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Gays among Grammy mass wedding

Macklemore at the Grammys. (Still courtesy CBS)

Macklemore at the Grammys. (Still courtesy CBS)

The Grammys featured an interesting mash-up last night — multiple winners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed their song “Same Love” with Mary Lambert while 33 marriages took place in the aisles.

Several LGBT couples were among those wed, though straight couples were married too. Madonna came out about half way through and sang a few bars of “Open Your Heart” and joined Lambert (a lesbian) on some harmony parts on her song “She Keeps Me Warm.” Ironically, Queen Latifah introduced the performance and officiated. (Read Blade Editor Kevin Naff’s blog on that here.)

It was a fairly gay Grammys — one of the Daft Punk speeches featured a shout-out to same-sex love while the “Kinky Boots” soundtrack brought perpetual ally Cyndi Lauper a long-overdue Grammy win. Kathy Griffin won in the best comedy album category.

Couples marrying at last night's Grammys. (Still courtesy CBS)

Couples marrying at last night’s Grammys. (Still courtesy CBS)

Rolling Stone has a complete list of winners here.


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.


Gay Russian man’s death sparks outrage

Volograd, Russia, gay news, Washington Blade

Volograd (Photo by Markv via Wikimedia Commons)

Authorities continue to investigate the death of a gay Russian man whose body was found near the city of Volgograd on May 10.

The Moscow Times reported investigators said they found Vladislav Tornovoi’s body in the courtyard of an apartment building outside the southern Russian city. The newspaper cited local media that said Tornovoi’s assailants sodomized him with empty beer bottles and set his body on fire after he came out to them after they celebrated Victory Day that commemorates Germany’s surrender to the then-Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Reuters reported authorities have taken two men into custody in connection with Tornovoi’s death.

Tornovoi’s murder took place against the backdrop of growing concerns over anti-LGBT laws and violence in Russia.

The State Department in January criticized the passage of a bill in the Russian Duma that would prohibit the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors. Russian lawmakers are expected to give final approval to the measure in the coming weeks.

A St. Petersburg court in February upheld a previous ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against Madonna for violating the city’s law that bans “homosexual propaganda” to children during an August 2012 concert. The singer criticized the statute and authorities who arrested more than 80 gay men before and during her performance during the annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York in March.

Madonna also blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for the two-year prison sentences that three members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot received after they staged a protest against him inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral last year.

A Moscow court last August upheld the Russian capital’s 100-year gay ban on gay Pride marches, but organizers of the annual event plan to once again try to stage it on May 25.

Reuters quoted Nikolai Alekseev, a prominent Russian LGBT rights advocate, who reportedly told the Interfax news agency that Tornovoi’s death underscores the consequences anti-gay laws have had in the country.

“This monstrous incident in Volgograd demonstrates the fruits of the homophobic policy that is being conducted in this country, including the initiative to ban homosexual propaganda,” he said.


Remembering Rauhofer

Peter Rauhofer, DJ, Music, Obituary, Gay News, Washington Blade

Peter Rauhofer died last week in New York. Gay music lovers say he’ll be remembered for his unyielding work ethic and boundless creativity. (Photos courtesy Angelo Russo)

Angelo Russo knew something was wrong in March when several days went by without hearing back from his friend and client, legendary producer/DJ/remixer Peter Rauhofer.

“We sometimes talked five or six times a day so when I didn’t hear back from him, yeah, it sent up the red flags,” Russo says. “The only time I didn’t hear from him was if we were fighting and of course we fought. The closer you are, the more you fight with someone. But yeah, back in March, we were fine. I was speaking to him one day, then a couple days went by and eventually we had 911 break into his apartment.”

Russo says Rauhofer, whom he’d met at a music conference in 2000 and had managed since 2006, was “barely conscious” having suffered a seizure. Hospitalized at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, the prognosis was grim. Rauhofer, who was gay, had a malignant brain tumor that had gone undiagnosed long enough to have grown significantly. Russo (also gay) says doctors said its position on the brain made it inoperable. They tried a round of chemotherapy that was unsuccessful. On April 29, Rauhofer turned 48 in the hospital. He died May 7.

Russo says it may have been a bit of a blessing in disguise. Had the Grammy-winning music legend, who remixed hits for Cher (“Believe”), Madonna (“Nothing Fails,” “4 Minutes” et. al.), Janet Jackson (“Throb”), Britney Spears (“Toxic”) and scores of other artists, responded well to chemo, it may have left him with diminished mental faculties.

“There was a possibility at one point that if it had worked, he may only have had the mental capacity of a 5 year old,” Russo says. “He would have been so unhappy but how can you tell his mom not to try. So they tried but it didn’t work. … When they came back and said there was nothing more they could do, I was hoping he wouldn’t have to lay there and suffer too long. He was not about suffering. He was about being able to be happy and bring joy to people. That’s what his career was all about — parties and music. If he wasn’t able to do that, then I’m happy it didn’t go another route.”

Rauhofer’s mother Helga, who visited from their native Austria for her son’s final days, is executrix of his estate. He will be interred in Austria. A candlelight vigil was held last weekend in Miami. A public memorial is planned for New York Pride next month. Friends in New York are also planning a private memorial service there, where he’d lived since about 1996. Check Rauhofer’s Facebook page for details on public events.

The gay club/music world responded with shock and sadness at Rauhofer’s untimely death.

“I don’t use this term loosely, but he was a musical genius,” says gay DJ/remixer Joe Gauthreaux. “He never got stuck in one sound and stayed there, that’s why his mixes always resonated. He was always doing something different and trying to grow. He never did the same remix twice. He was always trying different sounds. There really was nobody like him.”

Gauthreax also says he “was a huge Peter fan, huge.”

“He was one of the remixers that, from a DJ standpoint, I would always be so excited about. It was usually his mix that was quote-unquote the one. So from that standpoint, this is very hard to take just knowing that there’s not going to ever be another Peter Rauhofer mix to come in and save the day.”

Tori Amos, who had a No. 1 Billboard dance hit in February with Rauhofer’s remix of her song “Flavor,” said in a statement that “he truly captured the spirit of the song” and that she’ll “always hold a very special place in my heart for Peter.”

Local gay nightclub impresario Ed Bailey, who hosted Rauhofer twice at Velvet Nation in the early ‘00s, says Rauhofer’s work epitomized the era.

“His music, his production and his remixes, were kind of not exclusively but almost like the overwhelming soundtrack of the big clubs and circuit parties for the whole decade from about 2000 to 2010,” Bailey says. “He’s widely revered as that amazing one of all the amazing people who helped shape an entire kind of era in club land that for most people, they feel it was one of the best eras ever. We were very proud to be able to have him at Nation and I remember just being mesmerized by his set.”

Gay DJ Hector Fonseca met Rauhofer in 1998, joined Star 69 in about 2001 and worked with Rauhofer for about eight years releasing about 20 remixes and three albums. Fonseca, traveling this week in Europe, says by e-mail he and Rauhofer developed a strong working relationship and friendship.

“Besides his strong work ethic and extreme attention to detail, what made him stand out was that he was always pushing the sound in the gay scene with elements from the European trance and electro scene,” Fonseca says. “Very few, if any, were doing that and still to this day, it’s quite unique.”

Fonseca says Rauhofer will be “remembered as a visionary from a great era in New York City.”

“We were really the epicenter of house,” he says. “Now most cutting edge stuff is coming from Amsterdam, but if you take a closer look into that music, you can hear the influence from DJs of that time here in New York and Peter was a big part of that. The Twilo and Roxy days when you really had to push the sound to stand out. He will be missed by many but remembered through his music.”

During a lengthy phone interview this week, Russo, who started as an intern at Rauhofer’s Star 69 label in 2001, shares several memories of their years working together.

Russo says Rauhofer:

  • had been in apparently good health prior to the March seizure. He says he doesn’t know of Rauhofer ignoring any warning signs earlier though he admits Rauhofer was usually “not one to go to the doctor.” “He hadn’t complained of headaches or anything,” Russo says. “This kind of blindsided me.”
  • was in and out of consciousness in his final days. He was able to squeeze hands of those by his bedside at times. “We don’t know how much he heard, but we gave him an earful.” And although sad, Russo says it was a joy to share with Rauhofer’s mother details of his life in New York, of which she’d previously known little.
  • was a workaholic who “would obsess over his mixes” and would often stay up working all night to finish them.
  • loved to collect toy metal robots and Gucci jewelry.
  • kept his Grammy for Cher’s “Believe” in his Star 69 office until it closed in the summer of 2010 after which he kept it on a shelf in the living room of his 42nd Street apartment in Manhattan.
  • dated at various times and had some semi-long term boyfriends, but made it clear work came first for him. “A lot of people just don’t have the patience for that,” Russo says. Rauhofer had not been dating in recent months, Russo says.
  • Had met many of the artists whose hits he remixed. Although most of the remixing work was done without the artist, Russo remembers Rauhofer meeting Madonna, for instance, on multiple occasions. He says Rauhofer wasn’t especially star struck in general though he had an obsession with Grace Jones and “always wanted to work with her but never got the chance.” “If she had walked in the room, he might have gasped,” Russo says.

Rumors that Rauhofer could be tough — Bailey says, “I don’t think it’s a secret in the industry that he had a reputation for being difficult to work with” — were mostly a matter of Rauhofer’s being, “never a diva, but a perfectionist,” as Russo puts it.

“There were tiny spats about things,” Russo says. “He hated it when some A&R (artist and repertoire) person would be bugging for a mix, say they just wanted to sample it to see where he was going with it, then they’d start promoting his unfinished mixes, he hated that. But most of the time, believe it or not, he was pretty easygoing. When you pushed him, yeah, he would let you have it. … He would scream when he felt like he’d been wronged, but he’d worked really hard for what he achieved and he expected to be respected for that.”

Bailey says although Rauhofer excelled at mixing, spinning and producing, it’s his DJ sets for which he’ll most be remembered among the general public.

“It’s inevitable that the mixes will sound dated over time but the memories people experienced of him spinning live will live on,” Bailey says. “They’ll never be tarnished because they’re not something you can listen to over and over.”

Russo says Rauhofer’s ability to transcend genres is an important part of understanding his legacy.

“His whole idea about music, whether it was one remix or a whole DJ set, was that it should be a journey,” he says. “Toward the end of the ‘90s, I think it started to be very segregated in a way. You had this mix for the straight crowd, and this mix for the circuit crowd but there was no style he couldn’t do. He could remix for any audience. I like to reference this latest thing he just did for Tori. There were three different mixes and another that wasn’t released and you could really listen to them all back to back because they were so different. He was able to do it all.”


Music in the air

Melissa Ferrick, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Part of an eclectic fall, Melissa Ferrick will be in Washington twice this fall. (Photo courtesy of Ferrick)

From the biggest names in pop to the best and brightest of D.C.’s local LGBT talent, the fall concert season is nothing if not eclectic.

For starters, in case you missed the show here last year at about this time, Madonna’s “MDNA World Tour” concert DVD released in multiple formats this week.

Sonia Rutstein and her band Disappear Fear release their album “Broken Film” with a world release concert on Sept. 17 at Creative Alliance at the Patterson (3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore). This will be Rutstein’s 17th album in her 25-year career of writing and performing songs about important issues of the heart and of society. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, visit

Lesbian singer Melissa Ferrick makes two stops to the District this fall on her CD release tour of “the truth is.” She’s with with Catie Curtis (also a lesbian) at the Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.) on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Ferrick will return to the 9:30 Club (815 V St., NW) on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. where she will appear with Ani DiFranco. Tickets are $40. Visit for more information.

The Birchmere’s SpeakeasyDC show features gay comedian Chelsea Shorte on Sept. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere Music Hall (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.).  In her act, Shorte shares her story about evolving from a closeted comedian to finding her authentic voice. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit

Raven’s Night returns the Birchmere (3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) on Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. to celebrate the sexy trick or treats of Halloween. The evening includes an All Hallows Eve Carnival, which is a flashback to World’s Fairs, a Salon Lunaire Concert and a Cabaret Macabre Belly Dance Show. Tickets are $25. For details, visit

Gay duo and Capital Pride vets Jason & DeMarco come to Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. as a part of their tour “Celebrating Diversity” to commemorate their 10 years together as well as welcoming twin boys into their lives. The group will perform in several venues around Maryland throughout the month of October. This performance is free but a $20 donation is suggested. For more information, visit

The Choral Arts Society of Washington kicks off a new season with its show “Legacy and Life,” featuring performances of Steven Stucky’s “Take Him, Earth” and Giuseppe Verdi “Requiem,” on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. The society will also bring in the holiday season with “An Enchanted Christmas” on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. All performances will be at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.). There are several ticket packages as well as individual tickets from $54-$141. Visit for more information.

Cyndi Lauper (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Cyndi Lauper (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Cyndi Lauper, LGBT rights activist, comes to the Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) on her “She’s So Unusual Tour” on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. She’s celebrating the 30th anniversary of her landmark debut album this year and, as on the spring leg, will perform the album in its entirety with an encore devoted to newer hits. Tickets are $33-$73. For more information, visit

Pink returns to the Verizon Center (601 F St., N.W.) on Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. as part of her “Truth About Love Tour.” This tour takes the name from her sixth studio album, with “Just Give Me a Reason” adding to her Top 10 hits overall. Tickets are $50-$142. Visit for more details.

To bring in the holiday season, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington will have its concert “Sparkle, Jingle, Joy” with special guest Grammy Award-winner Matt Alber on Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. at the Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.).  Tickets are $25-$50. For details about the shows or for subscription information for the upcoming season, visit

Gay-friendly church First Baptist (1328 16th Street, N.W.) is celebrating the installation of its massive new five-manual pipe organ with a host of recitals. Resident organist Lon Schreiber gives the inaugural recital Sunday at 4 p.m. Ken Cowan plays on Oct. 20, Christopher Houlihan on Nov. 24 and a special event is planned for the evening of Halloween as well. Visit for details.

Speaking of organists, queer virtuoso Cameron Carpenter will make a special appearance on the new Rubenstein Family Organ at the Kennedy Center (2700 F Street, N.W.) for the season-opening ball of the National Symphony Orchestra on Sept. 29. He’s back for a solo recital Oct. 16 (

Uber gay-friendly Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) has nine acts planned to appear through Sept. 21 for its new Autumn Cabaret Festival. Details at

Special Agent Galactica has her rounds in D.C. with her happy hour show at the Black Fox Lounge (1732 Connecticut Ave., N.W.). The show includes live jazz, blues, cabaret, standards and comedy with Galactica backed by a three-piece jazz combo. There is no cover charge. For more information, visit


Sights, sounds and smells

Absolutely Fabulous, Ab Fab, Edina Monsoon, Patsy Stone, gay news, Washington Blade

“Ab Fab” the entire series is now available on a 10-disc set.

Books, DVDs and Blu-rays, special edition box sets all make great gifts. And as more and more media move into the electronic zone, unwrapping something tangible feels extra nice.

Here are a few ideas to get your gift-giving idea juices flowing.



In Bed with Gore Vidal

In Bed with Gore Vidal by Tim Teeman.

“In Bed with Gore Vidal” by Tim Teeman is as juicy as the title implies, exploring in great detail, how gay the famed writer’s sex life was despite his insistence that there was “no such thing as gay.” E-book: $9.99; $19.99 trade paperback. (Photo courtesy Magnus)


“Extraordinary Hearts” by Nicholas Benton gathers the local newspaper publisher’s sweeping series of LGBT essays under one cover. Lethe Press/$20 (Photo courtesy the author)


“The Forever Marathon” by Jameson Currier is a new novel billed as a “wickedly delightful war of wits and whines between longtime” gay couple Jesse and Adam over the course of a two-day fight. E-book: $9.99; $18 trade paperback. (Photo courtesy Chelsea Station Editions)



Matthew Morrison's 'A Classic Christmas'

Matthew Morrison’s ‘A Classic Christmas

“Love to Love You Donna” by Donna Summer is a remix collection of the late diva’s biggest hits by top DJs. The biggest shock? How current these new mixes sound despite the source material being, in most cases, decades old. (Photo credit Verve)


“Snow Globe” by Erasure is the gay duo’s first seasonal effort in a 25-year career. It’s as moody, electronic and subversive as one would expect. (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)


Broadway’s “Carols for a Cure” Vo. 15, the annual AIDS benefit recording, is a double-disc set that carries on the series’ tradition — seasonal covers done in every style from high camp (Perez Hilton is back again this year) to shockingly poignant (the cast of “Motown’s” stunning medley). Rock-It Science Records.


“Glee’s” Matthew Morrison has a holiday EP called “A Classic Christmas” out this week. PBS will air a TV special of the same name on Nov. 30. He plays the Kennedy Center Nov. 29-30. (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)


“Loved Me Back to Life” by Celine Dion, the diva’s first English studio album since 2007. You or someone on your list is either excited about this or not. No promo blurb could possibly change your mind at this point of Dion’s career. (Photo courtesy Columbia)


“Brave Enough: Live at the Variety Playhouse” by Sara Bareilles, a DVD/CD live set from the LGBT ally’s tour. It features a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)


Kelly Clarkson is out with her first-ever holiday album, “Wrapped in Red.” It features first single “Underneath the Tree” and the title cut. (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)


Madonna’s 'MDNA World Tour'

Madonna’s ‘MDNA World Tour

Madonna’s “MDNA World Tour” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray after a recall delayed the proceedings. Interscope. (Photo courtesy the Karpel Group)


“Britten & Pears: a Unique Musical Cooperation” celebrates the centennial of the birth of gay composer Benjamin Britten who enjoyed a personal and professional relationship with singer Peter Pears. Ten discs. $54.97. (Photo courtesy United Classics)


A DVD of Stevie Nicks’ documentary film “In Your Dreams,” about the making of her album of the same name, drops Dec. 3. $14.98, Reprise.




“Ab Fab” the entire series is now available on a 10-disc set. $158.98. (Photo courtesy BBC Home Entertainment)




“Bewitched,” available for years in season packs, is now out in a “whole series” package. $55.99. (Photo courtesy Sony)


“Flo,” the “Alice” spin-off featuring sassy Polly Holliday in the title role, was doomed by endless time slot changes during its brief season-and-a-half run back in 1980. Rarely seen in syndication, it finally gets some respect with all 29 episodes available in one package. $34.99 (Photo courtesy Warner Archive Collection)




Barbie Collector Classic Catwoman

Barbie Collector Classic Catwoman

There have been endless Catwoman interpretations over the years. The Barbie Collector Classic Catwoman pays homage to Julie Newmar’s timeless performance. Another featuring Adam West’s Batman is also available. $35.52 each. (Photo courtesy Mattel)


Lypsinka and illustrator Stefano Imbert have collaborated on a line of Lypsinka merchandise featuring everything from magnets, pins, mugs, T-shirts and more. Visit the shop online at (photo pending)


The Smithsonian has its own line of gift items this year featuring a Castle Key paperweight ($35), wreath hanger ($40), African-American art banner bags (prices vary) and more. Pictured here is the Hirshhorn Britto Pop-Art Dog ($20). On Dec. 7-8, a series of holiday events will be held at the various Smithsonian museums featuring book signings, holiday films in IMAX theaters, crafts for kids and more. (Photo courtesy the Smithsonian)


Gay designer Tom Ford is out with a new fragrance. “Noir” is an “oriental, sensual fragrance that captures the twin facets of the Tom Ford man — the refined, urbane sophisticate whom everyone gets to see and the intriguingly sensuous private man they don’t.” 1.7 oz for $90; 3.4 oz. for $125. (Photo courtesy Tom Ford)


This season’s new women’s fragrances offer an alluring array from Gucci’s “Guilty Black” ($75), Dolce & Gabbana’s “Velvet Desert Oud” ($270) to lighter scents like Calvin Klein’s “Downtown” ($65) and Jimmy Choo’s “White Edition” ($150).  (Photos courtesy Dolce & Gabbana/Jimmy Choo)


Elton John blasts Russia gay propaganda law

Russia, Moscow, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, gay news, Washington Blade

Singer Elton John on Dec. 6 criticized Russia’s LGBT rights record during a Moscow concert. (By David Crawshaw via Wikimedia Commons.)

Singer Elton John on Dec. 6 criticized Russia’s LGBT rights record during a concert in Moscow.

“You took me to your hearts all these years ago and you’ve always welcomed me with warmth and open arms every time I’ve visited,” said John while on stage in the Russian capital. “You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I’m deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia.”

Members of the audience applauded John as he continued to speak out against Russia’s LGBT rights record that includes a broadly worded law that bans gay propaganda to minors. He dedicated the concert to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old man whom authorities said two men tortured and killed near Volgograd in May after he came out to them.

“Some people have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia,” said John. “But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here.”

Lady Gaga and Madonna’s comments against St. Petersburg’s gay propaganda to minors ban during concerts in the city in 2012 prompted Russian authorities to investigate whether the singers did not secure the proper visas to enter the country. A St. Petersburg court dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against Madonna over her comments.

John’s concert took place in Moscow roughly a month after gay MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts co-hosted the Miss Universe 2013 pageant in the Russian capital.

Roberts criticized the gay propaganda law during a series of pre-pageant interviews with his network. Neither he, co-host Mel B nor pageant participants discussed the Kremlin’s LGBT rights record during the event’s broadcast.

German president to boycott Olympics
The Associated Press on Sunday reported German President Joachim Gauck will boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia, in February because of the Kremlin’s human rights record.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama and retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova are among those who oppose a boycott of the Sochi games over the gay propaganda law and Russia’s ongoing LGBT rights crackdown.

Lesbian Russian journalist Masha Gessen on Dec. 5 discussed her support of a boycott of the Olympics while speaking on a panel at Human Rights First’s annual summit in D.C.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin should be a pariah at this point,” said Gessen. “He should be alone in that box at the Olympic games, which are his personal project.”


‘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.”


Confessions of a Pretty Lady

Sandra Bernhard
8 p.m. (doors at 6)
Howard Theatre
620 T Street, NW
$35 advance, $40 door


Sandra Bernhard, gay news, Washington Blade

Sandra Bernhard brings her live show, an evening of stories and songs, to the Howard on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of Roots Agency)

It’s a busy Monday afternoon for actress/comedian Sandra Bernhard when we talk.

“I’m dealing with lots of business stuff, tons and tons of stuff,” she says, her voice instantly recognizable.

Controversial, sexy, outspoken Bernhard has been a staple in the entertainment world for three decades and shows no signs of slowing down. She continues to appear on various TV shows and tours with her stage show, which is in Washington this weekend. Look for her Saturday night at the newly refurbished Howard Theatre.

In a sense, Bernhard, who’s been out for years, is not a typical comedian. She doesn’t just stand there telling joke after joke, waiting for the audience’s reaction. Instead, she engages the crowd with her views and takes on everything from politics to pop culture and weaves in a selection of songs that drive her point home.

Her current show, “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?,” debuted in 2011 and has evolved dramatically since then, a trend she credits to her constant wave of new ideas and her own boredom.

“Events occur and my life changes, things happen and I fold it in because I’m excited about telling a new story.”

Bernhard was here in 2008 for a three-week engagement at The Jewish Community Center for the 20th anniversary of “Without You I’m Nothing,” a show that helped put her on the map in the late ‘80s.

“It’s always interesting to look back and have a different perspective on what was going on at the time. Bring it into modern day. You of course have to alter it for what’s going on. A lot of it still holds up so I think that’s a great thing.”

She says D.C. audiences are more open minded than other markets.

“Actually I think they’re more informed, that makes them more open minded,” she says. “The last time I played D.C. was that long run at The JCC, so I assume that was sort of the general audience. They were relatively informed and smart as one would expect in D.C. They seemed to be into it. At the same time longing for entertainment, because I’m sure it’s tedious being in that city with all the politics and stuff. I really enjoyed performing there.”

Of her trademark out-of-left-field covers, which previously have included acts as far ranging as Nina Simone to Bob Dylan, AC/DC to Prince, she says she starts with the lyrics.

“It’s always a song that has a great story, lyric that resonates even if it at first it seems kinda hokey or over the top,” she says. “Like a hair metal song. It’s just like a song that I can tap into the emotion and turn it into something sorta different and that’s kinda the criteria for what I do.”

And, as one might expect, with Bernhard, it’s about much more than simply singing a song. One thinks of her recent take on Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” which elicits an “exactly” from the comedian.

“You gotta really give the audience what they came to see and what they pay for,” she says. “And never make fun of a song. I don’t like making fun of songs even if they’re sort of laced with irony and I’m bringing something very different to them.”

Later this month, Bernhard will be at Carnegie Hall for a Prince tribute.

“As you know, ‘Little Red Corvette’ is kinda my signature song and when I read about it I called my manager and said, ‘You gotta get me on this, I mean this is insane, this is like my signature song, nobody else can do this,’ so when it all came together I was very excited.”

The mix of comedy and music is more unusual in the performing world than you might initially think. Along the way, Bernhard has recorded four albums of music. She says she’d love to do another studio album and would “love to collaborate with a great producer. But you know you need money and need support and I don’t really have that right now, but I hope I do again.  In the meantime at least when people come see me perform, they know I’m in the pocket.”

The day of our phone chat is the Monday after the Grammys, which Bernhard said she watched just enough of “to know it was really depressing.”


“The music business is so [pauses] it’ll never be what it was,” she says. “[The  Grammys] tries to keep this illusion alive and it just doesn’t work anymore.”

But with the paradigm shift has come certain freedoms, Bernhard suggests. She maintains a level of control that would be harder to ensure at a major label. Despite the constantly evolving nature of her tour, she says her various live releases still manage to capture enough of each show she does to keep her happy. Look for a release culled from a five-night run she did at Joe’s Pub in New York last year “soon,” she says.

Since Bernhard gets asked constantly about Madonna — everyone remembers her famous cameo in “Truth or Dare” — we took a different route. Of Cyndi Lauper, whom Bernhard joined for a few dates on the singer’s 2006 “Body Acoustic Tour,” she waxes nostalgic with no apparent subtext.

“She’s a great talent and it was fun and interesting,” Bernhard says. “I didn’t do that many shows; it was just the right amount. We knew each other and she needed some support out on the road and they asked if I wanted to do some of the dates and I said ‘Yeah, you know, sure.’”

Bernhard has seen a few episodes of Lauper’s new reality show.

“I think it’s sort of entertaining in a way you know? It’s yeah [pause], I don’t know if she’s happy with it. I’m sure it was sort of a real compromise on her part.”

Is there nobility in the willingness of Lauper — or any star — to put him- or herself out there to that degree?

“I don’t think that’s necessarily enchanting for people,” she says.

And yes, Bernhard considered the idea herself, perhaps to a further degree than many fans may realize. She says her idea for “A Day in the Life of Sandra Bernhard,” she calls a “lightly scripted version of my life” she pitched 18 years ago to HBO, failed to secure a green light.

“They didn’t understand what I was talking about. It was kind of the first and the last of it all.”

A more recent delve into similar terrain — her web show “Comedians Walking and Getting Mani-Pedis,” intended as an answer of sorts, to Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” ended up being “kind of an experiment” that “I wasn’t really happy with.”

Despite guests like Lizz Winstead, Rosie Perez and Wendy Williams, Bernhard says it “didn’t go where I wanted it to go.”

“I came up with the idea of doing a show from the manicuring station but the people who produce it came up with that stupid title and I was totally not into it,” she says.”

It’s on indefinite hiatus.

We dart around to all kinds of topics in our remaining moments and Bernhard, whom, as you might imagine, can be intimidating, is game for it all.

She does confess to a little self-censorship when it comes to whether her soon-to-be-15-year-old daughter, Cicely, is in the audience or not. She knows she’s sometimes mentioned in the act.

“I think sometimes now more than before it’s starting to irritate her,” Bernhard says. “When she’s at the shows, I try not to do certain pieces that I would do when she’s not there. She doesn’t follow me that closely either. Like if I came home with a CD, she’d never sit down and listen to it so I’m not too worried about her staring into the material per se.”

Because so much of her material is autobiographical, she has no plans to write a memoir. She says she’s been frank enough, though she confesses to “semi truthful, semi made up” story telling in her act, to keep her name largely out of tabloids.

Other celebs, she surmises, want it.

“You look at Rihanna and Chris Brown. Obviously they want the publicity. They’re willing to sacrifice their personal happiness, especially her. They got that whole thing going and I think it’s depressing, especially for a woman.  I don’t think it’s necessary to put myself out there in that way.”

Her trademark openness, she says, made her own coming out nearly moot.

“My work always spoke for itself which was all about personal expression, independence and freedom, no matter who or what you are,” Bernhard says. “That’s really where I stand on all of that. What do I need to do that for? I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin.”

Celebs who make their coming out a proclamation or acceptance speech event — Jodie Foster at the Golden Globes is fresh on everyone’s mind — strike Bernhard as excessive.

“I don’t need approval of my peers or my supposed group. You know, I’m not a group kind of person. I find that very self-serving. Who fucking cares anyway?”

Pressed for her comedic successors, she cites the cast of “Bridesmaids” and name checks Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Amy Poehler.

“All that kind of grouping of girls who kinda came from the imrpov world are just really smart and funny and talented.”

She calls the late Phyllis Diller, whom she appeared with on Roseanne Barr’s “Roseanne’s Nuts,” “amazing and incredible — I just love her for who she was and all the years she kept at it and was so brilliant. She’s a fabulous person. I’m so glad I got to know her. She was really a cool lady.”

A new book — it would be her fourth — is “on the back burner.” Bernhard says she would need a “bigger platform” than she currently has to make it worth the effort.

There’s only one topic that comes up for which Bernhard is tight lipped.

Though vague, she does admit to a writer friend who “just came up with an idea for me and another actress that’s under development right now,” she says.

Could it be? Brash, outspoken Bernhard declining to elaborate?

For once, mystery prevails and she sounds almost coy.

“I’m really excited about it but I’m not gonna talk about it until it’s really happening.”


Madonna presents Anderson’s GLAAD Award

Madonna hits a home run with her speech prior to presenting Anderson Cooper the Vito Russo Award at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards, taking on Russian President Vladmir Putin, the anti-gay bills in Russia, the Boy Scouts and so much more.