Sunday, 20 November 2016

THE MAKING OF THE CLASSIC HOLIDAY FILM "BREAKFAST WITH SCOT"

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

FELICE PICANO 100% UNCENSORED—ON FAME, STONEWALL, GAY LIT AND QUEER LIFE

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."

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. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

TONY WINNER MICHAEL CERVERIS GIVES GOOD HED (WIG)

Tony winning actor Michael Cerveris (Photo courtesy In The Wings Promotions)

Playbill calls legendary American actor Michael Cerveris “arguably the most versatile leading man on Broadway.” And for good reason: Cerveris has played everything from Shakespeare’s Romeo to the homicidal title character in Sweeney Todd, to trans rock diva Hedwig in the landmark rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Along the way he has won Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2004 for his portrayal of John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, and Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2015 for his portrayal of Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home.

On the eve of his Nov. 11 acting masterclass in Montreal – during which participants will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Cerveris – I sat down with Michael for a candid Q&A about his spectacular career. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

ANNIE PROULX: HOW SHE MADE BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN "PACK A STRONGER PUNCH"

Proulx: "Brokeback Mountain coalesced thoughts and feelings that many people secretly held."
At the start of her career, American journalist and author E. Annie Proulx submitted stories to publishers using the name EA Proulx because, she says, it was easier to get published if editors thought she was a man. 

Those days are long gone.
Annie Proulx (Photo by Gus Powell)

I recently interviewed Proulx, the literary titan whose novels include The Shipping News (1993), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. But she may be best known for her short story “Brokeback Mountain,” which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1997 and begat an Oscar-winning film as well as an opera for which Proulx wrote the libretto. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Proulx and I discussed her love for Canada, her new novel Barkskins which explores her deep concern for the future of our planet; how she comes up with her characters’ names, such as Ennis del Mar, Jack Twist, Ribeye Cluke and Beaufield Nutbeem; and, of course, the “Brokeback Mountain” phenomenon.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

ROBERT OUIMET AND FRANCE JOLI: THE GODFATHER AND QUEEN OF MONTREAL DISCO

Robert Ouimet (L) and Pierre Gagnon at their Oct. 5 Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Montreal. Gagnon is one-third of PAJ Disco Mix, the edit team that created exclusive cuts for Ouimet’s DJ sets and revolutionized the disco edit format using reel-to-reel tapes, selling over half a million records at their pinnacle in the late ’70s (photo by Karel Chladek/Red Bull Content Pool).

Montreal’s famed disco scene cranked out many disco stars during its 1970s heyday and the scene’s epicentre was the city’s famed Lime Light disco founded by Yvon Lafrance in September 1973, on Stanley Street above where the Chez Paree strip joint stands today. 

Montreal DJ Robert Ouimet was the house deejay at the Lime Light from 1973 to 1981, and today Yvon Lafrance says Ouimet – known worldwide as the Godfather of Montreal Disco – was hands-down the best deejay in Canada from 1973 to 1982, when Ouimet was declared best North American DJ by Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, and won Billboard magazine’s DJ of the Year Award in 1977.

“I used to go to New York all the time during the week – I remember I was flown over there once for the premiere of (the movie) Thank God It’s Friday (starring Donna Summer),” Ouimet told me in 2013. “Then I used to work in Montreal on the weekends.” 
Disco diva France Joli (Photo by David A Lee)

Meanwhile, Montreal singer France Joli became an “overnight success” at the age of 16 back on July 7, 1979, when she headlined a legendary beach concert performance for 5,000 gay men now famously known as Beach ’79.

Donna Summer had cancelled at the last minute, so Joli stepped in as a replacement and sang her song Come to Me, which would chart at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart  – then at #1 on the disco chart – and to this day the song is widely-known as “the definitive Fire Island dance classic.”

“I was blown away, I was a kid and had never seen gay life like that before, it was beautiful to see two men embracing – and it was 1979!” France Joli told me in 2013. “I loved that freedom and the happiness that disco reflected. It’s impossible not to be happy and dance to disco. The lyrics could be dark, but the music always lifted you up.”

Both Ouimet and Joli will take part in the Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville event at the Paradoxe Theatre as part of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy conference being held in Montreal. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

PLAYWRIGHT JORDAN TANNAHILL ON VIDEOFAG, QUEERNESS, COMING OUT AND THE GGs

Jordan Tannahill (photo by Lacey Creighton)
Bugs' original interview with Jordan Tannahill ran in POP TART in the Montreal Gazette on Oct. 21, 2015.


Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill is one of the hottest names in Canadian theatre and author of the 2015 book Theatre of the Unimpressed – a look at how dull plays are killing theatre and what we can do about it – as well as Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, which won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for drama. He also ran a storefront arts space called Videofag out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto’s Kensington Market with William Christopher Ellis, which they closed in April 2016.The Canadian playwright, filmmaker, and theatre director has been described by The Globe and Mail as “the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom “interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life.”
I sat down with Tannahill for toasté hotdogs, burgers and poutine at the Montreal Pool Room, on the eve of his play Total Liquidation, which his National Theatre School students put on at the Monument National in October 2015.