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Dior: From Paris to the World

The extensive exhibition surveys 70 years of Dior’s legacy and global influence. More than 200 couture dresses, accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, and other archival material traces the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house and its founder, Christian Dior, and the subsequent artistic directors who carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century.

On View through March 3, 2019, at the Denver Art Museum.

denverartmuseum.org

 

[artwork credit: Gianfranco Ferré, Robe Hellébore, Dior Collection Haute Couture, Spring 1995 (detail). Photo: ©Paolo Roversi/Art + Commerce]

 

 

The Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures from the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Film director Wes Anderson is bringing his unique aesthetic to a historic Austrian museum. Together with his partner, illustrator Juman Malouf, Anderson has been given full access to the museum’s picture gallery and its vast collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities, arms and armor, and historical musical instruments, for what is sure to be a one-of-a-kind show.

Showing now through April 8, 2019, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

khm.at

 

[photo credit: Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf in the Picture Gallery, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.Photo: ©khm-museumsverband]

 

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy, and the Avant-Garde

The exhibition celebrates the power of collaboration and creative relationships across painting, sculpture, photography, design, and literature in the early 20th century. Explore iconic pieces of art and literature by romantic and artistic collaborations including Dora Maar & Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí & Federico García Lorca, Camille Claudel & Auguste Rodin, Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera, Emilie Flöge & Gustav Klimt, and many more.

On view now through January 27, 2019, at Barbican Centre, London.

barbican.org.uk

 

[Photo credit: Dorothea Tanning and Max Ernst with his sculpture Capricorn, 1947. Photo: John Kasnetsis]

 

 

Daunting Dimensionality
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

Neon Heart Blue Lightning (2015), Hand Painting/Silk Screen/Neon, 44 x 44 in, Edition: Unique

Rubem Robierb successfully captures the beholder’s attention compelling the viewer to extract the underlying message of the artwork – a particularly powerful trait of Robierb’s art.

Rubem Robierb’s most significant artistic talent is his ability to bestow the seemingly banal with monumental proportions. Case in point: His BulletFly Effect paintings that combine the beauty and delicate innocence of butterfly wings with a bullet body to create a powerful metaphor of violent transformation. His use of figures, that span from commonplace to iconic, are given new and profound meanings that reveal themselves as the beholder discover the subtle signs that Robierb so masterfully hides in plain sight.

His work carries an innate connection to the pop art movement where he, like Andy Warhol, creates a visually compelling dimensionality and figurativeness that conveys powerful messages to the beholder. His link to the contemporary art movement is also apparent with references to Damien Hirst whose use of natural elements creates a constant dialogue between life and death. Robierb’s strong inspiration from street art is also evident in many of his works constructing politically laden layers to his artworks. In turn, the constant play on the permanence of all things life links him to contemporary Banksy.

Rubemrobierb.com

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N 12 (2012), Plexiglass on Metatic Paper, 16 x 16 in, Edition: 7

BulletFly Effect Series (2012-2014)

Robierb has developed his BulletFly Effect series over several years, adding even more layers to the strong visual and symbolic figure that combines butterfly wings and bullets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diptych Butterfly I – White on Black (2016), Hand painted/SilkScreen/Diamond Dust, 72 x 46 in (each wing), Edition: Unique

Diptychs Butterflies (2016)

Robierb evolves his signature figures by dismembering to combine painting and sculpture on a larger scale. The wings have become human-scale, and the bullet body hast materialized into a larger than life sculpture – together a powerful symbol of hand and human-made power.

 

 

 

 

 

Metamorph-US Mural (2015), Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Metamorph-US – BulletFly Murals (2015)

At the beginning of 2015, Robierb was commissioned by the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to bring his BulletFly Effect series into the heart of the city. His art project Metamorph-US transformed a Downtown Fort Lauderdale building with a 300-foot mural of large-scale butterflies.

 

 

 

 

 

Now or Never (2015), Hand Painting/Silk Screen/Neon, 44 × 44 in, Edition: Unique.

HEART (2015)

With HEART Rubem Robierb strikes yet another nerve in contemporary American society by showcasing the fact that human emotion often gets transferred to a plethora of external communicative objects like signs, emojis, words, and symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry Not Sorry (2017), Hand Painting/Silk Screen/Neon, 34 x 74in, Edition: Unique

Money Talks (2017)

Gathering inspiration from the pictures, symbols, and phrases that are drawn or written on money across the world, Robierb distills the significance and layers these motifs add to the currency. By using different techniques and textures, he lets the money reveal the layers of what the money is actually saying about our shared values.

 

 

Thoughts & Prayers Soup Can (2016), Silk Screen on Paper/Diamond Dust, 20 x 20 in, Edition: 30

Thoughts & Prayers (2018)

The expression ‘’thoughts and prayers’ has been co-opted in today’s supercharged political discourse, losing its value of comfort and understanding. Robierb’s artwork questions its currency in today’s world by painting mass-produced soup cans (with a distinct nod to Warhol) and creating over-size and empty boxes as a metaphor of how society mass-produces feelings that are delivered in throw-away packaging.

 

Prayers & Thoughts Boxes (2017), Stencil on wood, 18 x 18 in, Edition: 30

UNAPOLOGETIC LINES

The exhibition features a sizable collection of fashion illustrator Marc-Antoine Coulon’s work, including captivating portraits of fashion icons Tom Ford, Gianni Versace, Anna Wintour, Madonna and Beyoncé alongside Hollywood royalty Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, and Audrey Hepburn, among many others. “Unapologetic Lines” show now until January 27, 2019, at SCAD FASH in Atlanta. Visit scadfash.org for more.

 

Picasso. Blue and Rose

For the first time in France, this exhibition will span the Blue and Rose period (1900-1906) of Picasso’s body of work. The exhibition is organized as a continuum rather than as a series of compartmentalized episodes and reveals Picasso’s early artistic identity and some of the enduring obsessions in his work. Picasso Bleu et Rose is now showing at the Musée d’Orsay until January 06, 2019. More info at musee-orsay.fr.

 

La Biennale Venezia

For architecture and installation aficionados, you should plan a visit to La Biennale in Venice, Italy. For the past three decades, the international architecture exhibition in the Giardini park in Venice has showcased the work and structures of world-renowned architects from all over the world. Dazzling structures, new materials, and new technologies make this exhibition a marvel that should be experienced before November 25, 2018 where it ends. More at labiennale.o

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

Located between Bastille and Nation, in a former foundry in the eleventh arrondissement of Paris, the Atelier Des Lumières has opened its doors to a digital art experience that will immersive you into the artworks in a highly unique way.

 

Using 140 video projectors and a state-of-the-art spatialized sound system, the multimedia equipment covers an exhibition area of over 35,000 sq ft that extends from floor to ceiling creating a monumental, immersive art experience. The Atelier Des Lumières has two areas for visitors: La Halle and Le Studio.  In ‘La Halle,’ a continuous cycle of immersive digital exhibitions will be projected, alternating between shows devoted to significant figures in art history and more contemporary artists.

 

The Atelier Des Lumières opened April 13 with a long-term program devoted to Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890- 1918). The exhibition, which will run until November 11, immerses you in the works of these artists, who were closely related to the Nineteenth-century Vienna Secession – an Austrian art movement of artists who resigned from the official art association to create modern art. The digital visualization and virtualization of the artworks enables visitors to not only behold Gustav Klimt’s frescoes but also get a unique immersive experience that at times surrounds you entirely by an artwork. By projecting the works over all the surfaces in the Atelier Des Lumières, the beholder experiences an unprecedented scale and clarity of the art making it possible to focus on other details or view the art in its entirety or from a whole new perspective.

 

The short program will focus on another artist who symbolized Viennese creativity: Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000), who was greatly influenced by the Secession.

With Gustav Klimt as the key figure in the Austrian modern art movement, the exhibition takes you on a journey through a hundred years of Viennese painting. The immersive display takes an original look at the works of Klimt and his successors through a presentation of the portraits, landscapes, nudes, colors, and gilding that revolutionized Viennese painting at the end of the nineteenth century and in the century that followed. In an explosion of color, the Atelier Des Lumières links between the various eras and provide a visual and musical journey through the creative works of the past and the present.

 

In ‘The Studio,’ the visitors will discover the work of experienced or emerging artists. As an area devoted to contemporary art, it gives carte blanche to digital artists who are capable of creating unique visual worlds.

 

As President of Culturespaces and curator of the Atelier Des Lumières, Bruno Monnier, explains: ‘The role of an art center is to decompartmentalize, and that is why digital technology is so important in twenty-first-century exhibitions. Used for creative purposes, it has become a formidable vector for dissemination, and is capable of creating links between eras, add dynamism to artistic practices, amplify emotions, and reach the largest possible audience’.

The Exhibition Klimt, Hundertwasser, and Poetic_AI exhibitions will show at the Atelier des Lumières, the first Digital Art Centre in Paris, from April 13 to November 11, 2018. More info at www.atelier-lumieres.com.

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

Timothy McNeil’s feature debut, Anything, stars Matt Bomer who plays the trans woman Freda, and John Carroll Lynch who plays Early, a newly widowed man that moves to L.A. to assert his independence and strikes up an unlikely friendship with the transgender sex worker. Goliath talked to first-time filmmaker Timothy McNeill about the movie, its controversy, and inclusive message of love.

 

Give us a little background on the movie?

It started off as a play in 2007 and had a good run into 2008 where Mark Ruffalo saw the play – and he asked me to write a screenplay based on the play. He then asked me to direct as well which was a surprise to me as I’d never directed a movie before. The movie was shot May and April of 2016, and it was a very interesting process that allowed for a lot of thought to go into it. There was no rush, and it was a turtle-like process.

 

‘Anything’ was adapted from a play to the screen – how do you think that comes forward in the film?

I have always loved watching plays being made into films, so I already learned a lot from how filmmakers succeed and fail in the process of adapting a play to the screen. One of my ideas was to purge the too many ‘writer-ly’ impulses in the script. I like the idea of a play of having a lot of space, time, and internal life, and in a movie, you have the opportunity to expand much more on that.

 

The movie has been well received at festivals but has also received criticism from the transgender community for portraying (yet another) trans woman as a prostitute. How do you respond to that criticism?

It’s been hard to hear the criticism – but if any movie is going to be at the source of the controversy, I’m happy that it’s our movie. I hope it can be part of the dialogue, because of the controversy. It has a lot to say. As a writer, I’m drawn to stories of people that have had their rights suspended, oppressed, or repressed. Unfortunately, that is something you see in the trans community. They are marginalized because of their sense of self and working as a sex worker is, unfortunately, part of the marginalization.

 

 

Matt Bomer plays the trans character, Freda – how was it to work with him? And how did he prepare for the role?

Matt is maybe the most disciplined actor I’ve ever worked with. His work ethic is extraordinary. He has a sincere desire to get it right. I love him as a human being, and he is just the sweetest, most genuine mensch. I think he has a really big career ahead of him – like with all the actors in the film.

 

The casting of Matt Bomer also met criticism from the trans community for casting a cisgender male to portray a trans woman. What do you think of that criticism?

I saw Matt Bomer act in the Normal Heart, and when I approached about this role, he immediately responded to the material on a soul level. I don’t desire to put actors in a box and keep them from playing something they really want. It’s part of my filmmaker code, and I hope the trans community understands that, when I saw Matt Bomer, I knew that I had found him and that I had found her.

 

 

What is it about the unlikely connection between a man from the deep south and the trans woman from Los Angeles that is so poignant?

I think it’s the story of oppression and repression. When I moved from Mississippi, I came to L.A. at 28, and I was struck by being in L.A., and I felt a sense of freedom  – an ability to reinvent oneself more than what I had experienced before. For me. L.A. set me loose because the city does that to people. It’s what happens early in the film where Early (John Carroll Lynch) is being opened up to opportunity and understanding.

 

How do you see this movie dealing with trans representation – especially in Hollywood?

The idea of focus on this issue and the controversy of this movie is just the beginning. How people respond to it another piece of the puzzle. When our stories are told, they will change perception. It’s happening right now, and places like LA and New York City are at the forefront of changing that perception. It’s an ongoing battle, but as long as complex stories like this are brought to the mainstream, we can influence and shift society. I feel like we’re in a revolution right now, don’t you? This is how society is remade, and we shift to live in a better world.

 

Anything you’d like to add?

I would say this, I have been a very fortunate first-time filmmaker. I worked with a cast that came into this with an open heart and desire to be part of the change. The same goes for the entire crew. The movie has a lot to say about love in a unique way. The setup of the movie may seem standard, but it seeps into people, and I don’t think they will be disappointed.

 

‘Anything’ opened across the U.S. in the middle of May.

DRENCH Pool Party

GAGA and #IAmMidtown present Drench (rescheduled from May 20th) – the W Downtown pool party with a purpose on June 24, 1-6 pm. Drinks specials and DJ sets by Neon the GlowGoBear and Ron Pullman – become a GAGA member and get free access at gagapac.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shine: Joining Hearts 31

The main event of the summer returns on July 21 to the Aquatic Center in the middle of Piedmont Park. Three levels of partying, and DJ sets by Mike Pope and GSP. Tickets and info at joininghearts.org.

 

 

Drag Queen Story Time

Join HRC Atlanta, For the Kid in All of Us, PFLAG Atlanta, and Edie Cheezburger at the Out Front Theatre Company on June 23 at 10 am for a delightful and fun reading of “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo.” Tickets at hrcatlanta.com.

 

 

 

 

Pentatonix

America’s premier acapella group will be performing at the beautiful Chastain Park Amphitheatre on July 31.

 

 

 

 

Once Upon A Drag – Drag Queen Bingo

The next PALS Atlanta Drag Queen Bingo at LIPS Atlanta has gone DISNEY! Our favorite Fairy Godmother, Bubba D. Licious, hosts a fun and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious night on June 12. Tickets a palsatlanta.org.

 

 

 

 

Peach Party Atlanta

Three days on June 15-17 with parties all over Atlanta including the Heretic, Midtown Tavern, XION, and the new District. Tickets at universe.com.

 

 

 

11th Annual Wacky Hat Party

For the Kid In All Of Us asks you to don your craziest hat and finest outfit for a night of fun and fundraising on June 16. Party and give back in style at the Piedmont Park Aquatic Center! More info at forthekid.org.

 

 

Atlanta Pride Presents Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro

As part of the Atlanta Pride’s annual Stonewall Celebrations, Wanda Sykes and Tig Notaro perform at the Fox on June 20 with their stand-up shows. Tickets at foxtheatre.org.

 

The White Party Benefiting CHRIS 180

Wear your whitest whites on June 9 for the annual White Party benefiting CHRIS 180’s LGBTQ+ Youth programs. The cocktail party takes place at the gorgeous Mason Fine Art – more info at whitepartyatlanta.org.

31st Annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction

The HRC Atlanta’s Gala Dinner & Auction is one of the largest fundraisers in the country for the Human Rights Campaign. The black-tie event on Saturday, May 5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta includes a live and silent auction and dinner. It is a celebration of excellence in the LGBTQ movement and of the successes in the pursuit of equality while putting a focus on the fight ahead. More info and tickets on hrcatlanta.com.

 

Shaky Knees & Shaky Beats Festival 2018

Get ready for two consecutive weekends of bigger and better music lineups at the new Central Park location. Shaky Knees on May 4-6 will feature a 50+ band lineup including Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and The National, and Shaky Beats on May 11-23 highlights some the best EDM acts out there like Kygo, Zedd, and Marshmello. Check out the extensive schedule, and get your passes at shakykneesfestival.com and shakybeatsfestival.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Todrick Hall American: The Forbidden Tour

The singer, songwriter, dancer, Broadway actor, and multi-talent, Todrick Hall, is visiting Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on May 6 with his Forbidden Tour. The show will feature a brand new storyline with all-new songs, extravagant costumes, and over the top production and choreography. Tickets at foxtheatre.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Service with Vicki Powell, Brian Rojas & Chelsea Starr

The second installment of the popular Sunday Service on Sunday May 13 will feature DJs Vicki Powell, Brian Rojas, and Chelsea Starr that will spin a beat to make your mama proud and dance the night away on the eve of Mother’s Day.

 

Deep South presents Jasmine Infiniti

DJ Jasmine Infiniti – also known as The Queen of Hell – will play at the Music Room on May 19 for another edition of Deep South. The New York Native blends dark and industrial sounds with break beats to create a unique and highly danceable soundscape. Opening sets by Robert Ansley (Deep South/Cardio) and Beyun (Afro Acid).

 

 

The Championship Tour with Kendrick Lamar

The first rap artist to ever win a Pulitzer, Kendrick Lamar, is coming to the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood on May 25 with his Championship Tour along with the whole TDE crew including SZA, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Lance Skiiiwalker, Sir, and Jay Rock.

 

 

 

 

Hamilton at the Fox

The Broadway mega sensation is coming to the Fox Theatre on May 22-June 10. The story of America’s Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton, features an award-winning score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway. More info and tickets (if they’re not sold out!) at foxtheatre.org.

By Paul Hutnik

Photo by Dima Bocharov

 

 

Russian Artist and Producer Alexander Abramov, Widely Known on Instagram as Abramov Lex, Releases First Two Volumes of a Five-Part Series of Revealing Art Photography Books.

 

Abramov Lex bares all in “Uncovered,” his coming of age story about a man who isn’t afraid to speak his truth, follow through with his vision and be exposed, both body and soul. The five-part series of art books tells the story of Alexander Abramov. The Russian artist and producer portrays different characters in unique worlds full of action and emotion. Through images and notes from his personal diary, Alexander explains to the world who he really is. “I started keeping journals 18 years ago. My diary is about awareness of my homosexuality, about my experiences and explorations of the world: first feelings, first love, first sexual encounter. It is also about human imperfection and struggle, drugs and fears, scars and past troubles. On the whole, it tells of becoming the man I have wanted to be: a man who is able to inspire others to makes changes for the better.”

 

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In “Uncovered,” Alexander depicts five characters: a Wrangler, a Mercenary, a Woodsman, a Journeyman, and a Seafarer. He posed for more than 5000 pictures at multiple locations with celebrated Russian photographer Dima Bocharov. “I knew it would be a long process, but as a person who has never been a professional model and also never published a book before, I had no idea it would be this challenging.” “Uncovered” Vol.1 Wrangler and Vol. 2 Mercenary are available for pre-order on his website, www.abramovlex.com.

 

As a gay man who was born in the Republic of Kazakhstan and lived his young adult life in Russia, Alexander Abramov knows from experience the horrible situation with gay rights in these countries. For this reason, he is donating 10% of proceeds to the Russian LGBT Network, to help protect the gay youth of his native countries. The Russian LGBT Network is an interregional, non-governmental human rights organization that promotes equal rights and respect for human dignity, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

 

Alexander developed the idea for “Uncovered” three years ago when he first moved to New York City from Moscow. He had three motivations: the first was his love and passion for photography. The second was his desire to share stories from his life that he thought a lot of people, especially the LGBTQ community, might identify with and would find interesting and inspiring. Lastly, he wanted to create; something he has loved to do his entire life. “I’m a man who is not afraid to open his soul,” he says. “Аfter all, I always remember, life only gets better when we are able to be honest, and when we are willing to give something to others, especially our spirits.”

 

Revealing his body for the book wasn’t as easy.  “I grew up a very sick child,” he reflects. “I had problems with my lungs, and at the age of 13, I underwent a serious operation on my intestines, which left me hospitalized for four months and put an end to my normal existence as a man. I was tall, 6’2, but very skinny, probably around 130 pounds.”

 

It wasn’t until Alexander was 20 that he started to think about going to the gym. It took over ten years to get to his current weight of 230 pounds. He is finally at a point where he feels confident with his body. Still, posing for nude photos was something he had never done before.  Alexander was careful and selective about using his nudity in a tasteful way.  “Because I have known Dima for many years and he and I have done many photo projects together, it was not hard for me to take my clothes off. What was hard was to be naturally sexy, appear relaxed and to not pose too much. Of course, it is very difficult to surprise people in the age of universal exhibitionism, but these nude images that we captured definitely deserve some attention.”

 

Taking clippers to his head for the second book, “Mercenary,” also required courage but he did it for the sake of the story. “I hope these beautiful images will resonate and inspire people to be the best versions of themselves, inside and out, as well as inspire them to travel to gorgeous places and live outside of their comfort zones.”

 

Alexander Abramov began his career in the media business as an assistant in a PR agency specializing in corporative events in his hometown of Karaganda, which is in Central Kazakhstan. After he moved to Moscow, he got a job at a magazine as a producer of photo projects. While there, he dabbled in fashion, creating a few collections that appeared on the runways of the Russian Fashion Week. Russia, however, experienced a financial crisis and Abramov was forced to leave fashion for a more lucrative career back in PR, again as a photo producer. It eventually led to an opportunity in TV where Alexander Abramov became an executive producer of a makeover reality show on one of the biggest entertainment TV channels in Russia. He remained in TV for five years until he decided to move to the USA.

 

“It’s been a long, winding road to where I am now but all of my past experiences in magazines, fashion and TV have contributed enormously to the making of this series. They are all part of the fabric of the man that I’m excited to reveal in ‘Uncovered’”.

 


Learn more at abramovlex.com and dmitrybocharov.com – and follow Abramo on IG @abramov_lex.

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

Karamo Brown’s TV career launched suddenly and in full force in 2004 on The Real World as the first African-American out gay man on the show. Or on TV in general. Now, he is back on TV as the charismatic leader of a super-powered pack of gays on the reboot of Queer Eye which launched early February on Netflix. Goliath got a chance to talk to Karamo about his journey to become the man he is today – and how QE is shaping up to be a voice of reason in our time.

 

When Karamo Brown participated in The Real World in 2004, he didn’t expect the rollercoaster ride that was set off by him being the first out gay African-American on the show. Although he experienced immense support, he also let the sudden rise to celebrity get the best of him, so when the show stopped airing, he started partying like the best of them, and pretty soon his phone stopped ringing – because who would want to work with talent that had clearly lost his way? Now, Karamo is back on TV with the reboot of Queer Eye and is part of the new Fab Five; and after over a decade away from television, perspectives have indeed changed for Karamo. “This time, I have a clear purpose, and a vision of what I want to do,” he explains,”and I know that show business has two components – show and business. Last time, I forgot about the business and was all about the show. That’s certainly different now.”

 

After auditioning alongside more than 10,000 candidates across the world, and after making it to the final top 100, Karamo was locked down with the other candidates for the equivalent of speed dating, so producers could determine what cast would work best together off and on screen. Karamo instantly became friends with Tan (fashion) and Bobby (design), and later they were introduced to Jonathan (grooming) and Antoni (food), and the group instinctively stayed together until they were all finally cast as the new Fab Five.

 

The show, which aired on Netflix early February, has already made plenty of waves and has received acclaim for their new take on the original concept of making over clueless straight guys (and even a gay one) in their own environment. But although the QE reboot, which has let the ‘for the straight guy’ go to be even more inclusive, follows the original’s premise, it is also wildly different. While the first version would focus almost entirely on the makeover, the new QE introduces a surprising and very honest emotional depth, not only for the ‘victims’ but also for the hosts. “I have participated in reality TV before, so I really wanted to put that emotional depth forward in the show”, Karamo explains, “I had conversations with myself, with the guys, and with the producers to make sure that when we approach our heroes we not only fix the outside, but we also give them the tools to fix the inside. We all wanted it to be as authentic and emotional as possible, not only for the heroes but also for us. It was important to all of us to build that deeper connection.”

 

The result is a reality TV show that boldly and quite surprisingly takes on issues like homophobia, religion, politics, racial tensions, and even police brutality; and does so in an honest and deeply emotional way that not only displays the feelings of the makeover victims but also lays bare the experiences of the hosts whose personal stories of religious upbringing, rigid family structures, and racial disparities serve not only as moments of personal growth but as learning lessons of perspective to the people that receive the makeover – and to the world.

 

One episode particularly displays the innate strength and transformative power of the show: The fab five are pulled over by a police officer as a prank on their way to see their next makeover guy. For Karamo, the incident takes on a highly personal and intimidating aspect that happens to spark a much broader conversation about race and police brutality in today’s America. The outcome is an incredibly touching moment between the two where mutual understanding and respect is suddenly the standard and not the exception for their interaction, and it even seems to create a possible pathway to a common ground. Who would have thought that of a makeover reality TV show? “Every week, we receive a piece of paper with an overview of the person’s background, and that’s it,” Karamo tells us, “so, we have to figure it out organically, and luckily, we were able to connect with all of them, so it happened very organically, and we could get to what was really going on.”

 

That connection and the ability to get to the root cause of things is also what will undoubtedly determine the legacy of the new QE. Tan (fashion) mentions in the first episode that the first version was about tolerance, about getting gays on TV, and now it’s about acceptance and tolerance. Karamo hopes that the show’s legacy will be about respect: “At the end of the day, you must respect your fellow man and woman. I get messages from people that are very right-wing telling me how impressed they are, and how they feel that the show is helping them have a better conversation.”

 

Karamo is also hoping that the same respectful conversation can be transferred to the current debate on gun control measures. As a former student of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Karamo was devastated to see the school where he attended 10-12 grade and graduated from was the scene of another horrific mass shooting. “I had my high school reunion there, and to see the hallways and school grounds where I used to roam now being a place where kids were in harm’s way is heartbreaking,” Karamo says and continues, “As a father of two boys, I can’t accept a world where schools have become war zones and need metal detectors. But I also think the conversation starts somewhere else.” Much like his own experience of being able to bridge a seemingly abysmal gap between people, Karamo thinks the solution is starting a sensible conversation that focuses on understanding both sides instead of just yelling your standpoints. As he says: “We need to wake our asses up. This is the point where we ask to see the manager and bring them in the room to have a face-to-face, and we hear both sides of the table. We’re the adults here.”

 

There is no doubt, with the overwhelmingly positive reception of Queer Eye, that the show is well on its way to garnering the same lasting impact as the original. And it is also clear that the impact could have a far wider reach than the original. Karamo hopes that there are at least three to four more seasons of QE in the future – and then he has his eyes set on getting a daytime talk show! “I think there is a spot for a gay black man in daytime TV right now – and I’d like to be the one to fill that,” he muses – and we would definitely be here for Karamo putting his makeover superpowers to work on daytime television as well!

 

 

Karamo’s 6in10.org nonprofit organization

Karamo is the founder of 6in10.org, an HIV awareness organization with a dedicated mission to eradicate the 6 in 10 HIV statistic plaguing gay and bisexual black men; a statistic that has sadly only worsened over the past years which now means that 1 in 2 gay or bisexual black men will be affected by HIV before 40. The organization provides tailored mental health support through viral campaigns and community engagement. Learn more at 6in10.org.

By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

 

Photos: PR

Source: Out.com

 

Whether it’s because gay filmmaking has gone ’mainstream’ or because the quality of queer cinema is advancing gay films without being labeled as ‘different’ is hard to say. One thing is certain: some of the best films of 2017 were indeed gay-themed.

 

While not receiving the most media attention, these movie picks pioneered in each their own way to cast light on the gay experience in a completely non-condescending way. So, when you celebrate love this Valentine’s Day (or on any other given day!), and if you missed these in 2017, why not put on one of these picks on? Each of these superb films will no doubt provide you with the opportunity to learn a little bit more about yourself – and maybe about each other?

 

Dream Boat

The documentary about a gay pleasure cruise is a sensitive and surprisingly revelatory reflection on the gay male that discloses the innermost feelings and desires of its subjects. Abs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ornithologist

Paul Hamy plays a scientist who embarks on a journey through a wilderness that turns surreal and metaphorical of his own erotic exploration and religious revelation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom of Finland

The biopic about the gay erotica icon (played by Pekka Strang) tells the story of how Touko returns from war only to find himself struggling with his sexuality. Once stateside he realizes his sexual desire through his now iconic artwork.

 

BPM

The movie takes you on an emotional journey through the time of AIDS activism in ‘80s Paris. Both tragic and euphoric it displays fears, emotions, and politics at a particularly fragile time in gay history.

 

 

My Life as a Zucchini

The story of a boy’s self-awareness and innocence when it comes to being gay is the foundation for this wonderful animated film that is simply a must-see whether you like animation or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Assignment

Michelle Rodriquez shines as the hit-woman formerly known as hit-man after a crazy scientist performs gender reassignment surgery on her. A thrill ride that also explores gender controversy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris: 05:59: Theo & Hugo

A love story set in the PreP-era with a renewed consciousness and new take on emotional intimacy wonderfully portrayed by the two main characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Own Country

A Yorkshire shepherd is on a destructive path until a Romanian immigrant enters his life to set him on a new path, but not without twists and turns.

 

A Quiet Passion

This sexually discreet biography of poet Emily Dickinson played by Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) connects to director Terence Davies’ own spirituality of his gay experience.

 

Staying Vertical

A casual fling, an unexpected pregnancy, and child challenge a gay man and the society around him to revise desires and wishes for the future intermixed with sexual identity.

ON THE ATL AGENDA

 

More to Love

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, More to Love kicks off the day of hearts with their Dangerous Liaison event on February 9 at Amsterdam Atlanta. The event will celebrate love in all shapes and forms and while raising funds for Lost-n-Found Youth. With a Marie Antoinette theme, the night will bring you a riveting performance by Penni Posterior and beats by DJ Chris Gris.

 

Love on the Rocks

The Wimbish House on Peachtree will host the annual Love on the Rocks Valentine’s cocktail party on February 18 that raises funds for Joining Hearts. Your $45 admission gets you specialty Tito’s cocktails, delicious bites and dessert by Sun in My Belly, and a special performance by Atlanta’s own Peaches.

joininghearts.org

 

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Share the love and discover how dance reveals our deepest humanity and capacity to endure. The Ailey company returns to the Fox Theatre for one week only February 14-18 with a selection of their most inspiring pieces.

 

 

 

 

Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet

Multiple Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and world-renowned singer, Diana Krall will return to Atlanta Symphony Hall on Friday, February 9 for her “Turn Up The Quiet World Tour.”

 

 

 

Deep South Presents Horse Meat Disco

For the first time in Atlanta Vicki Powell and Deep South present London-based Horse Meat Disco on February 17 at the Heretic. The popular disco party has revived the carefree music style and brought it back to the dancefloors all over the world.

 

 

 

Steamlounge Oysterfest

The corner of Peachtree and 12th Street is the new venue of this year’s Oysterfest on February 24-25 where you buy buckets of roasted or chargrilled oysters and eat away in a communal style social setting. Great fun and delicious but messy eating.

 

 

Joris Laarman’s Lab: Design In the Digital Age

On February 18 through May 13 the High Museum will feature the first museum survey for the Dutch designer, Joris Laarman, and his progressive design lab whose work redefines the boundaries between art, science, and technology. The exhibition will comprehensively explore Laarman’s creative prowess, and curiosity through a range of furniture designs applied projects and experiments that blend emerging technologies with skilled craftsmanship.

 

 

By Gregg Shapiro

 

Gay filmmaker Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, and others) daringly and successfully enters new and exhilarating territory with his latest film Wonderstruck (Amazon Studios). Based on the book by gay young adult author and illustrator Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck tells two seemingly unrelated stories, fifty years apart. One, shot in black and white and set in 1927, is about Rose (Millicent Simmonds), a young, deaf girl obsessed with silent movies (and one actress in particular), whose world is about to change dramatically with the birth of the talkies. The other story, shot in color and set in 1977, deals with Ben. Following the sudden death of his single mom, Ben embarks on a journey to New York where he attempts to track down the father he never met. I spoke with Haynes in October of 2017.

 

Gregg Shapiro: Todd, if you don’t mind, I’d like to begin with the most obvious question. What was it about writer/illustrator Brian Selznick’s young adult novel Wonderstruck that made you want to adapt it as a movie?

Todd Haynes: I didn’t read the book first, I read the script. The script had already made a major move towards cinema. It demonstrated somebody bitten by the bug of how to really evoke, use and consider all the components of movies in the storytelling through cinematic language. Cinematic language without words that goes beyond words. It’s not a story that’s driven by dialogue. He already was considering sound and the edit and all the things at the sinew of cinema storytelling. That was infectious. Maybe other directors would be like, “That’s my job! Back off, dude!” I was thrilled by that.

 

GS: Do you think it was because it was his own book that he adapted that he could see it cinematically?

TH: John Logan, the screenwriter from Hugo (Martin Scorcese’s 2011 screen adaptation of Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret), had said to him to enter the process and not to show it to anyone until he felt like he’d gone deep into that process, of thinking about it as a film. He did that! It’s not just bringing his drawings to life. It’s something very much about cinema. Cinema is in the content; it’s not just in the form. The little girl is a lover of movies and a follower of this actress. We don’t know all the reasons why. Also, what the change from silent pictures to sound indicates for this deaf child is an observation of profound magnitude.

 

GS: That comes across in the powerful scene when Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is leaving the theater, and she sees the signs about the renovation and the arrival of talkies.

TH: And it’s really powerful for deaf audiences.

 

GS: W.C. Fields had a famous quote about never working with children or animals. What can you say about your experience of working with children?

TH: Everything that one says about children in this film has to be contextualized because the children are always changing as they grow up and different ages of childhood are so different. The age of 12, which all three kids are scripted to be around, is its own kind of child. A level of sophistication, wisdom, and knowledge about the world that has not yet been contaminated by the hormonal explosion. Right? That renders a kind of wisdom and depth and clarity, I think, that we may never match in life. I found this age to be an exception in almost every way, or at least in heightened moments. Almost parallel to how I felt about cinema in the moment before sound comes in. Reaching a level of sophistication and new ideas and innovations that was remarkable. It’s like what happens with kids right before puberty. It’s a unique moment. These two ideas join in this film. The actors that I cast demonstrated that to me in many ways.

 

GS: How much time would you say that you spent in museums as a child?

TH: I spent a lot of time in museums. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I spent more time in art museums than in museums of science. I didn’t have the Museum of Natural History as a location in my childhood the way these kids do in Wonderstruck and the way that many of the people with whom I worked on Wonderstruck did. Brian Selznick lived in New Jersey and would visit New York and go to the museum. Mark Friedman, my production designer, spent countless hours at that museum. In fact, both Oakes (Fegley, who plays Ben), who is from outside Philly, and Jaden (Michael, who plays Jamie), who is a New York City kid, spent a lot of time at the museum when they were kids.

 

GS: Wonderstruck is your first PG-rated movie, as well as being based on a novel with a young adult readership, which means that, as a filmmaker, you are going to be reaching a whole new generation of moviegoers. What does that mean to you?

TH: It means everything to me. That’s why I made the film. I wanted this to be a special gift to kids today, and be a film that embraced kids making things with their hands, building little buildings. Ideally, kids getting off their phones and doing things that we all did as kids, that I think kids still do. Having glue and tape, and marker stains on their fingers, and wanting to make things. In the stories of both kids, those creative practices and hobbies and interests are the very things that take them through life and let them figure out who they are and get to where they need to be. That’s absolutely true of the Rose story, where we see the before and after. One suspects that Ben is going to be just fine, given his curiosity and interest in doing things creatively.

 

GS: With the exception of Safe, your feature films have all been set in time periods of the past. Can you please say something about your interest in bringing the past to the screen?

TH: I think the past, at a really selfish level, demands of me to continue to be a student of history and cinema and to continue to learn. One could apply those same interests and drives to contemporary stories, but I think I feel like I get to time-travel myself in making these movies. To feel like I have touched something tactile about the eras in which I have made films. I also think it sets up a frame for the audience to think about their own lives and their present lives in relation to the past. All films have frames around them, but some of them are made explicit. I think a period film makes that explicit. A question that the film is asking you.

 

GS: You once again worked with Julianne Moore on Wonderstruck. What makes your working relationship special?

TH: Our working relationship is special not because she only does her best work with me. Speaking for myself, I appreciate her remarkable talents, from film to film to film, whether I’ve made them or not. I’m so continually bowled over by how well she knows the medium of film. How risky she remains as an actor. How unobsequious she is with the audience. She doesn’t need to be liked to feel induced to do a project. That’s not what motivates her; a kind of affection for the character or to make an audience melt by her charms. She’s interested in something else, and it’s riskier and continually intellectually challenging. She’s an insanely brilliant person. I think a lot of this happens at her core, in some weird chemistry that she has with the medium of film.

 

GS: Wonderstruck has already won one award – the ICS Cannes Award for best director. What would it mean to you if it won a Best Picture Oscar?

TH: It’s hard for me to think about things like that. It ultimately gets in the way of why I make movies and how the movies are valued over time. I’ve been very lucky to feel like my films retain interest for people well beyond the years of the awards season. We all talk about it; we’re all aware of it. We do campaigns for our movies with those goals in mind. But there’s a part of me that needs to try as much as possible not to think about it. I have too many other things to do to talk about the movie, so I don’t fixate on stuff like that.

 

The Wonder of it all: an interview with Todd Haynes

By Gregg Shapiro

 

Gay filmmaker Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, and others) daringly and successfully enters new and exhilarating territory with his latest film Wonderstruck (Amazon Studios). Based on the book by gay young adult author and illustrator Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck tells two seemingly unrelated stories, fifty years apart. One, shot in black and white and set in 1927, is about Rose (Millicent Simmonds), a young, deaf girl obsessed with silent movies (and one actress in particular), whose world is about to change dramatically with the birth of the talkies. The other story, shot in color and set in 1977, deals with Ben. Following the sudden death of his single mom, Ben embarks on a journey to New York where he attempts to track down the father he never met. I spoke with Haynes in October of 2017.

 

Gregg Shapiro: Todd, if you don’t mind, I’d like to begin with the most obvious question. What was it about writer/illustrator Brian Selznick’s young adult novel Wonderstruck that made you want to adapt it as a movie?

Todd Haynes: I didn’t read the book first, I read the script. The script had already made a major move towards cinema. It demonstrated somebody bitten by the bug of how to really evoke, use and consider all the components of movies in the storytelling through cinematic language. Cinematic language without words that goes beyond words. It’s not a story that’s driven by dialogue. He already was considering sound and the edit and all the things at the sinew of cinema storytelling. That was infectious. Maybe other directors would be like, “That’s my job! Back off, dude!” I was thrilled by that.

 

GS: Do you think it was because it was his own book that he adapted that he could see it cinematically?

TH: John Logan, the screenwriter from Hugo (Martin Scorcese’s 2011 screen adaptation of Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret), had said to him to enter the process and not to show it to anyone until he felt like he’d gone deep into that process, of thinking about it as a film. He did that! It’s not just bringing his drawings to life. It’s something very much about cinema. Cinema is in the content; it’s not just in the form. The little girl is a lover of movies and a follower of this actress. We don’t know all the reasons why. Also, what the change from silent pictures to sound indicates for this deaf child is an observation of profound magnitude.

 

GS: That comes across in the powerful scene when Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is leaving the theater, and she sees the signs about the renovation and the arrival of talkies.

TH: And it’s really powerful for deaf audiences.

 

GS: W.C. Fields had a famous quote about never working with children or animals. What can you say about your experience of working with children?

TH: Everything that one says about children in this film has to be contextualized because the children are always changing as they grow up and different ages of childhood are so different. The age of 12, which all three kids are scripted to be around, is its own kind of child. A level of sophistication, wisdom, and knowledge about the world that has not yet been contaminated by the hormonal explosion. Right? That renders a kind of wisdom and depth and clarity, I think, that we may never match in life. I found this age to be an exception in almost every way, or at least in heightened moments. Almost parallel to how I felt about cinema in the moment before sound comes in. Reaching a level of sophistication and new ideas and innovations that was remarkable. It’s like what happens with kids right before puberty. It’s a unique moment. These two ideas join in this film. The actors that I cast demonstrated that to me in many ways.

 

GS: How much time would you say that you spent in museums as a child?

TH: I spent a lot of time in museums. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I spent more time in art museums than in museums of science. I didn’t have the Museum of Natural History as a location in my childhood the way these kids do in Wonderstruck and the way that many of the people with whom I worked on Wonderstruck did. Brian Selznick lived in New Jersey and would visit New York and go to the museum. Mark Friedman, my production designer, spent countless hours at that museum. In fact, both Oakes (Fegley, who plays Ben), who is from outside Philly, and Jaden (Michael, who plays Jamie), who is a New York City kid, spent a lot of time at the museum when they were kids.

 

GS: Wonderstruck is your first PG-rated movie, as well as being based on a novel with a young adult readership, which means that, as a filmmaker, you are going to be reaching a whole new generation of moviegoers. What does that mean to you?

TH: It means everything to me. That’s why I made the film. I wanted this to be a special gift to kids today, and be a film that embraced kids making things with their hands, building little buildings. Ideally, kids getting off their phones and doing things that we all did as kids, that I think kids still do. Having glue and tape, and marker stains on their fingers, and wanting to make things. In the stories of both kids, those creative practices and hobbies and interests are the very things that take them through life and let them figure out who they are and get to where they need to be. That’s absolutely true of the Rose story, where we see the before and after. One suspects that Ben is going to be just fine, given his curiosity and interest in doing things creatively.

 

GS: With the exception of Safe, your feature films have all been set in time periods of the past. Can you please say something about your interest in bringing the past to the screen?

TH: I think the past, at a really selfish level, demands of me to continue to be a student of history and cinema and to continue to learn. One could apply those same interests and drives to contemporary stories, but I think I feel like I get to time-travel myself in making these movies. To feel like I have touched something tactile about the eras in which I have made films. I also think it sets up a frame for the audience to think about their own lives and their present lives in relation to the past. All films have frames around them, but some of them are made explicit. I think a period film makes that explicit. A question that the film is asking you.

 

GS: You once again worked with Julianne Moore on Wonderstruck. What makes your working relationship special?

TH: Our working relationship is special not because she only does her best work with me. Speaking for myself, I appreciate her remarkable talents, from film to film to film, whether I’ve made them or not. I’m so continually bowled over by how well she knows the medium of film. How risky she remains as an actor. How unobsequious she is with the audience. She doesn’t need to be liked to feel induced to do a project. That’s not what motivates her; a kind of affection for the character or to make an audience melt by her charms. She’s interested in something else, and it’s riskier and continually intellectually challenging. She’s an insanely brilliant person. I think a lot of this happens at her core, in some weird chemistry that she has with the medium of film.

 

GS: Wonderstruck has already won one award – the ICS Cannes Award for best director. What would it mean to you if it won a Best Picture Oscar?

TH: It’s hard for me to think about things like that. It ultimately gets in the way of why I make movies and how the movies are valued over time. I’ve been very lucky to feel like my films retain interest for people well beyond the years of the awards season. We all talk about it; we’re all aware of it. We do campaigns for our movies with those goals in mind. But there’s a part of me that needs to try as much as possible not to think about it. I have too many other things to do to talk about the movie, so I don’t fixate on stuff like that.

 

The Wonder of it all: an interview with Todd Haynes

By Gregg Shapiro

 

Gay filmmaker Todd Haynes (Carol, Far from Heaven, and others) daringly and successfully enters new and exhilarating territory with his latest film Wonderstruck (Amazon Studios). Based on the book by gay young adult author and illustrator Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck tells two seemingly unrelated stories, fifty years apart. One, shot in black and white and set in 1927, is about Rose (Millicent Simmonds), a young, deaf girl obsessed with silent movies (and one actress in particular), whose world is about to change dramatically with the birth of the talkies. The other story, shot in color and set in 1977, deals with Ben. Following the sudden death of his single mom, Ben embarks on a journey to New York where he attempts to track down the father he never met. I spoke with Haynes in October of 2017.

 

Gregg Shapiro: Todd, if you don’t mind, I’d like to begin with the most obvious question. What was it about writer/illustrator Brian Selznick’s young adult novel Wonderstruck that made you want to adapt it as a movie?

Todd Haynes: I didn’t read the book first, I read the script. The script had already made a major move towards cinema. It demonstrated somebody bitten by the bug of how to really evoke, use and consider all the components of movies in the storytelling through cinematic language. Cinematic language without words that goes beyond words. It’s not a story that’s driven by dialogue. He already was considering sound and the edit and all the things at the sinew of cinema storytelling. That was infectious. Maybe other directors would be like, “That’s my job! Back off, dude!” I was thrilled by that.

 

GS: Do you think it was because it was his own book that he adapted that he could see it cinematically?

TH: John Logan, the screenwriter from Hugo (Martin Scorcese’s 2011 screen adaptation of Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret), had said to him to enter the process and not to show it to anyone until he felt like he’d gone deep into that process, of thinking about it as a film. He did that! It’s not just bringing his drawings to life. It’s something very much about cinema. Cinema is in the content; it’s not just in the form. The little girl is a lover of movies and a follower of this actress. We don’t know all the reasons why. Also, what the change from silent pictures to sound indicates for this deaf child is an observation of profound magnitude.

 

GS: That comes across in the powerful scene when Rose (Millicent Simmonds) is leaving the theater, and she sees the signs about the renovation and the arrival of talkies.

TH: And it’s really powerful for deaf audiences.

 

GS: W.C. Fields had a famous quote about never working with children or animals. What can you say about your experience of working with children?

TH: Everything that one says about children in this film has to be contextualized because the children are always changing as they grow up and different ages of childhood are so different. The age of 12, which all three kids are scripted to be around, is its own kind of child. A level of sophistication, wisdom, and knowledge about the world that has not yet been contaminated by the hormonal explosion. Right? That renders a kind of wisdom and depth and clarity, I think, that we may never match in life. I found this age to be an exception in almost every way, or at least in heightened moments. Almost parallel to how I felt about cinema in the moment before sound comes in. Reaching a level of sophistication and new ideas and innovations that was remarkable. It’s like what happens with kids right before puberty. It’s a unique moment. These two ideas join in this film. The actors that I cast demonstrated that to me in many ways.

 

GS: How much time would you say that you spent in museums as a child?

TH: I spent a lot of time in museums. I grew up in Los Angeles, so I spent more time in art museums than in museums of science. I didn’t have the Museum of Natural History as a location in my childhood the way these kids do in Wonderstruck and the way that many of the people with whom I worked on Wonderstruck did. Brian Selznick lived in New Jersey and would visit New York and go to the museum. Mark Friedman, my production designer, spent countless hours at that museum. In fact, both Oakes (Fegley, who plays Ben), who is from outside Philly, and Jaden (Michael, who plays Jamie), who is a New York City kid, spent a lot of time at the museum when they were kids.

 

GS: Wonderstruck is your first PG-rated movie, as well as being based on a novel with a young adult readership, which means that, as a filmmaker, you are going to be reaching a whole new generation of moviegoers. What does that mean to you?

TH: It means everything to me. That’s why I made the film. I wanted this to be a special gift to kids today, and be a film that embraced kids making things with their hands, building little buildings. Ideally, kids getting off their phones and doing things that we all did as kids, that I think kids still do. Having glue and tape, and marker stains on their fingers, and wanting to make things. In the stories of both kids, those creative practices and hobbies and interests are the very things that take them through life and let them figure out who they are and get to where they need to be. That’s absolutely true of the Rose story, where we see the before and after. One suspects that Ben is going to be just fine, given his curiosity and interest in doing things creatively.

 

GS: With the exception of Safe, your feature films have all been set in time periods of the past. Can you please say something about your interest in bringing the past to the screen?

TH: I think the past, at a really selfish level, demands of me to continue to be a student of history and cinema and to continue to learn. One could apply those same interests and drives to contemporary stories, but I think I feel like I get to time-travel myself in making these movies. To feel like I have touched something tactile about the eras in which I have made films. I also think it sets up a frame for the audience to think about their own lives and their present lives in relation to the past. All films have frames around them, but some of them are made explicit. I think a period film makes that explicit. A question that the film is asking you.

 

GS: You once again worked with Julianne Moore on Wonderstruck. What makes your working relationship special?

TH: Our working relationship is special not because she only does her best work with me. Speaking for myself, I appreciate her remarkable talents, from film to film to film, whether I’ve made them or not. I’m so continually bowled over by how well she knows the medium of film. How risky she remains as an actor. How unobsequious she is with the audience. She doesn’t need to be liked to feel induced to do a project. That’s not what motivates her; a kind of affection for the character or to make an audience melt by her charms. She’s interested in something else, and it’s riskier and continually intellectually challenging. She’s an insanely brilliant person. I think a lot of this happens at her core, in some weird chemistry that she has with the medium of film.

 

GS: Wonderstruck has already won one award – the ICS Cannes Award for best director. What would it mean to you if it won a Best Picture Oscar?

TH: It’s hard for me to think about things like that. It ultimately gets in the way of why I make movies and how the movies are valued over time. I’ve been very lucky to feel like my films retain interest for people well beyond the years of the awards season. We all talk about it; we’re all aware of it. We do campaigns for our movies with those goals in mind. But there’s a part of me that needs to try as much as possible not to think about it. I have too many other things to do to talk about the movie, so I don’t fixate on stuff like that.

 

 

By Gregg Shapiro

 

Few gifts are as reliable as books, especially during the holiday season. The following recommended titles are by LGBTQ authors in the fiction, poetry and non-fiction genres.

 

For Music Lovers

 

Almost everything you need to know about Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out (Backbeat Books, 2017) by Martin Aston can be found in the title, as the author traces “the sound of lavender” from the 1920s to the 21st century, and includes a multitude of black & white and color photos.

 

The second such comprehensive history of LGBTQ music to be published stateside this year is Darryl Bullock’s, David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music (Overlook, 2017), which begins with the tragic losses of talent in 2016 (including those who died at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando), and then ventures back to New Orleans in the nineteen-teens before spinning forward, like a record, to the present day.

 

Award-winning, Grammy-nominated, Guggenheim fellow and composer/pianist/activist/ educator Fred Hersch has many notable achievements to his name, not the least of which is being an openly gay, HIV+ man in the world of jazz. He writes all about it in his memoir Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz (Crown Archetype, 2017).

 

 

 

For Memoir Lovers

 

Bill Hayes’ breathtaking Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and Me (Bloomsbury, 2017), interweaves essays with journal entries, photos, and poetry, to tell the story of the writer’s romantic relationship with the late writer and scientist Oliver Sacks. Speaking of Oliver Sacks, his just-published 10-essay collection The River of Consciousness (Knopf, 2017) is one of two books he was working on at the time of death in 2015.

 

Logical Family: A Memoir (Harper, 2017), the long-awaited memoir by Armistead Maupin, the beloved author of the Tales of the City series, is a revealing chronicle of the gay writer’s journey from the deep South to Vietnam to San Francisco.

 

The unpublished manuscript that became Arch Brown’s A Pornographer: A Memoir (Chelsea Station Editions, 2017) was discovered in 2012 following Brown’s passing, and recounts his interviews and interactions with the actors in the audition process for his erotic films.

 

With the controversial proposed ban on transgender personnel serving in the military on everyone’s mind at the time of this writing, Tell: Love, Defiance and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights (ForeEdge, 2017) by Major Margaret Witt with Tim Connor takes readers back to the 1993 passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and its 2011 repeal.

 

For Poetry Lovers

 

Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (FSG, 2017) compiles the work of lauded gay poet Frank Bidart in one stunning setting, including the new collection Thirst, featuring outstanding poems such as “Ellen West”, “Herbert White”, “In Memory of Joe Brainerd”, “The Second Hour of the Night” and “For the AIDS Dead”.

 

Things are lost (weight, memories, causes) and found (a drag queen, and birds, lots of birds) in award-winning lesbian poet Cheryl Dumesnil’s lustrous poems in Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016).

 

Prolific, young, queer Native American poet Tommy Pico’s first poetry collection IRL was published in 2016. Nature Poem (Tin House, 2017) Pico’s second, book-length epic poem merges poetic and texting language for an unforgettable read.

 

 

 

 

For Fiction Lovers

 

It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll never read anything quite like St Sukie de la Croix’s slim, sexy, shocking and sparkly new novel The Blue Spong and the Flight from Mediocrity (Lethe Press, 2017), even if you are familiar with his historical writing, including 2012’s critically acclaimed Chicago Whispers or his humor/commentary columns in sundry LGBTQ outlets.

 

In Marriage of a Thousand Lies (Soho, 2017), the dazzling debut novel by SJ Sindu, we meet Lucky and Krishna, a married Sri Lankan-American couple who are, in reality, actually a lesbian and a gay man. The pair’s sham marriage is threatened when Lucky reconnects with her first lover Nisha, who is preparing to enter an arranged marriage.

 

There’s no shortage of the titular characters to be found in Difficult Women (Grove Press, 2017), the short story collection by award-winning bisexual Haitian-American novelist/essayist/memoirist Roxane Gay.

 

Queer actor and writer Tara Jepsen’s debut novel Like a Dog (City Lights, 2017) follows 30-something skateboarder Paloma as she rolls through life in the Central Valley, looking after her opiate-addicted brother and finding meaning in stand-up comedy.

 

The follow-up to Dale Boyer’s 2016 debut novel The Dandelion Cloud, Thornton Stories (OhBoy Books), subtitled “Tales Out of School,” returns readers to the town of Thornton, Illinois through a series of interconnected tales in which the characters attempt to “make sense of loneliness and love.”

In season full of LGBT fare, venue tells true tale of gender, courage and love in its season-opening play

By Matthew Holley

Get ready, LGBT Atlanta. This month, Theatrical Outfit embraces a multifaceted, intricate journey of discovery in the Southeast premiere of Boy.

The play, a recent Off-Broadway hit by Anna Ziegler, was inspired by one man’s true story of gender reassignment that hearkens and exposes issues currently playing out on America’s public stage. The real-life journey was documented by Oprah and BBC, with further details explained in the best-selling biography, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl, by John Colapinto.

Set in the years 1968-1990, Boy begins when a celebrated doctor influences parents of a male infant to raise their son as a girl after an accident to the child’s genitals. Having his gender picked for him, years later, the penalties and harsh certainties of that choice unfold with deep consequences surrounding identity and self worth.

The play does not shy away from drama, but it’s written with humor and sweet moments as well that create an emotional roller coaster ride. The story covers big ground as the main character learns to love himself and others, all the while rediscovering who he truly is.

Boy features Tom Key, Theatrical Outfit’s Artistic Director and Clifton Guterman, its Associate Artistic Director, with direction by Melissa Foulger. It runs September 28 – October 15. In anticipation of a particularly LGBT-inclusive season at the venue, Goliath Atlanta speaks to Guterman, who takes on the starring role, about the Boy’s compelling journey.

What made you decide to take on Boy?
It’s the role of a lifetime. I followed the New York production very closely, then I got a hold of the script. We did it last January in a public reading here at the theater as part of a festival. We got a great deal of positive feedback about the script, I worked on it, I played the role in the reading.

Our artistic director was able to watch it, and together we just decided that it was something we really wanted to do at this time in 2017, with a great deal of discussion about gender identity and loving who you feel on the inside you were always meant to love, and being who you feel on the inside.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
The big question that the show asks is, Does nature or nurture determine who and how we love? Are we inherently one thing or are we shaped by our society around us? Can people really be altered into being someone else?

There’s a lot of debate about that, but the real question I think is sort of listening to our children and listening to our inner self and letting young people be who they really, really feel that they are.

Does the play ultimately explain the complex true story?
This particular case was very important in terms of its failure in a way in which they were convinced that they should raise the child as a girl. They tried for a long time, and it didn’t work out.

Now, the general practice in the medical community rarely reassigns gender to a child who’s had trauma or born intersex or damaged in some way. They wait until puberty or until the child is able to make the decision and have free will and be a part of that choice. I think the audience will identify with that.

Want To Go?
What? Boy
When? September 28 – October 15
Where? Theatrical Outfit
84 Luckie St. NW
More info: theatricaloutfit.org
Theatrical Outfit principal rocks an Atlanta stage resume all the way to an LGBT-inclusive fall season.
By Mike Fleming

Gay Atlanta theater buffs of any tenure already know the name Clifton Guterman. The Georgia-born actor and associate artistic director has seen steady work on stage and off with companies from New York City to Atlanta’s own Actor’s Express, Alliance Theatre, and now Theatrical Outfit.

After memorable roles in all those places, it’s the latter company, which has had the privilege of his know-how since 2012, that brought him to our attention yet again as the theater gears up for its fall season. Always gay-inclusive in its staffing and its productions, Theatrical Outfit redoubled its efforts to present LGBT fare as part of its 2017-2018 roster of shows.

As Associate Artistic Director, Guterman is integral to the process. With both Anna Ziegler’s Boy and Topher Payne’s Perfect Arrangement in the lineup, the 41-year-old Ormewood Park resident took some time to tell us a little about the theater, as well as a few tidbits about his personal version of living out and proud in the ATL.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in Atlanta off and on since 1994, and I’m from teeny-tiny Iron City, Georgia, population 350 (or so). I’m married to my best friend, Chad, since 2013, and we’ve been together since 2008.

Give us a brief rundown of the resume that got you to Theatrical Outfit.

I obtained a B.A. in Drama from UGA and an M.F.A. in Performing Arts from SCAD. I’ve lived in New York, traveled the country doing regional theatre, and have worked on the artistic staffs of Actor’s Express, the Alliance Theatre and now Theatrical Outfit. I’ve always had an administrative job in the arts alongside acting work, luckily. 

Tell us about your role at Theatrical Outfit.

As Associate Artistic Director, I manage our casting and work very closely with our Artistic Director, Tom Key, on season planning, literary management and community engagement. I also contribute to the marketing efforts for our programming.

What’s on tap for the fall season?

Our Season of Character is thrilling, with all shows featuring protagonists who might be labeled “other” in some way. Two plays will speak directly to the LGBTQ community and put “us” front and center. Boy, this fall, is based on a true case about a child born a boy but raised a girl after an accident, and the complexities around gender identity in adulthood that unfold. It’s tender, humorous and oh-so-timely. I’ll play the lead, and I cannot wait to share it with Atlanta.

In late winter, we’ll present beloved local playwright Topher Payne’s Arrangement, a Mad Men-era comedy about four neighbors, a gay couple and lesbian couple, who pass as each other’s spouses under the chilling glare of the Lavender Scare of 1950s Washington politics. Expect high style, gorgeous decor and costumes and cocktail party quips. And a big dose of poignant realism too!

What is it about Theatrical Outfit that makes it so special.

Entering our 41st season, we’re Atlanta’s second oldest professional theatre company. We’re nestled in the heart of downtown in the old Herren’s restaurant building – the first Atlanta restaurant to voluntarily de-segregate in 1962. Inclusion is literally in our facility’s bones.

Our contemporary bowl shaped theater is 200 seats and cozy. Our production values are top notch, and we attract and hire Atlanta’s top actors, directors and designers. We aspire to create a compassionate, joyful and just community by producing world-class theatre that starts the conversations that matter. We produce soul-stirring art that entertains and not simply entertainment. 

What other affiliations do you have outside Theatrical Outfit?

I’m an Associate Artist with Actor’s Express, serve on our local Actors’ Equity Association liaison committee, am an adjudicator for the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a Rainbros Peer Coach (and helped found its Gays for Plays). In addition to stage work, I’m also a film, TV and commercial actor represented by Atlanta’s Houghton Talent.

What do you do for fun?

Atlanta neighborhoods now have so many exciting restaurant choices. It’s hard to keep up! My husband and I love to dine casually at bars or chef’s counters because we met at one in NYC. We enjoy walking our Miniature Schnauzers, Baxter and Boris, to our very chill neighborhood dog park, and when we’re able, we escape the city and de-stress in quaint and gay-friendly Blue Ridge, Georgia.

If you were to die tomorrow, what would your legacy be?

I strive daily to make Atlanta theatre welcoming, compassionate, inclusive and celebratory. The performing arts can be so competitive, and in other cities that can breed anxiety, bitterness and, ultimately, jaded artists. It’s a business, but it’s made up of creative and brilliant souls. People first is my motto.

What else? Anything you want Gay Atlanta to know?

Atlanta’s arts scene is growing rapidly and deepening yearly. In this divisive political climate with threats to cut arts funding, non-profits need your support more than ever. Atlanta theatres need your beautiful butts in our seats. Subscribe to our full seasons. Serve on our boards. Donate to institutions whose work moves you. We come together and connect over universal truths, no matter our race, gender, sexuality, citizenship status or place of origin. And boy, do we need that unity now more than ever.

Theatrical Outfit is at 84 Luckie St NW. Visit theatricaloutfit.org

Local song and dance man Robert Ray brings it in Too Marvelous for Words
By Matthew Holley

Broadway vet and legendary Atlanta thesp Robert Ray is bringing back his critically acclaimed original show, Johnny Mercer…Too Marvelous for Words at Theatrical Outfit for two nights only this weekend.

The show follows the illustrious career of the Georgia born, award-winning composer, highlighting his greatest hits with accompanied dialogue and audience interaction. Now for those not in the know of Robert Ray, his incomparable career, or the powerful history of Johnny Mercer himself, have no fear, for Peach ATL has all the deets that every gay who’s any gay needs to attend this ‘Marvelous’ production.

Who is Robert Ray?

Ray is an experienced professional piano player, Broadway veteran, concert producer and all-around powerhouse entertainer. He is a local legend having starred in several productions on Broadway and while in New York City won awards as Best Cabaret Artist.

After a ten-year absence from the stage, he returned with critical praise in the lead role of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert at gay Atlanta theater Out Front last year. Ray was nominated by GaVoice readers as Best Actor for that tour de force performance.

But Ray’s talents far exceed the stage. He was musical director and writer for three sold-out productions of Heartstrings at The Fox Theatre, culminating in a national tour. Heartstrings helped to raise money in the fight against AIDS and support those who are affected by the disease. You may also catch him serenading patrons with his piano skills at the ever popular Campagnolo a few nights a week.

What is Johnny Mercer… Too Marvelous for Words about?

This Broadway style musical revue originally appeared at Libby’s Cabaret in 2002. Johnny Mercer was a native Georgian and accomplished singer/songwriter. Throughout his musical career, Mercer won four Academy Awards out of the impressive 18 Academy Award nominations he received for Best Song.

While some may not even know Mercer’s name, they are well aware of his music. Mercer is composer of some of his era’s most iconic classics. He helmed musical backdrop for the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was set and filmed in his hometown of Savannah. He’s responsible for songs like “Too Marvelous,” of course, and other classics like “Moon River,” a song that immortalized the historic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Too Marvelous for Words is a testament and celebration of Mercer. Ray has expertly selected two-dozen of Mercer’s best songs into an electric all-performing musical extravaganza featuring seven singers and a dynamic six-piece orchestra.

Who brings the show to life?

Too Marvelous for Words stars Ray and the cabaret’s original co-stars from 15 years ago, Marsha Dupree and Shawn Megorden, two of Atlanta’s dynamic leading ladies.

This time, Ray adds eye and ear candy for gay fans in the form of Truman Griffin, Forrest Flemming and Chris Saltalamacchio. While the original production only featured Ray and his two female counterparts, he tellsus that the insatiable talents of the male trio, as well as their bodacious bods would add the right amount of flavor.

The cast will perform Mercer favorites such as Mercer favorites as Goody Goody, You Must’ve Been a Beautiful Baby, Jeepers Creepers, Come Rain or Shine, Blues in the Night, Fools Rush In, I Remember You, PS I Love You, Skylark, In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening, Satin Doll, One for My Baby, Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River and Accentuate the Positive.

Sold! Where and when?

Too Marvelous runs Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5, at Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St. NW Atlanta, GA 30303. Visit robertrayproductions.com.

How gay men can help themselves, and lead others, to repair fences in a divided world
By Mike Fleming

According to your social feed, you are so right so often that you must have the world by the tail. But with all the dissent that you hear about later, there must be a kink in that system somewhere.

Amid the preaching to the choir and affirming feedback when we log onto our social networks, why are we as a society so sharply polarized? And more importantly, what can we do about it? How can we affect positive change if we are unwilling to even see opposing opinions, much less discuss them?

The most recent presidential election is a prime example. How can a good solid half of your fellow Americans get something so wrong when you are so, so right so, so often? Are they that different from you? Surely they aren’t stupid, are they? Brainwashed? Are they just plain evil?

Of course not. Maybe. Well, most of them. Probably.

Closer to home, look at the runoff for Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District between espoused gay ally and Democratic dream boy John Ossoff, and the mixed bag at best, fair-weather Republican that is Karen Handel. Campaigns get ugly, lies disguise as truth, conversations get heated, and battle lines get drawn. By the time one of them wins, neither looks like an appetizing option, and you can’t even look at the neighbor or family member who dared vote for the “other” candidate.

Now, choosing your friends and associates based on beliefs, values and opinions isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s good and natural to keep the support of like-minded people in your life. What may be new is how convenient it is to avoid dissenting opinions.

Hide someone’s profile from your newsfeed, and avoid conflict. Unfriend them, and forget them. Block them, and you can virtually steer clear of them forever. That kind of digital distance allows us to vilify any opponents as “other” and build nearly impenetrable emotional walls against them, and their uncomfortable, irritating and infuriating opinions.

One nagging issue, though: Avoiding a problem doesn’t solve it. It perpetuates it. Ask generations of gay men who were unable to live openly. We know as much or better than most about ignoring a problem and building psychological walls against the pain. Railing against the opposition without engaging meaningfully with your detractors in the conflict yields nothing but philosophical masturbation that’s more whining than resistance.

Our gay forbearers lived life that way, until one by one, group-by-group, organization-by-organization, idea by idea, they started standing up for themselves. In the tiniest ways at first, and then in growing number and frequency, we learned to work within and against the system to come at the problem from all angles.

Over time, confronting issues is what works to effect change.

Boys in the Bubble

Of course the polarity goes far beyond politics. For gay men, what’s political is certainly also societal, but it’s also quite personal. Discrimination based on outdated opinions affects our lives, and evading dealing with it is even more personal, because it’s actually bad for us to avoid conflict and live in a vacuum.

If you live in a bubble – and so many of us do on curated social media over the real world, in Midtown over living outside the I-285 Perimeter, on Atlanta’s blue island in the red sea of Georgia – it’s jarring to realize that you’re not in the majority. It hurts to realize that you don’t speak for everyone, or even for most people.

When you’re self- protected from the opinions of outsiders, seeing everyone’s views as equal and valid feels like oppression. Nobody wants that feeling. But psychiatrists say we just might need it.

Discourse with those who would oppose us, and engaging respectfully in dissent over issues that matter, is uncomfortable, but in our best interest. It’s ultimately how we change hearts and minds. That holds true, even if it takes time and patience – a lot of both.

Break the Cycle

Something wonderful happens when we try to see issues from someone else’s point of view. It irritates the senses, but it also allows us to figure out ways to communicate with those people. Even if it doesn’t work in the moment, even if we have to come at it from different angles over and over, maybe, just maybe, we can finally reach them with an opposing thought.

And – gasp – maybe they can gain access to our carefully constructed walls and change us too, for the better. Maybe there’s a grain of truth that we can rescue from the bottom of their pile of opinions.

You’ve heard absolute power corrupts absolutely. The same is true in a world where we get everything we want. Life is ultimately about getting some of what you want and a lot of what you need. That way, you find balance, and both you and the world around you benefit.

Yes, life is more cozy and less scary in our little bubbles, but consider this: Engaging in the discomfort a bit at a time may be more effective, and it beats the hell out of the full-tilt culture shock when the reality of a polarized society slaps you.

We can vow to think about that the next time a “surprise” verdict is read, or the outcome of an election night shatters our expectations. What could we have done to expose ourselves to parts of life that make us uncomfortable, expand our understanding, and ultimately move the conversation forward?

And this goes for conflicts within our own community. Whether you engage in societal discussions as an agitator or an assimilator, your engagement is valid. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s needed its peaceful MLKs and it’s resistant Malcolm X’s. The AIDS crisis needed the sad honors of The Names Project and the coffin-carrying rallies of Act Up. In the same way we engage with our biggest detractors, we can listen to each other better as well.

Bursting our bubbles may feel like a monumental task. That’s OK. Daunting is good, and due to our collective experience in the still-evolving LGBT rights struggle, our community may be uniquely suited to lead the way in reaching across the aisle to mend fences. 

Rules of Engagement

The unknown is scary, but it can also be just as exciting. Treat it like an opportunity. Once you steel yourself for the adventure, the next step is to remind yourself – early and often – that people are more alike than they are different, even if someone initially strikes you as your polar opposite.

Next remember that bursting your bubble is for your own good, and whatever resistance you overcome, both internal and external, will be worth it.

Here are a few tips, tenets and tricks to engage in productive conflict.

Perspectives Change Perceptions

Ask yourself: ‘If I thought about this from their point of view, would I still agree with myself?’

My Needs and Our Needs

Conflicts aren’t a competition. There are no winners and losers. There are two parties, and there is their relationship. Agree to argue from the “side” of the relationship. It takes practice and trust to allow other people to share their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and perspectives with passion – and for us to just let them be.  

Power and Control

Conflicts can sway to the person with the most authority. Instead, ask ‘Is one person giving in too much? Does holding your ground come at the cost of insensitivity? Are we discussing who has the most power, or what the conflict is truly about?’

Embrace ‘And’

So often we get caught in either-or thinking that diminishes credibility on both sides. It’s sophomoric and limiting by nature, and doesn’t allow us to see or hear anything other than what we already ‘know’ to be ‘true.’

Make Peace with Ambiguity

Based on our fears and a desire to stay in control, we naturally resist uncertainty. Become comfortable with it and allow yourself to hang out in ambiguity. It’ll give you a sense of openness, patience, and perspective that allows creative solutions to emerge.

Seek Higher Ground

In a desire to escape conflict as fast as possible, we sometimes rush to come up with “solutions” or “compromises.” It works on the surface, but it doesn’t address the deeper issues. Actively look for higher-level solutions by remaining open instead of simply trying to “win” or end the argument.

Discern Intent

With issues that cut the core of sacredly held beliefs, we often vilify those who don’t agree with us. Once they become “those people,” they’re nearly impossible to connect via meaningful dialogue. Look for the positive intention and real fears of the other person to find the core of what’s really true, not just what our ego wants to argue about.

Elevate Others

We can and do have impact on other people. Elevate the conversation by focusing on being real, vulnerable, and honest. Focus on appreciating and empowering the other person. Acknowledge them and practice being grateful for who they are, no matter how difficult it is. When you manage to lift them up despite obstacles, you lift up yourself in the accomplishment and create the higher-level solutions you truly want.

The Truth Triangle

Remember the three parts of truth: Your truth, their truth, and the real truth (solutions).

Sources: dukepsychology.edu, intentblog.com

For all the talk of the fun in fundraising, some gay men in Atlanta just aren’t having as good a time as others.
By Mike Fleming

“Party with a purpose.” We hear the phrase often enough in gay Atlanta. It’s code for event fundraising, and at least on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the perception and reaction that comes after hearing it where opinions split.

Are some events more party than purpose?

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250Without exception, every one of the community’s most beloved institutions puts one or more sure-bet moneymakers on the gay agenda by promising to put “the fun in fundraising.” And it works, to the tune of millions of dollars, as well as tens of thousands of in-kind donations and volunteer hours per year.

Sounds good, right? Well, it depends on who you ask.

It’s been over a decade since Hotlanta River Expo went down in flames of shame. Back then, a few organizers of what was billed as the oldest circuit party in the world reported others of their flock for misusing funds. Allegations included using event proceeds to pay for recreational drugs during the event.

These days, most organizations can and do report not only the money they raise, but exactly where it goes, often line by line. With rare reports of embezzlement by one person, or whispers of behind-the-scenes puppet masters and villains, the pressure to remain above board on accountability and transparency is high, and the vast majority take the obligation seriously.

So why do the biggest gay fundraising parties take so much flak from naysayers?

The multi-layered answer covers the gamut of gay subcultural issues, from cliques and substance abuse, to diversity and racism, from mere appearances and suspicions of impropriety, to differing priorities on how our collective money should be spent.

So is it all good – or no good at all? Or is it a matter of opinion?

Follow the Money

The HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner, which recently wrapped its 30th annual event, raises in the reported neighborhood of a quarter- to half-a-million dollars each year through ticket sales, donations and proceeds from a massive silent auction. Some 1,200 local LGBTs in tuxes and gowns are proud to donate those funds to help fight for our rights at the federal level and receive moral, strategic and volunteer support.

In 2016 alone and with an expanded mission to help more people, gay Atlanta stalwart Joining Hearts raised nearly $194,000 against HIV in Atlanta with its signature summer pool party and yearlong calendar of other events. Funds were split among eight beneficiary organizations, with Jerusalem House, Living Room, AID Atlanta and Lost N Found Youth leading the pack.

That doesn’t count additional funds at popular Joining Hearts events like Love on the Rocks and several satellite fundraisers peppering the calendar. In 30 years, the organization and its loyal patrons have been responsible for donating more than $2 million to fight a disease that has affected so many gay men.

In about half that time, For the Kid in All of Us, founded by gay Atlanta City Council Member Alex Wan, has distributed more than 40,000 toys and gift cards through the gay holiday tradition Toy Party, as well as 12,000 backpacks filled with school supplies during its Backpack in the Park. Their donations also include a whopping $475,000 in funds distributed directly to local agencies like Chris 180 and Childkind, among many others.

Several of the benefactors of those events also host their own big gay shindigs. In 2016, Goliath‘s sibling publication David Atlanta raised $50,000 for Joining Hearts with its annual Men of David contest and party.

Likewise, perennial beneficiary Jerusalem House hosts an annual October bash that’s considered the standard bearer for local gay Halloween parties. The themed costume party also sets the bar for funds, raising about $50,000 each year. That’s on top of other signature Jerusalem House events like the Stars Party, the auction mixer each spring.

In the gay rights arena, Georgia Equality’s Evening for Equality, which raises money with speakers and cocktails each June, drew in some $120,000 in 2016. For perspective, the statewide lobby and advocacy group reported an annual budget of about $350,000 in 2014. On a long list of projects, they lead the local fights for marriage equality and against so-called “religious freedom” backlash bills in Georgia.

If you’re keeping a running total, that’s a lot of good in the gayborhood, and it’s not even the tip of Atlanta’s fundraising iceberg. We’d be hard pressed to count the myriad socials, beer busts, theme nights, dine-outs, dance parties, drag shows and sporting events for every LGBT and allied organization in town. Your hard-earned party dollars go every week to causes from HIV to gay youth, and fund activities from gay softball to gay movie screenings.

Party Problems

It’s great to see the power of people coming together, and sometimes a little overwhelming to envision the sheer size of the gay dollar. Therein lies the rub when concentrated efforts turn into big money:

The vast amounts alone are one of the reasons people can be so sensitive to how the spoils get spent. The moment a fundraising effort starts to show big gains, comments start flying about how the money could be better spent.

As just one example, last year’s Atlanta Rainbow Crosswalks effort drew criticism from people who thought the money should go to making a real difference in people’s lives – like in healthcare, housing, or anti-discrimination efforts. Just as many people took umbrage to that line of thinking. They fired back that not only is the money the patrons own to spend how they see fit, but that giving to one cause does not preclude them from giving to another.

And while more than 1,000 people don their black-tie best to support the annual HRC Atlanta gala, another large contingent just as strongly opposes how much of the proceeds leave the state for good. According to one report, as little as 3 percent may go to local campaigns in actual dollars.

From HRC Atlanta’s perspective, doing Georgia’s part in national Human Rights Campaign efforts is generally a good thing. The organization’s national successes, while nuanced, are admirable.

It’s difficult to track the cost of intangibles like volunteer and strategy support when it’s time to, say, get out the vote to flip Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, or to quash anti-gay legislative efforts in Georgia. It also costs money to include our state in annual HRC reports on LGBT fairness in corporations and municipalities. The local use of HRC dollars may be hidden in those ways.

This Time, It’s Personal

While debates over money roil, there are still tougher reasons why some gay men avoid Atlanta’s biggest gay events altogether: It’s their perception of issues like Body Shaming, Substance Abuse, Mean Girls Syndrome, Racism, Embezzlement, and Sexual Hypocrisy.

Well, that doesn’t sound like a party at all! Exactly.

Some people view gay fundraising parties as antithetical to the very causes they support. Critics point out that guests can overdo the party favors, so events are therefore complicit in feeding the substance abuse that disproportionately affects LGBTs.

Others say lowered inhibitions and throbbing beats combine after too many cocktails to facilitate behaviors that lead guys into less-safe sexual behaviors. Still others argue that we’re all adults, and each of us is responsible for his own behavior. And no organizer condones illegal activity or behavior that would put their guests in harms way.

Whether based in reality or in insecurity, or a little of both, another faction of the community doesn’t attend the biggest parties because they’re seen as exclusive only to guests who look a certain way – whether by virtue of their physical fitness, skin tone, economic status, or gender.

Rightly or wrongly, that can translate into a perceived cliquishness that turns would-be participants away, makes them feel less-than, or effectively bullies them into staying home.

What’s worse, potential donors can simply feel that their lives and concerns aren’t represented by the mission or the homogeneity of the organizers, so they feel unmotivated to participate without a place at the larger table.

Even if any of these concerns are only slightly true, think of the dollars left on the table for every person who finds popular gay fundraisers more intimidating or exclusionary than philanthropic.

If you want to influence how the money is spent, get involved. If you are already involved, influence ways to be more inclusive and effect even more change.

It’s worth keeping the conversation going about inclusion and priorities, because among all the contested viewpoints, one point is certain: “Parties with a purpose” are an integral, defining thread in the fabric of local gay culture, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Sources: Guidestar, Atlanta Journal Consitution, Project Q Atlanta, Georgia Voice

The lasting impact of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as it hits Atlanta for the first time since becoming a Broadway blockbuster
By Matthew Holley

When a heralded transgender woman rocks like a superstar and pulls heartstrings like a broken ingénue, audiences take notice. When it’s a show that was a legend even before a Broadway run that rivals most any other rock musicals, gay Atlanta stands up and cheers.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch brings that magic to Atlanta in a limited run on April 4-5 at the Fox Theatre.

For those still uninitiated to Hedwig’s story after an off-Broadway cult hit, movie musical and smash run on the Great White Way in 2014-2015, Atlanta is in for a mind-bending trip of gender confirmation, story telling and good old rock and roll. The Broadway run included actors in the lead including Neil Patrick Harris and Darren Criss.

In short, Hedwig is a thumping musical about a rock and roll band fronted by transgender East German singer, Hedwig Robinson. The show follows the band on a B-grade American tour chasing Hedwig’s ex, a sexy and uber-successful rock god who stole Hedwig’s fame – and heart. The production is based on the original show written by and starring Joh Cameron Mitchell. On tour, Euan Morton plays the title role.

Throughout the story, Hedwig is assisted, yet also annoyed, by her back-up singer, guitarist and husband, Yitzhak. Leading lady Hannah Corneau, who plays Yitzhak with heart and humor, sat down with Goliath Atlanta to shed light on touring with the blockbuster.

Corneau reflects on her experience with the tour and the long-term importance of Hedwig, especially during a volatile time for trans issues in our country.

What’s it like to tour behind such a phenomenal smash hit?
It has been one of the biggest honors of my life thus far. To be a part of the Hedwig legacy is a dream come true. To be able to tell this poignant story and spread these special messages is a responsibility that I feel so very lucky to have taken on.

Were you nervous stepping into such an iconic role?
They were certainly big shoes to fill, but I felt so inspired and lucky to be able to step into his shoes. What an opportunity for me as an actress, but more importantly a human. The piece is such an exciting one to be a part of.

What preparations did you undergo for the role?
Initially, I really had to focus on the physicality and vocal range of the role. To make this man believable, vulnerable and extremely dynamic, I had to dig deep within myself to formulate this character within my mind and body.

Why do you think people are drawn to the show?
People go to the theater in hopes of resonating with characters. Hedwig gives them that opportunity and experience. You see these rich characters and you go on their emotional journey that I think the audience finds is not so different than their own. Everyone has experienced love, loss, regret and self-discovery. That is being human and that is what Hedwig is all about.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
Self-exploration, love, understanding and acceptance is the key to life. It’s literally about life, legacy and love.

What are you most looking forward to about performing in Atlanta?
I performed at the Alliance Theater in 2014, and I love the spirit of Atlanta. Such warm people, a beautiful city and cultured minds. You’re going to eat it up!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch stages Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5 at Fox Theatre. foxtheatre.org.

NYC Pride rolls out new entertainment options to up the wow factor on its June celebration
By Buck C. Cooke

The traditional Pride weekend at the end of June is just around the corner, so now is the time to make travel plans to hit up one of the destination Prides around the world. Naturally, New York City should be on your list, but this year NYC Pride makes an even more serious play for your gay travel dollars.

Come to the Big Apple for the three-day Pride Island on June 23-25, 2017, and experience the expansion of what was a one-day party on Pride Sunday into elevated and supersized musical and event offerings to reflect the diversity of the community.

“We really wanted to create this inclusive environment,” says Eboni Munn, NYC Pride Communications Manager. “Our 2017 theme, ‘We Are Proud,’ recognizes our diverse community, and particularly Pride Island, we’ve reimagined Pier 26 as a more inclusive space that people from all backgrounds can truly enjoy.”

On Friday, June 23, Pride Island, kicks off at Hudson River Park on Pier 26. It serves up soul legend Patti Labelle, gay dance favorite Deborah Cox, and DJ Lina. Saturday brings an even bigger lineup, featuring lesbian twins Tegan and Sara, British pop trio Years and Years with gay front man Olly Alexander, Roisin Murphy, Gallant, Dimitri From Paris, and Occupy the Disco.

Sunday brings DJs Scott Martin, Cindel and Chus + Ceballos, as well as a to-be-announced big-name headliner. Cher, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Fergie, and Ariana Grande have all anchored the event in the past, so expect a huge announcement in the coming weeks.

NYC Pride also offers enough parties to keep you occupied all hours of the day and night. On Friday, Fantasy: Men at Work offers a costume party calling for your favorite construction or uniform look with DJs Ralphi Rosario and Eddie Martinez at the Highline Ballroom. There are two parties on Saturday, including the 7th annual VIP Rooftop Party at Hudson Terrace, with DJs Alex Acosta, GSP, and Hannah. That same night, Masterbeat: Game Show hits the Hammerstein Ballroom with DJs Ivan Gomez and Micky Friedmann.

But nightlife is just the beginning in the Big Apple during Pride Weekend. Sunday, June 25, contains two iconic LGBT events. PrideFest, a free street festival, takes place on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and West 14th Street. Gay Atlanta will be familiar with the format of entertainers, vendors and sponsors welcoming visitors from all over the world.

The March, perhaps the largest Pride event in the U.S., steps off at 12 noon on Sunday from 36th Street and Fifth Avenue and concludes at the intersection of Christopher and Greenwich Streets. Over 30,000 people participated in 2016, and an estimated 2.5 million spectators watched the celebration of LGBT achievement and calls for equality.

Given the uncertainties and concerns over LGBT rights in the U.S. and across the world, this year’s March is expected to be just as large, if not bigger.

Since Atlanta Pride is in October, plan an exciting getaway to New York for NYC Pride, but act quickly, as tickets are going fast for the events.

Want to go?
NYC Pride
nycpride.org

Friday, June 23
7-10 p.m. Pride Island
11 p.m.-5 a.m. Fantasy: Men at Work

Saturday, June 24
2-10 p.m. Pride Island
2-10 p.m. VIP Rooftop Party
10 p.m.-9 a.m. Masterbeat: Game Show

Sunday, June 25
11 a.m.-6:00 p.m. PrideFest
12 noon The March steps off
2 -10 p.m. Pride Island

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