Surviving A Plague

04.18.13

 

I made a horrendous mistake last night. Mr. G loves to watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I love being with Mr. G but I don’t love the shows the way he does. Since it’s become part of our evening unwinding routine I typically grab a tablet and goof around online so I can half watch the show without being bored out of my mind. I just want to be with my husband. I like him.

In any event I’d noticed that How To Survive a Plague was on Netflix so I decided to pop in some earbuds and be not-quite-present but rather sit next to Mr. G while he watched his show and I’d watch How to Survive a Plague on the tablet. I figured I’d get in 40 minutes and watch the last hour bit by bit during the course of the next week or so.

Do not make the mistake I made. Do not trick yourself into believing that you can watch this movie in pieces. It’s engrossing, infuriating and if, like me, you came of age in the late 80’s it will have you flashing back to die in’s you’d tried to forget and queer bills that your friends would pass around town. Watching Pat Buchanan and Jesse Helms say that gay men deserved to die sent my blood pressure skyrocketing and police officers with rubber gloves combined with hospitals turning patients away reminded me of details that I’d tried to forget.

how to survive a plague

Someday I’ll talk about the funerals I went to. There were so many of them. Someday I’ll talk about ribbons and how much that red ribbon meant because people will ARC and AIDS were treated much like Polio patients in the early days. Delivering meals with Project Angel Food turned me into a different person and I’ll never have the words required to articulate how profound those changes were.

So I sat up late last night and watched How To Survive a Plague and I sobbed and I cheered and I remembered how incredibly powerless and powerful that whole moment in time was for both the gay community and communities like my own that bordered West Hollywood and relied on the gay community for art, joy, love and freedom.

And I look at organizations like Aids Project LA and Project Angel Food that were once a very large part of my life. When Steven was dying APLA walked me through tremendous amounts of paperwork and held my hand while we cleared legal hurdles. Project Angel Food helped Gene stay home so he could die in his own bed, on his own terms. PAF delivered nutritious and delicious meals to my friends and to strangers, they work with nutritionists and master chefs so that the food with both sustain and delight their clients. They are angels on earth.

I have a few friends left who are positive. They have well controlled diseases and we don’t talk about it much anymore because we have the feeling (and feelings are very different than knowledge) that they can keep their disease under control until there is a cure. My kids know AIDS, they’ve watched men disappear. They’ve watched vibrant men grow gaunt and then quiet and then they’re gone forever but even with that teens and young adults are┬ánotoriously unreliable and I know that when I look at Jane and Alexander and all their friends one or more of those girls will be accidentally pregnant, a handful of them will have an STD, 10% of them will be homosexual and more than 10% will be unsure for at least a moment in their lifetime.

Everything about this panics me. When Bush drew the line in the sand and my brother made noises about enlisting my mother dissolved into a puddle talking about Vietnam and the body bags that came home. When I hear that young men are barebacking and the HIV infection rate is rising in minority communities I flash back to my own young adult years when having sex felt a little like Russian Roulette and even your married (female) neighbor died from it.

I’d urge you to watch How To Survive A Plague in part because it’s a story that needs to be told and it’s a moment in time where ordinary people came together to make extraordinary progress.

 

 

Burlesque: Movie Review

11.21.10

Burlesque proves that great entertainment isn’t always driven by great plot lines. This is the sort of film that you walk into with a group of girlfriends, and skip out of hugging said girlfriends.

Cher and Christina Aguilera are brilliant together. I don’t know, nor do I much care, how the two of them came to be cast together, I just know that I’m delighted that they were cast.

The story is the same old story, Iowa girl runs to Hollywood. She can sing and dance, no family blah blah blah two men fall for her, one is a starving artist and looks fabulous naked (Cam Gigandet), the other is a tycoon (Eric Dane), and rocks the business suit. What’s so wonderful about Burlesque is that the blahness of the the story doesn’t matter one bit.

The beauty of Burlesque is in the dancing, the choreography, and Christina Aguilera’s amazing voice.

It’s strange for me to see Cher not being the “big talent” in a movie. She opens the movie with an act that I’ve already mostly forgotten, but smack dab in the middle she sings You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me. I sat in the audience of 300 or so, and I know we were all thinking Oh Cher I sure hope not.

Another thing that made Burlesque great was that it was sexy as hell without being uncomfortable. In the tradition of burlesque there were love scenes, and sex was absolutely had by characters straight and gay, but we never saw a nipple or had a weird moment where you wished you weren’t sitting in the dark with a stranger. I’m not saying that I’d bring a child to this movie, but sometimes it’s hotter when you don’t see everything.

Women will want to be dancers.

Men will want to be with women who want to be dancers.

This movie is fun, but it’s for fans. I loved hanging out with Heather and we *might* have squeed every time Cher did something fabulous (she has a lot of fabulousness bottled up in her), and I’m pretty sure that if I was with Mr. G there would have been snark.

It’s great fun to sit in an audience that is gasping, clapping and cheering at the screen. It’s not a typical movie, and if you’re lucky you’ll get an atypical audience too. An audience who will appreciate the movie for what it is. Delicious.

Peter Gallagher, Julianne Hough, Kristen Bell, and Stanley Tucci were fabulous. Who knew Kristen Bell could dance? There were contortionists, revue dancers, and cameos by everyone but Babs (hello James Brolin).

Burlesque was fun and sexy, with just the right amount of everything.

A special thanks to Steve Antin and Sony for making Burlesque available to everyone who supports Project Angel Food.