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Calendar: events through Jan. 15

Plays, concerts, exhibits and more among week’s offerings



Florence Lacey as Norma Desmond in 'Sunset Blvd.' Signature Theatre, which is hosting a production of the show, is having a special 'Pride Night' at tonight's performance. (Photo by Scott Suchman; courtesy of Signature)

Friday, Jan. 7

D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) is having its monthly open mic night tonight from 8 to 10 p.m. This month the event will feature the work of the Brother Tongue poetry workshop participants. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and performers can sign up between 7:30 and 8.

ANNIEthing Goes and friends present “Absolina” a birthday celebration with DJs Zenbi, Charles Martin and vANNIEty kills tonight at 10 at Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club (1103 Bladensberg Rd., N.E.)

RAW, hosted by DJs Bil Todd and Shea Van Horn, will be at Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) tonight from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Free entry before 11 p.m. with a $3 cover after. There will be an open bar from 10 to 11 p.m. Attendees must be 21 or older.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington’s fundraising team is hosting a bingo night tonight at 7 p.m. at the church (474 Ridge St., N.W.). The evening begins with four early bird games which costs $2 for four cards or $3 for eight cards. This is followed by 17 regular and special games which are packaged for as low as $25. There will be homemade refreshments available in Mama Cecelia’s kitchen.

The Foundry Gallery (1314 18th St., N.W.) is holding an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. for its newest exhibit “Celebrate Gay Marriage” which is a juried show of regional artists. The reception will feature a performance by Potomac Fever, part of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. The exhibit will continue through Jan. 30.

Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave.) in Arlington is hosting “Pride Night” tonight featuring a performance of “Sunset Boulevard” followed by a one-hour post-show cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Signature has also teamed up with Fleet Transportation and is offering a shuttle service from Dupont Circle on P Street directly to the theater leaving at 6:30 and returning at 11:30 p.m. Roundtrip tickets for the bus are $5 and tickets to “Pride Night” are $86 and $91. All tickets can be purchased at the theater box office.

Apex (1415 22nd St., N.W.) and Gloss present First Fridays Ladies Night tonight with music by DJ Rosie in the main room and performances by the D.C. Kings and the D.C. Gurly Show at midnight. There is a $10 cover. Attendees must be 18 or older to enter.

Front Runners is having its monthly happy hour tonight at the Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) at 6:30 p.m.

The Dance Party will be at 9:30 Club with Wallpaper, K-Flay, Ra Ra Rasputin and lowercaseletters at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at

Saturday, Jan. 8

The planning committee for the D.C. Center’s sixth annual Oscar celebration, “Glamour, Glitter, Gold” is meeting today at 11:30 a.m. at the Center (1318 U St., N.W.). The committee is chaired by Michelle Ross and Timur Tugberk.

City Gallery (804 H St., N.E.) will be holding an opening reception for its newest exhibit “Leaves, Words and Screens” featuring the work of Ronnie Spiewak tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibit will continue through Jan. 29.

Pianist Alexander Paley will be giving a free all-Liszt concert tonight in celebration of what would be Franz Liszt’s 200th birthday at 8 p.m. at Westmoreland Congregational UCC Church (1 Westmoreland Circle) in Bethesda.

Team D.C. will be having an information Q&A session today at 10 a.m. at the Verizon Center. The session is open to anyone, but space is limited. To reserve a space, e-mail Ryan Bos at [email protected].

The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop will host its fifth annual juried photography exhibition and reception today from 5 to 7 p.m. at CHAW (545 7th St., S.E.). The exhibit will feature works from local and regional artists. The show will continue through Feb. 4.

Apex presents Glowing, a fusion of black lights, dayglo paint and glow sticks tonight with DJ Gigi. DJ Michael Brandon will host Caliente, a latin dance party, in the east wing dance lounge. Kristina Kelly and the Girls of Glamour will perform at 11 p.m. There is a $10 cover.

The NSO Teddy Bear Concert: “Fancy That!” will have three performances of a one-woman show with NSO violinist Marissa Regini today at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 5 p.m. in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre (2700 F St., N.W.).

Sunday, Jan. 9

LAMBDA SCI-FI, a monthly meeting and social of LGBT science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, will have its annual blind book exchange today at 1:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring a snack or a non-alcoholic drink to share. The meeting will be held at 1414 17th St., N.W. For more information call James at 202-232-3141, e-mail to [email protected], or visit the group’s website at

D.C. Kings will be at Phase (525 8th St., S.E.) tonight with “One Hit Wonders.” Doors open at 7 p.m. and the performance begins at 10. There is a $5 cover.

The Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Drive) is having its free family Sundays with “Collage Wacky Warhol Wigs” today from 2 to 5 p.m. Today is also the last day to view the exhibit “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade.” Tickets to the exhibit range from $15 for adults to $5 for children 6 to 18 years old.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers will be helping fight hunger in the D.C. area today from 9 a.m. to noon, with D.C. Central Kitchen. Volunteers will help cook, working along chefs who have graduated from the Kitchen’s job training program. No experience is required, just an interest of cooking. The Kitchen provides job skills by using rescued and donated ingredients to teach unemployed and homeless individuals how to cook, then turns this food into free meal services. E-mail [email protected] for more information.

Monday, Jan. 10

The fourth Mid-Atlantic Band Battle IV Preliminaries start tonight at 7 p.m. at Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave., E.) in Vienna. The preliminaries continue through Thursday.

Tuesday, Jan. 11

The Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Drive) begins “Rest, Restore, Renew,” its winter yoga series, today from 6 to 7:15 p.m. There are six sessions and they are $95 for members and $110 for non-members.

Join Burgundy Crescent Volunteers to help pack safer sex kits from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at FUK!T’s new packing location Green Lantern, 1335 Green Ct., N.W.

Wednesday, Jan. 12

The Big Gay Book Group will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at 1155 F St., N.W., Suite 200. The book for discussion will be “Great Speeches on Gay Rights” edited by James Daley. For more information, visit the group’s website or e-mail [email protected].

Rainbow Response will hold its monthly meeting tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.)

Thursday, Jan. 13

DCBiWomen will be having its monthly dinner at Café Luna (1633 P St., N.W.) tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit

Exposed Tattoo and Baller Inc., present the D.C. Tattoo Arts Expo starting today at the Crystal City Doubletree Hotel (300 Army Navy Drive) in Arlington with a VIP welcome party in the Sky Dome from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The expo will continue through the weekend, ending Sunday.

Friday, Jan. 14

DJ Joshua and TheNewGay present BALLS! Tonight from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Velvet Lounge (915 U St., N.W.) featuring the debut DJ set of Steve Scarlata. There is no cover for this event. Drink specials include $3 Natty Boh and $4 kamikazes.

Gross National Product returns with “The Sound of Palin” at Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.) tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $20 and can be purchased at atlas

Saturday, Jan. 15

Blowoff, a dance party featuring gay DJs Bob Mould and Richard Morel, will be at 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.) tonight. Doors opens at 11:30 p.m. Attendees must be 21 or older. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at



PHOTOS: Pride Reveal

‘Totally Radical’ announced as this year’s theme



Miss Capital Pride 2024 performs at the Pride Reveal party on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance held its annual Pride Reveal party at Penn Social on Feb. 29. “Totally Radical” was announced as this year’s theme for Pride.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Gay author takes us on his journey to fatherhood in ‘Safe’

One man’s truth about the frustrations and rewards of fostering



(Book cover image courtesy of Atria Books)

‘Safe: A Memoir of Fatherhood, Foster Care, and the Risks We Take for Family’
By Mark Daley
c.2024, Atria Books
$28.99/304 pages

The closet is full of miniature hangers.

The mattress bumpers match the drapes and the rug beneath the tiny bed. There’s a rocker for late-night fusses, a tall giraffe in the corner, and wind-up elephants march in a circle over the crib. Now you just need someone to occupy that space and in the new book, “Safe” by Mark Daley, there’s more than one way to accomplish that dream.

Jason was a natural-born father.

Mark Daley knew that when they were dating, when he watched Jason with his nephew, with infants, and the look on Jason’s face when he had one in his arms. As a gay man, Daley never thought much having a family but he knew Jason did – and so, shortly after their wedding, they began exploring surrogacy and foster-to-adopt programs.

Daley knew how important it was to get the latter right: his mother had a less-than-optimal childhood, and she protected her own children fiercely for it. When Daley came out to her, and to his father, he was instantly supported and that’s what he wanted to give: support and loving comfort to a child in a hard situation.

Or children, as it happened. Just weeks after competing foster parenting classes and after telling the social worker they’d take siblings if there was a need, the prospective dads were offered two small brothers to foster.

It was love at first sight but euphoria was somewhat tempered by courts, laws, and rules. Their social worker warned several times that reunification of the boys with their parents was “Plan A,” but Daley couldn’t imagine it. The parents seemed unreliable; they rarely kept appointments, and they didn’t seem to want to learn better parenting skills. The mother all but ignored the baby, and the child noticed.

So did Daley, but the courts held all the power, and predicting an outcome was impossible.

“All we had was the present,” he said. “If I didn’t stay in it, I was going to lose everything I had.” So was there a Happily-Ever-After?

Ah, you won’t find an answer to that question here. You’ll need to read “Safe” and wear your heart outside your chest for an hour or so, to find out. Bring tissues.

Bring a sense of humor, too, because author and founder of One Iowa Mark Daley takes readers along on his journey to being someone’s daddy, and he does it with the sweetest open-minded open-heartedness. He’s also Mama Bear here, too, which is just what you want to see, although there can sometimes be a lot of tiresome drama and over-fretting in that.

And yet, this isn’t just a sweet, but angst-riddled, tale of family. If you’re looking to foster, here’s one man’s truth about the frustrations, the stratospheric-highs, and the deep lows. Will your foster experiences be similar? Maybe, but reading this book about it is its own reward.

“Safe” soars and it dives. It plays with your emotions and it wallows in anxiety. If you’re a parent, though, you’ll hang on to every word.

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Lesbian road movie returns with campy ‘Dolls’

A retro-inspired, neon-lit road trip/neo-noir thriller



Geraldine Viswanathan, Margaret Qualley, and Beanie Feldstein in ‘Drive-Away Dolls.’ (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

Let’s admit it: by the time Hollywood’s awards season draws to a close, most of us are more than ready for a good mindless “B movie” to cleanse our palettes. After the glut of “serious” and “important” films dominating the public conversation, it’s just incredibly freeing to watch something that feels — at some level, at least — more like entertainment than it does like doing homework.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why the timing of “Drive-Away Dolls,” which hit screens on Feb. 23, feels like a really savvy move, especially since it comes from a major Hollywood studio and boasts a multi-Oscar-winning director – Ethan Coen, who alongside brother Joel is half of one of Hollywood’s most prodigious filmmaking teams – at its helm. A retro-inspired and neon-lit road trip/chick flick/neo-noir thriller featuring lesbian leading characters and leaning hard into the visual palette of the ‘70s-era exploitation drive-in movie fodder it aims to both emulate and reinvent, it lays no claim to lofty purpose or intellectual conceit; instead, it takes its audience on an unabashedly raunchy 1999-set wild ride in which a pair of mismatched adventurers find themselves unwittingly entangled in a caper involving a mysterious briefcase and the eccentric trio of thugs tasked with tracking it down. It tells the kind of story we expect to be able to check our brains at the door for, and just sit back to enjoy the mindless thrills.

In this case, that story centers on two young queer Philadelphia women – free-spirited sexual adventurer Jamie (Margaret Qualley), whose infidelity has tanked her relationship with girlfriend Suki (Beanie Feldstein), and square peg Marian (Geraldine Viswanathan), whose discomfort with the hedonistic social scene of big city lesbian life has her longing for the simpler pleasures of her childhood home in Tallahassee – who embark on a road trip together to Florida in search of new beginnings. It’s clear from the start that they’re at cross purposes; Jamie sees the trip as an opportunity to “loosen up” her uptight friend, while Marian just wants to get back to where she once belonged. Unbeknownst to either, however, a shady cadre of operatives (Colman Domingo, Joey Slotnick, C.J. Wilson) is on their trail, thanks to something hidden in the trunk of their rental car, and their journey is about to take a detour into unexpectedly dangerous territory.

As a premise, it’s not hard to see close parallels to many of the themes one often finds running throughout the Coen Brothers’ films; the quirky trappings of its crime story plot, the granular focus on the behavioral oddities of its characters, the whimsical (if often pointed) irony it deploys for narrative effect – all these and more give Ethan’s first “solo flight” without collaboration from his brother the kind of familiarity for audiences one can only get from four decades of previous exposure. Yet while “Drive-Away Dolls” might bear a lot of the trademark Coen touches, it’s also distinctively its own creature, with a more radical stylistic approach that one might glimpse in more flamboyant outliers to their joint filmography like “The Hudsucker Proxy” or cult-favorite “The Big Lebowski,” but which here brings its heightened sense of absurdity to the forefront in service of a story which is about, as much as it is anything, the role of causality in determining the circumstances and outcomes of our lives. In other words, it’s a movie which drives home (no pun intended) the point that – at least sometimes – our paths are determined by fate, no matter how much control we think we exert.

If you’re thinking that all this analysis doesn’t quite fit for a movie that presents itself as a madcap escapist romp, you’re not wrong; in spite of its ostensible B movie appeal, Coen’s movie – co-written with his wife, Tricia Cook – evokes some pretty weighty reflections, and while that might lend a more elevated layer to the film’s proceedings than we expect, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We can be entertained and enlightened at the same time, after all.

Perhaps more detrimental to the movie’s effect, unfortunately, is its intricately-conceived plotting. Weaving together seemingly coincidental or irrelevant details into a chain of events that propels the story at every juncture, Coen and Cooke’s screenplay feels more devoted to cleverness than authenticity; outlandish plot twists pile up, under the guise of some esoteric cosmic significance, until they threaten to collapse in on themselves; in the end, for many viewers, it might all seem just a little too forced to be believable.

Fortunately, there are things to counterbalance that sense of overthinking that seems to permeate the script, most vital of which is the movie’s unambivalent embrace of its queer narrative. While it may borrow the familiar lesbians-on-the-run road tropes queer audiences have known for decades, it presents them in a story refreshingly devoid of shame or stigma; the sexuality of its heroines is something to be explored with nuance rather than subjected to the fetishized bias of the so-called “male gaze,” and it succeeds in giving us “tastefully” explicit scenes of same sex love that celebrate the joy of human connection rather than turning it into a voyeuristic spectacle. Even more important, perhaps, “Drive-Away Dolls” omits one particularly toxic cliché of queer stories on film by refuising to make its queer heroines into victims; they’re way too smart for that, and it makes us like them all the more, even if we don’t quite find ourselves absorbed in their story.

For this, full credit must go to Qualley and Viswanathan, who individually build fully relatable and multi-dimensional characters while also finding a sweet and believable chemistry within the awkwardness of finding a romantic love story between two friends – a complex species of relationship that surely deserves a more extensive and nuanced treatment than it gets space for in Coen’s film. As good as they are, though, it’s Feldstein’s relatively small supporting turn that steals the movie, with an unflinching-yet-hilarious tough-as-nails performance as Qualley’s ex that both acknowledges and undercuts the stereotype of the “angry lesbian” while striking an immensely satisfying blow for queer female empowerment. The always-stellar Domingo underplays his way through an effectively civilized supporting performance as the chief “heavy”, and Matt Damon makes a sly cameo as a conservative politician, while daddy-of-the-decade Pedro Pascal shows up for a brief but key role that gives winking service to fans who remember him from his “Game of Thrones” days – though to say more about any of those appearances would constitute a spoiler.

“Drive-Away Dolls” has been met with mixed reviews, and this one is no exception. There’s an unmistakable good intention behind it, and much to be appreciated in its sex-positive outlook and commitment to an unapologetically queer story and characters, but while its stylistic embellishments provide for campy enjoyment, it’s ultimately diffused by its own cleverness. Still, the queer joy that frequently peeks through it is more than enough reason to say that it’s a good choice for a fun date night at the movies.

At the end of the day, what more can you ask?

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