Browsing: Let's Dance

November – December, 2006

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MOST PEOPLE today don’t know the name of Bruz Fletcher. In the 1930’s, however, all the right people knew his name. Humphrey Bogart, Louise Brooks, Howard Hughes, and Ronald Reagan are just some of the luminaries who laughed, drank, and blushed over the outrageous entertainment Fletcher delivered in his Sunset Strip nightclub. A modern saloon singer before Frank Sinatra or Bobby Short, Fletcher had as clear a voice as either of them, and a lyric wit that tossed off acrobatic rhymes and lavender-tinged triple entendres. This year marks the centenary of the birth of the gay wit known as “The Singing Satirist.”

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THE BARE BONES of Katharine Hepburn’s life are well known: born in Connecticut into a well-connected family, brilliant career in the movies, had a long-term affair with Spencer Tracy, reclusive dotage before dying in 2003 at the age of 96. What we don’t know much about, except as rumor and speculation, are the details of her putatively lesbian lifestyle.

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ESTABLISHMENT HISTORIANS like to construct closets around certain chapters of American history, and they reserve a special closet for any “founding father” who wasn’t a Bible-quoting Protestant heterosexual. They snarl when revisionist historians point out that many of the founders were Freemasons who didn’t subscribe to their idea of traditional Christian beliefs. One can only imagine their reaction to the suggestion that some of the founders expressed same-sex affections for one another.

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Short reviews of God Hates Fags, Now It’s My Turn, Kingdom Coming, Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man, and A Separate Reality.

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Christopher Bram’s latest book, Exiles in America, which was published by Morrow last August, is an exploration of relationships, religion, global politics, and sex. This is the ninth novel by Bram, whose Father of Frankenstein was turned into the movie Gods and Monsters and renamed accordingly. His other novels include The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes (2001) and Almost History (1992).

I interviewed Chris about this and his other novels, the creative process, being a “gay novelist,” and the state of gay fiction shortly before the publication of Exiles. – Michael Bronski

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IN HIS SOLID ANALYSIS of the contradictory status of “the gay person” in the United States at this moment, and the strategies that might advance the cause of social and legal equality, Shannon Gilreath shows himself to be well-armed with both knowledge and political passion, and with a gift for finding the right word.

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SINCE HIS 1987 DEBUT, The Object of My Affection, Stephen McCauley has staked his claim to the modern gay comedy of manners. In a series of novels-The Easy Way Out, The Man of the House, True Enough-he has turned a gently satirical eye to the vagaries of love, both gay and straight, demonstrating that neither sexual orientation has a monopoly on dysfunctional relationships. …

In his latest work, Alternatives to Sex, that defensiveness has come to embrace an entire citizenry-and with good reason.

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… In Gore Vidal’s America, Australian scholar Dennis Altman takes on Vidal’s critics, both past and present, and offers a useful and timely re-evaluation of his work. …

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SIMEON SOLOMON, a gay, Jewish Pre-Raphaelite painter of the 19th century, has figured prominently in most studies of gay male painting, and there has been an upsurge in scholarly interest of late.

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THE DANCE FESTIVAL known as Jacob’s Pillow began as the summer home of Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers in 1933. With that as its lineage, Shawn’s enterprise would seem to be entitled to a gay back-story. Surprisingly, that story has yet to be fully told, and many of the Pillow’s 70,000 annual visitors to Becket, Massachusetts, are probably unaware of this aspect of Pillow history.

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