Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Once again Sir Elton John put his money where is mouth is

My column on the past year’s heroes and zeros originally ran in the January 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.

Here is my 20th annual column of the past year’s heroes and zeros.

Hero Legendary Dykes to Watch Out For cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Alison Bechdel
Zero Bill Cosby, who, after meeting chart-topping At Seventeen lesbian singer/songwriter Janis Ian, had had her banned from TV in the 1960s because, Ian says, she wasn’t “suitable family entertainment.”

Zero Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who told The Sunday Times magazine on April 19, “A homosexual man is a man 100%. He does not need to dress homosexual. When homosexuality is exhibited to the extreme—to say, ‘Ah, you know I’m homosexual’—that has nothing to do with me. A man has to be a man.”

Zero Italian fashion designer Dolce and Gabbana, for criticizing same-sex families and calling children born through IVF “synthetic.”

Hero Elton John, for launching a boycott of Dolce and Gabbana. Then, in September, after Russian TV pranksters fooled Elton – the first western rock star to perform in the-then Soviet Union, in 1979 – into thinking he was talking to Vladimir Putin, the real Putin called Elton to apologize and invited him to meet and discuss LGBT civil rights. Meanwhile, the Elton John AIDS Foundation granted $75,000 to fund a University of Toronto study into how Canada’s refugee policies affect asylum seekers living with or at risk of acquiring HIV. Thank you, Elton.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford came out in a 1998 MTV interview.
Today he says, "
I've become the stately homo of heavy metal."
Bugs' interview with Rob Halford originally ran in Daily Xtra on Nov. 20, 2011

Judas Priest has been hailed as the godfathers of heavy metal. MTV names the band on its list of greatest metal acts of all time, second only to Black Sabbath and just ahead of Metallica. Both Black Sabbath and Metallica are inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Judas Priest, for reasons known only to the gods of rock, has so far been left out in the cold. 
Metal God Rob Halford of Judas Priest

I told lead vocalist Rob Halford I think the snub has everything to do with his being openly gay.

“I don’t know, let’s have a think; who in there is gay?” Halford says rhetorically. “It’s a good question. I consider myself a lower-case gay, not screaming like my good friend [porn director and drag queen] Chi Chi LaRue. I love all my friends in the community, and if the moment came [for induction into the Hall of Fame], it would be a tremendous moment, not just for the band and our fans, but for the whole LGBT community.”

Halford rose to showbiz fame in the 1970s at the height of the homophobic disco sucks movement. Coming out publicly then would likely have meant career suicide. But Priest’s landmark 1980 album British Steel had more to do with popularizing metal than any other band, including, arguably, Black Sabbath. Priest’s twin lead guitars, pile-driver drums, outlaw lyrics and Halford’s vocals were templates for every band from Iron Maiden to Guns N’ Roses. Judas Priest also codified the metal dress code: long hair, tight pants and leather galore.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


KISS today: Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer

Bugs' interview with Roman Fernandez about Bill Aucoin and KISS originally ran in the June 2014 issue of Fugues magazine.
The four original members of KISS – Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss – put aside their personal differences at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, at least long enough to say kind words about one another. 
Bill Aucoin and Roman Fernandez 
on Broadway (Photo courtesy 
Roman Fernandez)
But for KISS fans, as well as Roman Fernandez – longtime life partner of Bill Aucoin, the legendary rock’n’roll manager who discovered KISS – it would have been nice to see the fueding stop before the band hit the stage. In fact, it would have been nice to see the original KISS perform onstage at the ceremony.
Like former Rage Against the Machine guitarist and KISS fan Tom Morello concluded in his induction speech, “Tonight, this isn’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the Rock And Roll All Night And Party Every Day Hall Of Fame!”
For Roman Fernandez, the night was bittersweet: his life partner Bill Aucoin, who died of surgical complications from prostate cancer in 2010 at the age of 66, was not there to see the band he raised, nurtured and turned into global superstars inducted into the rock hall.

Thursday, 3 December 2015


Manicurists and Royal confidantes Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep

If I weren’t a journalist, I’d be an archaeologist. Both jobs are about bringing to life the stories of other human beings separated only by time, culture and geography.

One of my favourite stories from Ancient Egypt lies in the sandblasted necropolis of Saqqara, beneath the crumbling pyramid of King Unas, the ninth and last pharoah of the Fifth Dynasty, who ruled Egypt from roughly 2375 to 2345 BC.

I only learned after visiting his tomb many years ago that beneath the causeway to the pyramid lies the Old Kingdom tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep whose bas reliefs depict what is (to date) the world’s first recorded adult homo love story. And in a fabulously queer twist, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were – wait for it! – gay manicurists (yes, you read right) in the palace of King Niuserre (2453 to 2422 BC) of the Fifth Dynasty!

Thursday, 15 October 2015


New York City porn mogul Michael Lucas, 43, isn't thinking about retirement any time soon (All photos courtesy Lucas Entertainment)

Bugs' interview with Michael Lucas originally ran in POP TART on the Montreal Gazette website on September 11, 2015.

Famed gay-porn director and adult-film actor Michael Lucas —born Andrei Lvovich Treivas in Communist Russia in 1972— emigrated to Germany after graduating from the Moscow Law Academy in 1994. He began working as an adult performer before founding his own porn production company, Lucas Entertainment, in New York in 1998. Today Lucas has become one of the most successful producers of porn, and has used his success and notoriety to —as a media columnist and university speaker— speak out against drugs, unsafe sex and the oppression of gays, as well as support the state of Israel. Lucas was in Montreal earlier this summer and Pop Tart caught up with the opinionated entrepreneur for a fun and frank Q&A about all things porn, PrEP, LGBT civil rights, and the raid by U.S. federal investigators on the New York headquarters of popular gay-male escort site Rentboy.com. Plus, Lucas talks about his love affair with Montreal.

Three Dollar Bill: When you started out in the porn business, did you anticipate that you’d have this incredible career and longevity?

Michael Lucas: I was definitely hoping for a long career, because I was young and ambitious. I don’t think I anticipated such a big success.  But I usually do achieve my goals, because I am very focused and hard-working.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Bugs’ interview with Idina Menzel originally ran in the Montreal Gazette on August 31, 2015

Idina Menzel remembers the day she fell through a trap door onstage during her Broadway run as the “wicked” witch Elphaba in the blockbuster musical Wicked like it was yesterday.

The accident happened during the Jan. 8, 2005 matinée at the Gershwin Theatre, and stunned the cast, crew and sellout crowd.

“I thought I had punctured my lungs or something,” Menzel told me in a recent and rare one-on-one sit-down interview. “It was crazy and I was surrounded backstage by all the crew, who were my friends. They were trying to get me to breathe and were afraid to move me because they wanted to make sure my spine was OK. It was scary.”

Menzel fractured a rib. But the next day, without makeup and dressed simply in a tracksuit and sneakers, she made a surprise entrance at the very end of the matinée to sing a few bars in the finale, and received a five-minute standing ovation.

Friday, 25 September 2015


Bugs’ interview with Melissa Etheridge originally ran in the October 2015 issue of Fugues magazine.
Three Dollar Bill: Your new album This Is M.E. is a departure for you. What did you want to do with this latest album?

Melissa Etheridge: The change started in 2013 when I changed management, agencies and lawyers. I changed my whole scaffolding. I needed fresh ideas. The music business was changing. I knew there was a place for me and a lot had to do with own creative independence. So we decided to release an independent record. That means I’m in total control. It’s all up to me. At that point I decided I wanted to go so far outside the box that people would say ‘Whoa, what’s this?’ Yet at the same time stay in the centre, so as to always be me. When you hear these songs, when you hear these great productions around them, you still hear my guitar, my harmonica, the words are mine. It’s me in a kind of new and different car.