Kevin Sessums Hub

Eliot Spitzer Talks 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', Gay Marriage, and Obama

During a lengthy and frank interview with former New York governor Eliot Spitzer about Wall Street, corporations, his dalliances with prostitutes, his new CNN show, and the recent election, Kevin Sessums also brings up gay rights.

Spitzer As you may recall Spitzer introduced a marriage equality bill in the months before he was forced to step down over his escort scandal.

Sessums asks Spitzer about DADT, marriage equality, and Obama:

Q:On another legal matter, do you agree with Obama that he had no choice as president defending the law of Congress to appeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ruling that said it was unconstitutional? Or do you agree with Ted Olson that he did not have to.

He didn’t have to. He should have gotten rid of it with an executive order. He is the president! He is the commander in chief!

Q:Is he a coward about this issue?

I don’t want to call the president of the United States a coward.

Q:I will. On this issue, he’s a coward. He is playing politics with people’s lives. It’s cowardly.

Let me put it this way. From the very beginning, I have been very disappointed in his positions on a lot of civil-rights issues, on a lot of state-secrecy issues, a lot of judicial moments when he could have actually chartered a very different course than his predecessor and he hasn’t. And certainly Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is one of them.

Q:And on gay marriage, he is to the right of Dick Cheney and Ken Mehlman and Ted Olson. It would be almost poetic if it weren’t so sad and disheartening that on the civil-rights issue of our time, our first African-American president will be seen on the wrong side of history. Again, for political reasons he’s playing with people’s lives.

It dismays me, too. It’s dismaying. I am proud to say that I was the first governor in America to propose that same-sex marriage be legal and it still appalls me where we are on this issue in this country. Appalls me.

Eliot Comes Clean [the daily beast]

Edie Falco Does Not Butter the Lesbian Side of Her Toast


During a discussion of her lesbian fans, Kevin Sessums asks Edie Falco if she's ever "buttered that side of [her] toast." 

Says Falco: "I beg your pardon! I am so not going there. Wow. I’ve never heard it put that way either. But no. I’m afraid I like boys."

Interview: Next Fall's Patrick Breen on Homophobia, Religion, and Being Bisexual


Guestblogger KEVIN SESSUMS

Kevin Sessums reviews theatre for Towleroad. In an exclusive interview, he talks to Next Fall's Patrick Breen about the show, and his sexuality, which Breen discusses here for the first time.

Patrick Breen is the emotional anchor of Geoffrey Nauffts’s hit Broadway play, Next Fall, in which he stars as the atheist boyfriend of the Born Again Christian younger guy who prays for forgiveness each time they have sex. Nauffts play is a heartfelt comedy about redemption and how our differences as gay men are able to be bridged not only by a brittle wit but also an innate goodness. The production recently moved to Broadway after a sold-out run off-Broadway last spring and Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, came on-board as producers to give the production a bit of show-biz cache. Ben Brantley, in his New York Times review, called the play a “genuine rara avis, a smart, sensitive, utterly contemporary New York comedy.”

Smart. Sensitive. Utterly contemporary. That could be an apt description of Breen himself, who is a half Sicilian/half Irish native of Staten Island. He is both a founding member of MCC theatre and Naked Angels, where Next Fall got its start. We met for tea last week on his way to the Helen Hayes Theatre where Next Fall is playing next door to Green Day’s American Idiot at the St. James.

Nextfall2 PATRICK BREEN: Yeah, we share a wall — the Helen Hayes and the St. James and they were very kind to us. Their sound designers came in with decibel meters in our theatre. They blasted stuff from their side and we couldn’t hear a thing. They were so great to us. They didn’t want to interfere with our show because our show is really quiet at times. So the first preview they had their show comes down at like quarter to ten and our is still going on. I’m in one of my quieter scenes and suddenly we hear screams from the street because Green Day was there. So they had soundproofed the wall well and put their woofers the right direction and stuff but you couldn’t soundproof the girls screaming on the street. We were thinking, Are we going to hear that every night?

KEVIN SESSUMS: So do you have gay guys screaming outside of Next Fall?

PB: Yes, at the stage door and sometimes on the subway as well when they come up to me now.

KS: I’m so happy for Geoffrey Nauffts. I’ve known him for a long time and used to have such a crush on him.

PB: Me too. I even knew him in college at NYU and I’m 49 now. Then we were in Naked Angels together.

KS: Elton John coming in as a producer must have helped the move to Broadway.

PB: It helped a lot. He’s been so good about publicity. He was on The View. He did Oprah today. His coming in was incredibly helpful because we’re nobody. Just a bunch of off-Broadway actors. We don’t have a big star. We don’t have music. What we have to offer is a really good play. I’ve done three workshops of it. At one point out in LA Zachary Quinto played Luke, my boyfriend in the play.

Nextfall3 KS: Some people have a hard time believing that such different guys would be lovers - the age difference, the difference in belief systems. Is it just based on hot sex?

PB: Hmmmm ... that could maybe last a year. The relationship lasts five years in the play. They love each other and establish some kind of ground rules of what they can and cannot talk about to make the relationship work.

KS: Even though Luke, the Christian role, is imbued with a kind of heightened shame in the play, your character, Adam, has a different kind of shame. More crippling in its way. He’s chosen to love a shameful person — which is a form of shame that is even more insidious since he doesn’t own it outright like Luke does.

PB: I think you’re right. I think there is an inherent kernel of homophobia in Adam that unconsciously is being expressed through his relationship with Luke.

KS: I have no problem believing in the relationship. The only thing I have a problem with believing is that they sell candles in a candle shop in Manhattan and live in such a nice apartment.

PB: It looked smaller off-Broadway but how do you close the walls in for Broadway house and still suggest — which I think is really beautiful — the convention of the waiting room in the hospital becoming the apartment becoming the waiting room. That back and forth is really effective.

KS: What I find so moving about the play — without giving too much away — is that the things that Luke believes in and Adam rails against in the play are the things that finally help Adam come to terms with what happens to Luke. Adam is healed by Luke’s beliefs even if they are not his own.

PB: I think what Geoffrey is trying to say is that love between two people — no matter what they believe in their crazy religions or non-religions and Adam’s hypochondria and New Yorkiness is a kind of urban religion — is what matters.

KS: You said you used to have a crush on Geoffrey also. Are you gay or straight?

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Interview: Next Fall's Patrick Breen on Homophobia, Religion, and Being Bisexual" »

News: Fleet, Philip Johnson, Fort Worth, Band Fags, Bourbon

RoadIs Uganda's "kill the gays" bill fizzling out?

RoadNewt Gingrich calls Obama "most radical President ever".

Fleet RoadFleet takes aim at gay market with new product devised for "elective rectal cleansing."

RoadJersey Shore guidos flaunt their pecs in Miami.

RoadMichelangelo Signorile holding LGBT Leadership Town Hall in Washington D.C. on April 22 with Rea Carey, Mara Keisling, Joe Solmonese, Pam Spaulding, Richard Socarides, and Aubrey Sarvis. Also holding drawing for listeners who want to attend.

RoadKevin Sessums talks to Nathan Lane about his role as Gomez Addams in the new Broadway musical production of The Addams Family.

RoadSt. Louis man says he can't find job there because he's gay.

Road'Band Fags' Facebook page is reinstated.

RoadThe Rapid City, SD police department "tightening the flow of information" between it and the military after lesbian Air Force sergeant was outed: "A new department policy states that only the records custodian, Capt. Ed Hofkamp, can turn over official documents to the military, according to police chief Steve Allender. 'I don’t want to scare employees off, but when it comes to releasing records, they have to go through procedures,' Allender said."

RoadEven with a doofy pornstache and a bruised face Channing Tatum is still hot.

Johnson RoadMajor Philip Johnson residence restored in Dallas.

RoadSoup Cans interview with Thomas Roberts.

RoadConstance McMillen to attend NCLR's "lesbian prom" in San Francisco.

RoadThe French love Taylor Lautner.

RoadFort Worth theater withdraws offer to show cancelled Tarleton State University production of Corpus Christi, one day after offering to show it: "Adam Adolfo, executive director of Artes de la Rosa, said one 'violent' threat had been posted on the Rose Marine Facebook page on Thursday. 'Fiscal repercussions and patronage were anticipated, but in terms of violence, we only received one' threat, he said. 'The combination of producing or hosting a production of this caliber and commentary is always difficult. The board of directors felt at this time that this was not the appropriate venue or appropriate organization to be hosting this particular play.'"

Road Glee cast getting overworked?

Road Would you sit through a movie based on Hasbro's 'Battleship' game? What if Taylor Kitsch was in it?

Mitcham RoadGay unicorn Matthew Mitcham wanted to meet Lady Gaga, but was too shy.

RoadGay Bourbon drinker tells all.

RoadChris Meloni wears a shirt that suits his big guns.

RoadPlea deal possible in hate crime BB gun shootings of gay man in SF: "Shafiq Hashemi, 21, Mohammad Habibzada, 24, and Sayed Bassam, 21, are accused of shooting a 27-year-old man from their car at 16th and Guerrero streets in the Mission District on Feb. 26, then driving off. The man was hit in the cheek but not seriously injured. Police arrested the three nearby and they allegedly confessed that they had come to San Francisco to shoot gay people, according to police."

RoadPolice seize four-foot penis in raid.

RoadConfessions of a gay Mormon living in NYC (site nsfw): "I remember when I was a kid, I made a pact with God. I said, ‘Okay, I will go on my mission and I will turn twenty-one, but as soon as I do that, as soon as I take care of everything, you have to make a deal that you will go ahead and kill me. And that way I will have fulfilled everything and we will just have this whole thing done with.’"

News: Maryland, Marlon Brando, Maine, Monserrate, Mark Salling


Ellen DeGeneres speaks out against Uganda.


$9.6 million was spent in the battle for and against marriage equality in Maine.



Loving Mr. McDonald: "Patrick might be the only person in America who still keeps a crystal vial of smelling salts in his purse."


Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner says coming out for an actor can be "commercially devastating": “The viability of you as a character – no matter how good an actor you are – can be jeopardized by this. We struggle with it – obviously, it’s wrong. It shouldn’t be that way.”


Screen Actors Guild Award nominations announced.


Watch: Robert Downey Jr. in the new Iron Man 2 trailer.


Maryland feeling marriage equality pressure from Washington D.C.: "...the issue of gay marriage is now at Maryland's doorstep, and it increases the urgency for Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to rule on whether the state is permitted to recognize same-sex marriages from other states."


Hugh Jackman is heavily armed.



In a Daily Beast interview, Kevin Sessums asks Sarah Jessica Parker if her decision to go the surrogacy route with Matthew Broderick was a way for them to channel their inner affluent gay man. Says Parker: "God, that’s so true... and so funny. No, no, no ... Matthew and I were looking at a variety of ways to expand our family. So it’s not that simple, channeling our inner gayness. And I wouldn’t say that we are done either. We will keep exploring different ways to have a family I think."


Obama thanked Lieberman for promising to support bill without Medicare or public option.


Sens. Monserrate and Onorato protested in Queens for anti-gay marriage votes.


New hope for skin and lung cancer as genetic code is cracked: "Not only will the cancer maps pave the way for blood tests to spot tumours far earlier, they will also yield new drug targets, says the Wellcome Trust team."


Pee wee thinks he's Jason Mraz.


Mark Salling sings a Glee tribute.



Vintage Brando.


Homophobic New Mexico lawmaker William Sharer pre-files marriage amendment bill.


Facebook group demands apology from BBC over Uganda forum question asking if gays should be executed.


Greater sea level rise from global warming predicted: "A new paper published online Wednesday in the journal Nature suggests that the world may face a long-term sea-level rise of 20 to 30 feet, even under a modest global temperature rise...The findings are significant because the estimate is higher than previous projections, which put the sea-level increase at between 13 and 20 feet at 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or two degrees Celsius, which is the temperature rise threshold that policymakers are hoping not to cross if they can seal a climate deal in Copenhagen."


The 25th most influential gay and lesbian Australians.


Phillippine elections commission rejects appeal by gay party Ang Ladlad.


Gay activists stamp out Evil Incarnate in Chicago.


Homophobic murderer in UK has sentence cut: "On Thursday, the Appeal Court decided to reduce the period to 14 years after deciding the 21-year-old had been 'led-on' by 15-year-old friend Alexander Kindred, who is now 16. Lady Paton and Lord Clarke decided the sentence should be cut by two years despite the fact Meehan went to the park to inflict violence and later boasted about it at a party."

On the Stage: The Understudy, The Royal Family, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Circle Mirror Transformation



Kevin Sessums is back in the theatre for Towleroad this season. He last reviewed Let Me Down Easy, Wishful Drinking, A Steady Rain, and Hamlet for Towleroad. Kevin is also a contributing editor at Parade and The Daily Beast.

I would be remiss if I didn’t lament in this posting the premature closing of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs (to some old news by now) before I go on to tell you about some other plays I’ve seen in the last few weeks. And this is more a kind of reportage, I guess, than a critique since I am writing about something I witnessed that did not have many witnesses.

Bbm I’ve never been a fan of Neil Simon; the rat-a-tat-tat-ness of his incessant punchlines has always struck me as rather, well, tatty. Indeed, the revival of his Barefoot in the Park a few seasons back was a woefully misbegotten affair. But this production was different. Those of you who read my reviews know how much I admired director David Cromer’s transcendent reimagining of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town so I was curious to witness what he could accomplish with a decidedly lesser playwright when he was hired to take on not only Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, but also his Broadway Bound, which was to have played in repertory with the former. Alas, we’ll never know what he had planned for Broadway Bound since it was canceled altogether. But I can report that he again worked a kind of incongruent miracle with his ability to elicit through his work with actors a heightened form of naturalism.

Bbm2 By focusing on the tattiness of the lives that Simon so skillfully delineated in this autobiographical play - which, in its original production, harkened a comeback for the then coasting playwright — he silenced the rat-a-tat-tat of the funnybone which has always replaced the structural backbone in any Simon play and wakened the beating heart embedded even deeper in it. (A tip of the hat also to Brian McDevitt whose lighting design contributed to the play’s warmth as well. It was a palette that seemed to pulse right along with that wakened heart.) My own heart breaks a little for Noah Robbins who was plucked from obscurity to play Simon’s stand-in, the young Eugene Jerome. He was so skilled and touching in the part and even had put off a semester of college to make his Broadway debut. As his older brother, Santino Fontana broke one’s heart in other ways by delving so deeply into the character of Stanley, Eugene’s older brother, that he made Simon himself appear to be a better playwright. I have been a huge fan of Fontana’s work in the past and this performance heralded a great young actor in our midst. I am sorry not more people got to see how good he can be though I am certain there will be many other chances in this talented actor's burgeoning career. In fact, I read only yesterday in The New York Times that he will be in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge.

Bbm3 Cromer focused not only on these two young male siblings in the script but also the elder female ones in the form of Eugenes’s mother and her younger sister who had moved in with the Jeromes once she was unexpectedly widowed. Jessica Hecht as the sister (she has also been hired to be in A View from the Bridge) and Laurie Metcalfe as the mother formed a fugue of regret and recrimination and resolve. Hecht’s performance was the quieter and surprisingly tougher. But Metcalfe anchored the play with her performance as Kate Jerome, Eugene’s mother. She demolished the jokey stereotype of the Jewish mother, displaying a juggernaut of emotions that showed us how such a maternal presence could be injured and injurious all at once. I long to see her when she is older play those other maternal monsters, Amanda Wingfield in A Glass Menagerie and Mary Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night. And I pray David Cromer helps her create those characters as well.

I would have given the production a T T T 1/2 rating (out of 4 possible T's).

Lilys If you’ve read this far about a production that is no longer playing then you really are a theatre lover so let me tell you about a few other productions that are for and about those theatre lovers among us. First a personal note: check out the website lower case letter written by playwrght Alejandro Morales. He is a theatre lover of the first order and a wonderful writer whose comment at the end of my last posting here alerted Towleroad readers to The Brother Sister Plays by Tarrell Alvin McCraney down at The Public, which I hope to write about soon, as well as the theatrical event of the season, Taylor Mac’s five-hour phantasmagoria, The Lily’s Revenge, which sadly closed the past weekend. I tried three times to get Rush tix to the latter but failed each time. I am praying that the Mac event has an afterlife and some enterprising producer has the producing balls to move it somewhere or reopen it at Here, where it was playing. It was all any theatre lover could talk about for the last few weeks and I am heartbroken I was unable to get in to see it. To read more about it check out Morales’ exemplary website.

Mac Mac is like a Mach 2 Neil Simon - gay and goy and absurdly grand — or grandly absurd. I first became aware of him as the result of two diverse and early works — The Young Ladies Of, based on the thousands of letters his father received in Vietnam when he was a soldier there and placed an ad asking young ladies to write to him, and The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac, directed by David Drake of The Night I Kissed Larry Kramer fame. For all you theatre lovers out there, I heard from Larry last week that Scott Rudin is trying to get an early play of his produced. Larry has even given it to Tom Ford to read in case he wants to follow up his screen directorial debut with a stage one. (He’s also given him his latest screenplay for The Normal Heart in case Ford wants to up his cinematic game to encompass a story of more epic proportions than his expertly emotionally interiorized A Single Man.) Can you imagine Rudin, Ford, and Kramer — those three absurdly grand gays in a rehearsal room together? I hope there’s a role for a drag queen whose specialty is a stunningly effective pastiche of performance styles so Taylor Mac can join them in the rehearsal process. Rudin, Kramer, Ford and Mac — now that’s a theatrical phantasmagoria of my own fevered dreams.


Another wonderful show that has closed prematurely — after being extended a couple of times — was Circle Mirror Transformation at Playwrights Horizons. I am hopeful that some enterprising producer also reopens it somewhere. Set in a Vermont town, it evolves around the theatre games concocted by an ex-hippie-like woman for a small group of attendees to her drama class in the town’s community center. At first the set-up was a bit twee for my tastes, but as the intermissionless evening went on I became entranced by the lives of the characters illuminated by the games. And the performances — all eerily quiet yet also quite moving, the director Sam Gold having elicited a kind of tamped-down temerity from the cast — were astoundingly good. I was especially taken by the sardonic teenager of Tracee Chimo. It really did seem as if we were eavesdropping on life itself. It all reminded me of television’s The Office raised to the level of theatrical art. Jeff Whitty, who won a Tony for writing the book for Avenue Q and is writing the book for the upcoming musical version of Tales of the City, which was workshopped this summer at the The Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Connecticut, was a great champion of the play having taken to Facebook to sing its praises and get all of his friends to see it.

I followed his advice and would have given it T T T 1/2 also.

I’m sure some of you out there are tempted to post a snarky comment about now about my writing about shows that have closed so here are two suggestions for and about theatre lovers that are thankfully still running.

Continued (The Understudy and The Royal Family), AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "On the Stage: The Understudy, The Royal Family, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Circle Mirror Transformation " »


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