Friday, September 29, 2006

Christ, More Courtney!

The Return of Smokin' Courtney Love

Courtney Love has been in the studio working on her upcoming album with the working title How Dirty Girls Get Clean. Linda Perry and Billy Corgan, who both have recorded with her in the past, are helping with the writing and recording. The album is supposed to come out sometime next year.

"This record is lovely – but very real," says Courtney. "We allowed some natural flaws to remain. We use my voice, as it is, which is rich and deep and honed by a lot of smoking."

Also Channel 4 has recently aired a documentary on Courtney titled (what else?) The Return of Courtney Love in the UK. Here she's shown reharsing and recording the album, as well as being interviewed on a wide variety of topics. So far it hasn't been shown on TV here in America, but you can see a clip of this thanks to the goodness of YouTube.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Blast from the past with Junior remixing Madge

I recently came across via YouTube a MTV segment that originally aired in 1994, featuring DJ/producer Junior Vasquez remixing Madonna's single "Secret." It was great watching someone Junior reaching his artisic peak and coming into the population's cosciouness via a high-profile artist like Madonna. The finished prodect ended up sounding great indeed. Dance music on MTV, G*d we could sure use some on there now...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Summer has come and passed, the innocent can never last

Today is the first day of fall. I put together another autumn-themed mix-CD. Yes, the inclusion of Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is pretty obvious, but I like it so it'll stay, LOL.

As a tribute to this summer's passing, I've posted a photo of Baltimore Avenue, the gay commercial strip of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, which was taken during Labor Day weekend 2006.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gay rights have indeed come to my town!

All I have to say is WOW.

Last night Council members of West Chester, PA--where I live--voted 6 to 0 for an anti-discrimination ordinance geared toward sexual orientation. It prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it will apply to employment, housing and public accommodation. I'm happy and surprised that such a law has passed in my hometown, and that it passed by a wide margin.

Some more info on this from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil rights:

West Chester is the first municipality in Chester County to enact a law protecting members of the LGBT community. Statewide, West Chester will be the fourteenth municipality to enact local non-discrimination protections for members of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender community. Pennsylvania has the largest number of local non-discrimination ordinances protecting the LGBT community of any state that has not yet enacted state-wide LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination legislation. West Chester is the fourth Pennsylvania municipality to enact an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance this year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mr. Double L 2006 contest

This past Saturday afternoon I went down to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to attend the Mr. Double L 2006 contest. Had to work at my day job that morning until 1pm. I arrived at Rehoboth at 6pm after a three hour drive, had dinner and walked around downtown until 8:30, which I then headed over to the Double L Bar. Ran into a couple of Philly-area peeps there. Contest was supposed to start at 9:30pm but it didn't on until after ten.

Here are some photos that I took. I would have posted them up on here earlier this week but I had a little problem with the CD they were on, but that's fixed for now.

Me (center) with Mid-Atlantic Leatherboy Justin (left) and Maryland LeatherSIR Chris (right).

The three contestants for Mr. Double L 2006: Paul, Neil and Gary.

A picture of the judges and crowd from the stage. I took a quick photo when I went up onstage for the Parade of Colors featuring members of various leather fraternities; I represented the Philadelphians MC.

Titleholders gather up on stage while host Frank Nowicki (Mr. Mid-Alantic Leather 1993) emcees.

Mr. Double L 2005 Scott Harris gives his stepping-down speech. After winning the title last year he would go on to become Mr Mid-Atlantic Leather 2006.

Gary Samuels from Washington DC wins the title of Mr. Double L 2006. He was the crowd favorite, getting the most applause.

The contest was over a little after midnight. Stayed at the bar until a quarter of one, where I then drove down to Ocean City MD (half an hour frive) and crashed at my parents's summer place. Lots of bikers in the area that weekend, being that it was Delmarva Bike Week. Funny that both Mr. Double L (gay) and Bike Week (straight) are held on the same weekend. The weather during drove back home on Sunday was very sunny, with a high around 80 degrees F; too bad there's not going to be many more of those type of days with fall coming around the corner.

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Scissor Sisters: the new Josephine Bakers?

The eccentric pop group from NYC the Scissor Sisters recently scored their first number 1 single in the UK "I Don't Feel Like Dancing," which is their latest success across Europe. But they are not as successful in America their home country. They don't get the same massive airplay on American pop radio and video music channels like they do elsewhere. And to add insult to injury it seems that Transworld Entertainment, which owns various record store chains across the country like Sam Goody's and FYE, is refusing to stock their new album, titled Ta-Dah!, in their stores. Recently the band was performing at a NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) awards dinner and lead singer Jake Shears made a remark about FYE's high CD prices. He stated that he had a "F.Y.I. for FYE" and that nobody should have to pay 19.99 for a CD, which got a huge cheering response from the audience. The Transworld execs that were sitting in the front were not amused and have decided to do a "Dixie Chick" and retaliate against them by boycotting the album.

Sometimes I think that the Scissor Sisters are the latest reincarnation of Josephine Baker, the American dancer/singer who shot to fame in France during the 1920s. She wasn't appreciated in her native country like she was in France for a long time. If she had remained in America she would had very likely suffered from racial attitudes towards blacks of the time and would have been stuck with "mammy" stereotyped roles. She wasn't afraid to speak out against injustices, racism in partcular. In 1951 she went to America to make one of several (unsuccessful) attempts to capture the public's attention, only to wind up in a huge scandal over her being refused service at New York's Stork Club because of her color, and then was slammed in a mean-spirited smear campaign by the newspaper columist Walter Winchell. She also was accused of being "anti-American." America may have made its piece with Josephine since then, but still they cannot seem to appreciate other newer artists from their own country who gain success elsewhere in the world like the Scissor Sisters and Anastacia. Musical acts like those don't perform in ready-made boxes (musically or sexuality-wise) that can be easily digested by the American media.

When the Scissors were asked their opinion on the American music scene, they dissed it for being too superficial and celebrity-oriented at the expense of the music. Jake Shears said that they were appricative of their big British fan base, adding that: "All I have to do is watch the MTV Awards [in the US] and thank Christ we don't have to be within a 50-mile radius of it."

The Scissor Sisters's second album Ta-Dah! will be hitting the shelves of US record stores (appearently except those of Sam Goody's and FYE) on September 26. The new album is currently streaming at the group's MySpace webpage, as well at

UPDATE: MTV News reports on the Scissor Sisters/Transworld situation. TransWorld president and CEO Jim Litwak comes off looking vindictive and childish here--he won't stock their records just because of "hurt feelings?" Real professional...with people like him no wonder the record industry has been taking a nose-dive.

Friday, September 08, 2006

My first leather run

It was five years ago this weekend that I went on my first leather run, which was the Second Annual NJ Leather Pride Weekend. It was held on the weekend of September 7-9 2001. In case you are not familiar with leather runs, they are a big part of gay leather culture. They are get-togethers usually held on a weekend at a hotel or campground where a bunch of socials or parties are planned for lots of leathermen (and women) to attend and have fun. The Second Annual NJ Leather Pride Weekend was hosted by the New Jersey leather fraternity (also known as motorcycle clubs in gay circles, but you don't need to ride a cycle to join one) the Promethean Guard.

The motel we stayed in at was the Crystal Inn in Neptune NJ, which from the looks of it was formerly a Howard Johnson's. We registered for the run when we checked in the motel Friday evening. There would be late night social at the motel on late Friday and Saturday nights (there was evening one motel room was state aside for a play party), and there would an "eye opener" social on both following mornings, which is like a conteniatal breakfast with a little booze thrown in.

A majority of that weekend's events were held at Paradise in nearby Asbury Park, New Jersey. You could just go directly from the Asbury Circle, where the motel is located, onto State Route 16 and you'll arrive right in front of the club in about 10 minutes. Paradise is a gay club that's owned by Shep Pettibone, who was a big dance music remixer and producer in the eighties. (He's best known for his work for Madonna such as "Vogue" and the Erotica album.) The place was originally part a 50's seaside motel, so the club was huge--a dancefloor, a swimming pool, a couple of pool tables in the back, and a few bars throughout. The unused portion of the original motel would end up being renovated and re-opened a couple of years later as the Empress Hotel; back in 2001 there was some red tape holding those reconstruction plans up.

The first event at Paradise was the NJ Leather Weekend "Meat & Greet" Friday night. There would be a Leather Market featuring several leather and bear vendors that night as well as the following afternoon. Saturday would be jammed-packed, with a pool party at Paradise that afternoon (with the weather being perfect such as that), as well as some leather demostrations such as one on mummification. Then it was off for a quick change at the motel before a buffet dinner back at Paradise. Then at 6:30pm it was time for the Mr. New Jersey Leather 2002 Contest, which was held on the main floor of the club. There were four guys competing for the title. The audience would be impressed with the guy who wound up winning the title. There was a dance following the contest called FireStorm 2 but I was getting kind of tired so I passed on that so I could get back to the motel and get a some rest. I did wake up a couple of hours later and took part of the partying that wound up back at the motel. Sunday wrapped up the odds and ends with the morning social before people would leave. I meet a lot of different people from the leather communties of Philly, Jersey, and New York City. It made me glad to take part of such an event.

Since then the Promethean Guard have been holding their annual seaside runs the weekend after Labor Day, but decided to let someone else take care of the Mr. New Jersey Leather contest, which is now held in October. (Since then they've also added a Ms. New Jersey Leather title as well.)

On the drives between the motel and the club I would listen to New York's dance station KTU on the car radio. They were foisting the then-new Michael Jackson single "You Rock My World" with brainwash rotation. Other songs the station were playing that weekend were:

Deborah Cox - Absoutely Not (the fab Hex Hector-Mac Quayle remix version)
Darude - Sandstorm
Ian Van Dahl featuring Marsha - Castles In The Sky
Digital Allies featuring Richard Luzzi - Without You (The first time I heard this I thought that it sounded like Neil Diamond doing a techno track.)
Blu Cantrell - Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)

I guess one reason why I have such fond memories of this is that it was held on the weekend before 9/11 happened. It seemed like that the fun and comradeship would never end that weekend. Maybe it was like people were doing the Charleston on the table tops just before the stock market would crash in 1929. When I look back on it now, it seems like five decades ago instead of five years--things had changed so much, it seems that you could never have that much fun again. A sort of innocence lost. But there would be more leather runs I'd attend.

Willie Ninja, RIP

Malcolm McLaren - Deep in Vogue

Willie Ninja, who helped create voguing, the dance form, died of AIDS-related heart failure in Queens this past Saturday. He was 45.

Ninja was one of stars of the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, which covered New York City's drag vogue-ball scene.

He would also be immortalized in the song and video for Malcolm McLaren's "Deep In Vogue," which I have posted here. The song would top Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart on July 29, 1989--ten months before Madonna would unleash her own voguing song unto the top of both the dance and pop charts.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day 2006 weekend wrap-up

At 11:00am this past Friday I started my drive down for my weekend stay at the beach (Ocean City MD and Rehoboth Beach DE), Tropical Storm Ernesto be damned. Started raining around noon. When I got down to Rehoboth via Delaware State Route 1 about 1:30-2pm I could see the winds whipping up badly, so I decided to just hightail it to where I was staying. As I headed back to the main highway strip via Silver Lake Road, I saw one of the trees was knocked over by the wind and fell on the other side of the road. I just continued my drive down, going quite slowly. Ernesto must have been hitting the area just then. I got to my parent's summer house in Ocean City around 3:00pm and discovered that one of the trees on the front lawn--a Russian Olive--had been uprooted by the wind (with gusts up to 61 miles per hour) and fallen across the lawn, luckily it hadn't fallen either on the house or on the street. A couple of trash cans had also been knocked over, so I got out of the car and got them off the driveway, unpacked and ran into the house. My parents were coming down that same day as well, so I called them and told them what had happened and told them to go slowly. They arrived around 6pm with some fried chicken they picked up from a nearby fast food joint and we all stayed in that evening. The windows were rattling a bit but the house stayed pretty much intact. No power outages here. Slept soundly considering all the noise due to all that wind outside.

Saturday morning it stopped raining but the sky was still cloudy. We cleaned up the front yard and driveway. A few shingles had been blown off the roof and were lying on the sidewalk and back yard. We cut off some of the branches off the fallen tree and set them aside to be thrown away. Mom commented "I did want to get rid of that tree anyway, but not so soon." Stayed around the house that afternoon and caught up on some reading. Drove up to Rehoboth that night. Walked around for a bit and did a bit of shopping at Lambda Rising bookstore and Gidget's Gadgets, then went to top it off at the Double L Bar for a couple of hours. Heard that quite a few people had gone out to take part of the Rehoboth nightlife, Ernesto be damned. Appearently the people there have the attitude that a little rain or snow or whatever should not interfere with having fun with your friends at the local watering hole or wherever. A good deal of power had gone out in the central part of Rehoboth around 10:30pm and some people wound up going to the Double L, which still had its power on at that point and wouldn't lose it until an hour later.

Did some more cleaning up Sunday morning, cutting some more of the tree apart. Still pretty cloudly. but the sun did peek out every now and then. Then my parents and I went out to lunch at one of the local restaurants. My parents were going to a party that they've been invited to so I decided to spend another evening in Rehoboth. Had some dinner and checked out a couple more of the bars. Club Zeus's Sunday evening tea dances are known to be a blast, but they had a five dollar cover so I didn't go in; hey I need to save some money for gas. Wound up going to the Blue Moon, which was having their Disco Classics party (and no cover), which has hosted by Pamela Stanley, a singer who have some dance hits back in the eighties, "Coming Out of Hiding" being her best-known one. She did two sets featuring her own material as well as covers of some familiar disco standards (like Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money"), with "Hiding" ending both sets (the first time she sang that she broke out two purple and green flags and started twirling them during the instrumental part, also known as "flagging").

Labor Day had the best weather that weekend, with a good deal of sun. Pity I had to drive back home that day. Left around 11:00am and stopped at Lori's Cafe in Rehoboth to have a sandwich for lunch. Got home around 3:00, unpacked, and went to a birthday party for my niece that evening. Overall it wasn't a bad weekend, even with the rough weather on Friday. Now it's back to the usual grind and I have to try to fight having the post-vacation blues.

I took a few pictures over the weekend but I still have a dozen photos left in my camera. I should be posting them up when they are developed.