Thursday, September 24, 2009

October is Packed with GLBTQ Events!

Bookmark and Share

Picture yourself having a good time this month in the Berkshires. Photo: Ryan Winkles in Hound of the Baskervilles at Shakespeare & Company. Photo: Kevin Sprague.

Once the choice of things to do for LGBTQ's were few and far between. But these days there's plenty on the calendar. Now the question is how to be in two places at once when you and I used to have no place to go at all! (Yeah, I was a fan of the Firesign Theatre.) That's the dilemma many of us face on the weekend of October 10-12 with the Equality March in DC and the Out in the Berkshires Celebration in Pittsfield.

Here's a look at the LGBTQ datebook for the coming month. It's going to be fun!

October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 - MEZZE

The first thing to note is the continuing Thursday nights at Mezze in Williamstown where GLBTQ folks gather beginning at 9:00 pm for drinks and conversation. Look for Justin Adkins, the fellow in the hat, and say hi. Of course, there may be more than one person and gender wearing hats, so take a chance!


(L-R) Ryan Winkles, Jonathan Croy, Josh Aaron McCabe in Hound of the Baskervilles. Photo by Kevin Sprague.

What's not to like about a hilarious spoof, especially when it comes replete with cross dressing, wigs, and Monty Phython type humor. That's what's in store for those who trek to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox for a twisted version of the Sherlock Holmes mystery . Three guys play all 16 characters, searching for the right costumes and hoping they don't malfunction. Read my revealing interview with them here in Berkshire Fine Arts. For tickets - and don't forget to ask for your Berkshire resident discount of 40% - go to Shakespeare and Company

October 3 - LIVE OUT LOUD

The New England Trans United Pride March and Rally takes place on October 3 in Northampton starting at 11:30 AM, assembling at Lampron Park. New England Trans United Come out and celebrate the strength, talent, intellect, and diversity of our community. March and rally to advance the civil rights of transgender people. Bring a friend, make new friends.

October 7 - BSCC POTLUCK

The monthly Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition gathering takes place October 7 at 7:00 PM at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, 175 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA. Open to GLBTQI community and friends. Bring a main dish, salad, veggie or dessert to share. Beverages provided. Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition


The National Equality March on Washington is scheduled for this weekend as thousands of people from around the country gather in D.C. for activism, marches and grassroots activism. For information on the event visit National Equality March.

There are Massachusetts bus and hotel packages available from from Join the Impact. Buses leave Friday night and return Monday morning.


The City of Pittsfield celebrates being Out in the Berkshires with a series of events over the Columbus Day Weekend. Out in the Berkshires website


The Out in the Berkshires weekend kicks off on with a performance by the Boston Gay Men's Chorus at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield at 3:30pm.The BGMC is one of New England's largest and most successful community-based choruses.

This will be the first appearance in the Berkshires for BGMC. Their concerts in Boston regularly fill Symphony Hall with music lovers. The 175-voice ensemble is celebrated for its outstanding musicianship, creative programming, and groundbreaking community outreach.

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will perform highlights from its hit show, Boys Just Wanna Have Fun: Totally 80s, a tribute to the music of the 80s including hits by Madonna, Boy George, Bon Jovi, Prince, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper and many more. This show was featured during the 2009 Boston Pride festivities and proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Gay/Straight Alliances at Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School. For more information on the chorus please visit

Best of all, you don't have to be gay to have a great time at their performances! Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for adults, and $15 at the door. Tickets will be sold at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, Taconic High School, Pittsfield High School, and St. Stephen's.


This looks to be one of the hottest parties of the year, Quite Queer at the Elks Lodge in Pittsfield kicks off at 6:00pm with live music by queer-oriented acts MKNG FRNDZ, Jen Urban & the Box, Max Steele and the Party Ice and The G-Spots with a dance party to follow. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. They are on sale at Dotties Coffee Lounge, The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, and Rebel Sound Records.



There is only one dance troupe in the world that mixes together dance, theater, acrobatics, contortionism and illusion to create highly entertaining, unique works of moving art that have legions of fans around the world. Sometimes humorous, sometimes jaw dropping, but always artistically beautiful, the company will be including their famous piece for four men, Gnomen which is also a play on words. Curtain is at 7 PM, and there's no better place to see them than the wonderful Mahaiwe in Great Barrington. Great sight lines, excellent acoustics, nice people. Mahaiwe Performance Information


The Laramie Project was born out of the torture and death of Matthew Shepherd in Laramie, Wyoming a decade ago. As a theatrical event, it has been performed in high schools, colleges and communities thousands of times in the intervening years. Now, looking back, The Laramie Project, an Epilogue looks at what has been accomplished in the past ten years.

Matthew Shepherd

Barrington Stage has assembled a cast from Pittsfield and the Berkshires that will take part in a nationwide event that includes 120 theater companies from every state and 7 countries for a moving performance that brings this tragedy home to us all.

Read my feature story on this moving event in Berkshire Fine Arts. Wait until you see who's in the cast!

Tickets are $15 ($10 for students) and are available now through the Barrington Stage Company box office 413.236.8888 and online Barrington Stage Company


Richard Stevenson, the pseudonym for Becket, MA author Richard Lipez, has written another book in his famous Donald Strachey detective series, The 38 Million Dollar Smile. He will appear at The Bookstore, 11 Housatonic Street in Lenox on October 17 from 2-4 pm to talk about and sign his new book. The Bookstore in Lenox.

Last year's Stachey novel, Death Vows, was set in the Berkshires, and one hopes that like several of his earlier books these tales will be made into movies with Chad Allen who has starred in the author's Ice Blues, Shock to the System and On the Other Hand, Death. I have interviewed, gossiped with and written about Chad and his films (and stage and television roles) many times on my other blog, Arts America.


One of the highlights of my summer, other than Bill Nelson's All Male Revue at Barrington Stage, was Amanda McBroom's SRO performance at Jae's Spice in July. Happily I will be going back to more, since she is returning to the Berkshires, this time to appear at BSC's Stage 2. Her latest CD features the music of Jacques Brel, and her concert included her unique take on his remarkable songs.

Amanda McBroom returns.

Amanda McBroom has been called "...the greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match." Composer of the power ballad "The Rose," which became a number one hit the world over, Amanda is a knock out performer and extraordinary songwriter. This is an artist who sings from her heart, the human heart, to your heart. Barrington Stage Company


If you enjoy the outdoors, and a little mystery, here's a chance to hike the Quarry in Becket with other like-minded individuals. Meet at the Price Chopper in Lee at 1 PM and we'll car pool to the Quarry for a brisk Fall hike.

Tucked between Becket's forests and hills, the old granite quarry sits like a sunken vessel, a living museum with rusted artifacts left behind when the Hudson-Chester Granite Company suddenly folded. Some folks have reported paranormal activity there. Many lost their lives when it was in operation for more than a century from 1850 to 1960.

When it was abandoned it was as if the men just walked away for lunch and never came back, and that's what makes it a wonderful museum. There are trucks, drills, and derricks (booms to hoist granite) throughout the site.

October 31 - MAKING THE BOYS

Who doesn't love a good film, and the Williamstown Film Festival is offering several excellent films of special interest to the GLBTQ community. Making the Boys is one of them.

When it opened off-Broadway in 1968, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band jolted audiences and revolutionized the stage's treatment of homosexuality. Months later, the Stonewall riots signaled a landmark sea change in gay attitudes toward repression. How much have things changed since? A fascinating study of art and morality in modern America. The film is a Work in Progress and is paired with the short, Love You More. Williamstown Film Festival

November 1 - HUMPDAY

Also at the Williamstown Film Festival, the male ego comes in for a shellacking in Lynn Shelton's bubbling Sundance award-winner. When best friends (and straight guys) Ben and Andrew reunite, they find themselves dared into entering an amateur porn contest. The plan: to create a "work of art"by having sex together. But will they go through with the scheme – and who's going to tell Ben's wife? A buddy movie gone hilariously haywire. Williamstown Film Festival.

Other recommended films - actually, they are all excellent choices! - are Dare which explores the sexual undercurrents (and, eventually, overcurrents) between three teenagers and is pretty sexy. Then there is the tale of Handsome Harry a Navy veteran whose reunion gradually sheds light on a long-ago affair that the lead character has kept suppressed for decades. You can read my preview of the full schedule in Berkshire Fine Arts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Neil Patrick Harris and the health care debate...

Bookmark and Share

Neil Patrick Harris is a triple threat actor.

The debate over health care is putting me to sleep with so much of the discussion being political rather than practical. It reminded me of this wonderful moment from Doogie Howser, M.D. many years ago. The wonderfully talented Neil Patrick Harris will be hosting the Prime Time Emmys on September 20. Harris has always been out to his friends and colleagues in show business, but when some of the salacious press began to describe it as a scandal, he came out formally.

"I am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."

Here's hoping we get to see him on one of our Berkshire stages before too long. Anyone who watched the Tony's last June knows he's a multitalented artist. (Nicky, what's up for the Williamstown Theatre Festival next summer?)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Audition Gone Wild

Simply over the top. Too funny. Don't try this in the Berkshires.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rewriting Lesbian History - TS Eliot and Djuna Barnes

Bookmark and Share

Djuna Barnes and Natalie Barney, c. 1930

TS Eliot was willing to go to jail for Barnes.

Hold on to those old letters! A British Library curator is dusting off proof that that most solemn and austere of the great poets was a great friend and supporter of lesbian writers. When he was a publisher at Faber & Faber, he risked everything to support the release of The Nightwood, one of the first and most important lesbian novels of modern times.

The 1936 book, by Djuna Barnes, was set in the 1920s and depicted the tumultuous relationship between its two female protagonists, despite its rejection by other publishers on the grounds of obscenity. Eliot was such a fan of Barnes's writing that he said he found it difficult not to imitate her style after reading it.

A drawing by Barnes from Ryder. Many of Ryder's illustrations originally were censored by Barnes's editors and publishers due to their violent and sexual content. The 1990 edition of Ryder restores the novel to its original form by including all of Barnes's drawings. See Barnes's Forward to Ryder to read her reaction to this censorship.

To avoid falling foul of strict censorship laws, Eliot changed some of the novel's references to lesbian sex as well as to religion. He also deleted illustrations to her later books, such as Ryder, and these illustrations have only been restored in contemporary editions. He felt unsure about it too. He confessed to Geoffrey Faber, founder of the publishing house, that he believed himself an unreliable judge when it came to matters of censorship. "I am perpetually being shocked by what doesn't shock other people and not being shocked [by what does]."

"Of course I think of the past and of Paris, what else is there to remember?" -Djuna Barnes in a 1960s letter to Natalie Barney

By supporting Barnes, and publishing the book, albeit with changes, he risked offending the British authorities even as he was bravely setting the stage for the emergence of many other LGBT writers as the chains of the Victorian era dissolved, and new writers emerged.

The modern gay community slowly developed its first voices, people like Gore Vidal who wrote The City and the Pillar, and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, and Natalie Barney (1876-1972) who wrote The Well of Loneliness.

"I have to tell you of the great, deep beauty of your Nightwood . . . . A woman rarely writes as a woman, as she feels, but you have." -Anais Nin to Djuna Barnes

The exhibit of his correspondence, In a Bloomsbury Square: T S Eliot the Publisher opens at the British Library in London on September 14. And another piece of important GLBT history falls into place.

Today lesbian and gay publishers abound, as do producers of motion pictures. Here are the major lesbian publishers you can Google to see what's new and popular.

Alyson Books
Aunt Lute Books
Bella Books
Blue Feather Books
Bold Strokes Books
Bywater Books
Crossing Press
Firebrand Books
Intaglio Publications
Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press
Onlywomen Press
Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC
P.D. Publishing, Inc.
Press Gang Publishers
Spinsters Ink
Virago Press

One of the pioneers in American lesbian publishing was Barbara Grier, founder of Naiad Press (1973-2003) who I worked with in the 1990's as a retailer of gay and lesbian books and movies. A gifted writer, a tough businesswoman and a loyal friend, you can learn more about her here.