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Desert adventure in Palm Springs

Marilyn Monroe, Palm Springs, California, gay news, Washington Blade

The iconic Marilyn Monroe statue in downtown Palm Springs. (Photo by Visitor7; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Palm Springs is a great little desert city among eight cities in the Coachella Valley region two hours east of Los Angeles.

Getting There: Fly into the Palm Springs regional airport, PSP, and skip the drive out from L.A. (although LAX, Ontario, Burbank and even San Diego are options).

Many major airlines now go to Palm Springs, including my favorite, Virgin America, which flies nonstop to San Francisco (and you can connect to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Stay: Bargain hunters will enjoy the Motel 6 downtown. It’s handy to a Starbucks and near the bars and restaurants. The Motel 6 East is also nice and is across the street from the Ace Hotel (where the urban hipsters can be found).

The Best Western Las Brisas is also downtown and one block from the bars on Arenas Road. The location and landscaping are great. The gay resorts on Warm Sands Drive are another option.

Check for other hotels. I found rates lower here during the week.

What to do:

Bike: Rent a bike ($20 half-day includes helmet) from Bike Palm Springs, 194 S. Indian Canyon (, and ride around town. Enjoy the mid-century modern architecture of many of the homes. Ride west to where the mountains start. The city has several marked trails and you can ride all the way out to “Cat City” (Cathedral City).

Swim: The city pool is $5 and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. It has a view of the mountains and is located near the library.

Run/Walk: The Frontrunners group meets every day except Sunday at 8 a.m. or so in the Mizzell Center parking lot. If you like hiking, there is also a Great Outdoors chapter.

If you’re feeling adventurous, hike the strenuous Museum Trail to the Lykken Trail. It starts above the museum. You’ll need to be in good shape. Bring sunscreen and water and start early in the day to avoid the heat.

Explore: Don’t miss Joshua Tree National Park named for the odd yucca-like tree (Yucca brevifolia). Take a class from the Joshua Tree Institute ( Plenty of April classes are scheduled, including Geology of the Joshua Tree National Park, which runs from April 25-27. The park is about an hour north of Palm Springs.

Enter from the north side of the park and work your way south. Stop along the way at the Boulders, Ocotillo Patch, the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood Canyon.

The park lies in two deserts (Mojave and Colorado) both with their own types of vegetation. Some wildflowers should still be in bloom. Bring a jacket as it can be cooler up there.

Eat: I liked Sherman’s Restaurant downtown (a New York deli with corned beef). La Tablita offers excellent Mexican food (on East Palm Canyon in Cathedral City). Next door, try Dragon Sushi (yes, same owners).

Bars: The Barracks had a beer bust Sunday. Hunters (the video bar) has a happy hour nightly until 7 p.m. Hunters is on Arenas Road where you can also find a few other bars. The Tool Shed on Sunny Dunes Drive is near the Motel 6.

Museum: Check out “Secrets of the Sun: Stephen H. Willard Photographs of the West” at the Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseumorg) downtown.

Special events: April brings the annual White Party celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. Check out for details; it runs from April 25-28.

Palm Springs makes a great vacation destination for the winter-weary. Pick up a copy of Palm Springs Life or visit them online for more ideas and local information.

That’s all for April. Next month, we travel to a historic Midwest city celebrating its 250th birthday.


Should you get vaccinated for meningitis?

vaccine, syringe, gay news, Washington Blade

If you believe you have been in close contact with an established IMD case, a vaccine will not acutely protect you. Rather, you should consult your provider regarding a one-time antibiotic dose to prevent developing the disease.

Anxiety has again increased this past week following reports of new cases of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD), i.e. meningitis and/or sepsis caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, among gay men in Los Angeles County. IMD cases are typically scant and sporadic with little cause for broad public health concern. But this recent spate of apparently connected cases, concentrated in the gay community resonates with us differently, given our long history with a certain other disease.

Several burning questions remain for gay men amid the fear and uncertainty of what this new outbreak means for them: What is my personal risk? What can I do to protect myself from infection? And should I get vaccinated?

Since 2010, an outbreak in New York has been tracked among men who have sex with men (MSM), identifying 22 cases through April 2013, which led to seven deaths. Even so, the absolute number of annual cases within the U.S. general population remains vanishingly small, at less than half of what it was two decades ago.

Curiously, despite the recent escalation of IMD in MSM, the disease was still not on many of our radars until last spring, when four cases were detected in Los Angeles. At that time, there was much confusion over apparently conflicting messages from different departments of health and false insinuation that this was another “gay disease,” which government officials were dragging their heels on addressing. The frenzy of media coverage left many of us without clear answers on whether getting vaccinated or even worrying about the disease appearing in D.C. next was merited.

And now, following news of eight confirmed IMD cases in LA County this year – half among MSM, of which three were HIV-positive and reported residence in or socializing around West and North Hollywood – the LA County Department of Public Health last week broadened its previous recommendation for vaccination.

Health officials there now advise that all MSM be vaccinated if their residence, travel or social interactions have put them or will put them in regular close contact with other MSM. “Close contact” is defined as kissing, sexual contact, sharing eating utensils or drinking containers, sharing cigarettes, or being within a three-foot distance for more than eight hours.

Because the recent cases in LA appear to be linked, a push to increase local vaccination to include almost all MSM is indicated to prevent secondary cases in the setting of an epidemic. However, the question is more nuanced for gay men in other major cities like D.C.

Notably, Seattle’s public health officials discouraged expanded vaccination among local gay men last spring, stating that doing so would be an overreaction. Meanwhile, health departments in San Francisco and D.C., advised vaccination for sexually active gay men, who connect through social networking applications or planned to attend parties, clubs or other venues where gay men meet.

So what about vaccination now? In short, it still depends on your HIV status, current and anticipated sexual practices, and most importantly, one’s tolerance for risk. Broad vaccination for IMD is not practical in places where there is no ongoing epidemic; and to date, D.C. has had no reported cases. No real herd immunity would result from such an effort anyway, considering after several years the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes, requiring a booster at five-year intervals.

For now, simple recognition of symptoms that suggest infection followed by prompt medical attention is more powerful than any vaccine. Some of the vague constitutional symptoms that may precede the onset of IMD include sudden fever, nausea, confusion, headache, sensitivity to light and sound, severe muscle aches, and rash in a previously healthy person.

Although these initial clinical features are similar to many common, self-limited viral illnesses, left untreated one’s condition may rapidly decompensate to more ominous and specific symptoms of neck stiffness, mottled or discolored skin, and cold or painful extremities.

If you believe you have been in close contact with an established IMD case, a vaccine will not acutely protect you. Rather, you should consult your provider regarding a one-time antibiotic dose to prevent developing the disease. Beyond 14 days from a suspected exposure the evidence suggests no need for antibiotic prophylaxis.

For those interested in vaccination, either of the two recommended quadrivalent conjugate vaccines (Menactra or Menveo) would cost you about $85 without insurance at CVS pharmacy or $150 as a walk-in at Whitman-Walker Health, with insured patients paying less. HIV-positive individuals should receive both an initial and booster shot 2 months apart.

Daniel O’Neill, MD is an internal medicine resident at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and plans to move back to D.C. this summer to continue his training.


Levi’s loves

Levi Kreis, gay news, Washington Blade

Levi Kreis says singing and recording are his first love. His passions collide with ‘Smokey Joe’s Café,’ the Broadway hit re-imagined at Arena Stage. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Levi Kreis

‘Smokey Joe’s Café’

Through June 8

Arena Stage

1101 6th St., S.W.



Levi Kreis will be the first to tell you that his heart does not belong to Broadway. But that doesn’t mean the out singer/actor has turned his back on musical theater. Currently he’s starring in Arena Stage’s production of the Broadway hit “Smokey Joe’s Café,” and loving every minute of it.

At a sit-down in one of Arena’s aquarium-like conference rooms, Kreis shares his thoughts on life, career and working in D.C. Settling into his chair, he takes in the view — sailboats glide past on the calm Washington Channel and pink blossoms move in the breeze. The sun is bright. He squints slightly and says, “Really beautiful. This is my first time seeing this. I’ve been in rehearsal all day.”

The longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, “Smokey Joe’s Café” is a hard-driving tribute to the legendary rock ‘n roll songwriting team Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. With almost 40 songs, it features huge hits like “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand By Me,” “Love Potion #9” and “On Broadway.”

Though he’d never seen the show, Kreis was eager to be a part of this production. “I’d heard great things about our director Randy Jackson (who staged the terrific ‘One Night with Janis Joplin’ that played at Arena before moving to New York). Also my representatives were enthusiastic about me starting relationship with Arena. But mostly it was because I feel a special connection to Leiber and Stoller’s music.”

“There’s a story behind this,” says Kreis putting on a strong Tennessee accent. “As a teenager in small town Oliver Springs, Tennessee, my mother, Connie Lee, was president of the Brenda Lee fan club. They met, and by the time I was born they were really good friends. At 8 or 9, I’d seen 36 of her performances. She sang Leiber and Stoller songs like ‘Kansas City’ and ‘Saved.’ I cut my teeth on this stuff. So it’s a real thrill for me to be doing it now.”

Working with Johnson has proved to be even better than he’d hoped, says Kreis, 32. “This version of the show is definitely not the same show that people saw in New York. Randy has re-imagined a sexier, edgier, more soulful version, assigning songs to different characters. He’s really created his own vision.” Kreis adds that Johnson carefully selected a nine-person cast whose three leads (Kreis, E. Faye Butler and Nova Y. Paton) know how to make a song their own.

“Randy and our musical director Victor Simonson have been very generous in allowing us to find our own interpretations of these well-known songs. It’s very challenging and exciting to make songs like ‘Stand By Me’ your own, but that’s exactly what we’re doing here.”

He’s equally stoked about sharing a stage with the versatile Butler and big-voiced Payton, two Helen Hayes Award-winning D.C. favorites: “I have to make myself stay in the moment on stage. When I’m facing off singing with either of these women I want to forget I’m an actor and simply enjoy them. They’re so good. I have to resist to getting totally enamored.”

His favorite moment of the show is a singing “Kansas City” with Butler and Payton. Kreis says they’ve created a great sound with a Manhattan Transfer vibe. Another favorite is his solo “I Keep Forgettin’,” a tune about lost love. “Finding where that is from an emotional standpoint has been really intense,” he says. “And I like intense.”

Whether gospel, rhythm and blues, rock or show tunes, music has always come naturally for Kreis. He tells a story about coming home from kindergarten graduation back in Oliver Springs, and picking out “Pomp and Circumstance” on the family’s old upright piano. Family lore says he got it from his great grandmother who played banjo by ear. At 12, he was performing in a different church every weekend, and by 15, he was touring the south with his own gospel album.

After college in Tennessee, Kreis left for Los Angeles to pursue a music career.  Recording companies didn’t quite know what to do with the good-looking, charming southerner whose strong voice was soulful yet versatile. But the musical theater world happily snapped him up. At a casting call for the West Coast tour of the musical “Rent,” he landed the plumb part of ex-junkie Roger. He got into film too. He played Matthew McConaughey’s troubled brother in the 2001 indie thriller “Frailty” and had a big part in 2002′s “Don’t Let Go” with Katharine Ross.

But Kreis is best known for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” For his efforts, he won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

“I initially got involved because I needed grocery money,” he says. “It started out as workshops that seemed to go on forever. Then there were runs in Seattle and Chicago. Over time I really got into the role. When we learned the show going to Broadway, I was shocked. But winning the Tony was a real eye opener. It taught me that musical theater was something that even if it wasn’t my ultimate goal, it was something I needed to take seriously.”

For many actors winning the Tony is a life’s dream. “What can I say? You feel what you feel. I wish I was a fierce dancer on ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ but that’s someone else’s reality.”

For Keis, the experience was intensely personal — the Tony win was the culmination of the toughest year of his life. In May of 2009 he gave up drugs, alcohol and a pack-and-a-half-a-day cigarette habit. He’s been clean and sober ever since. “It’s beyond anything the proudest achievement of my life,” he says, emotion swelling in his voice. “I had really reached a do-or-die moment. I could no longer live that way. The tension and conflict was too scary for me.”

That same year, Kreis met his partner, whom he declines to name. The couple is based in Chicago.

“At the core of every addiction is self-loathing. And drugs weren’t my only vice. It all came from a place of having learned to hate myself,” he says. Kreis was raised a fundamentalist Baptist. In his youth, he endured six years of conversion therapy with the hope of becoming straight. “That process was psychologically and emotionally damaging and planted deep-seeded feelings of self loathing. It breaks my heart that it still goes on.”

At 24, Kreis officially came out through his album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. “I made the decision at a time when I was very broke. I was waiting for my guest appearance on NBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ to air. In a week I’d moved from Manhattan’s Upper Eastside to Hoboken, New Jersey. So, I took my last $200 and went to a recording studio and recorded the album of straight through. It’s been my most successful album to date.”

There’s been no downside to his coming out, Kreis says. “Before coming out, I was hiding my life. I couldn’t be my authentic self. Eight record labels didn’t know what to do with me. Most wanted me to be a teen heartthrob. Now I can present myself as I am, my truth. The LGBT community has accepted me wholeheartedly.”

Future plans include concert dates and more recordings. There’ll be more theater, but he’d also like to bring his talents together by acting and singing in films. For his upcoming yet-unnamed album, Kreis will return to piano vocals. It’s what his fans want. “I’m grateful there’s a corner of the world that hears what I do. My music career hasn’t screamed as loud as a Tony Award on Broadway, but my fans are there and they’re my family.”


Gay-themed HIV billboards replaced in L.A.

X Homophobia, Gay News, Washington Blade

New billboards denouncing homophobia replaced another that drew controversy. (Photo courtesy

LOS ANGELES — A series of 10 billboard ads in South Los Angeles urging black men who have sex with men to get tested for HIV has drawn controversy, the Los Angeles Times reported in a Sunday article.

The ads were designed by Jeffrey King, executive director of In the Meantime Men, an L.A. advocacy group. He told the Times stigma about black men having gay sex caused a backlash against the ads, which have been replaced by ads that have an “x” over the word “homophobia.”

The original ads — one of which showed two shirtless black men embracing on a beach with the tagline, “Our love is worth protecting … we get tested” — were criticized for several reasons including overall cultural squeamishness about black men who have sex with men, the models being too physically perfect for average men to relate to and homophobic teachings from black churches, the Times article noted.


Anti-smoking campaign in L.A. targets LGBs

cigarette, smoking, smoke, gay news, Washington Blade

30,000 LGB smokers die each year from tobacco-related causes in the U.S. (Washington Blade photo by Phil Reese)

LOS ANGELES — A new anti-smoking campaign called “Break Up With Tobacco” targeting LGB residents in Los Angeles has launched. Officials are hoping to reach a community that has a 50 percent higher smoking rate than its straight counterparts, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets report.

An estimated 20.6 percent of LGB Los Angeles residents smoke, compared to 13.3 percent of straight residents, the paper said.

The American Cancer Society reports that 30,000 LGB smokers die each year from tobacco-related causes in the U.S. The article said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that HIV-positive smokers were far more likely to die from smoking than from AIDS.

Members of the “Break Up Squad,” a group of young men wearing cheeky T-shirts, will spread the anti-smoking message on social media, in gay nightclubs and gyms in the area and more.

The article estimates that there are 900,000 smokers in the county, which costs about $4.3 billion per year to treat, the Times reports.


Gay athletes help with condom distribution

condoms, gay news, safe sex, Washington Blade

(Photo by Inga via Wikimedia Commons)

LOS ANGELES — Several LGBT intramural sports leagues in Los Angeles are partnering with the city’s Department of Public Health to distribute the official “L.A. Condom,” handed out from a 40-foot-long “condom mobile” that made its debut at Long Beach Pride. They hope to hand out 1 million and one condoms by the end of the year, LGBT Weekly reported Monday.

Last June, L.A. County Public Health’s Division of HIV and STD Programs announced the winners of its first-ever condom contest to design an official Los Angeles-branded condom wrapper. The contest received about 500 entries with more than 185,000 online votes cast, LGBT Weekly reported.

An estimated 2,000 new HIV infections occur annually in L.A. County, the article said. In 2011, the Department of Public Health reported more than 47,500 new cases of chlamydia, more than 9,500 new cases of gonorrhea and nearly 1,800 new cases of syphilis.

The L.A. Sex Symbol program is funded by the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This initiative is intended to increase condom use, drive awareness of HIV and STD prevention, and provide information about HIV/AIDS and STD treatment and care, LGBT Weekly said in its report.


Anabolic steroids help AIDS patients

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part story. Visit for the first installment.

My hope is by sharing my story (which I’ve told to only a few friends) you also might be encouraged to document and share your own story about AIDS. It is our stories that are the heart and soul of the history of AIDS.  None should be forgotten. Ever.

It was in 1988 that a friend of mine introduced me to Dr. Walter Jekot, an HIV doctor practicing in Los Angeles. Dr. Jekot knew I was semi-retired — at 24 — and asked if I’d consult with him to help market his sports medicine practice in West Hollywood. The bulk of his patients were gay men, mostly bodybuilders and a few athletes. Why not, I thought. Partying every night was starting to get kind of boring anyway.

One Saturday afternoon, a couple of months into working with Dr. Jekot, two men wearing suits came into his office and closed the door. They stayed for more than three hours. After they left, I went in to ask Dr. Jekot what was going on. As I asked my first question, he just looked up and stared at me. He was ghost white. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “Sit down, Dave,” he replied. “There is something I have to tell you.”

He said the men were his attorneys. “I am being prosecuted by the federal government for what they say is the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and growth hormone,” he explained. Then he told me his story.

After the 1988 Olympics in Los Angeles, scandal hit the sports world. Ben Johnson, a Canadian sprinter and gold medal winner that year, was to appear at a court hearing that would be broadcast live around the world. The government wanted to find out if Johnson could be prosecuted for cheating because he allegedly took anabolic steroids during the 1988 Olympic Games. During the trial, Johnson’s doctor said that Dr. Jekot had dispensed anabolic steroids to the U.S. Olympic athletes during the same Olympic Games.

Within 15 minutes every news agency in the world was beating down Dr. Jekot’s door, trying to get a comment, demanding an interview. A week later, the assistant attorney general of the United States announced on live television that the Department of Justice was going after Dr. Jekot with every legal resource available to the federal government.

I sat there stunned. I felt betrayed. I got up and started to leave, but he blocked the door. “Wait,” he asked.  “There is something else.”

First, he apologized for not telling me sooner. He said he was scared and didn’t know whom he could trust, including his own attorneys. “Did you do it,” I asked. When he said no, I sat down again.

He wanted to tell me something, he said, about a discovery he made, but I had to promise not to tell anyone else. I declined.  He told me anyway:  “I have discovered that anabolic steroids and growth hormones can help AIDS patients by reversing the wasting process.”

Wasting is the involuntary loss of body weight the entire gay community had seen time and again.

Having a sports management background, I had spent years warning our athletes about the ills of steroids. I was skeptical. In fact, I didn’t believe him. Why should I?  But some strange force kept me in that chair listening. I wanted to know more about the discovery that might help AIDS patients.

A month later I asked for and received written permission to have access to the medical records of 13 AIDS patients who were being treated with anabolic steroids or growth hormones for AIDS-related wasting. I also asked to be permitted to interview each patient. All agreed.

It was 1989. After sitting down with each of the 13 patients, I became convinced anabolic steroid treatments worked. I had no idea why or how, but something was keeping these patients alive. They had energy and looked healthy and fit.

Thus began my quest to have the most unpopular and denounced drug in the world become accepted as the therapy to reverse wasting syndrome and bring people back to life. I believe this was, in fact, the first Lazarus Effect treatment. Within three years, anabolic steroids became standard treatment to reverse AIDS-related wasting.


L.A. LGBT weekly co-owner dies

Mark Hundahl, gay news, Washington Blade, Frontiers L.A.

Mark Hundahl (Photo courtesy Frontiers L.A.)

LOS ANGELES — Mark Hundahl, the straight co-owner of LGBT weekly, Frontiers L.A., died of cancer on Dec. 27 at the age of 61, according to the publication he had been involved with since 1983.

According to an obituary by Karen Ocamb, in the early 1980s Hundahl had become co-owner of popular Hollywood gay disco, “Probe,” when he was approached by Frontiers’ founders Greg Carmack and Jerry Hyde about making their advocacy publication profitable. In 1997, he and business partner David Stern teamed up with the publication to create a lighter fare counterpart to Frontiers called IN LA magazine. In 2007, Sterns and Hundahl bought Frontiers, merging it with IN LA.

“Those who knew us well and experienced how we worked together called us ‘the odd couple,’” said Stern, Frontiers publisher and Hundahl’s business partner in a remembrance upon his longtime friend’s passing.


‘He can really energize a dancefloor’

Joe Gauthreaux, DJ, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Gauthreaux (Photo courtesy of Project Publicity)

The first song DJ Joe Gauthreaux remembers hearing on the radio was “Material Girl.” He was 5, it came on the car radio and made an indelible impression.

“It’s the first song I ever remember listening to as a child,” he says during a phone chat from Ft. Lauderdale. “My dad was like, ‘Ugh, that’s that Madonna,’ and … of course because they hated it so much, that made me love it all the more.”

He also feels kinship with Madonna because they share the same birthday — Aug. 16.

Gauthreaux — pronounced GO-troh — has gradually made a name for himself in the gay club scene over the last decade or so. Named “hottest DJ of the year” by Out Magazine in 2005, he’s remixed tracks for Kristine W., Jeanie Tracy and Tony Moran. Working with Joey Arbagey, an A&R rep at Universal, he’s broken into the major label world doing remixes for NeYo, The Wanted and Melanie Amaro. Three of his remixes are on the official maxi for teen idol Justin Bieber’s No. 2 (Hot 100) hit “Boyfriend.”

Now living again in New York after five years in Los Angeles, Gauthreaux is closer to D.C. He’s DJ’ed at Cobalt about four times in the last couple years and has now accepted a residency there that commences Friday from 10 p.m.-3 a.m.. It won’t always be the last Friday of the month — the next two installments are slated for Feb. 15 and March 15 — but Gauthreaux  ( will be there monthly. Cover is $10 and includes free vodka drinks from 11 to midnight. Keenan Orr spins downstairs (

“After I moved back to New York, I talked to (Cobalt manager) Mark (Rutstein) about the idea of starting my own party. I really like the idea of playing somewhere regularly. On one hand, you don’t want to get too exposed, but the flip side is you can really build on it and go somewhere with the crowd over time.”

Rutstein says Gauthreaux’s move back to the East Coast makes it easier to get him down here.

“It’s a lot easier, we don’t have to fly him in from L.A. each time,” Rutstein says. “It’s really super exciting to have Joe here all the time. He has a strong following in D.C. and always packs the house.”

Rutstein also says Gauthreaux is one of the most accommodating DJs he’s worked with.

“Everyone is really different,” he says. “Joe and I just text each other and say, ‘Hey, you wanna spin?’ Drew G is the same thing. Others, like, say Junior Vasquez, take several several several e-mails and calls. Then there are others, like Peter Rauhofer, who has never once even returned my calls, so it just depends.”

Gauthreaux is established enough, he says, that crowds are willing to go where he takes them musically — within reason.

“I’ve been around awhile, so there’s a sense of trust there I think,” he says. “I’ve done my fair share of events so people know, ‘Oh, we’re gonna go hear Joe,’ they almost expect me, I think … they almost expect something a little different. Of course, I’ll play Rihanna, Madonna, but it’ll usually be a different mix they haven’t heard. You don’t want to do a whole hour of stuff they don’t know, even a really adventuresome crowd has a limit, but there’s definitely a happy medium you find. I’d feel guilty if I didn’t throw in at least a few things everybody knows. You tend to think, ‘Oh, the crowd just wants to hear the hits,’ but there’s always 10 people there who want to hear something new, so you have to find that balance.”

Erik Lars Evans, a local DJ who’s followed the gay club scene for years and considers himself a Gauthreaux fan, says Gauthreaux’s willingness to adapt has worked to his advantage.

“He’s very good at what he does and can really energize a dance floor,” Evans says. “I’ve been going to hear him spin as far back as 2002 … and he does exactly what a good DJ is supposed to do — he’s adapted. I’d say his current style is more a mix of progressive beats, house classics and circuit energy and I’d say that’s what makes him stand out in his own way and keeps fans coming to hear him.”

Evans says one of the most noticeable differences in dance music over, say, the last decade is a gradual increase of pop infiltration in gay clubs and not as much the niche artists one traditionally heard on gay dancefloors but nowhere else.

“In modern times, we’ve seen the breakdown of that barrier and you’ve seen mainstream music take over,” Evans says. “You still hear niche artists, but it’s not like it used to be.”

In some ways — and though they share the same Billboard chart — the explosion of dance music in straight culture with Deadmau5 showing up on the Grammys and on the cover of Rolling Stone with a strong rise in popularity for DJs like Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and Tiesto, is its own phenomenon, happening apart of gay DJs.

“I think the separation is just more apparent now because their scene has gotten so big,” Gauthreaux, who’s gay, says. “Dance for straight people was pretty much non-existent 10 years ago. I don’t want to pigeonhole them, but a lot of them were just so into hip-hop, which nowadays has gone more underground, but dance music is on the radio. I mean if you listen to Rihanna’s new album, half the songs are already club ready. Before that would never have been the case and you had to remix everything. It’s just a natural thing with the way music changes. In five years from now, it could be totally different, I’m not sure.”

Gauthreaux says the genres are distinct because gays and straights party differently.

“At the end of the day, there’s a certain comfort at walking into a club and knowing 99 percent of the people there are people you could go up and buy a drink for,” he says. “Nobody wants to be guessing, ‘Is this guy straight?,’ ‘Is this guy gay?’ It’s just a different clubbing culture altogether. Gay people go out and party. They’re not into VIP booths and champagne bottles and buttoned up shirts and girls in high heels. It’s also more violent, typically, at the straight clubs. In the gay clubs, you don’t have to worry about fights breaking out. We don’t care about champagne service. We want a DJ box and we want to get down. I think there’s a long way to go before it’s all intertwined.”

The ‘treau triv

Joe Gauthreaux, DJ, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Joe Gauthreaux (Photo courtesy of Project Publicity)

Current relationship status: Single

Any tattoos? Yes, one. My sign — Leo.

Do you follow astrology? I don’t follow every sign, but I certainly know my sign and I’m so 100 percent my sign, it’s not even funny. I also know the compatible signs for Leos.

But just for fun or seriously? Let’s say this — if I meet somebody and they’re not one of the compatible signs for me, I’m a LOT more cautious. I know that sounds ridiculous, but there’s an aspect to it that I very much believe.

How much of your set is live? “I’ve never not played live. That would just be so weird. It’s not like I’m remixing everything live right there on the spot, of course. If you want to do a mash-up or something, of course, you do that ahead of time on the computer, but that’s just one track. It’s such a creative art form, you have to feed off the crowd and you can’t do that at home by yourself.”

How long do you typically spin? “Usually four to five hours. Sometimes less if there are other DJs on the bill. But you have to take time to get a good grove going.”


Chris Brown allegedly assaults Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean, Chris Brown, R&B, music, gay news, Washington Blade

(left) Frank Ocean and Chris Brown were involved in an altercation at a Los Angeles recording studio on Sunday, according to sources. (Photo of Ocean by David Hwang; photo of Brown by Eva Rinaldi; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

According to several sources, out R&B singer Frank Ocean is considering pressing charges against fellow R&B artist, Chris Brown, after the troubled Brown allegedly punched Ocean during a fight Sunday night between two groups at a Los Angeles recording studio.

The fight involving six men began as an argument over a parking space at Westlake recording studio, according to celebrity gossip website, TMZ. Sources say that Ocean is accusing Brown of throwing the first punch in an altercation that began in the parking lot, and spilled over into the lobby of the recording studio, where video surveillance captured a destructive tussle between friends that were accompanying Brown and Ocean. Neither singers appear to throw any of the punches on the videotape. Staff at the studio called 911 when the fight moved indoors. Later Ocean posted an update to his Twitter account that he’d injured his finger in the brawl, which — according to the wording of the post — may affect a possible (but as yet unannounced) performance at the Grammy Awards.

Reuters confirms that Ocean is seeking to press charges against Brown over the fight.

Ocean “is desirous of prosecution in this incident,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore, according to Reuters.

Ocean also identified Chris Brown by name in a twitter update about the fight on Sunday.

“got jumped by chris and a couple guys. lol. i only wish everest [Ocean's dog] was there.”

While Brown left the scene of the altercation when it was over, Ocean apparently stayed to speak to police, and, according to MTV, filed a battery report.

Ocean has been nominated for six Grammy awards, and his debut Channel Orange album has topped many 2012 critics’ favorites lists, leading many to speculate the singer — who came out of the closet just prior to the album’s release — will likely walk away well awarded at the end of the night.

Brown is currently on probation for an infamous 2009 assault on then-girlfriend pop-star Rihanna, as well as a 2012 assault on Canadian rapper Drake. Another battery charge could spell jail time for the troubled star.

Brown and Ocean have traded barbs in the past, with Brown reacting negatively to Ocean’s coming out in 2012, and allegedly sending family to attack Ocean in 2011 after the two engaged in an argument on the social networking website, Twitter, according to LGBT news and entertainment website, Towleroad. Chris Brown has been known to use anti-gay slurs liberally in the past.

Here Ocean performs “Bad Religion,” a song about falling in love with a man, on the Jimmy Fallon show days after coming out of the closet.