Thursday, 23 June 2016


Rufus Wainwright returns home to Montreal
(All photos courtesy Festival International de Jazz de Montréal)
Bugs' interview with Rufus Wainwright originally ran in the June 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
Elton John once famously said Rufus Wainwright is the best songwriter alive. And for a while there, in the media, Rufus could do no wrong. His eponymously-titled 1998 debut album was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, and he was the toast of the town everywhere he went, especially when he returned home to Montreal.
Elton John once famously said Rufus Wainwright is the best songwriter alive. And for a while there, in the media, Rufus could do no wrong. His eponymously-titled 1998 debut album was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, and he was the toast of the town everywhere he went, especially when he returned home to Montreal.
But as fast as the media builds up celebrities, it is also quick to tear them down. So it was no surprise the claws were out when Wainwright’s first-ever opera Prima Donna debuted at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009. Wrote Warwick Thompson of Bloomberg, “There were tears of joy in Rufus Wainwright’s eyes when he took his bow after the world premiere of his opera… There were some in mine too, though the joy sprang more from relief that it was over.”
But Wainwright soldiered on. Prima Donna  made its North American debut at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre at the Luminato Festival and won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical/Opera in 2011, before being famously mounted the following year by the New York City Opera, with red-carpet friends Yoko Ono and Anjelica Houston in attendance – a fascinating turn of events since Prima Donna was originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera until a dispute over Wainwright’s decision to write the libretto in French led to an acrimonious split.

Most of all, Wainwright wanted Prima Donna  to play in Montreal. This summer, eight years after its debut in Manchester, Wainwright will get his wish when Prima Donna  will be performed at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.“It’s been a long and winding road to Montreal with Prima Donna ,” says Wainwright. “Having it performed in Montreal, especially at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier where I grew up going to the opera, is coming full circle in so many ways. I am also excited to be working with the great (Québécois) soprano Lyne Fortin, one of the first opera singers I ever saw perform, in La Bohème. I wish sometimes that Montreal had been more at the forefront with this project, but Montreal – and this is why I love this city – it is one of the great bohemian capitals and one of their traits is they like to be fashionably late. So this is exciting and it means a lot.”

Thursday, 2 June 2016


American comedy legend Kate Clinton

Bugs' interview with Kate Clinton originally ran in the May 2016 issue of Fugues magazine

Without out American comedy legend Kate Clinton, there is no Rachel Maddow, no out Lily Tomlin, no Rosie, Ellen, Gina Yashere or DeAnne Smith. Kate Clinton was our first out dyke stand-up comic – in my book she is still the queen, and this is my 11th annual Kate Clinton interview – and, if Kate has anything to do with it, her namesake Hillary Clinton (no relation) will become president of the U.S.A.

“I wish Bernie Sanders well, but in my lifetime I really would like to have a woman president,” Clinton, now 68, says unequivocally.

It’s no understatement to say neither Clinton is “feeling the Bern” but at least Kate acknowledges Sanders has been a welcome addition to the Democratic race, despite the fact many Sanders supporters say they will refuse to vote Hillary if she wins the nomination.

“Let me say I am no longer allowed at dinner parties with young people, and that if the arrow in Hillary’s logo was weaponized, I would be using it!” Kate cracks. “But it’s a free country. I think that Bernie is certainly moving Hillary to the left… I am thrilled by the excitement of the youth and the tenor of the whole Democratic debate. Whatever happens at the end of the primaries, this is a very dangerous time, and if you say you’re not going to vote, then you didn’t get the point.”

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


American television and Broadway star Kyle Dean Massey

American television and Broadway star Kyle Dean Massey co-stars on the hit ABC television series Nashville, but has also drawn rave reviews for his roles in Pippin, Wicked, Next to Normal and Xanadu on the Great White Way.

Three Dollar Bill sat down with Massey – an instructor at such organizations as Camp Broadway and Broadway Artists Alliance – to reflect on life on Broadway and what it’s like to be an openly-gay entertainer in Hollywood.

Monday, 30 May 2016


Showbiz legend Lainie Kazan

Bugs' interview with Lainie Kazan originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on October 22, 2009.

Broadway legend Lainie Kazan is a brassy broad but she says she really ain’t. Then Lainie, who chews up the scenery in the new Hollywood comedy Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, tells me, "At first I thought people would be offended by the title of the movie, so I wanted the director to change it to ‘Oh Fuck! My Son’s a Shmuck!’"
Kazan inspired Jack Kirby's
comic book superheroine
Big Barda

Ladies and gentlemen, Lainie Kazan.

Most young people know Kazan as the in-your-face mom in the classic comedy My Favourite Year with Peter O’Toole, or the mom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or Bette Midler’s mom in Beaches, and now the mom of a Jewish gay son in Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!

But Broadway audiences first fell head over heels for Lainie back in 1964 when she was the understudy for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl at NYC’s Winter Garden Theatre. Fifteen months passed before Lainie, then 24, got her first real shot at the big time and she remembers it like it happened yesterday.

Friday, 27 May 2016


Quebec playwright and icon Michel Marc Bouchard

This is an expanded version of Bugs' interview with Michel Marc Bouchard that originally ran in Daily Xtra on May 17, 2016.

Quebec playwright and icon Michel Marc Bouchard casts queer life versus religion, and condemns religion while celebrating queer sexuality in his landmark 1987 play Les Feluettes ou la répétition d’un drame romantique.

Considered one of the major works of modern Canadian theatre, the English-language adaption, Lilies, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Chalmers Award for best play in 1991. Even the film version by John Greyson won the Genie Award for best motion picture in 1996.

And now, Les Feluettes will be coming to a different stage — as an opera.
Les Feluettes stars Etienne 
Dupuis and Jean-Michel Richer

The play’s hotly-anticipated opera version makes its historic world premiere at the Opéra de Montréal in May 2016. Les Feluettes also garners the distinction of being the first ever French-language opera about a (tragic) gay love story.

After Australian composer Kevin March saw Greyson’s adaptation in 2003, he was inspired to create an opera version. It would be another decade before the Opéra de Montréal commissioned March and Bouchard to create Les Feluettes. The opera stars baritone Etienne Dupuis and tenor Jean-Michel Richer as the two lovers.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


Carl Edwards on the cover of ESPN The Magazine

Montreal stock-car racing legend Dick Foley was not just the first Canadian to race in the Daytona 500, back in 1959, but Foley also inadvertently caused the biggest pile-up in NASCAR history at Daytona Speedway the following year.

After losing, then regaining, control of his Chevy Impala – the words "Montreal, Canada" painted on his fenders – Foley spun out into the infield. Thirty-seven cars (in a record 73-car field) behind Foley weren’t so lucky, crashing in a spectacular demolition derby.

“It was some show, I’ll tell you that,” Mr. Foley told me when he was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame at a gala in Toronto in April 2012. “There were 37 cars in that accident! Fortunately no one was seriously injured. It was a miracle.”

Scroll down to watch the spectacular video of that crash.

To this day, Mr. Foley returns to Daytona each and every February with his blonde bombshell wife and former ballet dancer Evita Perron, where they catch up with old friends and NASCAR royalty.

Stock-car racing’s storied bootlegging past, car crashes and stunts – one driver was even offered $1,000 cash to race without a roof in Daytona’s 1959 inaugural race – established NASCAR as a macho club of good ole boys, thrill-seekers and speed demons.

Over the decades, everybody knows there have been gay drivers in NASCAR – though just three have ever publicly come out of the closet, Massachusetts-born Evan Darling, who was the first out of the blocks, as well as Stephen Rhodes who raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2003, and Justin Mullikin in the NASCAR Grand National Sportsmen division.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


Stand-up comedian Tranna Wintour (Photo by Reese Turner)

Bugs' original interview with Tranna Wintour ran in the Zwivel news blog on February 18, 2016.

“My favorite moment during a show is always the big breakthrough,” says transgender stand-up comic Tranna Wintour. Described by legendary comedian Sandra Bernhard as “a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night”, Wintour is a sensation in her hometown of Montreal.

Her audiences are mostly made up of “cisgender” people – cisgender being a word to describe those who are not transgender. “If at the beginning of my set they might be a little reluctant to laugh out loud or don’t know how to react, there often is a turning point when they allow themselves to be entertained by me, and it’s a really great feeling.”