Looking at Logo

BY Bruce Vilanch

August 29 2005 12:00 AM ET

The first thing I
saw on Logo was a commercial about genital herpes. But
I get ahead of myself. I came to Logo, which is
Viacom’s new channel programmed to the gay and
lesbian market, a bit late. Well, who wouldn’t?
It was difficult to tear myself away from my summer
reading—Harry Potter: The Prisoner of
Neverland Ranch.
Talk about riveting. But
sooner or later, humidity being what it is, I was going to
have to go indoors, where I knew Logo was waiting. I
made the popcorn, poured the vodka into the Hawaiian
Punch, arranged the animals so they would not be
bestirred by my bursts of joy, and sat back to enjoy
gay-per-view. And on came the genital herpes
commercial.

Wait a minute,
had I accidentally landed on Lifetime? Damn this universal
remote. A straight couple—what?—were hiking
through the woods, kayaking, pitching a tent, all
apparently while a savage itch raced through their
loins. Poor straight people. The likelihood that anyone
watching a gay channel would be suffering from this
particular affliction or, if they were, wanted to be
reminded of it, was slimmer than a runway model.

The commercial
over, the next thing I saw was Varla Jean Merman, one of
the most exceptional drag performers ever—she can hit
a high C with a mouth full of cheez whiz. She was
anchoring a brief, MTV-like recounting of the
Stonewall riots, which had a lot more color and excitement
than the riots themselves. It was full of graphics and
quick cuts and jokes and almost as confusing as being
in the middle of a riot, but it looked fabulous, and
so often that’s all that really counts.

Then the feature
program resumed, the bleeped version of Torch Song
Trilogy,
the movie of Harvey Fierstein’s landmark
play of the early ’80s, a film all about what
it was like in New York before AIDS. At this point, I
decided I had landed on the Gay History Channel. I hit
“search” on the TiVo to find out if Abe
Lincoln would be making an appearance. But soon I got
all caught up in the movie, in which you get to see Matthew
Broderick as chicken, which will really make you feel
ancient.

The next day,
after more Varla Jean and that same poor straight couple
with the herpes, I got The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen
of the Desert
—also bleeped—and
Personal Best, the early ’80s lesbian
long-distance runner story that, when it was originally
released, we all called Chariots of Fur. There
were also a fistful of promos for the upcoming
broadcast of the GLAAD media awards, which were made to look
like the Oscars of ’mo-dom, and why not? It was
something new.

Then, without
warning, a whole bunch of new things began showing up. A
show about gay couples planning weddings. A tour of gay
Amsterdam. Scott Thompson being Scott Thompson.
Suzanne Westenhoefer’s stand-up. At this point,
I decided to stop judging and start enjoying. Every cable
channel has 24/7 to fill, and a lot of the stuff it
puts on is going to feel like retread. But the fact
that a straight channel-surfer out there can land on a
channel that looks and sounds totally legitimate and is
totally gay is an incredible leap for gaykind. And he
just might be able to clear up that herpes thing
besides.

Tags: Commentary

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