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Best of Gay D.C. 2017: NIGHTLIFE

Winners from the Washington Blade’s annual poll



Gay D.C., gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo of Dylan Knight by David Claypool; Washington Blade photo of Distrkt C by Ben Keller; Washington Blade photos of DJ Tezrah and Ophelia Heart by Tom Hausman)

Best Dance Party

Distrkt C

D.C. Eagle

Second Saturday of the month

D.C. Eagle

3701 Benning Rd., N.E.

Editor’s choice: Gay Bash, Trade

Distrkt C, gay news, Washington Blade

Distrkt C (Washington Blade photo by Ben Keller)

Best Bartender

Dusty Martinez, Trade

Also won in 2014; last year’s runner-up.

1410 14th St., N.W.

Runner-up: Tommy Honeycutt, Nellie’s

Dusty Martinez (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Burlesque Dancer

Ophelia Hart

Runner-up: GiGi Holliday

Ophelia Zayna Hartis a belly dancer and drag and burlesque performer hailing from Washington.

I am thunder thighs, sinful curves, and fiery spirit,” she says.

She made her debut at Washington’s 2015 Burlypicks, where she won the title of Master of Lip-sync, and she has been shimmying and shaking across the East Coast since then. Always true to her Arab roots, Hart celebrates the fusion of classic and neo-burlesque and her homeland’s cultural riches.

Hart, who is known for dancing with grace, seducing with elegance and jiggling with abandon, has some advice for performers working on a new act: “When you’re crafting a number — brainstorming a concept, working on your choreography, creating a costume and rehearsing your act — ask yourself, what story am I telling, and is it mine to tell?” (BTC)

Ophelia Hart (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Avion Tequila Margarita

Winner: Lauriol Plaza

1835 18th St., N.W.

Editor’s pick: Rito Loco

Avion Tequila Margarita at Lauriol Plaza (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best DJ

DJ Tezrah

Runner-up: The Barber Streisand

Tezrah has a delightfully eclectic background and an amazing sound.

A native of Fairfax, Va., Tezrah says she “learned to play classical piano at age 5, which laid the foundation for future investigation into computer music programs.” She graduated with a pre-medical degree in Neuroscience from William & Mary, attended the Harvard School of Design Summer Program, and was accepted into the Graduate Architecture Program at Catholic University.

She also played semi-pro soccer.

Then, she says, “on a whim I tried turning my musical hobby into a profession.”

Now Tezrah reigns in her fourth year of DJing in the D.C. area, specializing in Top 40, electronic dance music, hip hop and other genres. Formerly known as DJ Deedub, she is hailed as one of D.C.’s and the LGBT community’s brightest stars. Her sound is eclectic, combining the newest music seamlessly with older classic songs. Winner of the DJ Battle for Her HRC for 2014 and 2015, headliner at the 9:30 Club, and headliner for a crowd of about 5,000 at Hampton Roads Pride 2016, she has garnered a solid local following. (BTC)

DJ Tezrah (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Drag King

Roman Noodle

Runner-up: Avery Austin

Roman Noodle, real name Shay, first started doing drag in May 2016 as a way to escape being herself.

“Roman was created so I could kind of be myself without people judging me for being myself. Because they think I’m just being Roman. It turned into an avenue where in doing drag it made me completely myself,” Noodle, a dog walker by day, says.

The D.C. native kicked off her drag career as a choir boy for Pretty Boi Drag’s Sunday Service shows. At first she was unsure how to craft her drag persona and experimented with different genres and concepts. Eventually she settled on Roman, “a basic dude, no gimmicks.”

Even though Noodle has performed for other groups including D.C. Gurly Show and Girl Power in Baltimore, she still considers Pretty Boi Drag her family.

She also credits the art of drag with giving her, and countless others, a safe space to be who they are.

“I love that it gives everyone a place to be themselves, to feel safe, to express themselves creatively. Whether they are male-bodied or female-bodied, they’re able to present themselves the way they want without any issues or questions,” Noodle says. (PF)

Roman Noodle (Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Best Drag Queen

Sasha Adams

Runner-up: Tatianna

Drag performer Sasha Adams, whose real name is Richard Christmas, says “I’m the Clydesdale of D.C. drag. I’m plus sized but I dance. You’ll get the kicks, the splits, the hair flips and all that. Clydesdale are big, graceful, beautiful but most importantly, they’re work horses.”

Though he maintains a day job as a contractor with the federal government, Christmas performs as Sasha four or five times a week. His drag career is two-pronged: performing at clubs and brunches and competing in national drag pageants. “Sasha isn’t modeled after anyone in particular,” Christmas says. “I lip sync R&B and hip-hop. I like old school Janet, Missy and Mariah. And Donna Summer if the venue calls for it. I do contemporary top 20 artists too.”

Christmas grew up in a small-town outside of Charlottesville, Va. He did choir in high school but not a lot of acting. He graduated from James Madison University where he majored in finance and minored in dance and music.  The Eagle Scout’s foray into drag began when he won amateur drag night at Freddie’s Beach Bar in 2010. Gigs and bookings followed.

When the wig is off and he’s untucked, Christmas can be found at home in Columbia Heights lying on the couch watching “Law & Order.” As a performer, he finds relationships difficult. He’s single but likes a guy who has his shit together.

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

Sasha Adams (Photo by Bobby DeCanio)

Best Drag Show

Ladies of Town

Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. Sixth win in this category!

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

A perennial favorite in this category!

Editor’s choice: Pretty Boi Drag

Town Danceboutique, gay news, Washington Blade

Ba’Naka and Tatianna perform at Town. (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Singer or Band

Wicked Jezabel

Also won this award in 2013!

Runner-up: Homo Superior

Wicked Jezebel at NOVA Pride (Photo by Bobbie English)

Best Transgender Performer

Phoenix King

Runner-up: Salvadora Dali

Performer Phoenix King, real name Benny Rodriguez, identifies as trans.

“I’ve been a drag king in Washington for about four years,” he says. “Entertaining has translated into different kinds of performance art including burlesque. Being trans is a big part of my life but it’s not my entire performance persona.”

Rodriquez got into drag performance in 2013 while working at the now-defunct lesbian hot spot Phase 1 in Dupont Circle. “They had a drag show with drag kings and queens and I asked if I could perform,” he says. “The experience was totally exhilarating and ties into my trans identity. To see myself as a masculine-presenting person for the first time was shocking and exciting to me.”

By all accounts, Rodriguez’s drag debut was a resounding success. Over the last two years, he’s attracted an enthusiastic following and for the last two year he has been performing mostly at Bier Baron Tavern in D.C.  He’s also performed in clubs and burlesque.

“Initially I perceived drag as a hobby but increasingly I’ve come to see it as a money-making venture,” says Rodriguez, 26. “Over this year, I’ve become increasingly focused on where I perform and for whom I perform. This experience has opened doors all over town. There’s no telling where it might lead.” (PF)


Phoenix King (Photo courtesy of Benicio Rodriguez)

Best Gay-Friendly Straight Bar

Dacha Beer Garden

Third consecutive win in this category!

1600 7th St., N.W.


Editor’s choice: DC9

Dacha Beer Garden (Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

Best Go-Go Dancer/Stripper

Dylan Knight

Runner-up: Eddie Danger

Dylan Knight started gyrating lasciviously at Town about 2010 after seeing other go-go dancers there. This is his second consecutive win in this category.

He’s a regular at Town and performs there and elsewhere, never taking himself too seriously.

“I just try to be entertaining and cute,” the 26-year-old D.C. resident, who also does gay porn, says. (JD)

Dylan Knight (Photo by David Claypool; courtesy Knight)

Best Absolut Happy Hour

Number Nine

Two-for-one happy hour is 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 2-9 p.m. on weekends. This is Nine’s fifth Best Of award.

1435 P St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: Trade

Number 9 happy hour (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Hottest Bar Staff

The Dirty Goose

913 U St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: Trade

The Dirty Goose bar staff (Washington Blade photo by Tom Hausman)

Best Live Music

9:30 Club

A perennial favorite in this category!

815 V St., N.W.

Editor’s Choice: Wolf Trap

Troye Sivan performs at the 9:30 Club (Photo by Katherine Gaines)

Best Neighborhood Bar


1410 14th St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: JR.’s

Trade (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Outside-the-District Bar

Freddie’s Beach Bar

This is Freddie’s 20th Best Of win, a Washington Blade record. Freddie’s has won this award every year since 2002 in addition to several others.

555 S. 23rd St.

Arlington, Va.

Editor’s choice: Baltimore Eagle

Freddie’s Beach Bar (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

Best Outdoor Drinking

Town Patio

Third consecutive win in this category!

Town Danceboutique

2009 8th St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: Dascha Beer Garden

Town Patio (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best Place for Guys Night Out

Crew Club

1321 14th St., N.W.

Editor’s choice: DC Bear Crue: Bear Happy Hour

Crew Club (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis)

Best Place for Girls Night Out

Pretty Boi Drag

Editor’s choice: BARE by LURe

Take a break from the numerous drag queen brunches and parties to have fun with the boys.

Pretty Boi Drag is D.C.’s newest drag king troupe that features daytime and nighttime parties and events throughout the city. The troupe started in 2016 and since then has expanded into a staple in the D.C. drag community.

Perhaps their best known event is Pretty Boi Sunday Service at the Bier Baron Tavern (1523 22nd St., N.W.). Described as “a parody drag church for the non-religious,” the kings entertain with heavy influences of hip-hop and R&B. The event is hosted by the troupe’s co-producer, Pretty Rik E.

Other events include happy hours, brunches and variety shows at different locales around town. Their performers are a diverse mix of characters and acts including Best Drag King winner, Roman Noodle.

“Pretty Boi Drag creates a fun, safe and unique atmosphere for queer women to see drag kings like they’ve never seen them before,” their website states. “Our events are drag show meets dance party meets a queer woman’s version of ‘Magic Mike.’ Our audience isn’t there to just watch what happens on stage, they also get to be a part of the show.” (MC)

(Washington Blade photo by Chris Jennings)

Best Rehoboth Bar

Purple Parrot

134 Rehoboth Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Editor’s choice: Blue Moon

Purple Parrot (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Rehoboth Bartender

Holly Lane, Cafe Azafran

18 Baltimore Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Runner-up: Jamie Romano, Purple Parrot

Holly Lane (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

Best Rooftop

Uproar Lounge & Restaurant

Second consecutive win in this category!

639 Florida Ave., N.W.

Editor’s choice: Nellie’s

UpRoar Lounge (Washington Blade photo by Hugh Clarke)

To see winners in other categories in the Washington Blade’s Best of Gay D.C. 2017 Awards, click here.



PHOTOS: DCGFFL 25th Anniversary Party

Gay flag football league marks milestone at Penn Social



The D.C. Gay Flag Football league held a party celebrating their 25th season at Penn Social on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL) held a 25th season anniversary party at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23. Proceeds from the event benefited the LGBTQ youth services organization SMYAL as well as the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more



(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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Rupert Murdoch’s powers on full display in ‘Ink’

Media baron helped pave the way for Brexit, Prime Minister Thatcher



Cody Nickell (Larry Lamb) and Andrew Rein (Rupert Murdoch) in ‘Ink’ at Round House Theatre. (Photo by Margot Schulman Photography)

Through Sept. 24
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s loathsome traits are many, but his skills to succeed are undeniably numerous. 

In the first scenes of John Graham’s West End and Broadway hit drama “Ink,” an exciting year-long detail from the life of a burgeoning media baron, Murdoch’s powers of persuasion are on full display.

It’s 1969 London. Over dinner with editor Larry Lamb, a young Murdoch shares his plan to buy the Sun and rebrand the dying broadsheet, replacing the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. What’s more, he wants to do it in just one year with Lamb at the helm. 

Initially reluctant, Lamb becomes seduced by the idea of running a paper, something that’s always eluded him throughout his career, and something Murdoch, the outsider Australian, understands. Murdoch taunts him, “Not you. Not Larry Lamb, the Yorkshire-born son of a blacksmith, not the guy who didn’t get a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, who didn’t get a degree from anywhere. Not you.”

Still, Lamb, played convincingly by Cody Nickell in Round House Theatre’s stellar season-opener, a co-production with Olney Theatre Center, remains unsure. But Murdoch (a delightfully brash Andrew Rein) is undeterred, and seals the deal with a generous salary. 

Superbly staged by director Jason Loweth, “Ink” is riveting. Its exchanges between Lamb and Murdoch are a strikingly intimate glimpse into ambition involving an ostensibly average editor and a striving money man who doesn’t like people.  

Once on board, Lamb is trolling Fleet Street in search of his launch team, played marvelously by some mostly familiar actors. He makes his most important hire — news editor Brian McConnell (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) — in a steam bath. The remainder of the Sun’s new masthead falls handily into place: Joyce Hopkirk (Kate Eastwood Norris) the women’s page editor whose forward thinking is marred by her casual racism; Zion Jang plays Beverley Goodway, an awkwardly amusing young photographer; persnickety deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley (Michael Glenn) who learns to love ugly things; and an old school sports editor who proves surprisingly versatile, played by Ryan Rillette, Round House’s artistic director. 

At Lamb’s suggestion, the team brainstorms about what interests Sun readers. They decide on celebrities, pets, sports, free stuff, and —rather revolutionarily for the time —TV.  Murdoch is happy to let readers’ taste dictate content and the “Why” of the sacred “five Ws” of journalism is out the window. 

Murdoch is portrayed as a not wholly unlikable misanthrope. He dislikes his editors and pressman alike. He particularly hates unions. His advice to Lamb is not to get too chummy with his subordinates. Regarding the competition, Murdoch doesn’t just want to outperform them, he wants to grind them to dust. 

Loewith leads an inspired design team. Scenic designer Tony Cisek’s imposing, inky grey edifice made from modular walls is ideally suited for Mike Tutaj’s projections of headlines, printed pages, and Rein’s outsized face as Murdoch. Sound designer and composer Matthew M. Nielson ably supplies bar noises and the nonstop, pre-digital newspaper clatter of presses, linotypes, and typewriters.

From a convenient second tiered balcony, the Daily Mirror’s establishment power trio Hugh Cudlipp (Craig Wallace), Chris Lee Howard (Chris Geneback) and Sir Percy (Walter Riddle) overlook all that lies below, discussing new tactics and (mostly failed) strategies to remain on top.   

Increasingly comfortable in the role of ruthless, sleazy editor, Lamb is unstoppable.

Obsessed with overtaking the Daily Mirror’s circulation, he opts for some sketchy reportage surrounding the kidnapping and presumed murder of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy Sir Alick (Todd Scofield). The kidnappers mistook Muriel for Murdoch’s then-wife Anna (Sophia Early). Next, in a move beyond the pale, Lamb introduces “Page 3,” a feature spotlighting a topless female model. Awesta Zarif plays Stephanie, a smart young model. She asks Lamb if he would run a semi-nude pic of his similarly aged daughter? His reaction is uncomfortable but undaunted. 

For Murdoch’s purposes, history proves he chose well in Lamb. By year’s end, the Sun is Britain’s most widely read tabloid. Together they give the people what they didn’t know they wanted, proving the pro-Labour Daily Mirror’s hold on the working class is baseless and paving the way for things like Brexit and a Prime Minister Thatcher. 

“Ink” at Round House closes soon. See it if you can.

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