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Mayor Pete’s headed to Provincetown for July 4

Plus, how did Shawn Mendes’ underwear end up in John Mayer’s room?

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“Yes, I admit I was stalking Lou Pearlman into the bathroom!” – Ashley Parker Angel on how he met Pearlman and got cast on “Making the Band.” He also was cast in Lou’s private shower videos, but we’ll get to that. 

I recently told you that presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg planned to make a stop in Provincetown this summer. I can now confirm that he’ll be turning up during the busiest weekend – Fourth of July! His free rally will take place on July 5 at Town Hall (there will be a high-priced fundraiser afterward). Since this is one of the biggest gay party weekends in the world with an assortment of scantily clad men of all ages, please be aware that a thong is not appropriate attire for any political rally on Cape Cod that does not include a member of the Kennedy family.

The Chinese parent company of Grindr has agreed to sell the popular gay hook-up app after the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investments deemed it a “national security risk,” which says more about the Trump administration than anything in the Mueller Report! CNN reports that Kunlun Tech has agreed to sell the app by June 30, 2020.  “Until then, the firm says Grindr will not transmit any sensitive information to China, though it is not clear how that will be enforced.” I don’t know about anyone else, but I won’t be cruising Grindr when I’m at Panda Express.

I did finally watch “The Boy Band Con.” The Lou Pearlman documentary was produced by Lance Bass for YouTube. Without a doubt, there is an interesting, almost compelling, story there – but it’s not in this documentary. It’s unfortunate because obviously the powers-that-be snagged some great interviews and got access to lots of footage and songs. But either you know how to construct and tell a story, or you don’t.

Last week, John Mayer was on SiriusXM with Andy Cohen and shared a “clickbait story,” meaning it’s so salacious, people will click on it. He provided the headline: “How Shawn Mendes’ underwear ended up in John Mayer’s hotel room.” Yes, I’d click on that – but I’d also know it would end up being some innocuous anecdote. One day, Mayer was in the studio with Mendes. Shawn asked Mayer, “Hey, man, do you think you could, like, Postmates underwear?  Can I Postmates underwear?  I’m out of underwear.”  Since I’m not of the iAnything persuasion, I had to look up “Postmates.” Be that as it may, Mayer said he’d be happy to ask his assistant to go shopping for undies.  The assistant came back with a dozen pairs of various size medium boxer briefs in a bag (not a CK in the bunch). They finished up in the studio, and Shawn left — sans undies. So Mayer brought the underwear back to his hotel room. The end. What I got out of this story is that nobody wants to be in possession of underwear John Mayer was anywhere near – even underwear still in its package.

Speaking of packages, we hear that Chris Hemsworth is gearing up to play a stripper in an upcoming $40 million flick for Paramount. “Down Under Cover” will find Hemsworth and Tiffany Haddish playing police detectives who team up to crack a string of casino heists. The main suspects are a group of Aussie male strippers, kinda like “Thunder From Down Under.” So, naturally, Hemsworth has to go undercover as a stripper. Is it just me, or does this sound like a gender-bending take on “Miss Congeniality?” Not that I’m complaining. The film was announced last week at the Cannes Film Festival and will begin shooting in February.

One of the best things I saw last year was “A Very English Scandal,” a three-part miniseries from the BBC (you can watch it on Amazon). I urge you to check it out, not only for the outstanding performances by everyone (especially Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, who won a Golden Globe), but also for the crackerjack true story, which was riveting. Much of the credit goes to director Stephen Frears and writer Russell T Davies, who also brought us “Queer as Folk” as well as pivotal work on “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.”

Which leads us to our “Ask Billy” question from Thom in Baltimore: “What is this new show that Russell Tovey is in?  He said it had graphic gay sex, so I don’t want to miss it.”

Tovey is in a new BBC series called “Years and Years.” written by Russell T Davies (HBO will run it at a later date). The first episode takes place in the near future, after Brexit and during Donald Trump’s second term (God forbid). What Tovey said was, “Everything has to be shown because, otherwise, if you don’t show diversity, if you don’t show gay sex, if you don’t show men in love, or women in love, or whatever, then how the hell do you normalize it?” I note he didn’t mention that the show also features a sex robot! As to the gay sex scene in question, it comes toward the end of the first episode and, well, check it out on BillyMasters.com.

When robots are worried about the size of their packages, it’s definitely time to end yet another column. With May Sweeps over, everything hits an inevitable lull. So it’s the perfect time to check outwww.BillyMasters.com – the site that never disappoints.  If you have a question for me, send it along to [email protected] and I promise to get back to you before I run the inevitable scandalous photos from Buttigieg’s Ptown rally!  Until next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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Vlogger StanChris; My religious mom reacts to Norway’s “gay Santa” ad

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s gay Santa advertisement! Let’s see what she has to say about it.

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Screenshot via YouTube

LOS ANGELES – The twenty-something StanChris, the Out YouTuber who has been building his audience on his YouTube channel by vlogging about the ordinary everyday experiences of his life as a young gay guy is back- this time interviewing his mother.

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s gay Santa advertisement! Let’s see what she has to say about it.

My religious mom reacts to Norway’s “gay Santa” ad

********************

S O C I A L – L I N K S

→Instagram : stanchris https://instagram.com/stanchris

→ Twitter : stanchrisss https://twitter.com/stanchrisss

Subscribe here!!: https://youtube.com/c/stanchris

Watch more: https://youtu.be/rjI4c7nSXkw

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Movies

Verhoeven returns with subversive tale of lesbian nun in ‘Benedetta’

Period drama delivers sex, violence, and horrors of the Black Death

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Daphne Patakia and Virginie Efira in ‘Benedetta.’ (Photo courtesy IFC Films)

There was a time when Paul Verhoeven was a big deal in Hollywood.

The Dutch filmmaker first attracted international attention during an early career in his homeland, with critically acclaimed movies like “Turkish Delight” and “Soldier of Orange,” which found an audience outside of the Netherlands and brought him greater opportunities in America, Once here, he adapted his style to fit a more commercial mold and forged a niche for himself with violent, action-packed sci-fi blockbusters, scoring major hits with “Robocop” and “Total Recall” before reaching a pinnacle with “Basic Instinct” – arguably still his most influential and iconic film.

Then came “Showgirls.” Although the Joe Eszterhas-scripted stripper drama is now revered as a “so-bad-it’s-great” cult classic, it was a box office bomb on its initial release, and its failure, coupled with the less-spectacular but equally definitive flopping of his next film, “Starship Troopers,” effectively put an end to his climb up the Hollywood ladder.

That was not, however, the end of his story. Verhoeven moved back to his native country (where he was hailed as a returning hero) and rebounded with the critically lauded “Black Book” before spending the next two decades developing and producing new projects with other filmmakers. In 2016, he assumed the director’s seat again, this time in France, and the resulting work (“Elle”) put him once more into the international spotlight.

Now, he’s back with another French film, and fans of his signature style – a blend of social satire, psycho-sexual themes, graphic violence, and near-exploitation-level erotic imagery that has prompted some commentators to label him as a provocateur – have every reason to be excited.

“Benedetta,” which receives its long-delayed (due to COVID) release in the U.S. on Dec. 3, is the real-life story of a Renaissance-era Italian nun (Virginie Efira), whose passionate devotion to her faith  – and especially to Jesus – sparks disturbing and dramatic visions. When young novice Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) enters the convent and is assigned to her as a companion, it awakens a different kind of passion, and as their secret relationship escalates, so too do her miraculous episodes, which expand to include the physical manifestation of stigmata. Soon, despite the skepticism of the Mother Abbess (Charlotte Rampling), she finds herself heralded as a prophet by the other sisters and the local community, leading to controversy, investigation, and a power struggle that threatens the authority of the church itself.

Inspired by “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” Judith C. Brown’s biography of the real Sister Benedetta, Verhoeven’s latest work is perhaps his most quintessential to date. In his screenplay (co-written with “Elle” collaborator David Birke), the Dutch auteur – who is also a widely recognized, if controversial, religious scholar – gives free reign to his now-familiar obsessions, weaving them all together into a sumptuously realized period drama that delivers copious amounts of nudity and sex, bloody violence, and the horrors of the Black Death while exploring the phenomenon of faith itself. Is Benedetta a saint or a harlot? Is she chosen by God or mentally ill? Are her visions real or is she a fraud, cynically exploiting the beliefs of those around her in a bold-faced grab for power and glory? And if she’s lying, in the larger context of a world held firmly in the grip of a church that treats salvation as transactional and levies its presumed moral authority to unlimited financial and political gain, which is greater evil? Though the film strongly implies the answers lie somewhere between the “either/or” of absolutes, it shrewdly leaves the viewer to contemplate such questions for themselves.

What concerns “Benedetta” more than any esoteric debate is a sly-yet-candid commentary on the various levels of societal hierarchy and the ways in which the flow of power perpetuates itself through their devotion to maintaining the status quo. As Benedetta’s perceived holiness carries her upward through the strata, from unwanted daughter of the merchant class to Mother Superior and beyond, more important than the veracity of her claims of divinity are the shifting and carefully calculated responses of those she encounters along the way. Fearing the loss of their own power, they ally and oppose themselves in whichever direction will help them maintain it. It’s a Machiavellian game of “keep-away” in which those at the top will not hesitate to use economic class, gender, sexuality, and – if all else fails – torture and execution as weapons to repress those they deem unworthy.

Inevitably, the above scenario provides plenty of fodder for Verhoeven’s movie to make points about religious hypocrisy, systemic oppression, and the way white heterosexual cisgender men keep the deck eternally stacked in their own favor – all of which invites us to recognize how little things have changed in the five centuries since Sister Benedetta’s time. That, too, is right in line with the director’s usual agenda.

Ultimately though, the signature touch that makes the movie unmistakably his is the way it revels in the lurid and sensational. Verhoeven delights in presenting imagery designed to shock us, and key elements of the film – from hyper-eroticized religious visions and explicit lesbian sex, to the prominent inclusion of a blasphemous wooden dildo as an important plot point – feel deliberately transgressive. This should be no surprise when one remembers that this is the director who brought us not only “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” but also “The Fourth Man,” a homoerotic psychological thriller from 1983 still capable of making audiences squirm uncomfortably today; and while all this titillation may trigger the most prudish of viewers, it makes “Benedetta” into a deliciously subversive, wild-and-wooly ride for the rest of us. More to the point, it underscores the film’s ultimate observation about the empowering nature of sexual liberation.

Helping Verhoeven make maximum impact with this obscure historical narrative is a cast that clearly relishes the material as much as he does. In the title role, the statuesque Efira successfully creates a compelling and charismatic figure while remaining an enigma, someone we can believe in equal measure might be sincere or corrupt and with whom we can empathize either way; likewise, Patakia exudes savvy and self-possession, transcending moral judgment as the object of her affection, and the two performers have a palpable chemistry, which is made all the more compelling by their thrillingly contemporary approach to the characters. Rounding out the triad of principal roles is Rampling, a cinematic icon who brings prestige and sophistication to the table in a masterful performance as the Abbess; more than just a grounding presence for her younger co-stars, she provides an important counterbalance with a subtle and layered performance as a woman who has devoted her life to a belief in which she has no faith, only to find herself overshadowed by a charlatan.

“Benedetta” is not exactly the kind of film that’s likely to put Verhoeven back on the Hollywood fast track – it’s far too radical in its underpinnings for that. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome return to form from a unique and flamboyant filmmaker we’ve missed for far too long, and his fans – along with anybody with a taste for provocative cinema – should consider it a must-see.

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Books

‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(Book cover image courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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