Saturday, 12 August 2017


Montreal police raided Sex Garage in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 15, 1990
All Sex Garage photos © Linda Dawn Hammond /

I have been publicly screaming for an official apology for years: Projet Montréal city councillor Richard Ryan this week said he too wants the City of Montreal and the SPVM to apologize for their violent police raids of LGBTQ establishments over the course of decades that resulted in “more than 800 people” being arrested — at Truxx in 1977, at Bud’s bar in 1984, the Sex Garage loft party in 1990 (now widely considered to be Montreal’s Stonewall), and at the Katacombes bar in 1994.

This does not include, among other raids, the 36 people arrested at Montreal’s Sauna Aquarius on Crescent Street in February 1975 (the bathhouse was later firebombed and two unclaimed corpses were buried in "Pauper's Field" in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery atop Mount Royal); the 13 people charged as found-ins after police raided Montreal’s Club Baths in January 1975 (another 26 were arrested there in May 1975); the 61 men arrested at Sauna David in April 1980; and the October 1975 raids on 7 queer bars, including Baby Face, the legendary lesbian bar.
Violent Montreal police raid on Sex Garage
© Linda Dawn Hammond /

Then there is the Neptune Sauna, opened in 1973 by Andre Laflamme and Lorne Holiday. At the time Laflamme and Holiday also owned the Aquarius Sauna when Montreal’s Gay Village was still downtown, before the exodus east after the 1976 Montreal summer Olympic games — an exodus precipitated by the systemic police raids.

The Neptune was raided by Montreal police on May 14, 1976. A friend of mine, Henri Labelle, was working as the cashier at the Neptune that night. Henri told me, “They yanked off people’s towels and threw everybody together and took pictures and charged them all with being in a common bawdy house.”

Henri noted, “There was a former mayor’s son there, a government minister, a secretary to the Catholic Archbishop and a couple of cops, but they were ushered out the back door while everyone else was thrown in paddy wagons.”

Wednesday, 2 August 2017


John Cameron Mitchell (screenshot)

When I was a young man I tried to give myself a blowjob when I discovered the trick to fellating yourself is not to put a pillow beneath your head, but beneath your neck.

I did as instructed, lifted my legs up against a wall, threw them over my shoulders, then promptly threw out my back.

I lay cussing in agony for about 20 minutes, later wrote a column about it and made a fortune for every acupuncturist in the city.

So you can imagine my amazement at the flexibility of New York actor Paul Dawson, who gives himself a lip-smacking blowjob in the first 10 minutes of John Cameron Mitchell’s 2006 film Shortbus, which just about every mainstream movie critic in America at the time compared to hard-core porn.

Now, I’ve known a few great pornographers in my life – Wakefield Poole, Toby Ross, Chi Chi LaRue and Flash Conway, to name but a few – and John Cameron Mitchell ain’t no pornographer.

But I will say that Paul Dawson has a pretty nice dick.

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Laverne Cox is part of a new wave of transgender role models

Emmy-nominated actress and Emmy-winning producer Laverne Cox catapulted to fame as Sophia Burset in the critically-hailed Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black.

Laverne then raised eyebrows with her portrayal of the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the Fox remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show and, when she starred in the short lived CBS legal drama Doubt, she became the first transgender actor to play a regular trans-character on network television.

Her groundbreaking professional work, coupled with her trans activism, landed Cox on the cover of the June 9, 2014, issue of Time magazine for the landmark story “The Transgender Tipping Point” – as historic as Vanity Fair’s August 1993 lesbian-chic cover that pictured Cindy Crawford shaving kd lang in a barber's chair, and Ellen DeGeneres declaring, “Yep, I’m Gay” on the cover of the April 14, 1997, issue of Time.

The culture is changing, and Cox is part of a new wave of transgender role models. We sat down for a candid Q&A on the eve of her return to Montreal to host The Laverne Cox Gala at the 2017 Just For Laughs Festival International Comedy Festival.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017


Was Oscar Wilde inspired to write The Selfish Giant by his visit to Montreal in 1882?
Montreal is a top LGBTQ tourism destination, but the city wasn’t always the gay mecca it is today. Back in the 17th century it was just a tiny outpost of the French Empire, surrounded by fields and valleys as far as the eye could see. It was here in 1648 that a gay military drummer with the French garrison stationed to protect the Sulpician Order of priests — the seigneurs of Montreal — was charged by the Order with committing “the worst of crimes” and sentenced to certain death in the galleys.
“The drummer’s life was spared after Jesuits in Québec City intervened on his behalf,” Québec Gay Archives co-founder Ross Higgins said. “He was given a choice by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Québec: die or become the colony’s first executioner.”
The unidentified drummer took the executioner job.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Women ROCK!

Cher: "I recorded Strong Enough for my gay fans."

Expanded version of Bugs' column that ran in the May 2016 issue of Fugues magazine, featuring Greatest Hits quotes from Bugs' many interviews with Cher, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Luba, kd lang, Donna Summer, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wash, Idina Menzel, Carole Pope, Thelma Houston, Joan Jett, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, Anne Wilson of Heart and others.

My favourite rock stars are women – Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Heart and Stevie Nicks – because their narratives speak to me, while few lyrics and life experiences of straight male rockers do.

Besides, I love my divas.

And their names usually end with a vowel: Divas like Judy! Bette! Liza! Etta, Eartha and Beyoncé! Dolly and Madonna! And guess what? I’ve interviewed, met or seen almost all of them perform live, from Celine Dion in Vegas to Lady Gaga in Atlantic City. Once, at the annual Night of a Thousand Stevies drag tribute to Stevie Nicks in New York City, I saw Debbie Harry — dressed à la Stevie — sing a scorching rendition of The Chain with punk-rock outfit Goon Squad.
Carole Pope

I also remember the time a disgruntled Roberta Flack stopped her band in the middle of a song to complain about the poor acoustics in Salle Wilfred-Pelletier and demanded the tech guys fix it immediately. And once, at the old Montreal Forum in 1982, Bette Midler was so raunchy, the older Jewish retirees literally fled for the exits as the gays whooped it up!

Some 25 years later when I saw her at Caesar's Palace in Vegas, Bette walked stage left and told the screaming audience, "Where are my gays? They're always to the left of me! Thank God for the gays!"

I have witnessed Mariah Carey’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Bell Centre in 2010 — when one of her breasts nearly flopped out — to Tina Turner at Le Spectrum de Montréal in 1984 where she learnt backstage (and it was a tiny dressing room) that What's Love Got to Do With It was going to be Number One on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

Turner — whom I have since seen perform live some 30 times — then stormed the stage, launching her first of two scheduled concerts that night, with a torrid version of ZZ Top’s Legs

Monday, 24 April 2017


The murder of Father Warren Eling made the cover of the
December 18, 1997, issue of HOUR magazine

After chasing lawyers for over a year, Bugs landed an exclusive in-prison interview with Danny MacIlwaine, the male hustler who murdered Montreal's Father Warren Eling in November 1993. The interview ran in a December 1997 issue of Hour magazine. A version of the story also ran in Xtra magazine in Toronto as well as in the April 1998 issue of Queers Online.

Did Danny McIlwaine murder Father Eling or was it a case of accidental death? McIlwain talks for the first time about that fateful night in 1993. An exclusive interview with Richard Burnett.

Danny McIlwaine was sucking on a crack pipe and drinking rum punch the night Anglican priest Warren Eling asked him for a blowjob. When concerned parishioners from St. James the Apostle Church called on Father Eling the next dayNov. 9, 1993they found the naked cleric dead in his Montreal home, his wrists tied by his underwear to his brass bedstead and a yellow bathrobe belt wrapped around his neck five times.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Sky Gilbert (Photos courtesy Never Apart)
Before my pioneering LGBTQ column Three Dollar Bill went national across Canada in 1998, I approached all the syndicates and not one would touch me with a 10-foot pole (this was back in the print-journalism Jurassic era).

So I then approached every single alternative and indie publication in Canada myself, one by one, and by 2005 I was in half the alt-weeklies in the country.

One alt-weekly I pitched was Eye Weekly in Toronto, who instead went with trailblazing locals, first hiring playwright Sky Gilbert, then filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, as their queer columnists. I love it that I can (jokingly) brag I blazed a trail for both Sky and Bruce!

Soon after TDB went national, I profiled Sky—who co-founded Buddies In Bad Times Theatre in 1979—and one line from our interview has stayed with me: ‘’I am probably the most despised person in Toronto’s gay community,’’ Sky told me.