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Queery: Chris Dinolfo

Chris Dinolfo, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Dinolfo (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For Chris Dinolfo, acting is “kind of like a drug.”

Though he keeps a day job “so I can pay my rent,” acting, for him, is essential.

“You kind of get addicted to the adrenaline of it,” he says. “The other part of it is that when you get in a good show and you start to realize you’re telling a really important story … you want to share that with more and more people. It keeps me sane. In some ways it seems counterintuitive — most people I know in the theater are batshit crazy, but I just know I belong in the arts. When I’m not acting, I start to go a little stir crazy.”

He’s currently in the Sarah Ruhl play “Late: A Cowboy Song” at No Rules Theatre Co. (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington/norulestheatre.org) where he plays Crick, a “controlling, asshole of a character” Dinolfo says he’s “tried to infuse with as much humanity as possible.” Go now if your interest is piqued — the show (which has been called a “quirky … urban fairytale”) closes Sunday.

Dinolfo, a 20-something Fairfield, Conn., native, came to Washington for school 12 years ago and stayed. He works by day in Friendship Heights in admin at a health care clinic. He lives in Kalorama with his boyfriend and enjoys paddle boarding, theater and going to Good Wood on U Street in his free time.

 

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

Since college. My girlfriend.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

There are several LGBT people I truly admire for their courage, activism and just downright moxie: Larry Kramer, who wrote “The Normal Heart,” for saying and writing the things no one wanted to hear at the time about AIDS and how it affected our community. Ellen DeGeneres for being funny, resilient and successful. Harvey Milk for his bravery, optimism and sacrifice. RuPaul. Thank God for RuPaul. Also, any sports figure who comes out.

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

“Peach Pit” at DC 9 with DJ Matt Bailer. Black Cat, 9:30 club and Nellie’s also get my vote. Also, the Blagden Alley Social Club — Google it. And I do wish I had been around to have experienced Tracks.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Provincetown

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

How our government doesn’t subsidize the arts.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

This question is too difficult so I’m gonna go with Drew Barrymore’s dress at the Golden Globes.

 

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

Hanging out with Jason Sellards (Jake Shears) and driving him to JR.’s after a Scissor Sisters concert. Much drinking ensued.

 

On what do you insist?

A sense of humor. And good hygiene.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Publicity for the play in which I am currently performing — “LATE: A Cowboy Song” (Come see it!)

 

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

“Privileged Poor”

 

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

Cry. I don’t want science to screw with what I want to screw.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

The non-physical world. (But seriously, I do believe in a non-physical world.)

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

America isn’t the country we claim it to be as long as LGBT people are denied rights that are inherently given to heterosexual people. Keep on fighting the good fight: Equality for all!

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My nieces and nephew.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

Twink

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Official LGBT movie: “Paris is Burning.” Unofficial: “Beaches”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

The high school prom.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Powerball

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Parents are people, too; flawed and full of dreams. That, and the foresight to study coding and get in with an ambitious start-up company called Facebook.

 

Why Washington?

Aside from family living here, boyfriend and all the acting opportunities? Because New York is officially for wealthy people. I know that because the Huffington Post told me.

Chris Dinolfo, Late: a Cowboy Song, gay news, Washington Blade

Chris Dinolfo in ‘Late: a Cowboy Song.’ (Photo by Second Glance Photography)

15
Jan
2014

Queery: Torey Carter

Torey Carter, gay news, Washington Blade

Torey Carter (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Torey Carter joined the Victory Fund staff four years ago, he says the organization’s singularity of focus was the main draw.

“The thing that strikes me is that we’re now seeing victories in places where you don’t readily or quickly think of there being LGBT officeholders,” the 37-year-old Hertford, N.C., native says. “I’m not talking about California or New York but in the heartland and in the South, I have the opportunity to work for an organization that works to get people elected in the kinds of towns like where I grew up. It hasn’t happened there, but it’s a reality that’s completely possible now and it wasn’t then. That’s why I still come to work every day.”

Victory Fund has its champagne brunch, one of its key annual events, Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Washington Hilton Hotel (1919 Conn. Ave., N.W.). Individual tickets are $250 and several sponsorship brackets are available. Several LGBT elected officials such as Maine’s Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Jared Polis will speak. Tickets are still available at victoryfund.org.

Carter has been in the D.C. area for about 25 years and worked many years as an accountant before joining Victory Fund.

Carter and partner Mike Conneen live together in Washington’s Takoma neighborhood. Carter enjoys home improvement projects, gardening, cooking, exercise and playing with Rex, his 6-year-old Quaker parrot, in his free time.

 

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

I’ve been out about 15 years. It was hardest to tell my grandmother because her health at the time was poor and I worried it would add to her worries. But she welcomed my truth and embraced me with unconditional love.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Bayard Rustin was a man ahead of his time.

 

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

Nothing compares to standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gazing out at the stars over the reflecting pool with the Capitol Building in the distance, reflecting on the history that unfolded at that site.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

Matching suits, family, friends and lots of Beyonce on the dance floor.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Every child deserves a quality education. It’s the best resource for folks that come from a place like me to level the playing field.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

I’d change who shot J.R. It would have been more interesting if one of the main characters, like Sue Ellen, had done it. And I’d make sure the Bible was properly translated.

 

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

I’ll never forget where I was when I found out who shot J.R.

 

On what do you insist?

No pork, no chocolate, no diet soda.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

“What is this white stuff falling from the sky???” (Sunday, March 30, 2014)

 

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

“Torey Carter: A Model Life”

 

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

you do?

I would welcome all newly converted straight people to the gay community.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I was raised Baptist and I believe in a just but loving God. I also still believe Pluto is a planet, regardless of what scientists say.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

The momentum is in the blue states. But the laws, minds and hearts to change are in the red states.

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

My future children, and my children’s future.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That gay men and lesbians don’t/can’t get along.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Broken Hearts Club” has a special place in my heart.

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Family-style portions are excessive. And second and third place are unnecessary; there’s only one winner.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I should win an Oscar for my ability to impersonate select reality TV stars.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

My father — I wish I would have known that we only had 10 years to fix almost 30.

 

Why Washington?

Washington is an international symbol of freedom and democracy. But when my mom and I moved here from North Carolina (at age 12), it was also a city of hope and opportunity. And it still is.

03
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

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

MAL-wear

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 leatherweekend.com

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.”

16
Jan
2014

Gays out in force for Cher

(Washington Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

(Washington Blade photo by Brian Walmer)

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.

SET LIST:

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

Cher:
Woman’s World
Strong Enough
Dressed to Kill
The Beat Goes On
I Got You Babe
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
Dark Lady
Half-Breed
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
Believe
I Hope You Find It

 

 

05
Apr
2014

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 districtclay.com).

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.

12
Feb
2014

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 thecrewclub.co 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.

05
Mar
2014

‘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.

20
Jan
2014

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)

Emergence

DJ Paulo

Town

2009 8th St. N.W.

Saturday

11 p.m.-4 a.m.

$20 ($70 for Cherry weekend pass)

cherryfund.org

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.”

04
Apr
2014