Archive for the 'People We Like' Category



04
Aug
10

A Family Weigh

The 1976 film Network may most commonly bring to mind overwhelmed, despairing Howard Beale bellowing “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more!” His performance is genius, and his newsroom messiah complex may seem to presage this generation’s personality-driven Fox News and CNBC, but something else stood out to me when I watched the movie for the first time not long ago. A much smaller moment. And it had nothing to with Howard Beale, at least not directly.
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28
Jun
10

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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08
May
10

The Best Movie Never Made

Dreams can really make you glad to wake up sometimes. Witness the one I had a few days ago, in which I could not stop shitting myself.

Last night’s was much lighter in tone but no less weird.

It was in the format of a movie trailer. Not sure if I was watching the trailer, or if the dream was a trailer — or if I was some kind of omniscient observer. And not just any trailer, but the trailer for that 1979 Bill Murray summer camp movie Meatballs. Or, rather, a remade version of it. It had that grainy, filmic quality of those old trailers, with garish, yellow titles and an overenthusiastic voice over.

It starts out normal, but then there’s a scene in which Bill Murray and the shy, awkward teenage main character Rudy (played in the movie, as in my dream, by Chris Makepeace) have some kind of fight. Bill Murray is shouting at Rudy and provoking him, poking him in the chest and berating him until Rudy flips his lid and shouts “There’s nothing I want more than to kill you right now!” He charges toward Bill Murray, arms flailing, and they both fall into a gruesome fist fight.
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29
Aug
09

In Memoriam: Joey Ruggiero

It’s one of life’s great cliches that everyone comes into your life for a reason. It does not always follow, however, that they go out of your life for a reason, too. Sometimes they just go, and it’s cruel, and it’s brutal.

I did not know Joey well. We met in January, and he was gone by mid-April. Every time I saw him in those brief months, he brought some new delight into my life &#8212 a fun, clever friend of his; a fabulous place for brunch; a ceramic two-tiered deviled egg serving tray.

Since his death, I have been remembering all of the “lasts.” You always remember those: the last tweet, the last Facebook update, the last photo I took of him, the last time he was at my house, the last time I was in his disastrously messy car.

Everything around me is a reminder, as if a trace of life is left behind everywhere he went, like a scent. Whenever I’m on South Street, I remember the last time he got new plugs for his ear lobes. RuPaul reminds me of him. Britney Spears reminds me of him. Blood oranges, enchiladas, Hello Kitty.

Our lasts were, in most cases, also firsts. The last meal we shared was at our annual Easter party, which we thought would be the first of many he would attend. It was at that party, he told us, that he had his first-ever green bean casserole. Also his last.

The lasts hurt so much because they’re a reminder of the obliterated potential. You decide to let someone into your life as a friend, and you can imagine how things will be years on: the holidays and birthdays, the summers and winters, the drunken nights out, the drunken nights in.

We have the lasts to be grateful for, but we can’t help but feel robbed of an undiscovered future and memories we never had a chance to make. And then we remember that the future that’s gone is his. We still have ours, and that’s more to be grateful for.

Sometimes I think we don’t really lose anybody. We just find them somewhere else. I find Joey continuously in the friends we inherited from him.

Joey collected people, and he carried a whole world with him. His was an exuberant life that spilled over into everyone around him. Like all is other possessions, we are left behind to be redistributed or to be gathered closer. We have chosen the latter.

Last week would have been his birthday. We had cake and champagne in his honor. And I saw once again how lucky we were to know him, and how grateful we should be for the people he brought to our lives.

We are all so different, and we all knew him for different reasons, but we all fit together. And wherever we go, he goes.

Rest in peace, friend.

20
May
09

I Heart Betty White

We’re down two Golden Girls, with two to go. Oh, it pains me to think of losing Rue McClanahan and Betty White. Yet it’s hard to resist the speculation: Who will be the last Girl standing?

Meanwhile, this is hilarious! Betty White calls Ryan Reynolds an “ab-crunching jackass,” and he tells her to suck a hot cock. And Sandra Bullock slaps Reynolds around for picking on poor Betty.

I know I’m totally falling for this viral marketing, but I’ll probably never see the movie its meant to promote. The worst part: I have an irrational dislike of Sandra Bullock, but this clip is actually making me like her.

01
May
09

You Better Work

Start with a strong-woman ensemble piece like the 1980 film 9 to 5. Add music written by gay-fave country diva Dolly Parton. Throw in an orchestra, some sequins and a bit of razzle-dazzle, and you should have a recipe for a little slice of gay heaven.

9 to 5: The Musical,” which opened at New York’s Marriott Marquis Theater last night, comes pretty close.

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24
Mar
09

Mission Accomplished

The dirty little “secret” about RuPaul’s Drag Race is it doesn’t matter who wins this competition. RuPaul is not passing on any crown. Are you kidding me? She’s just gettin’ started! This entire season has been all about one person: RuPaul.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

Fittingly, Season One closed on one more example of the contestants acting as co-stars warming their hands on RuPaul’s fire. The girls had to learn new choreography for a guest role on RuPaul’s new video and they had to record a rap for inclusion in her single. However, I think what we saw this week firmly placed Nina and Bebe among the fiercest of the fierce.

Bebe Zahara Benet
Camaroooooon!
[www.bebezaharabenet.com

Tonight Bebe won the crown and our hearts. I had always hoped Nina would win. She’s the only one who has never had to lip-synch for her life, and her heart and charisma enriched the experience for everyone. But I would have been satisfied with either of her or Bebe. And Bebe’s plans to start a charity for kids in Camaroon with HIV/AIDS is, frankly, one of the highest marks of a true champion.

Rebecca’s lucky star, on the other hand, seemed to have faded this week. From the start of this episode (and frankly before), the race was down to Nina and Bebe. Through every step this week, Rebecca just couldn’t cut it. She didn’t hit the choreography, she had half as much rap as she needed, she couldn’t pull herself (or her wig) together for the video shoot, and she had no capacity for taking direction from Mike Ruiz.

Either she’s finally feeling the pressure, or it’s just a bad day. Or maybe it’s because she shouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place. “You never, ever rush a queen,” she says. But the other two seemed to manage just fine. She’s full of excuses this week, but even she knows her time is up.

In this week’s “Under the Hood,” Nina confronts Rebecca with a few things. It’s a classy moment: Rather than part ways with bad blood, she calls out Rebecca’s shadiness and makes peace with her. Nina and Bebe bend over backward to give her the benefit of the doubt: “You probably don’t know you’re doing it” and “you probably don’t do this intentionally.” But it was a real barrier to her ability to make any friends on this show, and it did a lot to keep people from trusting her. It’s nothing personal, but it’s an important lesson for them to impart.

And they seal it with a kiss. Mwah, mwah.Ay, Loca. Work it out.”

Rebecca concedes a few times this season that she probably appears standoffish to the others, but it’s not intentional. “It’s just the way I am.”

But when asked about the others’ reactions to her, she always says something like, “I’m used to it.” In other words: I am a victim, those bitches don’t like me, they’re jealous of me, and I’m used to it, so whatever. She recognizes she’s improving her look or her performance, but she’s not improving herself or her professionalism: witness her Viva Glam breakdown, tonight’s disastrous video shoot tardiness.

Ru asks her point-blank, “Do you think it’s this kind of behavior that alienates you from the other girls.” And her response is either ugly or just thoughtless, I’m not sure: “I think it’s maybe because they’re a little older…”

Nothing to do with her, of course.

When Nina and Bebe are talking about staying in touch and working together after the show, Rebecca says nope, I’m here to win, and “I can’t let things like friendships get in the way.” If this is just “how she is,” it sucks, and it will always hurt her.

So, while she’s fixing her wig and being friendless, Nina and Bebe are holding hands, blowing kisses, and forging a friendship that will carry them through their success in ways Rebecca can’t seem to imagine.

10
Mar
09

Absolutely Fabricated

ab fab first look
Sweetie, darling, does mummy’s script need surgery?

A friend of mine who is always in the know sent me this picture of the new American Patsy and Eddie. While I’m grateful for the first look, I’m also a little scared.

OK, so you can’t judge a book by its cover, and all that, but please, please, please tell me it’s not going to look like a couple of women dressed up as Patsy and Eddie at a Halloween party!

I don’t even know why this is being taken on now. It was so right the first time around. My greatest fear is that this new series will either be so similar that it looks like a poor reproduction, or so different it will be pointless.

10
Mar
09

Shannel, No. 6

Shannel    
I’m beautiful, dammit!
[www.poptower.com]

Oh, Shannel … Say it ain’t so. A sixth contestant has been cut from RuPaul’s Drag Race. And she was wronged!

I’m a little mad at her for giving up the fight. Her “I don’t want to be here anymore!” was a major disappointment for me. Week after week, she has taken harsh, often meaningless criticism with dignity and respect. Even tonight, Santino said she’s “saying everything right,” but she’s just not connecting with him. What does that even mean? I think it says more about the judge than the contestant.

It’s hard to say how much her announcement affected the judges’ decision. I think it was honest exasperation, not a strategy. And who could blame her? You can see it in this week’s “under the hood” and, sadly, her exit interview. What more can she do?

When she got pitted against Rebecca in the lip synch, she put up a fight again. I think she saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I did. And maybe I’m no judge of these things, but I think her performance was better than Rebecca’s.

Maybe it all went wrong when she lifted up that dress and shook her little butt. That and the Hannibal Lecter-esque lip-smacking earlier on, which was met with the sound of crickets chirping, may have been just a step too far. Oh, I wish she’d just hold back a bit and let her talent carry her forward. Instead, she always resorts to a trick: snakes, juggling, those assless chaps. I picture her as a trained circus animal, with Merle Ginsberg tossing her lumps of meat after each jump through the fire hoop.

Everyone wants to ditch Rebecca this week — even 47% of the audience! I wanted her to get far, but her time has come. She was so overrated during the vogue-off. Shannel characteristically pulled a cartwheel out of her ass, but her posing was better. I thought the whole drag ball/vogue theme, a nice nod to the drag history, would have given an advantage to the more seasoned of the girls. But that Rebecca has nine lives, and I think RuPaul has a soft spot for her.

The best part of the vogue-off was RuPaul’s commentary: “Paint your face, honey!”

“Face! Face! Face!”

“Why you all gagging so? She bring it to you every ball!”

This was a tough episode: swimsuit, evening gown, and business suit. Forget about Miss America, honey. And these ladies aren’t even ladies! Plus, these colors were truly awful — more Froot Loops than mango mojito.

The inclusion of Charo was a stroke of genius on so many levels, not the least of which was a welcome lightening of the mood. I don’t know where she went, but I’m glad she’s back! (Looking strangely the same as the last time I saw her — on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse!) Who can resist her? She even got the pit crew to dance. I wish to god she had stayed on as a judge, but the flamenco diva magic ended far too soon.

The runway question, “Why should you win?” was a telling moment. Bebe led with a dignified answer: “There is pride and dignity in dressing up.” Nina said she wants to inspire others. Shannel answered like a politician, saying a lot without ever really answering the question: “I love myself,” essentially.

But I hate, hate, hate Rebecca’s answer. When someone asks why you should win, you need to have a real reason, something personal and meaningful. I want to make my grandma proud. Or I need the money to buy a house for my mom. But the best Rebecca can come up with is “I want this.”

That’s not a reason; it just restates the question: I want this because I want this. OK, obviously she’s working hard. This is not easy. So, let that be her reason. It would have been better if she’d said simply, “because I deserve to.” At least that speaks to the competition, not just some childish sense of entitlement.

Line of the night: RuPaul’s repeated declarations of “Extravaganza eleganza!”

Charo, on the dance: “Be careful. Spooning leads to forking.”

Charo, on the posture: “Even if you don’t breathe, nevermind. If you drop dead, you drop dead with class.”

Charo, on the walk: “Uno, dos, uno, dos. I am the biggest bitch in the world.”

Nina: “How am I gonna place a mango in an evening gown?”

RuPaul, to Shannel: “Yes… something to wash down the fava beans.”

03
Mar
09

Dress You Up

This week the girls get to play with some real live dolls. These fierce fairy queens have to drag five tomboy bruisers out of the fight and into the light — and down the runway. How hard can it be? Women wear drag all the time: Dolly … Cher … Edina and Patsy.

After last week, Rebecca is clearly public enemy Number One. Shannel, for one, can’t wait to see her go. It sets up another nice rivalry. Shannel wimps out at first, when the lady fighters lead the queens in a boxing ring workout. But then she rallies and comes back swinging, ultimately putting up the best fight against Rebecca.

But Rebecca pulls out ahead. Her reward for winning the mini-challenge is decide which boy gets paired with which girl. But all of those women look like a challenge to me. How much can she really stack the deck?

Since episode two, when Rebecca said she’d eliminate Shannel, she has shown herself to be a fiercely smart competitor. Of course, the assumption is that Rebecca is sabotaging the others. But behind the curtain, and “under the hood,” she says she tried to split them up fairly.

It’s touching to see the boys coaching the women. You get the impression that they’re giving the lady fighters real life advice, not just runway pep talk. And to their credit, the fighters are game for this challenge. They do their best, but it’s not like they’d normally be seeking this kind of “help.” It’s as much work for them as the workout was for the queens. These women are not gonna go back home and put these new skills to use.

This episode plays with the meaning of drag. In the runway show, the real women look no different from men in drag. Is this show about men teaching women how to act like women? Or is it about men teaching women how to act like men acting like women? How many layers are there?

What’s real? It’s almost as if the women have to exaggerate more than the queens do to “act like women.”

What’s natural? RuPaul says Mia has a “natural beauty” — but only after Mia has been all dolled up by Nina.

The results are impressive, and this is a tough one to judge. Clearly it’s getting hard on RuPaul. He has said many times in the press that he was surprised by how close he got to the competitors. He excuses himself before he can give his verdict this week. I just want to know where he goes. To meditate? Is there a chapel in some corner of the studio where he prays? Does he call in a life line? Does he consult the Psychic Friends Network?

The lip-synch showdown was a disappointment with Bebe practically tearing herself to pieces. Is everyone going to flip their wigs from now on? Is this what it takes to win?

What made Shannel’s performance remarkable was how she ran with an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction and turned it around. I don’t think ripping off your hair shows passion; I think it’s just kind of ugly. But someone has to go. Au revoir, Ongina.




the untallied hours