OH WHAT A YEAR IT WAS…
~ by joel martens ~
What is it they say about looking ahead? Before you can truly move forward, you have to examine your history and learn from it…
All I can say about the last year is that it was an amazing journey, with many fascinating stops.
Many interesting and enlightening conversations happened with various personalities from the entertainment, sports and political world—some gay some not—but all were generous with their time and talents.
We are lucky and very grateful here at The Rage Monthly to have had the chance to chat with them all.
Here are some of the highlights:
We had a chat with Jennifer Holliday, a woman who has spent a great deal of time serenading the world with her passionate, powerful, signature voice. She shared much about her life, her battle with depression and her advocacy around that struggle. Her introduction to the musical world became her anthem, seemingly prophetic in some ways because of that depressive nature. Who could ever forget her defiant song from Dreamgirls and this line “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going… I’m staying and you … you’re gonna love me.” No one will ever be able to out-sing the original. Love it.
We also had a chat the same month with two of the contestants beginning season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Willam of Los Angeles and Chad Michaels from San Diego—both of whom would eventually sashay away. The interviews were engaging and funny as you might think and the loss for them both a bummer, but for our very own Chad Michaels, victory would be claimed from the ashes. His return to RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, would end in his taking the title and the prizes back to his hometown of San Diego. Congrats Chad!
This month brought with it another musical giant, Roberta Flack—the voice of her generation. She took us on a ride through her early days back in Georgetown, playing piano in a restaurant specializing in opera performances by the staff. Roberta Flack not singing—only accompanying others—can you imagine? Her bosses’ chance request that she sing Christmas songs with the audience while they waited and how mesmerized they were by her, would start the journey on a career that continues to this day. I still get chills when I hear her sing the start of my favorite; “The first time, ever I saw your face…” Timeless.
The indomitable Kathleen Turner was a treat for our O.C./L.A. edition readers (sorry San Diego—you’ll just have to go online!), although brief, she gave us insight into her gritty character on stage and her no-holds-barred personality—the lady is one tough cookie on and off stage!
And to top off the month, we captured Sandra Bernhard for San Diego’s edition (ditto for reading online, O.C./L.A.) and she proved once again that not only is she funny, her sense of honesty and accessibility are ever-present. The same cannot be said for all personalities with over 30 years in the business.
This month is our House and Home edition and we were determined to “bring it” with a group of home-related topics and advice from experts. We ended up working with three television personalities who shared their advice on home design and organization, the real estate world and what their best pointers are.
P. Allen Smith has been around for a long time, he currently has three shows; P. Allen Smith’s Garden Style, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home and P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table. His advocacy for green building values and the idea of a “garden home” that melds interior living spaces with exterior garden “rooms,” was insightful and informative. A true Southern gentleman, Smith extended an open invitation to his Moss Mountain Farm overlooking the Arkansas River Valley to The Rage Monthly staff.
To discuss design and organization, we spoke to Amanda LeBlanc from the Style Network’s The Amandas. She gave this kernel of wonderful advice, “I have always felt that if a room is beautiful, if it makes you happy when you are in there, you are much more likely to keep it organized.” Simple truths can have lasting impact.
Fredrik Eklund from Bravo’s popular real estate series, Million Dollar Listing New York, tried to help us make sense of what seemed at that point a bottomless market. Summing it up beautifully, “Everyone is trying to catch the bottom of the market—no one can—only in the rear-view mirror.”
This was a great month for content and the best birthday present I could have asked for. I spoke with the highly-articulate John Amaechi who shared with us about his career with the NBA, coming out, helping others to achieve their potential and his many other projects and accomplishments. This quote says it all for me, “I am a big fan of helping people to express themselves. I think it is one of the things that make such a difference in so many ways in your personal life. ”
Idina Menzel was wowing people all over the country with her tour, not only that, she was kicking off her very first television special and accompanying CD, Idina Menzel LIVE: Barefoot at the Symphony. Ever the brilliant performer, she wows audiences everywhere with her stunning voice and, as the name implies, she also kicks of her shoes—literally. The girl performs on stage barefoot—in an evening gown—with a full symphony backing her up. “Defying Gravity…” Please, this girl defies so much more than that!
2012 saw the end of the long-running series Desperate Housewives and for many it was the end of one of the early long-standing gay relationships portrayed on television. Kevin Rham who played Lee McDermott on the show chatted with us about his role, the end of an era and the annual Cystic Fibrosis Foundation fundraiser that they have “on the lane” every year—oh what a party it was!
The GLAAD Media Awards took place in April and we were lucky enough to talk about the awards show with none other than Wendie Malick. The hit show Hot In Cleveland has been a milestone for her and the four fabulous women, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and the unstoppable Betty White. Of it she said, “Hot in Cleveland is a rarity as a vehicle for aging women who, while amazing actresses, aren’t sought after in Hollywood after 50. We’re four strong, sassy, fabulous women and being in each other’s company is collaborative in a really wonderful way.” They’re all still hot!
Another jam-packed month for us here at The Rage Monthly. Christie Brinkley talked about taking to the Broadway stage for the first time, while touring as Roxie Hart in the ever-raucous favorite show, Chicago. She summed up taking the chance to do the show like this, “I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering ‘if I woulda, shoulda, coulda.’ I want to audition and see what happens. Who would think they would take me? I knew that it was something that I needed to embrace and just give it every ounce of my energy. That started my great Broadway adventure. I’m so happy I did… I could have simply said, No.”
May is also our travel issue, we racked our brains (and the Internet) for a great source/story regarding gay travel. We found the perfect solution: Charlie David and Bump! We did a feature on him a couple years back for his performance in Judas Kiss. Gay globetrotter that he is, his philosophy is this, “I really believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it. It’s all about focus, determination and stamina for perceived setbacks.”
Debby Boone was an eye-opener, she talked about her tribute show, Reflections of Rosemary and what it was like to be a member of one of Hollywood’s famous families. She also weighed in on gay marriage, “Gabriel [her husband] had participated in other gay ceremonies just like that. We are very close with Michael [Feinstein]…he was part of all of the parties and really part of the family, so it just worked out beautifully that Gabriel was able to participate in that ceremony with them.” The apple can fall far from the tree.
Peter Marc Jacobson talked about the role he plays both on stage and off with his friend, wife, ex-wife, then back to friend Fran Drescher and his coming out process later in life. He summed up his philosophy like this, “Most people’s families are at some point going to have something or some part of their family be non-traditional and that’s okay. Celebrate it, enjoy it, just because it’s different doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.” What’s the line about truer words?This month brought with it a visit from one of the lost boys… or girl in this case.
Cathy Rigby has been playing this role for what is estimated at over 3,000 performances and let me tell you, she is just amazing to watch. I had the chance to see her in San Diego’s production at the Civic Theatre… I can only say WOW! When asked about being satisfied with her life’s choices she said, “Honestly, I feel so friggin’ blessed with a wonderful career and family. I will be married 30 years on September 11, I want for nothing in my life.” Who needs magic fairy dust?
Sequins and sparkles reigned for us here and at the top of the glittering list was La Cage aux Folles and our interview with the unbelievably gifted (did you see the heels he wore on stage?) Christopher Sieber in the role of Albin, the glamorous drag chanteuse Zaza. Here’s a quote of his that we used to sum up his feelings about the show. “There is a line in the show that says, ‘You will love us once you get to know us.’ I want them (the heterosexual audience) to walk away with, ‘It’s not who you love, it’s how you love,’ and the bottom line is, it’s about a family.” He is what he is, he is his own special creation…
Scissor Sister extraordinaire Ana Matronic was our other music feature for this month and the interview proved to be a timely one. At a concert later in October she announced, “This will be the last time we will play in London for quite some time… The ones who got us first and always get us best,” setting the social media world on fire with speculation. Fans were stunned and feared the worst, but thankfully she clarified, “Don’t you worry—this isn’t the last you’ve heard of us.” I should hope not, I couldn’t stand it if that were the last kiki.
Barney Frank was another great coup for The Rage Monthly, because of his announcement that he would not be seeking re-election after 16 years of service. His coming out in 1987 was significant in so many ways and in the political arena was a first. When asked about the challenges of coming out he wanted those who were struggling to know this, “I want LGBT youth to know, that you will find a family that will support your life, whether they are traditional or an alternative family that you create.” Thanks Barney, for those wise words.
August was about a trio of women who have stood the test of time—the ladies of Wilson Phillips. Much like their famous elders The Mamas and The Papas, they have weathered many challenges and managed to stick together. “It was always about the music for both generations” said Wendy Wilson. The connection for the album Good Vibrations was made all that more powerful when they teamed up with Cass Elliot’s daughter Owen Elliot-Kugel, for the song “Dedicated to the One I Love,” completing another circle. It is more than just a bit eerie how much she sounds like her mom.
Another stellar month chocked-full of great interviews. I had the chance to talk with George Takei—and let me tell you—this man is as sharp and articulate as anyone with whom I have ever spoken. What a life, from the Japanese internment camps after Pearl Harbor to the musical Allegiance based on those experiences, which premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in 2012—what a journey it has been. My favorite quote, “You really can’t bring about change when you are bitter and hostile. Being able to see beyond what is holding us back, seeing beyond the barriers, that makes it possible to deal with them and thus able to overcome them.” Sage advice Mr. Sulu.
Seth Peterson took time out from his busy life to talk with us about his new film Sedona and the many successes in his career. No stranger to gay roles, he took on Hate Crime as the surviving partner of a victimized couple. He said this, “When you see those videos of the ‘50s, when basically all the movements began, the violence that erupted from them makes me sick to my stomach. And the fact that this happens today on a smaller scale still puzzles me. I don’t get it. One thing that has always made me insane is the injustice here. I have a personal intolerance for any kind of injustice.” Bravo Seth.
Spirit Indestructible was the title of Nelly Furtado’s CD released in September and I think the title is appropriate for this generous soul. About her music she said this, “For me, music is like ‘food’ and I like to feed people. I’m just excited to feed people with this music.” If you didn’t hear the album, go back and have a listen. It’s worth the trip.
Another highlight for me, with a chance in a lifetime to chat with someone I have admired for so many reasons; Tori Amos. The release of her album Gold Dust was much more than just a compilation of her music. It was much like her life, an evolution of what was to what it became. Music is the great equalizer, the great teacher and offers comfort and direction—at least it did for me. She reflected on that herself, “I guess it’s how I figured out what or how I was really feeling about something—that’s when I would know what the truth was or what my reaction really was.” Thanks for taking us with you on the journey…
The next lovely lady isn’t as famous for most, but I had to include her because she was such a standout. Manuela Horn is a six-foot combination of love, chaos and hysteria all clad in vinyl, with 12-inch Stilettos and even lengthier whips. Have we peaked your curiosity yet? I see an online search in your future…
This is always our food and wine issue and it’s sometimes a little challenging to come up with something that hasn’t been done with that topic. Luckily, The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival was there to provide a solution with gay foodie entrepreneurs Dan Smith and Steve McDonough. They are a great couple and family (add in their 7-year old-son Nate) who show us that you can really have it all as a gay couple and family. Thanks, Hearty Boys!
Another highlight for me this year was getting to chat with Dustin Lance Black, the bright, articulate man with a lot on his mind. His writings have brought us Milk, J. Edgar and 8 The Marriage Play, all stories about history in the making. Here is what he says about creating an epoch, “My philosophy has always been, to make history happen. It only takes studying a few people in history to know that it’s the only way that change actually happens…if you make it happen.” Wise words for such a young man.
We hit another home run in my book for the end of the year’s edition. My friend called me a b*tch because I had the chance to hear what Christina Aguilera’s thoughts were about music, motherhood and growing from one’s challenges. I always go back to the song “Beautiful” when I think of her… “she is beautiful, no matter what they say…” Bravo Xtina, your Lotus has blossomed.
Any Day Now is Garret Dillahunt’s [of television's Raising Hope fame] most recent film foray with gay-favorite actor Alan Cumming, about a gay couple in the ‘70s that adopts a deserted teen with Down’s Syndrome. All I can say about this touching film is that you’d better have a full box of tissues with you when you see it. Dillahunt is truly a “nice guy,” with an open heart who fully embraces the gay community. My favorite answer if his regarding the question of inequality; “There have been too many people in my life who have been influential or important to me who were gay, it seems insane to me at this point that they don’t have equal rights.“ Simple words, but so appropriate.
Well, there you have it, last year’s retrospective of The Rage Monthly—and what a wonderful ride it was for us here at the magazine. We have had the honor of working with some amazing people, had great conversations and words from some of the best writers available to us. If you haven’t seen some of the stories mentioned, please take a moment and run through the archives for both editions (San Diego and O.C./L.A.) online at ragemonthly.com. Trust me, there is so much more to enjoy!
As far as 2013: You’ll just have to come along for the ride… I know I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Thank you, dear readers for all your support.