“It’s not hard to act in a movie I direct because there are fewer people to argue with.” —Barbra Streisand at the Tribeca Film Festival.
What? Barbra? Argue? Never!
Have you missed me, LA? I know I’ve missed you. But I’m back. How did this happen? I haven’t a clue. One minute I was at the Los Angeles Blade’s fabulous launch party at Pump in West Hollywood chatting with a cute waiter about hummus. Next thing you know, here I am. So, without further ado, we’ve got a lot of stories to cover.
It was recently the 20th anniversary of Ellen’s coming out — both as a person and as a character on her sitcom. As I watched the retrospectives, a thought came to me – why did “Ellen” come out? I don’t believe the character was conceived as gay. It wasn’t a storyline that was planned. Back then, I remember people saying, “Well, it’s obvious Ellen Morgan is gay – look how she dresses.” Or, “Ellen DeGeneres can only play gay – did you see ‘Mr. Wrong’?” Aside from the many good things that came from DeGeneres’s coming out, I wonder if part of that legacy is also perpetuating the stereotype that gay actors can only play gay roles.
A documentary about Whitney Houston just opened at the Tribeca Film Festival and asks a poignant question: “Whitney: Can I Be Me” (it airs on Showtime this summer). According to reports, the doc implies that Whitney “had a secret love affair with best friend and assistant, Robyn Crawford.” Not true — it was never a secret! One of Whitney’s stylists says, “I don’t think she was gay. I think she was bisexual.” Bobby Brown agrees. He said in his autobiography that he believes Whitney was bisexual and that her family kept her from living with “the woman.” Bobby added, “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today.” When asked if Whitney and Robyn’s relationship was sexual, he said, “I know.” On the other side, there’s Whitney’s mom, Cissy Houston, telling Oprah it absolutely would have bothered her if her daughter were gay. So what do you do if you’re Whitney? She married Bobby, and Robyn wasn’t happy. Allegedly, Houston bought Robyn a new Porsche, which was delivered on the day of the wedding — that kept her quiet through the ceremony! For a few years, all three co-existed somewhat peacefully. Eventually, Robyn completely backed off. People say that’s when Whitney’s life went to hell in a handbasket, which sounds mighty uncomfortable.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 32 times, the annual STAGE benefit in LA is the best show in town. The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event is the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world. And now, with its 33rd installment under the direction of David Galligan (who has directed all 33), it’s coming to an end. Or is it? The organization says this is farewell, while some people tell me off-the-record that it will resurface in some form next year. This year’s event is subtitled “Idols & Icons” and will take place on May 13 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. People like Carole Cook, David Burnham, Joely Fisher, Barrett Foa, Jai Rodriguez, Melinda Doolittle, Anthony Federov, and Kimberley Locke will perform under the musical direction of insanely talented Michael Orland (hence all the “Idol” alums). Tickets and info can be found at StageLA.com.
I’ve previously told you that Playbill’s Seth Rudetsky and hubby James Wesley have been presenting a series of benefits around the country called “Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out.” Well, the series is finally headed to Los Angeles and will take place at Royce Hall at UCLA on May 24 — and from the lineup, it sounds like it too might be one of the best shows in town! Some of the fabulous performers will include Chita Rivera, Cheyenne Jackson, Helen Reddy, Jane Lynch, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Ricki Lake, Wendy Liebman, Alec Mapa, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. You can buy tix at ConcertsForAmerica.com. And if you aren’t in town, you can watch the concert for free on their Facebook page.
The Broad Stage in Santa Monica has been hosting some diverse and thrilling musical events. I’ve particularly enjoyed their Celebrity Opera Series, funded by the Lloyd E. Rigler-Lawrence E. Deutsch Foundation (they’re the same people who bring us that Classic Arts Showcase TV channel). Last month, I saw an animated Vittorio Grigolo in concert alongside a luminous Carmen Giannattasio. This month, we get acclaimed tenor Joseph Calleja in “A Tribute to Mario Lanza” on May 10. You can get tix at TheBroadStage.com.
In our “Ask Billy” question this week, Roger in Delaware asked: “What do you know about that hot gay bobsled guy? Saw his nude photo and love him. Is he single?”
I am sure Olympian Simon Dunn really wants to be referred to as “that hot gay bobsled guy.” But I suppose there are worse things to be called. Dunn is Australian, retired at the ripe old age of 29, and has a penchant for posing in various stages of undress to the delight of his social media followers. Apparently this is a practice he follows in his private life as well, judging from the photo that leaked. He addressed the controversy online, expressing embarrassment (although he certainly has nothing to be embarrassed about), and apologizing to his family and friends. Part of his statement implies he’s single.
“I guess the silver lining is I can just link people to Tumblr next time they ask for such pictures. And remember boys no matter how hot he is don’t send nudes.” What? If hot guys didn’t send nudes, I’d have nothing to share with you on BillyMasters.com.
When “Simon Says” not to send nudes, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. Riddle me this, Bobsled Boy: if someone online wanted to hook up and DIDN’T send you nude photos, would you meet them? Ponder that while checking out www.BillyMasters.com – the site that’s not shy. If you have a question, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before someone buys me a Porsche! Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.