Today is the 70th birthday of Barry Alan Pincus of
Brooklyn NY. He wrote a whole bunch of songs & along the way sold over 400
million records as writer, producer, arranger or conductor, up there with
Streisand, Sinatra, Springsteen, & Michael Jackson.
Maybe Barry Manilow will never be ready to take a chance
again. During a 2004 concert in NYC, just as he started to sing a duet with
Broadway star, Brian d’Arcy James, Manilow joked to the audience: “Of course, we're not going to sing it to
each other—that would be creepy.”
His own website diminishes the fact that he began his
career in a gay bathhouse, despite the fact that he’s admitted ripping off his
tuxedo & jumping into the bathhouse’s pool with lots of nude gay men. He
blamed losing his inhibitions on the drinks & joints that had been passed
to him. Manilow: “That’s such a bit of misinformation.
There was just the single bathhouse called the Continental Bathhouse & I
worked there for 2 weekends with Bette Midler & that was it. I accompanied
her for 2 weekends there & then we went on to a lot of nightclubs around
NYC, Chicago & L.A. & she exploded like a year later. So it really
wasn’t ‘gay bathhouses.’ I don't know where that came from.”
On the plus side, Manilow canceled an appearance on The View because of Elisabeth
Hasselbeck’s ultra-conservative stances. Manilow: “I strongly disagree with her views, I think she's dangerous & offensive.
I will not be on the same stage as her.” When Manilow was being honored in
Palm Springs for his AIDS awareness efforts, he stated: “I've had 4 personal assistants in my career since the 1970s, & 3
out of the 4 have died of AIDS. My personal assistants have always become my
best friends. They are my brothers.”
Manilow once complained that when the Reagans became his
neighbors in Bel-Air: "I thought it
was pretty hot, but the secret service was all over the place. I always know
when they are coming home because of all the helicopters. If I am out there
sunbathing in the nude, I go, shit, the Reagans are coming home.”
When Elizabeth Taylor asked him the early 1980s for help
raising money to fight the disease he was there. Manilow: “Her friend, Rock Hudson, had died. She was the first one to try to
make the public aware of this disease that was infecting everybody, & she
was throwing a big dinner party. She called her entertainer friends, & they
all turned her down. I don't know why. But I got the call & said, ‘Of
course.’ But my band wasn't around. I just went there & played piano & sang
for a good hour. It was the first one she had, & it was the first time I
had ever done anything like that.”
I have never been, nor do I suspect that I will ever be a
Fanalow. Even with my egalitarian & all-encompassing musical tastes, I
never did find myself on the Manilow journey. The closest to an exception was
when I was working for ASCAP in NYC, circa mid-1970s. I was engaged in
listening to 6 hours of commercial radio play & entrusted to identify all
the music recorded: commercials, bridges, lead-ins, cues & songs. I would
not listen to songs all the way through. I was paid a bonus for finishing more
than the 6 hour tape. Yet, I was very taken with a certain radio hit. I knew
the song in the first 3 notes, but I would listen all the way through. I began
to think it would be an effective ballad in my own act. The song was Weekend In
New England sung by Barry Manilow.
I think it is unfortunate that Manilow suffers from the
same fear of fan rejection that Liberace did. It would have been fun to have
him be an out & proud gay man. For 25+ years, Manilow has lived with his
"manager" Garry Kief in homes they share in NYC, Bel Air & Palm
Springs. Could It Be Magic?
His name was Dodge & he seemed to me to be impossibly
old, maybe even 24 years old. He looked like James Taylor & he lived in
bohemian digs in Browne’s Addition, the closest thing Spokane had to a gay
neighborhood. Dodge’s sitting room, draped in Indian print bedspreads, was a
turret in a Queen Anne style mansion that had been broken up in to small
apartments. I never saw his bedroom, try
as I might.
Dodge was my pot dealer from 1969-1972, & I loved him
for his long limbed, gangly body & sweet hippy disposition & of course,
for the plant materials he provided for sale. During that epoch, Mary Jane was
sold by the “lid” & was measured by finger widths. I would buy a “3 finger
lid” for $15 from Dodge &then lounge around the turret room after the
transaction, listening to music, getting stoned & trying to seduce Dodge.
Dodge introduced me to the amazing music of Harry Nillson.
It was the album- Harry in 1969, then
Nilsson Schmilsson & The Point in 1971, & Son Of Schmilsson just 8 months later. Hard
to believe, musicians from that era sometimes released more than one album a
year. Nilsson’s songs would receive plenty of listening by me for the next 40+
years. His music spoke to me with the unique blend of 2 genres that I hold
dear; Tin Pan Alley & Rock n’ Roll.
In October of 1979, I declared my romantic inclinations
to a married, impossibly beautiful set designer, who would eventually become my
husband. I said the words: “I have fallen in love with you” as A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night played on the
stereo in the background. Nilsson’s version of Irving Berlin’s What’ll I Do? would become “our song”.
30 years later I would weep while playing Nilsson’s Without You on repeat when I assumed that we were about to divorce.
Nilsson deserves to be grouped with Gershwin, Cole
Porter, Berlin, & Lennon/McCartney as one the great songwriters of 20th
century standards. He was considered a peer by all 4 members of the Beatles,
who all called him a 5th Beatle, & someone on the same wavelength as
Nilsson refused to tour, so Baby Boomers don't remember him,
& those born after his apex are unaware of who he even was. This is tragic.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be exposed to this wonderful talent.
Nilsson spent the last 15 years of his relatively short
life with a vocation for self-destruction. He died at 52, overweight & dissipated,
of heart disease, after a decades long rampage of non-stop overindulgence in
alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, hard partying, & flagrant misuse
of his special vocal instrument.
Yet, he had perhaps the most gifted pop singing ability
of his generation; he was financially & artistically successful, was held
with industry acclaim, won a Grammy, an Oscar, an unusually good recording contract
with a top label, & recorded at least 2 perfect albums - Nilsson
Schmilsson, all originals, & A
Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night, all standards recorded with a live
Brooklyn born Nilsson’s bestselling song was his
rendition of Fred Neil's Everybody's
Talkin', featured in the film Midnight
Cowboy. His own submission for the
film’s title song, the rejected- I Guess
The Lord Must BeIn New York City
is one of my favorite songs about my favorite city.
Nilsson's produced & wrote a charming & captivating
animated film- ThePoint!, broadcast on ABC in
February,1971, as an ABC Movie of the Week. Nilsson's self-produced album of
songs from The Point! includes the
enchanting single, Me & My Arrow,
my favorite song about dogs.
Nilsson chose producer Richard Perry to record his very
best album- Nilsson Schmilsson. It
yielded 3 very stylistically different hit singles. The first was a cover of
Badfinger's song Without You, featuring
a highly emotional arrangement & soaring vocals, recorded, according to
Perry, in a single take. This song still stirs my senses.
The second single is Coconut,
a favorite of my father, which makes me love it even more. Coconut is a novelty number with a calypso beat featuring 4
characters: a narrator, a brother, a sister, & the doctor, all sung in
different voices by Nilsson. The song is remembered for using just a single
chord- C7th & for the chorus lyric, "Put de lime in de coconut, &
drink 'em both up." The third single- Jump
Into The Fire, is raucous, ranting Rock n’ Roll.
Nilsson’s music has informed my life for the past 5
decades. I still discover tracks that sound as if they could be listened to
fresh today. I have recently re-discovered the off-beat charm of his songs
& score for Robert Altman's musical film- Popeye. I am listening to him as I compose this post. Nilsson would
have been celebrating his 72nd birthday with his best pal- John Lennon today,
if they had both made it.
Who amongst us has not restrained a rent boy to a
radiator? I mean you can’t trust them to be left alone in the room. What is a
pop star supposed to do?
At the height of his fame, before the bruising blows of
pop star failure, drug addiction, & tabloid infamy, Boy George was the
embodiment of fantasy escapism. The Karma Chameleon who blurred boundaries of
sexuality & gender, he was a figure of wish fulfillment of the desire to be
able to transcend our physical limitations & be something other than whom
& what we are. Using bewitchment, beauty, & disguise, Boy George showed
that you could be anything & anyone & achieve acclaim.
Boy George: British gay soul singer, lyricist, DJ,
sexually ambiguous gender-bending superstar of the 1980s, trendsetter, fashion
model, autobiographer, gay rights campaigner, anti-racism & animal rights
activist. During the years of Culture Club he had international success as a
media celebrity until revelations about his secret hard drug problem hit the
tabloids. At the end of the 1980s he began to rehabilitate & reinvent
himself from being an outsider, freak, &victim to respectable
celebrity. He also turned to Buddhism
which brought together his pacifist beliefs & vegetarianism.
In the new century, Boy George continues to record music,
DJ & make the tabloids. He has been involved in a series of scandals, drug
arrests & peculiar behavior, but who else can carry off an ankle monitor
with such finesse? This year marks Boy
George's 52nd year & the 32nd anniversary of Culture Club.
In the early 1960s, Lynde was on trans-continental
flight. A child was not being supervised by her parents & was running up
& down the aisle making noise & annoying the other passengers. The
mother obviously thought this behavior was precious. When Lynde could take no
more of the child's shenanigans, he rose from his seat &approached the
mother & emphatically stated: "Madam,
if you don't control your child this instant, I will have to fuck her."
Lynde was one of the first personalities that I identified
as gay when I was a child. I thought his way with a salty one liner & his
unique delivery was just too funny. I loved him in the film of Bye Bye Birdie, in a role he originated
on Broadway. He was only just barely a closet case with his camp & snarky
demeanor & delivery.
In 1965, Lynde was involved in an accident in which his
24 year old lover, fell 8 stories to his death from the window of their hotel
room in San Francisco's Sir Francis Drake Hotel after a night of drinking
games. The event was witnessed by a pair of policemen, but the story was
largely kept out of the press.
In 1976, a People
magazine article on Lynde featured him with Stan Finesmith, his
“chauffeur/bodyguard.” In 1978, Lynde
was arrested outside of a gay bar in Salt Lake City. After the arrest, he lost
his guest starring role on The Donny
& Marie Show.
Peter Marshall: “Paul,
why do Hell's Angels wear leather?”
Paul Lynde: “Because
chiffon wrinkles too easily.”
Peter Marshall: “What's
the one thing you should never do in bed?”
Paul Lynde: “Point
Peter Marshall: "In
The Wizard Of Oz, the Tin Man wanted a heart & the Lion wanted courage.
What did the Straw Man want?”
Paul Lynde: “He
wanted the Tin Man to notice him.”
Peter Marshall: “At
a recent hearing, opponents of fluoridated water claim that when it is in in a
person's system it can cause an uncontrollable desire for sex.”
Paul Lynde: “HEY,
Peter Marshall: “Paul,
any good sailor knows that when a man falls off a ship you yell 'Man
overboard!' What should you shout if a woman falls overboard?”
Paul Lynde: “Full
Peter Marshall: “What
is said to be wasted on the young?”
Paul Lynde: “A
Lynde was club performer, director, recording artist,
actor on Broadway, films, TV, cartoons & summer stock. He was one of
Hollywood's finest chefs & hosts. Lynde: “I can't even get 3 weeks off to have cosmetic surgery!”
Lynde spent a lifetime engaged in ongoing personal
struggles in his private life, as the tabloids occasionally reported, but he
remained appreciated by those in his profession, friends & fans. He was
perhaps most famous just for being Paul Lynde.The enigmatic Lynde: “I
don't know who the hell Paul Lynde is, or why he's funny, & I prefer it to
be a mystery to me. An actor shouldn't undergo psychoanalysis, because there
are a lot of things you're better off not knowing.”
Lynde was found dead in his Beverly Hills home by his
friend Paul Barresi on Monday, January 11, 1982. He was just 55 years old. Lynde
enjoyed a precarious life of men, drinking & partying.
For more than 50 years in show biz, he squandered his
considerable intelligence, talent & beautiful baritone, to play a hillbilly.
Jim Nabors denied his gayness for
the sake of his career, even partying with the Reagans. Hard to forgive?
In early January, with just a simple exchange of rings in
front of a judge in a Seattle hotel room, Nabors married Stan Cadwallader, his
partner of 38 years. Nabors met Cadwallader, a former firefighter in Honolulu,
Nabors: “We had no
rights as a couple before we were
married, yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to
happen there, you’ve got to solidify something, & at my age, it’s probably
the best thing to do.”
Nabors, who was born & raised in Sylacauga, Alabama.
He originated the character of the hapless but loveable gas-station attendant
Gomer Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show,
& reprised the role in 5 seasons of Gomer
Pyle, U.S.M.C. on which the
goofball character was perpetually making trouble for his military superiors.
My insider sources tell me that Nabors was quite popular in the industry &
the ultimate professional on the set. He was a regular guest on The Carol Burnett Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Muppet Show, & his own variety
series, The Jim Nabors Hour.
Nabors had always been open about his sexuality to his
co-workers in the biz, but claims that he never wished to get involved in the national
debate over gay rights. Nabors: “I haven’t ever made a public spectacle of it. Well,
I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on. It’s not that kind of a thing.
I’ve never made a huge secret of it at all.”
The happy couple lives in Hawaii. Nabors turns 83 years
old on this day.
50 years ago today- June 11, 1963, Thích Quảng Đức sat down in lotus position at
a busy intersection in Saigon, doused himself in gasoline, lit a match &
burned to death. This spectacular public act of self-immolation in protest
against the South Vietnamese government’s persecution of Buddhists sent
shockwaves throughout the Western world, despite the American government’s
assurances that all was going well with the Vietnam War. The burning body of
Thích Quảng Đức continues to be one of the most vivid & iconic photographic
images of the 20th century.
European colonists supported French- Indochina’s minority
Roman Catholic population & had passed several punitive laws discriminating
against Buddhists. In the wake of France’s withdrawal, the Buddhist position
worsened under South Vietnam’s first president, Ngô Đình Diệm – a devout Roman
Catholic despot & an American puppet. A crisis was sparked in May 1963 in
the central city of Huế by the shootings of 9 unarmed civilians protesting a
national ban of the Buddhist flag. Diệm blamed the deaths on communist
Buddhist leaders demanded an end to religious oppression.
Diệm refused. On June 10th, a
spokesperson for the Buddhists privately informed US journalists that
“something important” would happen the next day on the road outside the
Cambodian embassy in Saigon. The few reporters who showed up witness an
elaborate ceremony as 350 Buddhist monks & nuns marched carrying protest
banners. Thích Quảng Đức placed a cushion on the road. As the marchers formed a
circle around him, Quảng Đức chanted a prayer to the Buddha before striking a
match. He remained composed amid the flames.
The unprecedented TV coverage of the Vietnam War brought
the brutal realities of war into the world’s living rooms for the first time
& terrible fights at my family’s dinner table. But few images would shock
the world more than Thích Quảng Đức’s suicide-protest. My mother begged me to
stop studying it. JFK stated that “no news picture in history has generated so
much emotion around the world as that one.” Many Americans viewed Thích Quảng Đức’s
act as proof that Vietnam lacked the most cherished of American liberties:
freedom of religion. The world’s outrage forced USA officials to fear that it
would lead to the end of their hand-picked regime’s reign & the USA’s effort
to combat communism in Asia.
But the world’s displeasure could not compel Diệm to end
his persecution or even meet with the Buddhists. In August, Diệm used troops to
arrest & imprison several thousand Buddhists in Hue & Saigon. Protests
spread, & Quảng Đức’self-immolation was followed by similar acts. People
around the world began to question a regime that would oppress peaceful
Buddhists & provoke such shocking sacrifice. Our government found it increasingly
difficult to continue to support the man they had placed in power. JFK demanded
that Diệm end the protests. Diệm refused, outrageously claiming yet again that
communist infiltration lay behind the Buddhist protests. The American people
lost patience. On November 1st 1963, the CIA orchestrated a coup against a
no-longer-useful Diệm. He was assassinated the very next day.
Thích Quảng Đức was deemed a Bodhisattva, an enlightened
being who delays nirvana to help those in need. His heroic act precipitated the
end of Diệm’s oppressive reign, & the regimes that came after, even the
Communists, pledged to accommodate the Buddhists.
Thích Quảng Đức’s heart, which miraculously survived the
immolation intact, is held as a holy relic.
Photograph by Malcolm Browne. Browne, a NY Quaker, would
win a Pulitzer. He died last summer of complications from Parkinson’s.
He would become a success at just 25 years old with a
light farce- French Without Tears
(1936), but Terence Rattigan wanted to be considered a serious writer. His next
piece was a satirical drama After The
Dance (1939), attacking the cynical generation of Bright Young Things for
their failure to stop another war. Success brought more success, & his very
well received plays: The Winslow Boy, The
Browning Version, The Deep Blue Sea,
& Separate Tables, were all made
into even more popular films. He served as the writer of the screenplays of
most of his plays & by the 1960s he was Hollywood’s best paid writer.
He was nominated for 2 Oscars. But just as his works
struck out with the younger generation, in 1956, John Osborne's Look Back In Anger knocked cold the archetype
of the Rattigan generation: the collected, composed, chastened, creaky
characters that held back emotions. Rattigan fell deeply out of favor with the
critics who had championed him, just as he was hitting his best notes.
In 1957 he wrote his first play that directly addressed
his homosexuality, Variation On A Theme,
& it was not well received. Rattigan learned to keep his own relationships
well hidden, perhaps to the point of being emotionally cut off even from his
Rattigan enjoyed plenty of lovers but no long-term
partners. His work is essentially autobiographical, containing coded references
to his sexuality, which he kept secret from all but his closest friends.
Rattigan alternated between comedies & dramas, all
works of understated emotions, & craftsmanship. When seemingly overnight
his sort of theatre fell into disfavor, Rattigan responded with bitterness. His
churlish remarks only confirmed that he had no sympathy or understanding of the
new, more modern world. Yet, his later plays from this era: Ross, Man & Boy, In Praise Of Love, & Cause Célèbre, showed no decline in his
No longer feeling at home in the swinging, mod London of
the 1960s, Rattigan made his home in Bermuda, where he continued to write. He
lived off the proceeds from lucrative screenplays including The V.I.P.s & The Yellow Rolls-Royce.
He was diagnosed as having leukemia in 1962 but recovered
2 years later, but fell ill again in 1968. Rattigan died of leukemia in his
beloved Bermuda in 1977, at 66 years of age.
Rattigan was knighted in1971 for services to the theatre,
being only the 4th playwright to be knighted in the 20th century (after William
Gilbert in 1907, Arthur Wing Pinero in 1909 & Noël Coward in 1970).
Rattigan’s plays have enjoyed a renaissance in the 21st
century. I love his work & I hold him as one of the last century's finest
playwrights, an expert elicitor of emotion, & an anatomist of human
emotional pain. A string of successful stage revivals & films in the past
decade include a West End production of The
Winslow Boy, Ross, Man & Boy on Broadway with Frank
Langella, In Praise Of Love & Separate Tables at the Royal Shakespere,
A Bequest To The Nation, starring
Janet McTeer & Kenneth Branagh, After
The Dance at London's Royal National Theatre, & Cause Célèbre at The Old Vic last season.
One of my favorite films of 2011 was the new version of The Deep BlueSea starring Rachel Weisz.
I highly recommend the 1958 film version of Separate Tables with Deborah Kerr, Rita
Hayworth, Windy Hiller, winner of the best Supporting Actress for the role,
Burt Lancaster & David Niven, who won the Oscar for Best Actor. I also very
much enjoyed 2000’s The Winslow Boy
with Jeremy Northam, & the 1994 film version of The Browning Version with Albert Finney.
How can I come up with a gay connection to Judy Garland?
Let’s see… her father was gay, 2 of her husbands were gay, the man she
handpicked as a husband for her daughter was gay, her gay fans remained her
most steadfast fans through the drugs & the booze, the ups &downs, the
fruit of her loins was Liza Minnelli & then there is that little film- The Wizard Of Oz.
44 years after her death, Judy Garland remains the very
definition of gay icon. Her failed relationships, her self-doubt, & her
battle with substance abuse are aspects of a life that most of us can identify
with, while her live performances reflect a truth & freedom that are
desired by anyone that has wasted time hiding their own emotions.
Gay culture can't escape Garland's influence. The Stonewall
Riots have been attributed to the anger & grief felt on Garland's funeral
that day. The term- "Friend of Dorothy," is from our coded
identification with Garland's most famous role.
Garland's 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall is a landmark in
Show Biz. 2 years earlier, she had been advised to retire from performing after
being diagnosed with hepatitis, but instead she took on a series of concerts in
Europe & the USA that reestablished her reputation as the top entertainer
of all time. The Carnegie Hall show is regarded as the greatest evening in show
biz history. The live recording of that concert spent more than a year on the
Billboard charts & won 7 Grammys, including Album of the Year.
My dear friend-Walter
Kennedy & I once stayed up late into the night watching CDs of her TV show
from the early 1960s. I was entranced by her presence & horrified by the
histrionics. Sometimes when listening to her recordings, I am put off by the
feeling that she sings every single song as if it were her last. Her over the
top interpretations of the great standards push me away. But, then I hear the
original version or her late in life version of Over The Rainbow & I end up crying. Judy Garland loved her fans
& they loved her back. I love her for that.
I am not certain how the tradition started, but sometime
in my late teens, I would give my mother a gift of a classic children’s’ book
on her birthday. The very first one I presented her with was Maurice Sendak’s Where TheWild Things Are. She had
given me a copy for Christmas 1963. I traveled with my copy to Boston, LA,
& NYC. I am not sure at what point it was lost, but I hope some child, or
child at heart loved having my copy.
Maurice Sendak has inspired the imagination of readers
young & old for more than 55 years. A prolific author & illustrator of
children’s books, he has published over 100 works of fiction. Sendak has
received numerous awards, including the prestigious Caldecott Medal, the
National Book Award & the National Medal of Arts.
Born in Brooklyn, to Jewish immigrants, Sendak’s early
childhood was plagued with illness. He spent most of his time indoors where he
satisfied his imagination with books. Having discovered his creative voice at a
young age, Sendak found the perfect expression in drawing &
illustration. At the age of 12, after
seeing Disney’s Fantasia, an
awestruck Sendak decided to become an illustrator. Growing up, Sendak developed
from other influences, starting with Mickey Mouse. Sendak & Mickey Mouse
were born in the same year & Sendak described Mickey as a source of joy
& pleasure while growing up. Sendak: "My
gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all
my heart." He explained that
reading Emily Dickinson's works helps him to remain calm in an otherwise hectic
world: "& I have a little tiny Emily Dickinson so big that I carry in
my pocket everywhere. & I just read 3 poems. She is so brave. She is so
strong. She is such a passionate little woman. I feel better." Of Mozart,
he said: "When Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something
I can't explain. I don't need to. I know
that if there's a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart."
One of Sendak’s first professional jobs was creating window
displays for the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz. His illustrations were first
published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics
For The Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s
working as an artist for children’s books, before beginning to write his own
stories. Sendak also illustrated Else Holmelund Minarik’s famous Little Bear series of books, which are
based on my life.
His best known book-
Where the Wild Things Are has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. In
2009, it was adapted into a critically acclaimed film directed by Spike Jonze.
Sendak’s work has often generated controversy. In The Night Kitchen, published in
1970s, features a young boy prancing naked around his house. It has been
censored in many states. In The Night Kitchen
remains on the American Library Association’s list of frequently challenged
books. It was listed #11 on the 100 Most Banned Books of 2012.
The Wild Things Are has been condemned by conservatives who
claim the book involves witchcraft & supernatural elements. Sendak: "I thought my career was over, the kids
saved me. They loved the books because they are not afraid of life.”
In addition to writing & illustrating, Sendak has
created award-winning set designs for dance, opera & theater, including his
beloved Mozart’s The Magic Flute,
Prokofiev’s Love For 3 Oranges &Tchaikovsky’s
ballet The Nutcracker for PNW Ballet.
The sets were stored a few blocks from our cottage in the Wallingford
neighborhood of Seattle & I would see stacks of huge toy soldiers &
rats stacked up against an outdoor wall in my dog walks.
In the 1970’s, Sendak donated nearly 10,000 works of art,
photographs, manuscripts & books to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in
Philadelphia, including rare sketches for unpublished editions of stories such
as Tolkien’s The Hobbit & Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, & other
Until he was 80 years old, Sendak hid his gayness from
the public fearing it would ruin his career. Sendak: “All I wanted was to be
straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew.” In a
terrific 2008 interview with the NY Times, Sendak opened up about his private
life & revealed his 50+ year relationship with psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn,
who passed away the previous year.
He had not published a new book in 30 years, but in 2011,
his Bumble-Ardy, the story of a pig
party was published, again based on an incident in my life.
Maurice once told Newsweek
magazine that parents could “go to hell” if they felt the movie Where The Wild Things Are was too scary
Coming out of the closet is an important step to finding
happiness, even if you wait until you are 80. My hope is that Sendak found happiness
in his golden years, despite the tragic loss of his life partner. After his partner's death, Sendak donated $1
million to the Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services in memory of
Glynn who had treated young people there. The gift named a clinic for Glynn.
Sendak was an atheist, & stated in a September 2011 interview
on NPR that he didn't believe in God: "Religion
& belief in God must have made life much easier for some religious people,
if harder for us non-believers.”
Sendak left this world last spring. We celebrate his 85th
birthday today. Take a look at today’s Google Doodle in his honor.
At a very young age, I was so enamored of the songs of
Cole Porter & the story of his life & friendships, that my parents gave
me huge “coffee table” book about this great American songwriter for Christmas
when I was just 11 years old, & then followed it up with another big book
of his collected lyrics for my birthday the next week. I still have both books.
Born in Peru, Indiana in 1891, Porter studied music from
an early age, & began composing as a teenager. After high school he attended
Yale University, where he was voted “most entertaining man.” He went on to law
school at Harvard University, but his interest remained in music. At Harvard he
continued to write songs, & a some of his pieces were used in Broadway
In 1916, his first full score was performed. The musical-
See America First was a flop & closed
after only 15 performances. Bruised by the experience, Porter began to travel
around Europe & got an apartment in Paris. This was the beginning of his
lifelong affection for the city, which he would return to in songs- You Don’t Know Paree & I Love Paris. During his time in
Europe, Porter contributed material to many musicals, but until his song- Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love appeared in the 1928 musical Paris, he had not had a big hit. Paris
was a place Cole flourished socially. He attended parties with his pal Noel
Coward. The parties of the era were elaborate & fabulous, attended by the
upper crust. His own parties were marked by gay & bisexual activity,
cross-dressing, international musicians & actors, & a large surplus of
recreational drugs. I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era, the very
theme of Woody Allen’s terrific 2011 film- Midnight
Porter started spending time with American divorcee-
Linda Thomas, & they became close friends quickly. Their financial & social
status made them prefect as a married couple. The fact that Linda's ex-husband
was abusive & Cole was gay made the arrangement even more perfect. Linda
was always one of Porter's staunch supporters & being married increased his
chance of success. Being married to Porter allowed Linda to keep high status in
society for the rest of her life. They married in 1919 & lived in a happy
arrangement, a successful public relationship, but a sexless marriage, until
Linda's death in 1954.
Porter was happy with a life in Hollywood in the 1930s,
including working in a more liberal movie industry where Porter enjoyed
increasingly open sexual adventures. At the time, it was somewhat more
acceptable to be an eccentric gay artist, but Linda feared for Porter’s
reputation & career. Her social standing was threatened by his activities
& the rumors in upper-crust social circles.
Despite a horseback riding accident in 1937 that crippled
him for life, Porter produced much of his best work in the 1940s & 1950s.
He wrote 100s of songs for Broadway shows, movie musicals, & TV specials.
His most successful musical- Kiss Me Kate
opened in 1948 & ran for over a 1000 performances.
A recluse in his
later years, Porter died in California in 1964.
In 1945 the film Night
& Day was made with Cary Grant, allegedly about the life of Cole
Porter. This movie has almost nothing to do with the actual life of the
songwriter. Night & Day leaves
out the important elements of his gay life & his sexless marriage of
The 1990 album- Red,
Hot, & Blue features Cole Porter songs sung by popular musicians of the
1980s & early1990s. It remains a favorite of mine. The dismal, dreary 2004
movie- De-Lovely, with an improbable
Kevin Kline as Porter, came a tiny bit closer to the true story & featured
beautiful sets, major actors, famous current musicians, & a strong
Hollywood marketing campaign for the movie & the soundtrack. But for me,
this movie is a miserable mess.
The songs of Cole Porter remain very important to me.
This is my favorite:
Well, first of all, there is that voice. I always think
of my distinctive voice, made possible by decades of pot smoking & whiskey
drinking, but Harvey Fierstein
brings it all to a whole new level, a 300-pound man who sounds like he's been
chain-smoking since the age of 3.
Fierstein grew up in Bensonhurst, the son of a
handkerchief manufacturer & a school librarian. He attended Pratt &
began his career in the mid-1970s performing in drag bars under the name
Virginia Hamm. It was Fierstein's collection of interconnected,
semi-autobiographical one-act plays in the late 1970s- Torch Song Trilogy, that eventually brought him to Broadway. (He
also starred in the big screen adaptation.). He has the distinction of winning
Tony Awards for both writing & playing the lead role in his long-running
play about a gay drag performer & his quest for true love & family.
Fierstein has since effectively become a celebrity
spokesperson & champion for gay civil rights. He describes himself as a
"first real, live, out-of-the-closet queer on Broadway". He wrote the
book for the musical La Cage Aux Folles
& he has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards. Fierstein has been featured in
the films Bullets Over Broadway, Mrs.
Doubtfire, Death to Smoochy, &
Fierstein's turn as Edna Turnblatt in the musical Hairspray earned him a Tony award in
2003. Fierstein virtually owned the role, but he was ultimately turned down for
movie version of Hairspray. Closet
case, John Travolta, was cast instead.
He played Tevye in a recent revival of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway & then
toured the country in the iconic role. His brave, unlikely & open portrayal
of a straight father of 3 daughters in the Jewish The Sound Of Music earned him
rave reviews all over the country. My first professional role was as Motel the
tailor in Fiddler On The Roof in
1971. I have a soft spot for this show & I think it would have been nifty
to have played Grandma Tzeitel in Harvey’s production. He appeared in the 2011 season's
popular revival of La Cage Aux Folles,
replacing Douglas Hodges as Albine/Zaza. Fierstein wrote the book for last
year’s Broadway hit- Newsies. The terrific film- Kinky Boots was begging for adaption into a stage musical &
Fierstein did it. Kinky Boots with
music & lyrics by Cyndi Lauper is currently playing at the Al Hirschfeld
Theatre on Broadway, where it was nominated for thirteen 2013 Tony Awards &
has received rave reviews.
I really like & admire Harvey Fierstein. He has been
a vocal gay rights activist, speaking out for gay people, queer theater, &
AIDS causes. He has been a spokesman for the Services Legal Defense Fund, a
group that advocates for the rights of gays & lesbians in the military.
Fierstein: "Time will tell us what
we did & didn't do. The way that I look at it, the only thing that I will
definitely take credit for is that Torch Song & La Cage Aux Folles, 2 of my
shows, were the first ever gay themed shows to make money on Broadway. I think
that counts more than anything."
Harvey Fierstein Turns 61 years old today. The Tony Awards broadcast is part of the High
Holy Days at this house & the award show is this Sunday. I will be there.
Fierstein lives on 7 acres in Connecticut. I would welcome the opportunity to
have cocktails & a chat.
I am just crazy for her. I have seen Sandra Bernhard
perform live 6 times (that I remember), including a non-concert question &
answer session at the University of Washington in the mid-1990s... &
she never disappointed.
father was a proctologist & my mother was an abstract artist, so that's how
I view the world."
Bernhard gives us hysterical insights & outspoken
& hilarious diatribes on the state of modern culture with a smart Rock N’
Roll attitude, fresh, crazy & real. She inspires & invigorates.
Bernhard has staying power. 30 years after she broke out
with her off-Broadway show- Without You
I'm Nothing, Bernhard stays with me. Mouthy, obnoxious & a rumored
former lover of Madonna, I have loved her since her stint as Nancy Bartletto on
Roseanne. The NY Times: "…a living,breathing
bonfire." Critic Camille Paglia : “While
many of her peers pander to the mainstream, Sandra Bernhard challenges fans
& critics alike with her knife-edged satire, insightful observations of pop
culture, & emotive performances.”
Her accomplishments include comedy, film, TV, music &
books. Bernhard has crafted a unique agenda of social commentary, biting humor
& satire, mixed in with some music.
Bernhard toured nationwide in her shows- Without You I'm Nothing & Giving Till It Hurts. She is also a
bestselling author, May I Kiss You On The
LipsMiss Sandra ?, her 3rd
book. I own all her books including a
signed copy of Without You... She has
also written articles for Vanity Fair,
People, Rolling Stone, Elle, &
Bernhard received raves for her performance in my
favorite Scorcese flick- King Of Comedy.
She has been seen in such films as Track
29, Hudson Hawk,& Unzipped, & on TV on Will &Grace, The Sopranos, & Ally McBeal. From
1991-1996 she played the fiercely independent & always outspoken Nancy on Roseanne.
A year ago this weekend, I caught Bernhard’s show- Sandrology, a hybrid of vocals, cabaret,
burlesque, political & social commentary, & stream of consciousness. Sandrology was a big old-school show with
an amazing rock band & great songs about what is happening in society,
politics, pop culture, & her life.
Fierce, tender, confrontational, yet vulnerable, funny, philosophical & always
controversial, I love her. I want Sandra & Harvey Fierstein to come for
cocktails in the Boys’ Fort this summer. That would be a whole bunch of big
Jewish Gay fun!
Bernhard celebrates her 57th birthday today. She
lives in LA & NYC with her long-time partner Sara Switzer.
"At some point, the pride has to be a part of the whole
day-to-day oeuvre. It's part of who you are & doesn't need to be discussed
The media are abuzz with this story & at last, it
seems to be a bi-partisan issue, with Republicans defending the action & Republicans
decrying the policy. Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein claims it has already
saved American lives & Oregon’s own Ron Wyden stated: “I am barred by
Senate rules from commenting on some of the details at this time. However, I
believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when
they call, & where they call from is private information.Collecting this data about every single phone
call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of
The administration has been quietly collecting millions
of telephone records from U.S. Verizon customers under a top-secret court order
first obtained in late April, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
A copy of the classified order, posted Wednesday on the
newspaper's website, reveals that Verizon has been required to provide to the
National Security Agency on an "ongoing, daily basis" information on
all phone calls made through its systems.
Personally, I do not see what the big deal is. If you are
not doing anything illegal or immoral than you have nothing to fear. Verizon is
my carrier & except for their messages to me about my bill being overdue
& my “data use is over-extended”, I do not care if Attorney General Eric Holder
has a look at my calls. In fact I have long held a fantasy of being spanked by
Like most Americans, I am more than willing to give up
all of my civil liberties if it will keep me safe from Islamic Fundamentalists.
I just do not want the NSA knowing that my DVR is heavy with shows on Bravo.
Have you ever spent time with a book you loved so much,
you didn’t want it to end? I started to slow down my pace with Just Kids, Patti Smith’s recollection of
her time with Robert Mapplethorpe, when they were young, inseparable, perfectly
bohemian, & completely unknown, just to have it linger.
Smith recounts that when a couple of tourists in
Washington Square Park spotted them on an autumn day in 1967 & argued if they
warranted a snapshot. The woman thought they looked like artists. The man
dismissed: “They’re just kids.”
Smith & Mapplethorpe walk through a snow storm to
Times Square on New Year's Eve 1969 to witness a huge John & Yoko peace
billboard. Later, on her own, she runs into Allen Ginsberg at the automat,
where he helps her buy a sandwich after mistaking her for a boy. They became
lifelong friends & he was a profound influence on her work & future.
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was born on this day- June 5th
in1926. Like Patti Smith, he was raised
in New Jersey. His father, Louis, was a successful poet who walked around the
house reciting poetry. His mother suffered from paranoia & was in & out
of mental hospitals her adult life. 3 years after her death in 1958, Ginsberg
wrote the poem- Kaddish for Naomi
Allen Ginsberg was a social revolutionary, a protest poet
& a longtime & committed activist. He beat the drum for the Beat Movement,
lauding nonconformity & a new kind of poetry. Ginsberg’s works captured this
anti-establishment groundswell & helped serve social change.
Ginsberg was tried & acquitted of obscenity charges
related to his most celebrated poem 1956’s- Howl
& its homoerotic content. A federal judge found that the poem did have
"redeeming social importance. Howl became a reference case for free speech
cases in the1960s &1970s.
Ginsberg gave us the term "flower power," which
encouraged protesters to engage in nonviolent rebellion. He was kicked out of
Cuba for saying Che Guevara was "cute”. His frank writing about
homosexuality made an important contribution to gay rights.
In 1954, Ginsberg met the man who would become his life
partner, poet Peter Orlovsky. The relationship lasted 43 years, until
Ginsberg’s death in 1997.
Ginsberg received: the National Book Award, a Robert
Frost Medal for distinguished poetic achievement & an American Book
Award for contributions to literary excellence. In 1993, the French minister of
culture awarded Ginsberg the Order of Arts & Letters.
"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest
of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of
John Maynard Keynes
I have never had much interest in economics. Those who
know me would not be surprised. I think I could choose to comprehend global
economics, political economics, recessions, depressions, macroeconomics,
business cycles, social liberalism, & Keynesian thought if I really applied
myself. I just go with my instincts, which are almost always wrong.
What I do knowing about a certain economist, one of the
most important figures of the 20th century, is that John Maynard Keynes kept a
written record of all his sexual encounters, even the assignations where he was
alone, from his days at Cambridge until his death. I don’t know why I admire
this idea. Steve's Sex Diary might generate some publishing interests & possibly
a film with Bradley Cooper, but who can remember the details?
Keynes moved with the Bloomsbury Group, of which I have
done plenty of posts about. A member of that noted literary & artist circle
was his longtime lover, artist- Duncan Grant. The pair remained friends long
after the romance was over. For much of
their time together Grant was also involved with Leonard Strachey.
Grant & Strachey set up households with women, while
they both continued to have sex with men. Keynes soon followed, marrying Lydia
Lopokpva, a ballet start in Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. They seem to have had
On the good side: Keynes spent his life working
energetically for the benefit of mankind & he was considered to a fine
& generous friend. On the bad side: he was most certainly a racist & a
supporter of the movement that supported enforced "racial hygiene",
human experimentation, & the extermination of "undesired"
Keynes died of a heart attack at age 62, in 1948, at his
farm in England. Both of his parents, John Neville Keynes, also an economist
& Florence Ada Keynes, one of the first women to graduate from Cambridge
& later the mayor of that city, outlived him. Lydia Lopokpva lived into the
In the terrific & engaging 1980s TV series- St. Elsewhere, one of the main
characters has a young son who was autistic. In the series finale- The LastOne, it is revealed that all the storylines occurred inside the
head of the young autistic boy. That boy was played by Chad Allen Lazarri. As a
child actor, Allen went on to work on TV series- Our House, My Two Dads, & Dr.Quinn- Medicine Woman, none of which
I have ever seen, although My Two Dads
is a title that might work well for my porn career.
In 1996, at age 21, Chad Allen was outed in The Globe which published photos (sold
to the paper by his then boyfriend) of him kissing another man in a hot tub at
a party. He was pushed from the closet, but since that time Allen has been a
leading & outspoken advocate of gay rights.
I was especially taken with his strong work in the film- Save Me(2007) opposite Stephen Lange,
Judith Light & Robert Gant. Developed & produced by Allen himself, Save Me explores the life of a young gay
sex & drug addicted man who is forced into a Christian-run ministry in an
attempt to cure him of his "gay affliction", where instead he is
faced with the truth in his heart & spirit. The film does not take the easy
way out & avoids clichés. Stephen Lang is excellent, & Judith Light
gives an astonishing performance of understated depth & nuance. Gant &
Allen play very moving & complicated characters, plus they have their
shirts off in several scenes.
Since 2005's Third Man Out, Allen portrays lead character
Donald Strachey, a gay private detective in a partnered relationship, in a
series of TV movies based on novels by Richard Stevenson.
Allen is in a 5 year relationship with actor Jeremy
Glazer, who he met on the set of Save Me. Allen is the best friend of one of my most
favorite people- the deliciousPhilipof the fabulousFelix In Hollywood. Check
out his little spot on the Internet & when you are in LA, take his tour.
Felix Knows his Hollywood History!
Allen turns 38 years old today. I admire his talent,
activism & good looks.
What were the chances that John Maynard Keynes & Susan Lynn Orman would share a
birthday? Is there something about June 5th that is telling of people being
smart about money? Do Geminis think a great deal about finances?
Suze Orman is a famous financial advisor, author, motivational
speaker, TV host, & the anti-Stephen. I have a feeling that she just
wouldn’t be that fun to shop with. What, with all that saving money philosophy.
Orman is the host of The Suze Orman Show on CNBC. She has
written 7 consecutive NY Times Best Sellers; has written, co-produced, &
hosted 6 PBS specials, & is the most successful fundraiser in the history
of public TV.
In 2004 & 2006, Orman won 2 daytime Emmy Awards for
her PBS specials. Over her TV career, she has won 6 Gracie Allen Awards
(rewarding the achievements of women in radio & TV), more than anyone in
the 35-year history of the awards.
In July 2009 Forbes named Orman 18th on their list of The
Most Influential Women In Media. She was selected by Time magazine as one of
the TIME 100: The World's Most Influential People. In 2009 she was honored by
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation with the Vito Russo Media Award.
In April 2008 Orman was presented with the Amelia Earhart Award for her message
of financial empowerment for women. She is regularly spoofed on Saturday Night
Live, the biggest compliment possible.
In 2007, Suze Orman revealed to the NY Times, that she is
a Gay & had been with her partner, Kathy Travis, for 7 years. During the
interview, she was asked if she is married. Orman: "K.T. is my life partner. K.T. stands for Kathy Travis. We're
going on 7 years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I'm still a
55-year-old virgin. Both of us have millions of dollars in our name; it’s
killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I
have to estate taxes. Or vice versa."
Orman has a net worth of approximately $25 million (with
$7 million more in real estate), but she didn't start out wealthy. Orman grew up
in Chicago 's South Side & worked part-time at her father's take-out store.
After completing her B.A. in social work, she moved to Berkeley & worked at
the Buttercup Bakery for 7 years. Orman started working as an account executive
at Merrill Lynch, where she remained for 3 years before becoming vice-president
of investments at Prudential Bache Securities. In 1987, Orman had founded her
own business- the Suze Orman Financial Group.
To me, it is interesting that since her announcement that
she was gay, there has been little focus on Orman's sexual orientation. The
focus is on why it makes good financial sense to get married, & her
inability to do so because she is in a same-sex relationship. Suzy is looking
good as she turns 62 years old today.
I am a mid-20th century gay man still trying to get a handle on how to live life with meaning. I live in Portland Oregon with my husband/partner of 32+ years & the terriers: Lulu & Junior.
As an actor I have been in over 150 full stage productions, 12 films/TV, over 50 commercials & voice overs.
Our home & garden in Seattle (1981-2001) were published several times & were featured in a "coffee table" book- Flea Market Decorating by Meredith Press. That garden was on the Seattle Art Museum's Tour Of Artists' Gardens in 1999.
We moved to Portland in a fit of middle age anxiety in 2001.
We spend our time & money working on our house & garden in a working class bungalow, in a working class neighborhood.
The old-ball-& chain & I are thought to be a little nutty. ME:
cocktail drinker, tree hugger & seeker.
Kinsey 6, Myers-Briggs ENFJ, Capricorn/Snake