Connect with us

Arts & Entertainment

Freddie’s purple reign

Va. gay bar/restaurant celebrates 10 years with month of festivities



Freddie Lutz at his 60th birthday party in December. The gay entrepreneur has another milestone coming up — his bar turns 10. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant
555 So. 23rd St.
Arlington, Va.

Anniversary festivities:
8 p.m. Tuesday “Purple Party” — buffet and DJ Alicia
March 4 — Wicked Jezebel
March 5 — Saturday ‘Drag Diner’ buffet brunch

with Shelby Bottoms (Saturdays weekly)
$9.95 — 10 a.m.-3 p.m
Sunday champagne brunch
(Sundays weekly)
$19.95 – 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Freddie’s Follies Drag Show
with Destiny B. Childs (Sundays weekly)
9 p.m.-11 p.m.
March 8, 10 and 11 — WiseCRACK Disco Trivia
(Tuesday, Thursday, Friday weekly)
March 10 — “Dining Out For Life”
March 20 — “Mimi I’mFurst”
For details, go here or call 703-685-0555

Freddie Lutz knows what it takes to succeed as a restaurateur. But how to put it into words?

Certainly it’s that ineffable “je ne sais quoi” — that intuitive yet practical sense of how to succeed in the world of hospitality, as a purveyor of food and drink and good times. And it’s second nature to the man known to everyone simply as “Freddie.”

His is the motto for many who succeed — “excellence equals success.” In Lutz’s words, “They say if you make it past the first year, you’re doing good, but if you make it past the third year, you’re really doing good.”

However, the well-known rule of thumb in the restaurant industry is this sobering statistic: most new ones don’t make it much past one year. Therefore, Lutz says, “I guess if you make it past a decade, you’re doing fabulous.”

March is his 10th anniversary celebration month, starting Tuesday. He calls it “our purple party,” and it begins at 8 that night with a complimentary hors d’oeuvre buffet and an atmosphere of merriment with party favors. There is, as Freddie insists, “no cover charge” whatsoever,” because, he calls it “a big celebration, and everyone’s invited.”

“It’s a thank-you to the community,” he says, “for all their love and support over the last 10 years.” Lutz’s favorite color is purple, so that’s the theme.

Purple streamers deck the small stage — a mainstay for karaoke and drag shows, flanked by a white baby grand piano.

Lutz admits he borrowed — he calls it “artistic license” — the purple hue from elsewhere. He dubs it “royal purple” and says proudly, “I stole it from a diner in Key West, where I fell in love with it.” So back in Arlington, he immediately went to a Duron paint store, and found it.

But Tuesday’s kick-off party is just the beginning.

March 4 at 9 p.m., the lesbian band Wicked Jezebel will perform. Then on March 10, Lutz plans to give more back to the community, by, he says, “donating 110 percent of the proceeds” — not the profits, but the proceeds — of all sales that evening to Food and Friends’ “Dining Out For Life” fundraiser. March 20 brings the drag artist “Mimi I’mFurst,” well-known from “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”

But Lutz is counting on staging more events. He’s planning them in concert with his general manager, his 24-year-old nephew Ryan, whom Lutz insists is straight, saying he is sort of like the young man Val — played by actor Dan Futterman in “The Birdcage.”

One touch of décor, of course, is Lutz’s sense of fashion style, through his own collection of colorful Hawaiian shirts — at first he simply estimates there are “a lot of them” in his closet, but then concedes that maybe it’s around 40. “Hey,” he says, “it’s a beach bar.”

Lutz also says that he has aimed to transplant the atmosphere of “The Birdcage” — set in Miami’s South Beach — to his place, with its “islandy feeling,” on 23rd Street in a commercial strip between Arlington Ridge and Crystal City. Its decor was spun through his own mixing bowl of styles. “I didn’t need to hire a decorator,” he says, “I pretty much did it myself, I guess my theme song is ‘I Did It My Way.'”

Lutz lives on Meade Street, near the restaurant in the old Lutz family home, with his partner of 13 years, Johnny Cervantes. It’s the same house where Lutz lived with his parents, from when he was age 3. He boasts a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Lutz just celebrated another landmark anniversary — his 60th birthday, on Dec. 3, with a big bash at the restaurant. Cervantes, meanwhile, only owns up to being “39-ish, again, but I never give out my age.” When interviewed, they had just returned from their second home — in Rehoboth Beach — and Cervantes’ fondness for his partner was palpable.

“With Freddie, what you see is what you get,” Cervantes says. “But it’s true,” adding that “it’s his honesty and his integrity,” plus, “he’s got so much energy.”   In their relationship, Cervantes says, “he’s always the one who is willing to take the risks — and the only way I can describe him is as a free spirit, while also remaining respectful of everyone that he knows.”

“He doesn’t step on anyone’s toes. The bottom line is this, everybody loves Freddie, and Freddie loves everybody, whether in this neighborhood, in the business community, straight or gay.”

Cervantes says the secret of the success of the bar and restaurant is that Lutz has “great negotiating skills.”

Asked about that, Lutz acknowledges that when he started out a decade ago, after a 25-year career working down the street as manager and maitre’d at Cafe Italia, “I just wanted to see if I could do it myself, to see if I could make it happen, to create a gay bar and restaurant, but also — gay or not — to just see if I could do it on my own.”

Yes, he sees Freddie’s as “just one big, happy, dysfunctional family, with all the crazy drama that goes along with a gay bar, the intensity and all that, but this is important,” he adds, “the accent is on the word ‘happy,’ that’s definitely a key word.”

So yes, he feels “a great sense of accomplishment” now, to hit the 10-year mark.

Asked about the new LGBT bar in Northern Virginia, whether or not he feels any rivalry with the So Addictive Lounge at 733 Elden St. in Herndon, Lutz insists, “Absolutely not, in fact, I welcome it.”

He says there’s plenty of room in Northern Virginia for another gay bar. It’s managed by a former Freddie’s employee and they’ve talked about how they can help each other. Lutz sent flowers opening night. He got flowers in return.

When Lutz began 10 years ago, buying the location of the old Foxhole — he called it “a neighborhood, ‘Cheers’-type sports bar.” But then he started to change everything, he says, though they stayed open the whole time. Several of the Foxhole regulars hung around. He told them to hang on, the purple paint and redecorating were just part of “a work in progress,” a phrase he says still applies.



Tragedy and comedy intertwined in witty ‘Quietly Hostile’

Irby’s fourth essay collection addresses pandemic, TV writing career, more



(Book cover image courtesy of Vintage)

‘Quietly Hostile: Essays’
By Samantha Irby
c.2023, Vintage
$17/304 pages

You know from the get-go that “Quietly Hostile,” essayist, television writer and humorist Samantha Irby’s fourth essay collection, is filled to the brim with the author’s mordant wit, cynicism and empathy. Who else but Irby, 43, who has struggled with depression, would write: “This book is dedicated to Zoloft”?

There are zillions of essay collections. But few are as memorable, poignant, funny (sometimes grossly, in a good way) and heart-filled (a term Irby might hate) as “Quietly Hostile”

This long-awaited collection is filled with what Irby would call “good shit”: from hilarious descriptions of her bad dog in doggie day care to bits about, literally, shit, (that will gross you out, but reduce your shame about pooping).

Irby, who is Black and bisexual, grew up in poverty in Evanston, Ill. Her parents died when she was 18 (her mother from multiple sclerosis; her father, who gambled, likely, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder).

At the age of nine, Irby’s mother’s MS went out of remission. While still a child, she was called upon to care for her Mom.

“When I was an actual kid growing up on welfare with a sick mom and expired Tuna Helper from the dollar store, the future and its infinite possibilities stretched before me like a sumptuous buffet I couldn’t afford to go to,” Irby writes.

There is a backdrop of pain, sadness and, sometimes, anger to much of Irby’s humor. But  self-pity and rage don’t consume the book.

Irby, the author of “Meaty,” “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life” and “Wow, No Thank You,” knows that the cliche is true: tragedy and comedy often are often intertwined. 

It’s fun to learn in “Quietly Hostile” that Irby, who was a writer for the popular TV shows “Shrill” and “Tuca & Bertie,” is as much a fan as the rest of us of the TV shows she loves.

In 1998, Irby couldn’t afford cable or HBO. She had to wait to watch the “City” until it came out on VHS. “The show reflected nothing of my life,” she writes, “but provided something of a road map for my future…” she writes.

In a future, she wouldn’t have dreamed of then, she grew up to become a writer on “And Just Like That,” the “Sex and the City” reboot. (She’s a writer on season two of “And Just Like That” which premieres on June 22 on Max.)

Irby was stunned when Michael Patrick King of “And Just Like That” asked her to write for the show. “I was like … Are you allowed to work on a show like this if you only wear nine-dollar T-shirts,” she writes, “and have no idea how many Brooklyns there are.”

 “During my interview,” Irby jokes, “I said, ‘Can I give Carrie diarrhea?’ and I was hired immediately.”

Even ardent “Sex and the City” aficionados may find too much of SATC in “Quietly Hostile.”

No worries: Irby who speaks of herself as being “fat” and “sick” (she has arthritis and Crohn’s disease), riffs on many things in “Quietly Hostile.” Irby turns her sharp wit on everything from what it’s like to run for a public toilet when you have diarrhea to why she’s a David Matthew’s fan girl to her love for (approaching addiction to) Diet Coke to the “last normal day” before the pandemic to the “food fights” that are a part of the most loving marriages.

Grab a Diet Coke (or libation of your choice), tell your bad dog to quit barking and enjoy “Quietly Hostile.”

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

Continue Reading


Arena’s ‘Exclusion’ is a piece of art about art

Majority Asian production features intelligent performance by Karoline



Karoline brings intelligence and energy to every role they tackle.

Through June 25 
Arena Stage
1101 Sixth St., S.W.

When Asian-American historian Katie’s best-selling book about the racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is optioned for a mini-series by a Hollywood mogul, she couldn’t happier. However, artistic and commercial visions clash and things go awry. This is the premise of Ken Lin’s new comedy “Exclusion” now at Arena Stage. 

Katie is played by Karoline, the mononymously named New York-based actor who brings intelligence and energy to every role they tackle. 

“I’m similar to Katie — honest to a fault, optimistic, both strong and naïve,” says Karoline, 28. “For me, the challenge is watching Katie choose yes or no at every turn. Should she address what’s coming at her with truth or not? Or hide what she’s thinking? My struggle in life has been similar. How do I stay true and at the same time get what I want in a corrupt world.”

When asked to be part of “Exclusion’s” early development, Karoline was unsure: Doing a piece of art about art can be tricky. But they soon changed their mind. 

“The workshop changed my life. I got into the room and it was majority Asian. Seeing Ken [Lin] talk about coming back to theater and about being able to write about Asian people with a play that’s ostensibly a comedy and obviously super personal, drawing from his life and what he’s learned from colleagues.” 

Karoline describes their experience with anti-Asian racism as more microaggressions. “I don’t have people point at me saying ‘you’re a chink.’ It’s been subtler versions of that.”

As a stage actor, they’ve had an activist history, taking complaints of racism to a company’s board, a move that can be contentious. Typically, it’s preferred actors “be grateful, listen and interpret, and not speak up.” 

When a respected mentor later asked Karoline whether they wanted to be an actor or an activist, they didn’t understand why it had to be mutually exclusive. “I was too young to say it could be both. Now it depends on the situation. Maybe both in theater because I have more of a career there. But in TV, I don’t know.”

Karoline was born in Shanghai and grew up in South Texas where they had little exposure to the arts. After graduation from a pre-med magnet high school (with no intention of a career in medicine), they headed off to Harvard on full scholarship: “I showed my family that I can be smart, but I was going to do my own thing.” 

They took a gap year from Harvard to train at Atlantic Acting School, then went to apprentice at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Weeks after moving to New York they were cast as closeted lesbian Bo in Tom Stoppard’s “The Hard Problem” at Lincoln Center Theater.

“I’ve played more than one lesbian in my career,” says Karoline with a chuckle.  In the fall, they can be seen in the entire first season of “Death and Other Details” (Hulu) as a very rich lesbian heiress, a darkly funny role. 

“It seems when you’re Asian, you’re expected to talk about your parents’ accents or dumplings,” they add. “The narrative is vivid and bright. I wanted to do classical theater so my work could speak about everything else. From the start, I was ready to do the work, and hoped to have a long career that included many different things.”

Not long ago, Karoline shed their surname owing to a difficult childhood and a feeling of estrangement from their family. “It’s unusual, especially for Asian Americans, but after some self-healing and thinking, I decided I didn’t need it. Now I feel a lot freer.” 

And there have been other changes in addition to their last name including coming out as queer and sharing their gender identity. This is the first year they’ve only used “they” pronouns. 

“When you’re queer, I believe you’re always queer even if you’re not in a queer relationship. I think of my character like that. In this space and time, Katie’s with a man but that doesn’t mean that’s the whole conversation about this person. 

“For me, playing Katie in ‘Exclusion’ has been a huge vote of confidence. Sometimes it takes someone writing something wonderful and casting you for you to know where you need to be.”

Continue Reading

Out & About

Mayor’s office to host Pride tie-dye party

Guests to make colorful shirts for ‘PEACE. LOVE. REVOLUTION’ theme



(Photo by Prime Look/Bigstock)

The Mayor’s Office for LGBTQ Affairs will host “Love Out Loud: Tie Dye Party for Pride” on Wednesday, June 7 at 5 p.m. at the Frank D. Reeves Center of Municipal Affairs.

The event, hosted along with the DC Center for the LGBT Community and Capital Pride Alliance, will be an afternoon for community and artistry. Guests are encouraged to bring their creativity to make some colorful tie-dye shirts in line with this year’s Pride theme, “PEACE. LOVE. REVOLUTION.”

This event is free to attend and more details are available on Eventbrite

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade