Our Picks: Dancing, iPhone Fixes and Angels

Do It: Not So Strictly Ballroom

Cracks are whack - but we know where to get your iPhone fixed (courtesy of Philly iPhone Repair)

Learn how to dance like a star at the Society Hill Dance Academy (409 South 2nd Street, Philadelphia, 215-574-3574; 4401 Cresson Street, Manayunk, 215-482-1611). The studio offers gay-friendly open ballroom and Latin dance lessons in both Society Hill and Manayunk for couples—and if you’re shy, you can even book a private class for you and your partner. Because with a little help with those two left feet, you could easily outdo Carson Kressley—or Chaz.

Fix It: The Right Call

Get your read on with the 20th anniversary edition of one of our favorite plays

Does your iPhone screen have more cracks showing than the scene at Club Body Center? Or if you’ve dropped it more times than you can count, fear not the two-year contract and skip the long lines at the Apple Store. The tech geniuses at Philly iPhone Repair (1358 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-385-5242) will have your trusty smartphone back to its bad self in no time. You can even scope out pricing online (starting at $50) to find out if a quick fix trumps an upgrade.

Read It: Masterpiece Theatre

The Wilma Theatre revisited Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play this season. And now the 20th-anniversary edition of Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes ($16.95) not only brings us face to face with the early years of AIDS, but explores everything from identity and sexuality to monogamy and government. Kushner offers a fresh new foreword aboutwhat it means three decades after the disease was first given a name.

In the Closet With Rob Paluso

Photo by Gene Smirnov

Rob Paluso may be best known as Anita Manhattan, the retro-inspired drag persona from GayBINGO!, but the 31-year-old is actually a professional actor and costume designer who’s appeared in dozens of shows, films and the online gay soap Secrets. While he may be donning vastly different wardrobes (not to mention pantyhose) in the spotlight, in his private life, Paluso’s got a penchant for some seriously butch vintage duds.

Hometown: Washington, PA. “Also known as Washpa.”

Neighborhood: Queen Village.

Designed Costumes for: “I’ve been designing since 2006—most recently for local productions of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Style Inspiration: “Classic Hollywood—and, honestly, my parents, Patti and Eugene. They were married just before the hippie movement, so they have a lot of great, sleek clothes that are very Mad Men.”

Favorite Winter Look: Military. “I love peacoats and jackboots.”

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Weekend Roundup

Women's rights icon Gloria Steinem talks feminism at Haverford (courtesy of Facebook)

Friday, Nov. 2

Gloria Steinem visits Haverford College (7:30 p.m.) to discuss “The Progression of Feminism: Where Are We Going?”

Bonerama, a brass funk rock band from New Orleans, performs at Havana in New Hope (8 p.m.).

Tabu’s Thank Goddess It’s OMG (9 p.m.) features The Goddess Isis, Notorious OMG, Anita Manhattan, Mr. Farenheit and Stella D’Oro with DJ Brandon Barlieb.

It’s Cut N Paste (9 p.m.) at The Bike Stop with art installations, monthly performances and music by DJs Precolumbian and Nolita Selector.

Celebrate the music of the B-52s during the Seventh Annual Sex Dwarf Wig Party (9 p.m.) at Fluid with DJs Robert Drake and Marilyn Thomas.

Local poets share their works during a poetry slam at PhilaMOCA (9 p.m.).

Sisters hosts Meangurls (10 p.m.) with DJ Deejay.

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, Oct. 26

Justin Bond plays the William Way on Friday (courtesy of the artist)

William Way hosts the Queer Fear Costume Closet (6:30 p.m.) with great garb from Philly AIDS Thrift.

ArtNUDE Philadelphia is presented by the James Oliver Gallery (7 p.m.) to benefit the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation. The exhibit features 23 artists with performances by Katie Gould, DJ Mike Lowry and DJ Rich, among others.

The Queer Fear Cabaret features none other than Justin Vivien Bond (7:30 p.m.) with the Bearded Ladies. Check out Bond’s amazing new album here.

Play the Halloween Match Game (7:30 p.m.) at L’Etage with the Real Housewives of South Philly.

The eXtreme Masquerade takes over the Top of the Tower (8 p.m.) with Ballet X and DJ Captain Ridiculous.

Night of the Living Drag Queen comes to life at Rainbow Mountain Resort in East Stroudsburg (8 p.m.) with Scarlett Lettah and friends – and a dance party to follow.

Peter Sterling hosts his Halloween Ball (9 p.m.) at D’Ignazio’s Towne House Bar in Media to benefit the Special Olympics. Look for a special appearance from Brittany Lynn and her Drag Mafia – and a costume contest with oodles of prizes.

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Weekend Roundup

Friday, Oct. 19

Giovanni's Room hosts an evening of transgender authors on Friday (5:30 p.m.).

The Philadelphia Film Festival runs through the weekend with a selection of LGBT-friendly screenings. Click here for details.

Crossroads” is a celebration of Latina artists (5:30 p.m.) at the Leeway Foundation.

Join Topside Press for the release of The Collection, an anthology of transgender writing, with special readings from Madison Lynn McEvilly, Terence Diamond, Imogen Binnie, Rey Drew, Stephen Ira, Donna Ostrowsky, Red Durkin and Ryka Aoki at Giovanni’s Room (5:30 p.m.).

It’s Guy’s Night Out at the Philadelphia Film Festival (6:45 p.m.) with a screening of Yossi at the Ritz East.

Gayby (9:45 p.m.) is being screened at the Ritz East as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival with a special appearance by the director Jonathan Lisecki.

Sisters pays tribute to the 90s with a dance party (10 p.m.) featuring Fame Lust and DJ Deejay.

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Wilma Supports Broadway Cares

Courtesy of Wilma Theater

At the end of last season, audiences were treated to the first part of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America at the Wilma Theater. As the new season kicks off with the second part of the Tony-winning show being staged now through Oct. 21 – almost 20 years after it was written, and more than 30 years into the AIDS crisis – the Wilma has partnered with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

After each performance of the play, cast members (in full costume) will greet audience members and ask for contributions for Broadway Cares, one of the nation’s largest non-profit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. “A sizeable portion of the total proceeds will benefit three local organizations affiliated with Broadway Cares,” says Johnny Van Heest, a spokesperson for the Wilma, “ActionAIDS, AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the Mazzoni Center.”

During its first weekend, says Van Heest, the Wilma had already collected more than $3,000.

Click here for tickets to Angels in America: Part Two: Perestroika.

Weekend Roundup

Friday, Sept. 7

Gender Reel kicks off today with events through the weekend. Click here for a full listing of events.

The 35th Annual SisterSpace Festival (10 a.m.) spends the weekend at Camp Ramblewood in Darlington, Md. The nation’s longest-running lesbian festival features live music, workshops, dance parties, crafts, sports and a community with hundreds of women from the Mid-Atlantic. Also look for comedy from Mimi Gonzales and music by Virago.

Papeles: Are We What We Sign? (12 p.m.) opens with a reception at Painted Bride. The exhibition examined how papers and other legal contracts relate to identity and sexual orientation.

Carousel Vintage & Contemporary Fashion is celebrating a grand opening (5 p.m.) in Old City (right across from the Betsy Ross House).

The Essence of Life and Line (5 p.m.) opens with a reception at Indy Hall with Sean Martorana.

Guys Night Out visits the opening of GenderReel (6 p.m.) at the William Way before setting off for a gallery crawl through Old City’s First Friday.

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Weekend Roundup

Crawl Space (courtesy of William Way)

Friday, August 24

GayFest! continues through the weekend. Click here for a full listing of shows.

Raw Ladi Boi Jell-O Wrestling (yes, Jell-O wrestling) benefits Philly Gay Calendar and Southern Jersey GLBTQ Pride (5:30 p.m.) at the William Way. There’s an open bar and music by DJs Carl Michaels and Mary Mac.

Check out Crawl Space: The Attic Experience (6 p.m.) during the closing reception at William Way.

Join DJ Robert Drake for The End of Summer Pool Party (9 p.m.) at North Shore Beach Club. He’s spinning lots of new wave.

DJ Deejay spins MMP (10 p.m.) at the Barbary, named as the Best Nightclub this year by Philadelphia magazine.

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Preview: Live Arts and Philly Fringe

When Live Arts and the Philly Fringe kick off next month (Sept. 7-22) LGBT audiences will have a lot of relevant events to choose from this season. Sexuality and gender themes – as well as many out performers – all play starring roles in everything from theatre and dance to cabaret and go-go.

Here are our top picks:

Sept 4-10

Bang (all photos courtesy of Live Arts)

Charlotte Ford’s “Bang” explores sexuality and gender roles in a “comedic clown theater spectacular” set under the glow of a pink neon sex show sign. Ford joins Lee Etzold and Sarah Sanford (of Pig Iron) for a very sexually explicit exploration of nudity, desire, gender roles and arousal – and did we say nudity (Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street)?

Sept. 7-10, 13 and 14

Two young women fall unexpectedly in love in “Stop Kiss” by Diana Son. And on the night of their first kiss, they are brutally attacked. The performance alternates between scenes before and after the assault, while taking a serious approach to the reality of hate crimes in America (The Arts Garage, 1533–35 Ridge Avenue).

Raw Stitch

Sept 7-9, 13-15-16 and 20-22

Get hot and heavy (and hard) for art during “Rub,” an erotic performance by Gunnar Montana and Jasmine Zieroff at – where else? – a strip club (The Dolphin Tavern, 1539 S. Broad Street).

Sept. 8, 14-15, 20 and 22

Raw Stitch” (7 p.m.) by Jacqueline Goldfinger is a play about the “enthusiastically inebriated and the sexually active,” featuring nine new monologues. Each audience member even receives a PBR, condom, and dental dam with the price of admission (Quig’s Pub at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, 3rd Floor).

Sept 7-8, 12-15, 17, 19–22, 25 and 26

Brat Productions

Brat Productions presents “RockPile: Popsicle’s Departure, 1989” and “Eternal Glamnation,” a double feature of rock ‘n roll theater. In “Popsicle’s Departure, 1989,” Madi Distefano remounts her internationally award-winning solo tour about the end of the punk rock scene in Boston, while “Eternal Glamnation” is a nuclear glam-rock fantasia cabaret (Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street).

Sept. 14, 16, 18 and 24

Brian Sanders’ JUNK is back with “The Gate Reopened,” a dance theatre-in-the-round that takes over a warehouse on the Delaware River. The out choreographer imagines a world inside this massive structure in which a gate has been built as a 20-foot high cylindrical octagon. Audiences encircle eight dancers in a kind of futuristic, post-industrial, post-apocalyptic coliseum where the performers are suspended and propelled (Pier 9, 121 North Columbus Boulevard).

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What Does it Mean to Write a Gay Play?

Daniel Talbott and Buddy Thomas are two playwrights who are sharing works with audiences during GayFest. While Thomas’ The Crumple Zone focuses on a group of gay friends who find themselves celebrating Christmas together, Talbot’s Mike and Seth explores what happens when two guys meet the night before one of them marries. Both plays deal with the complexity of friendship – and what it means to stare down sometimes tough issues with a certain amount of hope and humor. That’s why we talked to the writers to find out what motivates them, what it means to write a “gay” play these days and what inspires the creative process.

In many ways gay theatre hit a pinnacle in the 80s and 90s when playwrights responded to the AIDS crisis. How has the state of gay theatre changed in more recent years?

Courtesy of Daniel Talbott

Talbott: I’m feeling like I maybe don’t know enough to totally answer this question completely, but I definitely know there are a ton of extraordinary, fearless, and challenging gay, lesbian, and bisexual playwrights out there right now, and I think that gay theater is majorly alive and kicking, which I love. I don’t know if it’s changed so much as evolved with our world maybe. There are a ton of brilliant writers out there writing honestly, openly, and compassionately about sexuality right now. I mean you had Doric Wilson, Lanford Wilson, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and you still have Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, Mark Ravenhill, Linda Chapman, Kate Moira Ryan, The Five Lesbian Brothers, Craig Lucas, Charles Busch, Jeff Weiss, and a ton of others. And now you also have Lucy Thurber, Mark Schultz, Ken Urban, Taylor Mac, Daniel Reitz, Sarah Schulman, Mariah MacCarthy, Gary Sunshine, Kathleen Warnock, J.Stephen Brantley, Jordan Seavey, Troy Deutsch, Donnetta Lavinia Grays and Joshua Conkel, among many, many, many wonderful others. All completely original and powerful, distinct, unafraid voices.

Thomas: The Crumple Zone premiered off-Broadway in 2000, but it was written in the late 90s. One of the very reasons I wrote this play is because there seemed to be a point in the 90s when almost every single play that even touched on gay issues also dealt with AIDS in some major or minor way. I totally understand that playwrights were simply responding to the crisis, often in amazing theatrical works, but just because a play focuses on gay people does not mean that AIDS or mortality automatically has to feature into the plot.

What are some themes that you often find yourselves wrestling with?

Talbott: I think family, siblings, childhood, my best friends, lovers, my mom, childhood, sex, self-hatred, memory, loneliness, anger, compassion, nature, poverty, spirituality and love.

Courtesy of Buddy Thomas

Thomas: Honestly, what I wrestle with more than anything is finding a spare moment in the day to write at all. I have a pretty all-consuming day job, and in this economy, thank God for that, but the last thing I want to do after twelve hours at a computer is sit at a computer some more. That attitude caused a pretty serious dry-spell after The Crumple Zone premiered off-Broadway. It had gotten great reviews and was a pretty big hit, and everyone wanted to know what I was going to do next. I had some ideas, but just no time. Cut to ten years later, and I finally banged out a new one, the sci-fi spoof, Devil Boys From Beyond, which won Best Play at Fringe NYC and was nominated for a GLAAD Award, before transferring to a commercial off-Broadway run. It has since been performed around the country, and I understand that GayFest did a pretty fun production of it last summer.

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