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Rehoboth calling!

Summer is here and our favorite beach getaway is teeming with attractions

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Rehoboth, gay news, Washington Blade
Magnolia Applebottom and Pamala Stanley are back headlining the summer lineup at the Blue Moon. (Photo by John Bator)

For the LGBTQ community the summer season in Rehoboth Beach begins the weekend before Memorial Day with the Washington Blade’s summer kick-off party at the Blue Moon on Friday, May, 17 from 5-7 p.m with guest speaker and native Delawarean Sarah McBride, national press secretary for HRC and the first openly trans person to speak at a major party presidential nominating convention. Join the fun and make a donation to the Blade Foundation, which funds reporting on the community around the world and provides fellowships and scholarships to aspiring LGBTQ journalists. It will be a great season at the beach and it’s time to begin planning your summer now. 

Rehoboth is now a year-round community but for those magical times nothing compares to being there between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Summer at the beach, the mile-long boardwalk, Thrashers fries, salt water taffy, and acres of sand with hot bodies galore make Rehoboth the place to be.  

Each year I head to Rehoboth in April to walk around town to see what’s new and visit old standbys. A stop in CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBT community center, on Baltimore Avenue is always a good idea to preview the summer schedule and get the latest gossip. This year CAMP is in the process of conducting a national search for a new executive director. On May 4, the town honored CAMP’s former Executive Director Steve Elkins, who passed away last year, by naming the path from the Convention Center to Baltimore Avenue Steve Elkins Way.

The gayest block in Rehoboth, Baltimore Avenue, will be more exciting than ever this year with the opening of The Pines. Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies and David Gonce have made this new hotspot the place to visit when at the beach for an inventive cocktail or memorable dinner. Brunch is now available, too, with its own list of unique cocktails. Upstairs, Top of The Pines has a piano bar and outside deck, which in the summer will provide a good view of what is going on over at Aqua Grill the other fun place on the 2nd Street end of Baltimore Avenue. 

Andres Bonell and Bill Shields will open Aqua Grill on Friday, May 17 and will have the new hot lineup of waiters serving drinks on the deck. Returning this year are AJ and Katie.  Aqua will again have VIP cards so stop by and pick one up when they open. Happy hour on the Aqua deck has become the place to be seen on nice summer evenings. They have a simple but excellent low-priced food menu. Strolling down Baltimore Avenue toward the beach there are many other places to eat and shop. First the Iguana Grill, a fun bar and restaurant back to its old excellence under Hugh Fuller’s ownership. Of course, the grand dame of Rehoboth restaurants, the Blue Moon whereExecutive Chef Lion Gardner creates his magic. Pamala Stanley is again back to entertain in the bar five nights a week, including her ever-popular and packed Sunday tea dance. There are plenty of shops, including the Philip Morton Gallery with fine art and beautiful eclectic furniture and Peter Antolini, the most knowledgeable person at the beach when it comes to art and furniture. In the CAMP courtyard there is the Ward Ellinger Gallery, which has doubled its space this year. Also in the courtyard is Lori’s Café celebrating its 23rd season and still offering the best chicken salad in town (and they deliver lunches to the beach). Further down the block is Elegant Slumming owned by Philip Livingston, designer of the most stunning jewelry you can find anywhere. Then there is Beach Essentials, which has a great selection of men’s swimsuits and clothing. You can also stop in to One Day At a Time Gift Shop, which offers 12-Step addiction recovery items, LGBT novelties and gifts. Continue toward the beach and you get to Eden, a wonderful fine dining restaurant, and its more casual cousin Jam. Across the street is Café Azafran, featuring Holly Lane, a two-time past winner of Best Rehoboth Bartender in the annual Blade Best Of competition. Holly sings every Thursday night and is accompanied on the keyboard by the very talented John Flynn who now entertains in a number of places around town. Then there is Megan Kee’s La Fable, a fabulous French restaurant.  

Walking on First Street between Baltimore and Wilmington Avenues you should stop first in Mel’s Brashhh, celebrating its fifth anniversary with great trendy clothing, original photography and gifts. Crossing over Rehoboth Avenue you come to the Frog Pond, which frequently features live bands and then Goolee’s Grille which has the best breakfasts and a weekly drag brunch along with a gift and card shop. Tell owner George that the Blade sent you.

If you walk along Rehoboth Avenue from the boardwalk you will find another whole group of great shops and restaurants. From the iconic Back Porch restaurant walk a few steps to Steve Fallon’s Gidget’s Gadgets, now the home of a huge selection of vinyl records along with lots of other fun stuff.  Then head to the ever-popular Purple Parrot Restaurant and Biergarten celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.  Owners Hugh Fuller and Troy Austin Roberts are celebrating with great specials and the always smart, hot Chandler is now the manager. Jamie and Matt, both past winners of the Blade’s Best Rehoboth Bartender award, are serving drinks at the bar. Then make a stop at Critter Beach and pick up something for your dog or cat, they have everything your animal could ever want. Don’t miss visiting Diego’s Hideaway, the old Double L leather bar, now with a spruced up outdoor patio and lots of fun owned by Darryl and Joe Ciarlante-Zuber. 

Rehoboth has a number of mews but don’t miss the one between Rehoboth and Baltimore Avenues, it’s next to Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue where you can get your morning paper. In the mews is the Coffee Mill, now celebrating its 27th year, with its unrivaled selection of coffees by the cup or take home a few pounds of beans. They have a great menu to go with your coffee.

The third commercial block in Rehoboth is Wilmington Avenue from 2nd street to the boardwalk. There you will find Confucius, the Henlopen City Oyster House, Salt Air, Mariachi, and Azzurro Italian Oven and Bar with itsupstairs patio all confirming it is still a great block to have a meal. Ask for Amber upstairs at Azzurro, a future Best Rehoboth Bartender in the making, and tell her the Blade sent you.

But Rehoboth is more than restaurants and shops. Among other attractions, there is the Rehoboth Art League, which puts on a great art exhibit each summer and don’t miss seeing a show at Clear Space Theatre. This summer they are boasting a remarkable lineup of plays including Mama Mia, Hello Dolly and The Wedding Singer all under the direction of their incredibly talented Artistic Director David Button

So make sure you plan to spend plenty of time at the beach this summer. If you are one of those people who dread sitting in beach traffic there is a better option. Leave your car at home and take Best Bus, with convenient stops in Rehoboth and Dewey beginning Memorial Day weekend and running through Labor Day from Dupont Circle and Union Station. With free Wi-Fi and ample AC and USB outlets, you can be productive and leave the driving to them. They also have a good weekend schedule from New York to the beach. Remember Rehoboth Beach has something for everyone, so make your plans to join the fun.

Steve Elkins Way was dedicated earlier this month connecting Baltimore Avenue to the Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach. (Washington Blade photo)
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Out & About

Studio House, Visual AIDS partner for educational program

Day With(out) Art 2021 to be held at Lamont Plaza

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One Tent Health, gay news, Washington Blade
World AIDS Day is next week.

Studio House and Visual AIDS will join forces for “Day With(out) Art 2021” on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. at Lamont Plaza. 

This event is a community outdoor screening of “Enduring Care,” a video program that highlights strategies of community care within the ongoing HIV epidemic followed by a discussion about the video.

There will be an open house in the neighborhood at the David Bethuel Jamieson (1963-1992) Studio House and Archives featuring newly commissioned work by Katherine Cheairs, Cristóbal Guerra, Danny Kilbride, Abdul-Aliy A. Muhammad and Uriah Bussey, Beto Pérez, Steed Taylor, and J Triangular and the Women’s Video Support Project.

For more information, visit Eventbrite

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Forget Santa Claus – Ginger Minj is comin’ to town

‘Drag Race’ alum’s Winter Wonderland Tour stops in D.C. Nov. 29 and 30

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Ginger Minj will perform her holiday spectacular Winter Wonderland Tour at Miracle Theatre.

Ginger Minj is a busy little elf.

From her new country album “Double Wide Diva” to sporadic stints in TV and movies to her upcoming book, “Southern Fried Sass” (which reportedly scored her a six-figure deal), the “Drag Race” diva is everywhere these days, including a venue near you. On Nov. 29 and 30, the new queen of Christmas will perform her holiday spectacular Winter Wonderland Tour at Miracle Theatre.

We recently caught up with the multitalented actress/comedian/singer to discuss her continued success, including making friends with Jennifer Aniston while filming Netflix’s “Dumplin,’” her take on the latest Dave Chappelle backlash, the best Christmas gift she’s ever received, and what exactly makes her the “nicest bitch” this side of the North Pole – but first, let’s take a sleigh ride back to the beginning.

BLADE: Tell me a bit about how you got started in drag and the genesis of Ginger Minj. 

GINGER MINJ: Like most good show-tune-loving queers, I stumbled into drag through musical theater. I auditioned for a show that required either full-frontal nudity or drag, and I figured I would fare better in a wig and heels than nothing at all. I got the role and really took to it quickly. I felt more free and honest as a performer than I ever had before, and I realized I could make a livable income doing something that I was wholly responsible for creating. 

BLADE: How has your appearance on “Drag Race” helped your career, and what are your top takeaways from your time on the show?

GM: It’s an international platform that allows us to introduce ourselves to the entire world. It got me a seat at the table with people and places that refused to even open the door for me in the past. I think there was – and maybe still is sometimes – this initial assumption that drag artists are limited in their talents, but we have been able to show the world that we are just as talented and capable as any other entertainer. I don’t wear a wig as a gimmick. I wear it as an accessory, and it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be taken as seriously as any other actor, singer, etc. “Drag Race” is doing a great job of showing the world that – and I’ll forever be grateful.

BLADE: If folks didn’t catch you on “Drag Race,” they might recognize you from the 2018 Netflix movie “Dumplin’” starring Jennifer Aniston and Dove Cameron. What was your experience like on set, and do you have any other TV/film projects in the works?

GM: “Dumplin’” was the single best experience of my life! Jennifer Aniston brought me coffee every morning, and Kathy Najimy had my trailer moved next to hers so we could listen to Beyoncé and play with makeup. That entire cast and crew treated all of us queens with unbelievable respect. It really gave me a passion for filmmaking and, yes, I’m happy to say there are a few more projects – big screen and small – coming your way soon.

BLADE: What makes you the “nicest bitch you’ll ever meet?”

GM: It’s like those good ole’ southern church ladies who will give you the shirts off their backs but read you to filth for not bringing one of your own. The only thing bigger than my mouth is my heart and the “shady” things I say should never be taken seriously. 

BLADE: As a comedian yourself, what are your thoughts on the latest Dave Chappelle/Netflix controversy?

GM: I’ve always felt like comedy and drag go hand in hand: It’s an outrageous way to start a conversation and make people confront their own feelings about anything and everything. That being said, I think there’s a way to do that without disparaging and discrediting an entire group of human beings. I think it’s shameful that someone with that great of a platform would choose to punch down. 

BLADE: Your new single “Walk Tall” is about growing up gay in the South – and it’s a very good song. Radio worthy even, but a hard sell, given its content, to a country-music audience. How do you think that changes? Will LGBTQ+ country artists ever enjoy the kind of success their straight counterparts do?

GM: I think so. To be completely honest with you, I’ve gotten much more support for that album from the country community than I have from the drag world. The message is so universal, and we were very careful to do it in an authentic, simple way. When we stop focusing on our differences and start embracing our similarities, the world can change. I just do the things that make me happy and hope it finds the people who need to hear it. 

BLADE: Christmas is just around the corner – do you prefer giving or receiving? What’s your most prized Christmas present from the past?

GM: I’m definitely a giver! I drive myself crazy for months researching and planning and looking for the perfect gifts for everyone. It’s my way of showing the people I care most about that while I may be busy, I’m listening. I hear them, I see them, and I appreciate them. The best Christmas present I ever got was a cheap plastic pair of ruby slippers from my mama when I was a kid. I still have them. That moment changed my life forever. It’s what actually inspired “Walk Tall.”

BLADE: Like Santa Claus himself, the Ginger Minj Winter Wonderland Tour 2021 is coming to town. What do you have in store for audiences this holiday season?

GM: What don’t we have in store?! There are 20 costume changes, instructional videos gone terribly wrong, singing, dancing, magic tricks, fog machines, comedy, and it even snows over the audience! This is the biggest, prettiest, most ambitious show we have ever put together.

BLADE: Looking forward to 2022, what’s in the works? What are a few of your New Year’s resolutions?

GM: So many great things — more music, some movies, some TV, a stage production of “La Cage aux Folles” in Chicago, and my book “Southern Fried Sass” will hit the shelves. It’s a great time to be the “Glamour Toad,” and I am grateful every single day. 

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

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Children’s Beach House to host holiday fundraiser

Music by artists Pamala Stanley and 2nd Time Around

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Pamala Stanley performs at a fundraiser for the Children’s Beach House in Lewes, Del., on Dec. 3. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

The Children’s Beach House in Lewes, Del., will begin its weekend-long fundraiser with an annual holiday party on Friday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

The event will include a live auction, cocktails, dinner by Touch of Italy and music by artists Pamala Stanly and 2nd Time Around. This fundraiser will help support CBH’s work with children and families. Tickets are $150.

The celebrations will continue with a “Santa’s Workshop” event on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. This event will include cookie decorating and making holiday crafts, among other events. There will also be a cash bar available with bloody mary’s and mimosas for those 21 years and older. Tickets cost $30.

CBH will end the weekend with “Happy Hour With the Boy Band Project” on Sunday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m. This event will be a musical performance by an electric boy band cover group, which was named “Best Group” by the 2019 Broadway World Awards that re-imagines the sound, movement, and energy of NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, One Direction, and more. Tickets are $150. Visit cbhinc.org for more information.

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