Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Was Oscar Wilde inspired to write The Selfish Giant by his visit to Montreal in 1882?
Montreal is a top LGBTQ tourism destination, but the city wasn’t always the gay mecca it is today. Back in the 17th century it was just a tiny outpost of the French Empire, surrounded by fields and valleys as far as the eye could see. It was here in 1648 that a gay military drummer with the French garrison stationed to protect the Sulpician Order of priests — the seigneurs of Montreal — was charged by the Order with committing “the worst of crimes” and sentenced to certain death in the galleys.
“The drummer’s life was spared after Jesuits in Québec City intervened on his behalf,” Québec Gay Archives co-founder Ross Higgins said. “He was given a choice by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Québec: die or become the colony’s first executioner.”
The unidentified drummer took the executioner job.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Women ROCK!

Cher: "I recorded Strong Enough for my gay fans."

Expanded version of Bugs' column that ran in the May 2016 issue of Fugues magazine, featuring Greatest Hits quotes from Bugs' many interviews with Cher, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Luba, kd lang, Donna Summer, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wash, Idina Menzel, Carole Pope, Thelma Houston, Joan Jett, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, Anne Wilson of Heart and others.

My favourite rock stars are women – Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Heart and Stevie Nicks – because their narratives speak to me, while few lyrics and life experiences of straight male rockers do.

Besides, I love my divas.

And their names usually end with a vowel: Divas like Judy! Bette! Liza! Etta, Eartha and Beyoncé! Dolly and Madonna! And guess what? I’ve interviewed, met or seen almost all of them perform live, from Celine Dion in Vegas to Lady Gaga in Atlantic City. Once, at the annual Night of a Thousand Stevies drag tribute to Stevie Nicks in New York City, I saw Debbie Harry — dressed à la Stevie — sing a scorching rendition of The Chain with punk-rock outfit Goon Squad.
Carole Pope

I also remember the time a disgruntled Roberta Flack stopped her band in the middle of a song to complain about the poor acoustics in Salle Wilfred-Pelletier and demanded the tech guys fix it immediately. And once, at the old Montreal Forum in 1982, Bette Midler was so raunchy, the older Jewish retirees literally fled for the exits as the gays whooped it up!

Some 25 years later when I saw her at Caesar's Palace in Vegas, Bette walked stage left and told the screaming audience, "Where are my gays? They're always to the left of me! Thank God for the gays!"

I have witnessed Mariah Carey’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Bell Centre in 2010 — when one of her breasts nearly flopped out — to Tina Turner at Le Spectrum de Montréal in 1984 where she learnt backstage (and it was a tiny dressing room) that What's Love Got to Do With It was going to be Number One on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

Turner — whom I have since seen perform live some 30 times — then stormed the stage, launching her first of two scheduled concerts that night, with a torrid version of ZZ Top’s Legs

Monday, 24 April 2017


The murder of Father Warren Eling made the cover of the
December 18, 1997, issue of HOUR magazine

After chasing lawyers for over a year, Bugs landed an exclusive in-prison interview with Danny MacIlwaine, the male hustler who murdered Montreal's Father Warren Eling in November 1993. The interview ran in a December 1997 issue of Hour magazine. A version of the story also ran in Xtra magazine in Toronto as well as in the April 1998 issue of Queers Online.

Did Danny McIlwaine murder Father Eling or was it a case of accidental death? McIlwain talks for the first time about that fateful night in 1993. An exclusive interview with Richard Burnett.

Danny McIlwaine was sucking on a crack pipe and drinking rum punch the night Anglican priest Warren Eling asked him for a blowjob. When concerned parishioners from St. James the Apostle Church called on Father Eling the next dayNov. 9, 1993they found the naked cleric dead in his Montreal home, his wrists tied by his underwear to his brass bedstead and a yellow bathrobe belt wrapped around his neck five times.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Sky Gilbert (Photos courtesy Never Apart)
Before my pioneering LGBTQ column Three Dollar Bill went national across Canada in 1998, I approached all the syndicates and not one would touch me with a 10-foot pole (this was back in the print-journalism Jurassic era).

So I then approached every single alternative and indie publication in Canada myself, one by one, and by 2005 I was in half the alt-weeklies in the country.

One alt-weekly I pitched was Eye Weekly in Toronto, who instead went with trailblazing locals, first hiring playwright Sky Gilbert, then filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, as their queer columnists. I love it that I can (jokingly) brag I blazed a trail for both Sky and Bruce!

Soon after TDB went national, I profiled Sky—who co-founded Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in 1979—and one line from our interview has stayed with me: ‘’I am probably the most despised person in Toronto’s gay community,’’ Sky told me.

Friday, 14 April 2017


Bugs' interview with Mario Cantone originally ran in the July 23, 2012, edition of the Montreal Gazette

It should come as no surprise that fierce Sex and the City star Mario Cantone has always been pretty much out.
“I remember in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades I got a lot of shitt (for being gay),” Cantone says.
“I grew up in the 1970s when bullying was really bad. I never got beaten up, but I got a lot of threats and verbal abuse and would leave class early to make my escape. I mean, everybody’s got their fucking bullying stories. But honestly, I’m sick of it: Toughen up and let’s go!”

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.