Friday, 24 March 2017


Bugs' interview with Louis Negin originally ran in the April 2013 edition of Fugues magazine.

There’s nothing quite like making a grand entrance. Just ask Montreal theatre legend Louis Negin, the first actor to ever appear nude on a legitimate British stage, in John Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes in London’s West End back in 1967.

But if London audiences gasped when Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe appeared nude in the West End revival of Equus in 2007, imagine the reaction to Negin 40 years earlier!

“In London at that time if you went to see a play with nudity in it, you had to join a (theatre) club which couldn’t be closed down (by the police),” Negin explains. “When Lord Chamberlain dissolved that law, Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes – with its explicit scenes of gay rape in prison – was a huge success with audiences in Canada and the West End.”

Ironically, it wasn’t Negin being buck naked on stage that made him the toast of the theatre world, but rather an incident on opening night that made sensational newspaper headlines worldwide.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Photographer Herb Klein’s new book Lost Gay South Africa

The irrepressible Herb Klein is a pioneering male physique photographer from Zimbabwe who, after moving to South Africa in the 1970s, shot the first full-colour nude gay magazine on the continent.

I discovered Klein’s work alongside his contemporaries Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber in David Leddick’s great 1998 compendium The Male Nude, then later on DVD when screening his gay adult films Here Comes Santa and Tango City, which he directed under his porn-director name, Flash Conway.

No question, the man has an eye an eye for talent and readers will enjoy his photos of beautiful men in his newly-published photo-filled book Lost Gay South Africa. I recently sat down with Klein for a candid Q&A.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974
(Photo courtesy Ballets Trockadero)

It was one of the greatest entrances of all time: Montreal drag queens Mado Lamotte and Madame Simone waited until the last possible moment to step into their private loge at Place des Arts to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo some years ago, just before the red curtain went up.
Then the 3,000 people in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier turned their heads to watch Mado and Madame Simone – who resembled Marie Antoinette, Queen of France during the French Revolution – and let out a collective gasp.
It was like a command performance.
But when it comes to entrances, no one beats Les Ballets Trockadero, or "Les Trocks" as they are more affectionately known. Back in the 1980s, during a performance at UCLA, the curtain actually fell onto the stage!

Sunday, 12 February 2017


Chris Barillaro recording the Curtains Up theme with Roger Peace
(Photo courtesy Curtains Up)

Following a lengthy battle with cancer, legendary Canadian theatre director Roger Peace died peacefully in the palliative care unit at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital on February 10.

Peace brought his love for live musical theatre to North America when he sailed from London to Montreal in 1957 aboard the ocean liner SS Columbia at the age of 21 and experienced the tail-end of Montreal’s famed and infamous golden Sin-City era.

Roger Peace
The Montreal theatre scene wasn’t quite London’s West End, where Peace had landed a bit part in the musical Call Me Madam at the London Coliseum in 1952 at the age of 16. But he spent much of his professional life as a director and producer casting larger-than-life divas in his productions, notably his longtime muse, Montreal jazz legend Ranee Lee, and another of his favourites, soul singer Michelle Sweeney.

When another glorious diva, Juno Award-winning soul singer Kim Richardson, starred in his 2013 revival of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, theatre critic Pat Donnelly wrote in the Montreal Gazette that Peace “directed Montreal’s first Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Le Stage dinner theatre at La Diligence restaurant in 1986. That one ran for more than a year and did a Canadian tour. There were only four singers, Michelle Sweeney, Ranee Lee, Dorian Joe Clark and Anthony Sherwood, with musical director Ari Snyder alone on piano.”

“We couldn’t afford a fifth performer,” Peace said.

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.