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Gay Iconography: No Disco Queen Quite Like Sylvester

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There have been many singers crowned the “Queen of Disco” (Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor immediately leap to mind), but there are none quite like Sylvester.

With his captivating falsetto, Sylvester’s career spanned counter-culture, pop music, disco, drag, Hi-NRG and performance art. He infused his work with San Francisco hippie ethos and a flamboyant sense of style. Sylvester defied characterization, but he oozed authenticity.

"I've never been a crusader, but I've always been honest,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1988. “I may not volunteer details to the media, but I've never believed in lying or denying what I am to anyone."

In addition to being openly gay throughout his career, he also was a vocal activist as the AIDS crisis spread through his community in San Francisco. He became particularly outspoken about the effects of the disease on the black community. Later in that same interview with The Los Angeles Times, he said "The black community is at the bottom of the line when it comes to getting information, even when we've been so hard hit by this disease. I'd like to think that by going public myself with this, I can give other people courage to face it."

Celebrate more of what made Sylvester so special, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Sean Penn Directed His Own 'Mighty Real' Man-on-Man Kiss

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Mark Martinez (aka drag queen Flava) got more than he bargained for in his role as disco singer Sylvester in Gus van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic Milk, which recently wrapped in San Francisco, reports E's Marc Malkin.

A singing performance at Harvey Milk's birthday party turned out to be a different kind of performance altogether, according to Flava:

"All of a sudden, Sean’s pointing at me, and he’s talking to the assistant director. The AD comes up to me and says, 'Just to let you know, you are now going to break up Sean and [costar] James Franco’s conversation. You’re going to grab Sean, and Sean’s going to be really excited, and he’s going to kiss you.' I’m performing, and he comes onto the dance floor. He grabs me, and he just slaps the biggest kiss on me...It felt like the kiss was forever. I’m like, Is he going to stop? I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. I’m thinking, We gotta do this thing again. We just didn’t get it right. But Gus was like, 'It’s perfect, perfect, perfect.' I said, 'No! It’s not perfect!' Sean was laughing at me."

Check out a short clip of Flava getting ready for a performance, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Sean Penn Directed His Own 'Mighty Real' Man-on-Man Kiss" »


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