Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa was fired on Saturday after coming out in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland, according to Time, after he declared that he was proud to be gay and in love with a man whom he said was his boyfriend. “I have to say who I am. I am a gay priest. I am a happy and proud gay priest,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza.
Vatican Spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi released a statement:
“The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure.”
Charamsa, 43, told reporters that his coming out had no relation to the bishops meeting on the family. He did hope that his words could add “a Christian voice” to the synod. The assembly is expected to address how the Church can better minister to gay people within the faith. Charamsa said he's written a book of his experience for those who wish to confront him. He was encouraged to come out after receiving hate mail in response to his public criticism of an anti-gay priest.
“I came out. This is a very personal, difficult and tough decision in the Catholic church’s homophobic world,” Charamsa told reporters.
Although Charasma’s priesthood remains intact, he can no longer work at the Vatican or its pontifical universities.
Babs had a dream! A dream about you, Gaga! At least that's according to John Travolta. Speaking with Extra, the 61-year-old actor confirmed rumors of a possible Gypsy remake, helmed by Barbra Streisand.
“Well, yeah, I mean Barbra wanting to do Gypsy for years, and she’s been developing it, and I think she always visualized Gaga as Louise and maybe me as Herbie,” Travolta said, referring, respectively, to the title role and that of the manager.
You can almost hear Lea Michele throwing a People's Choice Award at a mirror somewhere.
Streisand and Gypsy lyricist Styephen Sondheim have been battling it out for years over the rights to the classic musical based on burlesque legend Gypsy Rose Lee. However, librettist Arthur Laurents, who was initially against the remake, finally gave Babs his blessing a month before dying back in 2011.
"Well, you know, it took a long time to get the rights to Gypsy," Streisand disclosed last year. "And then we had one version of it and now there's another one gonna be written. Who knows, I'd like to play [Rose]. I think it would be a nice book end to Funny Girl...."
A nice book end and a nice late-in-life Oscar. Streisand, never one to take "no" for an answer, eventually wore Sondheim down, though he would rather Babs focused on starring as the domineering Mama Rose. "But if it ever gets made," she added, "I see it, I see every frame of it. And I kind of write my notes, and I think it's possibly gonna happen."
One day John Travolta said 'I want to meet Lady Gaga,' and I said OK. So I bring him over to her. And she's naked covered in blood. Doing a sex scene. And it was like, 'Oh, maybe it's not the right day for this.' And he was standing behind the monitor like cheering her on, and she was like, so thrilled the first time meeting John Travolta. So I ushered them off into a room. Where I was very proud they got to meet each other. And I said you know Gaga, Barbra Streisand is such a huge fan of yours, because she thinks you're so fearless and that brought tears to her eyes. And he knew about my ongoing obsession with Barbra Streisand so he said we should all get together. So the next day the phone rang and it was John's people saying how's dinner this Saturday at Barbra's house. So Gaga and I said you've got to be kidding me. So we both instantly said yes, and we showed up and it was like like a five-hour fever dream of what you would want at Barbara Streisand's house. We got the tour of the underground mall, and we got to see the costumes and...What I loved about it was their admiration for her and her admiration for them, and I was just watching. I was proud of her. And Gaga dressed up for the dinner. She was wearing a see through crocheted dress for dinner, I believe. Gaga made an entrance at Barbra Streisand's house that was pretty astounding.
You did it, Ryan Murphy. You won life. The TV titan also had nothing but praise for Gaga and her upcoming role in American Horror Story: Hotel, saying she elicits a "holy shit" quality. "She has this incredible, magnetic thing that you can't create. You either have it or you don't. And she has it."
It's called star power. Something Barbra Joan Streisand knows a thing or two about. Obviously only good can come of a Gypsy remake starring Babs and Gags, and since Cher and Christina, the world is sorely lacking a proper burlesque-themed intergenerational diva-off. For a taste of what we can (hopefully) expect, here's La Streisand belting out "Rose's Turn":
Les Fabian Brathwaite—everything's coming up Milhouse.
h/t: World of Wonder
This is turning out to be a smashing year for LGBT movies, which makes it a good time to sit back and reflect upon the periods when that wasn’t necessarily the case. So many times, movies have shied away from gay issues, usually because of a fear that such things would upset the masses and hurt the box office. The result was a parade of sanitized, asexual films that sometimes failed with the public anyway because they lacked guts and integrity. Here are some of the most glaring de-gayings in film history.
There were glimmers of fabulousness in Mark Christopher’s film about the ultimate ‘70s disco, Studio 54, especially in Mike Myers’ spot-on performance as feisty co-owner Steve Rubell. But the movie—which starred Ryan Phillippe as an upwardly mobile bartender—had been basically disemboweled and removed of its beating heart, so it was bound to fail. Supposedly, test audiences didn’t like the same sex kiss between Phillippe and a character played by Breckin Meyer. What’s more, Harvey Weinstein reportedly got nervous because Phillippe seemed on the verge of stardom and Meyers had just had a smash as Austin Powers. Putting them in a gay-tinged epic was supposedly out of the question, no matter how inaccurate any other version of that club would be. And so, 45 minutes were replaced by 25 minutes of new scenes and voiceovers, and the tampered-with product failed to score with either critics or audiences. But when stuff was restored for a director’s cut, it got a great response at Lincoln Center this year and a potential gay classic was born.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND (2001)
Mathematician John Nash was reportedly bisexual, had dalliances with men in his early years, and was busted for indecent exposure in a rest room. But the Ron Howard-directed film stayed away from all that, because you can’t taint a mentally ill person with negatives, after all. It won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2001.
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961)
The film adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella is enchanting, but it ain’t the book. In the book, the narrator seems a bit ambiguous as he becomes captivated by call girl Holly Golightly. It’s certainly far from the flat-out kissing-in-the-rain romance that ensues in the movie. Also, the film decidedly steamrolled over Holly’s bisexuality while they were at it. In the book, she reveals that she once lived with a “dyke” and that everyone assumed that made Holly gay too. “And of course I am,” she goes on. “Everyone is a bit. So what?” Well, Hollywood wasn’t so blithe about the whole thing. In movieland, the character could be a neurotic, social climbing hooker, but not a dyke!
THESE THREE (1936)
Based on Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children's Hour, centered on a child’s lie about a lesbian affair, the movie became a straight love triangle with no mention of same-sex happenings, thanks to the Production Code in effect at the time. Joel McCrea, Miriam Hopkins, and Merle Oberon play the trio, with nasty student Bonita Granville wreaking havoc with her tawdry gossip. It’s actually a very good movie, and I must say when the lesbianism—and title—were restored for the 1961 movie (with Shirley MacLaine killing herself because of the lezzie talk), it was deeply disturbing.
NIGHT AND DAY (1946)
Cary Grant is songwriter Cole Porter and Alexis Smith is his wife Linda, but this being a 1940s Hollywood biopic, there’s no mention of Cole’s proclivity for boys. True, Cary does sing “You’re The Top,” but that’s not addressed to his male lover, lol. De-Lovely, the 2004 film with Kevin Kline as Cole, was somewhat gayer, but not necessarily better.
WORDS AND MUSIC (1948)
Similarly, this Hollywood bio about composers Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart conveniently left out Hart’s homosexuality, choosing a more accessible tune. I guess Mickey Rooney could play Japanese (as in the aforementioned Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but never gay. One hopes movies will stay away from biopics of other songwriters like Sondheim, Sam Smith, and Elton John.
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY (1965)
Charlton Heston plays Michelangelo, battling it out with Pope Julius II, played by Rex Harrison. But they took the sissy out of the Sistine Chapel. This artist is not the least bit light in the easel, despite all that time laying on his back. It’s not exactly surprising since Heston didn’t always embrace gay issues so eagerly. Let’s not forget that the gunslinger always denied that Gore Vidal got any homosexual subtext into the script for Ben-Hur.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
In this heated adaptation of the famed Tennessee Williams play, Liz Taylor is the braying sexpot whose impotent hubby Paul Newman is fatally obsessed with an old school chum. Williams was devastated that the movie caved in to the Hays Code and snipped out practically all the gay innuendo. The playwright was so perturbed by the omissions that he reportedly told people who were waiting on line at one theater, “This movie will set the industry back 50 years, Go home!” It’s amazing that Cat still packs quite a meow, despite the trims. But for a film about the power of the truth, it’s a shame that the requirements of the time precluded it from telling some whopping ones.
THE DANISH GIRL
Let’s talk about a major 2015 film, shall we? The back story is that Gerda Wegener was a bisexual erotic artist who married Einar Wegener, a fellow artist who famously wound up transitioning to Lili Elbe. But the movie—starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander—snips out Gerda’s bisexuality (“so as not to complicate the film’s politics,” according to the Variety review), while serving you an extremely healthy dose of transsexualism. A fair trade?
This epic saga of a Roman slave rebellion was re-released in 1967 in a shorter version, but in 1991, the cut minutes were restored, in addition to 14 other minutes of sizzling stuff. Among those gems was a scene where, sitting in a glorified hot tub, general Laurence Olivier tried to seduce slave Tony Curtis while invoking analogies about “eating oysters” and “eating snails.” Because of detritus, Olivier’s voice was lost, so Anthony Hopkins stepped in to gamely supply Sir Larry’s vocals. Watching it now, one can picture the proverbial oysters and snails served with a nice Chianti. Anyway, the gay restoration rights the wrongs of Hollywood’s squeamishness and allows future generations to take in the full story. Let’s follow suit and fix all the other films on this list! Come on Hollywood, make them gayer!
CAROL AND FREEHELD CELEBRATE LESBIAN LOVE
Fortunately, there are two new movies where the gay was kept in big time, and they’re both about lesbian passion. At the New York Film Festival, I saw Carol, Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel about a withdrawn but headstrong shopgirl/photographer and her growing involvement with a glamorous divorcee-in-the-making in the otherwise denial-prone 1950s. In the film—which is being released in November—the saturated art direction reflects the glowing, superficial ‘50s gloss that covered up all the real issues, and the direction captures the weight of a glance and the electricity of a touch when it comes to two women finding each other amidst a world of bossy, undeserving men. (“My eyes have never been so wide open,” exclaims Rooney Mara’s character, Therese, when her boyfriend claims she’s in a trance.) Mara and Cate Blanchett are absolutely terrific as the mismatched yet chemically clicking twosome, and Sarah Paulson also scores as Cate’s wise old friend and ex-lover. It’s not a thrill a minute, but the whole thing exerts a hypnotic pull, exploding into fine drama when Blanchett’s Carol battles her husband’s use of a morality clause aimed at keeping their daughter away from her.
May/December lesbians also turn up in Freeheld (which I saw at a special screening at MoMA last week), but this isn’t a moody art film, it’s a nitty-gritty biopic based on a story that rocked the nation. Terminally ill New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester (played by Oscar winner Julianne Moore), who had previously been closeted because of her concerns about the workplace, became a volcanic force in the battle for equal rights when she fought for her partner, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), to ultimately gain her pension and estate. The first half of the movie is wonderful, as tough, efficient cop Laurel meets younger mechanic Stacie and learns to act like less of a police officer around her while ceding control to the relationship. Laurel is very cautious at work, but she eventually tells her policing partner, Dane (Michael Shannon), about her relationship, and he’s touchingly pissed that she didn’t trust him to be honest about this before that. And that’s the end of the closet for her. When Laurel comes down with advanced lung cancer, her primary goal becomes to make sure Stacie is taken care of, so she battles the Freeholders (the county officials), with the help of Dante, other local supporters, and activist Steve Goldstein (a campy, media-savvy queen hilariously played by Steve Carell, who squeals, “I’m a big, loud, gay Jew!”). Laurel thinks she’s fighting for equality, not marriage, but Goldstein reminds her that if she were married to a man, this whole thing wouldn’t be an issue. Her pivotal 2005 case was a landmark step on the way to the Supreme Court’s approval of same-sex marriage across the country earlier this year. Kim Davis is probably still mad about it!
The movie? I had to pinch myself that two lesbian-positive flicks are hitting us, virtually back to back. I loved the story of the two women, and though the second half is more schematically formulaic, I was still a blubbering mess by the end. As for Julianne and Ellen, they’re perfection in calibrating the lovers’ evolving interplay, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the former takes a break from disease movies for quite some time.
KEEPING UP WITH THE GRACE JONESES
Lately, some LGBT icons have been battling it out thanks to Grace Jones saying that Lady Gaga has borrowed too much from her, creativity-wise. That’s fine since Madonna said the same thing, and besides, Grace herself has borrowed from Piaf, Dietrich, Bowie, Josephine Baker, and Eartha Kitt. It’s all about glomming onto your inspirations and making them into some newfangled magic for yourself. And that’s what Ms. Jones does with her new book, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, which paints a vivid portrait of several decades of avant garde diva-liciousness. To me, the most trenchant passage in the book is this one about how fame changes one’s life: “You can get all the pussy and dick you want. Everything becomes available. It goes to your head….You drink too much, You take drugs. You get arrested. You are in a situation where your new position is always being celebrated. Every day is like a wonderland. You start spinning.” And spinning our heads. Bravo to Grace who, unlike the 10 movies I started this column with, edits nothing out.
Former Who's the Boss? child star Danny Pintauro, who recently discussed his HIV status with Oprah, was grilled by the The View's co-hosts Candace Cameron Bure (Full House) and Raven-Symoné (The Cosby Show) this past Friday when he opened up about his HIV status and past struggles with crystal meth use. Pintauro explained how his introduction to meth was intertwined with sex and attempted to debunk rumors of a tragically clichéd child star story. "As soon as I wanted to explore some rougher sides of my sexuality, I immediately encountered meth," Pinaturo said.
Although Pintauro took the opportunity to raise awareness for HIV, it quickly turned into a shame session when Bure asked if he took responsibility for his actions. Raven then asked if Pintauro and his husband, who was in the audience, have unprotected sex. "I want to know what the message is, because you want to be the face of HIV," Bure said. "What is the message that you have? What do you mean?"
Although Bure, who is conservative, and Symoné, who is openly lesbian, take opposing positions on LGBT issues, they’ve both been known to make controversial statements in regards to such topics. Pintauro says that he intends to go on a "Beacon of Light" tour, that will include visits to LGBT Pride events, so that he can discuss the importance of testing, knowing your HIV status, and being on HIV medications.
Watch the interview below:
With Casino Royale, Daniel Craig ushered in a new iteration of James Bond. Gritty, pitch black, and unburdened of any iota of smirking self-reference, we got a deeply troubled and conflicted 007.
With the premiere of Spectre, the third of the Craig Bond flicks, on the horizon, November 6 to be exact, we were due the video that accompanies Sam Smith’s theme for the film, “Writing on the Wall.”
Well here it is and, tonally, it’s on point. The video features Smith performing the theme in stark cemeteries and gloomy cliffsides, intercut with scenes from the film. Not a tricked out spy car or gadget in sight. If this, and the film’s most recent trailer, are anything to go on, we’re in for plenty of thrills, grief, and a paucity of laughs.
Photo via Adam Rippon Instagram
U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon discussed being gay in this month’s issue of Skating magazine, U.S. Figure Skating’s official magazine, stating:
“It’s the year 2015. So many more athletes are willing to be open, and it’s part of the culture now to be more open about who you are and what your interests are. Of course people are interested in your sexual orientation. People love rumors. When athletes come out and say that they’re gay, it makes it a little more normal and less of a big deal — especially in the athletic community. You have a lot of respect for your fellow athletes for working hard toward a goal. Their sexual orientation takes a backseat to that.”
Figure skating Olympic gold medal winner Brian Boitano came out publicly in 2014 after President Obama selected him as part of the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics, and Rippon said he'd also considered coming out before the Sochi (which he didn't end up qualifying for).
"Being gay is not something that defines me. What defines me is what my mom always taught me: to treat everyone with respect, to always be a hard worker and to be kind. Those are the things that define me.
"I did think about it. I feel so overwhelmed that U.S. Figure Skating wants to be a part of me. It's a huge thing to have your sport's governing body be a part of that and to show all their athletes that they accept them for who they are and for their individual personalities. When you go out and compete, you want to represent [the organization] to the best of your ability, and you want to represent your true, authentic self. When you're honest with yourself, you can do that. I want to be a relatable example.
Rippon skated in three World Championships, but he's never skated in the Olympics — he was eighth at the January 2014 U.S. Championships, missing the two-man 2014 U.S. Olympic team. Rippon is scheduled to open his season at Finlandia Trophy in Finland next week, and he's entered in Skate Canada on Halloween weekend. He says he wants to be a "relatable example" for other athletes and LGBT people, adding:
“I want to say something to the dad out there who might be concerned that his son is a figure skater. I mean look at me; I’m just a normal son from small-town Pennsylvania. Nothing changed. I’d just like to be a good role model. I’ve been honest with myself the whole time. I worked hard and loved what I did.”
He appears on the cover with Ashley Wagner.
There are a few things that happen in New York City to let everyone know it’s fall: the stickiness and humidity of summer get swept away by cooling breezes, everyone is eating or drinking pumpkin spice-something, and New York Comic Con brings comic and entertainment enthusiasts together from across the country.
Out and DC have collaborated to kick off New York Super Week with a look at the upcoming fifth issue of Midnighter, DC’s gay character with his own title, and the only one of his kind in the Marvel / DC comic houses. “He’s the first of his kind,” said writer Steve Orlando, “bad things happened to him, but in real life he finds a way to move past it and turns his experimentation on him into a positive.” Orlando points out that, unlike other vigilante heroes, Midnighter doesn’t feel burdened by being a hero and doesn’t have a secret identity. “Who wouldn’t want to live that way,” Orlando said, “who wouldn’t want to be able to just give up compromises and be true at all times?”
When we last left Midnighter he had teamed up with Grayson (aka Dick Grayson, formerly Nightwing, and Robin before that) to try and find out who stole all the high-tech weaponry from the God Garden. The two are still on the hunt, and the banter and flirting is as good as ever. See the first five pages of Midnighter #5 below.
Midnighter #5 releases in full-lenght Wednesday, October 7.
Brecht once wrote:
“In the dark times / Will there also be singing? / Yes, there will also be singing. / About the dark times.”
Let’s face it, these are pretty dark times. But humanity, against all evidence to the contrary, seems also to be endlessly full of hope. It’s a cheerfully naive and stubborn aspect of the human condition which we will—hopefully—never lose. We shall always have our lamentations and also our Ode(s) to Joy. But what does it sound like to sing joyfully about despair? It seems to me that some of the most powerful art in the world does exactly this, lifting us out of the gloom by grasping it fully, albeit playfully. Enter Joseph Keckler, stage left: part operatic wunderkind, part avant-garde troubadour, part comedian from the Theatre of the Absurd. Keckler is in the process of carving out a singular niche in the world of song and performance.
The first time I saw Joseph perform was in January of 2011 and was so perplexed I contacted him shortly afterward to ask if he’d sit for a portrait, hoping the time we spent together might lead to some greater understanding. That did and also did not happen. Keckler is an enigma but not purposefully or preciously so. His chosen subjects are at once intimate and universal; his brilliant technique commanding but at the same moment, disarmingly vulnerable. He straddles multiple disciplines and genres, creating song-cycles, hallucinatory video and vaudeville. But through all of this finely-tuned maneuvering he reveals his greatest talent: a pure, pleasure-seeking drive to entertain.
I caught up with Joseph last week, hot off the heels of a European mini-tour of his critically acclaimed “I am An Opera” and preparing for this year’s second installment of PEN DIY at the Ace Hotel on October 5.
XXM: Where in the world are you now?
Joseph Keckler: I am in Ann Arbor right now as an artist in residence at University of Michigan. I'll be making a couple music videos here with students, revising some writing, and cobbling together a bunch of operatic death scenes for a piece I’m working on. I'm currently going through videos of opera deaths and making notes such as "Excellent stabbing! Good disturbing chords at end." I'm trying to get settled in here and it's been hard to keep track of where I am myself. There was a day the other week where I was in three different countries within 24 hours and I did find it discombobulating. And I mean actually hanging out in these three different countries... not just a stopover or something. I haven't toured that much really, so I'm still dazzled by such a possibility.
I can imagine! The death scenes research sounds like a lot of fun. I remember as a teenager cataloguing all the ocular injuries in the movies I watched. SO many. Obviously, opera is a veritable cemetery of characters. Any particularly gruesome or creative demises you're drawn to?
Ocular injuries in cinema. I never thought about those. There's Un Chien Andalou obviously and Pasolini's Oedipus. Surely there's something more recent and mainstream that I'm forgetting. Is anyone blinded with bleach in Bridesmaids? That would have improved the film in my humble opinion. Well, I haven't thought about choosing a favorite demise. I do appreciate a good death aria and the paradoxical way that a character who is supposedly fatally wounded or otherwise enfeebled can deliver the most arresting and even technically demanding lament. But that's the way opera works. Right now I'm concerned with cataloguing them. The Stabbies (suicides or murders with a dagger, sword, or knife), the Sickies (consumptives and the like), the Poison People, and those who self-immolate, go charging on their steeds into an inferno, are burned at the stake, or who die a supernatural death and descend to hell. I might throw in a Lamentation Station for characters who are mourning the death of another.
I will try to perform a bunch of these deaths in succession. I'm concerned right now with finding deaths that are very over the top, because those will read the best. In Orfeo, Eurydice simply “vanishes” and I can’t make that come across as clearly, for instance, especially since these little death nuggets are divorced from all narrative and visual context, and I'll be performing them alone.
I decided to do this project because death is at the center of tragic opera. When I used to sing at a little opera house, I remember the choristers sitting around the table in the back, playing cards, and cracking, "Is she dead, yet? Jesus. Har har…" And at the same time, people talk about opera being "dead" and the audience "dying."
Let's talk a little bit about where you come from and what initially drew you to singing and to opera specifically. It is generally a cause for concern that interest in opera is waning and yet there are a number of unusually creative productions popping up in unexpected places. We lost Amato downtown but now we have Loft Opera in Brooklyn. What do you think the future of opera is and what do you imagine is your future in it?
I grew up in a small town in Michigan. My first musical interest was in blues and soul music, and I'm very in love with that music still. I sing in a variety of styles and am interested in the movement between them. My own songwriting tends towards something more quiet, melancholy, and torchy. Then there's the more theatrical and humorous side of my work. I came to opera through studying voice, first as a teenager. I was trying to sing in a big aggressive way and I would lose my voice after one song, so I started taking lessons. I became increasingly drawn to the discipline of classical voice, and the lyricism, and intensity of it all.
I actually sang at the Amato Opera. I recently wrote a short piece about it, in fact, which I haven't published or performed yet. That particular establishment couldn't have gone on and been the same without Tony Amato, who was at the heart of it, madly running the show. I think he may have wanted the company die with him, to be honest. I'd like to point out that the Amato didn't disappear because of gentrification—Tony owned the building—but you can still grieve the disappearance of the Amato and look at its disappearance as part of a larger loss happening in NYC, which is the death of character, the death of particularity.
I think your unconventional and slightly irreverent take on more traditional performance is fantastic. But at the same time you obviously have deep appreciation for the music. What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the genre today?
I have to say, I'm interested in opera, but I am an outsider to that world. Sometimes I do enter the classical world as a singer: Next year I’ll be performing a song cycle Aleksandra Vrebalov has written for me with texts of Charles Simic, for example. And I invoke and use opera in my own art. But I don't have any sort of mission, or delusion, of revitalizing the form. I approach it in the way that makes the most sense to me. Because I've performed my own arias—or faux arias as the case may be—in bars, in the art world, on TV and so on, some people will give me a lot of credit for using the form in a different way, or a different context, or exposing it to a different audience. But I don’t claim that what I’m doing even is opera, or that it is not.
Now to your question, which is hard to answer because I'm not sure what an "opera" is in the 21st Century, or late 20th, or maybe to begin with! John Moran calls his elaborate soundscores and choreographies operas, and I think somehow they are. There are other great avant-garde auteurs of this ilk: Meredith Monk, Robert Ashley. Many composers of late, such as these, often don't employ classical voices. So there's some sort of bifurcation that has taken place, with opera going forward on one track via the voice and another through composition. Beth Morrison and the composers she represents seem to be creating all sorts of vital new works and seem poised to design the future of opera. People are very excited about the work they are doing and I think it's great. In general, I don't think that opera has the same role in our society that it did in its golden age, so I am not certain it should be burdened with the same responsibilities, at least not superficially.
Since we already related to the drama of Anna Nicole Smith via mass media I wonder if rendering her saga in the form of opera changes or deepens that story or our relationship to it. And perhaps the answer is yes-- I didn't see the Anna Nicole opera… heard lots of great things. This is simply a question I have. Of course I am of a school that is more "against grand narratives..." So in my work I just invoke the form, playfully, to heighten little narratives and direct observations of mine that tend toward the intimate, absurd, unresolved and obscure. Yet these episodes hold weight in my mind and extend out into much larger themes: work, nostalgia, language…
What do you think of Nico Muly and Mathew Aucoin?
I’m not any expert, but they don't seem to be a couple of slouches, do they? They're obviously both brimming with intelligence and talent. [The opera] Two Boys uses an interesting story that contains many familiar operatic themes—hidden identity, deception and desire, suicide—that unfold in way only possible in a digital age. The production at the Met did a good job, I thought, of “staging the Internet”, which is not that easy to do.
You once said to me: "It's good to be deprived of technology. It poisons you." Can you explain what you mean by this?
Really? I have no idea what sort of curmudgeonly, conspiratorial kick I was on that day, but I was probably talking about screens and being online all the time. I'm miserably addicted to it all and maybe this is why I'm extra cantankerous, but I feel this constant obsession with screens has turned life into a circus of the underwhelming. I find it dispiriting. We're everywhere and nowhere, there's no mystery, there are no stakes. On the rare occasion that I have a couple days without constant access to the Internet, I can feel my head clear. Although I'm technically a millennial according to some recent designations—on the old end of millennial—my parents are late adapters when it comes to technology so I actually didn't have the Internet growing up and I remember the first time I spent more than a half an hour online. It made me nauseous. The digital age has been one long spell of nausea for me.
Some of the best art of the 2000s—I'm thinking particularly about visual work that formed an aesthetic based on the Internet and was able to articulate this new digital reality we were living in—some of this stuff that seemed profound and important five years ago now appears kitschy, flimsy, faddish, and almost quaint. Certain work that was intensely of the moment in the recent past has aged really fast. I don't know how to make sense of this, and I'm not naming names, but I think we're too enamored with digital technology in our daily lives. How can I be at once addicted to social media and think that's its the most boring thing imaginable? The Internet is an unglamorous addiction. Remember the day we all decided Myspace was suddenly disgusting and unmentionable? When the day before it had been everything to us? I keep waiting for humans to collectively just lose interest in the Internet, to decide it's passé and just get up and walk away.
What do you think are the elements of a production or performance (or any art work for that matter) that stand the test of time?
The best works have some mystery, an open space for the viewer to enter and exist, and seeing these works makes reality feel more alive. Often the best art is strangely incomplete. The great Hitchcock films play with perception and confront you with the unexplained so that you have to reckon with it in moments, whereas the lesser ones just feel confined to certain time and genre. They don't open up. I also notice that acute representations of alienation or ambivalence tend to carry well across time. I'm thinking of one of Bellini's paintings of Madonna and Child where she's looking at her baby, holding him out, and there's an uncertainty in her face. That uncertainty is so present. Or the way Sherwood Anderson's characters react uneasily to industrialization. This resonates right now in regards to the digital world. The strangely passionate disenchantment in Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquiet. One final, odd example: there's a moment in the musical short St. Louis Blues, from the 20's where Bessie Smith seems uncomfortable being filmed. She seems to think acting is silly and I really feel her on that one. Literally, I feel her. Her breaking of character, her resistance and stiffness, doesn't take me, as a contemporary viewer, out of the film. On the contrary, she is no longer trapped in this old film, or in its acting style that appears so artificial to a 21st century eye. She becomes suddenly relatable and closer. I'm not sure this makes St. Louis Blues more of a masterpiece than it is or isn’t, but there's a breaking, an opening, and somehow this relates to what I'm trying to articulate.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not singing?
Well obviously I spend a lot of time writing and creating performances. I have had precious little free time in the past few months. All summer I was in this show at Lincoln Center, eight times a week, and my social life amounted almost entirely to sitting on the roof with Chavisa Woods. But I liked sitting on that roof and, man, I was good at it, too.
Who are you listening to these days?
OK, the last couple days I've been listening to a bunch of different eras of Lucinda Williams, and also Exuma, James Booker: his work is not that known and should be way known. And the '80s band, Sex Gang Children.
Sex Gang Children! I haven’t listened to them in years. Who do you think is the funniest person?
Fran Lebowitz is reliably amusing and more.
Describe your dream date...
I like that you started out tossing me questions that the ghost of Susan Sontag might struggle to answer and that now we've taken a turn into Tiger Beat territory.
You’ve perfectly described my M. O. in a nutshell.
I have enjoyed dates, but never fantasized about one. In general, I prefer dim, swampy environments though.
Mmm… swampy. What do you find irresistible in a man?
If I examine my history, it would appear that I am drawn towards keen, fussy beauties of a variety of genders. But believe me, these days I can resist anyone.
Ha! What are you saying? You are wary of romantic entanglements?
I was in a relationship for a few years and ending it broke my heart. I have been seeing people some — and enjoying it. I like being alone, though, because it really allows me to listen to my inner voice. Mostly the voice tells me: Start smearing eyeblack across your cheeks in everyday life. I’ve never been an athlete, but I like that look. Future mates better like it too, because that’s what they’re getting.
Who is your dream collaborator?
I had a dream last night that I was staying with Prince. He was very elusive in his own home—his servants referred to him as “Stone” and never saw him. But Prince and I were having a heart-to-heart in some hidden den and he made it clear he was eager to collaborate with me as long as I would agree to change my name to “Gingerella.” Well, I’d consider it.
Follow M. Sharkey on Instagram at msharkeystudio
According to The New York Times, early this morning American Apparel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The brand, once the coolest clothier on the block, has been plagued with drops in sales, massive amounts of debt, and a prolonged legal battle with its controversial founder, Dov Charney.
Before filing its bankruptcy petition, the clothier struck a deal with most of its secured lenders to reduce its debt via a debt-for-equity conversion, a process by which bondholders trade in their debt for share in the company.
The deal will allow the company's 130 U.S. stores to remain open, as well as its Los Angeles manufacturing operations. It’s overseas stores won’t be affected and the restructuring is expected to take six months.
As there have been no layoffs announced, this may be a chance for the company’s new CEO, Paula Schneider, to implement her plan to turn around the struggling retailer.
As for Charney, he's out quite a lot of money as well. The current deal with the company's lenders has reduced the value of his shares from $8.2 million to next to nothing.
Though the brand will have to undergo many changes to keep itself afloat post-restructuring, one thing the company won't do is move its manufacturing out of the U.S. Despite rumors it'll move production to Mexico or El Salvador, Schneider says that won't happen.
"We will continue to manufacture in America," she says. "That's what the brand is. That's what it's about."
Our favorite Canadian apparel brand, Roots, is releasing a capsule line in collaboration with Pendelton Woolen Mills, known for its cozy blankets. Just in time for fall, one highlight from the collection is their varsity jacket, the perfect wardrobe staple to keep you warm and stylish all season long. But there's also beautiful jacquard patterns on weekender bags, backpacks, and small leather accessories.
Find more pieces from the collection below, and at Roots's new flagship store in New York.
Varsity Jacket Pendleton by Roots, $598, available at Roots stores and Roots.com from October 6.
Small Banff Bag Pendleton, $648
Student Pack Pendleton, $328
Key FOB Pendleton, $28
I hereby decree that Todrick Hall and Joseph Gordon-Levitt should do a buddy cop film together. Yeah that might seem way out of left field, but just look at their chemistry together.
Thanks to People, you can check out this clip from tonight’s episode of Todrick, in which JGL and Todrick shoot a music video about two girls who get revenge on their boyfriends for unfollowing them on social media (they go full Carrie Underwood on their boyfriends’ cars).
In the clip, we see the behind-the-scenes-drama involved with shoot a music video on very little time. There are some ups and downs, but Todrick knows how to keep things moving and Joe’s a consummate professional, so it seems that things all worked out in the end.
Todrick airs tonight at 10:30 PM ET on MTV.
In a new interview with David Kamp for Vanity Fair, native New Yorker Billy Eichner talks about growing up in an outer borough of the city, the reason for his on-camera shouting, and his dream of getting Meryl Streep on his TV series Billy on the Street, which has a new season premiering this week on truTV.
Growing up in a “tiny junior-four apartment” in Forest Hills, Queens (his father was a tax auditor for the City of New York, his mother an employee of New York Telephone), he says he yells on the show because New York City is just really loud: “I had very loud parents, and you’re in New York—it’s loud outside. And I am someone who likes to hit a line very hard.”
He's already had First Lady Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, and Lena Dunham on the show, so is getting la Streep to do it such a pipe dream? Billy notes that Meryl lives in the NYC area and he's already had an esteemed catalog of guests. It's inevtiable that she'd join that roster:
“Well, I’ve talked about Meryl Streep on the show quite a bit. I mean, she cranks out a movie a year at the point. She can join me on the street for a couple of hours. She lives in the Village, we all know her, Connecticut, wherever she lives, tri-state area.”
Talk about a genius tag team: 'Meryl & Billy' could definitely be a hit worth taking note of.
Season 4 of Billy on the Street premirees on truTV Oct. 8 at 10:30 p.m. ET. Watch this new clip with Tina Fey below:
In a new Interview cover story, director Lee Daniels says he wants Nicole Kidman on the set Empire, but she's currently in London. "You promised me I would be there one day," she teases. Of course, the duo previously worked together when Daniels directed Kidman in 2012’s The Paperboy, which co-starred Zac Efron, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, and Matthew McConaughey.
Kidman, who's photographed by Fabien Baron (in a sultry messy Italian apartment aesthetic) for the cover of the October 2015 issue, also gives insight on being an actor, what its like to film sexy scenes with Cusack and work with Daniels. She also explains why her new stage role as Dr. Rosalind in Photograph 51 on London’s West End is freaking her out.
On why she never lies when she's acting:
"I suppose expectations are strange and I shy away from them. And the whole point of being an actor is to connect. In the theater, which I’m doing now, when you walk into the rehearsal room on the first day, you’ve got to do it. I think that’s probably my main thing: just do the work. I’m not a big fan of sitting around, saying what I’m going to do. And we’ve all got brilliant ways of ducking and weaving so that we don’t have to do it. But my thing is to just get it on its feet and do it. Whether it’s a scene or just getting a character moving around. You’re going to fall flat on your face, just get back up again. By keeping it that simple, it allows me to play, because I do see it as playtime. I mean, we’re all lucky. We get paid to do it, but ultimately we’re the kids in school that never had to grow up, pretending we’re different people, and then convincing ourselves. I was with another actress the other day, and she said, 'Oh, I’m not a good actress, because I’m not a good liar.' And I was like, 'Golly, to me it’s the opposite.' You have to be so good at what you do that you believe it—so there’s no lie involved."
On working with Daniels:
"It’s fun and it’s bold, and you’re doing that with a TV series right now. You’ve turned it completely on its head. And you love creating such fierce women. “
On Daniels' love for woman, despite being gay:
Daniels: I like formidable women. I like working with women, women that I can connect with.
Kidman: Why is that?
Daniels: I don't know why. Because I love women. I’m obsessed. It’s a damn shame I’m gay!
Kidman: A damn shame! Shame on you!
On allowing herself to be bruised by the sex scene with Cusack:
"I want to protect the other actor, because he’s finding it and doing it. I want him to feel free. Actors have to protect each other in a way. The idea of humiliating another actor or being humiliated myself is devastating. So that’s why, if he’s a little rougher than he knows he’s being, the last thing I want to say is, 'Oh my gosh, you hurt me.' Most actors are like that. We all go, 'No, no. I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.' Because that’s how you release into things and find stuff. If you’re tentative and scared that you’re hurting someone or that you’re overstepping a line or that there’s a boundary that you’ve crossed, it makes everybody too cautious."
On being terrified of starring in a play on London’s West End:
"I’m terrified—terrified and exhilarated because I’ve got to make this incredibly acerbic, prickly woman real and vulnerable. You’ve got to feel her motivation. You’ve got to understand her. I’ve got to make that work. And there’s no interval. It’s a 95-minute play. And I haven’t done that for 17 years. It’s a whole different ballgame."
He danced his way to reality TV fame in the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance, where he placed in the top 10. Now, after touring with Lady Gaga, appearing in multiple videos during her The Fame Monster and Born This Way eras, and even landing a spot in the 2011 Out100, the Hawaiian dancer shares his familial escapades and love of Disneyland on his Instagram.
If he looks familiar, it’s probably because you’re on of the hundreds of millions of views on some of Lady Gaga’s music videos like “Telephone,” "Alejandro," “Born This Way,” “Judas,” and “Marry the Night.”
Kanemura spends plenty of time in his native Hawaii and on the west coast, which makes for some breathtakingly beautiful photos of nature (and him).