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Frank DeCaro offers a peek into LA drag history

An excerpt from groundbreaking new book ‘DRAG’

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Image courtesy of Universe Publishing.

California has been called the Left Coast, the Best Coast, the Land of Fruits and Nuts, and the hottest hotbed of drag in America, and it’s all kind of true, give or take a pair of size-14 sling-backs, an economy-sized bottle of Coppertone, and a three-picture—all of them Photoshopped—deal with a major studio.

From the glitteringly subversive, sex-positive hedonism of San Francisco’s hippest clubs, to the packed-to-the-rafters, if-you-shave-it-they-will-come alternative performance spaces of sunny Los Angeles, the Golden State is an almost too drag-a-licious destination. And, it has been that way, up and down the coast, since at least the early 20th century.

Los Angeles “gurls,” to quote Katy Perry, “don’t mind sand in their stilettos.” As long as they look fierce, they’ll draw a crowd, especially if they’ve appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Entertainment Capital of the World is a smorgasbord of drag, feeding its creativity to—and being nourished by—the movie and TV industries.

“You have club queens, comedy queens, theater queens, and even Tupperware queens here. You name it, we got it,” says Oscar Quintero, who, as his alter ego Kay Sedia, writes and performs in Chico’s Angels, a Latinx-flavored spoof of Charlie’s Angels, and sells plastic storage containers on the side.

The town that, for ages, played host to An Evening at La Cage, a popular female impersonators show that drew a Hollywood clientele, continues to boast a vibrant drag scene from the girls of drag bingo at Hamburger Mary’s to the talk show Hey Qween!, a hilarious web series hosted by Big Gay Sketch Show alum Jonny McGovern and his largely fabulous cohost Lady Red Couture.

Unique to Los Angeles is the fact that some of the funniest drag is performed by men who aren’t even drag queens. Crazed character actors—Tom Lenk of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and internet sensation (and Off-Broadway darling) Drew Droege among them—frequently don thrift-store attire and spout filth while playing a cracked version of The Match Game for charity at the city’s LGBTQ center. The Snatch Game has nothing on them.

Others peddle their sequined papayas on a tiny stage in the basement of a Mexican restaurant called Casita Del Campo in Silver Lake. The Cavern Club Celebrity Theater—presided over by Mr. Dan, a man who was known as Gina Lotriman when he was co-hosting the legendary L.A. drag party Dragstrip 66 in the 1990s—is home to some of the most inventive drag productions in Los Angeles. These shows really put the camp in Campo.

The chiquitito showplace has played host to all manner of drag over the years from a make-believe morning show presided over by a faux Juliette Lewis and Bette Midler (Chris Pudlo and Craig Taggart) to various 1980s-style extravaganzas featuring Love Connie (John Cantwell), a hairy gal whom one critic alliteratively described as a “hirsute high-kicking heroine.”

Meanwhile, in a revivified downtown Los Angeles, the horror-drag of the party-giving duo the Boulet Brothers is helping to make the city a drag-lover’s paradise like no other.

“I don’t really have enough objectivity to comment on the L.A. drag scene as a whole,” says Sam Pancake, a character actor whose drag antics as a very drunk Lucille Ball, an extra hot-to-trot Rue McClanahan, and a supremely potty-mouthed Lisa Whelchel have made him a local favorite. “But I do know that it is high-heeling on full-speed ahead and it’s only growing and getting better, bigger, brighter, and more fantastic and creative. Dare I say it’s a Golden Age?”

Dare, dare!

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Brazilian gymnast & Olympian introduces his boyfriend- and comes out

Oyakawa-Mariano revealed that he is in a relationship with broadcast media marketing analyst João Otávio Tasso on Instagram

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Arthur Nory Oyakawa-Mariano at the 2021 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Kitakyushu, Japan October 2021 (Photo Credit: Mariano Instagram)

SAO PAULO – In a post to his Instagram account last month, Brazilian Olympic Bronze medalist Arthur Nory Oyakawa-Mariano introduced the world to his boyfriend, and also came out at the same time.

The 28-year-old artistic gymnast is a member of the Brazilian national team. He won the bronze medal in floor exercise at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Oyakawa-Mariano won the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships held in Stuttgart, Germany picking up a gold medal in the horizontal bar competition.

Writing on his Instagram post, (Translated from Portuguese) on October 29, 2021, Mariano revealed that he is in a relationship with broadcast media marketing analyst João Otávio Tasso.

“Happy Birthday to the person who freaks out with me 😅 The phrase ‘in health or illness, in victory or in defeat, in joy or sadness’ never quite fit. And there we are every day walking together. Thank you for always being by my side. I will always be yours.”

“Congratulations João, many years of life and continue to be that amazing person 👀, even if Scorpio (always good to blame the sign). We’re together.”

In addition to being a professional gymnast, Oyakawa-Mariano is also an internationally signed model. In 2019, he was named the face of Philippine-based international clothing brand BENCH’s men’s wear campaign in Brazil and Latin America.

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Online Culture

Google erases part of LGBTQ+ community in new online glossary project

The tool, a glossary of 100 words that used the company’s Google Trends to track the popularity of LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions

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Graphic via VideoOut

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. – A new online tool designed to help mainstream, freelance and even LGBTQ+ journalists navigate definitions of what can be a complex world of LGBTQ+ vernacular, left out definitions of bisexuality and pansexuality in a new Google “LGBTQ+ language initiative.

The Google News Initiative announced the project in partnership with VideoOut, titled the “LGBTQ+ language and media literacy program, last week in a press statement. According to the company, they partnered with Men’s Health magazine to “help contextualize the research and data in the program.” 

The tool, a glossary of 100 words that used the company’s Google Trends to track the popularity of LGBTQ+ terminology and definitions, was created with the assistance of several queer PhD linguists.

However, in a review of the glossary today, Friday, Nov. 26 the terms and definitions for bisexuality and pansexuality were missing.

According to the Google release: “It’s a way to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully, it will transform the way journalists – and all of us – write and talk about LGBTQ+ people.”

Jordan Reeves, the Executive Director of VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit and the founder of VOE, a production company centering LGBTQ+ narratives in television and film, answered the self-asked question of; “WHY WOULD VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, partner with Men’s Health magazine?”

“So many people assume that Men’s Health is only for cisgender, heterosexual, masculine presenting men. I’m here to tell you, as a queer trans nonbinary human, that’s false.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, “One in six [U.S.] adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT.” At the same time, a GLAAD report found 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. say they’re confused by the different number of terms to describe individuals who comprise the LGBTQ+ community.

In a response to late Friday evening, Jordan Reeves, the Executive Director of VideoOut in a direct message on Twitter told the Blade:

“Recently we launched The LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program, a living and breathing resource that we will continue to add to over time. We left out some terms and phrases at launch — bisexual, for example — that should have been included from the very beginning!

We are keenly aware of bi-erasure and the persistent confusion around bisexual identity. We are sorry we didn’t include it at luanch, but we are adding it (along with pansexual) very soon. We started with 100 entries (definitely not a comprehensive list…yet), and we are really excited to add entries as the community gives us feedback and suggestions.

We are really proud of the depth and breadth of terms that exist in the resource and hope it continues to be more and more useful as we add to it.

We’ll also be adding features so that this resource is the most useful for anyone using language about the LGBTQ+ community. If there are other words you can think of that we’ve left out, or ways to make the tool more dynamic, let us know and we’ll queue them up to be added!”

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Arts & Entertainment

2022 GRAMMYs announced & showcases LGBTQ+ narratives

“The inclusion of LGBTQ artists in this year’s nominees highlights growing shift in acceptance & dominant impact LGBTQ artists are making”

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Graphic courtesy of the Recording Academy

LOS ANGELES – The nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony to be held on January 31, 2022, were announced Tuesday. Topping the list of nominees were Out Black rapper Lil Nas X for his smash gay narrative hit ‘MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)’ and Out Lesbian country/pop artist Brandi Carlile for her song ‘Right On Time.’

Lil Nas X, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, celebrated his nominations for song of the year, record of the year and best music video and thanked his fans in a string of Twitter posts.

“don’t have to win a single award, truly thankful for all the insight this year has brought me. and thankful for the journey. love u guys,” the 22-year-old rapper wrote.

LGBTQ artists who received Grammy nominations Tuesday also include pop star Halsey and singer-songwriter Arlo Parks.

“The vast inclusion of LGBTQ artists amongst this year’s Grammy nominees – including Lil Nas X, Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga, and many others – highlights not only a growing shift in cultural acceptance, but also the dominant impact that LGBTQ artists are making across the music industry,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “With 5 total nominations, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, Lil Nas X continues to open doors for greater LGBTQ inclusion in rap and hip-hop, which will undoubtedly inspire and empower a new generation of artists to embrace their authenticity and individuality.”

The Grammy Awards ceremony recognizes the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year, running from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021.

The Recording Academy will present the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Mon, Jan. 31, on the CBS Television Network(opens in a new tab) and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT.

Prior to the telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be held at the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy’s YouTube channel(opens in a new tab).

Entire list of nominations here

Lil Nas X – MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)

Brandi Carlile – Right On Time (Official Video)

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