Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31

Rosemary Clooney: When October Goes
Music by Barry Manilow (1984)/Lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Johnny Mercer, one of the great masters of song lyrics, died of brain cancer in 1976. In the last year of his life he became close friends with Barry Manilow, whose first hit record, Mandy, was also the name of Mercer's daughter. After his death, Mercer’s widow arranged to give some lyrics he had never used to Manilow for future development into complete songs. Among these was When October Goes. Manilow’s music is a perfect partner to this extraordinary lyric about lost love.

The song has since become a jazz standard, and this is where my personal taste gets in the way. Being a professional musician, I quite naturally have strong opinions about performers. So I just need to say it – I loathe Barry Manilow’s voice. Nor does he win me over with his efforts to deflect the truth about his sexual orientation.* However, I can certainly appreciate his sometimes brilliant skills of composition. So here is Rosemary Clooney’s rather straightforward interpretation, which I prefer to Nancy Wilson’s indulgent and somewhat tricked-out performance. This ballad is a perfect match of poignant lyrics and music.

*Manilow has lived with his manager Garry Kief for more than twenty years in homes they share in Bel Air, Malibu and Palm Springs.

Careful trick-or-treating tonight, guys. Play safe.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29

These days, gay actor Matthew Bomer is everywhere – on movie posters, television’s "White Collar" bus-stop posters, subbing for Kathie Lee Gifford on "Today", singing at the Kennedy Center – the list goes on. He costars with Justin Timberlake in a new film that opened yesterday, “In Time.” (Trailer and description at end of post).

Despite being a professional Jack-of-all-Trades, though, Bomer has made a point of keeping his private life away from public scrutiny. Fans were surprised when the 33-year-old actor gave a shout out on "Today" to his three children, Kit (age 5) and 3-year-old twins Walker and Henry (photo at end of post). Asked how he juggles the family and his busy work schedule, Bomer says, "I fly home and fly back, and I have a great support team. It's a beautiful thing."

Though Bomer doesn't speak about his homosexual relationship publicly, he raises the children with partner Simon Hall, who regularly attends celebrity and publicity events with Bomer.

In this clip from the Hollywood premiere of “In Time” last week, Bomer answers questions about his role.

In Time (synopsis):
Set in a world where people stop aging at 25, but are genetically-engineered to live only one more year, having the means to buy your way out of the situation is a shot at immortal youth. In the not-too-distant future the aging gene has been switched off. To avoid overpopulation, time has become the currency and the way people pay for both luxuries and necessities. The rich can live forever, while the rest try to negotiate for their immortality. Will Salas, a poor young man (Justin Timberlake) comes into a fortune of time, though too late to help keep his mother from dying. One day, Will has a conversation with a morose man named Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), who explains that he is 105 years old and has another century in the bank. He's tired of living. Their conversation drags on into philosophical depths, until both fall asleep. Will awakens with an extra century on his clock and looks out the window to see Henry preparing to jump from a bridge. He runs out to stop him, is too late and is caught by a security camera, making him a suspect in the man's death. Will ends up eluding a corrupt police force known as 'time keepers.' He is forced to go on the run with a beautiful hostage (the token girl in the all-action flick). Living minute to minute, the duo's love becomes a powerful tool in their war against the system.

Here’s the trailer (keep a keen eye out for the 1967 vintage silver Jaguar XKE convertible).

Here's sexy dad Matt Bomer with the kids: Kit, Walker and Henry.

Wow. Let's collect ourselves and move on down to the tan lines:

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28

Gay Pro-Wrestler Chris Kanyon

Pro-wrestling superstar Chris Kanyon, whose real name was Christopher Klucsaritis (born January 4, 1970) made headlines when he publicly announced he was gay in 2004.
During his wrestling career, from 1997 to 2004, he fought for the World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation (renamed World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002) under the name "Kanyon." He planned on using his homosexuality as an element in a wrestling character. After 2004, Klucsaritis still wrestled on occasion, billing himself as an openly gay wrestler. Tragically, he was found dead in his Queens, N.Y. apartment after he committed suicide in April of last year.

He made his WCW debut as part of the construction worker tag team called "Men at Work" with Mark Starr. However, the partnership ended in 1997, and Kanyon began wrestling under the name "Mortis" and several other aliases. Kanyon dueled as a solo wrestler and as a part of teams before his contract was released in 2004. Kanyon alleged his career was ended by wrestling officials because he was gay.

"I last saw Chris at Wrestlemania in 2004. I may have seen him once since then. He looked good, but talked about packing it in, calling it a career. I never knew of his struggles – the bipolar disorder, the pressure of keeping his sexuality secret for so many years," pro-wrestler Mick Foley commented.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26

Jean-Baptiste de Lully: gay scandals

Giovanni Battisti Lulli (1632-1687) was born in Florence, the son of Italian peasants, who had no idea their son would grow up to become a best friend of Louis XIV, king of France. Lully rose from obscurity to the heights of influence in European music (especially French opera), but his career was thwarted by homosexual scandal. He became very wealthy and brazenly engaged in homosexual affairs, but kept a wife, and even a mistress, as "cover".

Lulli was brought to France at age 14 as an Italian tutor for Louis XIV's cousin Anne-Marie Louise d'Orléans, "La Grande Mademoiselle." He was also put to work as a servant in the royal kitchen. His musical, dancing and acting abilities soon distinguished him, however, and after the exile of Anne-Marie in 1652, he entered the king's service at age 20. He and the king danced in court entertainments, establishing a privileged relationship that led to the musician's quick advancement. In short order the king regarded Lully as one of his few true friends, indispensable in providing court entertainments.

Within 10 years Giovanni Battisti Lulli became a French citizen, thereafter known as Jean-Baptiste de Lully. He was appointed Master of the King's Music, and the following year married the daughter of a prominent singer/composer at the French court. Lully raised six children, and he appeared to have been a good father and provider, in spite of numerous extramarital activities with both men and women. In particular, Lully seemed unable to keep his hands off the handsome young men he kept in his household, ostensibly as “students.”

Lully is considered the founder of French opera (as distinct from Ialian-style opera), but perhaps his biggest claim to fame is the invention of ballet. Since Louis XIV loved to dance, and evidently was good at it, the two formed a close friendship.

Lully collaborated with Molière, the great French dramatist, in creating popular plays with musical interludes and ballets. When the two fell out, Lully used his influence to prevent Molière from using music in his later works. By the age of 40 Lully staged his first opera, and 14 more followed. They established the rules for French opera for decades to come, particularly the inclusion of ballets in operatic productions.

Lully was ruthless in his pursuit of power and used his influence with the king to eliminate potential rivals, who were too happy to spread stories concerning Lully’s sexual exploits. However, Lully was usually discreet enough that the king overlooked his salacious activities. In 1681 Lully was made a court secretary to the king and given a noble title, thus able to use the moniker "de Lully".

OK - it's time for a reward if you made it this far. The rest of this post will make strong emphasis on the male posterior regions, all of it ingeniously related to Lully.

Unfortunately, at the age of 53 Lully's influence with the king evaporated when he was caught in a scandalous affair with Brunet, a very young male "music page" being trained in the royal service and living in Lully’s household. Brunet was exceptionally handsome – and known for the appeal of his shapely back side. Although he was not prosecuted, Lully was forced to break off the relationship, and he lost his standing at court. Ultimately the king had to abandon him as a friend, and two years later Lully was dead.

A ditty was sung about this time, and it goes like this:

One day Cupid said to his mother,
“Why am I not wearing any clothes? 
If Lully sees me naked,
My backside will be lost.”

Well, it rhymed in French: “sa mère” (his mother) with “derrière” (backside).

Brunet was carted off to a monastery, where he was regularly beaten by the monks. He received more lenient treatment, however, in exchange for coughing up names of other homosexuals, especially when one of the names he divulged was the son of the chief of police.

It seems this inspired another little ditty:

Monsieur de Lully is all worked up
To see his little Brunet beaten up.
He’s jealous that a Priest
Now gets to sample Brunet’s derrière
(if you get my meaning).

It all rhymes in French, trust me.

Although homosexual activity was a capital offense in seventeenth-century France, a large number of the nobility at Versailles, including the king's brother Philippe*, formed a homosexual subculture, and Lully was in the thick of it. While the king disapproved of homosexuality, he loved his brother and was unwilling to exile, or otherwise punish, these nobles. At the same time, pressure was exerted by Louis's wife, Madame de Maintenon, and her priest to rid the court of homosexuals.

*Philippe I (Duke of Orléans) was a ferocious warrior and an enthusiastic and stylish drag queen. He rode into battle wearing women's dresses, high heels, lipstick and makeup.  I'm not kidding.

On January 8, 1687, Lully was conducting a Te Deum in honor of the king’s recent recovery from illness. He was beating time by banging a long staff against the floor (as was the common practice at the time before hand-held batons became the norm), when he struck his toe, creating an abscess. The wound turned gangrenous, but Lully refused to have his toe amputated, and the gangrene spread, resulting in his death three months later. He died an extremely rich man, the owner of five Parisian houses, two country estates and vast sums of cash. All three of his sons – Louis Lully, Jean-Baptiste Lully fils and Jean-Louis Lully – also had musical careers at the French court.

The best butt in Early Music performances these days:

Even if you don’t fancy this music, hit the pause button and have a lingering look at the male singer’s posterior at the 1:19 mark (screen capture above). For the record the tenor performing the role of Perseus (son of Zeus) here is Cyril Auvity. I know of few images more likely to result in converts to French Baroque opera, an acquired taste, in my opinion. Note: the kind director has Persée (Perseus) hold this enticing pose for a full 23 seconds. The frontal pose (my God, those tights are revealing) at the 3:31 mark satifies, as well. By the way, Auvity is French Early Music’s “It” Boy these days. I like the duet singing at the 4:19 mark, but you won’t be interested in that. Nevertheless, check it out – go for some high-brow voyeurism!

One of the comments about this YouTube video:
“le ténor chante très bien – dispose également d'un beau cul”
(the tenor sings very well – equally disposed of a cute butt).

But wait, there’s more! Here’s a poster announcing a performance by Auvity in a rare Pergolesi opera presented in Krakow, Poland on January 20, 2011 – if my translation is correct.