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6 July 2020

“I might as well ask you what your paychecks are.  Paul, what’s your penis size?”  
Chris Evans interviews Paul Rudd and asks the two most sensitive questions
you could ask an actor.  Paul answered, “It’s even bigger than my paycheck.”

After months of being incredibly careful and staying away from virtually all humanity, I’ve thrown the whole wind into the caution and ventured back into the real world.  Well, Provincetown.  While this isn’t the Ptown of yore (or mine), it’s still lovely to get away.  But is it even Provincetown?  Certainly not a typical July 4th.  But the businesses are making the best of things.  Bars that were unable to open because they don’t serve food suddenly added sandwiches to their menu.  Regardless, all eateries must close by 11PM, at which point the streets basically roll up.  So, while it’s still lovely, don’t judge Ptown by this summer.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that Fire Island is as busy as ever.  One particular person joined in the 4th celebrations while knowing he had Covid.  I won’t name him or vilify him because, surely he wasn’t the only positive person there.  Many of these vacationers probably have the coronavirus – they just haven’t been tested.  But that doesn’t make them any less contagious.  I simply say what I said during the AIDS crisis – assume everyone is positive and act accordingly.  You can still enjoy your life and be somewhat social while also being safe.

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Case in point – just days before the US recognized the pandemic, I was amongst the revelers at the legendary Winter Party in South Beach.  That party has been linked to a handful of corona-related deaths and even more positive cases.  And yet, here I am – alive!  I assumed that would be the last big gay dance party for a while.  How wrong I was.  Throngs and multitudes (possibly in thongs) were sweatily dancing cheek to cheek at Heretic in Atlanta on June 20th – with neither social distancing nor masks in place (I suspect a fair number of condoms were used).  Dozens of attendees have gotten sick – although no accurate number of corona cases has been tallied (bear in mind Atlanta has since seen a spike).  After promising that they would stay open regardless of the health risks, the general manager of Heretic said, “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to postpone all scheduled events until further notice so we can continue to gather more information and adjust our operation accordingly.”

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In a rather bland story, Vanilla Ice planned a concert in Austin called Independence Day Throwback Beach Party – even though it was taking place on Friday, July 3rd.  While venues were shuttered, the beach is connected to a restaurant and doubles as a general admission concert space with a reduced capacity of 2,500 (down from the usual 5K).  With all these loopholes, the show could go on…but not without criticism.  The Travis County Health Department issued the following warning: “The best way to be nostalgic is protecting your parents and grandparents and staying home.”  The event ended up being “postponed”.  The promoter said, “Due to the increase in Covid-19 numbers in Austin, we’re gonna move the concert to a better date.”  It should be noted that Ice played the same venue last year and sold 1,800 tickets.  For this show, a whopping 84 tickets were sold!

By the way, the people of Texas are getting real ornery about the pandemic.  Since most public places have been shut down in light of the spiking number of Covid cases, a group of bar owners (once again in Austin) organized a grassroots movement called Bar Lives Matter.  In addition to publicly protesting, they plan to sue the governor!  These folk feel they’re being singled out and vilified.  “No other businesses are being shut down.  It’s wrong and affecting the livelihood of hundreds of thousands across the state.”  Not so fast – turns out the governor also shut down numerous rafting and tubing establishments.  Back to the ol’ swimming hole.

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Marc Shaiman is a big supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.  His musical version of Hairspray tackled racial tensions in Baltimore, circa 1962.  During the climactic “You Can’t Stop the Beat”, Motormouth Mabel sings, “And tomorrow is a brand new day, and it don’t know white from black”.  Shaiman made the following declaration: “But PLEASE note, in all future productions, the colorblindness that was a goal for many years will be improved, and the lyric will now be ‘And tomorrow is a brand new day and it sees both white and black!’”.

Speaking of Hairspray, the star of the film version just came out officially!  No, not John Travolta.  And, no, not Queen Latifah.  The Tracy – Nikki Blonsky.  While this was not news to those of us who know and love her, it was a bold public proclamation from a bold kinda gal.  She made the announcement as only she could.  She posted a video of herself dancing in the yard along to the music of Diane Ross’ “I’m Coming Out”.  The caption was simple.  “Hi, it’s Nikki Blonsky from the movie I’m Gay!”

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Back in May, Nikki Blonsky and I excitedly talked about her being on Billy Masters LIVE!  Unfortunately, I planned to only feature out LGBT guests for the month of June.  So I made a note to circle back to Nikki at the end of June.  And then, poof, she came out!  We’ll have her on soon.

This past week, Billy Masters LIVE started off on a sexy note.  Tuesday’s show featured Tom Judson (aka Gus Mattox), Florian Klein (aka Hans Berlin), and David Pevsner discussing working in gay erotica and in the legitimate theatre.  A very fun episode with lots of dish.  And then on Thursday, we featured singers Sam Harris and Billy Gilman.  It was my first time: a) having a guest named Billy and 2) “meeting” Gilman.  And the whole show was a complete delight.  Not only did they have so much in common in terms of career trajectory and attitudes about singing, they’re also big fans of each other.  Check us out on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3PM Eastern on YouTube.com/c/BillyMastersTV, or on the TV tab at BillyMasters.com/TV.

It may no longer be June, but we’ve got one more Pride month story for you.  When you’re considering which fast-food establishment to patronize, might I suggest Burger Queer?  Not Burger King – Burger Queer.  The BK company allowed Mexican eateries to call themselves Burger Queer for the last week of June – complete with a company-endorsed logo.  They even had rainbow-colored wrappers made for their products.  The company also changed its official Facebook page for the occasion, along with their catchphrase, “A tu manera” – which roughly translates into “Your way” (as in “Have it your way”).  Bravo.

Our provocative Ask Billy question comes from Dennis in Baltimore: “I just watched Hamilton and LOVED IT!  But it got me thinking – with people wanting only gay people to play gay roles, and trans people to play trans roles, and only people of color can play those roles, how is it that Hamilton can have every color of the rainbow playing mostly Caucasian historical characters?  I loved it and believe that’s what colorblind casting is all about, but it seems like we’re heading backwards.  Where does that leave Hamilton?”

The simple answer is this – I don’t know.  And I hadn’t even thought about it until I got your e-mail.  The Hamilton telecast came days after numerous animated shows said they would no longer cast non-ethnic-specific voice actors to play these ethnic-specific roles.  This summer, Audra McDonald – perhaps the greatest living actress of ANY color – was slated to play Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.  I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do with the role.  But if we are all kept in our narrow lane, is this even a possibility?  Since we’re in quarantine, she plans to do an audio version of the play.  Or will she?  Either one is in favor of colorblind casting, or one isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways.  Personally, I’d be curious to see a trans actress play Blanche, or an Asian woman, etc.  Quite simply, I want to see a good actress (or, I suppose, actor) play the role.  But in these days, it seems unlikely that anyone will be able to play anything other than who they are.  Except Hamilton, apparently.

When I’m scrapping plans for an all-white version of A Raisin in the Sun, it’s definitely time to end yet another column.  You may laugh, but during my acting days, I was often called a white, gay Esther Rolle.  Of course, there’s no acting involved on www.BillyMasters.com – the site the site that is anything but politically correct.  If you’ve got a question you want me to tackle, dash it off to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to you before anyone else from the Hairspray film cast comes out!  Until next next time, remember, one man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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Revised: Jul 5, 2020 @ 7:14 pm

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