Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Facebook has a problem with this cartoon drawn by comic book illustrator Alessio Slonimsky

When is a cartoon of a man taking a wiz pornography, and when is it art?

Evidently, according to Facebook, there is no difference: The social-media giant pulled a fun cartoon of Batman taking a pee from atop a Gotham City skyscraper (it was drawn by artist and comic book illustrator Alessio Slonimsky) from my Facebook page on November 27, the same day I posted it.

I actually found the cartoon via my friend, famed Canadian playwright Brad Fraser’s Facebook page. In an accompanying thread, comic-book writer Dale Lazarov posted, “<hype> I would be remiss if I didn't add that I solicited this image from Alessio so I could use it to promote GOOD SPORTS, my gay erotic comic drawn by him and published by Bruno Gmünder Verlag.</hype>”

In another post on the same Facebook thread, Lazarov commented, “The idea is to create one or two Reshare Bait images to promote a new book in a sideways sort of manner so I tell artists to do a STAR WARS, Batman or Superman pin-up for posting on Tumblr.”

Facebook removed the cartoon (pictured above) from my own Facebook page with this warning: “We have removed the following content you posted or were the admin of because it violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”

As Brad commented on his original post, “Fuck off Facebook. This is ART.”

Click here to read Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Click here to check out Dale Lazarov’s terrific gay comic books on his official website, and here for the official Brad Fraser website.

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Saturday, 24 November 2012


Village People publicity still

I was a 12-year-old disco bunny when I saw the Village People perform live at the Montreal Forum back in 1978. The opening act was none other than Gloria Gaynor, who won the only disco Grammy ever awarded, in 1979, for her classic I Will Survive.

Twenty-five years later I interviewed the Village People’s "Indian" character and real-life Lakota Sioux Native-American Felipe Rose – along with Thelma Houston, KC and the Sunshine Band, Martha Wash and others – for an HOUR magazine cover story I wrote on the legacy and importance of disco (you can see HOUR's really fun cover in the “Bio” section of Felipe’s website by clicking here). I was so taken by Felipe, and we got along so well, that we have maintained contact ever since.

But back in 1978, when I was a disco bunny, Rose – who was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 2007 – was having the time of his life as the Village People topped pop charts worldwide.

“I used to drink stuff that could peel paint off the wall,” Felipe told me once. “People still think we go out and party all night long, but that’s not the case. We’re all getting older. Things have to take a back seat. You reflect on your life and think, ‘What can I do to make this last longer?’ It’s like a car. You clean it up, put it in the shop and give it a tune up. I go to the gym, do my crunches and sit-ups. I watch what I eat. I always have a beer after a show, but that’s because of thirst. I’m a light social drinker but I love a great red wine with dinner.”

For years the world assumed (go figure) that the Village People – who will headline their first-ever concerts in Quebec City on Dec 7-8-9 – were gay when, in fact, only original cowboy Randy Jones and Felipe Rose are.

Felipe Rose performing today
(Photo courtesy Felipe Rose)
“I don’t think I’ve made a point of being ‘openly gay’ – I’m just secure,” Felipe explains. “I don’t sit on TV and talk about it. I’ve never done interviews for Out Magazine or The Advocate. When I speak about myself, I speak in the solo sense. I don’t talk about the group’s private life. We’ve always kept that aspect of our lives quiet and private. I have more straight friends than gay friends and just because Jacques [Morali, the producer who created the Village People] discovered me in a [NYC] gay club, well, it could have been a straight club. My private life doesn’t play a role in what I do on stage. People always tell me, ‘You helped me come out.’ I always reply, ‘You did that on your own.’”

Gay life back in the day seems like it was way more freewheeling. Rose knows firsthand, though, that the gay community paid a price for those glory years: Almost every gay friend he had from that era has died of AIDS, including Jacques Morali.

“I’m still at a loss for words – this horrible disease…” says Felipe. “All I know is what we [Village People] can do. We do charity concerts and AIDS benefits, but I’m exhausted. There’s no end in sight. We’ve lost so many artists and writers and directors clear across the board. I’ve lost almost everybody from that era. So to see the rising HIV [infection] rates freaks me out. I’d be terrified to have a child today. I try not to think too much about it because it makes me upset.”

Bugs and Felipe backstage
at Montreal's Bell Centre
Village People have sold over 100 million records, are still performing to sell-out crowds around the world, and will headline three Célébration Disco 2012 concerts in Quebec City on Dec 7-8-9.

Says Felipe, “We’ve had a helluva run. My partner says, ‘You’re at the top of your game.’ But another [35] years? No, no, no! Don’t go that far! The next five years are looking pretty nice. Then I’ll look and see if I’ve had enough.”

Click here for the official Felipe Rose website

Village People headline the Centre des Congrès de Québec in Quebec City on Dec 7-8-9. Click here for more info and tickets.

Click here for more info on the VIA Rail / Hilton Hotel / Village People weekend weekend specials departing from Montreal.

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Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police has filmed a new 10-minute “It Gets Better” video to help queer youth confront homophobia. The video features 20 Mounties who talk about the challenges they faced growing up gay, how they came out to their families and how they dealt with being outsiders.

Constable Cheryl Letkeman, who spearheaded the RCMP’s initiative, tells Xtra that she was inspired to get RCMP members involved in the It Gets Better project after many American police forces posted videos to the It Gets Better campaign’s website. “I just thought to myself, ‘Why haven’t the RCMP done this?’” says Letkeman, who is with the Surrey RCMP Youth Unit. “So instead of just wondering why, we did it.”

Syndicated columnist Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better movement with a YouTube video in September 2010. Today, there are over 50,000 “It Gets Better” videos on the web.

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Friday, 2 November 2012


With just days to go before the U.S. presidential election, some American drag queens - including RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Willam Belli - tell it like it is in this hilarious new video.