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Calendar: Dec. 23

Parties, services, concerts and more through Dec. 29

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Mallory Lewis, daughter of Sheri Lewis, will be appearing with Lamb Chop as part of a Holiday Vaudeville performance at the Kennedy Center on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Kennedy Center)

TODAY (Friday)

Trixie and Monkey’s seventh annual “Holiday Spectac-U-Thon” is tonight at the Patterson at 8 p.m. The neo-burlesque show will feature acrobatic antics, trapeze and more. Tickets are $22 for general admission and $17 for Creative Alliance members. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit creativealliance.org.

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) presents “Bro Ho Ho: A Holiday Music Spectacular” featuring Jessie Elliott, of these United States, Revival, John Bustine, Brandon Butler and more. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at blackcatdc.com. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Basement Batman plays Red Palace (1212 H St., N.E.) tonight at 9 p.m. with Ravenous and ACME. Tickets are $8 and available day of the show. Doors open at 8 p.m.

DJ Dirty Hands spins tonight for “Pop Fridays” at Ultrabar (911 F St., N.W.) from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Also spinning will be resident DJ Geometrix and DJs Suelto, Enemy and Bomba and Kid Lucky.

Phase 1 (525 8th St., S.E.) is having a “Ugly Holiday Sweater Party” tonight. Everyone wearing a festive sweater gets $3 drink specials. There will also be a contest for the ugliest sweater and the winner will received a $50 bar tab. Contest begins at 11:30 p.m. For more information, visit phase1dc.com. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Ladi Lenore and Maxine Blue present “The Empire Christmas Party” tonight at Remingtons (639 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.) at 10 p.m. with a buffet, show and more.

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) presents “Messiah” sing-along tonight at 8 p.m. with guest conductor Barry Hemphill leading the Kennedy center Opera House Orchestra, a 200-voice choir, professional soloists and the audience. This is a free event. Tickets are required and will be distributed today starting at 6 p.m. in the Hall of Nations, limit one per person.

Saturday, Dec. 24

K&C Productions presents “Grown & Sexy Saturdays” at Club Mova (newly reopened at 2204 14th Street, NW). No cover and doors open at 10 p.m. Party goes until 3 a.m. A new year’s eve grand opening edition is also planned.

The East Coast Boyz present “Twas the Night Before Christmas” at Tabaq Bistro (1336 U St., NW) tonight from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Prizes and drink specials will be held. Dancers will provide entertainment.

Black Cat’s (1811 14th St., N.W.) weekly Hellmouth Happy Hour will feature a special holiday screening of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie starring Luke Perry and Kristen Swanson. This is a free event and doors open at 7 p.m.

U Street Music Hall (1115 U St., N.W.) has its “U Halliday Party” tonight at 10 p.m. featuring King Tutt, Obeyah, Keenan Orr and more hosted by Marcus Dowling and Reed Rothchild. Tickets for attendees 18 to 20 are $10 and must be purchased in advance atustreetmusichall.com. The party is free all night for those 21 and older.

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) presents its production of “Billy Elliot: The Musical” (see our review on page 32) directed by Stephen Daldry and featuring music by Elton John, today at 1:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $150 and can be purchased online atkennedy-center.org.

With most of the NFL’s games moved to today, Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) will be showing the Baltimore Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins take on the Minnesota Vikings at 1 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 25

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) presents an All-star Christmas Day Jazz Jam featuring Chuck Redd, Robert Redd, Lenny Robinson, James King and Tom and Delores King Williams tonight at 6 p.m. This is a free performance. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) presents its third annual James Brown “Death-Mas” holiday bash featuring Soul Call Paul. Tickets are $5 and available night of the show. Doors open at 9 p.m.

Ultrabar (911 F St., N.W.) presents “No Nice, All Naughty Sexy Santa Bash” tonight from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with free admission all night for women dressed in sexy Santa costumes. There will be drink specials all night as well as a rail open bar from 10 to 11 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 26

Busboys & Poets presents Monday night open mic poetry hosted by Drew Law tonight at 8 p.m. at its Shirlington location (4251 South Campbell Ave., Arlington). Wristbands are $4 and will be on sale starting at 10 a.m. in the Global Exchange store until sold out.

SAGE Metro D.C. is celebrating the New Year with a party at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) tonight at 6:30 p.m. with food and music. For more information, visit thedccenter.org or sagemetrodc.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Riot Act Comedy Theater (801 E St., N.W.) presents its weekly trivia night, hosted by Ashley Linder and Lauren Zoltick tonight at 8 p.m. in the upstairs bar. There’s even bonus question worth three extra points online at riotactcomedy.com.

The Chesapeake Squares are having a mainstream-through-advanced club night tonight at the Waxter Center (1000 Cathedral St.) in Baltimore from 8 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit chesapeakesquares.org. The Squares are a gay square dancing group.

Busboys & Poets presents Tuesday night open mic poetry hosted by Henry Mills tonight at 9 p.m. in the Langston room of its 14th and V streets location (2021 14th St., N.W.). Wristbands are $4 and will be on sale starting at 10 a.m. in bookstore until sold out.

Wednesday, Dec. 28

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE — across from Marine Barracks) for duplicate bridge. No reservations needed; newcomers welcome. Visit lambdabridge.com if you need a partner.

Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor comes to the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) with her one-woman play “Ann” tonight at 7:30 p.m. The show tells the story of Ann Richards, the second female governor of Texas. Tickets range from $54 to $95 and can be purchased online at kennedy-center.org.

Busboys & Poets is having its monthly book club meeting at its Shirlington location (4251 South Campbell Ave., Arlington) from 7 to 9 p.m. discussing Rebecca Skloot’s book, “Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks,” which tells the story of a woman who’s cells were taken without her knowledge and have been used in several major medical developments.

Thursday Dec. 29

D.C. Lambda Squares, a local gay square dancing group, has its advanced and challenge club night tonight from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.) with Bill Harrison as the caller. For more information, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Cajun cellist Sean Grissom hosts “Holiday Vaudeville” at the Kennedy Center (2700 P St., N.W.) tonight at 6 p.m. with Mallory Lewis, daughter of Shari Lewis, appearing with Lamb Chop, and the Alexandria Kleztet, a modern Klezmer quartet. This is a free performance. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

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Theater

‘Hadestown’ comes to the Kennedy Center

Levi Kreis discusses return to live theater

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center. (Photo courtesy of Levi Kreis)

Hadestown
Through Oct. 31
The Kennedy Center
$45.00 – $175.00
Kennedy-center.org
For Covid-19 safety regulations go to Kennedy-center.org/visit/covid-safety/

Early in September at New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, out singer/actor Levi Kreis was in the audience for the long-awaited Broadway reopening of “Hadestown,” Anaïs Mitchell’s rousing musical reimagining of the Orpheus myth in which the legendary Greek hero descends into the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice. 

After almost 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the Tony Award-winning folk opera was back and the house was full. In a recent phone interview, Kreis describes the evening as “love-filled, and electrifying and emotional after such a difficult time.” Now, Kreis is onstage in the national tour of “Hadestown,” currently launching at the Kennedy Center. As Hermes, the shape-shifting god of oratory, Kreis is both narrator and chaperone to the story’s young lovers. 

A Tennessee native, Kreis, 39, has triumphantly survived turbulent times including a harrowingly prolonged coming out experience that included six years of conversion therapy, education disruptions, and music contract losses. He officially came out through his acclaimed album “One of the Ones” (2006), which features a collection of piano vocals about past boyfriends. And four years later, he splendidly won a Tony Award for originating the role of rock and roll wild man Jerry Lee Lewis in the rockabilly musical “Million Dollar Quartet.” 

Throughout much of the pandemic, Kreis leaned into his own music and found ways to reconnect with his largely gay fan base. But he’s happy to now be touring, noting that all the “Hadestown” cast have been hungering to perform before a real live audience.

When not on the road, he’s based in New York City with his husband, classical-crossover recording artist Jason Antone. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Hermes is the same role for which André De Shields—the brilliant African American actor, also gay, and some decades your elder won a Tony and has resumed playing on Broadway, right?

LEVI KREIS: That’s right. It’s really a testament to the creative team. Rather than laying us over what Broadway created. They’re creating a tour that’s uniquely different; still true to the beauty of the story but with a different flavor. 

BLADE: What attracted you to the part?

KREIS: First, I fell in love with the show. My own musical sensibilities understand the origins of where this music comes from. It’s very bluesy and gospel. Southern and rootsy. And that’s everything I’ve created in my career as a singer/songwriter.

BLADE: With your life experience, do you feel called to mentor?

KREIS: The biggest effort I’ve given to this narrative is being a pioneer of the out-music movement starting in 2005 which was a moment when gay artists were not signed to major labels. I want through eight major labels—when they found out I was gay things always went south. 

It’s been amazing to be a voice in LGBTQ media when no one was speaking about these things. It’s popular now, but back when it mattered it was a lot harder to start my career as an openly gay artist and speak about these issues rather than keep quiet, cash in, and only then come out. 

BLADE: Where did that nerve come from?

KREIS: Less about nerve and more about being beaten down. How many things have to happen before you give up and decide to be honest?  

BLADE: For many theatergoers, “Hadestown” will be their return to live theater. Other than it being visionary and remarkably entertaining, why would you recommend it? 

KREIS: We need encouragement right now. But we also need art that facilitates a lot of important conversation about what’s happening in the world. This has both elements.  

“Hadestown” is not a piece of art that you easily forget. You’re going to walk out of the theater with a story that sticks with you. You’ll realized that your own voice matters. There’s a part in the show, Orpheus’ song, when the gods encourage him to get the balance of the world back again by telling him that his voice matters. 

BLADE: Is it timely?

KREIS: Art is here to change the world. And this piece of art hits the nail right on the head. I’m a purist when it comes to art and song. There’s a reason why we do it. people are listening now in a way they haven’t listened before. To miss that is to miss the role of society, I think. 

BLADE: And going forward? 

KREIS: It’s going to be interesting. We could double down on super commercialized theater or we may decide to really go the other direction and reclaim innovation. That remains to be seen. 

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Books

Book details fight to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Clinton-era policy was horrific for LGB servicemembers

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‘Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By C. Dixon Osburn
c.2021, self-published $35 hardcover, paperback $25, Kindle $12.99 / 450 pages

When Senior Airman Brandi Grijalva was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, she talked with a chaplain’s assistant about some problems she had at home. The chaplain’s assistant said what she told him would be confidential. But when she revealed that she was a lesbian, the chaplain’s assistant no longer kept her conversation with him confidential. Grijalva, after being investigated was discharged.

Craig Haack was a corporal in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. Haack, who had made it through boot camp, felt confident. Until investigators barged into his barracks. Looking for evidence “of homosexual conduct,” they ransacked everything from his computers to his platform shoes. Haack was too stunned to respond when asked if he was gay.

In 1996, Lt. Col. Steve Loomis’ house was burned down by an Army private. The Army discharged the private who torched Loomis’ house. You’d think the Army would have supported Loomis. But you’d be wrong. The army discharged Loomis for conduct unbecoming an officer because a fire marshal found a homemade sex tape in the ashes.

These are just a few of the enraging, poignant, at times absurd (platform shoes?), all-too-true stories told in “Mission Possible: The Story of Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by C. Dixon Osburn.

As a rule, I don’t review self-published books. But “Mission Possible” is the stunning exception that proves that rules, on occasion, are made to be broken.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was the official U.S. policy on gay, lesbian and bisexual people serving in the military. Former President Bill Clinton announced the policy on July 19, 1993. It took effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

Sexual orientation was covered by DADT. Gender identity was covered by separate Department of Defense regulations.

Congress voted to repeal DADT in December 2010 (the House on Dec. 15, 2010, and the Senate on Dec. 18, 2010). On Dec. 22, 2010, Former President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law. 

DADT banned gay, lesbian and bisexual people who were out from serving in the U.S. military. Under DADT, it was not permitted to ask if servicemembers were LGB. But, LGB servicemembers couldn’t be out. They couldn’t talk about their partners, carry photos of their girlfriends or boyfriends or list their same-sex partner as their emergency contract.

It took nearly a year for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to go into effect. On Sept. 20, 2011, Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certified to Congress that implementing repeal of the policy {DADT} would have no effect on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion or recruiting and retention,” Osburn writes.

Before DADT, out LGBT people weren’t permitted to serve in the military. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was intended to be a compromise—a policy that would be less onerous on LGB people, but that would pass muster with people who believed that gay servicemembers would destroy military readiness, morale and unit cohesion.

Like many in the queer community, I knew that DADT was a horror-show from the get-go. Over the 17 years that DADT was in effect, an estimated 14,000 LGB servicemembers were discharged because of their sexual orientation, according to the Veterans Administration.

But, I had no idea how horrific “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was until I read “Mission Possible.”              

In “Mission Possible,” Osburn, who with Michelle Benecke, co-founded the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), pulls off a nearly impossible hat trick.

In a clear, vivid, often spellbinding narrative, Osburn tells the complex history of the DADT-repeal effort as well as the stories of servicemembers who were pelted with gay slurs, assaulted and murdered under DADT.

Hats off to SLDN, now known as the Modern Military Association of America, for its heroic work to repeal DADT! (Other LGBTQ+ organizations worked on the repeal effort, but SLDN did the lion’s share of the work.)

You wouldn’t think a 450-pager about repealing a policy would keep you up all night reading. But, “Mission Possible” will keep you wide-awake. You won’t need the espresso.

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Arts & Entertainment

NSYNC star Lance Bass & husband Michael Turchin welcome twins

Singer, husband, and popular West Hollywood nightclub owner, now adds the job of ‘Dad’ to his resume

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Lance Bass and Michael Turchin via Instagram

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Former boy-band NSYNC star and co-owner of the popular LGBTQ+ nightspot Rocco’s, Lance Bass, announced that he and husband Michael Turchin are the proud parents of twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James.

In his announcement on Instagram, Bass wrote; ‘The baby dragons have arrived!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ I can not express how much love I feel right now. Thank you for all the kind wishes. It meant a lot. Now, how do you change a diaper??! Ahhhhhhhh!”

The babies were carried via surrogate, the singer noted saying that Alexander, born one minute before his sister on Wednesday, weighed 4 lbs., 14 oz. Violet weighed 4 lbs., 11 oz. Bass said in his Instagram post.

His husband also announced the news on his Instagram account. “Introducing the newest members of the Turchin-Bass household: Violet Betty and Alexander James!!!! They’re pure perfection and yes that includes the dozens of poops we’ve already dealt with. Our hearts our full!!! Thank you everyone for the well wishes 🥰🥰🥰”

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