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Devilish delights

Spooky Halloween fun lasts al weekend and beyond

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Halloween, gay news, Washington Blade
Halloween costume, gay news, Washington Blade

Halloween is right around the corner. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

With Halloween ushering in the weekend this year and no school nights to worry about, the D.C. area has more parties, costume contests, ghost tours and more than any one person could possibly get to. Our fun guide will help give your holiday a macabre gay twist.

5 great ghost tours

Halloween, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy Crime Museum)

1. The Crime Museum (575 7th St., N.W.) has its sixth annual Fright at the Museum — Dead Men Walking event which continues through Saturday for those brave enough to be led through a dim-lit maze of empty jail cells, electric chairs, dark alleys and gruesome crime scenes.  Tickets are $30. Details at crimemuseum.org.

2. Markoff’s Haunted Forest in Dickerson, Md., also continues through Saturday with horrifying scenes of limbo, absolution, greed, gluttony and other circles of hell. E-mail [email protected] to reserve a remaining slot.

3. Space is filling up fast but a few slots remain for the 90-minute Capitol Hill Ghost Tour, which continues through Nov. 8. For $25, you can meet up at the Starbucks at 237 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. and be regaled with tales of hauntings in the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and more. Details at scarydc.com.

4. For hundreds of years, the homes of Lafayette Square are said to be among the most haunted of all in Washington. Ghost Story Tours meet at 16th and H streets, N.W. for private ghost tours through Saturday, though they can also be booked year around as well. Contact Natalie at [email protected] or call 301-346-5303. More information is at historicstrolls.com.

5. Sometimes it’s creepier out in the country. Actors, elaborate sets and original scary stories abound at Darkwood Manor (104 N. Hawksbill St., in Luray, Va.) where tours continue through Saturday night. Tickets are $12. Visit darkwoodmanor.net for details.

5 great neighborhoods for trick or treating

Where’s the best place to go trick or treating in the District? Depends whom you ask. CBS D.C.’s Jamie Hardin, who prides herself on finding D.C.’s “off-the-beaten-path treasures” recommends Capitol Hill, Embassy Row, Georgetown, the Smithsonian National Zoo and Old Town Alexandria as the best spots. Curbed (dc.curbed.com) recommends Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase, American University Park and Tacoma as the best spots. The only shared neighborhood on the lists is Georgetown, which Curbed ranked as the best spot for its easy walkability and affluence.

If you want to “gay it up” a bit, Ellen Kahn of Rainbow Families says her neighborhood in East Silver Spring that borders Takoma Park is rife with a cluster of nearly 20 same-sex, mostly lesbian couples with kids in the area of Richmond Avenue, Gist Avenue, Takoma Avenue, and Chicago Avenue.

“It’s always a pretty active Halloween scene there,” she says. “Capitol Hill is also a good place to find some diversity, maybe more dads too.”

On Sunday, take your gay family out to Centreville, Va., for the group’s “Fall Day at Cox Farms,” where Rainbow Families D.C. will meet up for kid-friendly slides, animals, mazes, hayrides, live music, great food and a pumpkin smashing event. The fun starts at 10 a.m. Visit rainbowfamiliesdc.org for details.

5 big-screen thrills

Halloween, gay news, Washington Blade

The ‘Exorcist stairs’ in Georgetown (Photo by Dmitry K.; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Viewers at Today (today.com/popculture) just voted 1973’s (No. 1) “The Exorcist” their favorite scary movie. Sixteen horror classics were whittled down to two where the final showdown was held between “The Exorcist” and (No. 2) “The Shining,” the classic 1980 Stanley Kubrick creeper.

Celebrate the film’s win — if you dare — with a visit to the famous steps in Georgetown where the movie’s climactic scene was filmed.

If you’re up for a communal experience, the AFI Silver in Silver Spring (8633 Colesville Rd.) has an eclectic lineup today with “Sleepy Hollow” at 3 p.m., “Frankenweenie” at 5:10, “Shaun of the Dead” at 9 and for a genuinely creepy experience, check out the 11 p.m. screening of (No. 3) “Rosemary’s Baby” at 11 p.m. The fun continues Saturday with a string of classic early creepers with live accompaniment including (No. 4) “Dracula” (1931), “Nosferatu” and “The Lodger,” the classic Hitchcock tale of Jack the Ripper, the Master’s third film. Details at afi.com/silver.

And if you want to gay it up, check out newnownext.com’s list of “The 13 most homoerotic horror movies of all time” which includes slasher flick (No. 5) “Hostel,” “American Psycho” and (of course!) “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

5 great costumes

Gene’s Costumes (10636 Connecticut Ave., Kensington, Md.)  has Halloween costumes for every fantasy a person wants to live out for the night. Here are some of their trendiest get-ups this season if you need some last-minute inspiration!

1. The Joker — one of the most famous villains in pop culture so it’s no surprise it’s one of the most popular costumes. It’s a quick costume to throw together because the main component is all about re-creating the tell-tale Joker makeup.

2. Pirate — Pirates can be sexy or scary depending on how you put together the costume. “Robin Hood’s” Captain Hook, another famous villain, has shown his popularity selling many at Gene’s Costumes. “Pirates of the Caribbean’s” character Jack Sparrow, made a pop culture icon by Johnny Depp, has also been a huge pirate favorite.

3. “Frozen” — The kids will love to dress up as characters from the top-grossing animated film of all time, “Frozen.” The most popular costume for girls has been Elsa and her sister Anna. While boys have been eager to dress up as iceman Kristoff and Prince Hans.

4. Flapper — One of the women’s favorite costumes has been a 1920s flapper. This costume is easy to pull together at the last minute. A loose fitting dress, cigarette holder and bob haircut wig create a look that’s both sexy and glamorous.

5. Military General — Another sexy choice is a military general. A popular men’s choice at Gene’s Costumes, this look is distinguished but fun. The authoritative costume will have people turning heads for a man in uniform.

Halloween, gay news, Washington Blade

Do you have your Halloween costume yet? (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Halloween gay party roundup

All parties are Halloween night (Oct. 31) except where noted.

D.C. Bear Crue hosts a Monster Bear Party at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 6-11 p.m. There will be a Halloween costume contest with several prizes. For more details, visit dcbearcrue.com.

Mixtape holds its third annual Halloween bash at the Howard Theatre (620 T St., N.W.) from midnight-4 a.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit thehowardtheatre.com.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts “Not Another Drag Show: the 10th Edition” at 10 p.m. Performances will be by Sofonda Coxxx, Gladys Kravitz, Surley Bossy and many more. There will be a live auction, Halloween costume contest and drink specials. There is a suggested $5 donation at the door to benefit the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s GenOUT youth outreach program. For details, visit greenlanterndc.com.

Phase 1 (525 8th St., S.E.) hosts a Halloween party “Thrillher” at 7:30 p.m. There will be a costume contest at midnight with a $300 cash prize. DJ Lez Rage will play tracks and there will be drink specials. For more details, visit phase1dc.com.

Girl Code hosts “#GirlCodeFridaze Halloween Edition,” a costume party, at Vita Lounge (1318 9th St., N.W.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Admission is $10 before midnight and $15 after. Come in costume and admission is $10 all night. For more information, visit girlcodefridaze.eventbee.com.

Treats or Freaks,” an LGBT ladies Halloween party, is at Mad Momos (3605 14th St., N.W.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. DJ Jai Syncere, Dj India and DJ DeeDub will provide music. Come in costume and tickets are $10 before 11:30 and $15 after, without a costume tickets are $20 all night. There will be four costume contests with cash prizes. For more information, visit dcpridebarhop.com.

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts “Madscience Presents: Freak Show” at 10 p.m. DJ Madscience will host the party. Sasha Adams will host the costume contest with a grand prize of $1,000. Belevedere drinks are $6 all night and there will also be an open vodka bar from 11 p.m.-midnight. For more information, visit cobaltdc.com.

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) boasts “D.C.’s largest Halloween party and costume contest” with a $1,000 prize tonight. Details at towndc.com. A “Night of the Living Dead” party is scheduled for Saturday night.

Destiny B. Childs hosts a $500 costume contest at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets (1824 Half St., S.W.) tonight. Details at secretsdc.com.

JR.’s (1519 17th St., N.W.) has a $250 prize for its costume contest starting at 11 p.m. Details at jrsbar-dc.com.

Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) holds a Halloween party at 10 p.m. hosted by Peaches. There will be a costume contest starting at 11 p.m. with a prize of $250 in cash and a $250 Number Nine gift card. For more details, visit numberninedc.com.

The Mansion on O Street (2020 O St., N.W.) hosts a Halloween costume party from 8 p.m.-midnight There will be a DJ, prizes, a chocolate fountain, pumpkin decorating contest and a treasure hunt. During the party guests will have the opportunity to explore the 100 rooms in the mansion. There is also a cash bar. Costume contest categories include best couples costume, most creative, scariest costume and more. Tickets are $50. For more information, visit omansion.com.

United Solders and Sailors of America host Trick or Treat, a Halloween costume fundraiser, at the Ugly Mug (728 8th St., S.E.) tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight. There will be raffle items and a costume contest. Wristbands are $10 for food and drink specials. Proceeds from the event will go toward care and comfort items for Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital. For more details, visit facebook.com/usaoa.

Onyx presents The Blackout Ball at MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) Saturday from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Guests should bring a mask. There will be strippers, raffle prizes and a cash bar. Cover is $10. For details, visit facebook.com/onyx.midatlantic.

The Yards Park (355 Water Street) hosts “Graveyards at the Yards Park,”a Day of the Dead festival, Saturday from 6-10 p.m. The park will be transformed into a graveyard with magicians, escape artists, contortionists, fire artists and much more. There will also be a mariachi band and performance by rock-folk band Kingsley Flood. Admission is free. For more information, visit theyardsdc.com.

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Tagg turns 10

D.C. magazine thriving post-pandemic with focus on queer women

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‘Tagg is a form of resistance,’ says editor Eboné Bell. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

In a 10-year-old YouTube video, owner and editor of Tagg magazine, Eboné Bell, — clad in a white cotton T-shirt, gray vest and matching gray fedora — smiled with all her pearly whites as a correspondent for the magazine interviewed her outside now-closed Cobalt, a gay club in downtown D.C. that hosted the magazine’s official launch in the fall of 2012. 

“I want to make sure that people know that this is a community publication,” Bell said in the video. “It’s about the women in this community and we wanted to make sure that they knew that ‘This is your magazine.’”

As one of just two queer womxn’s magazines in the country, Tagg has established itself as one of the nation’s leading and forthright LGBTQ publications that focuses on lesbian and queer culture, news, and events. The magazine is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.

Among the many beats Tagg covers, it has recently produced work on wide-ranging political issues such as the introduction of the LGBTQ+ History Education Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Supreme Court’s assault on reproductive rights through a reversal of its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling; and also attracted the attention of international queer celebrities, including Emmy-nominated actress Dominique Jackson through fundraisers.

“Tagg is a form of resistance,” Bell said in a Zoom interview with the Washington Blade. “I always say the best form of activism is visibility and we’re out there authentically us.”

Although the magazine was created to focus on lifestyle, pressing political issues that affect LGBTQ individuals pushed it to dive deeper into political coverage in efforts to bring visibility to LGBTQ issues that specifically affect queer femme individuals. 

“We know the majority of our readers are queer women,’ said Bell. “[So] we always ask ourselves, ‘How does this affect our community?’ We are intentional and deliberate about it.”

Rebecca Damante, a contributing writer to the magazine echoed Bell’s sentiments. 

“The movement can sometimes err toward gay white men and it’s good that we get to represent other groups,” said Damante. “I feel really lucky that a magazine like Tagg exists because it’s given me the chance to polish my writing skills and talk about queer representation in media and politics.”

Tagg’s coverage has attracted younger readers who visit the magazine’s website in search of community and belonging. Most readers range between the ages of 25 and 30, Bell said. 

“[The magazine] honestly just took on a life of its own,” said Bell. “It’s like they came to us [and] it makes perfect sense.”

Prior to the magazine becoming subscription-based and completely online, it was a free publication that readers could pick up in coffee shops and distribution boxes around D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. 

Battling the pandemic 

Eboné Bell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, newsrooms across the world were forced to function virtually. Additionally, economic strife forced many publications to downsize staffs and — in some cases — cancel entire beats as ad revenue decreased, forcing them to find alternative ways to self-sustain financially. Tagg was no exception. 

“We didn’t fly unscathed,” said Bell. “[The pandemic] took a huge emotional toll on me because I thought we were going to close. I thought we were going to fail.”

However, the magazine was able to stand firm after a fundraiser titled “Save Tagg Magazine” yielded about $30,000 in donations from the community. 

The fundraiser involved a storefront on Tagg’s website where donations of LGBTQ merchandise were sold, including a book donated by soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe. 

There was also a virtual “Queerantine Con” — an event that was the brainchild of Dana Piccoli, editor of News Is Out— where prominent LGBTQ celebrities such as Rosie O’Donnell, Lea DeLaria and Kate Burrell, gave appearances to help raise money that eventually sustained the publication. 

“There was a time where I was ready to be like ‘I have to be OK that [Tagg] might not happen anymore,” said Bell. “But because of love and support, I’m here.” 

While the outpouring of love from community members who donated to the magazine helped keep the magazine alive, it was also a stark reminder that smaller publications, led by women of color, have access to fewer resources than mainstream outlets. 

“It’s statistically known that Black women-owned businesses get significantly less support, venture capital investments, things like that,” said Bell. “I saw similar outlets such as Tagg with white people making $100,000 a month.”

Bell added that Tagg had to work “10 times harder” to survive, and although the magazine didn’t cut back on the people who worked for it, it ended free access to the magazine in the DMV especially as the places that housed the magazine were no longer in business. The publication also moved to a subscription-based model that allowed it to ameliorate printing costs. 

Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, Tagg remains steadfast in its service to the LGBTQ community. The magazine hired an assistant editor in 2021 and has maintained a team of graphic designers, photographers, writers and an ad sales team who work to ensure fresh content is delivered to readers on a regular basis. 

For Bell, Tagg mirrors an important life experience — the moment she discovered Ladders, a lesbian magazine published throughout the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. 

“To that young person coming up, I want you to see all the things that happened before them, all the people that came before them, all the stories that were being told” she said.

Eboné Bell (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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Daisy Edgar-Jones knows why ‘the Crawdads sing’

Actress on process, perfecting a southern accent, and her queer following

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Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya Clark. (Photo courtesy Sony/Columbia)

Daisy Edgar-Jones is an actor whose career is blossoming like her namesake. In recent years, she seems to be everywhere. LGBTQ viewers may recognize Edgar-Jones from her role as Delia Rawson in the recently canceled queer HBO series “Gentleman Jack.” She also played memorable parts in a pair of popular Hulu series, “Normal People” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Earlier this year, Edgar-Jones was seen as Noa in the black comedy/horror flick “Fresh” alongside Sebastian Stan. 

With her new movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” (Sony/Columbia), she officially becomes a lead actress. Based on Delia Owens’ popular book club title of the same name, the movie spans a considerable period of time, part murder mystery, part courtroom drama. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for the Blade.

BLADE: Daisy, had you read Delia Owens’s novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” before signing on to play Kya?

DAISY EDGAR-JONES: I read it during my audition process, as I was auditioning for the part. So, the two went hand in hand.

BLADE: What was it about the character of Kya that appealed to you as an actress?

EDGAR-JONES: There was so much about her that appealed to me. I think the fact that she is a very complicated woman. She’s a mixture of things. She’s gentle and she’s curious. She’s strong and she’s resilient. She felt like a real person. I love real character studies and it felt like a character I haven’t had a chance to delve into. It felt different from anyone I’ve played before. Her resilience was one that I really admired. So, I really wanted to spend some time with her.

BLADE: While Kya is in jail, accused of killing the character Chase, she is visited by a cat in her cell. Are you a cat person or do you prefer dogs?

EDGAR-JONES: I like both! I think I like the fact that dogs unconditionally love you. While a cat’s love can feel a bit conditional. I do think both are very cute. Probably, if I had to choose, it would be dogs.

BLADE: I’m a dog person, so I’m glad you said that.

EDGAR-JONES: [Laughs]

BLADE: Kya lives on the marsh and spends a lot of time on and in the water. Are you a swimmer or do you prefer to be on dry land?

EDGAR-JONES: I like swimming, I do. I grew up swimming a lot. If I’m ever on holidays, I like it to be by the sea or by a nice pool.

BLADE: Kya is also a gifted artist, and it is the thing that brings her great joy. Do you draw or paint?

EDGAR-JONES: I always doodle. I’m an avid doodler. I do love to draw and paint. I loved it at school. I wouldn’t say I was anywhere near as skilled as Kya. But I do love drawing if I get the chance to do it.

BLADE: Kya was born and raised in North Carolina. What can you tell me about your process when it comes to doing a southern accent or an American accent in general?

EDGAR-JONES: It’s obviously quite different from mine. I’ve been lucky that I’ve spent a lot of time working on various accents for different parts for a few years now, so I feel like I’m developed an ear for, I guess, the difference in tone and vowel sounds [laughs]. When it came to this, it was really important to get it right, of course. Kya has a very lyrical, gentle voice, which I think that North Carolina kind of sound really helped me to access. I worked with a brilliant accent coach who helped me out and I just listened and listened.

BLADE: While I was watching “Where the Crawdads Sing” I thought about how Kya could easily be a character from the LGBTQ community because she is considered an outsider, is shunned and ridiculed, and experiences physical and emotional harm. Do you also see the parallels?

EDGAR-JONES: I certainly do. I think that aspect of being an outsider is there, and this film does a really good job of showing how important it is to be kind to everyone. I think this film celebrates the goodness you can give to each other if you choose to be kind. Yes, I definitely see the parallels.

BLADE: Do you have an awareness of an LGBTQ following for your acting career?

EDGAR-JONES: I tend to stay off social media and am honestly not really aware of who follows me, but I do really hope the projects I’ve worked on resonate with everyone.

BLADE: Are there any upcoming acting projects that you’d like to mention?

EDGAR-JONES: None that I can talk of quite yet. But there are a few things that are coming up next year, so I’m really excited.

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CAMP Rehoboth’s president talks pandemic, planning, and the future

Wesley Combs marks six months in new role

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Wesley Combs took over as president of CAMP Rehoboth six months ago and is now focused on searching for a new permanent executive director. (Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

June marks half a year since Wesley Combs stepped into his role as president of CAMP Rehoboth. In a conversation with the Blade, Combs recounted his first six months in the position — a time he said was characterized by transition and learning.

Since 1991, CAMP Rehoboth has worked to develop programming “inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities” in the Rehoboth Beach, Del. area, according to the nonprofit’s website. As president, Combs oversees the organization’s board of directors and executive director, helping determine areas of focus and ensure programming meets community needs.

For Combs, his more than three decades of involvement with CAMP Rehoboth have shaped the course of his life. In the summer of 1989 — just before the organization’s creation — he met his now-husband, who was then living in a beach house with Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth’s founders.

Since then, he has served as a financial supporter of the organization, noting that it has been crucial to fostering understanding that works against an “undercurrent of anti-LGBTQ sentiment” in Rehoboth Beach’s history that has, at times, propagated violence against LGBTQ community members.

In 2019, after Elkins passed away, Combs was called upon by CAMP Rehoboth’s Board of Directors to serve on a search committee for the organization’s next executive director. Later that year, he was invited to become a board member and, this past November, was elected president.

Combs noted that CAMP Rehoboth is also still recovering from the pandemic, and is working to restart programming paused in the switch to remote operations. In his first six months, he has sought to ensure that people feel “comfortable” visiting and engaging with CAMP Rehoboth again, and wants to ensure all community members can access its programming, including those from rural parts of Delaware and those without a means of getting downtown.

Still, Combs’s first six months were not without unexpected turns: On May 31, David Mariner stepped down from his role as CAMP Rehoboth executive director, necessitating a search for his replacement. Combs noted that he would help facilitate the search for an interim director to serve for the remainder of the year and ensure that there is “a stable transition of power.” CAMP Rehoboth last week announced it has named Lisa Evans to the interim director role.

Chris Beagle, whose term as president of CAMP Rehoboth preceded Combs’s own, noted that the experience of participating in a search committee with the organization will “better enable him to lead the process this time.”

Before completing his term, Beagle helped prepare Combs for the new role, noting that the “combination of his professional background, his executive leadership (and) his passion for the organization” make Combs a strong president. Regarding the results of the election, “I was extremely confident, and I remain extremely confident,” Beagle said.

Bob Witeck, a pioneer in LGBTQ marketing and communications, has known Combs for nearly four decades. The two founded a public relations firm together in 1993 and went on to work together for 20 years, with clients ranging from major businesses like Ford Motor Company to celebrities including Chaz Bono and Christopher Reeve. According to Witeck, Combs’s work in the firm is a testament to his commitment to LGBTQ advocacy.

“Our firm was the first founded primarily to work on issues specific to LGBTQ identities, because we wanted to counsel corporations about their marketing and media strategies and working in the LGBTQ market,” he explained. By helping develop communications strategies inclusive of those with LGBTQ identities, Combs established a background of LGBTQ advocacy that truly “made a mark,” Witeck said.

Witeck emphasized that, in his new position, Combs brings both business experience and a renewed focus on historically underrepresented in LGBTQ advocacy — including people with disabilities, trans people and people of color.

Looking to the rest of the year, CAMP Rehoboth hopes to host a larger-scale event during Labor Day weekend. In addition, the organization will revisit its strategic plan — first developed in 2019 but delayed due to the pandemic — and ensure it still meets the needs of the local community, Combs said. He added that he intends to reexamine the plan and other programming to ensure inclusivity for trans community members.

“CAMP Rehoboth continues to be a vital resource in the community,” he said. “The focus for the next two years is to make sure we’re doing and delivering services that meet the needs of everyone in our community.”

Wesley Combs, gay news, Washington Blade
Wesley Combs (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)
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