I COME BEARING GIFTS
Okay, not gifts, exactly … but I’m thrilled to be announcing the first contest in the history of AfterElton.com!
(Pause for applause.)
See, being as how I live on the other side of the tracks, whenever I get invited uptown to the main page party I feel like I need to bring something, like I see people do on old reruns of Bewitched and such. I was going to make a casserole but I couldn’t find those little crispy onion thingies that are supposed to go on top…
But back to the contest. Yes, we are thrilled to be running a little giveaway in conjunction with next week’s premiere of Little Britain USA on HBO. If you’re not familiar with the series, it stars gay comedian Matt Lucas and David Walliams as … well, as about 50 different characters of various stripes, sizes, and psychoses.
David Walliams as Tom, Matt Lucas as Mark
(Photo: Danny Feld/HBO)
In the UK run, there were a number of ongoing gay-themed sketches, including Dafydd "The only gay in the village" Thomas, who refuses to accept that there are other gay people in his small Welsh town, and Sebastian Love, the possessive assistant to the Prime Minister (brilliantly played by Buffy’s Anthony Stewart Head).
Both Daffyd and Sebastian have made the journey Stateside, and the guys are introducing a host of new characters as well, among them Tom and Mark, a couple of homophobic/homoerotic gym buddies. The show has always pushed the boundaries of good taste and political correctness, and it doesn’t look like they’ve tamed things down for us Yanks at all.
Here’s a snippet of Dafydd, who is now attending college in the States, meeting his new dorm neighbors:
As for the contest, we’ve got three prizes to give away. The grand prize is a limited-edition Little Britain USA 1G Mimobot flash drive, along with box sets of Extras (Season 1), Flight of the Concords (Season 1), and Curb Your Enthusiasm (Season 6). Two runners-up will each receive a limited edition flash drive.
So what do you have to do? Polish off your Little Britain know-how (or warm up your Google-fu) and answer the following questions. Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll pick the first three people to get at least 4 of the answers correct.
Which Little Britain character is associated with the following catchphrase? (Full names, please!)
1. "Computer says no…."
2. "Yah, but no, but yah, but no, but yah, but no…"
3. "I am a lady!"
4. "Hello, fatties!"
Next page: The DC Cowboys take it off for charity!
SAVE A COWBOY, RIDE A … DIFFERENT COWBOY?
You may have been following our following (dizzying, I know!) of the all-male, all-gay DC Cowboys dance troupe as they competed on this season’s America’s Got Talent. The guys didn’t make it to the finals (damn that Piers Morgan!), but that didn’t stop them from doing one better: they released a nudie calendar!
The DC Cowboys
That’s right, the fellas have unleashed the DC Cowboys Wet & Wild calendar (its fourth), half of the proceeds of which go to an HIV/AIDS charity. The calendar also comes with a DVD of behind-the-scenes footage.
Now, being as how we’re a family site, there are very few pics that we can actually show here in full. But here’s a sneak peek at some of the calendar boys, some of them edited slightly for appropriateness…
Keith (Photo: Ward Morrison/DC Cowboys)
Craig (Photo: Ward Morrison/DC Cowboys)
Enrique (Photo: Ward Morrison/DC Cowboys)
Next page: My exclusive chats with the Ugly Betty cast!
MY NIGHT WITH UGLY BETTY
Okay, it was more like "My Night with a bunch of other exhausted journalists with a glittery peppering of Ugly Betty and a downright terrifying human tornado caused by the very presence of Linsday Lohan."
As I mentioned the other day on the blog, the folks at ABC were kind enough to invite me to the preview party for the incredibly gay-inclusive show’s third season, which is being filmed right here in my hometown. Although I was wearing an outfit that Suzuki St. Pierre would use to polish the life-sized bronze statues of David Beckham that no doubt flank the entrance to his Upper East Side classic six, I fell in with the journos and was able to snag most of the cast members for a word or two.
But before I get to that, a few observations. First, I always get a bit of a kick when another journalist puts his or her foot in his or her mouth with an ill-advised question or tacky segue … because it wasn’t my ill-advised question or tacky segue. My favorite moment of the evening was when a lady a few steps down from me asked the fabulous Ana Ortiz (who plays Hilda, Betty’s sis) if they were working Rebecca Romjin’s pregnancy into the show, and Ana had to tactfully explain that Alexis can’t be pregnant because "she has no uterus".
Leslie? Something-or-other? Oh, it’ll come to me…
And second, the whole LiLoh thing just amazes me. She rolled up in a huge black wheeled fortress, and the second she popped out 300 photographers descended on wires from the sky to scream her name and try to get her to look at them. She did about a minute on the red carpet for the cameras, then went into the club (no Sam Ronson, btw, if you’re in on that conversation). Twenty minutes later she came back out, struck a few perfect poses for the paps, and popped back into her Death Star to head off to somewhere even more fabulous.
It was hilarious and terrifying. All I can really say is that she looked pretty, she played well with others, and I would absolutely HATE to be her.
But on to the cast!
Yes, Betty herself gave me a few minutes of her time on her big night, and when I asked what a series that has done so much already in terms of promoting diversity and gay visibility has in store for Season 3, she had a little dish and a lot of wisdom to share:
"I’ve heard rumors about a possible new love interest for Marc’s character … I know he has a love interest, but delving more into his relationships with other men. And … it’s so funny, because what I hear mainly when I do functions promoting the show in the gay community is that the character that they relate to most is not any of the gay characters on the show, but Betty. They relate to her being the underdog but not taking on the role of a victim. I don’t think any of the characters on our show take on the role of the victim … whether they’re minorities or whether they’re gay or they’re Latino or short or whatever it is they are on are show, the last thing they are is apologetic about who they are. And I think the gay community sees a lot of strength in that."
Consensus, gents? I think she’s on to something.
Next page: More Betty goodies, with more dish on Season 3!
I have to say that of all the regular castmembers, I was probably most excited to meet Ana Ortiz, who every week injects gallons of heart and humor into the character of Hilda, Betty’s flighty yet incredibly caring sister and mother to Justin, a teen boy whose affinity for fashion and musicals was a cause of a lot of family discord in Season 1.
I asked Ana, who has appeared in PSAs against anti-gay bullying and who was the special guest at a gay pride party in Miami this summer, why it was that gay issues are close to her heart:
"I think for my generation this is the civil rights issue of our time. That’s not to say that racism has by any stretch been conquered or taken care of, but when one group of people is so blatantly discriminated against and nobody says anything about it, it’s a crime. Many of my family members are gay, my best friends, and to me is just ludicrous that any group would be penalized and looked at as second-class citizens … in 2008!"
I also asked her what curveballs Justin was going to be throwing Hilda’s way, and she swooned at the very name of the youngest, most fabulous Suarez:
"Ah, my baby. You know, he’s growing up. You know, in Latino families there’s such a clutch. And I think he’s gonna have to find his wings and figure out his own stuff. I know that he’s dealing with bullies at school right now and that’s going to be an issue – of course Hilda’s first instinct is to go down there and beat somebody up…"
I, for one, would pay to see that. Oh, and I was a little shocked to find that her New Yawk accent on the show is totally a put-on. She had me convinced!
I followed up by speaking with Justin himself … or at least Mark Indelicato, the young actor who plays him. I asked about the bullying storyline, and he had some interesting details to share …
"Justin goes through some bullying this season but turns out in a friendly relationship with the bully, which is kinda weird. It’s great. It shows that Justin is just being himself, his fashion-obsessed self, and it amounts in a friend. It really teaches kids not to change who they are, not to act like a jock just because they’re not accepted yet, because they will be."
I then asked if Justin had any crushes this season or a love interest, and he answered, "I don’t know – no love interest, just this friend. But maybe … maybe a love interest." (We followed up with creator Silvio Horta and he’s confirmed that no, Justin does not have a love interest at this point.)
On a lighter note, I chatted with Becki Newton, who plays the wonderfully narcissistic Amanda, and asked if she and gay bestie Marc St. James (Michael Urie, who wasn’t there, unfortch) would be up to their usual scheming this season: "When do we not scheme? I think we even scheme when we’re trying to figure out what bagel to eat, we scheme about it. You’re going to see them ganging up on Betty and also including Betty. I wish I could tell you everything because it’s all so exciting…"
Indeed! She confirmed she and Marc are "besties forever" despite the shakeup at Mode. Speaking of…
Next page: The new hotties of Ugly Betty, including one guy begging for a gay following…
THE NEW HOTTIES OF UGLY
It’s always interesting to interview an actor who’s an unknown quantity when it comes to gay-friendliness. But it’s doubly interesting when he’s tall, strapping, has eyes so sparkly that you could use them to find your keys in the dark and an Australian accent that could melt marble.
So imagine my delight when, without even introducing myself as a journalist from a gay outlet or asking any gay-related questions, newcomer Grant Bowler — who plays Mode’s new CFO — took the conversation in this direction:
AfterElton.com: So you’ll have a lot of your scenes with Wilhelmina and Marc?
Grant Bowler: I think I’m going to be sandwiched between Wilhelmina and Daniel and Marc and Betty.
AE: Any idea if you’ll have a love interest?
GB: Hopefully all of them. That’s what I’m hoping personally, but professionally I don’t know, I can’t say.
At this point I brought up that I was from a gay site and that I had a slight suspicion that he might gain some gay fans through this role. When I asked how he felt about that, he instantly replied:
"I’m from Sydney! (laughs) Look, it’s fantastic. I came up and went to drama school in Sydney and Sydney is the gayest city in the world, and incredibly proud of it. I’ve been to every (Gay and Lesbian) Mardi Gras when I’ve been home for 15, 20 years – Sydney is a city where everybody exists very much in the mix, very much side-by-side, and it doesn’t really become a conversation point, much less an issue. You know? You’re just all at a party."
Well, Grant, in the spirit of neighborliness I’m going to try to help you on your way a bit to gay fandom. Folks, here’s a few shots of the actor’s body of work…
As Captain Gault on Lost
As my future husband Wolf on Outrageous Fortune
Also joining the cast this season as a love interest for Betty (we’ll miss you, Henry!) is Val Emmich, an actor best known as being Tina Fey’s adorable coffee delivery guy on 30 Rock. I wanted to ask Emmich how his life had changed since Judah Friedlander went "gay for Jamie", but he didn’t stick around long enough, so I guess we’ll never know. Here’s a pic instead:
Next Page: Vanessa Williams and Judith Light make me cry.
THE DUELING DIVAS
… and I don’t mean me and Michael Ausiello, who despite not having a clue who I am was no doubt insanely jealous of me for my being assigned a prime red carpet spot right behind a giant cement stancheon while he luxuriated on the carpet with a camera crew. (Suffah, Aus!)
No, I’m referring to Ugly Betty’s reigning divas, Vanessa Williams and Judith Light. Seriously, if the gays gave knighthoods or whatever they call them, these chicks would both have "Dame" before their names for all the work that they’ve done promoting gay visibility and fighting for gay rights.
First I snagged Williams (who is stunning, seriously) to find out more about how instrumental she was in getting the show’s main gay, Marc St. James, converted into a regular character:
"Well, initially in the pilot I didn’t realize that I was supposed to have a new assistant every episode. And when I started working with Michael, I just loved everything that he did – he tended to mirror me and he was really a great physical actor. You can immediately tell his stage presence, that he has that theater sensibility… and we hit it off perfectly. So I immediately starting throwing lines at him, like when I yell "Marc!" that was something I just started doing to include him in the scene, and it worked. The chemistry was so great and I just said we’ve gotta keep him and he’s been with us ever since!"
As for Willi and Marc’s axis of evil, it looks like it will be tested this season: "Now that Wilhelmina is editor-in-chief she’s totally redesigned everything at Mode, new color scheme, new furniture, you’ll love it. But Marc has a bit of a problem when I ask Betty to do some stuff for me and there’s a little rivalry there and you’ll see what he ends up doing to her…"
And last but by no means least, I had the chance to spend a few minutes with the amazing Judith Light. If you don’t know just how much time and energy this woman has spent promoting gay causes, just trust me when I say it puts most of us to shame.
We certainly got off on the right foot when the publicist introduced me as being from Logo…
Judith Light: Yaaaaay!
AfterElton.com: Yaay you!
Judith Light: Yaaay YOU!
AE: Listen, I saw you at the Runway show on Friday, then you were at the Point Foundation Honors in LA on Saturday, and now you’re back here – when do you sleep, woman?
JL: I … haven’t. I really could use a little sleep, that’d be good.
AE: Why are gay visibility and gay rights so important to you? How do you find the time and energy to do all this?
JL: You can always find time and energy when you have passion about something. The reason I have such passion about this community, YOUR community, is because you have inspired me, all of you have inspired me from the very beginning. From the time of the height of the AIDS pandemic, when all of my friends were dying, and this country gave them NOTHING, they took their anger and put it into being creative and pulling things together and they built a community that was inspiring to people like me. And I said you know what, I want to be a part of that community and I want to tell the truth about what’s happening to that community in this country. Because people think that, you know, everybody’s just sort of ignoring this group of people or maybe they sort of brought this sickness on themselves, and the real truth of it is that the level of homophobia that lived in this country and that still lives in this country is so severe that it has to be talked about. And yours is the community that has the kind of creativity and leadership and courage that needs to be at the forefront of changing the way the world operates. I saw you do it at the height of AIDS and that’s why it’s so important to me, and I want to tell the truth.
AE: I was at the premiere of Save Me last year at NewFest where you and Robert Gant spoke, and it’s so great to see it get a release just a few weeks back.
JL: Yes! Because so many people have been going it’s been extended another week here in New York, and it opens in Los Angeles on Friday. I’m flying back to LA on Thursday and I’m very excited about that and hope that we have the same reception there that we had here. The important thing is that our distributor needs to see that it can do well so that it can go to the middle of the country, which is where it needs to be. This is another thing that will help start a conversation about who and what this community is and letting people love who they believe it is right and appropriate to love. And it’s nobody else’s business.
At this point I’ll admit that I hugged her. I know: Bad journalist, no biscuit. But seriously, she is absolutely incredible and I wanted to thank her for everything that she’s done and is doing. As she moved on, she hollered back, "Nice to see you. Love Logo!" Love you right back!
Next page: Greek takes the kids to a gay bar!
GIRL, I WANNA TAKE YOU TO A GAY BAR
This week ABC Family’s college comedy Greek brought gay frat pledge Calvin back into the mix after several episodes of no-shows. How was the episode, overall? Eh…
We catch up with Calvin (Paul James), who is still dating French TA Michael (Max Greenfield), as the two are cuddling on a couch after watching Knocked Up. After a discussion about the degree of underlying homophobic humor in Judd Apatow’s movies (a discussion had on these very pages, actually), Michael convinces Calvin that he needs to get out and be a little gayer by going to the town’s only gay bar (which, oddly enough, has the same name as the town’s strip club: Gentleman’s Choice).
Max Greenfield and Paul James on Greek
But as Calvin’s life wouldn’t be Calvin’s life without his straight friends intervening, he soon finds himself tasked with taking out Ashleigh and Rebecca, who is apparently in need of a wave of the magic fairy wand to make her feel better about herself.
When we finally get to the gay bar, Calvin is surprised to find that it’s filled with easygoing guys just enjoying themselves … including his ex-fling, Kappa Tau brother Heath. The two have an awkward enough conversation to signal that their relationship might not be over just yet.
Otherwise there were jokes among the gay guys about whose turn it was to play fabulous, effusive friend to the mopey straight girl, which poked a little good-natured fun at the way that relationships between straight women and gay men are often treated in entertainment.
Still, though … for what was the most Calvin-centric episode thus far this season, the gay guys were still relegated to the sidelines, making this anything but a slam-dunk. In fact, though I am not ready to throw the gaybie out with the bathwater, others here at mission control are pretty much over the show.
While we’re on the topic of gay bars, a story also made the rounds this week about how Robert’s Lafitte, a gay bar in Galveston, TX, became a refuge for victims of Hurricane Ike. I thought it might be nice to do a virtual bar crawl (virtual, mind you – after last week’s Blood Work bender I’m taking it easy!) of some of the most beloved and memorable gay bars in entertainment. Were any of these your "first"?
Club Bablylon (Queer as Folk)
Not even a bombing could still the thumpa-thumping heartbeat of the series (for better or worse) for five seasons. Each season premiere visited Babylon’s back room, where Todd always had his hands full (for starters).
The Blue Oyster Bar (Police Academy)
I never could figure out why the gay bar in the comedy series was named after a rock band when all they played was "El Bimbo" … but this was my and probably lots of gay teens’ first impressions of a gay bar: filled with scary leather types who wanted to an impeccably-choreographed tango with me. Nice.
Chez Lui (Victor/Victoria), The Birdcage (The Birdcage), La Cage Aux Folles (La Cage Aux Folles)
These opulent drag palaces are sort of straight person’s fairytale versions of a gay bars, filled with showgirls and dandies and sparkle. I can’t say that I’ve ever in my life been to a place like any of these, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to!
The Spike, The Mahhole, etc. (Cruising)
If William Friedkin’s gleefully nasty gay serial killer movie is to be believed, gay bars are aggressive, mean, sweat-ripe, rock-and-roll-fueled dens of open-air fisting, communal drug use, and general debauch. Of course, most gay bars these days more closely resemble Social Security offices than anything found in this film.
Next page: What happened this week in gay TV!
IMHO — THIS WEEK IN GAY TV
How was this week in terms of gay entertainment?
Well, I tried to catch as much as I could and here’s what I thought of what I saw …
AS THE WORLD TURNS: Considering that last week Luke was onscreen for literally 90 seconds, it really wouldn’t have taken much for this week’s episode to be an improvement … and it still wasn’t. Not even Luke’s sexy new look could save the soap from taking the plunge this week.
How are they going to keep things going until Noah gets back?
TRUE BLOOD: The second episode of the fascinating vampire mystery soap hit the ground running (and bleeding), and offered even more nekkid Ryan Kwanten. I was intrigued by the premiere ep, but now you can color me
blood red hooked. This week’s ep had more blood, more mystery and more clues as to what the heck’s going on with Sookie and her wacky townsfolk.
Also, the show has already been picked up for a Season 2 after posting great ratings for this week’s episode.
GREEK: This is a tough one. On the one hand the gayest ep of the season (which isn’t saying much) brought up the radical idea that not all gay men feel the same way about everything, and echoed discussions that go on at this very site.
But on the other it was a reminder of just how backseat Calvin is to the rest of the show … they poke fun of the idea that gay guys are just around to make straight girls feel better about themselves … but isn’t that pretty much all Calvin ever gets to do anymore?
WEEDS: The fourth season went out with a bang, with gay character Agent Till establishing himself as a major force in the show. Considering that the existing barely-there character actually vanished last week, it was a pretty slick move to replace him with an even more formidable gay character with a more emotional storyline.
A strong gay good guy who lives to see another season? You’d think we were smoking something.
PROJECT RUNWAY: Team Gay took another win (yay Jerell!) and neither of the guys got kicked to the curb, and some of the outfits were pretty darn cute. Plus, it’s nice to have the resident drama queen not be on Team Gay for a change. (Yes, Kenley, we’re looking at you.)
I don’t know if Suede will make it to the Final 3 but Jerell has emerged as this season’s hope for the gays … so is it bad that I still want Leanne to win?
TOP DESIGN: This week’s episode was pretty good, which made it even harder to see Big Daddy get sent packing. It was fun to see the Project Runway vets (including gay Andres and Santino Rice) calling the shots and Preston pulled himself up by his tank-top straps, finally.
And did you notice that one of the designers made a casual reference to Jonathan Adler’s "husband" (Simon Doonan)? Very sweet.
Now if they can just get rid of Wisit…
SHIRTS & SKINS: Logo’s new docusoap about gay basketball team the San Francisco Rock Dogs injects some much-needed diversity into the gay net, in more ways than one. For one, they’re a racially diverse group of guys, and for another … well, they’re basketball players!
The show has a brisk pace and an interesting (and not too hard on the eyes) cast of young guys, and gives an interesting look into a slice of gay life that’s new to most people. I’m curious to see more.
FORBIDDEN LOVE: Light the torches! Yes, I’m giving the beloved German soap a side-arrow this week because the guys are seriously lacking a storyline right now, plus Christian was away for one of the eps so I’m giving him the silent treatment.
What the show does they do great, so let’s give the boys something to chew on! And I don’t mean that new Swedish boy-toy…
AND SPEAKING OF HUMBLE OPINIONS…
Since we’re on the topic of rating gay entertainment, it was nice to see that AfterElton Blog was ranked by the online blog rating site Blogged, and rated a 9.3 (Excellent). We were included under the general “Entertainment” category and ranked well against mainstream competitors, and what a relief that we don’t have to suffer the embarrassment of being outclassed by such esteemed peers as Hollywood Crap and Beauty Secrets of the Stars.
Next page: A big week for gay TV!
FOR YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE
So let’s see, what’s coming up this week in terms of gay entertainment? First and foremost, if you’re in New York or Los Angeles, do check out Save Me, the "gay reparative therapy" drama starring Chad Allen, Robert Gant and Judith Light. It’s a frank and fair discussion of what drives people on both sides of the issue, and Light in particular is fantastic as the hard-nosed Christian woman devoting her life to "praying the gay away".
Chad Allen in Save Me
Folks in a few cities will also get the chance to see Canadian import Breakfast With Scot, which we weren’t so hot on but which is nice enough for a family comedy.
Otherwise there’s gay-fave Greg Kinnear haunting Ricky Gervais in the comedy Ghost Town, gay-fave Patrick Wilson being haunted by Samuel L. Jackson in racially-charged thriller Lakeview Terrace, and Dane Cook haunting our collective consciousness in the sure-to-be abysmal My Best Friend’s Girl. Seriously, if any of you pay money to see that I will personally come to your house and pinch you ’til you bleed.
On television, it is a crazy-busy week for season premieres, so hang on…
First, on Sunday we’ve got the third episode of True Blood, which I’ve seen and which I can say is utterly batcrap crazy. It introduces a few new gay characters (some alive, some otherwise) and reveals a hell of a lot more about Lafayette … much of which some viewers likely won’t be very happy with. We’ll definitely have lots to talk about on Monday. (As a side note, the show was just renewed for another season by HBO, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon!)
Lance Bass and Lacey "Don’t Call Me David" Schwimmer
On Monday we’ve got the big gay premiere of Dancing With the Stars, featuring Lance Bass as the first out contestant ever (judge Bruno Tonioli has always been out). We’ll of course be following closely. Monday also marks the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother (starring out Emmy nom Neil Patrick Harris, whom we just interviewed last week) and new eps of Gossip Girl, Shirts & Skins, and Raising the Bar (which was also renewed for another season this week, much to our surprise!)
Tuesday brings us a new Dr. Kyle-centric episode of General Hospital: Night Shift, which marks the first appearance of Chad Allen as his new love interest. (We’ll have some fun behind-the-scenes goodies to share with you as we get closer to the date, so stay tuned!) Also, Tuesday brings new eps of Greek, Privileged, and The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Catty!
Actor Matt Lauria and exec prod Oliver Goldstick
On Wednesday NBC’s Lipstick Jungle kicks off a new season, which will feature several gay characters officially coming out as it progresses, starting with Matt Lauria’s Roy. The second gay is a mystery (or as I like to call them, Surprise!Gay) but we should expect him to come out around episode nine, apparently.
Also returning is The New Adventures of Old Christine, which will reportedly find Christine marrying her female friend (played by Wanda Sykes) at some point, so that might be worth checking out. There will of course be a new Project Runway and a new Top Design, and we’ll be recapping both on the blog to see how our Teams Gay are holding up.
Charlie Herschel, Survivor: Gabon’s Team Gay
On Thursday Survivor: Gabon premieres, which of course features out lawyer Charlie Herschel. And returning with their gay supporting characters are (take a deep breath) The Office (Oscar), ER, Grey’s Anatomy (out actor T.R. Knight), My Name is Earl, and of course the aforementioned and ever-fabulous Ugly Betty.
Is that it? Lordy, my TiVo hurts just thinking about it…
So anyway, I better stop yammering on and let you go so you can have the BEST.GAY.WEEK.EVER!