Archive for the 'Celebrity' Category


‘Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi’

The album cover of Klaus Nomi’s 1981 self-titled debut album.

Last week, a colleague posted the following to Facebook:

Today I introduced Terry Gross to (the real) Klaus Nomi by sharing this video.

She says “(the real) Klaus Nomi” because her cat is named Klaus Nomi. (Not, I quickly regretted asking, “Claws Nomi”?)

But that Facebook post is amazing for two reasons. First, Terry Gross has interviewed so many people, it seems impossible that, in all that studio time, not even a passing reference to Klaus Nomi came up. Not only that, but she’s from New York City, and she was like 30 years old when Klaus Nomi was at his peak.

Second — Klaus Nomi. I mean look at him. This is the video my colleague Christine shared:

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Monsieurs and Señoras

Do foreign films exist anywhere besides America? I wonder sometimes if it is only their not being American that makes them foreign. If “Hollywood,” being so big and prolific, has driven a wedge between movies and foreign films. If a South African sees an Icelandic film, would he call it a foreign film or just a film? As long as the subtitles are spelled correctly, does it matter?

I’ve become a passive fan of foreign films. To be more accurate, I am a fan of French and Spanish films. Probably because I have seen more films from those countries than from other countries. (Not counting Great Britain, Australia and Canada, of course, but Americans can hardly count those three as foreign countries. Foreign countries are the ones where people talk funny.) But probably also because there is a sensibility about them that I admire.
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Foxy Boxx Really Rocks

Pandora Boxx, Miss May

Pandora Boxx, Miss May

It’s always May in my house, because my RuPaul’s Drag Race wall calendar is forever turned to Pandora Boxx‘s page. She is my drag obsession. I might even have a crush on her.

A recent visit to Chicago last month coincided with an appearance by La Boxx at a local gay bar. The night of the performance, my husband and I were sitting around with some friends, contemplating going out. I looked at the clock. 9 p.m. I looked at my husband. I looked at my friends. I looked at the six packs and the chilled bottle of white wine waiting for us. I heard the gentle hum of the air conditioner. And I decided: I am too tired to deal with a dance bar full of screaming gay boys, flashing lights, and ka-thunk ka-thunk ka-thunk — even to see my favorite fake lady. Heaven forgive me, but I am staying in tonight.

Sometimes getting old is no bloody fun.

I never felt good about the decision, and since then I’ve been looking for a chance to make up for it. It came last week. Pandora Boxx was in New York for a Gay Pride kick-off party at the Gramercy Theater, and I was able to get on the VIP list because my company had something to do with the event. This was it. I was going to meet the Pandora Boxx! Get a picture with her! Shake her hand and tell her I love her and that she was robbed on season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race — robbed, I tell you!
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So Vein

I owe a big thanks to my friend Jon for pointing this out to me. It is a brilliant observation that requires really very little further explanation.

Separated at birth?

You’re So Vain
Carly Simon

Bleeding Love


Faith in Gay Humanity: Safe for Now

The recent finale of “Make Me a Supermodel,” or rather more specifically, the fact that Ronnie did not win, has bolstered my faith in gay humanity.

You know the homos were coming out in droves to watch those boys love themselves week after week. And week after week, polished, hairless gay hero Ronnie Kroell, glowing like a like a spring pig scrubbed in buttermilk, was snatched from the jaws of death.

Ronnie is hot, but not supermodel hot, whatever that is. And he’s nice. And he’s one of those people we hate who will be successful at everything he does. Yet there can be no other explanation than an army of gay well-wishers with cramped thumbs and light hearts sending text messages from far and wide to vote him back on the next week.

I was one of those gays. No matter the options, honestly, shirtless boys will win out every time.

His not winning was one of the few things that gave that show any credibility. I have a hard time feeling sorry for really beautiful people. I have a hard time believing that it’s so hard to walk down a cat walk. But after watching the show, I am willing to concede that there is in fact a skill to modeling. Not a terribly complicated skill, but a skill nonetheless that clearly comes more naturally to some than others.

So, now I can believe that the contestant with the most — a-hem … skill won. As long as Holly avoids talking to her clients, I think she has a long and successful career ahead of her.


Discouraging Discourse

Apparently Geraldo Rivera has written a book. His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S.

Let’s ignore the implied sexism of the title; it’s not the worst part.

“His panic.”

Get it? Get it?

He was on NPR the other day talking about it. The conversation shifted from his personal experience — my dad came over on a banana boat, no one calls me Gerry, my mustache is a part of my cultural identity, that kind of thing — to a more general discussion about U.S. immigration policy.

“The hostility by some anti-immigrant activists against Hispanics is no different from that directed against earlier generations of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants,” he said.

Many of the most fervent anti-immigrant activists are themselves the children or grandchildren of immigrants. The style changes, the accents change, the geographical antecedents change, but it’s the same. You can track headline for headline the response to the Irish wave of immigration in the mid-19th century to the reaction of the Minutemen and similar radical anti-immigration groups today.

I can track with him so far. I probably wouldn’t argue with much of what he says in the book. But he took a turn in the interview that really disappointed me.

The anchor asked him something like What would you say to the people who argue that their views about immigration are mostly colored by the legality of citizenship and border security?

Geraldo responded in a tone of confident superiority: “Are you really concerned about ‘border security,’ or are you concerned about the changing demographic face of the United States? For example, if it’s terrorism that you’re concerned about and you want this fence built between the United States and Mexico, why don’t you want the same fence built between the United States and Canada?”

For Geraldo to jump directly to the bugaboo of terrorism struck me as a total dodge, and it really bugged me. Especially considering that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff himself has stated publicly that he’s more worried about the terrorist threat from the Canadian side than the Mexican side.

Besides that, given the context, I understood the question of “border security” to be more about illegal immigration than terrorism.

He continued: “It’s not crime. It’s not terror. It is demographics that is the true fear. If we wanted secure borders, what about the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts?”

That’s fine. Xenophobia and the institutional bullying of immigrants is certainly a problem. But also, certainly, is the growing pool of undocumented workers in this country. His evasion of the illegal immigration question does his argument a disservice. This — not terrorism — is the entire reason his book is relevant, and I think Geraldo missed a golden opportunity to contribute something meaningful to the national discussion. But he passed it up in favor of an intellectually dishonest soapbox. Perhaps more disappointing is that the anchor did not press him to answer the question. Apparently, a strongly worded statement about terrorism gets you a free pass.


An Autograph from Shelley Long

Mom and dad and I were on a roller coaster. It was a sunny and cool summer or spring day. I was my present age, or a little younger (I always feel younger around my parents). They were somewhere in their 50s and still married. And I was dreaming.

I was able to see the coaster from a third-person perspective as well as my own. It was like watching it on TV or in a video game. This allowed me to see the train moving so fast that sometimes there was no track under the wheels. We would be suspended on solid but invisible tracks for a second, like the cars remembered where they were supposed to go, before sections of track would suddenly blink into existence. My in-dream explanation was that the processor in the computer was too slow to keep up with the train. We were spinning and dipping and looping so much that I began to worry my dad would get sick. Plus, I felt bad about sitting with my mom instead of him.

After the coaster stopped, my dad approached the ride operator looking a bit rattled, babbling, shaking all over, with a wild look in his eyes. I assumed he was doing it for comic effect, and that the operator must see people behaving like this all day long. To prevent my dad from embarrassing himself, I took his arm to lead him away — a gesture, I was aware, both arrogant and presumptuous.

When I approached him, I saw that he truly was shaken. Never mind him getting sick to his stomach, it occurred to me for the first time that he might be having a heart attack. In my dream, he’d had one years before. Not so in real life, though we suspect it’s what finally killed him. We’ll never know for sure.

The next thing I remember is being in a parking lot at night. Maybe at an amusement park, maybe not. Mom was no longer around, and Dad was apparently feeling a little better, sitting in the passenger seat of The Car (any car). He looked over my shoulder and said, mightily impressed, “Huh! Look, there’s Shelley Duvall.”

The woman walking by had what looked like a short amber-colored perm, and she wore a knee-length beige skirt and jacket with brown piping and a white blouse ruffled at the collar. It didn’t look like Shelley Duvall to me. But I followed her as she walked to her car. When she opened the door and turned to enter, I saw that it was in fact Shelley Long.

Dad loves her! I thought. (In the dream he loved her, anyway, and I recalled memories of us watching Cheers together, memories that I now realize may or may not be real.) I thought I might make up for putting him through that roller coaster, cheer him up, by getting him an autograph.

As I approached Shelley Long, I glimpsed a guy crouched at the driver’s side rear corner just long enough to wonder what he was doing there, when — flash. “Got it!” he shouted.

Whether he was a paparazzo or a private investigator, Shelley Long seemed unperturbed, but I did not want to be associated with him. So I cleared my throat and began, “Excuse me, Miss… uhm… Long? Hi. Uhm, I have nothing to do with this guy, just so you know. But I was wondering if you could do something for me.”

The photographer had the gas cap door open, and he was tucking some money inside. “There,” he said.

She looked impatient. Well… and?

“I was hoping I could get your autograph, ma’am,” I said.

But I didn’t have a pen on me. Or paper. “Do you have any?” I asked, embarrassed at my lack of preparation. Clearly she did not. “Never mind. There’s one in my coat. Which is in my car. Just around the corner. I can go run and get it.”

“No,” she said, sighing loudly. “I may not be here when you get back.”

My mind raced. I must have that autograph! “Well, how’s about this?” I stammered. “I go run and get my pen, and if you’re here, great. And if you’re not, at least it’s my own stupid fault.”

She shrugged: agreement enough for me — or at least not a disagreement.

Then she crawled into her car and curled herself up so her entire body fit into the steering well. It did not look comfortable, as her head was now tilted nearly completely upside down, and her legs were tucked up somewhere behind her body. But she seemed unbothered by the posture. It was as if she were hiding from someone. And she was now in no position to sign anything.

I gave up on the pen. To leave her alone seemed dangerous somehow. Shelley Long was having an emotional crisis of some sort.

Stepped past the photographer, who was just sort of crouching there, I asked her what was wrong, but she said she couldn’t tell me. “Of course you can tell me,” I said. I fancied it a somewhat heroic gesture on my part. “You need to talk to someone.”

If she was worried that I was some kind of gossip reporter, she gave no such indication. I don’t remember what we discussed, but once she opened up a crack, it all came spilling out. I worried that the guy with the camera would be taking down every word, but he seemed to have stopped moving — like his wind-up clockwork had stopped running.

And that’s all I remember.

Usually my dreams are about ordinary, banal events like making coffee or being at work. Sometimes they’re overcomplicated versions of normal things, like trying to find my way through a stranger’s house on my hands and knees in a reality somewhere between M.C. Escher and Lewis Carol.

Sometimes they’re miniature fantasy scenarios, like talking on a video telephone to Madonna — until she begins to make dubious claims about losing the connection (“You’re fading, Eric. You’re fading.” Roughly translated: “You’re boring me. I’m hanging up.”)

Sometimes they defy normal physical laws, like the time I drove a car down an ordinary staircase into my uncle’s basement.

I find myself every once in a while dreaming about my childhood best friend, who told me to stop coming over to his house after his parents found out I was gay. Clearly an experience like that will leave a mark; I understand why that would be on my mind. But sometimes I remember a real doozy the morning after — like the one where a stained-glass rocking horse emerged from The Ocean (any ocean) to attack The City (any city), throwing immense objects out of its way, such as a radio tower and large pieces of the bridge I happened to be standing on at the time. I have no explanation for dreams like this.

Among those dreams that defy explanation, my favorites are the ones that last long enough to take completely unexpected turns. Like giving Shelley Long a shoulder to cry on. I tend to appreciate them as inexplainable little “art movies” rather than something with a psychological explanation.

I may never understand the apparent potency of an autograph from Shelley Long, but it’s not hard to see the value of a few stolen moments with my dad.


Fears for Spears

By total coincidence I watched Factory Girl last night directly before Britney Spears’ opening act at the MTV Video Music Awards. I think the pairing offers some notable parallels. Edie Sedgwick was broken down and shattered by publicity and celebrity. Then she died unceremoniously of a drug overdose. Britney has been similarly chewed up by the machine, and she has had her share of public breakdowns. Unlike Edie Sedgwick, however, Britney Spears is fighting back. Unlike Edie Sedgwick, Britney Spears lives. And she probably will for a long time.

I was totally on Britney’s side when she went bat shit on those photographers at the gas station. Not insignificantly, her strategic use of an umbrella brought her closer in my mind to a childhood idol of mine. But more to the point, I think I’d lose it too, if I were constantly denied the opportunity to take control of my life by the people who want to record every frame of it.

The girl is working some stuff out. So she turned in a lackluster performance last night. Why should I sing when I can lip sync? Why should I dance when all these other dancers can do all the work? I can just phone in this thing.

And y’all are gonna watch anyway.

And we did.

OK, so last night’s performance in Las Vegas wasn’t exactly a show stopper. There are a lot of second-rate showgirls in that town who could have given her a run for her money. The sea of blank faces among the who’s who in attendance was more entertaining than Britney. But she was out there. And she wore that sequined bikini. You know that had to have been her choice — no one would have recommended it to her. Maybe she’s taking some control after all.

I will say this: She looked healthy. Some said fat, but I disagree. I think she looks better as a woman than as an anorexic stick figure.

Whatever she does next will be better. It could hardly be worse. But no one likes to be fooled. I hope we’re still there to watch her next time.


You Must Not Know ‘Bout Bea

CNN gleefully covered an onstage spill from Beyoncé recently. It reminds me of the time I saw Bea Arthur fall off a stage in Minneapolis.

She was barefoot and resplendent in a flowing white kaftan. Or something. During a story about a fistfight with Elaine Stritch or something, she moved slowly backward into a poorly lit part of the stage. And then, in an instant: a wisp of white taffeta, like smoke, and she had vanished.

A gay guy in the front row gasped. A small child began to cry somewhere. And then, from the darkness, Ms. Arthur’s voice rang out like a call from God:

“Ladies and gentlemen. I am all right.”

Exuberant applause erupted from the assembled masses, and she took to the stage once again, without so much as a limp. It was inspirational.


Paris Hilton: Not Even Interesting Enough to Make Me Sick

Paris Hilton is sent back to jail screaming, weeping and wailing, and calling for mommy.

I detest her and her ridiculous attitude of special privilege. She’s so boring. Yawn. Seriously. To quote from one of the greats, Cher: “You’re not even interesting enough to make me sick.

The only notable aspect about the media frenzy over this, I think, is that unlike the O.J. case, where there was a real, dramatic murder investigation and trial that turned into a media farce — who can ever forget the aerial shots of that white bronco? or of course the dancing Itos? — this is petty and stupid on its face from the very beginning, and all the coverage is centering on her idiotic and childish behavior. Bravo, I guess. But again: Who cares?

She’s not even acting like a rich, spoiled 26-year-old. She’s acting simply like any tedious 6-year-old. She’s a total psychological retard. If this is what immense wealth and a life lived without consequences brings to you, then I’m glad I’m solidly middle class with little hope of ever raising my tax bracket.

the untallied hours