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.

Friday, 14 April 2017


Bugs' interview with Mario Cantone originally ran in the July 23, 2012, edition of the Montreal Gazette

It should come as no surprise that fierce Sex and the City star Mario Cantone has always been pretty much out.
“I remember in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades I got a lot of shitt (for being gay),” Cantone says.
“I grew up in the 1970s when bullying was really bad. I never got beaten up, but I got a lot of threats and verbal abuse and would leave class early to make my escape. I mean, everybody’s got their fucking bullying stories. But honestly, I’m sick of it: Toughen up and let’s go!”

Friday, 24 March 2017


Bugs' interview with Louis Negin originally ran in the April 2013 edition of Fugues magazine.

There’s nothing quite like making a grand entrance. Just ask Montreal theatre legend Louis Negin, the first actor to ever appear nude on a legitimate British stage, in John Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes in London’s West End back in 1967.

But if London audiences gasped when Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe appeared nude in the West End revival of Equus in 2007, imagine the reaction to Negin 40 years earlier!

“In London at that time if you went to see a play with nudity in it, you had to join a (theatre) club which couldn’t be closed down (by the police),” Negin explains. “When Lord Chamberlain dissolved that law, Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes – with its explicit scenes of gay rape in prison – was a huge success with audiences in Canada and the West End.”

Ironically, it wasn’t Negin being buck naked on stage that made him the toast of the theatre world, but rather an incident on opening night that made sensational newspaper headlines worldwide.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Photographer Herb Klein’s new book Lost Gay South Africa

The irrepressible Herb Klein is a pioneering male physique photographer from Zimbabwe who, after moving to South Africa in the 1970s, shot the first full-colour nude gay magazine on the continent.

I discovered Klein’s work alongside his contemporaries Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber in David Leddick’s great 1998 compendium The Male Nude, then later on DVD when screening his gay adult films Here Comes Santa and Tango City, which he directed under his porn-director name, Flash Conway.

No question, the man has an eye an eye for talent and readers will enjoy his photos of beautiful men in his newly-published photo-filled book Lost Gay South Africa. I recently sat down with Klein for a candid Q&A.

Sunday, 19 February 2017


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974
(Photo courtesy Ballets Trockadero)

It was one of the greatest entrances of all time: Montreal drag queens Mado Lamotte and Madame Simone waited until the last possible moment to step into their private loge at Place des Arts to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo some years ago, just before the red curtain went up.
Then the 3,000 people in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier turned their heads to watch Mado and Madame Simone – who resembled Marie Antoinette, Queen of France during the French Revolution – and let out a collective gasp.
It was like a command performance.
But when it comes to entrances, no one beats Les Ballets Trockadero, or "Les Trocks" as they are more affectionately known. Back in the 1980s, during a performance at UCLA, the curtain actually fell onto the stage!

Sunday, 12 February 2017


Chris Barillaro recording the Curtains Up theme with Roger Peace
(Photo courtesy Curtains Up)

Following a lengthy battle with cancer, legendary Canadian theatre director Roger Peace died peacefully in the palliative care unit at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital on February 10.

Peace brought his love for live musical theatre to North America when he sailed from London to Montreal in 1957 aboard the ocean liner SS Columbia at the age of 21 and experienced the tail-end of Montreal’s famed and infamous golden Sin-City era.

Roger Peace
The Montreal theatre scene wasn’t quite London’s West End, where Peace had landed a bit part in the musical Call Me Madam at the London Coliseum in 1952 at the age of 16. But he spent much of his professional life as a director and producer casting larger-than-life divas in his productions, notably his longtime muse, Montreal jazz legend Ranee Lee, and another of his favourites, soul singer Michelle Sweeney.

When another glorious diva, Juno Award-winning soul singer Kim Richardson, starred in his 2013 revival of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, theatre critic Pat Donnelly wrote in the Montreal Gazette that Peace “directed Montreal’s first Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Le Stage dinner theatre at La Diligence restaurant in 1986. That one ran for more than a year and did a Canadian tour. There were only four singers, Michelle Sweeney, Ranee Lee, Dorian Joe Clark and Anthony Sherwood, with musical director Ari Snyder alone on piano.”

“We couldn’t afford a fifth performer,” Peace said.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


Out pop superstar George Michael passed away on Christmas Day 2016

This is an expanded version of my column that ran in the January 2016 issue of Fugues magazine.
Here is my 21st annual column of the past year’s heroes and zeros.
Hero United States VP Joe Biden, for officiating the Aug. 1 wedding of Brian Mosteller and Joe Mahshie, both longtime White House aides. Tweeted Biden, “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house.”
Heroes Sydney’s Mardi Gras organizers, for uninviting Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, who refused to hold a vote in parliament to legalize same-sex marriage (Turnbull prefers to pass the buck via a divisive national referendum).
Heroes The Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation in Saskatchewan for hosting the first Two-Spirit and Pride Parade in Canada on June 9, and the Eskasoni First Nation, whose Nov. 5 Pride Day was the first celebrated by a First Nation community in Atlantic Canada.
Pride Day at the Eskasoni First Nation
Heroes AGUDA, the Israeli National LGBT Task Force, who – after Israeli LGBTQ activists unsuccessfully demanded Tel Aviv Pride be cancelled over government funding of LGBTQ tourism – seemed to say they will no longer be complicit in “pinkwashing.”
Hero British pop superstar George Michael, who should not only be remembered as one of the finest songwriters and most soulful singers of his generation, but also for his generosity and quiet philanthropy.