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D.C. Black Pride events

Parties, poetry, seminars, services and more

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Black Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Black Pride Opening Reception (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

Friday, May 23

 

Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) holds the opening reception and awards ceremony in the Independence Ballroom tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Awards given will include the Ruth Ellis Award to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Local recording artist Rose Breyae will perform. There will also be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.

Kabin Lounge (1337 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) hosts “The Warmup!,” the opening reception, pass distribution and happy hour, 4-9 p.m. There is no cover charge. Music will be a mix of hip-hop, R&B, reggae and house.

Ibiza (1222 First St., N.E.) hosts 5000 Men Pride Mega Party with a performance by soul singer Elle Varner from 9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member Marlo Hampton will host.

Vita Lounge (1318 9th St., N.W.) hosts “Gurl’s Play,” a dance party, from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. The night will be hosted by Dynce with music by DJ Jai Sincere and DJ Lady Mysterious. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 before midnight and $20 after midnight.

Rainbow Connects hosts speed dating and networking at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 8:30-10:30 p.m. Check in starts at 7:30 p.m.

 

Saturday, May 24

 

Fitness trainer Coach G presents a Powercore workshop at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 10:30-11:30 a.m. The workshop teaches how to workout to define core muscles through a series of exercises focused on improving strength, flexibility, balance and mobility. Coach G has shared his fitness expertise on CNN, Fox News and writes a regular fitness column for the Blade.

There will be a writer’s forum at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 12:30-1:45 p.m. The moderator will be journalist Wyatt O’Brian Evans. Writers scheduled to appear are Buddah Desmond, La Toya Hankins, J. Omar and more.

Ballroom Community 101: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Ballroom Community, a workshop that explores the ballroom culture as shown in the documentary “Paris is Burning,” is at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) on the Independence level from 1-2 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring questions to discuss.

Are You Afraid of Aging: An Intergenerational Discussion is at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 2-3 p.m. The discussion will explore how each generation views aging.

Poet Tim’m West hosts D.C. Black Pride Poetry Slam at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 7-9 p.m. Sign up begins at 6 p.m. There will only be 15 spots available for the first round of poetry. Five audience members will be chosen to judge. The first place winner will receive $250, second place $100 and third place $50.

The Park on 14th (920 14th St., N.W.) hosts The Chill Out Super Day Party from 3-9 p.m. There will be three DJs on three levels spinning tracks. Free food is included for pass holders.

Echostage (2135 Queens Chapel Rd.,  N.E.) hosts the Wet Dream Mega Party from 9:30 p.m.- 4 a.m. R&B singer Amerie will perform.

Upscale Ballroom (3900 Bexlery Pl., Suitland, Md.) hosts the Insomniac Pride After Party from 3 a.m. until sunrise. There will be dancers and hip-hop, R&B and house music.

 

Sunday, May 25

 

There will be an interfaith service at the Grand Hyatt Washington (1000 H St., N.W.) from 9-11 a.m.

The Rock the Block Party will be held at the Fairgrounds (1299 Half St., S.E.) from 3-9 p.m. DJs will be playing hip-hop, R&B, reggae, and house music. Rapper Fly Young will perform.

The Health and Wellness Festival an HIV/AIDS awareness festival, is at Francis-Stevens School (2425 N St. N.W.) from noon-6 p.m There will be vendors, food and activities for children.

African-American Collective Theatre presents “Missing Pieces” at Anacostia Playhouse (2020 Shannon Pl. S.E.) with two performances at 6:30 and 8 p.m. The play tells the story of a veteran detective and his rookie partner who try to solve the murder of a popular gay activist.

Aqua Restaurant and Bar (1818 New York Ave., N.E.) holds its sixth annual House Rocker Female Dancer of the Year Competition from 9 p.m.-4 a.m. There will be a $1,000 cash prize.

 

Monday, May 26

 

The Annual Picnic will be held at Fort Dupont Park from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be live music and entertainment.

Kabin Lounge (1337 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) hosts the Apocalypse Chapter V: The Close Out Party from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. There will be dancers and hip-hop, R&B, reggae and house music.

Tickets are available to become a pass holder at any of the parties and picnic for $130. They include perks such as free food, drinks, no cover charge and skipping lines.

Black Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

2013 Black Pride Us Helping Us BBQ. (Washington Blade file photo by Damien Salas)

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Photos

PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott

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Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast

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Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner with pugs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron.

The Christmas Angel
Dec. 9-19
Creative Cauldron
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets:  $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required
creativecauldron.org

“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.” 

A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax. 

A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program. 

Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.

Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.

While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”

Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner. 

A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence. 

He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”

The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together. 

Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better. 

Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”

Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring. 

Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”

Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place. 

More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at connersmithmusicals.com.   

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Books

‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(Book cover courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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