Monthly Archives: February 2014

“LADY PEACOCK”—-A Dragaliscious New Comedy!

lady peacock“Lady Peacock”

A Dragaliscious New Comedy!

Amos Lassen

I know I have written about “Lady Peacock” before but I want to add something and that is that this almost like those classic old love stories where boy meets boy, boy loses boy with the difference that the boy is lost to drag queen from a rival school and then has to do all it takes to win boy back.

lady peacock1

“When Conner (Alex W. Seymour) first meets Devin (KC Comeaux) he feels an instant attraction to him. However, soon Conner’s nemesis, the Puerto Rican drag queen Adora (Joshua Cruz) wants Devin all to herself. Conner soon realizes the only way to compete with a drag queen is to become a drag queen. With the help of his club friends, Conner must make it his mission to destroy Adora if he wants to win back Devin”. The two leads—Seymour and Comeaux are just too cute and we want them do what it takes to get together.

lady peacock2

“GOD LOVES UGANDA”—The Evangelicals from America in Uganda

God loves Uganda

“God Loves Uganda”

The Evangelicals from America in Uganda

Amos Lassen

Although I have reviewed this before I think it is important to think about Uganda with the latest news that we have been getting from and question whether American evangelicals in Uganda might be partially, if not totally to blame for has happened.

“With God Loves Uganda, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence) explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them aren’t coming from Africa; they’re being imported from some of America’s largest megachurches.

Using vérité, interviews, and hidden camera footage, the film allows American religious leaders and their young missionaries that make up the “front lines in a battle for billions of souls” to explain their positions in their own words. Shocking and enlightening, touching and horrifying, God Loves Uganda will leave you questioning just how closely this brand of Christianity resembles the one you think you know”.

 

“Critic’s Pick! A searing look at the role of American evangelical missionaries in the persecution of gay Africans.” – The New York Times

“Startling… Strong, head-shaking stuff.” – Variety

“Williams is to be commended not only for his filmmaking skill, but also for pulling back the curtain on a most disturbing situation.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Masterfully crafted and astonishingly provocative, ‘God Loves Uganda’ may be the most terrifying film of the year.” – Sundance Film Festival

“An extraordinary, excellent film.” – MSNBC

“One effective sequence after another carries the alarming sensation of ideological chaos without resorting to technical trickery.” – The Dissolvegods

“Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias” by Eng-Beng Lim—White Man/ Native Boy

brown boys

Eng-Beng Lim. “Brown Boys and Rice Queens: Spellbinding Performance in the Asias”, NYU Press, 2014.

White Man/ Native Boy

Amos Lassen

The focus of “Brown Boys and Rice Queens” is the relationship between the white man and the native boy. Author Eng-Beng Lim says that this is the central trope to the understanding of what happened during the colonial and cultural encounters in the 20th and 21st centuries in Asia and the other places with large Asian populations. The native boy is our guide and it is through him that we see alternate readings of traditional ritual of the Balinese ritual and post-colonial Anglophone Theater in Singapore and in performance art in Asian America. Through these we see the formation of the native boy as a fetish and racial object as he is passed from the colonial empire to the post-colonial nation-state and then onto neoliberal colonization. Lim writes about the critical paradox of this relationship that has become entrenched in queer theory as it formulates critical interventions dealing with Asian performance.

We get a change in the lens through which we have viewed the queer postcolonial journey. We see things through a different perspective and the author uses wit and humor as his study provokes us.

We really become aware of the erotic, political and cultural layers of inter-racial gay relationships/intimacies and meetings between the Western white man and the Eastern boy figure. We get perspectives on race, sexuality and performance and this forms a wonderful from which future research can be done.

“Vanished in Vallarta” by Jeffrey Round—South of the Border (Is It Still Politically Correct to Say That?)

vanished in vallarta

Round, Jeffrey. “Vanished In Vallarta: A Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery”, (The Bradford Fairfax Murder Mystery Series) (Volume 3), Rounder Publications, 2014.

South of the Border (Is It Still Politically Correct to Say That?)

Amos Lassen

Some seven years ago when I first started reviewing seriously, I made the decision that for every established gay writer I reviewed, I would a writer that I had never heard of and/or never read. It was a shot in the dark but it worked and now some of the guys I reviewed early on have now become well known and several of them have won awards. Two of those writers who come to mind immediately are Nick Nolan (whose new book, “Wide Asleep”, I just reviewed) and Jeffrey Round. As I sat down to write this review, I thought back to the first book of his that I read and said to myself that Round has come a long way but I was not surprised because I saw in him early on something that would make a popular writer (and it has nothing with the fact that he is a hunk and a good-looking man). Even more interesting is that I am not a big fan of mysteries and that is his genre. I learned how fast to appreciate the work and the time that he puts into his writing. (And I can just imagine how hard it was to go to Puerto Vallarta to do research for a book especially after reading his descriptions.

We return to meet Bradford Fairfax, Round’s gay underground detective and find him “suffering” in the heat of the Mexican sun. He is on assignment and we will get to that in a moment. It did not take Fairfax long to realize that he was not on vacation and that he had something to worry about. His boss has not yet told him why he is there and he receives a distress call from a local diva. And if that is not enough, a fellow agent is blown away as he was passing on some top-secret information. Befuddled (I love that word), he has no idea what to do or where to turn. And then there is the return of his former partner in espionage, Little Wing, from the dead looking much better than people do when alive.

Now suspicion reigns and there is something very unusual going on.

Fairfax is now involved with a new guy and he is worried that the past might play havoc with that. His new squeeze, Zachary is very sexy and very hunky and our detective has some serious thinking to do in addition to finding out what is going on in Puerto Vallarta.

We learn that someone has threatened to kidnap the diva and the plot gets thick and filled with twists and turns. This is a mystery but it is also filled with laughs and the characters and situations will have you laughing out loud.

I am not going to say anymore about the plot except that Jeffrey Round has crafted it all perfectly. You will need to wear your sleuth hat if you want to try to solve the case but you will have a much better time just reading the story.

I find myself repeating what I have said of other books that Round has written—he knows how to pull us and keep us there and he does so with great style.

“Finding the Grain” by Wynn Malone—Losing Love…and Finding It

finding the grainMalone, Wynn. “Finding the Grain”, Bywater Books, 2014.

Losing Love…and Finding It

Amos Lassen

Over the last few years I have been very lucky to be on the reviewers’ list for Bywater Books and while the press does publish a lot, when they do publish a book, it is always an excellent read. The latest publication is a tale of love lost and love found, “Finding the Grain” by Wynn Malone.

Augusta “Blue” Riley lived in Alabama but when her parents were killed right before her high school graduation, she realizes that she cannot expect anything. She leaves the family farm and moves to North Carolina where her aunt lives and where she can go to college. She was happy at college and enjoyed her classes; she also found love with Grace Lancaster. But the good times did not last long and Grace left her and once again she learns that expectations do no always come through. Blue quits school and for the next twenty years she went from “town to town, job to job, woman to woman”. She eventually went back to the farming. She got a job working for a Mississippi Delta farmer, Preacher Rowe, and she worked both in the fields and in the house. She also learned a skill taught to her by Preacher Rowe—woodworking and Blue begins to take charge of her life. Soon, however, she realizes how much she misses the mountains and returns to North Carolina and opens a woodworking gallery but she has yet another test. Grace walks in and Blue must make a decision.

There is a story that does two opposing things—it breaks your heart and it makes you feel good. We see love from different perspectives and know that we are not alone as we look for it. The prose is beautiful and this quite a read. While the story is about two women, it could be about people of any gender and how we sometimes miss the clues where love stands right there in front of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“THE NORMAL HEART”—on HBO May 25

 May 25th Debut on HBO For Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart

\

mark-ruffalo-taylor-kitsch-normal-heartFollowing the success of “Behind The Candelabra” and “Looking”, HBO certainly hasn’t had enough of gay-themed entertainment. One of its biggest original movies of 2014 is :”The Normal Heart”, directed by Glee’s Ryan Murphy. The film, based on Larry Kramer’s acclaimed play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic, is a bit of an all-star affair.

Now it’s been announced the date it will first air in the US will be Sunday, May 25th at 9:00 pm (ET/PT) on HBO.

Mark Ruffalo takes on the lead role of Ned Weeks, who in the early 80s is one of the first people to raise an alarm about the new disease that initially was known as ‘Gay Cancer’, but which later was called HIV/AIDS. Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons will be gay activist Tommy Boatwright, a role he previously took in a 2011 Broadway revival of the play.

Julia Roberts is Emma Brookner, a wheelchair bound doctor who is the only one of her peers in New York taking AIDS seriously. Matt Bomer is Felix Turner, a gay fashion journalist who becomes Ned’s lover. Jonathan Groff is playing an early victim of the disease called Craig, whose boyfriend, Taylor Kitsch, starts off as a closeted investment banker but eventually becomes an AIDS activist.

Larry Kramer’s play is considered one of the most important reactions to the early AIDS epidemic, written by someone who has on the front lines of the fight, such as co-founding Gay Men’s Health Crisis and ACT UP. He later wrote a follow-up, The Destiny Of Me.

It’s not clear when the rest of the world will get to see The Normal Heart, but it should be shortly after the US HBO premiere.

The Final Member –– The race to be the first human exhibit in the world’s only penis museum

member

The Final Member –– The race to be the first human exhibit in the world’s only penis museum

“I know a couple of gay guys who think their penis is so awesome it should be showcased in a museum (and if you think similarly, please be aware that you are probably delusional), but there is only one Penis Museum in the world, in Iceland, and at the moment it’s lacking a human member.

The documentary “The Final Member” takes a look at the competition to complete the museum’s collection and the representative of human male genitalia alongside naughty bits from hundreds of other mammalian species. And it is a race, as the doc follows two men who’ve lined up for the honour – one who’s agreed to leave his penis to the museum when he dies, and an American who’s so keen to donate, he’s willing to have his bits removed while he’s still alive. And in case you were wondering, yes, the latter guy is a bit odd.

You can take a look at the trailer for the unusual documentary above. The doc is in US cinemas & on VOD on April 18th from Drafthouse Films

BRUNO GMÜNDER–International Gay Guide App Travel 2.0!

BRUNO GMÜNDER–International Gay Guide App

Travel 2.0!

   

The Spartacus International Gay Guide presents a new Android App with worldwide free travel – available now.

After the recently completely revised Spartacus App for iOS registered more than 100,000 downloads shortly after its launch, the current version for all Android devices is finally on the market.

In this app it is possible to access approximately 24,000 ad- dresses from more than 140 countries from around the world in our user-friendly and stylish mobile application.

The Android version offers these features:

Selected worldwide and free content (Premium Packages offers can be purchased)
New and stylish appearance and intuitive design
Rapid initialization and search function

Global events calendar Integrated route planner

With the help of GPS bars, clubs, hotels, saunas, beaches or cruising areas are displayed without expensive roaming costs as almost all functions are available offline. Photos and detailed information as well as exact addresses will help you to choose the nearest meeting places. Unique is also the “Enjoy” search function, which finds all entries with the moods: eat, drink, dance, shop, sex or sleep.

The free version, which includes worldwide selected con- tents, can be supplemented with four different Premium Packages – “Europe”, “North America”, “Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania” and “worldwide”. These are avail- able from € 5.99. The app is in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish and is updated on a monthly basis.

Further information in Google Play Store or at: www.spartacusworld.com/app

 page1image17984 page1image18144 page1image18304 page1image18464 page1image18624 page1image18784 page1image18944

BRUNO GMÜNDER VERLAG GMBH, KLEISTSTR. 23-26, D-10787 BERLIN, GERMANY, WWW.BRUNOGMUENDER.COM

BRUNO GMÜNDER

NOT TO BE MISSED:

 

 

BRUNO GMÜNDER VERLAG GMBH, KLEISTSTR. 23-26, D-10787 BERLIN, GERMANY, WWW.BRUNOGMUENDER.COM

In the period from the 5th – 9th March 2014 the Sparta- cus family is also at the ITB Berlin (International Tour- ism Exchange) at the booth 108b in Hall 3.1. Here you will also find the fitness super model Phil Fusco – the new cover model for from the current Spartacus Inter- national Gay Guide 2014/2015.

The Bruno Gmünder Media Group was founded in 1981 in Berlin. Today the company has 80 full-time and nu- merous freelance employees and is one of the market leaders worldwide in the field of gay media. On offer are numerous print and an increasing number of digital products, such as eBooks, apps and websites. The publi- cations include travel guides, magazines, books, comics and non-fiction books. The Spartacus International Gay Guide is one of the company’s most important publica- tions, and has been published for over 40 years.

 

“Klub Kids” (Volume 1) by Johnny Williams— Playing in New York City

klub kids

Williams, Johnny. “Klub Kids” (Volume 1), CreateSpace, 2014.

Partying in New York City

Amos Lassen

When one lost soul parties at the clubs in New York City, anything can happen. Johnny Williams takes us with him, as he looks for gay love among the sex and the wildness of the Big Apple where is just a little worm. He had not yet developed his sense of identity so he depends on friends to define him, which they are not so ready to do. He is something of a smart ass who is looking for his Mr. Wonderful and if not that a Mr. Wonderful for the night. Johnny, it seems, has little if any self-esteem and when he gets together with his friends, they have a great time and being there for each other. However, his friends score with the sexy and good-looking guys which makes him feel badly only because he has such a low idea about himself.

What I found interesting about this book is the characters; they propel the story and author Williams wrote about them in ways that make us care about them and this is what pulls us into the story. I actually felt that I knew characters as I read about them but that I have known them for a long time.

Johnny is androgynous and cute —we see that even if he doesn’t. We want him to find the man he is looking for and we feel what he feels when he doesn’t. He knows that the chances are slim that he will not find him in the club scene. What one usually finds at the club is a Mr. Right Now or a hookup. He wants to attract someone on his own merit but the kinds of guys that he attracts do not have much going for them—snarky drag queens, married guys looking for a quickie, bikers and so on. The good-looking guys go for Johnny’s good-looking friends. There were times that I wanted to shake him and say that he is as cute as everyone else and in order to find someone, he has to be at peace with himself.
I should have understood that Johnny and his friends were lacking in depth—what they really wanted was to have fun and hence they are “klub kids”.

Johnny who should a hero comes across as more of an anti-hero who tries to fit in and be as much like his friends as possible. Soon, all of the personalities seem to blend together and the sense of individuality is lost. However, there is a lot of humor here and it is impossible to relay that in a review.

I am pretty sure that a lot, if not all, of the story is autobiographical. It certainly feels that Williams is sharing his story with us and, like I said, there were times that I wanted to slap him or knock some sense into him.  After laughing many times, I felt a bit sad that Johnny could not find what he was looking for. (Certainly he had to know that he was the blame for that and also that he is his own worst enemy.

The real beauty of the book is that we find ourselves in it and that there are times that Johnny comes across as a ‘everyman” kind of character who embodies a lot of the characteristics that the LGBT community holds as its own.

This is a brilliant debut for a young writer and if there are problems they come from lack of experience in writing. That will all change and one day we will be able to remember from where he started and be proud that he has reached a place of being successful at whatever he does. While this is a satire, it is important to remember that life too can be and often is satirical.

“KILL YOUR DARLINGS”—Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs and Carr

kill your darlings better

“Kill Your Darlings”

Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs and Carr

Amos Lassen

One of the most films with a GLBT theme of the past year has been “Kill Your Darlings” probably because it brings three great beat poets together. Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is a student at Columbia University in 1944. There he meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and his life changes immediately. Carr is “cool” and very handsome in a boyish way and the leads Ginsberg to the Bohemian world and introduces him to William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). The four of then who do not care for the rules of conformity in either life or literature agree to break with tradition and develop something new that comes to be the Beat movement. Watching them is David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) who is passionately in love with Carr. When Kammerer’s body turns up dead, Kerouac, Burroughs and Carr are arrested on suspicion. It was the murder that brought them together.

kill1

Director John Krokidas (and Austin Bunn who co-wrote the script with him) see Carr as a transgressive friend of the poets as well as the catalyst to the fame and immortality of timid freshman Allen Ginsberg (who not only falls in love with Lucien, but also dives headlong into his “libertine circle” and their planned revolution in American letters.  Carr introduces Ginsberg (or Ginzy) to Yeats and Rimbaud. He tells Ginsberg to write poetry and to create a vision statement for the “New Vision”. He also ha David Kammerer, a janitor write his academic papers. Kammerer is obsessed with Carr who throws him off as “a queer” and who died violently from Carr’s knife and then thrown into the Hudson River. What this murder does is frame Ginsberg’s unconsummated romance with Carr.

kill2

Director Krokidas shows his understanding of the nascent Beats’ aesthetic but he outs too much into their debates and their drink and drug sessions. The focus is on Ginsberg’s pining for Carr, and the way Carr humiliated Kammerer as well as the battles that were fought in the name of Romanticism and Joycean freedom.  The dissent of heretical young people is seen as part of academia that was dominated by White Anglo Saxon Protestants. Krokidas seems to think that Carr was the muse that inspired Ginsberg to write his audacious poetry.

At Columbia, Ginsberg lost his innocence and attempted to become part of the world that does not want anything to do with him. Ginsberg soon finds that the rules and regulations of college life are stifling to the creative process. His professor doesn’t admire poetry that goes outside of strict rhyming schemes which in turn chafes Ginsberg’s idolization of the free verse of Walt Whitman. While Whitman is deemed perverse due to his writing style and sexual orientation, the lame lines of the national poet laureate Ogden Nash are heralded. Allen’s open criticism in class catches the attention of brash Lucien Carr who eyes him as a pet project to mold into someone more sophisticatedly adventurous. Carr is daring with abrasive personality that draws people to intensely simultaneously love and hate him.

kill4

 We are made very aware of the angst of societal constraint with the sexual, needy vivaciousness of young artists about to break out. They are portrayed as heroes but nothing is held back from the explicit way in which they conducted themselves that often hurt those who loved them the most. Carr manages to jettison Ginsberg’s personal and professional life but soon abandons him like other projects that he becomes bored with. He is a callous egoist who manages to make the vices and failures of Kerouac and Burroughs look mild. The emotional consequences that Carr’s abusive actions and neglect have on Kammerer are devastating. They also inadvertently propel the actions and emotions of the writers around him that would make them legendary while leaving him to fade into obscurity. Michael C. Hall plays wounded masterfully. Never for a moment do you believe that he will let go of making Carr realize he is loved and special, despite the hate he pushes back against. Ben Foster’s Burroughs is severe, malnourished and proper. His rampant drug use is uncomfortably comedic and captivating. Not yet nearly engrossed in the amount of drugs that would lead him to write such novels as Naked Lunch, this is instead a writer on the verge of going over the edge. Brought up in privilege, he is burdened with the financial bankroll of his free lifestyle by his lineage. Foster’s screen time is limited and so the effectiveness in which he conveys the push and pull of his family fortune is incredible.

kill5

There is one sequence that involves several different sexual encounters that are with acts of violence that are disquieting. We see the act of penetration balanced with images of stabbing ands this feels acutely visceral, especially as it concerns the deflowering of Ginsberg.

kill3

Krokidas perfectly captures the elation that goes along with breaking down convention for the sake of unfettered creation, specifically here with the fruitful nascence of Greenwich Village progressivism and the beat generation. The usurpers are Columbia University students who frequent downtown jazz clubs and smoke-filled house parties, finding endless inspiration in the motley crowds of intermingling races, sexualities and ideologies. It is a time of change when there were no limits and when fantasies became realities.

The details are amazing and we are pulled into Carr and Ginsberg’s complicated dynamic, which is one of the most fully realized queer romances in recent cinema. Like so many historical relationships we see their relationship is inspiring, frustrating, bombastic and ultimately tragic. Carr’s struggle with his own sexuality became a roadblock, occasionally in his relationship with Ginsberg but mostly with Kammerer, the man who acted as his protector. As their relationship fell apart, Carr’s self-destructive tendencies started to affect everyone in his social circle.

Radcliffe dives into his role with no fear and he depicts Ginsberg on his journey to find his sexuality and his voice as a poet. This is the true story of crime and friendship and the spark to start a cultural movement.