BOOK REVIEW: ‘Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain,’ by Portia de Rossi

Atria Books (2010), $26, 308 pp.

There’s a fine line between “want” and “need.” When you were a kid, you didn’t need another cookie, or that creamy glass with holiday garnish. And definitely, you didn’t need the calories. But oh, you wanted them.

So imagine denying yourself those and almost all other foods. Imagine living on 300 calories a day. Then read Unbearable Lightness, Portia de Rossi’s remarkable memoir.

Amanda Rogers was a smart kid who aspired to become a lawyer in her native Australia, until the modeling bug bit her and she quickly decided that the runway was the way to run. She convinced her mother to drive her to an interview, and she convinced executives that, at age 12, she could handle the world of high fashion. Though she felt uncomfortable and self-conscious about perceived body flaws, she persevered, changing her name to Portia de Rossi.

Later, when given the chance to be in a movie, de Rossi was surprised that she loved acting, though she wasn’t confident about her beauty. She thought her face was too round, her cheeks too fat, her thighs too chubby. Her weight yo-yoed. Wardrobe tailors on the Ally McBeal set were kept busy with alterations. De Rossi was mortified.

But that wasn’t her only source of personal loathing. She had always known that she was gay, but it wasn’t discussed. She married, but the union ended when he learned the truth at couple’s therapy. Co-workers weren’t told because de Rossi feared for her job. She denied her feelings and lived in terror of being outed.

Embarking on a nutritionist-recommended low-calorie diet didn’t quell the diet demon in de Rossi’s mind, so she went on a program all her own.

She meticulously weighed each ounce of food, fretted over “hidden calories,” and obsessively avoided anything that might add to her daily intake.

On the day she hit 82 pounds, she said that celebration was in order but, “first I had to silence the drill sergeant that reminded me of that extra inch of fat. First I had to get rid of that.”

As with many memoirs like Unbearable Lightness, I had two very dissimilar feelings while reading it. First, this book reeks with pain. De Rossi is very clear about the bruising thoughts and negativity that she felt in hiding so many personal aspects of her life, and though this book has a make-you-grin, wonderfully happy ending, getting there hurts.

Second, it hurts to read not just because of the pain de Rossi relays, but because it can be slow. In the end, de Rossi’s pantry held a paltry handful of items, for instance, and that fact was hammered home in many ways, many times.

Still, if you’ve ever lived too long with a secret that ate you alive, read this. You won’t just want Unbearable Lightness, you need it.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

SWEET TOOTH: Touring this time holds a lot less pressure for Sugar & Gold’s Philipp Minnig

SUGAR SHOCK | Minnig, left, and Dobbratz bring a different kind of sexy back to the men of Dallas.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When Philipp Minnig finds downtime between shows on a tour, he mines YouTube. Sometimes the videos serve as a source of inspiration for his music, but mostly, he’s just enjoying his free time. His current obsession is in a video which title translates to “The Doctors.” This prepares him for the next day’s show.

“I’m taking a break today researching,” he laughs. “I do have a hard job: Watching videos. But yeah, when we have any kind of downtime, that’s pretty much it for me. “

The frontman for the duo Sugar and Gold has had a hectic 2011, coming off an already busy 2010. The band toured last year for the disc Get Wet, which garnered the dance-rockers some nice acclaim. They turned around to release the EP Bodyaches and are back on the road stopping at the Jack Daniel’s Saloon this Saturday. Only this time, the two-month tour is less of a job and more of a party.

“When we toured the record we had to do that whole promo push,” he says. “After you just finish a record, there is a lot to deal with. Personally I get sick of my face and the record that goes along with it. But this time, we’ve been having a ball so far.”

While Minnig and bandmate Nicolas Dobbratz emphasize fun in their music, there is work to be done. But with an EP that contains two new songs and remixes from Wet, S&G didn’t have that much pressure with promoting the disc. The tour schedule is short and they planned for the show to be free-flowing.

“This just hasn’t been as daunting,” Minnig says. “We’re having fun with the wardrobe and we’re just loose onstage. The music is still tight but the relaxed feeling allows giving better shows with lots of spontaneous energy. And we’re having more fun with the crowds.”

A lot of those crowds are primarily gay. S&G has come to be closely identified with LGBT audiences due to their electronic dance grooves and a nebulous masculine tone. S&G are in that some dance rock vein as other gay faves Scissor Sisters and Of Montreal. In fact, the band is closely associated with OM in that musically incestuous way. If members of S&G aren’t touring with OM, then members from both are working on their side project Yip Deceiver, which is incidentally the opener for this show.

Minnig, who is straight, can see why LGBT audiences have embraced his band — especially the boys.

“Oh it’s wonderful. We’re big on male sensuality,” he says.

“Our music is about softening the male image and reintroducing sexiness to males. Male doesn’t have to be tough and uptight. It feels freeing when males in the audience are responsive to what your doing.”

Musically, Minnig comes from that indie queer background. He calls that scene his own and he found his music very active in underground gay communities. And that affects how he writes his tunes.

“To some degree, I toy with side projects and play with other musicians, but S&G is its own beast,” he says. “The way we write our music puts an individual spin on things.”

Even though he’s been feeling good about the chill approach to this mini-tour, Minnig is surprisingly anxious to be done with it.

Despite being non-stop the past couple of years, it’s like a drug for him to keep going.

“These shows have affected us positively,” he says. “Just on this leg, it’s such a pleasure hanging out with like-minded, electronically geeky, socially open people and that opens up inspiration. I’m psyched to get to the end of the tour because I wanna write already.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Trevor Donovan’s Spartan Wardrobe

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Trevor Donovan, who plays gay character Teddy on 90210, tweeted this photo of himself on the set of CSI. Donovan will appear on a forthcoming episode of the show as a Spartan employed at a Las Vegas casino whose sword, helmut and breastplate are stolen from him. If you ask me he's better off without those items anyway.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin