September 15, 2014
Even in death, Joan Rivers was controversial. One of her biggest passions was Broadway. She wrote and starred in Fun City and later replaced Linda Lavin in Broadway Bound. In 1994, she starred in Sally Marr...and her escorts, for which she earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. A little known fact is that she also reviewed Broadway shows for the Beverly Hills Courier - and paid for her own tickets. So one might think that the dimming of Broadway marquees (which is done in tribute to fallen artists) would be a given. Not so fast...the Broadway League determined that Joan did not meet their criteria. "People need to have been very active recently in the theater, or else be synonymous with Broadway. We love Joan...but she hasn't acted on Broadway in 20 years". Of course, one needn't look too far for an exception - the lights were dimmed for Robin Williams, whose sole Broadway acting credit was the 2011 production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (he also filmed a 2002 special called Robin Williams: Live on Broadway).
Well, Joan's fans weren't going to stand for this snub. The Internet blew up with outrage. People like Audra McDonald, Donna Murphy, Hugh Jackman, and Harvey Fierstein supported honoring Joan. Nick Adams even recalled another Rivers' Broadway connection - she was an investor for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. First the Jujamcyn Group announced they were dimming the lights on their five theatres anyway. Then Disney announced that the New Amsterdam Theatre (where Aladdin is playing) would also join in. Then the Helen Hayes Theatre (where Joan starred in Sally Marr) followed suit. Ultimately, the Broadway League reversed their decision, saying, "Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her." It took long enough!
Someone else Joan loved was my bon ami, Charles Busch. The writer, performer, and raconteur is heading west to entertain the masses, and he's bringing along his lovely and talented accompanist, Tom Judson (aka Gus Mattox from porn fame). They'll be at the Copa Room in Palm Springs on September 19 and 20, Feinstein's at the Nikko in San Francisco on September 25 and 26. Catch them if you can.
Sara Gilbert made an impromptu announcement last week on The Talk. When turning down the opportunity to lie on a bed of nails, she surprised her co-hosts with this statement: "I really do believe in facing your fears and doing things that make you uncomfortable, but I actually can't do the dare because I'm pregnant." This would be Gilbert's third child, and her first with new wife, Linda Perry.
Around the same time, we discovered that Kate Middleton is pregnant with prince or princess number two. You know what this means? Unless bubonic plague makes a comeback, Prince Harry doesn't have a prayer of EVER becoming king.
One of our biggest supporters, Fran Drescher, walked down the aisle for a second time. Her hubby, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, is widely touted as the creator of e-mail - so we all owe him a debt of gratitude for giving us a pain-free way to end relationships!
Meanwhile at the US Open, Martina Navratilova got engaged to Russian model Julia Lemigova. The well-orchestrated proposal took place during an interview which was being broadcast on the big screen at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I was very nervous," says Martina. Probably not as nervous as when she wore those red fringe pants!
Lance Bass and beau Michael Turchin celebrated the one-year anniversary of their engagement by getting engaged all over again. Turchin wrote, "Who gets proposed to a second time on the first anniversary of the first proposal?? This guy!!" He also posted a photo of what appears to be a brand new engagement ring.
And that brings up an important point. When Lance first popped the question, he had enormous difficulty finding a token of his love. "It's impossible. They don't make guy rings. Someone needs to start some kind of line for gay men's rings." Someone has. Sam Street and Jonathan Tack are a gay couple who got married in San Francisco but are now living in NYC. They started Proposition Love Jewelry, classy baubles perfect for your special day. Not only that, but 10% of profits get donated back into our community. They have engagement gifts (including their EnGaygement ring) and a wide range of bling for any special occasion. Check out their line at Macy's or at PropositionLove.com.
Here in Europe (did you forget I was on the Continent?), Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka tied the knot. Details emerged, courtesy of the couple's dear friend, Kelly Ripa. She said it was a private, quiet, family affair. "I'm probably not even supposed to talk about it," which didn't stop her from spilling more details. The couple rented a castle in Perugia for the event, which included fireworks and a performance by Elton John. Their twins also took part in the ceremony. "Harper was going to be the flower girl and Gideon was going to be the ring bearer. But he said, 'I don't want to be the ring bearer - I want to be the orange boy'. So he passed out oranges to everybody as he came down the aisle." I like a little snack at a wedding.
While that all sounds lovely and romantic, I assume NPH and David will get legally married in New York because Italy doesn't recognize same-sex unions. But the times they are a-changin'. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seems to be throwing his support behind the cause. "The fight for civil rights for homosexuals is a fight that in a truly modern and democratic country should be everyone's responsibility. As a liberal, I believe that through a broad and in-depth debate we can check a reasonable objective for justice and civilization." Of course, I translated it from the Italian, because I'm a man of many tongues.
Gay marriage has been making big news in the tiny country of Luxembourg. Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives approved the bill in a vote of 56-4. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the country has an openly gay prime minister, Xavier Bettel. And it sounds like he didn't face much opposition - in a survey conducted last year, over 83% of citizens supported same-sex marriage. The law goes into effect in January.
Speaking of international gays, there's a storm brewing over Havana. Mariela Castro, the daughter of president Raul Castro (and niece of Fidel), is speaking out against the government's lack of support for LGBT rights. The Cuban government plans to reform the labor code to protect LGBT people, but Mariela points out that it doesn't protect people who are HIV-positive or have gender identity issues. It should be noted that Mariela is married, has three kids, and is also the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana.
A contestant on a Chilean reality show kinda outed singer Luis Miguel. The show is called Trepadores, which loosely translates as "social climbers". A male singer competing claims that he made out with Ricky Martin as a teenager. Plausible. He then shared a second-hand story: "One of my friends who is very cute was taken to Luis Miguel's yacht to be introduced to him. Yes, Luis Miguel is bi." This one loses a bit of punch in translation.
My Ask Billy box was flooded with many of you asking the same question. The first query came from Patrick in Florida: "Once and for all - Jared Leto? Does he really have a big dick? Or is it just a lot of hype??"
Since Jared Leto is hot - both as a subject and as an object - this comes up occasionally. The fires were stoked, so to speak, when transgender personality Alexis Arquette recently gave an interview to drag comedian Jackie Beat: "I had sex with Jared Leto back when I was presenting as a man. And, yes, it's not only massive; it's like a Praetorian Guard's helmet". Tabling the issue that sounds like it could hurt and tickle at the same time, what are we left with? The boasting of a sexual encounter by someone who is less than credible - at least in my opinion. The situation exploded a few days later. Footage from a 30 Second to Mars concert showed Jared grabbing what appeared to be a ponderous package in his penile region. Check out BillyMasters.com and decide for yourself.
When Leto can pinch significantly more than an inch, it's definitely time to end yet another column. I must confess that I'm slightly concerned about being in Eastern Europe. What a time for me to forget to pack my Isis costume - if I end up next to a guy with a sickle, I wanna go out in style! Whatever happens to me, www.BillyMasters.com will go on. And as long as I have breath in my body, I'm here to answer your questions. Send them along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before I finish saying the following incantation (feel free to join in - I know you want to): "Oh zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly". Until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.
When Michael Jackson was practicing Safechuck instead of safe sex, it's definitely time to end yet another column. By the time you read this, I'll be off on another adventure in an undisclosed country - hopefully not one that looks askance at journalists (as if I consider myself one). No matter where I am, you can get the best dish at www.BillyMasters.com - the site that's very internationale. If you have a question for me, send it along to Billy@BillyMasters.com and I promise to get back to you before Bryan Singer turns up on a special episode of Law & Order: SVU. Until next time, remember, one man's filth is another man's bible.