Sunday, May 24, 2009

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

I went on Friday night to the midnight show of a new play being presented by Wings, a gay theater company on Christopher Street in Manhattan.

This is the plot, as recounted on the show's web site:

"Possible Nobel-Prize-winning head of the Department of Hydraulic Engineering at M.I.T. runs away from it all to build a shrine to Judy Garland because she 'knew life'. His mother, the world most renowned Freudian psychoanalyst, hunts him down pleading for him to return: 'to give up the eyelashes and go back into analysis'. Meanwhile, a religious fanatic bursts in and tries to convert them both but is set upon by the mother who uses her 'industrial strength sensitivity training' developed in her book 'Secularization for Dummies' and literally rebirths the Bible thumper on stage turning him into the 'perfectly analyzed man'. The show is best described as an outrageous Joe Orton dark satirical comedy with the Marx Brothers mixed in."

Well ... I think that's the show I saw, but I'm not certain. More on that in a moment.

I was told about this show by a friend of mine who's absolutely queer for Judy Garland. JG is a supposed gay icon -- there was even some ridiculous story about how gays rioted during the Stonewall rebellion because of Garland's death or some nonsense -- but as I told my friend, the first time I ever had a conversation abut Garland in a gay bar was when I met him about two years ago. [Actually the first time I had a conversation about the lady in a gay bar was with the straight-identified bartender at Boots and Saddle, whom I later came to refer to [with some affection] as "the malevolent munchkin". A subconscious connection I suppose. Anyway I used to enjoy the plays at the Ridiculous Theater company and thought this might be along those lines so I said "let's go!"

I don't know if my friend was hoping to see a play about Garland. This is really a play about a drag queen obsessed with Garland -- it has fun with stereotypes. The play was written by the two lead actors, Michael L Natale [pictured], who plays the drag queen, and John L. Wood, who plays his mother. [John O'Neil played the religious zealot.] I always love it when drag queens are, or at least are played by, guys who are kind of butch even when they're in drag; it's an amusing gender-bender.

We waited almost fifteen minutes for the play to start, and at first I thought that it was some kind of guerrilla theater. This is the play, I told my friend as I looked at the empty stage. Someone in front of me pointed out a table with a cocktail glass and several prescription bottles on it and said, "Look -- her last meal" a bit of black humor that I found funny but my friend did not.

Now let me confess right here that I had one cocktail and two glasses of wine with dinner. I also had another drink at the Ramrod across the street, and frankly I think if New York Times reviewers made a full disclosure of how much they imbibed before they went to the preview it might explain their opinions more fully. So take this with a grain of salt -- or a glass or two.

Now I'm not certain if this was really part of the show or not, but apparently the actor playing the mother -- with huge false boobs and a fright wig, making him resemble Mammy Yokum of Li'l Abner -- kept going off script or ad libbing. He even apologized at the end of the play, although the ad libs were always funny and added to the amusement. So, as I said, I'm not even certain if I actually saw the play as scripted, but I had fun anyway. Besides this is a farce and ad libbing is always part of the action. [Although the real drama may have occured in the dressing room after the play was over, LOL!]

At one point Natale turned to the audience and said: "So you wanna be in show business, eh? This is what always fucking happens!" Then he turned to his co-star and said "You wrote the fucking thing. Just pick out a part in the script. Any part!"

Before long the religious zealot came on and Mother made her moves on him, boobs and all, which wound up with them sort of wrestling across the floor of the stage. "No wonder I'm gay!" screamed Natale.

Okay, you've got the idea that this is not a gay version of Long Day's Journey Into Night, but it is a lot of fun, and frankly, you never know what you're gonna get. You might even see the actual play! It has one more performance at Wings [154 Christopher Street] this coming Friday, May 29th at Midnight [okay technically that's May 30th, but it's Friday night, okay?] and then Natale and company hope to take it on the road or find another home for it.

I like Natale very much as a performer. He has a natural born flair for comedy. I also got a kick out of Wood and O'Neil. The tickets are only $15 for over an hour of fun. If you wear a costume you'll get in for a measly $12 and you might even be asked to play a role in the show.

For more info and to order tickets you can go to the Wings website or the play's website.

Here's my suggestion. Have dinner at Fedora's Italian restaurant at 239 W 4th Street [212-242-9691]. They take reservations up until 9:30 PM.I recommend the chicken parmigiana, which is very tasty. They also have the best Roquefort dressing I've ever had. Very gay-friendly, nice waiters, and owner Fedora is a sweetheart. Inexpensive, too.

You'll have time to kill after dinner, so walk down toward the theater and have a drink across the street at the Ramrod, which used to be called the Dug Out (but which was originally called the Ramrod). The new manager there is handsome Robert, who is also manager of Boots and Saddle and used to be a waiter at Fedora's.

And of course you can also stop at Ty's bar on Christopher Street if you can get in -- as it tends to be packed on the weekends [and full of hot guys!]


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Nowadays it seems as if everybody is mad about something.

Anger can be a good thing, but it can also be counter-productive. Anger can also be a product of self-absorption.

Angry self-absorption can afflict anyone in any community, but let's talk about the GLBT community while we're at it.

In recent weeks I've had a few angry asexuals, bitter bisexuals and others sending me hate emails, saying they're "watching out for me" and making veiled, vague threats of one kind or another because here and there I write or say things that they don't agree with. Let me make it clear that I do not believe that these people speak for nor represent the intelligent and rational members of their respective communities.

Rather these are people who are so insecure, whose sense of self is so tenuous, that they feel a need to bully -- or at least try to bully -- everyone into agreeing with their every pin-headed opinion, whether it makes sense or not.

I try to keep abreast of new developments in, new thoughts on, and new studies of, sexuality. I have a problem with studies that I feel are unscientific, too small or vague, or which are not objective. I don't trust people who have an agenda, whatever it may be. And I have never trusted bullies.

Today studies and surveys on sexuality are often done by those who have a vested interest in the studies saying what they want them to say. By their very nature they are suspect. Studies are rarely done by the impartial.

But getting back to the angry folk. Some of these people may at least feel they have legitimate complaints but why do I think that so much of it really has to do with me-ism? Meaning, it's all about me, me, me. Much of the anger is not due to any real or even perceived discrimination, but to an almost overwhelming self-centeredness that prevents these people from seeing an inch beyond their own noses. They are incapable of understanding -- or even listening to -- another person's viewpoint. You either agree with them totally or you get a hate email. Pathetic.

LGBT people are just as subject to NPD -- Narcissistic Personality Disorder -- as non-LGBT people. These howling, mad-as-a-hornet-types desperately want attention, which makes you wonder why they also prefer to be anonymous -- but there's nothing rational about them. They desperately want you to think of them as victims, they accuse you of victimizing them just because you disagree on certain aspects of certain issues. They want you to feel their pain, even if they could care less about yours. I suppose in their real lives off the Internet nobody pays these people attention -- assuming they even have a life off the Internet.

Most of these people aren't comfortable in their own skin. And certainly not with their sexuality, whatever it may be. They need to take it out on somebody. Let's get this Out and Proud Gay Guy who's stupid enough to use his real name and photo (they never use theirs; too ashamed, I suppose).

I don't know what these people have been doing but I've spent decades fighting for gay rights in one way or another. I hardly need these immature, emotionally stunted pissants threatening me or giving me a lecture cobbled together from trendy reports by people just as dumb and inconsequential as they are.

Often these people are very young, but not always. NPD can affect all sorts of people. I recently got a rather nasty email from a guy who objected to my criticisms of a certain historic bar. He made insulting and wrong speculations about me. After a couple of rounds of emails I realized that this guy didn't really give a shit about the bar. You see, it was his hang-out, "his" bar, and if I "attacked" the bar that meant I was attacking him. A regular person, of course, wouldn't feel this way. They'd think: okay, I like the bar; you don't -- big deal. But a self-absorbed person is a different story. It's all about them.

I'm sure there are various members of the LGBT community who have legitimate gripes and grievances, and can talk about them -- rationally, honestly -- without getting hysterical or stupid.

But the ones with NPD?

I'm not interested in a damn thing they have to say. Because it's never really about a cause, about biphobia or whatever, or this or that or what-have-you.

It's always about them.

And they're a bore.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


TWO [Truth Wins Out] executive Director Wayne Besen has issued the following press release:

"I am proud to announce that Truth Wins Out has finally moved into its new Manhattan office! For the past three years, I had run the organization out of a small studio apartment in Brooklyn. While I loved the short commute and liberal dress code, space was extremely tight. As the organization grew, so did the stacks of media packets, brochures and educational materials. Even my cat, Critter, began to complain about the lack of space. Clearly, the time had come for Truth Wins Out to find an office. This is especially true, when you consider that our main "ex-gay" opposition, Exodus International, has a one million dollar budget, thirteen staff members and a large office complex to plan its destructive "pray away the gay" operations. Exodus also has a quarter-million dollar youth program to shame vulnerable teens into renouncing their sexual orientation. To effectively compete with Exodus and stop them from shattering more families and ruining more lives - it was time to spread our wings. The new office space also makes it possible to have volunteers and interns. There is finally a place where they can work and use their talents to help further Truth Wins Out's crucial mission. I hope you will consider a tax-deductible contribution to help us cover our new office space."

I know there are people who are leery of contributing to some gay rights groups because they're afraid their money will simply go to pay the six figure salaries of some of the officers. [Years ago I was shocked to see the salaries of some of the people working for Gay Men's Health Crisis! I don't know if this has changed.] But TWO is still a small outfit with dedicated activist Besen and others doing what most other gay groups don't seem to be doing: monitoring groups like Exodus, reporting on their activities on a regular basis, and organizing counter-protests and other campaigns to counteract the ex-gay industries distortions, lies, and blatant hatred. This is extremely important work.

So think about making a contribution if you can.

Check out Two's web site here.