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01/24/2013

Mark Zuckerberg Holding Fundraiser for NJ Governor Chris Christie

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is holding a big fundraiser for NJ Governor Chris Christie, the Washington Post reports:

Cnn_christieZuckerberg previously donated $100 million to the Newark school system after striking up a friendship with Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D). Booker, Christie, and Zuckerberg announced the donation together on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” There has been some controversy over how that money has been spent.

“Mark and [his wife] Priscilla have worked closely with Governor Christie on education reform in the Newark school system,” Facebook spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said in a statement. “They admire his leadership on education reform and other issues and look forward to continuing their important work together on behalf of Newark’s school children.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Feb. 13 event will be the first campaign fundraiser at Zuckerberg’s home. Facebook’s corporate PAC donates to both parties but currently tilts slightly in favor of Republicans.

Does that get a "like"?

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 4:31 PM EST by in Chris Christie, Mark Zuckerberg, New Jersey, News | Permalink | Comments (32)


Watch LIVE: Rhode Island House Vote on Marriage Equality

House_ri

Rhode Island's House of Representatives is set to vote this afternoon on a marriage equality bill advanced by a House panel earlier this week. It is expected to pass (House Speaker Gordon Fox has predicted a "healthy win"), and then move to the Senate, where it faces a much tougher battle.

You can tune in and watch the proceedings LIVE HERE.

Session is scheduled to begin any minute. In the meantime, enjoy their groovy 'hold' music.

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 4:13 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, News, Rhode Island | Permalink | Comments (18)


Marriage Equality Bills Introduced in Hawaii

Marriage equality legislation was introduced in Hawaii's House and Senate this morning, HRC reports:

HawaiiIf successful, Hawaii would be the 10th state in the union to allow the marriage for all couples, regardless of whom they love.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Baehr v. Lewin, the Hawaii State Supreme Court opinion that sparked our nation's marriage equality movement. In the opinion, Justice Steven Levinson said, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of the person's civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry.”

Although this opinion opened the door to same-sex marriage in the Aloha State and across the country, voters amended the constitution five years later, giving the legislature the ability to interpret what constitutes a legal marriage in the state.

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 4:07 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, Hawaii, News | Permalink | Comments (7)


GOProud Will Cruise Through March For Life Tomorrow

GOProudAbortion

Trying to further ingratiate themselves with the conservatives they so desperately want to rally with, the gay Republican group today announced they're participating in the "March for Life" gathering in D.C. tomorrow.

They'll be distributing the name tag seen above. I wonder how many they'll actually unload.

UPDATE: A friend reminded me that GOProud leader Chris Barron once worked for Planned Parenthood, a group that obviously believes in a woman's right to choose. While there, he helmed Republican outreach to bring pro-choice GOPpers into the mix. Guess those days are over...

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 2:35 PM EST by in Abortion, GOProud, News, Republican Party | Permalink | Comments (52)


Do African-Americans Have 'Special Responsibility' To Support Equality?

GayblackIn an opinion piece at the New York Daily News today, John McWhorter, author of the provocative book Losing The Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, argues that though African-Americans' opinions on gay rights are basically on par with the rest of the nation, they have a greater obligation to stand up for equality.

From that piece, called "Gay Really Is The New Black:"

The percentage of blacks who favor gay marriage is about the same now as the percentage of whites, according to a Pew poll taken during the last election season. "One of the striking results in the 2012 exit polls was the support for legalizing gay marriage among black voters," that poll noted.

However, rising support isn't enough — we must keep going. When Michael Richards spouted the N-word on stage, he was shamed by the nation for weeks. It won't do for Tracy Morgan to get a mere slap on the hand for crowing that he would stab his son if he turned out to be were gay.

As a consequence of its painful heritage, black America has a special responsibility: to be further ahead of the curve than whites on accepting gay people as full citizens.

The Bible cannot be used as an excuse to hold us back. We should remember that racists once also appealed to the Bible to justify segregation, slavery and all manners of hatred. Let's be progressive for real this time around.

McWhorter goes on to say the real test will come when a closeted black celebrity comes out, someone really A-list. "Wanda Sykes, Don Lemon and rapper Frank Ocean have been noble pioneers — but then again, none are megastars or play romantic parts," he writes.

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 1:30 PM EST by in Don Lemon, Gay Marriage, News, Wanda Sykes | Permalink | Comments (67)


Ben Rimalower Is Working Through His 'Patti Issues' At The Duplex: INTERVIEW

Pi_rimalower

BY NAVEEN KUMAR

Though Broadway diva Patti LuPone plays no small part in this critically embraced solo show that bears her name, Patti Issues, written and performed by Ben Rimalower, has broader-than-show-queen appeal.

Delivered as a single monologue by Rimalower in the intimate cabaret theatre upstairs at the Duplex, Patti Issues is more than a fanatic’s ode to his legendary idol. At its core this coming-of-age story is about Rimalower’s troubled relationship with his gay father, who abandoned his family for a series of flames that burned up quickly, consuming his dad in the process.

Lupone_rimalowerLike so many, Rimalower turned to the arts—and musical theatre in particular—as a source of solace from the emotional growing pains of an unconventional adolescence. His kinship with LuPone began as a teenage obsession over her performance as Eva Perón in the original Broadway cast recording of Evita. A boy and his headphones.

Unlike many, Rimalower met his idol. Not only that, but his gig as an assistant director to Lonny Price on the 2000 NY Philharmonic concert performance Sweeney Todd entailed a private line-running session with Ms. LuPone—during which she sang the entire vocal part of Mrs. Lovett into his euphoric, beaming face.

He thereafter developed a personal and professional relationship with the leading lady that hasn’t always been wine and roses. As Rimalower recounts in his sixty minute show, it’s through a unique connection to his idol that he learns a thing or two about life, family, and coming out on top. Like a diva, of course.

I spoke to Ben about his experience performing the show, his plans for the future, and of course Patti LuPone.

Naveen Kumar: You’re very emotionally honest in Patti Issues about your experiences growing up. Is there anything that you hope people might take away from seeing the show—I hate to say a "lesson"—but any sort of insight you hope people might gain from hearing about your own experience?

Ben Rimalower: I hope that they connect to it personally in a way that they feel that they've shared my journey, and it transported them emotionally. As far as a message, I know what the show is about for me, in terms of what I’m trying to learn from it myself.

Patti was for me, and still is in a lot of ways, this sort of superhero [in whom] I found inspiration and empowerment. I vicariously triumphed through her and vicariously shared her rivalries—even the rivalries I imagined she would have, those were mine too. Then I got to know her, and had to interact with her on this different level—as an actual human being.

I think maybe the universal aspect [of the show] is something we have to experience growing up — to see our parents as real people, and not as these gods who are infallible that are always going to take care of us. My father certainly let me down at that. In a very different way, I could see this from my relationship with Patti, because after all she was not my fairy godmother, she was a person.

Read more, AFTER THE JUMP...

RimalowerWhen I was doing a [cabaret show based on her recordings] that, at a certain point, she didn’t think was conducive to her career, she cut it off. She didn’t say, 'Well, I love Ben, he’s so sweet let’s just let them do it.' She said, 'No, that’s it,' and she didn’t take care of me. But instead of feeling betrayed by her, I realized at the end of the day, it was not Patti's responsibility to take care of me. So I didn’t have to forgive her for that because I was responsible for myself. I still produced an album with Patti, and wound up having a successful relationship with her after that happened.

Then when I saw my father [for the first time in many years] at Gypsy, it was actually an empowering moment for me. I saw him like an adult. For better or worse, [I had] grown up without his help, and was just able to realize, it is what it is. 

For me that’s why the stories were intertwined when I was trying to write about my own experience. So, maybe there is something for other people to take away from that.

NK: From your experience, why do you think so many young LGBT people turn to theatre, and musical theatre in particular in that process of growing up?

BR: There are so many different things that come together in musical theatre. Definitely my attraction to it most of all was that musical theatre is where you’ll find 'the diva.' You can see Meryl Streep or Glenn Close in a great film and there's a diva aspect to them giving this virtuoso performance, but they're not asked to step forward and sing and go to that heightened level, which for me has always been so transporting. That's always been what dazzled me. I felt vicariously empowered by that.

Also musical theatre combines singing, dancing, music, set, costumes, [etc.] and brings together so many creative forces, and I think LGBT people tend to be creative. [Many of us] grew up around [musicals] and they were what we had available as avenues to perform or express ourselves creatively in school. [We] weren’t doing experimental Off-Broadway plays or Philip Glass operas. Who knows, maybe my life would have been different!

NK: Well, Meryl does sing in Mamma Mia!, I have to point out.

BR: Thank you for that, I was just waiting for you to say that! No, obviously and I think she sings in Death Becomes Her and Postcards From The Edge and she's done musicals on Broadway, but that hasn't been the bulk of what she's associated with.

NK: You began your career in professional theatre on the directing side, starting with your assistant gig to Lonny Price. How has your experience been transitioning into the role of performer?

BR: It's been great. I came into this experience because I wanted to be writing, and what felt natural for me to write also happened to be something I felt like I should perform myself. It wasn’t originally my intention.

I've always had a very extroverted and performative personality. I had chosen not to focus on performing, but having stumbled back into it, I've found that I really love it. It's given me a lot of sympathy for all the actors I've worked with, and actors in general. It's really the performer's ass out there on stage, and no matter that the behind-the-scenes talent thinks or knows, the performer is the one who's out there dealing with the audience in the moment night after night.

Patti_issuesNK: Can you talk about the future life of the show, and what's next for you?

BR: I'd love to see Patti Issues go as far and wide as possible. It still really feels very fresh to me; I really enjoy performing it for new people, and it seems like a diversity of people that are responding to it. I'd like to keep performing the show as long as possible in New York and I'm very happy doing it at the Duplex. I'm doing it in a few cities in California in the coming months. I'm working right now on booking it in other venues around the country, and even some overseas within the next year.

I'd also like to adapt it into a memoir and publish it, so I'm working on getting that ball rolling, which will involve a lot of repackaging and reconceiving it. I also have another show in mind, another solo show like this that I want to do [for which] I just have some rough material. Hopefully within the next year I'll be ready to open the new show too.

NK: Has Patti been to see the show?

BR: Patti has! Patti came to the second performance back in September.

NK: How was that?

BR: Well…it was terrifying. [laughs] It was very scary. Originally I was booked only for five performances, so the onus was on my to try to get everyone that I could get in to see it. Patti is such an important force in my life, especially creatively, that if I were doing anything at all, it would be my dream for her to see my work. Even if this had nothing to do with her, I would have really wanted her to see it.

I was also really nervous, what if this was not something for her? What if she didn’t like it? What if she thought it was bad? What if she was offended? So I had to kind of put that aside.

The audience the night Patti came was insane. I mean the tension in the room, people were watching her. She has such a great laugh, it really is like the wicked witch's cackle, so right away it was clear that Patti has a sense of humor about herself, and she buys into the idea of herself as this sort of straight-shooting, tough-as-nails, old school, brassy Broadway dame. So that set everybody at ease for a lot of the show because she was laughing the loudest at all this schtick of me representing her a certain way.

Then it got to the point about her threatening to sue me, and it was really strange in that room. But Patti loved it. The thing is, Patti doesn’t feel I represent her like a bitch because she stands behind the integrity of what she believes. Patti felt that [the cabaret show at Joe's Pub] was not good for her, and that she had the right to have it stopped, and that I was lucky she called first rather than of suing me. So she wasn’t offended by that at all, and I think she appreciated that I portrayed it truthfully. 

Patti Issues, directed by Aaron Mark, is running through April 24th at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street, NYC.

Recent theatre features...
'Picnic' Starring Sebastian Stan Opens on Broadway: REVIEW
'The Other Place' Starring Laurie Metcalf Opens On Broadway: REVIEW
Rob Ashford Takes on 'Cat On A Hot Tin Roof' on Broadway: INTERVIEW
Pulitzer Prize Winner 'Water By The Spoonful' Opens Off-Broadway: REVIEW
Amy Herzog's 'The Great God Pan' Opens Off-Broadway: REVIEW

Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter @Mr_NaveenKumar

Posted Jan. 24,2013 at 12:45 PM EST by in Ben Rimalower, Interview, Naveen Kumar, New York, News, Patti Lupone, Theatre | Permalink | Comments (12)



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