TLC’s Chilli and T-Boz — the gay interview

TLC never had to go chasing their gay fans — we came to them. And not just because “Waterfalls,” one of pop history’s most prominent HIV/AIDS-awareness anthems, made a generation of LGBT people more sexually responsible, or because “Unpretty” affirmed you’re fine just the way you are. Ever since their debut dropped in 1992, the self-proclaimed “prissy tomboys” — nobody could wear condoms quite like Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas — led us all to embrace our own crazy, sexy, cool selves, gender norms be damned.

But when Lopes, the trio’s swagging rapper, was killed in a car accident in 2002, T-Boz, 47, and Chilli, 46, took a long break from the recording studio to tour and pursue solo ventures. Now, 15 years post TLC3D, and thanks to a Kickstarter that funded the project, one of pop music’s flyest girl groups is taking their final bow with their self-titled fifth studio album TLC and opening up to their gay fans.

And no, they didn’t just stick to the rivers and lakes they’re used to. During our nostalgic and, ahem, educational interview, TLC talked about how “No Scrubs” gets the queers “crunk”… and, you know, just casually reminisced on that time they got schooled on what it means to be a top and a bottom.

Dallas Voice: Have you ever been to a gay club when “No Scrubs” comes on? Because you’ve never seen anything gayer or more inspiring.  Chilli: You know what’s funny? One of my friends works for VH1 and, oh my gosh, it’s hilarious. He’s gay and I’m the only girl who could be his play girlfriend he tells me, and he always sends me — and, I mean, he just sent one the other day — video of when “No Scrubs” comes on, and he’s like, “Chilli, I love you!” And he’s singing and showing me everybody singing. It is crunk!

So, I take it you’re aware of your LGBT following?  T-Boz: Oh, very aware. Very, very, very! The thing I love about our fans is, we’ve grown with them and they’ve grown with us. Some of them have kids now, so we have generations there. But, yes, we are very, very, very aware of the community, honey, ’cause all of our friends let us know. I love it!

When did you first know you had a gay following?  T-Boz: I did a party around [1994’s] CrazySexyCool and that was one of the best parties I hosted. I learned so much! Like, I didn’t know there were certain terms and stuff! They hooked me up with a lot more knowledge of stuff that went on than I really realized. I was like, “Ohh?!” It was just such a free, fun party. No judging. No anything. It was just one of the best environments I had ever been in, so I thought that was cool. So, probably around ’95-ish when I was really aware.

What did you learn about the gay community that night?  T-Boz: I learned what a top was, a bottom was. And versatile! I learned all of those terms! I was like, “Oh my god — this is so cool.”

Chilli: Oh, Lord. Oh, Jesus. I wasn’t at that party!

Sounds like you really missed out, Chilli. When was your gay awakening then? Ha!  Chilli: I don’t know why I feel weird saying it now, ’cause you already said it! The bottom part. And you know… the top. I keep laughing!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘When We Rise’ star Rachel Griffiths: The gay interview


Early in her career, she stole our queer hearts as Toni Collette’s freewheeling yang in 1994’s buddy comedy Muriel’s Wedding, but before long, Rachel Griffiths became one of our most passionate allies both on- and off-screen.

In 2001, the Aussie actress starred as Brenda Chenowith, the enigmatic, gender-subverting girlfriend-turned-wife of prodigal son Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) in HBO’s Emmy-winning landmark series Six Feet Under, out creator Alan Ball’s gay-inclusive, darkly comic rumination on life and death. A year after Six Feet Under concluded in 2006, Griffiths made the leap from the Fishers to the Walkers, the family at the center of ABC’s Brothers and Sisters, also celebrated for its LGBT representation.

Now, Griffiths is taking her longtime queer advocacy to the next level with When We Rise, which began airing Monday night and pick up for three more installments tonight. (Read our interview with the show’s writer/director here.) The miniseries seeks to connect with the heart (not the politics) of Americans through real family stories, something Griffiths’ gay-affirming résumé certainly reflects.

Our Chris Azzopardi spoke with the Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actress about her involvement, and her identification with the queer community.

Dallas Voice: In When We Rise, you play Diane, who’s raising a daughter with women’s rights activist Roma Guy, portrayed by Mary-Louise Parker. What are your thoughts on bringing the lesbian-led blended family dynamic to audiences on a mainstream network like ABC?  Rachel Griffiths: Brothers and Sisters was on ABC at the same time as Modern Family, and we had Will & Grace [on NBC], so I didn’t have any kind of surprise it was on a network, because ultimately it is about family — it’s about the “we” of gay, lesbian, transgender lives, not the “they” or the “others.” So, for me, to move these people’s lives away from the premium cable niche — I love that by not being on a niche network, there wasn’t a pressure to be noisy in a more sexual way. We’ve kind of moved past having to explore that.

That’s there in other shows if you want it, particularly with women’s lives. We’ve had The L Word, where the women are identified first off in the show by being lesbians. But Roma and Diane’s trouble was, first, [being] women — 51 percent of the population — then the gay/lesbian, then it was understanding the power of how those two movements can come together.

Your roles on both TV and in film suggest that you appreciate portrayals of social and political issues that are reflected through a personal lens.  I absolutely love that. I think if people aren’t living in a wider sociological space, they’re in a bubble. Growing up, my favorite movies actually were World War II movies — get motor bikes and outdo the Nazis. I was just really primed by seeing political moments intersecting with personal and moral choices, and the drama of that.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Meryl Streep: The gay interview with the icon and star of ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and BBC FilmsMeryl Streep is laughing her signature laugh. You know it: Sometimes light and airy, sometimes a surge of boisterous euphoria that carries well into the next question — but always unmistakably Meryl.

Cinema’s grand dame cracks one of her warm, famous chortles during our recent interview, while entertaining the idea that her latest chameleonic role, as real-life opera diva Florence Foster Jenkins in the movie of the same name, could once again spur drag queens to emulate another one of her queer-loved characters. Then she laughs again as she fondly remembers locking lips with Allison Janney in 2002’s The Hours. Meanwhile, the mere mention of 1992’s Death Becomes Her Meryl unleashing a hearty roar. Another laugh, too, when she ponders how sexting and Snapchat are related.

Gay audiences know this laugh because they know Meryl Streep. They also know her compassion for LGBT issues, both as an extension of her queer-inclusive acting repertoire and more explicitly, when, during her Golden Globe acceptance speech in 2004, she slammed then-president George W. Bush by condemning his anti-gay marriage stance. They’ve learned the art of shade from her sharp, searing tongue in The Devil Wears Prada, and they live for all the campy one-liners in Death Becomes Her. And during Angels in America, HBO’s 2003 watershed miniseries about the AIDS crisis, they wept.

Now, Streep, 67, sheds her skin once again to portray Jenkins, one of the worst singers in the world. In the poignant dramedy Florence Foster Jenkins from Stephen Frears, director of The Queen, the esteemed once-in-a-lifetime luminary plays a wannabe opera singer with a voice so hysterically appalling her loyal husband (Hugh Grant) bribes critics into letting her think she can sing.

Here, during this rare and revealing one-on-one conversation with Streep, the three-time Academy Award winner and record holder for most Oscar nominations discusses why she regards Angels in America as one of the most important LGBT-themed films she’s done and how she feels about gay men performing Meryl monologues. And looking ahead, is the biopic queen ready to consider her own story becoming a feature-length film in the future? Streep laughs at the very thought, of course, but she’s not kidding when she says, “I hope I fade into oblivion.”

Dallas Voice: You’ve given the gay community a breadth of greatness over the last four decades. When you look back at your gay roles, which has been the most important to you?  Streep: Oh, gosh. To me, I mean, Angels is such an important piece of history, and I felt really lucky to be part of that because I don’t think there was anything like it before. It really felt like being at the Democratic National Convention in the moment that Hillary shattered the glass ceiling — a big deal. The Hours was important, too. And of course I got to kiss Allison Janney, which was a perk!

Don’t tell Emma Thompson, who famously tongue-kissed you and gave you an orgasm in Angels.  Yeah, right! The Hours was nothing like that!

I remember Emma talking about that kiss in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She’s very proud of it. She said she learned that “you have to use tongues even if you’re not a lesbian.”  Oh yeah, you really do. [Laughs]

When you look back at that moment, how does your takeaway from that kissing scene compare to Emma’s?  It’s just, you can’t take the baby from the bathwater. You can’t. It’s just the whole thing of it — that [orgasm scene] was just like the culmination of it. But what [screenwriter Tony Kushner] was doing was for a really mainstream HBO audience at that point — just groundbreaking. That hadn’t been on television. Movies, yes. But not television. So it was very cool.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

New film unveils truth about a man shunned by his family because of AIDS


Cecilia Aldarondo’s uncle Miguel died of AIDS-related illness in the mid-1980s when she was 6. She barely knew him, and then he was gone. Moreover, Miguel’s truth was obliterated. His life as a gay man? Just a “disease.” His longtime partner, Robert? Not even a mention in the obituary.

Fast forward 30 years. Set against the backdrop of dense cultural and rigid Catholic influences, Miguel’s niece exposes the family’s buried secrets in her captivating film Memories of a Penitent Heart, which played this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and continues its rollout throughout 2016. In the touching doc, the first-time filmmaker reunites the remaining members of her family for a series of interviews, along with revealing historical context, to uncover the truth about the uncle she never knew. Here is her story, in her own words:

The catalyst. My mom found some 8mm home movies in the garage and that actually preceded my desire to find things out. Also, my grandfather had passed away the year before and there was a lot of stuff around his death. When somebody has just died, everyone is still mourning them and talking about them, so that was around the same time. It started out as more idle conversations. The more I talked about [my uncle] with my mother and other family members, I was like, “Wait a minute. I’m not very comfortable with this.”

The first shoot. I started filming in 2011. I went to Puerto Rico with some friends and we literally just stole some cameras from school and flew to Puerto Rico. We filmed in the cemetery where my uncle was buried. I had no idea what it was at that point. It really was me chasing a series of hunches for a really long time.

The crisis. I approached making the film by doing as much research as possible. I was born in 1980, so I was a kid when AIDS was becoming an epidemic and it was in the background for me. AIDS and my uncle were these ghostly presences but not something I really understood. From the very beginning of making the film I just started reading as much as I could and seeing as many films as I could as a way to familiarize myself with the context in which he was existing. I started with reading [Randy Shilts’] And the Band Played On, and I just remember weeping throughout the whole book, because I knew it was bad… I just didn’t know how bad.

052316MIGUEL2The importance of ‘being generous toward one another.’ I think in so many stories of discrimination — not just LGBT discrimination but any kind of discrimination — we can often get very black and white about who the victim is and who the perpetrator is. What I would like this film to make possible is for people who see it to put themselves in the other person’s shoes, whether it’s a parent who has a gay child and doesn’t know how to talk to them or the opposite — a gay person who has a lot of resentment toward a family member. How can these people try to come to a mutual understanding and be generous toward one another?

‘You just changed my life.’ There’s one guy, a longtime survivor who lost a lot of people during the peak crisis years, and he said the film enabled him to look at things that he’s been scared to look at for years. Another guy, a 20something Puerto Rican guy, came up to me after the second screening in tears and was like, “You just changed my life.” He was like, “I was seeing my own story on the screen.” Those are the kinds of things where I’m like, “OK, I’m done.”

There’s all this intense pressure around, where’s the film gonna go next? And what are the critics saying? Ultimately, none of that matters. What I wanted was for people to look at their own lives and their own stories, and if people are having those kind of reactions, that tells me I’m doing something right.

Her hope. People have asked me, “What do you want people to do when they see this film?” I say, “I want them to pick up the phone and call somebody they might not know how to talk to or maybe just put your stuff aside for a second and try and actually connect with somebody.” That’s my Pollyannaish hope. But I do think that there are a lot of different ways to transform society, and one of the ways to transform society is at the most intimate level.

Her mother’s journey to acceptance. I think for my mom this is a very scary and challenging thing. She’s a product of her time; there are still things she can’t get her head around, but she’s really invested and grateful for what this film can do for people. She really wants to promote love and acceptance, and I think we do agree on the principle of what the film is trying to achieve. But we still disagree. She doesn’t see things the way I do, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want this film to help her change, to help the world change. I think she wants to be an advocate for mutual understanding between LGBT people and their families. I think she believes very strongly in that.

Seeing the film with her family. It was kind of insane. The Florida Film Festival screening was in my hometown — I grew up in Orlando — and so my entire family came out for it. It was a crazy thing that this movie was, like, splashing our history on the screen and everybody was just so happy about it.

A different kind of activism. I always had this feeling my uncle was cool. I grew up in the suburbs. I didn’t have any artist role models and I had this uncle who died, who was living in New York, and he was an actor and it just sounded like he was really cool. The more I was learning about the AIDS crisis, I was really hopeful… I wanted him to be in ACT UP or something. I wanted him to be a card-carrying guy who’s, like, in the streets. I didn’t want him to be mainstream. I was really excited when I found out he was into leather!

I wanted this cool uncle, and I was kind of disappointed when I realized that he wasn’t that kind of activist. At the same time, I found these letters where he would write to my grandmother and to my mom, and in these letters he’s so eloquent and so loving, and also grounded and convinced of who he is. He was being an activist with them. He was fighting for himself. That was so amazing to me.

So, I would say it’s less that he was an influence on me and more that I felt that we were working together. There are certain moments where it feels like a collaboration between us. There’s [been] nothing more gratifying than when my dad said to me that my uncle would be proud of me and that is, again, one of those moments where it’s like, I can’t do better than that.

— Chris Azzopardi



—  Arnold Wayne Jones

CD REVIEW: Madonna’s ‘Rebel Heart’

HMO033015MADONNALike a virgin, Madonna is pure again. Cleansed of the unbecoming trend grabs that marred the icon’s erratic predecessors — namely the sinfully juvenile Hard Candy, and then MDNA, better but still pastiche — our Blessed Goddess steps back into her ray of light and applies a new shine to an old sound.

For once, Madonna doesn’t keep nostalgia at bay. In fact, during Rebel Heart, her most sophisticated release since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, she keeps wistfulness close by. The result is tangled, tortured but shockingly authentic, as she basks in all the heyday glory that earned the Michigan dreamer her seat and, eventually, a crown. Whatever life’s done to Madonna lately — the kids are growing up; Madonna’s growing up — she and Rebel Heart are better for it.

Witnessing the 56-year-old in self-reflection mode, à la Ray of Light and American Life, is refreshing, and also, despite Madonna’s refusal to actually age, befitting. She holds your hand during the perseverance paean “Ghosttown,” a surging mid-tempo with a melancholic narrative reminiscent of “This Used to Be My Playground.” The world hurts, Madonna muses, but love heals. The song is a pillar of hope, a theme recycled during the uplifting “Hold Tight;” like a hug as she reluctantly sends her children out into this “mad world,” Mother Madonna is reassuring — hold tight; everything’s gonna be all right — over a sonic spill of rumbling drums and electronic fuzz. Harnessing an organic energy that’s been noticeably lacking from the fabricated Pharrell-produced pop confections of her most recent efforts, Rebel Heart gets into the groove by recapturing the rawness heard particularly on the under-appreciated American Life. “Body Shop” encapsulates that quality best, the sexy innuendo taking a backseat to the very modest, Indian-influenced folk vibe. Her voice wispy and mesmeric, Madonna sounds like she’s leading a yin yoga retreat.

Less effective are Madonna’s unabashed attempts at relevancy, when the sexual provocateur essentially parodies her own cone-wearing self on “Holy Water,” an exercise in excess. Have all the sex you want, Madonna. And by all means, make that pole your bitch. But album-audible moaning? Equating your bits to a Baptismal liquid? Love you, lady, but this just might be a good time to retire the fornication-fueled religious allegories.

The even weaker, slinky bedroom-bumper “S.E.X” doesn’t even bother with thinly veiled metaphors (at one point she randomly drops “raw meat” like an afterthought) as she promises to “take you to a place you will not forget,” but then she doesn’t. And poof. Gone.

Most memorable about Rebel Heart is Madonna as a messenger of love, unity and peace — the sorcerer down in the deep, as she puts it on the deluxe edition’s penultimate powerhouse “Messiah.” There’s an ease about Madonna during these moments of musing, where she looks inward and sends her light outward, and the crown, though briefly, comes off. The ego is disbanded. For once, whether we like it or not, the icon, the diva, the high priestess of pop — she’s real. I can’t be a superhero right now / Even hearts made of steel can break down, she laments on “Joan of Arc,” a surprisingly direct acknowledgement of facets that have, particularly as of late, evaded the star’s essence: sensitivity, candor and sincerity.

It all comes full circle with the title track “Rebel Heart,” the closer. A blast from the past, a content Madonna recounts the trail she blazed for herself — and, obviously, others — through fierce determination and, you know (and she knows), by being a “narcissist.” Madonna’s Rebel Heart album is the nearly lifetime-long result of broken boundaries and bravado … and, for the first time in 10 years, it’s beating stronger than ever.

 — Chris Azzopardi

—  admin

Harvey Fierstein: The gay interview

As Kinky Boots opens in Dallas, the flamboyant theater diva opines on Johnny Weir, Robin Williams and why we hate ourselves

Harvey Fierstein by Bruce Glikas

“I’m sorry,” Harvey Fierstein growls in his unmistakable Brooklyn gravel, “I gotta go on with my life.” And so, after our insightful 40-minute chat peppered with Fierstein’s true-to-form frankness, he does.

But for Fierstein, a revered Broadway legend known for an iconic writing répertoire that includes Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and, most recently, Kinky Boots, which opens tonight at Fair Park Music Hall courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, this isn’t just the Tony Award winner’s blunt way of concluding our extensive conversation. It’s a way of life.

Fierstein reflects on the past—  up for the “sissies,” what he calls his “legendary disaster,” and how his own “12 steps of happiness” inspired his latest Broadway smash — but the 62-year-old’s very much living in the present, and for the future.

And look for our one-on-one interview with Fierstein’s Kinky collaborator, Cyndi Lauper, in Friday’s edition, in print and online!

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: I’m certainly not the first person to tell you that Kinky Boots is a massive hit. When you first began writing the musical, did you imagine it would become as successful as it’s been?  Fierstein: You know, you don’t. I’m really old. I’ve been around a really long time, and I’ve had — knock wood — an unbelievable run of hits, and I’ve had some horrible misses and a couple of in-betweens, but you go into all of them with the same heart.

I’ve done a couple for the wrong reasons. I did one to try and make money, which is really a very bad reason, and you make no money doing it that way. I’ve learned that lesson, and I would never do that again. But you basically go in for the right reason because you’re gonna spend years of your life involved with these characters, with these collaborators. And it’s not something you take on lightly if you’ve ever done it because, well, Kinky Boots took almost five years to write.

It’s clearly been a labor of love for you.  They have to be. That’s exactly why they have to be a labor of love, because from sitting down and starting work, which was a year or more before I even called Cyndi [Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics], to the opening in Korea [last December], we’re now up to seven or eight years. It’s part of your life for the rest of your life.

Jerry Herman and I wrote La Cage 30-something years ago and we are still the parents of that show. We still have to talk about it all the time. So, to say, “Did you know it was gonna be a big hit?” No, you don’t know. You go in with the best hopes and the best intentions of doing something that will entertain, which is our number one job.

What’s a project you did for the wrong reasons?  Legs Diamond. I had a friend who was directing it. Peter Allen had AIDS and his best friend who was writing it for him, who was not a writer but a clothing designer, had AIDS dementia. My friend Robert [Allan Ackerman] called me up and said, “Look, will you come in on this? I know it’s a terrible idea — Peter Allen as Legs Diamond — but all we have to do is get Peter out there, let him shake his ass, sing a couple of numbers, and we can just cash the checks.” And I drank the Kool-Aid.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sarah McLachlan: The gay interview

20140425KharenHillSarahMclachlan_Bedroom_0175While promoting Shine On, her first album in four years — which brings her to the Winspear Opera House on Sunday — Sarah McLachlan breaks her silence in a recent interview with our Chris Azzopardi.

Dallas Voice: At what point in your career did you know you had a big gay following?  Sarah MacLachlan: Hmm … probably Boston 1991.

That’s very specific.  I’m serious. Maybe 1992. It was with my second record [Solace] and I remember going to do a gig in Boston. I hung out with a lot of women after the show and there was one bartender in particular who was really hot! And I’m not gonna say anything else, but yeah.

Wait, no, no. You can’t just leave me hanging like that.  She was a good kisser  — that’s all I’m gonna say! That was my first sort of foray. It didn’t go past that, but that was, mmm, yeah.

I just remember there being a lot of women holding hands in the audience — and not only that, but it was a really intelligent audience. I don’t even know how I could tell that, but I just remember this feeling of, wow, this is just a great, great audience. I wish I could say why, but anyway, that was sort of the beginning of it and I think it just progressed from there.

So girls aren’t just good kissers but also super attentive?  I can generalize with my fans in that way, and all my fans — gay, straight — are coming for the music. They’re coming for church. I say that because that’s how I feel, especially about playing live; for me, that’s sort of my church. I get to be a part of something bigger than myself and be really connected to other human beings on a real emotional and visceral level. It’s very powerful.

It’s a mutual feeling.  It’s a mutual lovin’!

You mention your girl-on-girl foray in 1991, and for the longest time people have made assumptions about your sexuality. What do you think of the public’s interest in whether you’re bisexual?  People are always interested in how people bend. I’ve never shied away from it. I mean, I’m pretty straight. Let me just put it this way: I’ve never had sex with a woman. I haven’t. I’ve made out with more than one woman, but it just sort of happened. And there may have been alcohol involved during one of them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The gay interview: Ezra Miller

In the print edition this week, we have Larry Ferber’s interview with The Perks of Being a Wallflower writer-director Stephen Chbosky; here, our celebrity hunter Chris Azzopardi sat down with one of that film’s stars, Ezra Miller. Miller talks about the cathartic experience of being a confident teen, his happy upbringing and why he’s never met a straight man.

The perks of Being Ezra Miller

Twenty is a young age to have already played two unique characters — from the dark to the fearless. But Ezra Miller —  who was Tilda Swinton’s evil son in We Need to Talk About Kevin and plays Patrick, the lovable outsider with swagger in the film adaptation of the coming-of-age novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, opening Friday in Dallas — the boy every gay person wishes he could be. Even Miller.

The young actor talked about not being that kid in high school, breaking label barriers and coming from a “whole queer-ass family” — who dressed him in drag.

Dallas Voice: What was your high school experience? Were you out then?  Ezra Miller: Yeah, definitely. But I wasn’t shouting it out. I was unabashedly me. I was always having to leave high school, though, because I started working, so that was pulling me out of school. When I’d come back, there was a certain resentment: “You are no longer one of us. You have betrayed our pack.” And I dropped out of high school when I was 16 years old because, first of all, the form and function of the schooling system never made any sense to me in the context of education, but also there was some ostracizing at play. At that point in my youth experience, I knew that feeling all too well. I immediately realized that I had just turned 16 and that it was best, and technically legal, for me to flee.

How was it playing a character that you wished you could’ve been in school?  I came out of the movie feeling like I had a bunch to learn from the character I just played, and then I came to the unfortunate conclusion that he was a fictional character and he didn’t exist. I mean, to be able to hold your dignity and your pride, and to be able to empower yourself and love yourself in high school, is a feat.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Magic Mike” men Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello (mostly) take it all off

Our intrepid — and damn lucky — contributor Chris Azzopardi got down and dirty with two of the hot men in Magic Mike, the mega-gay-appealing male stripper movie coming out this Friday: Channing Tatum and Joe Mangianello. Here’s the interview:


“Wearing a thong is a pain in the ass,” says Joe Manganiello with complete disregard to the glaring innuendo. Beat. “Oh, god. I can’t believe I just said that.”

Who can blame him? Avoiding double entendres about Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s unexpected (but completely acceptable) foray into the male-stripper world is hard (see?).

Magic Mike stars Manganiello of True Blood, homo heartthrob Matt Bomer, Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum, the latter the movie’s muse, after it was revealed that the gay-loved dreamboat wasn’t just busting a move in 2006’s breakout role Step Up — before acting, he was pocketing dollar bills for his dance moves, too. One of Hollywood’s hottest actors, known for melting hearts in Dear John and The Vow, was suddenly faced with a pole-dancing past. His stripper alias? Chan Crawford.

“That’s so lame,” Tatum says in our recent interview. “I didn’t choose it. But Crawford? What am I: Cindy Crawford’s brother?”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Expressing herself: The Madonna interview

Madonna didn’t snag an Oscar nomination this year — not for her directorial effort or the song she wrote for it in the film W./E., about the romance between the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield Simpson. But she still made an impact, in this Chris Azzopardi interview with the Material Girl.

Here it is:

Madonna expresses herself

With all of Madonna’s metamorphoses throughout her balls-out career, slipping in and out of cultural zeitgeists (and accents), the queen chameleon is still the master of reinvention. Just don’t tell her that.

“Please don’t throw those tired, old clichés at me,” Madonna playfully insists, nodding her head in half-kidding agitation. (Hey, at least I didn’t mention hydrangeas.)

Her annoyance is marked with a cheekiness — and a smile — that only the Material Girl could pull off, which has for three decades. The indelible diva drops her hyped 12th album, MDNA, in March via a three-disc deal with Interscope; she plans to launch an extensive world tour; and this weekend, readies for perhaps the gayest Super Bowl halftime ever. That’s just music; feature-length directorial debut W.E., was just nominated for an Oscar for costume design.

In fact, all she cares to talk about now is the film, a semi-biopic on Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII dovetailed with a modern-day love story centered on fictionalized damsel-in-distress Wally Winthrop.

Seated at a Waldorf-Astoria suite with others in the gay press, Madonna is in her groove. She knows we get her even when she’s wielding snarky cracks. Looking flawless at 53, she delivers exactly what we want: Madonna. No pretense. No filter. No warm-and-fuzzy.

Read it all after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones