THEATER: Batt on a Hot Tin Roof We were sad when his gay character Sal was written out of Mad Men (although faithful viewers know we have new representation on the series), but out actor-singer Bryan Batt is still performing in many venues, and this weekend he brings his tuneful cabaret act, Batt on a Hot Tin Roof, to New York City nightclub 54 Below. He’ll showcase the talents that made him a star on Broadway and off long before he joined Sterling Cooper. Saturday and Sunday only.
9. BOOK: Battle Axe by Carson Taite Summer is made for sexy beach reads, and Carson Taite's latest novel, Battle Axe (Bold Strokes Books, $16.95), which follows lesbian bounty hunter Luca Bennett, is the perfect pick. Luca is contacted by a woman from her past asking for help, and always-chivalrous Luca decides to lend a hand, leading into the world of organized crime. There's more drama at home too: A sexy cop, an enigmatic mystery woman, and a family reunion all add to the suspense, especially when Luca's personal and professional lives collide. While paperback is for the purists, the book also comes in e-book formats.
8. MUSIC: Dave Koz and Friends, Summer Horns The out jazz saxophonist and his colleagues offer plenty of “Hot Fun in the Summertime” — as a matter of fact, that’s one of the many delightful tracks on this CD, which celebrates the horn-heavy style that fueled much rock, R&B, soul, and funk music from the late 1960s through the ’70s. On the just-released Concord Records disc, Koz is joined by fellow sax players Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, and Mindi Abair, with guest appearances by trumpeter-flugelhornist Rick Braun, trombonist Brian Culbertson, and singers Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osborne, and Jonathan Butler. Their versions of “Rise,” “Take Five,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “God Bless the Child,” and others will put you in a mellow mood. Sample the disc at Koz’s website; also, he and the “friends” will be touring this summer.
7. DVD: The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg Director Jerry Aronson (Chasing Ice, The Divided Trail) spent 30 years compiling footage of Allen Ginsberg, the gay poet who helped define American counterculture in the 20th century. The resulting documentary, The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg, is a revealing and authoritative portrait of one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation that spans 60 years of history. Originally released in 1997, the 84-minute film was expanded after Ginsberg’s death to include interviews with friends and contemporaries, including Paul McCartney, Norman Mailer, Johnny Depp, Andy Warhol, and William S. Burroughs.
6. EVENT: Fresh Meat Festival As always, the annual Fresh Meat Festival promises to deliver the most cutting-edge performances in dance and entertainment, including a world premiere by critically acclaimed transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey; a performance by Las Bomberas de la Bahia, one of the few all=female Bomba ensembles in the world; and the Barbary Coast Cloggers, the world’s only all-male, openly gay Appalachian clogging ensemble. Runs Thursday through June 22 in San Francisco; for more, check out FreshMeatProductions.org.
5. TV: Hot in Cleveland TV Land’s snarky comedy about women of a certain age gets a little bit gayer in its fifth season, which premieres with a special live episode Wednesday. Out actor Michael Urie snagged a recurring role as a gay wedding planner hired to coordinate Victoria (Wendie Malick)’s wedding, but keep an eye out for increasingly complex involvement for Urie’s character. Of course, even without Urie’s handsome mug gracing the screen, Hot in Cleveland continues to be among TV Land’s highest-rated shows, hanging on the serious star power of leads Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Malick. We expect Urie’s character will get some valuable screen time and significant plot points — not only because he’s a talented actor, but because out Emmy-winning actor Sean Hayes is one of the show’s executive producers.
EVENT: Out in the Tropics This fourth annual festival of performances by adventurous LGBT artists will make Miami Beach hotter than ever this weekend. It includes the first U.S. appearance by Havana lesbian feminist performance group El Ciervo Encantado; the stateside premiere of the Cuban film Verde Verde, about gay life in that nation; comedy from Carmelita Tropicana and Ela Troyano; performance by Taylor Mac; and music by Well-Strung, a singing string quartet of gay men who put their distinctive stamp on numbers ranging from Mozart to Lady Gaga. Tonight through Sunday at the Colony Theater and Miami Beach Cinematheque.
3. THEATER: 8, The Play Dustin Lance Black's play 8, chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger using interviews and court transcripts, is being staged Saturday and Sundat at the Byrdcliffe Festival of the Arts in Woodstock, N.Y. Proceeds will go to the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.
2. MUSIC: Kelly Rowland, Talk a Good Game Garnering much buzz thanks to a confessional song about abuse and envy, Kelly Rowland's Talk a Good Game comes out Tuesday. Performing the album's "Dirty Laundry," in which Kelly sings about her competition with Beyoncé and surviving a violent ex, has brought the former Destiny's Child member to tears. There are plenty of sexy songs too, including the none-too-subtle "Kisses Down Low." Here's hoping there's another "When Love Takes Over" or "Motivation."
TV: True Blood There is no event more worthy of your attention this week than the return of True Blood. This season Bill comes to terms with his newfound powers after emerging reincarnated from a pool of blood, humans are in open conflict with vampires like never before, and Sookie and Jason must steel themselves for an encounter with their parents’ killer, the mysterious and ancient Warlow. True Blood still has all the mystery, suspense, sex, and carnage of the best shows on TV and the hottest cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, Rutina Wesley, Joe Manganiello, and so many more. And this season one of them dies. Yes, one of the main cast members. We're not saying who, so don't miss a minute of it. If you missed last season, your'e in luck: you can catch the recently released True Blood:The Complete Fifth Season was released on DVD and Blu-ray. A great DVD set, it has tons of exclusive special features, including Authority Confessionals, interviews with the cast, and interactive guides.
Wait, it gets even better. After you've mixed up your red velvet cupcakes and True Blood cocktails for the screening party, Truebies will want to get their blood pumping by logging on to Twitter, where 13 cast members from the hit series will kick off the new season with HBO’s first-ever live broadcast from the set of Fangtasia. The two-part social media event begins on June 16, 9:00 a.m. ET, when HBO will reveal exclusive #secretsfromtheset via the True Blood profiles on Facebook (Facebook.com/Trueblood), Twitter (Twitter.com/TruebloodHBO), Instagram (Instagram.com/TruebloodHBO), and Vine. This all leads up to a fan-fueled interactive pre-show, #TrueBlood: Live From Set, airing on HBO Sunday at 8:45 p.m. Eastern/Pacific and hosted by comedian and Parks and Recreation actress Retta.
#TrueBlood: Live From Set will provide a rare opportunity for fans to engage in a live social media experience with the show’s cast, who will answer questions from fans and share details of the new season. Cast members who are scheduled to appear include Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston, Todd Lowe, Chris Bauer, Kristin Bauer van Straten, and Joe Manganiello. Fans can submit questions now at TrueBloodLive.com. Michael McMillian will also host a special segment giving fans an inside look at the True Blood sets.
Additionally, HBO says the top True Blood fans will be featured in the broadcast through a never-before-done execution with Twitter and Mass Relevance. All you need to do is follow @TrueBloodHBO on Twitter for info on how to prove you are a #TopTruebie.
True Blood season 6 premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, immediately following the live show, on HBO.