A Gay In the Life: Garrett Clayton and Blake Knight
GARRETT CLAYTON’S A GAY IN THE LIFE
Former Disney Channel star and out Hollywood actor Garrett Clayton (King Cobra) recently launched a weekly LGBTQ series on YouTube with the long-term goal of humanizing the stories and struggles of contemporary LGBTQ rights and peoples around the world. Co-created and co-hosted by Clayton’s fiancé Blake Knight, the series also intends to reveal how LGBTQ identities, attitudes, and experiences vary greatly from one country and culture to the next. Episodes from the first several weeks have offered quick takes on subjects ranging from LGBTQ issues in the Philippines to racial prejudices within America’s LGBTQ community, as well as short interviews with Tan France of Netflix’s Queer Eye and the Zakar Twins, the Pray The Gay Away Iraqi-American comedy duo — plus Clayton and Knight sharing their coming out stories and giving a peek into the happy couple’s Date Night activities. Future episodes are expected to include profiles of a Two Spirit Native American and a fa’afafine, or third gender, Samoan, glimpses into LGBTQ life in China, Thailand, Sudan, and Spain — and Los Angeles, through additional vignettes planned from the hosts. New episodes every Thursday. Visit www.youtube.com/c/AGayInTheLife.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Vegas Revue
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE: VEGAS REVUE
The showgirls will go on even if RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! can’t. A sextet of veteran Drag Race queens are featured in a new docuseries originally conceived as a way to promote the franchise’s expansion into live theater and debut Las Vegas residency, before COVID-19 put an end to all that only two months into the run. As a result, the six-episode Vegas Revue now serves to document the making of the show and the work of its stars Yvie Oddly, Asia O’Hara, Derrick Barry, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls, and Vanessa “Vanjie” Mateo. Premieres Friday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m. Visit www.vh1.com.
Rude Mechanicals — Joshua Engel
ROMEO AND JULIET
A new production of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy aims “to shed new light on what it is to love others and yourself.” More specifically, what it is to love another of the same gender, as we see Juliet (played by Erin Nealer) fall for a young woman named Romeo (Audra Jacobs) in a staging by the Rude Mechanicals. The update from the provocative theater troupe is set in a small rural American town where the queer star-crossed lovers are forced “to grapple not only with their secret infatuation but with the secret of their own identities” — not to mention “the prejudices of their families and even themselves in order to be together.” Director Claudia Bach leads a mix of professional and amateur artists in two closed-door performances from the Greenbelt Arts Center that will be livestreamed for the public on Zoom and YouTube. Saturday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 16, at 2 p.m. The Sunday matinee includes a post-show talkback with the cast and crew. Suggested donation of $10. Visit www.rudemechanicals.com.
Spooky Action Theater: Rich Hammerly, Em Grosland, Shubhangi Kuchibhotla
A trio of teenage troublemakers become obsessed with the seemingly bottomless pit they stumble upon one day in the forest near their reform school in Zero. Gay playwright Ian August officially describes his work as “a darkly comedic allegory about the relationship between addiction and empathy, the danger of simple solutions, and whether ‘nothing’ actually exists anyway.” Mental illness, depression, and non-binary are three additional keywords for Zero, which also comes with the disclaimer, “Trigger Warnings: This play includes all the things. This ain’t no Disney Channel sh*t.” Craig Baldwin will direct a “livestream reading” of Zero for Spooky Action Theater with actors Emmett Shaw Grosland, Dylan J. Fleming, Shubhangi Kuchibhotla, and Alejandro Ruiz — “and featuring Rick Hammerly.” Premieres at SpookyActionDC on YouTube Sunday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. Available through Aug. 19. Free, but donations gratefully accepted to benefit Food for All DC. Call 202-248-0301 or visit www.spookyaction.org.
Brandy Clark — Photo: Chris Phelps
March started off with a bang for the lesbian country artist with the release of her stunning third album, Your Life Is A Record. “No one is writing better country songs than Brandy Clark,” wrote David Cantwell of the New Yorker. Clark has also been called Nashville’s “best-kept secret,” but by now any self-respecting queer country fan should know the name, or at least her work in writing hits for others — including “Follow Your Arrow” for Kacey Musgraves. Early on in the pandemic, Clark launched a series of livestreams from her Nashville home called “You Can’t Come Over (But You Can Come In)” — a play on an early Clark song, “You Can Come Over.” Over time, she’s done a little less singing and a lot more talking per episode — all in conversation with her special guest of the week — usually a fellow female artist, occasionally a superstar, with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Reba McIntire, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls all past guests. (All episodes are available for streaming from Clark’s YouTube page.) After taking a few weeks off, Clark has now revived the series, with upcoming guests Jessie Jo Dillon, the artist who co-wrote Clark’s singles “Girl Next Door” and “I’ll Be The Sad Song,” set for Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m., and Liz Rose, a frequent Taylor Swift collaborator, on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. Visit www.brandyclarkmusic.com.
Led by the one-time American Idol hunk Chris Daughtry, this hard-rock band is currently in the midst of a special 19-date livestream tour, each geared to a specific city and benefiting a specific venue, with a unique setlist and other surprises in store on each date. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m., the “Live From Home Tour” virtually stops at the Birchmere, which will benefit from proceeds of ticket sales and tips. Tickets are $10, or $25 to $75 including VIP packages and merch. Visit www.onlocationlive.com/category/birchmere.
Greensky Bluegrass — Photo: Dylan Langille
In order to safely and truly perform together as one band in one room any time soon, the musicians in this genre-defying progressive bluegrass band reasoned they would need to get creative in devising a kind of concert compromise. So last month, the quintet booked a week at an empty concert venue in St. Louis, where they proceeded to perform eight different concerts, each with a completely different set list. All are full-band, full-production spectacles from a quiet hall, where the only other folks were members of a camera crew capturing the performances in 4K with high definition audio. Now, every Friday night until the end of summer, Greensky will unveil these Leap Year Sessions, delivered to pay-per-view audiences through the new platform HYFI. Friday, Aug. 14, at 9 p.m., and every Friday through September. Tickets are $14.95 for individual sessions, available for two-week streams, or $99.95 for a Full Tour Pass of all eight sessions available after broadcast through Halloween. Visit www.hyfi.com/greensky-bluegrass.
Tom Goss: Nerdy Bear — Photo: Catalin Stelian
“Dancing in My Room” was a very April thing to do. Now that we’re in the thick of summer, singer-songwriter Tom Goss has responded by releasing a new song and video suited to the season. You might even consider it a sequel to “Bears,” his playful ode to furry fellas everywhere released during the summer of 2013 paired with a video featuring a pack of hirsute hunks in D.C. In 2020, though, Goss is in hot pursuit of a particular type of furred fellow: a “Nerdy Bear.” The new summer anthem sounds little like anything you’ve heard from Goss before, a sultry slow-jam that’s more R&B than pop — and not folk at all. Directed by Michael Serrato and photographed in New York, the video finds Goss chasing after a particular plus-sized gay man (Jason Villegas), pulling out all the stops in trying to get his attention: gyrating wildly, singing like a vocoder madman, jumping through hoops, even donning a little drag to appear as Princess Peach from Mario Brothers. It’s as fun and silly as Goss intended. “Given the hot mess that is 2020,” he says in a press release, “I feel like I have a responsibility to create music that brings people together and helps them to see the world in a positive light.” Visit www.tomgossmusic.com.
Jane Franklin Dance — Photo: Jim Turner
JANE FRANKLIN DANCE’S FORTY+ PROJECTS VIRTUAL PROGRAM
Dancers over the age of 40 comprise this organization’s Forty+ ensemble, which next week will present a virtual program of mixed repertory, including a new work for camera by choreographer Emily Crew. Hoopla is inspired by circles, both the space contained within the geometrical shapes and at their edges, and was developed virtually by company dancers performing at their home. The bill also includes Franklin’s Shorthanded, performed by an intergenerational cast exploring what it means to be of “your generation” as symbolized by key cultural practices and popular technologies of the time — from shorthand notation and paper dolls, to cassette tapes and VHS — and Kelsey Rohr’s You and Me, a work set to the groovy music and sultry voice of Barry White and featuring moves intended to serve as a reminder to have fun and let go. Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m. Free. Call 703-933-1111 or visit www.facebook.com/JaneFranklinDance or www.janefranklin.com.
Through Cabinet Conversations, its ongoing series of livestreamed discussions, Ford’s Theatre has examined an array of topics, aimed at connecting aspects of our nation’s history — lessons of the Civil War and/or Lincoln’s presidency and legacy in particular — to contemporary life and issues. Although details have not yet been announced, the next discussion — Thursday, Aug. 27, at 4 p.m. — will focus on the 57th anniversary of the original March on Washington in light of today’s resurgence in activism for racial justice, and a return to the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington 2020 planned the next day (also when the NAACP will lead a 2020 Virtual March on Washington). Among a handful of past Cabinet Conversations, all of which can be streamed from Ford’s YouTube page, arguably the most timely and illuminating was the July 30 discussion “A Reckoning for Confederate Memorials.” Historian Kevin M. Levin helped frame and contextualize the discussion as well as elicit keen observations and experiences from Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. In particular, Landrieu noted key lessons from the successful effort he led to remove four prominent confederate statues as part of the city’s post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. He even revealed how he finally became convinced that removal was the right thing to do. “I remember as we were rebuilding the city, I was thinking about this: What the hell is the difference between a confederate flag and a monument? Now I knew in my head that one was metal and steel, and one was cloth. And the cloth was easier to take down, and the monuments would be much harder. But really, as a matter of integrity, what’s the difference? They’re no different at all. And it was just time. It just kind of hit…like the moment that we’re in right now in America.” Visit www.fords.org.
Inherit the Windbag — Photo: Chris Banks
MOSAIC THEATER’S INHERIT THE WINDBAG
Mosaic Theater’s sixth season was originally set to kickoff next week with preview performances of the world premiere Inherit the Windbag. While that’s obviously not possible during the ongoing pandemic, the company is doing what it can to keep a mid-August focus on the play by Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri. Rehearsals have started for the virtual adaptation of Inherit the Windbag, set for release in the fall and starring Paul Morella as Vidal and John Lescault as Buckley, with Tamieka Chavis and Stephen Klime as multi-character “Demons.” This week’s Creative Conversation — taking place Friday, Aug. 14, at 4 p.m., on Mosaic Theater’s Facebook page — will feature Petri and the play’s director Lee Mikeska Gardner shedding light on the work as well as the seminal moment in American history that inspired it. Specifically, the blistering nightly free-for-all between conservative pundit William F. Buckley and gay liberal author Gore Vidal in 1968 during the televised Republican and Democratic conventions. Documentary filmmaker Nicholas D. Wrathall (Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia) will join as a special guest to further illuminate that history as well as its resonance to today. Inherit the Windbag will also be the focus of Mosaic’s next online Peace Cafe, “Political Partisanship, Resistance & Reconciliation,” set for Monday, Aug. 17, at 4 p.m., on Zoom; RSVP required. Visit www.mosaictheater.org/alive.
Leopard — By Jim Holloran
HELLO, BRIGHT EYES
Old eyeglasses, lenses, and eyeglass “arms” have been reused or upcycled in some of the artworks on display this month at Del Ray Artisans Gallery. Hello, Bright Eyes is the latest themed show at the quirky Virginia gallery, whose member artists were inspired to create paintings, photographs, sculptures, mixed-media collages, and other artworks focused in some way or another on eyes, eyesight, eyewear, or one’s sense of vision. The Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington donated the upcycled used eyewear and is also overseeing a series of screenings and discussions to complement the exhibition, curated by Stephanie Chan and Tracy Wilkerson. Now to Aug. 29. Del Ray Artisans Gallery is located in the Colasanto Center, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria. Free and open to the public, with proper social distancing and the wearing of face masks, from noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 703-731-8802 or visit www.thedelrayartisans.org.
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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.
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