BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Miami drag diva Elaine Lancaster is not just a pretty face.
Having recently launched a line of lip lacquer, Lancaster will be mistress of ceremonies Sunday at Miami Beach Gay Pride’s post-parade spectacular at 11 Street and Ocean Drive.
“It’s going to be a day of celebration and hopefully jubilation. We’re not asking for special rights, we're asking for equal rights,” Lancaster says. “People used to say, ‘Elaine, why do we need gay pride and a parade?’ Because people out there are trying to silence us, push us back in the closet and make us feel ashamed. It’s a constant battle. Gay people, the more visibility there is, the more people get to see us, the more acceptance there is.”
“Elaine is lovely and talented, just never on the same night,” says Bunny, a New York DJ who has long performed in South Beach, home of “the sexiest guys on the planet.”
“That really helps, not that I wouldn’t mix doing business with pleasure,” Bunny says.
Some drag queens these days are taking lots of heat, much from within the LGBT community. Many trans activists have recently protested drag star RuPaul for using the words “tranny” and “she-male” on the hit Logo TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“When did political correctness become thought police?” says Bunny, defending RuPaul’s right to use the words onstage. “It may offend you but put your big girl panties on and don’t patronize [the show].”
Act, an Australian-born star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is a bit more sensitive.
“If there's a section of my community that's offended by words, I have no issue not using it. What is taking a word out of my vocabulary going to affect my life? Instead of using tranny, just say trans. trans man, trans woman, trans person,” Act says. “It’s so easy.”
Act is the star act at Pride this year.
“I love gay pride festivals because the need for identity in the gay community has decreased over the years. We’ve become more accepted and it’s become more acceptable,” Act says. “Some people say, ‘Is there a need for gay pride parades anymore?’ They’ve expanded beyond the core gay and lesbian values. Bisexual and transgender. Queer. Now it’s a celebration of everything that's not hetero normative. A celebration of diversity.”
April 11, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Marriage, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Music, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Gloria Estefan, grand marshal of Sunday's Miami Beach Gay Pride parade and her husband Emilio on Thursday attended a VIP kick-off event at the W Hotel for the weekend's activities.
"The gay community’s been so supportive of our music from before it was even in the mainstream. They were out there in the clubs in full force, always representing and supporting," Estefan told the Miami Herald Thursday night..
"Secondly, I’m a Miami Beach resident and lover, I’ve been here forever and I think it’s a wonderful thing for the city," said Estefan, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality.
"I’m very happy to be celebrating the fact that I think we’re moving towards real equality," she said. "Of all the causes that have been, this has been really coming at breakneck speed, which makes me very happy for the gay community, the LGBT community. We’re all human beings. We deserve to share the same rights. Consenting adults should be able to make their lives the way they want legally, in every way."
Click here to view a gallery from Thursday's reception. Photos by Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff.
April 11, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Film, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Key West & Monroe County, Lesbian, LGBT, Marriage, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Music, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
Star guitarist Lee Ritenour to pay tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim with Jazz Roots finale at Arsht Center
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Lee Ritenour, one of the world’s most successful jazz guitarists, learned Brazilian bossa nova from the master, Antonio Carlos Jobim.
“I met Jobim when I was a teenager, actually, at Sergio Mendes’ house. I was playing with Sergio Mendes. He had a party. There was kind of a jam session, and Tom Jobim, as we call him, was there that night,” recalls Ritenour, who that night also met composer-pianist Dave Grusin, who would later win an Oscar and multiple Grammy Awards.
Ritenour, Jobim’s grandson Daniel (a pianist) and Grusin are among the performers who will pay tribute to the great Brazilian musician 8 p.m. Friday in “A Twist of Jobim,” the season finale of Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.
Jazz Roots producer Larry Rosen has known Ritenour more than 30 years, when the guitarist was a star on Rosen and Grusin’s old jazz label, GRP Records.
“He always had a great expanse of musical knowledge. Brazilian music was a real big component of it,” Rosen says. “He carries that through to today in everything that he does.”
Ritenour’s wife, Carmen, is Brazilian and their son Wesley, 20, speaks fluent Portuguese, the musician says.
His first studio session was playing backup at age 16 for the Mamas and the Papas in 1968. Ritenour released his first album, First Course, in 1976.
“It was the beginning of the fusion movement and especially the West Coast fusion movement, where we were taking Brazilian rhythms, which we had kind of copped from that whole movement with Jobim that had just happened in the ’60s,” he says. “We were taking R&B grooves and taking a sort of fast fusion ideas and combining it with our love for jazz. That became kind of a contemporary fusion at the time.”
Three years after Ritenour joined the GRP roster, he and Grusin won a Grammy in 1985 for their album Harlequin.
Before Friday’s performance, Ritenour, 62, will hold a master class for Miami-Dade County Public Schools music students. The advice he’ll give:
“If they’re a player or a singer, then I really emphasize that it’s important for everyone to have their own voice. Don’t be a copy of another great. Say you love B.B. King or George Benson, Jimi Hendrix or whoever it is, there’s only one of those guys, so if you grow up sounding like Jimi Hendrix, it just doesn’t mean so much. Everyone grows up with their own voice inside them. It’s just how do you get it out, how does that happen,” he says.
IF YOU GO
Jazz Roots’ A Twist of Jobim starring Lee Ritenour, Daniel Jobim, Dave Grusin, Paulinho Da Costa and Céu will be performed 8 p.m. Friday, April 11, 2014 at Adrienne Arsht Center. $55 to $150. Click here for tickets.
Hundreds filled Backstage at The Fillmore in Miami Beach Wednesday night as Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's Hispanic LGBT-rights group, held its annual Leaders, Legends & Lovelies Ball.
Above, artistic director David Chacón Perez; Pedro Pablo Peña, founder and artistic director of the International Ballet Festival of Miami; and Barbra Streisand/Kristin Chenoweth director Richard Jay-Alexander.
At right, Sebrina Maria Alfonso, founder and conductor of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra.
Click here to view a complete gallery from Wednesday's packed party. Photos by Steve Rothaus / Miami Herald Staff.
From Dr. Nan Van Den Bergh, clinical professor, School of Social Work at Florida International University:
The Rainbow Survivor's Network is being developed as research has shown that gay women may not find "mixed" cancer support systems to be ideally suited to their needs. This is because of: 1) discomfort in "coming out" to strangers at a time when one is vulnerable and 2) different concerns and needs than other women regarding body changes and the impact on one's spouse or partner.
We are holding our initial orientation 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 26, 2014 at SunServe Social Services in Wilton Manors.
Van Den Bergh notes: "This is a one to one mutual aid and peer support program connecting a current LBT cancer survivor with someone newly diagnosed. It is not a support group."
MUTUAL AID NETWORK FOR LBT CANCER SURVIVORS
Area Resource and Referral Organization for Women (ARROW Inc.) announces the initiation of South Florida’s first network for lesbian, bisexual and transgender cancer survivors. This one to one “buddy program” will match an LBT person surviving cancer with a newly diagnosed peer. Receiving encouragement and support from someone who has “been there” can be extremely valuable for anyone managing the many challenges associated with cancer treatment and recovery. This is not a support group, but a person to person mentorship program. LBT persons surviving ALL cancers are invited to be a part of this network.
For more information, please contact ARROW Inc. at: 305-892-0928 or 305-766-1220.
Being screened 7 p.m. Thursday at Church of the Holy SpiritSong in Wilton Manors: Separation of Church & Hate.
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Hate your drive to and from work? Most of us do, and a group of Miami-Dade County activists is brainstorming to turn the daily commute from drudgery to “delightful.”
“We went out and talked to people. We heard them saying, ‘We wish there were more transit options,’ but also a more fundamental thing: ‘I feel like I waste a lot of time in the car or I spend a lot of time getting where I want to go.’ It’s frustrating,” said Chris Sopher, an organizer of the grassroots group WhereBy.Us, which met in Wynwood Tuesday night to discuss transit options. “We ask the question how do we make that more delightful?”
WhereBy.Us, which is sponsored with a $18,500 grant from The Miami Foundation and Sopher’s employer, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has gathered data from the U.S. Census, IBM Global Commuter Pain Study and other sources. “Miami ranks third in the nation for commuter pain,” according to a WhereBy.Us graphic, noting that half the area’s population travels at least an hour a day getting to work and back.
“It’s frustrating,” said Sopher, 25. “You get to work angry because you fought traffic or the bus was late.”
WhereBy.Us is about a year old. Via social networking, dozens of people with similar interests (most from the urban core) quickly found each other, Sopher said.
Meeting eight times in 2013, members determined several immediate needs in Miami-Dade County: Better transit, “the difficulty of finding a community where you feel at home” and “wanting to explore and find hidden corners,” Sopher said. “There are a lot of interesting experiences in Miami to be had, but they are difficult to unearth.”
“Our goal is to provide a place where people can build the community projects they're excited about, not to do it for them,” he said.
Another Miami group, Urban Impact Lab, is partnering with WhereBy.Us in the traffic project.
“The larger point of all of this is that beyond a certain limited section, most Miami-Dade County residents really have very limited choices about mobility,” said Marta Viciedo of Urban Impact Lab. “We have to have as many cars as we have adult members of the household. That doesn’t feel like freedom to me. I want to be able to move around in different ways.”
Everyone’s affected by traffic and transportation, whether they drive themselves to work or take mass transit, Viciedo said.
“We actually have a fairly good transportation system right now, but the experience of it leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of our bus stops are very dirty, very exposed. There’s no sun covering. People riding transit don't feel respected. It isn’t classy,” said Viciedo, who describes herself as “completely trans dependent.”
“I don’t own a car,” she said. “I use public transportation and car sharing.”
Viciedo, 36, lives and works in downtown Miami, which, she said, is an easy commute.
“But I have meetings all over the county,” Viciedo added. “Sometimes I have to get pretty creative. The Metrorail is amazing. I gets me down to Kendall quicker than I can drive there, but anything a half mile off the Kendall station is problematic.”
Viciedo said that not only are residents interested in the program, “they are ready to take action.”
“They’re ready to do what they can and find creative solutions to our shared transportation experiences,” she said. “The budget is very small, but that brings out the highest level of creativity. When we can come together and brainstorm ideas, we can figure out to deliver something that has broader impact at a lower cost.”
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
Richard Jay-Alexander is equally at home in Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall directing Barbra Streisand and Kristin Chenoweth, or in a South Beach gay bar listening to off-key karaoke.
“I support the arts. I go to things. Not just the big touring shows. I go to the little companies. I’ll go into the Design District. I’ll go see stuff at the little theater at the Arsht. I’m interested,” says Jay-Alexander, a full-time Miami Beach resident. “I am a busman’s holiday. So when people say, ‘What do you do to relax?’ It’s not like I have a coin collection or I go fishing. I’m reading a script or listening to a new musical. Or catching up on a singer. I love pop culture.”
Jay-Alexander has been part of the local scene for more than 20 years. His first friend here: Charles Cinnamon, dean of South Florida show-biz publicists. “To me, the most important person in my life in South Florida and the longest in terms of my heart and career choice is Charlie Cinnamon.”
On Wednesday, Cinnamon will accompany Jay-Alexander as he accepts a Legends Honor arts award from Unity Coalition, South Florida’s Hispanic LGBT rights group, at its annual Leaders, Legends & Lovelies Ball. Other 2014 honorees are Sebrina Maria Alfonso, founder and conductor of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra; producer and artistic director David Chacón Perez; and Pedro Pablo Peña, founder and artistic director of the International Ballet Festival of Miami.
Growing up as “Dickie Fernandez” in Syracuse, N.Y., Jay-Alexander says Unity Coalition's mission “speaks to me and I need to bang the drum a little bit.”
“I am Latino,” he says. “I’m Richard Jay-Alexander but I was born Richard A. Fernandez. Richard Alexander Fernandez.” He changed his name to join Actor’s Equity – the unions already represented actors named Richard Fernandez and Richard Alexander. He’s known as Richard Jay-.
Jay-Alexander says he grew up gay and bullied. “I was beat up. I still have a chip in my tooth that I kept on purpose to remind me of where I came from.”
After earning a theater degree in 1974 from State University of New York at Oswego, Jay-Alexander moved to New York City and got small acting jobs in the plays Zoot Suit and Amadeus. He soon became a dance captain and stage manager in producer Cameron Mackintosh’s organization.
His big break came in 1987, as executive producer and associate director of Mackintosh’s huge musical hit, Les Misérables.
In 1996, Jay-Alexander cast former Menudo singer Ricky Martin as Marius. “Everybody thought I was nuts to bring him to Broadway. They thought I was insane because nobody heard of him,” he says. “I saw him at Radio City Music Hall and got on my hands and knees and said, ‘Please come do this show.’”
Jay-Alexander says he and nightlife promoter Debbie Ohanian helped connect Martin with Miami composer Desmond Child, who in 1999 wrote the Latin singer’s first big English-language hit, Livin’ La Vida Loca.
After a falling out with Mackintosh, Jay-Alexander reinvented himself as a concert and recording director, working with musical stars including Bernadette Peters, Polly Bergen and Johnny Mathis.
In 2000, Streisand hired Jay-Alexander to take over direction of her “Timeless” tour. Their relationship blossomed and since then he has co-directed (with Streisand) all of her world tours.
“That girl has captured my heart,” he says of Streisand. “As I always say to people, I like her so much I forget how talented she is. Then she opens that mouth when we are working. It’s just a pretty spectacular experience.”
This week, he directed Streisand’s younger half-sister, Roslyn Kind, for her sold-out opening at New York City nightclub 54 Below. He has also worked with Bette Midler, Donna McKechnie and Chenoweth, who appears April 14 on Bravo TV’s Watch What Happens Live, with Andy Cohen, Real Housewife Vicki Gunvalson – and Jay-Alexander as “guest bartender.”
On May 3, Chenoweth performs at Carnegie Hall in a Jay-Alexander-directed concert, “The Evolution of a Soprano.”
“He has given me confidence, and has complete and utter belief in my talent,” Chenoweth tells the Miami Herald. “I have complete and utter confidence in him and his gifts.” (Scroll below for the complete quote.)
Jay-Alexander is confident and no-nonsense, particularly when it comes to his reputation.
“I’m passionate. It’s genuine. It gets me in trouble a lot, actually. Sometimes people can’t take it. I’m a tornado. You get a lot with me,” he says. “It’s a lot for people to handle and sometimes it’s like ‘We love you, but don’t get too close. We want you, but do it our way.’ I’ve learned to detect this now so I don’t get in trouble when I get hired. It’s hard. If you hire me, you have to be absolutely sure about what you want.”
Jay-Alexander is also not shy.
“The one huge thing that I teach people now is that in the morning, you open the door, wave to your neighbors and you plié for the paper. No more bending over at 60. I plié for the Miami Herald, I plié for The New York Times, I plié for The Hollywood Reporter, I plié for Variety and I close my door and I’m in my own world for the first two hours of the day.”
IF YOU GO
The Leaders, Legends & Lovelies Ball is 7 to 11 p.m. Wednesday at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Tickets $100. Click here to buy tickets.
In the video below, Richard Jay-Alexander sings at the New Year’s Eve 2012 Miami Beach wedding reception of TV weather anchor Sam Champion and artist Rubem Robierb.
Kristin Chenoweth on what it's like working with Richard Jay-Alexander:
It's a easy answer.
It's also a long winded one.
He is a bad influence on any trip to a mall. Or restaurant. He gets me to buy things I don't need.
He gets me to eat things I don't like!
However. In a rehearsal hall, he is invaluable. He has encouraged me to 'let go' of material that audiences expect of me. He has encouraged me and more importantly , Given me permission to try songs I would never normally touch, and tell my 'truth.' He has pushed me to greater heights more than I ever thought possible. He has given me confidence, and has complete and utter belief in my talent. I have complete and utter confidence in HIM and his gifts. He understands music at its deepest level, and he understands a true artist's process. He works with all his artists differently though, because each of us has our own process. That is another talent he processes....
Whoever he’s working with he gives of himself 100 percent. There is no stone unturned ,and Richard Jay works more diligently than me and I'm a crazy person, type A personality! He constantly impresses me with his knowledge of HISTORY of any given song.
So, while he may be a detriment to me when we've been to the mall, I can't imagine not having my Richard Jay to go through my concert life together. He is one of a kind. Singular. And he holds my heart. "
April 08, 2014 in Arts, Bisexual, Business, Current Affairs, Fashion, Film, Florida, Food and Drink, Fort Lauderdale & Broward County, Gay, Lesbian, LGBT, Marriage, Media, Miami & Miami-Dade County, Miami Beach, Music, Politics, Religion, South Florida, Television, Theater, Transgender, Weblogs, Wilton Manors, Workplace, Youth | Permalink | Comments (0)
News release from Care Resource:
Care Resource is proud to present the 26th Annual AIDS Walk Miami: One Step Closer to the Cure on Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the Miami Beach Convention Center located on 1901 Convention Center Drive.
Joining the Walk this year as Master of Ceremonies is Mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine and our Grand Marshal is television personality Alexia Echevarria from the Bravo Network’s hit reality show ‘The Real Housewives of Miami’.
“I am honored to have been selected to be the grand Marshall of the AIDS WALK MIAMI. I feel that by fundraising efforts like this kind I can help raise awareness, bring hope and build a sense of community. Many People living with HIV/AIDS in our community simply cannot afford medical care and treatment and need our help.”
The 26th Annual AIDS Walk Miami is a 5K (3.1 miles) walk-a-thon fundraiser benefiting Care Resource and the Food for Life Network. All funds raised from the Walk help benefit Miami-Dade and Broward Counties diverse communities in need. HIV care and treatment is becoming increasingly effective but new HIV infection rates in Miami-Dade and Broward still rank the highest in the nation.
AIDS Walk Miami is one of the oldest and largest AIDS walks in the country. In 2013, this annual fundraiser helped make it possible for Care Resource to:
- Serve over 79,850 client encounters with over 17,224 medical visits to 5,426 patients.
- Perform over 13,895 HIV and STD screenings.
- Deliver over 25,150 meals to home-bound clients.
- Extend dental services to over 1,307 clients through 4,837 dental visits.
- Open a *NEW* Care Resource office in Miami Beach.
The Walk starts outside the Miami Beach Convention Center and ends at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. To show solidarity, walkers are encouraged to wear their red shoes. Registration begins at 8:00am. The walk begins promptly at 9:00am. To register online, visitwww.aidswalkmiami.org.
ABOUT ALEXIA ECHEVARRIA
Alexia Echevarria personifies Miami fashion and Latin-American culture. She is a multilingual businesswoman and television personality on Bravo Network’s hit reality show ‘The Real Housewives of Miami.’ She is also the Executive Editor and face of Venue magazine – a national luxury-lifestyle Latin publication that in 7 years has become one of Miami’s eminent authorities on luxury, fashion, celebrities and culture.
ABOUT CARE RESOURCE
Care Resource is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides comprehensive primary medical and preventive care, including health, oral and mental health/substance abuse services to all individuals in our community.
Our Mission: “Through education, prevention, research, care, treatment and support services, Care Resource’s mission is to improve the health and overall quality of life for our diverse South Florida communities in need. “
Care Resource is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with demonstrated excellence in the multicultural field of HIV/AIDS and it works to fulfill its mission and have a positive impact on Miami-Dade and Broward communities. Care Resource provides its services to all persons regardless of ability to pay and charges for services on a community board approved sliding-fee scale based on patients’ family income and size. Clients have access to a “one-stop” location for primary medical care, information and referrals, case management, dental care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, nutrition programs, pediatrics, transportation vouchers, and testing. Furthermore, the agency’s many health promotion and education programs go out into the community and engage populations at high risk, affected and/or infected by HIV/AIDS and other STDs.