Connect with us

Arts & Entertainment

Best of Gay D.C. XIII: People

Winners from the Blade’s readers poll



To see the winners of the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. readers poll in other categories, click here.

Best Singer or Band

Frankie & Betty

Runner-up: Wicked Jezabel

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Frankie and Betty (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Frankie & Betty are a queer acoustic rock duo comprised of Rachel Bauchman (vocals/bass/guitar) and Jessie Strick (lead guitar). Since forming in 2011, they’ve played numerous events, including Roanoke Pride, Phasefest several times and more. They have shows planned at Tree house Lounge on Monday night and the Rock and Roll Hotel on Thursday. Look them up on Facebook to stay current. (JD)

Local Heroine

Ruby Corado

Runner-up: Ashliana Rowe

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Ruby Corado (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Long-time LGBT advocate Ruby Corado is the visionary behind Casa Ruby, a local bilingual, multicultural LGBT organization that works to create “success life stories” among LGBT, gender queer and gender non-conforming residents in need. The recently wed Corado is a former Capital Pride Hero and has received many accolades for her work. (JD)

Casa Ruby

2822 Georgia Ave., N.W.


Local Hero

Sgt. Matthew Mahl

Runner-up: Ed Bailey

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Sgt. Matt Mahl (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who oversees six officers as part of the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit of the D.C. Metro Police Department, says it’s “been a good year.”

“I don’t want to say crime is up, but we have been busier,” the 35-year-old Havana, Ohio, native says. “We have our hands in a lot of stuff.”

Mahl, a cop for 15 years and in Washington since 2001, joined the MPD in 2004 and the GLLU in 2012, having spent his entire previous career on patrol duty. He was forced out on the job during a 2007 incident in which his locker was vandalized but says that’s the only bad experience he’s ever had on the force.

Although initially hesitant to join the GLLU, he says overall it’s been a great experience and he enjoys helping his fellow officers learn “the sensitivities and needs of the LGBT community.” (JD)

Best Drag King

Avery Austin

Runner-up: Sebastian Katz

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Avery Austin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Anna Wimpelberg works by day as an HIV researcher at Whitman-Walker Health but her drag alter ego Avery Austin was born about 11 years ago when the 36-year-old New Orleans native and lesbian saw a drag show in Boston, her then-home.

A veteran of various high school and college theater productions, she says she recognized “immediately that it was something I would love to do.” She continued during an eight-year stint in Austin, Texas, and joined the D.C. Kings when she came to Washington about three years ago. She calls herself  “the theater nerd of the group” and guesses she performs with them at Phase 1 and occasional other venues about four or five times per year, often recreating songs she’s seen on “Glee!”

Find more information on the Kings at (JD)

Best Realtor

Mark Rutstein

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Mark Rutstein (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

1606 17th St. N.W.


Runner-up: Ray Gernhart


Best DJ

DJ Rosie

Runner-up: Shea Van Horn

people, gay news, Washington Blade

DJ Rosie (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

DJ Rosie Hicks has been spinning for about 13 years and spins regularly at the Hippo in her hometown Baltimore and also at LURe at Cobalt, Phase 1 and other area events in addition to a day job teaching special education.

Known for a mix of hip-hop, R&B, pop and more, she says she just all-around loves music. She also won this award in 2012.

“I love making people happy out there,” the Baltimore native says. “The whole point of coming out to a bar or club to hear a DJ is to let go of worries and cares and enjoy it.”

Look her up on Facebook to stay current with her events. (JD)

Best Drag Queen


Runner-up: Heidi Glum

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A flip-flop of last year’s results when Glum won, Ba’Naka (Dustin Michael Schaad) is on top again this year adding to her 2012, 2011 and 2010 prizes (a Blade record) in this category.

Ba’Naka, who now does drag full-time and has positioned herself as the go-to gal for everything from hosting local Family Feud nights to getting you ready (for a fee of course!) for Miss Adams Morgan two weeks ago, she is widely known in the community for her outspoken Facebook comments, elaborate Disney routines (her Ursula is legendary) and consistent A-game delivery. And although it hasn’t happened yet, she’s our best local hope for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” (JD)

Hottest Stripper or Go-go Dancer

Steve Pena

Runner-up: Christian Lezzil

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Steve Pena (Photo courtesy Steve Pena)

Steve Pena got into dancing through his husband, Brent Everett, with whom he also runs a popular porn site ( He’s nonchalant about the work, which he does every Friday night at Town when he’s in Washington and monthly at Latin Night at Cobalt.

“It’s a way to have fun, stay in touch with friends and fans and meet future models for our website,” the San Diego-born, Texas-reared Pena says.

In the region for about a year and a half, Pena, in an e-mail from Amsterdam where he’s traveling, says he appreciates the support.

“I have the best and most loyal friends, fans and followers out there.” (JD)


Best Burlesque Dancer

Private Tails

Runner-up: Glam Gamz

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Private Tails (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Private Tails (aka Ashliana Rowe) has been performing burlesque since 2005 and has drawn influence from classic burlesque, hip-hop, Broadway and more for what she calls “the art of the tease.”

As producer of Private Tease Productions, a monthly variety show she uses as an outlet for young performers she mentors, she says she “enjoys the creative process of developing new numbers and looks forward to the opportunity to whip up a fresh new performance.”

Although she has several titles under her belt, this is a new category for Best Of and she’s the inaugural winner.

Her next performance is at Phase 1 on Halloween. Keep up with her on Facebook or at (JD)

Best Business Person

DC Allen

Runner Up: Ray Gernhart

DC Allen, Crew Club, gay news, Washington Blade

DC Allen (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Businessman DC Allen has been credited with setting the pace for local gay-owned businesses to support the broader LGBT community.

Allen along with his husband Ken Flick owns the Crew Club, a D.C. health club and sauna that caters to gay men.

Last year Allen, 58, presented the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community with a $25,000 check to help the Center pay for renovation costs for its new space in the city’s Reeves Center municipal building at 14th and U streets, N.W.

“We decided it was important for the center to be there for all of us in the community,” Allen says.

Since opening the Crew Club at 1321 14th St., N.W., in the early 1990s, Allen has supported a number of local LGBT organizations and causes, including the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which presented Allen with its Distinguished Service Award in 1998.

Under Allen’s direction, the Crew Club has also supported Whitman-Walker Health and Us Helping Us, two local community health organizations that provide services to the LGBT community, including AIDS education and prevention services.

In addition to providing financial support for the two groups, Allen has arranged for staff members of the groups to provide HIV testing on the Crew Club’s premises. The Crew Club also serves as a major distribution point for HIV prevention literature and free condoms.

The Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce recently named Allen Business Leader of the Year. (LC)

Best Massage

Che Young

Runner-up: Eddie Weingart

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Che Young (Photo by Chris Jay Photography)

Relax the stress away with a massage by Che Young. Young provides deep tissue, Swedish, clinical and massage therapy. The Alexandra-based pro can be reached at 703-627-9090 or visit (MC)


Best Visual Artist

Denis Largeron

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

Denis Largeron (Photo by Denis Largeron)

1621 T St., N.W., Apt. 201


Runner-up: Amy Martin

Best Personal Trainer

Gerard Burley

Runner-up: Bucky Mitchell

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Gerard Burley (Photo by Scott Henrichsen)

Gerard Burley shares fitness tips via his biweekly column in the Blade. He also makes appearances on Fox 5 and is known for his SweatDC fitness party. Find him via Facebook for regular updates and inspirational fitness-related posts.

(Editor’s note: Bucky Mitchell also writes a biweekly column in the Blade.)

Best TV Personality

Chuck Bell, NBC4

Runner-up: Wendy Rieger

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Chuck Bell (Washington Blade photo by Jonathan Ellis)

Best Actor

Mickey Daniel DaGuiso

Runner-up: Will Gartshore

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Mickey Daguiso, center (Photo courtesy The Landless Theatre Company)

Mickey Daniel DaGuiso grew up in the D.C. suburbs. He attended Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, mostly for the music program, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he majored in anthropology and philosophy.

Throughout school, he was involved in band (saxophone, piano) and chorus. It wasn’t until after college that DaGuiso started doing musicals. “It began as sort of a whim,” he says, “and then I was instantly hooked.”

Among the local companies where he’s worked, his favorites are Keegan Theatre (“Man of La Mancha” and “Rent”) and Landless Theatre where he played Kebab in “Perez Hilton Saves the Universe” and the lead in “Spidermusical,” a spoof of Broadway’s “Spiderman,” and many other roles. He has also served as musical director and accompanist for assorted Landless productions.

“Keegan is such a friendly, supportive community yet the creativity and work involved is just superior. Landless is the most enjoyable both on stage and backstage, efficient and creative with time and space, with vision and little ego.”

Currently DaGuiso is taking a year away from theater to travel the world. (He responded to these interview questions via email from India where he’s embarking on a six-month walkabout.) While traveling he’s trying his hand at playwriting.

“I’m keeping it very open-ended so just reading a lot, taking down inspiration whenever it comes and doing a daily writing practice. I do plan on continuing with acting in D.C. when I get back. But who knows what the future holds? I’m like the wind.” (PF)

Best Actress

MaryBeth Wise

Runner-up: Holly Twyford

people, gay news, Washington Blade

MaryBeth Wise in ‘How to Write a New Book for the Bible.’ (Photo by Danisha Crosby)

MaryBeth Wise likens acting to a never-ending education. Currently she’s taking a class for experienced actors at Studio Theatre.

“I feel that it’s a good way to flex my muscles when I’m not working,” she says. “And I get to do scenes that I’ve always wanted to do by my favorite playwrights like Pinter, Beckett and Chekhov.

Wise advises young actors to see as much theater as possible. “The more you absorb, the better off you’ll be. The more you’ll have available in experience and imagination. After all, what else do we have?”

Typically cast as women of substance, Wise’s more memorable roles include Anne Sullivan in Olney Theatre’s “The Miracle Worker,” a New York psychiatrist in Studio Theatre’s “Frozen,” a newly out lesbian in “Body Awareness” at Theater J, and most recently the stalwart wife and mother married to Mitchell Hébert in Round House’s “How to Write a New Book for the Bible,” a part that called for her to age from 40 to 80 on a dime.

Offstage, Wise’s partner is local actor Sarah Marshall. The talented pair got to know each other while working on Woolly Mammoth’s production of Paula Vogel’s “The Mineola Twins” in 2003. “It was a great time,” Wise says. “And the show was a lot fun. I played a man in the first act and a woman in the second.”

Wise grew up in Miami. She started acting while an undergraduate at Barry University. Initially she came to Washington to attend Catholic University where she earned a master’s in acting.

“The D.C. theater scene is one of the best in the country,” Wise says. “We have a variety of theaters doing interesting, cutting-edge work. Our audiences can handle thought-provoking theater. And the actors are supportive. It’s great.” (PF)

Best Hill Staffer

Kat Skiles

Runner-up: Kenneth Dowling

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Kat Skiles (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

As Hill staffers go, Kat Skiles has moved to the top. In July, she became digital director and senior adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It’s the Utah native’s second consecutive year winning this award. (CJ)

Best Straight Ally

Leigh Ann Hendricks

Runner-up: Brett Johnson

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Leigh Ann Hendricks (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Leigh Ann Hendricks made a big change five years ago to manage Level One (in the basement of Cobalt) after 17 years just down the street at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.

Managing a staff of about 35 — 90-95 percent of whom, she estimates, are LGBT — she says was a logical change and one she made with no hard feelings toward Annie’s. Having grown up with a gay best friend, she says it simply never occurred to her to treat gay people any differently. She was also inspired by the example of Annie’s namesake, the late Annie Kaylor, whom she worked with for years.

“She was like our second mother,” Hendricks says. “Her attitude was, ‘They either like my gay friends or they don’t like me,’ and that’s been mine as well.” (JD)

Level One

1639 R St. N.W.


Best Bartender

Dusty Martinez (Town Patio/Number 9)

Runner-up: Angela Lombardi (Phase 1)

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Dusty Martinez (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Baltimore native Dusty Martinez has been in the food and beverage industry for a decade and recently completed an in-house internship at the W Hotel. He recently moved from serving customers at Number 9 to operating the new Town Patio, and he is also the owner and director of D&D Cocktails, a private bartending company serving the D.C. area.

Dusty Martinez


Best Rehoboth Bartender

Holly Lane, Café Azafran

Runner-up: Matt Urban, Blue Moon

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Holly Lane (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

Holly Lane has lived in more places than most people have visited: Martinique, Greece, Bahamas, Paris, Chicago, Switzerland, the list goes on.

She’s a native Washingtonian who trained in dance at the Washington School of Ballet and later at a modern dance school in Bethesda. After school — and a stint in Chicago with her then-husband — Lane’s travels began in earnest. She left her husband and moved to the Bahamas at age 23 to dance at the Paradise Island resort. A Club Med gig led to more travel and finally a trip to Paris, where she auditioned for a dancing job and stayed for 15 years.

“It was nice to have a place to decorate,” says Lane, sipping a coffee on an unseasonably warm October day in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “I rented a furnished apartment and gradually replaced everything with my own finds at the Paris flea markets.”

After years of working as a professional dancer, it was in Paris at age 30 that Lane discovered she could also sing. She landed a job in a musical production and then at the Hollywood Savoy in the ‘80s, where the wait staff also served as the entertainment, singing and dancing for customers during dinner.

“It was a great place to learn,” she says.

Despite the excitement and adventure of living and working abroad, Lane said a voice kept telling her it was time to go home and so in 1995, she returned to D.C.

“I’m glad I did all the things I did when I did them,” she says. “I just found my passport and realized I haven’t been abroad since 2007.”

After the death of a boyfriend, Lane went to visit her parents at their home in Rehoboth Beach, which they’ve owned since 1977 and stayed. She’s lived full time in the popular beach resort town since 2000 and spent about 10 years in a jazz band performing around the state. Her parents, now 93, still live there. Lane says her father sold the family home in D.C. through a real estate ad in the Washington Blade a few years ago and relocated full-time to Rehoboth.

In summer of 2010, the owner of Café Azafran was opening a new location in Rehoboth and offered Lane a bartending job. She’s worked there since. You can find her tending bar Thursday-Sunday evenings but Thursday is the night when she’s joined by fellow Rehoboth entertainer John Flynn, who plays the keyboard while Lane sings into her wireless headset while making drinks.

“I enjoy multi-tasking,” she says.

Café Azafran attracts a mixed crowd and Lane treats customers like they are guests in her home rather than patrons at a bar. She always finds room at the large granite bar for another stool and makes sure to introduce newcomers to the rest of the crowd.

Lane, 62, is “happily single” and lives with her dog JuJuBee, a “cheagle,” a Chihuahua and Beagle mix. In addition to her duties at Azafran, Lane sings at private parties and functions. (KN)

Café Azafran

18 Baltimore Ave.


Most Committed Activist

David Mariner

Runner-up: Josh Deese

people, gay news, Washington Blade

David Mariner (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In Washington since 1997, David Mariner, a Corning, N.Y., native, started volunteering at the DC Center in 2008 and became its first full-time executive director a year later.

Under his leadership, the once-fledgling Center has begun to flourish and now has a broad activity schedule and is a hub for LGBT-themed events such as the OutWrite LGBT Book Festival, Reel Affirmations and much more.

“Working at the DC LGBT Center has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Mariner says. “I am so proud of the work we do in the community and am profoundly grateful to the staff and the many volunteers and supporters who make this work possible.” (JD)

The DC Center

2000 14th St., N.W. No. 105


Best Gay Politician

David Catania

David Catania, gay news, Washington Blade

David Catania (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Runner-up: Tammy Baldwin

Best Trans Advocate

Thomas Coughlin (see Queery)

Runner-up: Ruby Corado

Thomas Coughlin, gay news, Washington Blade

Thomas Coughlin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Amateur Athlete

Matt Simeon

Runner-up: Eddie Valentine

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Matt Simeon (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Matt Simeon, who currently plays for the Washington Generals, has been a member of the D.C. Gay Flag Football League since 2010. Simeon was also named most valuable player of the league for the 2014 spring season. (MC)

Best Stylist

Michael Hodges

Runner-up: Barry Smythers

people, gay news, Washington Blade

Michael Hodges (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael Hodges has been sharpening his techniques in the Washington area for 25 years and is the owner and master Stylist of Logan 14. With a keen eye for current trends in men’s hair cuts and women’s styling, Michael and his team are making a powerful impact in the Logan Circle area. (SMH)

Michael Hodges

1314 B 14th St., N.W


Best Clergy

Rev. David Lett

David Lett, Lena Lett, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. David Lett (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

This is Father Lett’s second consecutive win in this category. He also won the best drag queen prize as Lena Lett in 2001 and 2002. (JD)

Runner-up: Rev. Kirsten Blom-Westbrook

Best Republican Advocate

Ted Olson

David Boies, Ted Olson, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Ted Olson (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Runner-up: Sen. Susan Collins

Best First Responder

Justin Markiewicz

Runner-up: Kate Fitzgerald

Justin Markiewicz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Justin Markiewicz (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Officer Justin Markiewicz has been serving as a part-time member of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit since 2010. Markiewicz hails from Delaware and came to the District to attend Catholic University. After graduation he attended the police academy and was assigned to the 6th District. (MC)



PHOTOS: “Portraits”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs at the Kennedy Center



A scene from "Portraits," as performed in a technical rehearsal at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, June 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed “Portraits” at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Continue Reading


Sophie Zmorrod embracing life on the road in ‘Kite Runner’

First national tour comes to Eisenhower Theater on June 25



Sophie Zmorrod (Photo courtesy of Zmorrod)

‘The Kite Runner’
June 25 – 30
The Kennedy Center

Newly single, Sophie Zmorrod is enjoying life on the road in the first national tour of “The Kite Runner,” Matthew Spangler’s play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s gripping novel about damaged relationships and longed for redemption. 

“It’s a wonderful time for me,” says Zmorrod. “I’m past the breakup pain and feeling empowered to explore new cities. A lot of us in the cast are queer, so we figure out the scene wherever the show goes.” 

What’s more, the New York-based actor has fallen in love with the work. “I love how the play’s central character Amir is flawed. He is our antihero. He has faults. As a privileged boy in Kabul, he bears witness to his best friend’s assault and doesn’t intervene. He lives with that guilt for decades and gets that redemption in the end.” 

“He does what he can to right wrongs. For me who’s regretted things, and wished I could go back in time, it resonates. Watching someone forgive themselves and do the right thing is beautiful.” 

Via phone from Chicago (the tour’s stop before moving on to Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on June 25), Zmorrod, whose background is Lebanese, happily chats about sexuality, ethnicity, and acting. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Looking at your resume, I see you’ve been cast in roles traditionally played by men. And have you played queer characters? 

SOPHIE ZMORROD: Oh yes, both. Whether or not they’re written on the page as queer, they sometimes turn out that way. And that holds true for this show too.  

With “The Winter’s Tale” at Trinity Rep, I played Leontes — the king who banishes his wife — as a woman. So, in that production it was about two women and touched on the violence that women sometimes inflict on other women.

And there was Beadle Bamford in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” also at Trinity Rep; I played him as a woman who was masculine and wore a suit. It was a great opportunity to explore myself and gender expression. That was a really good experience. 

BLADE: Are you an actor who’s often be called in for queer roles? 

ZMORRAD: Not really. I’m what you might call straight passing. Sometimes I’ve had to advocate for my queerness. To be a part of something. 

Similarly with my ethnicity. I’m called in to audition for the white and Arab roles. It gets tricky because I’m not the exactly the white girl next door and I’m not exactly Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin” either. 

This is one of the reasons, I really want people to come see “The Kite Runner,” Audiences need to experience the reality of the wide diversity of Middle Eastern people on the stage. We’re all very different.

And not incidentally, from this 14-person cast, I’ve met some great people to add to those I know from the Middle Eastern affinity spaces and groups I’m connected to in New York.

BLADE: In “The Kite Runner” what parts do you play?

 ZMORRAD: Three characters. All women, I think. In the first act, I’m an elderly eccentric pomegranate seller in the Afghan market, waddling around, speaking in Dari [the lingua franca of Afghanistan]; and the second act, I’m young hip and sell records in a San Francisco market; and at the end, I’m a buttoned-down American immigration bureaucrat advising Amir about adoption.

BLADE:  Your training is impressive: BA cum laude in music from Columbia University, an MFA in acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, and you’re also accomplished in opera and playwrighting, to name a few things. Does “The Kite Runner” allow you to flex your many muscles? 

ZMORROD: Very much. Playing multiple roles is always fun for an actor – we like malleability. Also, there are instruments on stage. I like working with the singing bowl; it’s usually used in yoga as a soothing sound, but here we save it for the dramatic, uncomfortable moments. I also sing from offstage. 

We are creating the world of the play on a very minimal set. Oh, and we do kite flying, and I’m able to use the some of the languages I speak. So yeah, lots of challenges. It’s great. 

BLADE: It sounds like you’re in a good place both professionally and personally.

ZMORROD: It’s taken a long time to feel comfortable. My being gay was never something I led with. But I’m on the journey and excited to be where I am, and who I am. 

Continue Reading

Out & About

Orioles to host Pride night on June 27

Baltimore faces off against reigning World Series champion



The Baltimore Orioles host the annual Pride night Thursday, June 27. (Washington Blade file photo by Kevin Majoros)

The Baltimore Orioles will host “LGBTQ+ Pride Night” on Thursday, June 27. There will be a live DJ at Legends Park before the 6:35 p.m. game against the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers.

The event, co-sponsored by the Washington Blade, will feature Pride-themed activities such as Pride face painting, a 360 photo booth, Pride temporary tattoos, and more. All these events will be in the Bullpen Picnic Area. In addition, the first 10,000 attendees receive a free Pride jersey.

For more details, visit the Orioles’ website

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade