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.

Oprah's TV network, OWN, is premiering two new documentary specials on Sunday: Being Chaz (the follow up to Chaz Bono's award winning, Becoming Chaz, from last year) and I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition. The latter, stars Jazz, an 11-year-old transgender girl, her three siblings, friends and parents, as they navigate the world with a gender-variant kid and grapple with the possibility of hormone blocking therapy as she reaches puberty. Director Jen Stocks' doc is an engaging, heartwarming, and moving look at a trans kid. With her parent's support, Jazz has been living as a girl since she was a toddler. We caught up with her to find out about making the doc, meeting Bono, and life in middle school.

The Advocate: I love all your YouTube clips. How long have you been dancing and singing?
Jazz: Thank you. I've been singing, dancing and acting my entire life. Ever since I was about 2-years-old I would put on tutus and dance and sing around my house.

Are the other dancers in your class OK with you being transgender?
All my friends from my acting, singing, and dancing class are very accepting and understand my situation. If you watch the documentary you will see how we all enjoy what we do and hang out with each other.

You’ve said you tell people that you have a girl brain and a boy body. How do other kids react to you when you tell them that?
Most of my friends tell me that I'm the same person inside and they tell me that they still love me and are still my best friends.

When did you first realize you were a girl?
Ever since I was able to express myself, I always referred to myself as a girl. I went for the Barbies and the dresses and would avoid the boy toys. When I was 2, my mom would say, "Good boy" and I would say, "No, mommy. Good girl."

Tell me about your siblings. How helpful have your brothers and sister been?
First, I have twin brothers, Sander and Griffen, who are 13. Then, I have a sister named Ari who is almost 16. They are very supportive and protective of me. Every time somebody is whispering bad things about me, and the word gets to them, they will defend me. They go up to the person and tell them they shouldn't being saying bad things about their sister.

November 26 2011 12:32 PM

In 1981 The New York Times began reporting on a mysterious illness that was striking down gay men. As the first victims of the disease that would eventually be called AIDS were dying, Josh Rosenzweig was coming of age as a young gay man. Rosenzweig now reflects back on the past three decades with the powerful, heartbreaking new documentary 30 Years From Here, which chronicles the trials and tribulations unleashed by the AIDS pandemic. "I want this film to jostle people out of complacency," he says. Rosenzweig, who is also senior vice president, original programming and development
for here! (owned by the same parent company as The Advocate), and his team have assembled personal accounts from many of the key activists and medical experts, such as ACT UP founder Larry Kramer, choreographer-fundraiser Jerry Mitchell, and Marjorie Hill, CEO of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. All were there in the beginning and have witnessed how the disease has ravaged lives as well as the hope generated by advances in medical research. Rosenzweig tells The Advocate why he was compelled to make the film and shares what he learned in the process.

The Advocate: What was the impetus to make 30 Years From Here?
Josh Rosenzweig: A year ago when we began to plan the 2011 original production slate, we felt very strongly that we acknowledge this 30 years period with some sort of original program. At first we were going to follow the same timeline that The Advocate was creating for the magazine and, but as we began to work on the film it seemed to be following its own path. However, then we were faced with the Herculean task of scaling this giant monolith, so to speak. When you look back at three decades of this pandemic, the question is what part of the story do you tell? So we just jumped in and one interview led us to the next and so on... and the story slowly began to emerge organically.

There have been numerous other documentaries that look back at the ravages of AIDS. What distinguishes your film from others?
As I mentioned, AIDS is a huge topic. There are, literally, millions of stories that can be told about HIV and AIDS, and ours is just one among many... But, I think what may set this piece apart a bit from others is that it’s very New York City-centric. It is a unique combination of interviews from medical experts, activists, and everyday people who were here on the ground in the early ‘80s, working and living with this epidemic all around them — and these are the stories that we have not heard. We also felt that we wanted and needed to present the story in a somewhat matter-of-fact manner and let it speak for itself. Therefore, it is somewhat devoid of sentimentality. It’s not brutal, but I would say it is very frank.

November 25 2011 1:18 PM

 If you might think actor Mark Cirillo looks familiar, there’s a reason. For years, he’s toiled in small parts in sitcoms such as Will & Grace and How I Met Your Mother as well as popular gay-themed films such as Girls Will Be Girls. And he boasts an impressive pedigree — he’s the great-great-great maternal grandson of President Ulysses S. Grant. Now Cirillo gets his most challenging role yet and delivers a finely tuned performance as Ryan, a closeted gay man studying theology in Joshua Lim’s new film, The Seminarian (in select theaters November 25). Here, examining his instincts for complicated characters, he talks openly about baring all for his art and whether certain actors should open the closet door.

The Advocate: You play a closeted theology student caught between an unfinished thesis and unrequited love. What attracted you to the role?
Mark Cirillo: I wanted to play a character that stands at the opposite end of the spectrum from my personality. And I liked that Ryan had to struggle deeply in profound ways to rectify who he is with what he was taught. That resonated with me on so many levels, from the sexual to the religious.

Do you know any gay seminarians?
Actually yes, a few. Aside from the film’s writer and director, Joshua Lim, several gay seminary students assisted in the making of the film. I’m grateful that there was always someone on set to answer my questions about God and sexuality. Luckily, I also had two weeks of intense, daylong crash courses in evangelical Protestant Christianity before we shot even one day of footage. By the end, I could believably say certain lines and really know what I was talking about.

November 23 2011 12:57 AM

Good news for lesbos: Barbie's new man is the spitting image of Ellen DeGeneres.

Apparently the DVD came out earlier this year, but the promo ad for Barbie: A Fairy Secret, is now circulating the interweb, and Ellen fans are positing whether the "fairy" in this secret is Barbie's playmate.

Even better, you can watch a clip (with French subtitles) on YouTube and decide if the flick is as subversively lesbo as the ad.

November 22 2011 1:55 PM

With successes in improv, sketch, and stand-up, actor
Stephen Guarino is a rare comedy triple threat.  The Big Gay Sketch Show
veteran fills his dance card with cameos on ABC’s Happy Endings, stand-up appearances, and directing his own big
gay productions.

Guarino dishes to The Advocate on why he doesn’t need a script and how to land a role by being the
most insane person at the audition. 

The Advocate:
Happy Endings
you play an insanely flamboyant gay bestie. You’re doing that stereotype better
than anyone out there right now.
Stephen Guarino: I’ve
cornered the market on that. What’s good about that show is that if you catch
the first episode, Casey Wilson’s character is bored because she’s friends with
a boring gay guy, who is Adam Pally’s character. So the show is smart because
they set me up as the gay that you would hate, like the ’90s gay, who is really
out of fashion right now. I think that’s really smart. Then, ironically, it
ended up working, and they liked it, which is why I now recur on the show. It
was a nice social comment at first, but it kind of turned the myth true that
the bad gay is the fun gay.

Derek is so hyper. 
How do you amp yourself up to play him?
I don’t eat and then I have a lot of Red
Bull and coffee and I just make sure that the writers are OK with me doing
whatever I want because my entrances are all fucking insane. There’s so much
improv on the show. I don’t think in the first two episodes that I said a word
that was on the page.

The line “Slut, come help me out of this split!” makes
me pee a little.
The whole reason that came up was because
in the audition I was against six or seven of my friends for the role, and my
default when I’m nervous is to eat everyone alive. If you’re a receptionist in
a casting office, I’m going to be warming up with you. You are part of my show.
When I went in to audition, I was so crazed — knocking chairs over — and I
ended up doing a split on the boardroom table in front of all of the writers to
punctuate the end of my audition. Then I just started screaming — “Booked it!
Booked it!” — like an asshole and then ran out of the room. I didn’t even wait
to say goodbye. I just left. And
it worked. Then I got to the set on the first day, the split was the first
thing we shot.  

Do you get a lot of straight women asking you to hold
their ta-tas? Not a bad gig, in my opinion.
Ha. Yeah I get a lot of people who
recognize me from the show now, which is nice, and it’s always girls. Never gay
guys. I don’t know if gay guys are watching Happy Endings.

November 22 2011 4:00 AM

Q: I was having dinner with some friends last weekend, and of course the subject of the Penn State scandal came up. One of the straight guests was on a rant about it, and said, "This is a perfect example of why gays shouldn't be parents.” I was so angry I was afraid to say more than just "that's crap!" The group changed the subject immediately — but I feel as though I missed a chance to teach this ignoramus a thing or two. Is there an appropriate way to talk about issues like these without losing my temper?

November 21 2011 4:00 AM

Bookshelf: Best Non-Fiction Transgender Books

November 20 2011 1:15 PM

 As the world memorializes tomorrow's Transgender Day of Remembrance our community will primarily focus on the discrimination and violence faced by trans people. But it's a good time to educate yourself on why transgender people are varied, nuanced,and as complex as any others. While there are dozens of wonderful novels with trans characters (like Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues or T Cooper's Some of the Parts), non-fiction books offer up the best way to understand and explore the T in the LGBT. There are far too many to mention here, so we've skipped a couple of award winning takes on gender variance including two must-reads, Butch is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman and Nobody Passes by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore) and three more that should be required reading for college students (Deborah Rudacille's amazing The Riddle of Gender, Transgender Rights by Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter, and The Transgender Studies Reader by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle). The rest of these make up our Trans 101 bookshelf.

The Testosterone Files ($11, Seal)
One of the more riveting memoirs by transgender individuals, Max Valerio Wolf's Testosterone Files is raw and aggressive account of the Native American Latino Sephardic poet and performer's journey from lesbian-feminist to transgender man (a viewing of Raging Bull, at 23, plays a role in his coming out).What Valerio does, that raises more than eyebrows, is talk honestly about his new politically incorrect sexual desires, his growing distance from women, and the overall construction of maleness in our culture.


November 19 2011 6:30 PM

Happy Endings may get a lot more, uh, happy endings this season when Max (Adam Pally) gets back together with his former man-love, played by James Wolk (of Lone Star fame).

Pally told E! online's Marc Malkin, "We are going to make out. Most people make out in their relationships, so I would assume so. I would hope that we would be making out."

November 19 2011 2:20 PM

When President Obama declared November National Native American Heritage Month, he did so with a call to “celebrate the contributions and heritage of Native Americans during this month, we also recommit to supporting tribal self-determination, security, and prosperity for all Native Americans.”

That call is a bit too late to offer security to Fred Martinez, but a new film, which broke audience records earlier this year and is now available on DVD, both documents Martinez’s life and the long history of different perceptions of gender and sexuality among the Navajo Nation. Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who was nádleehí, or male-bodied person with a feminine spirit. When Fred was 16-years-old, Shaun Murphy bludgeoned him to death for being different. The film interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss along with Native American cultural traditions that once held places of honor for people of integrated genders. Being nádleehí was, in ancient Navajo culture, a special gift but in modern culture Martinez was not honored; his brutal murder made him one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern. But the film brings home the resounding message that being true to oneself is the bravest thing anyone can do.


November 19 2011 12:00 PM