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Queery: D’Arcee Charington Neal

The Gay Men’s Chorus baritone answers 20 gay questions



D’Arcee Neal (Blade photo by Michael Key)

D’Arcee Charington Neal got in the Gay Men’s Chorus by the narrowest of margins.

A friend was auditioning back in August and Neal asked about it. Initially thinking he’d missed the deadline, he double checked the date and realized about 3 p.m. on the final day, he had until 5 to try out, so he did. He had never heard the Chorus or even realized there was such an outfit, but is enjoying his first season with the group. He sings baritone. Next weekend, the group gives three performances of its “Winter Nights” show at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st Street, NW; for details).

Neal is excited for the show.

“It will just be marvelous,” Neal says. “I’ve never really seen anything like it. … It’s everything from Bollywood to West African holiday music to traditional Latin choral arrangements.”

Neal, a 26-year-old Cary, N.C., native, came to Washington in 2007 for an internship. After completing a master’s degree (in creative and professional wiring) at London’s University of Roehampton, he returned to the District mostly because the Metro system makes it easy for him to get around.

“People in D.C. make fun of it, but they really have no idea,” he says. “From a disabled person’s perspective, it’s really the best thing in the U.S. I’ve ridden almost every underground in the country and D.C.’s is by far the best I’ve ever been on.”

Neal is single and lives in College Park, Md. He’s looking for writing work and says his disability has made finding employment difficult. He eventually wants to move into the District.

In his free time, he enjoys writing, cooking, singing and playing Call of Duty.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I’ve been out since I was 17, and it was definitely my parents. My mother looked me in my face and said that she wished that I would have gotten AIDS and died so they could’ve mourned me and moved on already. That’s rough. But I know as older black people, they come from a different time. And as a disabled black person, they feel like I already have two strikes on my life, so they think being gay is something else I’m adding to make my life harder. (Editor’s note — Neal’s mother, Katherine Neal e-mailed the Blade and said she never said this.) 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

Lady Gaga. Outside of being outrageously talented, I can’t think of anyone who genuinely works for the good of the gays and really believes in what they do, on her level. As a megastar she could be about anything, but she has taken this platform up, and I can’t thank her enough for it.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?

I was a huge fan of club Apex. Coming from Bible Belt North Carolina, it was like this holy megaplex of debauchery. Multiple floors of thumping bass, and flashing lights, and all those shirtless men!

Describe your dream wedding.

Oh God, I’ve spent forever fantasizing about this. Probably in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum at night, candles everywhere standing in front of that glass pyramid, black and white roses scattered the ground. But my tux would be the star of the show. People don’t seem to understand that when you’re in a wheelchair you never get to be passionate about clothes, because half the time you can’t show them off! I’d want a three foot white silk train on the back of my coat draped down behind my chair in between the wheels and a matching fedora with a veil attached over my face. It’d be the most fabulous thing since J-Lo’s “The Dress.”

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Without a doubt, disability acceptance in America. For the life of me, I cannot understand why disabled unemployment is at 75 percent, compared to the national average of 7.9 percent. … It feels like as a country, America is choosing to leave us behind. My parents fought to make sure I had a good education, and graduating from London in 2011, with my master’s degree, I felt like they did a great job. But the reality is, I’ve been unemployed for nearly two years, and while I’m waiting for the right opportunity, my disability makes employers believe I can’t work as a waiter, or in a grocery store or as a barista. And so I, like a lot of people, live off benefits, in an attempt to wait the economy out. And it’s not just me. This is the situation for lots of recent graduates with disabilities.

What historical outcome would you change?

I think I’d go back to the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got shot and stop that. I honestly believe that a lot of the drama and the situations that Americans have been through since the end of Civil Rights (gangs, drugs, welfare, 9-11, education gaps, etc.) wouldn’t be half of what they are today.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

I think that would have to be when I sat in a room with Nikki Giovanni practically by myself and talked with her for half an hour. This woman embodies the last of everything my parents talk about in regards to American history, and she’s simply phenomenal in every way.

On what do you insist?

That there is no better food on earth than in the American Southeast.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Turducken is a deliciously grotesque mutation of God’s humblest creations.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Life is Like a [Multifacted, Hypersensitive, Cracked, Racist, Overrated  and Underappreciated] Box of Chocolates”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Read the fine print for the inevitably horrible side effects.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

Existence beyond emotions. An end to caring.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Consider all of your audience, and not just the popular section.

What would you walk across hot coals for?

Love. Someone who sees me a whole person, not in sections.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

The idea that all gay men are weak and feminine. I’ve dated some men who could rip phonebooks in half, as well as a 2008 Olympian.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.” Noxzema is a chocolate goddess.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Hugging. Being in a wheelchair, people are always so awkward about it. Either do it right, or don’t.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Probably my master’s degree from London. Considering what I had to do to get it, it definitely took the most work.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That I am not ugly or broken, and that not all men mean what they say.

Why Washington?

Two words: The Metro.



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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Out & About

CAMP Rehoboth’s final concert of the season is almost here

Chorus performs ‘Music of the Night’



CAMP Rehoboth Chorus is ready to close out another season.

CAMP Rehoboth Chorus will perform “Music of the Night” on Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church. 

The chorus will sing more than 36 song selections, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “I Could’ve Danced All Night” and “In the Still of the Nite.”

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on CAMP Rehoboth’s website.

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