By Jeff Walsh
"Milk," the new Gus Van Sant movie, tracks the modern gay rights movement from its birth responding to police raids on gay bars in the late 1960s, through the sexual revolution of the 70s, until the assassination of the first openly gay elected official, San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk, in 1978.
Living in San Francisco, the aura of Harvey Milk hasn't diminished. Looking up on Castro Street, near his camera shop, a fake window is painted with Harvey Milk leaning out and smiling. The portrait reminds us how far we've come, the price people paid for the freedoms we now enjoy and take for granted, and whether we're on the right path for our future. A rainbow flag flies a block away at Harvey Milk Plaza. In our City Hall, a bronze bust of Harvey Milk was added this year, on the 30th anniversary of his death.
So, Harvey Milk is an icon as well as a constant presence. I was 10 years old when he was killed, but over the years, I've developed a mental image of Harvey and I was hesitant to have this long-planned movie possibly ruin it. I needn't have worried.
"Milk" captures so much of what I find iconic about Milk, but also makes him more human and accessible at the same time. Closeted until he was 40, Milk moved to San Francisco, grew out his beard and became part of the counterculture and gay community. He opened a camera shop on Castro Street as the area was shifting from its Irish-Catholic roots to the gayborhood that (largely) still exists today.
By Jeff Walsh
"Were the World Mine" is the perfect wish fulfillment movie musical for gay youth once the only openly gay student at a homophobic all-boys school finds a magic potion that makes people fall in love with the first same-sex person they see. Hello there, straight crush…
The film, which opens in San Francisco, Berkeley and New York City this week (see the online schedule for future cities), is a joyous, heartwarming romp inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In the movie, Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is the classic gay outcast: picked on at gym, bullied in the locker room, with a crush on an athlete that he knows will go unfulfilled. He's out to his mother, and has supportive friends, but that doesn't make him feel less alone.
The school is putting on the Shakespeare play, and Timothy is cast as Puck. He has musical, choreographed daydreams starring the same boys who pick on him. Things really get going when, inspired by the play, Timothy follows a recipe for Cupid's love potion that appears within the pages of his script and a purple flower from his dream follows him back to the real world. He quickly discovers that anyone sprayed by the flower falls in love with the first person of the same sex they see.
By Jeff Walsh
I recently got the chance to sit down with actors Tanner Cohen (Timothy) and Zelda Williams (Frankie) and director Tom Gustafson from the new gay youth indie Shakespeare musical, Were The World Mine. The three were in San Francisco promoting the film in advance of its release in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City this week (see my review here).
We had a pretty fun discussion that touched on everything from the origin of the film, Cohen's reticence to label himself, trying to sing outdoors without inhaling insects, and we finished up talking about Zelda's famous dad, Robin Williams.
Here's what we said:
Since I did the interview with two of the film's stars and director in person, we took the opportunity to bring you a unique contest.
One lucky winner will get a poster of the movie signed by stars Tanner Cohen and Zelda Williams, and director Tom Gustafson.
And the winner is... Under Darkness.
By Jeff Walsh
It’s no revelation on here that I’m a fan of Survivor (see past interviews with Todd, Brad, and Brandon). As part of my ongoing preparation to be on the show, I interview all the gay contestants on here as they are voted off or, in the case of Todd last year, win the million dollars.
Last night, gay New York City lawyer Charlie Herschel joined the list far sooner than I anticipated, especially with two people openly arguing about their dislike for one another before the vote. It shouldn’t be surprising, though, in a season where the strongest, most capable players have all been blindsided at tribal council. Charlie was no different, and joins his bromantic ally Marcus on the jury.
This interview happened really fast, with CBS calling and saying, “Are you free now?” seven minutes before I had a scheduled teleconference for my day job, but we went for it. Here’s what we said:
I know we just chatted briefly on Facebook last week, but I certainly didn’t think we’d be talking again so soon.
You and me both…
Watching last night’s show, I was a bit surprised. You seemed to be off most people’s radar and then out of nowhere, you’re being called the mastermind and pulling the strings. Where did that come from? I didn’t see it on the show.
I think, starting out, I had a little bit of a target on my back as being more of a thinker or maybe schemer because I looked like Todd, I was wearing a suit, I’m an articulate person… so I think people knew I was an intelligent guy. But I don’t think anyone thought I was the mastermind.
When Ken put that in people’s minds, it was the first time they thought of or heard I was the mastermind, but it wasn’t so far-fetched that it didn’t make sense. I was getting along with everyone. I was performing well in the challenges. Things were lining up in my favor throughout the game, so I don’t think it was so outlandish. But, yeah, Ken totally made that up out of thin air.
By Jeff Walsh
"Tru Loved" is a new gay youth movie that suffers from existing in the world of obvious expectations. It's nothing new, though. When a young, idealistic teacher joins the staff of a rough school with hard-to-reach kids… or a romantic comedy has two leads who begin the movie hating each other… you sort of know what's going to happen. So, when a young high school athlete enlists other people to defend his closet… well, it would be unexpected for the same character to be closeted by the time the end credits roll.
This movie got a lot of unexpected publicity when Roger Ebert gave it a negative review, only to mention at the end of his piece that he stopped watching it after only 8 minutes. This revelation led to a heated discussion on his website. I do have to say that Ebert did make a lot of incorrect assumptions based on what happens in the first eight minutes, but he had no way of knowing that the film would do things in its beginnings that wouldn't continue throughout. There is a dream sequence of the gayest high school ever, followed by a black and white 50s sitcom version of family life, both of which might lead you to believe there was going to be a lot of similar scenes inserted throughout. But Ebert didn't stick around to realize that the rapid succession of these things in the beginning wouldn't be consistent or followed up for the rest of the movie.
We're having a contest! With 10 lucky winners!
THE L WORD returns to DVD with THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON on October 21ST in a collectible 4-disc set. DVD includes all 12 dramatic and deliciously provocative Fifth season episodes from Showtime's successful long-running series featuring all the beauty, chaos and complexities of a group of women who inhabit Los Angeles' lesbian community plus behind-the-scenes special features.
And the winners are (in the order they were chosen by the random number generator):
3. Under Darkness
5. Chizuna san
If your name's in bold, private message me your address.
The DVDs were sent to 8 winners on Friday. Due to postage differences, Canadians get theirs first and sooner? Unfair...
Visit The L Word online!
© 2008 Showtime Networks Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By Jeff Walsh
So, I attended a press screening of Milk tonight, the new Gus Van Sant movie about the first openly gay elected official who was assassinated in 1978 (sorry, can't say much more about that, my review is embargoed until the movie's release late next month).
But one thing in the movie completely yanked me out of the moment.
In the movie, Harvey Milk is meeting with some gay leaders about a mailer they want to send to every California resident. The mailer is about 1978's Proposition 6, also known as the Briggs Initiative, which would have made firing gay teachers (and any public school employees who supported gay rights) mandatory.
In the movie, Milk (played by Sean Penn) looks at the flier and is outraged that the mailer avoids using the word gay. It talks about rights and other high-minded things, but completely avoids the issue. The other people in the room say it is the right approach if they want to win.
California voters have a ballot initiative next month to overturn the court's decision that legalized gay marriage.
If you have a phone and a high-speed Internet connection, you can help turn the tides in favor of gay marriage. Every battle in this fight is important to make gay marriage legal in every state eventually.
If you have a phone and high-speed Internet, you can make calls from your home after signing up. You'll get information to read, etc., from the campaign before you make any calls.
You can find more information here:
By Jeff Walsh
In the press materials for the new movie "Breakfast with Scot," which opens in the San Francisco Bay Area and other major cities in limited release on October 10, they keep referring to the men in the film as being a "straight" gay couple.
Now, there are terms that seem more realistic to describe two men in a committed relationship who don't like the word gay, are closeted at work, refuse all public displays of affection, seem to have a lack of intimacy in the privacy of their own home, and are uncomfortable by other gay people or anyone thinking they're gay, but "straight" isn't it.
Of course, this construct needs to exist so that this couple's life can be disrupted when they have to become the guardians of Scot, a very flamboyant, seemingly gay 11-year-old who turns their "straight" lives upside down. He likes cooking meals, singing songs, wearing makeup and boas, and kissing his male friends. So, both sides of the equation are pretty overdone. Of course, I was rooting for the kid, since he was at least being himself, whereas the couple were basically two uptight closet cases.
But from the moment the movie begins, you know what's coming.
By Jeff Walsh
"Camp Out" is a documentary that follows a handful of gay Christian teens attend the first summer camp exclusively designed for them. Many of the teens feel pulled between the gay community and the God community, with each demonizing the other on a regular basis.
All of the kids are in their mid- to late-teens, and out to their parents. One of the girl's mother was very enthusiastic about the notion of a summer camp where her daughter could explore both spirituality and sexuality.
"You can have both those two together? That's awesome!" she says.
Like any reality show or documentary, narratives begin to form between the kids. There are crushes, friendship, bonds, and situations in which people aren't uncomfortable. This ranges from gay guys who aren't very comfortable doing sports activities to one of the boys feeling uncomfortable by a game of Truth or Dare.
By Jeff Walsh
Bangkok Love Story is a fun, highly stylized gay movie from Thailand that certainly swings for the fences. Everything about it plays for maximum effect. It's sort of a Brokeback Mountain set in the underbelly of Bangkok.
Cloud is an assassin hired to kill Stone, a police informant, but he doesn't pull the trigger. In a gunfight, the two escape handcuffed together and Stone nurses Cloud back together and falls in love with him. (The gay angle isn't really evident before that happens, but if there wasn't a gay angle I wouldn't be writing this, so you know it's coming anyway). Their relationship takes a turn when Stone gives Cloud a bath on a rooftop in downtown Bangkok, which turns into quite a charged, erotic scene on the rooftop.
But nothing about Bangkok Love Story is subtle. Cloud's mother has AIDS, and his younger brother Fog is HIV+, both from his stepfather. Cloud is married, but cannot deny his love for Cloud, who freaks out after their sexual encounter and cuts off contact.
By Jeff Walsh
The last time I reviewed Spring Awakening, it was a week into its Broadway run. Since that time, it went on to become a runaway hit, netting 8 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and recently started its national tour in San Francisco.
Reading my old review again after seeing the touring production on opening night, my issues with the show remain. It hasn't lost any of its intensity and the songs are very familiar to me, but the dual nature of the show still never really gels to me, but I like both halves enough to still consider it a nice night out. Since I haven't really changed my mind on the show, you can read that original review for the show details and such.
The only other issue I had with the show are nothing new when seeing a touring show after first seeing the original cast on Broadway. When the people on the cast recording match the people you saw onstage and visualize when you're listening to the CD, it is always odd to see these "other" people saying the same lines, wearing the same clothes, and singing the same songs. That's nothing new with this show, and only happens when you strongly identify with the people you saw first perform the roles.
By Jeff Walsh
For their sixth album, the appropriately-named "Sicks! Sicks! Sicks!," The Kinsey Sicks are in great form. If you need a gift for someone slutty that also likes musicals, look no further.
It's no secret I love the Kinseys (just look around the site), but the new album really shows the amount of polish, work, and fun they continue to deliver on such a consistent basis.
"Sicks! Sicks! Sicks!" will be a treat to fans who like sex-positive ditties ("Be A Slut," "It Isn't Easy Being Easy"), cosmetic-surgery themed Britney Spears covers ("Botoxic," listen to that track below), and plentiful show tune parodies ("Send In The Clones," "Trixie," "Fisters," "Beaver Hair," and "Provincetown" (possibly the only recorded parody of "Urinetown"?)). The CD also features songs from the amazing "I Wanna Be A Republican" DVD, in their audio-only debuts ("All The White Places," "We Arm The World").
Many of the tracks were recorded live, and show how little is lost when the girls move from the studio to the stage. If you can see them live, you should. But if you can't, you should at least check out the CD.
There's a reason The Kinsey Sicks are America's Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet. If you don't know it, "Sicks! Sicks! Sicks!" is a great way to find out why.
For all your Kinsey concert dates and merchandise needs, visit their website.
Sample Track: Botoxic
By Jeff Walsh
Donna Summer opened her recent show at the Paramount Theater in Oakland with "The Queen Is Back," a song off her hooky, fun album "Crayons," the disco diva's first in 17 years. In the song, Summer namechecks some past hits and sings about herself in third person for some unknown reason: "So many years ago, on the radio, she crept into your soul and loved to love you."
Since this is a youth site, we should probably take a step back and mention that Donna Summer was one of the biggest stars of the late 70s and early 80s, at the height of the disco era. Her hits include "Love to Love You Baby," "I Feel Love," "Macarthur Park," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls," "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)," "On The Radio," and "She Works Hard for the Money." Her era happened before even *I* was a teenager and, had my then-divorced mother not start going out dancing and such in the disco era, I'd probably have even less clue about her.
If you don't know Summer, it might be worth your while to check out some of her old hits (my faves are "I Feel Love," "MacArthur Park" (crazy lyrics and all), "Hot Stuff," and her duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears." Or you can check out her latest album, "Crayons."