Thursday, 10 December 2015

JUDAS PRIEST FRONTMAN ROB HALFORD: "I'VE BECOME THE STATELY HOMO OF HEAVY METAL"

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford came out in a 1998 MTV interview.
Today he says, "
I've become the stately homo of heavy metal."
Bugs' interview with Rob Halford originally ran in Daily Xtra on Nov. 20, 2011

Judas Priest has been hailed as the godfathers of heavy metal. MTV names the band on its list of greatest metal acts of all time, second only to Black Sabbath and just ahead of Metallica. Both Black Sabbath and Metallica are inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Judas Priest, for reasons known only to the gods of rock, has so far been left out in the cold. 
Metal God Rob Halford of Judas Priest

I told lead vocalist Rob Halford I think the snub has everything to do with his being openly gay.

“I don’t know, let’s have a think; who in there is gay?” Halford says rhetorically. “It’s a good question. I consider myself a lower-case gay, not screaming like my good friend [porn director and drag queen] Chi Chi LaRue. I love all my friends in the community, and if the moment came [for induction into the Hall of Fame], it would be a tremendous moment, not just for the band and our fans, but for the whole LGBT community.”

Halford rose to showbiz fame in the 1970s at the height of the homophobic disco sucks movement. Coming out publicly then would likely have meant career suicide. But Priest’s landmark 1980 album British Steel had more to do with popularizing metal than any other band, including, arguably, Black Sabbath. Priest’s twin lead guitars, pile-driver drums, outlaw lyrics and Halford’s vocals were templates for every band from Iron Maiden to Guns N’ Roses. Judas Priest also codified the metal dress code: long hair, tight pants and leather galore.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! THE OUT GAY MAN WHO MADE KISS SUPERSTARS

KISS today: Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer


Bugs' interview with Roman Fernandez about Bill Aucoin and KISS originally ran in the June 2014 issue of Fugues magazine.
The four original members of KISS – Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss – put aside their personal differences at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, at least long enough to say kind words about one another. 
Bill Aucoin and Roman Fernandez 
on Broadway (Photo courtesy 
Roman Fernandez)
But for KISS fans, as well as Roman Fernandez – longtime life partner of Bill Aucoin, the legendary rock’n’roll manager who discovered KISS – it would have been nice to see the fueding stop before the band hit the stage. In fact, it would have been nice to see the original KISS perform onstage at the ceremony.
Like former Rage Against the Machine guitarist and KISS fan Tom Morello concluded in his induction speech, “Tonight, this isn’t the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the Rock And Roll All Night And Party Every Day Hall Of Fame!”
For Roman Fernandez, the night was bittersweet: his life partner Bill Aucoin, who died of surgical complications from prostate cancer in 2010 at the age of 66, was not there to see the band he raised, nurtured and turned into global superstars inducted into the rock hall.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

SHIFTING SANDS: THE PHAROAH'S GAY MANICURISTS

Manicurists and Royal confidantes Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep


If I weren’t a journalist, I’d be an archaeologist. Both jobs are about bringing to life the stories of other human beings separated only by time, culture and geography.

One of my favourite stories from Ancient Egypt lies in the sandblasted necropolis of Saqqara, beneath the crumbling pyramid of King Unas, the ninth and last pharoah of the Fifth Dynasty, who ruled Egypt from roughly 2375 to 2345 BC.

I only learned after visiting his tomb many years ago that beneath the causeway to the pyramid lies the Old Kingdom tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep whose bas reliefs depict what is (to date) the world’s first recorded adult homo love story. And in a fabulously queer twist, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were – wait for it! – gay manicurists (yes, you read right) in the palace of King Niuserre (2453 to 2422 BC) of the Fifth Dynasty!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

PORN MOGUL MICHAEL LUCAS ON PORN INDUSTRY, SEX AND THE MEN OF MONTREAL


New York City porn mogul Michael Lucas, 43, isn't thinking about retirement any time soon (All photos courtesy Lucas Entertainment)

Bugs' interview with Michael Lucas originally ran in POP TART on the Montreal Gazette website on September 11, 2015.

Famed gay-porn director and adult-film actor Michael Lucas —born Andrei Lvovich Treivas in Communist Russia in 1972— emigrated to Germany after graduating from the Moscow Law Academy in 1994. He began working as an adult performer before founding his own porn production company, Lucas Entertainment, in New York in 1998. Today Lucas has become one of the most successful producers of porn, and has used his success and notoriety to —as a media columnist and university speaker— speak out against drugs, unsafe sex and the oppression of gays, as well as support the state of Israel. Lucas was in Montreal earlier this summer and Pop Tart caught up with the opinionated entrepreneur for a fun and frank Q&A about all things porn, PrEP, LGBT civil rights, and the raid by U.S. federal investigators on the New York headquarters of popular gay-male escort site Rentboy.com. Plus, Lucas talks about his love affair with Montreal.

Three Dollar Bill: When you started out in the porn business, did you anticipate that you’d have this incredible career and longevity?

Michael Lucas: I was definitely hoping for a long career, because I was young and ambitious. I don’t think I anticipated such a big success.  But I usually do achieve my goals, because I am very focused and hard-working.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

IDINA MENZEL 100% UNCENSORED - ON HER RISE, DIVAHOOD AND HER GAY FANS



Bugs’ interview with Idina Menzel originally ran in the Montreal Gazette on August 31, 2015

Idina Menzel remembers the day she fell through a trap door onstage during her Broadway run as the “wicked” witch Elphaba in the blockbuster musical Wicked like it was yesterday.

The accident happened during the Jan. 8, 2005 matinée at the Gershwin Theatre, and stunned the cast, crew and sellout crowd.

“I thought I had punctured my lungs or something,” Menzel told me in a recent and rare one-on-one sit-down interview. “It was crazy and I was surrounded backstage by all the crew, who were my friends. They were trying to get me to breathe and were afraid to move me because they wanted to make sure my spine was OK. It was scary.”

Menzel fractured a rib. But the next day, without makeup and dressed simply in a tracksuit and sneakers, she made a surprise entrance at the very end of the matinée to sing a few bars in the finale, and received a five-minute standing ovation.

Friday, 25 September 2015

ON THE ROAD WITH MELISSA ETHERIDGE, PLUS HER POOL PARTIES WITH ROSIE, ELLEN & KD


Bugs’ interview with Melissa Etheridge originally ran in the October 2015 issue of Fugues magazine.
Three Dollar Bill: Your new album This Is M.E. is a departure for you. What did you want to do with this latest album?

Melissa Etheridge: The change started in 2013 when I changed management, agencies and lawyers. I changed my whole scaffolding. I needed fresh ideas. The music business was changing. I knew there was a place for me and a lot had to do with own creative independence. So we decided to release an independent record. That means I’m in total control. It’s all up to me. At that point I decided I wanted to go so far outside the box that people would say ‘Whoa, what’s this?’ Yet at the same time stay in the centre, so as to always be me. When you hear these songs, when you hear these great productions around them, you still hear my guitar, my harmonica, the words are mine. It’s me in a kind of new and different car.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

FELICE PICANO: AN AUDIENCE WITH THE GODFATHER OF GAY LIT


This interview originally ran in the May 2015 issue of Fugues magazine

I met literary legend Felice Picano at a Montreal brunch hosted some 15 years ago by my friend Louis Godbout. That day I interviewed Felice for the first time and we became fast friends. I interviewed him for my annual Felice Picano column in my syndicated column Three Dollar Bill for a decade, a tradition I am continuing here in my Fugues column.

It never matters if Felice has product to sell – the world-class name-dropper and memoirist always is a great interview and has met just about everybody. Rudolf Nureyev once grabbed his bum, Felice had lunch in Fire Island one afternoon with Elizabeth Taylor, his cock was photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe, and when he outed the late Anthony Perkins years after their affair, critics screamed, “Picano is a name-dropping slut!”

In other words, I adore Felice, the trailblazing writer whom I call the Godfather of Gay Lit.

“I really did know everybody, but it was all happenstance,” says Felice, currently promoting his latest memoirs, the highly entertaining Nights at Rizzoli (OR Books) about the famed original New York City Rizzoli bookshop located at 712 Fifth Avenue.

Friday, 11 September 2015

SANDRA BERNHARD: "MY WORK HAS TRANSCENDED GAYNESS"




This interview with Sandra Bernhard originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on June 5, 2008
Sandra Bernhard, a Jewish girl in a land of whiny WASPs, knows what it’s like to hurt. That’s why she’s always told those who’ve mocked her to fuck right off.
In fact, she’s made a career of telling assholes to fuck off.
"Fish Lips!" Jerry Lewis used to call Bernhard on the set of The King of Comedy, the 1983 Hollywood blockbuster that made Bernhard a household name.
But like Bernhard once told Arsenio Hall, "I’m the only actress in Hollywood who didn’t pay to have these lips!"
Today the author and star of stage and screen, from the Great White Way to Tinseltown, named one of the 100 greatest stand-up comics of all time by Comedy Central, brings her new loudmouth act, Plan B From Outer Space, and her rock band, The Rebellious Jezebel, to Toronto’s Massey Hall to kick off that city’s Pride celebrations on June 22.
"Going through customs in Canada is one of the most loathful things in the world," NYC-based Bernhard told me this week. "They harass the shit out of you if you’re a single parent [travelling with your child]. They ask you, ‘Do you have a letter from the father?’ And I say, ‘There is no father!’ I want to say, ‘Fuck you, you fuck!’ They drive me nuts. So now I come up without [my daughter]. The bureaucracy in Canada is pathetic."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

WANDA SYKES ON HER UNIQUE VOICE, LGBT LIBERATION AND HER WHITE FAMILY


Wanda Sykes came out publicly in 2008 at a Proposition 8 rally in Las Vegas

Three Dollar Bill: I’ve interviewed some very unique sounding voices over the years – James Brown, Cher, Joan Rivers and Bill Cosby. It is surreal to listen to your voice now. Have you always known you have a special voice? Do you deliberately try to use this to your advantage onstage?


Wanda Sykes:  I don’t deliberately try to use it in my stage act. I didn’t know I had a unique voice (for many years), but I did know it (sounded) different when I was a kid. My mother wanted me to change my voice. She’d say, ‘You have to do something about your voice! It doesn’t sound pretty! Listen to all the other kids, they sound nice, and then there’s you!’ I had no idea how I could change my voice. So I was always worried I had an ugly voice. I was an adult before I found out people liked my voice when I did stand-up or animated roles. I’m glad I never had any work done on my vocal chords. It’s kind of paying off for me. People love my voice and that’s cool.

Friday, 4 September 2015

ONE-WOMAN PUSSY RIOT KATE CLINTON

Coming out as a lesbian on stage is still a very political act – if it weren’t, more women would do it.”

This interview with Kate Clinton originally ran in the August 2015 issue of Fugues magazine.

I was checking out trailblazing queer stand-up comic Kate Clinton’s website the other day and came across some fabulous blurbs on her media page, by such LGBT icons as Lily Tomlin and Tony Kushner.

“Kate, you’re not showbiz – you’re show art!” Tomlin said, while Kushner observed, “Kate Clinton cuts through ten thousand miles of badness with a single brilliant insight, complete with punchline.” 

Then, tucked neatly between Tomlin and Kushner, I was surprised and delighted to read one of my own Three Dollar Bill column quotes about Kate: “The woman is a goddess.”

Thursday, 3 September 2015

FOLK ICON PENNY LANG ON COMING OUT, JANIS JOPLIN AND LEONARD COHEN

"I think you become a legend after living all your life and I haven’t lived all my life yet. I’ll be a legend when I die." Photo courtesy Borealis Records

This interview with Penny Lang originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on May 4, 2006

Montreal folk singer Penny Lang was going to teach Janis Joplin how to play guitar back in the fall of 1970. But Janis died on Oct. 4 of that year at the Landmark Hotel during the L.A. recording sessions for her album Pearl, and Joplin’s keyboardist Ken Pearson, a Montrealer who was the love of Penny’s life, returned home without Janis.

"Once I spoke with Janis on the phone," Lang recalls. "I was in pretty bad shape. I’m bipolar and I’ve had some rough periods. I take lithium now but back then it wasn’t legal. I was looking for Kenneth and Janis was great."

Lang had two things in common with Joplin – Ken Pearson, of course, and that they both loved women.

MIKA CELEBRATES MONTREAL, FREDDIE MERCURY AND GAY LIBERATION

“Sexuality and identity have been the ingredients of my music and lyrics since the beginning.”
 UMG recordings

This interview with Mika originally ran in Daily Xtra on June 18, 2015
The tabloids have been obsessing over Mika’s sexual orientation ever since the British-Lebanese pop star exploded on the charts in 2007 with his debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion. To the surprise of no one, Mika came out as gay in 2012. But just three years earlier, when I first interviewed Mika, his handlers warned me to avoid personal questions and stick to the music.

So instead, Mika and I had talked about another closeted pop star, the late Freddie Mercury. It was like we were talking in code. Imitating Mercury from the famous backstage British TV interview on the Queen —We Will Rock You: Live in Montreal 1981 DVD, Mika turned to me, legs crossed and, pretending to hold a cigarette, did his finest imitation of Freddie Mercury. “Yes, dahling,” Mika said à la Mercury. “Hello, dear!”

Following three sold-out concerts with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) earlier this year, I sat down with Mika to talk about his new album and his obsession with Freddie Mercury.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

HOLLYWOOD HEARTTHROB TAB HUNTER SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT


Tab Hunter's bestselling 2005 autobiography Tab Hunter Confidential has been transformed into a documentary film directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, and will screen at L.A.’s Outfest on Hunter’s 84th birthday, July 11, 2015


This interview with Tab Hunter originally ran in Three Dollar Bill on November 24, 2005

When I learned a couple years ago that 1950s matinee idol Tab Hunter was going to come out in his forthcoming memoirs, I told my friend, author Felice Picano, who’d had lunch with the onetime Hollywood heartthrob. 

"He’s a wonderful man," Felice told me, which only made me want to interview Tab Hunter even more. 

Well, I finally got to blab with Hunter last week, the day after he returned home to Santa Barbara after a cross-country U.S. book tour to promote his bestselling memoirs, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (Algonquin Books). I can’t even begin to tell you how terrific Hunter’s autobiography is, an immensely frank and entertaining read that, Hunter proudly tells me, has just been ranked Amazon’s number two pick for best books of 2005. 

"I thought about writing my memoirs a long time ago but didn’t have the guts," Hunter explains. "Then when I heard someone else was going to write a book, I said what the hell. I hate talking about my private life but I had to do it [come out]. I had to be fair." 

Tab Hunter Confidential tells the quintessential Hollywood fairytale of a gorgeous young kid – in this case a young Art Gelien – who was named Tab Hunter by Henry Willson, the (in)famous Hollywood agent who also created Rock Hudson and Rory Calhoun, sex symbols who became known as Harry Willson’s boys. Along the way, Hunter publicly dated the likes of Debbie Reynolds and, by the age of 25, he was a number one box office draw who’d even had a number one hit single with the song Young Love

Thursday, 18 June 2015

DISHING WITH IRISH DRAG SUPERSTAR PANTI BLISS

Panti Bliss is the guest of honour at Toronto’s Green Space Festival’s all-drag Starry Night, co-presented by Pride Toronto on June 25


This is an expanded version of Bugs’ interview with Panti Bliss originally published in Daily Xtra

Irish drag queen and “accidental activist” Miss Panti Bliss became a YouTube sensation in January 2014 when she walked on the stage at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and gave a touching and memorable speech on homophobia.

“Have you ever been standing at a pedestrian crossing when a car drives by and in it are a bunch of lads, and they lean out the window and they shout “Fag!” and throw a milk carton at you?” Miss Panti asked the Abbey Theatre audience rhetorically. “Now it doesn’t really hurt. It’s just a wet carton and anyway they’re right – I am a fag. But it feels oppressive.

“When it really does hurt, is afterwards. Afterwards I wonder and worry and obsess over what was it about me, what was it they saw in me? What was it that gave me away? And I hate myself for wondering that. It feels oppressive and the next time I’m at a pedestrian crossing I check myself to see what is it about me that ‘gives the gay away’ and I check myself to make sure I’m not doing it this time.”

I can relate: I live in the McGill Ghetto in downtown Montreal and I can’t tell you how many times over the years folks in drive-by cars have screamed “Faggot!” at me at the corner of Parc Avenue and Milton.

The video of Panti's speech went viral — it has been seen more than 700,000 times on YouTube — and landed her a North American lecture tour.

Upon her return to Dublin, publishing house Hachette Books Ireland asked Panti (aka Rory O’Neill) to write her memoirs, Woman in the Making.

“The turnaround on the book was less than six months,” Panti says. “But saying I cashed in suggests I was given loads of money, and I wasn’t. It is part memoir, part rant. And I have two chapters about the aftermath of my lecture at the Abbey Theatre. It was an insane period in my life, exciting and exhilarating.”

Thursday, 26 February 2015

HOW GAY MEN DEFINED 20th CENTURY INTERIOR DESIGN


Montreal author John Potvin’s new book explores the homes of Oscar Wilde, Noël Coward and Cecil Beaton

This story was originally published in Daily Xtra

Montreal author John Potvin was researching his new book about the homes of famous gay men around the same time he married his husband in December 2010, in the home of a close gay friend. It was here and then that Potvin’s vision for his book Bachelors of a Different Sort: Queer Aesthetics, Material Culture and the Modern Interior in Britain crystallized.

“I’d been thinking about this for half a decade, and what fascinated me about these gay male couples were their lives together,” Potvin says. “Much of what is written about gay life and queer identity is geared at the public sphere. I wanted people to understand how these men created lives within their homes.”


Bachelors of a Different Sort gives readers an inside look at turn-of-the century bachelorhood by offering case studies of the private lives and homes of several prominent gay bachelors living in Britain. All the bachelors chosen were in the creative arts — writers, actors, painters, designers and photographers — and the book includes the domestic interiors of Oscar Wilde, Noël Coward and Cecil Beaton.
Potvin, an art history professor at Montreal’s Concordia University, explores a largely unseen side of queer sexuality by showing how these bachelors used interior design to set themselves apart from the constraints of the hetero-patriarchy that surrounded them.

“Although [gay men] have been written out of the histories of design and the home, a profound sense of community was forged as a result of [them] living in these homes,” Potvin says.