By Jeff Walsh
A lot of times, when reviewing gay movies, I think that I am judging them far more critically than they may have been intended. Usually this frame of reference occurs when I think of the number of movies I have enjoyed in packed theaters of gay audiences, where every sassy comment and sexual remark was met with roaring laughter and people yelling back at the screen.
When I'm writing a critical review of a movie, I often wonder, would I have enjoyed this movie if I had watched it in that setting, as opposed to just popping in a DVD at home, myself, after work? It doesn't mean the movie would be any better, of course, but just shows how much the power of community can inform the experience.
On Sunday, I had the opposite experience watching an almost-completed print of "We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco." I knew it was going to be a heavy movie, given the subject matter, but I had no idea just how palpable the depths of sorrow flowing through the audience would be.
By Jeff Walsh
When we last caught up with Robin De Jesus, he was nominated for a Tony for the role of Sonny in In The Heights. He didn't win, but the show did win Best New Musical. De Jesus ended up performing that role on Broadway for two full years. Then, with just a two week break, he went to the new revival of the La Cage Aux Folles musical.
(If you want to read our earlier interviews first, we first chatted with him the day In The Heights was first opening Off-Broadway, and then nearly a year and a half later, when the show was on Broadway, and De Jesus was nominated for a Tony Award)
You may know La Cage Aux Folles better as The Birdcage, the movie with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a long-time gay couple who run a nightclub with a nightly drag show. There's a lot of twists and turns in the plot that I won't go into (but, if you're so inclined, they're detailed on Wikipedia). The main differences are that this is the musical version with a book by one of my heroes, Harvey Fierstein, and music by Jerry Herman. And, in this revival, the Robin Williams role is played by Kelsey Grammer, aka Frasier.
De Jesus plays Jacob, the supposed maid to the couple who desperately wants to prove to Zaza (the Nathan Lane role), that he's ready to be in the drag show. As you can see from the photo, De Jesus does a good amount of drag in the show. Not that he's a stranger to drag, as he performed as Angel in Rent on Broadway before.
And, to stick with tradition, De Jesus is once again Tony-nominated for his role in La Cage, and I'll certainly be rooting for him on June 13. He is always such a generous, positive spirit, it's always great to catch up with him.
Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
Watching "8: The Mormon Proposition," it's hard to get past the central irony of the Mormon church fighting against alternative marriage, given the church's polygamist roots. But this documentary covering the Mormon's church's fight against gay marriage does make you almost sorry for people who can put such questionable religious teachings above their own family members, friends, and loved ones.
The documentary sheds light on one of the core problems the Mormon church has with gay marriage, which is related to their concept of an afterlife. I will write it out without editorial comment for the sake of brevity. In a nutshell, when you die, you go to your own planet, are reunited with your spouse, and you then have babies and repopulate your planet. I can't watch such nonsense twice to see if I'm missing any details here, but suffice it to say if they allow gay marriage, then their afterlife doesn't work because you have two guys sitting on a planet alone, OK?
New age music has been greatly inspiring me. I've been playing ultra chill new age guitar, hooked up to Ableton and ran through delay, reverb, resonation, etc. and it's really changed my perspective on everything, and made me much more relaxed. I highly recommend getting into this music or playing it.
Thank you, Devin Townsend, for making the album Ghost. Also, does anyone here know any music similar to this?
Daddy was a very smart man with horrible decision making skills. My melancholy and not so fortunate story starts with a man who brought me into this world seven years before he decided it was time to say goodbye to the air that travelled through his damaged lungs. My father was a foster home, lost cause, individual set between metal bars. An alcoholic. And addict. Whatever the twisted, mangled, frayed, and shattered label may have been, to me he was my father. Daddy heard the voices; he starred down the un-seeable with this quickly fading sanity. ..
I think I swallowed your name that night in the bar.
I think you infected my veins while the music was
raging some 90s rock song and nobody was
paying attention to us as we ran to the back
room of this exile for tar-winged children.
And boy, now you're starving for some
sort of distraction in button-down lust;
a porn star type in DKNY jeans.
But I'm not one of those underground souls,
looking to lose consciousness
in pretty lashes and money-grabbing directors.
Honey, you can take a cab home because
I'm only here for the bottled-up affection
you said would never be mine
I definitely wish I had ended my speech with that, haha.
So, I graduated! Everything went surprisingly well. (The hat and I were absolutely not friends, though. It messed up my hair so much.) Giving the salutatory speech was beyond nervewracking, though. When I got onstage and looked out into the audience, for some reason, I thought this girl in the very back was FCG, so it freaked me out big time. I later discovered that the girl was not, in fact, FCG, but I couldn't tell that from the stage. (It was possible that she could've been there. She's apparently still friends with IG.) Despite my nerves, I actually gave the speech with minimal problems. I messed up once because I started reading the wrong line, but it was only a little mistake, so it wasn't that big a deal. And I didn't trip going up the steps or walking across the stage!
A lot of the other girls cried, but I didn't. I'm so glad to get out of there. I can't even begin to put the feeling into words.
We've had another spat over high school. I want to take Italian and move back to Italy to home school, and spend my days wandering those deliciously silent streets of Venice. But Mom purses her lips and says that she won't "narrow my horizons" like that, that I'll get a better degree if I stay here. She says I have to see the "light at the end of the tunnel." I can see a light alright, but I might have to walk into it before the four years are up. She keeps talking about rights of passage and persevering. I just don't know if I can survive this.
*I've been reading Judy Shepard's book "The Meaning of Matthew" about her son who was murdered in 1998. I wanted to write a poem about who Matthew was as a person, not just the headline story. The title was taken from Lady Gaga's cover of "Imagine" by John Lennon.*
The state melted into a pool
of cerulean in your eyes,
Wyoming tinted your hair
a cowboy prairie blond and
stained your boyish lips
with a wanderlust grin.
Matthew, you've grown
older by now but some
things never change like how
the Curious Unknown
still sparkles in your dreams,
the sticker lights of Laramie.
A few days ago I went with my father to pick up some speakers he had bought, and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. When I went to get out the door I saw a crane fly right next to where my face was, at most a couple of inches away. The next day I was walking my dog and the same crane fly flew right in front of me. The day after that (yesterday) it was in my room, flying around me. And just now it was outside my window, trying to get in my room. What the fuck is this?