Issue 395


The Aliveness Project Announces Challenge Grant Opportunity

Capital Campaign for New Building is Under Way

The Aliveness Project, a leading Minnesota nonprofit addressing the needs of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, recently announced a challenge grant opportunity. Proceeds will support the organization’s Capital Campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

A Helping Hand Is Right at the End of Your Arm

While researching the pets feature this issue, I was gratified and amazed to see the breadth and depth of the concern Minnesotans have for other creatures, be it their own pets or the many other animals in need.

Right in our own backyard, we have Now Boarding Pets, which will pamper your own darlings while you travel; Paws on Grand, with its celebration and wealth of adoption information; and Pins for Pets, raising funds for much-needed spay and neuter programs—attempting to avoid the killing of more than four million unwanted animals put down each year in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Lavender Magazine received more letters than anytime previously in our 15-year-history regarding the cover features in our June 18 issue by John Townsend entitled “Antigay Lutheran Pastor Protests Too Much” and “Courage, AKA Faith in Action: An Inside Look at Catholic Gay Chastity Group.” The following is a fair and representative sampling reflecting varied opinions. Read the rest of this entry »

Queer As Folks

MAP Hosts 20th Anniversary Celebration Honoring Teel

Lorraine Teel has served as Executive Director of the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) since 1990. She has been a leader locally and nationally in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The organization is hosting a 20th Anniversary Celebration honoring Teel on July 23, 3-5 PM, at its building, 1400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis. Donations may be made to MAP in lieu of gifts to her. Read the rest of this entry »

Wicked Cast Includes Two Former Twin Cities Actors

Interviews with Don Amendolia and Kristine Reese

Beware of dismissing Wicked as merely a commercial bonanza. It compares with cultural phenomenona like the films The Godfather and E.T., or the novels Peyton Place and Valley of the Dolls. Like it or not—and I love it—Wicked registers the barometric pressure of its time. The only American stage work of the past 10 years that might compare is Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County. In the 1990s, Rent was the equivalent. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Resources Help Metro Pet Owners

Paws on Grand

Jaimee Hendrickson, Program Director of the Grand Avenue Business Association, shares, “I bring my yellow lab, Max. He loves Grand Avenue, especially during Paws on Grand, when he gets to fill up on treats, and check out all the other animals. He’s a fan of the doggie pool at Grand and Victoria, where he can splash around and cool off!” Read the rest of this entry »

Big Gay News

Local News

Judge Didn’t Bar Antigay Activist from Pride Festival

A federal judge ruled in June that Twin Cities Pride could not prevent Brian Johnson, an antigay, born-again Christian, from handing out Bibles during the Pride Festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis. Organizers had asked for a temporary restraining order against him. They argued that their lease of park space allowed them to determine who can hand out literature. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decided previously that Johnson could attend, as long as he didn’t disrupt the event or harass participants. Read the rest of this entry »

Twin Cities Black Pride Revives Fierce Love

In the early 1990s, the Postmodern African Homosexuals (PAH) performance group, better known as Pomo Afro Homos—Djola Branner, Brian Freeman, and Eric Gupta—fueled puritanical Republican Senator Jesse Helms’s efforts to dismantle the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). North Carolina’s 1991 Black Theatre Festival rejected the troupe as well.

A generation later, Twin Cities Black Pride (TCBP) is reviving PAH’s unapologetic comedy Fierce Love: Stories From Black Gay Life.

Branner reflects, “Fierce Love continued the conversation which filmmaker Marlon Riggs started with Tongues Untied [1989]. Pomo Afro Homos picked up where he left off by commenting on popular images of black men in mainstream, LGBT, and African-American communities, and drawing from autobiographical experience. We embodied three-dimensional representations of ourselves, and found humor, of course—and sadness and anger and fear—and celebrated our own lives.”

Another 1990s theater icon, Harry Waters Jr., played the original Belize in the Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Now in the director’s chair with Fierce Love, Waters has had to educate his seven young actors about vanished symbols—like bandanas.

Waters shares, “In the original, the ‘reclaiming’ of the power of the bandana colors was primarily about the red bandanas: fuck me. But when you move it to around your neck or head, it is celebrating the stories of grandfathers and working mothers sweating to make a difference. In our production, Kevin Moore, AKA KAOZ612—icon of the Hip-Hop movement—has rewritten and once again reclaimed the commentary on sexual practices, hustling, history, and compulsion through the use of 21st-Century Hip-Hop.”

TCBP organizer Earnest Simpkins points out, “In the Twin Cities, no space exists in which black gay men can just be. Instead, we find ourselves struggling with being ‘too black’ in this space, or ‘too gay’ for this space, or not black or gay enough. As a result, we have taught ourselves how to compartmentalize our identities in order to cope with this reality. Fierce Love introduces a new reality.”

Simpkins adds that all races and orientations are welcome to attend.

Fierce Love: Stories from Black Gay Life
July 30-31
Pillsbury House Theatre
3501 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 787-3642

On the Townsend

The Keys Experiment
July 29-Aug. 1
Artery Festival Twentyten, Soap Factory
514 2nd St. SE, Mpls.
(612) 623-9176

Named for lead scientist Ancel Keys, the Keys Experiment, also called the Minnesota Starvation Study, researched conscientious objectors during World War II who volunteered as human guinea pigs to starve themselves, so that more might be understood about the nature of famines expected after the war’s end. While in high school, performer/writer Sheila Regan learned about it when undergoing treatment for an eating disorder.

Regan says her multimale-character solo performance piece makes “the connection between the war happening over in Europe at this time and the inner war happening to the men as a result of starvation. I think of war as being ‘male,’ so by setting the characters in my own body, I guess I’m trying to imagine what I would have done if choosing whether to fight was ever a decision I had to face. These very altruistic men were unwilling to fight because of their beliefs, but they were willing to go through the extreme sacrifice of starving themselves for this study. They wanted to help mankind in some way, and this was how they did it. At the time, COs were really looked down on for not fighting in the war.”

The Drowsy Chaperone
Through Aug. 7
Minnetonka Theatre, Arts Center on 7
18285 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka
(952) 401-5898

This 2006 Tony-winner for Best Musical follows flights of a lonely gay man’s imagination, as he listens to a vintage recording of a roaring Jazz Age musical fictionally titled The Drowsy Chaperone. The characters come to life in his flat. They flesh out the action right onstage through dream sequences and mistaken identities. Greta Grosch stars.

Choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell shares, “The ’20s are one of my favorite periods. There is a freedom and wild abandonment that drives the movement. It is also sassy, sexy, and unexpected. The challenge in all this is to organize and refine what might easily turn to chaos. With two gay characters, we are well-represented: Trent Boyum as ‘The Man in Chair’ and Kathleen Hardy as Trix, the Aviatrix. The very nature of the show lends itself to crossing the lines of gender. And in the gaiety of it all, it is totally acceptable for men to dance with men, and women to dance with women.”

Toyota! The Runaway Musical Hit!
Through Aug. 14
Brave New Workshop
2605 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls.
(612) 332-6620

I was expecting these comics to floor the satirical accelerator, with all the excess of brazen corporate corruption and human tragedy that has been made unmistakably clear. Though the show is fun, the heinous Toyota scandal never is addressed. Instead, it has some dizzy vignettes about people trapped in runaway Toyotas—one is Lauren Anderson as a teen passenger who upsets her driver dad (Josh Eakright) by listening to lurid rock lyrics, not truly realizing their meaning.

Non-Toyota content actually rules here. Zany Ellie Hino sparkles as easy target Michele Bachmann—spouting some of the Congresswoman’s most fatuous quotes. But I wanted Hino to flesh out a more fully realized impersonation, like Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. And Hino has the chops to do it.

Ditto Bobby Gardner’s drag turn as last year’s overnight middle-aged sensation, Sarah Boyle. His imitation convinces, but it needs to go somewhere. After all, the media circus around her is rich in irony.

Gardner shines more fully in the Musical Terrets segment, where a man is assumed to be gay because he breaks into song from classics like The Sound of Music and A Chorus Line. This piece charmed me, but the “terrets” aspect is potentially dubious. Is this at the expense of the plight of persons with disabilities? Though I’m the last to deny that gay men love musicals, as I see many of them, many straight men attend, and love them, too.

Toyota!’s best scene spoofs a Christian heavy metal band. Jesus warns: “Don’t have sex!” Eakright’s raspy voice and reptilian tongue action as a Satanically possessed drummer brought the house down the night I was there. This vignette cuts the edge, as the controversial Christian rock scene is starting to hit the broader radar.

The Talent Show
Through Aug. 15
Walker Art Center
1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 375-7600

Curator Peter Eleey makes us acutely aware of how one’s personal image too easily can be owned by others in one’s own egotistical quest for recognition. Andy Warhol’s proverbial 15 minutes of fame notion sets the tone for this unique exhibit. As we enter, his Screen Test: Robin, shot in the mid-1960s, projects a close-up of a young woman simply being. Who she is exactly is unknown.

In the slide presentation Freefotolab, Phil Collins has selected rolls of undeveloped film sent to him under condition that the photographers relinquish all rights to him. The results are often mundane, but sporadically, something like two young women together in a bubble bath pop up, or a happy head of a young man cradled by a pair of thighs.

Museum patron-as-voyeur continues with Gillian Wearing’s arresting Dominick, which at first look is a hip airbrushed painting of a pretty young man. But ask the gallery monitor to adjust it for you, and behind the painting, you’ll see ordinary photos of the actual subject in which he was far more attractive, not to mention a bit more rugged—as both the monitor and I agreed.

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