Out & About
Parties and events in the week to come
Friday, Oct. 25
Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos begins today from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Grand Park Performance Lawn (Near Hill Street at 200 N. Grand Ave.) Noche de Ofrenda is a free, family-friendly experience and part of a suite of events taking place during the season of Día de los Muertos, both at Self Help Graphics & Art and Grand Park. The Noche de Ofrenda event in Grand Park will feature a large-scale community altar produced by National Endowment Fellow and L.A. icon Ofelia Esparza, live entertainment and more than 35 altars produced by artists and community organizations. Noche de Ofrenda is a contemplative ceremony and night of reflection that connects communities to traditions and highlights indigenous practices during a contemporary celebration. *Part of Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos, the altars are open to the public from Oct. 26–Nov. 3.
Wednesday, Oct. 30
Halloween Drag Queen Bingo is tonight from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM at Hamburger Mary’s (8288 Santa Monica Blvd.). Grab a wig and a card, get set, eat, love and bingo. That’s all you need to do score some major supportive bucks for the Disability Community Resource Center, the 40-year-old West Side non-profit that houses differently abled people. Enjoy celebrity guests, a costume contest and you can score for a good cause. Free.
Thursday, Oct. 31
HAUNTED BEACH HOUSE is tonight from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM at 240 Main St., Santa Monica. Imagine a naked Knott’s Scary farm! It’s really spooky, grab and play event with alcohol, food and a huge line up of beautiful people (or are they?) and top artists, including two of America’s most in demand producer/DJ’s, EC Twins (SONY MUSIC) and secret special guests! Last year Beyoncé showed up with Kim Kardashian on a $5 million dollar crystal leash, like she ought to be. $75 at the door.
A Scarytale of Los Angeles is tonight from 8:00 PM to midnight at The Hoxton (1060 South Broadway). Outdoor rooftop fun with one of the best poolside musical experiences in Los Angeles, a wild dance floor, great food, drinks and crazy costumes. It’s not a specifically LGBT thing but you are guaranteed to be spooked and have loads after loads of fun. $150.
West Hollywood’s World Famous Carnaval is tonight from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood from La Cienega to Doheny. Here’s what you ought to know: Yes, the Halloween Carnaval is free; Kids should probably sit this one out; Parking can be … scary … just walk to the event from afar; OMFG! There will be plenty of music; No, you can’t drink alcohol on the street; Don’t be a jerk and have fun. You will be dazzled by the artistic talents of some of Hollywood’s most fantastic special effects and makeup displays and the lively atmosphere. It is unmatched in the world. And it’s free.
Friday, Nov. 1
Palm Springs Pride Festival 2019 LGBT Pride Weekend begins today from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM all over central Palm Spring. A weekend packed full of parties, festivals and live music, Palm Springs Pride 2019 is not to be missed. It’s billed as one of the most festive Prides anywhere and is the second largest in California behind LA Pride. You won’t go wrong, if you can find your way there. If you haven’t found a hotel or don’t have a home to stay in yet, you may just have to rely on a friendly local. But that’s ok because there’s just so much to do you won’t even need a place. Get more details at pspride.org.
Saturday, Nov. 2
20th annual Día de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever : SACRED MIGRATIONS – MIGRACIONES SAGRADAS is today from 12:00 PM to 11:59 PM at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (6000 Santa Monica Blvd.). Hollywood Forever’s 20th annual Día de los Muertos celebration will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2. This year, the guiding theme is the Monarch Butterfly and its winter home, the Mexican state of Michoacán. Michoacán is also one of the two cultural heartlands in Mexico where the ancient traditions of Día de los Muertos have been celebrated the longest and most vibrantly. You will embrace the Monarch butterfly as a symbol of Dreamers and Immigrants whose personal journeys echo the annual migrations the butterflies make between Mexico and the U.S. The Monarch’s pending inclusion on the Endangered Species list is also an urgent call to love and protect our shared earth and share our gratitude for the beautiful migration of Día de los Muertos from its homeland of Michoacán to the heart of Hollywood.
Out & About
As LA’s iconic ‘Dragstrip’ reunites, its co-creator has eye on history
Dragstrip’s big reunion bash at Los Globos on April 22 – is an event guaranteed to be packed, since all its advance tickets were sold
LOS ANGELES – Picture, if you will, a nightclub full of diverse patrons, gathered for a communal evening of music, dancing, and gloriously free self-expression. Yes, there’s a drag show, but it’s not just on the stage; most of the people in the crowd are bedecked in the edgiest, cheekiest, most deliciously transgressive gender-bending finery they could devise, assembled from the treasures found in their closets or their neighborhood thrift stores.
It’s campy and kitschy, yes, but it’s also edgy and sexy and intoxicating fun. Outside the walls, there might be an aggressively bigoted, homophobic faction of society that would love to shut the whole thing down, but in this place, for this moment, they are powerless to stop this vibrant celebration from happening or put even the slightest damper on the joyful spirit of the mixed queer-and-allied community lucky enough to be there.
The scene above might sound like a typical evening at any number of popular nightlife venues in 2023 – despite the hateful vitriol and clumsy legal overreach of the conservative homophobes currently working overtime to try and legislate all things queer out of existence – but it’s one that could be found in Los Angeles for two decades (from 1993-2013) at a regular monthly happening called “Dragstrip 66’, and for those who were regulars it’s more than just a memory. It’s a cultural touchstone to an experience that helped to shape their lives.
Of course, it’s not exactly news that a club event like Dragstrip was spawned 30 years ago, and it certainly wasn’t the only one; legendary drag-themed events like Wigstock and TrannyShack were also happening in other big cities, launching the careers of countless queens and other performance artists who have gone on to leave their indelible mark on the art form. Though drag popularity has undergone a recent surge in the mainstream, anyone old enough to remember a world before RuPaul knows well enough it’s not a new phenomenon – though it can sometimes seem to queer elders that newer generations within the community are largely ignorant of their cultural history.
Now, as he gears up for this weekend’s big Dragstrip 66 Reunion, marking the tenth anniversary of the event’s final manifestation in 2013, that’s exactly what worries Paul Vitagliano.
Better known to queer Angelenos as DJ Paul V., he co-founded Dragstrip in 1993 with his best friend, “Mr. Dan” Derkacz – who quickly became a local drag legend in his own right as the impresario of East LA’s Cavern Club, where he has been holding court since 1994. The two men had collaborated on a few previous club events that never quite took off the way they had hoped, but when they opened the doors of their newest brainchild (at Rudolpho’s in Silver Lake), everything changed. With a crowd encouraged to dress in drag, weekly themes (like “Florence of Arabia,” “Jocks N Frocks”, and “Vegas in Space”), DJ Paul spinning an eclectic blend of music unlike anything typically heard in LGBTQ nightclubs at the time – from rock to disco, funk to hip hop, indie pop to electro, and everything in between – and Mr. Dan presiding over the festivities as “Gina Lotriman”, whose role might be better described as “ringmaster” than as “MC”, Dragstrip 66 became a local underground sensation almost by word-of-mouth alone.
“We didn’t really advertise,” Vitagliano says. “You had to find it. You had to work to find it.”
That’s because, as he puts it, there was “a synergy” around drag in the ‘90s, a radical, even dangerous aura that made it unwelcome in many queer spaces. “I like to joke that if you told any of the Levi and Leather guys back then that someday there would be drag queens hosting brunches and bingos in their bars, their heads would have exploded.”
It was partly this separatist attitude, perhaps, that helped Dragstrip not only to quickly attract an audience, but to keep them coming back for twenty years.
“We elevated the freaks and the misfits and the artists above the muscle men and the pretty boys,” he explains, simply. “These were people who didn’t have a place to be welcomed in mainstream gay culture, the queer kids who didn’t fit with the “cool” crowd and didn’t want to.”
There were other, even more personal reasons these “freaks and misfits” were so eager to convene each month in Dragstrip’s early years, when AIDS and a volatile political struggle for equality were an inescapable part of the LGBTQ cultural context.
“Our friends were still very sick and dying,” Vitagliano recalls. “Our daytime existence could be a living hell, we might be taking care of sick people, there was grief, and loss, and sadness – and even just once a month, for a few hours, Dragstrip was a respite from all that. It was a way to feel alive, and connected, to not feel like we were sick and dying.”
“And then when the cocktails happened, and we were told we were going to survive, that we were still going to be here, it became a different kind of celebration.”
By the time Dragstrip reached the end of its long run, it certainly felt like there was plenty to celebrate. The tide of public opinion was swinging decisively in favor of LGBTQ rights, marriage equality was within our grasp, and Barack Obama was in the White House. Why not end things on a high note?
All of this is the kind of “unwritten” history Vitagliano fears will be lost if the next generations don’t start learning about it before it’s too late – something that’s been even more deeply on his mind since the death of Helkina, who was a frequent participant in Dragstrip both before and after founding Trannyshack in 1996.
“We’ve lost a giant,” he says, still audibly shaken by his friend’s unexpected passing in London earlier this month. “These stories need to be told before the people who can tell them aren’t here anymore.”
He believes it’s particularly important now, perhaps more than ever. With conservative backlash against LGBTQ Americans in general at frighteningly regressive levels, and trans people and drag queens in particular bearing the brunt of their bigoted legislative furor, elevating our heroes and their histories is a crucial element of countering that hate in the public arena, but it can only happen if we know about them ourselves.
Fortunately, he’s prepared to do his part – in fact he’s been preparing for it over the past ten years, when as he and his cohorts prepared to stage what they presumed would be Dragstrip’s final installment, they decided to film it and build a documentary – which would eventually gain the title “Dragstrip 66: The Frockumentary” – around the footage with the archive of images, videos, and press clippings they had amassed over their two-decade run. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign that was launched to fund the movie, Vitagliano and co-director Phil Scanlon set to work digitizing all that material and assembling it into a rough cut – but since they both had day jobs, it took them years to do it. It also ate up all the money they had raised for the project.
Now, on the eve of Dragstrip’s big reunion bash at Los Globos on April 22 – an event guaranteed to be packed, since all its advance tickets were sold in quick order once it was announced via newsletter to the hundreds (if not thousands) of former patrons still on the email list – Vitagliano and Scanlon are gearing up to do another round of filming, this time to capture an epilogue for their movie. They hope to capture the strong bond of community that has kept Dragstrip in the hearts and souls of their patrons across the years, as well as to contrast the stark difference between the hopeful political environment that surrounded its last appearance in 2013 with the atmosphere of extremist right-wing opposition we’re experiencing today.
They also hope to provide a crucial jolt of financial life to the documentary, encouraging the party’s enthusiastic attendees to donate on the project’s Film Independent funding page and crossing their fingers over the not-unreasonable possibility that someone among the former patrons of a highly popular Los Angeles LGBTQ club event might have a Hollywood connection or two that might be interested in helping them shepherd the project to completion. After all, Dragstrip attracted a vast array of celebrity guests over the years, and not just on the stage, where now-iconic queens like Jackie Beat, Sherry Vine, and more were regular performers, but among the crowd; the list of stars who attended over the years is far too long to publish here, but it includes more than a few famous names – including Ryan Murphy, who is known to have attended more than once while the event was still being hosted by Rudolpho’s.
Whether any of that will yield the necessary push needed to complete “Dragstrip 66: The Frockumentary” remains to be seen, but given the quick advance sell-out and the almost certain likelihood of epic-length lines for “at the door” admission, the odds might be better than most aspiring indie doc projects typically face.
Either way, Vitagliano and Scanlon have no plans of giving up on it anytime soon; it’s a passion project for them both, to put it mildly. The latter even sent a statement saying us that he wants it to celebrate “an embattled LGBTQ community that learned to live and thrive again” and “to inspire all others to stand in their strength and never be silent.”
Vitagliano vigorously agrees with that goal.
“Dragstrip 66 was a lightning-in-a-bottle queer miracle,” he says. “It was just the right idea, at the right time, with all the right people creating their own chosen-family community. It was a lifeboat during a very tough time that Mr. Dan and I needed ourselves, while also providing a very necessary, all-welcoming, and incredibly fun nightclub. We really want this documentary to honor our generation, who experienced it over 20 years, and inspire the next generation to carry our torch.”
Out & About
LA Leather Pride 2023 is in full swing through Sunday, March 26
Volunteers are always welcomed and appreciated at LA Leather Pride 2023 events. There are many opportunities to get involved and help out
By Paulo Murillo | LOS ANGELES – LA Leather Pride 2023 kicked off earlier this week on March 19 and will host a series of event through this weekend on Sunday, March 26. So far it’s been a week filled with events, music, and community building.
The kickoff Party event began on March 19 at The Bullet Bar. On March 20, LA Leather Pride 2023 hosted La La Leather IV, a concert of classic and original music performed in gear by members of the Los Angeles Leather Community, at MCC in the Valley. There was also a Contestant Meet & Greet on March 23rd at 910WeHo, where contestants competing for the title of Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2023 met their supporters.
On Friday, March 24, The Assembly will be a formal leather/uniform dress code event starting at 7:30pm at Rough Trade Gear.
Also on Friday, DenLA Presents: Release!, a dance & play party for men at an all new, larger DTLA venue. Ticket includes: Open Bar! Free clothes check! Play spaces throughout.
On Saturday March 25, the Mr Los Angeles Leather Contest will be held at The Catwalk Club, starting at 5pm.
Off Sunset Festival is taking place on Sunday, March 26. This will be a day of fun, food, and entertainment for the entire community. More info OffSunsetFestival.com.
This year’s theme is “Release!”
“We live in a post pandemic world that is fraught with anxiety, worries and fears,” said Gabriel Green, Chairman of LA Leather Pride 2023. “While we are now free to move about the world, there is a cloud of uncertainty that looms over wondering what will tomorrow bring. For these reasons we chose the theme of ‘Release!’ for this year’s Los Angeles Leather Pride. Release has two meanings: to enable to escape confinement and to allow something to move, act or flow freely.”
Volunteers are always welcomed and appreciated at LA Leather Pride 2023 events. There are many opportunities to get involved and help out, including assisting with event setup, serving drinks, and greeting attendees. If you’re interested in volunteering, visit LALeatherPride.com and fill out the volunteer application form.
Get your tickets now for leather pride week at LALeatherPride.com
Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.
The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.
Out & About
Mark your calendar for these LA events
Art exhibits, AGT returns, and more
It’s a busy season in LA — here are our staff picks for some of the events not to miss this spring.
‘America’s Got Talent’ season 18 begins taping in Pasadena. Join Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, and Terry Crews as part of the live studio audience for “America’s Got Talent.” Fans ages 8 and older can be a part of the star-studded audience and watch the world’s best performers in-person. It all begins on March 23 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and continues through mid-April.
Odyssey’s ‘Threshholds of Invention’ performance series presents Sandra Tsing Loh, Michael Kearns in April. Threshholds of Invention is Odyssey Theatre Ensemble’s new series, curated by actor, director, musician and performance artist Tony Abatemarco, of first looks at pieces-in-progress by prominent LA visionaries working in pop-up form. Next up in April: new work by Sandra Tsing Loh and Michael Kearns. Saturday, April 1 at 8 p.m.
“A Madwoman of the Theatre: 25 F*king Years of Sandra Tsing Loh,” a hilarious, quasi-TED-style rant revealing Loh’s past artistic ms/adventures, and an introduction to Loh’s new comedy Madwoman of the West that will star Caroline Aaron, Marilu Henner, Melanie Mayron and JoBeth Williams at the Odyssey beginning May 26.
“It Must Be Him,” a musical memoir exploring the splendor of gender written and performed by Michael Kearns, recently named the “Godfather of LGBTQ+ authenticity” by the Los Angeles Blade. Sunday, April 2 at 2 p.m., Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles
Coming up at the Zephyr Theatre on March 17 and 18 at 7 p.m.: “Steady Bad Luckers,” an evening of stories about lovable (and sometimes not-so-lovable) losers from history, brought to you by comic, stripper, queer porn archivist and historian Woody Shticks and writer, producer and podcast host Alex Steed (co-host of the podcast “feelings podcast about movies” You Are Good with Sarah Marshall). In a world full of redemption arcs and revised narratives, we remain heartened by all of the resonant losers and bad-luckers that history has forgotten. With some slides and a lot of good humor, we are eager to share some of our favorites with a live audience. Alex will tell Woody about a bad-lucker from his profession, Woody will tell Alex about a bad-lucker from his. Think live podcast, minus the podcast, plus the PowerPoint. There will be plenty of slides and a whole lot of jokes! Admission is a $15 suggested donation. Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles.
Loft Ensemble in North Hollywood has announced its next production, “Gifted” by Bob DeRosa. Directed by Jennier DeRosa & Sarah Nilsen, the cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Biniyam Abreha, Antwan Alexander II, Lemon Baardsen, Isaac Deakyne, John Goodwin, Jay Hoshina, April Littlejohn, Ignacio Navarro, Jazmine Nichelle, Danielle Ozymandias, Bree Pavey, Benjamin Rawls, Madylin Sweeten, and Nate Thurman. There will be 12 performances only, beginning Friday, March 10, and running Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. through April 2. General admission is DONATE WHAT YOU WANT. Seats may be reserved online at www.loftensemble.org or by phone at 818-452-3153. Loft Ensemble is located at 11031 Camarillo Street in North Hollywood, 91602
The City of West Hollywood’s Artists and Icons series will host a conversation with actress, director, and concerned citizen Barbara Bain, highlighting her decades-long career. Conversation will Highlight the Work of Ms. Bain, Best Known for Her Work in the Television Series ‘Mission: Impossible.’ Event will Take Place on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at the City’s Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room. RSVP is Requested.
Big Little Theater Company in association with the Los Angeles LGBT Center has announced its world premiere production of “Menstruation: A Period Piece by Miranda Rose Hall.” Produced by Camille Jenkins and under the direction of Katie Lindsay with music by Tova Katz, previews begin on March 16 with opening set for Friday, March 24, at 8 p.m. The cast will feature (in alphabetical order) Kaci Hamilton, Audra Isadora, Kate Lý Johnston, Jane Hae Kim, Jo Lampert, Bibi Mama, and Marnina Schon. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $25 for previews and $35 for regular performances, and may be purchased online at www.lalgbtcenter.org/tickets. Previews are Thursday 3/16, Friday 3/17, Saturday 3/18, Sunday 3/19, Wednesday 3/22, and Thursday 3/23, at 8pm. Opening is on Friday 3/24 at 8pm, and the engagement runs through April 16 only. The regular playing schedule is Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The LGBT Center’s Davidson/Valentini Theatre is located at 1125 N. McCadden Place (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Boulevard), in Hollywood, 90038.
Collections this spring at the The Museum of Contemporary Art:
Henry Taylor: B Side: Surveying thirty years of Henry Taylor’s work in painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation, this retrospective celebrates a Los Angeles artist widely appreciated for his unique aesthetic, social vision, and freewheeling experimentation. Populated by friends and relatives, strangers on the street, athletic stars, politicians and entertainers, Taylor’s canvases describe an imagination encompassing multiple worlds. Informed by experience, his work conveys its fundamental empathy in close looking and sharpened social criticism alike. Henry Taylor: B Side is the largest exhibition of Taylor’s work to date.
“Long Story Short” presents artworks dating from the 1970s to the present day, drawn from MOCA’s world-renowned, ever-growing collection of more than 7,500 objects. It demonstrates the myriad ways contemporary artists have addressed aesthetic, political, and philosophical concerns in the last fifty years, whether by reclaiming public space in guerilla-style street performances, innovating new forms, commemorating loves and losses, challenging the hierarchy of art and craft, or rethinking the conventions of portraiture. By exhibiting artworks that are widely regarded as hallmarks of the museum’s collection alongside lesser-known pieces, recent acquisitions, and artworks that have never previously been on view at MOCA, Long Story Short reminds us that art history, and history more broadly, is made in the present.
“Our Voices, Our Getty Reflecting on Drawings,” Feb. 7–April 30, GETTY CENTER. Explore a selection of rarely seen drawings from the Museum’s collection, accompanied by personal interpretations written by the 2022 cohort of interns from the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship program. Contemplative, creative, and sometimes questioning, the students’ reflections cast these drawings in a new light. Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles.
Out & About
Behold! Queer film & performance series continues
Event is pay what you can w/RSVP in person at HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE, 1651 18th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404 RSVP & info at Highways.org
|Ecstasy and Reminiscence: Nights Out in Los Angeles|
Curated by Dino Dinco & Juan Fernández
Saturday, February 11th, 8:30 PM
Ecstasy and Reminiscence: Nights Out in Los Angeles (curated by Dino Dinco & Juan Fernández)
Emerging with fits and starts from a prolonged, challenging quarantine and its social isolation, we celebrate the return to sharing physical space and intimacy by reflecting on Los Angeles nightlife and live performance, particularly the richness and vibrancy that live in the margins and fringe after dark.
Tonight’s works draw poignant threads that link Los Angeles dance floors, art galleries and artists, backyards, and dark rooms from the 1980s through present day, where ecstatic moments collide with mortality and for so many of us, “going out” was going home.
Pacoima Techno & Soltera 818 kick off the night with collaborative video work and live performance.
Pacoima Techno use their experience growing up in the San Fernando Valley, specifically Pacoima, as the basis for their music, live performance, and community organizing. https://www.instagram.com/pacoimatechno/ In addition to creating sultry, hard-edged dance music,
Soltera 818 is the host of the online radio program Todo O Nada centralizing the roots and influences of electronic music across genres while featuring underrepresented artists globally and locally. https://www.instagram.com/soltera818/
A screening of Artbound: Mustache Mondays (directed by Marianne Amelinckx, 2021, PBS), 55 min.
“See how a roving LGBTQ night club event in Los Angeles called Mustache Mondays became a creative incubator for today’s leading edge contemporary artists. This film examines the history of these spaces and how they shaped the Queer cultural fabric unique to Southern California.” – PBS
A new performance work by Creepypasta Puttanesca (aka Alice Cunt):
“Creepypasta Puttanesca is a dish best paid for in advance as she is a hearty serving of a hauntingly delectable specter of the digital realm, a finger-licking ghost in the machine that comes with a complimentary order of all you can eat breadsticks and side salad. Beverage sold separately.” – Creepypasta
An installation by the anonymously run social media account Noche de Jotiar, highlighting “joteadas y pendejadas estílo Los Ángeles.”
The installation features a collection of candid photos and video (many of them previously unshared) along with flyers and music from inside and around queer Latinx/e nightlife in Los Angeles dating from the late 1980s to 2000s. The collection includes photos taken at Hollywood’s Circus Disco, Arena Cafe, and backyard T-parties around the greater Los Angeles area.
Dino Dinco is a film and theater director, performance art curator and maker, writer, and lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at UC San Diego. Based in Tijuana, México, his work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions in Paris, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, in group shows internationally, and is included in the collection of Le Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain de Haute-Normandie, France, as well as private collections in Paris, Antwerp, Brussels, Los Angeles, Barcelona, New York and London. Dinco’s first feature length documentary film, Homeboy, explores gay Latino men who were in gangs. His award-winning short film, El Abuelo, with San Antonio poet Joe Jiménez, premiered at the Tate Modern, has screened internationally, and is included in the online LGBTQ film platform, Frameline Voices.
Dinco co-founded You Wear it Well (2006-2008), the first traveling international film festival dedicated to short films on fashion. He was a Consulting Producer on the Fall 2021 installment of KCET’s Artbound documentary film series which profiled the itinerant Downtown Los Angeles queer dance party, Mustache Mondays (2007 – 2018), of which Dinco was a co-founder. www.dinodinco.com
Juan Antonio Fernández (He/Him) is a media scholar, cultural producer, and educator. Juan has recently relocated to Los Angeles and has produced theater, art installations and performance in New York, Oakland, and San Francisco.
IN PERSON AT HIGHWAYS PERFORMANCE SPACE,
1651 18th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404Info at Highways.org
All events are Pay what you can with an RSVP
BEHOLD! Queer Film and Performance Series, curated by Gina Young, Celeste Kamppila, Dino Dinco, and Juan Fernandez, featuring performance and multiple feature and shorts programs that showcase works from and about the LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities spread over three curated categories.
Saturday, February 11th 8:30 pm
Ecstasy and Reminiscence: Nights Out in Los Angeles (curated by Dino Dinco & Juan Fernández)
Los Angeles dance floors, art galleries and artists, backyards, and dark rooms from the 1980s through present day, where ecstatic moments collide with mortality and for so many of us, “going out” was going home.
Full Festival Schedule and descriptions available at
|Festival website: www.filmmaudit.org|
INSTAGRAM: @filmmaudit2.0 https://www.instagram.com/filmmaudit2.0/?hl=en
FACEBOOK: @filmmaudit2.0 https://www.facebook.com/filmmaudit2.0/
TWITTER @filmmaudit2 https://twitter.com/filmmaudit2
Out & About
“Fully Lit” plays LA’s The Wiltern Thursday
“This is my first time, touring, in a major way since the pandemic,” she noted. “Now, honey, it’s ready to set the nation on fire”
NEW YORK – Who needs to “Hark” when you can “Halleloo”? Heralding its impending arrival in the City of Angels with the righteous reassurance of a “fierce, fabulous, and fiery” experience that flat screens and social distancing simply cannot supply, the Fully Lit Tour is a live stage show starring actor, performer, drag entertainer (and, yes, dancer) D.J. “Shangela” Pierce.
“It’s gonna be high-energy. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be on-stage performances and never-before-heard, behind-the-scenes stories, many of them about celebrities, as well as custom mixes, death drops, and more, baby,” said Shangela, of what to expect when the tour plays LA’s the Wiltern on Thursday, January 26.
The three-season “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant—still basking in the dewy glow of cinematic cred earned from her screen time with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in 2018’s “A Star is Born”—saw that upward trajectory continue, as one of three peripatetic drag ambassadors in the three-season HBO series “We’re Here.” Alongside Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara, the trio travels from town to town, coaching and coaxing budding drag kids out of their shells, while angling to win heartland hearts and pry open closed minds (more on that later).
For the longest time up until now, having the “We’re Here” crew arrive unannounced at your humdrum day job was the only way to score same-room time with Shangla. This tour, she assures, changes all of that.
But why “Fully Lit”? It’s so named, said Shangela, “because I’ve always had a spark for entertaining. But when I first started drag, that spark was lit even more in me. And now, through all of these fun, amazing milestones I’ve experienced in drag, I like to consider myself Fully Lit. So I’m gonna be sharing a lot of what’s led me to this moment,” she says, of a show that was conceived, written, and executed as a statement “about connecting people. Since the pandemic, we had to be so distant from each other—and now I’m really excited to come with a show that’s going to bring us all back together.”
But beyond the longtime fans for which Fully Lit functions as a mother and child reunion, Shangela says newbie fans will not emerge disappointed if they came to see the first drag entertainer to compete on “Dancing with the Stars” (and come in fourth, no less). Mentions of that recent gig, which launched her into the household name stratosphere, are liberally peppered throughout our interview.
Savvy Shangela, always able to cut a rug but never known as a top-tier hoofer, won’t be passing on the opportunity to parlay her DWTS notoriety into live performance gold. “My four dancers and I have been working nonstop,” she told the Blade, while steeped in rehearsal two days before the tour opened in Boston on January 19. “This is my first time, touring, in a major way since the pandemic,” she noted. “Now, honey, it’s ready to set the nation on fire… In this 90-minute show, I wanna give fans everything they have come to expect from Shangela. And I’m going to be bringing a lot of my learning and excitement and energy from “Dancing with the Stars” into this project.”
That’s all well and good, we noted, but what will she be wearing? “Well, I mean, it’s Shangla,” she shot back. “I’m not coming on stage with a pair of socks, honey.”
On the topic of naked displays and raw emotions, talk turned back to her work on “We’re Here”—which co-producer Shangela notes is not an elimination series where manufactured conflict often guides the narrative. “It’s a real-life docu-series,” she says, of the show. “I stress the words ‘real life’ because that’s exactly what we’re experiencing and that’s what I believe comes through when people watch the show.” But don’t confuse “real” with “professionally qualified.” Shangela credits the “We’re Here” track record of successfully nurturing aspiring drag performers to the fact that she’s “gone through a lot of the experiences” happening to “the daughters and drag kids I mentor. I’m not a trained therapist or licensed mentor or a coach in any way. I’m just a real person. So I try to put myself in their shoes and listen to them, but also listen to people who are not familiar with who we are and have opposition to us—and hopefully, bring them to a space where they are more open.”
Asked what she’s open to, we pointed out a rare case of box-not-checked from the pre-tour press material, which notes that as a drag performer, Shangela’s dug her heels into the good earth on six of our planet’s continents—which begged the question: Why hasn’t she parlayed this year’s career-high notoriety into a docu-series shadowing Shangela and other queens as they take up residency in the best (only?) club in Antarctica?
“Oh baby, I don’t need to take anyone with me,” she insisted. “I’m Shangela. I’m ready to do a show right on the continent. It will happen. It will happen. Hopefully by the next time we talk, I’ll be able to say, “And now I’ve done all seven, thank you, Baby. Thank you so much!”
The Blade will continue to follow this important story as it presumably develops. In the meantime, Shangela’s Fully Lit Tour comes to LA at the Wiltern (3790 Wilshire Blvd.) on Thursday, January 26, For tickets: https://shangela.com/pages/tour.
Out & About
Google’s Frightgeist released: What’s trending this Halloween?
In SoCal trending choices were Spider-Man, 1980s-theme getups, and… clowns. Google’s Frightgeist tool includes a “Costume Wizard” feature
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Ca. – The seventh annual Google’s Frightgeist, was released earlier this week. The company utilizes search data from Google Trends to determine America’s top-searched costume ideas in the months leading up to Halloween.
This year the results were pretty clear: The most-searched costume idea was a classic “Witch,” followed by “Spider-Man” and “Dinosaur.”
Here are the top 10:
- “Stranger Things”
- Harley Quinn
In SoCal the trending popular choices were Spider-Man, 1980s-theme getups, and… clowns.
KTLA notes that in addition to the most-searched costumes, Google’s Frightgeist tool includes a “Costume Wizard” feature that offers suggestions to those seeking the perfect costume. Users can tweak the results by both “spookiness” and “uniqueness, too.
More information on Google’s Frightgeist, along with an interactive map of popular searches across the country, can be found online.
Out & About
DTLA Proud 2022 kicks off, healthcare orgs will vax for monkeypox
This year the festival will be held at Grand Park also for the first time, the DTLA PROUD Festival will be free for all ages to attend
LOS ANGELES – DTLA Proud returns this year with the festival celebrating the culture, history, and diversity of the growing LGBTQ+ community in Downtown Los Angeles.
In addition to DTLA Proud activities, this Saturday August 27, and Sunday August 28, St. John’s Community Health, John Wesley Health Centers, Kedran Health Center, and Mens Health Foundation will be on hand with thousands of MPX vaccines to offer eligible Los Angeles community members.
This year the festival will be held at Grand Park after five years at neighboring park, Pershing Square and also for the first time, the DTLA PROUD Festival will be free for all ages to attend.
Three blocks of Grand Park will feature curated programming; with special intention and effort on segments of the community that often go underrepresented. DTLA organizers are introducing a new shared space for parents and queer families and will also feature programming for people of color, trans, non-binary and femme communities.
The theme this year is “We are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere!” and organizers want to emphasize that their fight is not over emphasizing that their mission is to create safe spaces and experiences to celebrate queer love and representation.
On Saturday August 27, St. John’s Community Health, John Wesley Health Centers, Kedran Health Center, and Mens Health Foundation will host a press conference highlighting their joint effort to vaccinate and educate Los Angeles residents about the monkeypox virus (MPX) with speakers will including Jim Mangia, president and CEO of St. John’s Community Health, Dr. Jerry Abraham, Vaccine Director for Kedran Health and Dr. Tony Mills, CEO of The Men’s Health Foundation.
MPX vaccinations will take place at Grant Park on Saturday and Sunday, from 12 to 6:30 pm, Grant Park, 230-240 N. Hill Street.
Out & About
New exhibit ‘Looking for Lesbians’ opens at ONE Archives West Hollywood
Looking for Lesbians is a new body of work created for ONE Archives at the USC Libraries by Sarah-Joy Ford
By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Looking for Lesbians–an exhibit featuring the works of ONE Archives Artist-in-Residence Sarah Joy Ford, opened on Saturday, July 23, 2022 at the ONE Gallery in West Hollywood at 626 North Robertson Boulevard. The exhibit, curated by Alexis Bard Johnson, will run for three months through the summer.
Looking for Lesbians is a new body of work created for ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. Sarah-Joy Ford’s work responds to ONE’s lesbian pulp fiction collection and other archival materials related to lesbian literature in Los Angeles.
The exhibition brings together works on paper, photographs, textiles, books, and archival materials—to showcase the significant collection of lesbian pulp fiction at ONE and to highlight the legacy and significance of this collection. Taken together, the artwork and archival materials ask: how do we connect with histories held by archives and individuals? How can these histories be navigated by one individual and how can we interact with them now?
“We wanted to highlight lesbian pulp novels. There is a lot of gay male pulp novels, which is amazing, but there is small section of lesbian pulp fiction, so that was my inspiration,” Ford told WEHO TIMES. “Two L.A.s novels, ‘Spring Fire’ by Marijane Meaker who went under the pseudonym Vin Pakcker, and a book called Odd Girl Out, by Ann Bannon, which is probably the most famous lesbian pulp novel written by a woman. Both of these novels were set in sorority houses and were about girls falling in love, but they had to have these tragic endings because of censorship; that was the only way to get the book published. I wanted to explore that and revisit the lesbian sorority and remaking it into a lesbian utopia and rethink these endings because there were no happy endings for lesbians back then.”
These new works produced by Ford explore the fascination with women’s societies and single sex spaces in lesbian culture. They include a quilt, a tracksuit, and embroidered patches. Their iconography is inspired by a range of lesbian symbols–from Anne Lister’s funerary hatchment to the labrys of Monique Wittig’s Amazons. The work claims a deliberately femme aesthetic, taking pleasure in shades of pink, pastel hues, satins, sequins, and decadent surfaces.
The new works are a response to Ford’s time spent in the archive, marking specific encounters and tracings of lesbian legacies at ONE. Using hand-made paper created out of archival waste, Ford crafts a visual record of the lesbian pulp collection at ONE, cross-referencing Barbara Grier’s Lesbiana ratings. She also visualizes a network of LA lesbian literature, including Carolyn Weathers and Jenny Wrenn’s Clothespin Press, the Lesbian Writers Series at In A Different Light Bookshop, and Terry Wolverton’s Excavations project at the Women’s Building.
This exhibition is curated by Alexis Bard Johnson. The exhibition is supported by ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, the partnership placement scheme from the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Center (Arts and Humanities Research Center), and Manchester Metropolitan University. The gallery is open Thursday-Saturday 12pm-5pm, or by appointment ([email protected]). Masks required indoors.
There will be a Looking for Lesbians panel discussion with Jenny Wrenn, Carolyn Weathers, Ann Bradley on Thursday, July 28, 2022, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. One Galler. The event is free. To register, visit:
About the Artist
Sarah-Joy Ford is an Artist and Post-Graduate Researcher at Manchester School of Art where she is a co-director of the Queer Research Network Manchester and member of Proximity Collective.
Ford works with textiles to explore the complexities and pleasures of queer communities, histories, and archives. Her practice sits at the intersection of digital and traditional, using strategies of quilting, digital embroidery, digital print, appliqué, and hand embellishment.
Working with decorative textiles situates the practice within histories of gendered marginalization and a lineage of artists reclaiming cloth as a powerful language for disrupting discrimination, erasure, and hetero-patriarchy.
Her PhD research explores quilt making as an affective methodology for re-visioning lesbian archival material. The loving attention and protective qualities of the quilt offer a reparative site for investing in lesbian archives inherently bound to a history of injury and marginalization.
Her current solo show is a site-specific heritage intervention titled Beloved: crafting intimacies with the ladies of Llangollen and is open at Plas Newydd Historic House and Gardens from 30th April – 30th October.
The preceding article was previously published by the WeHo Times and republished by permission.
Out & About
BenDeLaCreme’s new solo show is wonderful ‘wedded’ bliss
“BenDeLaCreme is…Ready to be Committed” plays Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth Theatre (2511 Wilshire Blvd.) Thursday-Sunday, May 12-15
LOS ANGELES – If you plan to tie the knot in the United States this year, you’re in good company. Sidelined for the past two years by COVID, relaxed public gathering protocols mean that 2022 will see an unusually high amount of packed pews and reception halls.
Indeed, wedding prep website theknot.com puts at 2.6 million the number of matrimony mishegas expected to take place this year. But before you apply for a marriage certificate or book an officiator, may we suggest seeing the new solo show from world-renowned, multi-talented, preternaturally capable drag queen BenDeLaCreme?
Billed as a “narrative-cabaret,” BenDeLaCreme is…Ready to be Committed sees she of the eternally sunny disposition vow to take herself into thoroughly unexplored territory, by getting married. The project proves to be a bit of a fixer-upper, as DeLa isn’t even engaged… or dating—a minor matter for someone whose obsessive attention to detail, drill sergeant-like way of rallying the troops, and laser-focused eye on the prize would put even the most exacting Bridezilla to shame.
Highly capable as she is, DeLa’s also got an aggressive streak of naivete which renders her oblivious to roadblocks both major and minor. Thus, the breezy primer on putting together a wedding becomes the prism through which societal expectations, perfectionism, and self-image get a thorough dressing down and a drag queen-level makeover that redefines them for the modern age.
Performed at a quicksilver pace and in a manner that mashes up everything from burlesque and vaudeville to high camp, history, philosophy, and puppetry, Ready to be Committed deserves the blanket description of “art” just as surely as DeLa has earned the moniker of “artist.”
And that assessment of actor, director, writer, and producer (DeLa serves as all four on this production) is based on a very early performance in July of 2019, at NYC’s Laurie Beechman Theater. The performance was meant to be a prelude to a national tour, which is finally under way after numerous COVID-caused delays.
So what does it say about our abovementioned quadruple threat that precious little about the show’s script and delivery has changed between 2019 at the Beechman and last week’s performance at NYC’s Sony Hall? The short answer is, BenDeLaCreme knows what she’s doing, and delights in doing it. See the below Q&A for proof.
Scott Stiffler, for The Los Angeles Blade (Blade): All of the same basic plot points and subject matter seem to remain in place, from when you premiered the show back in 2019. Has the COVID era that delayed your present tour informed the material?
BenDeLaCreme (DeLa): With the time I’ve found myself with, I’ve been working to up the ante on the production values. I was wondering if anything would hit differently now in a COVID world, but I really find the exploration of how we view love and relationships in our culture holds pretty fast and if anything feels, I think, even more immediate and relevant. We’ve all gone through something that’s emphasized how important connection and even the act of being physically present with somebody is, which I think has only helped the material…
Blade: You’ve had several successful solo shows starring DeLa, but this one shows us facets of her character previously addressed but not fleshed out. Why use this as a vehicle to do so?
DeLa: I have explored a lot of different subjects through DeLa, from science to religion, but I’ve never really had her touch on something that is sort of more personal and intimate to the character. She’s always been sort of pretty aggressively asexual and just sort of oblivious to the idea of partners or relationships, so this is the first time that I’m really bringing her there. And I think part of why it works is because she doesn’t even really realize she’s going there.
Blade: How do you play that cluelessness in a way that doesn’t get the character, or the show, stuck in one place?
DeLa: One of the things that I really love about this camp tradition is there’s a really fun thing where the audience gets to be in on something they also know the writer and the actor are in on, but the character is not. You can constantly give a commentary because the audience can tell that the writer and the character are actually thinking almost opposing things. From the beginning of the show she is sort of meandering and unfamiliar, but we can see what she’s missing and what complexity and nuance she’s unwilling to look at—so that by then end, when she finally arrives, I think there’s a satisfaction that she is completing this journey, and I think it works specifically because she has this wide-eyed, ditzy demeanor that lets people come at things from a fresh place… But it [both character and plot] definitely goes in unexpected directions. I think that people expect “a gal goes out there looking for ‘the one’ and we see the results of it”—but I really, in the writing process, tried to take it in a direction that spoke to something more universal, about how we relate to those ideas whether we find ourselves with someone or not… We all deal with the stories we’ve been told about what love should be, about what relationships should be, what true love is. That really messes with people’s perception and their ability to have a real connection as opposed to comparing it to this ideal fairy tale.
Blade: It’s funny that in order to deconstruct the fairy tale world, you often use puppets—something just as make-believe and fantastic—as a comedic foil or divisive device.
DeLa: Puppetry has spoken to me since I was a little kid. I fell in love with the Muppets and Jim Henson’s work only a few years before I discovered drag. I mean, Miss Piggy was basically my first drag queen. The kind of camp drag that I love, that I’ve always been pulled towards through Varla Jean Merman, Charles Busch, it’s very much in the same world as this puppetry storytelling. They’re kind of these larger than life, sort of ridiculous characters that we have to use our suspension of disbelief to belief to believe are really grounded and live in a real universe. But for some reason they’re so inviting and colorful and fun that we’re willing to go on that journey and when you’re dealing with something that’s big and campy like a drag queen or big and campy like a puppet, you are willing to go be sort of led down more complicated paths… I want things to stay fun and lighthearted. I want audience to laugh and have a great time, but I also really like to explore some ideas that are a little more complicated than the character of DeLa could ever wrap her head around. So she needs somebody else who can lead her into these subjects and some of these subjects are maybe a little too heady and hard to get into in a playful setting unless it comes from some ridiculous inanimate object come to life.
Blade: Let’s talk a little about your body of work with the great Jinkx Monsoon. As we’ve previously noted, the two of you are working a buddy/comedy team dynamic that draws from the classics but also brings something new to the table. How did that dynamic develop?
DeLa: Jink and I have known each other for a long time, well over a decade at this point. We were both sort of up-and-coming performers in Seattle when I first came across her. I thought, “This queen is really working in the same world. We have the same sensibilities. We better join forces now or we’ll wind up being each other’s competition.” So when we started, there was more of maybe an even-keeled, more expected give-and-take. We were less oppositional. It [being warring besties who eventually reconcile] really started once we moved into creating these Christmas shows. I have always had my sort of naïve, wide-eyed character on stage and she has always had her boozy, brash character—but when we bump up against each other, it brings out new levels of it. I mean, the Jinkx and DeLa version of DeLa is infinitely dumber than any other version of DeLa, and Jinkx is more kind of cynical and snarky than she can be. We really do balance each other out well and I think a big part of it is we have these very oppositional characters, who we use to say the same things. Both Jinkx and I as artists, as writers, have a lot of the same mission statements. We feel similarly about the holidays and the difficulties of it, and the importance of community, the importance of creating your own rules and your own life. But through the characters… You know, DeLa has to not get it so aggressively that we know the writer gets it. And Jinkx has to be so pushed to the extreme that it is blocking her ability to experience joy that we [the audience] understand we’re at opposite ends of the same commentary.
Blade: Commetary. That brings us to the end—of Committed when I saw it in 2019, the awesome Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special (2000), and your 2021 holiday stage show with Jinkx. There’s so much innuendo, rancor, camp, and gleefully sexual content throughout—but every show ends at a place of earned sincerity, with a serious, even sober, message about the importance of community. That’s really tricky to pull off.
DeLa: I do always do that within in my shows and the shows I do with Jinkx, but I’d say it’s less of an obligation and more of a mission statement. I mean, everything else is really fun—but if it lacks that heart, it’s not the show I care about making. It’s gotta have that sincerity and that vulnerability. But vulnerability and sincerity are hard sells these days. People do not feel comfortable with something that they perceive as too schmaltzy or too sincere—and I think that it’s all those cynical digs [preceeding the sincerity] that allow people… You know, it’s sort of this ratio: You can give them 90% dick jokes and snark and then they will go with you in that 10% of genuine, intimate, vulnerable emotion—and that’s why I love it, and that’s why I love the camp and the puppets and all of it. People will go there with you. I think there’s something about artifice that leads to truth when truth alone is too scary for people.
Blade: One last question: Will you and Jinkx be touring with a new holiday show this year?
DeLa: We’ve not announced anything yet, but I think most people assume what is the truth—which is, we will back on the road with another Christmas how this next holiday season… and I think that’s something we’ll be prioritizing for years to come.
“BenDeLaCreme is…Ready to be Committed” plays Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth Theatre (2511 Wilshire Blvd.) Thursday-Sunday, May 12-15, at 8PM. Tickets are $45 general admission, $120 VIP (includes meet & greet and VIP access). For reservations: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bendelacreme-is-ready-to-be-committed-tickets-252455931487. Proof of full vaccination is required upon entry; name on vaccination card must match your ID.
Out & About
No mystery about Katherine V. Forrest – she’s a legend
Her decades-long career includes 24 books, anthologies, dozens of articles & book reviews for the Los Angeles Times & San Francisco Chronicle
STUDIO CITY, Ca. – Katherine V. Forrest, 83, the beloved and legendary pioneer of lesbian fiction, was celebrated on Sunday, May 1 at the Studio City home
of Terry DeCrescenzo and wife Carol Cushman.
Forrest’s decades-long career includes more than 2 dozen books and
anthologies, editing hundreds of writers for major publishing houses
and authorship of dozens of articles and book reviews for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, among other mainstream and LGBTQ publications.
But Forrest is perhaps best known for her Kate Delafield Mysteries series chronicling the career of out lesbian LAPD Homicide Detective Kate Delafield (“Amateur City,” “Murder at the Nightwood Bar,” “The Beverly Malibu,” “Murder By Tradition,” “Liberty Square,” “Apparition Alley,” “Sleeping Bones,” “Hancock Park,” “High Desert”) which comes to an end with the publication of her 10th and final in the series, “Delafield.”
During remarks before giving a reading and in comments to friends, Forrest said she felt she had said all she wanted to say and was now eager to read the work of younger lesbians.
Forrest also paid homage to DeCrescenzo’s home where she and her late partner, writer and psychotherapist Betty Berzon, held political gatherings, soirees, and a writers’ workshop with such participants as Paul Monette and Bernard Cooper.
“I’m so grateful to be in this particular place because this house has so much history attached to it that it should go on the historical preservation list,” she said before reading a passage from the book that took place in that home.
The gathering was something of a Legendary Lesbian event, bringing
together some of LGBTQ Los Angeles’ most important founding lesbian
figures and allies in activism, literature, politics, academics, journalism and entertainment including Forrest’s wife Jo Hercus, Robin Tyler, Felice Picano, Monseratt Fontes, Torie Osborn, Terry Wolverton, Angela Marie, and many others.
DeCrescenzo noted that while the country celebrated May Day, honoring workers, for those enjoying tacos and champagne in the backyard she shares with her wife, that balmy Sunday was “Katherine V. Forrest Day” for lesbians in L.A.
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