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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.

June ushers in Stonewall Month gatherings, activities and parties across Atlanta for a month full of Pride.
By James Parker Sheffield

October’s celebration of Atlanta Pride is still months away, but make no mistake: June is still your time to shine some Pride on Atlanta.

With the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots at hand, the world is tuned in for all things gay in June. The riots rocked New York City and reverberated across the country in June 1969 and birthed the modern day LGBTQ rights movement, so each year we come together to remember our history and celebrate our successes. Even with our big festival still far off, that includes Atlanta

The summertime Pride rollout can be just as empowering and invigorating as the local Pride festival season. Social media platforms experience a rainbow takeover, major retailers stock gay themed apparel, and even our Netflix & Chill options become more queer.

Alongside LGBT communities across the globe, Atlanta’s social calendar is packed commemorations all month long. From historical city tours to late night parties, Atlanta’s spin on summer Pride offers something for everyone.

Prepare for Stonewall Month by checking out our picks from the Atlanta LGBTQ calendar.

Reconnect With History

Whether you’re a longtime Atlanta resident or new to town, the Touching Up Your Pride Roots Trolley Tour is a sure bet to dig into the city’s rich gay history. This narrated two-hour ride starts and finishes at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and is sponsored by its LGBT Institute. It’s a great way to relive your past stomping grounds, those of generations long gone, or to just get a better take on our community’s background. Tickets are $15 for two tours, set for June 4 and 17. Register and reserve your seats lgbtinstitute.org.

Get Political

If you’ve been hiding under your desk, contemplating the safest exit toward a different political reality than our current state of affairs, there’s a dinner party for that. It’s been a tough year on the national scene, and our local advocates and political-animal types have made our backyard the new battleground state. Georgia Equality’s 13th Annual Evening for Equality takes over the InterContinental Hotel on June 17. Come celebrate local LGBT successes and raise some cash to keep fighting the good fight. Pick out a suit and tie, and head to georgiaequality.org for tickets.

Cheap Thrills

Get your adrenalin pumping during Stride Into Pride at Six Flags Over Georgia on June 24. For under $50, you get a full day’s admission and parking. Elevate your experience with the $65 ticket that includes and Atlanta Pride lunch with unlimited beer and wine. Every ticket includes entry to an evening ice cream social and dance party in the park featuring DJ Canvas. This is an all-ages event and great for large groups. Get more information and tickets at atlantapride.org.

Let’s Dance

Two big weekend-long events keep the beat June 16-18. GA Boy Productions kicks things off with its Peach Party Atlanta party series. DJ Phil B takes over Heretic on Friday, Saturday finds DJ Paulo at Jungle, and both nights feature an after party at Xion until 7 a.m. Sunday’s festivities start with Josh Whitaker at Ten Atlanta as part of that venue’s Stonewall Block Party, featuring outdoor bars and DJs all weekend. Peach Party moves to Jungle Sunday night for the closing event Alegria with DJ Abel playing through 7 a.m. Monday. Visit peachpartyatlanta.com and facebook.com/tenatlanta

If you’re still itching for a Pride festival experience in June, it’s not too late to plan a trek to NYC Pride or another big-city spectacular set for the last weekend of the month.

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

This summer, craft your next happy hour so that your home is the place where everyone wants to be.

Photography: Russ Youngblood
Product Styling: William Duffee-Braun

TequilaHeated Midtown Marg
|¾ C. Tequila
½ C. Triple Sec
¼ C. Lime Juice
1 C. Jalapeno Infused Simple Syrup
Ice
Jalapeno Slices for Garnish
Lime Slices for Garnish
Salt for Glass Rim
Combine Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime juice, and Simple Syrup in Blender, Fill with ice, Blend until smooth, Pour in Salted Glass, Garnish with Jalapeno and Lime. Enjoy!

 

 

BourbonSouthern Sass
¾ C. Fresh Mint Leaves
1 Part Bourbon
3 Parts Sweet Iced Tea
Crushed Ice
Press Mint Leaves at Bottom of Glass, Fill with Crushed Ice, Pour Bourbon and Sweet Tea, Garnish with Mint Leaves. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

GinBitter Ex-Boyfriend
2 oz. Gin
3 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Elderflower Liqueur
Club Soda
Crushed Ice
Grapefruit for Garnish
Fill Shaker with Gin, Grapefruit Juice, and Elderflower Liqueur. Shake Vigorously and Strain into Festive Glass. Top with Club Soda and Garnish with Grapefruit. Enjoy!

 

 

 

ProseccoBottomless Balencia
1 C. Simple Syrup
2 C. Fresh Blueberries
24 Oz. Chilled Prosecco
Mint for Garnish
Puree Simple Syrup and Blueberries Until Smooth. Pour Two Ounces of Blueberry Puree into Fancy Stem Glass. Top off with Prosecco and garnish with Blueberries and Mint. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

RumSunday PunchDay
½ G. Lemonade
1 Bottle Chardonnay
2/3 C. Light Rum
½ C. Fresh Raspberries
1 Orange Sliced
1 Granny Smith Apple Sliced
1 Red Delicious Apple Sliced
In a Large Pitcher Combine Liquids, add Fruit, Refrigerate for One Hour and Serve. Enjoy!

 

 

 

VodkaFruity 007
2 C. Simple Syrup
2 C. Fresh Blackberries
1 Lemon
1 C. Vodka
2 T. Triple Sec
1 T. Sugar
Puree Simple Syrup and Blackberries until smooth. Pour Puree, Vodka, Lemon Juice, and Triple Sec into Ice-Filled Shaker. Shake Vigorously and Pour into Sugar Rimmed Martini Glass. Garnish with Blackberries. Enjoy!

 

 

 

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250

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

Atlanta Symphony’s LGBT Night rolls out the red carpet for you and yours
By Buck C. Cooke

Are you ready for some culture? No, not the music without words that is pots-and-pans house music. This is Classical, honey, and it’s going to be extra gay on April 27. Consider this your official invitation to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s next LGBT Night.

CMI_Survey_Digital_Male_300x250The ASO’s quarterly theme nights started four years ago and are “a time for us to come together as a community to enjoy the fine arts and give patrons a chance to meet some of the musicians who are a part of the ASO,” says Christopher Stephens, ASO Corporate Sales Manager and proud gay Atlantan. “There is a diversity of attendees who come, so LGBT Nights are a great way to meet new people who enjoy the arts.”

The April performance features guest conductor Vasily Petrenko leading “Piano Concerto No. 1” by Mendelssohn, “Don Juan” by Strauss, and “Symphony No. 8” by Dvořák. The ASO is also joined by Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter.

“Whether you are a long-time supporter or a first-timer, these programs are very accessible,” Stephens assures.

Tickets include the symphony performance and post-concert reception where LGBT Night attendees mix and mingle with ASO musicians while enjoying drinks, light bites, and beats by Neon the Glowgobear. The reception is held at Twelve Eighty on the Woodruff Arts Center grounds by Symphony Hall.

Neon says attendees, of course, should expect music at the reception that’s far from the selections the symphony performs that night.

“Most people want to hear something different after hearing one kind of music for a period of time,” he says. “There will be some classic dance tracks, not classical music, that I’ve wanted to play for some time but haven’t yet because my sets tend to be high energy. I will hopefully use those during the reception because they’re fun tracks.”

LGBT Nights are just a part of the ASO’s “robust” commitment to the LGBT community in Atlanta, Stephens says.

“The ASO is a member of the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and regularly donates items to LGBT organizations for fundraisers, like the Human Rights Campaign silent auction at the upcoming Atlanta dinner,” he says. “The environment at the ASO is very inclusive, and they support my work with organizations like GLAAD and HRC.”

“Make sure and use the code ‘PROUD’ when purchasing tickets for April 27 in order to receive information related to programming for the LGBT Night,” Stephens adds.

Want to go?

ASO LGBT NIGHT
When: April 27, 8 p.m.
Where: Atlanta Symphony Hall
Dress: Cocktail attire
Tickets: atlantasymphony.org Promo code PROUD

Actress, comedian, singer and LGBT hero Sandra Bernhard shows us some love upon her return to Atlanta.
By Gregg Shapiro

Over the years, Sandra Bernhard has found a way to make us laugh and think, often at the same time. She began as a stand-up comedian and moved on to performing acclaimed one-woman shows that cemented her popularity with gay audiences.

She’s proven her mettle as an actress in movies and on TV, and she’s even established herself as a singer with a few albums to her credit. Known for her outspoken opinions, she’s an author, too, having penned three books, as well as the host of her own radio show, Sandyland.

Now Bernhard embarks on a series of concert dates for her latest live show, Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast, which hits Atlanta’s City Winery on March 10. She chats about what to expect during the performance, her influences, and her insight on all manner of current affairs.

What can we expect from Sandra Monica Blvd.: Coast to Coast?

It covers a lot of territory. Funny encounters with people on the subway. A little bit of looking back at my own personal history. It’s all interwoven with great music and pieces that weave throughout the music. It’s a wild ride on Sandra Monica Boulevard [laughs].

What’s your process creating a show like Sandra Monica?

I do Joe’s Pub here in New York during the holidays, so throughout the year, while I’m doing an existing show, I’m putting together new material for Joe’s Pub. It’s an ongoing process (that directly feeds into the current live show).

I’m also doing my daily show Sandyland on Radio Andy and Sirius XM, that’s also an incubator for me when putting together a show and new material. It keeps me on my toes.

Are you finding material in the current political situation?

No, I’m not. I find little to no humor in it. If anything, it’s verbatim. It’s diatribes, and I don’t like to do that in my shows. … The most important thing for what I’m doing is to lift up people, to bring smart, sophisticated material to my audience. To keep the conversation elevated.

You were at the Women’s March on Washington, and there’s an LGBT march scheduled for June. Is that something in which you would participate as well?

I’ll be participating in whatever marches go on from here on out! Absolutely! Whether it’s LGBT rights or the environment or women’s rights or health care, it affects the people we care about. We’re one people in this country. Everybody deserves the best of all of it.

You performed at Gay Days in Orlando a week before the Pulse Nightclub attack. What are your reactions?

It was such a great vibe down there. I performed at Parliament House. It has a poolside stage and it was so fun. It was a sultry, fun Florida night. Everybody was in great spirits. (The shooting) was such a total shock on so many levels. …

I can’t say that it was influenced by international incidents. This guy was conflicted about his own sexuality and had been there (to Pulse) before. That doesn’t make it any better or worse. I’m just saying you have to be clear about how you couch things.

My point is that now, more than ever, people are able to disconnect emotionally and do terrible things that I don’t think we ever imagined possible. Horrible. Let’s hope these things are dwindling, but who knows? With what’s going on in the White House, all bets are off.

Take the guesswork out of Valentine’s Day or any date night with our choices for what to wear and where to go based on how long you’ve been together

By Mike Fleming

 

New Romantics
Together: One Year or Less
Every night with him is just like a dream, but you’re too busy dancing to seem too serious too fast.

Theme Song: New Romantics by Taylor Swift

FolkArtWhere to Eat
For your first Valentine’s Day or your first “real” date, take him to Folk Art in Inman Park. The vibe is eclectic and cool, the food is on point, and there’s plenty to look at and talk about if conversation wanes. Afterwards, head to nearby Edgewood for Joystick Gamebar and Sister Louisa’s Church.

Folk Art, 465 North Highland Ave NE, folkartrestaurant.com

 

 

ChelseaBootWhat to Wear
Dressed up, with an edge. Wear a collared shirt and sweater or jacket that says you’re taking it date-serious, but edgy boots that keep it casual.

Hints: Wear the item in your closet you’re most excited about to look and feel your best. Also consider a statement hat or bold pop color.
Topman Suede Chelsea Boots
$70

 

 

We Got This
Together: About 5 Years
You help each other get up from down, and Valentine’s Days have come and gone. You know where you stand, and you love him way more now than the first time you said it.

Theme Song: ‘We Got This’ by A Day to Remember

BeetleCatWhere to Eat
Keep the magic happening at Beetle Cat, a fun oyster bar and cocktail lounge where you can get out, kick back, and enjoy each other. Afterwards, go see ‘A Kid Like Jake’ at Out Front Theatre, or hold hands through Ponce City Market while you walk to the I Love Vino five-wine tasting at Bellina Alimentari.

Beetle Cat, 299 North Highland Ave., beetlecatatl.com

What to Wear
As you are, with a twist. Take work or workaday basics into nighttime with a statement blazer or topcoat.

AsosASOS Peacoat
us.asos.com
$84

 

 

BetaBrandBetabrand Quilted Travel Blazer
betabrand.com
$198

 

 

 

Devoted
Dating: 10 Years or More
You finish each other’s sentences, and he may know you better than you know yourself. Date night comes with security in your devotion for each other and the life you continue to build.
Theme Song: “Devoted” by Ellie Goulding

MarcelWhere to Eat
You say he never takes you anywhere, well it goes both ways. Remind each other what a lifetime of devotion feels like in the elegant surroundings at Marcel. Executive Chef Brian Horn is serving a four-course Valentine dinner with optional wine pairings. Make reservations and make a whole night of it.
Marcel, 1170 Howell Mill Road, marcelatl.com

What to Wear
A suit. Yes, really. He’s seen you at your best and worst, and this is Date Night. You still don’t have to be boring. Don’t wear a tie, lose the socks, and splurge in a signature color.

RagRag & Bone Marwood Overcoat
with Faux Fur Collar
$725

 

 

CalvinCalvin Klein Rust-Wine Suit
$895

 

 

 

ColeHaanCole Haan Wingtip Oxfords
$114

Real stories. Real people. Really blown attempts at gay seasonal gatherings in Atlanta serve as hosting lessons for the rest of us.

By Mike Fleming

Friends and family coming together for good cheer is such a warming thought this time of year. You’ll just invite some folks, you say. It will be rewarding, you tell yourself. It can be super low maintenance, you think.

Think again. Without some forethought and your head in the game as you make plans, your attempt at hosting the perfect holiday party could turn into one of the horror stories we discovered. These hosts ended up with tidings of anything but comfort and joy.

Never fear. We take a close look at the damage to create a list of lessons to learn as you head into your own cocktail or dinner party.

It’s Not About You
I attended an elegant affair at the home of a Morningside queen who had the house professionally decorated and staffed it from kitchen to bars to door. That’s fine, if impersonal, but he blew it when he stepped out an hour before start time so that he could arrive late in a grand entrance.”
Lesson Learned: If your event is about your glory and not your guests, don’t throw one. Ask how you can personally make each guest feel welcome.

Fool Me Once
This guy sends out engraved invitations every year to his ‘Stock My Bar’ holiday party. Not only does he want us to BYOB, but an extra bottle for him to keep. To make matters worse, he assigns liquors and brands and tells you what to bring. Adding insult to injury, there’s a “check in” at the door – because you are literally paying your entry with alcohol. I went one year to please a date. Neither of us left impressed, and I’ve never been back.”
Lesson Learned: You sate your guests, not the other way around.

Cheap Skate
One host is notorious for calling his event a ‘Tree Trimming Party’ but what he really wants is his friends to buy the decorations for the tree, bring a dish to share, provide the booze, serve as the bartenders, and stay to help clean up.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to throw a party, don’t call on friends to make it happen.

Hold Your Liquor
The worst holiday party I ever attended, the host didn’t pace himself. He started yelling half-inappropriate and half-incoherent rants pretty early, and was hurling in the bathroom by midnight. People were just drifting toward the door trying to figure out how to leave gracefully.”
Lesson Learned: You’re on duty at your own party, at least enough to temper your intake and help others have a good time.

Hands Free
When I was in my 20s, I went to the home of a retired local gay bigwig with a bunch of friends. We were honored to be invited, until the host used a ‘tour of the house’ ploy to put his hands all over me. When that didn’t work, he moved on to my next friend, and the next.”
Lesson Learned: “Your House, Your Rules” doesn’t apply to uninvited groping, Trumpy McGrabsalot.

High Martha
There was this party at a certain condo tower in Midtown where the host over-decorated in general, but specifically over decorated for every possible religion. Kitschy stereotypical tchotchkes in every nook and corner made people uncomfortable – especially when we figured out he didn’t mean it as a joke.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to seem inclusive, go neutral on the religion and keep decor simple. A few well-placed lights, candles and pretty colors go a long way.

Gay ways for guy groups to find a fun excursion, bar night pre-gaming, or just to shake up your social calendar.

By James Parker Sheffield

Love the Atlanta gay bar scene, but need to add something extra to complete your weekend agenda? Look no further. From arts and movies to a little friendly competition, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite excursions to liven things up a bit.

Cultural Experience

Tick all the important boxes – fun, culture and the ability to seem like the classiest versions of yourselves. Stretched out over a beautiful Midtown campus, the iconic Woodruff Arts Center is home to multiple offerings.

High Museum of Art features permanent installations and traveling collections representing a variety of mediums and genres. It typically closes at 5 p.m., but Fridays are open late for themed programming like Friday Jazz every third week of the month.

Across the lawn, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra rotates shows throughout the year, and the upcoming holiday season features some their very best. ASO also hosts a quarterly LGBT Night performance. Pair a show with dinner at one of scores of other restaurants within a stone’s throw of the concert hall. woodruffcenter.org

Indy Movie Night

Tis the season for Oscar releases, and to wow your friends with your winning picks, remove “I’ve never heard of that” from your cinema vocabulary at one of Atlanta’s three great art houses.

Nestled in Midtown Promenade, Midtown Art Cinema offers independent flicks as well as blockbusters. They also support community events like Out On Film, plus we love their friendly staff and the bounty of post-show dinner and drink options surrounding the place. landmarktheatres.com

Up the street, Plaza Theatre shows off its quirky personality with new features and throwbacks. Best known for their Rocky Horror presentations, it’s a laid back – dare we say hipster? – environment that’s welcoming to all comers. plazaatlanta.com

Over on Cheshire Bridge, Regal Tara Theater remains a constant fixture even as the urban landscape around it changes. If you’re looking for the breakout film that isn’t being screened at mainstream theaters, this location is definitely for you. regmovies.com/theatres

Get Competitive

Looking to challenge your crew with something more interactive? We’ve got you covered. Top Golf has taken Atlanta by storm, and we can’t get enough. With full bar and dinner service, making a night of fun and games is a no-brainer.

The concept is simple: challenge your friends to point-driven golf games for a low hourly rate, all while kicking back your favorite cocktails in a climate controlled environment. It’s basically the sporting outlet we’ve longed for without knowing we were longing for it. topgolf.com

If you’re gay in Atlanta, you’ve probably done Midtown Bowl. If not, we demand an immediate course correction. This isn’t your grandpa’s bowling alley, guys. From drag queens to gay birthday parties, we’ve seen it all at this place. With their late night hours, you and your boys can even hit the lanes after you’ve finished at the bars. midtownbowl.com

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