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‘Queer Eye’ on D.C.

Gay designer Thom Filicia in region with new line this weekend





Thom Filicia
‘Conversation on Design’
11:30 a.m.
Belfort Furniture
22267 Shaw Road
Dulles, VA 20166
[email protected]
Reservations recommended


(Photo courtesy Thom Filicia Design)

Thom Filicia says the work he does on TV and with his eponymous design firm is apples and oranges — most people may know him from the small screen but it’s his years of work on the latter that gives him the credibility to do the former.

He says his TV work is usually “fast and furious” and personality-driven incorporating product from retail shops like Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, while the work he does for his private design firm — recent clients are Tina Fey and Jennifer Lopez — is “kind of a different breed.”

He rattles off a torrent of adjectives for his product line — authentic, real, substantive, smartly designed, “accessible, but not super accessible,” familiar, comfortable, approachable.

“It’s silhouettes and designs that are familiar … but also fresh and different and unique and authentic,” he says during a break at his Manhattan-based SoHo office where he and a 12-member staff work. “It’s for the way we live now as opposed to trying to reproduce a look and feel from decades prior or trying to make something that feels extremely sleek and modern.”

Filicia says his pieces can temper whatever spaces they’re in.

“The furniture I design can make a loft in the city feel warm and inviting or it can make the Georgetown colonial outside the city feel hip and cool. It’s a really nice bridge of modern and classic and I feel that we do it in a way that feels different.”

Washington-area residents will get to see Filicia’s work up close and personal at Belfort Furniture (three miles north of Dulles Airport in Virginia), which is unveiling his collection “Thom Filicia Home” Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Filicia will be on hand to answer questions and will mingle with guests during a wine reception immediately after. A book signing was planned but his latest tome, “Thom Filicia Style,” is sold out at the moment.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he says with a laugh. “We sold about 15,000 of the first run, so that’s both the good news and the bad news. But sure, if somebody wants me to sign a napkin or something, I’ll be happy to.”

Belfort management says it’s happy to have Filicia’s line in its store.

“We’re very excited to add this distinctive American-chic collection to our lineup,” says Michael Huber, Belfort Furniture CEO. “The Thom Filicia Home Collection offers unexpected design elements for every décor from classic to modern.”

Filicia, of course, is best known from “Queer Eye” (originally called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”), the groundbreaking 2003-’07 Bravo series on which he was one of the “Fab Five” along with Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez. He also hosted “Dress My Nest” for three years on the Style Network and has more TV and book projects in the works. A new book to be called “American Beauty” is slated for an October release, he did a holiday special for HGTV and has pitches for future shows in discussions with that channel.

“Once ‘Queer Eye’ was over, I knew I always wanted to keep TV as something near and dear and something I would participate in and evolve and grow with hopefully, but my focus has always been on my core business.”

With the new Belfort relationship, the Washington area will join retailers that carry his work in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto and more. Some of the line at Belfort will be pieces from the last few years that have been popular elsewhere. Others are new.

(Photo courtesy Thom Filicia Design)

“I’m really excited about this new relationship,” Filicia says. “They have really great sensibility and they’ve been really excited about our product so there’s some great synergy. I really love what they’re doing and it’s a great operation they have in Dulles. I’m really excited to have them on board.”

Filicia keeps up with his old “Queer Eye” pals. He’s seen Allen’s current Food Network competition show “Chopped” and says it’s “great.”

“It’s a great hook and it’s fun,” he says. “He’s done a great job with it.”

He sees his old pals “every couple of months. Though Rodriguez and Douglas are based in Los Angeles now (Kressley is in New York and Allen splits his time between New York and Chicago), they’re together enough to have maintained their friendships.

“It usually starts with one of us texting the others and we’ll start joking around and soon we’re all laughing and trying to figure out a time to meet up.”

Filicia and long-time partner Greg Calejo, who does strategic marketing for Kerzer International, are almost at the nine-year mark. He says marriage has been discussed but admits he has an offbeat take on it.

“I kind of feel you have to earn marriage,” he says. “I almost feel like it should be done backwards. Like you see if it works out, then it should be a reward for having made it 10 or 15 years. So we’ll see.”

And Filicia has gracious words for other famous gay designers, whether they’re out or not.

Of Nate Berkus, the Oprah designer who just wrapped his own talk show, Filicia says he possesses a “really interesting concept” and has a “sweet personality.”

“I’ve only seen his show once; I was sad to hear it’s been canceled, but he adds another layer to the world of designers. My style, of course, is different, both in design and in our personalities. I think I’m a little more quick witted. I like to have fun when I’m designing and I tend to be a bit more self deprecating. I think his work is perhaps a bit drier. I think mine is a little more intoxicated and his is more sober.”

Mitchell Gold (Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams)?

“I’ve known Mitchell a long time,” Filicia says. “They do really smart things with a basic furniture collection. I see them as kind of a Gap of the furniture world — doing something really great with really smart basics.”

Filicia chuckles when Christopher Lowell’s (“Interior Motives,” “It’s Christopher Lowell!”) name is mentioned.

“I hate to stereotype, but yeah, I think he’s gayer than a handbag,” Filicia says. “He’s kind of like the Corky St. Clair character in ‘Waiting for Guffman,’ always talking about his wife. I think Christopher Lowell is a really genius business man and a genius at marketing but what he does is so very different, it’s not something I’ve really connected with aesthetically, but I’m certainly a big fan of him as a businessman and designer. It’s the same reason there are millions of restaurants. Everybody wants something different so he fills a niche that’s greatly needed and it’s wonderful that he’s doing great things with the people who connect with what he does.”

And just for fun, what was it like being in the audience when Madonna kissed Britney and Christina at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards? The Fab Five — white hot at the time — were in the audience and their riotous reaction shots are part of the legendary clip’s charm.

“It felt really staged. It probably looked a lot more organic on TV than it felt in person,” he says. “Being there seeing it live, it definitely felt like something that had been in the works for weeks and that there were layers and layers of planning to. … I enjoy Madonna’s music, but I’m not really a fan. I don’t feel she’s really done anything to give back the way Lady Gaga has. You look at all Lady Gaga has done for social awareness and I’ve always been a little disappointed that Madonna doesn’t seem to have that in her persona.”



PHOTOS: DCGFFL 25th Anniversary Party

Gay flag football league marks milestone at Penn Social



The D.C. Gay Flag Football league held a party celebrating their 25th season at Penn Social on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL) held a 25th season anniversary party at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23. Proceeds from the event benefited the LGBTQ youth services organization SMYAL as well as the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more



(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

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

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Rupert Murdoch’s powers on full display in ‘Ink’

Media baron helped pave the way for Brexit, Prime Minister Thatcher



Cody Nickell (Larry Lamb) and Andrew Rein (Rupert Murdoch) in ‘Ink’ at Round House Theatre. (Photo by Margot Schulman Photography)

Through Sept. 24
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s loathsome traits are many, but his skills to succeed are undeniably numerous. 

In the first scenes of John Graham’s West End and Broadway hit drama “Ink,” an exciting year-long detail from the life of a burgeoning media baron, Murdoch’s powers of persuasion are on full display.

It’s 1969 London. Over dinner with editor Larry Lamb, a young Murdoch shares his plan to buy the Sun and rebrand the dying broadsheet, replacing the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. What’s more, he wants to do it in just one year with Lamb at the helm. 

Initially reluctant, Lamb becomes seduced by the idea of running a paper, something that’s always eluded him throughout his career, and something Murdoch, the outsider Australian, understands. Murdoch taunts him, “Not you. Not Larry Lamb, the Yorkshire-born son of a blacksmith, not the guy who didn’t get a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, who didn’t get a degree from anywhere. Not you.”

Still, Lamb, played convincingly by Cody Nickell in Round House Theatre’s stellar season-opener, a co-production with Olney Theatre Center, remains unsure. But Murdoch (a delightfully brash Andrew Rein) is undeterred, and seals the deal with a generous salary. 

Superbly staged by director Jason Loweth, “Ink” is riveting. Its exchanges between Lamb and Murdoch are a strikingly intimate glimpse into ambition involving an ostensibly average editor and a striving money man who doesn’t like people.  

Once on board, Lamb is trolling Fleet Street in search of his launch team, played marvelously by some mostly familiar actors. He makes his most important hire — news editor Brian McConnell (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) — in a steam bath. The remainder of the Sun’s new masthead falls handily into place: Joyce Hopkirk (Kate Eastwood Norris) the women’s page editor whose forward thinking is marred by her casual racism; Zion Jang plays Beverley Goodway, an awkwardly amusing young photographer; persnickety deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley (Michael Glenn) who learns to love ugly things; and an old school sports editor who proves surprisingly versatile, played by Ryan Rillette, Round House’s artistic director. 

At Lamb’s suggestion, the team brainstorms about what interests Sun readers. They decide on celebrities, pets, sports, free stuff, and —rather revolutionarily for the time —TV.  Murdoch is happy to let readers’ taste dictate content and the “Why” of the sacred “five Ws” of journalism is out the window. 

Murdoch is portrayed as a not wholly unlikable misanthrope. He dislikes his editors and pressman alike. He particularly hates unions. His advice to Lamb is not to get too chummy with his subordinates. Regarding the competition, Murdoch doesn’t just want to outperform them, he wants to grind them to dust. 

Loewith leads an inspired design team. Scenic designer Tony Cisek’s imposing, inky grey edifice made from modular walls is ideally suited for Mike Tutaj’s projections of headlines, printed pages, and Rein’s outsized face as Murdoch. Sound designer and composer Matthew M. Nielson ably supplies bar noises and the nonstop, pre-digital newspaper clatter of presses, linotypes, and typewriters.

From a convenient second tiered balcony, the Daily Mirror’s establishment power trio Hugh Cudlipp (Craig Wallace), Chris Lee Howard (Chris Geneback) and Sir Percy (Walter Riddle) overlook all that lies below, discussing new tactics and (mostly failed) strategies to remain on top.   

Increasingly comfortable in the role of ruthless, sleazy editor, Lamb is unstoppable.

Obsessed with overtaking the Daily Mirror’s circulation, he opts for some sketchy reportage surrounding the kidnapping and presumed murder of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy Sir Alick (Todd Scofield). The kidnappers mistook Muriel for Murdoch’s then-wife Anna (Sophia Early). Next, in a move beyond the pale, Lamb introduces “Page 3,” a feature spotlighting a topless female model. Awesta Zarif plays Stephanie, a smart young model. She asks Lamb if he would run a semi-nude pic of his similarly aged daughter? His reaction is uncomfortable but undaunted. 

For Murdoch’s purposes, history proves he chose well in Lamb. By year’s end, the Sun is Britain’s most widely read tabloid. Together they give the people what they didn’t know they wanted, proving the pro-Labour Daily Mirror’s hold on the working class is baseless and paving the way for things like Brexit and a Prime Minister Thatcher. 

“Ink” at Round House closes soon. See it if you can.

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