Friday, June 29, 2007

Walk it out, Fosse

Well, I guess now we know what the world would be like if Bob Fosse choreographed hip hop.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

House of Aviance, or Bedtime Stories

What is it about summer here? I just can't believe how this city comes alive with people walking, jogging and biking everywhere, festival on top of festival, ballgames, barbeques, parties, patios, porches, parks and promenades. It's not the same city it was just three months ago.

The same appears to be true for things to do in the gay community. After a winter of hitting the same old spots with only an intermittent party or special event to spice things up, there is a sudden deluge of options.

This Saturday is a good example. Not only is the ABBA show at Pine Knob/DTE, but Kevin Aviance is performing at
Menjo's. It's like a gay Sophie's Choice. Except of course you win either way. Which I guess would be the gay part of that.

Kevin Aviance is an amazing performer, kind of drag, kind of not. He describes himself as an "entity" on his website. He's been a fixture performing in NYC for years, in particularly known for his time at Twilo and The Roxy. He and I actually go way back. Not as friends really, but friends of friends. Oh, the stories I could tell. And will.

I met my first serious boyfriend (we'll call him Tad Hamilton) back in the little club world of 1991 Washington, DC. He was in school at the time, but had been a fixture on the club scene for a while and his little group was the
House of Aviance, of which Kevin was a member. I remember so well the romantic night when we met dancing to Jean-Philippe Aviance's mix of "Work this Pussy." I met Kevin through Tad.

At the time my roommate and I lived right in the heart of the Dupont Circle gayborhood at 17th & P, and it turned out Kevin moved into a flat in the townhouse next door. He lived with Tatia, a chubby Asian club girl from a good family in McLean, VA, who was plying her trade as a call girl, "the pearl of the orient," known for her large-ish breasts. My roommate, a Georgetown School of Foreign Service graduate student seeking popularity, fell in with that whole clubby group when he started dating one of those boys. It was a watershed moment the day I got home from work and walked into the apartment to see a drag queen (Kevin), a call girl (Tatia), a pimp, a drug dealer and a credit card scam artist all hanging out with my roommate in the living room. The drag part I liked, obviously, but the rest was the beginning of the end of that particular living situation, as you might imagine.

My normally subdued roommate hit a rough patch later when he found out his boyfriend had been cheating on him the whole time they were going out (hasn't that happened to us all at some point?) and a series of extraordinarily dramatic suicide attempts ensued. One time, the roommate drank a bunch of booze and took a bunch of pills, and then decided to seal the deal by using Saran Wrap to seal off our galley kitchen and turning on the oven with the door open. Only one problem: it was an electric oven.

Kevin Aviance was there to save the day anyway! He knew the roommate was home and distraught and couldn't reach him on the phone, so he hopped the fence from his backyard into ours, climbed up the fire escape in his platform boots and kicked in the bedroom window a/c unit! He tore down the hermetic seal on the kitchen and got our boy up and moving around, saving him from potential death (but not future embarrassment about the oven thing).

Coming to a fire escape near you.

Later, when Tad had replaced the roommate in the apartment, I had a visit from an ex-girlfriend (look, I was young). She drove down to visit me while her parents toured the city. We had the full coming-out talk (which she had already guessed, having seen the way Tad and I bickered. We were young.) and it was a great visit. On the morning she left she was walking down the steps of my building with her parents, middle-aged working class folks from Macomb County, just as Kevin Aviance was returning home from a night out. He sauntered down the street in full make-up with a bandeau top, cha-cha heels and huge hoop earrings, looking like a gold lamé Carmen Miranda (with a bald pate instead of a fruit hat). I cringed as I thought about what horrible timing this was, until I found out later my friend's dad just turned to her after Kevin walked by and said "I love this city."

Kevin left DC a little after that, and later started making a name for himself. There's Kevin in the Madonna "Secret" video ... there's his first big club hit "Cunty (The Feeling)." I ran into him once at The Roxy (the same night Madonna walked right past me there - chyeah!) and another time for a big performance at the (then new, now closed) Chelsea bar
xl. He's scored a bunch of other dance hits on the Billboard charts, been on television, and survived a nasty gay-bashing in NYC's East Village a year ago.

Back in the saddle after the gay bashing. NYC Pride 2006.

Really, he's become a bit of a legend, and this Saturday is a great opportunity to see him get his freak on. Go now, so in fifteen years you can be like me, telling stories of the old days like you are your own grandpa.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fun for the whole "family"

So a few years ago my (dear, departed) gay friend Kelly Green (a former Miss) invited me to go see ABBA. "ABBA!" I thought! How exciting! Although I'd read of a possible reunion, I had no idea they were actually touring. Are you sure? Yes? Fantastic, let's go!

So we take the interminable trek up to Pine Knob/DTE Energy Music Theater and as we approach I notice there are remarkably few cars there, given it was to be an full-on ABBA reunion concert ...

Flash forward 20 minutes when we snuggle into our remarkably close-to-the-stage seats and an ABBA tribute band strolls out and starts performing. I was not amused. For long.

It ended up being the full-on funnest concert I'd been to in forever, and despite being a little too close to the stage (e.g. being able to see the shitty wigs on the guys), it felt just like seeing ABBA in person. Totally fun! I could not imagine why the place was not swarming with fags, it truly had more gay potential than it showed that night, and certainly more than anything I'd been to in the metro Detroit area up to that point.

Well guess what? The ABBA tour is coming back through this Saturday! I can honestly recommend the show wholeheartedly. It costs a penny ($10 lawn seats) and totally transports you back to a time when a sequined butterfly-print tunic was completely normal attire.

There are couple great things going on this weekend, but if this remotely interests you, I say go for it. So. Much. Fun!

Excuse my beauty!

While I'm in a humorous mood ...

Has everyone seen this? Man, it's funny. Just watch it, it's Cops and a tranny.

An interesting Op-Ed piece ...

... in The Onion today. They's some funny people.

Where Do Homosexuals Get All Their Energy?
By Brandon Kelley

Boy, am I beat. And it's not like I have some crazy life where I'm working
three jobs and going to night school. No, I just have one job and a small
apartment. I don't even have a pet to look after. Even so, it seems that no
matter what I do, there's always more. If they put another eight hours in the
day, I might be able to catch up on the laundry list of chores I have, or even
just my laundry, if I were lucky. But you know who really gets it done?

Read the rest of it here.

Slow & Smooth

Some good news has come down the pipeline in the last week ... Slows Bar-B-Q in Corktown is finally starting up their Thursday Patio Nights again. Hail Mary!

A train in the tunnel, baby.

If you managed to hit Yacht Rock Thursdays during the late summer last year, you know that co-owners Phillip Cooley and Dean St. Souver know how to spin some smooth tunes, laced with a touch of irony of course. And you know that there are few places as lovely on a summer's eve than the patio at Slows. And finally, you know that the gay hipsters cannot get enough Michael McDonald.

[Catch a snapshot of late summer Slows at the end of this article in Model D, "A Night Out with ... Aliccia Berg Bollig"].

Last Thursday was the soft launch for soft rock at Slows, and it seems the boys are mixing it up just a little this year. And that's a smart move. As the Yacht Rock phenomenon becomes more mainstream it seems only natural that early-adopters would seek to expand the scope of it. Fun music (maybe drifting off a bit into wedding-reception territory at times) and cool people acting decidedly un-cool pretty much define the vibe of the evening.

Is it really gay? Well first off, Slows is one of the gay-friendliest restaurants in the city. And there was always a good batch on the patio when I was there last summer. But I think a better testament comes from Sarah Lurtz, formerly of Wound Menswear and a longtime server at Slows, who said with a laugh, "Oh great, it's gonna be gay night again!"

The official start of Thursday Patio Night is this Thursday, so squeeze into your dangerously low-rise jeans and kiddy t-shirt and go drink beer. And see the very pretty Phillip Cooley in his really, really short white shorts.

The very pretty Phillip Cooley. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Gay Guerrillas Living Proof Tour

The Detroit Guerrilla Queer Bar is at it again. Tonight they are meeting at (proof) on Woodward at Grand Circus Park. You can't miss the giant shining parentheses on their awnings.

I just have to say I am so please the Guerrillas are back on a monthly schedule. Hopefully they don't run out of places to go!

PS: You are really gay if you get the reference in the title here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Love is a Stranger with an Open Bar

Last week was a good one for fancy open bars around town.

Earlier in the week was the Roostertail 50th Anniversary Party. Now the Roostertail always throws a good party, and that venue is really one of the absolutely fabulous places in metro Detroit, but there wasn't really anything particularly gay about it. Well, other than the usual.

HOUR Detroit's "Best of Detroit" party, on the other hand, was an interesting thing. The party, in its second year, was held downtown at the Max. There's no denying that the HOUR crowd is primarily suburban, as evidenced by the number of fake tans, boob jobs and ill-fitting couture in the crowd. Oh, and also by the party's theme "Suburban Bliss." But it's not a bad thing, the fact that events like this draw a big suburban crowd.

On the other hand, it *is* humorous to see a crowd that has such completely different priorities from so many of the people I meet in the city. It's very "fashion," very see-and-be-seen, very kiss-kiss. Contrast with a slightly more typical downtown evening at Atlas, Centaur or the Park Bar and you can really appreciate the qualities that differentiate downtown socializing. Dress up, dress down, whatever, but it's all about having fun and typically not about showing off.

Well enough with feeling superior, because mercifully I can have a good time pretty much anywhere. And big fun was had. The model for this party, declaring everyone "Best of Detroit" and then having them sponsor your big party, is actually brilliant. The food was great, the bar was greater, and the crowd was good people watching.

But the reason I am blogging about this is because of the gays. While not a major presence (hello, it's SE Michigan), the suburban hairdresser crowd was out in full force, not to mention the glorious presence of me and my friends (we were really good at the kiss-kiss). It was a little like Pronto, with none of the gays acknowledging each other unless absolutely necessary, but it always gives me a little joy to see gays downtown.

The evening reached a zenith when I had the EXTREME pleasure of seeing Kwame Kilpatrick pose for a photo with a whole gangle of them. Clearly at at party he doesn't have a problem with the gays. Now if we could just get him to loosen up the rest of the time!

HOUR deserves a little credit for being such a suburban magazine but keeping things oriented toward the city. Under the new editorial regime of Rebecca Powers, that is sure to only get better. She is very interested in the development of the city, and when she was at Detroit Home good coverage of Detroit homes and of the city itself improved greatly. HOUR Media is kind of the SE Michigan media powerhouse, and it'll be nice to have them in our corner.

And if anyone knows anyone involved, I'd love to have a copy of that photo.

It happened on June 19

There is a poster on the Datalounge forum who occasionally makes gay-related "this day in history" posts. They give some really interesting perspective on the history of gay rights, highlighting the progress that has been made but also demonstrating how far things still need to come (or how recently really stupid thing happened).

I'm posting today's because it was cool to see Ann Arbor mentioned. And because the 1998 entry about Alaska appalled me.

1971 - The first gay pride week in Ann Arbor, Michigan began. It had been decreed by the city council.

1975 - The American Medical Association passed a resolution urging all states to repeal laws criminalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults.

1979 - A judge in Catskill, New York awarded permanent custody of a 13-year-old boy to his father, a gay minister. His reasoning was that the father does not abuse the child in any way, contrary to what he sees out of many "so-called straight people."

1983 - In Lynchburg, Virginia, hate-monger Jerry Falwell told his followers that AIDS is a punishment from God, and that no medication could halt the judgment of God. Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore of New York criticized Falwell for using an epidemic as a political weapon.

1989 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announced that executive director Jeff Levi would be leaving and Urvashi Vaid would replace him.

1998 - The Associated Press reported that Keith Goddard, leader of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, was arrested on sodomy charges. A man who was blackmailing him turned him in to police.

1998 - Governor Tony Knowles of Alaska vetoed a bill that would have criminalized sex by anyone who was HIV positive, even if the virus was not transmitted.

1998 - A Superior Court judge in San Francisco ruled that a regulation that bars gays and lesbians from serving in the California National Guard was unconstitutional. Lt. Andrew Holmes had brought the suit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Gayest Video in History

Well, since I'm posting video clips I might as well add on this tiny piece of insanity I found this morning. I literally sat slack-jawed in disbelief watching it.

"What What (in the Butt)" by a person called Samwell. There is some really gay robot dancing involved.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Welcome to my Home!

Well hello!

I've been hesitating to post this video for months, because (frankly) it's long, and I figure most of you have about a two-minute attention span. I say that with love.

But here it is anyway. It's a 1987 fanclub video made by Brenda Dickson, an actress on The Young & The Restless way back in the day. And it's brilliant camp.

Part 1 will blow your mind with a parade of 80's "fashion" and advice on how to get "that look."

Part 2 will blow your mind with the worst workout and nutritional advice ever.

Remember, I'm the person who found Penis Power for you, so I know what I'm talking about. If you can take the time, I guarantee it will become a cherished part of your life.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Last February or so a friend told me about Sass. She had never been to it, but heard of it through friends and passed the info to me when I was looking for gay things to do in Detroit. Sass is queer dance party that caters to a young-ish hipster crowd, and you can read details on their MySpace page.

I thought about checking it out, but I would have had to go by myself since I hadn’t met many gay friends in the city yet, and I figured I was outside the targeted demographic a bit anyway. I’d pay attention to the event schedule, think about going, but then get distracted by something shiny and forget about it.

So I finally have friends who will go to Sass, which is now held at the Buzz Bar, and I went to meet up with them there last night.

What a revelation that was.

I cannot tell you the last time I was in such a happy, positive, hip, fun and energetic gay (fine … queer) club atmosphere. Actually yes I can. It was summer 1988 on Thursday nights at Todd’s, (the old new wave/punk club at 7 Mile & Van Dyke. I’ve been around). It was a great mix of gay boys, some straight boys, and a bunch of straight girls. It was mostly 20’s, but I was mercifully NOT the oldest person there.

The music was great! Now, I am dating myself when I say you could have rifled through my vinyl collection from high school and it would have been pretty much the same music as they played here. But for a group of young hipsters, my gay new wave high school music is now a fun, non-mainstream dance throwback. How fun?

So I danced a little, but mostly I watched, and it just made my bitter, jaded heart melt to see a gay scene so vibrant and edgy and friendly in the city of Detroit. And wouldn’t you know it, Sass is undergoing a change. The guys who make Sass happen are moving away to bigger and better things (as I believe every young person should, at least for a while), so Sass will no longer be a monthly. Maybe three or four times a year, that’s the word. But you know how these things go. As a friend asked, “Is this your first and last Sass?”

The responsible parties.

I think Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2 said it best ... "Oh it all seems so unfair, just when I found you I lost you!"

But keeping things in perspective, for a while last night I was overjoyed to see the kind of gay scene this city so desperately needs to have. As the last song played, a dance remix of “Forever Young” (the song playing on their MySpace page and, oddly, on my current vinyl playlist), I watched everyone out there dancing with huge smiles, hugging and laughing. This song from my high school playlist and their Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack cast a gorgeous sentimental glow over a fleeting moment in Detroit that brings everything good and gay together.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Starbucks is officially owned by Satan

This Paul McCartney album they've published as part of their new label ... they won't stop playing it ... it's so, so horrible ... can barely think ...

If this isn't proof that Starbucks is devil-owned and operated I don't know what is. Why can't the religious right get all over this and leave the gays alone? At least we're not hurting anyone (unless they want it, see previous post).

I'm losing my mind.

International Miss Leather Pageant

For the Memorial Day Weekend I made a quick jaunt to Chicago, and wouldn't you know, it also happened to be the weekend of the 2007 International Mister Leather competition!

This is an annual event held at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago. It celebrates the leather community, provides a reason for gays to travel someplace fun and act all hedonistic 'n' shit, and gives a bunch of queens something to aspire to. Naturally I had to stop in to check it out.

Now the scope of this event is huge. First of all, it takes over the ENTIRE hotel. There are signs at each entrance saying the hotel is booked for a private event, and security guards posted there to prevent the unsuspecting families from wandering into something less than child-friendly. Men and (some) women travel from all over the continent to come to this event, now in its 29th year. It involves an entire weekend of activities, culminating with the crowning of the new International Mister Leather at the Chicago Theater on Sunday night.

In the interest of full disclosure (prior to judging), I should say I don't really get the whole leather thing. I mean, I know there are camaradarie and community-building aspects to it and I am always in favor of those. And I glad that there is a gay niche that isn't all about being pretty and having fabulous clothes. But all the outfits and rules just seem like an awful lot of fuss. Plus I think cockrings are really gross.

My friends and I stopped in on Saturday afternoon, and the place was jumping. The entire lobby is turned into a bar, and people just hang out and people watch. And trust me, that is some gooooooood people watching! Guys were there from all over, and there were a lot of familiar faces from the Detroit area. The standard uniform seemed to be jeans and a t-shirt with some kind of leather accoutrements, but there were also people in the full leather getup. And trust me, you haven't seen anything until you've seen tuxedoed hotel employees serving pizza to a line of leather queens!

The lobby was twice as full by the time we left (around 4pm)

Hemlines are up this season!

Upstairs from the lobby they have an area is called the Leather Mart. It is dirty there, so dirty that they check your ID four times and make you sign a release. It's essentially a gay leather version of the porn conventions they have in Las Vegas. It's booth after booth of sex toys, leather apparel, porn stars, demonstrations, and pretty much anything you can think of.

I found this portion emotionally damaging. I guess it's one thing to read about fisting and really quite another to be wandering through a dark room showing videos and that appeared to be set up for demonstrations later that night (the carpet was covered with a saran wrap-type protective covering. Seriously). And I did not need to know that something called a rosebud pump existed (don't ask).

By the time we had pushed about half-way through the very dense crowd I was like "get me the fuck out of here!" I thought I was brave but I am not, I am a huge vanilla gay coward. I think it was the pissing videos that threw me over the edge.

Of course my friends are a stalwart bunch and got a bigger kick out of it all than I did, my friend Laurita Guarita Los Angeles Jara Perez in particular. She had a run-in with a guy in a bondage bunny suit that was pretty great.

Do not take a Cadbury Cream Egg from this man!

[Bunny makes a beeline for the chick with lip-gloss and feathered hair]

Bunny: So what do you think?

LGLAJP: (looking at her nails) About what?

Bunny: (looks down at outfit) This.

LGLAJP: You're a plushy.

Bunny: Yeah. So what do you think?

LGLAJP: I'd fuck you.

And then she spun him around and pretended to fuck him. It was awesome.

We finished the day grabbing a meal at a pub next door, which was full of its own highlights. The walls were covered in framed headshots of celebrities who have dined there over the years (the goofy guy from F-Troop and Seka were my personal favorites). And even better, we sat next to a table of leather lesbians and one of them had a cane!

All in all, the IML thing was an experience I'm eager to never re-live, but it certainly was worthwhile viewing. I am probably a better person for it. Or at least wiser.

Metro Times tells it like it T-I-S

June is Gay Pride Month! Exciting, right? June gets this distinction because it was in June that the Stonewall Riots transpired in Greenwich Village back in '69. What a great year for that to happen.

It's kind of nice that we get Pride events, even though I rarely go to the local one (which is very remiss of me). The bigger events in cities like Chicago, New York, San Fran, etc are really quite a party, with big parades and all that crazy excess you see in those videos about the gay agenda produced by the religious right. Personally I am glad our community steps out there to wave its freak flag from time to time. No shame, no apologies. Because if mainstream America cannot at the very least tolerate drag queens and dykes on bikes, then they really aren't tolerating you either, Bobby Butch. Whatsoever you do to the least of my sisters, or something like that.

In recognition of Gay Pride Month the Metro Times came out with an issue dedicated to the topic. Opinion, features, music and the arts were all gay-related topics, it was a very cool idea and very well executed. Good job kids!

The best part of the feature, and the one I was prepared to hate, was the article by Wendy Case called "Affirming Ferndale: How a once-faltering suburb became a hub for gay community." Aside from the fact that her piece started out about exactly the same as my piece for Model D ("Where the Gays Are"), it evolved into a really comprehensive and thoughtful examination of why Ferndale has the gay community and Detroit doesn't.

It's a great piece and a highly-recommended read. It hits all the right notes, and to my extreme joy called out Kwame Kilpatrick for his negligence to the gay community. I wish there were some coverage of the gay community that does exist in Detroit, but they're just telling it like it is.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...