10. EVENT: Jason Brock in San Francisco Razzle-Dazzle
Unconventional and lovable, Jason Brock won hearts as an out contestant on last season's X Factor and his first dance single, "You've Got the Love," gave us more of his signature sound when it dropped during LGBT Pride Month in June. At 8 p.m. Thursday, the talented singer will take the stage at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco to debut his all-new show, San Francisco Razzle Dazzle, in which he will perform new songs as well as pop, R&B, and jazz favorites. Tickets available at Ticketweb.com.
9. FILM: The Happy Sad
One of our picks for best films at Outfest came from filmmaker Rodney Evans, who made the winning film Brother to Brother. His latest, The Happy Sad, is a romantic drama that does a pretty convincing job of exploring modern relationships. It is -- if the young generation has any say -- a film of its time, one in which everyone is, if not sexually fluid, then open to sexual experiences that can't be easily boxed in. While you might think The Happy Sad will turn out to be just another in a long line of films in which a straight person has a same-sex affair, then decides it's not for them, leaving a queer lover in the lurch, you'll be pleasantly surprised. At its heart, it's a film about the politics of open relationships and the sociality of bisexuality. The film opens today in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the college town of Irvine, Calif.
8. BOOKS: Mirabelle series
LGBT parents and their kids are sure to love these board books, for children age 2 to 5, about an inquisitive, enthusiastic Boston terrier named Mirabelle and her owner, Mr. Muller (author-artist Michael Muller), who together discover the simple pleasures of everyday activities. There is a real-life Mirabelle, and she has two dads. Three books about her adventures have been released to date: Mirabelle and the Butterfly, Mirabelle Goes for a Walk, and Mirabelle and the Big Red Ball.
7. MUSIC: Sharon Needles, "Call Me on the Ouija Board"
Sharon Needles, the most memorable queen to win the crown on RuPaul's Drag Race, has a new video out, and it's a winner: "Call Me on the Ouija Board." It looks like it had a bigger budget than most pop-tart videos; Sharon is ravishing even when projectile vomiting. Featuring a cameo with the legendary Michael Musto, "Call Me on the Ouija Board" will have you howling with laughter by the last reel. Download the song now, which is off Sharon's PG-13 album.
6. EVENT: 18th Annual San Francisco Drag King Contest
While the flashy and fabulous drag queens might get most of the attention at Pride parades and on certain cable networks, we've got a soft spot in our hearts for studly drag kings around the country. And there will be no better venue to drool over these gender-bending folks than Saturday's 18th Annual San Francisco Drag King Contest, hosted by DragStrip and Fudgie Frottage. Billing itself as the world's largest drag king competition, the contest kicks off at 9 p.m. Saturday at Space 550 Barnveld. Tickets are $20 for general admission -- which includes entry to the after-party -- or $35 for VIP access. Proceeds from the contest will benefit Pets Are Wonderful Support, an organization that works to provide food, veterinary care, and support to beloved pets whose owners are struggling to make ends meet due to economic hardship or health issues. So scurry on over to 550 Barnveld to support these furry companions and the handsome bois who will be strutting their stuff for a good cause. Woof!
5. ART: "Color Blind: Our Take on Black and White," plus photos by Colin Davis and Jim Frohliger
LGBT youth contemplate identity and two gay photographers contemplate their world in exhibits at Center on Halsted, Chicago's LGBT community center. "Color Blind: Our Take on Black and White" displays work by participants in the center's youth program, rendered in black and white rather than color, and reflecting the intersection of their ethnic and sexual identities. It opened yesterday and continues through September 15. A separate show features photographs by Davis, who says he's presenting "a range of my artistic inklings," including angels, flowers, and men's knees, and Frohliger, who explores the sites and stories of the city. There's an opening reception tonight from 7 to 9, and the exhibit runs through October 1.
4. MUSIC: Katy Perry, "Roar"
Our nasty culture has already knocked Katy Perry's new "Roar" single as derivative of Sara Bareilles, but who cares -- it's a catchy shot of positivity (think "Firework" II). The song has an adorable lyric video, with the words rendered mostly through emoticons and snapshots of a typical Katy day. "Roar" is the lead single off the pop star's fourth album, Prism, due in October.
3. THEATER: New York International Fringe Festival
Fringe NYC, the largest multi-arts festival in North America, opened last week, but it still offers plenty of chances to have a gay old time before it closes August 25. There are LGBT-themed shows aplenty; just a few of the titles of interest are En Avant! An Evening With Tennessee Williams, portraying the great playwright discussing his work, loves, and demons; Sparkle Hour!, in which a gay video-game enthusiast gets drawn into a hookup site, among other adventures; 2&2, about a man attracted to his sister's boyfriend; and The 3rd Gender, set in a futuristic world ruled by beings who exist in an intermediate state between male and female. For the full schedule and more info, go to FringeNYC.org.
2. EVENT: Help Is on the Way XIX: Broadway & Beyond
The largest annual AIDS benefit concert in Northern California happens Sunday night at San Francisco's beautiful Palace of Fine Arts. Help Is on the Way features performances from stars including Spencer Day, Alex Newell (pictured above), and Loretta Devine, and the voices of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Tickets are still available for the event, which raises funds for groups such as Aguilas, AIDS Housing Alliance, Project Open Hand, and Shanti.
1. FILM: Lee Daniels's The Butler
Lee Daniels, the gay director of Precious and The Paper Boy, has created what is sure to be his most commercially successful project to date: Lee Daniels's The Butler. This historical drama centers around the tale of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who escapes his fate as a repressed worker on a cotton plantation to become a butler in the White House. Through his eyes, and from the perspectives of his wife (Oprah Winfrey) and his rebellious son (David Oyelowo), the viewer observes a succession of presidents as they grapple with the African-American civil rights movement. Inspired by a Washington Post article profiling the real-life Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler through eight presidential administrations, the film is a breathtaking ride through 20th-century American history, and it sparkles with star power from a cast that reads like a who's who of Hollywood: Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, and more. However, Whitaker and Winfrey, in their quiet quest to raise a family in the nation's capital, steal the show, proving that even major revolutions can begin with the setting of the dinner table.