Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jasmine Villegas on the Cover of the Flying Squirrel Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 19 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Flying Squirrel issue, it features Jasmine Villegas, Joey Kramer, Sam Smith, Ne-Yo, G-Eazy, Tokio Hotel, Cynthia Rowley, Jeremy Bringardner, Atman, Gustavo Schmidt, Chris Roberts-Antieau, and much more.

Jasmine Villegas discusses how her life changed at age eleven after performing the national anthem for the Los Angeles Clippers, being the opening artist for Justin Bieber on his 2010 My World Tour, and how being the victim of domestic violence motivated her to make changes in her life and create the song, "Didn't Mean It."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jack and Maud–with Sinatra and You, Too

Despite rainstorms that have recently pounded California, we're still facing a statewide water shortage due to our historic drought spanning the last three years.

To highlight the continuing need to conserve water in California, my friend Barry Stone has started making short films, like this one with Jack and Maud.

Jack and Maud from barry stone on Vimeo.

If you have ideas for more water-conservation films or would like to lend your talents to the Water Movies project, please reach out to Barry here.

And be sure to follow the project on Facebook.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Things Just Happen, And Sometimes You Get A Little Lucky:" Interview with Richard Kramer

I was thrilled when Emmy and Peabody award-winning television writer, director and producer, Richard Kramer, recently introduced himself and sat down for an interview about his television career and debut novel, These Things Happen.

I started with:

You and I met on Twitter. When I initially read your profile, I thought we'd connected because we're both writers. But one of the first things you mentioned to me was your passion for vintage beefcake. That's obviously a passion I share with you and the fans of my vintage beefcake blog.

Maybe that’s because I am vintage beefcake. I grew up in New York, and I vividly remember the windows of the porn shops on 42nd Street, long before Disney came along. I remember the men in hats, smoking, the silences, sneaking in and getting kicked out because I was too young. You couldn’t show dick at the time, so everything was idealized, classical, pillars, posing straps. And of course this imprinted itself on my erotic consciousness in a way that the million-times more graphic porn of today can never equal. In vintage beefcake, there was mystery involved; you had to call on your imagination, write the story yourself. Just where did those crumbled pillars come from, anyway? On which mountaintop did that healthy male frolicking take place? What vanished civilization was this?

You wrote that the older gay male characters in your first novel, These Things Happen, enjoy vintage beefcake, while it's of little interest to the gay teenager in the story.

That might be because Theo (the kid you reference) can just go online and see anything he likes, all the time. My old guys (all of them younger than me, by the way) had to connive, be furtive, worry about being caught, sweat a little. The way it should be. Theo’s parents would probably help him write a punchy Grindr profile; God forbid they should seem to be disapproving or intolerant, even if they actually are—which is one of the book’s subjects. I wonder about straight kids and gay kids … if the availability of the most graphic sexual images takes away some of the thrill of discovering sex for yourself. I hope not.

You are an Emmy and Peabody award-winning television writer, director and producer. These Things Happen is your first novel. It is a coming-of-age tale about fifteen-year-old Wesley Bowman in New York City. After living much of his life with his mother and her husband, he moves in with his gay biological father and his life partner. What is it about this story that made you want to tell it as a novel?

I always wanted to write a novel, and was always afraid I couldn’t. I don’t know why. I started out writing fiction, and was in The New Yorker at 21, which might sound glamorous but made me self-conscious and held me back. Then, happily, I did write a novel. The material led me to the form; I wanted to be able to enter the consciousness of an assortment of characters, to be with them on a moment-to-moment basis, where they were experiencing what was happening both externally—which is what you can do in drama—and internally, which is what you can do in fiction. I played with the material in different forms, and in the end it seemed it might work best as a book. Particularly, as I got into the heads of two characters who are, I suppose, at least on the surface, hard to like. I’m talking about the mom and dad. Being with them, sitting with them, listening to them, I came to respect them, even love them. And I hope readers can do that, too. Without spoiling anything, the dad is, for me, the key character; he comes the longest distance. It might seem tiny, at first, but it’s immense for him, and it pays off (that is: I hope it pays off) in the book’s final moments. And I can say, without spoiling anything, that until I wrote those moments, I had no idea what would happen in them. There it was. I thought “So that’s who you are. I would never have guessed. Thank you for letting me see that.”

Each chapter of These Things Happen is told in first person by one of the characters. There's Wesley, of course. And his best friend, Theo, who comes out of the closet while giving a speech at school. And chapters by Wesley's mother and her current husband. And by Wesley's biological father, Kenny, and his life partner, George. As well as chapters by two other characters. Why did you chose to construct your novel this way?

Again, it wasn’t a conscious choice. I didn’t know I was doing it until I’d finished the first section, which is told from Wesley’s P.O.V., and began the next, which is told from George’s. When I first started to think about These Things Happen, I thought I’d write the whole thing from Wesley’s P.O.V.

I was wrong, but I didn’t know that until I came to the moment that ends the first chapter and I felt a kind of click, telling me it was okay to leave him at that point and to go check in with someone else. And that set the pattern for the rest of the book. I wrote until—the click, until the moment where I could leave one person and visit another.

As for the first person-ing, I think I used that as a safety net, because it’s what I knew. The whole long last section, though, is written in the third person. Again, that wasn’t a choice so much as an event, that I witnessed. Maybe I felt more confident at that point. Whatever the reason—I just followed it.

Which character's voice was the hardest for you to pinpoint?

None of them. They’re all me. I used to say on thirtysomething [for which he wrote, directed and produced] I was all the characters, including the house. I’m everyone in These Things Happen, and I only saw that when I was done. I reconnected with an old tenth-grade friend not long ago. I sent him the book, and he told me Wesley was exactly who I was at fifteen. That stunned me. How had I not seen that? Maybe it’s what made him fun to write, though.

Was there a character you most related to? One whose point of you most enjoyed inhabiting?

I loved writing all of them! By which I mean I loved being all of them. They all surprised me, they all knew themselves better than I did. Sometimes when I was writing this book, I felt more like a secretary to the characters than the novelist who was bringing them to life. A writer friend said to me that you don’t write the book; the book writes you. I felt that all the time with These Things Happen.

Two characters are gay bashed in your novel. This terrible event is of course a major turning point in the story. Without revealing spoilers to anyone who's not yet read your novel, what do you believe is the message of These Things Happen?

That’s changed, as I have. At this point in my life, I’d say—none of us can know ourselves, or others, completely. And every now and then, if we’re lucky, these things happen in our lives that show us something about ourselves we didn’t know, something with which we’re not comfortable, and would harshly judge in others. What do you do when one of those moments comes into your life? Do you hide from it? Do you fall apart? Do you acknowledge whatever it is you’ve seen as an integral part of who you are? Can you let yourself be loved for everything you are? I’ve written about that a lot over the years. I never know I’m doing it. But it seems to be a magnet for me.

I mentioned earlier you are a television writer, director and producer. In fact, you've worked on some of the most iconic, generation-defining shows of the last 30 or so years: thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, the American version of Queer As Folk, and Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (the 1993 PBS television adaption of Maupin's first book in the Tales of the City chronicles)—just to name a few.

And those are the ones I talk about! There were lots of duds and clinkers in there, as well. Lots of movies that didn’t get made, pilots that didn’t go to series. But that’s anyone’s career. I feel lucky to have worked on a couple of projects that impacted people’s lives. When the book was published, I worried that people would say, “Oh, he’s just some slick hack from TV,” but that didn’t happen. Wherever I went, people told me their favorite thirtysomething episode, or how sad they were when My So-Called Life got cancelled after its first season, or how important Tales of the City was to them. I don’t think a week has gone by in the twenty years since it was first on that someone hasn’t told me that it changed their life. I had an operation ten years ago, and when I was (briefly) in the ICU, I saw my male nurse had one of the Tales books in his bag. When I told him I’d worked on the show, he said to me: “Those books saved my life. Now let’s save yours.”

The first television show you wrote for was Family in 1978. How did you become a television writer and producer?

I started out, right out of college, writing for The New Yorker. I thought that was going to be my life, but it seems my life had ideas of its own, and laughed at the ones I had. I wrote a spec script for Family while I was working on a cruise ship as a singles host. I sent it in cold, didn’t hear anything, and forgot about it. A year later, I got a letter, because they had letters, then, telling me they wanted to buy it and bring me to California. So I went and, it seems from the available evidence, I stayed. One thing leads to another, some things don’t lead to anything. But enough things lead to other things so that, finally, you’re in your story, and you realize that nothing happens for a reason. Things just happen. Which is maybe what I should have called my book. Or, maybe, Things Just Happen, And Sometimes You Get A Little Lucky. I feel that way.

Richard Kramer (Photo: Beau Deshotel)
Have you always been out as a writer, director and producer in Hollywood?

I love this question. It’s caused me to look back and remember that it was the producers and executives who were twenty years older than me who made it comfortable for me to be out, and my peers who made it uncomfortable. Of course, you always collaborate a little with the discomfort of others, without realizing you’re doing it. That’s true to this day. How could I be more out? And yet it’s still not easy for me to jump in and say, “I’m gay, by the way.” I do it, of course, but I always feel a little worried, even a little ashamed, and then I’m ashamed of being ashamed. Some of which is woven into the book, most notably, in the character of the dad. Will I ever fully get over that? I doubt it. I don’t think that’s the goal. The goal is to see it; that’s how you start to get free. Note that I say start.

In the 1990's, I was blown away by My So-Called Life, which stars Claire Danes as a 15-year-old dealing with her life at home and at school. Why do you think the show has retained its popularity?

Well, she’s got a lot to do with it, of course. I remember the day she walked in for the audition. None of us even knew what to say. We were almost afraid to say yes to her; she was so far outside the range of the typical television teen girl. She hardly even seemed human. But she was magic, and she caused us to rethink the whole show, to respond to what we saw in her, to mirror her rawness, her authenticity, her elegance. She came with a ladder which we all had to climb. And Winnie Holzman’s script, of course, was perfect. If it hadn’t been so good, I don’t think we’d have drawn Claire. And the show would have been just another teen show. I have a theory that if you write it, they will come. Write it right, that is. I believe the right actor finds you. That was certainly the case with the thirtysomething cast. And the Tales of the City cast. I don’t think it was the case with the Once and Again cast, although there were wonderful people in that, of course. As for the show itself, and why people love it—again, I have to nod to Winnie Holzman, who, of course, went off to write Wicked, which was no accident; Stephen Schwartz was a huge My So-Called Life fan, and could tell that Winnie had a rare understanding of the inner lives of teenage girls, witches and otherwise. And she led the way for us. She set a very high bar. Also, we did nothing to make it seem of-the-moment. We didn’t have a Teen Advisor; we wrote ourselves. My So-Called Life as a Middle-Aged Jew; that’s what should have been the title of the show.

In addition to both these projects being centered around teenagers, what do My So-Called Life and your novel These Things Happen have in common?

They’re both about authenticity, I think. Angela Chase and Wesley Bowman both fiercely insist on it. They’d make a nice couple. I hope they meet at Brown.

I am a massive fan of female leads in television and film. I happily binge-watched the entire first season of Bitten the day I found it on Netflix. I love watching Claire Danes now in Homeland. I miss Buffy and Veronica Mars. There's a dearth of female-lead dramas and comedies on television and at the movies.

But that’s changing, right? I love Scandal. I don’t love Orange Is The New Black, but I think I get why people do.

I enjoyed the British and American versions of Queer As Folk, which centers around gay characters living in small towns next to major cities, where many gay characters typically appear in fiction.

What drew you to this television project?

The British version drew me. Period. There was something so muscular about Russell Davies’s story-telling. I’m not a fan of the American version. Maybe because I got fired from it!

As you know, I live in San Francisco. I was born here. I am deeply in love with almost all the characters in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City chronicles.

How did you end up working with Maupin on the television adaption?

It goes back to ten years, at least, before the show went on the air. When I first met Armistead, I think that only the first two books had been published, maybe the third. When we first worked on it, it was going to be a half-hour comedy. We called it Mary Tyler Moore For The 80’s. I wrote a script. And now, neither Armistead nor I have any memory of that stage of the experience! I ran into someone recently who told me she had been the producer of that early version. You could have fooled me!

What message would you like your audience to take away from These Things Happen and the TV shows you've worked on?

None. On the TV shows, we ran in the other direction if we saw a message heading our way. It’s the same with These Things Happen. You throw some characters together, you watch what they do, you see what they want, and how they do or don’t get it. [Film and television writer, director and producer] Ed Zwick used to say the only message he wanted the shows to impart was to keep your hands inside the bus. The message is made by the audience.

These Things Happen has been picked up by HBO and HARPO Films for development into a half-hour comedy TV series. Richard Kramer is currently writing the pilot.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

LOOKING's Season 2 Trailer

Looking, HBO's gay dramedy set in San Francisco, California, recently dropped this trailer for its second season.

Poor Patrick still seems adept, by his own indecision, at creating maelstroms around himself and his friends.

Next month, I look forward to attending the series' second season world premiere at the Castro Theatre.

Be sure to check back here for my review.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO! by Teddy Saunders

There's so much great material on Vimeo, I can get lost in there for days.

Today, it's cold and rainy in San Francisco, which means it's the perfect time to re-watch again Teddy Saunders' Oh, The Places You'll Go! shot at Burning Man 2011.

Oh, The Places You'll Go at Burning Man! from Teddy Saunders on Vimeo.

If ever you need a pick-me-up, I can't recommend enough this short film, which was produced, edited and directed by Teddy Saunders, directed by Parker Howell and directed by William Walsh.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Gorgeous Project in Palm Springs, New York and Beyond

If you're a fan of this blog, you already know I love The Gorgeous Project, which you can read about when you jump to this post on the blog.

On November 8, 2014, The Gorgeous Project celebrated its first national exhibit at Gallery 446 in Palm Springs, California. The hosts were celebrity guests Amanda Lepore, Armen Ra and Ernie Omega. The exhibit is sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Palm Springs Pride, and benefits Boo2Bullying. The exhibit runs through December 31, 2014.

From left: Ridge Gallagher, Armen Ra, Rob Lebow and Amanda Lepore (Photo: Alexis Hunter)
Photographer Rob Lebow said opening night: "Artists can awaken the world to the negativity of bullying and how zero tolerance is the only answer to create a safe learning environment for youth."

Attendee at Gallery 446 (Photo: coachellamagazine)
In January, 2015, selected portraits from The Gorgeous Project will next hang in a joint show entitled "club kids" with famed New York photographer Patrick McMullan.

McMullan and Lebow have captured many of the same subjects at different periods in their lives–and it's a wonderful contrast.

Lebow recently wrote me that The Gorgeous Project coffee table book is on course for a 2015 release.

You can collect his work here.

Friday, November 28, 2014

COMING OUT TO PLAY by Robbie Rogers

Openly gay soccer player Robbie Rogers has released his memoir, Coming Out To Play, written with Eric Marcus and now available at Amazon.

It is difficult to overstate what a trailblazer Robbie is as the first openly gay man playing in Major League Soccer–or in any major league sport in the United States.

In his book, Robbie discusses the emotional and physical turmoil he endured in the closet, as well as how his personal life and career have transformed now that he lives as an openly gay man.

The MLS Insider produced this video about Robbie retiring from soccer, coming out of the closet and soon thereafter signing to play with the L.A. Galaxy.

When you jump to this post on the blog, you can watch an excellent interview Robbie did with The Trevor Project.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"Hearts Would Rhyme" by Bright Smoke

Singer and artist Bright Smoke released the music video for her song, "Hearts Would Rhyme."

I love her voice and songs so much. When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read my interview with Bright Smoke.

Monday, November 10, 2014

HBO's THE COMEBACK Season 2: Episode 1 – “Valerie Makes A Pilot” Full Episode

Today on YouTube, HBO released in its entirety Season 2: Episode 1 of The Comeback.

I love Lisa Kudrow's cringe-worthy Valerie Cherish and can't wait to see more of this season nine years in the making.

UPDATED November 30, 2014: HBO has made private the Season 2: Episode 1 video on YouTube, so here's another trailer to The Comeback.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

LOOKING Season 2 Teaser

HBO's Looking dropped this teaser trailer today. Season 2 begins January 11, 2015.

In the teaser, I suspect the gang is pharmaceutically altered at a gay club in San Francisco, California.

As I recently discussed on Twitter with series writer Tanya Saracho, I've not lost hope Jonathan Groff's character, Patrick, is caught naked up a tree this season.

When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read about the world premiere of Looking I attended earlier this year at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Time" and "Bennie and the Jets" by Steve Grand

As I mention in this post on the blog, openly gay singer/songwriter Steve Grand's Kickstarter campaign broke records as Grand raised funds to produce his first album.

Today, he released his original song "Time" and his cover of Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" co-composed with Bernie Taupin.

You can purchase these songs on iTunes and listen to them on YouTube.

This is a clip Grand made while waiting for his mics to be set up at his recording studio in San Diego, California.

Grand's first album is due out January, 2015.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Interview with Armistead Maupin at the San Francisco Public Library

On October 23, 2014, KM Soehnlein interviewed Armistead Maupin at the San Francisco Public Library.

Maupin talked about how his Tales of the City books first ran as a newspaper serial, what San Francisco was like in the 1970's, his adventures at Burning Man, and much more.

I like to purchase his books directly from his website - He signs each one for you!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Interview with BITTEN's Laura Vandervoort and Greyston Holt

If you don't already know about my obsession with Canadian TV network Space's Bitten, jump to this post on the blog and find a way to watch the first season.

I have no doubt fans of the female-lead werewolf show will enjoy this interview with leads Laura Vandervoort and Greyston Holt shot by Eclipse Magazine at Comic-Con.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bella Thorne on the Cover of the Platypus Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 18 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Platypus issue, it features Bella Thorne, Robert Budd, Al Hutchinson, Wilmer Valderrama, Jennifer Ehrenfeld, Alex Garibyan, The Vampire Diaries, Aerosmith, Estelle, Alex Chung, Miike Snow and much more.

Bella Thorne discusses her upcoming films, what she learned starring in Shake It Up, overcoming dyslexia and working on her debut album.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bizarre: A Circus Story

I'm thrilled the first trailer has been released for the documentary Bizarre: A Circus Story, with the tagline "A Small Man with a Big Dream for the Big Top."

Circus Center is across the street from the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. It is where circus performers learn their craft under the guidance of Master Lu Yi, who's hailed as the father of modern acrobatics.

This visually stunning documentary is about Master Lu Yi, Circus Center and the circus' place in our digital century. It's now headed to a film festival near you.

Be sure to jump to their site to learn more about Bizarre: A Circus Story.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The second season of The Comeback (co-created by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King) airs November 9, 2014, with Kudrow returning as neurotic Valerie Cherish nine years after the first season premiered on HBO.

Between 2005 and now, there have been plenty of reality stars, but none have brought me as much joy as Kudrow's sincere, smart and manipulative Valerie Cherish, a faded sitcom star followed around by a reality-TV film crew as she tries to reignite her career on a sophomoric TV sitcom with much younger co-stars.

The new season promises many more cringe-worthy moments of Valerie Cherish trying to edit and re-edit (with no editor in sight) what the reality-TV film crew records as she anxiously second-guesses how every little thing she says and does might be judged by her much-loved fans.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mild to Wild: First Annual Bob Mizer Emerging Photographer Competition

The Bob Mizer Foundation has announced its First Annual Bob Mizer Emerging Photographer Competition. It is the Foundation’s 4th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the beginning of Bob Mizer’s amazing career.

Entries will be evaluated by a panel of internationally recognized professionals, including photography critic Vince Aletti, working artist John Sonsini, and editor Dian Hanson of Taschen Publishing.

Gene Eberle
Winners will receive cash and original, unpublished Bob Mizer photographs.

While Mizer’s best-known work was erotic or semi-erotic in nature, his experimental work often was not. This competition is open to all subject matter—from mild to wild.

Jimmy Lewis
If you're a fan of this blog and of the photographs at my vintage beefcake blog, you know Mizer nearly all by himself invented the concept "male model" in the 1940's in Los Angeles, California. When you jump to this post on the blog, you can read about Mizer in my interview with Dennis Bell, the current owner of the Athletic Model Guild and founder of the Bob Mizer Foundation.

Jack Conant and his wife
With this competition, Dennis Bell’s primary focus is to encourage emerging, unknown photographers to publicly share their vision.  Professional photographers are welcome to submit experimental work that has not been commercially sold or publicly exhibited.  Images should focus on experimental photographic methods—whether historic or modern—and may be shot digitally.  (There's a separate category for analog photography.)  Entry categories are: Figurative, Portraiture, Erotic; "Retro," Any Subject, and Analog Camera (i.e. traditional film).

John Winship
Entries must be received by the end of the day on November 30th, 2014.  Applications are available on the Foundation's website.

Winners of the 1st Annual Bob Mizer Foundation Emerging Photographer Competition will be announced December 30, 2014.

Hank Evans
For further details about the 2014 Bob Mizer Emerging Photographer Competition, including the list of awards, award judges, and their credentials, please go here.

Email the Foundation for all submission and media inquiries.

You can help support the Bob Mizer Foundation by donating directly at its website. There you will find more information on Bob Mizer, the Athletic Model Guild and the Bob Mizer Foundation, including its mailing address for your donations and updates on gallery shows, screenings and lectures.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Geir Ness: Norway's First International Fragrance Designer

Obsessed with film and television shows as far back as I can remember, I always enjoy learning how a celebrity got their big break.

Teenager Lauren Bacall was acting and modeling in New York, when Hollywood powerhouse Howard Hawks asked his secretary to find out more about Bacall, who was featured on the March, 1943 cover of Harper's Bazaar. Misunderstanding, his secretary sent Bacall a ticket to Hollywood to audition for To Have and Have Not.

In the 1970's, Harrison Ford was both an actor and a carpenter. While installing a door at George Lucas' film studio, he caught Lucas' attention and was cast as Han Solo in Star Wars.

Norwegian Geir Ness hardly spoke English while a fragrance model at a department store in Los Angeles. He wanted to become Norway's first major fragrance designer, so he purchased a $5 suit, retrieved a red carpet from the garbage and secured a photographer (who couldn’t afford camera film). Then, with students from his acting class pretending to know him as a mega-celebrity from Norway, Geir pulled off a publicity stunt at Nordstrom that landed him his first order of 1,000 bottles of Laila perfume.

Geir Ness in Norway

Nordstrom thought the order would last three months. It sold out in an hour.

You likely know Geir now offers in stores and online Laila Eau de Parfum (named after his mother) and Geir for Men.

Laila Eau de Parfum

Geir for Men

He also designs handbags, one of which Tara-Nicole Azarian was seen sporting at the Golden Globes.

Tara-Nicole Azarian at the Golden Globes

Despite his hectic schedule, Geir found a few moments for me.

I started with: It's very nice to meet you. What are you currently working on?

A new handbag for the winter season. A gift set for my new skin care line, Skin of Norway. New packaging for Laila. And a new face scrub for Geir, as well as a shaving gel/shower gel combo.

And you seem to be traveling all around the U.S.A. via your partnership with Nordstrom.

Working with Nordstrom is a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting lots of interesting people.

Any standout moments?

One winter day I was in Chicago doing an event with Nordstrom. The next morning I was booked to be a guest speaker at a big trend show with Nordstrom in Detroit. But a snowstorm shut down the Chicago airport, so I rented a car and drove in the storm straight to Detroit. I arrived at 7:59 am. The MC introduced me as I walked on stage at 8 AM sharp. Whatever it takes, you can make it happen. After that show, I sold out of every single piece. :-)

Geir Ness and his mother, Laila

Fulfilling a personal goal to help others, Geir donates both his time and money to a long list of foundations and charities: the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Los Angeles AIDS Ride, and SumoKids Foundation are just a few.

In 2009, he teamed up with Norwegian Olympic Gold Medalist, Grete Waitz, to run in the New York Marathon to support of the Grete Waitz Cancer Foundation. When Grete was unable to participate due to chemotherapy, Geir ran the marathon on her behalf to raise money for cancer patients. His time was an amazing 4 hours, 28 minutes. They raised close to $300,000 for the charity.

Referring to his success as the designer of Norway's first international fragrance, Geir says, "The American Dream can come true and it does not stop here, always more to come!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas announced today that the eight-episode, weekly web series, Play It Again, Dick, debuts September 16 on the CW Seed.

The web series centers on actor Ryan Hansen trying to get the CW Television Network to greenlight a Veronica Mars spinoff show about his character, Dick Casablancas, as a motorcycle-riding, lady-killer P. I.

Ryan says in his pitch to the CW: "It's like a Veronica Mars that isn't afraid of sex. Rob always called me the dessert of the show. Why not a show that's all dessert? We drop all the who-gives-a-damn high-school-is-a-metaphor-for-something-or-other and just give the people what they want: Dick!"

Thomas promises Veronica Mars actors will appear in the web series as skewed versions of themselves.

You can watch the trailer and weekly episodes here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

CMG Short Film Festival 2014

Love short film festivals? Love knowing a big chunk of your ticket price is benefiting the AIDS Walk Los Angeles?

Then, clearly, the CMG Short Film Festival is perfect for you!

The CMG (California Men's Gatherings) Short Film Festival is four programs of LGBTQ films shown Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21, at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

The Festival is at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers, which is located at 625 San Vicente Boulevard in West Hollywood. (Ticket holders enjoy validated FREE PARKING at the Festival.)

Each program costs $10.00.

No film repeats in a second program, so when you purchase a festival pass at $35.00 for all four programs, you won't see the same film twice.

Be sure to jump to the Festival's site to read all about the films being shown.

Tell your friends! Rack up mega-bonus karma points by enjoying a festival, that is an all-proceeds benefit for AIDS Walk Los Angeles (and has been for its entire existence.)

The impressive group of sponsors include The Abbey Food & Bar and CINEMAGIC.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Who on the Cover of the Scottish Wildcat Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 17 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Scottish Wildcat issue, it features The Who, Gabrielle Aplin, Julian Lennon, Johny Dar, Tatyana Ali, Tamara Bubble, Jessie Ware, Bebe Rexha, The xx and much more.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


If you're a fan of this blog, you already know I love to write female-lead stories and am obsessed with the TV series Veronica Mars and Buffy. So, it's probably no surprise to you that I binge-watched the Canadian TV series Bitten the day I discovered the first season on Netflix.

The show is based on the Women of the Otherworld series of books written by Kelley Armstrong. Laura Vandervoort plays Elena Michaels, a woman struggling to live in our world with her human boyfriend Philip at the same time she is drawn back to her werewolf pack, which includes her former fiancé Clayton (played by Greyston Holt).

Elena and Clayton's scorching-hot, star-crossed relationship reminds me of Buffy and Angel's angst-ridden love affair in Buffy.

I was pleased to find out the show was renewed for a second season.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Michael Sam Wins Arthur Ashe Courage Award

Tonight Michael Sam accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY's for his courage to be the first openly gay football player drafted into the National Football League.

Since 1993, cable network ESPN presents ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) awards to individuals and teams to recognize sports-related achievements.

If you are unfamiliar with Arthur Ashe, I encourage you to visit his website.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Zeppelin" by Eli Lieb

I was thrilled today when Eli Lieb dropped his new single, "Zeppelin."

I've been watching the music video on repeat ever since.

Of course, I've already purchased the single at iTunes.

I write in this post on the blog about his single, "Young Love," which reminds me of...the one who got away.

If you haven't already checked out Eli's website, I encourage you to do so now.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Tamar Braxton on the Cover of the Carolina Parakeet Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 16 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Carolina Parakeet issue, it features Tamar Braxton, Gabrielle Aplin, Iggy Azalea, Johny Dar, Jhene Aiko, Art by J Taylor, Cliff Watts, James Hicks and much more.

Tamar Braxton discusses her album Love and War, her successes on numerous television shows, and the influence Whitney Houston has had on her since the first evening they met.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Proud To Play: Celebrating Equality for All Athletes

Released yesterday, the video, "Proud To Play: Celebrating Equality for All Athletes," has gone viral.

A lot has changed for LGBT athletes in the United States since February, 2013, when Major League Soccer player Robbie Rogers retired from the sport, came out, then signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy to become the first openly gay man to play in a top North American professional sports league.

In the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, professional basketball player Jason Collins came out.

In January, 2014, Conner Mertens became the first active football player to come out as bisexual.

And after finishing his football career at the University of Missouri, Michael Sam came out. On May 12, 2014, he was drafted into the National Football League by the St. Louis Rams. If Michael plays in the league, he will be the first openly gay football player in the NFL.

The more LGBT athletes come out, the more visible they are to each other and to the world. Stereotypes are shattered: anyone can play who has the skills.

The video includes a clip of former South African President Nelson Mandela saying: "Sport can create hope where once there was only despair."

June is LGBT Pride Month. The World Cup is nine days away.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Doreen Taylor, 360 Magazine, #globalsociety and You

Every Friday at 2:30 PM Eastern/11:30 AM Pacific Time, 360 Magazine hosts an hour-long Twitter chat.

We encourage you to join in by searching Twitter with #globalsociety. When you use that hashtag in your tweets, everyone can see you've joined the conversation.

It was a pleasure to chat today with Doreen Taylor, the American singer, songwriter, model, actress and recording artist.

50% of the proceeds of the downloads of her song, "Colors of the USA," benefits the National Parks Conservation Association. The National Parks celebrates this year its 100th anniversary. The money raised will help protect and enhance the National Parks for future generations.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

San Diego, Encinitas, Leucadia and La Jolla

To celebrate our tenth anniversary over the long Memorial Day weekend, my partner Phil and I flew past Monterey to San Diego, California.

I wish we'd been able to transport Monterey's Portola Hotel and Spa to San Diego. So far, it has been one of the nicest hotels we've stayed at south of San Francisco.

San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood was our home base.

We devoted much of one day to exploring massive Balboa Park. I especially like the Spanish Village Art Center. Phil told me a glass decoration in the front of our house was purchased here some twenty years ago.

The next day, we drove north to the beach towns of Encinitas and Leucadia, where Phil lived in the early 1990's.

At the top of the staircase he used every day to reach the beach where he surfed and swam, I saw this street sign painted on the curb. I wonder if these towns might be the inspiration for Rob Thomas' television series, Veronica Mars. The heroine lives in the fictional beach town of Neptune, California.

There were lots of surfers on the water that cold, foggy day.

Not far from Phil's old house in Encinitas is the Self-Realization Fellowship founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda. The gardens built right up to the cliff edge are spectacular.

Our favorite place in Encinitas is Pannikin Coffee & Tea, which is located in the historic Santa Fe Railroad Station built in 1888.

Farther north is the long beach of La Jolla. We climbed down cliffs to the beach at Torrey Pines to enjoy the best weather of the trip.

We ended our weekend at the Hillcrest Brewing Company, where we had amazing beer and pizza. Ask for Gavin. You can recognize him by his tattoo. He was excellent.

It was a perfect weekend in San Diego to celebrate our anniversary.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tim Sweeney at Beats in Space

If you spend any time at my house, you'll soon be exposed to Tim Sweeney at Beats in Space, a radio show mixed live every Tuesday night from 10:30 pm to 1:00 am on WNYU 89.1 FM. The weekly show has run without fail since its premiere in 1999.

This video was recorded during the FLOW Festival at the Boiler Room in Helsinki, Finland.

I often play this on my iPhone while walking around San Francisco.

On our music server at the house, my partner and I have nearly all of the BIS podcasts. Tim Sweeney has brought on his show so much amazing talent, it's nearly impossible to choose favorites, but here are mine:

BIS Radio Show # 769 - Part 1 Jamie Paton and Stuart Chuggy Leath

BIS Radio Show # 723 - Part 1 with Jamie XX (from The XX) and John Talabot

BIS Radio Show # 689 - Part 2 with Tim Sweeney

BIS Radio Show # 681 - Part 1 with Veronica Vasicka

BIS Radio Show # 638 - Part 1 with Breakbeat Lou - All vinyl 45's!

BIS Radio Show # 637 - Part 1 with Dukes of Chutney

Monday, April 21, 2014

MAD MEN: The Final Season

The first episode of the seventh and final season of AMC's Mad Men aired April 13, 2014.

Created and produced by Matthew Weiner, Mad Men has been one of my favorite series this century. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a fascinating, damaged character who seems split in two: his id does whatever and whomever it wants, while his ego – that part of him knowing right from wrong and guiding him through the mindfield of everyday living – has a powerful corrective effect on his self-destructive behavior with often spectacular results.

I love all of the other characters in the series, but especially adore Megan Draper (Jessica Paré), Don's wife so thoroughly a modern individual as Don is a man shaped by and chafing against the morals and mores of the first half of the twentieth century.

The gorgeous psychedelia of this final season promotional video suggests Don at last transcends the chaos of his destructive duality.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Demi Lovato on the Cover of the Mbashe Butterfly Issue of 360 Magazine

Volume 15 of 360 Magazine is now available at Magzter and Blurb!

Known as the Mbashe Butterfly issue, it features Demi Lovato, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Zendaya, Lorde, Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, Pharrell Williams, Gary W. Goldstein and much more.

I wrote the piece on Gary W. Goldstein, about whom I also write in this post on the blog.

Demi Lovato discusses her current Neon Lights Tour, the reasons why she founded the Lovato Treatment Scholarship, and what's next for the popular singer/songwriter.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Give Me One Reason:" Interview with Nisha Nandez

Last month, Nisha Nandez released her first music video, "Give Me One Reason," an outstanding cover of Tracy Chapman's classic, featuring guitarist Jason Richard.

I had to find out more about Nisha, whom I'd met through Twitter.

I checked out her album on iTunes and visited her website, where I learned she'd overcome serious personal tragedies in pursuit of her singing career, and that she is a retired U. S. Army officer, who sang in the army band during the first Gulf War.

I was happy when Nisha found some time between her music and MBA coursework for an interview.

I started with:

I really like your cover of "Give Me One Reason." How did you select this song for your first music video?

I enjoyed recording it with Jason Richard and AJ Mancabelli. After I released it on iTunes, I saw how much my fans enjoyed the song, too, so I decided it would be fun to shoot a music video for it. I’d already had so many people asking when I was going to release a video.

"Give Me One Reason" just seemed perfect.

You say on your site music has always been a part of your life. Who are your musical influences?

Primarily, my family. I come from a long line of musicians and singers. My father was a pianist. My mother’s side includes phenomenal singers.

Other influences range from Mozart and Beethoven (I’ve played the flute since I was 9 years old.) to Evanescence, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake and Destiny’s Child.

I just love music. All styles and genres. I listen to music more than I watch television. [Laughter.]

You've been quite frank about the tragedies you've dealt with. What advice would you give someone finding their artistic dreams roadblocked by their current circumstances?

People too often come up with excuses for why they can’t accomplish their dreams or even pursue them.

The only thing that can stop you is yourself.

I’m a firm believer that all things are possible. The only direction is forward, even when life takes you back a few steps.

I've learned to see each obstacle as a learning experience, another great lyric, a steppingstone toward making me a better person. There's nothing I can't achieve if I put my mind to it.

And I believe that is true for everyone, when you just believe in yourself and your dreams.

What's next for you?

I'm writing more songs and looking into some ventures outside of music. I finally complete my MBA this summer and will put that to use. I’m considering going for my doctorate. Not yet sure about that, though. [Laughter.] Graduate school has been quite challenging.

I'm working with some great people toward a record deal that works both for me and the label.

Mike, I want to thank the people I’ve been so blessed to have worked with over the past year and a half, and who have stopped at nothing to support me, listening to me whine, complain and sometimes cry.

There are so many people in my life who have been awesome.

The ones who gave up on me, I thank them, too, because they made me stronger!

I’m so grateful for how well my music career has been going. I hope to bring more music to the world in 2014.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival presents the short film, Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos, directed by Amy Harrison and written by Kirk Shimano.

Watch it now, as the festival is making the short available online for a limited time.

You can read the festival's interview with the director, when you jump here.

Miss Finknagle Succumbs to Chaos was originally produced for the PlayGround Film Festival, whose trailer I worked on and discuss in this post on the blog.

Wonderfully inventive, the short won best picture at the PlayGround Film Festival.

I look forward to more projects by director Amy Harrison and writer Kirk Shimano.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Steve Grand's Record-Shattering Kickstarter Campaign Ends at $326,593

A little over a month ago, openly gay singer/songwriter Steve Grand launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance his first album, "All-American Boy."

He asked for $81,000.

Last night, the campaign ended at $326,593 - more than quadruple what Steve had requested, making it the third most-funded music project in Kickstarter's history, as well as Kickstarter's most-funded music project by a musician never affiliated with a record label.

Steve writes on his campaign page that he will use the additional funds to promote the album.

A few hours before the campaign ended, he posted this emotional video to thank his supporters:

Later, he created this message for his supporters:

"Back to California" is the first song and music video from the new album.

I look forward to purchasing Steve's first album due out later this spring.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I cannot wait for X-Men: Days of Future Past to hit theaters everywhere on May 23, 2014.

Bryan Singer again directs.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Robbie Rogers in Flaunt Magazine

On March 13, 2014, out soccer player Robbie Rogers posted this lovely video on his Facebook page.

It is a behind-the-scenes look at his spread in Flaunt magazine.

When you have a moment, please check out his organization BEYOND "it", which stands "against all forms of human discrimination" to better the world we live in.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are You Okay? by Dum Dum Girls

Yesterday, Dum Dum Girls released their short film, Are You Okay?, which is written by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, American Psycho, The Canyons), directed by Brewer and produced by Braxton Pope (The Source Family, The Canyons).

If you are a fan of this blog, you know I really like The Canyons, a collaboration between Ellis, Pope and director Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Raging Bull).

Are You Okay? is no doubt the next installment in Ellis' interconnected stories.

Monday, March 3, 2014

"Parallel Minds:" Interview with Bright Smoke

I enjoy so much the work of British singer and artist Bright Smoke, I wanted to know more about her as an artist and a person.

So, I was thrilled when she recently found time in her busy schedule to chat with me.

I started:

You and I met last year on Twitter, when we were both tweeting our support for fundraisers benefiting the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which uses music therapy to help young adults in need and works to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among young people.

Yes, we did! Twitter is a great resource for connectivity.

There are so many aspects of the Amy Winehouse Foundation besides its work with drug and alcohol charities.

They donate to homeless and eating disorder charities, and to a charity that helps vulnerable women who have recently left prison to help them from returning to a life of crime.

They even donate to a charity that helps disadvantaged people with mental illnesses escape the city and learn how to grow, produce and market their own crops. They pick up valuable qualifications along the way.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, actually. It’s a very special charity.

I totally agree.

I discovered the Foundation through my love of Amy's voice and music. I'm still devastated she's no longer here making great music.

This is how I discovered the Foundation also. It still breaks my heart that I never got to meet her or see her perform live.

Amy Winehouse by Bright Smoke

You have been quite candid in interviews about your own struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Is this another reason you're drawn to the Foundation?

Well. Due to my own experiences with these, I naturally connected to Amy’s lifestyle and understood the battles she faced in regards to addiction.

I followed her music almost right from the start; and when she died, it really shook me to my core. I suddenly realized I needed to make drastic steps towards recovery so I could truly devote myself to my music and art.

I support the Foundation because I believe it is doing something extremely important in making people more aware of the struggles Amy dealt with. It is breaking down that taboo against discussing addiction. It’s something we really do need to talk about. There’s no shame in any aspect of addiction.

You can read online my full story in my "open letter."

When you and I first connected through Twitter, I was intrigued by your name, Bright Smoke. The obvious question is: what does it mean? Were you inspired by Romeo's attempt to describe love in "Romeo and Juliet?"

It is directly related to "Romeo and Juliet."

One of my closest friends, Kat Basquill, actually came up with the name for me. We were knocking around ideas, when she suddenly came out with "Bright Smoke" from Romeo's line, "feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire."

I instantly thought, “That’s the one!”

The first time I watched your music video, "Parallel Minds," I was an instant fanboy. I must admit I was blown away by your voice and your song.

Thank you, Mike!

Thank you for making lovely art.

Who are your major musical influences?

That song I actually wrote about wanting to move to New York one day, despite the fact I’ve never been! I’m quite drawn to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which seems to have a thriving art and music scene.

I listen to a very wide variety of music. From T-Rex, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin right through to Nas and Damian Marley, Toots And The Maytals, The Everly Brothers and classical music.

Jimi Hendrix by Bright Smoke

I would say my songs, as they stand with just myself and a guitar, are mainly reminiscent of the 60’s and 70’s folk movement. And of singers like Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and Melanie Safka, who I grew up listening to and just adore!

When did you start singing?

I think I started the moment I learned my voice was capable of being used in such a way.

I started writing songs at an extremely young age.

I’ve kept every piece of paper with every lyric I ever wrote. My spelling and handwriting are ridiculous on some of them! Maybe one day I’ll have an exhibition with them all.

I can definitely imagine them as a montage on a gallery wall.

In your music video, you play the guitar. Do you play any other instruments?

My first instrument was actually the flute, which my dad also plays.

I had lessons at my regular infant school from about 7 years old.

I was brought up going to folk festivals, so I quickly picked up how to play penny whistles. And, then, the Irish drum called the bodhran.

I got my first guitar when I was 12, as it seemed a natural progression to accompany my songs.

I never had a single guitar lesson. To this day, I still use my own codes for bar chords, as technically I don’t have a clue what I am playing. [Laughter.]

About two months ago, I started learning the cello.

I love the cello, especially J. S. Bach's unaccompanied cello suites.

I am really enjoying it. It’s tricky learning an instrument in a completely different key, though.

I read sheet music and what I think is a B is actually a D on the cello. Very confusing!

I'm definitely impressed. I'll never show anyone how badly I play the air guitar.

I saw on Twitter your paintings debut May 5, 2014 at The Strand Gallery in London, with an exhibition running through May 11.

Yes, this is my debut into the art world. It’s something I still can’t believe is finally going to happen!

It's awesome.

How do you think your music informs your art?

Marc Bolan by Bright Smoke

I see a very strong connection between my music and art.

I mainly paint musicians. I listen to their music whilst painting them. I find this has a strong effect on the color palette and techniques I use.

Music of course is an art form itself, so the connection between the two is organic.

What's next for you?

There are so many answers to this.

I have one of those forever-scheming, impulsively creative minds, but I have narrowed it down to starting rehearsals and demoing my songs as a full band.

Then I'll be on a bohemian/musician/hunter-gatherer spree over the festival season to see if I can round up a rabble of free spirits perfect for the band for the long term.

I obviously have the exhibition to look forward to. The launch night [May 5] is also my 26th birthday and marks two years of sobriety.

Congratulations on both!

I've also just rebooked my charity skydive on May 21 for the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Busy month!

My main goal is to keep up this level of creativity and keep pushing my music and art out there, in the hopes of building a solid fan base, so I can tour all the time, meet amazing people and connect with them through my music.

For a couple of dates on their UK tour, I recently joined the band Will And The People as their support act. I watched a show just before the tour ended and thought to myself: If I can get that many people from each city to come and watch me play and have an awesome night, well, that's my definition of success!

Connect with Bright Smoke on Twitter. She is participating in the Skydiving for the Amy Winehouse Foundation fundraising event - Yes, Bright Smoke will be skydiving! - on May 21, 2014. Please donate what you can here.