Tuesday, 3 January 2017


Out pop superstar George Michael passed away on Christmas Day 2016

This is an expanded version of my column that ran in the January 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
Here is my 21st annual column of the past year’s heroes and zeros.
Hero United States VP Joe Biden, for officiating the Aug. 1 wedding of Brian Mosteller and Joe Mahshie, both longtime White House aides. Tweeted Biden, “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house.”
Heroes Sydney’s Mardi Gras organizers, for uninviting Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, who refused to hold a vote in parliament to legalize same-sex marriage (Turnbull prefers to pass the buck via a divisive national referendum).
Heroes The Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan for hosting the first Two-Spirit and Pride Parade in Canada on June 9, and the Eskasoni First Nation, whose Nov. 5 Pride Day was the first celebrated by a First Nation community in Atlantic Canada.
Pride Day at the Eskasoni First Nation
Heroes AGUDA, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, who – after Israeli LGBTQ activists unsuccessfully demanded Tel Aviv Pride be cancelled over government funding of LGBTQ tourism – seemed to say they will no longer be complicit in “pinkwashing.”
Hero British pop superstar George Michael, who should not only be remembered as one of the finest songwriters and most soulful singers of his generation, but also for his generosity and quiet philanthropy.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


House of Laureen onstage at Cafe Cleopatra (Photo by Kinga Michalska)

Montreal is one of the great drag capitals of the world, alongside New York, London, Vegas and Sydney. But the city hasn’t been home to a bonafide “house” since the House of Pride dominated the annual World Ball For Unity produced by Divers/Cité, the now-defunct queer Pride and arts festival that put Montreal on the international gay map in the 1990s.

The House of Laureen – named for Laureen Harper, wife of former Canadian PM Stephen Harper – first wowed audiences with their 2015 Montreal Fringe Festival debut Laureen: Queen of the Tundra. The production was so popular, the troup regrouped for their 2016 Fringe sequel, House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens – starring Anaconda LaSabrosa, Connie Lingua, Dot Dot Dot, Uma Gahd and host Noah in a riveting backstage look at the reality of drag, performance and politics – a show they will reprise as part of the 20th annual Wildside Theatre Festival which runs from Jan. 5 to 15 at the venerable Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal.
House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens
(Photo by Kinga Michalska)

You can also see the House of Laureen headline Montreal’s iconic Café Cleopatra on January 14 at 10 pm (after their early evening performance at the Centaur).

In August 2016, House of Laureen established their monthly residency at Café Cleopatra, last remnant of Montreal’s fabled red-light district. There are plenty of ghosts in this great old building – the Queen of the Main – which has been a showbar since 1895, and where the House of Laureen follows in the footsteps of such Montreal drag legends as Vicki Lane, Lady Brenda, Vicki Richard, Twilight, Farrah, Black Emmanuel, Gerry Cyr, Michel Dorion and Cantelli.

On the eve of their Centaur Theatre debut, Three Dollar Bill sat down with the girls from the House of Laureen for a brief Q&A about drag (their answers have been edited for brevity and clarity).

Saturday, 24 December 2016


A young Clark Gable

Bugs' interview with David Bret originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on May 29, 2008

When British CNN International correspondent Richard Quest was busted afterhours in Central Park last month with a rope around his neck, crystal meth in his pocket and a dildo up his ass, I told myself, "That’s why Anderson Cooper won’t come out."
I bet Cooper is afraid people will think he’s just another Richard Quest and then he’ll never get to replace Katie Couric as host of the CBS Evening News.
Another New Yorker, transplanted Brit Quentin Crisp, once astutely observed that when people think of gay celebrities, they wonder what they do in bed. Then they try picturing those stars having sex, and then inevitably picture themselves doing the same things.
"And they don’t like that," Quentin explained.
In America, when all a viewer can see when he looks at a homo is what he does in bed, your career – like Quest’s – is dead.
So, this week I was blabbing with fab British biographer David Bret. He’s written bios of Elvis Presley (Elvis: The Hollywood Years claims Elvis had an affair with actor Nick Adams and Col. Tom Parker blackmailed Presley by threatening to reveal "secret information" that Elvis was a homo), Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Maria Callas, and his good friend, the late Marlene Dietrich ("I was the last person she talked to – she called me two days before she died"). And Bret pretty well told me the same thing as Quentin Crisp.
Bret is currently riding a new wave of publicity promoting his terrific just-published bestselling biography Clark Gable: Tormented Star (Carroll & Graf), in which he exposes Gable’s secret gay life.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


Candis Cayne was the first transgender actress to play a recurring trans character on prime-time TV (Photo by Scott Everett White)

Bugs' interview with Candis Cayne orignally ran in the Montreal Gazette on August 6, 2015.

Before Caitlyn Jenner began documenting her gender transition on E!’s eight-part reality TV series I Am Cait, there was Candis Cayne, the American actress and performance artist who came to international attention in 2007 for portraying transgender mistress Carmelita on ABC’s prime-time drama Dirty Sexy Money.
Cayne made history then, becoming the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime-time television.
Now Cayne is back on television, in Jenner’s reality show. She is a close friend of Jenner, who tells the show’s producers in one episode: “Candis is a beautiful woman, but as far as dating in the future, I have absolutely no idea.”
Needless to say, Candis and Cait are two of the most talked-about transgender women alive right now.

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Tom Cavanagh plays a gay NHL player in the classic 2007 film
Breakfast with Scot (photo courtesy Miracle Pictures)

Bugs' original column on Breakfast with Scot ran in the Dec. 6, 2007, instalment of Three Dollar Bill.
I’ve had a crush on Hollywood TV star Tom Cavanagh – the most handsome man on television – ever since I spotted him in the fab NBC-TV series Ed some years ago.
"Gosh, I’d love to see him lock lips with another guy," I thought then, never thinking I’d actually see Cavanagh play a gay role, never mind talk to him about it.
Breakfast with Scot
But unbelievably I did, this week, as Cavanagh called me (!) at home to discuss his fabulous new hockey movie Breakfast with Scot, a Canadian Disney-esque family film about a straight-acting gay couple, Eric (Cavanagh) and Sam (Ben Shenkman of HBO’s Angels in America), who adopt recently orphaned Scot, a swishy 11-year-old, musical-loving drama queen.
"It’s about a kid who doesn’t have a home, and every kid deserves to be loved," says Cavanagh, a married father of two.
The kid, Scot, is played by 12-year-old Montrealer Noah Bernett. And this is where things get really interesting.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


The trailblazing Godfather of Gay Lit, Felice Picano

I call literary icon Felice Picano the Godfather of Gay Lit because Felice revolutionized gay literature as the founder of SeaHorse Press and as one of the founders of Gay Presses of New York, which launched such writers as Harvey Fierstein, Dennis Cooper and Brad Gooch. In fact, when SeaHorse Press began in 1977, it was just the second gay publishing house in the world, after Gay Sunshine Press in San Francisco.

Felice is also a world-class memoirist who has met everybody: Rudolf Nureyev once grabbed his bum, Felice had lunch in Fire Island one afternoon with Elizabeth Taylor, his cock was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe, and when he outed the late Anthony Perkins years after their affair, critics screamed, “Picano is a name-dropping slut!” There is also bootleg film footage of Picano at New York City’s famed Continental Baths in 1971, where Bette Midler is performing with her pianist Barry Manilow and pulls Felice out of the crowd. “This was all set up beforehand,” Felice says. “Bette sort of sings to me, looks down at my crotch and says, ‘Oh, you’re disgusting!’ and pushes me back into the crowd because I had a hard-on at that point, but it wasn’t from her!” 
I first met Felice at a Montreal brunch in either 2000 or 2001, and have written my annual Felice Picano column ever since. Once, when I wrote a column about my crush on Justin, a Tanzanian cook I became infatuated with when I hooked up with an overland truck in Kenya a lifetime ago, Felice – mindful of the criticism and threats I’d gotten from irate readers at the time – wrote me, “I always remember what my grandmother told me: ‘If everyone likes you, that means you’re mediocre.’ I’m not, and neither are you.”
Nights at Rizzoli
(Or Books)

Felice is the author of 35 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, nonfiction and plays, including his must-read memoirs True Stories: Portraits From My Past, True Stories Too: People and Places From My Past and the award-winning Nights at Rizzoli.

I caught up with Felice recently, to preview his recent appearance in Montreal headlining the Never Apart Centre’s Legend Series, whose past guests include Mink Stole, Bruce LaBruce, Joey Arias and Carole Pope. We talked about everything from Robert Mapplethorpe to queer politics in the age of Grindr. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Monday, 7 November 2016


Cakes da Killa: "I don’t identify as queer. I am just a rapper."

Up-and-coming American rapper Cakes da Killa has been compared to Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, but has also been making headlines as an openly-gay performer. Out magazine describes Cakes – a.k.a. Rashard Bradshaw – as “the class clown of the next generation of queer hip-hop musicians (who) may also become leader of the pack.” This wave features such performers as Shamir, Big Freedia, Mz Jonz, Mykki Blanco and Le1f
Check out the animated video clip below of Cakes da Killa's new single New Phone (Who Dis) from his just-released 2016 album Hedonism. Meanwhile, I originally sat down with Cakes da Killa for a candid interview when he performed in Montreal in November 2015.