Saturday, 16 September 2017

SOPRANO MELODY MOORE ON BEING A DIVA, HER GAY FANS AND TOSCA

American soprano Melody Moore embraces divahood, her gay fans and her 
signature role Tosca (Photo via melodymooresoprano.com)

American soprano Melody Moore has appeared on many of the leading opera stages of the world, including as Mimi in La Bohème at the English National Opera, and as Regine St. Laurent in Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna at the New York City Opera.

One of the finest opera singers of her generation, Moore is probably best-known for her signature role, as Floria Tosca in Puccini’s masterpiece Tosca, a role she will reprise to open the 2017-2018 season of L’Opéra de Montréal.

Tosca is Moore’s first role at the OdeM since her company debut as Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly in 2015. When I met her recently at an OdeM rehearsal, I discovered she recently married her life partner Nicole Wagner.

So when I told Moore that I had planned for this to be the “gay interview,” she happily replied, “Yes! Let’s queen it up!”

Friday, 25 August 2017

CANDID MINI-DOC CELBRATES DRAG ICON MADO LAMOTTE'S 30th ANNIVERSARY



Bugs interviews drag icon Mado Lamotte backstage at Cabaret Mado (Photo by Eva Blue)

I am proud of this terrific mini-documentary celebrating the 30th anniversary of Montreal drag icon Mado Lamotte, who famously got her start at Poodles nightclub on the Main in 1987.👠Hats off to uber-talented videographer Guillaume Langlois who put together this really entertaining 10-minute doc—we got some very funny and candid interview footage with Mado backstage at Cabaret Mado, plus classic clips of Mado entertaining the throngs at the Divers/Cite queers arts festival Fierté Montréal Pride and at Mado's 17th annual Drag Race at the Festival St-Ambroise Fringe de Montréal this summer. Merci, Mado! Long Live Mado! 



Twitter.com/bugsburnett

Saturday, 12 August 2017

CANADA PRIDE IDEAL TIME TO APOLOGIZE FOR ANTI-GAY MONTREAL POLICE RAIDS

Montreal police raided Sex Garage in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 15, 1990
All Sex Garage photos © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com


UPDATE: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet officially apologized at an August 18, 2017, press conference at Montreal City Hall, for historical anti-LGBTQ police raids. Pichet said he "regrets the events that were produced during police raids on gay bars during the 1960s to the 1990s. The actions attacked the dignity of the people concerned." 

Coderre said "we have a tainted past and the best way to cure it is to recognize it and the best way to reconcile is to recognize what happened. There were some bad moments with the police force and the city administration and I would like to, on behalf of the municipal administration of the City of Montreal, offer my apology."

I have been publicly screaming for an official apology for years: Projet Montréal city councillor Richard Ryan this week said he too wants the City of Montreal and the SPVM to apologize for their violent police raids of LGBTQ establishments over the course of decades that resulted in “more than 800 people” being arrested — at Truxx in 1977, at Bud’s bar in 1984, the Sex Garage loft party in 1990 (now widely considered to be Montreal’s Stonewall), and at the Katacombes bar in 1994.

This does not include, among other raids, the 36 people arrested at Montreal’s Sauna Aquarius on Crescent Street in February 1975 (the bathhouse was later firebombed and two unclaimed corpses were buried in "Pauper's Field" in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery atop Mount Royal); the 13 people charged as found-ins after police raided Montreal’s Club Baths in January 1975 (another 26 were arrested there in May 1975); the 61 men arrested at Sauna David in April 1980; and the October 1975 raids on 7 queer bars, including Baby Face, the legendary lesbian bar.
Violent Montreal police raid on Sex Garage
© Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com

Then there is the Neptune Sauna, opened in 1973 by Andre Laflamme and Lorne Holiday. At the time Laflamme and Holiday also owned the Aquarius Sauna when Montreal’s Gay Village was still downtown, before the exodus east after the 1976 Montreal summer Olympic games — an exodus precipitated by the systemic police raids.

The Neptune was raided by Montreal police on May 14, 1976. A friend of mine, Henri Labelle, was working as the cashier at the Neptune that night. Henri told me, “They yanked off people’s towels and threw everybody together and took pictures and charged them all with being in a common bawdy house.”

Henri noted, “There was a former mayor’s son there, a government minister, a secretary to the Catholic Archbishop and a couple of cops, but they were ushered out the back door while everyone else was thrown in paddy wagons.”

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

JOHN CAMERON MITCHELL NARRATES SHORTBUS SCREENING IN MONTREAL



John Cameron Mitchell (screenshot)

When I was a young man I tried to give myself a blowjob when I discovered the trick to fellating yourself is not to put a pillow beneath your head, but beneath your neck.

I did as instructed, lifted my legs up against a wall, threw them over my shoulders, then promptly threw out my back.

I lay cussing in agony for about 20 minutes, later wrote a column about it and made a fortune for every acupuncturist in the city.

So you can imagine my amazement at the flexibility of New York actor Paul Dawson, who gives himself a lip-smacking blowjob in the first 10 minutes of John Cameron Mitchell’s 2006 film Shortbus, which just about every mainstream movie critic in America at the time compared to hard-core porn.

Now, I’ve known a few great pornographers in my life – Wakefield Poole, Toby Ross, Chi Chi LaRue and Flash Conway, to name but a few – and John Cameron Mitchell ain’t no pornographer.

But I will say that Paul Dawson has a pretty nice dick.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

AN AUDIENCE WITH LAVERNE COX

Laverne Cox is part of a new wave of transgender role models

Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer Laverne Cox catapulted to fame as Sophia Burset in the critically-hailed Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black.

Laverne then raised eyebrows with her portrayal of the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the Fox remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show and, when she starred in the short lived CBS legal drama Doubt, she became the first transgender actor to play a regular trans-character on network television.

Her groundbreaking professional work, coupled with her trans activism, landed Cox on the cover of the June 9, 2014, issue of Time magazine for the landmark story “The Transgender Tipping Point” – as historic as Vanity Fair’s August 1993 lesbian-chic cover that pictured Cindy Crawford shaving kd lang in a barber's chair, and Ellen DeGeneres declaring, “Yep, I’m Gay” on the cover of the April 14, 1997, issue of Time.

The culture is changing, and Cox is part of a new wave of transgender role models. We sat down for a candid Q&A on the eve of her return to Montreal to host The Laverne Cox Gala at the 2017 Just For Laughs Festival International Comedy Festival.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

BRIEF HISTORY OF QUEER MONTRÉAL AND WALKING TOUR

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