Arts & Entertainment

In the Arts & Entertainment section, The Advocate brings readers all the latest news on Hollywood, Broadway, and beyond. From New York to Los Angeles, The Advocate shines a spotlight on the stars of the screen who are lending their voices to support the LGBT community, as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are moving the cultural needle. Discover A-list interviews, the best gay movies and reviews of theater, music, books and television. Learn how Arts & Entertainment can shape national dialogue and can work to advance equality.

 If any major television network can be said to be advancing the visibility of transgender people on TV, it would surely be ABC. After all, it’s the first major network to cast an actual transgender actress in a recurring role (Candis Cayne as Carmelita on Dirty Sexy Money) and the first to feature a regular starring character that is trans (Ugly Betty's Alexis Meade, played by nontrans actress Rebecca Romijn). Earlier this year, the network came under fire by religious conservatives as it gallantly stood behind its first transgender competition-show contestant, Dancing With the Stars' Chaz Bono.

All of this explains, in part, why it's so disappointing — for producers, network presidents, LGBT viewers, and nearly every transgender woman in America who reads the blogs — that ABC's new mid-season sitcom Work It is the subject of so much conflict over its perceived anti-trans bias. I say that because in this current scenario, not a single person wins.

First, the basics: Work It could have been a hilarious social commentary on the collective male fear of workplace emasculation, the thesis bandied about by some academics and men's rights groups that men are losing ground to women in the workplace, that men have become the new minority when it comes to career trajectories that have us all achieving the quintessential American dream. It's a theme that's likely got a tiny basis in reality. Though women still don't earn as much as men overall, and women — and sometimes gay men — are still vastly overrepresented in pink-collar jobs, universities are seeing emerging achievement gaps in some fields, in which women are now at least enrolling in programs at much greater numbers than men, for example.

But Work It is not a hilarious social commentary. It's not a hilarious anything. The premise is simple, albeit ripped from the 1980s hit Bosom Buddies (a show that would seem delightfully dated in a post–Chaz Bono world, in which we all know much more about the existence, if not the reality, of transgender people). The show stars two very capable actors — Benjamin Koldyke (who played Alby's gay Mormon lover on Big Love and Robin's boyfriend Don on How I Met Your Mother) and Amaury Nolasco (who played Fernando on Prison Break) — who both deserve much better material.

They're former employees of a Pontiac dealership who have been canned, along with their decidedly sexist male friend, thanks to a flagging economy in St. Louis. After failing to get a job, one overhears of an opening for a pharmaceutical rep, a position for which men aren't hired because, as one insipid female character says, "doctors want to nail them less."

The pharma girl phenom has been pop culture scuttlebutt before; How I Met Your Mother tackled it with a funny storyline in 2010. Which underscores how outdated the show is. One character waxes about the "mancession" and how women will soon rid the world of all but a few men, whom they keep around as sex slaves, but not the kind of sex men like, just "kissing, cuddling, listening," and you can't help but think about how outdated the baseline is here.

So in turn, the men dress up as women and get hired as such, and I'm sure that's where it says in the network's original pitch, "Hilarity ensues." But it doesn’t.

That these men in drag could be hired as women is beyond belief, and the very real danger in pretending they could is that it flies in the face of reality: that actual transgender women have an extremely hard time finding and keeping a job, especially those who have not had a great deal of feminizing surgery. For transgender women, especially those who transitioned after puberty, feminizing surgery costs tens of thousands of dollars and can include foreheadplasty, rhinoplasty, cheek implants, jaw and mandible restructuring, tracheal shaving, chin narrowing, brow lifts, orbital reshaping, electrolysis, breast implants, body sculpting, and liposuction. That doesn't even include what we generally think of as gender-reassignment surgery, or bottom surgery. For many trans women, especially the later in life they transition, the fewer of these procedures they've had, the harder it is for them to pass, and the more frequent it is that they appear to the average non-informed American (i.e., much of the intended audience for Work It) to be mere men in drag.

December 21 2011 12:45 PM

What if Casanova, the
famous womanizer of romance literature, had a gay brother? In Marten Weber’s Benedetto
Casanova: The Memoirs
, he does. His
fiction memoirs were “discovered” only in 1881, when an English traveler
rummaging through a private library in Rome found them glued to the pages of a
book. They were written in Italian and have never before been published in
English. And who is this gay Casanova? A traveler, philosopher, diplomat, spy
who was a great seducer of men, an 18th century stud, a loveable

December 21 2011 5:00 AM

Question: Since you write so often about the fact that “language matters,” I’m curious whether it’s OK to wish friends and colleagues a “Merry Christmas.” When some people say it, I sometimes feel that there’s a subliminal message of evangelical Christianity with all its trappings, including homophobia. So, is it “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or “Happy Holidays”?

December 20 2011 11:18 AM

There are few women in Hollywood hotter than Pam Grier. The legendary actress who broke barriers with her turn as the blaxploitation superstar in the 1970s in films like Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby has long been heralded as the first female action hero. Grier’s performances have defined every film she’s starred in, including Fort Apache the Bronx and Jackie Brown. But her role in the groundbreaking Showtime series The L Word brought her a whole new audience. She’s done plenty since the show stopped taping in 2009 (turning up as a villain on Smallville and Julia Roberts’s bud in Larry Crowne, and releasing a tell-all memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts). But as Grier reminds us, The L Word isn’t really over, nor is it off the air: It currently airs on Logo and in 46 different countries that have syndicated it, its spin-off reality show The Real L Word is prepping season 3, and the entire glorious series, a cast reunion, and several rarities from the iconic show have been released on the The L Word Complete Series DVD Collection.  

For Grier, the show was a catalyst for LGBT activism. The actress has shown up at fund-raisers, celebrations, and protests in support of LGBT rights, and often acts as a bridge between straight African-Americans and the LGBT world. In recent months she was awarded the Entertainment AIDS Alliance Visionary Award and appeared in support of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (“I really support them because they really fight for injustices. They go down there and they really kick ass,” she says of NGLTF). She’s also a spokeswoman for Dining Out for Life, a project that involves restaurants and their customers in raising money for AIDS service organizations. We caught up with her to talk about TV badonkadonk, Twitter, and how The L Word changed the world.

 The Advocate: So The L Word was one of the all-time highest-rated shows on Showtime.
Pam Grier: It was? Past tense?

No, it is.
[Laughs] There you go!

What impact do you think the show had on the world?
It is still continuing. In education, it’s a formidable tool of information, for families from diverse backgrounds, cultures, class — it's still resonating, it's still very, very popular. And the fact that so many women — and because of its overall theme, and men, gay men, bisexual and transgender men — have been able to be more authentic with themselves and more comfortable, and people who were ignorant or not knowing would find a comfort zone.

It brought up issues we hadn’t seen on TV.
Even myself, I had no idea of the many injustices in the gay community, whether it’s the adoption of children, marriage, benefits, [or] estates. But a lot of it was the assumption in the hetero world, in the straight world — my mother and I, we just assumed that gay people received automatically, by birthright, the same benefits as us.

You said your mother and her friends discussed the show.
My mom, being 82 and being very wise and cultural, she often assumed that there shouldn't be a problem [with being gay]. My mom is an academic and she wants to go back to school at 82 because of [her love of] information. But I was relaying this to her and her friends who had gay children and still didn't have an idea of how to approach them or let then know it was OK [to reconnect] after they kicked them out 15 years ago. How did they reconcile the fact that they are more tolerant and they understand and that it is OK now? As a matter of fact, you know that is your child. It used to be that these people, my mom's generation, would sit and have discussions ... about how so many people haven’t been able to or are uncomfortable or will not be ever ready to come out and just be themselves. So to have 82-year-old women discuss that is great.


December 19 2011 4:56 PM

Sure, we've all curled up on the sofa to watch Jimmy Stewart find redemption in It's a Wonderful Life and Natalie Wood become a believer in Miracle on 34th Street each holiday season, but Tom Cruise at an orgy in Eyes Wide Shut? In his book  Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, film critic (and former Advocate A&E editor) Alonso Duralde explains why Stanley Kubrick's dark drama is perennial viewing for some this time of year. The author, whose 101 Must-See Movies For Gay Men should also be required reading, says he's still waiting for the great queer holiday film but notes that plenty of LGBT people enjoy a variety of Christmas-set movies, from Die Hard to Meet Me In St. Louis. Duralde tells the Advocate which holiday films are nice, naughty, and just plain nutty.

 The Advocate: What would you say is considered the most quintessential holiday film?
Alonso Duralde: I think the answer differs from generation to generation — I grew up in the 1970s, when It’s a Wonderful Life was in the public domain and just blanketed television for the entire month of December, so I think of it as the ultimate Christmas movie. But for people younger than I am, they might say A Christmas Story or even Home Alone.

Which do you consider the best holiday film?
Depends on what mood you catch me in; if I want something sentimental, I might go with It’s a Wonderful Life or the 1970 musical Scrooge with Albert Finney, but then if I want some laughs, I might go for The Ref or a French film called La Bûche. One of the great things about writing the book was finding so many different movies that fall under the Christmas umbrella, so no matter what kind of movie you like — musicals, horror, Western — you’ll find a holiday film that suits you.

OK, which do you consider the worst holiday film?
If you mean “worst” as in “I can’t believe this was made and I can’t stop watching it,” I’d have to go with the 1959 Santa Claus, an unhinged Mexican import in which St. Nick and Merlin team up to fight the devil. It’s become an annual tradition in my house — and they just put it out on Blu-ray! But for “worst” as in “this thing is wretched and it hurts my eyes and we must turn it off right now and never watch it again,” my vote goes to The Nutcracker in 3-D, which just came out on DVD as The Nutcracker: The Untold Story. Hip-hop arrangements of Tchaikovsky, awful new lyrics by Tim Rice, and Nathan Lane plays Albert Einstein. Trust me, this one’s not even fun-bad.

December 19 2011 4:00 AM

At 87, Doris Day, one of the most beloved and versatile entertainers of the 20th century, returns to the spotlight with a new album, My Heart, a collection of 13 gentle pop songs. She's been a popular vocalist since she released “Sentimental Journey” in 1945, and the new album finds Day's voice as warm and expressive as ever. Produced by her late son, Terry Melcher, to whom it is also dedicated and who sings on the track “Happy Endings,” the album of unreleased recordings, which Day made during the 1980s but just recently completed, marks her first release in 17 years. “This music brings back so many memories, my dear friends who appeared on-screen with me, all the wonderful animals, and of course, my darling son, Terry, whom I miss so much,” Day said in a press release. Listen to samples from the songs and purchase the album here. Proceeds from sales will go to the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which she founded in 1978 to promote the welfare of animals, and which is located in Carmel, Calif., where Day now resides.

For her singing, animal advocacy, and many memorable films, Day has long been a favorite with LGBT fans. Perhaps best remembered for a trio of frothy romantic comedies that costarred her close friend Rock Hudson, Day was also an accomplished dramatic actress who held her own opposite leading men such as James Cagney, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and James Stewart. Day's soaring, plaintive ballad “Secret Love,” from 1953's Calamity Jane, was adopted early on as a gay anthem. Having previously received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Day will soon be honored by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for career achievement. “Decades on from the main body of her work, Doris Day is still arguably the template to which Hollywood turns to when trying to quantify and capture ‘girl-next-door’ appeal,” says Brent Simon, president of the LAFCA. “Equally at home in snappish romantic comedies and more dramatic fare, Day was the biggest female star of the 1960s, giving a series of delightfully perceptive performances. LAFCA is thrilled to be able to honor her.”

To support My Heart, Day agreed to answer a few questions submitted by email and provided several photos from her personal collection.

 The Advocate: There's a lot of excitement surrounding My Heart. What's most gratifying about the response to the album?
Doris Day: Most gratifying about the response to my new CD are the wonderful comments about my son, Terry, on it. So many have expressed that when they listened to him sing they were in tears.

You're receiving the career achievement award from the Los Angeles Film Critics in January. It's been more than 30 years since you acted. What have you missed most about your acting career?
Working with such terrific actors and actresses ... having such a great time. It wasn't "work" to me ... I couldn't wait to get to the studio in the morning ... I enjoyed every minute of it.

One of your signature songs, "Secret Love," has been adopted as an anthem by the gay community. Were you aware of this, and how do you feel about having a song that's taken on such meaning for marginalized people?
I was not aware of that, but that's wonderful.

Rock Hudson is probably the leading man with whom you're most closely identified. What's something about him that most people aren't aware of, and what are some of your favorite memories of him?
Rock Hudson was a wonderful actor and one of the funniest men I have ever known, so you can imagine how much fun I had working with him. One of my favorite memories was that we had nicknames for each other. He called me "Eunice" and I in turn called him "Ernie."

I know many women and gay men who look up to you for having played so many independent-minded career women. How do you feel about being regarded as a feminist role model?
I didn't know that I was regarded as a "feminist role model." All of the roles that I played seemed easy to me because they seemed to fit the person that I am.

Your love of animals is well known. How has the ethical treatment of animals progressed since you created the Doris Day Animal Foundation?
The Doris Day Animal League has done so much by lobbying to prevent experimentation on animals for cosmetics, medicine, and medical procedures. Those things are rarely done now, but the DDAL continues to monitor those activities. The Doris Day Animal Foundation works in all aspects of improving the welfare of animals and is now focused on providing grants to welfare groups that rescue senior animals and helping seniors keep their pets with them. The foundation also continues to enable spays/neuters, provides funding to provide sanctuary for hard-to-place horses, train assistance dogs and many other activities that improve the life of animals. 

See photos from Day's personal collection on the following pages.

December 19 2011 3:42 AM


 10.MUSIC: Jonny McGovern, "Dickmatized"
In this eye-popping video for his catchy single, "the gay pimp" enlists comic actors like Sam Pancake for a game of pickup against well-endowed eye candy like Miles Davis Moody (above), Greg McKeon, and Johnathan Myers. As an added bonus, check out Drew Droege giving some Freud realness. Watch it here.


 9.DVD: Circumstance
Two female teenagers embark on an ill-fated love affair in modern-day Tehran. Filmed under covert conditions in Lebanon, director Maryam Keshavarz's debut feature crackles with energy and suspense — it nabbed the coveted Audience Award at this year's Sundance festival.


 8. MUSIC: Doris Day, My Heart
On her first album in nearly two decades, the cherished entertainer wraps her silky voice around 13 pop standards, including tunes by the Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, and the Lovin' Spoonful. All proceeds will go to the Doris Day Animal Foundation.

December 17 2011 3:56 PM

Gio Black Peter is the kind of artist who creates artwork, videos, and music that make you want to create these things yourself.

December 17 2011 4:00 AM

Every week, The Advocate's Jami Smith brings you the top 10 tweets from LGBT comedians — and our favorite gay jokes from straight comedians, or just whatever made us laugh. For previous editions of this series, check out the Comedy section. Or follow @gaysayer on Twitter now if you want daily updates.

And now a post from your host:



Number 10:



Number 9:



Number 8:



Number 7:



December 16 2011 4:00 PM

Rosie O'Donnell tests the reliability of the gaydar gun, pointing it at members of her studio audience and saying she'd sent one to Michele Bachmann to use on her husband, Marcus.

December 14 2011 12:30 PM