Wednesday, 28 December 2016


House of Laureen onstage at Cafe Cleopatra (Photo by Kinga Michalska)

Montreal is one of the great drag capitals of the world, alongside New York, London, Vegas and Sydney. But the city hasn’t been home to a bonafide “house” since the House of Pride dominated the annual World Ball For Unity produced by Divers/Cité, the now-defunct queer Pride and arts festival that put Montreal on the international gay map in the 1990s.

The House of Laureen – named for Laureen Harper, wife of former Canadian PM Stephen Harper – first wowed audiences with their 2015 Montreal Fringe Festival debut Laureen: Queen of the Tundra. The production was so popular, the troup regrouped for their 2016 Fringe sequel, House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens – starring Anaconda LaSabrosa, Connie Lingua, Dot Dot Dot, Uma Gahd and host Noah in a riveting backstage look at the reality of drag, performance and politics – a show they will reprise as part of the 20th annual Wildside Theatre Festival which runs from Jan. 5 to 15 at the venerable Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal.
House of Laureen: Backdoor Queens
(Photo by Kinga Michalska)

You can also see the House of Laureen headline Montreal’s iconic Café Cleopatra on January 14 at 10 pm (after their early evening performance at the Centaur).

In August 2016, House of Laureen established their monthly residency at Café Cleopatra, last remnant of Montreal’s fabled red-light district. There are plenty of ghosts in this great old building – the Queen of the Main – which has been a showbar since 1895, and where the House of Laureen follows in the footsteps of such Montreal drag legends as Vicki Lane, Lady Brenda, Vicki Richard, Twilight, Farrah, Black Emmanuel, Gerry Cyr, Michel Dorion and Cantelli.

On the eve of their Centaur Theatre debut, Three Dollar Bill sat down with the girls from the House of Laureen for a brief Q&A about drag (their answers have been edited for brevity and clarity).

Saturday, 24 December 2016


A young Clark Gable

Bugs' interview with David Bret originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on May 29, 2008

When British CNN International correspondent Richard Quest was busted afterhours in Central Park last month with a rope around his neck, crystal meth in his pocket and a dildo up his ass, I told myself, "That’s why Anderson Cooper won’t come out."
I bet Cooper is afraid people will think he’s just another Richard Quest and then he’ll never get to replace Katie Couric as host of the CBS Evening News.
Another New Yorker, transplanted Brit Quentin Crisp, once astutely observed that when people think of gay celebrities, they wonder what they do in bed. Then they try picturing those stars having sex, and then inevitably picture themselves doing the same things.
"And they don’t like that," Quentin explained.
In America, when all a viewer can see when he looks at a homo is what he does in bed, your career – like Quest’s – is dead.
So, this week I was blabbing with fab British biographer David Bret. He’s written bios of Elvis Presley (Elvis: The Hollywood Years claims Elvis had an affair with actor Nick Adams and Col. Tom Parker blackmailed Presley by threatening to reveal "secret information" that Elvis was a homo), Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Maria Callas, and his good friend, the late Marlene Dietrich ("I was the last person she talked to – she called me two days before she died"). And Bret pretty well told me the same thing as Quentin Crisp.
Bret is currently riding a new wave of publicity promoting his terrific just-published bestselling biography Clark Gable: Tormented Star (Carroll & Graf), in which he exposes Gable’s secret gay life.

Thursday, 22 December 2016


Candis Cayne was the first transgender actress to play a recurring trans character on prime-time TV (Photo by Scott Everett White)

Bugs' interview with Candis Cayne orignally ran in the Montreal Gazette on August 6, 2015.

Before Caitlyn Jenner began documenting her gender transition on E!’s eight-part reality TV series I Am Cait, there was Candis Cayne, the American actress and performance artist who came to international attention in 2007 for portraying transgender mistress Carmelita on ABC’s prime-time drama Dirty Sexy Money.
Cayne made history then, becoming the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime-time television.
Now Cayne is back on television, in Jenner’s reality show. She is a close friend of Jenner, who tells the show’s producers in one episode: “Candis is a beautiful woman, but as far as dating in the future, I have absolutely no idea.”
Needless to say, Candis and Cait are two of the most talked-about transgender women alive right now.

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Tom Cavanagh plays a gay NHL player in the classic 2007 film
Breakfast with Scot (photo courtesy Miracle Pictures)

Bugs' original column on Breakfast with Scot ran in the Dec. 6, 2007, instalment of Three Dollar Bill.
I’ve had a crush on Hollywood TV star Tom Cavanagh – the most handsome man on television – ever since I spotted him in the fab NBC-TV series Ed some years ago.
"Gosh, I’d love to see him lock lips with another guy," I thought then, never thinking I’d actually see Cavanagh play a gay role, never mind talk to him about it.
Breakfast with Scot
But unbelievably I did, this week, as Cavanagh called me (!) at home to discuss his fabulous new hockey movie Breakfast with Scot, a Canadian Disney-esque family film about a straight-acting gay couple, Eric (Cavanagh) and Sam (Ben Shenkman of HBO’s Angels in America), who adopt recently orphaned Scot, a swishy 11-year-old, musical-loving drama queen.
"It’s about a kid who doesn’t have a home, and every kid deserves to be loved," says Cavanagh, a married father of two.
The kid, Scot, is played by 12-year-old Montrealer Noah Bernett. And this is where things get really interesting.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


The trailblazing Godfather of Gay Lit, Felice Picano

I call literary icon Felice Picano the Godfather of Gay Lit because Felice revolutionized gay literature as the founder of SeaHorse Press and as one of the founders of Gay Presses of New York, which launched such writers as Harvey Fierstein, Dennis Cooper and Brad Gooch. In fact, when SeaHorse Press began in 1977, it was just the second gay publishing house in the world, after Gay Sunshine Press in San Francisco.

Felice is also a world-class memoirist who has met everybody: Rudolf Nureyev once grabbed his bum, Felice had lunch in Fire Island one afternoon with Elizabeth Taylor, his cock was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe, and when he outed the late Anthony Perkins years after their affair, critics screamed, “Picano is a name-dropping slut!” There is also bootleg film footage of Picano at New York City’s famed Continental Baths in 1971, where Bette Midler is performing with her pianist Barry Manilow and pulls Felice out of the crowd. “This was all set up beforehand,” Felice says. “Bette sort of sings to me, looks down at my crotch and says, ‘Oh, you’re disgusting!’ and pushes me back into the crowd because I had a hard-on at that point, but it wasn’t from her!” 
I first met Felice at a Montreal brunch in either 2000 or 2001, and have written my annual Felice Picano column ever since. Once, when I wrote a column about my crush on Justin, a Tanzanian cook I became infatuated with when I hooked up with an overland truck in Kenya a lifetime ago, Felice – mindful of the criticism and threats I’d gotten from irate readers at the time – wrote me, “I always remember what my grandmother told me: ‘If everyone likes you, that means you’re mediocre.’ I’m not, and neither are you.”
Nights at Rizzoli
(Or Books)

Felice is the author of 35 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, nonfiction and plays, including his must-read memoirs True Stories: Portraits From My Past, True Stories Too: People and Places From My Past and the award-winning Nights at Rizzoli.

I caught up with Felice recently, to preview his recent appearance in Montreal headlining the Never Apart Centre’s Legend Series, whose past guests include Mink Stole, Bruce LaBruce, Joey Arias and Carole Pope. We talked about everything from Robert Mapplethorpe to queer politics in the age of Grindr. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Monday, 7 November 2016


Cakes da Killa: "I don’t identify as queer. I am just a rapper."

Up-and-coming American rapper Cakes da Killa has been compared to Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown, but has also been making headlines as an openly-gay performer. Out magazine describes Cakes – a.k.a. Rashard Bradshaw – as “the class clown of the next generation of queer hip-hop musicians (who) may also become leader of the pack.” This wave features such performers as Shamir, Big Freedia, Mz Jonz, Mykki Blanco and Le1f
Check out the animated video clip below of Cakes da Killa's new single New Phone (Who Dis) from his just-released 2016 album Hedonism. Meanwhile, I originally sat down with Cakes da Killa for a candid interview when he performed in Montreal in November 2015. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016


Tony winning actor Michael Cerveris (Photo courtesy In The Wings Promotions)

Playbill calls legendary American actor Michael Cerveris “arguably the most versatile leading man on Broadway.” And for good reason: Cerveris has played everything from Shakespeare’s Romeo to the homicidal title character in Sweeney Todd, to trans rock diva Hedwig in the landmark rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Along the way he has won Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical in 2004 for his portrayal of John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, and Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2015 for his portrayal of Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home.

On the eve of his Nov. 11 acting masterclass in Montreal – during which participants will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Cerveris – I sat down with Michael for a candid Q&A about his spectacular career. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016


Proulx: "Brokeback Mountain coalesced thoughts and feelings that many people secretly held."
At the start of her career, American journalist and author E. Annie Proulx submitted stories to publishers using the name EA Proulx because, she says, it was easier to get published if editors thought she was a man. 

Those days are long gone.
Annie Proulx (Photo by Gus Powell)

I recently interviewed Proulx, the literary titan whose novels include The Shipping News (1993), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction. But she may be best known for her short story “Brokeback Mountain,” which was originally published in The New Yorker in 1997 and begat an Oscar-winning film as well as an opera for which Proulx wrote the libretto. 

In a wide-ranging interview, Proulx and I discussed her love for Canada, her new novel Barkskins which explores her deep concern for the future of our planet; how she comes up with her characters’ names, such as Ennis del Mar, Jack Twist, Ribeye Cluke and Beaufield Nutbeem; and, of course, the “Brokeback Mountain” phenomenon.

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Robert Ouimet (L) and Pierre Gagnon at their Oct. 5 Red Bull Music Academy lecture in Montreal. Gagnon is one-third of PAJ Disco Mix, the edit team that created exclusive cuts for Ouimet’s DJ sets and revolutionized the disco edit format using reel-to-reel tapes, selling over half a million records at their pinnacle in the late ’70s (photo by Karel Chladek/Red Bull Content Pool).

Montreal’s famed disco scene cranked out many disco stars during its 1970s heyday and the scene’s epicentre was the city’s famed Lime Light disco founded by Yvon Lafrance in September 1973, on Stanley Street above where the Chez Paree strip joint stands today. 

Montreal DJ Robert Ouimet was the house deejay at the Lime Light from 1973 to 1981, and today Yvon Lafrance says Ouimet – known worldwide as the Godfather of Montreal Disco – was hands-down the best deejay in Canada from 1973 to 1982, when Ouimet was declared best North American DJ by Rolling Stone magazine in 1976, and won Billboard magazine’s DJ of the Year Award in 1977.

“I used to go to New York all the time during the week – I remember I was flown over there once for the premiere of (the movie) Thank God It’s Friday (starring Donna Summer),” Ouimet told me in 2013. “Then I used to work in Montreal on the weekends.” 
Disco diva France Joli (Photo by David A Lee)

Meanwhile, Montreal singer France Joli became an “overnight success” at the age of 16 back on July 7, 1979, when she headlined a legendary beach concert performance for 5,000 gay men now famously known as Beach ’79.

Donna Summer had cancelled at the last minute, so Joli stepped in as a replacement and sang her song Come to Me, which would chart at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart  – then at #1 on the disco chart – and to this day the song is widely-known as “the definitive Fire Island dance classic.”

“I was blown away, I was a kid and had never seen gay life like that before, it was beautiful to see two men embracing – and it was 1979!” France Joli told me in 2013. “I loved that freedom and the happiness that disco reflected. It’s impossible not to be happy and dance to disco. The lyrics could be dark, but the music always lifted you up.”

Both Ouimet and Joli will take part in the Québec Électrique: Montréal Discoville event at the Paradoxe Theatre as part of the 2016 Red Bull Music Academy conference being held in Montreal. 

Monday, 10 October 2016


Jordan Tannahill (photo by Lacey Creighton)
Bugs' original interview with Jordan Tannahill ran in POP TART in the Montreal Gazette on Oct. 21, 2015.

Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Jordan Tannahill is one of the hottest names in Canadian theatre and author of the 2015 book Theatre of the Unimpressed – a look at how dull plays are killing theatre and what we can do about it – as well as Age of Minority: Three Solo Plays, which won the 2014 Governor General’s Award for drama. He also ran a storefront arts space called Videofag out of a defunct barbershop in Toronto’s Kensington Market with William Christopher Ellis, which they closed in April 2016.The Canadian playwright, filmmaker, and theatre director has been described by The Globe and Mail as “the poster child of a new generation of (theatre? film? dance?) artists for whom “interdisciplinary” is not a buzzword, but a way of life.”
I sat down with Tannahill for toasté hotdogs, burgers and poutine at the Montreal Pool Room, on the eve of his play Total Liquidation, which his National Theatre School students put on at the Monument National in October 2015.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


Patrick Califia: "Male privilege is an unwelcome artifact of transitioning"

Bugs' interview with Patrick Califia originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on Nov. 19, 2009
"Baby, I’m an activist in the shower!" famed Texan author Pat Califia-Rice told me a decade ago, before she transitioned from a lesbian woman into a bisexual trans man.
Pat is now Patrick Califia, and the former Advocate sex columnist, celebrated author, marriage therapist, sex radical and queer icon has as loud a mouth as ever. 
"Nobody should be a man – the world won’t be okay until men stop existing," says the FTM (female-to-male) Califia. "It was actually pretty hard for me to transition on days when I felt like I was going to join the people who spit on the sidewalk and look up women’s skirts every chance they get. But one of the exciting things about being an FTM is the possibility of creating new forms of masculinity and addressing our society’s mistreatment of little boys and its crazy expectations of men."

Thursday, 1 September 2016


John Waters in 2016 (photo courtesy Admire Entertainment)
Bugs' interview with John Waters originally ran in the September 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
The iconoclastic John Waters, who wrote and directed everything from Pink Flamingos to the original Hairspray, was once dubbed “The Pope of Trash” by no less than William Burroughs. Waters is also lovingly called The Prince of Puke, The Duke of Dirt and The Sultan of Sleaze. I first interviewed him back in December 2007 when he headlined Le National to perform his Christmas stand-up comedy show. Waters returns to Montreal to headline the Rialto Theatre with his hugely popular “This Filthy World” stand-up act, at the 2016 Pop Montreal festival.
So this summer I caught up with Waters in Provincetown, and we blabbed about everything from Donald Trump to Divine.

Friday, 26 August 2016


Xavier Dolan (Photo by Shayne Laverdière / courtesy Agence Goodwin)
Bugs' interview with Xavier Dolan originally ran in Hour magazine on June 10, 2010

Not only did 21-year-old Montreal film wunderkind Xavier Dolan find himself rubbing elbows with filmmaking royalty at last month’s 63rd annual Cannes Film Festival, but his new film, Les Amours imaginaires, part of Cannes’ Official Selection, got a standing ovation following a packed screening at the Salle Debussy.
Dolan drank it all in.
"I was at Cannes for 10 days, did 160 interviews, drank too much alcohol and smoked too many cigarettes!" he laughs. "[Then] I had this Cannes glamour moment where at some mini-shindig I walked into some bar with Benicio Del Toro and this French actress, and suddenly my life changed. These people were [no longer up] on the screen. They’re chatting with you and you’re talking to them about cinema and your life and their life and you’re laughing [together]!"
Dolan pauses.
"I don’t want to make it sound shallow, but I felt like part of a family."

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


Felipe Rose: "I’ve never done interviews for Out Magazine or The Advocate."

Bugs' interview with Felipe Rose originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on Dec. 2, 2004

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.

Last year, a full quarter-century later, I interviewed the Village People’s "Indian" character Felipe Rose – along with Thelma Houston, KC and the Sunshine Band, Martha Wash and others – for a cover story I wrote on the legacy and importance of disco. I was so taken by Felipe, and we got along so well, that we’ve met backstage each time our paths have crossed and have maintained contact ever since.

But back in 1978, when I was a disco bunny, Rose was having the time of his life as the Village People topped pop charts worldwide.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


Des Barres' infamous memoir I’m With the Band: Confessions of Groupie
was first published in 1987
Bugs' interview with Pamela Des Barres originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on Sept. 4, 2008
There was a time in 1950s America when pop stars called groupies Top 40 Fuckers."That’s what Dion’s wife told me," says author Pamela Des Barres, the 1960s beauty who found fame as the ultimate rock’n'roll groupie to the stars.
"I think groupies are misunderstood," says Des Barres. "They are judged as loose women. "Groupie" has become synonymous with "whore." But everybody is out having sex. It’s a double standard. You don’t even have to have sex. Some girls just want to hang out."
Des Barres is not finished. "I also think groupies are feminists of the highest order because we do what we want."
Des Barres says the term "groupie" wasn’t coined until 1967. That, of course, was the year of the Summer of Love, when an 18-year-old Des Barres got her first taste when she bumped into her friend’s Laurel Canyon next-door neighbour, Jim Morrison.

Saturday, 23 July 2016


Bugs' interview with Alan Carr originally ran in the July 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.

Out comedian Alan Carr has become one of the hottest comedy stars in Britain since winning the BBC New Comedy Award for Stand-up in 2001, and is probably best-known around the world for his hugely popular long-running television talk show Alan Carr: Chatty Man. In addition to being an LGBT fan favourite himself, Carr’s TV guests over the years include Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Adele, Grace Jones, Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey and Bette Midler. Clearly, Carr loves his divas.

Here’s my fun one-on-one with Carr on the eve of his Just For Laughs solo show Yap Yap Yap, which runs at Salle Claude-Léveillée at Place des Arts from July 25 to 30.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


Rufus Wainwright returns home to Montreal
(All photos courtesy Festival International de Jazz de Montréal)
Bugs' interview with Rufus Wainwright originally ran in the June 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
Elton John once famously said Rufus Wainwright is the best songwriter alive. And for a while there, in the media, Rufus could do no wrong. His eponymously-titled 1998 debut album was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, and he was the toast of the town everywhere he went, especially when he returned home to Montreal.
Elton John once famously said Rufus Wainwright is the best songwriter alive. And for a while there, in the media, Rufus could do no wrong. His eponymously-titled 1998 debut album was named one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, and he was the toast of the town everywhere he went, especially when he returned home to Montreal.
But as fast as the media builds up celebrities, it is also quick to tear them down. So it was no surprise the claws were out when Wainwright’s first-ever opera Prima Donna debuted at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009. Wrote Warwick Thompson of Bloomberg, “There were tears of joy in Rufus Wainwright’s eyes when he took his bow after the world premiere of his opera… There were some in mine too, though the joy sprang more from relief that it was over.”
But Wainwright soldiered on. Prima Donna  made its North American debut at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre at the Luminato Festival and won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical/Opera in 2011, before being famously mounted the following year by the New York City Opera, with red-carpet friends Yoko Ono and Anjelica Houston in attendance – a fascinating turn of events since Prima Donna was originally commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera until a dispute over Wainwright’s decision to write the libretto in French led to an acrimonious split.

Most of all, Wainwright wanted Prima Donna  to play in Montreal. This summer, eight years after its debut in Manchester, Wainwright will get his wish when Prima Donna  will be performed at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.“It’s been a long and winding road to Montreal with Prima Donna ,” says Wainwright. “Having it performed in Montreal, especially at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier where I grew up going to the opera, is coming full circle in so many ways. I am also excited to be working with the great (Québécois) soprano Lyne Fortin, one of the first opera singers I ever saw perform, in La Bohème. I wish sometimes that Montreal had been more at the forefront with this project, but Montreal – and this is why I love this city – it is one of the great bohemian capitals and one of their traits is they like to be fashionably late. So this is exciting and it means a lot.”

Thursday, 2 June 2016


American comedy legend Kate Clinton

Bugs' interview with Kate Clinton originally ran in the May 2016 issue of Fugues magazine

Without out American comedy legend Kate Clinton, there is no Rachel Maddow, no out Lily Tomlin, no Rosie, Ellen, Gina Yashere or DeAnne Smith. Kate Clinton was our first out dyke stand-up comic – in my book she is still the queen, and this is my 11th annual Kate Clinton interview – and, if Kate has anything to do with it, her namesake Hillary Clinton (no relation) will become president of the U.S.A.

“I wish Bernie Sanders well, but in my lifetime I really would like to have a woman president,” Clinton, now 68, says unequivocally.

It’s no understatement to say neither Clinton is “feeling the Bern” but at least Kate acknowledges Sanders has been a welcome addition to the Democratic race, despite the fact many Sanders supporters say they will refuse to vote Hillary if she wins the nomination.

“Let me say I am no longer allowed at dinner parties with young people, and that if the arrow in Hillary’s logo was weaponized, I would be using it!” Kate cracks. “But it’s a free country. I think that Bernie is certainly moving Hillary to the left… I am thrilled by the excitement of the youth and the tenor of the whole Democratic debate. Whatever happens at the end of the primaries, this is a very dangerous time, and if you say you’re not going to vote, then you didn’t get the point.”

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


American television and Broadway star Kyle Dean Massey

American television and Broadway star Kyle Dean Massey co-stars on the hit ABC television series Nashville, but has also drawn rave reviews for his roles in Pippin, Wicked, Next to Normal and Xanadu on the Great White Way.

Three Dollar Bill sat down with Massey – an instructor at such organizations as Camp Broadway and Broadway Artists Alliance – to reflect on life on Broadway and what it’s like to be an openly-gay entertainer in Hollywood.

Monday, 30 May 2016


Showbiz legend Lainie Kazan

Bugs' interview with Lainie Kazan originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on October 22, 2009.

Broadway legend Lainie Kazan is a brassy broad but she says she really ain’t. Then Lainie, who chews up the scenery in the new Hollywood comedy Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!, tells me, "At first I thought people would be offended by the title of the movie, so I wanted the director to change it to ‘Oh Fuck! My Son’s a Shmuck!’"
Kazan inspired Jack Kirby's
comic book superheroine
Big Barda

Ladies and gentlemen, Lainie Kazan.

Most young people know Kazan as the in-your-face mom in the classic comedy My Favourite Year with Peter O’Toole, or the mom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or Bette Midler’s mom in Beaches, and now the mom of a Jewish gay son in Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!

But Broadway audiences first fell head over heels for Lainie back in 1964 when she was the understudy for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl at NYC’s Winter Garden Theatre. Fifteen months passed before Lainie, then 24, got her first real shot at the big time and she remembers it like it happened yesterday.

Friday, 27 May 2016


Quebec playwright and icon Michel Marc Bouchard

This is an expanded version of Bugs' interview with Michel Marc Bouchard that originally ran in Daily Xtra on May 17, 2016.

Quebec playwright and icon Michel Marc Bouchard casts queer life versus religion, and condemns religion while celebrating queer sexuality in his landmark 1987 play Les Feluettes ou la répétition d’un drame romantique.

Considered one of the major works of modern Canadian theatre, the English-language adaption, Lilies, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Chalmers Award for best play in 1991. Even the film version by John Greyson won the Genie Award for best motion picture in 1996.

And now, Les Feluettes will be coming to a different stage — as an opera.
Les Feluettes stars Etienne 
Dupuis and Jean-Michel Richer

The play’s hotly-anticipated opera version makes its historic world premiere at the Opéra de Montréal in May 2016. Les Feluettes also garners the distinction of being the first ever French-language opera about a (tragic) gay love story.

After Australian composer Kevin March saw Greyson’s adaptation in 2003, he was inspired to create an opera version. It would be another decade before the Opéra de Montréal commissioned March and Bouchard to create Les Feluettes. The opera stars baritone Etienne Dupuis and tenor Jean-Michel Richer as the two lovers.

Saturday, 20 February 2016


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


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


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


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.