PHOTOS: The Disco Biscuits and Giorgio Mordorer at City Bisco 2014

“We’re the Disco Biscuits. We came all the way from a couple blocks away.” That was the opening statement from tDB bassist Marc Brownstein at Saturday’s finale set, in a playfully poignant reflection on the jam pioneers’ near 20-year journey from house shows on Penn’s campus, to the headlining stage at the Mann Center.

Brownstein’s greeting would prove an apt encapsulation of the nostalgic attitude that drove all three nights of City Bisco 2014.

These days, the Biscuits may spend the bulk of their touring year highlighting festivals and concert runs in Denver, Chicago or New York. But remarks like Browstein’s reveal they haven’t forgotten where they came from, nor their very first gigs in University City bars and smaller venues across Philly.



Opening night kicked off with something of a pretty unabashed #ThrowbackThursday. The Biscuits started the weekend with a sold-out show at the comparatively modest Trocadero, exactly 14 years and two months from their last appearance at the venue.

If this alone weren’t enough of a nostalgia trip for seasoned followers, the night’s setlist bore a hardly subtle resemblance of Biscuits all-time most fan-beloved shows (a noteworthy superlative for a touring-centric band that’s played 30 to 100-plus yearly gigs over their 19-year tenure). The flashback to this fan-favorite moment (also held at the Troc, once upon a time) felt like a clear love note to the loyals who’ve listened from the beginning.

Friday kept the energy and the memory-friendly attitude up. Sharing the stage with American Babies, a Philly project helmed by longtime jamtronica cohort and frequent Biscuits collaborator, Tommy Hamilton, the band hit the Electric Factory for a night that kept the party going strong.

Everything culminated on Saturday at the Mann Center, with a 6-hour evening that featured two openers, three full Biscuits sets and a very special guest in legendary Italian producer Giorgio Mordorer. The proclaimed “Godfather of Disco” boasted an hour-long DJ set, featuring retro, nostalgia-happy house mixes of a host of his iconic throwback hits (including Blondie’s “Call Me,” Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and what the hell, the Neverending Story theme too).

At the end of the night, Brownstein might have signed off by saying that this year’s Biscuits New Year’s Run concert series would split between Chicago and NYC, skipping over Philly for the fourth year. But if the past three years are any indication, Philly might always have a homecoming party to anticipate each summer’s end in City Bisco. That’s something to remember.

PHOTOS: Aziz Ansari Pans the Digital Age, Reads Audience Texts at the Wells Fargo Center Friday Night

Friday night, Aziz Ansari’s “Aziz Ansari Live” tour made a stop at the Wells Fargo Center. And after opener Hannibal Buress warmed up the crowd with more than a couple quips on Philly (yeah we know, man, South Philly parks in the middle of Broad Street, don’t worry about it) the Comedy Bad Boy (aka Comedy Heartthrob) was geared up to take on his LED-drenched stage.

Ansari’s most recent special, “Buried Alive”—shot in town last year at the Kimmel’s Merriam Theater—marked a pivotal moment in the comedian’s voice.

His once scattered, hyperactive observational comedy gave way to a more reflective approach, exploring the anxieties felt toward a looming adulthood—anxieties shared by pretty much any and everyone on the back end of their 20s.



“This new special, I hope, goes even deeper,” Ansari said in a Ticket interview last Wednesday. “I hit topics I never would have had the skill to handle a few years ago.”

Where “Buried Alive” dealt with the acknowledgement of, and subsequent distress that accompanies accepting one’s adult life, “Aziz Ansari  Live” explores the concepts with a higher sense of criticism, focus and confidence.

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REVIEW: Lady Gaga on “SNL”

gaga snl

Following in Miley’s footsteps (that had to hurt a little), Lady Gaga took on the hosting and performance duties during this Saturday’s airing of Saturday Night Live, showing us that she’s quite the thespianHere, I roundup some of Momma Monster’s best, worst and downright ugliest moments from the broadcast.

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Summer Reading Roundup

Most Talkative by Andy Cohen

The gay man behind the Real Housewives franchise comes clean about his lifelong love affair with pop culture. The funny memoir traces Andy Cohen’s childhood in St. Louis (and what it’s like meeting the heroes of his youth) to his rule over TV network Bravo and his hit show Watch What Happens: Live. Expect to read all about behind-the-scenes encounters, celebrity run-ins and a frank glimpse into the world of television and celebrity today. Cohen also talks about what it was like to come out in college and his first fateful interview with soap opera queen Susan Lucci.

44 Horrible Dates by Eddie Campbell

He’s worked on television shows like Dawson’s Creek, Parenthood and MADTV, but one thing Eddie Campbell can’t seem to find is the perfect date. The art director delves into his personal mishaps and the most terrible dates of his life. If you think your dating life is in the pits, then you’ll want to read all about the guy with flatulence, the guy with a cocaine problem and the guy with breath that smelled, to quote Campbell, “like he had licked a public toilet from a truck stop.” If Chelsea Handler was a gay man, she would have written this hilariously raunchy book.

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Tony Recap: 50 Shades of Gay

Neil Patrick Harris guided us through a very lively Tony Awards last night – with no shortage of gay moments. He didn’t disappoint, even if a few live performances did (enough with the mediocre movies becoming Broadway shows already!).

Click here for the full list of winners.

Some of our favorite highlights? Evita, Harvey Fierstein (always) the plays Other Desert Cities and Venus in Fur and realizing Josh Stone is in the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was the perfect way to cap off a full weekend of Philly Pride (not to mention what would have been Judy Garland’s 90th birthday).

Here are a few highlights:

 

Top to Bottom Travel

A new travel guide is taking a unique approach to jet setting – by giving the lowdown on destinations and travel tips from two perspectives: a gay male top and bottom.

The aptly named Gay Travel Guide For Tops And Bottoms by Drew Blancs is created for and by gay men whose sexual preference may dictate this summer’s travel plans. Each review is written with sexually charged observations about popular international destinations.

The raunchy book rates a lot more than where to eat, sleep and visit by taking it a step further and ranking local top and bottom gay men with a – gulp – five-point rating system (you can probably guess the criteria). And the destinations? They range from Singapore and Malaysia to Greece, Canada, Thailand and Korea.

“We want to do to gay travel what Fifty Shades of Grey did to erotica, which is revolutionize the way people think,” says Blancs, who admits he was inspired to write the book after gay male friends complained that most other guides failed to take sexual preference into consideration, and instead, lumped all gay men into one fierce and fabulous category.

But thanks to the frank discussion of sex acts, the book’s created no shortage of controversy. When it was promoted on LinkedIn, the site pulled the ads saying they contained “inappropriate content or language.” Google and Facebook, however, have allowed ads for the book to run on their sites – and to much success, says the author.

And while the book – however sexualized – tends to focus more on the mission to meet men than most any other travel guide, it does provide a crash course into the sexual customs, taboos and legality of homosexuality around the world. Think The Joy of Gay Sex meets Fodor’s.

HBO’s Girls is Reality-Check TV

I love girls. I also love Girls. The two are not mutually exclusive, at least so far. Massively hyped before its April 15th launch, HBO’s estrogen-rich comedy had been dubbed Sex and the City for twentysomethings, and its creator Lena Dunham anointed the voice of her generation.

No pressure.

Then came the backlash. How could a comedy set in New York have an all-white cast? Why would anyone care about four privileged brats whose vacuous lives include depressing, emotionless sex?

Both sides were right. Both sides were wrong.

Admittedly, Girls‘ premise is derivative: a quartet of female friends in New York City explore sex, adulthood and the meaning of life, in no particular order. Think Sex and the City: The Gen Y Years. Even the characters are equivalent.

Dunham’s Hannah, a neurotic writer, is Carrie, minus the wardrobe and orgasms. Marnie (Allison Williams), Hannah’s roommate and best friend, is Miranda. She has a serious job and a serious boyfriend, neither of which she likes.

Jessa (Jemima Kirke), an unapologetically promiscuous Brit, is Samantha. She returns to New York to move in with her cousin, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), an NYU student and manic virgin. We’ll call her Charlotte because Charlotte’s the only one left.

That’s where the comparisons end. Unlike the Sex and the City‘s quartet, Girls‘ girls struggle to make the rent. (In the pilot, Hannah’s parents, both university professors, drop her from the payroll and she freaks.) Their apartments are not glamorous. They are all, to varying degrees, overeducated underachievers.

Click here to continue reading.

What to Read, See and Do

Read It

Tom of Finland: Life and Work of a Gay Hero
(by F. Valentine Hooven III)

This anthology takes a serious look at the erotic artist’s drawings, with juicy behind-the-scenes photos and background discussing the artist’s inspiration, private life and impressive, um, body of work. Known best for his exaggerated illustrations of muscle-bound men, the Finnish artist (real name Touko Laaksonen) faced plenty of controversy and censorship before becoming a cult sensation. Before his death in 1991, he created thousands of drawings that helped subvert gay male stereotypes, inspiring would-be Muscle Marys everywhere.

See It

“Bully”

Directed by Sundance winner Lee Hirsch, this new documentary delves deep into the sometimes-misunderstood and much-talked-about world of bullying. It’s estimated that 18 million kids are bullied each year in American schools. And three million students—many of whom identify as gay or transgender—miss class each month because of the torment. The film, which takes a very candid look at both sides of the epidemic, introduces audiences to young people and their families, including the parents of two suicide victims, who share their stories.

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Gay Authors Read Tonight

Christopher Bram, perhaps best known for writing the book for which the film “Gods & Monsters” was based, and Edmund White, probably the most respected gay author of our time (he wrote the groundbreaking A Boy’s Own Story about growing up gay in the Midwest) will both be reading from their new works at the Free Library tonight (Feb. 16).

Bram’s Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America goes where few others have – into the public and private lives of well-known gay male scribes like Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal and others who have made headlines during the 20th century, weaving their professional life stories into a fascinating pastiche of rebellion, creativity and, at times, addiction and failure.

While many other nonfiction books about these writers have spun the usual stories – complete with all the sordid tales of back room love affairs and struggles with fame at a time when being closeted was often the expectation – Bram manages to convey not only these struggles, but also the impact each of the writers has had on both gay literature and American culture. Never before have we read such a compelling book that relates the men and their work to each other, but that also considers how they influenced the course of American history and the arts.

The book puts not only the past into perspective, but also the present.

“At a time when homosexuality was illegal in 48 states, a handful of writers dared to tell tales about the way they lived,” says Bram. “They stuck their necks out and took a lot of abuse. But they made public what had been a dirty, criminal secret. They cleared the way for so much of what followed. Too often, gay literature is discussed as if it didn’t begin until after gay liberation arrived with the Stonewall riots. No, these writers broke the silence before gay liberation and set the stage for it.”

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