Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pride People in the Press: my interviews with singers, actors, dancers and artists of note: 2015-2017

Cazwell and his dog Elvis
Although late in Pride month, I've long wanted to pen a blog post with mention of all -or most- of the talented LGBT artists and straight allies I've had a chance to interview.  
But I've been so busy doing the work, and editing others' interviews, that I didn't have the time. And now that the Bay Area Reporter's annual Pride issue is out, I'll get this underway.

Yes, it's a bit of fame-chasing, but since it's part of my job, I feel justified to reshare these favorite interviews.

I've got about 30 years of interviews to go through. But I'm going backward from this year, since it'll take me longer to find the older ones, many of which are not available online. So, here goes!

June 2017
Most recent: my second interview with the funny, sexy adorable Cazwell, who basically introduced openly gay male hip hop to the music scene a dozen years ago. His new video "Loose Wrists" features the quickly trending men's pastel lace outfits. Too cute.  (Also, here's my 2014 interview with Cazwell.)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cassandra Complexities: Why the death of OutGames should come as no surprise

Gay Games V figure skating: photo Jim Provenzano
Although I predicted it more than a decade ago, the abrupt cancellation of this year's OutGames –and most likely all future ones– does not induce a feeling of schadenfreude... okay, maybe a little shade.

Coverage from various media outlets (CBC News) uses the word "shock" over the abrupt cancellation of the Miami event this week. But it shouldn't be shocking to anyone who's paid attention.

Miami New Times had this to say:

"... the games had been struggling for the better part of a year to meet the basic financial benchmarks the city had set for the 10-day event. The games were supposed to take place all across Miami-Dade County, including in Lummus Park, Soundscape Park, Flamingo Park, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, the Colony Theater, the Fillmore Miami Beach, and the National Hotel. But there were warning signs for quite a while that the OutGames, which has been staged three previous times in other countries since 2006, was having trouble raising basic levels of money."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Readings by Rob Rosen, Baruch Porras-Hernandez and Jim Provenzano

I haven't blogged in more than a month - oh my! - but I did do a reading on Facebook Live on April 20 hosted by prolific author and editor Rob Rosen, and with Bay Area poet, author and amiable event host Baruch Porras-Hernandez. 

You can see it on Rob's page HERE.

My reading was as excerpt from the title tale in my short story collection, Forty Wild Crushes. It's available in print and Kindle editions.

I hauled out an old oversize construction paper picture book that I used for the first reading of this childhood tale (with pop culture footnotes, visualized in the picture book) way back in 1994 at the old A Different Light bookstore on Castro Street. 

After being the site of several other clothing stores and businesses, that location now the new Dog Eared Books' second store, where I've already enjoyed reading a few times and attending more events.

My voice in the video was a bit nasal, since I was getting over a cold. But hey, it's there, so enjoy. And check out Rob's books HERE.

Baruch's website is HERE.

More about Forty Wild Crushes HERE and HERE. Oh, and HERE.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Flirting With History, Browsers and Other Kinds

What is the legacy you want to leave behind? As a person, you can hope your family will remember you. As an artist, you usually hope for a little more. If you're ambitious, you crave a lot more.

I began to reconsider this question as I walked from The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco this week. I was among several hundred lucky people who got to see the first open dress rehearsal of the mega-hit musical Hamilton. We didn't have to pay, because the production wanted an audience to warm them up for their extensive run.

Before the show began, Director Thomas Kail introduced himself, and asked us not to Tweet or Facebook or Instagram our experiences. Because offering opinions about a show before it opens is just bad form.

But Kail also expressed that the experience of seeing this live production (a beautiful one, by the way, but don't mistake that for a review) was a shared experience that cannot be recreated through social media.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Parks & Wreck: Trump edicts defy logic, GOP intent on destroying planet

You can tell a lot about a person by what they try to destroy.
That is what they fear.

Women. Children. Veterans. Artists. Muslims. Mexicans. Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gypsies, Trans people, Syrians. Park Rangers, astronauts, First Nations, and the very air we breathe.

Where did it start, the unraveling of Drumpfiana? When they tried to shut up park rangers, after the wall, before the wall, the animated gif of him scowling at Melania.
What will stop him? RogueNASA, Sanctuary Cities,  altEverythingNotTrump?

Grants cut. Climate change silenced, yet sprouted up again in a thousand tweets by Badass Park Rangers.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Call and Irresponsibility: Online Censorship and Attacks on Gay Authors

As we dive butt-first into a new year, I was going to repost one of the lovely retro New Year's Eve scenes from my past two books, Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love

But you'll have to check my older posts, or read the books themselves, to enjoy those. It's not that I'm being cautious, but more justifiably outraged by the level of Orwellian idiocy now taking place when authors dare to share their political views.

The simple act of publishing one's thoughts and opinions these days has taken on an absurd level of what I term 'call and irresponsibility.'

Author Kevin Sessums achieved headline news when his post critiquing Trump supporters was only hours later deleted, and his use of Facebook withheld by the bot-like underlings of the social media behemoth.

An excerpt of Sessums comments:
“Matthew Dowd who holds Trump and his followers to the standards of any other politician and hers. But as those who do hold Trump to the standards of any other person have found out on Twitter and other social media outlets these Trump followers are a nasty fascistic lot. Dowd is lucky he didn’t get death threats like Kurt Eichenwald. Or maybe he did and refuses to acknowledge them. If you voted for Trump and continue to support him and you think you are better than these bigoted virulent trolls, you’re not. Your silence enables them just as it did in the racist campaign that Trump and Bannon ran. In fact, hiding behind a civilized veneer in your support of fascism I consider more dangerous. We’re past describing you as collaborators at this point. That lets you off the hook. You’re Russo-American oligarchical theocratic fascists.”

Saturday, December 10, 2016

I Know Where I've Been: Finding Inspiration in Difficult Times

How do we find inspiration to make art in difficult times? What kind of art should we make when our lives are being disrupted by the most absurd and clearly corrupt election in decades? What should be our response?

It's been raining nearly every day and night here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've not gone out as much as I usually do, and turning it all off to watch a movie or read a book has become a sort of conscious avoidance.

Usually, rainy days and nights are a great inspiration to stay in and be creative. I did some of that; sorted, filed and photographed all of my visual art (yes, I do that, too), refiled manuscripts and research files, and even converted a few old VHS tapes of my dance and performance works to DVDs.

But doing administrative work is not creating work. And as the rain continues, despite the ecologic good it's doing for our drought-ridden state, the rain feeds my sense of dread.

One of the many attempts to 'keep hope alive' phrases written by my fellow artists and gay activists goes along the lines of 'We survived Reagan and Bush. We will survive this."

Well, actually, many didn't survive. Unlike millions of stupid Trump voters (and 'protest voters' for Jill Stein or the absurdly inane Gary Johnson), I remember where we've been. 

Hundreds of thousands died of AIDS under Reagan and Bush 1's regimes, and thousands of U.S. military and more than a million Iraqis died under Bush II's illicit regime, including those lost on 9/11, due to Bush/Cheney's negligence (or culpability). So I don't really feel that gung ho spirit that others espouse.

Eric Arvin
In other sad news, on top of all the talented celebrities dying this year, one of my author colleagues, Eric Arvin, who has been bed-ridden and incapacitated after a brain injury, is basically about to die, since his latest round of medications are not working. 

Arvin's books have been a great inspiration. I reviewed a few, and he blurbed my Lambda Literary Award winner Every Time I Think of You five years ago.

While it's true that loss, and pain, and repressive politics have of course inspired many authors, it's not so easy to create while you're experiencing it.

We're in a very fragile state right now. As quoted in a LitHub article with 22 authors discussing Trump (before the election), writer George Saunders says, "I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail. But I imagine it that way now."

Author John Irving, wrote, "I don’t take what Trump says seriously, but I am seriously worried about the number of people who are as angry, as ignorant, as misinformed or shallowly informed as he is."

As I wrote before, I was rather declarative about distancing myself from such people as potential readers. A few have popped up, with poorly written critiques of a few of my books, each one glaringly ignorant of my work and its themes, purpose and style.

So, are we now supposed to placate such Deporables in the arts? Will Chachi and Chuck Norris make a comeback? Will Ted Nugent play at the Inauguration?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Artists on the Frontlines

People are comparing our situation through less than subtle artistic interpretations this week, from revamped comics to musicals. And music acts are singing their sympathies for those horrified by the new regime.

Who hasn't recently re-shared  famous "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret? Some are recommending dystopian classics like The Handmaid's Tale, no longer a cautionary tale, but an accurate prediction.

Perhaps you watched, or refused to watch them, because it's happening in real life, which perhaps relegates musical theatre metaphors of fascism to the redundant file.

Or, more more immediately, you hopefully watched the zillion-shared video of Victor Dixon, on behalf of the cast of Hamilton addressing the retreating VP-elect Pence, who had been booed during his attendance of the hit musical about, ironically, a lefty radical vice-president. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Politics in the Pages

I once served Donald Trump dinner while a cater waiter in the 1980s, at The Frick Mansion, I recall, and in retrospect, it was the lowest day of my employed life. He didn't even clean his plate; total loser.

The arrogant, bigoted, serial adulterer and now-Republican presidential candidate –update: President-elect– was at the time one of New York City's many bloated egos of metropolitan life, and a mere casual mention in my second novel, Monkey Suits. The book's main nemesis, as covered in a previous post, was a hybrid of closeted millionaire Malcolm Forbes and sinister writer and homophobe William F. Buckley, Jr.

Trump was just a sidebar, a boldface in the gossipy style of that book. I never could have imagined that we'd get to where we are today, mere hours from a presidential election where Hillary Clinton, a woman with decades of political experience, (update) won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College, against Trump, a bankrupt (financially and morally), bloviating serial lying asshole of preposterous proportions.