Issue 382

Trolín

Queer as Folks

Peterson Is New Southern Theater Executive Director

Gary Peterson became the new Southern Theater Executive Director on January 1. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Minnesota, he has an extensive background in nonprofit management, fund-raising, community service, and arts administration. Southern Theater Board Chair Susan Lach said, “Gary comes to us most highly regarded and recommended by many in the artistic, philanthropic, and nonprofit leadership communities. The candidate pool was exceptional, but in the end, the Board agreed that Gary brings just the right combination of experience, skill, and vision to this position. We know that his values and talents align extraordinarily well with the Southern’s mission, and will best serve its many artists and arts partners.” Read the rest of this entry »

When Life Hands You Lemons…

With a new year and a new decade under way, the whooping and hollering, champagne cork-popping and hilarity having subsided, it is time to take a moment to reflect on the important things in our lives: dear friends and loved ones; good health; prosperity…a working Internet connection!

Lose that last, and you’re back in a sod house on the prairie. Alone. Take something as simple as thinking a 400-word column. Nothing. A mere bagatelle, you might say.

Wrong! Thoughts don’t just pop out of thin air. Or, rather, they do, so when your Internet connection is kaput, you have no access to those trillions and trillions of others’ cyber thoughts, those photon-borne thesauri, dictionaries, citations, and quotes. You can’t even check to see how “bagatelle” is spelled.

Over the past several days, I have become intimately involved with my never-sleeping Internet-provider techies, hanging on their every word (“What? I can’t hear you!), and kneeling submissively at their commands, i.e., kneeling, probing with a toothpick the tiny “reset” pinhole in the modem box.

Most techies will hang in there with you for the duration. In four calls in 24 hours, I had one quitter; one home run (he had me wire the modem directly to the laptop—a solution that worked for 90 minutes before a “Phhhht” brought darkness and silence); and one Midnight champion, who said he’d “write up a ticket,” and “they” would fix the problem “Sometime” from “Afar”—an honorable method of withdrawing from the lists, while saving face.

However, no joy the next morning, even as the printer clamored for my copy. I called again. The phone-bot noted unusually heavy phone traffic, so that I might prefer going online and requesting help—this after my having articulated “no online connection” as my problem.

A ray of hope, however. I was promised a “Real Person”—who would “Come to Your Home,” and see if he or she can fix the problem. I hope so. Otherwise, the community will be privy to more columns about my house and my defective appliances than I fear traffic will bear. I’m waiting as I write—the sun is declining.

In the meantime, I am focusing on those happy new-year thoughts: my friends, our health and well-being during 2010, plus my sober reflections of how big my problems would be without them.

How ever would I cope?

Getting it Right in Maine

I recently traveled to Maine to find out why its citizens voted against gay marriage. I did this because it’s the type of hard-hitting, investigative journalism my readers have come to expect from me. Okay, actually, the only reason I went to Maine is because that’s where my girlfriend was raised, and she occasionally insists on returning to get her fill of a type of pork-based liver sausage this is considered the state’s chief “delicacy.” But while I was there, heroically avoiding this “delicacy” each time it was plopped onto my plate, I decided to look into the marriage issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Gay News

National News

Republican Lawmakers Condemn Antigay Uganda Legislation
According to the Associated Press, five Republican House members are urging Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to oppose the proposed antigay legislation that seeks to impose the death penalty in some cases. They put their concerns in a letter to him, saying the bill was antithetical to Christian belief. Representatives Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana, Trent Franks of Arizona, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Chris Smith of New Jersey, and Frank Wolf of Virginia signed the letter.

US Lifts HIV/AIDS Immigration Ban
The United States has lifted its 22-year-old immigration ban that prevented anyone with HIV/AIDS from traveling to the United States. It was imposed at the end of the 1980s in response to widespread panic about the HIV virus. Last fall, President Barack Obama said the ban was “rooted in fear rather than fact.” The end of the ban comes just a couple of months after the International AIDS Society announced it would hold its 2012 conference in Washington, DC.

Houston Now Nation’s Largest City with Gay or Lesbian Mayor
After a private ceremony, openly lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker took her oath of office again as part of public inaugural ceremonies and celebrations. She received almost 54 percent of the vote in a December runoff election. Houston now is the nation’s largest city to have an openly gay or lesbian mayor.

Gay Marriage Legal in New Hampshire
Same-sex marriage became legal on New Year’s Day in New Hampshire, making it the fifth state to allow gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. New Hampshire Union Leader reported that about 15 couples exchanged vows outside the New Hampshire State House in Concord. The state previously allowed civil unions. Couples currently in civil unions can convert them to marriage by having a marriage ceremony, filing paperwork, or waiting until they automatically are converted in 2011.

World News

Malawi Gay Wedding Couple Loses Bail Appeal
A gay couple in Malawi that has been denied bail remains imprisoned on three counts of “unnatural practices and gross indecency,” according to the BBC. Gay sex, which is illegal in Malawi, carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The pair, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, were arrested at their home after they started the process of getting married. They have pleaded not guilty.

Antigay Hate Crimes Surge in Honduras
UPI reports that up to 18 gay and transgender men have been killed in Honduras in the past six months, which is reportedly the same number of crimes committed in the previous five years. Activists allege the killings are the result of the breakdown in the rule of law in Honduras since former President Manuel Zelaya was deposed. New York attorney and human rights investigator David Brown told UPI, “Since the coup, there’s been a noticeable uptick in violence. There is a social breakdown and a breakdown in law enforcement.”

First Government-Funded Gay Bar Finally Opens in China
AFP states that China’s first government-funded gay bar finally has opened after a three-week delay. The bar, in the town of Dali in the Yunnan Province, is funded in part by the local government to help spread HIV/AIDS prevention information. It originally was scheduled to open on December 1, World AIDS Day, but volunteers and officials were concerned about media attention.

On the Townsend

The Fresh Five / Through Jan. 23 / Bedlam a1038 / www.bedlamtheatre.org

20% Theatre Company Twin Cities’s five new plays include one about trans dating on the Internet and one by the editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series.

Anthony Neuman, local actor/playwright of Artichoke Hearts, says, “I wanted to look at the transgender dating world in a different light—not as depressing and lonely like we often see. I play the transman, Justin. He has the ability to crack jokes about his own stories, which is what has kept me positive through my transition, and I hope I can translate it to a broader audience as taking life as it comes.”

New York-based Kathleen Warnock, whose childhood reflections are certainly far from erotic, won the esteemed and gay- and lesbian-oriented Robert Chesley Playwriting Award for Rock the Line.

Warnock shares, “I had no problem playing up the truly odd child that I was, and using my own early years in an all-girl Catholic school in Philadelphia as source material. My sister also attended the same school, and some of our dialogue is taken from actual conversations we had as kids.”

Singled Out: A Festival of Emerging Artists / Through Jan. 24 / Romeo and Juliet / Through Jan. 31 / Guthrie Theater, 818 S. 2nd St., Mpls. / (612) 377-2224 / www.guthrietheater.org

Watch out! The Guthrie’s coming out swinging in the New Year with new ideas and faces.

In the Dowling Studio, four Minnesota Fringe Festival hits offer homegrown brilliance with the Singled Out Fest. Playwright Ryan Hill, who penned the gay drama What Remains, spoofs 1950s motherhood in June of Arc. Brian Balcom exquisitely directs Trista Baldwin’s stunning American Sexy. Jeremey Catterton’s off-the-wall Lamb Lays with Lions troupe raises eyebrows with the rock ’n’ roll-inspired The Black Arts. The Four Humors ensemble-created Mortem Capiendum has three con men who con themselves. Benjamin McGovern, who directed the Guthrie’s staged reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, curates.

In addition, the Guthrie joins forces again with The Acting Company to present Romeo and Juliet on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

Brett Favre’s Christmas Spectacular: The Immaculate Interception / Through Jan. 30 / Brave New Workshop, 2605 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 332-6620 / www.bravenewworkshop.com

The fabled comedy troupe’s 268th revue actually riffs less on the new Vikings quarterback than the title implies, but a saucy rap number that likens the former Packer to the Messiah is a charming send-up on spectator-sports obsession. The sharpest satire in this brisk, cast-created show involves the economic downturn, with a downsized nuclear family that must fire its 12-year-old daughter, and Santa Claus carving up Rudolph to feed the elves and other reindeer. A bit of silly spice is added with Mike Fotis’s recurring take on a curmudgeonly older man suspicious that his son might be gay. Overall, it’s a delightful show, but it plays a bit too safe.

Out There 2010 / Through Jan. 31 / Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. / (612) 375-7600 / www.walkerart.org

The Walker’s annual Out There Series always offers awesome performance work from out of town.

New York’s Radiohole troupe loves to wax melodramatic. German director Douglas Sirk, known for his lush technicolor films that simmered with sexual tension, is divine inspiration. Whatever, Heaven Allows puns on Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. Director Todd Haynes modeled his gay-themed New York Film Critics Winning Film Far From Heaven, with a glorious Julianne Moore, totally after Sirk.

Cofounder and codirector Eric Dyer notes regarding Whatever, Heaven Allows (January 14-16), “We love his over-the-top use of color, light and shadow, music, and symbolism. We love the way he can take totally wooden, bad acting, and make in beautiful and amazing—in fact, make it the center of his film. We really identify with that. He makes all these choices in his film, as if he were still directing expressionistic dramas for the stage.”

LA’s Obie-winner Roger Guenveur Smith performs his monologue The Watts Tower Project (January 21-23), with sound by Chocolate Genius and lighting by Jose Lopez. Sports, alternative art, jazz, and the City of Angels become part of an intense poetic riff. Smith is best-known for the Black Panther-based The Huey P. Newton Story.

Rotterdam’s Hotel Modern troupe brings its acclaimed reconstruction of World War I, The Great War (January 28-30). Soldiers’ letters, trench warfare, and beguilingly realistic projections of landslides and explosions are matched with visceral live performances. How stunningly ironic to think that what was referred to as “The War To End All Wars” took place almost a century ago!

On the Record

Dark Touches
Har Mar Superstar

Really, this is how you do funky pop music. Har Mar Superstar (stage name of Sean Tillman) takes a lot of cues from the classic funk and disco of the 1970s to make his music. Along the way, he dips into more recent styles, from hip-hop to electro-clash, while never letting it overwhelm his basic sound. Opening single “Tall Boy” (reportedly rejected by Britney Spears—if so, her loss) lives on a spare, electric beat over which the Superstar weaves a tale of sexually ambiguous conquest. Some of it isn’t ambiguous at all—after listening to “Almond Joy,” you never will look at the previously innocent candy bar the same again. “Creative Juices” takes a series of non sequiturs, and runs with it, reaching an apex (or nadir, I’m not sure) with “I wish I was Arthur Lee to get some Golden Girls love.” Hard not to love the 40 minutes of Prince-inspired musical insanity Har Mar makes. Read the rest of this entry »

Diets

“Diet” often is thought of as some sort of restriction or sacrifice in food intake, but in reality, we all are on a “diet,” which actually means any eating and drinking pattern. However, to make things easier, throughout this column, “diet” will refer to some eating pattern involving restrictions.

Literally hundreds of diets have hit the market over the past few years, often from completely unknowledgeable people with little, if any, background in nutrition, health, and disease. In fact, I can assure you that most of them are fabricated to make a quick buck, regardless of whether the diet actually works, or has any research behind it. Guess why these diets are so popular? Yes, you guessed it. People are uninformed and gullible. Most just believe what they hear without doing their own research, especially when what they hear relates to a subject they know or care little about. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Wagner

In tough economic times, one of the first ways some people try to save money is to cut back on insurance. Those television ads would lead you to believe it’s easy to do so: Just call an online insurance company, and get a cheaper rate instantly. Moreover, insurance isn’t something you think about on a daily basis, so it doesn’t seem like you would miss it. But if you do get a cheaper policy with a disreputable company, and something goes wrong, it may be a choice you’ll regret. That cheaper insurance policy isn’t such a great buy if your coverage is less than you thought, or worse—the company won’t pay your claim. Read the rest of this entry »

Ms. Behavior®: Slightly Slobby

Dear Ms. Behavior:

My girlfriend, Maxine, and I have been together for eight years, mainly happily. Our main conflict is about cleaning, because neither of us likes to do it. I’m generally easygoing about the state of our home, and I’d describe Maxine as rigid—even though she’s not very clean herself. Read the rest of this entry »

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