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Bushwick Gallery 99¢ Plus Aims to Be As Inclusive As Its Dollar Store Name

Its Live fx.jpgYour typical dollar store is stuffed to the brim with a slew of commercial oddities like off-brand toothbrushes bearing bristles stiff enough to make your gums bleed or pallets of cat food postmarked with expiration dates circa 2005. But what happens when you gut one of these market-based bottom feeders in favor of furthering a vision of collective artistry and innovation? It's this mission that drives the efforts of 99¢ Plus, a mixed-media storefront, art gallery and studio space all rolled neatly into one and plunked down onto a quiet Bushwick street beneath a humble vinyl awning.

Inside you'll find white walls peppered with a steady rotation of conventional and atypical art pieces alike: shiny mounted photographs, sculptures, hand-bound zines, knickknack stuffed dime bags, totes and anything else that happens to be featured within a given week. One month the gallery was transformed into "CHILLZONE," a comprehensive "living room installation" spanning the work of over a half-dozen artists; during another, the space was home to "HOW TO ABANDON A BURNING HOUSE WITHOUT PANICKING," a bold yet more traditional solo exhibition displaying painted photographs by Sarah Lawrence grad, Charlotte Patterson.

Founded by artists Simran Johnston, Zoe Alexander Fisher and Riley Strom, what is now a thriving gallery (boasting mentions by The New York Times, among other outlets) initially started as pop-up shop "Hand Job Gallery Store," whose name nods to both low-brow middle school humor and high-brow commentary on the inherently masturbatory nature of capitalism and the art world. The Hand Job Gallery Store (or HJGS) just celebrated its 2-year anniversary and sits adjacent to the gallery's exhibition space. It has a deliberate thrift store vibe, emphasizing more accessible items like necklaces, vases and limited-run graphic novels whose prices range from $0.99 to hundreds of dollars whereas pieces sold directly by the 99¢ Plus Gallery often net sales in the thousands of dollars.

The founding gallerists are a tightly-knit trio, often working out of 99¢ Plus together, but operating bicoastally between LA and NYC whenever necessary. When asked about their space, they told us that they prefer to answer questions in tandem, unified in their vision to create a unique relationship to the larger art world. During discussions about the challenges that come with launching a gallery in New York City, they're quick to attribute the gallery's successful model to a generally malleable perspective on the use of space: "When we opened our space we didn't have a set idea of what the gallery needed to be or the right way to go about it -- I think that flexibility really helped eliminate a lot of the obstacles we could have faced because we were open to the organic evolution of the space."

While 99¢ leverages this flexibility alongside the dollar store aesthetic to breed an all-inclusive approach to art, it also merges the best of both NYC's emerging and established art worlds, able to comfortably house artists from opposite sides of the creative spectrum under a single roof. You might find pieces by rising art star -- and PAPER Beautiful Person -- Chloe Wise a stone's throw from works by an established heavyweight like Rico Gatson. This all-embracing aura surrounding the gallery allows all types of artists to flourish, including ones from the local community. It's not uncommon to find neighborhood children working feverishly on their own pieces within the studio space, often venturing out to proudly parade their latest drawings to passers-by and delivering hugs to the gallerists before disappearing behind white walls again. 

When it comes to putting on shows, the gallerists explain that they tend to lean towards "artists and curators who are interested in using the space in unusual and immersive ways"; thus far they've exhibited hand-painted clothing by Trudy Benson, an abstract grayscale painting from Ellen Berkenblit and an ink-drawn nude via Chris Lux to name just a fraction of the contemporary work streaming into the gallery.

mandala display fx.jpgThe "multi-tool for chakra alignment" seen at Probably Not

A recent night featured Probably Not, a collaborative one-night exhibition and experience curated by artists Luke Libera Moore, Will Rose and Corey Rubin. The new-age exhibition included customized lighting outfitted specifically for the evening, as well as an ambient soundtrack scored to accompany the primary attraction: a transparent, neo-back-scratcher created (ostensibly) to merge Eastern spirituality with Western convenience. Described as a "multi-tool for chakra alignment," the item displays open hands on either end (for meditation or for back-scratching at your discretion), mandala patterns across and doubles as an incense holder. It held a continual supply of freshly burning incense throughout the evening, sending wafting smoke out into helix-like spirals toward the gallery's ceiling.

During the show, featured artist Luke Libera Moore expressed his thoughts on New York City and its frenzied scene. He told us, "Every time I reach the brink of sanity in my long-running love-hate relationship with this city, when I feel like all is lost, and that New York has finally collapsed into the void, a new venture pops up, new blood surges." And if it's new blood that allows for New York's continual evolution, then it's galleries like 99¢ Plus that provide the pulse.

99¢ Plusis located at 238 Wilson Ave., Brooklyn

Post & Photo FX: Richie Williamson

Thank you to Zoe Alexander Fisher, Simran Johnston, Riley Strom and Joey Chriqui for their help with this story.

Behind the Scenes of Petite Meller's Breathtaking "Barbaric" Video


Hot on the heels of her ecstatic "Baby Love" single and a fashion feature in our Use Your Voice issue, psychology-obsessed French pop artist Petite Meller returned earlier this month with "Barbaric" -- a video that, if nothing else, gives lie to southern Florida's geriatric reputation. Sonically and visually, it's her grandest endeavor so far. When her first album comes out early next year, we expect millions of people to start slathering on rouge and regressing to childlike, even animalistic states worldwide.

Below, a handful of Jonny Kight's breathtaking BTS photos and a Q&A in which Petite tells us about the video's inspirations, her unorthodox casting process and the piss-and-vinegar spirit that fueled the rest-home scenes. 

There's some fighting in the video, and at first it appears to be the song that's inciting it. What inspired those shots?

My videos always deal with unconscious desires, psychoanalysis and cinema. I was reading Deleuze when writing this song; his philosophy about the becoming fascinated me, especially when he talks about the wolf-man, and his wish to become a part of the animalistic gang in his dream. The movie Cocoon was part of the inspiration for the "Barbaric" video. The song is about the wish to be uncivilized, to un-suppress your wild desires in order to fit the reality's norms.

Where did you find the three kids who dance in the road?

I actually found them at Denny's Diner. I was looking for some kids for a Village of the Damned scene we had and this Irish family was sitting there at the diner fighting. Two boys and a girl, they looked innocent but with a strict education, so we approach them and they said they'd think about it. I thought it was a definitive no but then after their mom checked "Baby Love" in YouTube she ran back outside to tell us they would love to. A minute after we got SMS with a photo of the two boys wearing my blush on their cheeks and nose! I always come to the town where we shoot a week before, wander around and find my cast. I believe in coincidental authentic encounters. I believe they're in my video for a reason. That it meant to be. They're my friends forever.

Tell me about one of the people you met in the rest home.

On the morning of shooting we came to the location and an old lady ran to me with a Paris shirt and said, "I saw all your videos. I know 'NYC Time,''Backpack' and 'Baby Love.' I'm ready for dancing!" I really felt the excitement in their eyes and it made me happy inside. I wanted to show how even if people are put in comfort homes, they've still got the spark to get wild. Another lady shouted at the director because he had posed her sitting down, while her friends were dancing behind her. She said, "You are lying to me. You told me I'm in the frame but I'm not! I see all my friends are dancing and I'm just sitting. You're a liar!"

Last time we talked, you said, "I always want to make the next video just to take me home." Does "Barbaric" take you home? If so, where, exactly?

The "Barbaric" video is another voyage down the pastel art deco facades into an unconscious memoire of growing up with my grandparents who used to take me to the beach, read me poetry and talk philosophy around me. I feel in some way this video is a closure for me, a better ending for them in a beautiful happy and wild retirement house. We sometimes forget these characters exist, but they're there with spark and magic with amazing charm and wisdom.

You've shot videos in New York, the French Riviera, Nairobi and now Florida. If you could shoot your next video anywhere in the world or beyond, where would you do it?

Because the sounds send me to where I'd like to shoot, and because my album is ready, I know exactly where I'll be shooting my next videos; I just can tell you. It's really far -- my dreams are expensive.


Nomi Malone Has Been Immortalized in a New Showgirls Slot Machine


Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 12.55.12 PM.pngHello, darlin's!

Nomi Malone has made her prodigal return to Sin City, this time on a slot machine.

We always knew you'd go back, boo.

According to DListed, a YouTube "slot machine reviewer" (hey, that's a thing) named Albert, posted a video of a newly minted Showgirls-themed slot at the Palms Casino in Vegas.

A admittedly "surprised" Albert begins his narration of the video with "If Britney Spears can do it, Elizabeth Berkley can, too."

Damn right.

The game features iconic images from the cult movie, such as curly-haired Nomi, the motorcycle James whisks her away on, "Goddess" Nomi, also a chimpanzee.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 12.50.55 PM.pngJames gave the slot machine a stellar summary, stating, "I had a terrific run on this game and you'll see how things progressed on 2 near back-to-back bonuses followed by some nice line hits thereafter. Palms, Las Vegas."

Elizabeth Berkley has been owning up to the Nomi lately, gamely appearing at an outdoor screening of Showgirls at Hollywood Forever cemetery this summer to celebrate the movie's 20th anniversary.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 12.57.14 PM.png She introduced the film to thousands of screaming devotees.

Berkley said, "Whether this film has been your guilty pleasure, whether you have played 'Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl', or whether Nomi's own plight and her fight and struggle has become your own anthem in your life, I hope that it's brought you comfort."

Comfort it has brought, EB!

Over the weekend, the film's director, Paul Verhoven, took responsibility for objectively ruining Elizabeth's once promising career, telling NY Daily News, "I asked Elizabeth to do all that - to be abrupt and to act in that way, but people have been attacking her about that ever since.

"If somebody has to be blamed, it should be me, because I thought that it was interesting to portray somebody like that," he went on to say.

14240797661364-anigif_enhanced-buzz-10665-1385144897-27.gifPeep that Hollywood double standard, y'all.

Aside from Showgirls, here are 5 other movies that should be immortalized on slot machines:

5. Georgia Rule (2005)

A given.

4. Stepmom (1998)


3. Selena (1997)

Anything for Selena.

2. Grace of Monaco (2014)

Your majesty.

1. American Beauty (1999)

-Every time you win, Kevin Spacey doesn't come out of the closet.

***Bonus: Sean Young***

latest.pngNo Sean Young movie in specific, just Sean Young.

Watch Junglepussy talk "Pregnant with Success" at Yale University


photo by Vivian Luxx

Back in September, the goddess known as Junglepussy was invited to speak at Yale University's Fall Lecture Series -- and earlier today a recap of her lecture was uploaded to YouTube so we could all revel in her wisdom.

Speaking about the Junglepussy beginnings, her views on wellbeing, and that pussy muscle hustle, JP also touched on the inspirations for her forthcoming sophomore project Pregnant with Success, saying that it's "definitely an ode to my mother, to all mothers, to anyone who's ever planted a seed, to anyone who's ever created something, to anyone who's ever waited patiently for something to come into fruition." 

Make sure to watch the recap below and revitalize your psyche.

Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, and Other Uncomfortable Celebrity Wedding Photos

justin-timberlake-today-tease-3-151019_c0e7c10ae6943002130854be41ef5f58.today-inline-large.jpgThe most recent Justin Timberlake headline is a tender one.

Over the weekend, the Memphis, Tennessee native was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and his bro-lover/frequent comedy collaborator Jimmy Fallon was there to present him with it.


But it was Jessica Biel, Mr. Timberlake's wife and mother to his 7-month-old son, Silas Randall, who got JT in a misty tizzy.

1350564117_jessica-biel-justin-timberlake-article.jpg"Baby, I love you more than I could put into words," he spoke of Biel, "more than any song I could ever write." He then called her "beautiful, loving and incredibly understanding of her husband's shortcomings."

He started tearing up as he mentioned that Jessica is "built like a Memphian," and "tough as nails," and added that the two recently celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary.

While the awwwww-factor is strong here, it's a good-a-time as any to reflect on that wedding...

..specifically THIS photo.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 3.53.48 PM.pngThough she looks absolutely spectacular, Jessica's clenched smile reads: "Don't you dare jump -- Justin...don't you do it, don't do it. You did it. You're jumping. OK. This is happening. I'm wearing a pink dress."

Jessica-Biel-Wedding-Dress-by-Giambattista-Valli1.jpgThe price you pay when you marry a Mickey Mouse Club alum.

justin-timberlake-jessica-biel-wedding-bridesmaids__oPt.jpgIf that face/pose doesn't have the steaming brand of "former child star" on it, then I don't know what does.

In honor of these cringe-worthy snaps, let's take a look at other perplexing celebrity wedding photos, presented (mostly) without comment/caption.

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (2004)

Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall (1994)

Celine Dion and René Angélil (1994)


Edible arrangement (Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman, 2005)

Kate Moss and flower girls/ring bearers (her wedding to Jamie Hince, 2011)

MTIwOTA5MDY5MDY5Mzc1Mzc4.jpgNo, this is not a scene from The Wicker Man.

Marcia Cross and Tom Mahoney (2006)

marcia-cross-wedding-gown.jpgSave the children.

P!nk and Carey Hart (2006)


Beyoncé (Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson, 2004)

Victoria and David Beckham (1999)

victoriabeckham.jpgHonorable mention: Emma Bunton's white fedora, David's highlights, and Mel C's "no bullshit masseuse at an upscale spa" look.

Liza Minnelli and David Gest (and two fans, 2002)

53-19748-liza-minellidavidgest-1410566862.jpgSome say love, it is a river.

Kanye Dropped Two New Tracks on a SoundCloud

There are two new pieces of music from Kanye West on a new SoundCloud page apparently belonging to him. The first is a remix of "Say You Will" off 808s and Heartbreak featuring musician Caroline Shaw, the second is a track called "When I See It" that Pitchfork points out is a riff on The Weeknd's "Tell Your Friends." It could almost have come off that earlier record (which Kanye has recently performed in its entirety), which isn't that surprising since The Weeknd owes an enormous debt to 808s. Is this music a suggestion for the direction SWISH will eventually go, in contrast to something like "All Day"? Or is it another concession to Kanye's music-loving fans when, as he told us earlier this year, music really isn't his first priority at this point? Only time (and the never-dropping CDQ of "Wolves") will tell.

The Duggars Spin-Off Is A Disservice to Sexual Assault Survivors

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 3.48.54 PM.png
Yesterday TLC released the first promo for their upcoming 19 Kids and Counting spin-off Jill and Jessa: Counting On -- and in the wake of the scandal surrounding the family, it's disturbing to say the least. 

For those of you out of the loop, earlier this year Jill and Jessa's older brother, Josh Duggar, admitted to molesting underage girls as a teen, including both sisters -- leading to TLC to cancel their long-running reality series. Still, the network has come back, most likely when they realized they could, uh, continue making money off of family drama. First with their Breaking the Silence documentary, which followed the women as they grappled with the aftermath of these abuse allegations, and now this spin-off series, focusing on two survivors of sexual assault in their capacity as public figures.  

There's something really off-putting about the entire ordeal, which feels more like an exercise in exploitation than anything else -- especially when we see both sisters tearing up in the promo at having to relive a traumatic childhood event that have left scars on national television. At one point in the promo, Jill sobs, saying she's still processing what happened. "You're angry and hurt and all those emotions all mixed together. I cry a lot of tears, I still do. I know I'm hurting." If that doesn't scream "Leave her alone with a healthy support system," then I really don't know what does.

Because while some may argue that they've grown up in the spotlight, it's a spotlight they were shoved into as a part of their parents' plan to "spread the word about their faith," lest we also forget that the Duggars were allegedly "heartbroken" over the show's cancellation. 

These women should be able to recuperate and heal in their own time, a process that survivors of sexual assault will tell you does not disappear in a few months (let alone ever). Instead, the situation reeks of coercion, a campaign to do a spin-off that will help the entire family and subsequent franchise save face in the wake of a scandal that arguably went against the values of their entire viewership (or, you know, most of the world).

To compound the icky-ness, to let TLC and their parents exploit the idea of "family," who are arguably their only support system at this trying time, is ghastly -- not to mention making Jill and Jessa focus on being optimistic and "excited for what the future holds" rather than take the ample time they need away from intense public scrutiny. You know, the kind of vitriolic anonymous hate that's allowed a ton of disparaging commenters to call them "inbreds".

And while one could also say that Jill and Jessa are both consenting adults and able to make their own decisions about whether or not they want to air their grievances on reality TV, there's also a pretty dangerous message attached to this whole affair. One that tells survivors of sexual assault that pretending shit's fine is totally okay; that moving on in your life is the most effective way to deal with your trauma -- when the key is, you know, ample support from loved ones and reemergence at one's own pace; a process which more often than not takes years or a lifetime. A process I would imagine isn't helped by having a reality TV show.

Either way, we wish Jill and Jessa the best. Stay strong, ladies, in the midst of all the bullshit.


Miley Cyrus Can Add "Bar Mitzvah Musical Act" To Her Ever-Expanding Resume


Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 5.14.25 PM.pngTaking time from planning on all-naked concert with her BFF Wayne Coyne, Miley Cyrus was the musical performer at the Bar Mitzvah for that guy in your Intro to Creative Writing class, James Franco.

Though Franco is not a 13-year-old boy, the 37-year-old Renaissance man decided to celebrate his official entry into Jewish adulthood at the annual Hilarity for Charity benefit for Alzheimer's Association, hosted by Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 4.59.19 PM.pngFranco was Mitzvah'd in a private ceremony earlier this month.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 4.57.33 PM.pngTrue to form, Miley went all out: her hair in dreadlocks, and dressed in a blue thong-leotard.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 4.55.10 PM.pngShe was also equipped with a huge blue Star of David (and matching wristbands).

Also, this cape.

Screen shot 2015-10-19 at 5.02.09 PM.png
Ms. Ray Cyrus came out on stage to the classic creepy uncle jam "Super Freak," then got her warble on while slaying a few country songs.

 Still, we're not sure Miley can outdo Nicki's Bar Mitzvah appearance last year...

nicki620.jpgOther celebs graced the stage at the benefit, including Bill Hader and HAIM.

At one point, Franco was strapped to a gurney, and Jeff Goldblum came out dressed as a Rabbi, set to circumcise Franco's peen (YES).

Immediately following that was a short film where Zac Efron"played" Franco's grieving foreskin.

Go forth, James. You are a man.


Drake Drops His New Video for "Hotline Bling," Wears Turtleneck

In Case You Haven't Decided Whether to See the New Star Wars, Here's the Trailer

While some of us were spending our evenings watching the "Hotline Bling" video, others were anxiously awaiting another short clip featuring dancing men cloaked in light. That's right -- it's the final trailer for the new Star Wars movie. For all that everyone should be suspicious of a new Star Wars movie, and for all that awful modern geek fandom is exemplified by the revivified corpses of franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, well... this trailer looks pretty good. If you still haven't decided whether or not you're going to see the movie, check it out below.

D.R.A.M. Says Drake "Jacked" His Beat For "Hotline Bling"

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 11.15.09 AM.png
Last night, Drake finally dropped the music video for his massive hit "Hotline Bling" and the Internet, predictably, went nuts. That is, everyone but Virginia rapper D.R.A.M., who said he feels like "I got jacked for my record."

For some context, earlier this year, D.R.A.M. released an infectious, cumbia-flavored single called "Cha Cha" -- a vibe that "Hotline Bling" does sound similar to in the sense that they both synth-salsa the fuck out. 

Granted, it's also well established that Drake sampled Timmy Thomas' 1973 track "Why Can't We Live Together" and that the melody is, uh, pretty different -- though the initial similarities are admittedly a little jarring.

Perhaps adding insult to injury, last night, D.R.A.M. also just happened to be playing his first show in Toronto, which he tweeted "was bittersweet" -- "sweet cus I'm out here sharing my music, my sound with the people...Bitter though, cus after my performance all I'm seeing is Cha Cha/Hotline Bling comparisons on my timeline." 

Yikes, post-Meek it looks like poor Champagne Papi just can't catch a break. The price of numerous chart-toppers, maybe? Let's hope Dan Flavin/Kanye doesn't come a callin' for the "Hotline Bling" video aesthetic next.

[h/t Pitchfork

Jaden Smith Says He Will Be "Gone" in 10 Years

In a fantastic interview with GQ, Jaden Smith, the crown princeof the internet, says he will be "gone" in 10 years. Here's the relevant quote from the piece (which you really should read in full, because it's great and very insightful about Jaden):

"No one will know where I am in ten years. They'll see me pop up, but they'll be like, 'Where'd you come from?' No one will know. No one will know where I'm at. No one will know who I'm with. No one will know what I'm doing. I've been planning that since I was like 13."
He goes on to describe his future as being "like Banksy" in his relative anonymity and ability to, essentially, be a superhero doing good lots of places, like calling in to request the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song on Beats 1. And then... like that, he's gone.

"GoGo!" Listen To Baauer's Fire New Track

Baauer, yes the Harlem Shake guy, is more than just a meme. In fact, he was part of the first major wave of trap producers and is peers with the critically-acclaimed likes of Hudson Mohawke, Lunice and Rustie.

And his latest single, "GoGo!." proves just as much, cruising along as a trapped-out version of future house with watery synth lines, hollow bass melodies, and a teeth-rattling kick. Have a listen for yourself below...we dare you not to dance.

Larry Kramer's Sour Times

For our Nowstalgia issue, we asked legendary author, playwright and LGBTQ activist Larry Kramer, whose book The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart was released this year, to reflect on how the media's coverage of gay writers has changed over the years. Kramer, never one to hold back, doesn't think much has changed at all.  

So many thoughts when one publishes a book.

Do you know who the best gay writer we have today is? Unless you are gay, I'll bet you have never heard of him, much less read him. Every one of his books is a gem. If he were straight, his reputation would be immense. The beauty of his language, the empathy for his characters and the world he writes about, are unsurpassed by any other gay writing of our time. Here are the titles of some of his books: Dancer from the Dance; Nights in Aruba; The Beauty of Men; In September, the Light Changes; and Grief.

His name is Andrew Holleran. He is our Fitzgerald and Hemingway but for one thing: he writes better than both of them.

But straights have not read him and appreciated him and rushed to read any of his beautifully written work. Straight people don't really want to discover us and who we are. Holleran's novels "...seem so determined to speak for their disenfranchised gay characters that the works become inaccessible to anyone else, like looking through a window at someone else's world," a critic wrote in her New York Times review of his most recent novel, Grief. Funny, but I thought that's exactly what any good writer tries to do.

When we fall into the hands of book critics at The Times, we are amazed at their lack of understanding, empathy, of what we are trying to do and say. It is quite amazing how fervent and omnipresent is the homophobia that never-endingly remains the norm for gay writers in their book reviews. There is not one gay or lesbian author who has not experienced what I'm talking about.

The daily New York Times and its Sunday Book Review are famous among gay writers for ignoring us, or trashing us. Straight critics just don't get us. Just like straight historians don't get us. It's their way or the highway. And as The Times goes, so go other publications and critics in America in their relentless game of Follow the Leader.

I have been trashed in both daily and Sunday Times for almost everything I have written. Why does anyone still consider the Sunday Times Book Review seriously? It is not only second rate and homophobic, it is tired, very tired. I've never heard of most of the critics they use to judge us. Its power is nevertheless colossal and it has ruined many a career. (And the New York Times controls the New York Times Best Seller List, which surely is a conflict of interest or restraint of trade or something smelly.)

So is it any wonder that I should write a novel about how homosexuals have been ill-treated and ignored by straight historians since the beginning of time? And naming names of some famous people I believe to have been gay. The nerve of me! The nerve of Andrew Holleran to make us sympathetic, sad and real.

When I read a review I can tell if the critic has really read my book. The two NYT reviewers border on the unprofessional. I would bet that neither of them read the 775 pages of my book, as they continued to trash it and its "loudmouthed activist" author. They spend most of their reviews discussing a me they think they know from my alter-ego activist persona and not my book, which they hardly mention, or its goals, or the quality of its writing, which I've worked so very hard to do well. The few sentences they finally spend discussing content are invariably filled with inaccuracies. That's the giveaway for their cherry-picking. (Their daily critics tend to review mostly short books, have you noticed?)

Dr. Oliver Sacks, the great gay doctor, said this of Thom Gunn, the great gay poet: "Thom rarely reviewed what he did not like, and in general his reviews were written in the mode of appreciation."

Can you remember the last time you read any review expressing appreciation?

What Times critic is appreciating Andrew Holleran? It would be New York Magazine, which asked 61 critics to reveal their favorite underrated book of the past ten years, and Daphne Merkin chose Grief. "This slim but singularly affecting novel put in an appearance to conditional praise last June and, to my knowledge, sank thereafter without a trace. A meditation on personal loss and the loss of erotic/romantic possibilities for aging homosexual men (and by implication aging everyones) it's bone-spare but plangent with meaning -- the kind of novel that would be immediately hailed if it were written by a laconic European writer."
Charles McGrath, who was editor of the NYTBR from 1995--2004, recently wrote about critics:
"How many of these voices are worth paying attention to... If for a start we require that critics know what they're talking about -- that their judgments are actually informed -- the field thins considerably, and if we also insist on taste and discernment, then the number of valuable and useful critics dwindles pretty drastically. A valuable critic is someone whose judgment you can rely on and can learn from." It's interesting to note that McGrath left the Book Review to write what he wanted to write. His son Ben is at the New Yorker where they used to treat gay writers terribly but have been making up for it.

Yes, one has many thoughts when publishing a book. What my new book, The American People: Volume 1: Search for My Heart: A Novel, is about is rarely discussed. It is a history of gays and other minorities through all time, yes, but it is a history of where aids came from, why it is here, why it is ignored, why it is murdering us and, in the process, naming names. It is about the destruction and elimination of the homosexual population, which has been here since the beginning of our country's history. It is a long and complicated history and Farrar, Straus and Giroux thought well enough of it to allow it to be published in two volumes.
AIDS is out of control again. You don't know it. The New York Times isn't really writing about this either. Just as it did not write about AIDS for its first horrendous years. Gays were reduced to affixing all over town stickers that said: "Gina Kolata of the New York Times is the worst AIDS reporter in the world." Well, the world still doesn't know that AIDS is a worldwide plague and The Times still isn't telling us.

The one thing I discovered as I was writing The American People is that I believe this plague is intentional. That it was allowed to happen and is allowed to continue.

Our world. Andrew's and my world. That is what I write about in my novels and plays. It is my way of fighting back against the evil and hate that has followed us since the beginning of time. It isn't easy when your hometown paper does nothing to help your cause. A drunk Times critic named Clive Barnes arrived 45 minutes late for opening night of my first play, "Four Friends," and started his review with, "With friends like this you don't need enemies," and we closed on opening night.

So I can't say I was surprised by the paper's less than generous response to The American People. And I hope I shall soon have a new play and volume two of The American People, titled The Brutality of Fact, both just waiting for The Times to trash them.

No, I don't like The New York Times. And neither does any gay or lesbian writer that I know of.
I believe that a good writer's responsibility is to try and change the world. That is what theater since ancient Greece was meant to do. I want The American People to change the world. I want gay people all over the world to know our history. And I am certain that Andrew Holleran, in every word that he writes, wants this, too.

I recently asked a straight critic who had reviewed some gay titles if he had read Andrew Holleran, our greatest writer. He had never heard of him. Yes, these are some thoughts I've been having as I launch another creation into the world.

A Fashion-Only Channel Is Finally Coming To A TV Near You

photo from A Single Man / Tom Ford

As a part of Apple's (inevitable) takeover of the world as we know it, they're apparently launching an Apple TV channel to broadcast only fashion-related stuff this coming December.

A collaboration with the entertainment conglomerate that owns the likes of NYFW and IMG Models, it'll be dubbed "Made2Measure" and will feature "series, documentaries, feature films, news segments and runway shows." And while details still remain relatively scant, as of now they've already acquired the rights to films like Tom Ford's A Single Man, the documentary Battle of Versailles and runway shows like Givenchy's SS16 show done in collaboration with performance artist Marina Abramović...now all that's left is waiting for all that juicy programming to actually air!

[h/t Dazed]

Scenes from the Launch of Robert Rodriguez's New Film for Happy Socks, "SOCK 'EM DEAD"

Legendary slasher film director Robert Rodriguez recently collaborated with Swedish sock and underwear brand, Happy Socks, on a new short film, SOCK 'EM DEAD, and a new sock collection inspired by the work. Over the weekend the two crews came together at No Vacancy in LA to toast the film premiere with a party that featured live music by Fredwreck, tacos, and a green screen photo opp that had guests posing in front of the movie poster. Take a look at pics from the night, below, watch the film and snag a pair of socks HERE.

100 Years of New York Nightlife: The Impenetrable Velvet Ropes of the Post-War Era

In our October 'Nowstalgia' issue we're taking a look at 100 Years of New York Nightlife, tracing after-hours trends to their beginnings and analyzing the ways our nocturnal habits of the past continue to influence our habits of the present. We've already kicked things off with the Roaring '20s and below we explore the glamorous, exclusive Post-War era. Check back for future decades each day.

Copacabana_1950s_comp.jpgThe Copacabana circa 1950 / © Photofest

New York, 1945 -- a million revelers celebrated V-J Day in Times Square, and the Atomic Age began. When night fell, the city moved indoors: into bars, cabarets, restaurants, nightclubs, and dance halls. War profits and soldiers' pay coursed into Manhattan nightlife and raised it to new heights.

Gone were the student dives and gin joints of the 1920s, the transvestite shows and burlesque revues of the 1930s. High-volume clubs, such as the Latin Quarter, the Copacabana, and Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe, hosted thousands each night. Billy Rose personally cleared more than a million dollars annually. The big clubs lured the convention and tourist trade, moving vast crowds in and out for dinner, shows, and liquor. (The 1927 Cabaret Law forbade dancing in such "restaurants," though.)

Near-nude female revues, Catskills comics, and dog-and-pony shows brought vaudeville into urban nightlife. After 1945, though, the nostalgic and comical themes of many clubs gave way to the sleek postwar "international" style: aluminum-edged, urban sophistication. Formica, acrylic paint, and polyester reduced the wear on seats and stage curtains. But the booze kept flowing, the smoke still billowed, and the objectification of women persisted.

Greenwich Village clubs retained some of their old college-hangout charm, enriched by vivid musical fare at sites such as Max Gordon's Village Vanguard. Harlem was in eclipse. In the 1920s the Cotton Club and Smalls Paradise catered to rich whites from midtown, presenting cutting-edge black musicians and dancers in stereotypical productions with African "jungle" and Old-South themes. The Depression cut the flow of white patronage to Harlem, and now only the rare downtown hipster patronized Minton's Club or the Apollo Theater. Black performers found work in midtown, in pockets of the Theater District and especially on 52nd or "Swing" Street. The legendary singer Billie Holiday called the street the new slave plantation, but other black jazzers considered the wages and the career prospects promising. The Onyx Club, the Famous Door, and Jimmy Ryan's blew swing music and that new sound, bebop, out into midtown streets.

Racial matters were prominent throughout postwar nightlife. The downtown and midtown Café Society clubs, founded by the left-wing activist Barney Josephson, advertised and practiced equality in its hiring and its service. Paul Robeson and Leadbelly sang of social justice and downed drinks with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. The anticommunist witch hunt, though, helped force the midtown Café to close in 1947. Red-baiting found its champion in J. Edgar Hoover, in cahoots with his club-owning friend Sherman Billingsley, who ejected "subversives" such as Josephine Baker from his Stork Club.

Ah, the Stork. Postwar, Billingsley's Upper East Side locale symbolized the anti-egalitarian streak in nightlife, the push by Big Money and Celebrity to put the paying masses in their place. This "place" was on 54th Street, outside of the gold chain that barred average people's entry to the Stork Club. Only the chosen rich and famous folk could enter the eight-story building, and only the elite of that crowd breached the threshold of the inner sanctum, the Cub Room.  A rather plain, narrow space -- in contrast to the elegant Main Room, the saloon-like Loners Room or the Blessed Events Room, used for parties -- the Cub squeezed Manhattan's top celebrities, the cream of the movies, radio, and politics, and publishing, into a glorified conversation pit. Famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell, once a tenement dweller and vaudeville hoofer, now schmoozed with Hoover and Billingsley at his own Table 50. In syndicated print and on radio, Winchell related the marriages, pregnancies, infidelities, and divorces of the rich and famous. He became rich and famous himself, creating the inescapable culture of celebrity we live in today.

Women's dressing room at the Latin Quarter circa 1950 / © Photofest

Publicity had long been at the heart of New York nightlife. Starting in the 1920s, customers as well as performers strove both to be seen in nightclubs and to have their presence noted in the columns that the young Winchell and other party-crashing scribes pioneered. Publicists were hired by all kinds of club goers; their puffery on behalf of the untalented and the obscure presaged reality TV 80 years later. Like nightlife itself, by the 1940s gossip journalism was less open and democratic. It was now sleeker, more profitable, and more geared for a national audience. Billingsley built a fake Cub Room on the top floor of the Stork Club that served as the set for his network TV show, which featured real club guests. The rationing of fame in the postwar mass media only made celebrities hungrier to keep it and the legion of unknowns more desperate to obtain it. That was the sweaty significance behind the former publicist Ernest Lehman's screenplay for that great 1957 film about nightlife and gossip-mongering, The Sweet Smell of Success.

Other clubs helped to define postwar exclusiveness. 21, with its hidden cellars dating back to Prohibition, maintained 1920s intimacy on 52nd Street. Toots Shor's was a more raucous gathering place for celebrities. The snootiest club was the Stork's main rival, El Morocco, run by a reticent Italian immigrant named John Perona. El Morocco predated the Stork by a few years, opening in 1931, and defined its elite style with a ubiquitous zebra-patterned décor. Its small rooms barred all but the most illustrious celebrities, but pointedly also allowed Winchell's leading rivals in gossip journalism. Unlike Billingsley, though, Perona would never market his show on television.

Classic post-WWII nightlife declined partly thanks to new crescendos of real estate speculation. Bulldozers demolished Swing Street to permit skyscraper construction on West 52nd. Mostly, though, the clubs and their snobbish exclusivity became victims of revolutions from below. Cooks, waiters, busboys, and hat-check girls at the high-priced clubs formed unions and struck for better wages and working conditions. Picket lines in front of the Stork Club and El Morocco dramatized this movement and turned public opinion against management. Egalitarian entertainment also made the point. Snobbery was WASP-colored, but Jewish humor -- such as that of Zero Mostel or the improvising Revuers, originating in Greenwich Village clubs of the 1940s -- cut that privilege to ribbons. Folk singers trenchantly catalogued injustices and inequalities. At Café Society and the Village Vanguard crowds were already singing along in 1947; a decade and a half later, the folk revival had won over an entire generation.

As show-business blacklists lifted in the late 1950s, social criticism was broadcast by entirely new venues in nightlife, such as coffeehouses and hotel cabarets. Village clubs such as the Café Wha? and The Bitter End introduced Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and recordings spread their social criticism nationwide. Gay nightclubs emerged slightly from underground, though the years surrounding the famed mass arrest at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 remained precarious ones. Gay aesthetics blended with psychedelic drugs and the anarchy of rock and roll, though, and together they launched an explosive new chapter in New York nightlife. The clubs at first were dirt cheap and borderline illegal, but the performers' fame and the counterculture's stylistic audacity soon increased their exposure and exclusivity. Andy Warhol's various creative acolytes, such as Lou Reed, and beautiful hangers-on such as Edie Sedgwick and Nico, "worked" in The Factory on Union Square and then fanned out to midtown clubs such as The Scene and the Electric Circus for LSD-and rock-fueled happenings. Max's Kansas City and the Fillmore East heralded the new primacy of rock and roll in New York nightlife. And discos, pioneered in places like the Cheetah, put gay promenades, interracial mixing, and sweaty, close dancing back into the Gotham scene.

These new trends completely obscured the postwar glamour scene, which reached the end of its long decline. As early as 1958, the Stork Club, El Morocco, et al. couldn't meet their payrolls, and the increasingly stuffy gossip columns no longer helped to sell papers.  In the next few years almost all of the old paragons of nightlife went out of business.

Decades later, though, the bygone postwar era retains its allure. The conventioneers, celebs, starlets, and busboys of the 1940s and 1950s conspired to produce an oddly hedonistic nightlife district within the American city on a hill. Flush with wartime prosperity, these nightspots offered a vision of affluence, club-like identity, and fame that enticed the world, and that remains today haunting and poisonously attractive. From our vantage point, it seems that decadence then wore an innocent and inviting face. But the misbehavior of the postwar years also planted the seeds of our own desires and excesses.

Zooey Deschanel Names Female Offspring Exactly What You'd Imagine

Actor/musician Zooey Deschanel gave birth to her first child, a daughter, in July. 

While on the Today Show to promote Rock the Kasbah, her new comedy with Bill Murray, Zooey finally revealed the name she and her producer husband Jacob Pechenik bestowed upon their now three-month-old bb girl:

Screen shot 2015-10-20 at 2.05.30 PM.png
Pechenik, Deschanel

Elsie Otter.

Give me a moment while I'm stare out at the pale autumn horizon. 

One more moment.

OK, I'm good. 

Yes, Elsie. Otter. 

As transcribed by the Today Show, Zooey said this in her explanation for the whimsical name.

"We just really liked the name Elsie, and then we both love otters because they're so sweet and also smart,"she said, giggling."They use tools, they keep their favorite tools, they hold hands while they sleep, there are so many wonderful things about otters. They're wonderful animals."

"She said, giggling" is going to stay with me for a long time.

Watch the interview here.

Admittedly, the name is completely adorable, and 100% on point for Ms. Deschanel, privileged gypsy thrift witch of the late aughts and early 2010s. 

But let's take a minute to consider some other names Zooey could've gone with:

Christy Trinket (pronounced Ka-wristy)

Strudel May 

Miniature Pony

The Limited Too



Thomas Jane (actor)

Sunlight shimmering through a cobweb in your nana's attic 

Deus Ex Machina

Fax Machine

The sound of someone walking in Dutch clogs 

Maître d'


Alas, Elsie Otter will have to do. 

Watch the trailer for Rock the Kasbah below, out this Friday (October 23).

Today in Drake: "Hotline Bling" as Far as the Eye Can See

42f5ce85.pngHere's a roundup of what's going on in Aubrey's life right now, just a few hours after the release of the "Hotline Bling" video:

1. Total D.R.A.M.a Island
Virginia rapper D.R.A.M. claims that the beat for "Hotline Bling" was jacked from his track, "Cha Cha." But in an interview with FADER, Drake claims that it was just his take on a bigger sound. "It's like, everyone has to do a song on that." ("Cha Cha" is now trending on Twitter.)

2. He's Always on Beat
The bright, ridiculous video has inspired a meme backing Drake's dancing with other music, including, perfectly, the Charlie Brown theme. It highlights something about the rapper's persona -- he's basically Charlie Brown after successfully kicking the football (and maybe he's still a little unhappy with Lucy).

3. Dominican Drake Explodes
The bachata influence on the video (in addition to the overall sound of "Hotline Bling") led Dominican Drake memes to explode. Let Remezcla take you through some of the best of the bunch.

4. He Has His Own Sitcom
This one is just for fun -- but seriously, you can imagine Aubrey getting a sitcom, right? He'll be a great dad on ABC one day.

5. And Erykah Badu's "Hotline Bling" is Still the Best

Sorry, guys. We went through this scientifically a month ago, and Erykah Badu's version of "Hotline Bling" blows Drake's (and everyone else's) out of the water. It's a great day for Drake, but it's always a better day for Erykah.

How the Fashion Industry Is Quietly Fighting Slut-Shaming

This week, we celebrate (that's the word, right?) the anniversary of the Demi Moore-led reboot of The Scarlet Letter, an age-old tale of a woman who dared to have sex.

Admittedly, some of us (hello) may not have been allowed to see the film upon its 1995 release because of the aforementioned coitus. But the story still resonates in a way that's too real, thanks to the social and political habit of slut-shaming women who express themselves sexually. However, where the majority of industries have failed to combat slut-shaming, the fashion industry has not -- instead of exclusively championing women who abide by the conventions that make men in power feel safe, it's embraced women who've come under scrutiny simply for living their best lives.

So on this, the 20th anniversary of the Demi Moore/Gary Oldman movie (featuring an arrestingly luxurious wig on Oldman), here's how the fashion industry has been progressive in reclaiming the concept of The Scarlet Letter, both by celebrating women wh
o'd been dismissed, written off, or the butt of lazy jokes, and by refusing to factor sex lives into professional clout.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 3.54.07 PM.pngAmber Rose

In early October, Amber Rose led a SlutWalk in Los Angeles, carrying a sign reading, "Strippers have feelings too" in response to ex-boyfriend Kanye West's cruel comments that after dating the dancer he "had to take 30 showers." But before this, Rose also used her industry clout to take to the VMA red carpet alongside Blac Chyna, where both wore outfits painted with the insults typically used on them, and launched a SlutWalk line in September. Amber Rose's presence at the forefront of this movement has been largely fashion-fueled, which is a testament not just to her own business and societal savvy, but also to what style can be (everything) and who it's for (everyone).

Ironically, her evolution into the business and media worlds was in-step with her ex's current partner, Kim Kardashian, which brings us to our next point.

kkcover2(rgb)watermark.jpgKim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian haters will be the first to tell you that Kim Kardashian is famous for having a sex tape. And, like, sure -- that's how her career arguably launched. But at the same time, while building her empire around the breach of trust at the hands of her partner/former boyfriend, she never repented, nor did the fashion industry expect her to. Instead, she used the publicity to parlay her tape into momentum: in addition to success on reality television, she launched a clothing line, upped her own style ante, then, in conjunction with husband Kanye West, began winning favor with the likes of Balenciaga and Balmain, Anna Wintour, and landed on the cover of a certain magazine that inspired us all to Break The Internet™.

Of course, "winning favor" is an understatement. Pre-Kanye, designers wouldn't even lend pieces to Kim and the Kardashian clan. Instead of getting turned off, they were charged up -- despite being shunned by the industry, they kept on keeping on, garnering business and fashion clout to transcend to bigger and better levels. Kendall is a mega model (and recently appeared in a Balmain ad with little sis Kylie), Khloe graced the cover of Complex this year, and the whole family recently landed on Cosmopolitan. Kim and her family have just continued to do what they've done since the late 2000s: pursuing their own interests and refusing to apologize for it.

parisnicolegiphy.gifParis Hilton and Nicole Richie
But of course, the Kardashian dynasty wouldn't exist without the matriarch of reality TV as we know it. In the early 2000s, Paris Hilton's sex tape with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon catapulted her from LA infamy to stardom on The Simple Life. Both Hilton and former best friend Nicole Richie wound up finding success in fashion amidst eye rolls from those opposed to Von Dutch, "that's hot," and their "questionable" behavior. While Hilton took up campaigns with Guess and made Juicy Couture the brand du jour for a time, Richie established House of Harlow (one of the most successfully celebrity-led fashion endeavours), appeared on Project Runway, graced the covers of fashion magazines and now sits in the front row of any fashion show she feels like seeing. (And to think it was her partying that so many of us used to talk about.)

SiennaMillerTwenty8Twelve3.jpgSienna Miller
In addition to turns in Alfie, the majority of Sienna's professional turnaround came in the form of her fashion sense, with the mid-2000s' focus on boho chic (never forget) cementing her as a style icon to the point of seeing the actress launch Twenty8Twelve, a fashion line with her sister, back in 2007. (The same year she landed on Vogue's September issue, by the way.)

paz2.jpgPaz de la Huerta
And the fashion rebirth strikes again. After Paz de la Huerta's personal eccentricities eclipsed her work on Boardwalk Empire, Vivienne Westwood announced the actress as the face of the line's S/S 2016 campaign, in which she's depicted exactly as she is: rebellious, interesting, and unconventional. But that's what makes the campaign so important. While de la Huerta could easily use it to create a new aesthetic and/or brand and/or sense of self, she doesn't. And in turn, Westwood celebrates her for it, while also making the campaign about the clothes, not her personal life.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 6.16.54 PM.pngNicki Minaj at Alexander Wang S/S '16

Dita Von Teese, Nicki Minaj, and Being One's Self

The last 20 years have given way to an industry that's become even more hospitable to risk-taking, while at the same time, helped to create an environment in which women who embrace their sexuality are championed, front row style. Burlesque dancers like Dita Von Teese are fashion week mainstays, while musicians like Nicki Minaj drop designer names into sexually-charged tracks like "Anaconda"-- much to the designers' approval and joy.

In fact, Minaj's marriage of fashion, feminist and sexuality have earned her well-deserved kudos on all fronts. Between her presence at Fashion Week, the applause for red carpet pieces by Tom Ford (Grammys), La Bourjoisie (VMAs), and Givenchy (BET Awards), and this year's Cosmopolitan, Rolling Stone, and Elle covers, the rapper reflects the industry's solid relationship with women who express themselves however they want. (And its unequivocal approval of tracks like "Truffle Butter," Minaj's groundbreaking radio-friendly anthem about butt play.) Which leads to our next generation.

Models like Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid are urged to be themselves (and are celebrated for it), using social media to separate themselves from their campaigns. Now, personality and transparency is currency, which leaves room for everything from nights out drinking to frank discussions about one's sex life, (should they choose to share that information).

The fashion industry has no interest in assigning scarlet letters. Which, regardless of how many other aspects of the business need to change, is a standpoint it wouldn't hurt the rest of us to embrace.