10 July 2013

Restaurant Review: Hell's Chicken

I love to explore and try new things so when a new restaurant in my neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen (Midtown West in Manhattan, for those of y'all blissfully unaware) opened earlier this year I made a beeline for it and fell face-first into my plate. Hell's Chicken, a Thai barbecue restaurant playfully named after its specialty chicken dishes and location, was recommended to my roommate and I by a good friend. Our first impression upon walking in was not the artfully designed layout, full bar, or adorable logo printed on the menus, but instead by the gorgeous blond hair, blue-eyed beauty we had for a waiter... at a Thai restaurant. We hoped to hell that our food would taste as good as he looked!

14 May 2013

Hair Fail

Earlier this year I placed the fate of my hair in y'all's hands via a poll I put up on this blog. If you couldn't tell based on the picture above it's been growing out nicely, cascading over my face, and relentlessly curling in all the wrong places. I've gotten mixed reviews regarding its shaggy appearance and will leave the decision to the general public once again. As we've seen throughout the years, decisions regarding my style should always be put up to vote because I clearly have no idea what I'm doing. Let's look at the different forms my hair has taken over the last decade.

10 May 2013

RE: The Porn Problem (via OUT)

I am one of the first people to stand up to defend sex and sexuality and this OUT article does nothing but perpetuate the stigma surrounding gay porn, sex workers, and sex at large. Instead of calling out the shaming of the industry and those involved in it, the author continues to feed into the propagated stereotype instead of embracing their fellow man.

Why are we reverting to Puritanical ideals of morality, putting down members of our community and labeling them as whores who are "destroyed" with no skills "beyond that of persuasion, perseverance, and charming personalities" as they did when analyzing the death of Erik Rhodes?

Furthermore, analyzing the death of anyone and making assumptions on why they passed based on their occupation and life choices is beyond disgusting. We all face difficult times regardless of whether we're an escort, porn star, accountant, or dancer. The New York Times posted new statistics from the CDC earlier this month which noted that "suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade."

Perhaps the reason we're focusing on the deaths of porn stars instead of the rest of America is because they are more high profile, but that does not give us license to demonize and tarnish their memories with insulting words and perpetual shaming of their character. I especially expect gay men to be above this because we've known and lived such hate and misunderstanding, that to impart it upon another person in our community is sad and infuriating. It is all of you self-hating gay men who should be ashamed of yourselves.

You can find the full OUT article here.

30 April 2013

Popping My Broadway Cherry

It is said that you always remember your first time. Going into it, nerves and excitement fill your mind with doubts and concerns like “are they the right one?” or “what if I don’t like it?” There’s no turning back now, though – the initial apprehension slowly fades and is replaced by the exhilarating thrill of the entire experience. You can't look away. Captivated, with your mouth open in amazement, you begin to feel your heart strings being pulled and you're somewhere between tears and an ecstatic smile. You've opened yourself up and are now completely vulnerable to whatever is thrown at you. You're loving every second of it and want more, and more, and more... and then it's over. Was it good for you? I surely hope so because I had the time of my life!

I am SO excited to be here!

Many people are surprised to hear that, in my twenty-one odd years of living on this planet with three of said years being in New York City, I had never seen a Broadway production. It's certainly not for a lack of interest, I have several friends who have and continue perform on the big stage, but I was always busy with my own show, rehearsals, or was out of town on tour. Still, it wasn't until last Tuesday that I had the honor to see my friends perform in Matilda the Musical.

My best friend, Jason, had been trying to take me to see my first Broadway show since Christmas but, with our schedules being a little hectic, continued pushing it back until it was announced that our friend would be playing a leading role in Matilda the Musical. "Screw Wicked," he said, "I'm taking you to see Matilda!" Upon entering the Sam S. Shubert Theatre, we made a beeline for the bar and ordered a double vodka soda and double gin and tonic to keep us occupied through the first act. I nearly spit out my drink when we found our seats front row center on the mezzanine, with a view of the most gorgeous set I've laid my eyes on. I didn't know it yet but I was only going to be even more impressed with the stage design as the show progressed.

My collection of Broadway playbills begins!

The first song, "Miracle," began and my eyes immediately lit up and a wide, toothy grin formed across my face. I remained in this state of utter bliss, laughing out loud and clapping at every exciting moment and hilarious joke. I enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (played by Gabe Ebert and Lesli Margherita) the same way a child loves their friend's parents because they don't have to deal with them on a daily basis, and then developed a crush on Mr. Wormwood when I saw what he looked like without the mustache and green hair.

Drinks refreshed for the second act, I was ready for Matilda's powers to be revealed very soon. Who didn't love the scene in the hit 90s movie when she started coming into her telekinetic abilities and had a music montage set to "Little Bitty Pretty One" by Thurston Harris? Instead I was overwhelmed into hushed gasps and tears streaming down my face when the school children were joined by their older peers in "When I Grow Up." I wiped my face dry after the song ended and was brought back to laughing, only to be thrown back into emotional distress with the succeeding musical number.

There was no one factor to which I can attribute my transformation into a ball of emotions, and the booze in my system certainly didn't help. Every aspect of the show came together to produce a very well-executed performance. There aren't enough praises I can give to the talented young actress who played Matilda on the night we saw the show. Oona Laurence constantly delivered each line and song with such pure energy and a spark that commanded the audience to shut up and listen.

She forced the audience into silence in "Quiet," taking our breath away and running off with our hearts. Among the extremely talented cast of child actors was Ted Wilson who played Eric and Jack Broderick who played Bruce. Jason noted that Ted looked like the little baby version of me, if I had been thrown into the musical theater world instead of the ballet studio as a child. Both these boys were absolutely fantastic in the show, but what I was most surprised by was Ted's singing voice which you would expect to be a but a squeak with his tiny frame. He really is a perfect example of big things coming in small packages, delightfully surprising us all with a full, gorgeous voice.

Speaking of big things, Bertie Carvel's Miss Trunchbull was flawless. He brought the book and movie character to life in this musical by making us laugh with, instead of at, the villainous character. Never breaking character, even after the curtain call, his improvisation during the chalkboard scene was perfect. It seemed a little awkward when the video footage of the chalk had stopped moving, but he carried the scene forward gracefully and made us believe it - I didn't really even notice until confirming after the show. The one thing friends and I have agreed on wanting to see more of, or potentially earlier in the performance, is why Matilda is so special. We only got a few short scenes highlighting it and, when you read the book or see the movie, it's far more accented.

Regardless this was truly an amazing way to pop my Broadway cherry and I highly recommend seeing the show, not only because I'm biased and have amazing friends in it, but also because it is something you surely won't want to miss. Announced earlier today to be nominated for twelve Tony Awards, this is a show that you need to add to your calendar and experience for yourself.

2013 Tony Awards Nominees Announced

Matilda the Musical

Nominees for the 2013 Tony Awards were announced earlier this morning with some of my favorite people and shows up for honors. The awards show will be broadcast live on CBS on Saturday, the 9th of June. Listed below are the nominees in each category and highlighted are my picks for the award. I am by no means a Broadway authority, nor am I even really a theatre critic, so my favorites to win are simply based on the reviews I've read and personal testimonials I've heard from friends and acquaintances who have seen the performances. Still I wish certain people weren't on this list to make room for those whom I wish could and deserve to be on it. I'm biased, deal with it.

Best Play
"The Assembled Parties"
"Lucky Guy"
"The Testament of Mary"
"Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Best Musical
"Bring it On: The Musical"
"A Christmas Story, The Musical"
"Kinky Boots"
"Matilda The Musical"

Best Revival of a Play
"Golden Boy"
"The Trip to Bountiful"
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Best Revival of a Musical
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
"Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, "Lucky Guy"
Nathan Lane, "The Nance"
Tracy Letts, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
David Hyde Pierce, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Tom Sturridge, "Orphans"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, "The Other Place"
Amy Morton, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Kristine Nielson, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Holland Taylor, "Ann"
Cicely Tyson, "The Trip to Bountiful"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, "Matilda The Musical"
Santino Fontana, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Rob McClure, "Chaplin"
Billy Porter, "Kinky Boots"
Stark Sands, "Kinky Boots"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Carolee Carmello, "Scandalous"
Valisia LeKae, "Motown the Musical"
Patina Miller, "Pippin"
Laura Osnes, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, "Golden Boy"
Richard Kind, "The Big Knife"
Billy Magnussen, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Tony Shalhoub, "Golden Boy"
Courtney B. Vance, "Lucky Guy"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Shalita Grant, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Judith Ivey, "The Heiress,"
Judith Light, "The Assembled Parties"
Condola Rashad, "The Trip to Bountiful"

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, "Motown the Musical"
Keith Carradine, "Hands on a Hardbody"
Will Chase, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Gabriel Ebert, "Matilda The Musical"
Terrence Mann, "Pippin"

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, "Kinky Boots"
Victoria Clark, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Andrea Martin, "Pippin"
Keala Settle, "Hands on a Hardbody"
Lauren Ward, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Book of a Musical
Joseph Robinette, "A Christmas Story, The Musical"
Harvey Fierstein, "Kinky Boots"
Dennis Kelly, "Matilda The Musical"
Douglas Carter Beane, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater
"A Christmas Story, The Musical" (Music and Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)
"Hands on a Hardbody" (Music: Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green; Lyrics: Amanda Green)
"Kinky Boots" (Music and Lyrics: Cyndi Lauper)
"Matilda The Musical" (Music and LyricsL Tim Minchin)

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
Nicolas Martin, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"
Bartett Sher, "Golden Boy"
George C. Wolfe, "Lucky Guy"

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots"
Diane Paulus, "Pippin"
Matthew Warchus, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Choreography*
Andy Blankenbuehler, "Bring It On: The Musical"
Peter Darling, "Matilda the Musical"
Jerry Mitchell, "Kinky Boots"
Chet Walker, "Pippin"

* Alright, I'll have to see each one before I can really make a choice because my two obvious choices are Kinky Boots and Matilda the Musical, but I heard Bring It On: The Musical was absolutely fantastic - though right now I'm still cheering for Matilda the Musical (surprise!).

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, "Matilda the Musical"
Stephen Oremus, "Kinky Boots"
Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, "Motown the Musical"
Danny Troob, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Bailey, "The Nance"
Santo Loquasto, "The Assembled Parties"
David Rockwell, "Lucky Guy"
Michael Yeargan, "Golden Boy"

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, "Matilda The Musical"
Anna Louizos, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"
Scott Pask, "Pippin"
David Rockwell, "Kinky Boots"

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, "Cyrano de Bergerac"
Ann Roth, "The Nance"
Albert Wolsky, "The Heiress"
Catherine Zuber, "Golden Boy"

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, "Kinky Boots"
Rob Howell, "Matilda The Musical"
Dominique Lemieux, "Pippin"
William Ivey Long, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, "Lucky Guy"
Donald Holder, "Golden Boy"
Jennifer Tipton, "The Testament of Mary"
Japhy Weideman, "The Nance"

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, "Kinky Boots"
Kenneth Posner, "Pippin"
Kenneth Posner, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"
Hugh Vanstone, "Matilda The Musical"

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, "The Trip to Bountiful"
Mel Mercier, "The Testament of Mary"
Leon Rothenberg, "The Nance"
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, "Golden Boy"

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm, "Pippin"
Peter Hylenski, "Motown The Musical"
John Shivers, "Kinky Boots"
Nevin Steinberg, "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella"

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Bernard Gersten
Paul Libin
Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award
Huntington Theatre Company

Isabelle Stevenson Award
Larry Kramer

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre
Career Transition For Dancers
William Craver
Peter Lawrence
"The Lost Colony"
The four actresses who created the title role of "Matilda The Musical" on Broadway -- Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro

26 March 2013

Rumours of a Hot Tub Porn Scene Filmed in Hudson County

This is the untold story of our adventures in upstate New York last fall.

Road trip!

Halloween has come and gone and now Autumn is upon us. What better way to celebrate, and ignore the anxiety of the elections by escaping to upstate New York for some much needed R&R, time in the hot tub with a cocktail in hand and your friend's cock in the other, right? While upstate for the weekend my friends and I caused a bit of a stir on Grindr and Scruff and may have sparked a rumour that we were filming a hot tub porn scene in Hudson County, New York. I'll have to disappoint y'all now by saying we were a little too distracted by other activities to commit to shooting anything, but the weekend was still fun!

Stirring up trouble even when on holiday.

A group of us went to our friend's house upstate to celebrate his birthday and get away from the busy streets and our even busier schedules in New York City. Naturally we turned on our smartphone apps to check out the local gay scene and see if there was anything worth doing outside the comfort of the house, but it was upstate New York so really we should have known better. Our Grindrs blew up though after I may or may not have joked about filming a steamy hot tub scene while visiting.

What were we actually doing, you ask? What most New York City gays do in the fall - we went apple picking at the nearby orchard. I had half the mind to throw a few of them into the bushes and have my way with them but the cold would have gotten the better of us so I opted to keep my clothes on for once and save it for the shower, hot tub, bedroom, and near the fireplace. You can never have enough back up plans, right? Oh, AND we picked apples!

"Sir, do you know how this harness works?"

We also checked out the Zipline Canopy Tours in the Catskills where a very scruffy instructor threw a harness on me and asked if I'd ever been in one. Oh, if he only knew. I'm a pretty huge adrenaline junkie so flying down a huge mountain, hundreds of feet above the ground is something for which I live. I mean, sure, I white-knuckled my handle on the first run but it was still damn fun! I wished I hadn't worn my shredded jeans, though, the wind rushing in to my bum wasn't exactly the most comfortable thing in the world.

Save me, Scruffington McHung!

I didn't quite make it through all of the runs so Scruffington had to come out and pull me to the finish line a few times. His approach was interesting: he hooked himself up, zipped on over, put his legs around me, and tied a cable to pull me back. It was then that I noticed a very stiff and very large appendage pressing against his jeans to greet me. I made sure never to finish a single run after that.

spiced pumpkin martinis

So while you may have heard rumours of such a film being produced in the Catskills, they are not true - or at least, we weren't filming there. I do apologize for all your boners regarding such a scene, but maybe the next time I'm up we can actually take on that project. It'd be pretty hot, right? For now raise your glasses, try a spiced pumpkin martini that I tried while at a local bar there, to the election and hope that Obama wins another term!

15 March 2013

A Discussion on Barebacking and Safer Sex

I am a huge advocate for safer sex, however I am only human and I make mistakes, I learn from them, and I move on with my life more informed and hopefully making better decisions. My name is Elle Estanol and I have had bareback sex. In very much the same way BuzzFeed contributor Kyle Bella described the experience, “the scariest part for me [was] not the risk itself, but the fact that I enjoyed it.”1 Many gay men, at least those with whom I’ve interacted, are thoroughly educated on the subject of safer sex and HIV prevention – how could we not when we have been and are continually encouraged to always use a condom? The onset of the AIDS epidemic and its ravaging of our community taught us to protect ourselves and each other, and those lessons remain in our hearts and minds to this day.

06 March 2013

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Gay Blogger Scorned

I only recently came across Christopher Gen’s call to arms against the influx of men questioning their sexuality and their use of Grindr to explore their identity. The writer is obviously thoroughly misguided and misinformed on LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex – because yes, sexuality truly is a spectrum) culture and his commentary on such a matter can only be read as the whiny complaint of a gay man scorned for misusing a social networking application that does not cater to what he looks for in an ideal man. Before I dissect each poorly articulated concern regarding the degradation of gay men as a community by those who are not “man enough to admit what you want,” I suggest that Christopher choose a different network the next time he’s looking for a romantic connection.