Manilow rushed to hospital, forced to cancel 2 concerts, no word yet on Dallas show


Following a performance in Memphis, Tenn., Barry Manilow was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital late Thursday night, Feb. 11, “due to complications from emergency oral surgery” he had on Monday, according to a post on the singer/songwriter’s Facebook page. Apparently, based on an update on Entertainment Tonight’s website, Manilow, 72, underwent a second surgery since returning to the hospital, and as of 9:43 a.m. PST, was out of surgery and doing well.

Quoting Manilow’s representative, ET reports that doctors don’t expect any further complications, but that Manilow “has been instructed not to talk, sing, or rap” for the next 48 hours.

Because of the medical emergency, Manilow was forced to postpone two other concerts in Tennessee, and may not be able to attend the Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15. He is nominated for his 15th Grammy for his album, My Dream Duets, released in October 2014.

There’s been no word yet on whether the singer will have to cancel or postpone his Dallas concert, set for Tuesday night, Feb. 18, at the AAC.

Published reports have not indicated what caused Manilow to have to undergo the initial surgery.

—  Tammye Nash

Best Bets • 02.12.16

Saturday 02.13 — Sunday 02.14


Dallas ComicCon Fan Days swoops into Las Colinas

Time to have a nerdgasm, as gay geeks! Dallas ComicCon is back, with its Fan Days celebration. This time, guests include out heartthrob Joh­­­­­­­­­­­n Barrowman (Torchwood, Arrow), Barrowman’s Arrow co-star Stephen Amell and his brother, The Flash’s Robbie Amell, Sean Pertwee and David Mazouz from Gotham, and the stars of The Dukes of Hazzard. It’s tons of fun.

Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas
500 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving
10 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday

Thursday 02.18


Barry Manilow wrote the songs … and now he sings them one last time

From his early days as Bette Midler’s accompanist, playing piano in the Continental Baths, to writing some of the biggest hit songs of the 1970s to performing them as a respected crooner, he’s been a gay icon since long before he “officially” came out. Now 72, he’s touring in what will probably be his final major concert. Expect all the hits (“Mandy,” “Weekend in New England,” “Copacabana,” “I Write the Songs”) and maybe to tear up a little. Even if you’re a newcomer to his music, it’s easy to become a Fanilow.

American Airlines Center
2500 Victory Ave.
7:30 p.m.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Really? People are surprised Barry Manilow is gay?

ManilowWhy the stupid headlines?

People: Surprise! Barry Manilow Has Married His Manager Garry Kief


And this from the story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail: Apparently, the star who has millions of female fans around the world, was worried that if they made their union official, word would leak out about his sexuality and that his fans wouldn’t approve of him being gay.

Yes, because a gay male star can’t have millions of female fans. Right Ricky Martin? Liberace? Elton John? Adam Lambert? Clay Aiken?

And those headlines — really?!


No, Barry Manilow, 71, never came out officially with a big public pronouncement. No one did that in the late ’60s, early ’70s. He never did the big Advocate coming out cover story interview.

He didn’t have to. He was gay. There was never any secret since his 1971 hit, “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonalds.” Really. “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me” is his, too.

But if anyone needed clues that the man who made the whole world sing was gay, he dropped a few along the way.

He wrote the Broadway musical Copacabana. Gee, I hate to stereotype, but name a straight Broadway composer — later than Oscar Hammerstein — off the top of your head.

Here’s another:

He got his start as Bette Midler’s piano player. At the Continental Baths. With gay men dressed only in towels watching him perform. Night after night. Especially every Saturday night. With the Divine Miss M. At the baths. The really sleazy Continental Baths.

Anyone who didn’t catch on with that clue wouldn’t have gotten the hint had he said, “Yep, I’m gay” on the cover of Time. With some people, it just doesn’t sink in.

And “secret gay wedding” as the Daily Mail claimed? They got married at their home with about 30 friends there. Just because they didn’t make a big announcement to the press doesn’t make it a secret wedding.

Maybe it just bothers some straight people that “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time” was by a gay man.

—  David Taffet

Anything was possible

From DIFFA to the stage, John Ahrens has witnessed the evolving art of HIV

YA GOTTA HAVE ‘HEART’ | Ahrens, above, was moved to tears by the revival of ‘The Normal Heart,’ which captured the panic of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s; below left, designs from two decades of DIFFA auctions, which improved greatly from the days of ‘ugly fabrics.’ (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

John Ahrens ended up in Dallas accidentally, but it’s an accident that may have saved his life. In the late 1960s, he was enrolled at Yale

University’s drama department, studying theater alongside classmates like Christopher Durang, Sigourney Weaver, Wendy Wasserstein and Meryl Streep. It was a magical time.

“I lived in New York until the late 1970s,” he recalls. “Back then, in 1976 in New York, anything was possible — you had Paul [the gay character] onstage in A Chorus Line, it was post-Stonewall.” The Continental Baths had acts like Bette Midler and Barry Manilow before anyone knew who they were. “Later you had La Cage aux Folles with Georges singing ‘I Am What I Am.’”

In other words, it was a great time to be gay.

Or so it seemed. Ahrens moved to Dallas in 1978, putting him 1,300 miles away when the AIDS epidemic hit New York hard. Ahrens first realized how serious the situation was when he called a friend to inquire about a former roommate; the roommate had died.

All those emotions came flooding back to him last month, when he made a pilgrimage to New York specifically to see the revival of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the AIDS crisis. Ahrens caught a Sunday matinee; four hours later, it walked away with three Tony Awards including best revival of a play.

“It was amazing,” Ahrens says, choking up slightly. “It so accurately describes the panic everyone was living through, especially those still in the closet. It has gotten better” over the years.

That seems to be the consensus. The Normal Heart arrived in New York about the same time as another play about AIDS, As Is, but met with a very different reception. As Is made it to Broadway, where it was rewarded with three Tony Award nominations and the Drama Desk Award for outstanding new play. The Normal Heart remained off-Broadway, underground. And its angry political tone was eventually eclipsed by Tony Kushner’s two-part epic Angels in America.

But when’s the last time you heard someone talk about As Is? Meanwhile, Kramer’s play has earned cult status. (For years, Barbra Streisand tried to direct a film version.)

“The Normal Heart was so much of its time,”Ahrens opines, “but seeing it brought it all back. It captured the horrors of it all. The visualization of John Benjamin Hickey’s performance was so authentic — back then, you could look at someone and know they had HIV.”

It was a horrific time, but also one that spurred great achievement and sacrifice. “It changed a lot of people and made them get their shit together,” he says.

Ahrens, a respected costume designer, was present for the first auction of clothes from DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. He still remembers the first piece he designed: A red leather number with a hoop skirt meant to evoke Christian Lacroix…“worn by a 6-foot-tall redhead.” (He’s referring to Dallas supermodel Jan Strimple, a long-time supporter of DIFFA and an AIDS activist, one of Ahrens’ oldest friends.)

It probably wasn’t his best work — back then, it was hard to do your best work.

“We all got our fabric from the same fashion line, and that line was really ugly,” he says. “Some of us were getting our fabric the night before the show.”

Things have changed. The designs became more fabulous, the designers more high-profile, the fabrics of better quality. But what Ahrens remembers most are the people — in particular, the lesbian community.

“They were the soldiers,” he says frankly. “Lory Masters and her generation? Hell, they took on so much,” caring for the mostly gay men who suffered.

Back then, even being associated with AIDS took heroics; today, gay and straight, HIV-positive and –negative men and women readily lend their names and faces to campaigns such as Faces of Life, Dallas-based photographer Jorge Rivas’ campaign for AIDS awareness. The stigma has diminished — but it is not gone.

Ahrens didn’t see The Normal Heart when it first ran in New York more than 25 years ago, but seeing it in 2011 truly made him see how far things have come — and how far they still have to go.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Gay filmmakers need help funding films

Ash Christian, the Texas-bred filmmaker who recently debuted his latest underground comedy, Mangus!, at the Dallas International Film Festival, could use your help. His third film as a director is already in the can, but he has one as a producer that still needs help getting off the ground. Continental is a documentary about New York’s Continental Baths, the gay bathhouse where Better Midler and Barry Manilow got their starts. (You can see a video of Bette performing there in 1971 by clicking here.) The film is being directed by documentarian Malcolm Ingram, whom we have also written about.

“We are raising our modest production budget for the documentary via Kickstarter and private equity and I genuinely believe this is an important story to be told while the players are still alive and wanting to talk.” Christian says. “It is very important that we reach our goal in a timely fashion or we don’t get any of the funds already donated.” He’d also accept a bigger private equity investment from someone with the bucks, but even a $10 donation would be appreciated.

You can donate by clicking here.

Ash isn’t the only filmmaker trying to raise money this way for a documentary. Quentin Lee, whose charming romantic comedy The People I’ve Slept With played at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas last year, is trying to raise $3,800 to complete his documentary short,  A Woman Called Canyon Sam, about America’s first Asian American lesbian activist. He’s also using Kickstart to get the money flowing.

You can see the trailer below, or donate by going here.

A Woman Named Canyon Sam Kickstarter Campaign from People Pictures on Vimeo.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones