybe are just curious, you should take advantage of it while you can because you don’t know when it could be your last.”


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




Queery: Cass Johnson

Cass Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade

Cass Johnson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

About 15 years ago, a friend of Cass Johnson’s convinced him to join a pottery class.

“He dropped out after five or six weeks, but I was hooked,” Johnson says. “I just kept on taking classes.”

On Jan. 28, Johnson saw his dream come true when he opened District Clay, a new 2,000-square-foot ceramic and pottery studio in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood (2414 Douglas Ave., N.E.). Johnson says it’s the first new ceramic teaching studio to open in D.C. in 20 years. Classes are offered in sculpture, tile and more and the space includes several kilns, wheels and other pottery accoutrements. Classes will be offered during the day, evenings and weekends. A discount is being offered this month in relation to the grand opening (details at

Johnson says he sensed a demand when he realized other studios in the city frequently were full.

“There is something almost soulful about turning a lump of clay into an elegant vase or mug,” the 54-year-old gay Redondo Beach, Calif., native says. “If you think about it, there are not many opportunities to make something with your own hands. I find it a very relaxing atmosphere, one where the outside world just fades away.”

Johnson came to Washington 24 years ago and worked as a lobbyist. He and husband, Matt, live in Woodley Park. He enjoys gardening, bicycling, dog walking, reading, bread making and, of course, pottery, in his free time.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I have been out since I was 18. The hardest person to tell was my mother, who broke down and cried. She thought I would not have a happy life.  In contrast, my Dad was great and very supportive.


Who’s your LGBT hero? 

Harvey Milk, because of his passion.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

This is going to date me but it has got to be Tracks from way back when. I remember a time when I couldn’t imagine not going to Tracks on a weekend.


Describe your dream wedding. 

My wedding was my dream wedding. Matt and I got married in Ptown and honestly a number of people said it was their favorite wedding too. We sent people on a treasure hunt, I made tea bowls for everyone and we gave them out dressed in kimonos and then we had a lovely and tearful wedding ceremony at the Red Roof Inn. Wouldn’t do anything different except stopping all the rain that weekend.


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about? 

I love making pots. That’s why I opened District Clay.


What historical outcome would you change? 

I’d make it so that Al Gore officially beat George Bush. Then we would not have had Iraq or a gay bashing White House.


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Cher in Las Vegas


On what do you insist? 

Being considerate.


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

About opening District Clay!


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“What a Wonderful World It Is”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Encourage more people to become gay.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe that there is a life force that is beyond the physical world and we will discover what it is when we get there.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep charging.


What would you walk across hot coals for? 

My partner Matt. We have been in love since our second date and have never had a bad day. It sounds impossible but it’s true. It is miraculous for me.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?  

That gay men have to be effeminate.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie? 

“Milk.” Great political movie.


What’s the most overrated social custom? 

I don’t know what the most overrated custom is but the most underrated is hugging.  People should hug more.


What trophy or prize do you most covet? 

I would love to have a piece of my pottery in a major museum collection.


What do you wish you’d known at 18? 

I wish I had started doing pottery at 18 rather than at 40. At 18, I had no real idea what I wanted to do.


Why Washington? 

I came here to get involved in public policy. I had no idea at the time what a great city Washington is. Coming from L.A., where you had to drive everywhere, to Washington, a city of real neighborhoods, was mind blowing in a very positive way.


Queery: DC Allen

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Things will be a little different at the Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) on Sunday. From 2-6 p.m., owner DC Allen is hosting a birthday party. Gay porn star Matthew Rush will be on hand. It’s open to the public.

Allen, a 58-year-old Boston native, has been in D.C. since 1990 after spending the ‘80s in New York.

He and husband Ken Flick live on 17th Street near Dupont Circle with their dog, Toad. Allen enjoys reading, community activism, working out, cooking and traveling in his free time.

Find the Crew Club on Facebook or visit for details.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

Since 1979. My stepfather who was not gay friendly.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

Frank Kameny for his long-term activism.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

The Crew Club, of course!


Describe your dream wedding.

Surrounded by family and friends, in the District Courthouse with fake flowers on a plastic trellis. We did it in October 2012!


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

The little children in the U.S. Congress playing their childish games.


What historical outcome would you change?

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Windsor case would apply to all states, not just the federal government.


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The first time I saw “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. The irreverence and truth was spectacular!


On what do you insist?

That we as a community never put up with bullies.


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I posted my birthday party at the Crew Club that I’m throwing on Sunday. I also posted thank yous to everyone who wished me happy birthday.


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Whoremaster to Weenie Waggers”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I would stay the same delightful homosexual that I am today.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

A spiritual existence and a power greater than myself.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Never forget that we are not heterosexuals.


What would you walk across hot coals for?

Complete equality.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

We are not all 20-year-old muscle bunnies.


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Kinky Boots”


What’s the most overrated social custom?

There are no overrated social customs.


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I was lucky enough to receive the Business Leader of the Year Award in 2012 from the Capitol Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. That was and is the award I most coveted because it recognized all of the positive things I’ve tried to do in the D.C. gay community.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Floss more, eat less.


Why Washington?

I had family in the area. Also, Washington has the highest percentage of master’s degrees per workforce in the world. I like a bright, driven population around me.


‘Looking’ for action?

The cast of HBO's 'Looking.' (Courtesy HBO)

The cast of HBO’s ‘Looking.’ (Courtesy HBO)

At first glance, HBO’s new dramedy “Looking” may seem like a gay man’s answer to “Girls,” but if Sunday night’s series premiere is any indication, it serves as a foil to shows like “Modern Family” and “The New Normal,” complete with dated stereotypes of gay men.

The pilot opens up with Jonathan Groff’s character, video game developer Patrick, at the receiving end of an awkward handjob courtesy of a stranger he cruised in a park in broad daylight. The idea that a tech-savvy 20-something would go cruising in the middle of the day in the age of Grindr seems unbelievable, as if it’s the image a middle-aged television producer has of young gay men. This suspicion is all but confirmed in the next scene when another main character is seen, without a trace of irony, sporting a Freddie Mercury mustache.

It becomes clear that the chief concern for the three main characters is sex. Patrick resorts to cruising and OKCupid, a far more believable approach, for his next hookup. Agustín and his boyfriend engage in a threesome with someone they just met. Dom throws himself at anyone he may be able to get into bed and, after failing, goes searching for “some blonde slut to help me regain my self-respect.”

Like its sister program “Girls,” the main characters are all deeply flawed, which makes the show captivating. Bucking the trend of modern sitcoms featuring a butch/femme, financially stable, wholesome, white gay couple adopting a baby, the three men smoke weed, are nowhere near marriage and are unapologetic in their sexual triumphs and misadventures.

“Looking” certainly tells a different story about gay men than is normally seen on television. It’s not a narrative that will play as well in suburbia as seen in family friendly sitcoms, but with a racially diverse cast and sexually liberated characters, it helps represent an often-ignored portion of the LGBT community. Until the show develops over the next few episodes and its purpose becomes clear, it’s a series to keep on the radar. Let’s hope it develops some depth as it unfolds.

The show airs Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.


Getting his spin on

DJ Paulo, Cherry Fund, gay news, Washington Blade

DJ Paulo is one of several big-name DJs in town this weekend for Cherry. (Photos courtesy DJ Paulo)


DJ Paulo


2009 8th St. N.W.


11 p.m.-4 a.m.

$20 ($70 for Cherry weekend pass)

Music lovers in D.C. are already familiar with the Cherry Fund’s annual charity dance and music event, which since its inception in 1997 has raised more than $988,000 in support of efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

Each year, Cherry brings in top international DJs and premier parties to Washington venues and this year is no exception with top-notch spinners such as DJ Eddie Elias, DJ Joe Gauthreaux, DJ Alain Jackinsky and DJ Mike Reimer lending their talents.

“Last year’s Cherry had 125 attending the afterhours event at Tropicalia, which for 7 a.m. in Washington is pretty remarkable,” says James Decker, a board member with the Cherry Fund. “This year we expect 200-plus. We’ve already sold 120 advance passes, which is more than double last year.”

The Cherry committee also expects a huge turnout for its main event at Town, scheduled from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. on Saturday which will feature DJ Paulo mixing it up for a night being billed as “Emergence,” and featuring the Tribal Bitch and DJ Twin.

“I’ve spun for Cherry before, plus I grew up in Bethesda, so D.C. has a special place for me,” DJ Paulo, who’s gay, says. “People can expect an energetic set with lots of new productions and vocals.”

Originally from Portugal, DJ Paulo knew early on that he wanted to spin music for a living and started playing small clubs and gaining a name for himself.

“I was living in Los Angeles and noticed promoters were only bringing DJs from New York (i.e. Peter Rauhofer, Victor Calderone) and all the DJs in Los Angeles had a ‘lighter’ sound,” he says. “So I started a small residency in the middle of West Hollywood on Fridays at Rage called ‘Stereo.’ People caught on to my sound and things evolved from there.”

The weekly residency was a good way for DJ Paulo to test out his sound and from there, he earned a residency at Spin, a popular afterhours club where Avalon in Hollywood now resides.

Over the years, he’s headlined at some of the world’s largest and most prestigious parties, including Black and Blue Montreal, New York’s Saint at Large Black Party, Fire Island’s Pines Party and Dancing on the Bay, Orlando’s Gay Days and Taiwan’s Ministry of Sound.

His spins are responsible for a slew of remixes of tracks that have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Charts, including songs by Christina Aguilera, Inaya Day, Madonna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and pretty much everyone else worth getting on a podium for.

Success didn’t come without lots of hard work and some hiccups along the way. The one thing that has always frustrated DJ Paulo was when people would hear just one single podcast and judge his sound based on just one set.

“More than anything, whether it’s a peak time event or an afterhours, I cater to the party — even a beach tea dance I can play,” he says. “I always stay true to my sound, it just varies according to the event.”

He is co-founder of Pure Music Productions and has built one of the hottest independent record labels, providing top-10 progressive tracks on Beatport and various digital download sites.

It’s a life that DJ Paulo wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Music, he says, has more power than some people will admit.

“Making people feel good through music is one of the best rewards of being a DJ,” he says. “Then there’s the traveling to all these amazing places. Just two weeks ago I was in Tel Aviv and got to visit Jerusalem. Meeting so many amazing people is a real treat.”

His production and style is very important to him. When someone goes to an event, he believes the sound should be distinctive so you know you’re hearing a particular DJ.

“I’m always continuing developing my sound. I try to stay current with new artists and introduce people to new music,” he says. “I see a real trend and club life looks like it’s coming back (especially in New York). I think the best is yet to come.”


Doin’ it our way

Lou Ann Sandstrom, Kathleen Kutschenreuter, Foundry United Methodist Church, same-sex weddings, wedding, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Lou Ann Sandstrom, left, and Kathleen Kutschenreuter at their wedding recessional at Foundry United Methodist Church on Sept. 28, 2013. (Photo by Paul Morse Photography; courtesy the couple)

Like the couples themselves, same-sex weddings come in all shapes and sizes.

We got to know three local couples that each went about it in different ways.

Kevin Anthony Rowe, 31, married Will Shreve, 28, last Sept. 19 at the Jefferson Memorial. They kept it “small and quick” so they could tie the knot before Shreve left for the Middle East on Christmas Day for his deployment with the U.S. Navy.

Greg Alexander, 43, married his partner of 13 years, Paul K. Williams, 47, on Jan. 31 at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse.

Kathleen Kutschenreuter, 43, and Lou Ann Sandstrom, 54, did the more traditional “big church wedding.” They had about 130 guests when they wed last Sept. 28 at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, an event that was also the day of their then-6-month-old daughter, Ava Kae’s, baptism.

For myriad reasons, each couple’s decision, they say, made the most sense for them.

David Lett, Kevin Anthony Rowe, Will Shreve, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade, wedding

Kevin Anthony Rowe, left, with husband Will Shreve, right. They were married Sept. 19 by Rev. David Lett, center. (Photo by John Ellis)

Rowe and Shreve met on a Sunday evening at Nellie’s Sports Bar in January 2012.

“It sounds cliché, but I knew from the minute I met him, this is the guy I was going to end up with,” says Rowe, a budget analyst at National Geographic who also tends bar on weekends at Town Danceboutique. “I’d had long relationships before … but I never had been so sure about something. …. In my mind, it was only a matter of time.”

He says they might have done a destination wedding had time not been so pressing, but they’re happy with how things worked out. They chose the Jefferson Memorial because it’s Shreve’s favorite D.C. memorial.

Rowe says it was all pretty easy to arrange. After downloading a form from the National Park Service website and sending $100, the permit was e-mailed back to them within about three days.

“It was super easy,” he says. “Once you get there, there are only certain areas you can have it, but you just ask at the little guard spot and they tell you where you can and can’t go.”

The ceremony lasted about 15-20 minutes and Rev. David Lett, a friend of the couple, officiated. They were at the site about an hour.

On the Thursday of their wedding, they had dinner beforehand and an after party at Number Nine, a gay bar on P Street, with balloons and Champagne.

Rowe says the separation is hard but he’s making do with Skype, texts and the like. They video chat every couple days and are planning a few trips throughout the year to see each other. Rowe says he keeps busy working two jobs and has great friends around to help fill the void.

Because they had lived together near Columbia Heights about a year before getting married, Rowe says the wedding itself didn’t change how their relationship felt.

“It kind of just felt like another day together,” he says. “We fit so well on every level and it’s so comfortable that just because the label was there now didn’t change anything.”

Greg Alexander, a magazine editor, thought he would feel pretty much the same way. He and Williams had lived together for about 10 years by the time they wed last month.

“It’s hard to describe it,” he says. “We’d been together 13 years and I didn’t expect it to feel any different. We’d exchanged rings on our 10th anniversary, just the two of us in the garden. But something about it, after it was done, not to sound cheesy, but it feels more real. When I look at my ring, it’s not just, ‘Oh, those are the rings we gave each other because we love each other.’ Now it’s more like, ‘Yes, we are married.’”

The couple thought about getting married when same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland in January last year, but decided to wait. When key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were repealed by the Supreme Court later in the year, Alexander says, “That was kind of the final push we needed.” They waited until 2014 for tax purposes.

“We were pretty sure this is what we wanted,” says Williams, who is president of Congressional Cemetery. “I think we were more concerned we might offend some family members or friends by not doing something bigger, but we talked about it with them and decided to do some nice dinners with our two families a few months later. That’s just kind of the way it worked out best for us, especially for our families and their schedules.”

Alexander says in early discussions that, “luckily we were on the same page about this.” They’d had large parties with family, friends, banquet halls, private chefs and that type of thing for each other on their respective 40th birthdays, so when it came time to tie the knot, they agreed simpler was the way to go.

Paul K. Williams, Greg Alexander, wedding, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Paul K. Williams, left, with husband Greg Alexander the day they married at the Baltimore City Circuit Courthouse. (Photo courtesy the couple)

He says there was some initial concern that doing it so low key might feel anticlimactic, but he says the courthouse didn’t have the bare bones feel he thought it might.

“I thought it might be a little two-second thing like going to jury duty or something, but we were pleasantly surprised,” Alexander says. “It’s actually pretty nice. The people were amazing, which kind of caught us a little off guard. … You go into a little room that’s decorated and they have an officiant do your vows. … We couldn’t get over how excited the city employees were. We had total strangers hugging us and telling us they were so happy two gay men could get married. We didn’t expect that from the Baltimore City Courthouse.”

The license was about $85 and there was an additional $25 charge for the civil ceremony. Three couples joined them for dinner afterward.

“I think the couple needs to really ask themselves how they want to remember the occasion,” Williams says. “I know when we had the big [birthday] party, it went so fast and it was so involved and complex, I barely remember the conversations we had. I think it’s just something that’s very individual and each couple needs to look at themselves and how they like to entertain and decide how they want to do it.”

Kutschenreuter and Sandstrom were struck by Rev. Dean Snyder’s homily when they visited Foundry United Methodist Church in November 2012. As he shared a story of a same-sex couple whose wedding he had officiated the previous day and Kutschenreuter and Sandstrom discovered the church’s social justice, community and LGBT advocacy work, it hit a nerve.

“We really knew we wanted a sacred space to really honor our desire to express our commitment in front of family and friends and we didn’t want to do it on our own, we wanted witnesses,” says Kutschenreuter, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency. “We had a desire to do it in front of a higher power … . To us, we felt for our marriage to have the best chance and to be the most grounded, we wanted it to be grounded in a spiritual context.”

They say the cost of the church was a “drop in the bucket,” considering what they spent on their reception. They said it was “less than $2,000” for the church, clergy and a team of musicians who performed. Foundry offers a discount to members.

“It’s between about $500 and $2,000 depending on how lean or heavy you want to go,” Kutschenreuter says. A reception was held that evening at the Hay-Adams Hotel.

“We have absolutely no regrets about it,” says Sandstrom, who works for the FBI. “We saw it as an investment and everyone had a fantastic time.”

“We did think along the way, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we doing, this is so stressful,’” Kutschenreuter says. “But we weren’t being elaborate just to be elaborate. We were trying to honor the fact that we’re older people, we have a daughter, it was Lou Ann’s Dad’s 90th birthday and both our dads walked us down the aisle, we had people coming from all over; there was just so much more to it than there would have been for a younger couple. But we knew this group of people would never be together any other time so we wanted it to be special. It was definitely worth it.”


Queen of everything

Boy George, gay news, Washington Blade

Boy George says in some ways straight acts can experiment with gender more than gay artists. (Photo courtesy High Rise PR)

Boy George

Monday, April 21

9:30 Club

815 V St. N.W.


Doors open at 7 p.m.

Boy George is the first to acknowledge a cliché.

Getting sober in 2008 and turning 50 two years ago are big “take stock” moments for many and no less so for him.

“It was a huge turning point for me,” he says of his milestone birthday. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to get my shit together, I’ve got to focus, this is important.’ I just felt I’d wasted a lot of time. I looked at myself and thought, ‘God, I’ve done nothing.’ I know I’ve done a lot, I’ve always worked. I’ve grafted and always made money, but a lot of it was pointless because no one knew what I was doing.”

This year, the world is seeing the fruit of those epiphanies. His new album “This Is What I Do” was out in the UK last fall and officially drops in the U.S. with three bonus cuts on March 25. The last several years have seen him release a spate of side projects of various scope, but this is his first full-fledged solo album since 1995’s “Cheapness and Beauty.” He starts a U.S. leg of his tour on April 18 in Philadelphia and plays D.C.’s 9:30 Club on April 21.

During a Saturday afternoon phone chat from his London home last weekend, George — in his ever-delightful, clipped British accent — was chatty, self deprecating, quick to laugh and balked or sidestepped no questions. His comments have been slightly edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: I know you’ve been DJing a lot and working on various things, but how did it work out that you released a new album at this time? Why now?

BOY GEORGE: Well, you know, as you said, I’ve been DJing very happily for the last 25 years and I haven’t really had a record deal for a long time. I suppose I have thought about making records but, you know, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. You know, whether I was going to sign with a major label or do something more independent. I also changed management a couple of years ago and wanted to kind of start fresh with a bunch of people that perhaps could kind of see beyond what I was. I think when you’ve had a very, very successful career like I had in the ‘80s, people tend to kind of hope you’re going to try and repeat that. They’re always waiting for you to write the next “Karma Chameleon,” but it’s never going to happen (laughs). Everything I’ve ever done has been kind of instinctual and impulsive and spontaneous and I’ve never really been the kind of artist that can kind of just pull it out of a hat. I have to feel it. … I just felt it was the right time. We discussed the different ways I could go about making a record and I decided to be brave and pay for it myself and own it myself which is a new thing for me, kind of a grown up move. And so far, you know, it’s been the right choice.


BLADE: When was it recorded and how long did it take?

GEORGE: We started about March last year and we did it within about four months. Not solidly. We recorded and then somebody else mixed it. I would say about four to five months last year.


BLADE: How was the reception in the UK last fall?

GEORGE: We’ve had amazing reviews. Comeback of the year, Boy George has finally got his mojo back, you know, blah, blah, blah. Lots of compliments. I mean, much to my surprise really, because I wasn’t really sure what kind of reaction I would get. I wasn’t sure what to expect. So yeah, everything in the UK has been kind of another surprise. England tends to get much more excited about Beyonce than anything that comes from here. It’s like all America, America, hip-hop, Beyonce, Lady Gaga. Nobody cares about Boy George anymore (laughs). That’s why I’m relying on you guys in America.


BLADE: The first single “King of Everything” says “What is the word on the street? Have I lost my crown?” Have you?

GEORGE: Well, the song isn’t just about me, it’s about everyone. It’s about human frailty, people messing up, which is a very human thing, yet it is also about me but it’s about you, it’s about everyone. It’s not literal. The crown is a metaphor. If it was about me, I’d call it “Queen of Everything.”


BLADE: How did the UK tour go last fall?

GEORGE: It was amazing. Very small, very affectionate and the audiences were adorable. They were mostly the kind of hardcore fans, so they were really affectionate.


BLADE: About how long do you usually play?

GEORGE: It depends on the curfew. We do about an hour and a half, maybe two hours. Not quite Bruce Springsteen-length. But we play for as long as we can. When you’re doing a show, sometimes if the mood is right, you can keep it going, depending on the audience reaction, really. But obviously some venues have a curfew so you can’t play longer than a certain time.


BLADE: About how much of the new album do you work into the set list?

GEORGE: We kind of try and balance it with things people know, some things people haven’t heard, some new stuff, some old stuff. You know, I’ve been doing this a while and one thing I’ve continued to do is to play live. At the end, you have to figure out a way to reach the audience.


BLADE: How does the new stuff sit with the Culture Club hits? Is it hard to build a set list that flows?

GEORGE: No, I don’t think it’s difficult. With the things people know, you’re always in a very safe area. If you sing a song that’s been a hit, that’s very safe so no, I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. There are certain songs that I don’t do. Obviously with that kind of a back catalogue, there are some songs you grow into and some that you say, “OK, this doesn’t really speak to who I am anymore.” So you kind of try to mix it up and keep it interesting, not just for the audience but also for yourself. You don’t want it to be a kind of robotic show that’s the same every night. Myself and John, who plays guitar in my band, we have sections where we do acoustic stuff and we can do all sorts of things there and change things around and do new things. That helps keep the show exciting.


BLADE: Do you still have the goatee?



BLADE: Your look at present seems more kind of genderfuck than androgynous. Just a whim or do you feel more comfortable with mixing in masculine elements than you have in previous years?

GEORGE: I just had some time off and didn’t shave for a few days and kind of looked at myself and thought, “Oh, I quite like this look.” It’s not something I really sat down and thought about. I just kind of grew my beard when I was on break and other people seemed to like it and other people didn’t like it, which made me want to keep it more. I might get bored with it at some point but I’m loving it at the moment.


BLADE: Lots of pop stars have played around with androgynous looks — I’m thinking of David Bowie and Prince — and the public seems to accept them as straight. You were always pretty much out for the most part. Do you feel the public overall has pretty good gaydar?

GEORGE: I don’t know really. I think there are some audiences that don’t really want to know, depending on the artist. Sometimes people have this kind of spare-me-the-details kind of attitude. I think it’s more about what kind of artist you are and in what ways you want to affect the audience. That’s the starting point for me. It’s about what’s going to make you happy, do you know what I mean? How much of yourself you reveal. I think it’s much easier for somebody straight to play around with these boundaries because they’re not being defined by their sexuality. If you’re gay, then you’re gay and you have to strike a sort of balance so people don’t feel you’re flaunting it in their face or preaching, you know. I think as a gay artist, you have to walk a much finer line than, say, somebody who’s just having a flirtation with this. I mean, it’s much easier for someone straight like Macklemore to sing a song with the word gay in it. A few years ago I made an album called “Cheapness and Beauty” and there was a song called “Same Thing in Reverse” and I was told categorically this will never, ever get played on the radio because I used the phrase “kamikaze queer” in it. You can get away with more when you’re straight.


BLADE: You’ve talked about making a new album with Culture Club this year. Is that still in the cards?

GEORGE: Yes, we are looking at the possibility of recording some stuff this year but at the moment, we’re kind of still in the writing stages. We’ve had some great sessions and we really did enjoy ourselves and it was a really nice experience. Everybody came away feeling really good about it and, you know, we’re going to see what we can do next.


BLADE: It’s so great to see you looking so good, sounding so good and apparently really thriving. A few of your contemporaries who were also huge in the ‘80s haven’t fared as well. What did you think and feel when you heard Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston had died?

GEORGE: Oh my God, you know, I mean Michael Jackson. And I loved Whitney Houston like so much. I was just a massive, massive fan. I loved her voice. And Michael Jackson, you know, I was at home when it happened and I just remember thinking, “Oh my God, this is so sad.” You know, he was such an incredible artist. For the last few years of his life, I felt like there was so much pressure on him and he looked world-weary every time I saw him. I felt such sadness for him. I was just so sad when he died and Whitney, what a shame for both of them. They were great, great artists. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan and a huge Whitney Houston fan and I’m not ashamed to say I did cry. I thought it was really sad.


BLADE: Conversely does it make you happy when you see some of those artists still doing well today. Like Cyndi Lauper, for instance, just won a Tony.

GEORGE: I’m always happy when anyone does well. That’s a measure of maturity, I think. Cyndi’s a friend. I haven’t seen her for a while, but she’s a great girl and, you know, yeah, I think when you see your contemporaries doing well, it gives you hope. You think, “OK, anything’s possible.”


BLADE: You recognized early on that fame was fickle and I remember you telling Johnny Carson you knew staying at that level at the height of Culture Club was not sustainable and that you envisioned yourself eventually writing songs for other artists and doing other things. How has that played out differently than you thought it might have when you were 22?

GEORGE: Oh, I think when you’re 22 you really think you know it all, don’t you? (laughs) You listen back to the things you say and you think, “Oh my God, you really thought you knew it all.” And I think at that age, you’re still learning so much. I feel very fortunate to still be doing what I love.


BLADE: Yes, but it struck me as rather insightful that you realized even then that pop careers always ebb and flow.

GEORGE: It may be one of the reasons I’ve done other things. I’ve never wanted to just rest on my laurels. I don’t have the idea of trying to kind of repeat something. So in a way, DJing has been an incredible second career for me. When I first started it, my manager at the time thought it was a really bad idea and told me I shouldn’t do it. But again, I just followed my instincts and it was the right thing to do because it allowed me to avoid nostalgia. I’ve been able to be involved in a quite progressive industry and not have to worry about what I used to be or, you know, the ‘80s, and all that stuff. So I’m really happy that I made that decision. I like to work. I’m a worker and I’m always up for a new challenge.


BLADE: Back in the early ‘90s, the theme from “Crying Game” was this huge out-of-nowhere smash radio hit in the U.S. Do you still sing it live?

GEORGE: From time to time. Actually, maybe that’s a good one to put into the set in America. I’ll write that down.


BLADE: Is it harder to break a song in the U.S. now than it was years ago? Not even with yourself, necessarily, but just in general?

GEORGE: I don’t know what it’s like now because I’m not involved in that kind of trying to have hits, you know. I think past a certain age, you’re just kind of marginalized in the world anyway.


BLADE: Does that bring with it artistic freedom?

GEORGE: I think it does. Once you kind of get over the shock and the horror that certain radio stations won’t play your new stuff no matter how good you are, I mean that’s really the bonkers thing. I’m not sure it’s as bad in America as it is here, but certainly here, it’s just ridiculous. But it kind of remains to be seen. It’s a very different landscape now. Making records is very different and the way we promote ourselves is very different. In a way I’m kind of starting again, so I’ll let you know.


BLADE: How many of the players from the album do you tour with?

GEORGE: All of them.


BLADE: The album has such a lush sound — is that easy to duplicate on stage?

GEORGE: Well, we have a nine-piece band that we’re touring with at great expense so we probably won’t be making any money. But I think it’s really important to have a great band and we had a great time in the UK last year. We do England and Europe then we go to America. We’ll be steaming by the time we get to the states.


BLADE: How long have you been a vegan?

GEORGE: I’m not strictly a vegan but I’m very conscious about what I eat and I don’t eat a lot of dairy, though I do eat some cheeses. I’ve been on a very particular metabolic plan diet for two years that’s all about your hormonal reaction to certain foods so some of the stuff I don’t eat is very random — like pumpkin, kale, onion or lemon. It’s very individual and different for each person. It’s been sort of life changing for me but I don’t really call myself anything because then you eat a piece of cheese and everybody freaks out.


BLADE: And you run too?

GEORGE: Well, I exercise.


BLADE: Is the U.S. version of the album the same?

GEORGE: No, it’s got more songs. I wrote a song called “Turn On a Little Light For Me,” which I wrote especially for the American album and which I love. We were asked by the label to provide some more stuff and I had a couple covers — “Video Games” by Lana Del Rey and the Bob Dylan song “Make You Feel My Love,” but I didn’t just want covers as the bonus content so I wrote a new song too. It’s about hope. A lovely kind of little Dylan-esque kind of song.


BLADE: Thanks for your time.

GEORGE: Thank you.


Queery: Bryce Keyser/Porcelain St. Clair

 Bryce Keyser, Dolly Parton, Porcelain St. Clair, drag, gay news, Washington Blade

Bryce Keyser (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bryce Keyser is planning to eventually get away from the salon work he does — he’s a stylist at Bang Salon on U Street — and make his drag alter ego his full-time work.

Porcelain St. Clair was begun, he says, “on a whim.”

“I did a costume contest at my old job and won,” the Manassas, Va., native says. “People said, ‘Wow, you’re pretty good, maybe you should do some more,’ so I got some costumes made, did some drag contests and got booked pretty quickly.”

Dolly Parton is his main character, which he says he does about 95 percent of the time, but he also does Liza, Madonna and Shania on occasion. He says Parton, whom he grew up idolizing and has met several times, knows his work and has been supportive.

There’s no big secret to the boobs, he says — just cotton padding mostly. He made all the foam body padding himself.

Keyser starts a new show on Thursday at LivingSocial (918 F St., N.W.) where he’ll be every week. He also does Nellie’s Drag Brunch every Sunday and Drag Salute to the Divas every month at the Howard with his drag mother, Shiqueeta Lee (the next Howard show is Feb. 9).

Keyser is single and enjoys reading, shopping at thrift stores and watching QVC and HSN in his free time.


Bryce Keyser, Dolly Parton, Porcelain St. Clair, gay news, Washington Blade

Porcelain St. Clair performed as Dolly Parton at the Mr. and Miss Cobalt competition in December. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I’ve been out, to everyone, for about a year and a half now. The hardest person to tell was myself. For a long time I didn’t want to accept the lifestyle and the pain that may come with associating yourself as gay. I finally got tired of sheltering who I really was and came out to everyone at lightning speed.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

All the LGBT people who came before me and helped pave the way for us today. Without them, I’d probably still be in the closet.


What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

Town is my first love. It was the first gay club I ever went to and the place that I started my drag career and met my drag mother, Shiqueeta Lee!


Describe your dream wedding.

Two men, holding hands, surrounded by friends and family underneath a beautiful altar covered in white roses. I’m a hopeless romantic — as long as there is something sappy and there’s love involved, I’m set!


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

This year, Beyoncé tied Dolly Parton with the record for the most Grammy Award nominations for any female artist. Oh wait — this is supposed to be non-LGBT!


What historical outcome would you change?

The assassination of JFK. He gave America hope at a very crucial time.


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

I’m still in recovery from Dolly not winning the Best Original Song Oscar in 2006.


On what do you insist?

Love, acceptance and the pursuit of happiness.


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Announcing that I am one of three new cast members on the D.C.-based drag reality show “Drag City: DC.” This will be the third season of the show and it’s going to be a good one!


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“How to Launch a Drag Career in 30 Days”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would applaud the scientists who discovered it, then continue watching that week’s Judith Ripka’s Jewelry special on QVC. I am very proud of my sexuality and of who I am. Being gay has enhanced my life in so many ways.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I am not a religious person by any means, although I am a very spiritual person. I do believe there is something bigger than us out there somewhere. I think you kind of have to believe that to stay halfway sane in this world.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Rhinestone the rainbow flag; it will look better under the spotlights.


What would you walk across hot coals for?

My family. Take care of them while you can.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That we all wear pink on Wednesdays. Everyone knows we wear ruby slipper red on Wednesdays now.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Steel Magnolias” will always be my favorite. It’s hilarious, southern, so sad it will make you cry your eyes out and Dolly plays the town hairdresser. It’s got my name written all over it in 12 different languages.


What’s the most overrated social custom?

Using the men’s restroom. I am more of a lady than half the traffic that passes through an average women’s restroom. Plus they smell nicer.


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

The support of my family. No trophy or honor that I will ever receive in my lifetime will top that.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

I wish I would have known where everything was going to end up and that it all gets better. I stressed out for a long time trying to figure out what I “wanted to be when I grew up” when I actually knew all along, but didn’t want to accept it because it wasn’t what everyone else was doing.


Why Washington?  

Washington is like New York City’s baby sister. It has almost everything you’d ever want in a city however it’s a little less stressful than New York. The perfect place for a freelance female impressionist like myself.