WEST HOLLYWOOD – On June 27, the Los Angeles Blade honored and recognized the achievements of LGBTQ+ students, faculty, staff and the administrators of the Los Angeles Community College District, (LACCD) as about 75 invited guests gathered at West Hollywood’s Le Parc Suite Hotel’s Skydeck rooftop lounge and pool area to celebrate the LGBTQ+ students, and celebrate the creation of a scholarship program between the Los Angeles Blade and LACCD.
“The reason LAACD is able to be progressive, forward looking— the reason we are able to do an LGBTQIA Bill of Rights and ensure that everyone of our students is safe —is because we have a tremendous Board of Trustees who believe in a vision that every student deserves to be educated and safe,” said LACCD’s Chancellor Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez.
Those are strong words from an LGBTQI Ally who heads one of the world’s largest community college systems spread out over a nine campus system with a 250,000 strong student body.
The late afternoon event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Blade, The Ariadne Getty Foundation, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, GT’s Living Foods, and the Le Parc Suite Hotel.
Also in attendance bestowing proclamations honoring the achievements of the administrators, trustees and the LGBTQ+ student body of the LACCD, was the City of West Hollywood’s Mayor Lindsey Horvath and City Councilmember John Erickson.
Rhea Litré, voted by the readers of the Blade as Best Drag Queen and one of West Hollywood’s brightest stars of drag — most recently famous for her Instagram Live show “Quarantine Queen” — kicked off the night with a warm welcome and introduced the Blade’s publisher Troy Masters.
In his speech, Masters explained that LACCD’s LGBTQ+ program had touched him deeply; “The cover of the Los Angeles Blade Pride issue is an example of something they are doing really touched me a lot. The school uses a Monarch Butterfly emblem which they wear to denote that a person is a safe person to interact with openly and that an area or room is a safe space for them.
“That really touched me, because it made me aware that their situation is different than what we may be used to. They have a deep need for safe, supportive people and spaces. They have a very deep need to be who they are and be with people and places that are safe, accepting and good for them,” he said.
“We are here tonight just to celebrate that, celebrate the colleges and celebrate the people who are profiled in the current issue of the Los Angeles Blade, he added.”
In addition to politicos in attendance, some of the LACCD’s top leadership were on hand; Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez, the Chancellor of the LACCD, Deputy Chancellor. Dr. Ryan M. Cornner, Dean for Student Success Deborah Harrington, LACCD Board of Trustees member Mike Fong, David Vela, the only openly LGBTQ+ LACCD Trustee, Felipe Agredano-Lozano, the LGBTQ+ Faculty Liaison for the LACCD, Dr. Marcel Morales, Department Chair and Professor of Sociology at ELAC, James Limbaugh, the President of West LA College and Michael P. Fuller, LACCD’s Director of Institutional Advancement.
The mixer was filled with many familiar faces from greater the Los Angeles community including August Getty who represented the Ariadne Getty Foundation as well as his LA-based fashion house, August Getty Atelier; Marna Deitch, Southern California Motorcycle Contingent for Equality leader and interpreter for the deaf at community colleges; Michael Weinstein, Executive Director of the world’s largest AIDS healthcare organization, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation; lesbian activist and comedian Robin Tyler accompanied by her pug Oscar Wilde; composer and lyricist Todd Pawelek and Stephen Rutgers representing the Washington Blade and Blade Foundation.
Masters thanked all the events sponsors and several individuals who helped make the event possible and expressed gratitude for everyone who attended.
“I want to acknowledge some people who are extremely dear to me,” Masters paused, “Ariadne Getty is our most generous benefactor and her son August is here tonight.” And while the crowd broke out into cheers for August, Masters’ voice broke when he said, “I want to thank them for an immense amount of love and a lot of compassion — thank you for making us part of your family.” Getty stood and was clearly moved.
Masters also thanked Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation for his role in executing a successful LGBTQ focused Covid-19 vaccination program. “Michael is one of our largest supporters as well. And we appreciate Michael and appreciate the work of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation,” Masters said.
“We can thank Michael in part,” said Masters, “for the working to ensure that West Hollywood and the LGBTQ community are near fully vaccinated.” He added, “As a community we are well on our way.”
AHF says it has fully vaccinated tens of thousands of Angelenos. The agency also famously worked hard during Covid crisis to make sure its patients were able to keep up with HIV medications and healthcare requirements. According to LA County Department of Public Health, in fact, the City of West Hollywood is more than 72 percent fully vaccinated.
Masters said his observation about the community being “nearly 100 percent vaccinated” is anecdotal. “Actual LGBTQ statistics have not been maintained during the Covid-19 crisis, something the Los Angeles Blade has exposed in many articles,” he said.
Michael P Fuller called out the LACCD luminaries and the student honoree Sofia Zaragoza, Chancellor Rodriguez, Trustees Fong and Vela who all gave short speeches.
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath took the mic greeted and proclaimed “Happy Pride Month!” The Mayor, joined by City Councilmember Erickson then handed out proclamations to the LACCD leadership from the City of West Hollywood:
The Proclamations read:
The City of West Hollywood honors the Los Angeles Community College District for
EXEMPLARY SERVICE TO LGBTQ YOUTH on the occasion of Los Angeles Blade’s NEXT GENERATION PRIDE EVENT
Whereas, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) supports the rights, freedoms, and equality of persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and/or asexual (LGBTQIA+) and serves more than 20,000 LGBTQIA+ students through safe and inspiring learning environments;
Whereas, LACCD adopted a groundbreaking LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights to create welcoming college communities that affirm the lives of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff;
Whereas, LACCD provides academic opportunities for LGBTQIA+ students to accomplish their educational goals, including courses and programs recognizing the contributions of LGTBQIA+ communities;
Let it be known, the City of West Hollywood commends LACCD’s inclusionary vision and leadership in supporting and advancing the LGBTQIA+ members of our community.
The Blade interviewed several of the attendees.
Litré said, “We have raised amazing money for kids that want to go to college.” One of the individual’s who received a scholarship, Jamey Sinardi who was also profiled in the three-part series in a special issue of the Blade this past week was also briefly interviewed at the event.
Dropping out of high school due to severe scoliosis and battling cancer twice is an uphill battle, but Sinardi won and was able to achieve her goals in education, in part, due to the LA Promise scholarship program. The LAACD promise program is a program that gives two years of tuition free education to community college students. “If it wasn’t for Promise,” she said, “I don’t know where I’d be honestly.”
There were many individuals from the LACCD who helped make this moment possible such as Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor for the LACCD. When talking about the event he said, “There’s only one reason we’re here – and that’s for students.”
Sofia Zaragoza, a queer student who was just recently accepted to University of California Berkeley described why she believes she was chosen by the Blade to be in the Next Generation of Pride article. “I think it’s because of my diverse background in the academic sense. I have a real passion for education.” For Zaragoza being an LGBTQ student can be challenging, but it “not only diversifies” but “enriches” her perspective in life.
The President of West LA College, James Limbaugh, told the Blade that he looks at students like Dee and Zaragoza and finds their stories to be inspirational. “I think it’s important that every student has the right and access to college… Every student has potential, so my responsibility is to make sure that all students have an opportunity.” Dr. Morales from the LACCD’s East LA College campus weighed in saying; “Diversity is really important to our district… Our district is a leader when it comes to helping and supporting students.”
Deitch, the Southern California Motorcycle Contingent for Equality leader told the Blade; “I don’t even have words to say how wonderful I think this is. Knowing that the community colleges have been very open to the LGTBQ community is nice, but stepping it up to this level is fantastic.”
August Getty, called as the last speaker by Masters reflected; “At the end of the day, we are one entire family… Thanks to the LA Blade for giving us an outspoken voice for when we don’t have one.”
WATCH: The Los Angeles Blade celebrates the Next Generation of Pride
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cathedral City LGBT Days returns this weekend
Cathedral City’s 6th Annual LGBT Days is California’s first Pride weekend event of this year
CATHEDRAL CITY – If you’re heading out to Palm Springs this weekend, be sure to check out Cathedral City’s 6th Annual LGBT Days, which is California’s first Pride weekend event of the year.
“Our vision–as commissioned by the City–was to bring back LGBT Days after two years of cancellations, and honor the traditions of the first 5 years celebrating Cathedral City’s culture of equality and inclusion, while progressing the event to the next level in growth,” said Ryan Heil, an event producer at Soundskilz Productions, a national entertainment production agency with offices in Temecula, CA; San Antonio, TX; Park City, UT; and Atlanta, GA.
He continued: “This event is about the LGBT community as a whole, and Cathedral City’s history in welcoming that community to the region and celebrating equality. The events exist to honor that legacy and to support the community that has settled down in this region for many years.”
With the City’s brand new amphitheater as a “gorgeous centerpiece,” Heil and his team wanted to create events that celebrate the key tradition of the Bed Race, foster awareness of the LGBT businesses and community at large in Cathedral City, and book national level talent that would create a buzz further and wider than in the past.
“Hopefully that vision and execution this year puts Cathedral City’s LGBT Days celebration “on the map” and in the conversation about some of the best Pride festivals in the state and nationwide,” said Heil.
Like all events and businesses coming out of the last 2 years, one of the biggest challenges in dealing with this weekend has been staffing, Heil acknowledged.
“From our sponsors to our partners to years-long participants in the Bed Race, everyone is hurting for good help. When staging a production like this, we rely on a network of great partners and contractors and service provides, and everyone is struggling to operate at full capacity. But we have a great team in place and tremendous guidance from the City and Christopher Parman, the City Special Events Director and founder of LGBT Days, and with everyone’s hard work we are on track to make the event a great success.”
The weekend is chock full of fun events, noted Heil. “In addition to the signature Bed Race and KGAY Champagne Brunch on Sunday co-hosted by Bella da Ball and KGAY’s John Taylor, we are very excited to welcome back the legendary comedian/activist/ author and creator of ‘Sordid Lives,’ Del Shores, who will stage his new live comedy show tonight at the CV Rep Theater.”
Following that, the 6 bars of the CCGBA welcome attendees to an informal bar crawl to get out and celebrate with the community and our local businesses.
“Tomorrow, we have an amazing festival lineup from 4pm – 10pm featuring the Channel Q/GED Magazine T Dance and Lawn Party in partnership with the world famous Abbey Bar from LA; followed by the headline Pop2000 concert on the Agua Caliente Main Stage, hosted by Lance Bass and featuring multi-platinum artists O-Town, Ryan Cabrera and LFO,” added Heil. “During the festival, we will have emcees Mayhem Miller and DJ Alex D, hot air balloon rides in the Equality Balloon, food, drinks, games and more.”
While there are activities at both the Civic Center and Amphitheater, the event is also being celebrated around town at their partner venues in the CCGBA.(Cathedral City Gay Business Association). “So get out and check out the fun, and come celebrate with everyone!” Heil enthused! “It will be beautiful and sunny, so remember to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water along the way!”
Amongst the numerous celebrities, artists, community leaders and Coachella Valley visitors attending is singer/entrepreneur Lance Bass, who is thrilled to be a part of the weekend festivities.
“It’s great to be part of California’s first pride of the year. Cathedral City and this whole area is one of mine and my husbands’ favorite weekend getaways. It’s the one place I feel like I can relax and enjoy myself!”
A number of new sponsors have joined Cathedral City LGBT Days to support the event, including Agua Caliente Casinos, who has secured naming rights to the Agua Caliente Civic Center Stage and Agua Caliente Main Stage at the Cathedral City Community Amphitheater; local law firm Burke, Williams and Sorenson, LLP and VW of Palm Springs is the official automotive partner.
Media partners include KGAY; Channel Q; Gay Desert Guide; NBC Palm Springs; and the Gay Entertainment Directory (GED) Magazine. Their official spirits sponsor Beam Suntory will be sampling Jim Beam, Effen vodka and Hornito’s tequila cocktails to patrons.
A number of local bars including: AMP Sports Lounge, Barracks Bar, CCBC Resort Hotel and Runway Bar; One Eleven Bar and The Roost Bar Lounge will host satellite events throughout LGBT Days weekend. Bud Light NEXT will be pouring its new zero carb super crisp beer at all the bars, while sister brand BABE Wine is providing sparkling wines and rosé for the Champagne Brunch.
Hey Cali! Are you ready to celebrate the 1st PRIDE of the year
Cathedral City LGBT Days returns this weekend 3/25-3/27 with a HUGE LINE-UP of entertainment
FRIDAY 3/25 – Del Shores comedy performance not to be missed!
SATURDAY 3/26 – T-Dance with world-famous The Abbey and host Nick Masc along with DJ Jeffree, Alex D, Mayhem Miller and the Abbey Dancers for the Channel Q T Dance & Lawn Party at Cathedral City LGBT Days! Followed by the Pop2K Tour Headline Concert hosted by Lance Bass with O-Town, Ryan Cabrera and LFO and The Old Gays!
SUNDAY 3/27 – BED RACE EXTRAVAGANZA
For all info and tickets visit cathedralcitylgbtdays.com
Third annual “Gun Violence is a ‘Drag'” benefit held at Precinct DTLA
Show was hosted by RPDR’s Ongina with performances from Jessica Wild, Mariah Balenciaga, Victoria “Porkchop” Parker & Denver’s Jessica L’whor
LOS ANGELES – This past weekend, on February 6th, The Dru Project gathered at Precinct DTLA to raise money and awareness at their third annual Gun Violence is a Drag show.
Put on by co-producers Tennessee Martin, Domenic Vermeulen, and The Dru Project’s Communications Director Sara Grossman, the event was filled with celebrities, a drag show, and queer joy – one of the main tenants of The Dru Project’s mission.
The organization was launched in 2016, shortly after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, to honor victim Drew Leinonen. To date, the organization has given out over $100,000 in scholarships to LGBTQ+ leaders and grants to gay-straight alliances. In light of the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation currently being discussed in Florida, it is more important than ever to ensure LGBTQ+ youth are taken care of and affirmed.
Celebrities Jonathan Bennett, Jaymes Vaughan, and Melissa Rivers jumped on stage during the drag show’s intermission to help raise money. “Growing up, I was raised in a home that was very tolerant. The outsiders were the ones who weren’t. I know I disappointed my mother by not being a gay man and then having a son who is also not gay, but we do what we can to support,” Melissa Rivers said of her late mother, Joan.
She also mentioned, “We have come a long way since wearing red ribbons. Now they’re rainbow so we may never forget what happened June 12, 2016.”
“The Downtown Los Angeles bar Precinct’s owners were amazing to work with,” Sara Grossman told The Blade. “You usually see these events take place in West Hollywood, but it’s fantastic to see the gay scene spreading out around the city.” Grossman said that Precinct generously donated the space, helped them plan for seating, and even pledged part of the event’s kitchen and bar revenue to the organization.
Other celebrities who showed out for the cause included the original Queer Eye’s Jai Rodriguez, Once Upon a Time’s Lana Parilla, and Katie Thurston from the Bachelorette. Together with the event’s sponsors – pride groups from different studios (Legendary, ATN Entertainment, Glamazon, A&E, Starz, and Lionsgate), the room raised $25,000 for LGBTQ+ youth.
Now in its 6th year operating, The Dru Project’s GSA guide has been downloaded in almost every state and in 14 different countries – something they know Drew Leinonen would be proud of. The show was hosted by RPDR’s Ongina and featured performances from Jessica Wild, Mariah Balenciaga, Victoria “Porkchop” Parker, and Denver’s Jessica L’whor.
“We can’t wait to return to Precinct for another Gun Violence is a Drag,” Grossman said. “It could not have been better if we tried. We strive every day to create a world that Drew would have been proud of. I think he’d be pleased with how things are going for us.”
Hot new comic Karinda Dobbins is going to make you Black & Blue
Even if your day to day world is not one of bug killings, pets, lesbian weddings and psycho showers, this one is for you
HOLLYWOOD – The world gets funnier on February 4th. That is the day that Blonde Medicine releases Black and Blue, the debut comedy album from Karinda Dobbins.
If you have not heard of the Bay Area comedian, you may not be alone, but the who’s-who of the comedy world thinks you should, and you will. Wanda Sykes sings her praises. SFist named her one of the “13 San Francisco Stand Up Comedians to Go See Now”. Bitch Media called her one of the “Six Female Comedians You Don’t Know Yet—But Should.”
She is getting around. She has opened for a pack of A listers. “It is inspiring,” she says. Big names she has opened for include W. Kamau Bell, Trevor Noah, Gina Yashere, Michelle Wolf, and Dave Chappelle. “I’m not on Tik Tok yet,” she tells me when we sat down for an episode of my podcast Rated LGBT Radio. “Everybody is telling me I should be. But I haven’t gotten around to that yet. “
There are lots of issues on which Karinda could get angry. She grew up in a militantly political family. She has done benefits to fight rape, she has done benefits to fight gun violence. But she is pretty mellow and has earned the nick name “Cool Breeze”. She does not get mad, she gets funny.
Gina Yashere advised her on how to navigate the industry as a black woman. “We are kind of held to a different standard. Being funny and being prepared. Always be on time. We can’t slack off like white guys. We always have to have our ducks in a row.” Karinda is not entering the scene kicking and punching, she is cool breeze all the way.
Karinda was born in Detroit and grew up making her family laugh. She acknowledges that being funny in a living room is not the same thing as breaking up an audience from a stage. After coming to California, starting a career in bio tech, having a child, then coming out as lesbian, being a comedian still was not on her radar. “It was never a dream to do stand up- It was not something I aspired to do.”
Her girlfriend coerced her into it. “My girlfriend asked me that if she found an open mic, would I go. I said yes, because I thought she never would find one. She found one.”
Karinda now has 40 to 50 notebooks filled with jokes. “I would love to do a sitcom playing a black woman in bio-tech. There were so many funny and cringy moments I could write about. I have the characters, the office, it’s hilarious and ready set go. I don’t think there has ever been a show about a black person in tech. It would be hilarious.”
Karinda is fearless in her material and does not bend to the fear of any perception of a “cancel culture’ threatening comedians in the present environment. “I don’t think it’s true. There has always been things that comedians have said that people don’t like. So they just don’t go see that comedian. People don’t like a comic, they don’t like what they say, or how they say it, but I have yet to see one cancelled in comedy for anything they say. Even Louis CK has a show out now. I don’t think ‘cancel culture’ is a thing. I have yet to see it. If you don’t like a comic, don’t support them.”
On her album, she has a lot of material about pets. It is not that she does not like pets, even though, true, she herself does not have one. “I don’t like what people do WITH pets,” she confesses to me. “They do things with them that they just should not be doing. They have clothes on them… which is HIGHLY unnecessary. I’m like, your pet can’t make sense of that. It’s pet abuse. They have fur. I mean, what are you doing putting a wool jacket on them?”
The album was recorded in a quick window between Covid shut downs, over the course of two nights in front of live audiences. On it, she talks about topics that range from Hollywood type casting, to Harriet Tubman, to the “joys of lesbian weddings.” On the latter, she asks me, “Have you been to a lesbian wedding?? Lesbians in general like things outdoors, and that includes weddings. I’m not that kind of lesbian.” Her disdain for things outdoors continues into sets that include her talents for killing bugs, to a black woman delving into the adventure world on a track called “Hiking While Black.” Then there is praise, or rather guidance, for the shower in the movie Psycho. You’ll just have to hear it.
Blonde Medicine releases Black and Blue on February 4th. Even if your day to day world is not one of bug killings, pets, lesbian weddings and psycho showers, this one is for you. Let a cool breeze carry you to an earful of laughter.
Blonde Medicine is a record label and production company based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. With roots in comedy and music production, they aim to help Artists make great art, no matter what form it may take. Their genre-spanning releases can be found at blondemedicine.com and www.blondemedicine.com/bm073-black-blue .
Listen to the show:
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.
2022 Best of LGBTQ LA Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting
Vote for your favorite finalists in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA Awards through January 9th.
It is Decision 2022! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA categories through January 9th. Our 2022 Best of LGBTQ LA will be announced in our special issue will come out on Friday, January 28th.
Vote below or by clicking HERE.
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