…Jeff Griffith Youth Center
For 40 years L.A.’s Gay and Lesbian Center has educated, empowered, entertained, and healed the LGBT community of Los Angeles. Among its countless notable achievements is the Jeff Griffith Youth Center, which was established in 1995 to aid homeless LGBT youth. This non-profit provides young people between ages18 and 24 with clothing, counseling, three hot meals each day, shelter, showers, employment training, job placement, and the basic skills necessary to make the transition to independent living—all within an environment in which they can interact with others like themselves. I can’t imagine what the streets of Los Angeles would be like without this essential facility.
...Jessica Lange in American Horror Story
This great American actress has been brilliantly unhinged in numerous films (rent Frances and Blue Sky, if you don't believe me), but she has worked far too infrequently in recent years. Bless Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk for not only convincing Lange to play mysterious, sinister Constance in FX’s compulsively watchable haunted house series, but for tailoring the role to showcase the full range of the two-time Academy Award-winner’s prodigious talent. It’s a thrill to see this luminous lady give TV’s most nuanced performance each week.
...(Lost) Weekends in New Orleans
If New York City is the pulsating heart of America, then New Orleans is surely its throbbing libido. I’ve witnessed (and, OK, participated in) shockingly lurid activities on the avenues of the city's French Quarter that I won't reveal here. However, this beacon for bacchanalian behavior is also a cultural mecca, having provided a fertile breeding ground for celebrated authors such as Truman Capote, Anne Rice, and Tennessee Williams. With bustling streets filled with stately hotels (the Monteleone!), open-all-night bars, and truly legendary restaurants (two musts: brunch at Brennan’s, dinner at Galatoire’s), it’s impossible to not have an unforgettable visit to this decadent southern metropolis—even if you can’t always remember it.
…Coasting On Pretty
I’ve never met actor-filmmaker-starfucker Mike Justice, but I’ve laughed at and with him on Facebook. Now after reading his no-holds-barred debut novel-cum-memoir, Coasting on Pretty, I know more about the guy than I ever wanted. From stealing Asia Argento’s television set to being nearly drowned in a koi pond by his shirtless “assistant.” Then there's his (pardon my judgment) unnatural obsession with Pippi Longstocking. No detail is too infinitesimal or personal for Justice to share with readers. The words “boundary” and “propriety” are, thankfully, not in his extensive vocabulary. (Amazon.com, $12.99)
I remember the first time I heard her voice. I was an impressionable teenager visiting an older gay friend, who played her haunting Hounds of Love album for me. I was instantly mesmerized. There are still moments when I think “Running Up That Hill” is the greatest song ever recorded. After a six-year absence, Bush is back with 50 Words For Snow, a collection of songs that is just as ethereal, lush, and moody as I hoped it would be. If you won't take my word for it, below you can watch a video for the song "Misty," in which she has sex with an animated snowman. Now if only she would tour the United States…
...West Side Story
While not my favorite movie musical (nothing will ever surpass Bob Fosse’s electrifying Cabaret and my weakness for Xanadu and Grease 2 is well-known among close friends), I consider West Side Story to be the most overall dazzling. The efforts of three of the most magnificent talents in American theater history — librettist Arthur Laurents, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (all gay, all geniuses) — combined with Natalie Wood’s heart-melting beauty, Russ Tamblyn’s athletic grace, George Chakiris’s cocksure swagger, and Rita Moreno’s combustible sizzle make this 1961 multi-Oscar winner endlessly entertaining. I can’t help but geek out over how this 50-year-old film looks more pristine than ever on Blu-ray. The boxed set is filled with fascinating bonus features, including an insightful, remarkably candid song-specific commentary from Sondheim. Who knew he’s not a fan of the lyrics he wrote for “I Feel Pretty?” Check out the promo for the Blu-ray release below. (Amazon.com, $69.99)
…Awkward Family Photos
Some families destroy them. Some hang them on their walls. Bloggers Mike Bender and Doug Chermack share the disturbing, regrettable photos submitted by their readers with the entire world. As I see it, it’s OK to laugh.
…My Classic Carry-All Bag
It’s difficult to describe how much I love this satchel, but let me start with its snazzy appearance: Made of 100% charcoal wool, it features hand-oiled brown leather handles, an adjustable shoulder-strap, and an interior lined with a sturdy gray and white striped fabric, complete with dual pockets. It’s not only roomy, handsome, and meticulously handcrafted by an independent L.A.-based company; it’s both retro and contemporary at once. I pretend it’s something Don Draper would have traveled with for a weekend rendezvous and I’ve never felt so stylish or masculine.