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An Ultra-Orthodox Sex Shop Is Just the Tip of a Bigger Trend

"It's not about my orgasm. It's about our orgasm," Rabbi Natan Alexander tells Yaacov Benmeleh. He's explaining the name of Better2gether -- the sex store he created for Orthodox Jews -- for Benmeleh's story about him for Bloomberg.

The gist of the piece is that Alexander is trying to provide a service for Orthodox couples--Benmeleh writes that "ultra-Orthodox women who grew up secular often come to him hoping he'll encourage their husbands to go the extra distance between the sheets," treating him as a kind of go-between, bridging the frequently restrictive world of observant Judaism with very distinct attitudes toward sex which, if not secular necessarily, at least place a higher emphasis on pleasure and sensuality.

It's a crucial service too, since Better2gether often also functions as a sort of rudimentary sex education for people who have no experience with what they're supposed to with their bodies. In fact, Benmeleh notes, some Orthodox couples seek fertility treatment, not knowing how sex works in the slightest -- the women "appeared to still be virgins."

Looking through the Better2gether site is, in many ways, embarrassing. It's full of painfully plain language explaining how hard a dick is supposed to be, blunt and crudely positioned on a somewhat poorly-designed site intended for the use of fully grown adults, and they convey a strong sense that the reader does not want it to be known that they're reading. (Subheadings take the form "Questions Men Want To Ask,""Questions Women Want To Ask," and so on, trying to give a voice to unformulated concerns.) It's like basic-cable ads for slightly more lurid sex stores -- the entrance is always, wink wink, in the back.

And there is a whole market of religious sex toy shops -- all of which, even across different major religions, read very similarly. Practically all of them justify their existence like the Christian sex toy retailers Covenant Spice, which advertises its products as having been "extensively researched and scrutinized to ensure it is in classy nudity-free packaging and designed to be used together by husbands and wives." Sites like Married Dance refer to the validating power of The Marriage Bed ("Offering scripturally based, scientifically accurate information on sexuality since 1997!") or assert their own qualifications, like the "Shariah compliant," "sensual arabica retailers" El Asira.

Without trying to provide an overarching theory of religious sex stores (let's leave that to the grad students), it does seem like there is a lot of interesting stuff to think about here, that might raise bigger questions than just the confusion or curiosity or humor value of Better2gether's existence.

They all appear to be about defining proper use, prescribing when it is and is not okay to use objects that enhance their enjoyment of sex. As the Better2gether site puts it, "Couples should feel comfortable to use sex toys to enhance their love lives without having to bring images of complete strangers into their experience." Sex is for you and your partner (and also religious authorities, assuming they're cool with it), hinting at one of the plausible benefits of taking this sort of position toward sex -- permission is sexy, as is the right kind of privacy. 

Simply because religious sex toys (and their theoretical and practical applications) are largely invisible does not mean they are non-existent -- in addition to Better2gether and assorted Christian and Muslim sex sites, he cites several other Jewish sex enterprises. Some of these are successful, some not, but it would be foolish to claim that there isn't a market for a hyper-specialized religious-sexual product, one that Benmeleh claims may be growing along with the burgeoning sex industry. 

And while it might be easy to dismiss incredibly specific, perhaps uninformed sex within religious boundaries as somehow less enlightened, for the initiated, it's simply a different attitude toward one's body, one that we might not be capable of fully understanding or appreciating from the outside. For a more concrete, easily digestible example, turn to television -- remember the Louie episode about masturbation? If not: Louie literally goes on a talking head show to defend masturbating (he was the only person producers could find), and is confronted with an unfailingly kind, firm, and faithful woman who simply doesn't believe in premarital sex.

After their debate, she gives him a tantalizing glimpse of what his life could be like, painting a picture of an attitude toward sex that still values physical pleasure, but as an expression of spirituality and love -- something that might not satisfy some, but is certainly a more-than-valid attitude toward sex. Still, the qualifier in Better2gether's pitch hints at the other main selling point of religious sex sites, one that is a bit harder to forgive -- avoiding potentially corrupting influences. 

The language on each of the sites is remarkably similar in this respect -- for example, Married Dance advertises itself as "free from nudity and other non-Christian content." Yet this insistence may be part of the reason why couples are in such dire need of sex education in the first place, and could prove counter to Alexander's, er, mission. That the site itself might be considered a corrupting influence helps explain why he's found it difficult to attain explicit endorsements, even though he claims most rabbis have been sympathetic to his project. 

Will Alexander be successful in worming his way into the lives of people who could be brought to accept, but are generally primed to ignore or reject the values and experiences he's trying to impart? Is there a middle ground between Louie and the anti-masturbation crusade? It's unclear right now, but something tells me that, no matter how hard he pushes his project, after a while Alexander might be forced to pull out.

(image via Jewrotica.org)

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The 15 Best Female Models of All Time (Ranked In Order)

Models are striking creatures who make high fashion even higher with their effortlessly chic looks and composure. To summarize the 15 best of all time, in order, I called my friend and stylist Christian Freedom, who has an unerring sense of what looks good. I've included his comments alongside mine, when I offered some.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.25.42 PM.png
(Photo by Richard Avedon)

1) DOVIMA (1927-1990)

Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba was a highly paid glamour girl from the 1950s. Says Christian, "Dovima was the prototype for the one-named model sensation. Her legendary work with Richard Avedon inspired the classic film Funny Face (in which she made a cameo)."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.26.53 PM.png2) IRINA PANTAEVA (1967)
The Siberian-born model and actress has always brought a welcome exoticism to fashion, with her allure and dedication. Says Christian, "Irina wrote a moving memoir about her escape from Soviet Russia, being discovered by Pierre Cardin and the iconic photos of her wearing Issey Miyake by Irving Penn."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.27.31 PM.png3) CARMEN DELL'OREFICE (1931-)
Quoth Christian, "Carmen is the silver-haired beauty who began modeling as a teenager in the 1950s and is still working to this day."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.28.24 PM.png4) CHINA MACHADO(1930-)
Christian says, "China is a multi-racial model with exotic looks who turned a scandal (Ava Gardner stole her bullfighter boyfriend) into fame and a fabulous career. "

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.29.14 PM.png5) LINDA EVANGELISTA (1965-)
Who cares if she said things that were taken out of context and internationally mocked? The Canadian model is just so gorgeous, and a wonderful beacon of 1990s glory days. Says Christian, "Linda is the most versatile of models, who could make any hair color sensational and can go from high glamour to avant garde effortlessly."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.22.38 PM.png(Photo by Irving Penn for Vogue, 1972)

6) PAT CLEVELAND (1952-)
Christian: "Pat is an impish beauty who was often compared to Josephine Baker and worked with everyone from Halston to YSL to current Lanvin." And she writes great poetry!

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.31.20 PM.png7) TWIGGY (1949-)
Skinny as a twig, she deftly personified the 1960s fashion explosion in Britain, which rocked the world with fashionable attitude. Says Christian, "Twiggy turned her worldwide fame from her short lived model days into an acting career, appearing on Broadway and in films."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.31.55 PM.png8) VERUSCHKA (1939-)
Says Christian, "She survived WW2 (her aristocrat father defied the Nazis and lost his castle and life) and went on to be one of the great models of the 1960s and '70s, ushering in a wave of tall, athletic models."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.44.39 PM.png9) PAULINA PORIZKOVA (1965-)
Per Christian, "She got out from behind the Iron Curtain and created a craze for rare eastern European beauties."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.53.43 PM.png10) LAUREN HUTTON (1943-)
Says Christian, "The gap-toothed, sporty southern belle was the first model with a million dollar contract, forever changing the rates for endorsement deals."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.58.24 PM.png11) NAOMI CAMPBELL (1970-)
She seemed to have rage issues off the runway, but on it, Naomi was cool, collected, and completely captivating, fully knowing how to work a crowd (and a camera).  Says Christian, "Naomi may be notoriously late, but a show really can't start until this diva is ready. And designers know she is worth it."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 4.59.42 PM.png12) KATE MOSS (1974-)
"She's proved to be more than just a latter day Twiggy. Her personal style off the runway has been just as influential as her appearances on it, with a career still going strong."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 5.01.42 PM.png13) GIA CARANGI (1960-'86)
"She was a wild child beauty who the whole fashion world was clamoring to work with. Sadly, her star burned out too soon."

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 5.03.48 PM.png14) IMAN (1955-)
Christian says, "She brought her unique elegance and sophistication to the catwalk. When she saw there were few cosmetics made for women of color, she created her own lucrative line."

15) Let me pile all the gorgeous runners-up into this fabulous slot: Penelope Tree, Jean Shrimpton, Alek Wek, Kristen McMenamy, Bridget Hall, Gisele Bundchen, Shalom Harlow, Jerry Hall, Renee Russo, Amber Valetta, Rosie Vela. Love you all!

And two personal favorites of mine can be in the Hall of Fame:

SUZY PARKER (1932-2003)
The curvy, red-headed model/actress was one of the best mannequins ever and made it into glossy Hollywood films like The Best of Everything. She played a typist who is dumped by Louis Jordan, falls from a fire escape, and croaks. But beautifully.

TYRA BANKS (1973-)
Before she was a one-woman industry with so much going on, Tyra was a sassy, fab model who posed a real threat to Naomi Campbell. The woman truly knew how to walk that walk.

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Jamie XX, Popcaan & Young Thug's New Track "I Know" Is Filled With Good Summer Vibes


Jah bless, it truly is good times.

Summery vibes abound in this just-released Jamie xx single "I Know (There's Gonna Be Good Times)," a track sent to stratospheric levels little help from the ever-animated Young Thug and Mixpak dancehall superstar Popcaan. 

Everything's there: a powerful soul sample, Thug's dynamic weirdness and Popcaan's mesmerizing flow. It's all layered atop steel drum synths that give the entire production a tropi-pop edge. Add this one to the stable of ace singles Jamie's already dropped (namely the delicate, disco-y "Loud Places" and simmering, ever-so-slightly jungle-tinged "Gosh"), and you've got one of the most highly anticipated albums for this summer season. 

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Supreme To Release New Collection for the 20th Anniversary of Kids

Like all wacky pop cultural phenomena that came before/after it (see: Daniel Johnston, Sean Cliver, R. Crumb, etc.) Larry Clark's cult classic Kids is finally getting the Supreme treatment it deserves.

Starting tomorrow, Supreme will release a collection of sweaters, shirts and skate decks printed with quotes and film scenes to make the movie's 20th anniversary. And this isn't the first time Clark's lent his kinda creepy portrayals of youth sexuality to America's shirtfront -- he had a previous Supreme collection with naked teens making out on t-shirts.

Jesus Christ. What really did happen?


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Pedialyte is THE New Way to Nix Your Hangover

Good news, party animals: Looks like Pedialyte may be your answer to the "next morning miseries," also known as the three-tequila-shots-too-many hangover. 

The marketing geniuses behind the sugary sip for babies with diarrhea have finally realized that bothinfants and adults with stone-cold hangovers can enjoy the restorative benefits  of neon-tinged electrolytes. Cue their new "See the Lyte" campaigns, featuring folks who are hur-ting the next morning -- because what fully-grown adult doesn't love a good pun with their Kiddie Gatorade?

Inevitable Pedialyte booths at Pitchfork and Coachella in 3...2...1.

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EDM Bro Zedd Is on Tinder

Poor Selena. Looks like her ex has already taken to Tinder. 

Taking a page from the Jason Derulo marketing playbook, EDM-bro Zedd is promoting his new album True Colors on the dating app because, while modern romance may be dead, sick bass drops will live forever.  

Just swipe till you come across his Grammy-sniffing mug, swipe right and voila you get a sexy set of instructions telling you how to purchase True Colors ... for only $3.99!

Picture 239.pngYou'll also be automatically entered to win a limited edition package aka a signed poster, vinyl and stickers, not to mention the potential opportunity to join the man himself for some upcoming fall tour dates. Rumor has it that he'll also be releasing an interactive music via during the platform too. 

Talk about getting the goods.

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Watch Highlights from David Letterman's Final Show

David Letterman gave his final show last night, a fairly straightforward affair filled with Late Show-highlight montages, including Letterman's 1996 Taco Bell drive-though segment, and a Top Ten list delivered by Letterman favorites including Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Closing out a week of teary, heartfelt send-offs from his younger late-night competitors -- Jimmy Kimmel even showed a re-run last night, as not to detract from Letterman's viewership -- the night was mostly spent making fun of himself and skewering the concept of the self-serious late-night farewell. With Late Show's folksy devotion to jokes about pie, canned hams and drunk uncles, the show often felt like a direct product of its host's origins -- Letterman was born in 1947 and raised in Indiana -- and that midwestern modesty and disinclination toward emotion was on full display last night. "In light of all this praise, merited or not, do me a favor," Letterman told the audience, "save a little for my funeral."

He also thanked CBS executives, including Les Moonves, who he had a famously tense relationship with, his viewers and his employees, many of whom would do recurring bits on the show, including stage manager Biff Henderson.

But for all of Letterman's self-effacing jokes, there were a few moments when he let his guard down, including a nod to his mother, who would frequently appear on the episode before Thanksgiving to have her son guess what kind of pie she had made, and the introduction of his wife and his 11-year-old son, Harry. Harry's friend that he brought along, Tommy Ribato, was also introduced. Watch clips from the finale below.

The show cold-opened with this montage of presidents Ford through Obama ensuring America that their long, national nightmare was finally over.

The Top Ten List: Top Ten Things I've Always Wanted to Say to Dave

Letterman's 1996 Taco Bell drive-through segment

A day in the life of David Letterman

Letterman thanks his viewers and his wife and son (as well as his son's friend, Tommy Ribato)

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Tony Nominee Andy Karl is Broadway's Sexiest Hunk

0305 Andy Karl credit Joan Marcus.jpgPhoto by Joan Marcus

The current Broadway revival of On The Twentieth Century is a side-splitting smash that has theater addicts lined up around the block. The entire cast is stellar and includes Peter Gallagher, Kristin Chenoweth and Mary Louise Wilson but Andy Karl who plays Chenoweth's muscle-bound movie star boyfriend Bruce Granit more than holds his own with those heavy hitters. We caught up with Karl, who was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor to see how it feels to be one of the sexiest men on Broadway.

Had you ever seen the musical On the Twentieth Century before starring in it?

Well, in the 2005 Actors Fund performance of On The Twentieth Century I actually made a cameo as one of the luggage toting and singing "Porters" with THE ALTAR BOYZ (the Boy Band group from off-Broadway). It was myself, Cheyenne Jackson, Tyler Maynard and David Josephsberg singing the showstopper, "Life Is Like A Train."  We did not tap-dance but the audience loved our performance. I think you can check it out on Youtube. I admit I knew nothing about the show then and we were taught the number separately from the rest of the performers.  When it was showtime, we were escorted in to the theater to do our number and escorted out directly after. I was never able to watch the show and until now still knew nothing about it accept my little blip in its history.
Your work with Kristin is so amazing. Did it take tons of rehearsal to get everything just right? Or is there any spontaneous tomfoolery with you and Kristin (as opposed to it all being precisely choreographed)?

A little of both actually.  What's great about meeting and working with Kristin is that we quickly found we have a similar sense of humor and goofiness that allows us to go for just about anything for a chuckle, but we also share a need to make things work in the right way. So we would discuss and plan what would be funny, then try it out, then let it go bananas until even funnier things were discovered and it became perfectly imperfect. What's easy is that she's so tiny I can pretty much throw her around and lift her like dumbbells in the gym if there's any physical madness. What's tricky is that I don't break her on stage. She's the yin to my yang.

You might be the only HUNK on Broadway. What types of fans wait for your autograph after the show?

Fans? I have fans? Where? They all want Kristin's autograph. So do I. And as far as HUNK's go, there are plenty on Broadway.  But, who's got two thumbs and works with Kristen Chenoweth?...This guy. Jealous?

After playing Rocky and now this role do you feel type cast as a muscle man?

Excuse me, I think you forgot my turn as the UPS guy in Legally Blonde.
 Whatever gets me the job, man. But seriously, I spent many months during Rocky learning how to properly become "in good shape" and push past my own expectations. And (I believe) going beyond your expectations is what Rocky really was all about at the show's core. I can apply that same notion to going deeper as an actor or doing funnier gags on stage and never saying, "I can't do it."  If I am type cast as a muscle man, the directors better expect I'm coming in with a lot more to say and offer then flexing a little. With that said, "Bruce Granit" was never written as a musclebound fool, he's self-centered and vain, flexing the biceps just makes that more apparent and way funnier.
Your scenes are so funny. Do you ever have a problem not laughing during them?

If it's me doing the funny in the scene I'm pretty unshakable.  As soon as the other cast members start to do something new and funnier and different, I bite my lip a little. What gets me the most is when things go wrong and we have to ad lib our way out of it. There's been a few "grape" issues between me and Kristin and Mary Louise Wilson loves to get a little "nuts" sometimes and throw us all for a loop.

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Listen to a Smoldering New Collaboration Between Drake and Beyonce

For those watching for the signs of another Beyonce x Drake collaboration the wait is over, because the two superstar collaborators have just leaked a brand new track called "Can I."

Newcomer Sal Houdini is also featured as well, and his voice spreads smooth as silk, oozing between Drake's brood, Beyonce's steamy croon and the track's wallowy synthwork.

And while we personally feel like Beyonce's guest spot was woefully underrepresented by a few repeated "baby's" and "Can I's" that ignore Bey's magical powers of vocal inflection, it's still a solid track. Smoldering and crazy sensual, we're thinking this could very well be the slow jam of the season.

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See the Buzziest Film of the Summer -- Tangerine -- at BAMcinemaFest 2015


Forget about the song of the summer, we can't wait for the year's buzziest movie: Tangerine. Yes, we're also looking forward to Magic Mike XXL, but you've gotta love a low-buget film about a transgender prostitute in Hollywood on Christmas Eve -- and it was shot with an iPhone! The film's director, Sean Baker, says he was inspired by a donut shop near his home. Tangerine opens nationally on July 10th, but you can see it on June 28th, when it's the closing night film at BAMcinemaFest 2015, with the director and two of the film's stars on hand for a Q&A. Tickets go on sale HERE on May 29th. Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer.

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New-Old Kendrick Lamar x Lady Gaga Collaboration Surfaces on Soundcloud

"Partynauseous," a previously unreleased Kendrick Lamar x Lady Gaga track dating back to 2012 has finally surfaced on the Internet.

Originally meant for Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city, Gaga told her Little Monsters back in 2012 that creative differences were the reason why this version never came to fruition, as she "was not willing to compromise musically to the changes his team was making to [her] music." An explanation that makes complete sense as this Lamar-approved take is much more subdued than the rave-wave version she's repurposed for her live performances.

Makes you wonder what other superstar collabs may be lurking beneath the Soundcloud surface...

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Internet Slang that Should be in the Scrabble Dictionary Instead of "Lolz"

Words.jpgThe new version of the Collins Official Scrabble words dictionary has added 6,500 new words to the list of approved combinations of letters on which to draw during violent games of language-construction. Many of these are pieces of American slang, including "lolz,""obvs," and "ridic." (Check out a full list over at The Guardian.)

Most of the criticism over the new words has revolved around their mere addition -- the idea that words from the internet would be allowed to enter the hallowed grounds of a Scrabble board. But the real problem is that "lolz" is a terrible word from the internet to use in a game meant to reward command over complicated and arcane words. Here are a few pieces of internet language that should be in the Scrabble dictionary, but are not:

  • "Stfu" -- mostly for the combination of letters
  • "Fam" -- sometimes you just need help building words, you know?
  • "Rotflmao" - this one will get 'em laughing so hard, they might knock the tiles off the board!
  • "Mackle" -- this one is actually in the Scrabble dictionary (it refers to blurring paint), but it should only be allowed in conjunction with "more" or "less"
  • "Tbqh" -- for the most serious, passive-aggressive games only
  • "Outchea" -- represent your favorite hustling struggle rapper with his favorite way to describe himself
  • "Smh" -- also works as directed at the Collins dictionary
Check if your favorite piece of slang is in the dictionary here--though be warned, they have yet to update the site.

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Improve Your Life With Tim and Eric's Zone Theory


Are you Zone Plane 8?

After creating TV shows, directing music videos and a movie and proselytizing the Totino's lifestyle, Tim & Eric have announced that they've written a book and are starting a "game-changing life system." Called Tim & Eric's Zone Theory: 7 Easy Steps to Achieve a Perfect Life, the book promises to"instantly provide wellness, happiness, and total, absolute fulfillment."

Sure, that's all well and good, but what does it actually mean? Judging by the infomercial, above, featuring testimonials from T&E's signature potpourri of humans (shoutout to Tennessee who is also a member of the Totino's lifestyle), there are seven steps you must do and seven zone planes you must reach (but you really want to reach zone plane 8) before achieving a perfect life. There's also something about having diarrhea "in a spaghetti pot," engaging in nude horseplay and worshiping a turkeyman named Ba'hee Priss Dimmie.

Apparently it's so clear and easy, "any kind fuck freak can do this" -- any kind of fuck freak so long as they have a penis. Sorry ladies, apparently this isn't for us. Dudes, on the other hand, get your spaghetti pots ready.

Pre-order a copy of the book, which comes out July 7th, HERE and check out their informative website.

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Comedian Cole Escola on His Upcoming One-Man Show and His Love for ASMR Twink Videos

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.59.37 PM.png

Have you ever been in a car accident?" Cole Escola, the comedian and performer, asks suddenly and intently during a lull in conversation one afternoon over iced coffee's at Lucien on First Ave. Apropos of nothing and wholly serious. A line of rhetorical questioning you might hear in the opening voice-over to an installment of HBO's Lifestories: Families in Crisis or a Kellie Martin vehicle, above soft flutes and idyllic establishing shots. I answer with my own prosaic story, not fully grasping the tee-up. To which he counters:

"I was a passenger in one."


"We went off the road into a ditch, but there was a soft landing. It was...thrilling. And I screamed, 'Not my face!'"

He grabs his periwinkle Warby Parker glasses as part of the bit and then I get it, if a beat or two late. You see, Cole Escola is a master of the dramatic 'ape;' the on-the-nose and seamless conjuring of characters and moments that resonate deeply and always hilariously, summoned with sly virtuosity. This time it was the 'wistful after-school special hero/heroine,' if only just for 10 seconds. But on stage and in his prodigious YouTube videos there is Jennifer Convertibles, the forever-embattled furniture heiress or Commuter Goblin, a downtown office drone who just so happens to be a grotesque dwarf-creature catching the PATH, among others. His preternaturally boyish build and wide, saucer eyes allow him to inhabit the characters with an innocence and honesty like a child playing dress-up. And when you realize the grown man beneath the wig is the quickest and funniest in the room, it feels like a dirty con.

These quicksilver illuminations are just a few of what Escola has on offer for his show, Cole Escola is the First Gay President, at 9:30 pm this Saturday at The Duplex. The hour-ish long show he has put on every few months or so for the last year, to insidery acclaim and a consistently sell-out box office.

"I write a new hour every month." And the process?

"I lock myself in my bedroom the week before the show and I stare at my computer until the night before and then I write an hour of material based on wigs. I hate talking about it because the idea of, like, characters is so gross to me." So then where is the satisfaction?

"I love doing it. And I just think I'm better than everyone else," he deadpans. But fair enough and honestly, hard to argue with.

The slap-dash, wig-based, night-before approach seems to work. He employs some off stage voices to add reality to the characters and their worlds with Cole himself doing sound cues on stage with his MacBook. To see him in that tiny, musty upstairs venue is something of a throwback, especially in the context of the historic neighborhood with Stonewall and Sheridan Square at its feet. "Cole Escola is a bonafide genius. His live show will make you feel like you're in 1970s New York LOLing ya head off." Lena Dunham tweeted after seeing the show last June, an endorsement as winning as it is ephemeral.

Escola is quick to bring up his childhood in a trailer in rural Oregon, performing as Clifford the Big Red Dog while working at the Scholastic Bookstore in SoHo to precocious Manhattan children, and being mugged and beaten at gunpoint. He recounts these moments without any of the bootstrappy pluck that usually accompanies such narratives, but with a remove as though any of their darkness has already been siphoned into his perfectly and delightfully wrought characters. And then there was his lamentably short-lived Logo TV series with his friend Jeffrey Self. Jeffrey and Cole Casserole ran on Friday nights at midnight for two seasons.

"It was perfect. Everyone's home then," he offered sarcastically, noting that he kept his day job at a gluten free bakery in the LES during the whole run.

But Cole is heading back to series television this summer, with a role on the Amy Poehler-produced Hulu comedy, Difficult People, starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner as a pair of struggling, unself-aware New York comedians, premiering this August. He plays a waiter and nemesis of Eichner. 

"My character is an obnoxious young show queen." Not too far from his actual personality he admits. And he is a recent Hulu devotee since they have every episode of his TV obsession, the Good Wife. "There's five seasons. It's great if you're going through a breakup or something and you just need to - not that I would know."

Among his other obsessions are the strangely compelling (or horrifying, depending on who you ask) ASMR videos to be found on YouTube. Standing for 'autonomous sensory meridian response,' they feature people speaking softly or making repetitive soft noise so as to produce a physical effect on the listener, usually goosebumps or chills, often involving vaguely sexual roleplay.

"People do doctor check-ups or a popular one is hair stylists, like hair appointments. I find really effeminate gay guys really soothing, their voices. So I watch a lot of ASMR twinks." A sub-genre within a sub-genre to be sure and perhaps a character we may find at the Duplex at some point.

I ask him which characters will make it into the show this Saturday. Maybe Peg Adamson, the dead-behind-the-eyes cleaning lady, or Hot Southern Baby, a diapered Tennessee Williams-spouting infant? Or perhaps Extremely Frustrated Anchor Woman ? He isn't quite sure, because at this point there is more than a week left. Far too much time make a decision and who knows what wigs will turn up.

Cole wears a shirt by Larry Krone BRAND.

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Kevin McEnroe Makes His Literary Debut with a Novel, Our Town

KevinJack.jpgPhotograph by Douglas Friedman

Welcome to our new column The New Royals, in which we introduce you to the noteworthy youngsters we know are destined for fame. Some will actually be from royal or princely families, others will be the brethren of showbiz's kings and queens. Whatever the case, they'll be fabulous.

Next up: Kevin Jack McEnroe, the son of tennis and acting legends, John McEnroe and Tatum O'Neal. McEnroe is actually the third generation of his family to be in the spotlight, his grandparents being actors Ryan O'Neal and Joanna Moore and it's Moore who's the protagonist of his debut novel, Our Town. While some people with Kevin's lineage avoid the topic, he addresses it head on.

Age - 28

Zodiac sign - Gemini

Hometown - New York, New York

School - Skidmore College

Big break - This book, really. I used to write in things like things that "Kevin Jack McEnroe works in a bar, and he also likes writing." Now I think I'm finally willing to say that "Kevin Jack McEnroe is a writer, and he also works in a bar."

Tell us about your novel Our Town.
My novel is about Dorothy White, who is based on my grandmother, Joanna Moore. I met her a few times, and I only remember one of those meetings -- she told me not to smoke, ever, while lighting one cigarette to another. Soon after, she died of lung cancer. As I got older, though, I found that she had a unique ability to get in her own way. It was as though she didn't feel she deserved success so she sabotaged it, in some capacity. When I decided to write about her I wanted to figure out why. I'm not sure I ever really did, but one thing I did figure out was that Los Angeles didn't help. For her, people in shorts and flip-flops meant you were on vacation, and so she lived her life as such. In that way, Los Angeles, and the greater California area, became a character in itself, which is why I called it Our Town.

Should we assume from the book that you're not a fan of Hollywood?

In a certain sense, I am a fan of Hollywood. I am a fan of people attempting to realize an almost impossible dream, and I appreciate those people for doing so. But for me, and for Dorothy, the "Hollywood" mentality, as we understand it, can be very harmful. It requires such a remarkable belief in yourself, because casting directors tell you you're too old or too young, too black or too white or, most hurtfully, that perhaps you just don't have "it" -- and it can make you begin to look inward. And if you're afraid of your own brain, then this can be a very damaging thing. It's as though Hollywood provides a light at the end of a tunnel. However, if the light begins to feel too far away, then it can be easier to turn around, back into the darkness. Because the darkness is familiar. The darkness we know. And when you become comfortable in the dark, then you see the Hollywood that scares me. Because when she and I turn backwards, there's a lot more people there to be around. There's a lot more things to do. People have given up already, so there's no more competition. And maybe that's not so bad. 

One review said your writing brings "shrewd, melancholy knowledge of celebrity and its discontents." What do you think about fame? 

Fame has always been hard for me. Getting a nice table at a restaurant, with my dad, has paled in comparison to some of the "melancholy" that being his son has provided. I was arrested last year, and far worse than spending twenty hours in jail -- in the New York City tombs -- was being on the cover of the New York Post as John McEnroe's son, arrested. I didn't care about the work I'd have to put in, or the understanding that I'd fucked up so entirely. But the fact that that's all I became -- a celebrity's son, doing what a celebrity's son does -- that's what did me in. That's what broke me. And so, in that way, celebrity has bitten me hard -- I'm not sure I've healed. But that doesn't mean that what I wrote -- in Joanna's honor -- shouldn't be in the world. Even if I find my celebrity unbecoming, she needed to be realized. She's more important than me. She's my everything. 

Why a novel? Do you have any interest in screen or TV writing?

A novel because she needed a novel. But yes, I want to make this into a TV show. There isn't an adequate female anti-hero on television, and Dorothy should be that. My editor called it "Mad Men on the PCH." I liked that.

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Harry Potter's Neville Longbottom and His Penis Are Doing Great These Days

Serving bulge that makes Nick Jonas and Bieber look like amateur-hour Mickey Mouse dweebs, Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis and his... Lewis ... are prominently displayed in the latest issue of British magazine Attitude.

Lewis, who played mega-nerd Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter film series, was once a child. He used to look like this.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 4.43.10 PM.pngNow he's an adult and looks the living embodiment of the "she took her glasses off and now she's hot" trope of all '80s movies:  

matthew-lewis-new-782x1024_noph0e.jpgSee kids? It does get better.

Time is a bulging circle.

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The Problem with Nick Jonas's New "Cool" Rap Collaborations

Nick Jonas is growing up, and to help his image catch-up he's recently done a few new and very surprising collaborations that just don't feel quite right. Dropping a new track yesterday on BBC Radio 1 Xtra with UK grime star Stormzy and premiering a video with Bay Area rapper Sage the Gemini today, it seems like Jonas is looking to beef up his public persona by slowly inching into genres with political roots that extend much deeper than your average pop hit. Guess Demi Lovato didn't cut it. However, it begs the question of where the smallest JoBro got all this sudden street cred from and whether it's all a mere ploy to capitalize on cool -- an easy assumption as this could very well be Nick's attempt to pull a "Justin" in an attempt to distance himself from his cutesy boy band past.

Sure, mainstream musicians have been co-opting traditionally black genres for eons (rock n' roll, hello?), but there's something extra unsettling about Jonas's timing and the particular genres he's chosen to engage -- mostly because it feels tone deaf during this pivotal moment in American history. We're currently embroiled in one of the biggest racial conversations this country's ever seen, a discussion that Jonas, like many other pop stars, have been completely absent from -- once again, most likely for PR-related reasons. But what exactly gives him the right to co-opt genres defined by their political roots to further his own image?

Then again, for a guy who racked up almost 10 million views on his gospel version of "Jealous" and still has yet to credit the singers who ostensibly give the video its oomph, maybe this isn't all that surprising.

Because while it's all well and good to be inspired and collaborate with these artists, one has to contemplate the timing of these partnerships and what they mean for Jonas himself. The problem comes in when you take into consideration that both Sage and Stormzy come from traditions that are innately political in their leanings, charged by the struggle of underrepresented black artists who span the Golden Gate Bridge to London's East End. The mere fact that Jonas could be capitalizing on these messages as a young, white and incredibly famous pop star in an attempt to edge-up his image seems a little icky to say the least.

After all, Sage the Gemini's music has its roots inthe Bay Area's hyphy scene, which emerged as a way of reasserting indie hip-hop in the public and cultural spaces at a time when they were being squeezed out. Grime's origins are also similar, as it was an aggressive, disillusioned take on UK garage meant to express the frustrations of poor, underrepresented black men when o.g. garage was on mainstream charts.

Using obliquely anti-commercial genres to spice up your public image is messed up, not to mention the fact that hyphy and grime are also fueled by undercurrents that exalts resisting the police and reclaiming public spaces. So then how did a good boy from Jersey find his way to Stormzy's acidic spit and Sage's fatalistic repetition? Only Island Records's marketing department will know.

Stream the material below.

"Good Thing" - Sage the Gemini ft. Nick Jonas

"Chains" - Nick Jonas ft. Stormzy [begins at 3:33]

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MoMA PS1's Warm Up Line-Up Is Insane

And it's incredible...like screech-inducing levels of good.

Featuring some of the most innovative artists working today, each party is curated so that there's a little something for everyone from the oddly futuristic Amnesia Scanner playing next to house producer Black Madonna to former Friends' frontwoman Samantha Urbani.

Some other highlights include footwork producer Jlin, PC Music boss A.G. Cook and co-hort Danny L Harle and London grime gods Skepta and Slimzee. There's even a Night Slugs takeover on July 11th (aka the people putting out some of the best dystopian club today), not to mention appearances by the Studio 54 disco legend Nicky Siano, techno godfather Moritz von Oswald and new age lord Laraaji. Like we said, a little something for everyone.
Check out the full lineup below.

June 27 
Pachanga Boys / Kompakt + Hippie Dance / Berlin, Germany + Mexico City, Mexico 
Eclair Fifi / LuckyMe / Edinburgh, UK 
Samantha Urbani (Live) / New York, NY + Los Angeles, CA 
Amnesia Scanner (Live) / Amnesia Scanner / Amnesia Scanner 
Black Madonna / Smart Bar + Argot / Chicago, IL 

July 4 
Nicky Siano / The Gallery - Music that created Disco / New York, NY 
Virgo Four (Merwyn Sanders Live) / Rush Hour + Trax / Chicago, IL 
Cut Copy DJs / Modular Recordings / Melbourne, Australia 
Galcher Lustwerk b2b DJ Richard / White Material / New York, NY + Berlin, Germany 
Bobbito Garcia a.k.a. Kool Bob Love / Álata Records / New York, NY 

July 11 
Bok Bok / Night Slugs / London, UK 
Jam City (DJ set) / Night Slugs / London, UK 
Despot (Live) / Queens, NY 
Helix / Night Slugs / Miami, FL 
Sheen / Night Slugs / London, UK 
Additional Artists to be announced 

July 18 
Busy P b2b Boston Bun / Ed Banger Records / Paris, France 
A. G. Cook / PC Music / London, UK 
Danny L Harle / PC Music / London, UK 
Lafawndah (Live) / New York, NY 
Lotic / Tri Angle Records + Janus / Berlin, Germany 

July 25 
Baauer / LuckyMe / Brooklyn, NY 
Skepta (Live) / Boy Better Know / London, UK 
DJ Slimzee / Slimzos Recordings / London, UK 
Sicko Mobb (Live) / Polo Grounds + RCA Records / Chicago, IL 
Vision Fortune (Live) / ATP Recordings / London, UK 
Dark0 / Lost Codes + Rinse / London, UK 

August 1 
Tiga / Turbo Recordings / Montreal, Canada 
Gavin Russom (Live) / Ecstatic + DFA Records / New York, NY 
Jaakko Eino Kalevi / Domino + Beats In Space / Helsinki, Finland 
Frank & Tony / Scissor & Thread / Brooklyn, NY 

August 8 
Moritz von Oswald / Basic Channel + Maurizio / Berlin, Germany 
Atom™ (Live) / Raster Noton + The Bunker New York / Santiago, Chile 
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (DJ set) / Nice Age / London, UK 
Jlin / Planet Mu / Gary, IN 
Dorian Concept / Ninja Tune / Vienna, Austria 
Rabit / Tri Angle Records / Houston, TX 

August 15 
Untold (Live) / Hemlock Recordings / London, UK 
Vessel (Live) / Tri Angle Records / Bristol, UK 
Ninos Du Brasil (Live) / Hospital Productions + DFA Records / Vittorio Veneto, Italy 
Cut Hands (Live) / Blackest Ever Black / Edinburgh, UK 
French Fries b2b Bambounou / ClekClekBoom + 50 Weapons / Paris, France 

August 22 
Andrés (DJ set) / La Vida + Mahogani Music / Detroit, MI 
Kyle Hall / Wild Oats / Detroit, MI 
Pender Street Steppers / Mood Hut / BC, Canada 
Hashman Deejay / Mood Hut / BC, Canada 
Laraaji (Live) / All Saints + Warp Records / Harlem, NY 

August 29 
Matias Aguayo (DJ set) / Cómeme / Santiago, Chile 
Kingdom / Fade to Mind / Los Angeles, CA 
D∆WN (Live) / Our Dawn Entertainment / New Orleans, LA 
Murlo / Mixpak / London, UK 
Additional Artists to be announced 

September 5 
Artists to be announced

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Eddie Borgo's New Collaboration with Target Is Very Necessary


On the heels of their hugely successful Lilli Pulitzer partnership, Target has announced that their next fashion collaboration will be with accessories designer Eddie Borgo. Borgo was the 2010 CFDA/ Vogue Fashion fund runner up and the 2011 CFDA Swarovski award winner. Although not quite a household name in comparison to Target's past designer collaborations, Borgo has garnered well-deserved attention with his signature conical spikes and architectural geometric designs.

The best part of this collaboration is its emphasis on customization. You can pick base accessory and then build on it with Borgo '60s and '70s inspired studs, charms, and geometrical totems of various finishes -- which means you'll never have the exact same piece as someone else.

Borgo's collection for Target will range in price from $7.99 - $49.99, and will hit select stores and Target.com beginning on July 12.

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Willow Smith Gets Spiritual with Her New Track "Mecca"


Coolest teen in the universe Willow Smith has a new, spiritual track that has her talking about Mecca.

Called "WeepingWillow/Let's Go To Mecca," the titled appears to be a play on names for Smith and her collaborator Crystal Mec (Mecca Kalani), but there's something way more poignant buried deep beneath the puns.

Hypnotic and woozy, it's a gorgeous track that's a stark contrast to her last single, the guileless, chakra-inspired banger "F Q-C #7."Filled with airy inflections and oscillating vocal samples, there's an aura of meditative calm underlaying the entire song, lending it a truly transcendental edge. Weeping Willow, you go (to Mecca). 

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