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Adam Rippon on new life, loves, memoir, ass and skating in the nude

Rippon says Ashley Wagner abuse allegations, Coughlin suicide rocked skating world

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Adam Rippon says the time was right for his new memoir, ‘Beautiful on the Outside.’ (Photo by Peter Yang; courtesy Grand Central Publishing)

 Adam Rippon

 

‘Beautiful on the

 

Outside’ book signing

 

Wednesday, Oct. 23

 

6 p.m.

 

Book Soup

 

8818 Sunset Blvd.

 

West Hollywood

 

booksoup.com

 

$28 (includes book)

We blitzed through a torrent of questions with Adam Rippon by phone last week. The bronze medal-winning gay breakout star (and self-proclaimed “America’s sweetheart”) releases his memoir “Beautiful on the Outside” Oct. 15. He and skier pal Gus Kenworthy each came out in 2015 and last year became the first openly gay male U.S. athletes to compete at the Winter Olympics. Rippon is in LA (at Book Soup) on Wednesday, Oct. 23 as part of a 13-city book tour. His comments have been slightly edited for syntax and length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: How did the book come about?

ADAM RIPPON: Well, right after the Olympics, my team was saying that it might be a fun idea to write a book and I thought that this, like, really felt like a full chapter of my life sort of coming to an end and a new one was starting so I felt like it would be a really therapeutic almost experience. And I thought it would be a good thing for me to do, to kind of debrief and sort of be my moment to soak in everything that was like going on. So it was my team’s idea but then ultimately it was something that I did truly want to pursue.

BLADE: How long did it take to write?

RIPPON: About six-seven months. It wasn’t too long but it was a substantial amount of time.

BLADE: A lot of your appeal is the way you come across on camera. Were you concerned that that might not translate to the written page?

RIPPON: Totally. One thing that I really focused on was (making sure) the writing felt very in person, so that whatever you were reading felt like I could have been sitting right next to you like on a couch telling you this story and you were hearing my voice. So that was really important to me because I feel less like a writer and more like a storyteller. So I wanted to make sure, especially when I would be doing the audiobook, that it really felt like I wasn’t adding any words or saying any words that I wouldn’t say in a conversation.

BLADE: You share a lot of hard-won wisdom in the book. Were those convictions about life already in your head and bones or did the process of writing the book kind of help you distill and articulate some of that?

RIPPON: I think when I wrote the book, that was such an important thing for me to add into it because those are lessons and scenarios and things that I had learned and they were just so important to me, that was something really I wanted to add into the story. …  Sometimes I just laugh at myself and move along through life through different struggles and things of that nature, but I really did learn a lot about myself, it really prepared me for the bigger moments.

BLADE: A lot of the book is about how what was going on in your head affected your skating. Did you ever work with a sports psychologist when you were competing?

RIPPON: I did but … it’s funny now, post skating career, I see a therapist but when I was skating, I felt like, no that’s weak, I’m not going to go to a sports psychologist, I’m going to just suck it up. I wish I had, but it’s harder because when you’re a competitive athlete. One you don’t have a lot of means to go out and find someone on your own and they do offer someone but it’s like someone that everybody uses, like all of your competitors are going to use the same sports psychologist, so in a way I was like, “Am I really going to tell my deepest fears with somebody’s who’s then gonna work with all of my competitors too?” I was like, no, I’m gonna tell this bitch that yeah, everything’s fine and I’ve never felt better. So it’s hard but now as an adult, I can go out and find someone on my own who’s personally mine and that was just something I did not have access to when I was competing because it was really expensive.

BLADE: How often are you on the ice these days?

RIPPON: Maybe once or twice a month now. Just skating for myself. Sometimes if I have a day off, I’ll go work with one of the skaters I used to train with, Mariah Bell. Working with her some makes me feel connected to skating, but I don’t skate very much on my own anymore.

BLADE: Would you like to do more skating exhibition tours?

RIPPON: I would, but they take so much time and energy to prepare for and I would not ever want to do one and not feel like I was giving my best. … Right now I really do want to focus on pursuing these other endeavors that are available to me now and I do want to pursue them because I do think the time to do that is right now and if there is something comes up in skating, it’ll make sense. Right now, I think I’m really focused on writing this book and that kind of hustle.

BLADE: It looks like you’ve stayed in great shape. Do you feel pressure to have perfect abs? I mean the shape you were in for Olympics has to be impossible to maintain I imagine.

RIPPON: Well, you know what? I’m gonna be super honest. After the Olympics, I went to the gym and I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. I’ve gone here every day of my life for 20 years and I just don’t have the motivation,” and that was OK. But I didn’t go to the gym for maybe a year.

BLADE: Oh wow.

RIPPON: Yeah, I know. It was a lot.

BLADE: But you didn’t gain 300 pounds or anything. I haven’t seen you lately but you look like you were in great shape on “Dancing With the Stars.”

RIPPON: I’m not 300 pounds yet, but no. … I realized I just needed to find new goals at the gym because it’s something I really enjoy. So I’ve been going for like the past month and have been working out pretty regularly with my old trainer again and, of course, the workouts are totally different, because it’s no longer about trying to be as good a skater as possible. But I really love the rush you get from finishing a workout.

Adam Rippon (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

BLADE: You make a joke in the book about your hook-ups not believing you had an office job because nobody with a desk job would have an ass like yours. What kind of currency has having that kind of butt given you in your personal life? Is it something your boyfriends have gone on and on about or it something that maybe seems more exaggerated from afar? Tell me about your ass, Adam.

RIPPON: Well, here we go. How much time do you have? (laughs) No, I’m kidding. Um, the one thing I’ve noticed, now surrounding myself with people who are not athletes by profession is that everybody who works out and goes to the gym, the hardest thing for them is legs. I’ve noticed going back to the gym, that’s always been my upper hand because I’ve done only legs for so long. With my boyfriend, he’s mostly envious that I have these bigger legs and, like, a butt that really fills out my pants. Mostly he’s jealous but he does like it, which is good because I can’t really get rid of it.

BLADE: At one point in the book you say you were having trouble with quad toe so you had to switch to quad lutz. Why not quad sal?

RIPPON: It’s a little different with the quads. That’s why you see these Russian junior girls and some of them won’t do triple axels but their only two quads are toe and lutz. The lutz may be the hardest because that entrance is so hard but when you have the torque just right, it really snaps the quickest into rotation. I think when you’re learning triples, the skill of how you should learn them is correct, but with quads, it’s more like which do you feel and I think difficulty sort of comes in second.

BLADE: Did you ever play around with quad loops or flips?

RIPPON: Yeah. I think in my life, I’ve landed a (quad) flip, a salchow. It was just one day and it’s going really well, then the next day I’m just doing like cheated triples and I’m like, “Oh, OK, here we go.”

BLADE: Have we hit the ceiling on quads? Is it realistic to think somebody might land a quad axel someday?

RIPPON: I think so. I never thought I’d see a day where somebody has a program like Nathan Chen’s planned programs and it’s something he actually does and it’s not, like, a joke. And it’s the way he does it really effortlessly and you don’t really actually notice he’s doing all these quads ‘cause they’re so well done, which is the scariest part of his skating.

BLADE: Have you stayed in touch with him?

RIPPON: I’ve stayed in touch with pretty much everyone I competed with and with Nathan, we had the same coach for a while. I have such a soft spot for him and the things that he does. I’m always cheering for him. He’s just a really, really good kid and, you know, works super hard and is so well rounded. I love catching up and seeing how he’s doing.

BLADE: I know it’s probably hard to put into words, but how much harder is the triple loop than the triple toe as the second jump in a combination?

RIPPON: Adding the triple loop onto something is much harder because the room for error and correction on landing the first jump is so small. When you’re doing a triple loop in a combination, the biggest thing is you cannot readjust or fix the landing position of that first jump because it happens so quickly and it immediately needs to come together. With the toe loop, you can readjust the tap into the ice, you can tap a little further, tap quicker, you can jump a little more from the assistance of the free leg, so it’s still incredibly difficult but a triple loop combination is by far much harder than a triple toe loop combination.

BLADE: Were you more team Zagitova or Medvedeva in the ladies’ event last Olympics?

RIPPON: You know, I think that I was really impressed with Zagitova, I thought she skated very well, but I do have to say the way that Medvedeva handled herself as like a two-time world champion, and then to go out and skate two clean programs, I just felt she had a lot of substance to her skating maybe her style wasn’t the I don’t know, wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. She performed, she had everything that an Olympic champion should have and I really felt that she kind of earned it. Zagitova skated a little bit like a really excellent junior lady in her first year senior. It wasn’t as refined and Medvedeva was a two-time world champion heading into that event, she was very refined and in that moment and was incredibly young, but yet had some womanly flair to her, which I really admired. I completely see why Medvedeva was the silver medalist and Zagitova was the gold medalist, I understand, but if I were judging I would have had Medvedeva first.

BLADE: Did it bother you that Zagitova back-stacked all her jumps? (Jumps completed in the second half of the long program are weighted in scoring.)

RIPPON: No. I mean, of course I want to be like, yes, it doesn’t make for a nice program, but then at the end of the day, we have rules and we have points and you know I think if Eteri’s goal, their coach, is that she has a student who wins, and that they compete and there’s no pecking order of who should win and who shouldn’t win, you’re gonna go and you’re gonna do the most that you can do. So, I mean she played the game within the rules and she knew that Medvedeva had better style, so the way to make Zagitova more competitive against Medvedeva would be to just technically you know, put everything at the end. So is it annoying, like a little bit, but is she cheating? No. Everybody had that option and everybody knew that, so it doesn’t bother me. I kind of look at it like I don’t like it, but you’re smart.

BLADE: Why are they wrapping everybody up in those goddamn jackets now the second you step off the ice? They never used to do that.

RIPPON: It’s a sponsor thing. While you’re just sitting there in kiss and cry, they want the sponsor logo to be visible on TV. Obviously you couldn’t skate with a logo, but when you’re just sitting there waiting for scores, you can see what it says on the label.

BLADE: I wasn’t a big fan when they changed the rules to allow vocal music. You took advantage of it. What was your opinion?

RIPPON: I didn’t like it at first, but then I really enjoyed it as a skater. I just thought it opened the door for a lot of really cool ideas.

BLADE: How was Tonya Harding on “Dancing With the Stars?” Did you develop any camaraderie with her?

RIPPON: I wouldn’t say camaraderie, but she was super nice and she’s fun. She’s super funny, really personable. You know, I doubt Nancy (Kerrigan) would think that, but she’s super personable. I had no problem with her. She was nice.

BLADE: Did you admire her skating back in the day?

RIPPON: The first competition I ever watched was ’98, so I never grew up with her, but once I went back and started watching things, I’ll always remember that opening at 1991 nationals with the “Batman” theme and that mint green dress.

BLADE: Did you like the movie “I, Tonya”?

RIPPON: I mean Margot Robbie when she does press for the movie, she says it’s Tonya’s side of the story and I think she did a really good job of that. But I think even Margot would tell you that the truth probably lies in the middle.

BLADE: So many skaters — Brian Boitano, Jeffrey Buttle, Johnny Weir — came out after they stopped competing. I’m not asking for names, but are there still closeted skaters that you know of or is that era finally over?

RIPPON: I think we’re becoming past it and I really feel that like I hope that I had something to do with it, where people felt like it didn’t really matter and you could still be successful. But I do think that the pressures of someone like me and someone like Brian Boitano or Jeffrey Buttle are so different. I was never a favorite for a world title, there was no pressure like that. I was just trying to kind of make my world team and see if I, if someone’s having a bad day, could swoop in for a world medal. Or like at the Olympics, know that I could be a really good asset to the team event. So I knew that like the pressures for me were totally different, they were not the same as somebody trying to win a world title, I wasn’t going to be as scrutinized. I mean especially compared to somebody like Brian Boitano in the ‘80s. So it’s a totally different time but I do think that because a lot of the attention, I did get at the Olympics, I think it broke down a lot of stigma. Because yes, there was a gay athlete but everything else wasn’t about that, which I think was great. I think it was a really good thing.

Adam Rippon at the 2018 Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

BLADE: Why are there so many more medal opportunities in the summer games? Can you imagine if figure skaters had the number of medal opportunities as Michael Phelps?

RIPPON: I think when you get into subjective sports where it’s all based on human judging, it’s really hard to break those into different categories. And it’s part of the drama of skating that there aren’t all these opportunities. That’s one reason I love the idea of a team event, not only because I’m a medalist from it, but I love that it’s brought different stars from the Olympics forward. I mean look at Yulia Lipnitskaya from Sochi. In the team event, she was the star of the whole competition and when we think about the individual, I even forget that she competed in it. So it gives other people the chance to be Olympic stars in a different capacity. The whole point of the Olympics is to inspire people to get into sports. That really is truly what it is. And I think the team event really does that.

BLADE: You obviously came up long after compulsories were eliminated. When you go back and watch old performances, do you think skaters in the ‘70s and ‘80s had better form, better edges, because of having to learn the school figures or not so much?

RIPPON: I think the quality of skating is going up because the demands of what you have to do now technically are so high. You have to do so many transitions into jumps and so many turns and steps into all of your elements so you get a nice transition score and I think that’s pushing people to learn these turns and steps in the proper way and faster than if they’d started with figures. This way you jump right into it and the learning curve is a lot quicker. You know you have to do it this way because that’s how it’s judged so it’s the only way to be competitive.

BLADE: Were you really fully nude except for your boots for the ESPN shoot or did you have some kind of little loincloth on or something?

RIPPON: I was 100 percent naked and it was actually at the rink I trained at. There are three rinks and one is all the way at the end in the corner and they blocked it off and had security and everything but yeah, it was fully nude, and for the first two minutes it was like, “Isn’t it weird that I can see my dick and I’m skating,” but then you get going and you’re like it doesn’t really become a thing anymore and nobody’s really fazed by it because they’ve shot like a million naked athletes before so it’s a very cool experience.

BLADE: Isn’t it hard to skate with your dick flopping around?

RIPPON: No, because at that point, everything gets so small it’s like, “OK, this is what we’re dealing with.” It’s nothing to write home about. (laughs)

ESPN’s 2018 ‘Body Issue’ cover

BLADE: What did you think of Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski’s commentary of your Olympic performances?

RIPPON: They bring such excitement to skating. People tune in to watch the skating, but also to hear their opinions. They’re like Dick Button and Peggy Fleming for this generation, where you wanted to hear if Dick Button thought you were a good skater or not. They aren’t mean, they’re honest and now, being able to be more subjective, I see that. I remember there was one performance where Johnny said he thought I wasn’t interpreting the music well and I was like, “What? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” But as I watch it back now, I’m like, “No, he’s totally right.” He was just giving an honest opinion and it’s his job do to that. … They add flair to the whole competition.

BLADE: Did you ever hear from Mike Pence after the Olympics or was that just a big dog-and-pony show?

RIPPON: Well I knew that I never would, so I haven’t.

BLADE: Do you keep the Mirror Ball Trophy (from “Dancing With the Stars”) with all your skating medals? Or they displayed?

RIPPON: All my skating medals are in a container from the Container Store. The Mirror Ball Trophy is in a guest bedroom on the night stand. I have it out if somebody wants to see it, but it’s not something I’m looking at all the time. I want to focus on getting more things and — I know this is just in my own head — but not feel complicit in what I’ve achieved so far.

BLADE: You don’t even keep your Olympic medal out?

RIPPON: They came in beautiful boxes so I have it in the box on a side table with the medal inside. So it’s there if somebody wants to see it but it’s not like, “Oh wow, it’s hanging on the wall.”

BLADE: Any hint of sexual tension between you and (out Olympic skier) Gus Kenworthy or is that just totally a gay bromance?

RIPPON: It’s very much a brotherly sort of relationship. I adore him. We don’t talk all the time, but he’s just somebody I think I’ll always be kind of close to.

BLADE: You say in the book you and (figure skater) Ashley Wagner were close friends. Do you have any comment on her decision in August to say she was sexually assaulted (11 years prior by pairs skater John Coughlin, who committed suicide in January under similar allegations)?

RIPPON: I think it was brave. I’m sure it was really hard for her to do it. I think it’s going to hopefully create some good conversations with people within the sport.

BLADE: You say in the book you two were super close. Did she tell you about this shortly after it happened? Did you know John Coughlin?

RIPPON: I did know John, I thought, pretty well. But I had no idea any of this was going on and it’s been pretty tough ‘cause I wish I could have said something to someone or said something to him, but I didn’t have that opportunity. It’s something I think a lot of skaters are struggling with because we don’t agree with it. It’s not good. So many athletes aren’t equipped to deal with the suicide of someone that they knew. So it was really something challenging for a lot of people to get through and it was just something that was still, you know, pretty raw I think for a lot of people.

BLADE: What did you think of Yuzuru Hanyu’s (gold-winning) performances in PyeongChang?

RIPPON: I thought he was amazing. He’s incredible. Such a legend.

BLADE: Is he approachable or kind of in his own world? What’s it like being around such a great skater?

RIPPON: There’s a level of respect for everybody like that that all the competitors have regardless of who they are or what they’ve achieved. He’s always been super nice and I would say that I enjoyed competing with him as both gold older. One thing that helped is since he moved to Canada, his English got better so we could actually chat. As an adult, I enjoyed seeing him and getting to cheer for him and watch him compete.

BLADE: How do you feel about turning 30 (in November)?

RIPPON: I can’t wait. I’m really excited.

BLADE: Why?

RIPPON: I just feel like it’s perfect timing. I’m retiring from skating and starting this new phase of my life and career so the time feels really good. And I don’t know, I felt like I was 30 for a few years already anyway, so it’s all good timing.

BLADE: Does (boyfriend) JP (Jussi-Pekka Kajaala) live with you now in L.A.? How are things there?

RIPPON: JP goes back and forth between L.A. and Finland. I’m actually going there Friday.

BLADE: How often do you get to see each other on average?

RIPPON: We probably spend about five months out of the year together.

BLADE: Are you and (“Dancing With the Stars” dancing partner) Jenna (Johnson) still BFFs?

RIPPON: Um, yeah. I love her. We talk, like, very often.

BLADE: Are you a morning person by nature or did you kind of just force yourself to be one all those years getting up to train?

RIPPON: I’m not, but if I don’t force myself to be a morning person, I could stay in bed for like years.

BLADE: What do you have coming up? What do the next six months look like for you?

RIPPON: I’m on the book tour for two weeks, then right after that I have a few stops and I’m working on a few other things that will be announced soon, which is cool. I also just filmed another series of Breaking the Ice, the little videos on YouTube. Yeah, just stuff like that. It’s all good, nothing super busy.

BLADE: What would you like to be doing in 10 years?

RIPPON: I would love to still be working in entertainment, in comedy, and be successful. Let’s see, I don’t know, I just would like to be really successful, have more awards, right? I’m an athlete, I love a good trophy. So I think I really enjoy the kind of stuff I’m doing now and just continue to be a performer but like in a different way. I’d love to still be doing all this in 10 years.

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Jinkx and DeLa deliver pitch-perfect holiday comedy

The Return of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE!” comes to LA for one show only: Saturday, December 18, at The Theatre at Ace Hotel

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Jinkx Monsoon & BenDeLaCreme (Photo by Jiji Lee)

NEW YORK – Touring through December 30 with a new, essential viewing installment of their annual holiday stage show (skipped last year because of COVID-Number-You-Know), drag queens Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme need about five minutes of stage time to prove they’ve earned their place in the pantheon of mismatched comedy duos.

From the time they set up the show’s premise to the moment they send their swooning audience back into the larger world hoarse from excess laughter, the writer/performers work a binge-worthy buddy dynamic informed by the kinetic stage antics of Martin and Lewis, the pitch-perfect timing of Bob and Ray, the contempt-breeding familiarity of Eunice and Mama, and the fourth wall-breaking rivalry of Looney Tunes characters. (“Duck Season,” insists DeLa’s Bugs, answered by a “Rabbit Season!”-spouting Jinkx, in full-on Daffy mode.)

If some of the above pairings don’t ping your radar, no worry. Rest assured the carefully calibrated Christmas concoction created by DeLa and Jinkx knows its herstory. You can see it clear as day, in the DNA of each character: DeLa is stick-up-posterior organized and proper—the rigid product of too many traditional Christmases in Connecticut. Jinkx is a vulgar vixen whose idea of decking the halls is hitting the bars—and the back alley after last call.

Each bristles at the other’s extremes, oblivious to their own. Thus, the show is a series of escalating scenarios, where their oil and water makeup threatens to fracture the friendship beyond repair.

But how did things get to such a point? After entering the stage to raucous applause (seen by this scribe on Dec. 4, the second of two shows at NYC’s Town Hall), Jinkx and DeLa acknowledge the down time (“two years gone”) between these annual Yuletide stage shows, during which each gives their own take on the bill-paying indignities of Cameo bookings.

All is well—but soon enough, we’re introduced to an all-new character whose chemistry with DeLa does not sit well, at all, with Jinkx (a study in delayed or devoured pleasure, depending upon whether she stops short or imbibes from her omnipresent cocktail glass). It doesn’t help at all that the budding new bestie is a saccharine-sweet, larger than life, anthropomorphic peppermint retrieved from the bottom of DeLa’s comedically oversized purse.

Peppi the Peppermint (puppeteered by DeLa) is a bottomless well of mint-based puns and newborn-innocent questions about the meaning of words. The script hands Jinkx a half-dozen or so chances to stew in her juices before boiling over, when Peppi’s vocabulary comprehension skills are portrayed as wildly inconsistent (multisyllabic words are understood perfectly, while the meaning of simple ones prove elusive).

For fans of 2020’s subversively sincere and heroically explicit “The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Special” (currently available on HULU), Peppi the Peppermint is to this show as Nanog (DeLa’s “dairy nogmother” puppet) is to that one—a seemingly harmless confidant who transfixes DeLa while alienating Jinkx. In addition to this forward-moving narrative device, “The Return of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE!” benefits from mounting several of the production numbers from “Holiday Special,” complete with a six-person dance ensemble drawn from that show’s cast.

Benefitting from on-point costumes that crystallize the essence of their character, the ensemble is especially effective in DeLa’s dense little ditty about all the essential elements of a Connecticut Christmas. Later on, in a number that takes jabs at the story of the virgin birth and its 33-year aftermath, one dancer—as the adult Jesus—becomes the cross that the Christ child is crucified on. Played as a seconds-long tableau within the song’s fast-paced choreography, it’s long-lasting satire at its most devastating and damning. 

That’s only one of several WTF? moments in the show, the best of which they save for late in the game. Having earned sustained hoots and hollers throughout the nearly two-hour show, the broad comedy gets toned down a few dozen notches, with our freshly reconciled Jinkx and DeLa in an exchange about the gift of friendship and the power of community. There’s a grounded sincerity to that moment, with no expectation, or delivery, of a punchline. That’s a tough act to sell when you’ve been playing to the back of the house all night—but it works, and it’s wonderful. 

“The Return of The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show, LIVE!” comes to the Los Angeles area for one show only: Saturday, December 18, at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. Produced and directed by BenDeLaCreme, co-written and co-created by BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon, and associate produced by Kevin Heard. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit jinkxanddela.com

Saturday, December 18 – Los Angeles, CA (The Theatre at Ace Hotel)

Sunday, December 19 – San Francisco, CA (The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre)

Tuesday, December 21 – Seattle, WA (The Neptune)

Wednesday, December 22 – Seattle, WA (The Neptune)

Thursday, December 23 – Seattle, WA (The Neptune)

Friday, December 24 – Seattle, WA (The Neptune)

Sunday, December 26 – Seattle, WA (The Neptune)

Tuesday, December 28 – Vancouver, BC (Vogue Theatre)

Thursday, December 30 – Portland, OR (The Newmark)

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Golden Globes announces diverse slate of nominees

But is it diverse enough to quell controversy?

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Billy Porter and Michaela Jae Rodriquez in POSE (Image courtesy FX)

[NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect corrections from the originally published version. The previous HFPA membership included no Black members, instead of no people of color as initially reported. Additionally, it was previously stated that the awards ceremony would take place on the Golden Globes’ You Tube channel; however, a format for the presentation has yet to be officially announced.]

HOLLYWOOD – If any doubt remained that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has fallen spectacularly out of favor, it was summarily erased by the fact that the sole celebrity on hand to help announce the list of nominations for its 2021 Golden Globe Awards was Snoop Dogg.

That’s not a dig against Snoop Dogg. The eminently lovable rapper is an icon who manages to float effortlessly between worlds within the entertainment industry, thanks to a reputation for enthusiastic self-parody and a proven tendency to be pretty much game for anything – and frankly, watching him read the service manual for a vintage sewing machine would likely be more entertaining than sitting through a list of award nominees being recited (with perfunctory reverence, of course) by even the most accomplished of screen thespians.

Still, the glaring absence of any representative from the industry which the HFPA exists to honor is proof that the organization is still a long way from recovering from the scandal that broke in the wake of a Los Angeles Times investigative report earlier this year, which revealed that its nearly 90-person membership included no Black members and provided damning details about its long-alleged unethical practices – including the influence over its voting process by gifts, paid travel, and other perks from studios and networks behind the potential nominees and winners.

The bombshell report, which was published mere days before the Golden Globes presentation last February, led to an embarrassing award show in which the revelation of the winners was eclipsed by the organization’s scramble to do damage control.

Leaning into a too-little-too-late show of diversity among the ceremony’s performers and presenters, and sending some of the HFPA’s high-level representatives to the podium in a desperate effort to spin the situation with a not-quite-apology for its previous shortcomings (followed by an unconvincing promise to do better), the organization seemed only to have dug itself deeper into the hole of bad publicity that threatened to put an end to the awards body’s 78-year existence, once and for all.

Proposed reforms to the structure and practices of the HFPA were announced, and were promptly dismissed by Time’s Up as “window-dressing platitudes.” Major players in the industry announced intentions to boycott the Golden Globes; more than a hundred PR firms threatened to cut off the HFPA from access to their clients; high-profile talent publicly denounced the organization, with three-time winner Tom Cruise even returning his trophies. Perhaps most disastrous of all, NBC – the network which had been home to the Golden Globes broadcast – announced it would not be airing another one until at least 2023, saying that “change of this magnitude takes time and work” and that “the HFPA needs time to do it right”.

Despite all this, the beleaguered organization declared its intention to continue with its annual awards presentation, and following months of restructuring – in which the HFPA has attempted to diversify its ranks by adding new members, rewritten its bylaws, forbidden the acceptance of gifts, restricted compensated travel, and undertaken an effort to revamp itself from bottom to top – has tenaciously clung to relevance by announcing the nominees for this year’s crop of films and television shows in an early morning press conference marked by the non-participation of any of the potential recipients of those honors.

This means, of course, that it’s time to start gearing up for another awards season in which the dramatic changes wrought by the Covid pandemic upon the entertainment industry are sure to have a still-unpredictable effect on the outcomes, and to engage in a game of “armchair quarterbacking” as we attempt to predict how the honors bestowed by other awards bodies will impact the winners’ circle for the most coveted industry prize of all: the Oscars.

Traditionally, the Golden Globes have been seen as a bellwether for Academy Award inclusion, with many of the nominees and winners going on to eventual Oscar glory – but given the current still-ongoing boycott of the HFPA by so many of the industry’s most influential power-players, it remains to be seen if that long-standing assumption will hold true this year.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking a look at the nominees – with an eye to the diversity among the choices, particularly the inclusion of LGBTQ-relevant nominees among the contenders.

For television, Black actors Billy Porter (“Pose”) and Omar Sy (“Lupin”), as well as South Korean actor Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Game”), received nominations as Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series, while the equivalent Lead Actress category included Black actress Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”) and Black/Puerto Rican actress Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (“Pose”) – who also makes history by becoming the first transgender performer to be nominated in this category, a feat she also accomplished at the 2021 Emmys. In the Comedy division, Black actor Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”) picked up a nod as Best Lead Actor, with Black actresses Issa Rae (“Insecure”) and Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) included among the nominees for Best Lead Actress.

In the supporting categories (which are not divided into comedy and drama division), O Yeong-su (“Squid Game”) got a nod for Best Supporting Actor, with no nominees of color named within the Supporting Actress slate.

For performances in a Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television, Latino actor Oscar Isaac (“Scenes From a Marriage”) and French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim (“The Serpent”) made the cut for Best Actor, while Black actress Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) was nominated for Best Actress.

The big screen acting categories also included several nominees of color. Though there were no performers of color in the running for Best Lead Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, the Lead Actor slate includes three Black actors – Mahershala Ali (“Swan Song”), Will Smith (“King Richard”), and Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) – among its contenders. In the Musical or Comedy division, Latino actor Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”) scored a nomination for Lead Actor, with Latino/Polish newcomer Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”) earning a nod for Lead Actress.

In the Supporting categories (which again, are not separated into Drama and Comedy divisions), Black performers Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) and Ruth Negga (“Passing”) joined Black/Puerto Rican performer Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) on the list of Actress nominees, and while the Actor category contained no performers of color, deaf actor Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) made the cut, in a rare show of representation for people with disabilities.

When it comes to LGBTQ representation, however, the nominations fall considerably shorter. Among all the acting nominees, the only out members of the community are Porter and Rodriguez (each in their respective Lead Performance categories for “Pose”), Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) and Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) for Lead Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, and Hannah Einbender (“Hacks”) for Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Television Comedy. In addition to these, Azuba, Erivo, and Andrew Garfield (nominated for Best Lead Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for “tick, tick… Boom!”) are noted for their vocal LGBTQ advocacy as allies. 

While nominees Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee (nominated for Lead and Supporting Actor, respectively, in a Motion Picture Drama for “The Power of the Dog”) play queer characters, both identify as straight in real life. The same is true for Ewan McGregor, nominated as Best Actor in a Limited Series for his star turn as the title character in “Halston”.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the Best Director of a Motion Picture category, long dominated exclusively by men, this year includes two women: Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”) and Maggie Gyllenhall (“The Lost Daughter”)

Whether or not these nominees – or any of the others, for that matter – end up following up their recognition today with nods or wins on Oscar night remains to be seen. In the meantime, we can find out who will take the HFPA’s honors on January 9, when the Golden Globes are scheduled to take place. According to a representative from Sunshine Sachs (the PR firm representing the HFPA), a format for the presentation has yet to be determined, so it’s still unclear if we will get a chance to see who actually shows up to claim a prize from an organization now relegated to pariah status by most of Hollywood.

A complete list of nominations is below.

Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy

“The Great” (Hulu)

“Hacks” (HBO/HBO Max)

“Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)

“Reservation Dogs” (FX on Hulu) 

“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Drama

Brian Cox (“Succession”)

Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Game”)

Billy Porter (“Pose”)

Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)

Omar Sy (“Lupin)

Best Performance by an Actress, Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

Jessica Chastain (“Scenes From a Marriage”)

Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”)
 
Elizabeth Olsen (“WandaVision“) 

Margaret Qualley (“Maid”)

Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”)

Best Director, Motion Picture

Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”) 

Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)

Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”)

Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”) 

Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”) 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Marion Cotillard (“Annette”)

Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”) 

Jennifer Lawrence (“Don’t Look Up”) 

Emma Stone (“Cruella”)

Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Mahershala Ali (“Swan Song”)

Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”) 

Will Smith (“King Richard”) 

Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) 

Best Television Series, Drama

“Lupin” (Netflix)

“The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus)

“Pose” (FX)

“Squid Game” (Netflix)

“Succession” (HBO/HBO Max)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama

Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”)

Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)

Christine Baranski (“The Good Fight)

Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (“Pose”)

Best Performance by an Actor, Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture made for Television

Paul Bettany (“WandaVision”)

Oscar Isaac (“Scenes From a Marriage”)

Michael Keaton (“Dopesick”)

Ewan McGregor (“Halston”)

Tahar Rahim (“The Serpent”)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Leonardo DiCaprio (“Don’t Look Up”) 

Peter Dinklage (“Cyrano”) 

Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”) 

Cooper Hoffman (“Licorice Pizza”)

Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”)

Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture

Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”) 

Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”) 

Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”) 

Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) 

Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)

Best Original Score, Motion Picture

“The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures) — Alexandre Desplat 

“Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) — Germaine Franco

“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) — Jonny Greenwood 

“Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classic) — Alberto Iglesias 

“Dune” (Warner Bros.) — Hans Zimmer

Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy

Hannah Einbinder (“Hacks”)

Elle Fanning (“The Great”)

Issa Rae (“Insecure”)

Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)

Jean Smart (“Hacks”)

Best Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture made for Television

“Dopesick” (Hulu)

“Impeachment: American Crime Story” (FX)

“Maid” (Netflix) 

“Mare of Easttown” (HBO/HBO Max)

“The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime Video)

Best Supporting Actor, Television

Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”)

Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)

Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show”)

Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”)

O Yeong-su (“Squid Game”)

Best Picture, Musical or Comedy

“Cyrano” (MGM)

“Don’t Look Up” (Netflix) 

“Licorice Pizza” (MGM) 

“Tick, Tick … Boom!” (Netflix) 

“West Side Story” (20th Century Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture

Caitríona Balfe (“Belfast”) 

Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) 

Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”) 

Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) 

Ruth Negga (“Passing”)

Best Picture, Foreign Language

“Compartment No. 6” (Sony Pictures Classics) — Finland, Russia, Germany

“Drive My Car” (Janus Films) — Japan

“The Hand of God” (Netflix) — Italy

“A Hero” (Amazon Studios) — France, Iran

“Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics) — Spain

Best Screenplay, Motion Picture

Paul Thomas Anderson — “Licorice Pizza” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) 

Kenneth Branagh — “Belfast” (Focus Features) 

Jane Campion — “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) 

Adam McKay — “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

Aaron Sorkin — “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)

Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”) 

Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)

Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) 

Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) 

Best Motion Picture, Drama

“Belfast” (Focus Features) 

“CODA” (Apple) 

“Dune” (Warner Bros.) 

“King Richard” (Warner Bros.) 

“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) 

Best Television Actor, Musical / Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)

Nicholas Hoult (“The Great”)

Steve Martin (“Only Murders in the Building”)

Martin Short (“Only Murders in the Building”)

Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”)

Best Supporting Actress, Television

Jennifer Coolidge (“White Lotus”)

Kaitlyn Dever (“Dopesick”)

Andie MacDowell (“Maid”)

Sarah Snook (“Succession”)

Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”)

Best Original Song, Motion Picture

“Be Alive” from “King Richard” (Warner Bros.) — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Dixson 

“Dos Orugitas” from “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) — Lin-Manuel Miranda 

“Down to Joy” from “Belfast” (Focus Features) — Van Morrison 

“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) — Jamie Hartman, Jennifer Hudson, Carole King 

“No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die” (MGM/United Artists Releasing) — Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell 

Best Motion Picture, Animated

“Encanto” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

“Flee” (Neon) 

“Luca” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) 

“My Sunny Maad” (Totem Films)

“Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Studios)

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Belinda Carlisle brings a heavenly Christmas Bash December 16th

Her work evolves beyond the demands of the pop market while never losing its hooks and whimsy. it reflects Belinda’s evolving life

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Courtesy of Belinda Carlise

HOLLYWOOD – On December 16th, 7pm, the city of West Hollywood transforms into a piece of “Heaven on Earth.” An angelic supernatural deity from the sky won’t be delivering this gift, but rather an angel from iconic pop paradise.

That night, Belinda Carlisle makes a grand entrance and gives an eager audience the presence of a queen of pop, the most recent inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with her group, The Go-Gos.

It will be on that night that Belinda Carlisle hosts THE party event of the season with co-host, drag superstar, Trixie Mattel. One sings, one throws comedic shade, and a packed room at the Abbey will be losing their collective minds.  Not that the party itself isn’t all the reason you would need to get it on your calendar, the evening benefits a fantastic charity, The Animal People Alliance (APA), that intertwines the love for animals with the salve to human suffering.

Courtesy of Trixie Mattel

APA’s charter reads: “To provide high quality and compassionate care, of the highest standards, to neglected street animals in India and Thailand. We train and employ vulnerable people from the community, and pay living wages that help them improve their standard of living.”   The organization, by employing people who would otherwise be stateless and/or in poverty, has treated over 16000 street animals since 2014. Their programs for animals include rabies vaccinations, sterilizations and other emergency health aid.

Belinda sat down with me this week on the podcast RATED LGBT RADIO to talk about her life, her amazing career, her party and the strength she has achieved in standing up to both inner and outer demons.

She survives. She fearlessly opens herself up, and if anyone scrutinizes her past… she will lead the way.  She happily tells of being a member of the most successful all-women pop bands in history.  They sang and wrote their own songs, they played their own instruments. They did it on their terms. No men were needed or required. She candidly shares about her struggles with eating disorders and drug addiction. 

Belinda shows profound compassion for those struggling with addiction and darkness, “Addiction is a sickness…it is a disease of perception, you can’t see your effect on other people… It is a trap you feel you can’t get out of. Every addict has a heart and a humanity that is obscured by addiction. It is a horrible, horrible thing for anyone to go through. It is hard to remember that there is a heart under all that, there is something divine under all that darkness.”

Her interest focuses more on what came after she embarked on recovery  “My life is much more exciting since sobriety, even more exciting than the hey day with the Go-Gos. For anyone out there who is worried about aging, or life being over at a certain point—it’s not. Life is just the most amazing miracle and privilege.”

Her significance for the LGBTQ community, impacts many of the most vulnerable.  She is the mom of a gay man, activist and writer, James Duke Mason. His birth made her examine the trajectory of fame, drugs, and rock & roll in which she was on, careening threateningly close to disaster and death.

She had settled comfortably into maternal nurturement when Duke came out to her at the age of 14. Belinda had been impressed with Duke’s ability to explain the situation to her. She found out that he had been online with PFLAG for weeks learning about how to present his news to her, information to give and educated about key talking points. 

Appreciating their real life help of a young person in need, Belinda vehemently supported PFLAG, the Trevor Project and others ever since. “I am so glad I have a gay son, I can’t even tell you,” she says.

Artistically, she also continues to thrive.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally inducted the Go-Gos this year.  It was an honor 15 years in the making.  It should have been an obvious choice to put them there.

As the first all-female group making it big, they sang, wrote every note and played every instruments. The Go-Go’s, a 2020 American/Irish/Canadian documentary film directed and produced by Alison Ellwood, cast attention on the Hall of Fame oversight, and essentially made the case for how special the group actually was.

Belinda also recently released a new single Get Together a cover of the 1967 Youngbloods hit. The Youngbloods sang it at Woodstock in 1969 to make a statement about the divisions of the Viet Nam era in America.

Belinda sings it now, her voice pure, mature and as an anthem making a plea, if not a motherly order, to reconsider the divisions we are experiencing today.  She says, “We live in this age of outrage.  This song is ‘ok people, CHILL OUT’. All this divisiveness is not going to get us anywhere. It’s timely.”

Beyond Get Together, Belinda works on more new music including singles and a new album.  She continues to produce with the top song creators of the industry including award winning song writer Diane Warren and Go-Gos dates at the end of the year.

Her work evolves beyond the demands of the pop market while never losing its hooks and whimsy. it reflects the channeling of Belinda’s evolving life.  When she lived in France, she released a French collection.

As she delved into spirituality and the culture of Thailand, she released the powerful Wilder Shores, which blended a spiritual mantra into pop hooks. “Chanting is a science, it has a super power. It is not airy fairy,” she states.

The fact is, Belinda Carlisle continues arriving and thrilling.  She does not need to prove herself to anyone.  She has defined the next thirty years of her life as philanthropy.  

“I just wing it as I go along. I learned what it is like to work from the heart. Work in a way where you don’t care about any kind of outcome. That is how I am working now. I am just having fun, and doing just what I want. I am really lucky that way,” she declares.

Her party on December 16th at the Abbey appears right on track to bear that out.

Love, humanity, care of animals and a major splash of fabulousness enveloping an enthused audience.

In other words, pure Belinda.

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Listen to the full interview:

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Rob Watson is the host of RATED LGBT RADIO, a national podcast and he’s one of the founders of the evolequals.com.

A gay dad, business man, community activist and a blogger/writer, Watson is a contributor to the Los Angeles Blade covering entertainment, film, television, and culture with occasional politics tossed in.

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