Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mike Ruiz :: Life on the A-List :: EDGE on the Net


Mike Ruiz :: Life on the A-List :: EDGE on the Net

He's an A-Lister for sure but not just for his raw sex appeal...it's because he has a heart of gold. My friend Mike Ruiz sets the example and proves that we can all be on the A-List!

On the line with... Sherry Vine :: EDGE on the Net


On the line with... Sherry Vine :: EDGE on the Net

The devine Sherry Vine clued me in on some of her recent going-ons...trust me -- it's hard to keep up but worth the trip!
Read all about it in THE EDGE!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Straight Up with Kristine W :: EDGE on the Net


Straight Up with Kristine W :: EDGE on the Net

She truly is an icon and one of the most powerful voices in popular music! The divine Ms. Kristine W is back jazzin' it with the big boys on her latest and most wonderful release!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

DJ²: The Perry Twins... sexy, energetic, invigorating :: EDGE on the Net


DJ²: The Perry Twins... sexy, energetic, invigorating :: EDGE on the Net

Oh behave! I did my best -- but I'm sure you all will agree that the dynamic DJ duo The Perry Twins are just too hot too ignore! Check out my interview with the boys behind the turntables -- and catch them at a city near you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fast forwarding with Wanda Sykes :: EDGE on the Net


Fast forwarding with Wanda Sykes :: EDGE on the Net


If you still need proof that things get better check out this extended version of my interview with comedian Wanda Sykes. I spent some time with the funny-lady who is also a very close friend and one of my greatest inspirations. Wanda and her wife Alex are two of the most courageous individuals I know, and it's by their example that I aspire to have just as great an impact on our community as they have demonstrated. Never give up! I learned that from Wanda! Read and let me know what you think!

Justin Utley :: Taking a stand :: EDGE on the Net


Justin Utley :: Taking a stand :: EDGE on the Net


Unabashedly charming and without parallel -- Justin Utley is one of the most talented individuals I've ever met and he faces every challenge with great optimism and joy! His latest accomplishment -- his musical theatre debut in Tony Asaro's Our Country. A reminder of the bigger picture and scheme of things living as a proud, out gay American. This is your country too! You have nothing to fear!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I AM THE CHRYSLER BUILDING


I found myself walking home the other afternoon, all set to catch the 7 train on 42nd and I walked past The Chrysler Building, and realized that I had a lot in common with New York City's deco-style skyscraper. For the longest time, I thought that the Chrysler Building was actually the one scaled by King Kong in the original movie classic -- it was indeed in fact the Empire State Building, which the Chrysler lives in the shadow of. But as I walked by this New York City landmark, admiring it's angular lines and smooth gray surface, it's one of the taller structures in the manmade concrete jungle that is adorned with powerfully godlike griffins near the top arching spectacularly into the building's monolithic upper structure. It's really very impressive! It's just one of the impressive sites in our great city, but at the core when you think that it was imagined by another human being and then realized by a group of workers -- that's what is spectacularly impressive!

And here it sits in midtown Manhattan drawing tourists from all over the world -- the second most famous building in Manhattan...and it looks really happy. The Chrysler Building looks settled and content with it's location...and that gave me great pause. Because when compared to my own life -- I think that I also would feel like the Chrysler Building -- if I wasn't struggling to be like the Empire State Building. The Chrysler is every bit (if not more) majestic than it's sister building -- it draws just as many tourist and it isn't often the focus of impending destruction in sci-fi or disaster movies: you don't see the Chrysler Building getting shot up by alien invaders, ever.

When I look at the Chrysler Building and admire it's strength, it's purpose -- I find a kindred spirit. I respect it's majesty and how it stands mighty and poised for battle -- it's powerful looking without having to boast about it. It shines upwardly reaching to the sky and when it glows it's vibrant from within. The building looks like it's smiling standing vigil over the denizens of the streets below, and where the Empire State Building appears imperious and royal -- the Chrysler is like an accessible celebrity who rides the subway. It maintains an amazing polish and sheen! It doesn't look a day over 30. Above all it looks like it's having a better time than any other building skyscraper (except the Conde Nast Building down the street) in the city! And like that!

Someday perhaps I'll feel like the Empire State Building. Until then I'm happy to live up to the Chrysler's reputation...if only 20%. I don't think I've earned it's full regality but I'm working on it. And it will be soon in the meantime I'll wink and smile at the building that does the same back everyday and all over New York City!



Sunday, October 3, 2010

IT GETS BETTER REALLY

Without a doubt this past week was among the most tragic faced within our community. Needlessly the lives of 6 gay youth were lost primarily because they were bullied or disrespected. The burden of acceptance was just too much for them and these young innocents decided it was easier to just take their lives. Among the sadder cases was the story of a young Texas youth, Asher Brown -- he was 13 and from the looks of him and the pictures his family shared of him in telling his story, Asher was a very happy boy -- small for his age, but with a round happy face and gifted smile that was certainly destined for something great. Asher has been made fun and teased at in school, and in the week leading up to his suicide, was pushed down the stairs at school and watched as his abusers kicked his books down the hall. The day before he shot himself in the face, Asher had asked if he could speak with his step dad and told him that he knew he was gay. It was never made clear in the media how his step dad responded but from how his parents spoke of young Asher it was difficult to imagine that they would loved him any less. Instead of facing the unexpected joy of his life, Asher was so distraught he ended it.

Another teen, one much closer to home Tyler Clementi through himself off of the George Washington Bridge after his roommate conspired to openly reveal on the internet through a live web chat, the 18 year old Clementi engaging in sex with a male companion. The roommate cruelly opened the feed to the world wide web offering disdainful commentary like: "He's at it again." to God knows how many people online. Worse of all, this wasn't the first time the roommate had done this -- the first time the live web cast and utter invasion of privacy failed to post. Instead of finishing his school term at Rutgers University because the embarrassment was just too much, Tyler jumped off a bridge. We'll never know what potential he was destined to realize.

These stories and the ones from other gay teens this past month: Seth Walsh, 13 from California, Justin Aaberg, 15 from Minnesota, Billy Lucas, 15 from Indiana, and Raymond Chase, 19 from New York -- are the worst tragedies and the most shameful because they could have been prevented. How many other young teens, gay or straight, have recently taken their lives because of the thriving and malicious "mean girl" epidemic? We live in a culture that celebrates and glorifies, awards and makes millionaires of people and their bad behaviors! WIth the country entering what seems it's most undignified era of social strife and racism, with what looks like a fanatical group of white supremacist ranting on about having to take the country back, do we have the luxury anymore to turn a blind eye and not be proactive? Not hold any accountability for the person standing next to you?

Let me tell you something: No one has taken the country anymore, but some folks are prepared to take us back into the dark ages. As a culture and society we Americans are way behind the curve, and if we don't show accountability we will lose this country for sure and the 21st Century will be the era of un-enlightenment. You can't stop the evolution of the human culture.

My message to young people out there, especially those who have faced or are facing the challenges that these young people did as well and find themselves losing the battle -- I ask and I plead that you hang in there, because it gets better. Your life is a gift and everyday you have the opportunity to open it again as if for the first time -- imagine it's like getting a box that you have the ability to find anything you can imagine inside of it. That's the gift of life! I'm not going to tell you that it's easy, but it's worth living. Please do not deprive the world of what you are capable of becoming, because you haven't nearly realized all of your greatness...and what's more incredible is -- you never do as everyday is a new opportunity to be greater and better than the day before.

Do not deprive yourself of the success of achievement, of making your parents proud, your first dance (no matter how badly you did it) and most of all your first kiss. Don't lose out on your very first 4th of July celebration wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and hearing the words "I love you." It changes your life and is without question the best feeling in the world...and it happens again and again.

It gets better! I promise you -- it's worth living...for yourself, for your families and the friends that you have yet to make that will support you through thick and thin.

If there's anything that I want to achieve with my writing and my notoriety as an interviewer it's that I strive to bring to light the successful and honored stories of strength, joy and character of the people in our community that are doing it every day. What is it? They are living! And if they've taught me anything it is that no one day is like the last...and that each is just one more step to greatness.

Don't let them win! You are valuable -- you are great!

Friday, October 1, 2010

ICON: LADY KATE CLINTON

Tonight I met comedian Kate Clinton. She's kicked off a special run of performances at the downtown spot Dixon Place in the Bowery. And with all the sad trappings of the week to be able to engage in some good vibes and humor with Clinton was very necessary. In this trifling day and age when everyone seems to be asking where are all the role models within our community, the individuals who have paved the way and pioneered the movement so that the rest of us could eagerly sit still and comfortably in our skin -- I'm reminded that the courageous Kate Clinton has been an openly gay comedian and performing for 30 years. Kate was gay and out when it wasn't cool!

When there wasn't a weekly sitcom character to degrade or movie villain that wasn't a deviant, Clinton was out there breaking barriers with her wit and humor...all the while proving that it gets better. To take that pride in one's self and to stand in front of an audience fully realized, it takes wonderful amount of nerve -- to do it for 30 years...it takes enormous talent. Tonight Clinton discussed politics -- the movement (or lack there of) of gay civil rights, the embattled task of our current President -- the first minority to take the seat. She shared her insights on our diverse gay culture and the perceptions within (and without) the community. She even touched on bullying and how she handled it.

She proved her strength is in her talent as a humorist -- one of the greatest of this generation; and although she doesn't have the star-power of some of her contemporaries there isn't anyone that can deny what it has meant for Kate Clinton to do what she does -- and most of all: the grace she displays through her honesty and humor. It is without comparison.

It saddens me that this week alone 3 young people took their lives and they will never know the power of humor that Kate Clinton possesses. I wonder if they had sat with me in the audience tonight and looked at Clinton doing her thing...I wonder how differently their lives might have turned out. Because if Kate Clinton has the power to do anything with her comedy it's to inspire!

Monday, September 27, 2010

ALL THOSE GAY TALK SHOWS!

I suddenly am feeling extremely validated! It seems that the trend this fall season, especially on the TV Talk Show circuit is the quintessential gay male host -- if you don't believe me, check out the all-new Nate Berkus Show and LOGO's Gossip Queens with the Asian guy from Ugly Beauty. You can't throw a bagel without seeing a gay commanding his own audience of happily smiling spectators as they read from the prompter or from index cards -- kinda like Andy Cohen. Even Barbara Walters is putting together a show with a round table panel of 4 men...and one of her requirements is that one of the men on the panel be an out male...and from what I hear it's gonna be that gay Asian guy from Ugly Betty -- yeah...that same guy from the LOGO show. I guess Nate was busy!


Incidentally, that "gay Asian" is super-funny and charmingly adorable funny man Alex Mapa who I just wanna squeeze into a frenzy cause he makes me so happy -- so I'm not hating on him. I'm absolutely very proud of him. And I don't mean to sound bitter if that's how I'm coming off. I'm not. I'm very happy for all the attention that we're getting right now -- and I mean all of us gay male talk show hosts -- and although I'm just a local talent I'm counting myself among the group alongside my piers. It's amazing how the trends in media shift and move so frequently and it seems that now we're trendy!


It's a given! Of course we're going to appeal to every stay home mom who doesn't have access to a gay of her own. Now we can come into everyone one of their living rooms every afternoon and engage them from the comfort of the couch! I think it's great -- but I worry as I work towards my goal that we don't become the flavor of the moment. I'd hate for it to become like Baskin Robbins and all the flavors -- but I can offer this consolation: we come in all kinds of flavors!


I only have this word of caution -- I hope that before I get my big break (which I know is coming soon) we don't over saturate the market with the stereotype of what everyone expects us be like. I think that with examples that run the spectrum like RuPaul, Alex Napa, Nate Berkus, Andy Cohen and myself it's clear that really are a rainbow. I'm waiting for my turn to shine on all of you out there.


So stay tuned!


JC

Kate Clinton (a.k.a. Lady HaHa) revs up for the fall :: EDGE on the Net

Kate Clinton (a.k.a. Lady HaHa) revs up for the fall :: EDGE on the Net

Sunday, September 19, 2010

THE WAY TO A MAN'S HEART...AND STILL HITTING THE GYM!

"The way to a man's heart."

Some say that it would be through the stomach! Yes -- that would work with me! I don't think there's anything more attractive than to be invited over to spend a quiet night with a potential suitor and instead of whipping out the obvious (y'know what I'm talking about), they open up the kitchen, take out the cutting board, and flick on the burner! Your mama did something right!

When we live in a culture that nearly starves itself in pursuit of ideal physical perfection, spend hours a week pumping iron and running like a hamster on a treadmill, as I'm maturing (translate to: getting older) I'm swiftly becoming a lot more confident in my own skin -- that's not to say that I'm letting myself go. I'm just admitting that the six-pack abs just aren't that important to me. They are rather nice to look at and lay my hands on, but I don't need them. I like to eat cake!

It's certainly a contingent issue between myself and my trainer Greg Mills (www.gregmillsnyc.com). I recently returned to the the physical training aspect of my gym experience. Greg offered and I took him up on the suggestion to condition my body and increase my strength. In order to achieve that we meet 3 times a week at his gym of residency Steel Gym (www.steelgym.com) one do the city's most popular and serious body building gyms...in the heart of Chelsea! After getting over the initial mental shock-and-awe that I don't look like most of the guys that work out at this facility -- I'm 5'9" 175 lbs. and although in pretty decent shape I can't wrestle an ox or carry a piano on my shoulders. In fact: I don't really have big shoulders! Walking into this gym had me emotionally revisiting the emotional state I was in when I first started working out seriously at the age of 17.

I was a very skinny kid. I was about 120 lbs. at that age and growing up in South Florida, I used to wear sweaters (that's right sweaters) all year round in order to hide my lean, lanky arms. I wore my first short-sleeve tee shirt a year later in my senior year in high school, but I hungrily attacked my gym experience as a youth and my body quickly began to show results. Skinny no more, I was suddenly beset with the body dysmorphia that affects so many people especially who suffer from self-esteem or poor body image.

I'm now in my 30's and I still look in the mirror and see that skinny 14 year-old. The only difference now is that every now and then I get a glimpse of the the 180 lbs. guy that I've become most recently, but I still eat cake! I've never felt that need to fit in with the pack -- and from my experience, they don't seem to mind the physicality of my being that I have to offer. Balance it all out with a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits...you know what: you can indulge yourself every so often!

So yes -- cut to 20 years later and I'm still hitting the gym. Not because I'm a gay man and that's what we do...it's become a part of my conscious and a part of my social experience. I don't think I'll ever get rid of the skinny 14 year-old that I see when I look in the mirror, but at least the reflection of myself isn't as difficult to bear because the honest truth is that I let myself without cause or pause work at improving my physical appearance without the servitude to the culture that demands I fit into some ideal image of perfection.

We are after all always a work in progress -- and fortunately there is always material available to mold yourself into whatever you want to be. Just keep it away from my lower back fat and hips -- yes, I know -- men shouldn't have hips, but as we get older what do you call that area besides "The Cuban Curse". Everything is moderation is good. So eat cake -- you can work it off tomorrow!

LIVING OUT LOUD

Some of you (my all of five followers -- whom I appreciate and love very much) may have noticed that I recently changed the name of my blog-of-running-conscious. The reason for this is first and foremost 1.) for you -- my audience. I think it's important that I share more than just the events of "my gay life" -- which by most standards can be typically D-List (at least for now...I'm working towards that A-List). The second reason 2.) is because there's so much going on in the world and especially within my scope of observation that I think we all need to be aware of -- that includes all of us on the planet -- not just the denizens of gayville. We're part of a much bigger community...and even though we don't get as much [positive] attention as we like -- we deserve to have our input on the social stream of conscious.

And that's what I think I'm really meant to do. And I hope that everyone will participate in that with me. As a pop-culture commentator (yes, I'll legitimize myself by owning that title) and celebrity profiler I want to make it my goal to bring out the unexpected in the world audience. I know that I will succeed.

Thus the reason behind revising the mantra of my blog -- OUT LOUD and Living! is now a call to action: as much meant for me as for all of us out there. It's a way for me to expand on my commitment to myself to be genuine especially in my endeavor to create and evolve myself into a relevant voice able to capture and deliver on all the explosive and electrifying aspects of our world -- especially from the point of view of popular culture. I'm learning so much...about what drives us and inspires us; why we are the way we are and why we're becoming this -- and especially why we have to active contributors to our community -- in politics and beyond. We must be an out loud and present voice -- we must participate!

That's what I'd like to always do -- participate and bring you an audience in to share in that experience -- I'd like to reveal what isn't the most obvious (as evidenced in my recent profile of Real Housewife of New Jersey Danielle Staub) and celebrate the individual (check out my interviews with my friends Wanda Sykes and Mike Ruiz). And this I promise is just the tip of the iceberg -- let's hear it for global warming!

Please share your thought. Post your comments and live -- be a part of it all and be out loud!

Stay with me.

JC

Sunday, August 22, 2010

LOVING LIKE A POP STAR!

This summer I noticed that popular music was either about tortured love stories or about the innocence of teenage love -- with songs like Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" love was on everyone's mind. I'm so happy for them!

It's brilliant to me how the motif of love always plays into the song of the summer and into our unconsciousness. Spring and summer always seem to inspire these bright perceptions and eager expectations of love and happiness, companionship and completion. There's a sense of celebration in the heat of summer -- we wear less clothes and make them tighter; we spend more time in the gym so that we look way hot on the beach and able to attract that welcome suitor. Everything seems wired to guarantee some summer loving. That's a lot of pressure! I think it's wonderful that Katy Perry is so happy that she can put it all into a commercially successful album -- but will she have just as much material if (not thinking negatively here) her love life crumbles and her heartache sends her spiraling? Here's keeping the fingers crossed -- how much of the sticky, sugary sweet joy can we take? Is it cynical of me to find myself relating more to Lady Gaga's "Alejandro?" What's that say about me?

And don't get me wrong -- I'm all for love, especially young love and all that it's innocence has to offer. Keep knocking those tracks out so that we can use them to seduce each other at least into a quick summer time romp!

Is it cynical of me to find myself relating more to Lady Gaga's "Alejandro"?

Summer is almost over now. The weather is chilling into autumn breezes that I most enjoy and feel invigorate me, and I'm not in love. It didn't happen this summer and certainly not the way that Perry of Gaga promised it would happen. I didn't find my own Alejandro (although I've sworn myself ever from dating Latinos -- some call it self-hating of me...I just think it's smart) and I didn't wake up to a Teenage Dream either -- and thank God...I probably would have ended up in jail -- and from what I hear it's nothing like OZ. So now I've settled into the songs of the fall -- have you noticed that most of those are about endings or break-ups?

What up with that?

Friday, July 9, 2010

OUR ICONS: LADY GAGA

And the heavens opened up -- as if on queue -- and it rained on her stage, but Lady Gaga ran with it! The pop ingenue (yes...I said it! For all intents and purposes Gaga has only been around for 2 years) marked a milestone when she performed on day time TV to one of the largest audiences ever for a daytime talk show audience...and Lady Gaga turned it out in a way that few seasoned artists could have ever managed. But the music sensation that has been raising the bar ever since she made her debut, has earned all the attention and adoration that she's been getting since releasing The Fame.

Lady Gaga had emerged from the New York City art scene...some would say it was a dying art and not the Warholian epic that she was clearly evoking with her performance art, but none can argue that the ambitious young singer lacked talent and verve! She immediately started making a name for yourself in the downtown circuit for her punk-like style and over-the-top fashion. Making her name for yourself as a lyricist and songwriter, Lady Gaga perfected her craft and when the timing was right she immediately struck a chord with her first solo single, the club friendly "Just Dance". The pop-friendly track immediately endeared her to the club scene and especially to the hungry for a modern day anthem gay crowd. Similarly to her icon and inspiration Madonna, when the track was released there was little to be scene of Lady Gaga and with MTV no longer really toting TRL as a destination for new artist, by the time the video started making the rounds it's playability was limited to gay bars and YouTube -- which didn't seem to phase the establishing artist in the least.

As a matter of fact, it appeared that Lady Gaga's sensibility appeared tailor-made for the digital age; she immediately set out the popularize herself and has become one of the most downloadable acts of the last decade! All the while she worked to perfect her image and her performance -- as much using "shock and awe" to present herself as well as teasingly taunt with her sexuality and using the latest technologies to enhance her persona and solidify herself as a fashion plate along the lines of the artists she immolated: David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, sprinkling in some Sylvester for good measure and a dollop of Madonna's marketing skillz, Lady Gaga backed up with the package with a whimsical ability to create pop music that was catchy and memorable. Sure she aligned herself with some of the most gifted producers in the industry for her debut album The Fame but the relationship she sought to cultivate, to nurture to the extreme was her gay audience and the "freaks" who always felt out of place in society.

Lady Gaga was speaking to them. Embracing and taking in those disenfranchised Gaga created her legion of "little monsters". Madonna may have had "wannabees" but Lady Gaga's fan base fully connected with her outrageous look and daring ability on the stage! It wasn't long before pop's own royalty from Elton John, to Sting, to Madonna herself were giving the Lady their own blessed approval, all the while creating impressive collaborations with contemporary pop artist's like Beyonce and even Michael Bolton!

Cut to: 2 years and Lady Gaga is greeted by more than 20,000 fans at Rockefeller Plaza -- the most any artist has ever gathered for the Today Show's summer concert series. Gaga in her native town, performing to 3 sold out nights at Madison Square Garden only after recently selling out Radio City, performs her heart out under a summer shower that begins after her startling emergence from a fog of dried ice. The artist cheered for her audience and didn't hold back, giving the crowd that had been waiting over night exactly what they had come to see -- Gaga full on! If she is anything she is the face of showbiz -- of any artist currently on the scene she completely "gets it" and understands the art and manipulation of the performance, and embraces her audience at the same time she thumbs up her nose in rebellion to the fame she herself has created for herself. She is this generation's Madonna -- no other modern day act can lay claim to that similarity -- not Britney, not Beyonce, not Christina!

But at the same time that Lady Gaga climbs on the backs of all those that have paved the way for her own success, she clearly stops to slap the hands and give them their props understanding that without them she would never have realized and perfected her own brand of performance -- she would never have known what fierce determination would have in store for her, especially just at the start of her career. For Gaga the next bench mark is anxiously being awaited, but she will continue to advocate for those that made her what she is and celebrated her ability to be a "free bitch".

Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE ART OF THE COURTSHIP

In a more civilized time in human history (although I like to think not all that long ago) people actually spent the time and energy to get to know one another. Early relationships actually valued the idea of establishing friendships -- or a comparable intimate experience that would establish longevity and a more secure level of companionship between lovers. I know that it all sounds very clinical but somewhere down the line -- and I like to blame the 70's (I blame that era for a lot of things) perhaps it was the sexual liberation of the time and the pursuit of independent identity -- maybe there was a singular "cool factor" -- whatever it was, people weren't bothering to court an intended suitor. And it's a sad shame.

The funny thing about it is -- I'm not in the lease a hopeless romantic. I love and encourage romance and the experience that it inspires, but I learned about love by watching tv and movies so my idea of romance is a bit on tilt. Go figure. That doesn't mean that the idea of romance is dead on me. I've got my days...but what I sometimes think is really tragic is that often times gay men really don't partake in this ritual. For instance, I recently had dinner with two really old friends who had recently married -- they'd been friends all through high school and even grew up in the same home town. Interestingly enough, although there was an attraction between them they really didn't pursue anything while growing up as young people and only decided to pursue something romantic when the timing felt right -- which happened years later when they were both in college. The courtship which started years before, led to an easy romance years later -- but it was the sense of familiarity that eased and inspired the affection and love between them.

There's something to be said about those moments of stolen kisses and casual embraces, and in an even more chaste time of chaperones and parental permission. Now don't get me wrong, I'm extremely realistic about the fact that I'm well beyond any of that being a necessity in my life. I'm well beyond the years of needing (or wanting) to be chaperoned, and although stolen kisses are something that is very sweet -- I'm particularly aggressive and usually just take what I want -- Yikes! That sounds dangerously horrible, but I'm not a passive individual when it comes to getting what I want -- I just wish that we lived in an era where it was well worth the wait to want. Sometimes it just seems that would be enticing opportunity to increase the expectations between two new lovers.

I'm just thinking about the rest of you! I've not been in love for a very long time and I don't seek attention like that -- I'm not in pursuit of love and trust that it's something that occurs between people when the timing is right and when it's a special opportunity -- otherwise it's just a "trick". And tricks are for kids! And I mean that!

In an age where we tend to jump in the moment and the immediacy of a relationship whenever when crosses our paths and then quickly work our way through it looking beyond to where the grass is greener, perhaps as we continue to pursue marriage equality we can begin to think about relationships and the excitement of their longevity with fresh eyes. Also, I must admit that not all gay relationships go the way of drink-to dance-to bedroom-to brunch-to see you around the block sometime. There are a lot of like-minded individuals out there that would like nothing more than to settle in with someone special and more-so-than-often there are genuine relationship oriented people out there not out just looking for a fling -- not that there's anything wring with that! Sometimes a fling is just what one needs at least to get you through the haze.

It's just especially nice when the quality time that we choose to spend with someone can be just that -- quality! It's actually quite brilliant to sit in the breathe of knowing that it won't end as quickly as it's started, and sometimes it's even more special when you relent to any expectations whatsoever. The sands of time are not running out, and you've got all the time in the world. Really -- you do. It makes it worth the trouble to try to steal a kiss. It makes it all that much more sweeter.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

OUR CINEMATIC LIFE

Something happens to me whenever I sit in a darkened movie theatre and relent myself to the experience that is the cinema! If that isn't a dramatic opening line, I don't know what is, but it's the truth. Something happens to me. It always did.

I developed my passion for the cinema from my parents; both of them loved taking me and my brother to the movies, although I think I appreciated it in a way that was unique onto myself. I inherited that passion for movies from my father. It wasn't as if he had to explain it to me or anything like that -- he didn't sit me down and tell me what makes for a great movie, plot, placement, characters or shots -- he just let me play a lot. Which I did as a kid. I would create these elaborate little sets with my action figures when I was younger and plot out the most innovative sequences. Sometimes I was the director, other times the cameraman -- but always the film was a blockbuster. I never imagined things small -- I always allowed myself to dream big, which begs to differ why I seem to settle for so little sometimes in my own life.

Movies and the spectacle of a film make so many things probable in life -- you believe that a man can fly that you can go back to the future, that you should be afraid of the water and that an alien can phone home. Anything is possible within that frame of and span of 2 hours. You can save the world and you can especially fall in love! I was once told that I fall in love like in the movies. At the time that idea didn't seem like such a bad thing -- movie love is often larger than life, dramatic, wrought with passion, can be dangerous but always ends happily. What is so bad about that?

Obviously it's the fact that it's unrealistic -- people don't love like that...people don't live that! As if every moment is their last and each decision of every moment of the day can have a resonance, an impact that will last forever. If only people lived like that! I think we'd accomplish a whole lot more within the 24 hours that we're given in a day...we'd take more of our lives by the balls as opposed to let so many other things stand in our way and cause all these distractions. But life should be cinematic.

With everyone so willing to play things up nowadays for the reality tv cameras, some people's lives are almost intentionally dramatic...but not in a Casablanca kind of way and not even like a poorly developed flick of the week. It makes you sometimes wonder why we've become such a celebrity starved culture -- is it because we pay such a paltry amount of attention to our own lives in the effort to submerge ourselves int he fantasy of something that could or should be unattainable? After all celebrity is fleeting and doesn't always last forever, and for those fortunate enough to achieve fame and fortune it seems to come with it's own share of challenges or regret. Only a fortunate few are able to travel that causeway unscathed.

As I continue along the "pre-production" of my Hollywood spectacle (the budget keeps shifting, the script keeps changing -- although it's nearly locked, the studio I'm currently working with is suffering slightly financially, but I'm contractually locked it) I take heart in the fact that soon my flick will have it's premiere. Perhaps it'll be a modest film opening, not necessarily #1 opening weekend, but with good word-of-mouth it begins to gain some momentum, the critics will mostly be kind, but all agree that it's "a promising debut" which is always encouraging. It'll be a good start!

If we took more active roles as the stars of our lives, wouldn't we be living more Academy Award winning features or money-making Hollywood blockbusters?

Monday, June 28, 2010

THE DAY AFTER...

It's a beautiful Monday morning here in NYC. The dust has settled from all the Pride hijinks and things are for all intents and purposes back to "gay normal". As I get older, that seems more and more -- normal. People often say that holidays are for children, like Christmas and Halloween are kids holidays and that you don't really live them until you see them through the eyes of a child. This may also be the case when it comes to Pride. I don't really have a gaggle of friends here in the city to hang out with and most of the people that I generally do spend time with go out of town during this holiday weekend, so the parade happens, the parties go on, the revelers drink and dance and me: I'm usually avoiding the whole thing. Not because I abhor that sort of behavior but it's something that you wanna do with a group of friends -- like New Year's.


I walked my dog Henry last night and listened to the fireworks that signal the end of the big dance on the pier. I couldn't see them but they sounded very impressive and they usually are -- they bring everyone to a stand still and it's actually quite emotional to look up at the sky and see such a display -- like the world is cheering. From my vantage point I looked at the Empire State Building bathed in lavender -- it's lit that way every year for pride -- it would be too ambitious to light it in the traditional rainbow colors I think, but I always wonder what that will look like. I listened to the fireworks dying out; Henry on his leash (Henry is terrified of fireworks) and it made me think of how much still there is left to do in order to really celebrate Gay Pride.


As gay and men and women we really don't have any other option -- we have to have pride in ourselves and we must live our lives accordingly; we have no other alternative. To some it's OK to settle on what is -- to others the plight continues for more. Because whether we realize it or not our social standing isn't on te same footing as the "regular folk". And sometimes that does make me think how sad that is -- especially here in America.


But listen -- I don't want to be a constant dark cloud on the horizon; these musings of mine aren't meant to be dismal -- I hope that they are inspiring and reflect the way I see things, the way I am experiencing things and that those experiences connect with someone else. And today the day after Gay Pride, when life in NYC is returning to normal and the party has stopped, I want all of you to know that the band is playing on.


Don't have pride one day of the year -- or one week for that matter -- have it everyday! And share it with you family, include them in your life. Make them a part of the experience and especially smile! They will thank you for it!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

OUR ICONS: KYLIE MINOGUE

I'm feeling a little nostalgic -- today I was reminded of the teenager I was circa 1987 -- and the reason for that is because as I spent the entirety of my workout rocking to Kylie Minogue's new album Aphrodite I couldn't help but reflect on her career and what has endeared her to the gay community and made her one of our more priceless icons. Perhaps you'll ask yourself why I didn't start with the principal pop icon Madonna, but as I mentioned...I was feeling nostalgic, and if all things iconic and gay will trace back to Madonna -- well then:

Circa 1987 Madonna was truly coming into her own as a pop artist. She would release her third studio album True Blue which debut the hit single "Papa Don't Preach" and controversy would ensue as religious groups abhor what they conceive is Madonna's attempt to entice America's youth to engage in pre-marrital sex that would lead to pregnancy, blah blah blah. On the radio Janet Jackson was getting "Control" and Stacey Q was giving us "Two of Hearts", but on the onset was this import act with a remake of the Carole King pop classic sung by Little Eva "Loco-Motion". That import was the spry and very young Kylie Minogue and that first single was a huge summer time hit for her and she had a few modest follow-ups, but America didn't seem ready for the Minogue...at least not until we couldn't get her out of our head -- years later!

I remember listening to that track -- the first one "Loco-Motion" and not being particularly impressed by it, but I would still grove to it and I will admit I wasn't the most groovy teenager -- I was very skinny and awkward and not very coordinated, so I didn't really dance all that often. Not in public anyway, but in my imagination I sold out arenas!

Kylie Minogue was one of those artists that I constantly kept my pulse on. Musically she was pushing the envelope of pop/dance and even if Americans weren't getting it, the gay underground club scene was all over it! Minogue had several modest hits "Confide In Me" and "Better the Devil You Know" that immediately endeared themselves to the gay scene, all the while her star was climbing to the stratosphere in Europe and the UK in measure that matched Madonna's own celebrity internationally! And when Kylie took her music on the road the comparisons between the two divas was always evident -- it was clear that they both were drawing inspiration from fashion and art. Madonna of course usually had more of the finances to fully realize her vision, while Minogue experimented with what she could technologically -- cut to: 2000 when she released Light Years which yielded the hit single "Spinning Around" and it's ultra-stylish music video. On the heals of that success Minogue's success would touch American soil again with the 2002 release of Fever and everybody was feeling it -- the album featured her biggest international hit "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and it wasn't long before Kylie was once again commercially embraced by her North American audience.

But I digress: anyone can go on-line and read through Minogue's biography or check out her discography anyone can see her live concert performances on video and the spectacle that she performs -- all the while singing her heart out live!

What makes her an icon is the love that Kylie has always spread universally to her fans -- which is almost apropos that her latest release is entitled Aphrodite -- after the mythic Goddess of Love. Because truly in the pantheon of female gay icons where Madonna would without a doubt sit among them in the apparent role of Hera, Queen of the Gods for her indomitable strength, Minogue would be the inherit Aphrodite spreading joy and love where ever she goes. Kylie has also been one of the more apparent artists who has always championed equal rights and fought for those disenfranchised few that have made her such a sensation: she's never abandoned her gay fans and has always been at the front of line fighting to raise funds for those living with HIV/AIDS. She's never shirked in her responsibility to the community, and she never asked for anything in return accept our endearing admiration.

But MInogue is not without her own fierce sense of strength: she fought and won a battle with cancer which was discovered while she was on one of her tours -- it forced her to cancel the last 3 shows, which she quickly rescheduled as soon as she recovered from her treatment putting her in front of the people she loves most and doing exactly what she was born to do...entertain! And now as she prepares for world domination (yet again) Kylie appeals to those fans that have always made her a standout artist and delivers with great love and happiness some of the best music of her career. And it's that quality that has made her an icon!

After you hear Aphrodite tell me that you don't agree. This goddess of love's time has come to be embraced by everyone -- but it's true when they say that gays are the cultural taste-makers in any society. So I don't have to convince you -- Kylie knows we love her!

Friday, June 25, 2010

TGIF!

I'm in the midst of getting the weekend started -- which for me is catching up on my TV viewing, popping in a DVD and forcing my pooch Henry to cuddle up with me on my plush couch which has admittedly become dented in on one corner. It's very obvious where we spend most of our viewing time. The highlight of my Friday night is ordering the Grilled Shrimp special from the local Thai restaurant, which admittedly because of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf I've become nervous about eating, but I'm I going to stop eating sea food all together because of this ecological nightmare? I think not! I've very little else to root for on Friday nights.

Now I'm not bringing this up in any way to imply I require any sympathy in the matter. I am after all a creature of habit and I really do love spending time at home...with myself...all the time. I'm a very social individual but I've curiously entered that age where few of my friends and I spend our times patrolling the club scene, and even though I've reported on it and have several friends impacting that most significant part of our culture -- it's not where I spend a lot of time. Although sometimes you can't help but want to shake your ass...if you know what I mean. It's Gay Pride and summer in the city and on the onset of the biggest gay weekend of the year you would imagine that there's got to be a party somewhere to be had that I would be at attendance -- but alas no velvet rope will be sheathed at my arrival.

And that's OK. Sometimes it feels like Gay Pride is something for everyone else, or the privileged few prepared to venture out into the mobs of unsuspecting tourists expecting New Yorkers to have to deliver on the promises of a "spectacular time" when in truth, except for the mobs of people wall to wall at every local haunt it's as spectacular event as it is every single night of the week in our great metropolis, and that's not to say that Gay Pride isn't amazing in every city across the nation -- it's just that in a city like New York it's just a reason to rainbow flag the crap out of everything every where! That's about it! Fortunately some of us can afford to live proudly everyday...and we do! I know I do!

Maybe tonight I'll prepare myself and venture out for a spell. Grab a drink and get a tickle with some of the locals I usually end up running into. And if I see you say "hello" it'd be nice to share a smile.

So I'd like to welcome every one who's coming into Manhattan to share in the festivities -- I'd like to welcome them to Gay Pride NYC style! And remind them that this is just their one day, but I have to live here year round -- clean up after yourself, don't leave a miss and if you have no intentions of staying in touch, don't give out your card with your digits, your e-mail, but please do facebook -- or at least poke that special someone just as a courtesy.

It's Gay Pride after all and no one is expecting anything -- really! We'll always have New York City...or Chicago...or Miami...or San Francisco...or Los Angeles -- you get the picture!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

SHOW YOUR PRIDE!

Every summer across the nation Gay Pride is celebrated in every major city. Hundreds of revelers take to the streets for some of the largest parades and events in the country -- and in the Midwest hundreds of gay and lesbian youth quietly fight the fight for social acceptance and tolerance among a much more difficult level of adversity. I some times think that we celebrate Gay Pride for them. In New York City, the city I'm from the parade is one of the biggest tourist draws and grows every year. The most poignant moment is the moment of silence -- in memory of those individuals who started the movement with the Stonewall Riots and to honor those that have been lost to the AIDS Crisis. The former of course being one of the most pivotal moments in not just Gay History but American History, and to some it marks the beginning of the Gay Civil Rights movement. A movement that we're all still in the midst of -- and a fight that we're fighting for those frightened gay and lesbian youth in parts of the country who can't celebrate with pride!

We have become a culture that takes things for granted especially in the larger metropolitan cities, but this year I suggest that we take a couple more than just a couple of minutes to think about where we are as a community -- and how much more we need. Don't kid yourself -- in America (if you're not paying attention) you will be considered a second class citizen, unless you take the steps and measures to change this. You are responsible for your rights and currently those rights are in the hands of government -- which consists of officials we elect to safe guard our and defend our liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution. This year as we approach yet another election season take the steps that are necessary to make your voice heard and make your vote count -- otherwise what is there to celebrate?

I'm an American -- born in New York City or Cuban immigrants who know a thing or two about social injustice. I'm also gay -- but I am not a 2nd Class anything. Just ask anyone that knows me. I'm sure you're not either.

Take pride in yourself and to new levels.

Peace.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

OUR MOTHERS

Today is my mother's birthday. Or more so it would have been my mother's birthday. I lost my mother to cancer about 3 years ago. I wonder if after someone has passed on if we should still celebrate their birthday or honor their memory with the day of their passing? In my mother's case, I sort of feel obligated to acknowledge her every day of the year -- or as I used to tell her: "After all every day is Mother's Day!" And she wouldn't have had it any other way.

The loss of my mother was particular traumatic to both me and my brother -- but in very different ways I think. Without a doubt our mom had meant the world to both of us; either one of us would have taken a bullet for her, but we each had very different experiences with our mother. We had her for very different times in our lives, and mother regrettably once acknowledged that she raised me too independently. I wasn't particularly a "mama's boy" (although my brother would disagree). I didn't rely on her in the same way that my brother did.

I moved away from home in my late teens, at the suggestion of my mother. I had just come out and my mother's husband at the time (don't want to get into that) would have made my life a hell (was making my life a hell) because of my orientation. And not to mention, interestingly enough my mother -- the beautician -- didn't take it all that well. She worried of course that I had come into something that would be an intense struggle for me, and no parent wants that for their child. She also personally wrestled with the feeling that she'd been negligent in her responsibility as a mother. I always say to that: my mother did the best that she could with what she had. Most importantly I feel that she was very focused on raising me to be very independent -- I don't think she was worried about whether or not she was raising a gay child. She didn't want me to rely on exterior forces for my needs. My mother taught me to cook and take care of myself, especially to do my own laundry. She asked me always to be responsible and respectful.

My mother, unfortunately made poor choices in the men that she let into her life. My parents divorced when I was around 6, and that's a whole other story that is completely irrelevant to these musings, but one worth putting a footnote in for the memoirs someday. My brother and I were raised by our very hard-working single mom, who was doing her best to balance her life fully and raise a family. Like I said: she did her best, but had she been in relationships that were particularly healthy and supportive my mother would not have had to feel as if she'd failed me as a parent. You see -- to her it felt as if I was just giving her despot of a husband at the time more fodder to make her miserable. It had nothing to do with me, she just felt she now she had more "defending" to do.

When I came out 19 my mother suggested that it perhaps would be best that id I was going to choose to live as a gay man that I start my life on my own. So I moved out. I had the support of my entire family, so didn't move into a shack -- I had a pretty decent fist apartment for a kid my age and I had the run of it. I could do as I wanted and come and go as I pleased, and my mother didn't have to worry about what anyone thought I was doing because I was doing it under my own roof.

In those early years, we spent some time together -- she didn't adjust very well (I remember) to my living on my own. We also seemed to had taken "a break" from one another. Which was fine by me -- I had a lot of living to do and things that I was figuring out. But on occasion she'd sneak over to spend some time with me -- yes...she had to sneak to visit her gay son as her husband didn't very much approve. During that time I had begun to solidify the other family in my life, my closest friends who would encompass life-long friendships that I would still be maintaining into my adulthood. Friendships that later on my mother would admit she envied. She didn't particularly like that there were individuals out there that knew me better than she did.

My mother had it tough with me. And it's no one's fault really, but it was a constant determinant to maintain a position in each other's life. She undoubtedly loved me, but that love difficult at times, and unmanageable. We didn't always understand each other, but she was a pillar of fierce courage at times, and if she dealt me anything it was some tough love. My mother would tell you I am stubborn, hard-headed and in too many ways fiercely independent, but as I often reminded her: she raised me to be no less. I did the best I had with what I got.

And it was OK. My mother was exceptional but she was no different than anyone else's mother. Sometimes she could be too critical and judgmental, but always she was loving her hugs were from the heart. She loved her boys deeply.

Before my mother passed away we had an opportunity to spend a great amount of quality time alone. I had begged her to spend some time with me in New York...so she came and stayed with me for 10 days. I remember picking her up at the airport; she was sitting alone in the arrivals area -- we here in New York don't usually have cars of our own and rely on public transportation. We took the subway home from the airport together and I remember how I was thinking she seemed timid about the trip, a commute that should have been familiar to her since she herself had lived in the north for sometime. Now in reflection, I wonder if it wasn't that she perhaps knew that something was amiss with her health. We spent the most quality time together during that visit than we had ever in our life; we even spent time with my Dad (who lived in Jersey at the time), and mostly we talked. One of the things that we had done that changed my perception of my mother so dramatically, was a trip to a pub that we took with my boyfriend (at the time). We spent the time eating, drinking, laughing and telling stories; me, my mom, my boyfriend and another friend that was visiting, and I remember my mother saying to me: "I missed out on all this...these moments." And she was sad.

During her visit my mother told me how proud she was of me and the man that I had become; she commented on how complete I was as my own individual and she confided that she felt guilty that she didn't have enough to do with that. I told her she had everything to do with who I was and who I am and who I would become. I am what she (and my father) made me. And I was content that she could look at me after such an embattled history and say that she was proud of me. It meant more to me than anything.

When my mom passed away, it wasn't sudden, but her fight with cancer was a losing one that claimed her in 6 months and rather than commit those last months to the difficultly of the disease she surrendered, and that was fine. She had earned that much, but mostly she trusted that her boys would be fine -- they had each other, and although each one was dramatically different from the other, we both were so much like her that she would endure. She's done her best, but nonetheless loved, honored and respected what we'd each become -- at the end of the day, what more can a mother ask for?

Monday, May 24, 2010

SCENE IT...DONE THAT!

Not that it's absolutely necessary to understand the way the gay scene works in order to survive in this community but it does greatly enhance the experience if you know what to expect and also understand why so many young gay people find it appealing. It's still unfortunate but many young gay men and women usually find themselves alone and ostracized from their own families or communities, whether it be because their sexually goes against their religious dogma or they are made to believe that they've brought shame on their families, once that young person finds the safety of acceptance in community it does begin to have an impact on their psyche.


Acceptance is a very gratifying thing. Some young people are very fortunate and find that nurturing at home. Not all situations are ideal like that and sometimes the safety that is necessary to become that person that you are comes from somewhere else. That is why gay runaways head to the major cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami -- here they find community.


I remember when I first came back home to New York. Being back in the big city energized my soul and engaged my spirit in an incredible way and when I began to compare the differences between Miami's gay population and that of New York, it was like gay on steroids (in some cases...literally)! But it wasn't long before I found a way to fit in and I began to carve my niche into the scene. I had a series of some small jobs here and there before I landed a job waiting tables and tending bar at one of the cities premiere gay owned and run establishments right in the heart of Chelsea. It couldn't be any gayer! The money was good and the hours were flexible. I was able to still hit the gym and get to work, pay my bills and still have enough income to available to grab drinks and go dancing on the weekend. In all honesty -- because of my job I was meeting all the people that made the club circuit what it was in NYC, so drinks and access past to velvet rope was never a problem.


As completely individual as a was I was still very impressionable as a young man, so I wasn't the most successful at the whole dating thing. I still made terrible choices for myself. In retrospect it was quite amusing, but those choices often made me question my place in the order of things and how and why I never really could fit into the scene. I struggled with it particularly after one failed relationship and then I received the best advice ever from someone that I respected very much. He was my boss at the restaurant I worked at and he said to me: "You're wasting your time trying to be something you're not...and you've forgotten to be yourself." And suddenly everything made more sense to me.


I remember how true those words rang to me. I remember smiling at their truth and I remember crying because I had forgotten trying so hard to impress everyone else what it was about me that was so impressive. And after that the scene wasn't so bad.

MY BEST FRIEND PT. 2

There's that saying that God puts in your path the people that you need to take you through the journey of your life and that perhaps can not be more true than about my friend Raul (again...last names are being omitted to protect their privacy -- it would be kind of silly to change names; that would be rather pretentious, no?) I had first been exposed to Raul back in our high school days, and even though he would disagree, he was very special even then. I was dating girls in high school and not really concerned at all with my "unexplored" sexuality. I was content to play the role that I was expected to. In high school I was of a very different mind set -- I was from my perspective preparing to rule the world!

From Raul's perspective...he already was.

He was one of the youngest out gay people I had met. And for that he was incredible. In his youth, because of his rather irreverent manner, Raul really couldn't hide his nature -- but for him, that was a badge of honor than one of shame. I always admired that about him, that he had even in his youth that courage and sense of identity. He met only briefly during our high school years, but would cross paths again in our early 20's. By then I had already come out, and was much fodder for Raul and his click of relentless queens to make fun of. You see, just because high school ended it didn't mean the bullying stopped and although I wasn't bullied in high school, I had entered into a world that had a clear pecking order. As a newbie, I was way low on the totem pole.

Not that it mattered to me. I had my own rather impressive circle and friends that held their own, and didn't prescribe to all the drama. Truth be told, I was having too much fun for the distraction. Eventually, I just came to accept that Raul was one of those things that for one reason or another was set in my path.

I learned later that it would be as one of my life long friends. But as this story is meant to have some sense of relation as to give one comfort in their own self-awareness, bare with me -- I'm almost there.

Socially Raul and kept crossing paths to the eventuality that we realized, we just enjoyed each other's company and were fast becoming friends. What was (and is) most wonderful about Raul is his unabashed joy of life -- he always approached things with a fearlessness and excitement, a naivete that to me was unfounded. As we get older and become young adults with responsibility, we can become jaded. Not Raul. Of all my friends at the time, I was the first to move out and one my own. I had my own apartment and not one but several jobs to make ends meet. I was still trying to figure things out -- my place in the world and what I was meant to do -- but I chose to begin to do this for myself.

In all of that distraction, I was building a fast friendship with Raul that as also a learning experience. Raul and I had a friend in common, although I use that term loosely as this individual had a rather interesting way at manipulating and truly controlling the people around him, kind of like a "mean girl" did. If you didn't follow his rules you just weren't part of his click, and often times he challenged Raul and his masculinity. Among Raul's greatest charms there is his impish personality, his coy and simplistic approach that belies his wonderfully astute sense of curiosity and intelligence. But if he was to be a part of the "mean girls" he had to curb certain behavior, which I just didn't tolerate.

Raul was among the first of my gay friends that I comfortably hugged and displayed affection to in public. I was always genuinely happy to see him and we'd hug. In the beginning he would ask for permission, as opposed to following his nature and authenticity. He soon learned that I wouldn't have anything less than his entire authentic self. He has always been inspiring to me, in that of anyone I know he embraces his identity and expresses himself honestly. Something that very few people would dare to do.

For a young gay man to see that in a friend, to have that as part of his process, it made a huge impact on who I was and the pursue of my own acceptance. By his example, Raul encouraged me to be my genuine self and still today teaches me lessons of great depths. When we me, some 20 years ago, we were unstoppable and invulnerable quickly becoming fixtures among the South Beach club elite -- there really wasn't a velvet rope Raul and I couldn't cross. In our youth, during those times -- there was nothing more important. And now 20 years later, I can say that although the priorities have changed, the party hasn't. And although the velvet ropes are fewer, I think my friend and I are more comfortable with the ones that we've created for ourselves -- Raul will always be among one of my VIPs.

To be continued...