Philly soul queen Patti LaBelle made her debut on American Horror Story: Freak Show this week, playing a maid to Frances Conroy’s Gloria Mott and her bratty son Dandy (Finn Wittrock.)
LaBelle’s character is classic Patti: sassy and straight-talking all the way. While she hasn’t made any big moves yet, early reports about the show suggest she will appear in four episodes, where she will work to solve the mystery of Twisty the Clown Killer (played so creepily by John Carroll Lynch.)
Check out her entrance above.
Every week I take a trip down memory lane in William Way Community Center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, archivist—and author of The Gayborhood Guru—Bob Skiba shares photos of Tommi Avicolli Mecca taken in the 1970s and 1980s. Skiba tells me that “Tommi was an early activist here, one of the founders of the Gay Community Center (which later became William Way) and the Archives, and a trans activist.”
Tommi Avicolli Mecca in drag at a Radical Queens drag party held in an apartment on 15th and Spruce. (1972)
Mecca playing with the Masturbatters softball team in 1972.
Mecca (right) with folk singer Anthony Lewis, who was performing at Independence Mall at the 1973 Pride march.
Mecca speaking at a Gay Activists Alliance meeting, pictured also is Marc Monro. (1973)
Gay Activists Alliance forum on drag by Radical Queens, the first transgender group in Philly. (1973)
First gay liberation conference at University of Pennsylvania. (1974)
Mecca in a Sissy T-shirt at the 1974 gay-liberation conference at UPenn. He made a impassioned plea for acceptance of transgender folks in the movement and denounced their exclusion.
Shot of an array of activists who fought for the passage of a gay-rights bill in 1974. (It didn't pass.) Standing inside City Hall. (Standing, L-R) Tom Wilson Weinberg, Dennis Rubini, Sheldon Rizen, Philip' Mara, Berna Aaronson, Mark Segal, Barbara Gittings. (Sitting) Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Harry Langhorne.
Gay Pagans and Atheists at a protest of the Catholic Church in New York City for its part in the defeat of a gay rights bill. Pictures: Philip' Marra and Tommi. (1975 or ’76)
Gay Pagans and Atheists party at Gay Community Center on Kater Street in 1975. Tommi Avicolli Mecca in nun drag.
Philip' Mara in pope drag and Tommi in nun drag at Gay Pagans and Atheist party 1975.
Shot of Mecca as a major gay-rights bill passed at City Council in 1982.
Right on the heels of news that David Lynch’s Twin Peaks will return to television in 2016, Flatiron Books has released information that the eery serial drama is being turned into a novel.
According to AP, the book, titled The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks, will delve into what has happened to the show’s characters since it went off the air in 1991.
The work is being written by the show’s co-creator and executive producer, Mark Frost, and will be published just before the sequel returns to TV.
One of the most recent gay-themed thrillers on the list, director Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger By the Lake follows young Franck, who picks up Michel at a popular gay-cruising spot. Sparks fly, but there’s one problem: Michel just might be a murderer. Netflix streaming link here.
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Ever wonder where you’d go if you came down with a sudden case of the ills?
Four hospitals in the Penn Medicine network—Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Hospital, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and Chester County Hospital—were named 2014 Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
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Netflix just dropped a Twitter bomb. The streaming service announced that all 10 seasons of beloved ’90s sitcom Friends will be available for instant-streaming starting in January of 2015. Check out the musical announcement below.
We have a very timely guest appearance happening at the Free Library tonight. Author and longtime The New Yorker drama critic John Lahr will come to town with his latest, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, for a reading and discussion this evening.
He’s arriving on the heels of being named one of the five finalists in the 2014 National Book Award non-fiction category for his biography of celebrated playwright Tennessee Williams. The work was created using Williams’s writings and a collection of diary entries, letters, and interviews with friends and lovers (because he had quite a few of those) that had never been transcribed. NPR calls the book “both gossipy—it features unhappy love affairs, binge-drinking actresses and a drug-addicted Williams—and aesthetically serious.”
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You’ve likely seen the above image of Chelsea Manning that’s accompanied nearly every story of her since it was announced that she was transitioning. Manning was never happy with the image and the way it portrayed her, so she and supporters set out to find an alternative, something to send to the media that reflects her in a better, more realistic light.
The answer? A portrait by a relatively unknown Philadelphia artist and UArts grad named Alicia Neal. But it wasn’t going to be an easy job. A detailed article on theverge.com explains:
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A prototype of the mural, drawn the way it will be painted on the wall directly above Shake Shack at 2000 Sansom Street.
Pretty soon Shake Shack will be more than a place to slurp milkshakes and throw back a burger or two, it will serve as a bastion of public art.
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