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Calendar: Dec. 7-13, 2018

Gay Men’s Chorus, D.C. Queer Theatre Festival and more for the week ahead

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LGBT events DC Dec 2018, gay news, Washington Blade

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs Saturday night at the Lincoln Theatre. The choir’s annual holiday show also has performances slated for Dec. 15-16. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Friday, Dec. 7

Bet Mishpachah and GLOE host a Hanukkah service at Foundry United Methodist Church (1500 16th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Rabbi Laurie Green and guest Rabbi Ben Shalva will co-lead this musical service. 

JR.’s Bar (1519 17th St., N.W.) hosts a viewing party for “RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular” tonight from 8-11 p.m. Attendees can watch RuPaul crown the first “Drag Race” Christmas Queen while enjoying drink specials. 

Miss Pixie’s (1626 14th St., N.W.) hosts its sixth annual holiday market today from 5-8 p.m. About 15 local makers and small businesses will be selling their items. There will be live music by jazz band the Bitter Dose Combo, vegetarian paella for sale from Barcelona Wine Bar and a raffle. All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to Casa Ruby. Miss Pixie’s items will be 20 percent off all day. 

D.C. Queer Theatre Festival kicks off at D.C. Arts Center (2438 18th St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. Seven queer-themed, 10-minute plays will be performed from playwrights including Audrey Cefaly, Asabi Oke, Brittany Alsye Willis, John Bavaso and more. Tickets are $20. 

Saturday, Dec. 8

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs its holiday show at the Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. The chorus will sing holiday songs such as “Jingle Bells,” “Puttin’ on the Holiday Drag,” “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” and more. Tickets range from $25-65. Performances are also scheduled for Dec. 15-16. For more information, visit gmcw.org

LULAC Lambda hosts its annual holiday party at the Chastleton Ballroom (1701 16th St., N.W.) tonight from 8-11 p.m. There will be tamales and mixed drinks. DJ Milko will play music and Corazon Folklorico and Sylvanna Duvel will perform. The party raises funds for academic scholarship for LGBT Latinx students. The group will also honor its Member of the Year, Board Member of the Year and Ally of the Year. Members for 2019 can also sign up at the party. 

Mary’s House for Older Adults hosts its holiday gala at Human Rights Campaign (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) tonight from 6-11 p.m. There will be door prizes and food. Michael Sainte-Andress will emcee the event. Akousa McCray-Peters will DJ for the night. Single tickets are $75. Couple tickets are $140. 

Distrkt C hosts Dirty Santa, a holiday dance party, at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.) tonight from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. DJ Ed Wood will perform an extended set. Tickets are $30. 

Sunday, Dec. 9

BenDeLaCrème and Jinkx Monsoon perform their holiday show “To Jesus, Thanks for Everything” at 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $35. VIP tickets are $100 and include a meet and greet and early entry. VIP entry is at 7 p.m. General admission entry is at 7:30 p.m. For more details, visit 930.com.

D.C. Area Transmasculine Society hosts “Navigating the Holidays as a Trans or NB Person,” at Whitman-Walker Health (1525 14th St., N.W.) this evening from 5-7 p.m. The support group will discuss how to navigate the holidays as a transgender or non-binary individual. The group is open to people who were assigned female at birth but do not feel this accurately or completely describes themselves. Binder donations will be accepted. HIPS syringe exchange will also be available. For more information, visit dcats.org.

Stonewall Yoga D.C. has its fall session at Pitchers (2317 18th St., N.W.) today from 10:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Beginner’s yoga is from 10:45-11:45 a.m. Intermediate yoga is from noon-1:15 p.m. Mike Giordano leads beginner’s yoga and Luke Ventura will lead intermediate practice. Fall classes run through Dec. 23. Access to all classes is $65. Drop-in is $10. 

Monday, Dec. 10

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours for the senior LGBT community this morning from 10 a.m.-noon. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

GLOE hosts Torah & Sexuality: Blood, Power and Purity at Sixth & I (600 I St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. The class focuses on sexual expression and sexual identity in a queer context led by rabbis and Jewish educators. Each class is $18. For more information, visit edcjcc.org.

Wednesday, Dec. 12

The D.C. Area Transmasculine Society hosts a trans-masculine and non-binary happy hour at the Eleanor (100 Florida Ave., N.E.) tonight from 6-9 p.m. The society is a group for people assigned female at birth but who feel this is an incomplete or inaccurate description of their identity. Significant others, friends and allies are welcome. Binder donations will be accepted. For more information, visit dcatssociety.org

Big Gay Book Group meets at Trio Bistro Restaurant (1537 17th St., N.W.) tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Sparsholt Affair” by Alan Hollinghurt. Newcomers welcome. For more details, visit biggaybookgroup.com or email [email protected].

The Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for duplicate bridge. No reservations required and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

Thursday, Dec. 13

Pretty Boi Drag presents #AmateurKingNight at Beir Baron (1523 22nd St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. Amateur kings are encouraged to take the stage. The event will be ASL interpreted. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Attendees must be 18 and over. 

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Photos

PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott

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Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast

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Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner with pugs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron.

The Christmas Angel
Dec. 9-19
Creative Cauldron
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets:  $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required
creativecauldron.org

“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.” 

A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax. 

A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program. 

Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.

Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.

While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”

Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner. 

A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence. 

He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”

The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together. 

Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better. 

Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”

Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring. 

Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”

Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place. 

More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at connersmithmusicals.com.   

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Books

‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(Book cover courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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