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Cherry time

Dance benefit gears up, Queer Prom slated for Saturday night and more

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Revelers at last year's Cherry at Town. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Cherry charity dance events kick off next week

Cherry 2012 starts Thursday and will continue through next weekend with various parties and events.

This year the event starts with a welcome center at Mova (2204 14th St., N.W.) on Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. where tickets and passes may be purchased or picked up. Then Ignition will be held at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Friday (March 30) will have its own welcome center at No. 9 (1435 P St., N.W) from 5 to 9 p.m. followed by two events. There will be a women’s event at Phase 1 Dupont (1415 22nd St., N.W.) from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. and “Boys on Fire” at Warehouse Loft (411 New York Ave., N.E.) from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

March 31 brings the “Moody Horror Picture Show,” a birthday celebration for party pioneer, Moody Mustafa at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) from 2 to 7 p.m. Town is also hosting that night’s “Blossom” from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The festival ends on April 1 with “Momentum” at Ibiza (1222 1st St., N.E.) from 4 to 9 a.m. followed by a brunch and tea dance at Cobalt from noon to 6 p.m. The final event is “Ovation” at Ultra Bar (911 F St., N.W.) from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Tickets for individual events range from $17 to $50. The 2012 Cherry Host Pass is $120 and does not include admission “Moody Horror Picture Show.” For complete event details and to purchase tickets, visit cherryfund.org.

Jewish LGBT experience explored in film

As part of the Northern Virginia International Jewish Film Festival, Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington) is screening the film “Trembling Before G-d” on Saturday at 8 p.m.

The film, directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, follows gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews as they try to reconcile their sexuality with the faith. It also includes interviews with rabbis and psychotherapists about Jewish attitudes towards homosexuality.

Tickets are $11 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit artisphere.com.

Queer Prom goes ‘Carnival’

Last year's Capital Queer Prom. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The sixth annual Capital Queer Prom “Carnival Extravaganza” is this weekend at Almas Shriners Ballroom (1315 K St., N.W.) from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

The evening will include interactive carnival games, entertainment, a silent auction, the crowning of the 2012 Prom King and Queen and more. Each guest will also receive a Capital Queer Prom Yearbook and gift bag.

The party will continue at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) where prom guests will get in for free. Then Sunday guests are invited to Nellie’s (900 U St., N.W.) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a drag brunch with premiere seating and a special prom treat.

Tickets for the prom are $85, $105 for the prom and brunch. There are also VIP options for the Prom. An individual VIP ticket is $150 and a VIP table for 8 is $1200.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit capitalqueerprom.com.

Feminist writers on Madonna

Five women authors who contributed to the new book “Madonna & Me” will read selections from the essay collection Tuesday at Busboys and Poets (14th and V Streets, NW) at 6:30 p.m. Local author Shawna Kenney and rock journalist Maria Raha will appear.

The book is from Laura Barcella, a San Francisco-based writer who became obsessed with Madonna at age 6.

“As I grew older, [Madonna] served as a sort of course in feminism 101 for me,” Barcella says. “She set the stage for a lot of ideas that began to develop later, including her thoughts on women, gender and feminism. Later I learned that Madonna has played a role in many women’s lives.”

“Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop” is 39 personal essays by women writers (including Barcella). The anthology focuses on how Madonna has influenced the essayists’ lives.  The entries run the gamut from funny to intense. Barcella writes about her first boyfriend’s hatred for the superstar and how it destroyed their relationship, whereas lesbian author Laura Andre’s essay recounts the positive role Madonna played in her coming out.

The event, which is free, coincides with the release of Madonna’s latest album “MDNA” which drops Tuesday. — Patrick Folliard

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Photos

PHOTOS: Black Pride Opening Reception

Billy Porter headlines program at start of weekend activities

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Billy Porter performs at the Opening Reception of DC Black Pride 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Black Pride 2024 began at The Westin Washington, DC Downtown with an Opening Reception on Friday, May 24. The “Rainbow Row” resource fair was held in conjunction with the reception and featured community organizations and other vendors’ booths.

The reception was hosted by Anthony Oakes. Earl Fowlkes, outgoing chief executive officer and president of the Center for Black Equity, was honored by a mayoral proclamation. Performers included Billy Porter, Paris Sashay, Keith Angelo, Bang Garcon, Black Assets, Marcy Smiles and Sherri Amoure.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

Architecture junkies will love new book on funeral homes

‘Preserved’ explores how death industry evolved after WWII

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(Book cover image courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Press)

‘Preserved: A Cultural History of the Funeral Home in America’
By Dean G. Lampros
c.2024, Johns Hopkins University Press 
$34.95/374 pages

Three bedrooms upstairs. That’s a minimum.

You need a big kitchen, a large back room would be a bonus, you want lots of bathrooms, and if you can get a corner lot, that’d be great. The thing you need most is a gigantic all-purpose room or maybe a ballroom because you’re planning on a lot of people. As you’ll see in the new book “Preserved” by Dean G. Lampros, not all living rooms are for the living.

Not too long ago, shortly after he took a class on historic preservation, Dean Lampros’ husband dragged him on a weekend away to explore a small town in Massachusetts. There, Lampros studied the town’s architecture and it “saddened” him to see Victorian mansions surrounded by commercial buildings. And then he had an epiphany: there was once a time when those old mansions housed funeral homes. Early twentieth-century owners of residential funeral homes were, in a way, he says, preservationists.

Prior to roughly World War II, most funerals were held at home or, if there was a need, at a funeral home, the majority of which were located in a downtown area. That changed in 1923 when a Massachusetts funeral home owner bought a large mansion in a residential area and made a “series of interior renovations” to the building. Within a few years, his idea of putting a funeral home inside a former home had spread across the country and thousands of “stately old mansions in aging residential neighborhoods” soon held death-industry businesses.

This, says, Lampros, often didn’t go over well with the neighbors, and that resulted in thousands of people upset and lawsuits filed. Some towns then passed ordinances to prohibit such a thing from happening to their citizens.

Still, funeral home owners persevered. Moving out of town helped “elevate” the trade, and it allowed Black funeral home operators to get a toehold in formerly white neighborhoods. And by having a nice – and nice-sized – facility, the operators were finally able to wrest the end-of-life process away from individuals and home-funerals.

Here’s a promise: “Preserved” is not gruesome or gore-for-the-sake-of-gore. It’s not going to keep you up all night or give you nightmares. Nope, while it might be a little stiff, it’s more of a look at architecture and history than anything else.

From California to New England, author Dean G. Lampros takes readers on a cruise through time and culture to show how “enterprising” business owners revolutionized a category and reached new customers for a once-in-a-deathtime event. Readers who’ve never considered this hidden-in-plain-sight, surprising subject – or, for that matter, the preservation or re-reclamation of those beautiful old homes – are in for a treat here. Despite that the book can lean toward the academic, a good explanatory timeline and information gleaned from historical archives and museums offer a liveliness that you’ll enjoy.

This book will delight fans of little-know history, and architecture junkies will drool over its many photographs. “Preserved” is the book you want because there are other ways to make a house a “home.”

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

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Theater

‘Evita’s Return’ offers different take on Argentinian icon

Posthumous look at mummified first lady’s travels is not fiction

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Fran Tapia (front) Back L-R Facundo Agustin, Luis Obed Velazquez, Tsaitami Duchicela (back) Oscar A.Rodriguez, Rodolfo Santamarina, and Sofia Grosso. ( Photo by Stan Weinstein)

“Momea en el Clóset (Mummy in the Closet): Evita’s Return”
Through June 9
GALA Hispanic Theatre
3333 14th St., N.W.
$50
Galatheatre.org

Whether alive or dead, Eva Perón wielded her own brand of political power. After her death in 1952, Eva’s cult of mostly poor and working-class followers remained devoted to their Santa Evita. Her husband, Argentina’s president Juan Perón, fostered adulation by having her wasted body painstakingly embalmed, and displaying the waxen corpse like the incorruptible bodies of sainted Roman Catholic luminaries. But when the anti-Peronistas took power, they had other ideas; storing her away far from sight seemed a better idea.

Typically works about Argentina’s first lady focus on her unbridled ambition and ascent from anonymity to fame, but the strikingly original “Momea en el Clóset (Mummy in the Closet): Evita’s Return” — now at GALA Hispanic Theatre — is different. The collaboration of GALA’s producing artistic director Gustavo Ott (book and lyrics) and Mariano Vales (music and lyrics) spotlights the events following Eva’s death from cervical cancer at just 33.  

At the center of this entertaining madness is winning out actor Fran Tapia as Eva, a corpse sporting a ball gown and the trademark platinum blonde chignon, standing stiffly in a closet, more a mobile cabinet actually. In death, she realizes a silent dignity with flashes of an unyielding passion for social justice. 

The Chilean award-winning Tapia possesses a stunningly emotive voice, quickly evidenced in the show’s first number “Evita, Evita,” when near death Eva bravely addresses the needy crowd whom she endearingly calls her descamisados (the very poor). Simultaneously, the smug anti-Peronists — bourgeoisie and military types — sing “cancer is homeland,” “cancer is love.” They relish the idea of her dying and are counting the minutes to her imminent demise. 

So, the scene is set. Eva’s shabby posthumous story unfolds – performed in Spanish with eloquent English surtitles. Sprinkled with humor and poignant bits, it’s a dramedy, reflective of then and today. 

Unlike Eva’s “Rainbow Tour” of 1947 when Argentina’s newly minted first lady was introduced to Europe with mixed results, her death journey is an obscure low-rent, outing. She finds herself in a Milanese cemetery with some particularly pesky souls, each who apparently strode the earth in different centuries (all cleverly costumed by Becca Janney). 

For a time, she lands with an increasingly cynical Perón (stentorian-voiced Martín Ruiz) in Spanish exile. With him are new wife Isabel (Camila Taleisnik), portrayed as a reluctant and inept replacement for Evita, and scheming political cum spiritual adviser López (Diego Mariani).

As crazy as it sounds, GALA’s current offering isn’t a work of fiction. At the top of the show, it’s made perfectly clear that any resemblance to the truth is factual. Director Mariano Caligaris’ inventive, fearless staging along with Valeria Cossnu’s exhilarating choreography, make for exciting storytelling. 

Music inspired by Latin rhythms of samba, reggae, bachata, tango, tarantella, and waltz (by way of Bavaria) is directed by Walter “Bobby” McCoy and performed live by a fabulous unseen seven-person orchestra. 

Grisele Gonzalez’s serviceable, multi-tiered set design affords the various prerequisite balconies and perches. An upstage scrim is perfect for the projections (Hailey Laroe) of grimy actual footage from Eva’s funeral and subsequent violent skirmishes involving fascists against the people. 

The cast is uniformly terrific. They sing, dance, and act with equal skill, and whether playing protesters, clerical staff, or handsome Argentinian soldiers, they look the part. Most are required to interact with the cadaver in differing ways from timidly to less than respectfully. 

Making his GALA debut, wonderfully able Rodrigo Pedreira shows off his versatility as Dr. Ara, the man tasked with making the dead woman presentable for public consumption, as well as a general whose butch exterior is belied by the occasional mincing walk and longing looks directed at his cute aide-de-camp (Luis Obed Velázquez).

As she travels, mummified Eva says “And once again the moving begins. They move me through offices, basements, garages. They cover me, package me, label me, and off I go traveling again! We come from fascism and toward fascism we go.”

Alive or dead, Eva was never able to successfully crack Buenos Aires’ famously tough high society, but she found fans elsewhere. 

Over about 14 years as a displaced dead body and beyond, Tapia’s Eva embodies the spirit of Argentina’s millions, the common people. They return the dedication: Candles are lit. Prayers are offered. Intercession is sought. Life goes on, but Eva isn’t easily forgotten.

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