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Five questions for Stephen Sondheim
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Seattle's Boylesque 101 bump and grind graduates
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SLGFF ends with best ever lineup
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Strong cast but uneven script in Rock 'n' Roll
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Abe Lincoln in Illinois big and sprawling, as impressive as the man
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Toran's water-themed concert lacked fire
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Traviata's Sunday cast not to be missed
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Ben Folds and the Seattle Symphony blow audience away
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Steely Dan thrills crowd with nonstop hits
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Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! Cinerama benefit for Ref. 71
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SLGFF presents Dennis Cooper shorts of surreal - and graphic - nature
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Deep characters anchor Hollywood Je T'aime
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Nashville earns its 'Music City' stripes
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Fun with my honey and Halloween suggestions
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Deep Inside Hollywood - Romeo San Vicente
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An Englishman In New York, one of the year's best
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Book Marks
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Ramsey Lewis, Mitch Ryder and dance
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The Horrors show a seamless audio assault
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The Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival's Boy Shorts
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Hey steampunks, it's your turn for a great convention
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Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! Cinerama benefit for Ref. 71
by Albert Rodriguez SGN A&E Writer

Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!
October 26, 7 PM
Cinerama Theatre


Never before have popcorn and Milk Duds played such an important role in Gay politics as they will on Monday, October 26. Both of these irresistible snacks will help in raising money toward approving the statewide Referendum 71 ballot measure.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Vulcan, Baltic Room, and Gemini Events are joining forces to provide local supporters of the equal rights initiative an evening of abundant laughs while donating the proceeds to assist in funding the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign down the homestretch of the election.

Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, a motion picture about Jewish parents faklempt about their son coming out, will hit theaters later this year, but a special screening of it is scheduled for Monday night at the Cinerama Theatre, offering Seattle area moviegoers a rare opportunity to see a film premiere and contribute to a worthy cause.

Directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, the film revolves around Nelson Hirsch (John Lloyd Young) and his dramatic, pestilent, and obnoxiously loud parents, portrayed by Saul Rubinek and reputable jazz artist-turned-actress Lainie Kazan. The elder Hirsches are in search of a good Jewish wife for their handsome offspring, completely clueless that he's already paired with an unannounced live-in lover, in the form of Angelo, played by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy alum Jai Rodriguez. Along for the ride is Carmen Elektra, who fills the part of bombshell Sybil, hired by Nelson's parents to straighten him back to heterosexuality.

With Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, expect major freak-outs, voluminous disagreements, dysfunctional humor, and more Jewish slogans than you can shake a kosher hot dog at. Jokes aside, this is a fundraiser for the single most important issue currently facing Gay households throughout Washington State. This is why you'll find Mayor Greg Nickels and several other elected and appointed officials in attendance at the special screening, as well as Afineevsky and Rodriguez, both flying in just for the event.

Cost of admission is $25 per person, and a VIP package is offered for $71 to those feeling generous and/or desiring a red carpet experience, which includes reserved seating and access to a festive afterparty. Moviegoers are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will also be available at the box office on Monday evening - if there are any remaining from the online sales.

Showtime for Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! is set for 7 p.m. The 808-seat Cinerama Theatre, boasting a 90-foot long by 30-foot high screen, is located in downtown Seattle at 2100 4th Avenue. For more information on the film, visit its official website at www.oyveymysonisgay.com, or go to www.geminievents.com.


SLGFF presents Dennis Cooper shorts of surreal - and graphic - nature
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Trial by Fire: Dennis Cooper on Film October 24, 11:59 PM Central Cinema

If William S. Burroughs kicked in the door and nudged us through for a peek, Dennis Cooper strolled right in, sat down on the soiled couch, and jacked off.

Dennis Cooper may be the most controversial American writer you've never heard of. If you know his work, pat yourself on the back; you are urbane and intellectually courageous. If you don't, run over to Bailey-Coy Books and order a copy of Closer.

The three short films based on Cooper's writing make up Trial by Fire: Dennis Cooper on Film. Bug Crush is about a disconnected small town teenager whose fascination with the mysterious new kid takes him to some dark places. Not actually based on Cooper's writing, the director, Carter Smith, counts Cooper as a major influence and recently worked with him on another project.

Userlands, directed by Brandon Walley, was produced as a trailer for the anthology of the same name. The anthology is a collection of stories written by authors Cooper contacted through his blog. This three-minute flick is an aimless surreal jaunt inside our collectively sick head. (The word "surreal" is used here like André Breton would have used it.)

These two flicks are seriously dark, especially Bug Crush. Userlands is fascinating to look at, but as a trailer I don't believe it was ever intended to develop serious tension. However, the film that will really mess you up is Weak Species, directed by Dan Faltz.

Queer journeys are often marked by violence and disconnection. Cooper's writing and these films go to the heart of both. Weak Species caused quite a stir at the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival this past May before winning Best Short Film. It is one of the most frightening and disturbing films I have ever seen. And I loved every second of it.

Erik Smith is mesmerizing as George, a self-destructive teen who runs into a couple of nasty men who are happy to help him realize his destructive desires.

Weak Species is a terrifying film. About 10 people left the theater during the screening in Honolulu. However, our minds do most of the work filling gaps with things more frightening than what's on the screen in perfect Hitchcockian mode.

Some viewers argued the violence is salacious, but I believe it works metaphorically when you consider how disaffected Queer youth can so easily end up in the hands of nefarious sorts who they think are fulfilling their desires.

I met up with Faltz in L.A. this past September to talk about Weak Species.

Scott Rice: The Weak Species screening at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival has been designated, along with the classic Jack Wrangler porno Gemini, as 21 and over. Are you relieved to know that 18- to 20-year-old Queer folks are being protected from seeing your film?

Dan Faltz: Well, we're certainly in good company with a legend like Jack Wrangler! We've been suggesting that programmers put out a clear warning for audiences. The film has certainly made some people upset and caused a few to faint, so I definitely understand programmers wanting to post an age restriction.

Rice: Would you let your 16-year-old see Weak Species?

Faltz: Hard to say; my 16-year-old would probably know how to access bootleg Japanese horror films online, or play multiplayer online games that are much more graphic than this film. The subject matter is certainly covered in police procedurals each week on television. There are meaner-spirited films that are PG13, so I dunno&.

Rice: Weak Species won best short film at the 2009 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. I know there was controversy (and lots of drama) around its selection for the festival in the first place, and the win caused a bit of a stir, too. Why do people react so strongly to this film?

Faltz: It meant a lot to hear that the committee felt the film was the best-crafted film in the festival; it was incredibly rewarding to be acknowledged for the technical craft of the creative team that made the film. I think in many ways, whether we consciously know it or not, many people go to LGBT festivals to feel affirmation. And we all bring something to what we see - our experiences, our personal history, our perspective, that filters our experience of a film. To me, for all its grit, Weak Species is ultimately a hopeful film. I hope audiences can take that away.

Rice: I spoke to people in Honolulu who didn't like the way the film portrayed Queer characters. There were actually two areas of concern: First, the violence is gratuitous, and second, the characters don't represent the Queer community. What do you say to these people?

Faltz: Dennis Cooper uses abuse and death as recurring themes to take an internal trauma and make it external where we can hold it up and examine it. As teenagers, we're often in an emotional state of emergency. No one has it easy; straight, Gay, no matter how popular. And many of us turn to risk as an outlet, to feel, to connect, find ourselves - whether that means sex, trying drugs, or just plain looking for danger. I think of the crazy things my friends and I did in high school with no thought about the possible repercussions. There's an invincible feeling at that age that informs our choices. To me, what is important is the communication between characters and the feelings they have. The sex and violence is very meaningful to the people involved; I wanted to find a way to show what goes on in one's head, or what someone communicates to their partner during sex. One of the characters in the film makes a terrible choice, but he makes the choice; he is not an innocent victim. I think that is ultimately the most upsetting part. I made a point of obscuring the sex and the violence. I think what viewers embellish with their imaginations is worse than anything I could explicitly show. I think that is what audiences are reacting to.

Rice: What can you tell us about the feature project?

Faltz: The feature script is much closer to Dennis's story and poetry. I think it's a richer, scarier, moving story. It's a difficult climate for indie film, especially gritty, Gay stories. We're hoping to find someone to produce who will take good care of the film and fight to keep Dennis's work intact. It means a lot to have Dennis's blessing for the project; he's been amazing.

Rice: What drew you to Dennis Cooper's work?

Faltz: Dennis's writing is so sparse, like poetry - short sentences that tell you a huge amount. To me, that seems much like filmmaking, revealing more information shot by shot. I tried to film his story in a poetic way, to isolate feelings, faces. I found the ending of Closer very hopeful. And I think he knows the way teens think and act; he really gets that adolescent state of emergency we all go through. I wanted to see that on the screen.

Rice: How is Cooper's work valuable to the Queer community?

Faltz: Many of the writers I love observe and depict the world and people with all our deep flaws; I think Dennis's writing takes us to a place where we have to ask ourselves dark questions about the nature of our desires. He is an important voice in literature in general, as well as a unique and groundbreaking Gay writer. His writing really changed the way I write and how I think of writing. He is also incredibly supportive of emerging artists and encourages creative collaboration.

Rice: Why should people go see Weak Species?

Faltz: It means a lot to have one's film selected for audiences to see, and of course I'd love for folks to see the film and even send me their thoughts. But I'd encourage folks to take the time to see a program at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival to support film by and about LGBT people. We have fewer LGBT shows and characters on TV and cable than we did just a few years ago. In this media climate, it's so important to make sure our stories and voices are seen and heard. I'm always glad I saw that film that surprised me or changed my mind or made me see my community in a different way. We're lucky we can do that.


Deep characters anchor Hollywood Je T'aime
by Nevin Jefferson - SGN Contributing Writer

Devastated by a love affair gone to hell, Jerome (Eric Debets) journeys from Paris to Los Angeles over Christmas, longing for a change of scenery and dreaming of a career in the movies. The opening scenes of the film in Paris are in black and white, and when Jerome hits Hollywood, the film changes to bright, candylike colors, like The Wizard of Oz.

Once in Hollywood, Jerome tries his best to enjoy the city, making endearing first-timer mistakes. He pisses off the cab driver and bartender by not tipping them. A bus ride to the beach takes all day, and he finds that the beach is cold. While suffering at the beach, Jerome hits it off with a Gay pot dealer (Chad Allen), who drives him halfway home. A taco-stand Tranny named Kaleesha (Diarra Kilpatrick) escorts him the rest of the way, introducing him to Norma Desire (Michael Airington), a "shabby chic" Silverlake drag queen who takes Jerome under her wing.

Director Jason Bushman's shrewd firsthand knowledge of the less glamorous side of the Hollywood merry-go-round gives a nice ride. Jerome also has a few romantic flirtations, including a sexually explicit encounter with a waiter he meets at a bathhouse.

The best part of this film is in the deep portrayal of the characters; the sad-eyed Frenchman who ends up surrounded by an exquisite cast of Hollywood's colorful, flamboyant detritus, the people who cause polite society to look the other way. They are acted out with care and detail, ensuring that each is a fully formed person, not a cardboard stereotype. Drag queen Norma (Michael Airington) is absolutely fabulous, in every form of the word. She could have so easily have become a stereotype based on either her lifestyle or her age, but Airington and the script make her brassy yet fragile, obnoxious but loveable, and bitchy while desperately loyal. She also gets some of the film's funniest lines (laughs and cheers erupted from the festival audience at her screaming "Good eyes" at a homophobic youth who quite astutely observes that, yes, she and her friends are indeed Gay) and many of its most tender moments. Chad Allen as the Gay pot dealer and Diarra Kilpatrick as Kaleesha are characters who you care about.

Support the arts by becoming a member of the Three Dollar Bill Cinema and enter to win a trip to London. The post-screening reception was held at Barrio, where the food is really good!


An Englishman In New York, one of the year's best
by Nevin Jefferson - SGN Contributing Writer

The 14th Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival opened with An Englishman In New York, a very powerful and epic telling of the story of Quentin Crisp. He wasn't your ordinary fruit; he was a Gay, proud man who wasn't afraid to be himself, and did just that - even after being beaten numerous times. Crisp would eventually become a voice of authority for the Gay world.

This true-to-life story came alive on the screen thanks to an extraordinary performance by John Hurt as the witty, prolific, influential Gay pioneer who becomes a pop culture icon right before your eyes. John Hurt's performance is riveting and breathtaking. Much of the film's dialogue comes from Crisp's own writing and performances.

The movie opens as Quentin is flying high on international fame before landing low in New York. In one of the opening scenes, Quentin is walking through the streets of the city in his full splendor. He's complimented by a big and beautiful middle-aged black woman who hails him with praises of love, respect, and admiration. He is genuinely touched by this, and he takes off with more sashay in his hips - giving new meaning to swishing in the streets.

When Quentin is granted a resident alien status based on his unique qualities, the uniting of the city and the Englishman is a match made in heaven.

After performing his one-man show How to Be a Happy Person, he's approached by Connie Clausen, superbly played by Swoosie Kurtz. She tells him that she wants to make him a star and launches his career in an off-Broadway one-man show. The two begin a strong mutual friendship that flourishes as Connie gets him on every TV talk show and radio show.

Connie books him on a black radio station, where the very flaming Quentin is surrounded by hardcore ghetto brothers and a tough-as-nails militant DJ. They accept him for who and what he is and make him an "honorary brother." The listeners from the hood calling in for advice love both the man and his advice. Several scenes later, Quentin goes to a leather bar and is 86ed because he isn't dressed to their code. Our cult darling becomes the epitome of an effeminate Gay man with effeminate ways, complete with makeup and trademarks that consisted of ascots galore, his signature ring, and hat. His frankness, arrogance, and honesty wows some, and pisses off others. When he claims same-sex love is impossible, he's attacked by Gays for "playing to straights."

Quentin becomes a movie reviewer for Christopher Street magazine, run by Philip Steele (excellently played by Denis O'Hare). The two strike an agreement that touches on the richness of the U.S. film culture of the time compared with today's times. Steele allows Quentin the freedom and liberty of criticizing the movies he wants to. Steele writes the reviews, which consist of the thoughts and opinions of Quentin, during a conversation between the two at a greasy spoon. Philip, already a fan of Crisp's, becomes his best friend, and a platonic relationship slowly builds between the two. Quentin's spontaneous words of wit and wisdom earn him a high place in the Gay community, but then one of his comments gets him in trouble: His statement during one show that "AIDS is a fad, nothing more," and his refusal to recant or campaign for Gay rights. "It is my policy never to lie, never to defend," he famously said.

Of course, this causes all hell to break loose with his career. His Gay audience, who has started to really suffer from the AIDS epidemic, turns away from him. Crisp is dropped by his agent and editor after their pleading with him to retract proves fruitless.

Crisp's eyes are opened when he gets to know young artist Patrick Angus (in a fantastic performance by Jonathan Tucker), who is dying of AIDS. Crisp keeps his promise to the artist by having his work shown in a gallery.

Well into the Clinton era, Quentin wakes up to find a lady in his apartment. She assures him that he's not dead and she's no angel; his door was just unlocked. The lady is performance artist Penny Arcade, marvelously played by Cynthia Nixon. She takes Quentin back to the stage with moving material that takes him into his 10th decade, and once again he wins over the Gay community.

Steele returns to the tiny and shabby apartment to find Quentin living on the champagne and peanuts circuit. Steele devotedly looks after the now-failing Quentin, who's enjoying his final bow. He tells his friend that he has a million dollars, and they ask why he doesn't spend any of it. Quentin tells him that he contributes to the AIDS foundation amfAR so he can meet Elizabeth Taylor.

The grand finale is a virtual Sermon on the Mount in a Gay bar in Tampa, Fla. This is a brilliant film that's one of the best films of the year and decade. This is a must-have in your DVD collection and it makes a great gift for the holidays.



 
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