Sunday, July 31, 2011

On the Rag, Vol. 147

A weekly look at what's making news in the free gay mags:

Next presents its 2nd annual Fire Island Home issue. Read HERE.

Frontiers looks at a new kind of superhero: activists! Read HERE.

Friday, July 29, 2011

'Safety' First

I doubt there's actually any increased danger after 10 minutes have passed, but that's probably the point at which others members' looks just might kill.

RIP, Polly Platt

Sad to read Polly Platt died Wednesday at just 72 after a long battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Her work on classic films like "The Last Picture Show," "Broadcast News," "Say Anything" and "Terms of Endearment" will live on 4ever. RIP.

I Dream of Juvederm

Beauty Barbara Eden, seen here signing copies of her new book, "Jeannie Out of the Bottle," in Hollywood, still looks awfully good for about-to-be 77!

Rinky Dink It Ain't

I'm not exactly sure how New York's famed Highline Park -- a park built on the city's long-abandoned elevated railroad tracks -- came to include stuff on ground level. But if they wanna team up with fab fashionmakers Uniqlo to put a roller-skating rink under the Highline -- at 30th and 10th Avenue -- who am I to argue? After seeing Susan Sarandon was involved, though, my only quibble is that there isn't a little ping-pong park too. Now let's just hope the gay boys at Asphalt don't get drunk and decide to go all Roller Girl after a few too many fruity cocktails or this could get really messy, really quick.

WATCH: Ben Cohen Announces Launch of StandUp Foundation

Everybody's favorite straight ally is back with a new message about the upcoming launch of the Web site for his StandUp Foundation. (I didn't know organizations existed without already having their spot on the World Wide Web!) It'll be up Wednesday, Aug. 3, with T-shirts (like the ones he's wearing above and in the video) for sale. The first 500 orders will get a free StandUp wristaband and the first 100 photos will get a photo of Ben. For more information, watch the video or click HERE.

The First Honest Thing a Republican Has Ever Said

"The weight exacerbates everything. I weigh too much because I eat too much. And I eat some bad things too." -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, answering questions about whether his weight was a factor in his trip to the hospital yesterday. I'd give him brownie points for this, but I don't want to be labeled an enabler. (Via DailyIntel)

'Ape' Shit

File the "Planet of the Apes" reboot right next to "Spider-Man" in my Is This Completely Necessary? folder -- I was offered a private screening with colleagues and couldn't even bother -- but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy seeing James Franco making the publicity rounds.

When Mary Met Andy

My artist friend Mary is in town with her hubby and little boy from Phoenix and from what I'm seeing on her Facebook page, she's been spending most of her time at the Factory!

NewFest Recap: 'Renee' and 'The Green' (Reviews)

Only ended up seeing two movies during this past week's NewFest -- "Renee" and "The Green" -- but both were high on my list for the LGBT film festival, so I'm not complaining. Eric Drath's "Renee," the long-overdue first documentary to ever tackle the complex life story of Renee Richards -- who, if you don't know, was a Yale-educated, skirt-chasing eye surgeon before undergoing sex reassignment surgery in 1975 and then becoming a professional player on the women's tennis circuit (in her 40s!) -- is a mesmerizing treasure trove for fans of tennis' late-'70s-early '80s heyday. (Are you ready to see Renee playing at the La Jolla tournament where she was "outed," including an interview with the woman she crushed in the final? Are you up for some serious Caroline Stoll footage?! And are you prepared for doubles with Betty Ann Stuart -- aka Taylor Dent's mom?!) But even if you're just now learning about Richards -- whose 1977 New York Supreme Court case that granted her the right to compete as a woman at the U.S. Open was a landmark ruling in trans rights -- you'll be equally captivated by a story that 35 years later doesn't even seem like it could have really happened. (It almost has that "All in the Family" factor to it, like it could happen then but wouldn't fly now.) I grew up watching the 1977 U.S. Open live from Forest Hills -- my first Grand Slam, and what a Slam it was with Tracy Austin, Wendy Turnbull and Renee!-- but when I saw her 6-foot-2 frame playing new Wimbledon champ Virginia Wade up on the big screen, it was still jaw-dropping. I went with two non-fanatics and they both loved every second of it. One of the chief criticisms I've read about "Renee" is that Drath, who interviews Richards off-camera in a number of lengthy scenes, doesn't ever press her hard enough to really get inside the head or heart of his subject. But I would argue that that is unfair given who his subject was. After years of feeling like a circus sideshow -- something she naively thought would never happen to her as she believed she could become a "woman," not a "transwoman" -- Richards indeed has lots of walls up around her, and can you blame her? In 2007, she was famously misquoted as saying she "regrets" having had the surgery -- something that quickly became a cautionary tale for all transgenders -- when in fact she said that she regretted that there had been no other alternative to surgery -- "better to be an intact man functioning with 100 percent capacity for everything than to be a transsexual woman who is an imperfect woman” -- "but there wasn’t,” and she'd likely committed suicide because the draw to become female was so great. But for all of her intelligence, accomplishments and solipsism, she's always been surprisingly anemic in self-awareness -- as evidenced by many of her actions, like entering an amateur tennis tournament thinking she could pass as a "California housewife"(!) -- so it's from finally hearing from those closest to her and really seeing how it all played out with our own eyes -- something does Drath brilliantly with interviews with friends, family and colleagues from the world of medicine and tennis (John McEnroe, Virginia Wade, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King) plus loads of extremely rare footage of her days in the limelight -- that we are finally able to begin to know the real Renee, whose appearances on the "Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" and countless television interviews belie her claims of being such a "private" person. (First there was Dick and Renee, now there is Private Renee and Exhibitionist Renee.) While she comes across as thoughtful and sympathetic at times -- you really feel for her when you see the enormous guilt she carries about her druggy, deadbeat son, who seems to blame his dad for his problems one minute, then seems to have all the compassion in the world for what Dad must have gone through the next -- it's a bit jarring when you realize everything Renee fought for -- driven by the arrogant, alpha-male personality (which is brought up again and again by friends and colleagues) that still resided somewhere deep inside her -- was for Renee, a former white male, who was not used to being told she couldn't do something, rather than for a greater good. Perhaps that's not as uncommon of trailblazers as I think, and she's since been quoted as saying that it was all about her, but that if others wanted to come along for the ride, then fine. So it's not surprising that Renee has never really been a part of the subsequent transgender movement, not only because she never set out to be an activist, but because her views have changed 180 degrees since her days on the circuit, and she now disagrees with the International Olympic Committee that transgender athletes should be allowed to compete. This hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed, although her precedent-setting case was always confounded by the fact that she was, as Ilie Nastase so perfectly put it, old enough to be the other players' mother, so she was never a true "threat" to dominate the sport. She recognizes now that if she'd had her surgery at age 20, she may very well have taken over, and she doesn't think THAT would be fair, hence her view about today's (non-middle-age) athletes. (For her part, Renee told People magazine that the thing she "regrets" is fighting for the right to play instead of just going back to medicine and having some semblance of a private life. She also says she would never accept an invitation to speak to transgender youth because "it would be presumptuous of me to try to advise people.")
Canadian doubles: Director Eric Drath, Dr. Renee Richards and Virginia Wade
I doubt "Renee" will get a widespread release, but if you can't wait until ESPN gets around to showing it (they were backers), it's available on Tribeca On-Demand HERE. Anyone with an interest in LGBT history owes it to him/herself to learn about Renee Richards, the unwitting Harvey Milk of transgender rights.

Info HERE.

On Sunday we caught a packed screening of "The Green" -- or, as it was known around the lobby, "the Cheyenne Jackson movie." Jackson actually rides shotgun to fellow Broadway star Jason Butler Harner, who plays a school teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a male student. Jackson plays his caterer partner whose loyalties are tested when details of his man's past come to light. Both men -- as well as a charming supporting cast of Julia Ormond (as the lawyer) and Illeana Douglas (as Harner's hilarious coworker/friend) -- give great performances in this uncomfortable story that drips of homophobia. (Oh, Mark Blum -- aka Gary Glass from "Desperately Seeking Susan" -- is in it, too! I hadn't seen him since an episode of "Roseanne.") The ending was a bit melodramatic for me -- too many bows tied around everything when life is almost always a present where the wrapping doesn't line up around the edges -- and the film had a cheap tint to it that I found a bit distracting. But all in all, it's worth checking out -- and despite what I heard in the lobby, it wouldn't just be for the Cheyenne Jackson factor (but it doesn't hurt!). For more information, click HERE.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is Neil Patrick Harris Into Bears?

Neil Patrick Harris stopped by the Build-A-Bear Workshop on Fifth Avenue earlier today to promote his new kid-friendly "Smurfs" movie. Costar Jayma Mays of "Glee" also joined in on the manufactured fun.

Connie Britton Does David Letterman

Gorgeous Connie Britton of "Friday Night Lights" fame was spotted entering the Ed Sullivan Theater this afternoon to tape an appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman." I can hardly wait to see pervy Dave drool all over her -- and who could blame him? If I were gonna marry a chick I'd want her to be just like this one.

I first fell in love with Connie as Ed Burns' sister-in-law in "The Brothers McMullen" way back in 1995. (The lights came up in the theater I saw it at in Washington and both of my brothers were in there, too!) I recently told Ed that I thought she was the unsung hero of the film and he wholeheartedly agreed, telling me he "lucked out" when he found her through an ad in the back of a trade magazine. Ed says he still keeps in touch with her after all these years -- I wonder if they're having dinner tonight!

A Dark Cloud Over the Chelsea Hotel?

When word leaked out that a low-profile real estate investor -- rather than flashy hoteliers like Andres Balazs or Ian Schrager -- had purchased the Chelsea Hotel, some thought this was good news for the legendary former home of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Patti Smith,. But now that it's been announced that they will stop taking reservations as of Tuesday, suspicions of union-busting and more are running wild. Read more HERE.

Hose Job

OK, so it's not just the FDNY that makes these beefcake calendars. But do the smoke eaters in St. Paul like to show off their hoses?

Get your 2012 St. Paul Firefighters calendar HERE (proceeds don't even benefit the department, they go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation -- ain't that something?). Watch a promotional video HERE.

Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael?

Haven't been paying too much attention to what's being billed as New York's first "LGBT hotel and entertainment complex" -- The Out NYC -- set to begin opening later this year in Hell's Kitchen.

  So I was happy to read today that John Blair and Beto Sutter -- of Roxy fame -- are the guys behind the hotel's big dance club, the city's first gay disco to open in 15 years. (Who better, right?) The club is reportedly opening this fall followed by the hotel and restaurants in 2012. I hear they're calling the nightclub XL, which was also the name of their now-closed lounge in Chelsea from back in the day. That bar was right by my apartment, yet I never warmed up to the place. The music was always WAY TOO LOUD -- and I wasn't even old back then! -- and it always struck me as looking like a "really modern" bar in Los Angeles -- circa 1992. Here's hoping XL 2.0 has a touch of the old Roxy in it!


  John Ritter and Dorothy Stratten go for a spin at the Roxy in Peter Bogdanovich's underrated 1981 film, "They All Laughed"

Hollywood Fairy Tales

I didn't even realize Rock Hudson's publicist was still alive.

Music Box: Maroon 5 and Stevie Nicks Do 'Leather and Lace'

Adorable seeing a giddy (and ridiculously hot) Adam Levine make his dream come true by dueting with Stevie Nicks, but who's "leather" and who's "lace"? 

Netflix Ad Fail

Well it's no wonder Netflix stock took a nose dive this week. First their library got raided when licensing deals expire with numerous movie studios (if you can't get "Reckless" from Netflix, where CAN you get it?), then they jack up the price 60 percent for their "new and unimproved" service. If being able to stream a Jennifer Aniston flick(!) -- that no one wanted to see in 1997 -- is the best they can do in their ad campaign, I'm afraid to see what's next.