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AFI Fest Brings Future Queer Classics to LA



Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman (Photo by Sony Classics/TIFF)

Two of 2017’s most talked-about — and likely award-destined — LGBTQ movies are set to make their Los Angeles-area debuts at Hollywood’s AFI Fest. The annual fall event, one of the city’s best and most respected film festivals, opens on Thursday, November 9 and runs through the following Thursday, November 16, with most screenings happening at the TCL Chinese Theatres and the nearby Egyptian Theatre.

Call Me By Your Name, the Luca Guadagnino film based on the 2007 Andre Aciman novel about a 17-year-old who falls in love with a beguiling doctorate student while summering at his parents’ seaside Italian villa, will be featured as one of AFI Fest’s prestigious Centerpiece Gala selections. The sultry and visually stunning film, which stars Armie Hammer as the hunky older half of the young gay romance, made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It’s since received broad critical acclaim, and is expected to be a contender come movie awards season.

Another strong competitor – and one that could break awards ground for trans performances – is A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantastica), Chile’s entry this year for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award. The film, which debuted earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival, stars Daniela Vega as a trans woman who, upon the sudden death of her older boyfriend, is shunned and tormented by his family, and eyed with increasing suspicion by police. Vega’s resplendent performance is already receiving Best Actress awards buzz, and could mark the first time that a trans actor receives major accolades from Hollywood.

Yet another LGBTQ-themed Best Foreign Language Oscar entry screening at AFI Fest this year comes from Norway. In the gripping thriller Thelma, Joachim Trier directs the story of a young woman who suddenly develops supernatural powers as she breaks away from her devoutly Christian parents and explores her sexuality.

Two more full-length queer films will also show at this year’s AFI Fest, which has established a strong track record for screening some of the best and most provocative queer titles from around the world.
From Canada comes A Skin So Soft (Ta peau si lisse), the hyper-masculine latest from maverick Québécois director Denis Côté, who also helmed 2013’s lesbian-themed Vic + Flo Saw a Bear. Melding the documentary format with improvised dialogue, Côté follows as group of male French Canadian bodybuilders as they work out, tan, oil up and cavort with each other.

From South Africa comes the American premiere of High Fantasy, the identity-exploring tale of four young friends who head into the wilderness for an overnight camping trip, and wake to discover that they’ve swapped bodies, genders and races. Director Jenna Bass filmed with an iPhone, giving the work a particularly millennial feel.

Several LGBTQ-themed shorts will also be part of this year’s AFI Fest. House of JXN looks at the dance clubs and rainbow families of Jackson, Mississippi. Still Devout is the story of a 23-year-old woman, still living at home, who must choose between her own needs (especially romance) and those of her family. From France comes Islands (Les îles) the latest from Yann Gonzalez (director of the 2013 queer feature You and the Night), which follows three characters through a labyrinth of love and desire.

A slew of excellent non-LGBTQ-themed films will of course also be screened at AFI Fest, including festival opener Mudbound (from lesbian director Dee Rees) and closer All the Money in the World (the world premiere of the latest from Ridley Scott, following a special AFI tribute to the director).

AFI Fest is one of few major festivals in the world to offer public tickets to screenings for absolutely free — but the process requires good timing and a bit of luck. Free tickets became available online on November 1, but they don’t always get snatched up immediately, and more free tickets are often released to the public as the festival gets closer. The best way to avoid disappointment and ensure access to all screenings is with a festival pass, which starts at $400.

A word of caution for those hoping to snag free tickets to Call Me By Your Name: Since this is a Gala screening, regular free tickets are unavailable. Instead, the festival offers free “Gala voucher” reservations, which are then redeemable for free tickets at the screening purely on a space-available basis. Successful conversion of a Gala voucher into an actual ticket generally requires queuing at least an hour early.

2017 AFI Fest screening schedule:

Call Me By Your Name: Fri Nov 10, 7:30pm at TCL Chinese Theatre
A Fantastic Woman: Mon Nov 13, 9:30pm at Chinese 1; Tue Nov 14, 3:45pm at Chinese 1
Thelma: Sat Nov 11, 9:15pm at Chinese 5; Mon Nov 13, 1pm at Chinese 2
A Skin So Soft: Sun Nov 12, 7pm at Chinese 2; Wed Nov 15, 7:30pm at Chinese 2
High Fantasy: Sat Nov 11, 7pm at Chinese 5; Wed Nov 15, 3:45pm at Chinese 3
House of JXN (Shorts Program 2): Fri Nov 10, 9:45pm at Chinese 2; Mon Nov 13, 6:45pm at Chinese 2
Still Devout (Shorts Program 5): Sat Nov 11, 5:30pm at Chinese 2; Tue Nov 14, 4:15pm at Chinese 2
Islands (Shorts Program 6): Fri Nov 10, 11:59pm at Chinese 6; Sun Nov 12, 1pm at Chinese 2

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Project Angel Food’s 2021 Telethon raises $1.1 million

Project Angel Food is thankful to have received support from friends and the community providing the funding needed to sustain their service



Eric McCormack led a toast, lifting a glass with all the stars in studio to Chef Randy (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Project Angel Food)

HOLLYWOOD – Los Angeles charity Project Angel Food succeeded in raising $1,126,090 far surpassing their fundraising goal of $800,000 in their 2021 Telethon which aired on KTLA 5 Saturday evening. The Telethon, LEAD WITH LOVE 2021 was presented by City National Bank.

Hosted by by Will & Grace star Eric McCormack and KTLA anchor Jessica Holmes along with Loni Love and Alec Mapa as co-hosts, the evening broadcast opened with a surprise greeting from British Rockstar musician Ringo Starr.

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and Project Angel Food is thankful to have received so much support from friends and the community and providing the funding needed to sustain the expanded service to those in need, preparing and delivering over one million medically tailored meals to our most vulnerable neighbors.  Project Angel Food Executive Director Richard Ayoub said, “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and inspiration.  The success of this tells me Los Angeles is with us every step of the way.”

A good deal of celebrity star power helped to boost the donations which were taken in by phone, online, and text. Loni Love, author, and host of The Real, presented her $25,000 winnings from her recent appearance on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud. Her donation joined that of actor Jamie Lee Curtis who called in live via Skype, made a $10,000 gift from her family foundation.

The Herb Ritts Foundation offered a “match challenge” of $75,000, agreeing to match donations coming in over an hour up to $75,000. The match was reached in just 27 minutes.

Other big donors for the night included: $50,000 each from Susanna Blinkoff & Jordan Corngold, Connie Frank, and Mary Fisher; $30,000 National Rongxiang Xu Foundation & Human Heritage Project; $26,000 from Michael J. Libow; $25,000 from Stanley and Joyce Black Family Foundation, Block Party WeHo, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, WEN Hair and Body Care by Chaz Dean, Whole Foods Market, and Main Street Catering…and our thanks to everyone who donated! 

A special Tribute was paid to Chef Randy Nakamura, who died from COVID this past year, by celebrity chefs Cat Cora and Stuart O’Keeffe, and actor Brad Garrett, who met Chef Randy at Project Angel Food.  Eric McCormack then led a toast, lifting a glass with all the stars in studio to Chef Randy, followed by a special performance by LeAnn Rimes, singing Throw My Arms Around the World, beautifully capturing the spirit of the evening.

Highlights and behind-the-scenes of the night can be seen at Project Angel Food’s website…and it’s still possible to donate by texting LOVE20 to 50155.   

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LA Pride breaks silence announces ‘Thrive with Pride’



LOS ANGELES – After weeks of ‘stay tuned’ on its website and no real engagement with the media or the LGBTQ community, Christopher Street West Association Inc. the nonprofit organization that produces the annual LA Pride celebration announced its planned June programming for LA Pride 2021 on Thursday.

Pride 2021 activations are themed around the daily reminder to Thrive with Pride.

LA Pride weekend will kick-off on Thursday night, June 10th with a concert exclusively presented by and live streamed on TikTok featuring hyper-pop diva Charli XCX and a showcase of up and coming LGBTQ+ performers across genres. In-person concert opportunities are not available at this time. Fans and followers can follow @tiktokforgood and @lapride on TikTok for updates and advanced promotions. 

Further, a televised special titled “Thrive with Pride Celebration” is set for Saturday, June 12th airing 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT on ABC 7 Los Angeles, the most-watched station in Southern California, will feature special guests, performances and LA Pride honorees. 

“To thrive means to flourish and progress despite the circumstances. Pride this year is a moment for you to stop and breathe,” said Sharon-Franklin Brown, CSW board president. “It’s a moment to remember you’re not just surviving one of the hardest years in recent memory, but growing into your truth. This is why we were so intentional in our planning. We want to bring a moment of celebration, a moment to highlight the community, and an opportunity to give back. If we as a community can come together, even for a moment, to realize we’ve broken down some barriers put on us, it’ll strengthen our resolve to continue tearing more down for those to come after us.” 

“After an unprecedented year of challenge and struggle, I am so pleased that this year’s pride festivities embrace the spirit of the first pride parade and our activist roots,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. “By bringing together LGBTQ+ communities from every corner of our City, we will uplift all voices and elevate the important work of the icons of the LGBTQ movement who sacrificed everything in their young lives at the time so we can all celebrate together in 2021. With a mix of virtual and potential in-person events, this year’s festivities will keep our community safe and connected while providing every Angeleno an opportunity to embrace giving and volunteerism.” 

In recognition of the incredibly difficult work Los Angeles social justice and non-profit organizations have put into achieving equity, actionable change and stability, LA Pride will launch a 30-day give back campaign to support these efforts. Pride Makes a Difference will highlight opportunities for Angelenos to sign up to either volunteer, or donate goods and/or money to local organizations in Los Angeles County. Pride Makes a Difference is a new program in conjunction with Big Sunday. As part of these new efforts, drop off locations will be set up all throughout Los Angeles. A list of selected local organizations and drop off sites will be available soon to choose from, as well as the sign-up details and commitment.

“Our utmost priority in whatever we’re doing to celebrate Pride this year ensures safety and follows CDC-approved pandemic guidelines,” continued Brown. “That’s why we’re announcing this programming first. Any potential in-person celebratory activations will be announced at a later date in the coming weeks. The more we put safety first, the more likely we’re able to plan big physical events in the future, including Pride 2022, where we can celebrate who we are, where we came from, and where we need to go.”

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Bars & Parties

33 Taps Owner Ryan Floyd has Big Plans

33 Taps will now be a part of the official Silverlake gay bar crawl



Courtesy of Ryan Floyd

WEST HOLLYWOOD Ryan Floyd signed the contract for his first restaurant after working for 10 years in LA as a  finance guy. He said he hit the decade mark and realized, “I want to do something on my own.” He liked the industry, and knew the business side after working as CFO for a successful restaurant development and management firm. Now, after more than a year in lockdown, he’s got big things planned for his spot 33 Taps, and his next venture, Stache in West Hollywood.

In 2016, Floyd bought a storied beer bar and country diner once known as The Crest on Sunset, making him the third consecutive gay owner of the location. The Crest on Sunset had been running since the late-1980s, with a loyal local clientele – most of the staff was gay, most of the customers were gay. “A friend brought it to me and I thought, this could be a good step for me,” Floyd explained, “I bought the assets and license and rebranded it as 33 Taps.” 

33 Taps formally opened in September 2016, and will celebrate its five-year anniversary in the fall. “The first year was really stressful,” Floyd remembers, “we were under capitalized. I lost money for the first six, seven months. It was scary.” The former investment banker had sunk all his own cash into the business, and it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that 33 Taps began to find its footing, and its niche. 

Floyd credits his team for the longevity of the spot, and for helping keep the business open during its first year and all the years that followed. Many of the employees had even been at that location before the sale – the general manager at 33 Taps, Peaches, has been working at the address for more than 30 years.

Before the pandemic hit, business was good. “Seventy-five percent of our patrons are local,” Floyd said proudly. “We’ve really established ourselves as a place where people love to watch LA sports — the Dodgers, the Lakers, the Rams. And we also have a huge Drag Race following.” The bar finally returned to its weekly Drag Race viewing parties just in time for the grand finale episode last Friday. According to Floyd, more than a third of the clientele is LGBTQ. 

As Los Angeles slowly begins to reopen, and businesses and bars can welcome back customers, 33 Taps is greeting the post-COVID world with some new changes. “During the pandemic I had entered the liquor license lottery.” For businesses hoping for a budget break, the State of California holds a yearly liquor license lottery in which restaurants and bars can try their luck at a discounted license. “The state will issue however many licenses they think the market should absorb. You can buy those licenses for $15,000, which is a full liquor license — a type 47. Whereas on the open market, prices go from $100,000-$120,000.” It was his fourth year entering the lottery, and his first time winning. It took the state months to process the license, but it finally issued 3725 Sunset Blvd. its first-ever liquor license. It’ll be the first time in 40 years that the location will have a full bar.

A numbers man, Floyd explained an added benefit of a liquor license kicking in now. “Beer and spirits go through cycles. Beer had a very long, 10-year run. In 2005, there were 300 breweries in the United States, and now there’s over 5,000.” Floyd recites these statistics with a sportscaster’s excitement, “beer had this huge run, but now spirits have taken the lead again.” With the city’s reopening looking more and more optimistic, and more and more people wanting to celebrate big after a year in their living rooms – the new liquor license could not be better timed. “We want to program our Friday and Saturday nights. We’ve never been open beyond 11 o’clock, now we can stay open until 1 a.m. and actually have a bar crowd.” He’s lining up a slew of parties, bringing some much needed queer nightlife programming to the Silverlake scene. 

33 Taps will now be a part of the official Silverlake gay bar crawl, for all those on their way to dance at Akbar or a party at The Eagle. It rounds out the trio, offering its own flare – a modern neighborhood restaurant and sports bar. 

Each spot brings something different to the table. Akbar is beloved for its brand of queer punk quirk; the also beloved Eagle offers its loyal leather-clad following the gritty gay bar of years past. 33 Taps is the grad-school jock of the group, a lovable charm and an always here for a good time attitude. Floyd offered the elevator pitch: “You can listen to great music, drink from a full bar and also have some great food.” The 33 Taps food menu has always been one of its strongest assets, offering customers a chef-driven menu of craft burgers and fries. A top-notch bite at a gay bar is hard to come by, and the plates at 33 Taps put most bar menus to shame. 

He teased a few details of his highly anticipated new venture: Stache. Coming to West Hollywood this summer, Stache is lucratively situated across the street from Beaches and TomTom, and down the block from Weho heavy-hitters, Rocco’s and The Abbey. “Stache will also be a full restaurant and full bar, with a nightlife component as well,” Floyd shared. While he can’t reveal plans just yet, he promises big monthly parties, disco and drag. The new website,, describes Stache as, “an all-inclusive social house for every form of self-expression.” The site also attributes the mustache in the name and logo as a symbol of resilience in the gay community, honoring those lost to the AIDS epidemic.

After the closing of so many iconic LA gay bars during the pandemic, Ryan Floyd’s Stache is a welcome addition to the WeHo strip.

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