Parade photos by Chuck Marcelo of Marcelo Media, #2 (watch for more photos as the week goes on).
DVtv’s Brad Pritchett caught up with Miss Red 2016 Raquel Blake and entertainer J Sutta during the 2016 Red Party on Saturday night, Sept. 17. Watch all the fun in our DVtv video.
When Dish in the ilume announced it was closing in February, everyone in the gayborhood wondered: What will happen to Drag Brunch? Owner Tim McEneny told me in June, when the new concept, Cedar Grove, opened, that Drag Brunch would return … but didn’t have a firm date.
Well, now we do! It’s this Sunday, Sept. 25, with three-courses-and-a-show for $35. And you can also get lunch now every Friday from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
It was a gay ol’ time at the Emmy Awards last night, especially in the comedy and limited series categories. Indeed, the show got off to a very gay bang. Among the first winners were best supporting actor in a comedy series for Louie Anderson, pictured, playing Zach Galifiankis’ mama in Baskets; that was quickly followed by best supporting actress in a comedy for lesbian Kate McKinnon, mostly for her take on Hillary Clinton as part of the Saturday Night Live cast. Although the variety series has fared well at the Emmys with its guest hosts, McKinnon becomes the first regular cast member since Gilda Radner in 1978 to win an Emmy for the show. And Jeffrey Tambor repeated as best actor in a comedy playing a trans woman in the Amazon series Transparent. He made a plaintive call for producers and casting agents to give trans talent a chance. Also honored were recently out Transparent creator Jill Soloway for repeating as best director of a comedy. Best actress went, for the fifth consecutive time, to Julia Louie-Dreyfuss for Veep, which also won best comedy series.
Under limited series or movie, the big winner was the Ryan Murphy produced The People vs. O.J. Simpson, which took home trophies for outstanding limited series, writing, directing, supporting actor (Sterling K. Brown), leading actor (Courtney B. Vance) and leading actress Sarah Paulson, who thanked her girlfriend, Holland Taylor. Supporting actress went to Regina King for American Crime, which this season dealt with a gay teens.
Best actress in a drama went to Tatiana Maslany for Orphan Black, in which she plays clones, including a queer one. Otherwise, the drama category was dominated by Game of Thrones, which won best drama series, directing and writing. Best actor was Rami Malek for Mr. Robot and supporting actress went to Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey. The biggest surprise of the evening was Ben Mendelsohn winning best supporting actor for the Netflix series Bloodline.
The former Pussycat Doll gets her Pride on at the Dallas Red Party
Truth: One of J Sutta’s big career breaks involved her donning a tuxedo leotard and putting out fires with her top hat.
It was 2002, and Sutta — best known as a member of the now defunct R&B/dance group the Pussycat Dolls — had landed a gig as dancer in a Smokey the Bear PSA. She and her co-stars danced through the forest, extinguishing fires in the name of safety.
“Fortunately, that part got cut,” Sutta says. “But that’s how I met Robin Antin, who started the Pussycat Dolls. She said, ‘Cut your bangs — I want you to join my group.’”
The Dolls started as a burlesque troupe with a popular established residency at L.A.’s Viper Room, but soon grew into one of the most successful pop groups of the 2000s, having sold about 54 million records worldwide, buoyed by their infectious Billboard No. 2 hit “Don’t Cha.” But the glamorous life didn’t come naturally to young Jessica.
“I’m a girl from a small-town part of Miami,” Sutta says. “And it literally changed my life overnight. I left the country for the first time, there were fans standing outside our hotels, taking pictures. I danced in front of the pyramids at Giza.”
“My whole life, I thought I was going to New York City to be a ballerina,” she says about the injury. “But everything happens for a reason. It was actually the beginning of my journey into different forms of art.”
One of those forms was singing. “I wanted to be Debbie Gibson and Janet Jackson,” Sutta now says with a laugh. And she actually ended up meeting one of those idols, when Gibson was playing at the Viper Room during the Pussycat Dolls’ residency.
“I was like, ‘Debbie! I love your music,’ and she was like, ‘It’s Deborah.’”
Both Gibson and Jackson have something in common with Sutta, besides music itself: All three enjoy a big LGBTQ following, something Sutta holds dear to her heart.
“Growing up, all my friends were gay,” she says. “I always felt like an outcast and they felt like an outcast, so we had that in common. It used to break my heart — a lot of my friends’ parents tried to beat the gay out of them, literally. They would come to school black and blue.”
That history is one reason why Sutta continues to have a deep connection with the community — and why she jumped at the chance to perform at the fundraising Red Party on Sept. 16. It’s hardly her first gay gig; in fact, eerily enough, Sutta was slated to perform at a fundraiser for The LGBT Center in Orlando this summer — as luck would have it, the same week following the Pulse nightclub shooting.
“It was awful,” she says about the moment she heard the news. “I couldn’t stop crying. I felt numb for so many weeks after. It was just too real.” (The fundraiser was rescheduled for Feb, 4, and Sutta says she can’t wait to return.)
“I feel like the community has been through so much,” she says. “We need to heal the community. We have to remember, it may sound corny, but love is truly the only thing that matters in this world.”
And that’s where Pride comes in. With their focus on dancing and celebration, the annual festivities are the perfect forum for healing. Sutta plans on doing her part.
“I’m bringing all my dancers to Dallas Pride,” she says, her voice lifting. “It will be the best show ever! My stage show is where my heart and soul is. It’s all about making the audience feel good.”
She’s even not above a little flirting … a signature of being a Pussycat Doll, no doubt.
“Maybe I’ll pull you onstage,” she continues. “And I might even kiss you — you never know!”
— Jonanna Widner
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.
Often maligned as cheesy, ‘Camelot’ remains a solid, satisfying musical
Camelot has long been the reputable musical that it’s completely permissible to shit on. It enjoyed a healthy initial two-year run, opening just weeks after JFK was elected and closing less than a year before his assassination, and its presence in the Zeitgeist almost defined his presidency: The White House was Camelot, John the idealistic King Arthur, Jackie his lovely Guenevere. The metaphor was awkward — both stories end in tragedy, though their legacies live on.
Still, many dismiss the Lerner and Loewe musical for being naïve to the point of saccharine: It’s talky and sincere and slightly meta, with knowing jokes and a contemporary vibe (well, contemporary for 1960). The score is soaringly lush and romantic. And it didn’t help that the film version is pretty terrible.
But I love it.
Full disclosure: It was the first musical I ever acted in during my adolescent stage career, so much of the show is embedded in my DNA. But even decades later, it still manages to choke me up. Call it sappy. It’s damn good theater, especially as presented by Lyric Stage.
This was the team, after all, who perfected the literary musical, first with My Fair Lady (adapted from Shaw’s Pygmalion) then the film musical Gigi (after Colette) before settling on T.H. White’s sweeping retelling of the Arthurian legend, a more high-falutin literary take than, say, J.R.R. Tolkien’s version of Norse mythology. They helped redefine the musical format with more structure and high-handedness. Why not tackle the formation of democratic ideals in a colorful pageant, with the specter of adultery adding a hint of Peyton Place?
Like My Fair Lady, Camelot rests a lot of the business of the story on the shoulders of a sharp-tongued hero (King Arthur, here played effortlessly well by J. Brent Alford) who lilts more than sings his songs, while the coloratura vocals rest of the female lead (played by Kristen Bell Williams). In both shows, the leads seem to exists in a sexless romance that gets mucked up when the leading lady gets the hots for another guy (Christopher J. Deaton, a seductive Lancelot). The forbidden love between Ginny and Lance is egged on by the devious bastard son of Arthur, the aptly sinister Mordred (Brandon McInnis).
Although it was a hit during the Kennedy Administration, it’s easy to see how politically relevant it remains today: A power couple brought down by a sex scandal, whose best intentions end up being ephemeral. Utopia is not sustainable, whether you blame Mordred or Roger Ailes.
One of the digs taken at Camelot is that its more about the scenery than the songs, but that’s not true in this production. Indeed, aside from one massive twisted tree, the scenic elements are at a minimum, which allows you to concentrate on how Lerner insinuates clever and occasionally racy lyrics into the numbers; “Take Me to the Fair” may be the show’s most under-appreciated song, and this production includes the often-deleted “Fie on Goodness!” (with its hints at rape), though the character of Morgan LeFey (and her number) is entirely excised. Jay Dias, Lyric Stage’s phenomenal musical director, apparently couldn’t get permissions for that section of the score, which is a shame.
But focus not on what they don’t have, but what they do: Williams’ clarion-clear voice, Alford’s Rex Harrison-ish sass, McInnis’ oily, The-Joker-As-Anarchist take on Mordred, and an under-valued score. Roll your eyes if you must thinking Camelot is old hat; the rest of us will be enjoying a hoot of show.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2016.
UPDATE: People Magazine has reported that a source close to the family says Arquette died of AIDS-related complications.
Alexis Arquette, one of the famed Arquette acting family whose siblings include Academy Award-winner Patricia and Scream star David, has died at age 47, her brother Richmond confirmed this morning. Alexis was surrounded by family after “battling an illness,” although no specific cause of death was given. The death, Richmond reported, was “fast and painless.”
Alexis, born Robert, came to prominence first as an actor, most notably in the Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer. She was one of the most prominent and earliest entertainment celebrities to identify as trans. Alexis officially came out as transgender and documented her transition in the 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In addition, Alexis was a singer and activist on GLBT issues.
Believe it or not, it was all the way back in 1964 — the era of Don Draper, naturally — the an act of Congress declared bourbon “America’s Native Spirit;” in 2007, the U.S. Senate named September “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” Well, we here at Cocktail Friday are never ones to let a celebration go un-toasted, so here it is: Your bourbon recipe for the month, the Tuthilltown Toddy.
2 oz. Hudson Baby Bourbon
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 oz. very hot water
Cinnamon sticks and clove-studded lemon slice (for garnish)
Making it: Add lemon juice, a heaping teaspoon of honey and bourbon into a tall glass (or ceramic mug); fill with hot water and stick. Add garnish.
If you read the non-fiction best seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil — gay author John Berendt’s telling of the murder of a gay hustler in sleepy Savannah, Ga. — you certainly walked away being gobsmacked by the presence of The Lady Chablis, a central figure and a popular drag queen who knew all the principals. When director Clint Eastwood turned the book into a movie, he mucked up the story with stupid subplots and sluggish pacing, but he had the good sense to cast Chablis as herself in the film — when she didn’t receive an Oscar nomination, many heads were scratched.
I’ve both met and seen Chablis perform, so I was saddened to read today in Variety that she had died, at age 59. Honestly, I would have guessed older, because her sassiness was well-honed. Savannah will not seem the same without her.
Au revoir, Chablis!