All that Fosse flair reminded Busy Tonight writer/producer Caissie St. Onge of another groundbreaking dancer:
Watching Fosse/Verdon, then falling down my favorite rabbit hole, YouTube videos demonstrating how obviously inspired Michael Jackson’s dance style (particularly Billie Jean) was by Bob Fosse, particularly in his role as the snake in “The Little Prince.”
Rolling Stone Critic Alan Sepinwall reminded us that – even with all Michelle Williams’ “Razzle Dazzle”, you never know what will happen come Emmy time:
It's funny how last summer, Amy Adams seemed a lock to win a ton of awards for Sharp Objects. Then Patricia Arquette swept the winter awards for Dannemora and seemed unbeatable at Emmy time. And now here comes Williams. A really impressive group. https://t.co/vr5yqudP2m
Meanwhile, actor and author Tim Cummings screen-capped one of Gwen’s more traumatic moments:
When Fosse tells you that Liza’s gonna replace you in CHICAGO after you inadvertently swallowed confetti during a performance and it screwed up your voice so bad you have to have surgery. #FosseVerdonFXpic.twitter.com/fQsPJxgsH4
Years after Looking, Murray Bartlett heads back to the City by the Bay to give an iconic queer story a new chapter.
Once Upon a “Tales”
In the 1970s, author and gay civil rights pioneer Armistead Maupin began spinning the tales of a group of people whose lives revolved around 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. What began as a series of stories in San Francisco newspapers would go on to spawn nine Tales of the City novels, multiple musical projects and three seasons of television. Now, Netflix is bringing a new generation of viewers back to Barbary Lane with a fourth season that set to premiere June 7, 2019.
Among the cast returning from earlier iterations of Tales are Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis. Linney plays Mary Ann Singleton, who was the wide-eyed young woman who first visited San Francisco at the beginning of the Tales series and decided to stay. Dukakis plays Anna Madrigal, the eccentric, trans, marijuana-loving landlady who plays surrogate mother to her tenants. The show will welcome a new generation of radically queer characters, including Ellen Page as Mary Ann’s daughter Shawna, Bob the Drag Queen as the manager of a local burlesque club, and Josiah Garcia as a young trans man named Jake.
But the show’s returning central gay character, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, will have a new face, that of an actor who famously helped tell another story of queer lives and loves in San Francisco as Dom on HBO’s Looking: Murray Bartlett. As he steps into the pivotal role, he offers some very clear and pointed opinions about why this show is so necessary now.
Going Back to San Francisco
METROSOURCE: Last time we spoke, the second season of Looking was just beginning to air. How would you compare the world of that show with the world of Tales of the City?
MURRAY BARTLETT: The worlds are obviously very similar. There’s a lot of crossover because it’s the same city and it’s the same community. So there are a lot of parallels. I guess the difference for me is in the character. This character, Michael, is a little older than Dom and has a different sort of breadth of experience and a different connection to the history of San Francisco, particularly in terms of LGBTQ civil rights. And he’s HIV positive, so went through the AIDS epidemic in a different way than Dom did and also a little earlier. So he has a different experience of the city.
You also happened to mention in that interview that you were a fan of Tales of the City. I was wondering what your experience with it was before this project and how you went about reacquainting yourself with the world asyou moved into this new chapter.
It’s very surreal to be honest, that I end up playing two gay men in San Francisco. Tales of the City has always been such a special kind of thing for me. I saw it first in the ‘90s and it was this very important marker in a lot of our lives. Then it was very much an inspiration for Looking. Armistead sort of became our godfather. We hung out with him a few times, and there were very strong connections between the two shows. So I came to it with a lot of reverence and a lot of love.
Basically what I did is, the month before we started shooting, I happened to be up in Provincetown. … I read all the books again, and really just wanted to hear the stories direct from Armistead again, just really immerse myself in that and let him kind of give me Mouse. … It was a wonderful way to dive in because they’re such beautiful books. And I hadn’t read all of them before. I’d read the first couple. So it was really intense and kind of overwhelming in the best way.
Charlie Barnett as Ben and Bartlett as Mouse — image by Alison Cohn Rosa courtesy Netflix
Hair, There and Everywhere
You’ve once again managed to end up with some statement facial hair. Obviously Dom had his signature ‘stache, and now Mouse has this curly, bushy hipster beard. Was that drawn from the books or a decision you made with the creative team?
I had some of that beard when I went to the audition. I’ve got a lot of gray in my beard. I’m not that much younger but a little younger than Mouse, so I feel like it was a little helpful [in showing his age]. And there’s a lot of beards going around, so it felt like it fit the character too.
And Where Is the Body?
Fairly early on, his boyfriend Ben mentions Mouse spending two hours a day six days a week in the gym. Did they adjust that line to fit what you were actually doing, or did you come to it and think, “Oh God. I guess that’s my gym regimen now.”
It did freak me out when I read that. But I think he’s joking — exaggerating. That’s the way I read it. [laughs] I’m fit, and I think that Mouse is a little bit vain and definitely aware of his body and wants to be in good shape, so that makes sense. But yeah, I think Ben’s poking fun at him and I don’t think he really spends that much time at the gym. Although it is kind of a statement on the fact that, as gay men, a lot of us tend to put you know a fair amount of emphasis on that, and it does tend to get a little obsessive.
Giving a New Face to Living with HIV
In the first scene we see Mouse, he’s taking his HIV meds. We also see him grapple with the idea of having unprotected sex after many years of not being able to. Then there’s also a moment when he realizes someone else has seroconverted when he comes across someone else’s meds. Would you agree that we’re just not seeing stories like these told anywhere else on TV right now?
Yeah, I would agree, and I think it’s really important. There’s a big shift in terms of those kind of stories — in terms of the fact that you know the medication has changed. It’s interesting in Mouse’s story because when he was first diagnosed, it felt like a death sentence at that time. For a lot of people, it ended up being that way. And he moved through that and now it’s not that way at all. And it’s so fascinating. I think one of the reasons it definitely strikes a chord for me is: I grew up at a time when you know safe sex was like the ult- you know, a necessity and there was a lot of fear around it, fear that was probably necessary for survival.
A Brave New World
And you’d say Tales is showing us a world that’s moved beyond that type of fear?
It’s different now. We have PrEP and there are a lot of different attitudes about sex, which is wonderful. We’ve become a lot more sex positive in a lot of ways, which is fantastic. But there’s a little bit of a disconnect between the two generations, and I think there’s a lot to be gained from the two generations communicating with each other about what’s changed, what’s important about what’s changed, what went before and what’s important to remember about what went before. Did you see Episode Four [in which the generations clash at a dinner party}?
I did. I thought that was a pretty extraordinary example of exactly what you’re talking about.
What’s amazing I think about the writing in this show — and particular in that episode — is it shows those two points of view of an older perspective and a younger perspective. And it allows you to see that you kind of agree and disagree with both. You can’t take a side. That’s what I felt anyway, which is amazing. It really throws [these differences] up in the air and will hopefully start a lot of conversations that we should be having, I think.
Then you see beyond those scenes — scenes with Ben and Michael where they start to kind of bridge those perspectives, which what we really need to do (laughing). So I think it’s important that we’re telling these stories to shift the ideas about what it is to live with HIV these days and the realities of that, what people are facing through it, and also those intergenerational perspectives to come to grips with those.
Laura Linney as Mary Ann and Olympia Dukakis as Anna courtesy Netflix
On Working with Laura and Olympia
What was it like to work with the returning actors who are practically synonymous with the series?
Because I came to Tales in the ‘90s when it first came [to TV], I feel like I’ve lived with it a long time. I also felt a lot of connection to Mouse throughout the progression of the books and from the beginning point. They were very different in a lot of ways, so it was this surreal experience to step into Mouse’s shoes and to be doing scenes with Laura Linney, who I still have strong associations with as Mary Anne, and the same with Olympia. … They’re such phenomenal actors, and it’s such a beautiful experience to work with actors like that, that are so open and so available and giving. Doing scenes with those two particularly; I just look into their eyes and listen to what they’re saying and go for the ride.
Queer Actors in Queer Roles
Now more than ever we’re hearing calls to see gay characters played by gay actors, trans characters played by trans actors. Do you think it will be important to fans that you are an openly gay actor?
It’ll be interesting to see, yeah. I think it’s a really wonderful wave that we’re riding to be more inclusive in casting and across the board — in production and the whole team. I mean you see this with men and women, you know. For many years, particularly roles like directors and producers were played by men, and there’s a lack of women in those roles still. It’s partly because men have been given those experiences and so they have all this experience doing those jobs, so then it’s harder for women to get into those jobs.
I think the same has happened for gay and trans actors. The gay and trans roles have often been played by, you know, straight cis actors. And I don’t have a problem with that, but I think that it needs to be an equal playing field. What’s wonderful about this wave of inclusivity is that we’re saying, “Okay, let’s really focus on making sure that we’re trying to cast trans and gay actors in these trans and gay roles, because we haven’t before and we need to be giving opportunities to these people. Then hopefully as we go further down the track in the future, it will be a more even playing field and maybe that’s something we won’t need to be as aware of because there will be famous trans actors who are playing trans and cis roles. And gay actors will be playing gay and straight roles.
Bartlett shares a scene with Laura Linney as Mary Ann — image by Alison Cohn Rosa courtesy Netflix
Pushing Boundaries in Telling Our Community’s Stories
Now that we see more gay characters on TV, what place does Tales of the City have in further exploring of queer life?
Two things come to mind. Firstly … in most shows we have a predominantly straight cis story. And to have a show that is predominantly LGBTQ characters is – I mean – I think it’s something that a lot of people crave, particularly in the LGBTQ community. There’s such a lack of that, and it’s a wonderful perspective to bring into the world of TV and film because it’s an amazing community. …. It’s really important to have that as a counterbalance to the vast amount of straight cis-dominated shows that we have. … I think it’s really about the writing and being specific and looking at what stories are really important in these communities and really talking about issues that are universal so that we can reach everybody with the show, which I think it does.
And also looking at the intricate specifics of – you know, for instance, the character of Jake, looking at what that is for this young person to go through a transition and all the sort of challenges and interesting things that brings up is fascinating. I think it comes down to having really great writers who are attuned to that and are telling great stories. And I think that we have that. We have a really diverse wonderful writer’s room who are very familiar with these stories, have a great love for telling stories about the LGBTQ community and I think that’s the key really is: whatever community it’s about, having good writers who are attuned to hopefully stories that are relevant and sort of enlightening in some ways and connected to hopefully what the community will want to see.
Looking to the Future
How do you plan to celebrate Pride this year?
I’m going to be up in Provincetown this year, so I’m going to be celebrating with whoever’s up there. That’s a beautiful place to celebrate up there. It’s a wonderful community, and it’s got its own kind of rich LGBTQ history.
Do you know if this new Tales was designed to be a one-and-done or if there’s a possibility of more?
I’m not sure at this stage. I think, I would love that too. We’ll see.
Want more Murray? Check out the time we interviewed him about “Looking”:
He’s also the CEO of Nasty Pig and presides over one the most recognizable gay men’s gear brands in the world today. In conversation, he can be as provocative as the boundary-pushing clothing designs on display at his store in Chelsea. Our chat with him is candid and wide-ranging, with Lauterstein more than happy to push back on a variety of topics. And whether you’re gay because you love men or because you’re a man who relishes sex with other men, you won’t walk away from a discussion with him wondering where he stands on the topic.
As Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki likes to say, “If two people in a room have the same opinion, one of them is unnecessary.”
Metrosource: Let’s begin with how Nasty Pig launched and how the brand has evolved visually since then.
David Lauterstein: Nasty Pig was this dream that Frederick and I had in 1994 to create a culture brand that spoke to the queer community. I was raised in New York City on hip-hop and house music and lived my style in the early streetwear scene. Those brands didn’t just make clothing, they said things about the cultures they represented. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. We went from making one-of-a-kinds for the then vibrant NYC underground club scene to becoming a fully fleshed out line of clothing, but the core energy of what we are about has not evolved one bit. We are exactly who we have always been. It took a long time for queer culture to embrace us … but Ive always been very patient with making my dreams come true.
Most of your business is online. Is it difficult in this day and age to run a brick-and-mortar store?
Lauterstein: Running a physical store isn’t difficult … it’s just different. If you think of a brick and mortar store as a place for people to buy things so you can make money you’re on your way out of business, if you’re not gone already. But that idea of retail was dead long before Amazon. It just took Amazon to put the nail in the coffin. A retail space is a place for people to get to know who you are and what you are about. It’s your three dimensional energy. We started with a tiny store for just that purpose. The money you make is a byproduct of the energy you create, not the goods you sell.
Is there a typical Nasty Pig customer? Someone you can describe?
Lauterstein: I think there are different types of people who like us for different reasons, but a common thread seems to be that they are nice guys. I get to meet them when they come to NYC and I’m around the store. They are so genuine in their appreciation of what we do. I’m very big on being nice. There’s nothing sexy about being an ass.
Are there assumptions about you or your clientele that people make? What are they, and do you care enough to try to set them straight (so to speak) or do you just let them think what they will?
Lauterstein: Some people think that because our clothing is made by queer people for queer people it’s garbage, but our gear is impeccably constructed and detailed. We spend a year designing each garment. What’s hilarious is that some of our biggest fans are designers from major houses and people who love fashion. We get so much love from the design industry. The people who hate on us are from our own community, but we were hated by our own kind since we started. Being a sexually-forward gay brand in 1994 was extremely unpopular. Do I want to set them straight 24 years later? Not really. I’d much rather spend my creative energy on the people who love us. They deserve it. If you think Nasty Pig is just tacky gay circuit clothing then get back to posting memes about wanting children instead of going out dancing.
As much as Rufskin, you seem to be selling a lifestyle as much as a clothing line. Would you agree, and what is that lifestyle, exactly?
Lauterstein: We sell products, but we aren’t selling a lifestyle. We serve culture. We give people something they can sink their teeth into, not branded toothpaste with which to polish them. The idea of a lifestyle brand is so hokey. Culture: that excites me.
Where do your design ideas come from? I’m sure everywhere, but more from imagination? Research? Being out and about at circuit parties?
Lauterstein: Definitely not from being out at circuit parties because I’ve never really been to most of them! Our aesthetic comes from our Creative Director, Frederick Kearney, who is also my husband. Frederick is a pure artist. He lives in the present tense and absorbs everything he sees. He pulls tiny details from from architecture and movies and art and even instruction manuals. He constantly reads fucking INSTRUCTIONS! He’s obsessed with learning about how things work. It’s a remarkable trait that I’ve never encountered in another human being. He pushes us to be great.
You’ve written that being out, proud and gay is about having sex with people of the same gender. Others would say that it’s about who you love, not who you have sex with. Is that a distinction without a difference?
Lauterstein: Let’s get real: This question stems from you calling me out on a letter to my customers that I e-mailed them last summer. I never said that being out, proud and gay is about having sex with people of the same gender. I said that what makes me gay is having sex with people of the same sex so I do so with joy and I encouraged my readers to rejoice in their sexuality as well. I think I just pushed a button in you. Maybe you feel that defining gay people by our sexual preference somehow demeans us; that we are more than just sex. And I couldn’t agree more.
But to polarize sex by bringing up love is really a nugget of giving a crap how society judges us swaddled in blanket of kumbaya. Im gay because I have sex with men. Hard stop. I love it. Give it sound, honey. To say that what makes me gay is who I love? I don’t get that. I love my Mom. Does that make me gay? I love my best friend Lee, who happens to be straight. Does that make me gay? I love Ebony the barista at Starbucks on 35th and 8th cuz that bitch is an effing show, but does that make me gay? No. Let’s not allow heteronormative society to push the love vs. sex paradigm on us. They’ve done enough damage to themselves with that nonsense already. They need to learn from us right now.
When you see someone like Adam Rippon show up at the Academy Awards wearing a leather harness, what do you think? Will fetish wear ever become mainstream or be co-opted? Isn’t that something you’d like to avoid?
Lauterstein: I cannot tell you the number of people in the industry who reached out to us after that moment and congratulated Nasty Pig for its influence on fashion. Maybe not congratulate; more like they affirmed the big unnoticed impact we have had on fusing fetish into fashion for the past couple of decades. But truth be told, that’s nothing new. My idol Thierry Mugler is the master. When we started Nasty Pig, he became a fan and a customer and I just followed his lead. He loved how we infused uncensored fetish into style. We were just the first to do it with men as opposed to women.
Can you step back to see how far the designs have come over the last 15 or 20 years and predict where they might go?
Lauterstein: We’ve been designing for 24 years. We’ve literally designed thousands of styles. It’s incredible to think about. Last spring, I saw a guy wearing a shirt we made in 1996 and it brought me to tears. Nasty Pig has been a powerful journey. As for where we might go, well that happens to be the theme of our Fall 2019 collection that we just finished designing. It’s our 25th anniversary collection so we are looking forward and it just feels … so good.
If you’re looking for a way to burn calories, build muscle and fly high like a superhero, get ready to hold on tight.
He Floats Through The Air
If you’ve ever marveled at the gravity-defying performers of Cirque du Soleil or the artist P!nk soaring over a crowd, you might be interested to know: You’re not that far from flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Trapeze School New York (TSNY) operates schools in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York City for anyone seeking challenge, fitness or just a few hours of fun. In fact, P!nk trained at TSNY in Los Angeles before she went on the road (and up in the air) for her Funhouse Tour. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to experience the thrill and health benefits of an aerial workout.
Trapeze performance has been around since the mid-1800s when it was created by French acrobat and aerialist Jules Léotard. He developed it using a series of bars, ropes and rings suspended over a swimming pool and debuted it at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris in 1859. Since then, it’s evolved from a daredevil act practiced by a fearless few to a more widely-available art form that also happens to offer one of the most aggressive workouts imaginable.
In terms of its health benefits, trapeze training can drastically change muscle groups – more quickly than traditional exercises. An aerialists increases their flexibility and range of motion while also strengthening their glutes, lower back, legs, core and upper body. In addition to physical strength, even one session as an aerialist can offer a beneficial mental health boost. TSNY’s students report feelings of improved focus, self-esteem, strength, mood, patience, empowerment — even improved sleep patterns and weight loss. What better way to shake off stress than flying?
Jonathon Conant, cofounder of TSNY had his first flying experience on vacation in the late ‘90s. When he returned to NYC, he purchased a flying trapeze rig, went into partnership with Dave and Anne Brown, and opened their first location in 2002. The school became progressively more popular. Sarah Jessica Parker even shot an episode of Sex and the City there. Today, the school’s motto is, “Forget fear. Worry about the addiction.” And once they get you up in a harness (and over that initial fear of letting go), you’ll understand why. Once people get a taste, many can’t wait to come back for more.
Sure, you may be a little sore the next day but no more so than from a great workout. And when was the last time a workout got you this high?
Who can help if you want to get married on a unique island, in a peninsular paradise or by a beach on the other side of the world?
Gay marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2002. Cape Town is often recognized as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations. Looking to tie the knot against a stunning backdrop? Choose a beachside ceremony facing the cliffs at Table Bay. Or you can head to the slopes of Table Mountain for panoramic views of the city and bay. Gay Unity Abroad (gayunityabroad.com), a Cape Town-based event planning company, specializes in coordinating complete wedding travel packages. They can arrange everything from legal fees to accommodations to photography. Guests may enjoy a stay at one of Cape Town’s “pink” hotels like the Glen Boutique Hotel (glenhotel.co.za) or the Pink Rose Guesthouse (pinkroseguesthouse.com).
In the southernmost region of the country, you’ll find Algarve. The region is home to the city of Lavos and known for its beaches and luxury resorts. It offers a variety of ceremony sites. Wed on the beach, aboard a luxury yacht or in a local boutique hotel. Wedding planners at Gay Weddings Algarve (gayweddingsalgarve.com) help couples not only secure their venue of choice, but also help handle details, like booking the officiate and transportation. You can stay in Lavos at the gay-friendly Aqualuz Suite Hotel (aqualuz.com). Or escape to the nearby hills of Monchique, known as “the Garden of the Algarve.” There, Monchique’s Longevity Wellness Resort offers a luxurious spot to relax (longevitywellnessresort.com).
Iceland said yes to marriage equality in 2010. Now, the gay wedding planners at Pink Iceland (pinkiceland.is) specialize in finding ceremony sites throughout within the country’s breathtaking natural surroundings. As a full-service travel agency catering to LGBT travelers, Pink Island can also create custom itineraries for guests, booking gay-friendly hotels and arranging activities, including from tours of glaciers and geysers to city walks and helicopter rides.
As he approaches his fortieth birthday, a gay man reflects on the many faces he’s seen in the mirror.
A Gay Man Turns Thirty
Years ago, I relocated – first to Miami and then to Wilton Manors, Florida – in the span of six months. Over the course of this transition, a publisher was putting me up in a gay Fort Lauderdale guest house called Horton Terrace. I vividly remember my first night there.
Despite how lovely Fort Lauderdale was, I felt lonely that night. I remembered walking along the beach, thinking it looked like some modern, American take on the Côte d’Azur in the South of France. (Sans le cuisine, mai oui.) Yet, back in my empty suite, with the sound of the waves crashing just blocks away, I remember repeating the names of my oldest friends until I fell asleep. Like a rosary.
The AWOL Show
Repeating the names of my trusted friends was my way of drowning out the questions in my head. What was I doing here? How, at the age of thirty, did I find myself starting over once again?
I went for a dip in the pool. I watched silhouettes of palm trees waving against the sky. It’s as if they were asking: “You there! What the hell are you doing now?”
Someone left a response to one of my Facebook posts. It was about the fact that I was moving again for the second time in recent memory and would be starting a new job. He was a friend from school. Using my college nickname of AWOL, he made what I thought was a snide comment. “You’ve got to watch the AWOL show. He’s like a shooting star. You have to catch him.”
I brought it to the attention of a close friend of mine, who knew the commenter. “What the hell does that mean?” I asked.
My friend didn’t think it was insulting. He suggested the commenter was praising the fact I was trying something new; that I wasn’t afraid of big, sudden changes; that I was confident I’d make new friends. I decided to accept this interpretation.
In the Mind’s Eye
At that time, I didn’t think that thirty was old. Now, as my forties approach, I feel that even more acutely.
Like many people my age I am divorced. However, I have now realized what I once thought of as a failure was part of my maturing. The relationship had been a bad situation which made me look physically defeated. In the mirror I saw someone twice his age.
I’ve heard we expect to see younger reflections of ourselves as we brush our teeth or do our hair. They (to quote Judy Garland, “whoever they are”) say we also can do this with in our minds eye. We imagine ourselves talking to a neighbor, taking out the recycling or buying a cup of coffee with the face from our salad days.
I can see past versions of me in the mirror. I see the me who dressed only in black and gray and declared himself a “mod.” There’s the me who never thought he’d come out. And there’s the me who, with bleached blond hair and black Versace sunglasses first was charmed by people saying “Ciao bello” along the streets of Rome as a student.
I can see the me who rocked ripped jeans over red long johns in the East Village when it was still a pleasantly dirty place. The me who danced at Twilo in sleeveless shirts because I thought I was “too fat” for a tank top. The me who always believed cooking is another way of making love. The me who never learned to drive.
There’s the me who moved back to Philly after college and had to start over for the first time. The me who became a writer. The me who finagled his way into a few roles on stage. The me who got to dine with Rex Reed in New York and to interview the famed gay savior of Woodstock, Elliot Tiber. The me who moved to the West Coast and fell in love with Portland. The me who married, then divorced. And now, the me who fell in love again.
This Is The Face of a Man Who…
Sure, I know it’s not the same face it once was. But I do believe it’s a face of a man who – in his fortieth year – will learn how to drive. And create a drag persona. And perfect a sourdough starter. And finally freshen up his French… or Italian.
It’s the face of a man who’ll learn to build things. Already, I am learning how to use power tools and haul wood like a small, overly confident lumberjack. This is also the face of a man who hopes to learn to sew this year, too. But it’s also the face of a man who found out that sewing machines can be even scarier than chop saws.
So, yes, as I brush my teeth I do see glimpses of my younger self in the mirror. But, I’m also looking forward to a brand new season of the AWOL show. Its fortieth season will feature a fresh cast of characters but at least one very familiar face.
Want more of the AWOL show right now? Check out his adventures at a nude beach:
An ancient oral-health practice, oil pulling, has come into fashion. But how does it work, and what can it do for you?
What’s Been Going On in Our Mouths?
According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay increases exponentially when carbohydrates are left on the teeth. And bacteria thrives on food stuck between teeth — producing acids that destroy tooth enamel. This can be addressed by brushing your teeth. But the first modern toothbrush wasn’t developed until the late 1780s in England, and the practice of brushing one’s teeth didn’t become commonplace in the United States until after the Second World War — when American soldiers continued their required dental regimen after returning from war.
Yet archaeological evidence suggests many humans in the ancient world had strong teeth until the day they died. So if they weren’t brushing and flossing, what were they doing? Historic Ayurvedic literature recommended a process called “oil pulling” for oral health and general detoxification, which may explain how our long-ago ancestors kept their teeth in tact.
In recent years, the practice has started gaining popularity again. The process involves swishing about a tablespoon of coconut, olive or sesame oil around the mouth for about 15–20 minutes (though some sources suggest as little as five minutes). It may sound unusual to the uninitiated, but anecdotal evidence suggests it may be one of the best ways to eliminate unhealthy bacteria from the mouth.
The results may even extend beyond oral health. Practitioners of oil pulling have credited it with improvements in conditions as varied as headaches, diabetic conditions, asthma, and acne. (Drag Race’s Michelle Visage has raved about it on the podcast RuPaul: What’s the Tee? with Michelle Visage.) Ancient wisdom also connects cleansing the oral cavity and preserving the health of the tongue with the well-being of the colon, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, small intestines, spine and stomach.
It’s easy to give it a try. Oil pulling is most effective first thing in the morning. It can easily be done while taking a morning shower or preparing for your day. Coconut oil is most commonly used, as is sesame oil for certain Ayurvedic doshas. Take a big spoonful and swish it gently around your mouth without swallowing. Spit it out. Then rinse with warm water or saline before brushing your teeth as you normally would. Start the day like this three or four times a week and see if you notice a difference in your smile and overall being.
Indulgence can mean so much more than lounging poolside — from witnessing natural wonders to experiencing man-made luxuries. We’ve gathered seven superb experiences from across the spectrum and suggest you start splurging.
1. Drive a Classic Through a Spectacular Seaside
Picture trip through the French Riviera in a classic car (think a 1965 Mustang or Mercedes Pagoda). It’s one of the most unique ways to experience the Mediterranean coast. Start your road trip in Cannes. When the film festival is not in town, the swank city is quite relaxing.
Pay a visit to the serene, lush island of Île Saint-Honorat, where the imposing 15th-century monastery boasts vineyards tended by monks, and sample vintages — like those served to world leaders at the G20 Summit.
Next stop: Antibes, to excite your senses with the sights and smells of the the colorful Cours Massena spice market. Stop by a nearby absinthe bar that hails from the ninth century, and amble over to the Musée Picasso, used by Pablo as a studio in the 1940s.
Then it’s on to Saint Paul de Vence to see Marc Chagall’s work at Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Gardette and sample rare wines from Provence at the Petite Cave de Saint-Paul.
The next town on your list is Nice, where the Promenade des Anglais offers trendy bars and luxury shopping, and you can wiggle your toes in the sand by the boardwalk. Wind up your trip at Èze, perhaps the most extraordinary village on the French Riviera. It’s perched on a mountaintop 1,400 feet above sea level. The town is a winding labyrinth of pale, jagged stones and ancient corridors, where thick wooden doors open on renowned art galleries and perfumeries.
2. Cruise the Frozen Fjords
Nothing compares to a cruise beneath the colorful canvas of the northern lights. Hurtigruten Cruises offers an intimate, five-night excursion which begins in northern Norway, meanders around the majestic Arctic Circle, and ends at the historic city of Bergen.
Named “World’s Most Beautiful Voyage” by National Geographic, the cruise floats past idyllic islands, snow-capped peaks and colorful seaside towns. One jaw-dropping sight is the Trollfjord. It’s an awe-inspiring body of water formed by glacial erosion, resulting in a steep inlet amidst 3,000-foot mountains.
The ship stops in 34 ports during the course of the cruise, each memorable. The most exciting may be Kirkenes, where you can spend the night in a snow hotel. You can also try dog-sledding, snowmobiling or snowshoeing. Head out on king crab safaris. Het up close and personal with reindeer.
For a bit of dark history in Vardø, see where witches were burned at the stake in the 16th century. Or if you’re looking for something more upbeat, experience traditional north Norwegian folk music at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø. When in Svolvaer, sip a cocktail at the frozen bar and enjoy eye-catching ice sculptures. Then top off your trip by sea kayaking or rafting in the verdant peninsula of Brønnøysund.
To make the most out of a trip to South Africa, travelers should visit more than one region in the diverse country. Begin your trip in the Northern Cape during August or September — it’s famous for the Namaqualand Daisies Route. This 780-kilometer journey boasts acres of rare and exotic wildflowers like yellow sparaxis and purple geraniums nestled between quaint villages.
Along the route, stop by the Goegap Nature Reserve to take in the wildflower beauty on a hike, 4X4 drive or a mountain bike. Although much of the Northern Cape is arid terrain, you can cool off by rafting in the Orange River or exploring the Diamond Coast, where pristine beaches, archaeological sites from the Later Stone Age, and even shipwrecks are abundant.
After touring the Northern Cape, a short flight to Cape Town is a must. Known as Pink City for its many gay-friendly party spots, there is also plenty of adventure nearby. Hike up Table Mountain. Try shark-cage diving. Go mountain biking in Constantia. Skydive over Robben Island.
From Cape Town, a one-hour flight puts you in the center of game reserve central: the Eastern Cape. The Kwandwe Game Reserve offers an exhilarating experience. See Africa’s “Big Five” (lions, rhinos, leopards, elephants and buffalo). Take a “game drive” to see lion cubs at play, giraffes grazing, and cheetahs on the chase.
by Bruno Van Loocke/Club Med
4. Slide Around the Alps
In the French Alps, sport enthusiasts will find 95 miles of ski slopes at the Club Med Valmorel. They range from nearly 4,000 to 8,000 feet.
When you are ready to hang up the skis, you can also take part in ice skating, snowshoe rambles, and even total-body Nordic walking. I highly recommend the Snake Gliss bob-luge ride, where up to 10 people are connected to each other via sleds and driven down the slopes.
Skiers with some experience should sign on for a 1.5-hour ski trip to a sheep farm in the lovely village of Celliers, where local cheese is made. After a long day on the slopes, retire to your luxury chalet-apartment, which includes a private butler and personal chef.
5. Dive into Cancun
Start by taking a plunge into the deepest thermal sinkhole in the world, El Zacatón. This crystal-clear cenote was created by the collapse of limestone bedrock. It exposed a 1,000-foot pool you can explore via diving or snorkeling.
Designed to create artificial reefs that promote marine life, the 400 sculptures of Cancun’s Underwater Museum range from nine to 20 feet and create intricate relationships between modern art and the environment. During whale shark season (mid-May through mid-September), the world’s largest fish gather in the nutrient-rich waters around Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy. Swim among the gentle giants of the ocean as they feed on plankton blooms and fish eggs.
After you’ve had your fill of water activities, take part in some land excursions. Most of the Mayan pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula are protected, but you can actually climb the tallest one, Nohoch Mul. The climb is not for the faint of heart, but the spectacular view of the Mayan jungle from the top is worth every step. And auto enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the opportunity to race an authentic exotic supercar, like a Ferrari F430 or a Lamborghini Murcielago, at the Exotic Rides racetrack.
COURTESY ADRIENNE JORDAN.
6. Track Endangered Rwandan Gorillas
Many people think of gorillas as something to flee from if encountered in the wild. They are anything but! In Rwanda, tourists visit the endangered silverback mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park on a daily basis. Whether it is their nature or because they see humans so often, the gorillas appear utterly relaxed in the presence of people.
The Volcanoes Safaris company organizes daily expeditions into the Volcanoes National Park to encounter members of these 10 families of gorillas. After hiking an hour or two alongside capable rangers, you will encounter a gorilla family in a clearing: grooming, playing and eating as if they never noticed the arrival of curious human onlookers.
I followed my tracker to encounter the lead silverback gorilla in his glory as a baby gorilla groomed him. Without warning, another baby gorilla walked up to me and tentatively placed his hand on my leg. The guide shooed him away gently with an oomp, oomp. Unthreatened, the gorillas will come down from their perches and rub past you as they seek delicious stalks of bamboo.
7. Try Fruits of Swiss Vines
There is not enough wine produced in Switzerland to export significantly. So most must be enjoyed domestically. Varietals you may encounter include: whites from Waadt or Valais, pinot noirs from Lucerne, and merlots from Ticino (the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland). The variety is surprising.
Begin your trip in Montreux, located in southwest Switzerland, with its Mediterranean climate where there are over 200 wineries, and locals have been winemaking for 17 generations. On the Swiss Riviera Wine Tour, Winery Blaise Dubois pairs education with tasting by explaining how terroir (bedrock, soil, depth of roots) impacts both the flavor and the quality of the wines.
Finally, travel to the German-speaking part of Switzerland, Weggis, to experience “blind tasting” at the Park Weggis. In a pitch black basement cellar, you’ll allow your senses of smell, taste and touch to take over as you sip some of Switzerland’s finest wines.
Supporters of the Equality Act have spent the last few hours congratulating themselves. They should get over it.
The legislation passed Friday by the House seeks to protect LGBTQ Americans in states where it’s still legal to discriminate. In many parts of the country, it remains perfectly legal to punish someone based on their gender identity or sexual orientation in housing, employment and other services. The bill also mandates access to public accommodations, including restaurants.
Unsurprisingly, the proposal passed largely along party lines. The Democratic-controlled House saw the bill through 236-173, but is unlikely to be taken up by the GOP-led Senate. A mere eight Republicans lent their support.
What’s wrong here is simple: the bill is dead in the water. There’s little to no chance it will ever reach the president’s desk. This Equality Act is a cute dog and pony show and nothing more. With no possibility of becoming law, why should we be delighted? Or placated?
This administration presides arguably over the most anti-LGBTQ White House in modern times. He has zealously attacked transgender patriots in the military. Yes, George W. Bush opposed equality, but he took very few legislative steps to curtail what protections existed at the time. Instead and on the advice of his political hack Karl Rove, he used our community as a political football in 2004. Vote Bush/Cheney was the mantra, otherwise terrorists will invade America and gays will be getting married on your lawn.
Just days ago, an administration official assured the White House will not support this bill. The source says it’s “filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
If passed, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And like clockwork, right-wing critics shot back that the bill jeopardizes religious freedom and threatens women in sports.
Before the vote, a rancorous floor debate found Republicans complaining that the bill states individuals cannot be denied access to locker rooms, restrooms, or dressing room based on gender identity.
Furthermore, they claim that would force females to share private spaces with men. They also claim the proposal foreshadows men participating in women’s sports, if they identify as female. That, according to Florida Republican Greg Steube,”will mean the end of women’s sports in any meaningful sense.”
Equality Act supporters maintain the bill will not affect churches because of religious protections, while opponents fret that the bill might still apply to religiously affiliated institutions — including hospitals and schools that receive federal financing.
Thanks, but no thanks. Don’t pull out the wishbook and ask us to pick out something pretty when we know damned well there’s no present on the way. Don’t play us for chumps.
We’re tired of being demonized because we demand full recognition as citizens of our own homeland. We’re over rhetoric and lip service. Until the current Oval Office occupant and his homo-hating vice president are tossed out onto the junk heap of history, equality is not going to happen. We know that, so quit trying to cheer us up with happy talk.
The exhibition explores the designer’s entire career, including his early days as a performer in the Lester Horton dance troupe. And it doesn’t shy away from Gernreich’s orientation, either. At a time when he would have risked career suicide, Gernreich chose to lend his name to the formation of the Mattachine Society — one of the earliest groups in America to stand up for gay rights.
Fashion devotees will already know his most renowned work. Gernreich introduced the “monokini,” the thong, unisex caftans, pantsuits for women, and enough inventive clothing to earn him a worldwide reputation. Yet he was far more than one of the most prominent designers of his time. His aesthetic was, according to many, fearless.
What You’ll See
Hence the exhibition’s title — “Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich.” Through it, patrons can follow along as Gernreich explores the visionary and progressive ensembles that transcended rigid social expectations and championed authenticity above all.
Not surprisingly, much of his design work runs parallel to his own personal manifesto of freedom. Many of his most beloved creations freed women from the rigid constructions and sharp silhouettes that were in place upon his arrival in fashion. In their place, Gernreich introduced lines that followed the contours of the female form. That won him both praise and relief from women who felt their clothing literally bound them into roles.
Skirball’s exhibition, which runs until September 1, features more than 80 Gernreich ensembles. Included alongside them are accessories, original sketches, photographs, ephemera and newly filmed interviews of friends and colleagues.
Furthermore, every mannequin in the exhibition is custom produced with flat feet — a deviation from industry standard. That women were not meant to always be en pointe was something Gernreich not only recognized, but emphasized. He often dressed his models barefoot or in sensible short-heeled or flat shoes. Illustrating how Gernreich challenged conventional notions of beauty, identity, and gender, “Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich” closely examines how the designer redefined style in ways that continue to influence fashion today.