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Arts & Entertainment

Calendar through Feb 14

From parties to theater to gallery openings and volunteer opportunities

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Jared Shamberger, Boo Kitten, Balancing Acts, Sitar Arts Center, Brave Soul Collective, gay news, Washington Blade
Jared Shamberger, Boo Kitten, Balancing Acts, Sitar Arts Center, Brave Soul Collective, gay news, Washington Blade

Jared Shamberger performs as ‘Boo Kitten,’ a character he created for the show ‘Balancing Acts,’ that will be performed Friday at the Sitar Arts Center by Brave Soul Collective. (Photo by Omar Miguel)

TODAY (Feb. 8)

Special Agent Galactica welcomes singer, actor and co-founder of the cabaret series La-Ti-Do, Don Michael H. Mendoza to the Black Fox Lounge (1723 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit pinkhairedone.com.

Brave Soul Collective in collaboration with the D.C. Center presents “Balancing Acts: Tales of Triumph, Trial & Error” tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which was observed this week. The performance will take place at the Sitar Arts Center (1700 Kalorama Rd., NW). The performance tackles a range of topics such as religion and spirituality, family, divorce, relationships, sex, dating and relationships through theatrical pieces and personal testimonies from people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The Bethesda Art Walk returns this evening from 6-9 p.m. in downtown Bethesda. The galleries feature painting, sculpture, photography, pottery and mixed media. Attendees are invited to enjoy free refreshments and peruse the diverse pieces of art. Participating art galleries include Artworks (7740 Old Georgetown Road), Consider It Done (7806 Old Georgetown Road), Gallery B (7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E), L’Eclat de Verre (7015 Wisconsin Ave.), “Tunnel Vision” Public Art Exhibition (Metro Tunnel, Bethesda Metro Station) and Waverly Street Gallery (4600 East-West Highway). For more information, visit Bethesda.org.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. This event is for people 21 and older. There is no cover charge. For details, visit towndc.com.

The Washington, D.C. International Food and Wine Festival continues tonight at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). The Wine Tasting Room is free and open to the public from 4-8 p.m. every day of the event, which ends Saturday.The festival also holds signature events every day as well as seminar series events. The festival offers individual tickets to the events as well as a combination of packages. Tickets vary from $35 to $200. The signature event for this evening is the International Tasting Day Two where around 100 wineries provide two samples of their wine and answer questions. The cost of this particular event is $75. For more information, visit wineandfooddc.com.

Saturday, Feb. 9

Town (2009 8th St., NW) hosts its Mardi Gras party with DJ Theresa, who plays live percussion while she spins, tonight starting at 10 p.m. Cover is $8 before 11 pm and $12 after.

Whitman-Walker provides free HIV Testing at the D.C. Center(1318 U St.) today from 4-7:30 p.m. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

The annual Scarlet’s Foundation Bake Sale happens this evening starting at 5 p.m. at the D.C. Eagle (639 New York Ave., NW). There will be a competition before the auction of baked goods. Winners will be chosen in five categories: Best Individual Entry, Best Commercial Entry, Best Club Entry, Most Creative Entry and the Directors Award. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Sunday, Feb. 10

Burgundy Crescent volunteers at the D.C. Central Kitchen (425 2nd St., NW) this morning from 9 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will prepare food along the D.C. Central Kitchen checks to help find hunger. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Monday, Feb. 11

Bears do Yoga takes place this evening 6:30 p.m. as part of a series at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). This is part of a basic yoga series that takes place every Monday and is open to people of varying body types and experience. There is no charge. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

The D.C. Lambda Squares holds an open house tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, NW). The only square dance club located in Washington, this free open house invites everybody to meet members and to give square dancing a try. Experience is not needed. Food and door prizes will be included. For more information, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Tuesday, Feb. 12

Whitman-Walker (1701 14th St., NW) holds its group Starting Over for Women tonight at 7. The group is for women whose long-term relationship with another woman. Registration is required. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, N.W.) hosts its Safer Sex Kit-packing program tonight from 7-10:30. The packing program is looking for more volunteers to help produce the kits because they say they are barely keeping up with demand. Admission is free and volunteers can just show up. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.          

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Equality Maryland holds its Lobby Day on Lawyer’s Mall in front of the State Capitol in Annapolis this evening at 6 p.m. One hour prior to the event, attendees can gather the Sly Fox Pub (7 Church Circle) for light appetizers. Registration is not required. For more information, visit equalitymaryland.org.

The Big Gay Book Group meets tonight at 7 p.m. at 1155 F St., NW, Suite 200 to discuss “King of Angels: A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief” by Perry Brass. For more information, visit biggaybookgroup.com.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

The Lambda Bridge Club meets tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., SE) at 7:30 p.m. for duplicate bridge. Newcomers are welcome and no reservations are needed. For more information or if you need a partner, visit lambdabridge.com.

Thursday, Feb. 14

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its gay men over 50 support group this evening at 6:30 p.m. The group is for gay men entering a new phase of life. Registration is required to attend. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

Burgundy Crescent volunteers this evening at Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., NE) at 6 p.m. Volunteers will help with food preparation and packing groceries. The shifts are limited to 10 per shift. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

Cupid’s Undie Run among highlights

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Cupid's Undie Run takes place this Saturday. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


JR.’s Showtunes

Monday, February 6
9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Join your friends to belt out your favorite showtunes at the neighborhood LGBTQ venue, JR.’s.


Queer Trivia!

Wednesday, February 8
7 p.m.
The Dew Drop Inn
2810 8 the Street, N.E.
Facebook

The Mistresses lead a game of trivia on all things LGBTQ.


Drag Bingo

Wednesday, February 8
8-11 p.m.
Pitchers DC
2317 18th Street, N.W.
Facebook 

Brooklyn Heights hosts free games of bingo at Pitchers on Wednesday.


Ultimate TayTay Party

Friday, February 10
10 p.m.
Songbyrd Music House
540 Penn Street, N.E.
18+ / $25 advance / $30 door
Facebook | Tickets

Show your appreciation for Taylor Swift at a DJ dance party at Songbyrd Music House on Friday.


Cupid’s Undie Run

A scene from last year’s Cupid’s Undie Run afterparty. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Saturday, February 11
12 p.m.
Union Stage
740 Water Street, S.W.
$45 for individual tickets
Facebook | Tickets

Raise money for neurofibromatosis research in a fun short run wearing your most festive undies and with a pre-party and afterparty that has become a D.C. staple. While not specifically an LGBTQ event, you will certainly be among many LGBTQ people who participate.


Miguel Espinoza’s Art Exhibition Closing

Saturday, February 11
7-9 p.m.
DC Center for the LGBT Community
2000 14th Street, N.W.
Suite 105
Website

This free event celebrates the work of Miguel Espinoza: “naked unafraid.”


Vanguard Valenties: A Dark Dance Party

Saturday, February 11
9 p.m.
Safari DC Lounge
4306 Georgia Avenue, N.W.
$7
Facebook | Eventbrite

DJs Johnny Panic, Ultra Violet Rah and Villainess entertain at a dark dance party at Safari DC Lounge on Saturday.


Lovers & Friends

Sunday, February 12
10 p.m.
Zebbie’s Garden
1223 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., 3rd Floor
$10-$100
Eventbrite

Davon Hamilton Events and Willieeb World Events present “Lovers & Friends” at Zebbie’s Garden on Sunday with DJ Apollo and DJ Dave Thomm.


Gaga Brunch

Sunday, February 12
12 p.m.
Red Bear Brewing Company
209 M Street, N.E.
$25
Facebook | Eventbrite

Desiree Dik hosts a Lady Gaga-inspired drag brunch on Sunday. Performers include Every Pleasure, Venetian, Sweet Pickles, Mia Vanderbilt and Tip Boy: Pup Indigo.


Doming0’s Got Talent XXXO

Sunday, February 12
7 p.m.
DC9 Nightclub
1940 9th Street, N.W.
21+ / $20
Facebook

Catch a campy drag game and show celebrating the lovers, partners and friends of DMV drag royalty at DC9 Nightclub on Sunday.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Drag Brunch

Winchester Pride hosts show at 81 Bar & Grill

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Ava Rage performs at 81 Bar & Grill for Winchester Pride's Drag Brunch on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Winchester Pride held a drag brunch at 81 Bar & Grill in Frederick County, Va. on Sunday, Feb. 5. Performers included Miss Winchester Pride 2023 Chasity Vain, Candice Candy, Alexa V. Shontelle, Ava Rage and Anita Tension.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

New bio illuminates Liz Taylor’s decades of support for queer community

‘Without homosexuals there would be no culture’

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(Book cover image courtesy of Harper)

‘Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon’
By Kate Andersen Brower
c.2022, Harper
$33/513 pages

In the mid-1980s, actor Roddy McDowell threw a dinner in honor of Bette Davis’s birthday. Davis, a queer icon, thought it was “vulgar” when Elizabeth Taylor and actress Pia Zadora, tried on each other’s diamond rings. “Oh, get over it, Bette,”  Taylor, an actress, philanthropist and queer icon, told Davis.

One Friday in 1998, Taylor learned that a friend of her assistant had died, alone, with no money for his burial, from AIDS. Taylor wanted her business manager to arrange for the man who had died to be buried. She was outraged when she learned that this couldn’t be done ASAP. “We will not fucking wait until Monday,” Taylor said, “We will do it right now.” 

These are two of the entertaining, moving, and revealing stories told about Taylor in “Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon” by Kate Andersen Brower.

Many bios written about celebs have the shelf life of a quart of milk. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Brower’s bio of Taylor.

Taylor, who lived from 1932 to 2011, was, for most of her life, not only a celebrity – but a household name, a worldwide subject of admiration, titillation and gossip.

But Taylor was so much more than catnip for the paparazzi. She was a feminist, an often underrated actress, businesswoman, senator’s wife, addict, mother,  lover of animals, a proponent of gun control, an opponent of anti-Semitism, philanthropist and queer history hero.

Yet, despite the hype, glam and all that’s been written about Taylor, many aren’t aware of the multi-facets of her life.

In “Elizabeth Taylor,” Brower, a CNN contributor, who’s written “The Residence,” “First Women” and “Team of Five, “First in Line,” gives us an informative, lively bio of Taylor.

It is the first authorized biography of Taylor. Usually, this is the kiss of death for a biography. Few want their family members to be revealed as three-dimensional people with not only talent, but flaws.

Thankfully, Brower’s Taylor bio escapes the trap of hagiography. Brower began writing the biography after talking with former Sen. John Warner, who was married to Taylor from 1976 to 1982. (Warner died in 2021.) 

Warner was one of Taylor’s seven husbands. He and Taylor remained friends after they divorced. Warner connected Brower with Taylor’s family who wanted the story of Taylor to be told. Brower was given access to a trove of new source material: to Taylor’s archives – 7,358 letters, diary entries, articles, and personal notes and 10,271 photographs. Brower drew on unpublished interviews with Taylor, and extensively interviewed Taylor’s family and friends.

In her 79 years, Taylor did and lived so much, that telling the story of her life is like trying to put the Atlantic Ocean into one bottle of water. Yet, Brower makes Taylor come alive as an earthy, glam hero with flaws and struggles.

Taylor, who performed with Burton in Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” was as proficient at cursing as the Bard was at writing sonnets. “I love four-letter words,” Taylor said, “they’re so terribly descriptive.”

She was renowned for caring for friends and strangers. During Sept. 11, Taylor was in New York. She paid for a toothless woman, who was looking for a job, to get teeth, and comforted firefighters. A firefighter wondered if Taylor was really at his firehouse. “You bet your ass, I am,” Taylor said. 

Taylor loved her children. Yet, her kids were often (due to her work) left with nannies or enrolled in boarding schools.

Due partly to life-long back pain sustained from an injury she sustained while filming “National Velvet” when she was a child, Taylor struggled with a life-long addiction to pills.

In “Elizabeth Taylor,” Brower illuminates Taylor’s decades of support and friendship with the queer community. Early in her career, she formed close friendships with queer actors Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift and James Dean. “Without homosexuals there would be no culture,” Taylor said.

Decades later, it’s easy to forget how horrible things were during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. Brower vividly brings back the horror and the tireless work Taylor did for AIDS research. At a time when people wouldn’t use a telephone touched by someone with AIDS, Brower reports, Taylor would hug patients with AIDS in hospices. She jumped into bed to hold her friend Rock Hudson when he was dying from AIDS when no one would go near him, Brower writes.

“I’m resilient as all hell,” Taylor said.

There couldn’t be a better time for “Elizabeth Taylor” than today. In our era, when many would like to erase LGBTQ people, Taylor’s legacy is more important than ever. 

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

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