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Nats Getty unmasked

An artist for a new generation

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Nats Getty. (Photo courtesy Getty)

Nats Getty was an artist long before she knew it.

Her soul was forged in the fight between the fire of freedom and the cold dictates of a society she tried mightily to understand and follow, only to fail and fall into rebellion, a fury of authenticity that still feeds her art and serves her independent, progressive, philanthropic spirit today.

Of course, it took the model, design and social justice activist much of her young lifetime to realize that real freedom and the path to true self-esteem results from a healthy dose of “fuck them” thinking.

Born Natalia Williams on Nov. 30, 1992, the month Bill Clinton was elected president, ushering into power the Boomer Generation and the promise to end AIDS, Nats was a skateboarding, surfing tomboy in Santa Monica before being sent to a boarding school in Oxford, England. Her creative brother August (featured here), who used to design dresses for his Barbie dolls, was sent to England, as well.

Nats was 9. She tried to be a good kid and got straight A’s and but with the low drinking age in England and lots of freedom, she also got into trouble. Nats was also bullied as an outsider from the US and had no one to talk to about her growing attraction to other girls.

Nats dropped out and moved back to LA at 16. Her mother, Ariadne Getty, with whom she is extremely close, tells the story of how Nats came to her one day, extremely nervous, itching to reveal a secret. Ariadne prayed that it wasn’t asking permission to get a tattoo. Soon Nats came out with it, disclosing that she was gay. Ariadne was relieved. “Of course, I know you’re gay,” she said. Nats wished she had said that sooner.

But that was that. Nats was gay. August was gay. And Ariadne became the loving, protective momma bear. It remains that way still.

Nats turned tomboy into a punk androgynous look and flexed her authentic artistic ability to relax and kick back with the family or strike a photographic pose. She took her mother’s last name, learned the family history and embarked on the life of a socially conscious philanthropist with her own art studio and street wear clothing line ironically called Strike Oil.

“Nats has an unmistakable energy, kind of a magnetic force, that makes her seem exciting and a bit dangerous: Come too close and you might get zapped, for better or worse. Tattoos on her arms read, ‘Forgive me father, for I have sinned’ and ‘Things turned out so evil,’” reads an excerpt from a June 23, 2018 New York Times Style article intended to counterbalance the film and TV shows capitalizing on the famous Getty name, fortune and mythology.

The Times also took note of Nats’ engagement to Gigi Gorgeous, “who became a YouTube star by documenting her gender transition.”

Nats started modeling in 2013 as something she would try. She was signed up right away and requested for numerous events. But she actually wound up in her brother August Getty Atelier’s high end fashion show with David LaChapelle by accident.

“David didn’t know I was related to August, and he didn’t see a professional headshot picture of me. He just saw a selfie of me by mistake when they were showing him the models to pick from. He said I want to base the show around this girl, around her hair and her look. August said ‘Wait, that is my sister, that picture wasn’t supposed to be in there.’ I didn’t even know I was in the show at that point. He ended up picking me and having me be the core of it,” Nats told Black Chalk Magazine in 2015.

Nats married trans activist and social media influencer Gigi Gorgeous in 2019, with a lavish and adoring engagement party in Paris, documented and posted on YouTube. An unhighlighted subtext is Ariadne Getty’s unconditional love and acceptance for her daughter’s new spouse.

This family of four – Ariadne, August, Nats and Gigi now think how best, wisely and responsibly to contribute the family fortune to good, worthy causes. They have been major donors to GLAAD, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Trevor Project – and they have contributed to the Blade Foundation.

“During the last few months, Gigi and I have been unified in our views and passion for the issues that we’ve all been trying to navigate. We’ve been each other’s rock,” Nats told the Los Angeles Blade. “There are so many important issues that have been pushed to the forefront, and Gigi and I have looked at ways to use our platform for good, to offer comfort and influence positive change.”

They are particularly disgusted by the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back LGBTQ rights, especially targeting trans rights.

“It’s appalling,” says Nats. “Systemic intolerance of the trans community has plagued this country for too long and this presidency has done nothing but further that. Trans people, especially trans people of color, have been vilified and faced terrible discrimination that has led to horrific violence within this community.”

Nats Getty is also horrified by the systemic racism exposed by the murders of Black men by police and the inequities in healthcare exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. She has created artwork, street war and most recently, COVID-19 masks to benefit Black Lives Matter and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

“Trump’s actions have made it easier for this discrimination and violence to exist. It’s time for change, and it’s time for every human to be treated as equal,” Nats says about her United Against Racial Injustice initiative.

“I wanted to give back and support my community,” she noted. “Philanthropy — and advocacy — is something that is very important to me. I made 600 masks that were donated to hospitals and nursing homes on the frontlines, and 400 masks for the Strike Oil website, where 100 percent of proceeds have gone to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank,” she says. Nats also participates in “Wellness Wednesdays” events with LA CAN, creating/distributing 1000 masks along with hygiene kits. “Our plan is to continue making masks for 100 per cent non-profit, so we’re able to raise funds and support the organizations that matter to us,” Nats says.

From the Strike Oil Collection. (Photo courtesy Getty)

“Everything I create from a jacket to an art piece has a story and serves a purpose in my personal journey,” Nats tells the Los Angeles Blade. “I’m currently designing new pieces for my collection, producing a photoshoot, and planning a trip to England. I will be shooting content while I’m there for an exciting new venture I can’t disclose just yet,” she says.

“I’m working on some new designs that are more pointed and focused on the current social issues we are all living through,” Nats says. “My pieces represent a social commentary, inspired by the injustices we fight every day. I’m also mindful of utilizing left-over fabrics from previous garments to create something new, so we minimize waste. I love to breathe new life into something old.”

Meanwhile, before Pride Month slips completely by, Nats has some thoughts.

“For me, Pride means self-love and self-acceptance,” she says. “When I was younger, I felt shame and self-loathing about my sexuality. I wasn’t at a place to embrace it and be confident in who I am. But eventually, through personal growth and the people I surrounded myself with, especially my wife Gigi with her infectious positive influence, I have found my community, ‘my tribe,’ and I am proud of who I am.”

Nats continues: “Being gay is a political statement, it should have nothing to do with politics, but sadly it does. Getting out and voting and using my platform to encourage others to go and vote is something else I am very passionate about.”

Nats is also passionate about Gigi. “We’re approaching our first-year anniversary of being married and continuing to live our authentic life together,” she says. “We want to start a family someday and be positive role models for our community.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

TO THE PERSON I LOVE THE MOST. HAPPY NEW YEAR. HAPPY NEW DECADE. SO HAPPY TO START IT WITH YOU MY WIFE @gigigorgeous

A post shared by Nats Getty Gorgeous (@natsgetty) on

— Susan Hornik contributed to this article

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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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