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THE GEORGIA VOICE EDITORIAL
Editor: Laura Douglas-Brown email@example.com
IN THIS ISSUE
Deputy Editor: Dyana Bagby firstname.lastname@example.org Web Manager: Ryan Watkins email@example.com Art Director: Mike Ritter firstname.lastname@example.org
21 | Brushstrokes co-owner sentenced for child porn. 22 | Atlanta City Council approves ‘gender identity’ policy revisions. 25 | Police: East Atlanta crimes not gay related. 26 | News in brief: East Point police o cer killed, petitions target gay rights in Ga., and more
ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT
Melissa Carter, Jim Farmer, Shannon Hames, Topher Payne, Matt Schafer, Steve Warren, Ryan Lee Publisher: Christina Cash email@example.com Associate Publisher: Tim Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Manager: Marshall Graham email@example.com Sales Executive: Anne Clarke The Clarke Agency firstname.lastname@example.org National Advertising: Rivendell Media, 908-232-2021 email@example.com
4 | BEST OF ATLANTA
FRIENDS & FOES IN THEIR OWN WORDS
(Public domain photo)
“The title of this bill might be ‘Marriage’, but its fabric is about freedom and respect. Freedom to marry regardless of sexuality or gender, but also freedom to believe that marriage should be of one man and one woman, and not be marginalized.”
— England’s Culture Secretary Maria Miller, during the debate that led to the House of Commons approving gay marriage for England and Wales. Queen Elizabeth II gave her Royal Assent less than 24 hours after the vote. (Reuters, July 16)
33 | INTERVIEW: Brandi Carlile on coming out and Chastain show. 35 | ART: Randall Chumbley says goodbye to Atlanta. 37 | THEATER: ‘Les Miserables,’ LGBT short plays. 39 | FILM: Pedro Almodovar’s way gay ‘I’m So Excited.’ 40 | EVENT: Marietta Pride plans expanded events. 41 | EVENT: Backpack in the Park grows up. 42 | NIGHTLIFE: Jungle debuts ‘bckspce’ with new theme nights. 45 | FOOD PORN: Our restaurant-based ﬁctional series concludes. 48 | CALENDAR
All material in the Georgia Voice is protected by federal copyright law and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Georgia Voice. The sexual orientation of advertisers, photographers, writers and cartoonists published herein is neither inferred nor implied. The appearance of names or pictorial representation does not necessarily indicate the sexual orientation of that person or persons. We also do not accept responsibility for claims made by advertisers. Unsolicited editorial material is accepted by the Georgia Voice, but we do not take responsibility for its return. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject or edit any submission. Guidelines for freelance contributors are available upon request. A single copy of the Georgia Voice is available from authorized distribution points. Multiple copies are available from the Georgia Voice o ce only. Call for rates. If you are unable to reach a convenient free distribution point, you may receive a 26-issue mailed subscription for $60 per year. Checks or credit card orders can be sent to Tim Boyd, firstname.lastname@example.org Postmaster: Send address changes to the Georgia Voice, PO Box 77401, Atlanta, GA 30357. The Georgia Voice is published every other Friday by The Georgia Voice, LLC. Individual subscriptions are $60 per year for 26 issues. Postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing o ces. The editorial positions of the Georgia Voice are expressed in editorials and in editor’s notes. Other opinions are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Georgia Voice and its sta . To submit a letter or commentary: Letters should be fewer than 400 words and commentary, for web or print, should be fewer than 750 words. Submissions may be edited for content and length, and must include a name, address and phone number for veriﬁcation. Email submissions to email@example.com or mail to the address above.
“So media + movies can engender hate, violence, prejudice, etc — but somehow not gender confusion + aberrant sexual choices among youth?”
— Peter LaBarbera, president of the anti-gay Americans for Truth, via Twitter (July 16)
“Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, proﬁling and violence. We have experienced the heartbreaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love … Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.”
— Open letter from national LGBT organizations supporting a federal investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death after his accused killer was found not guilty. (Press release, July 15)
53 | THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID: Melissa Carter gets riled up about ‘boys will be boys.’ 54 | DOMESTICALLY DISTURBED: Topher Payne ﬁnds himself longing for beach babies.
“We welcome all individuals regardless of sexual orientation into our ballparks, along with those of di erent races, religions, genders and national origins. Both on the ﬁeld and away from it, Major League Baseball has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
— MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, announcing new code of conduct that will be distributed individually to professional baseball players at every level of the game. (New York Attorney General’s O ce press release, July 16)
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Photo by Bill Ingalls
(Photo via MLB.com)
This year’s Best of Atlanta winners include (left to right) Brent Star (Best Comedian), Nicole Paige Brooks (Best Drag Queen), Kai Lin Art owner Yu Kai Lin (Best Art Gallery), Je Graham (one of ﬁve Best Activists), State Rep. Simone Bell (Best Politician), Atlanta Pride Executive Director Buck Cooke (Best LGBT Event), Sheila Merritt (another Best Activist winner), Atlanta Bucks’ Gary Durden (Best Athlete), My Sister’s Room owners Jami Siden and Jen Maquire (Best Place to Meet Women), The Other Show’s Edie Cheezburger (Best Drag Show), Saint Mark United Methodist Church’s Josh Noblitt (Best House of Worship) and, seated, Bedlam Presents creator Barry Brandon (Best Theme Night).
fter two months of online balloting and a new record for votes cast, we present your favorites in dozens of categories: our fourth annual Best of Atlanta awards. We’ve heard these awards called “a popularity contest.” That is most deﬁnitely and intentionally true. There is only one criteria for our Best of Atlanta awards, and that’s your votes. In our ﬁrst round of voting, which took place throughout May, you told us on a “ﬁll in the blank” ballot your favorites for awards in categories of Community, People, Places, Pets, Eats, Arts & Entertainment, Shopping & Services, and Nightlife. In most cases, the top three vote-getters (or more
if there was a tie) were named ﬁnalists and moved on to the second stage of multiple-choice voting, which lasted through the end of June. Some individuals, organizations and businesses let readers decide their fate unprompted, while others mounted organized campaigns — especially through Facebook — to garner votes. We think both approaches are valuable, and the fact that a business or group has fans who are devoted enough to vote every day is a great reason to check them out. If you’re thrilled to see a place or person you love among the winners, be sure to congratulate them. And if you’re sad your favorite choice didn’t make the top three, plan to vote early
and often next year. Either way, please join us in thanking all of the sponsors who helped us celebrate these winners at our July 18 Best of Atlanta party — our annual free celebration of our community. It would not have been possible without host The Georgian Terrace, emcee Ian Aber of ABear Comedy Show, DJ Vicki Powell, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Green’s Liquors, Southern Sweets Bakery, Feast Catering, Campagnolo and Henry’s Midtown Tavern. Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to our entire community for making LGBT Atlanta such a great place to live, work, party and play.
Community and People by Dyana Bagby • Arts & Entertainment and Shopping & Services by Jim Farmer • Eats by Matt Schafer • Nightlife by Ryan Watkins • Places and Pets by Laura Douglas-Brown
6 | GA VOICE
Photo by Dyana Bagby
BEST OF ATLANTA
BEST CHARITY BENEFIT: Joining Hearts Pool Party
Founded in 1982 as a grassroots response to the harsh impact of AIDS on Atlanta’s community, AID Atlanta (www.aidatlanta.org) has grown to become the largest such facility in the Southeast. Services include primary care for those with HIV/AIDS, free HIV testing, numerous prevention programs and hosting the annual AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5K Run to raise funds for many beneﬁciaries. Placing second was Positive Impact/MISTER Center (www.positiveimpact-atl.org) and placing third was Jerusalem House (www.jerusalemhouse.org).
BEST SPORTS TEAM/ORGANIZATION: Atlanta Bucks Rugby Football Club
Saint Mark United Methodist Church
House of Worship
With its special emphasis on celebrating diversity, including LGBT individuals, Saint Mark UMC (www.stmarkumc.org) is also a regular host to LGBT events including the annual Bayard Rustin/Audre Lorde Breakfast. Coming in second was New Covenant Church of Atlanta (www.newcovenantatlanta. com), placing third was Virginia Highland Church (www.vhchurch.org) and ﬁnishing fourth was The Gathering Place Atlanta (www. glbtchurch.com).
Tens of thousands converge on Atlanta in October to celebrate Atlanta Pride (www.atlantapride.org), the largest Pride fest in the Southeast. The free festival provides music, entertainment and hundreds of vendors all weekend in gay Atlanta’s playground, Piedmont Park. Atlanta’s largest parade takes to the streets on the Sunday of the fest. Taking second place was Out on Film (www.outonﬁlm.org) and The Health Initiative’s Garden Party (thehealthinitiative.org) ﬁnished third.
national LGBT headlines and its weekly guide to gay Atlanta happenings, Project Q earns its faithful following. Placing second was Create Love For Women (www.createloveforwomen.blogspot.com) with QueerBois (www.queerbois.com) ﬁnishing third. (www.justusatl.org) which narrowly beat SAGE Atlanta (www.sageatl.org) for older LGBT people, which placed third.
Atlanta Bucks Rugby Football Club
Local LGBT Nonproﬁt
Local LGBT Blog
Project Q Atlanta
Founded in 2008 by gay journalist Matt Hennie, Project Q Atlanta (www.projectqatlanta.com) continues its reign as the top LGBT blog in Atlanta. Offering up a combination of morning man-hunks to get your juices ﬂowing, photos of hot Atlanta gay parties, local and
The only nonproﬁt in Atlanta that provides immediate, around-the-clock help to homeless LGBTQ young people, Lost-n-Found Youth (www.lost-n-found.org) recently launched a $1 million campaign to create a larger facility to house more youth who have nowhere else to go. The organization also plans to open a thrift store to help as an ongoing funding source. Lost-n-Found is all volunteers and conducts constant outreach. Taking second was youth-led JustUs ATL
Founded in 2003, the Atlanta Bucks Rugby Club (www.atlantabucksrugby.org) has the mission of providing a “fraternal environment, without discrimination, for gay and diverse communities, to participate in the sport of rugby.” These burly, macho guys also know how to show out in purple dresses for the Bucks’ annual Purple Dress Run to raise funds for local charities. Taking home the silver medal is the Atlanta Team Tennis Association (www.atta.org) with the Atlanta Dream (www.wnba.com/dream) ﬁnishing with a bronze.
Please see Best on Page 8
Photo by ProjectQAtlanta.com
Hundreds packed into the Piedmont Park pool dancing to the top DJs in the world make for a Joining Hearts (www.joininghearts.org) party that becomes more popular each year — check out the 2013 event on July 20. The annual Joining Hearts pool party is the largest fundraiser for the Joining Hearts nonproﬁt, founded in 1987, that donates 100 percent of ticket sales and tips to AID Atlanta and Jerusalem House. Coming in a close second was Toy Party (www.forthekid.org), placing third was the East Point Possums Show (www.eastpointpossums.com) and placing fourth was Atlanta’s Human Rights Campaign Dinner (www.atlantahrcdinner.org).
BEST LGBT EVENT: Atlanta Pride
Photo by xxxxx
8 | GA VOICE
Photo by Dyana Bagby
BEST OF ATLANTA
Best continued from Page 6
Chandler Bearden Linda Ellis Je Graham Sheila Merritt Rick Westbrook
For 2013, the GA Voice decided to ask our readers to nominate their top activists rather than dividing the activist honor into male, female and transgender categories. Readers’ votes then narrowed the 15 ﬁnalists to these ﬁve winners: Chandler Bearden, a prevention specialist and community outreach leader for Positive Impact’s MISTER program (www.mistercenter. org), is a renaissance man who works hard to raise money and awareness about HIV/AIDS whether through aerial arts at major events or talking one-on-one with people about safer sex practices. Linda Ellis is executive director of The Health Initiative (thehealthinitiative.org), which provides health care resources to the entire LGBTQ community and is now working to help people get ready for the Affordable Care Act. Jeff Graham serves as executive director of Georgia Equality (www.georgiaequality.org), the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, that does everything from lobbying at the capitol to working on anti-bullying initiatives in schools across the state. Sheila Merritt is the vice president of Q&A Events (www.QandAEvents.com), and works non-stop to help organize (and perform in) the East Point Possums Show and Atlanta Pride. Rick Westbrook is the founder of Lost-nFound Youth (www. lost-n-found.org),
Photo by Dyana Bagby
BEST LOCAL POLITICIAN: State Rep. Simone Bell
State Rep. Simone Bell
an original East Point Possum and a founding member of the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (atlsisters.org). Runners up for Best Activists are, in no particular order, Antoine Bates, Cheryl CourtneyEvans, Betty Couvertier, Oyle Harrison, Art Izzard, Anthony Micheal Kreis, Giselle Lawn, Dana Prosser, James Shefﬁeld and Craig Washington.
The Republican Party
This should not come as any surprise. Republicans in Georgia are often outspoken against marriage equality (U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, to name two) and U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey was recently named one of the top seven anti-gay U.S. Representatives by ThinkProgress. Second place goes to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (www.kasimreed.com) — while he’s evolved to support marriage equality and backed LGBT issues when he was a state legislator, apparently many readers won’t let the go of the ensuing lawsuits that followed the raid on the Atlanta Eagle. Third place goes to Gov. Nathan Deal (www.gov.georgia.gov).
First elected to the Georgia House in 2009, becoming the ﬁrst African-American lesbian elected to a state legislature, Rep. Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) (www.simonebell.com) continues to impress her constituents and community. She was named a Harvey Milk Champion of Change this year and honored at the White House; she also introduced a bill to prohibit state tax dollars from going to private schools that discriminate against LGBT students. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (www.johnlewis. house.gov) ﬁnished second and Georgia’s ﬁrst openly gay state lawmaker — Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) (www.karladrenner.org) — came in third.
LOCAL ATHLETE: Gary Durden
Bill Kaelin (www.billkaelin.com) works his magic as a PR consultant and promoter to make his clients and their events the talk of the town. Whether its a product launch, a bar opening or assisting the LGBT community and its events, Kaelin and his staff work hard for the money to ensure quality coverage and a fun event people will talk about long after its over. Placing second were Barb Rowland and Justin Ziegler, the owners of Common Ground Real Estate (www.commongroundrealestate. com); ﬁnishing third was Rad Slough, owner of Urban Body Fitness (www.urbanbodyﬁtness. com).
Whether on the pitch with the Atlanta Bucks Rugby team (www.atlantabucksrugby. org) or on the diamond with the Hotlanta Softball League (www.hotlantasoftball.org), Gary Durden is a force to be reckoned with. Through both, Durden is also an avid fan of helping raise money for local LGBTQ charities — making him a big guy with a big heart. Taking second place was John Ring while James Nelson ﬁnished in third.
Yes, we all know East Point is not technically outside the perimeter, but that doesn’t keep our readers from heaping praise on Rick Westbrook, matriarch of the East Point Possums, who does work to help homeless LGBTQ youth and raise funds for other groups in need through the local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Jonathan Murphy of LeBuzz Marietta (www.thenewlebuzz.com) and a founder of Marietta Pride placed second and Isaac Kelly of Augusta Pride (www.prideaugusta.org) and Interpride (www.interpride.org) placed third.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis
Photo by Dyana Bagby
BEST ACTIVISTS: Je Graham of Georgia Equality, one of ﬁve winners.
The beloved stripper at the Clermont Lounge repeats for a second year as gay Atlanta’s favorite local icon. Blondie (www.akablondieﬁlm. com) has been featured in her own documentary and has lately become a hostess to some of nation’s top celebrities visiting the infamous strip club, including Pink, Jon Hamm, Woody Harrelson and even the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Drag queen Ruby Redd (www.facebook.com/ therealrubyredd) placed second while Diamond Lil (http://on.fb.me/12pjax2) came in third.
Whether running along the Atlanta Pride parade route to greet as many people as possible or giving rousing speeches on the House ﬂoor in support of marriage equality, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (www.johnlewis.house.gov) has always been a staunch ally for LGBTQ equality. He is a hero to all of us. Placing second was Laura Gentle (www. facebook.com/shirtoffmyback) while former mayoral candidate Mary Norwood (www.facebook.com/electnorwood) ﬁnished third.
Please see Best on Page 10
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10 | GA VOICE
BEST OF ATLANTA
Best continued from Page 8
10th & Piedmont
Best First Date
Best Place to Take the Kids
BEST PLACE TO TAKE THE KIDS: Piedmont Park
Whether GA Voice readers are part of the gayby boom themselves or spending time with the children of friends and family members, they overwhelmingly agree that Piedmont Park (www.piedmontpark.org) is the Best Place to Take the Kids. Second place goes to the Georgia Aquarium (www.georgiaaquarium.org) and Six Flags Over Georgia (www.sixﬂags.com/overgeorgia) comes in a very close third — check it out for Rainbow Day on Aug. 10.
ta’s Argosy (www.argosy-east.com) ﬁnished a close second while Ten (www.tenatlanta.com) was third.
Best Place to Take Out of Town Guests
When it comes to showing off Atlanta’s unique attractions to visitors to our fair city, the Georgia Aquarium (www.georgiaaquarium. org) is our readers’ top pick. The world’s largest aquarium offers multiple exhibits, from the enormous whale shark to adorable penguins, and the new dolphin exhibit only adds to the appeal. Piedmont Park (www.piedmontpark.org) placed second, while a night out on the town at Jungle (www.jungleatl.com) — known for top DJs and popular stage shows — placed third.
Best Overall Restaurant
Convenient to Piedmont Park and known for its cozy indoor space and large patio, Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) ran away with the voting for best restaurant, receiving almost ten times as many votes as its closest competitor. Apres Diem’s menu and wine list clearly scored with voters. Poor Calvin’s (www.poorcalvins.com) in the Old Forth Ward ﬁnished second while Roxx Tavern on Cheshire Bridge ﬁnished third.
desert category with another silver metal in the bakery category while the Highland Bakery’s (highlandbakery.com) three locations combine for third place
BEST OVERALL RESTAURANT : Apres Diem
Doc Chey’s Noodle House
10th & Piedmont
Best New Restaurant
Known for tasty noodle bowls and other entrees, Doc Chey’s Noodle House (www.doccheys.com) took ﬁrst place with our voters who love Asian food. Doc Chey’s dominated the vote, leaving little room for Nam Phuong (www.namphuongatlanta.com) to ﬁnish second while Mali (www. malirestaurant.com) was third.
Burkhart’s Pub (www.burkharts.com) took top honors in the bar food category and we bet that hearty steak dinner is the reason why. Amsterdam Atlanta (www.amsterdamatlanta.com) came in second and Roxx Tavern placed third.
With an extensive offering of entrees under $12 Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) takes ﬁrst place in the brunch category. Apres Diem is one of the few restaurants to admit to knowing what you did on Saturday night, offering you a selection from the “Hair of the Dog.” Poor Calvin’s (www.poorcalvins.com) took second while Roxx Tavern ﬁnished third.
After opening this year in the building that once housed Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse, 10th &Piedmont (www.10thandPiedmont.com) has proved popular with Georgia Voice’s readers, who named it the best in restaurant in Atlanta. The new restaurant offers a section of an eclectic menu and a great chance for people watching. East Atlan-
Alon’s Bakery (alons.geomerx.com), with its delectable, delicate deserts, far surpassed the competition to win top bakery. The all-scratch, European-inspired bakery is a family-owned, 20-year tradition with is loyal devotees. Southern Sweets (www.southernsweets. com) backs up its second-place showing in the
Home Grown (www.homegrownga.com) dominated the breakfast category, taking more than half of the votes in its ﬁrst appearance in our Best of Atlanta awards. Featuring daily menus and locally grown produce, Home Grown’s homespun charm has readers ready to get up and out of the house in the morning. Chef Pell’s Ria’s Bluebird (www.riasbluebird.com) took second in this category while long time favorite Radial Café (www.radial.us) took third.
The Vortex (www.thevortexbarandgrill. com) took a massive bite out of the best burger category. Also known for hosting comedy, the Vortex has been slinging burgers and laughter since 1991. Yeah Burger (www.yeahburger.com) ﬁnished second with Cowtippers (cowtippersatlanta.com) in third.
Please see Best on Page 12
Photo by Dyana Bagby
Your favorite place to take a new potential mate is 10th & Piedmont (www.10thandPiedmont.com), a newcomer to the Atlanta LGBT scene that has quickly won our readers’ hearts. The restaurant and bar takes its name from the corner that is its home, smack in the epicenter of LGBT Midtown. Second place is Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) and third place goes to Piedmont Park (www.piedmontpark.org).
Photo by Dyana Bagby
12 | GA VOICE
BEST OF ATLANTA
Best continued from Page 10
BEST PATIO: Joe’s on Juniper
Photo by Ryan Watkins
The move to be closer to the heart of Midtown must have paid off for Café Intermezzo (www.cafeintermezzo.com) as its selection of cakes, pies, blintzes and crepes won it best desserts. Long known as a late night hangout for the service industry and other night owls the Buckhead institution moved to the Midtown Mile in 2012 and has been serving cakes late ever since. Decatur’s Southern Sweets (www.southernsweets.com) was second and Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) ﬁnished third.
Located just off Cheshire Bridge, Atlanta’s Jungle (www.jungleatl.com) was named this year’s Best Overall Bar by GA Voice readers. Jungle features a large dance ﬂoor and reguarly hosts events like the Big Gay Game Show and P.A.L.S. Bingo. Ansley’s Burkhart’s Pub (www.burkharts. com/) ﬁnished second while Cockpit (thecockpit-atlanta.blogspot.com) was third.
Best Overall Bar
Located near the corner of gay and gayer, otherwise known as 10th and Piedmont, Campagnolo (www.peasantatl.com) scored with our readers to take best Italian restaurant. Virginia Highland favorite La Tavola (www. latavolatrattoria.com) ﬁnished second while Italian bistro ParQ (www.parqatlanta.com) came third.
title in 2011. Kevin Kusinski of K Squared Meals (www. ksquaredmeals.com) was second and Calvin Phan of Poor Calvin’s (www.poorcalvins.com) placed third.
R. Thomas Deluxe Grill
Family owned and operated, R. Thomas Deluxe Grill (www.rthomasdeluxegrill.net) was named the best place to grab a late night bite by our readers. R. Thomas offers a full menu of organic choices and freshly made fruit juices. The iconic Majestic Diner (www.majesticdiner.com) and its “Food that Pleases” ﬁnished second and Roxx Tavern was third.
Metrofresh (www.metrofreshatl.com) is a popular place to grab lunch or dinner on the way to a day in Piedmont Park and was named Mexican the best takeout by Senor Patron our readers. With Senor Patron (www. menus that change BEST PLACE TO senorpatronatl.com) won daily based on availMEET WOMEN: top spot for a yummy Mexiable produce, Metrofresh can meal —offering $5 Patron MySister’s Room offers a delicious variety of shots every day and a bevy of owned by Jami Siden and fresh food. weekly drink specials only adds to Jen Maquire (Photo by Morningside’s Doc Chey’s the appeal. Dyana Bagby) (www.doccheys.com) ﬁnZocalo (www.zocalocreativeished second while K Squared mex.com) near the corner of 10th Meals (www.ksquaredmeals. and Piedmont was second, while Las Margaritas (www.lasmargaritasmidtown. com) rounded out the list in third. com) placed third.
Yes, sir! Strap on the leather and break out the rubber if you’re looking for a mate, boys. The Atlanta Eagle ( www.atlantaeagle.com) is THE place to meet men in Atlanta, according to our readers. Jungle Atlanta (www.jungleatl.com) ﬁnished voting second and Cockpit (thecockpitatlanta.blogspot.com) was third.
The Atlanta Eagle
Best Place to Meet Men
My Sister’s Room (www.mysistersroom. com) continued its perfect run in our Best of Atlanta awards dating back to 2010. Readers have once again selected this East Atlanta hangout as the best place in Atlanta to meet women. Second place went to Mary’s (www. marysatlanta.com) while Marietta’s LeBuzz (www.thenewlebuzz.com) rounded out the top three.
My Sister’s Room
Best Place To Meet Women
Chef Ria Pell of “Chopped” fame handily won the title as gay Atlanta’s best chef. She is the driving force behind Ria’s Bluebird (www. riasbluebird.com) previously won our Best Chef
Joe’s on Juniper
For the fourth year running Joe’s on Juniper (www.metrocafes.com/joes-juniper), with its patio that’s twice as large as its indoor space, won best outdoor eatery. Joe’s patio offers the chance to wine and dine, see and be seen, with plenty of shade for hot summer days. Roxx Tavern garnered second and Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) ﬁnished third.
Eats (www.eatsonponce.net), known for its unpretentious style and customizable menu, was once again named the best value by GA Voice readers. Offering meals under or around $10, Eats has long been a place for a good meal at a good price. Roxx Tavern ﬁnished second while the new Chai Pani (www.chaipanidecatur.com) in Decatur took third.
Michael Adkins from Model T’s (www.modeltatlanta.com) again repeats as your choice for Atlanta’s best bartender. Chris Tyler from Jungle Atlanta (www.jungleatl.com) came in second while Daniel Jones (also from Jungle) and Tony Jackson from The Atlanta Eagle (www.atlantaeagle.com) were third and fourth respectively.
Michael Adkins (Model T’s)
Built in an former warehouse, One Midtown Kitchen’s (www.onemidtownkitchen. com) industrial loft style and views of Piedmont Park won it the top spot. The trendy spot is our readers’ ﬁrst choice for sharing a meal with that special someone. Apres Diem (www.apresdiem.com) ﬁnished second while Parker’s on Ponce (www. parkersonponce.com) ﬁnished third.
One Midtown Kitchen
Promising “mindblasting Indian street food,” new Decatur eatery Chai Pani (www. chaipanidecatur.com) was named the best place to grab a vegetarian dinner. Radial Café (www.radial.us) edged Café Sunﬂower (www.cafesunﬂower.com) for second place while Green Sprout (www. greensproutga.com ) ﬁnished fourth.
Thanks in part to a major renovation effort, Jungle Atlanta (www.jungleatl.com) was named this year’s Best Dance Floor by GA Voice readers. Jungle regularly hosts some of Atlanta’s best DJs and with the ﬂoor space, there’s always plenty of room to show your stuff. Heretic Atlanta (www.hereticatlanta.com) ﬁnished second and The Atlanta Eagle (www. atlantaeagle.com) was third.
Please see Best on Page 14
14 | GA VOICE
BEST OF ATLANTA
Whiskey Park (www.gerberbars.com/whiskey-park-atlanta) at the W Midtown ﬁnished voting second and Trader Vic’s (www.tradervicsatl.com) inside the Atlanta Hilton was third.
Best continued from Page 12
Photo by Dyana Bagby
Chachki, each Friday night event promises a campy good time. The Armorettes (www.armorettes.com) were second, while Ruby’s Tuesdays (www. facebook.com/therealrubyredd), which recently ended at Jungle, rounded out the ﬁnalists.
The Other Show
BEST DRAG SHOW: The Other Show, featuring Edie Cheezburger
The Livingston at Georgian Terrace
The Other Show (www.facebook.com/ TheOtherShow) held at Jungle Atlanta was named this year’s Best Drag Show by GA Voice readers. Featuring drag performers like Evah Destruction, Edie Cheezburger and Violet
The Livingston (www.livingstonatlanta. com), located inside of the Georgian Terrace Hotel, was your pick for the 2013 Best of Atlanta Best Hotel Bar. Named after Atlanta Mayor Livingston Mims, the restaurant is a celebration of classic Southern hospitality.
Gilbert’s Cafe’ and Bar (www.facebook. com/GilbertsCafe) hosts Atlanta’s best karaoke, according to GA Voice readers. The restaurant, located across the street from Piedmont Park, hosts weekly karaoke with plenty of drink specials to wet your whistle. Mary’s (www.marysatlanta.com) ﬁnished second and Burkhart’s Pub (www.burkharts. com/) was third.
Blake’s on the Park (www.blakesontheparkatlanta.com) in Midtown Atlanta was crowned the best Neighborhood Bar by GA Voice readers in this year’s Best of Atlanta survey. Blake’s has been a staple of gay Atlanta nightlife since it opened in 1988. Neighboring 10th and Piedmont (www.10thandpiedmont.com), a newcomer for 2013, ﬁnished second, while Cockpit (thecockpit-atlanta.blogspot.com) and Mary’s (www. marysatlanta.com) ﬁnished third and fourth respectively.
Blake’s on the Park
The Atlanta Eagle
Looking to scratch a unique itch? GA Voice readers selected The Atlanta Eagle (www.atlantaeagle.com) as the city’s best Niche Bar thanks to its bearishly good ﬂair. Mary’s (www.marysatlanta.com) ﬁnished the voting second, while Cockpit (thecockpit-atlanta.blogspot.com) rounded out the top three.
The New LeBuzz (www.thenewlebuzz.com) in Marietta, Ga., is once again GA Voice readers’ choice for best bar outside the perimeter. With nightly events ranging from drag competitions to queer talent shows, there’s always something afoot just north of the city. Club One (www.clubone-online.com) in Savannah ﬁnished voting second and Club Argos (www.facebook.com/ClubArgos) in Augusta was third.
Local party promoter Barry Brandon’s Bedlam Presents (www.facebook.com/BedlamPresents) is the winner of this year’s Best Theme Night category. With events like “Hawt Mess” and “WackedOut BlackOut,” readers chose the quirky, queer party events as the city’s best. The Big Gay Game Show (www.facebook. com/BigGayGameShow) ﬁnished second, while Manshaft placed third.
Please see Best on Page 16
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16 | GA VOICE
BEST OF ATLANTA
Evah Destruction (www.facebook.com/ evahdestruction) was a close second and Gia Sunﬂowers (www.facebook.com/gia.sunﬂowers) third. Carpenter third.
lar “Between Women” lesbian-themed web series, Daniel (www.betweenwomentv.com) has a voice distinctly her own as well as an appreciative audience. Red Summer (http://theredsummerexperience.com/) is your second choice and Theresa Davis (www.theresa-davis.com) third.
Best continued from Page 14
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Your most beloved performer is the tireless Topher Payne (www.topherpayne.com), who writes and acts almost nonstop. He didn’t act as much this year as in years past but when he does he brings joy to the stage. And often very high heels. Brent Star was the runner-up in this category and Timothy Gray ﬁnished third.
Kai Lin Art
Named by “Wallpaper” magazine as one of the top 50 attractions in the ATL, Kai Lin Art (www.kailinart.com) takes ﬁrst place. With an emphasis on new artists, Kai Lin doesn’t let its exhibits run forever — new ones start approximately every eight weeks, infusing the place with new energy. Beep Beep Gallery (www.beepbeepgallery. com) came in second, Decatur Market and Gallery (www.decaturgallery.com) third and MISTER Center (www.mistercenter.org) fourth.
When it comes to DJs who can work a crowd into a frenzy, Vicki Powell (www.facebook.com/ djvickipowell) is a perpetual fave. Whether she’s spinning at a special event or at Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, patrons know when Vicki’s in the BEST house. In second COMEDIAN: place is Shane V Brent Star (www.djshanev. com ), third Bill Berdeaux (www.facebook.com/bill-berdeaux) and fourth DJ E (www.iamdje. com).
He’s a gay rapper in an industry not known for pro-gay messages and performers – and he’s your top choice here. J. Tyler (www.facebook.com/jtylermusic) is making a name all over the city with his live performances at bars and other events. Second place went to Le Sexoﬂex (www.lesexoﬂex. com) and third to Dylan Michael (www.dylanmichaelmusic.com)
In a very close contest, Bill Kaelin (www. billkaelin.com) won for the second year in a row. If you’re looking for a splashy opening night party or intown gala, Bill’s the man to call to make it happen. Photo byDyana Bagby In second was Barry Brandon (facebook.com/barrybrandon) with third place going to GA Boy Productions (http://www.gaboyproductions.com/#).
Making a seamless change from Wachovia to Wells Fargo (www.wellsfargo.com), the banking establishment has retained its commitment to customers. It’s also one of the most acknowledged LGBT-friendly businesses around. In second is SunTrust (www.suntrust.com) and third is Bank of America (www.bankofamerica.com).
Live Music Venue
Inspired by the likes of Carol Burnett, Charlie Chaplin and Richard Pryor, funnyman Brent Star is the top vote getter. Besides doing standup at comedy clubs in the area, he writes a humor column for “David Atlanta.” In second place is Ian Aber, host of ABear Comedy Show, and third Jeffrey Stephenson.
Winner of the Mr. National MI (Male Impersonator) Award in 2010 and a recognizable face who graces magazine covers, Justin Atlanta (www.facebook.com/justin.atlanta) is the winner here again. When it comes to entertaining the crowds, few can match Justin’s high energy. Devin Liquor (www.facebook.com/devin. liquor) ﬁnished second, Owen McCord (www. facebook.com/pages/OWEN-McCORD) took third place and Hayden Van Pelt Fury (www. facebook.com/HaydenFury138) fourth.
The best place to go to hear live music, according to our readers, is Jungle Atlanta (www.jungleatl.com), which — post-renovation — has been as busy as ever, hosting the “Sing for Your Life” competition plus plenty of DJs, dance parties and drag shows. Taking second place is Smith’s Olde Bar (www. smithsoldebar.com), while third place went to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Phot by XXX Bagby Photo byDyana (www.cobbenergycentre. org).
With a new world premiere seemingly every quarter, Topher Payne (www.topherpayne.com) easily wins here, boosted by his successful spring play “Angry Fags.” And true to his nature, he has more up his sleeve! In second place is Johnny Drago (www.facebook. com/johnny.drago.5) while third place goes to Timothy Gray.
A longtime Atlanta staple, Brushtrokes (www.brushtrokesatlanta.com) is the winner here, with all sorts of LGBT-themed books along with plenty of gifts and other items. Finishing second is Barnes and Noble Edgewood (www.barnesandnoble.com) and third Charis Books and More (www.charisbooksandmore.com).
For those agonizing moments when your back goes out and is in need of an adjustment, Live Well Chiropractic (www.livewellchiropractic.com) is your top choice. Dr. Kristy Francavilla and Dr. Shoshana Kreinces are the docs on call who make the healing happen. In second place is Midtown Life Studio (www.midtownlifestudio.com) and third Sandy Chiropractor (www.sandychiro.com).
Live Well Chiropractic
Nicole Paige Brooks
After a runner-up ﬁnish last year, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Nicole Paige Brooks (www.nicolepbrooks.com) wins here. Her ferocious act can be seen weekly at both Blake’s and Burkhart’s.
If you want high-quality pictures snapped to remember special moments, then Jason Meek Photography (www.jasonmeekphotography.com) is your top pick. Run by Georgia native and SCAD graduate Jason Meek, Jason Meek Photography specializes in wedding and event photography. Aubrey Longley-Cook (http://spoolspectrum.blogspot.com/) took second and Adam
Jason Meek Photography
BEST DJ: Vicki Powell
Long a favorite in the LGBT community, Actor’s Express (www.actorsexpress.com) was the runaway pick here. Their just-ﬁnished 25th anniversary season included such popular gay fare as “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and “Wolves.” In second place is 7 Stages (www.7stages. org) and in third is Odd Man Out (www.oddmanouttheater.com).
Boy Next Door (www.boynextdoormenswear.com) is again your runaway choice for Best Clothing Store in our Best of Atlanta awards. With two locations (a new store in Ansley Mall opened just this year), every day items from dress shirts and jeans to sexy underwear can be found on the racks. Second place went to Brushstrokes (www. brushstrokesatlanta.com) while Brooks Brothers (www.brooksbrothers.com) rounded out the top three.
Boy Next Door
Last year’s runner-up, Michelle Daniel, takes ﬁrst place this year. Creator of the popu-
Please see Best on Page 18
18 | GA VOICE
Photo courtesy Kathleen Womack
BEST OF ATLANTA
hotel, with tons of Southern hospitality and the famous — and always packed — Livingston Restaurant & Bar. Second place is the W Midtown (www.whotels.com/Atlanta) and third Loews Midtown (www.loewshotels.com).
Best continued from Page 16
SHOPPING & SERVICES
Dancing Goats in Decatur
Need a quick java ﬁx or just wanna hang out and people watch? Dancing Goats in Decatur (www.batdorfcoffee.com) is the ideal place, a joint that houses gay and straight folks, businessmen and college age students, many from nearby Agnes Scott. In second is Octane in Grant Park (http:// octanecoffee.com) and third Starbucks (www. starbucks.com) in the Midtown Promenade.)
Dr. Kenneth Elner
Tops this year is Kathleen Womack (www.kwomacklaw.com/), a veteran attorney who has helped many Atlanta LGBT couples with their wills and knowing their all-around legal rights. Rounding out the votes was Randy Fry (www.thefrylawﬁrm.com) in second place and Lori Surmay (www.gababylaw.com) in third.
A repeat champion: With two locations, one in Amsterdam Walk and the other in Decatur, Worthmore (www.worthmorejewelers.com) is clearly your top jeweler. Basically, if you’re looking for it — whether it’s a wedding ring for an upcoming ceremony or an individual, quirky piece of bling — Worthmore has it. Midtown Jewelers (www.midtownjewelers. net) was your next favorite followed by Brown and Co. Jewelers (www.brownjewelers.com).
Ansley Beach Tanning Salon (www.ansleybeach.com) is the place to go to have that readyfor-summer look. It’s also conveniently located and open every day of the week, for the tanners who can’t do weekdays. Solar Dimensions (www.solardimensions. com) is second, Simply Sun (www.simplysuntan.com) third and Stand (www.standtanning. com) fourth.
Ansley Beach Tanning Salon
The Pet Set Bark in the Park
Grooming / Boarding
Dr. Kenneth Elner, one of the providers at Atlanta Center for Dermatological Diseases (www.atlcenterforderm.com), is your top choice for skin care. Highly trained, he’s a longtime Atlantan to boot. Second place is Dr. Lori Schaen of Dunwoody Dermatology (www.dunwoodyderm. com) and in third is Dr. William Wray (www. atlantadermatology.com).
Urban Body Fitness
Dr. Robert Malamis
LGBT Atlanta’s favorite MD is Dr. Robert Malamis, who works in internal medicine at Internal Medicine Specialists of Atlanta (www. thedoctorsarein.com) and has more than two decades of experience in the ﬁeld. When you go to see him, you’re in capable hands. Second place went to Dr. John Perry. Third is Dr. Chad Costley.
In a city full of workout facilities, top pick Urban Body Fitness (www.urbanbodyﬁtness. com) boasts ample equipment, popular instructors and a wide variety of classes from spinning to kickboxing to boot camp. If yoga and Pilates are your thing, sister outﬁt Urban Body Studios offers that, plus free membership to the gym at Urban Body Fitness. Snap Fitness (www.snapﬁtness.com) is second and Decatur’s Core Body Fitness (www. corebody.net) round out your top picks.
With its accessible location it’s no wonder Green’s on Ponce (www.greensbeverages.com) reigns here. Throw in its great assortment of beer, wine, alcohol and everything else you can think of, and it’s an unbeatable combo. Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits (www. towereastatlanta.com) ﬁnished second and Candler Park Market (www.candlerparkmarket.com) third.
When you need Fido and Fiﬁ to look extra spiffy, head to The Pet Set (www.thepetset.com), our readers’ ﬁrst choice for best pet grooming or boarding. You’ll know your pets are in good hands as they enjoy the “grooming spa” as well as a daycare play area and luxury boarding. Second place is Piedmont Bark (www. piedmontbark.com) and third place is Barking Hound Village (www.barkinghoundvillage. com).
McKinney’s Apothecary in Decatur
Crimpers Hail Salon
Maud Baker (www.maudbaker.com) is the place you like most to pick up pansies/roses for a special occasion, with all sorts of fresh ﬂowers, terriﬁc greenhouses, free shipping and a dozen area locations. Yes, a dozen. Twelve (www.twelveatlanta.net) took second place and Foxgloves and Ivy (www.foxgloves.biz) third.
Crimpers Hair Salon (www.crimpersatlanta.com), located in Cheshire Square, is the top vote getter here. In its 26 years, the studio has stayed busy and undergone a renovation, but has kept its signature careful-to-detail stylists and services. Finishing a very close second was Rutabaga in Decatur with Urban Body Spa and Salon (www.urbanbodystudios.com) third.
A new champion has been crowned here: McKinney’s Apothecary in Decatur. McKinney’s (www.mckinneysrx.com), located in the heart of Decatur, is a full service pharmacy that has been around since the ’50s and knows how to take care of customers, with knowledgeable pharmacists always available. Your next top favorites are Absolut Care (www.absolutecarehealth.com) and Ansley Kroger (www.kroger.com).
Our readers’ pets like the Atlanta Braves as much as our readers themselves: the home team’s Bark in the Park (http://atmlb. com/9ifpk2) is your favorite pet event of the year. The next event is set for Sept. 15. Second goes to the PALS Atlanta Pet Cotillion (www.palsatlanta.org), hosted by Piedmont Bark, while third goes to The Pet Set’s adoption days for Adopt a Golden Atlanta (www.adoptagoldenatlanta.com).
Your choice here is the Decatur-based Heliotrope (www.heliotrophehome.com), which offers an eclectic array of items — from practical to rare, from to arty to just plain fun. Let’s be honest: who, from time to time, can’t use a Samurai Umbrella or Redneck Party Cups? Your next favorites were Brushtrokes (www.brushtrokesatlanta.com) and Melrose on Ponce (www.melroseonponce.com).
With 10 locations spread throughout the metro Atlanta area, HomeGoods (www. homegoods.com) is the place Atlantans want to go to make their homes look better – and the bargain prices are nice, too. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (www.mgbwhome.com) took second and Jonathan Adler (www.jonathanadler.com) ﬁnshed third.
An Atlanta realtor and former real estate attorney covering much of the metro Atlanta area and focusing on both residential and commercial areas, Missy Koefod ( http://missykoefod. atlantaﬁnehomes.com/eng) is your choice as the real estate agent you most want in your corner. Second place is Patti Ellis (http://pattiellis. com/) and third goes to Jo Gipson (www.atlantaintown.com/agent/jo_gipson).
Real Estate Agent
The Pet Set
In addition to grooming and boarding, GA Voice readers also look to The Pet Set (www. thepetset.com) for all of the best products to pamper their pets. Second place goes to Pet Supermarket (www.petsupermarket.com) with Park Pet Supply (www.parkpetsupply.com) in third.
Briarcli Animal Clinic
The Georgian Terrace
Located across the street from the Fox Theatre, The Georgian Terrace (www.thegeorgianterrace.com) is, in its own way, just as much an Atlanta treasure. It’s also your favorite local
With its wide array of relaxation methods and affable staff, Blu Medspa (www.bluemedspa.com) is the top choice to unwind and reboot or get some problem areas taken care of with some cosmetic work/facials. Second went to Bliss Atlanta- Downtown (www.blissworld.com) and third Urban Body Spa and Salon (www.urbanbodystudios.com).
The large staff and convenient hours help make Briarcliff Animal Clinic (www. briarcliffanimal.com) our readers’ ﬁrst choice for veterinary care for four-legged family members. Ansley Animal Clinic (www.ansleyanimalclinic.com) placed second and The Ark Animal Hospital (www.thearkah.com) took third.
MANY THANKS TO ALL OUR CLIENTS, FRIENDS AND TO THE CITY OF ATLANTA FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT AND LOVE OVER THE YEARS.
Best Business Person and Best Party Promoter 2012 & 2013
Keeping Diversity Alive in Atlanta and Around The World For Over 15 Years
GA VOICE | 21
Brushstrokes co-owner sentenced in child porn case
Marietta Pride drops gay business as sponsor
By LAURA DOUGLAS-BROWN and DYANA BAGBY email@example.com Brushstrokes co-owner Tom Schloeder’s sentencing for possession of child pornography sent shockwaves through Atlanta’s LGBT community last week, prompting a series of contradictory explanations from Schloeder and his husband and causing Marietta Pride to drop the gay variety store as a lead sponsor of the upcoming festival. Schloeder, 47, was sentenced July 10 to eight years and one month in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing thousands of images on his computer depicting child porn. He was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release, ordered to pay a $75,000 ﬁne and will be required to register as a sex offender when released. “Collecting images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children is a despicable act,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a prepared statement. Schloeder owned Brushstrokes with his life partner, Mark Jackson. The two have been partners for more than 20 years and the store has been a staple of LGBT Atlanta for more than two decades as well. Store publicity claimed it to be “one of the three largest gay-owned and gay-operated retail businesses in the nation.” According to the U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce, the DeKalb County Police Department launched an investigation when it was determined that a computer located at the couple’s home in Brookhaven “had made available over 100 images of child pornography over the preceding months” via a peer-to-peer network. Police executed a search warrant on Nov. 15, 2012, and seized several computers and electronic storage devices. On these they found several thousand images and videos of child pornography, “some of which contained depictions of minors being raped by adults and sex acts between minors and animals,” the release states. Transcripts of the May 2 hearing in which Schloeder entered his guilty plea and the July 10 sentencing hearing show Schloeder told police the images were his, not Jackson’s, and he had been downloading child pornography since 2006. The images included a penis being forced into the mouth of a baby and a child engaged in bestiality with a dog, according to the transcripts.
MORE ONLINE: • Expanded coverage • Full transcripts of the plea and sentencing hearings
Attempts to reach Schloeder and Jackson the day of the sentencing were unsuccessful. On July 11, the morning after the sentencing, Jackson issued a written statement that he did not know about “Schloeder’s offenses” prior to his arrest and “in an effort to distance his personal legal troubles from that of the business, Schloeder sold his ownership interest in Brushstrokes in 2012.” “Our thoughts right now are with the victims, their families, and everyone else affected by this terrible situation,” Jackson said. But Jackson gave a different story to Fenuxe magazine that afternoon, claiming the victim was actually Schloeder. “Tom was molested as a child and he didn’t know it was being photographed. 40 years later, Tom was sent a strange ﬁle. The ﬁle came from another man who had also been molested. Not knowing what was in it, he opened it and saw pictures of himself being molested,” Jackson said. “There were hundreds of images in the ﬁle, the vast majority of those images were of Tom. The remaining images were of children like Tom being molested.” Jackson said Schloeder had a “complete meltdown” when he was sent the images and later sought therapy, but did not notify police. “Tom plead [sic] guilty, but in reality the only thing he was guilty of was not calling the police about the photos because of the deep shame he felt about being molested,” Jackson said. The U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce declined comment when asked by GA Voice if any of the images were of Schloeder as a child. Instead, federal prosecutors released the extensive transcripts of the plea agreement and sentencing hearings. The transcripts include lengthy comments from prosecuting attorney Jill Steinberg, defense attorney Barry Hazen and Schloeder himself. None make any mention of Schloeder being a victim of child molestation or any of the photos being of him. Contacted by GA Voice, Hazen declined comment on Jackson’s scenario. “That case is over,” he said. After Jackson’s explanation drew wide-
Brushstrokes co-owner Thomas Scholeder (left) pleaded guilty to child porn possession; his life and business partner, Mark Jackson (right), has said Schloeder was actually the victim in the case. (File photo)
spread negative reaction on social media, including comments pointing out the images were transferred via a peer-to-peer network that Schloeder would have to proactively join, Schloeder offered a different explanation — again via Fenuxe. This time, Schloeder said he had lied to Jackson about how he received the images, but still insisted the ﬁrst images were of him as a child. Schloeder said a friend he had sexual contact with when both were children told him the images were on the ﬁle sharing site, and then said he received other images because “I was looking for people I knew — anything connected to me.” Schloeder said as a child he “used to fool around” with the friend and he didn’t know that someone, “maybe my father or uncle,” took videos and photographs. He said he “thought it was perfectly natural,” but said later in the statement that the photos were “of me being abused.” He also issued a plea for the public to support Brushstrokes and claimed the U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce speciﬁcally tried to damage the business. “I really hate the fact that [the U.S. Attorney’s Ofﬁce] identiﬁed me as an owner of Brushstrokes – they could have left that out,” he said. “They were trying to not only damage my reputation, but damage the business, and my husband.”
dressed his previous incarceration on a childrelated offense, which prosecutor Steinberg cited when explaining to the court why the government was not asking for a more lenient sentence. “The most signiﬁcant reason is the fact that the defendant is a previously convicted sex offender in effect,” Steinberg said, according to the sentencing hearing transcript, adding Schloeder continued “to engage in similar type behaviors after having been incarcerated on a child exploitation offense back when he was in the military.” Steinberg noted in the hearing that Schloeder had been a “contact offender” in the past, but did not cite other details of the prior offense. According to Steinberg, in the presentence report, Schloeder “acknowledges that he had been downloading and collecting child pornography since 2006.” Neither Schloeder nor his attorney disputed those facts during the sentencing hearing. Given an opportunity to address the court before being sentenced, “The only thing I would like to acknowledge is what I’ve done before is I accept my responsibility to this. I accept my guilt,” Schloeder said. “I’m very, very heartily sorry especially for the victims in these cases.”
PRIDE FEST DROPS BRUSHSTROKES
North Georgia Marietta Pride announced July 16 that Brushstrokes would no longer be allowed to serve as a sponsor of the community event, set for July 26-28 at the Marietta gay bar LeBuzz. Johnathon Murphy, LeBuzz owner and founder and president of the North Georgia Rainbow Coalition which produces North Georgia Marietta Pride, said after the recent developments he and the board of directors could not accept any ﬁnancial help from Brushstrokes. “Our ﬁrst priority is and always will be the reputation of our organization, the charities we support, and our other business afﬁliates,” Murphy said in a written statement. Mistress of Ceremonies Chi Chi Larue, originally coming to Marietta Pride with Brushstrokes’ backing, will still appear both days but will be sponsored by LeBuzz and any other businesses and organizations that want to help, Murphy added. Proceeds from Marietta Pride are set to beneﬁt the Health Initiative, an organization dedicated LGBT health issues. James Shefﬁeld, director of organizational development for the Health Initiative, praised Marietta Pride’s decision and said his organization would not have accepted funds from the event if Brushstrokes remained a sponsor.
SCHLOEDER HAD PREVIOUS OFFENSE
In comments to the media after Schloeder’s sentencing, neither Schloeder nor Jackson ad-
22 | GA VOICE
Atlanta adds ‘gender identity’ to all anti-bias laws
City slow to ﬁll seats on Human Relations Commission
By DYANA BAGBY firstname.lastname@example.org The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved legislation July 15 to ensure “gender identity” is included in all sections of the city’s laws dealing with its non-discrimination policy. In 2000, the city of Atlanta approved a nondiscrimination ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, domestic relationship status, parental status, familial status, political afﬁliation, sexual orientation, national origin, gender identity, racial proﬁling, age or disability. “It was brought to my attention that while ‘gender identity’ is included in many of the city ordinances, there are sections of the code that needed to be updated to make sure that its inclusion was consistent throughout,” City Councilmember Alex Wan, who introduced the legislation, told the GA Voice last week. “The city of Atlanta has a rich history of civil rights and is rightfully considered one of the most progressive cities in the country regarding its policies that ensure equal protection for all of its citizens,” Wan said in a prepared statement after the legislation was passed July 15. Atlanta City Councilmem“The majorber Alex Wan introduced ity of the city’s nonlegislation to ensure ‘gendiscrimination and der identity’ is included in human rights ordiall city laws that include nances have been the non-discrimination previously amended policy. (File photo) to specify gender identity as one of the bases upon which the city will not tolerate discrimination,” Wan said. “It was important that we amend all related-ordinances to include the phrase ‘gender identity’ to ensure the nondiscrimination policy is reﬂected in a consistent manner.” The nondiscrimination policy seeks to ensure employers with more than 10 employees in the city, as well as those who provide housing and public accommodations, can’t, for example, ﬁre someone for being gay or transgender. Other cities and municipalities with non-discrimination policies include Decatur, East Point, Savannah, Clarkston, Doraville, Athens-Clarke County, DeKalb County and Fulton County, according to Georgia Equality, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group. Georgia Equality is currently lobbying for passage of a bill sponsored by state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) to prohibit discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. membership that was not noticed by the council or Mayor Kasim Reed. According to rules of the commission, the seven members are to hold three-year, staggered terms. Two appointments are to be made by the mayor, two by the president of the council and one from each at-large council member. Mayor Kasim Reed has made his two appointments — non-proﬁt specialist Vernetta Keith Nuriddin and David M. Holder, an IT specialist and president of the Mechanicsville Civic Association. City Council President Ceasar Mitchell has not made any nominations to the commission, according to city ofﬁcials. He could not be reached by press time but told GA Voice in May the commission “has been dormant for far too long” and that he would be making his appointments in the next few weeks. Councilmember Michael Bond, Post 1 atlarge, is still working with council members from Districts 1 through 4 to decide on one appointment. At-large Post 2 Councilmember Aaron Watson worked with council members from District 5 through 8 to appoint Frew at the request of Wan, who represents District 6. Councilmember Lamar Willis, Post 3 at large, is still working with council members representing Districts 9 through 12 to make an appointment.
FOUR SEATS STILL OPEN ON HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION
The council also recently unanimously approved Charlie Frew to serve on the city’s Human Relations Commission, which is charged with enforcing the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. Victims of alleged bias can ﬁle complaints with the commission, which investigates the claims. If commissioners agree that illegal bias occurred, they can recommend the mayor issue punishments such as ﬁnes or the loss of city licenses. Frew, who is openly gay, is executive director of Jerusalem House, an organization that helps low-income people and families affected by HIV/ AIDS ﬁnd supportive and permanent housing. The Human Relations Commission was also founded in 2000 and is charged with enforcing the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. However, the seven-member commission stopped meeting in 2010 apparently due to a lack of
GA VOICE | 23
EVENING FOR EQUALITY
Jamie Ensley HOSTS: Glen Paul Freedman Natalyn Archibong, Friends of Athens PRIDE Atlanta City Council Rep. Pat Gardner, HD 57 District 5 Bob Gibeling Christie L. Ayotte Jon C. Greaves Michael Baker Jeremy Greenup & David Spake Michael Julian Bond, Michael Grover & Nunzio Lupo Atlanta City Council Paul Horning Post 1 ar Large Rep. Margaret Kaiser, HD 59 Chris Carroll Kevin Kirby & Marla Helena Dolan Charlie Chasen & Jamie Collins Casey Lawing Joshua Lesser Trey Childress Ceasar C. Mitchell, Jeff Cleghorn & David Ruiz Atlanta City Council President Gail Cowie & Jean Spencer Jimmy Paulk Ray Deeb & Jerry Gonzalez Matt Pieper Andre Dickens For Drew Plant & Bill Golden Atlanta City Council David Poole & Doug Moore Post 3 at Large Grady Health System SPONSORS:
AID Gwinnett/Ric Crawford Clinic AID Atlanta Atlanta Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee St. Mark United Methodist Church Georgia Democrats LGBT Caucus AbsoluteCARE Medical Center & Pharmacy The GA Voice
Sumner Riddick, II & Doug Carl Matt Rinker For Atlanta City Council District Five Ms. Jamie Roberts Lynn Russell & Donna Inkster Michael D. Shutt W. Jason Stanford David J. Thurman & Duncan E. Teague Paul L. Plate Alex Wan, Atlanta City Council District 6 Aaron Watson, Atlanta City Council Post 2 At-Large Nikema Williams & Leslie Small Kathleen Womack Drew Wooldridge Colin Wright Michael J. Yanosy, III Noula Zaharis Sharon & Huiling Zealey-Chen
Waste Management Troutman Sanders Cox Enterprises Wells Fargo Gilead King & Spalding The Shapiro Group Kwanza Hall, Atlanta City Council District 2
Gayborhood HLM Financial Group in Partnership with Shelter Mortgage Making Projects Work, Inc. Claiborne & Surmay, PC Atlanta Pride Committee Boybutante AIDS Foundation UGA GLOBES Feminist Women’s Health Center Project Q Atlanta FENUXE
24 | GA VOICE
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GA VOICE | 25
Police: East Atlanta crimes not gay-related
Gay men among victims of recent ‘random crimes of opportunity’
By SHANNON HAMES A recent rash of crime in the East Atlanta Village area, including incidents in which gay people were the victims, has LGBT residents and others in the community on edge. On Sunday, July 7, three armed men used assault weapons to rob a man of his money and a smart phone after he left an East Atlanta gay bar, Mary’s, around 2 a.m. Several weeks earlier, on May 25, a gay man, Marcus Peden, was shot in the leg during a robbery while his roommate, Patrick Cotrona, was killed. Both assaults remain unsolved. The crimes are not related to the victims’ sexual orientation, according to Atlanta Police Department spokesperson Carlos Campos. “There’s absolutely no evidence at all to suggest that members of the LGBT community are being targeted,” Campos said. “We don’t want to put that fear out there because there is no justiﬁcation for it. These assaults appear to be random crimes of opportunity motivated by robbery and nothing more.” Mary’s manager Ben Cheaves said that although his customers have talked about the recent crime, it hasn’t affected business. “I think everyone has some concerns about the robberies and shootings but people are still coming in to the club and having a good time. Our neighbors around us are very involved in what’s going on in this community and they want to help straighten things out,” Cheaves said. “They’ve been asking the city of Atlanta to get more patrols set up and are excellent in disseminating information to everyone.” In response to these serious crimes as well as neighborhood requests, Campos said Atlanta police have stepped up their patrols in the village to deter any further violence. “These cases are high on our radar screen,” he said. “We have deﬁnitely increased patrols and placed an emphasis on trying to solve these crimes.” Campos said investigators were busy comparing notes and analyzing the incidents and evidence to see what similarities and patterns might exist. He notes that several units in the department are working on the cases. “We’re bringing in our community liaison unit, our motorcycle unit, as well as other units from different zones to assist in increasing our visibility in this particular area,” he said.
Mary’s, a popular East Atlanta gay bar that always draws crowds, is considering adding a taxi stand to help patrons avoid walking late at night. Several recent crimes have put the neighborhood on increased alert. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
TIPS TO AVOID DANGER
Walking late at night seems to be a common link to these crimes. “A lot of these robberies are targeting people on foot who have smart phones and things like that” Campos said. “Right now, it would not be wise to walk down the street late at night with an iPhone in your hand or up to your ear. We never want to seem like we’re blaming the victim but there are things that people can do to make themselves less of a target for these criminals. “Even though some of the crimes have happened to groups of two or three people, your chances of becoming a victim of a crime like this are greatly decreased when you walk in a group,” he said. In addition, Campos advises bar patrons to “be mindful of your surroundings as much as possible. Drink responsibly. Sometimes, people lose some of their faculties when they drink too much. People should keep their wits about them and know where they are at all times. Also, consider taking a taxi home, especially if you are leaving at 2 or 3 in the morning.” Cheaves has seen the beneﬁts of taxis to his customers and thinks that Mary’s may try to help add a new layer of security by making it easier for people to get a cab quickly. “In order to have taxis more readily available, we are thinking about designating some parking spaces in our lot to be a taxi stand,” he said. “People who walk to the bar can then get a ride home without worrying about walking back alone late at night.” “No matter what neighborhood you’re in,” Cheaves added, “be aware of your surroundings and don’t walk alone late at night.”
26 | GA VOICE
EX-GIRLFRIEND OF POLICE OFFICER CHARGED IN HER SLAYING
Crystal Parker, a six-year veteran with the East Point Police Department, was shot and killed over the July 4 holiday weekend and her ex-girlfriend faces murder charges. Corporal Crystal Parker was found dead at her home July 7 with a gunshot wound to her head. Fulton County police arrested Danielle Parker on July 9. Danielle Parker remains behind bars after waiving her ﬁrst court hearing. A second court hearing is set for July 24. The two were ex-partners, according to friends. Fulton County Court records show that Crystal Parker lived at 2372 Creel Road, Atlanta, Ga., 30349. Fulton County records also show that on PETITIONS AIM FOR GAY Feb. 27, 2012, Darma D. Dixon legally changed her name to Danielle Alexis Parker, living at the MARRIAGE IN GA, DOMESTIC same address as Crystal Parker. Police continue PARTNER BENEFITS AT UGA to refer to the women as former roommates. Amanda Lee Carver, a lesbian from Gaines“We have not determined if this was a break ville, Ga., has created a petition on the popular up of a couple,” said Fulton County Cpl. Kay Les- social advocacy website Change.org calling for ter during a July 9 press conference. “However, the state’s political leaders to embrace marriage she [Danielle Parker] was determined to be an equality. ex-roommate.” The short petition simply Crystal Parker was a calls on Gov. Nathan Deal and member of Atlanta’s chapthe state legislature to “make ter of Sigma Omega Phi Frasame-sex marriage legal in ternity from 2008-2010, said Georgia.” At press time July 16, Amber Moore, who works at the petition had almost 6,300 the Health Initiative, a nonsignatures. proﬁt organization focused Short of a court decision forcon LGBT health. Moore is ing the issue, the actual process also a founding member of to legalize same-sex marriage the national fraternity for here is complicated. In 2004, masculine-identiﬁed gay Georgia voters overwhelmingly women. approved an amendment to the “It’s a horrible thing. state constitution to ban sameWe’re just trying to help sex marriage. Repealing the each other, learn from it amendment would require a and do what we can do to two-thirds majority vote in both prevent this from happenthe state House and Senate to ing to someone else if we put the measure on the ballot, can,” Moore said. then approval by a majority of Moore said the fraterGeorgia voters. nity is not speaking about A separate Change.org petithe incident or the relationtion drive is calling on the Uniship of Danielle and Crystal versity of Georgia to “authorize Parker as a matter of prina fully funded domestic partner ciple and also so as not to beneﬁts program.” impede the police investiga- East Point Police O cer Crystal UGA began offering “soft” Parker (top) was allegedly killed tion. beneﬁts to gay and lesbian Moore described Crystal by her ex-partner Danielle Parker employees back in May but fell (bottom) over the Fourth of July Parker as “awesome.” short of offering many of the weekend. (Police photos) “She helped us develop beneﬁts, like health insurance, our scholars program,” that advocates hoped. Moore said, adding Parker Since then, a new school president has taken was known as “Chris” by frat members and giv- the helm at UGA and is not in favor of expanden the “line name” “KouRageuX.” ing domestic partner beneﬁts, according to Ricky “She was always there for you and never Roberts, a UGA employee and LGBT activist. asked for anything back. She was a real person, Speaking on a local AM radio stations in she was hilarious and she will be greatly missed. Athens, new UGA President Jere Morehead said I know East Point is missing her,” Moore said. earlier this month that the university has gone Fraternity members held a candlelight vigil as far as it can, given the state’s refusal to allow at Crystal Parker’s home after her funeral service state funds to be spent on coverage for domestic on July 14. partners Moore was honored as the 2012 Ofﬁcer of the LGBT advocates have been trying to secure Year by the East Point Police Department. the beneﬁts for more than a decade, the petition — by Dyana Bagby notes.
Slain oﬃcer remembered, LGBT petitions and more
“Our comparator peer institutions such as the University of Florida and the University of Arizona offer equal beneﬁts to employees with domestic partners,” it states. “These schools have proven that, when there is an institutional commitment, these beneﬁts CAN be offered at schools located in states that bar the use of state dollars for this purpose.”
case against George Zimmerman. The largest national LGBT groups issued a statement July 15 supporting the efforts of the NAACP and other groups. “Our community has been targets of bigotry, bias, proﬁling and violence. We have experienced the heart-breaking despair of young people targeted for who they are, who they are presumed to be, or who they love,” the letter states. Signers include the Center for Black Equity, GetEqual, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Lesbian & Gay Task Force and many others. For the full letter and list of signers, visit www.thegavoice.com.
ENDA SURVIVES COMMITTEE, FULL SENATE TEST NEXT
NATIONAL LGBT GROUPS JOIN OUTCRY OVER TRAYVON MARTIN
More than 30 national LGBT groups have signed an open letter asking the federal government to investigate the slaying of Trayvon Martin after his accused killer was acquitted. The NAACP, which supports marriage equality, has launched a petition to demand the Obama administration ﬁle a civil rights
The U.S. Senate’s committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions passed H.B. 815, the 2013 version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, on July 10. Despite a lobbying effort by Georgia Equality, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), one of 10 Republicans on the HELP committee, voted against the measure, which was approved on a 15-7 vote. All Democrats on the committee and three Republicans voted in favor. The bill’s next test will be the full Senate. ENDA is expected to have a better chance of passage there then in the GOP-led U.S. House. ENDA, in its current form, would prohibit employers from ﬁring, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against workers solely based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
GA VOICE | 27
Thanks for 11 fantastic years Atlanta!
Be a 10 an 11
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Patient model. Pill shown is not actual size.
What is COMPLERA?
COMPLERA is a prescription HIV medicine that is used as a complete regimen to treat HIV-1 in adults who have never taken HIV medicines before and who have an amount of HIV in their blood (this is called “viral load”) that is no more than 100,000 copies/mL. COMPLERA contains 3 medicines – rilpivirine, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. It is not known if COMPLERA is safe and effective in children under the age of 18 years.
COMPLERA® does not cure HIV-1 infection or AIDS. To control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-related illnesses you must keep taking COMPLERA. Avoid doing things that can spread HIV-1 to others: always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with body fluids; never reuse or share needles or other items that have body fluids on them, do not share personal items that may contain bodily fluids. Ask your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to reduce the risk of passing HIV-1 to others.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
What is the most important information you should know about COMPLERA? COMPLERA® can cause serious side effects: • Build-up of an acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious medical emergency. Symptoms of lactic acidosis include feeling very weak or tired, unusual (not normal) muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain with nausea or vomiting, feeling cold, especially in your arms and legs, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and/or a fast or irregular heartbeat. • Serious liver problems. The liver may become large (hepatomegaly) and fatty (steatosis). Symptoms of liver problems include your skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow (jaundice), dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored bowel movements (stools), loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, and/or stomach pain. • You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or serious liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking COMPLERA for a long time. In some cases, these serious conditions have led to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of these conditions. • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you also have HBV and stop taking COMPLERA, your hepatitis may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking COMPLERA without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health. COMPLERA is not approved for the treatment of HBV.
Who should not take COMPLERA? Do not take COMPLERA if you have ever taken other anti-HIV medicines. COMPLERA may change the effect of other medicines and may cause serious side effects. Your healthcare provider may change your other medicines or change their doses. Do not take COMPLERA if you also take these medicines: • anti-seizure medicines: carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol-XR, Teril, Epitol); oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenobarbital (Luminal), phenytoin (Dilantin, Dilantin-125, Phenytek) • anti-tuberculosis medicines: rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane, Rifadin) and rifapentine (Priftin) • proton pump inhibitors for stomach or intestinal problems: esomeprazole (Nexium, Vimovo), lansoprazole (Prevacid), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole sodium (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex) • more than 1 dose of the steroid medicine dexamethasone or dexamethasone sodium phosphate • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) If you are taking COMPLERA you should not take other HIV medicines or other medicines containing tenofovir (Viread, Truvada, Stribild or Atripla); other medicines containing emtricitabine or lamivudine (Emtriva, Combivir, Epivir, Epivir-HBV, Epzicom, Trizivir, Atripla, Stribild or Truvada); rilpivirine (Edurant) or adefovir (Hepsera). In addition, tell your healthcare provider if you are taking the following medications because they may interfere with how COMPLERA works and may cause side effects: • certain antacid medicines containing aluminum, magnesium hydroxide, or calcium carbonate (examples: Rolaids, TUMS). These medicines must be taken at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after COMPLERA. • medicines to block stomach acid including cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid), or ranitidine HCL (Zantac). These medicines must be taken at least 12 hours before or 4 hours after COMPLERA. • any of these medicines: clarithromycin (Biaxin); erythromycin (E-Mycin, Eryc, Ery-Tab, PCE, Pediazole, Ilosone), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral) methadone (Dolophine); posaconazole (Noxifil), telithromycin (Ketek) or voriconazole (Vfend). • medicines that are eliminated by the kidneys like acyclovir (Zovirax), cidofovir (Vistide), ganciclovir (Cytovene IV, Vitrasert), valacyclovir (Valtrex) and valganciclovir (Valcyte).
A complete HIV treatment in only 1 pill a day.
COMPLERA is for adults who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before and have no more than 100,000 copies/mL of virus in their blood.
Ask your healthcare provider if it’s the one for you.
These are not all the medicines that may cause problems if you take COMPLERA. Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements you are taking or plan to take. Before taking COMPLERA, tell your healthcare provider if you: liver problems, including hepatitis B or C virus infection, or have abnormal liver tests • Have kidney problems • Have ever had a mental health problem • Have bone problems • Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. It is not known if COMPLERA can harm your unborn child • Are breastfeeding: Women with HIV should not breastfeed because they can pass HIV through their milk to the baby. Also, COMPLERA may pass through breast milk and could cause harm to the baby
The most common side effects reported with COMPLERA are trouble sleeping (insomnia), abnormal dreams, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, rash, tiredness, and depression. Some side effects also reported include vomiting, stomach pain or discomfort, skin discoloration (small spots or freckles) and pain. This is not a complete list of side effects. Tell your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you notice any side effects while taking COMPLERA, and call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
• Always take COMPLERA exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to take it. • Take COMPLERA with a meal. Taking COMPLERA with a meal is important to help
Additional Information about taking COMPLERA:
COMPLERA can cause additional serious side effects: or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure. If you have had kidney problems, or take other medicines that may cause kidney problems, your healthcare provider may need to do regular blood tests. • Depression or mood changes. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: feeling sad or hopeless, feeling anxious or restless, have thoughts of hurting yourself (suicide) or have tried to hurt yourself. • Changes in liver enzymes: People who have had hepatitis B or C, or who have had changes in their liver function tests in the past may have an increased risk for liver problems while taking COMPLERA. Some people without prior liver disease may also be at risk. Your healthcare provider may need to check your liver enzymes before and during treatment with COMPLERA. • Bone problems can happen in some people who take COMPLERA. Bone problems include bone pain, softening or thinning (which may lead to fractures). Your healthcare provider may need to do additional tests to check your bones. • Changes in body fat can happen in people taking HIV medicine. • Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your healthcare provider if you start having new symptoms after starting COMPLERA.
get the right amount of medicine in your body. (A protein drink does not replace a meal).
Stay under the care of your healthcare provider during treatment with COMPLERA and see your healthcare provider regularly. Please see Brief Summary of full Prescribing Information with important warnings on the following pages.
Learn more at www.COMPLERA.com
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GA VOICE | 33
Brandi Carlile gets back to her roots
Out singer-songwriter plays Atlanta’s Chastain Park
By GREGG SHAPIRO From the opening hoot/train whistle of “Hard Way Home,” the ﬁrst track on “Bear Creek,” it’s clear that out singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile heads in a country direction on her fourth studio disc. Songs that follow, including “Raise Hell,” “Save Part of Yourself,” “Keep Your Heart Young” and “In The Morrow,” only reinforce that fact. Also woven into the fabric of “Bear Creek,” released last summer, are a number of daring musical experiments, such as the rhythmic “100” and the dreamy “Just Kids.” We caught up with Carlile to chat about her most recent album, her life since ofﬁcially coming out, and the tour that brings her to Atlanta’s Chastain Park Amphitheatre on July 26. Following the strong pop sound of “Give Up The Ghost,” much of “Bear Creek” feels like a more country-driven recording. Was that a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way? Brandi Carlile: It just turned out that way. I wrote a bit in that genre for some reason. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. I think that “Bear Creek” is more roots-based, but it’s not just musically; it’s personally, as well. The reason we named the album “Bear Creek” is that it’s so similar to home for us. It’s in rural Washington State, it’s in a big barn. It’s just like my house. When you get comfortable with your roots, you tend to write from there, and that’s one of the main reasons. Because of the record’s sound, what would it mean to you if it was picked up by country radio and became a Nashville hit? Well, ﬁrst of all, I don’t think it will [laughs]. But I have to say that I grew up listening to classic Country & Western music. It’s deﬁnitely the bigger part of who I am then rock ‘n roll. Just like my teenage years, I thought that without boundaries or shackles, that I would explode into more of a rock ‘n roll performer. But what happens is that every time those boundaries are lifted, I ﬁnd myself reverting back to my roots-based, country-based, bluegrass self. It must mean that that’s authentically who I am. You take listeners to church on “That Wasn’t Me.” It’s one of three songs on the album for which you get sole writing credit. How did that song came to be? I was struggling with the concept of addiction with someone that I loved. Having to
Brandi Carlile Friday, July 26, 7:30 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre
really country and roots-based and part of me feels really ethereal. When I was working at (recording studio) Bear Creek, it was a late-night, stationary thing where I wasn’t usually leaving until three or four in the morning. Everybody would leave and I would go work on that song and the piano part was too complicated for me to play it for everyone, because they wouldn’t understand what I was doing. I never did get to play it for anyone until the end of the session. At that point I’d done all these sessions by myself with the engineer, trying to piece the song together. One night, a guy named David Palmer came in to do the piano on “That Wasn’t Me” and he had these Moog synthesizers that reminded me of my favorite movies from the 1980s. That’s what the song was about, me and my brother in the ‘80s. That’s what came out of it, this really dreamy thing. I didn’t want to fuck with it, because I felt like it was honest to where I was at that time. How would you say that things have changed for you, if at all, since coming out publicly? No, not at all. And to be honest with you, it was completely non-strategic in every way. I can tell you exactly how it happened. I tour so much, I spend so much of my life on the road making music, it’s amazing that I put my pants on the right way, get matching socks on. One day I was helping my best friend Amy Ray release her record, “Didn’t It Feel Kinder,” doing press in New York for four days straight with gay press. I couldn’t understand how there were so many gay press outlets. I’d never done any before. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to talk to me, as it was going on [laughs]. That’s when I ﬁrst realized, conceptually, I wasn’t out. But I came out when I was like 14 years old, so I live my life as a gay person. I have lived accordingly. I’ve gotten involved in political things and I’ve been part of gay Pride festivals, performing for them. I’ve done charity campaigns for LGBTQ events. I just never considered myself not out. As you said, you do spend a lot of time on the road. What can people expect from your upcoming tour? What they can expect musically is for me to come out with my full band in a small string section, violin and cello, and to play all the new songs, all the old ones and the covers. I’m going to have a hard time keeping the set under two hours.
Brandi Carlile’s most recent disc, ‘Bear Creek,’ shows the singer-songwriter reverting back to her ‘roots-based, country-based, bluegrass self.’ (Publicity photo)
accept the fallout of what happens when somebody gets clean and they get this new beginning and you kind of get left with the past, the really damaging past. How hard it is for them to be able to reassemble it back into the lives of the people that they hurt. That message of “Yeah, these things happened to you and I know you’re still reeling from them, but I wasn’t there, because I was wasted.
I wasn’t there, so that wasn’t me.” It’s pretty signiﬁcant for me. Album closer “Just Kids” stands out because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the disc and it sounds like a new musical direction for you. Writing in that genre is something I’ve been doing a lot on my own. It’s weird; part of me feels
34 | GA VOICE
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GA VOICE | 35
James Randall Chumbley says ‘goodbye,’ Atlanta
Local artist bids farewell but not before one last beneﬁt
James Randall Chumbley is saying goodbye to Atlanta after more than 30 as a part of the city’s art community, but not before one ﬁnal charity beneﬁt. Chumbley has donated his art to beneﬁt many organizations over the years, including Jerusalem House, Chris Kids and the Human Rights Campaign. And though he plans to move to Palm Springs, Calif., at the end of July, his work will be featured one last time before he sets off for the West Coast. Top Drawer, an event curated by Atlanta art consultant Maggie Lopez, who is gay, will take place at the Atlanta Ikea on July 30 from 6-8 p.m. The goal of the event is to raise some $10,000 for Devereux Georgia, an organization that specializes in supporting children and youth who have suffered abuse. Students from the Atlanta Art Institute, SCAD and Atlanta Technical College donated time and talents to custom decorate three-drawer chests from Ikea. The pieces will then be rafﬂed off. Professional artists, including Chumbley, Leroy Campbell and Son of the Moon, have also been asked to contribute to the beneﬁt. When asked if he would participate, Chumbley says he jumped at the opportunity. “I know Maggie,” he says. “She has supported my art for a long time. She asked if I would be interested in participating in doing one of the chests. Of course I said yes, particularly when I found out what the event was about. It’s for kids who have dealt with a lot and come from an abusive background, something close to my heart.” Chumbley himself was the victim of abuse as a child, he says candidly. Those struggles, an abusive father and alcoholic mother, shaped his early life. “My father, who was abusive, killed himself and destroyed my family, destroyed my mother,” he says. “My brother and sister went their own ways, who could blame them. But I could never leave my mom. She had mental illness and alcoholism most of my life, most of her life.” Chumbley says that his mother inspired him to go to college, something he, as an artist, thought wasn’t necessary. He stayed by her side while continuing his education, saying he felt like a caregiver. “I ended up going to college because [my mother] told that they could take away everything but they could never take away that education,” he says. After caring for his mother throughout his college years, Chumbley moved to Atlanta in 1981. He worked in merchandising. He was also brieﬂy a male model. It was then that he began to question his sexual orientation.
ART BY RYAN WATKINS
7 Stages Original
Top Drawer beneﬁt for Devereux Georgia July 30, 6-8 p.m. Ikea Atlanta Invitation and RSVP only
Adapted and Directed by Michael Haverty *Performance at The Goat Farm Arts Center*
September 27–October 13, 2013
7 Stages Presents
November 14–17, 2013
Sandra and Charles Gilman Jr. Foundation
by Dimona Culture Lab
Local artist James Randall Chumbley is moving to Palm Springs, Calif., at the end of July aftere one ﬁnal art beneﬁt for local youth in need. (Courtesy photo)
7 Stages Original
Red Badge of Courage
Co-production with Kennesaw State University Co-created by Michael Haverty & Dr. Jane Barnette
“There was a sense of comfort, being with a man, that I never felt with a woman,” he says. “I was getting strength from them. I accepted the fact I was gay.” Over the next few years, Chumbley became more involved in his art and also began writing. Chumbley says that he works mostly in mixed media. His current project involves using pages from a series of art books written in the 1960s that his mother gave him. Chumbley also paints. “I use some photography, abstract to landscapes paintings,” he says of his style.
February 27–March 23, 2014
Mass Transit Muse
by Michael Molina Directed by Heidi S. Howard
7 Stages Original
May 2–18, 2014
OFF TO THE WEST COAST
Spurred by a particularly painful breakup and following an attempt at his own life, Chumbley says that the time is right to start fresh. At the end of July, Chumbley will head west to Palm Springs, Calif., a place he’s wanted to live since he was a teenager. “In a way, that’s why this event was important to me,” he says. “The children who have had horrible struggles, I can totally relate to that. I have so many great friends here and they all I know I should go. I need to ﬁnd myself again.” Chumbley is not only a mixed-media artist, he’s also the author of three books, including 2009’s “Alabama Snow,” a memoir that details his family struggles and his coming to terms with his sexuality. Chumbley says he’s currently working on his fourth book. “My art, my writing gives me purpose,” he says. “If I can keep giving to my community, it makes me want to go on.”
7 Stages Presents
The Secret History of Love
by Sean Dorsey Dance
May 29–June 1, 2014
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GA VOICE | 37
THEATER BY JIM FARMER
Aurora stages ambitious ‘Les Mis’
Beloved musical features themes familiar to LGBT fans
“Les Miserables” July 25 – Sept. 8 Aurora Theatre “Coping: An Evening of LGBTQ Shorts” July 25 – 27 Alumni Hall Theatre/Dahlberg Hall of GSU
The Tony Award-winning musical “Les Miserables” is the largest-scale production that Lawrenceville-based Aurora Theatre has ever staged and several gay actors and crew are among its large cast. The show opens July 25. Gay actor Stuart Schleuse is part of the musical’s large ensemble. He feels “Les Miserables,” based on the novel by Victor Hugo, is universal in his appeal. “It has every element – romance, intrigue, pathos, people getting wronged, redemption,” Schleuse says. And he feels the struggle remains relevant. “Hugo was making a political statement about the poor and women,” he says. “It’s still going on today with gay people.” Another gay actor is Jono Davis, who is part “Waiting for the Skell.” Jake Epstine’s “I Was Saved By the Ladies of the Night” is a gay men’s examination of strong female stars. A bride and a bridesmaid bond in “Destiny,” by Atlanta playwright Patricia Henritz. And in the closer, two male dolls get to know each other in Andrew Black’s “Don’t Toy With Me.” In choosing the ﬁnalists, “we wanted to look at a variety of viewpoints and approaches to sexuality,” says Miller in his director’s notes. “We celebrate gay lives, because we need to,” he continues. “In a world where homosexuality is still illegal in some areas, we need to remind ourselves about the existence of sexual diversity and the humanity of all people, straight, gay, lesbian, whatever.”
‘Les Miserables’ stars Bryant Smith as Jean Valjean and Natasha Drena as Fantine. (Photo by BreeAnne Clowdus)
“Headwaters: Didja Hear” Through July 21 at Sautee Nacoochee Center www.snca.org One of the skits in this production deals with the true story of the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at White County High School and members of the Westboro Church coming to protest. “The Velveteen Rabbit” Through July 27 at Serenbe Playhouse www.serenbeplayhouse.com Gay director Brian Clowdus helms a version of the classic children’s book. “The Cat in the Hat” Through July 28 at the Center for Puppetry Arts www.puppet.org Gay actor Aaron Gotlieb portrays The Fish in this Dr. Seuss classic. “Shakin’ the Rafters” Through August 4 at the 4th Street Playhouse Gay director David H. Bell’s world premiere tells the story of four gospel performers, all sisters, trying to make a name for themselves in the Jim Crow South.
of the ensemble and the understudy for the villain Javert. As an understudy for such a huge character, he has to be ready to go on at any time, although he won’t know until the day of the show, maybe only hours before. The performer feels that the recent Oscarwinning movie version of “Les Mis” was great for those unfamiliar with the story or those who don’t have the money to go to New York to see it. Like Schleuse, he draws parallels between the characters here caught up in the revolution and LGBT individuals. “To be honest, I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” Davis says. “There are a lot of parallels – ﬁghting for equal rights and freedom, what the people think was right.” Alan Yeong is the show’s openly gay costume designer. This is the fourth production he has done with Aurora and he admits nothing comes close in terms of the scale of this musical. This is the ﬁrst period piece and he’s had to do research to make the details correct. Part of the challenge, Yeong admits, is being aware of the passing years — the show opens in 1812 and goes through 1832 — and dressing accordingly. In his mind, gay men tend ﬂock to this kind of musical. “We are all drama queens – we love these kind of over-the-top shows,” he says. “We love this kind of escapism. And who can’t identify with Fantine?”
tracks down his MIA father – at a gay bathhouse. A woman deals with issues of sexual identity in Barbara Lindsay’s solo show “Failing Lesbianism.” A lesbian police ofﬁcer shares a bond with a close male friend on the force in Ellen Lewis’
LGBTQ SHORTS AT GSU
Next week, the GSU Players and the University Theatre present a three-day run of “Coping: An Evening of LGBTQ Shorts.” A call was put out for the 10 minute play fest earlier this year and 64 scripts were submitted. A panel whittled those to 12 and director Frank Miller eventually chose six. In David Carley’s “Out Late,” a teenage boy
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‘I’m So Excited’ ﬂies the gay-friendly skies
Almodovar’s bawdy side DETAILS WWW.LANDMARKTHEATRES.COM So Excited’ is back, but airline romp ‘I’m Opens July 26 Midtown Art Cinema never quite takes oﬀ
As one of the most popular directors around, falters. We meet two of the women the actor as well as one who is never shy about being onboard is involved with — one of whom (Paz gay, Pedro Almodovar brings ﬂair and verve to Vega) is about to hurl herself out of an apartalmost all his ﬁlms. His new “I’m So Excited!” ment, while another (Blanca Suárez) is bicyopens July 26 in Atlanta, but sadly it’s not top- cling below and catches the cell phone dropped drawer Pedro. from the suicidal woman. On its way to Mexico City, Peninsula Airlines It’s a taxing, needless subplot, and it abruptﬂight 2549 runs into some trouble. Some of the ly brings the ﬁlm to a halt. The more we learn landing gear is faulty which means the plane about the outer lives of all the passengers, the will need to circle around the skies until the less successful “I’m So Excited!” is. pilots can ﬁnd a suitable ramp to land. The stewardesses have slipped muscle relaxants to the economy class ﬂyers, knocking them out cold. There are three stewards on board — Joserra (Javier Camara), Ulloa (Raul Arevalo) and Fajas (Carlos Areces), all wildly gay — as well as bisexual pilot Alex (Antonio de la Torre), who is sleeping with one of the stew- The wildly gay airline sta can’t quite redeem ‘I’m So Excited,’ the new comards, and co-pilot Benito (Hugo edy from director Pedro Almodovar. It’s frothy fun, but gets weighed down Silva), who has dabbled in gay by some characters’ back stories. (Publicity photo by Sony Classic Pictures) sex to see if he likes it (The jury is still out on that). The business class passengers, who have not been drugged, include Bruna (Lola Duenas ), Almodovar uses many of his former coa psychic who has a bad feeling about the ﬂight, stars in this ﬁlm and the actors fall into characbut who has never had sex and is convinced she ter. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, who will lose her virginity before the plane lands. often collaborate with the director, have funny Norma (Cecilia Roth) is a former madame/ cameos in the ﬁrst scene, but then they disapdominatrix who has slept with 600 of the most pear. important people in Spain and recorded the The stewards are some of the most gay, exploits, and now believes there’s a conspiracy retro characters of his career. Almodovar has to kill her. Also in business class are a young never been afraid to camp it up and in “I’m bride (Laya Martí) and groom (Miguel Ángel Sil- So Excited!” he doesn’t hold back. But it’s ultivestre), actor Ricardo (Guillermo Toledo) and a mately not very substantive, and the second mystery man (Jose Maria Yazpik). half waivers between silly melodrama and unThe ﬁrst hour is breezy and light, with the bridled ﬂamboyance. characters comically facing what they think The three stewards do a musical number to might be their ﬁnal hours. As it turns out, there the title song that is meant to entertain us and has been some history involving this airline the passengers but is inert and un-amusing. carrier and some of the same staff. And long. With time running out, the passengers Almodovar’s last ﬁlm was the creepy, unsetdon’t hold any inhibitions back. Norma and tling “The Skin I Live In.” “I’m So Excited!” is a the mystery man have sex, while Bruna scouts 180-degree turn, harking back to his early days. heterosexual men to lose her virginity. The pi- It’s nice to see him so liberated and after nothlot sneaks into the bathroom for a little nookie. ing but a good time. This is his take-off of on The groom decides to get everyone high on “Airplane.” mescaline that he has smuggled inside his recYet as colorful and frothy and raunchy as tum. Alcohol ﬂows freely. this is, especially in a braindead summer movBut when the director begins to delve too ie season, this is one of the noted ﬁlmmaker’s much into the lives of the passengers, the ﬁlm frailer works.
Film BY JIM FARMER
CAMPING IT UP
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Marietta Pride returns with expanded festival
Diverse event aims for new attendance record
A lot more has changed about North Georgia Marietta Pride over the years than just the dates and the ofﬁcial name. The festival, set for July 26-28, has become one of the major local LGBT events of the year. Sponsored by the North Georgia Rainbow Coalition, the event is now in its fourth year. It began as the Marietta Rainbow Festival with approximately 1,000 attendees back in 2010, its ﬁrst year, according to organizer Johnathon Murphy, who is the managing partner of the Marietta gay bar LeBuzz and president of North Georgia Rainbow Coalition. In 2012, the name was changed to North Georgia Marietta Pride to incorporate the North Georgia crowd the festival attracted. Attendance neared 5,000, according to Murphy, who hopes the numbers will rise again in 2013. Although there are some preliminary events on Thursday night, such as the Ladies Pride night/King’s Production Show, most of the activity will take place Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. Most events will be inside LeBuzz but there will be events outside in the shopping center as well. DJs, live music, drag kings and drag queens will be part of the weekend, as will 100 entertainers, vendors, a ﬂea market and more. This year’s theme is “Unleashed,” says Murphy. “In light of everything that is going — inspiring us to break down barriers — we thought that was appropriate,” he says. New to 2013 is a headlining entertainer: Chi Chi LaRue. The adult ﬁlm director turned DJ will be in town July 26-27. “Chi Chi is the ﬁrst headliner we’ve had and we are very excited,” says Murphy. “She’ll be here for opening night, doing some emceeing, and there will also be a meet and greet.” Murphy hopes she’ll bring in some of her hunky performers, as well. In 2012 organizers established the ﬁrst Family Fun Zone. It was a popular addition, giving straight attendees and LGBT parents something to do with their kids while they were at other events. “From 2 until 6 p.m. on Saturday, we’ll have games, face painting and a special children’s show,” says Murphy. The entertainers for the children’s show will largely be composed of LeBuzz entertainers. Originally, the event took place in June but there were a few issues with permits, says Murphy, so organizers had to move to the back-up July date. That has since stuck. Mur-
EVENTS BY JIM FARMER
North Georgia Marietta Pride celebrates the LGBT community north of Atlanta with a mix of nightlife and family-friendly activities. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
North Georgia Marietta Pride July 26 – 28 LeBuzz
phy likes the fact that the event now takes place away from other Pride events in June as well as local Stonewall Month activities to give it more of its own identity. He is ecstatic with the increased number of sponsors for the 2013 event. “It has allowed us take this celebration to another level and give more to those in our community in North Georgia,” he says. Approximately 25 volunteers make the weekend event happen – many of them LeBuzz staffers and their respective boyfriends and girlfriends. The city of Marietta is not an ofﬁcial sponsor of Pride but has been mostly tolerant. The ﬁrst year of the event had some stray complications. According to Murphy, there were some comments in the local newspaper, the Marietta Daily Journal, about it, and some protests, but these days there is “virtually nothing.” He feels it’s important that North Georgia and Marietta have their own Pride event. “Our people come from all over,” he says. “They are very diverse. Many don’t go to the bars. They may be new or intimidated to come to the bars in Atlanta, so it’s nice to have this.” Every year the event gives back to charity and this year’s recipient is The Health Initiative, which focuses on LGBT health and wellness throughout Georgia. Although Pride is free for all attendees, donations raised will go to the charity. Additionally, a Sunday dinner at Hudson Grille will raise money.
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EVENTS BY SHANNON HAMES
Backpack in the Park grows up
Back to school beneﬁt adds silent auction, ‘garden party’ style
ly type of event and we love Piedmont Park, but this year, we thought it might be nice to change it a little to make it more of a garden-party theme where people don’t have to bring backpacks. They can buy a virtual one,” Murray says. A “Virtual Backpack” is simply an easy way for someone to donate a backpack full of supplies. By going to www.forthekid.org, one can purchase a backpack for $35. In addition to the backpack, which will be ﬁlled with supplies by volunteers and distributed to the beneﬁciaries before the party, the donation also gives one admission to the party. Purchased at the door, virtual backpacks are $45. Another change for this year is the new silent auction. “Great things have been donated and include evenings with a personal chef, event tickets, dentistry, jewelry, vacation packages, art work and gift certiﬁcates to some of the best restaurants and bars in town,” says Holly Smith, For the Kids marketing chair. In addition to the silent auction, local mixologists will be making cocktails with Diageo/ Smirnoff brand drinks. There will also be live jazz and heavy hors d’ oeuvres by Zest Atlanta.
‘IT TAKES A VILLAGE’
The back-to-school sales ads are out and parents are beginning to show up at their local retailers with their list of school supplies. Many of Georgia’s children in need, however, will not have the opportunity to go shopping for supplies. For The Kid In All of Us, an Atlanta-based nonproﬁt group whose mission it is to brighten the lives of Georgia’s children in need, hosts its 8th annual “Backpack in the Park” event July 28 to help provide these much needed supplies. Since 2008, the Backpack in the Park event T has distributed more than 7,100 backpacks ﬁlled fe and with school supplies and gift cards to give to or) ganizations that serve Georgia’s less fortunate children. The event, traditionally held at Piedmont Park, will move this year to the elegant Fraser Center in Cator Woolford Gardens. Last year’s event set a record when they collected more than 1,800 backpacks loaded with gifts and sup-
Last year’s Backpack in the Park collected more than 1,800 backpacks with school supplies to help underprivileged kids. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
plies for Atlanta’s underserved children. This year, the goal is to set a new record of 2,000. James Murray, a board member of For the Kid in All of Us, says this new party is a “totally different event” compared to previous years. “In the past when we were at Piedmont Park, we found that we were receiving very few backpacks at the actual event. It was a family-friend-
Partygoers won’t be the only ones beneﬁtting from the event. A total of 13 organizations who serve Georgia’s children will reap the rewards. One of them, CHRIS Kids, has been a beneﬁciary since the inaugural Backpack in the Park. Beth Keller, director of development at CHRIS Kids, says the children who will receive these backpacks “all have behavioral health or mental health needs. Some are in foster care, homeless, parenting their own youth, or in juvenile justice systems. Some are low or no income families trying to make ends meet.” When the children receive the backpacks loaded with supplies, Keller says that “their faces light up and they especially like the ‘choices’ they get to make about which style they want - this is so important.” Keller says that their partnership with FTK “is a true example of the African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ We rely heavily on the resources they procure for our kids. There is such a great need in our community that no single organization can eliminate by going at it alone. “However, collectively and in partnership, we can make signiﬁcant, broad impact. Our ‘village’ is one of the strongest.”
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NIGHTLIFE BY RYAN WATKINS
Jungle expands into ‘bckspce’
Popular bar adds industry, leather theme nights in new space
Jungle Atlanta looks very different now than it did this time a year ago. A recently completed renovation project saw the club add a full kitchen, new lighting and a revamped bar area. But Jungle’s owners weren’t quite ﬁnished with their expansion. The club, winner of the GA Voice Best of Atlanta award for “best dance ﬂoor” in both 2012 and 2013, regularly draws some of the nation’s top DJs and hosts several popular monthly charity events, including The Big Gay Game Show and PALS Bingo, that draw big crowds. But on less-than-packed nights, Jungle could feel a little empty, according to Richard Cherskov, Jungle’s managing owner. That’s when the idea to create an intimate space in the back of Jungle came about. Recently completed “bckspce,” the newest expansion, adds several hundred square feet of space to the club, according to Cherskov, and brings a very different feel than Jungle’s patrons may expect. Complete with its own entrance (you guessed it, in the back of the building), the black leather seating and checkered carpet provides a calming atmosphere to the space, even with the music blaring from the stage above. Dim lighting sets the mood and the stage normally used for events in the main space is the home to the bckspce dance ﬂoor. Jungle is also rolling out two weekly events to be held at bckspce: Endustry, a Thursday night party for hospitality workers which began July 11, and Harness, a leather/fetish theme night that kicks off Sunday, July 28
Photos by Ryan Watkins
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Food, sex and love at 50
Robert and Lee celebrate as our ‘Food Porn’ series wraps up
Gio’s Chicken Amalﬁtano 1099 Hemphill Ave. Atlanta, GA 30318 http://gioschicken.com/
FOOD PORN BY CLIFF BOSTOCK
A gentle, intermittent rain pattered the yellow tent of the House of Gay Human Oddities. a cake into a ﬁre hazard with 50 candles and Outside the tent, food trucks dispensed their opening a lot of presents, we’ve got this.” latest snacks, such as a Popsicle made of ragShawtina pointed above to the naked male weed, trufﬂe oil and powdered Viagra. It was ﬁgure. guaranteed not to melt for four hours. “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a geriatThe food was free, paid for by the hosts, ric piñata. We’re going to invite the birthday Robert and Lee. The two boyfriends were cel- boys on stage, blindfold them, and ask them ebrating their 50th birthdays, which occurred to break it open with pool cues. It contains the within a week of one another. usual bad candy and sex toys, but there are Lee, who operated the Human Oddities also slips of paper with questions some of show, met Robert about a year earour guests submitted. So, come on lier at a meeting of the Atlanta up, boys, and let’s get violent.” Food Porn Supper Club. Robert created the club in hopes of ﬁnding a boyfriend before he turned 50. Club members mingled with fans and cast members of Lee’s show. Soon, wearShawtina, the ing leather hoods, androgynous trans Robert and Lee took dwarf and master of turns swinging at the ceremonies at Lee’s piñata, both demonshow, approached the strating their complete GIO’S CHICKEN AMALFITANO couple, smiling. “We’ve lack of athletic prowess put together a brief suruntil Shawtina grew frusprise for you,” she said. “I’m gotrated, ran offstage, dragged ing to call everyone inside in a Gio’s Chicken Amalﬁtano draws out a bazooka gun and blasted praise for its unique menu — and few minutes. Go on in and get the piñata open. the cheap prices help, too. front row seats now.” “Now take off your hoods Robert and Lee looked at one and gather up the damn quesanother nervously, but did as Shawtina ortions!” she yelled. “Find one addressed to you dered. The stage was empty except for a spotand answer it.” lighted, life-size male doll that hung from the Robert was the ﬁrst to go. He read the quesceiling. The number 50, rendered in glitter, tion aloud: “Where did you have your favorite decorated the chest of the naked ﬁgure. meal in the last year?” The space ﬁlled up and Shawtina, resplen“I hate that question, but probably Gio’s dent in post-Munchkin cowboy drag, came Chicken Amalﬁtano. It capitalizes on the front and center. chicken trend but offers something complete“Good evening,” Shawtina said. “As everyly unique in our city and it’s cheap. Your turn,” one knows, we’re here tonight to celebrate the he said looking at Lee. 50th birthdays and ﬁrst anniversary of two of “Alex Wan failed in his effort to clean up our city’s leading oddballs — one a foodie and Cheshire Bridge,” Lee read. “Your whole purthe other an anti-Puritan theologian who oppose seems to be to sabotage such efforts and erates this show. to demonstrate how each of us is a kind of “Turning 50 is momentous for most gay freak. Are we now safe from the Puritans?” men. It puts you well over the midlife mark, Lee tossed his leather hood on the ﬂoor. “Of begins the avalanche of mail from AARP, ﬁcourse, we aren’t. We saved this boulevard of nalizes your nickname as ‘Daddy,’ and earns gay and straight sex play and then the new you a VIP parking space at the Hideaway, town of Brookhaven goes after the Pink Pony, where there are no strangers, only nearly a strip club that’s been around for years, just dead friends yet to meet. around the corner from the CDC’s ofﬁces. “Soooo,” Shawtina continued, “rather than “Gay people,” he continued, “need to look at having a typical cake and festivities for Robert and Lee, we invited food people in town to get as weird as possible. And instead of turning Please see FOOD on Page 47
WHERE WAS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL?
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Food Porn Supper Club bids adieu
FOOD, continued from Page 45
the bigger picture. I’m glad marriage is becoming a reality but that doesn’t mean we have to hide our sex lives. Freedom to fuck and love as we choose has always been the point of our struggle. Our nation was founded by Puritans and most of the churches will continue to demonize sexual expression wherever they can. I remember…” “That’s enough. We’ve all heard it,” Shawtina snapped, prompting the audience to laugh. “Let’s be real, honey. You’re not a Puritan, but you’ve got that preacher inside you. Your turn, Professor Robert!
‘Food Porn’ author Cli Bostock ﬁnds Roxx one of the better gay restaurants in town, serving up reasonably priced comfort food many in our community crave. (Photo by Ryan Watkins)
FOOD, SEX AND PLEASURE
“What does food have to do with sex?” Robert read. “Both relate to pleasure,” he began. “The term ‘food porn’ was actually coined by a feminist critic and has come to describe images, like you see on TV, that stimulate hunger, look beautiful, demand taste and such. In other words, it’s about desire, seduction and satisfaction. It’s not surprising that in our culture, where visible sex is still mainly forced out of view, the erotic erupts in surrogate ways. In ancient Rome…” “Time’s up!” Shawtina shouted. Lee read: “Sex is ﬂeeting. Love is forever. It’s your one-year anniversary. What’s next?” He sighed and looked at Robert. “I don’t really agree with that, um, cliché. The only certainty of life is death. The Buddhists say everything is impermanent, that attachment is the source of all pain. That doesn’t mean love isn’t delicious, that pleasure isn’t capable of inducing even spiritual states. So, I don’t know what is next. Who ever knows?” Someone in the audience booed. Robert laughed. “Wait ‘til you turn 50,” he said. “These beliefs in eternity of this and that fade and in many ways that’s a relief. When I was half my age, I avoided chocolate in the interest of maintaining a 29-inch waist. Now, I try to stay in shape but I don’t deny myself that pleasure. Nobody looks young forever.”
Roxx 1824 Cheshire Bridge Road Atlanta, GA 30324 www.roxxfanclub.com
GAY RESTAURANTS AND A PIE IN THE FACE
opinion. What do you think?” Robert shifted from foot to foot silently. “It’s a touchy subject,” he ﬁnally said. “Here are a few things to consider. Gay people do a lot of dining out because of chronic singlehood. So cost is extra-important. That also means comfort food often takes priority. “And, then, of course, just by identifying as gay, a restaurant can be making congenial ambiance its most important aspect. But I do think we’re seeing better venues. Roxx is one example of that — good food, reasonable cost and way gay ambiance.” “Alright,” Shawtina said. “That’s enough. I think all of us wish you the best on your birthdays and hope your love endures, despite your, um, realism. So, let’s end this by singing the tacky Happy Birthday song.” The House of Gay Human Oddities cast limped, strutted, crawled and rolled in wheelchairs onto stage. Food porn aﬁcionados and freak show fans stood and joined hands. They bellowed the song and applauded. Lee and Robert hugged. As everyone fell into silence, a man shouted, “Let us forgive him. Vote for Alex Wan!” A cast member rushed forward and shoved a pie in his face. It was a planned scene, but many present voiced their agreement.
“You’re depressing us,” Shawtina shouted. “Back to food. Any more questions?” A woman quickly stood up. “Thank God,” she said. “I was ready to kill myself for having varicose veins. I have an observation. I’ve lived in Atlanta 30 years and I’ve seen so-called gay restaurants come and go. Not to insult anyone, but many have not been up to par in my
Note: This is the last installment of the Food Porn story. (Read the whole series online at www.theGAVoice.com.) It’s been a fun experiment, but di cult to manage for a variety of reasons. Within the next month, I’ll begin writing a more conventional food column in the ﬁrst-person. Well, it will be as conventional as I’m capable of. — Cli Bostock
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bout Tell us aBT event your LG ays to submit your
FRIDAY, JULY 19
two w ur online There are lusion in o c in r fo t n it your LGBT eve ars. Subm ice. d n le a c t n Vvo and pri ww.theGA or@ w to fo in t even to edit ail details -m e r o m co e.com. theGAVoic
The Third Friday Film Series presents “Who Stole the American Dream?” at 7 p.m. at First Existentialist Congregation, www.ﬁrstexistentialist.org The great Anita Baker returns to the ATL at 8 p.m. at Chastain, www.classicchastain.com DJ Mike Pope and DJ Micky Friedmann spin at the Joining Hearts kick-o party, 9 p.m. – 3 a.m. at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com The Atlanta Eagle hosts a night to raise money for employee Anthony Brookshire, a sta er who had a stroke recently. 10 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com Gay-inclusive band Frisky Monkey plays at 10 p.m. at Smith’s Olde Bar, www.friskymonkeymusic.com The Grown & Sexy Party heats up with DJ Smash at 10 p.m. Fridays at Mixx, www.mixxatlanta.com Angelica D’Paige hosts “The Fab Five” drag show revue with an amazing line-up of performers, 11 p.m. at Burkharts, www.burkharts.com
SATURDAY, JULY 20
It’s the gay party of the summer: The 26th edition of Joining Hearts, raising money for AID Atlanta and Jerusalem House, takes place today from 4 – 11 p.m. at the Piedmont Park Pool, www.joininghearts.org
FRIDAY, JULY 19
Artist Philip Bonneau’s Ugly Simple Truths, a photographic exploration of our “shadow self” and the things we do not talk about, opens at 6 p.m.at Suite Spot, www.suitespot.net
Photo via Facebook
Photo by Brent Corcoran/RNZ Photography
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24
Laugh it up as funny bear Ian Aber hosts the ABear Comedy Show at 8 p.m. at Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com
SATURDAY, JULY 20
SOMETHING GAY EVERY DAY!
Bookmark www.thegavoice.com to get your daily dose of local LGBT events.
hosts a party from 4 p.m. – midnight, with free hamburgers and hotdogs, https://twitter.com/BulldogsBarAtl Join the Armorettes as they pay tribute to musicals and show tunes. 8 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com The Lady Shabazz hosts Flashback Showgirls at 8 p.m. at 10th & Piedmont, www.10thandpiedmont.com My Stu ? Navigating the Quarterlife Crisis with Wisdom and Skill” at 7:30 p.m. at Charis, www.charisbooksandmore.com After the Joining Hearts pool party, Rosabel — the mega DJ duo of Ralphi Rosario and Abel — spins at Jungle Atlanta to beneﬁt the group that helps people with HIV ﬁnd housing. 9 p.m. – 3 a.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com Get out your hottest swimwear for the Life’s a Beach Party/Swim Wear with DJ Coqui at 10 p.m. at the Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com Shavonna B. Brooks hosts Extravaganza at 11 p.m. Saturday nights at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
The Atlanta Roller Girls hosts a twin bill game, with the ﬁrst game at 5:30 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. at Yaarab Shrine Center, www.atlantarollergirls.com SAGE Atlanta hosts a Lesbians 50+ Potluck and Social from 6 – 8 p.m. at The Philip Rush Center, www.rushcenteratl.org Ladies At Play hosts a Play Day Party from 6 – 10 p.m. at Aurum, www.aurumlounge.com Heidi Pollyea and Jedd Dotson — the funky folk musicians also known as “Heidi n’ Jedd n’ them” — perform as part of July’s Music Every Month series, 8 p.m., with open mic at 6:30 p.m., Fox Mountain Camp and Artist Retreat, http://www.foxmtncamp.com Rebecca Loebe performs at 7 p.m. at Eddie’s Attic, www.eddiesattic.com Join author Kenya Jackson as she discusses her new self-help book “empty. s p a c e: Where is
MONDAY, JULY 22
FRIDAY, JULY 26
Famed adult ﬁlm director and DJ Chi Chi LaRue emcees opening night activities at Marietta Pride, 10 p.m.,, www.brownpapertickets.com
Each Monday through Aug. 5, enjoy chair yoga with SAGE Atlanta, a group for LGBT seniors. 10 a.m. at the Rush Center, www.sageatlanta.org
SUNDAY, JULY 21
TUESDAY, JULY 23
DJ Caprice rocks the joint as Bulldogs Atlanta
Fourth Tuesday, Atlanta’s lesbian social network, hosts its monthly dinner at a TBD restaurant, 6 – 10 p.m.,
Photo by Brent Rence Corcoran
GA VOICE | 49
http://thehealthinitiative.org/programs-resources/programming/fourth-tuesday/ Tuesdays, Thursdays and early Saturdays are Three Legged Cowboy country nights at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com Every Tuesday, sing out at Mary-oke starting at 9 p.m. at Mary’s, www.marysatlanta.com
SATURDAY, JULY 27
Tylan from Girlyman performs at 7 p.m. at Eddie’s Attic, www.eddiesattic.com
Photo by Aaron Cobbett
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24
Phoenix and Nicole Paige Brooks host Dragamaniacs, an open mic drag talent show, at 10 p.m. at Jungle, www.jungleatl.com
THURSDAY, JULY 25
Marietta Pride begins today and lasts through Sunday, July 28, http://www.rainbowgeorgia.org/ Agave Restaurant hosts a Dine Out For Pride evening, 5 – 10 p.m., Agave Restaurant, http://agaverestaurant.com Charis presents a workshop/discussion on “Radical Relationships: Sexing Outside the Box” at 7:30 p.m., Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com
FRIDAY, JULY 26
Drag persona Lady Bunny makes an appearance at The Other Show XXXL, a drag-heavy night with many local performers as well. 9:30 p.m. at Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com
The GSU Players and University Theatre present an evening of one act LGBT short plays, 8 p.m. at Dahlberg Hall at GSU, www.gsu.edu Drag Diva Jaye Lish brings her Birds of Paradise Show to Trader Vic’s Lounge at the Hilton Atlanta for two shows at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., www.tradervicsatl.com Blake’s host a “Christmas in July” event with a drag show and “Ms. Gay Black America” Nichelle Paris, www.blakesontheparkatlanta.com DJ Osmose helps leads Disco in the Village, a night of summer boogying in the East Atlanta Village at 9 p.m. at Mary’s, www.marysatlanta.com
complete with recipes he’s gathered as he’s traveled the country, 7:30 p.m. at Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com Every last Friday of the month, join the ladies for the new Swank party/mixer from 9 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. at 10th and Piedmont, http://www.communitashospitality.com/10th-and-piedmont/ DJ Stan Jackson helps celebrate Fur Friday at 10 p.m. at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com
Saturdays, get into Pit Pop Video with DJ Diablo Rojo at Cockpit Atlanta, www.facebook.com/cockpit.atlanta
SUNDAY, JULY 28
The annual Backpack in the Park cocktail party, beneﬁtting For the Kid in All of Us, kicks o at 4 p.m. at Cator Woolford Gardens, www.forthekid.org Pitties in the City, a dog outreach and rescue beneﬁt, takes place tonight at 5 p.m., with special karaoke by Jack and Missy, My Sister’s Room, www.mysistersroom.com Backspace Atlanta, located just behind Jungle, opens with its Harness/no shirt event with DJ Pat Scott at 7 p.m., Backspace Atlanta, www.bckspceatl.com Mixx hosts an Old Skool Dance, 10 p.m., Mixx, www.mixxatlanta.com
SATURDAY, JULY 27
DylanMichaelMusic teams with the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Lost N Youth for “Vandalized: A Concert and Beneﬁt,” featuring the debut of Michael’s CD. 6 – 9 p.m. at Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleclubatl.com
SATURDAY, JULY 27
North Georgia Marietta Pride continues all weekend with entertainers all day, live music, family fun from 2 – 6 p.m. and vendors galore, http://www.rainbowgeorgia.org/ New winners will be crowned at the Mr. Georgia Unlimited Mr. Bear and Cub 2013 contest and head to the national event. 6 p.m., Atlanta Eagle, www.atlantaeagle.com Former Atlantan Jennifer Lee screens her ﬁlm “Feminist: Stories from Women’s Liberation” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Charis Books, www.charisbooksandmore.com The Save a Breast Music Fest with Wynn Varble, Jared Munday Project and Catherine Kimbro begins at 8 p.m. at Eddie Owen Presents at Red Clay Theater, www.eddieowenpresents.com Bedlam Presents its WackedOutBlackOutParty, with DJ Shane spinning, 10:30 p.m. – 3 a.m., Jungle Atlanta, www.jungleatl.com
FRIDAY, JULY 26
Pedro! Pedro! The new Pedro Almodóvar ﬁlm “I’m So Excited,” chock full of gay characters, opens at the Midtown Art Cinema, www.landmarktheatres.com Network and socialize at the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth Friday mixer from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at No Mas Cantina, www.nomasatlanta.com Out singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile plays Chastain Amphitheatre at 7:30 p.m., www.livenation.com
ga rs. 10 .org
Photo by o Shell
MONDAY, JULY 29
Knomie Moore hosts Jukebox Drag at 8 p.m. each Monday at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com Angelica D’Paige hosts Blue Monday Karaoke at 11:30 p.m. at Burkhart’s, www.burkharts.com
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31
tau- Get some insider cooking info as Kevin West debuts his new cookbook, “Saving the Season!,”
CONTINUED ON PAGE 51
The Plaza Theatre hosts a “scoutmob hand-picked” screening of “AKA Blondie,” a documentary on the legendary Atlanta stripper, complete with a meet and greet and goodies, 7:30 and 9 p.m., Plaza Atlanta, www.plazaatlanta.com
Publicity photo by Philip Bonneau
“Les Miserables” opens at Aurora Theatre, 8 p.m., www.auroratheatre.com
50 | GA VOICE
TUESDAY, JULY 30
Talented design students from all across Atlanta come together to design dressers that will be auctioned o , beneﬁting Devereux Georgia at Ikea Top Drawer. Also includes pieces by esteemed artists James Randall Chumbley, Son of The Moon and Leroy Campbell. RSVPs are required, 6 – 8 p.m., IKEA Atlanta, http:// www.ikea.com/us/en/store/atlanta/activities “Menopause The Musical” returns to the ATL tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Alliance Theatre, http://www.menopausethemusical.com/ Tuesdays, unwind with a sing-along with pianist David Reeb at 8 p.m. at Mixx, www.mixxatlanta.com
GA VOICE | 51
MONDAY, AUG. 5
Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin perform at 8 p.m. at Atlanta Botanical Garden, http://www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org/
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31
DJ Stan Jackson hosts the Pig Dance Blackout Party at 10 p.m. Wednesdays at the Heretic, www.hereticatlanta.com On Wednesdays, catch the Lust & Bust Show with host Lena Lust and featuring Shawnna Brooks. 11 p.m. at Blake’s on the Park, www. blakesontheparkatlanta.com
Elders) hosts Cards and Social Hour from 10 – 11 a.m. at the Philip Rush Center, www.sageatl.org Woof’s hosts its monthly Sisters Night for local charities, beneﬁtting the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus, 7 – 10 p.m., www.woofssatlanta.com XS Ultra Lounge is the home for Turnt Up Thursday, 11 p.m. – 4 a.m., www.facebook.com/ XSUltraLounge
THURSDAY, AUG. 1
SAGE Atlanta (Services and Advocacy for GLBT
SATURDAY, AUG. 3
Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band perform at 5 p.m. at the GA Dome, www.gadome.com Matchbox 20 and Goo Goo Dolls team up at 8 p.m. at Lakewood Ampitheatre, http://lakewoodamphitheatre.org/ The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence host their annual yard sale beneﬁtting MISTER Center, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m, First Existentialist Congregation, www.ﬁrstexistentialist.org Jonas Brothers perform at 7 p.m. at Chastain Park, www.ChastainPark.com
MONDAY, AUG. 5
P-FLAG hosts its monthly Atlanta Support meeting, from 7:30 – 9 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, www.uuca.org
SATURDAY, AUG 10
SUNDAY, AUG. 4
Get ready to ride the Scream Machine, the Dahlonega Mine Train and more with hundreds of area LGBT friends at Rainbow Days at Six Flags, www.rainbowdaysatsixﬂags.com Justin Bieber brings his Believe tour to Philips Arena at 7:30 p.m., www.philipsareana.com
“American Idol” runner-up Crystal Bowersox performs two shows, 7 and 9:30 p.m., at Eddie’s Attic, www.eddiesattic.com
GA VOICE | 53
Punished for being female
‘Boys will be boys’ mentality must change
Buried under the headlines of George Zimmerman, the death of “Glee” star Cory Monteith, and the arrival of a royal baby, there is a shocking story out of Iowa that you may have missed. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that bosses can ﬁre employees they see as a threat to their marriages, even if the employee has not engaged in ﬂirtatious behavior. The court ruled that such ﬁrings are not unlawful because they are motivated by feelings rather than gender. Melissa Nelson served as a dental assistant for Dr. James Knight for a decade before she was ﬁred in 2010. According to court documents, the two began texting each other during the last six months they worked together. The texts were mostly non-sexual in nature, but according to court documents, Dr. Knight once told Nelson that if she noticed his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing. Nelson denied ever ﬂirting back. But after Knight’s wife, who also worked in the dental ofﬁce, discovered the text messages, she demanded that Nelson be ﬁred. According to the Des Moines Register, Knight consulted with his pastor, and then explained to Nelson’s husband that “she’s a big threat to our marriage” and that Knight feared he would attempt an affair if Nelson stayed around. Rather than simply control his attraction to his married dental assistant, he ﬁred her. Nelson’s attorney ﬁled a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination but not sexual harassment since Nelson had not been particularly offended by Knight’s conduct. Knight denied ﬁring Nelson because she was a woman. Rather, he claimed her ﬁring was necessary to protect his marriage from the threat she posed. A district judge agreed with Knight that the ﬁring was legal and the Iowa high court upheld that ruling.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Hu ngton Post. She broke ground as the ﬁrst out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter
“The issue before us is not whether a jury could ﬁnd that Dr. Knight treated Nelson badly. We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact issue exists as to whether Dr. Knight engaged in unlawful gender discrimination when he ﬁred Nelson at the request of his wife,” Judge Edward Mansﬁeld wrote. “We believe this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination.” Obviously, it was not a good idea for Mrs. Nelson to engage in any kind of texting with her boss.. But should an employee’s job be vulnerable as a result of nothing more than a wife’s insecurity or a husband’s temptation? Surely, Mrs. Nelson is not the ﬁrst or last woman to lose a job due to her boss having a wandering eye and a wife’s instinct. But isn’t this just another example of a woman being punished simply for being a woman? After a 16-year-old girl was raped by two classmates in Steubenville, Ohio, Serena Williams suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that the victim held some responsibility for the attack. Williams said the girl “shouldn’t have put herself in that position” and chastised the girl’s parents for not teaching her about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Absent from the conversation was our continued failure to raise young men who are taught to control their own reactions to women, regardless of whether she is drunk or wearing a short skirt. Do we as a society really expect a woman to be able to predict a man’s reaction before she can hope for safety or fairness? As more and more women ﬁll the top levels of corporate America, the behavior of men will continue to be scrutinized and the deﬁnition of acceptable behavior will continue to change. Boys may still be boys, but they will have to eventually learn how to work with all kinds of women, even the ones who aren’t approved of by their wives.
54 | GA VOICE
Girlfriends, vacations and unexpected paternal musings
Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at www.topherpayne.com
My husband, Preppy, has a core group of girlfriends of more than a decade — the sort of close-knit posse one rarely encounters outside of sitcoms. Although life has scattered them in various directions, there is a weeklong reunion on Alabama’s Orange Beach each summer. Attendance is mandatory. Over the years, signiﬁcant others were added to the mix, some of whom were lucky enough to meet with the group’s approval and become spouses. Less fortunate souls who failed to pass the test were sent away, never to be seen or heard from again. Make no mistake: Preppy’s girlfriends are a warm and loving group, but they’ve got standards, and they do not compromise. I used to stress about these trips — justiﬁably, at ﬁrst, until I got my stamp of approval — because these people are very good at vacationing, and I am not. I have marveled at their ability to cast aside life’s responsibilities, savoring every breath of freedom, drinking and dancing ‘til sunrise. I do not do these things. I’m not a killjoy, but I’m not what one would call carefree. I’m more of a strident bossypants who prefers that every living thing in my sphere of inﬂuence submit to my maddening dictatorial stranglehold. This does not lend itself well to the version of me which comes out when I am overserved, because instead of being in control, I am: A) stupid, and B) slutty. Also, I like mornings. When I overindulge, I lose the morning and a good portion of the afternoon. This made me a tough sell to the girlfriend posse, most of whom were trained bartenders who also toured with a jam band at some point. I like to think I won them over with pizazz. Several paired off with men who could keep up with their vacation jamboree, which means this cheese ofﬁcially stands alone. But this year, something amazing happened. Something which changed everything.
Babies. Marvelous, goofy, sleepless, teething babies. Suddenly, I am no longer the only person who has to be slathered in SPF 50 and placed under a beach umbrella. Gone are the days when mine was the lone cranky voice demanding to be fed at regular intervals. And when I rise to greet the day at seven in the morning, I am not alone for ﬁve hours. There is a ﬂurry of activity already in full play. It turns out I’ve been keeping the schedule and lifestyle of an overworked parent, I just didn’t have the child to justify it. The girlfriends have tackled motherhood with the same gusto they apply to everything else, so they’ve got very happy babies. The kind of babies that make you think of having babies, because someone else has done all the grunt work and you just get to play peekaboo and smell their heads. “When are you guys gonna have one?” asks a girlfriend while Preppy and I entertain her giggling child. “Well, we’re not taking any measures to prevent it, so now it’s in God’s hands,” I reply. “I’m serious. Look at you. You’d be great at it.” Okay, look. I know I’ve always said we don’t want children, we love that we don’t have to put the dog through college, but I’m willing to confess: Of course I would want a kid. We’d be damn good parents. Hell, if I could get knocked up we’d probably already have one or six, which is why God made me a gay guy, because otherwise I’d be trailer park royalty. But adoption agencies aren’t really begging for high school dropout cancer survivor playwrights to apply, and even if I took my change jar to the CoinStar I’d still likely come up short the thirty grand one requires for a surrogate. I made my peace with that a long time ago. Our lives are quite complete as a dynamic duo. Still, it’s nice to know that once a year we’ll take a break from that life, and share in the joy of the ever-growing posse.
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