Saturday, October 30, 2010

Colonial's LGB lineup: Kate Clinton, Tommy Tune and Ani DiFranco

Tommy Tune is an idol for aspiring Broadway actors.

November at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield is going to be a rare and special month with three great artists - and members of the LGBTQ community - slated to hold forth on their stage. First up is Broadway's legendary Tommy Tune who at 6' 6" is likely the tallest song and dance man to ever grace the Broadway stage. Winner of many Tony Awards he brings the Manhattan Rhythm Kings plus a backup trio with him on Friday, November 12 at 8:00 PMas we detail in this advance story in Berkshire on Stage. Tommy came out in his memoir, Footnotes.

Kate Clinton is Lady HaHa.

The next night the funny and thought-provoking Kate Clinton brings her Lady HaHa tour to the Berkshires for a taste of the Provincetown Women's Week club scene in the naked Berkshires. (I am talking about the trees post-foliage season.) We had a wonderfully revealing chat with the former school teacher turned stand-up comic which you can also find in Berkshire on Stage, and she said she loved being the second oldest living lesbian comic, while naming the first. She also talks about her pal HIllary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and Al Franken, and speculates on the health of Dick Cheney, admitting she combs the obits every day looking for good news. Her November 13 9=8:00 PM performance at the Colonial sponsored by the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition and The Rainbow Times is only her second appearance ever in the Berkshires. She will be appearing with Roy Zimmerman. More about him in this second Berkshire on Stage story.

Ani DiFranco and her daughter. Courtesy Parenting Magazine.

Then there is the bisexual Ani DiFranco who probably loves her guitar more than any particular partner, though not as much as her daughter Petah Lucia who is now approaching four. Her fluid sexual identity is as famous as her independence in the music business. My story on her is in the works, and will appear shortly. She is at the Colonial on November 16 at 7:30. She will be appearing with special guest Melissa Ferrick.

For tickets to any of these concerts, visit the Colonial Theatre website.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Twice as many teens are gay than previously thought

But many of them are also engaging in risky behavior which is not good news.

According to a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens, only 5 percent to 6 percent of teens had same-sex partners. In the new study, 9.3 percent of teens said they did. The new research, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that teens who had sex with only their own gender or with both genders were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, putting themselves at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Elizabeth Saewyc, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters Health that these teens may engage in riskier behavior because sex education programs don't always acknowledge gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships.

"Some teens I've seen tell me that they completely check out of sex ed because they feel what they were learning didn't apply to them," said Saewyc, who was not involved in the new study.

She suggested that educators need to acknowledge gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships more often in sex education curriculums so that teens are more likely to listen and will feel more comfortable discussing any issues.

Bullying has been increasing too as some schools are in denial.

In the 2008 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey, for teens who were sexually active, 8 percent of males and 10 percent of females reported having had a same-sex partner. In a study looking at the 2001 Minnesota Student Survey, 9.4 percent of teens reported having had partners of the same or both sexes.

Dr. Preeti Pathela, lead author of the new study, said the results may have been different this time around because some states do not measure same-sex encounters.

This story is excerpted from a Reuters report.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Super production of "Hairspray" in Cohoes, NY

"Big Hair! Big Talent! Big Dancing! Big Fun! AND...Jim Charles in a dress. Who could ask for anything more?? Fun from beginning to end. I encourage you to strap on your dancing shoes and pack up the whole family and go." - Gail Burns,

For a community-based theatre, the folks at Music Hall (C-R Productions) in Cohoes, NY really make their musicals um, well, sing!

I often make the trek there when the musical pickings are slim in the Berkshires - like now and until Tommy Tune arrives November12. With their new iteration of Hairspray, you should think about filling up the gas and heading over the border for a good time. They always have a live pit band, too, a real plus. Sometimes the tech crew is a couple of fuses short on the amperage, but the wattage of the talent is still high voltage.

I loved Gail Burns' review of Hairspray - she sees a lot more issues and facets than most reviewers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teens - It Gets Better (Broadway Sings for the Trevor Project)

Sometimes it get pretty lonely being a teen, especially if you are LGBTQ or taken as one....This video made for The Trevor Project features lots of my favorite Broadway performers and is very heartfelt since just about every one of them went through high school enduring the daily harshness. Look at them now.

The Trevor Project was founded by the generous actor-writer James Lecesne, who was our stage manager back in the 70's at the Pocket Mime Theatre in Boston. He helped me make big changes in my life, and has continued to help others as well. Other founders include director/producer Peggy Rajski and producer Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award®-winning short film, Trevor, a comedy/drama about a gay 13-year-old boy who, when rejected by friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his life.

When Trevor was scheduled to air on HBO® in 1998, the filmmakers realized that some of the program’s young viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and began to search for an appropriate support line to broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such helpline existed, and decided to dedicate themselves to forming what was, in their view, a much-needed resource: an organization to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group. Thus, The Trevor Project was born, and with seed funding provided by The Colin Higgins Foundation, The Trevor Lifeline was established and became the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Today, in addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention lifeline, The Trevor Project provides online support to young people through the organization’s Web site, as well as lifesaving guidance and vital resources for educators and parents.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mass MoCA puts out welcome mat for LGBTQ Youth, Adults

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams has never been shy about showcasing the work of artists who happen to be gay, but they are about to go much further. Mass MoCA has announced that it is a judgement free zone, and has been planning a new after-school program for LGBTQ youth (ages 14-21), to be hosted & launched at MASS MoCA beginning in January of 2011. The program is open to any LGBTQ youth that are looking for a safe space to be who they are and make art! Allies are also encouraged to attend.

Paul Browde and Murray Nossel in Two Men Talking at Mass MoCA.

Also coming up on November 20 is the appearance of Paul Browde and Murray Nossel's in a show they call Two Men Talking. Put together by these two gay men, it has become an international phenomenon. In this unscripted production, the two men, who first met as school children in Johannesburg in 1974, weave their life stories - which includes taunting and homophobia - into a captivating work of live theater that bounces between South Africa and New York touching on issues of personal identity, HIV/AIDS, being Jewish in South Africa, and the creation of a lifetime friendship.

Here's a very creative treatment of Paul and Murray's saga (note mobile users - requires Flash) FLYP Magazine Interactive For More Info:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update: Out in the Berkshires Events Oct. 8-10

"Untitled" by Kit Restivo.

Pittsfield is clearly the place to be on Columbus Day Weekend. the city is jumping with enormous activity. For the second year in a row there will be an "Out in the Berkshires" celebration which has been slated for October 8-10. This year includes several new events, some of which have only been finalized in the past day or two.

Says Megan Whilden, Cultural Pittsfield's director, "The terrific thing about Out in the Berkshires is that it is the same weekend as a number of other events in downtown Pittsfield, from the Storefront Artist Project-organized open studios, to a conversation with artist Maggie Mailer at Ferrin Gallery, to Barrington Stage’s production of The Crucible and their programming around the Red Scare era and blacklisted writers."

The full slate of weekend events are being held in concert with National Coming Out day on October 11, and are co-sponsored by the Rainbow Times, the City of Pittsfield and the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition.  For visitors too, it is a rare chance to enjoy gorgeous fall foliage and gay-friendly arts and nightlife.

Out in the Berkshires kicks off Friday evening with the opening reception for the Out in the Berkshires group art show (see preview slideshow in our concurrent story at Berkshire on Stage. It takes place at the Lichtenstein Gallery, featuring regional artists from the LGBTQ community, including Kit Restivo whose photo appears at the top of this story.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is the new home for the Live Out Loud Youth Project a social support and networking. youth-led, adult-facilitated group to support positive social relationships and meet the needs of LGBTQQA youth in the Berkshires. It's another important reason why the Out in the Berkshires project is to create a welcoming environment for our own LGBTQ youth to avoid tragedies like the recent suicide of Tyler Clementi. "And the LGBT art show was the Mayor's idea," notes Whilden.

Bill Nelson's All Male Revue has plenty of new surprises.

Friday evening continues with the first of three nights of delicious comedic cabaret with Bill Nelson’s All Male Revue at the award-winning Barrington Stage Company, followed by late night Karao-Gay with karaoke champion Ken De Loreto as the ever-so-charming MC.

"As Pittsfield itself has undergone change in recent years, the most exciting and entertaining twist on its diversity has been the arrival of increasing numbers of LGBT residents. They have enriched the arts and cultural scene, of course, but they have also been filling needed spots in the health care, high tech and entrepreneurial communities. The "Out" weekend is one way to reach out to them in hopes that they may become more involved. Not only can they enjoy the beauty and ambience of the Berkshires, but in Pittsfield, we welcome their active participation in the growth of the city." - Megan Whilden

Saturday enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage in the Berkshires and don’t miss the Downtown Pittsfield Open Studios, an opportunity to peek into some of the 60+ artist studios and galleries in downtown Pittsfield. After the All Male Revue Saturday evening, you’re invited to cruise at Come Out and Dance party into the wee hours.

"We know a successful creative city needs to be a diverse, tolerant and exciting city, and one of the key ingredients, as identified by Richard Florida in his seminal book, The Rise of the Creative Class, is the LGBTQ community, along with artists and immigrants. Pittsfield has worked hard to be welcoming to artist and immigrants, and we want to make the LGBTQ community feel equally welcomed, supported and appreciated in Pittsfield." - Megan Whilden

Sunday brings a "family and friends" brunch at the scrumptious Jae’s Spice that’s also a benefit for Out in the Berkshires programming, followed by a late evening screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Keep up with everything LGBTQ-friendly in the Berkshires at and look for online on Facebook and Twitter too!

Michel Bellici, "Painting 89", 30x40 Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, October 8, 5-7pm Out in the Berkshires art show opening

Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue Pittsfield, MA
FREE More info: 413.499.9348

A group show featuring regional artists from the LGBTQ community, including abstract painter Joe Goodwin, trans artists Autumn Doyle and Justin Adkins, mixed media artists Timothy Kushi and Donald Clark, photographers Susan Mikula, the late Vaal London-Kane and Kit Restivo, sculptor Joseph Wheaton currently in a two person show at the Berkshire Museum, painters Jaysin Eli and Michelle Bellici, and fiber artist Nathan Hanford.

Friday-Sunday, October 8-10 8pm Bill Nelson’s Musical Revue

$15 Barrington Stage Company, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA
More info & advance tickets: 413.236.8888 or

If David Sedaris were musicalized, he’d sound like Bill Nelson! The lyrics are equal parts jaw-dropping, profound and daffy. Join Bill and the guys for a casual, fun evening of fresh, inventive theatre songs!

KJ (Erica) Spizz

Friday, October 8 (doors open 9:30pm) 10pm-1am Karao-Gay karaoke night!

$5/$7 NEW STAGE 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Let your inner diva shine with Karaoke Master Ken Deloreto at the helm and KJ (Erica ) Spizz behind the turntable into the wee hours. Reportedly Spizz is thrilled to be making her Shire City debut at Karao-Gay. KJ has the equipment and a 25K+ song arsenal to satisfy both virgins and varsity players alike. She never lets her tone deafness or inability to carry a tune dampen the passion in her performances. Cash bar. Reservations 413.418.0999.

Saturday, October 9, 9pm -1am  Come Out & Dance Party 

$5 NEW STAGE 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Get out on the dance floor with the deliriously popular DJ BFG spinning tracks.

Sunday, October 10  11:30am Family & Friends Brunch

$20 Jae’s Spice 297 North Street 443-1234

Celebrate community and help support continued Out in the Berkshires programming at this delicious brunch at one of the Berkshires’ finest restaurants.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a classic.

Sunday, October 10 , 10pm Rocky Horror Picture Show

$9 Beacon Cinema, 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Let’s do the Time Warp during this late night showing of this cult classic! Dress up encouraged, prize for best costume.