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Megan Mullally bares all

From ‘Will & Grace’ to ‘Nancy and Beth,’ singer says music was her first love



Megan Mullally, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress/singer Megan Mullally, right, says her band with fellow singer STEPHANIE HUNT is a quirky, musically eclectic outfit that made sense instinctually. (Photo courtesy Kid Logic Media)

Nancy and Beth (Megan Mullally, Stephanie Hunt)
Monday, May 8
7 p.m.
U Street Music Hall
1115 U St., N.W.

Megan Mullally cemented her legacy as the boozing and wise-cracking Karen Walker on the hit sitcom, “Will & Grace.” She later would go on to play opposite her husband Nick Offerman as his character’s ex-wife on “Parks and Recreation.” Since then, Mullally has started a side passion project with fellow actress Stephanie Hunt (“Friday Night Lights”), known as Nancy and Beth.

Bonded by a mutual love for quirk and music, the duo’s self-titled album is an eclectic mix of cover songs from rapper Gucci Mane’s “I Don’t Love Her” to the country classic, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones. Mullally and Hunt bare it all on the cover art, appearing naked with the album’s title lettering strategically placed.

Mullally spoke with the Blade on the eagerly awaited “Will & Grace” reboot (a limited, 12-episode run with the original cast and crew on NBC is expected to air this fall), dropping her clothes for an album cover and the struggle to be taken seriously as an actress pursuing music.

WASHINGTON BLADE: Where did the name Nancy and Beth come from?

MEGAN MULLALLY: Nick, Stephanie and I had sat around at dinner one night and bounced around a bunch of band names and none of them seemed exactly right, but I wrote them all down. When I got back to Los Angeles I made a list of those, and a few others that I thought of, and I had thought of Nancy and Beth. For some reason it just seemed like the perfect name. I don’t know why. I stuck it in the middle of the list without any comment. I emailed the list to Stephanie and she emailed back right away, “Nancy and Beth.” I thought, well there you have it. That would be a good way of describing our entire vibe together. We’re completely on the same page. We have a real synchronous sort of affinity for each other.

BLADE: On the album cover, the both of you are naked. How did that concept come about?

MULLALLY: We’re both modest people. I don’t think Nick has ever seen me naked, for example. I’m not someone who rips my clothes off and goes galavanting about. I’m the opposite of that. I know Stephanie is too. I was in a very relaxed state one day and that image, exactly the way the album cover ended up being, came into my mind. Even though I didn’t want to take my clothes off necessarily, and I knew that Stephanie didn’t either, I pitched it to her and she was like, “Yeah we should do that.” It’s hard for me to put into words why I feel that’s the right record cover. It has something to do with bringing everything down to its most basic, elemental level. It’s the most stripped down, pure state. It’s two humans on the planet and we tried to keep it as absolutely neutral as possible. Except on the back cover art you see that we don’t mean it just as taking ourselves seriously, we also mean that there is humor included. I don’t think either one of us are very analytical people, we’re more instinctual.

BLADE: The music video for the single “Please, Mr. Jailer” has a quirky vibe paired with a classic song. Is that the vibe of the album?

MULLALLY: Yeah, it is. There’s only 10 songs on the record.They’re all a very eclectic mix from every genre, every era. Originally for the video there’s one rap song on the record by an artist named Gucci Mane. Initially I thought that should be the video because the track came out pretty well. It’s pretty funny. It’s not a comedy band at all, but that track has a lot going for it. So I sent it out to a bunch of people I know who are really good directors and said, “Hey do you want to direct our music video?” and for whatever reason everybody said no, mostly for scheduling reasons. It occurred to me that I didn’t want to get in a situation with a music video where we were going to have to sell our house and move into a tent so I thought, “Well I’ll just direct the music video.” And I thought we shouldn’t do that track because it’s an anomaly, it’s the only rap/hip-hop song on the record. We should do “Please, Mr. Jailer” which is more representative of our record as a whole and the spirit of the band. So I thought, I’ll just direct it and I’ll shoot it on my phone.

My pilates teacher, who is a really good friend of mine, I was talking to her about it and I realized that her husband is a really great VP, editor and director. So I thought, “Maybe I’ll just get Alex to come over and take some pictures or hold my phone.” Then I thought, “Wait, why don’t I just have Alex shoot it?” It was just really simple. We had a really easy shoot. It was just me, Stephanie, Alex and his assistant and hair and makeup. There was no other crew. It was all just very chill. I think it came out really well and I’m excited about it. The music video is more reflective of the tone of the album cover. So I think there’s an enigmatic quality that pulls you in that’s not necessarily reflected in our live show. Our live show we have facial expressions and every song is choreographed full-on. The video is different from the live show but I think the video is reflective of a weirdness that is inherent in my and Stephanie’s take on music.

BLADE: Lots of actors have musical side projects. Did you ever fear that the public wouldn’t take you seriously when you embarked on Nancy and Beth?

MULLALLY: Oh, I know they won’t. Nobody gives a shit if an actor does music. If a musician wants to act, people are like, “Oh my god. Amazing, brilliant.” If an actor reveals that they also have a musical side people are like, “Please, take your childish musical aspirations elsewhere.”

Well the fact of the matter is that I, and probably many other actors who also would like to express themselves musically, that was my start. I was into music way before I even thought about acting. I was in a ballet company. I was a serious ballet dancer for years also. I have done three musicals on Broadway and two of them were before “Will & Grace.” So two of them were before I was ever known as an actress on television. I think I’ve said that I came out the womb in a top hat and tap shoes. I’ve always loved music. Music has been the driving force in my creative life. It’s just that the public at large has no idea. They have not seen me in a Broadway musical. They don’t know anything about me being a singer. I’ve done a lot of concert singing. Singing is really my first, or maybe my best, thing. People don’t know that and that’s not their fault. It’s just the way it is. I don’t expect to ever sell one ticket, one record or anything. So each ticket or record that gets sold, I’m like, “Great. Bonus.”

BLADE: The last time you were on tour with Nancy and Beth your husband came along. Is he coming along this time?

MULLALLY: He is. Sometimes he’ll make an appearance during the show so we’ll see what happens. He’s our roadie.

BLADE: Fans are super excited for the “Will & Grace” reboot. Was it easy to slip back into the role of Karen Walker after so long?

MULLALLY: Frighteningly easy. I never doubted that it would be, but I also never thought there would be any reason for it to be. It never crossed any of our minds that the show would come back as the same exact show on the same exact network because that’s never happened before.

Although I did feel Karen was living a happy existence in some kind of alternative universe. It never occurred to me that universe would then be on NBC. It’s very exciting. I think the weirdest thing about the whole reboot is the fact that it doesn’t feel weird. It seems totally normal like we were just here two days ago, we went away for the weekend and we came back on a Monday. We’ve only had like two photoshoots and we’ve already just been like, “Hey” when we walk in like no time has gone by. We just had a photoshoot and I walked in and Eric (McCormack) and Sean (Hayes) were sitting there and I was like, “Hey guys” as I was heading to my dressing room. I came back and was like, “Wait a minute. No crazy casual, ‘Hey guys.’” This is great, we’re doing this. It’s crazy. It’s pretty fun. We’re already back to total, full-time groping, humping and laughing hysterically. It’s bizarre, nothing has changed.

BLADE: You’ve performed in D.C. before with your husband. What about D.C. makes it different from other cities you’ve performed in?

MULLALLY: I love D.C. as a city. I love performing there, the audiences there are great. I have a good friend who lives in D.C. She just organized this huge benefit for D.C. Public Libraries and they had two stages, music going all night, speakers, art installations. She sent me some stuff about it afterwards and one of the articles that was written about it had said how great it was that you live in a city where reading and libraries and that aspect of the culture, as well as all other aspects, are celebrated and all go hand in hand. I think that’s why D.C. is a great city for us to perform. I find our band entertaining across the board for all different kinds of audiences but at the same time its an eclectic band. I think the fact that we’re able to entertain everyone equally is a bonus so D.C. is a great city for that.

(Photo courtesy of Kid Logic Media)


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Taste of Pride celebrates LGBTQ and allied restaurants

Weeklong event will feature local eateries and bars



Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will headline the opening event for Taste of Pride.

Get ready to celebrate LGBTQ-owned, managed, and allied restaurants at Taste of Pride from Oct. 2-8. 

The weeklong event is a new initiative by Capital Pride Alliance. In 2021, the organization put on a single-day brunch event in June at LGBTQ and allied restaurants, but this is the first weeklong iteration. 

About 15 local restaurants and bars are set to participate, including As You Are, Shaw’s Tavern, Jane Jane, and Code Red. There’s also an opening party on Monday, Oct. 2 featuring food and drink vendors without a traditional brick-and-mortar space, like Suga Chef and Vegan Junk Food. 

Taste of Pride will raise funds for the Pride365 fund, which supports local LGBTQ organizations. There will be a three-course prix fixe menu at several of the participating locations, with lunch and brunch menus offered at $30, and dinner menus offered at $40 or $55. 

Kareem Queeman, known as Mr. Bake, will be headlining the opening event on the evening of Oct. 2 at Lost Generation Brewery. Queeman, the founder and owner of the renowned bakery Mr. Bake Sweets and a James Beard Award semi-finalist, said he’s excited to spotlight LGBTQ chefs and mixologists. 

Queeman said he’s proud to be a part of bringing queer culinary experts together to celebrate the work they’ve all done and discuss what changes need to come to the industry — there will be a panel discussion on Oct. 2 covering those topics. LGBTQ chefs have long gone unnoticed, he said, despite the innovative work they’ve done. 

“Queers have been in the industry doing the work for a very long time and we just haven’t really gotten that acknowledgment,” Queeman said. 

Providing this space for LGBTQ people in the restaurant industry is paramount to giving a sense of power and ownership in the work they do, Queeman said. He wishes there was this kind of space for him when he was coming up as a chef when he was younger. 

Taste of Pride is also a great opportunity for LGBTQ people looking to get into the industry to find safe spaces to work that are run by queer people, Queeman said. 

Rob Heim, the general manager at Shaw’s Tavern, said he’s looking forward to being a part of the event. And new fall menu items at Shaw’s Tavern will be available during Taste of Pride, which he’s thrilled to showcase. 

“I was really excited to help out and participate,” he said. “It’s a great idea.” 

The smaller number of participating restaurants in Taste of Pride is intentional, said Brandon Bayton, a volunteer executive producer organizing Taste of Pride. It’s so each restaurant can be well-represented during the week, and different restaurants will be highlighted on social media on separate days. Capital Pride Alliance is also partnering with influencers to get the word out. 

From left, food from 801 Restaurant and Bar and a drink from Code Red. (Code Red photo by Michael Emond; photos courtesy of Capital Pride Alliance)

Visibility — all year long 

It’s important to have events like Taste of Pride outside of June, Bayton said. 

“We exist 365 days,” Bayton said. “So we need to make sure that we continue the celebration and invite others to celebrate with us and just be authentically ourselves. We enjoy and do a lot of things other people do. There’s no reason why we should just be constrained to one month.”

Queeman agrees. His identity as a queer Black man doesn’t stop or start at any given month. 

“I’m not just a queer or gay man in June or I’m not just a Black man in February,” he said. 

And food is a major intersection that all people of all identities enjoy, Bayton said. It’s a simple way to bring people together. 

“We do the exact same things that everyone else does,” Bayton said. “We all eat. We all love to eat.” 

Taste of Pride will run from Oct. 2-8. For more information and to make reservations, visit

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Hip-Hop’s complicated history with queer representation

At 50, experts say the genre still doesn’t fully welcome LGBTQ inclusion



Rapper Lil Nas X faced backlash for his music video ‘Montero,’ but it debuted atop the Billboard 100.

I didn’t really start listening to rap until my college years. Like many queer Black children who grow up in the closet, shielded by puritanical Christianity from the beauty of a diverse world, I longed to be myself. But the affirming references I could pull from — in moments of solitude away from the wrath and disdain of family and friends — were in theater and pop music.

The soundtrack to my teenage years was an endless playlist of pop divas like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, whose lyrics encouraged me to sashay my hips anytime I strutted through a long stretch of corridor.

I was also obsessed with the consuming presence of powerful singers like Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, and the hypnosis that was Chaka Khan. My childhood, an extrapolation of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays spent in church groups, choir practices, and worship services, necessitated that I be a fan of throaty, from-the-stomach singing. But something about the way these artists presented themselves warmed my queer little heart. LaBelle wore avant garde geometric hairdos paired with heavily shoulder-padded blazers. Houston loved an elegant slender gown. And Khan? It was the voluminous red mane that gently caressed her lower back for me. 

Listening to rap music in college was a political experience. My sociology classes politicized me and so it was only natural that I listened to rap music that expressed trauma, joy, and hope in the Black experience. However, I felt disconnected from the music because of a dearth of queer representation in the genre. 

Nevertheless, groups like Outkast felt nostalgic. While delivering hedonistic lyrics at lightning speed, André 3000 — one half of the rap duo — mesmerized with his sleek, shoulder-length silk pressed hair and colorful, flowing shirts and trousers — a style that could be translated as “gender-bending.” Despite the patriarchal presentation rampant in rap and Hip-Hop, Andr​​é 30000 represented to me, a kind of rebellious self-expression that I so badly wanted to emulate but couldn’t because of the psychological confines of my conservative upbringing. 

My discovery of Outkast was also sobering because it was a stark reminder of how queerness is also often used as an aesthetic in Hip-Hop while actual queer people are shunned, rebuked, and mocked. Queer people in Hip-Hop are like backstage wingmen, crucial to the development of the show but never important enough to make a curtain call. 

As Hip-Hop celebrates 50 years since its inception in New York City, I am filled with joy because it’s been half a century of Black people owning their narratives and driving the culture. But it’s fair to ask: At whose expense? 

A viral 2020 video shows rapper Boosie BadAzz, famed for hits like “Set It Off” and “Wipe Me Down,” rebuking NBA star Dwayne Wade and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union-Wade for publicly supporting their then-12-year-old daughter after she came out as transgender. 

“Don’t cut his dick off, bro,” said BadAzz with furrowed eyebrows and a gaze that kept turning away from the camera, revealing his tarnished diamond studs. “Don’t dress him as a woman dawg, he’s 12 years. He’s not up there yet.” 

The responses from both Wade and Union-Wade were a mixture of swift, sarcastically light-hearted, and hopeful.

“Sorry Boosie,” Union-Wade said to an audience during a live podcast appearance at Live Talks Los Angeles. “He’s so preoccupied, it’s almost like, ‘thou doth protest too much, Little Boos.’ You’ve got a lot of dick on your mind.”

Wade also appeared on an episode of podcast, “I AM ATHLETE,” and looked directly into the camera.

“Boosie, all the people who got something to say, J-Boogie who just came out with [something] recently, all the people who got something to say about my kids,” he said. “I thank you because you’re allowing the conversation to keep going forward because you know what? You might not have the answers today, I might not have the answers, but we’re growing from all these conversations.” 

This exchange between the Wades and BadAzz highlights the complicated relationship between Black LGBTQ individuals and allies and the greater Hip-Hop and rap genres and communities. While Black queer aesthetics have long informed self-expression in Hip-Hop, rappers have disparaged queerness through song lyrics and in interviews, or online rants like BadAzz, outside the recording studio. 

And despite LGBTQ rappers like Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Lil Nas X, and Saucy Santana achieving mainstream success, much work lies ahead to heal the trauma that persists from Hip-Hop’s history of  patriarchy and homophobia. 

“‘Progression’ will always be relative and subjective based on one’s positionality,” said Dr. Melvin Williams said in an email. Williams is an associate professor of communication and media studies at Pace University. “Hip-hop has traditionally been in conversation with queer and non-normative sexualities and included LGBTQ+ people in the shaping of its cultural signifiers behind the scenes as choreographers, songwriters, make-up artists, set designers, and other roles stereotypically attributed to queer culture.”

“Although Hip-Hop incorporates queerness in their ethos, ideas, and trends, it does not privilege the prospect of an out LGBTQ+ rapper. Such reservations position LGBTQ+ people as mere labor in Hip-Hop’s behind-the-scenes cultivation, but not as rap performers in its mainstream distribution,” he added. 

This is especially true for Queen Latifah and DaBrat who existed in the genre for decades but didn’t publicly come out until 2021. Still, both faced backlash from the Black community for daring to challenge gender roles and expectations. 

Queen Latifah dodged questions about her sexuality for years before acknowledging her partner and their son in 2021. (Photo by DFree via Bigstock)

Lil Nas X also faced backlash for his music video “Montero” with satanic references, including one in which he slides down a pole and gives a character representing the devil a lap dance. Conservatives such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem accused him of trying to scandalize children. 

“You see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am,” Nas X said in a note that accompanied “Montero.” The agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.”

Regardless, “Montero” debuted atop the Billboard 100. 

In an article published in “Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society,” scholar C. Riley Snorton posited that celebrating queer visibility in mainstream media could be a problem as this kind of praise relies on artists presenting in acceptable forms of gender and sexuality expression and encourages representation that is “read alongside…perceptions of Hip-Hop as a site of Black misogyny and homophobia.” 

In the case of Frank Ocean, who came out in 2012 prior to the release of his album “Channel Orange,” his reception was warmer than most queer Hip-Hop artists because his style of music is singing, as opposed to rapping. Because of this, his music was viewed more as R’n’B or pop. 

“Frank Ocean ain’t no rapper. He’s a singer. It’s acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world I don’t know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine,” rapper Snoop Dogg told the Guardian in 2013. “It’s like a football team. You can’t be in a locker room full of motherfucking tough-ass dudes, then all of a sudden say, ‘Hey, man, I like you.’ You know, that’s going to be tough.”

So what’s the solution for queer people in Hip-Hop? Digital media.

Williams, the Pace University professor, says that being divorced from record labels allows queer artists to be independent and distribute their music globally on their own terms. 

“We witnessed this fact with artists such as Azealia Banks, Cakes Da Killa, Fly Young Red, Kevin Abstract, iLoveMakonnen, Lil Nas X, Mykki Blanco, and Saucy Santana, as well as legacy LGBTQ Hip-Hop acts like Big Freeda, DeepDickCollective, and Le1f,” he said. “The music industry has experienced an increasingly mobilized market due to the rise of digital media, social networking platforms, and streaming services.”

“More importantly, Black queer Hip-Hop artists are historicizing LGBTQ+ contributions and perspectives in documentaries, films, news specials, public forums, and podcasts. Ultimately, queer people engaging in Hip-Hop is a revolutionary act, and it remains vital for LGBTQ+ Hip-Hoppers to highlight their cultural contributions and share their histories,” he added. 

(Hip-Hop pioneers Public Enemy and Ice-T will headline The National Celebration of Hip-Hop, free concerts at the West Potomac Park on the National Mall in D.C. on Oct. 6 and 7.)

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Cuisine and culture come together at The Square

D.C.’s newest food hall highlights Spanish flavors



(Photo by Scott Suchman)

Downtown got a bit tastier when “the next generation of food halls” opened its doors on Tuesday near the Farragut West Metro stop. Dubbed The Square, its half-dozen debut stalls are a Spanish-flecked mix of D.C. favorites, new concepts, and vendor-collaborative spirit.

After two years of planning – and teasing some big-name chefs – the market is, according to the owners, “where cuisine, culture, and community are woven together.”

Behind this ambitious project with lofty aims are Richie Brandenburg, who had a hand in creating Union Market and Rubén García, a creative director of the José Andrés Group who also was part of the team of Mercado Little Spain, the fairly new Spanish-themed Andres food hall in Hudson Yards.

Food halls have come a long way since the new Union Market awakened the concept a decade ago. Instead of simply rows of vendors in parallel lines, The Square has a new business model and perspective. This food hall shares revenue between the owners and its chef partners. Vendors are encouraged to collaborate, using one software system, and purchasing raw materials and liquor at scale together.

“Our goal was two-fold: to create a best-in-class hospitality offering with delicious foods for our guests; and behind the scenes, create the strong, complex infrastructure needed to nurture both young chefs and seasoned professionals, startups, and innovation within our industry,” says Brandenburg.

The Square has embraced a more chef-forward methodology, given that the founders/owners themselves are chefs. They’re bringing together a diverse mix of new talent and longtime favorites to connect, offer guidance to each other, and make the market into a destination. 

(Photos by Scott Suchman)

The first phase of The Square premiered this week. This phase encapsulates a selection of original concepts from well-known local chefs and business owners, and includes:

• Cashion’s Rendezvous – Oysters, crab cakes, and cocktails, from the owners of D.C. institutions and now-closed Cashion’s Eat Place and Johnny’s Half-Shell (Ann Cashion and John Fulchino).

• Jamón Jamón – Flamenco-forward food with hand-cut jamón Iberico, queso, and croquetas, sourced by García himself.

• Brasa – Grilled sausages and veggies are the stars here. Chef García oversees this Spanish street-food stall as well.

 Taqueria Xochi – Birria, guisado, and other street tacos, plus margs. Named after the ruins of Xochitecatl in Central Mexico, and from a Jose Andres alum.

• Yaocho – Fried chicken, juices, sweets, and libations.

• Junge’s – Churros and soft serve ice cream. Brandenburg and García both have a hand in this stall.

• Atrium Bar – The central watering hole for drinks. Atrium Bar serves cocktails, wine, and beer curated by The Square’s Beverage Director Owen Thompson.

“Having been part of Jose Andres’s restaurant group and getting to know Ruben and Richie, it’s amazing to see how their values align with ours at Taqueria Xochi. Seeing all these incredible chefs heading into Square feels like a full-circle moment,” said Geraldine Mendoza of Taqueria Xochi.

Slated for fall 2023, the next round of openings includes Flora Pizzeria, Cebicheria Chalaca, KIYOMI Sushi by Uchi, Shoals Market (a retail hub), and more. Additionally, chef Rubén García’s Spanish restaurant, Casa Teresa, will soon open next door to The Square.

The Square is just one of a handful of new food halls blossoming in and around D.C. Up in Brentwood, Md., miXt Food Hall is an art-adjacent space with tacos, a year-round fresh market, coffee, and beer. Across from Union Market is La Cosecha, a Latin marketplace with everything from street food to a Michelin starred restaurant and a festive vibe. Closer to The Square is Western Market by GW University, which opened in late 2021 with a buzzy, relaxed style.

For now, the Square is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Square plans to open on weekends and extend hours to offer dinner service in the coming months. A few alfresco seats will accompany the hall.

(Photo by Scott Suchman)
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