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August Getty wears his colors out, loud and proud

Bold, independent and wise beyond his 26 years

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August Getty. (Photo courtesy August Getty)

I have a natural distaste for high society and I never got fashion (just look at me), but August Getty has me rethinking both things.

The great grandson of late oil magnate J. Paul Getty and the son of famed Italian-born activist, LGBTQ Ally and business excutive/philanthropist Ariadne Getty and her former husband actor Justin Williams, 26-year-old August is far from a spoiled rich kid coasting on his bloodline.

For one thing, he’s an out, proud gay man who’s vocal about rising against oppression and aligning with various groups to build up a rainbow of communities, not just LGBTQ.

He’s also honest about having felt like an outcast and a loner as a child, though elevated by the support of his mom and eventually the community itself.

As for fashion, he doesn’t just throw his work onto a runway and expect it to explode. Having founded his womenswear brand August Getty Atelier at 18, he’s proceeded to show his clothes in highly untraditional ways rather than play by the old guidebooks.

Being confident enough to proceed as a self-taught designer paid off.

At age 18, August became one of the youngest designers to ever debut at Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.

In 2014, Getty premiered his Spring/Summer ’15 line — inspired by his fantasies of European heiresses — at NYC’s Fashion Week. The next year, he collaborated with photographer David LaChapelle for Thread of Man, an art installation at Universal Studios, which included scenes like an altar, a car accident, and a commentary about Donald Trump. (Yes, he gets political.)

August also presented his couture collections at the last three seasons at Paris Haute Couture Week. These collections include “Confetti” in January 2019, “ΣNIGMA” in July 2019, and most recently his Spring/Summer 2020 collection “The White Hart” in January 2020.

Stars who have worn Getty’s creations range from Lady Gaga and Cher to Jennifer Lopez and Shangela. What’s more, he dressed Bebe Rexha, thereby furthering her conversation about size inclusivity.

And by the way, he’s also done clothes for Gigi Gorgeous, who happens to be his sister-in-law. (Gigi married August’s sister Nats in July 2019). Nats is featured here.

Gigi, Nats, Ariadne and August. (Photo by Troy Masters)

I talked to Getty about his heady achievements and his place in a wildly changed world where both fashion and society have been radically redefined.

MM: Hello, August. You always seem to favor artistic presentations rather than just straightforward shows. Do you like making your fashion into an event?

AG: I want to use every aspect of creativity in my brain when expressing myself and my art, so I like turning everything into an experience. Whether it’s a runway show or an artistic presentation incorporating outside elements like scents or creating visual effects, I always want to immerse the audience into my world—the world of the GettyGirl.

MM: Your inspirations have come from designers like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. What do you appreciate—their boldness and originality?

AG: Their craftsmanship takes no prisoners. They are authentic to who they are. [The late] Gianni and Donatella Versace are also huge inspirations in my life, being raised with Italian culture and working with your family. They’ve taught me to be bold, original, and to never steer away from my artistic vision.

MM: What do you think fashion accomplishes other than making people look good? Can it be life changing—and is it still as relevant in the crises we’re living through?

AG: Fashion is cyclical, but finding your own personal style can be life changing because fashion is a form of self-expression, as well as a reflection of our current times. During hard times, people tend to dress less extravagantly so they wear more basics, a lot of times in darker colors, because they are not as creatively inspired when there are so many other things going on in the world. I use my love for fashion as a vehicle for my imagination. It’s an artistic medium to tell stories, so I guess you could say I’m more of a storyteller than a fashion designer. I like to live my life somewhere between fantasy and reality at all times.

MM: Does a Getty worry about money in a recession? 

AG: Un uomo Italian non discute mai dei suoi affair finanziari.

MM: Bene! Your birthday is in Pride month. How does that feel every year?

AG: I’ve been going to Pride since I was 14, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to go at a young age. I look forward to June every year but not just because of my birthday. This month of celebration is a beautiful time, and it unlocks a lot of creativity and positivity in me.

August marches in the All Black Lives Matter March. (Photo courtesy August Getty)

I see all aspects of life together, not just the pride of the LGBTQ+ community—the intersectionality of gender, race, sexual orientation, class, and other social and political identities is important to keep in mind, so we need to have Pride for all communities, including Black Trans Pride, because Black Lives Matter. Instead of the usual Pride Parade in Los Angeles this year, our community marched in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and in support of Black Trans Pride, and it was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.

MM: Is being gay part of your creative DNA?

AG: Being gay my whole life, I’ve felt ostracized and outcasted by society, especially as a young child, so I spent a lot of time on my own. This alone time in my formative years helped my creativity flourish by pushing me to explore and see the world on my own, which helped feed my imagination. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been fortunate to find a community and friends who love and accept me for who I am, so I’m more social now than when I was a kid, but I still cherish my alone time, as it’s special and sacred to me.

MM: When did you first know you were gay?

AG: Inception. [Laughs]

MM: Not in the womb?

AG: Yes, in the womb. I had a notepad in there, and I was sketching away!

MM: How did your family react to a 14-year-old at Pride?

AG: I was a very colorful 14-year-old, and my family was extremely welcoming. My mom is a fierce ally. Our family members are all allies. It was meant to be our path to teach others how to give and receive the same love that my mother showed my sister and I at an early age.

MM: How political are you as a gay man? I know you go to Pride, but are you a protestor in spirit?

AG: I am very political. I believe in using every forum and every platform to stand up for yourself and for others. Use your voice!

MM: What do you think of how we LGBTQs are doing considering the actions of Trump administration?

AG: It’s truly heart wrenching to witness their actions and to see the new policies they are constantly trying to set in place, attacking the rights and safety of our community. It is disheartening, but something positive that has come from this  is that we are showing each other how strong we all are together and that our voice matters. We are survivors, and when we support each other and project love, we are unstoppable.

MM: Your family is involved in the L.A. Blade and Washington Blade. Why are they behind these papers?

AG:  My family is very active in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and the advancement of our community, so we are proud to support these prominent papers. Los Angeles is one of the most populated cities in our country, yet L.A. Blade is our city’s only LGBT weekly. The Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest LGBT newspaper, is the only LGBT media member of the White House Press Corp. We need more representation like this in the media landscape to actively drive conversations and create positive change.

MM: Your store in Beverly Hills was your first boutique?

AG: Yes, but it wasn’t an opportune time to open it, so we reorganized our process and became in-house and redirected to couture.

MM: And finally: What’s it like to be the brother-in-law of and collaborator with the fab Gigi Gorgeous?

AG: Simply gorgeous. Both Gigi and Nats are great role models for myself and our generation.

I’m very blessed to have such strong women in my life.

And of course, there’s my mom!

Ariadne Getty and August Getty at a recent LGBT Center event. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

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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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Andy Grammer partners with Trans Chorus of Los Angeles

Celebrating how important it is to live your life, your authenticity, and to feel good about who you are

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Andy Grammer partnered with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (Screenshot via YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, Andy Grammer partnered with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (America’s first Trans Chorus, embracing all members of the trans, non-binary and intersex communities) for a special live performance of “Damn It Feels Good To Be Me” – celebrating how important it is to live your life, your authenticity, and to feel good about who you are. What a special moment. In conjunction with the partnership a donation has been made by Andy to the TCLA.

A note from TCLA: “The Chorus really enjoyed the song and especially performing it with Andy around the piano. It was upbeat and expressed how important it is to live your life and your authenticity and to feel good about who you are. That is the thrust of our Chorus philosophy of moving from victim to victorious.”

Connect with the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles:https://transchorusla.org/

Andy Grammer – Damn It Feels Good To Be Me (featuring Trans Chorus of Los Angeles)

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Michael Kearns, the Godfather of LGBTQ+ authenticity

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level

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Michael Kearns by Keida Mascaro

HOLLYWOOD – The arc of LGBTQ+ history over the past 50 years has been one of constant upheaval and evolvement. From a period when it was both illegal and insane to be gay, through the achievement of being able to serve openly in the military, to marriage equality and the ability to create families to today’s fight against the tyranny against Trans people, the movement has not stopped to take a breath.

Michael Kearns, the first recognized “out” actor on the Hollywood landscape, has been a visible presence through it all. More importantly, he has always” been visible on the gay scene. In the seventies he epitomized the free love and erotic freedom that many gay men lived. He was featured in classic gay porn movies and did a PR stint as the face of the “happy hustler.”  

“That was my introduction to a lot of people,” Michael told me when we sat down for a chat on Rated LGBT Radio. “I kind of captured the zeitgeist of the times, the freewheeling seventies. We forget that there was that period of time when sexuality was joyful and exciting and thrilling.”

In the eighties he was visible in mainstream media as a gay man playing gay men characters. In 1983, Michael was cast in a minor role on the Cheers Emmy winning episode “the Boys in the Bar.”  He was instantly recognized for his gay sexual iconic status by LGBTQ audiences, even though the population at large did not know who he was. The casting director who fought for his casting was Stephen Kolzak, who would himself become a prominent AIDS activist before he died at 37 in 1990. Stephen casted Michael to make a statement. He wanted to signal to the LGBTQ community that Cheers had our backs. “He was one of the only ones that had the guts,” Michael remembers.

“There were a lot of stereotypes in television regarding gay portrayals. I was pegged and cast in some of those roles. I did play the stereotype, but rather than a straight guy playing those roles, I brought authenticity. I was real. Straight guys playing gay would always spoof the role. They were always ‘winking’ and signaling to the camera ‘I am not really that way.’  So, the performances are by in large horrible, even with some academy award winners. The actors were constantly saying that it was not who they were—if they weren’t making that clear on the talk shows, they were doing it in the performance itself.’ Michael says.

Michael soon morphed into an HIV positive man playing HIV positive characters, while off camera becoming a visible and vocal AIDS activist. “It was a new kind of cliché. They had to always make me look horrible. The ghastlier the better. They could not have an HIV character who looked normal—as I did when I arrived at the set. Finally, I had enough and refused to do that anymore.” Michael then immersed himself in theater where he found greater character honesty and truth.

 As gay men captured their identities in the 90s as husbands and fathers, Michael was there too—becoming one of the first gay men to adopt a child.  It is that role, as a father, that Michael has said is his greatest.

Today, Michael has been a driving force behind QueerWise, a multigenerational writing collective and performance group. Through QueerWise, Michael gives poetic voice to talent that would otherwise be voiceless. Its members include published poets, writers of fiction and non-fiction, playwrights, singers, musicians, social activists, dancers, actors artists and teachers. 

This weekend, on Sunday October 17th, QueerWise launches its latest work, The Ache for Home. 

“The Ache for Home is a video presentation of heartfelt stories from formerly homeless/unhoused individuals in and around West Hollywood. It was developed through a mentorship program facilitated by QueerWise members. The production represents citizens-turned-writers who share their inspirational stories from those glamorous streets and sidewalks, ranging from soaring self-acceptance to narratives of truth-telling defeats,” states Michael. The production can be seen on QueerWise’s YouTube Channel starting 5pm October 17.

The Ache for Home features a young cis male with a passion for music and art, who finds joy “when I can put a smile on someone’s face and give back”, a retired mixed race bisexual government worker who is a voracious reader and literacy advocate, two trans males share their experiences of living on the street, and a former resident playwright who was homeless for 44 days and nights in the city. “I am thrilled at our inclusion of transmen in this work,” Michael says. “It is a poorly represented community within a poorly represented community.”

On current controversies with media and transgender targeting, particularly the Dave Chappelle issue, Michael remarks, “I am glad it is generating passion. It is bringing up conversation on the plights of black trans women who are victimized at an alarming rate, we should not say victimized… we should say murdered. I am glad we are shedding light on that.”

Michael’s work has been described as “collisions of sex and death, of eroticism and grief,” but he has truly dug to an even deeper level. The Ache for Home takes its inspiration from the Maya Angelou quote, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Michael Kearns work has always encouraged us to go, and live, “as we are.” He is the amalgamation of eroticism, grief, healing, and appreciating the richness of life itself.

He is the godfather of LGBT+ authenticity. In earlier days, he may have represented sex, he may have walked us through a period of darkness and death into the arms of the creation of the new family. He has now brought us home, and when we look at him, we see a new quality.

Wisdom.

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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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