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SPRING ARTS 2018 EVENTS: D.C. jamboree LGBT potpourri

Standup acts, D.C.-based LGBT group events, benefits, ‘Ask Rayceen’ and more



gay events DC, gay news, Washington Blade
The Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch is Sunday, April 7. (Washington Blade photo by Wyatt Reid Westlund)

Many upcoming events don’t fit in our regular spring arts categories. Here’s the catch all arranged chronologically. 

Haters Roast: the Shady Tour 2019” with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums is Friday, March 8 at Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.). It’s sold out. 

MIM Entertainment presents VAMP: an Exclusive Event for Her on Saturday, March 9 at 10 p.m. at XX+ Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.). Tickets are $10 at

Ladies of LURe’s BARE Military Appreciation Night is Saturday, March 9 at 10 p.m. at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.). Admission is $7 before midnight or $10 after. Details on Facebook

The Imperial Court of Washington presents Royal Mardi Gras Monte Carlo Casino Night on Saturday, March 9 at 8 p.m. at The Sphinx on K (1315 K St., N.W.). Its Imperial Crown Prince and Princess Ball is Saturday, March 23. A Little Bit Country Easter Show is Sunday, April 21 at 8 p.m. at Freddie’s (555 23rd St., Arlington, Va.). Awwooo Fest is Saturday, May 11 at 4 p.m. at the Eagle (3701 Benning Rd. N.E.). Event prices vary. Details at

Family Pride Weekend celebrates the opening of “Rise Up” is March 9-10 at The Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.). Look for the event on Facebook for details. 

Night OUT at the Wizards is Wednesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena (601 F St., N.W.). Tickets are $45. Details at

Michelle Wolf plays The D.C. Improv Comedy Club (1140 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) March 14-17. Tickets are almost sold out for the entire run. Details at dcimprov-com

Dappho presents Sunday Sessions: an (LGBT) Open Mic Night at XX+ Crostino (1926 9th St., N.W.) on Sunday, March 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 at

The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs with many events March 21-April 14. Details at 

GLOE (GLBT Outreach & Engagement at the Edlavitch D.C.-JCC) will host Pride of Purim: GLOE Masquerade Party Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Mission Dupont (1606 20th St., N.W.). Its 12th annual National Rainbow Seder is Sunday, April 14 at 5:45 p.m. at HRC Headquarters (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). Details at

The fifth annual Code Red V: Stigma Can’t Stop, an HIV benefit “with a fetishistic twist,” is Saturday, March 30 at 9 p.m. at the D.C. Eagle (3701 Benning Rd., N.E.). Tickets are $15-20. Link is at the event’s Facebook page. 

DCATS’ Trans Visibility Community Festival is Saturday, March 30 at 1 p.m. at Spaces (1140 3rd St., N.E.) with open mic, raffle, film screenings and art. Details at

The Ask Rayceen Show” continues throughout spring with installments March 6 (season premiere), April 3 (mini ball) and May 1 (community forum) at 7 p.m. at HRC Equality Center (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). They’re free. Look for the event on Facebook for details. 

Queer-helmed Church Night has its fifth anniversary event on Friday, April 5 at 9 p.m. at the Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.). Look for the event on Facebook for details.

Capital Area Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce usually holds its annual LGBT Mega Networking mixer in early April but members say they’re “on a delayed schedule” this year in search of a new venue since Town closed. An announcement is expected soon.  

BENT,” a new LGBT dance party is Saturday, April 6 at 11:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.). Tickets are $15 at

Distrkt C Golden with DJ Paulo is Saturday, April 6 at 10 p.m. at Karma D.C. (2221 Adams Place N.E.). Tickets are $40 at

The Victory Fund’s National Champagne Brunch is Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. at J.W. Marriott (1331 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.). No ticket prices available at as of this writing. 

The National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals has its LGBT Housing Policy Summit April 10-11 at HRC Headquarters (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). Details at

Pretty Boi Drag presents #OpenKingNight on Thursday, April 11 at 8 p.m. at Bier Baron Tavern (1523 22nd St., N.W.). Tickets are $10. Details on Facebook

Equality Virginia’s 15th annual Commonwealth Dinner is Saturday, April 13 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Details at

CAMP Rehoboth Women’s Fest is April 11-14 in Delaware. Details at

The Cherry Fund presents Cherrypop Weekend April 11-15 at various locations. Tickets are $20-289 at

GLSEN’s National Day of Silence is Friday, April 12. Details at

The Team D.C. Night of Champions Awards Dinner is Saturday, April 13 at Omni Shoreham Hotel (2500 Calvert St., N.W.) at 6 p.m. Tickets are $125 at

Food & Friends’ Dining Out for Life is Thursday, April 14. Find participating restaurants at 

GLAA usually has its Distinguished Service Awards and 48th anniversary the third week in April but no details have been announced yet. 

Trans Issues are not Trans Issues” with Ava Pipitone, a discussion event, is Tuesday, April 16 at noon at Impact Hub Baltimore (10 E. North Ave., Baltimore). It’s free and open to the public. Look for the event on Facebook for details. 

Awesome Con is April 26-28 at 801 Mt. Vernon Pl., N.W. Pride Alley returns. Tickets are available in many packages at

Bill and Hill join up for “An Evening With the Clintons” on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at DAR Constitution Hall (1776 D St., N.W.). Tickets are $99-250 at Ticketmaster

We the People and Us Helping Us are joining forces for a month-long series of events in the region devoted to “May Is? All About Trans: 31 Days Celebrating, Being, Living & Loving Transgender People” including a trans summit, trans awards dinner, mini ball for youth and more. Look for the group on Facebook for details. 

Randy Rainbow plays Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) on Friday, May 3. Tickets are $35.50-45 through

Rainbow Families has its 2018 Family Conference & Gathering on Saturday, May 4 at 9 a.m. at Georgetown Day High School (4200 Davenport St., N.W.). Details at

Gay Day at the Zoo is Sunday, May 5 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Smithsonian National Zoo (3001 Conncticut Ave., N.W.). Details at

AC2: an Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen” is Saturday, May 11 at the Hippodrome (12 N. Eutaw St.). Tickets are $93.50-137.50 at Ticketmaster

CopCaks for a Cause 9 is Sunday, May 12 at 3 p.m. at UPROAR Lounge (639 Florida Ave., N.W.) for COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) and the LGBT Fallen Heroes Fund. Tickets are $25 (wine/soda) or $40 (dessert, wine, soda and T-shirt). Details at Facebook

The 35th annual Helen Hayes Awards for Washington theater is Monday, May 13 at The Anthem (901 Wharf St., S.W.). Details at  

Whitman-Walker Health’s Going the Extra Mile benefit is Wednesday, May 15 at City Winery (1350 Okie St., N.E.). Details at

Capital Trans Pride is May 17-19. Details at

API Pride (Asian/Pacific Islanders) is also May 17-19. No further details available. Check later at for more. 

D.C. Black Pride is, as always, Memorial Day Weekend and runs May 24-27. This year’s theme is Our Truths in Harmony. Details at Omega Entertainment runs events concurrently with Black Pride. Details at

St. Thomas Episcopal Church consecrates its new building on Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m.1517 18th St., N.W. with Bishop Mariann Budde, and Bishop Gene Robinson. Look for the event on Facebook for details. 

Women’s Spoken Word FULL-STORE is Monday, June 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Busboys and Poets (location not specified). Check later at for details. 

The AIDS Walk & Run Baltimore is Sunday, June 9 (a month later this year) at 7 a.m. Details at

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a&e features

The ultimate guide to queer gift giving 2021

These handpicked presents will leave recipients jumping for joy



Stumped over what gifts to give your family, friends, and neighbors this year? Check this list then check it twice, because while you’ve been naughty, they’ve been nice.

YuJet Surfer Electric Jetboard

If ocean-based watersports scare the bejesus out of you – because sharks! – the YuJet Surfer Electronic Jetboard offers a compromise to satisfy your thrill seeking, all limbs intact. With a top speed of 24 mph, range of 16 miles, and a 40-minute ride time, users can sit or stand on the battery-powered, remote-operated board that quietly glides across lakes, rivers, canals, and other bodies of water devoid of man-eating monsters. $10,000,

Mind-Pop Casserole Pans

Perfect for campground cooking or gourmet meals made at home, Darling Spring’s ultra-pretty Mind-Pop enamel casserole pans by Kapka add a Pollock-splashed joie de vivre to the meal-making experience, which seamlessly moves from stovetop to serving table without dirtying another dish. $45,

Oclean Water Flosser

Traditional floss isn’t exactly a budget buster, but the Oclean W10 Water Flosser is a sleek, no-waste and, yes, cheaper-in-the-long-run alternative with five distinctive modes and four high-performance nozzles to keeps the crevices between those pearly whites crud- and cavity-free. $60,

Flat Brim Wines

Bring a trio of varietals to the holiday table with Flat Brim Wines’ Not Series, including the 2020 “Not Tragic” Pinot Noir, 2020 “Not Basic” Picpoul/Roussanne, and 2020 “Not Extra,” which, if it were Opposite Day, two out of three would describe you to a T.

Playcraft Shuffleboard Table

Playcraft edges out its at-home gaming competition with the Georgetown Espresso Shuffleboard featuring solid wood construction, richly stained accent features, and furniture-grade finishes that are a far cry from the warped, frat boy-abused tables dying slow deaths in dive bars everywhere. $1,595,

ChefWave Milkmade

Round up your favorite rice, soybeans, nuts and oats for homemade vegan milk alternatives that cost pennies on the dollar compared to pre-packaged versions of the same at your local supermarket. Just add water and a handful of your desired ingredient to churn out 20 ounces of liquid health in about 15 minutes. $200,

Cambridge Audio Evo 75

You may not regard London as synonymous with audio innovation, but you’ll change that tune after listening to your favorite artists streaming through Cambridge Audio’s Evo 75, the sleek, cutting-edge, all-in-one system pumping out crystal-clear sound quality fit for a queen. $2,250,

Wild Roots Spirits

Wild Roots Spirits’ five-times filtered, five-times distilled corn-based vodkas – in seasonal flavors like pear, cranberry, and apple-cinnamon – will spice up your soft and hard holiday seltzers and sodas for a little added zip on your lips. $30,

Takumi by Yokai Express

Not only can the Takumi machine cook ramen, dim sum, rice, dumplings, pasta and more, but it also has the dubious distinction of being the choice ramen-making machine of Tesla’s offices – because of course it is: Elon Musk wouldn’t be caught dead microwaving Oodles of Noodles like the rest of us. $400,

Oliver Charles Sweater

What do you get when Tibetan yak wool meets the world’s most advanced 3D-knitting machines? An antimicrobial, soft-as-cashmere, day-to-night sweater that instantly becomes one of the most versatile and comfortable pieces in your closet that rarely needs washing. $220,

Knitting Knowledge Starter Kits

If the summer Olympics taught us anything it’s that Tom Daley is a multitalented athlete poised to take knitting gold someday, and you can train for your spot on the team with Knitting Knowledge starter kits, including beginner socks, baby blankets, and beanies that include everything you’ll need – from yarn to needles to patterns – to complete the project with a perfect score. $18-$80,

Electronic Bidet

If you’ve been on the fence about installing a backside-cleansing bidet in your bathroom, consider this: Toilet paper isn’t getting any cheaper, and it only takes a moderate COVID-induced run on the supermarkets before you’re forced to hunt it down on the black markets – again. $140-$650,

Stark Custom Kitchen Knives

Upgrade your store-bought block knives to a set of Stark Creations chef’s, paring, and nakiri custom knives, forged from scratch to complement your personality or overall kitchen aesthetic. $265-$515,

American Blossom Organic Blanket

Roast your nuts by an open fire during an in-the-buff cuddle sesh featuring your fave holiday flicks in American Blossom’s herringbone weave blanket made from West Texas Organic Cotton. $195,

Erica’s Tea Room Scones

Gild the proverbial lilies of your holiday breakfast spread with a selection of Erika’s Tea Room “Florida Famous” scones in comfort-food flavors like orange-cranberry, white chocolate-apricot, rum raisin, caramel-walnut, and piña colada, among other classic mashups. $36-$42/dozen,

RadRover 6 Plus

From a custom geared-hub motor that climbs hills 25 percent faster with more torque and extended range to all-new hydraulic brakes that provide superior stopping power, the best-in-class RadRover 6 Plus is basically the Range Rover of e-bikes – with far less depreciation per dollar. $2,000,

Hoppy Hanukkah Experience + Santa Clausthaler

Celebrate a “Hoppy Hanukkah” with Brewvana’s nontraditional advent calendar that conceals eight beers, one for the first night of the Festival of Lights and a full week after. If you’re laying off the hooch this holiday season but still want to participate in the spirit of it all, throw back a few non-alcoholic Santa Clausthalers, infused with cinnamon and cranberry for a cider-like refresher. $75,; $10,

Wildwood Candle Co.

Sick of pumpkin spice stinkin’ up the joint? Fill your rooms with more nuanced fall scents – like maple, sandalwood, cypress, and birch – available in a bundled seasonal foursome from eco-friendly Wildwood Candle Co. and inspired by the enchanting, well-traveled trails of Portland, Ore.’s Forest Park.  $88,

PrestigeHaus Decanter

Whiskey lovers who grab life by the horns will count this hand-blown, lead-free bull decanter among their prized possessions this Christmas while you enjoy the holly-jolly feeling of knowing that each purchase plants a tree. $80,

Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBTQ lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels.

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Verhoeven returns with subversive tale of lesbian nun in ‘Benedetta’

Period drama delivers sex, violence, and horrors of the Black Death



Daphne Patakia and Virginie Efira in ‘Benedetta.’ (Photo courtesy IFC Films)

There was a time when Paul Verhoeven was a big deal in Hollywood.

The Dutch filmmaker first attracted international attention during an early career in his homeland, with critically acclaimed movies like “Turkish Delight” and “Soldier of Orange,” which found an audience outside of the Netherlands and brought him greater opportunities in America, Once here, he adapted his style to fit a more commercial mold and forged a niche for himself with violent, action-packed sci-fi blockbusters, scoring major hits with “Robocop” and “Total Recall” before reaching a pinnacle with “Basic Instinct” – arguably still his most influential and iconic film.

Then came “Showgirls.” Although the Joe Eszterhas-scripted stripper drama is now revered as a “so-bad-it’s-great” cult classic, it was a box office bomb on its initial release, and its failure, coupled with the less-spectacular but equally definitive flopping of his next film, “Starship Troopers,” effectively put an end to his climb up the Hollywood ladder.

That was not, however, the end of his story. Verhoeven moved back to his native country (where he was hailed as a returning hero) and rebounded with the critically lauded “Black Book” before spending the next two decades developing and producing new projects with other filmmakers. In 2016, he assumed the director’s seat again, this time in France, and the resulting work (“Elle”) put him once more into the international spotlight.

Now, he’s back with another French film, and fans of his signature style – a blend of social satire, psycho-sexual themes, graphic violence, and near-exploitation-level erotic imagery that has prompted some commentators to label him as a provocateur – have every reason to be excited.

“Benedetta,” which receives its long-delayed (due to COVID) release in the U.S. on Dec. 3, is the real-life story of a Renaissance-era Italian nun (Virginie Efira), whose passionate devotion to her faith  – and especially to Jesus – sparks disturbing and dramatic visions. When young novice Bartolomea (Daphne Patakia) enters the convent and is assigned to her as a companion, it awakens a different kind of passion, and as their secret relationship escalates, so too do her miraculous episodes, which expand to include the physical manifestation of stigmata. Soon, despite the skepticism of the Mother Abbess (Charlotte Rampling), she finds herself heralded as a prophet by the other sisters and the local community, leading to controversy, investigation, and a power struggle that threatens the authority of the church itself.

Inspired by “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy,” Judith C. Brown’s biography of the real Sister Benedetta, Verhoeven’s latest work is perhaps his most quintessential to date. In his screenplay (co-written with “Elle” collaborator David Birke), the Dutch auteur – who is also a widely recognized, if controversial, religious scholar – gives free reign to his now-familiar obsessions, weaving them all together into a sumptuously realized period drama that delivers copious amounts of nudity and sex, bloody violence, and the horrors of the Black Death while exploring the phenomenon of faith itself. Is Benedetta a saint or a harlot? Is she chosen by God or mentally ill? Are her visions real or is she a fraud, cynically exploiting the beliefs of those around her in a bold-faced grab for power and glory? And if she’s lying, in the larger context of a world held firmly in the grip of a church that treats salvation as transactional and levies its presumed moral authority to unlimited financial and political gain, which is greater evil? Though the film strongly implies the answers lie somewhere between the “either/or” of absolutes, it shrewdly leaves the viewer to contemplate such questions for themselves.

What concerns “Benedetta” more than any esoteric debate is a sly-yet-candid commentary on the various levels of societal hierarchy and the ways in which the flow of power perpetuates itself through their devotion to maintaining the status quo. As Benedetta’s perceived holiness carries her upward through the strata, from unwanted daughter of the merchant class to Mother Superior and beyond, more important than the veracity of her claims of divinity are the shifting and carefully calculated responses of those she encounters along the way. Fearing the loss of their own power, they ally and oppose themselves in whichever direction will help them maintain it. It’s a Machiavellian game of “keep-away” in which those at the top will not hesitate to use economic class, gender, sexuality, and – if all else fails – torture and execution as weapons to repress those they deem unworthy.

Inevitably, the above scenario provides plenty of fodder for Verhoeven’s movie to make points about religious hypocrisy, systemic oppression, and the way white heterosexual cisgender men keep the deck eternally stacked in their own favor – all of which invites us to recognize how little things have changed in the five centuries since Sister Benedetta’s time. That, too, is right in line with the director’s usual agenda.

Ultimately though, the signature touch that makes the movie unmistakably his is the way it revels in the lurid and sensational. Verhoeven delights in presenting imagery designed to shock us, and key elements of the film – from hyper-eroticized religious visions and explicit lesbian sex, to the prominent inclusion of a blasphemous wooden dildo as an important plot point – feel deliberately transgressive. This should be no surprise when one remembers that this is the director who brought us not only “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls” but also “The Fourth Man,” a homoerotic psychological thriller from 1983 still capable of making audiences squirm uncomfortably today; and while all this titillation may trigger the most prudish of viewers, it makes “Benedetta” into a deliciously subversive, wild-and-wooly ride for the rest of us. More to the point, it underscores the film’s ultimate observation about the empowering nature of sexual liberation.

Helping Verhoeven make maximum impact with this obscure historical narrative is a cast that clearly relishes the material as much as he does. In the title role, the statuesque Efira successfully creates a compelling and charismatic figure while remaining an enigma, someone we can believe in equal measure might be sincere or corrupt and with whom we can empathize either way; likewise, Patakia exudes savvy and self-possession, transcending moral judgment as the object of her affection, and the two performers have a palpable chemistry, which is made all the more compelling by their thrillingly contemporary approach to the characters. Rounding out the triad of principal roles is Rampling, a cinematic icon who brings prestige and sophistication to the table in a masterful performance as the Abbess; more than just a grounding presence for her younger co-stars, she provides an important counterbalance with a subtle and layered performance as a woman who has devoted her life to a belief in which she has no faith, only to find herself overshadowed by a charlatan.

“Benedetta” is not exactly the kind of film that’s likely to put Verhoeven back on the Hollywood fast track – it’s far too radical in its underpinnings for that. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome return to form from a unique and flamboyant filmmaker we’ve missed for far too long, and his fans – along with anybody with a taste for provocative cinema – should consider it a must-see.

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Arts & Entertainment

Olympian Tom Daley launches knitting line

A journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles- fast forward 18 months & I’m so proud to introduce these kits



Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

LONDON – During the entire course of the Olympic games in Tokyo 2020 this past summer, audiences following the diving competitions were certain to see British Olympian Tom Daley quietly and intently focused in-between matches- on his knitting.

The Gold medalist diving champion only picked up his first set of knitting needles in March of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic first spread across the globe, strangling normal daily routines in its deadly grip.

Now, the 27-year-old British athlete has launched a company to encourage others to take up the hobby.

Photo courtesy of madewithlovebytomdaley Instagram

“It’s been a journey for me that started when I first picked up my knitting needles in March 2020. Fast forward 18 months and I’m so proud to introduce these kits to you all so that you can experience the joy I found learning to knit,” Daley said on his newly launched website.

“I designed these knit kits to help encourage you to pick up those needles, learn the basics, and fall in love with knitting at the same time – all whilst creating something to show off or pass on.

Ready? Pick up your needles, learn the basics and let’s have some fun!”


The website offers various kits for beginners, intermediate and experienced knitting and crocheting enthusiasts. One of the kits, a winter warmer hat already sold out but the collection ncludes a vest, scarves, cardigans, jumpers, stockings, and a blanket.

Kits include needles, biodegradable yarn made of Merino wool, and knitting patterns. 

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