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Wonder Woman’s heart is key to film’s success

The Amazon princess finally comes to the big screen

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Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade
Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman with Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ The film opens March 25. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

Wonder Woman has finally made it to the big screen.

The Amazon princess, who debuted in comic book form in 1941, makes her silver screen debut in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the estimated $250-million spectacle from director Zack Snyder with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman, Ben Affleck debuting as Batman and Gal Gadot (“The Fast and the Furious”) as Wonder Woman.

The movie, which opens March 25 on an estimated 30,000 screens in 61 markets around the globe, is part of the D.C. Extended Universe series that launched with “Man of Steel,” a 2013 Superman reboot. “Suicide Squad,” featuring the D.C. Comics anti-hero team, is slated for an August release. Wonder Woman will finally get her own film with an eponymous release slated for June 2017 in which Gadot will star.

For many Generation X gays, the 1975-1979 TV show “Wonder Woman” starring Lynda Carter, who has enjoyed decades of adoration because of the role, is beyond iconic. She performs her concert “Long-Legged Woman” at the Kennedy Center at 7 p.m. on April 2.

Carter does not have cameos in either “Dawn of Justice” or next year’s film and has focused on her singing in recent years. A resident of D.C. suburb Potomac, Md., she has appeared at LGBT events such as AIDS Walk Washington in 2010 and the Capital Pride parade in 2013, where she was grand marshal. She performs annually at the Kennedy Center and has earned acclaim for songs she recorded for the video game “Fallout 4.”

Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

Lynda Carter was grand marshal in the Capital Pride parade in 2013. She says she understands filmmakers wanting their own platform for the new films. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

But for many, she’ll always be known as Wonder Woman. Her performance was so indelible that merchandise featuring her likeness continues to be churned out with items such as the “Wonder Woman ’77” comic series, a Hallmark ornament of her as the character and more.

She told superfan Mike Pingel, author of “The Q Guide to Wonder Woman” (2008) and “Channel Surfing: Wonder Woman” (2012), in a Frontiers interview published last week that she’s honored by the attention.

“It’s a thrill to have my Wonder Woman image resurrected after all these years,” she said. “In life, you carry around these memories. Then you meet people who share their memories and you end up experiencing it all over again through their eyes. It’s great to have a big resurgence of relevance, not just being in the past but something happening right now.”

So if the character is so perennially popular, why did it take so long to bring her to the silver screen when male superhero films have been made about even lesser-known characters like “Iron Man” (2008), “Jonah Hex” (2010), “Thor: the Dark World” (2013) and more? The Wonder Woman movie has languished in development limbo since the mid-‘90s. A 2011 pilot for a possible NBC series was not picked up. The CW abandoned another TV project in 2014.

Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

Lynda Carter with author Mike Pingel. (Photo courtesy Pingel)

“Honestly I think it could be that they just didn’t know what to do with her,” says Pingel, who’s gay and is now working on books about “The Bionic Woman” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”

“Hollywood is so male-dominated, sometimes I think men don’t know what to do with her. They have a woman director, though, now [Patty Jenkins] and hopefully she’ll be able to bring the heart and soul back to Wonder Woman that they had on the TV show. The show they tried in 2011 was just horrific. They didn’t understand the essence of who she was, her quality in helping the underdogs. … She was so mad and so angry and they couldn’t find the heart of the character. It wasn’t the actress’s fault. Even though she’s changed a lot in the comics, too, she’s always standing up for the rights of people who can’t do it for themselves. … That’s really the basis of why she does it — the heart, not the glory.”

Washington resident Walter Forbes says the ‘70s show and Carter are special to him because he watched the show growing up with his mother, who died of cancer in 1999. He first met Carter 10 years to the day after his mother died.

“I always saw her as kind of a mother, nurturing-type figure,” Forbes, 37, says of Carter. “When I met her, she was all that and more. Just like I’d hoped she would be.”

Forbes, who’s gay and says his boyfriend does not mind his Wonder Woman obsession, thinks finding the right level of toughness versus vulnerability was a lot of the delay.

Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

Walter Forbes with his Wonder Woman collection. He owns replicas of Wonder Woman’s bracelets and tiara and has several photos and items signed by Lynda Carter. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

“When people hear the word Amazon, most people think of Xena or almost like a Red Sonja-type of character. She’s a woman but they want her to be almost like a man. Lynda didn’t look like a man, she wasn’t built like a man, but at the same time she wasn’t too prissy or sexy or anything like that. I think a lot of the directors have wanted to take that role and turn her into something she wasn’t and they got hints from the fans that they weren’t going with that.”

He agrees with Pingel that the failed TV pilot was a good indication of how bad a bad Wonder Woman could be.

“It sucked,” he says. “They had her going around choking people, it was so violent, everybody knew her identity. I’m like, ‘OK, what is this show about? You’ve just stripped everything away.’ Even in the comic books, she was a loving person. She didn’t parade around like some barbarian. … That just wasn’t the essence of who Wonder Woman was.”

Carter said in a 2010 Blade interview that although she loved doing the role and has enjoyed the fans over the years, she’s moved on.

“I really love her and I really think she’s great and I particularly love the idea of her,” Carter said. “There’s so many things I like about it, but I’m busy living my life now, so I don’t think about it a lot. It’s a little like something really outstanding in your life that everybody talks about and that is wonderful and you loved doing it … but you’re busy doing other things so you really only think about it when somebody else brings it up.”

Despite fan speculation, Carter told Pingel a cameo didn’t happen because of scheduling conflicts.

“I had some nice conversations with Patty Jenkins, and we couldn’t get my schedule and their schedule to meet up. It didn’t work out, but I wish them well. Understandably they want a platform that is uniquely their own. I believe it’s an homage to the original in regards to the heart of the character. That is what matters.”

Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

Wonder Woman memorabilia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Forbes says it would have been an insult if Carter had been offered just a brief appearance.

“I don’t want to see her in just some walk-by role,” Forbes says. “Like Lynda Carter just happens to be in Starbucks or something. I think that’s kinda tacky. Like when Lou Ferrigno was in one of the Hulk movies and he was a security guard or something. I was like, ‘Are you serious? He brought this character to life and now he’s at the front desk?’ … If all they gave her was a walk-by role, it wouldn’t be worth her time. It would be an insult.”

Forbes says even if Wonder Woman only has a small role in “Dawn of Justice” — as of press time, the extent of her part is largely unknown — and her own film bombs, it will not diminish what Carter accomplished.

“I’ll definitely see it and support it and I’m open to giving Gal Gadot a chance to feel the role,” he says. “I’m just glad to see this character back. … The fans need to give it a chance, too. Already, online people are saying, ‘Oh, they changed the uniform, it’s too dark, it looks like Xena,’ and so on. I mean, come on, give it a chance. The uniform changed in the comic books, why wouldn’t they change it for the movie? … I’m excited about this new franchise.”

Wonder Woman, gay news, Washington Blade

A 2015 Wonder Woman Christmas tree ornament in Lynda Carter’s likeness could be found at Hallmark. (Washington Blade photo by Joey DiGuglielmo)

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Baltimore DJ on using music as a bridge to combat discrimination

Deezy brings high-energy show to the Admiral on Jan. 28

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DJ Deezy has hosted multiple events in D.C. and Baltimore. (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)

A Baltimore DJ will conclude a month of performances in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. clubs this Friday, Jan. 28, according to the artist’s management. DJ Deezy is set to perform at the Admiral in D.C. at 9 p.m. 

Since the year began, Deezy has hosted electric events at clubs such as Hawthorne DC, DuPont and the Baltimore Eagle Bar & Nightclub. 

The Washington Blade sat down with the DJ to discuss the course of her career. 

The beginning of DJ Deezy’s infatuation with music dates back to her childhood spent between her mother’s house in Baltimore City and her father’s house in the suburbs. 

In Baltimore, Deezy was exposed to the local rap and raw hip-hop scene that inspired her to embark on a rap career in high school. 

Concurrently, she was entrenched in Motown and classic rock by virtue of her singer, songwriter, and guitarist father Ron Daughton’s involvement in a classic rock band. He is a member of “The Dalton Gang” and was inducted into the Maryland Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Before I embarked on my DJ journey, my father let me record ‘a little 16’ on his tape recorder,” said Deezy. “Eventually, he bought me a wireless microphone that I carried around with me to performances.”

Between her experience as a rapper and watching her father maneuver the classic rock music scene, Deezy acquired varying tastes in music that have influenced how she curates her sets today. 

She “specializes in open format vibes with spins from multiple genres including hip-hop, rap, circuit, and top 40s hits,” according to a summer 2021 press release from her management.

Deezy is also a proud member of the LGBTQ community — she identifies as a lesbian — and this also informs her approach to her work.

“I’m easily able to transition and rock the crowd because I can relate to many different backgrounds,” said Deezy. “I can DJ in places that are predominantly white, Black, or gay [and still do my job effortlessly].”

Centering community

Deezy values representation. Not only because she exists in a field dominated by men, but also because DJs who inhabit other identities aside from being men are less common in the industry. 

The scarcity of Black and lesbian DJs has prompted her to use her career as evidence that people who are different can attract audiences and succeed.

“I want to put us out there especially for Baltimore,” said Deezy. “I know that there’s Black lesbians out there doing the same thing as me, but why aren’t we getting [recognized]?”

In 2018, Deezy rented out a “Lez” lot at the Baltimore Pride block party where she set up a tent and played a set for the crowds tailgating around her. While entertaining them, she distributed her business cards — an act she believes yielded her the contact who eventually got her booked for a residency at the Baltimore Eagle.

While this was a step forward in her career, Deezy acknowledges that it wasn’t without challenges. She likened entering the Baltimore Eagle — traditionally a leather bar frequented predominantly by men —to navigating foreign territory. 

“When I first got there, I got funny looks,” she said. “There’s a lot of these guys who are like, ‘Why are you bringing a lesbian DJ to a gay bar?’”

But Deezy powered through her performance, lifted the crowd from its seats and “rocked the house [so that] no one will ever ask any questions again.” 

She admits that she’s an acquired taste but believes in her ability to play music infectious enough to draw anyone to the dance floor.  

“Feel how you want to feel about a Black lesbian DJ being in the gay bar,” said Deezy. “But music is a bridge that [will] connect us all, and you’ll forget about your original discrimination when you [experience] me.”

While Deezy has mostly performed in the DMV, she has also made appearances in Arizona where she hosted a family event and also in clubs in Atlanta and New York City. 

Her work has also attracted international attention and she was the cover star of  French publication Gmaro Magazine’s October 2021 issue

Looking to the future, Deezy’s goal is to be a tour DJ and play her sets around the world.

“I had a dream that Tamar Braxton approached me backstage at one of her concerts and asked me to be her tour DJ,” she said. “So, I’m manifesting this for myself.” 

In the meantime, Deezy will continue to liven up audiences in bars and clubs around the country while playing sets for musicians like Crystal Waters and RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrity drag queens like Alyssa Edwards, Plastique Tiara, La La Ri, Joey Jay and Eureka O’Hara — all of whom she has entertained alongside in the past. 

Outside the club, Deezy’s music can be heard in Shoe City where she created an eight-hour music mix split evenly between deep house and hip-hop and R&B. 

DJ Deezy (Photo by Carlos Polk from We Dream Photography and Studios)
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Rodriquez scores historic win at otherwise irrelevant Golden Globes

Award represents a major milestone for trans visibility

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Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, on right, and Billy Porter in 'Pose.' (Photo courtesy of FX)

HOLLYWOOD – Despite its continuing status as something of a pariah organization in Hollywood, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has managed to cling to relevance in the wake of last night’s behind-closed-doors presentation of its 79th Annual Golden Globe Awards by sole virtue of having bestowed the prize for “Best Leading Actress in a Television Series – Drama” on Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her work in the final season of “Pose” – making her the first transgender performer to win a Golden Globe.

The ceremony took place as a private, no-press-or-audience event in which winners were revealed via a series of tweets from the Golden Globes Twitter account. No celebrities were present (not even the nominees or winners), although actress Jamie Lee Curtis participated by appearing in a video in which she pronounced her continuing loyalty to the HFPA – without mention of the  longstanding issues around diversity and ethical practices, revealed early in 2021 by a bombshell Los Angeles Times report, that have led to an nearly industry-wide boycott of the organization and its awards as well as the cancellation of the annual Golden Globes broadcast by NBC for the foreseeable future.

While the Golden Globes may have lost their luster for the time being, the award for Rodriquez represents a major milestone for trans visibility and inclusion in the traditionally transphobic entertainment industry, and for her part, the actress responded to news of her win with characteristic grace and good will.

Posting on her Instagram account, the 31-year old actress said: 

“OMG OMGGG!!!! @goldenglobes Wow! You talking about sickening birthday present! Thank you!

“This is the door that is going to Open the door for many more young talented individuals. They will see that it is more than possible. They will see that a young Black Latina girl from Newark New Jersey who had a dream, to change the minds others would WITH LOVE. LOVE WINS.

“To my young LGBTQAI babies WE ARE HERE the door is now open now reach the stars!!!!!”

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As You Are Bar and the importance of queer gathering spaces

New bar/restaurant poised to open in 2022

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As You Are Bar had a pop-up venue at Capital Pride's "Colorful Fest" block party in October. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

More than just a watering hole: As You Are Bar is set to be the city’s newest queer gathering place where patrons can spill tea over late-morning cappuccinos as easily as they can over late-night vodka-sodas.

Co-owners and founders Jo McDaniel and Rachel Pike built on their extensive experience in the hospitality industry – including stints at several gay bars – to sign a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row, replacing what was previously District Soul Food and Banana Café. In a prime corner spot, they are seeking to bring together the disparate colors of the LGBTQ rainbow – but first must navigate the approval process (more on that later).

The duo decided on this Southeast neighborhood locale to increase accessibility for “the marginalized parts of our community,” they say, “bringing out the intersectionality inherent in the queer space.”

Northwest D.C., they explain, not only already has many gay bar options, but is also more difficult to get to for those who don’t live within walking distance. The Barracks Row location is right by a Metro stop, “reducing pay walls.” Plus, there, “we are able to find a neighborhood to bring in a queer presence that doesn’t exist today.”

McDaniel points out that the area has a deep queer bar history. Western bar Remington’s was once located in the area, and it’s a mere block from the former Phase 1, the longest-running lesbian bar, which was open from 1971-2015.

McDaniel and Pike hope that As You Are Bar will be an inclusive space that “welcomes anyone of any walk of life that will support, love, and celebrate the mission of queer culture. We want people of all ages, gender, sexual identity, as well as drinkers and non-drinkers, to have space.”

McDaniel (she/her) began her career at Apex in 2005 and was most recently the opening manager of ALOHO. Pike (she/they) was behind the bar and worked as security at ALOHO, where the two met.

Since leaving ALOHO earlier this year, they have pursued the As You Are Bar project, first by hosting virtual events during the pandemic, and now in this brick-and-mortar space. They expressed concern that receiving the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) liquor license approval and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, approval will be a long and expensive process.

They have already received notice that some neighbors intend to protest As You Are Bar’s application for the “tavern” liquor license that ABRA grants to serve alcohol and allow for live entertainment (e.g. drag shows). They applied for the license on Nov. 12, and have no anticipated opening date, estimating at least six months. If ABRA and the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board give final approval, the local ANC 6B and nearby residents can no longer protest the license until the license comes up for renewal.

Until approval is given, they continue physical buildout (including soundproofing) and planning their offerings. If the license is approved, ABRA and the ABC Board can take action against As You Are Bar, like any bar, at any time if they violate the terms of the license or create a neighborhood disturbance that violates city laws such as the local noise ordinance.  In the kitchen, the duo snagged Chef Nina Love to develop the menu. Love will oversee café-style fare; look out for breakfast sandwiches making an appearance all the way until close. They will also have baked goods during the day.

McDaniel and Pike themselves will craft the bar menu. Importantly, they note, the coffee bar will also serve until close. There will be a full bar as well as a list of zero-proof cocktails. As with their sourcing, they hope to work with queer-, minority-, and women-owned businesses for everything not made in-house.

Flexible conceptually, they seek to grow with their customer base, allowing patrons to create the culture that they seek.

Their goal is to move the queer space away from a focus on alcohol consumption. From book clubs, to letter-writing, to shared workspaces, to dance parties, they seek an all-day, morning-to-night rhythm of youth, families, and adults to find a niche. “We want to shift the narrative of a furtive, secretive, dark gay space and hold it up to the light,” they say. “It’s a little like The Planet from the original L Word show,” they joke.

Pike notes that they plan on working closely with SMYAL, for example, to promote programming for youth. Weekend potential activities include lunch-and-learn sessions on Saturdays and festive Sunday brunches.

The café space, to be located on the first floor, will have coffeehouse-style sofas as well as workstations. A slim patio on 8th Street will hold about six tables.

Even as other queer bars have closed, they reinforce that the need is still present. “Yes, we can visit a café or bar, but we always need to have a place where we are 100 percent certain that we are safe, and that our security is paramount. Even as queer acceptance continues to grow, a dedicated queer space will always be necessary,” they say.

To get there, they continue to rally support of friends, neighbors, and leaders in ANC6B district; the ANC6B officials butted heads with District Soul Food, the previous restaurant in the space, over late-night noise and other complaints. McDaniel and Pike hope that once nearby residents and businesses understand the important contribution that As You Are Bar can make to the neighborhood, they will extend their support and allow the bar to open.

AYA, gay news, Washington Blade
Rachel Pike and Jo McDaniel signed a lease for their new concept in Barracks Row. (Photo courtesy Pike and McDaniel)
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