Saturday, 20 February 2016

IN THE COCKPIT WITH NASCAR POSTERBOY CARL EDWARDS AT DAYTONA


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

TRANS COMEDIAN TRANNA WINTOUR: "LIVE OUT LOUD AND AUTHENTICALLY."


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.”

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: GERALD FORD AND THE GAY MAN WHO SAVED HIS LIFE


          
President Ford winces at the sound of the gun fired by Sarah Jane Moore during the assassination attempt in San Francisco, California, on Sept. 22, 1975. White House Photograph Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library. Photographer: David Hume Kennerly.

From the TDB archives: This instalment of Three Dollar Bill originally ran in HOUR magazine on January 11, 2007.

I once wrote in this column that if I spotted an assassin aiming his gun at the current president of the United States, George W. Bush – whose administration is hands-down the most homophobic in the history of that great nation – I would coldly turn around and walk away.

I was reminded of that last week as America mourned the passing of former president Gerald Ford, who died on Dec. 26, 2006, but whose life, on Sept. 22, 1975, was saved by a gay man whose own life was destroyed in the process.

On that September day thousands of people stood cheering the President outside the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco when a middle-aged FBI informant named Sara Jane Moore pulled out her chrome-plated .38 revolver and aimed at Ford.

Oliver "Billy" Sipple, a 33-year-old retired marine who’d been wounded twice in Vietnam, lunged for Moore. A shot rang out but the bullet missed Ford – who stood just 35 feet away – and Sipple wrestled Moore to the ground and became a national hero.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

2015 HEROES AND ZEROS OF THE YEAR

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: "I'VE BECOME THE STATELY HOMO OF HEAVY METAL"

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

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! THE OUT GAY MAN WHO MADE KISS SUPERSTARS

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

SHIFTING SANDS: THE PHAROAH'S GAY MANICURISTS

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!