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Calendar: Aug. 2-8

Parties, concerts and events in the week to come



OutWrite, gay news, Washington Blade
OutWrite 2019 runs this weekend.

Friday, Aug. 2

OutWrite 2019’s kickoff event Parties, concerts and events in the week to come is tonight from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Ten Tigers Parlour (3813 Georgia Ave., N.W.). OutWrite is a nonprofit festival celebrating LGBT literature and runs through Sunday. This opening event features writers Kristen Arnett, Jericho Brown and Wo Chan with host Rebecca Kling. Event highlights include “Ask an Editor,” impromptu poetry, a genre hybrid conversation, tarot readings and more. Visit for more information. 

The “America is…” national juried show opens at the Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., N.W.) tonight from 6-8:30 p.m. and runs until Aug. 29. During the show artists explore, ask and answer “What is America today?” through varied exhibitions. Hors d’oeuvres and gourmet frozen desserts provided and the event is open to the public. For more information, visit

Saturday, Aug. 3

OutWrite 20 continues today in the Reeves Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. This free event includes readings, panel discussions, a zine-making table, a used book sale and a variety of LGBTQ vendors to explore. More information is available at

Neo-soul singer-songwriter Bilal performs tonight at City Winery (1350 Okie St. N.E.) starting at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Known for his wide vocal range and his work across multiple genres, Bilal has performed with Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar. Visit for tickets and information. 

The World’s Fair is in Washington at the DAR Constitution Hall (1776 D St., N.W.) today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. This is a free event and audiences can experience the excitement, innovation and wonder of the 1900 World’s Fair. On display will be inventions that thrilled fairgoers from an earlier era as well as booths and activities from local embassies and cultural centers. Girl Scouts can earn a badge by attending the event. For more information visit

Sunday, Aug. 4

OutWrite 2019 continues today from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m at the Reeves Center (2000 14th St., N.W.). The workshops are free and open to the public. No registration required. Workshops include culinary writing, “Drag Poetics,” query letters to agents, horror writing and more. Visit for more information. 

Tuxedo, a retro band featuring hip-hop producer Jake One and self-titled “elegant funk” singer Mayer Hawthorne, performs tonight at the 9:30 club (815 V St., N.W.). Tickets start at $25 and audiences can expect to be entertained by danceable tunes reminiscent of the late disco era. With eight Grammy nominations between them, their combination is still original in sound and style. For more information visit

The 2019 Mister Nice Jewish Boy Pageant begins today at 2 p.m. at the U Street Music Hall (1115 U St., N.W.). Tickets start at $25. The event is put on by Nice Jewish Boys D.C. and is hosted by NYC drag queen Lady SinAGaga and Mr. Nice Jewish Boy 2018 Jeremy Sherman. Proceeds benefit Kishet and support regional teen LGBTQ and ally Shabbaton. For tickets and information, visit

SIR, an interactive all-male burlesque show hosted at SAX restaurant and lounge (734 11th St., N.W.), is today starting at 11 a.m. This high-energy show is a theatrical experience featuring dancers, aerialists, pole performers, go-go boys and table service studs. SIR takes place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sundays, tickets required. For more information, visit

Monday, Aug. 5

The National Portrait Gallery (8th and F St., N.W.) continues to feature works such as David Lenz’s “Eunice Kennedy Shriver” as part of its ongoing exhibition series “The Struggle for Justice.” The portrait series is available for viewing 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily and admission is free. This series showcases historical figures who struggled to achieve civil rights for marginalized groups. For more information, visit

Tuesday, Aug. 6

The Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St., N.W.) presents “An Evening with Dawes” tonight starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Dawes is a Southern California band with a smooth blues rock/folk rock sound that has evolved and grown more electric with time. Visit for tickets and information. 

Wednesday, Aug. 7

The Struts continue their “Young and Dangerous” tour tonight at the 9:30 club (815 V St., N.W.). Doors open at 7 p.m. This riff-heavy rock band has opened for icons such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and Guns N’ Roses. “Young & Dangerous” is their second album and continues the U.K band’s glam-rock revamp with deeper and more inventive sounds. For tickets and information visit

Bookmen DC, an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses William E. Jones’ “True Homosexual Experiences: Boyd McDonald and Straight to Hell” tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Ave.., N.W.). All are welcome. Boyd McDonald’s chapbook of readers’ “true homosexual experiences” was admired by Gore Vidal and William S. Burroughs as one of the first works to combine a contempt for authority with a sharp literary style. For more information, visit

Thursday, Aug. 8

Rufus Du Sol, an Australian three-piece band, performs its live electronic act tonight at The Anthem (901 Wharf St., S.W.). Tickets start at $35 and the show begins at 8 p.m. Rufus has released two platinum-certified albums, “ATLAS” and “Bloom,” and the upcoming album, Solace, explores deeper lyrics which the trio says is “about finding a sense of hope in a darker time.” Tickets and information are on

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New music documentary is ‘Velvet’ perfection

A piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it



The Velvet Underground (Photo courtesy of Apple TV)

When it comes to great music documentaries – the ones that stick with you after you watch and make you want to come back to them again and again – there is one ingredient that stands out as a common thread: immediacy.

From D.A. Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall chronicle of young Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK in “Don’t Look Back,” to Martin Scorcese’s joyful document of The Band’s final concert performance in “The Last Waltz,” to Jonathan Demme’s thrilling cinematic rendering of the Talking Heads in performance at the peak of their creative genius in “Stop Making Sense,” all of these now-revered films have endured – indeed, even grown – in popularity over the years because they captured the talent, the personality, and the power of their subjects on celluloid and preserved it for the ages, allowing generations of audiences, fans and soon-to-be-fans alike, to feel as if they were there.

But none, perhaps, have ever done it quite so viscerally as Todd Haynes’ “The Velvet Underground.” This is a remarkable feat when you consider that the films listed above, as well as most of the other highly regarded “rockumentaries” of the past, were all concert films, showing the performers at their center in the full bloom of their musical gifts, and Haynes’ film is not that. It’s something else, something singular, a piece of pure cinema that exemplifies its genre while transcending it entirely.

The basic outline of the band’s story is well known, now. Coalesced in the early ‘60s New York art scene around a pair of charismatic geniuses (John Cale and Lou Reed), the Velvet Underground was swept into the orbit and under the wing of Andy Warhol, who turned them into the house band at his famous “Factory,” added to their mix an exotic European chanteuse named Nico, and launched their record career by producing their first album – and designing an instantly iconic cover for it featuring a banana, to boot. They were, for a while, the darlings of the New York underground set, birthing a handful of additional albums across the latter years of the decade; but their sound, which was experimental, rough, and a far cry from the flower-power sound being embraced within the status quo of Middle American music fans, did not catch on. That, combined with the volatility of the relationships at its core, ensured an ignoble and unsung dissolution for the band; though its two front men went on to forge expansive solo careers on their own, the Velvets themselves remained a kind of blip, an ephemeral presence in the history of rock – and the history of New York – remembered by anyone who wasn’t actually on the scene as nothing more than a buzzy band they never actually heard with a catchy name and a familiar album cover.

As one of the voice-over interviewees in Haynes’ movie points out, however, the counterculture wasn’t actually the counterculture – it was the culture. The rest of the world just didn’t know it yet. Decades later the Velvet Underground is credited with, among other things, providing early inspiration for what would become the punk rock movement, to say nothing of influencing the aesthetic palate of (surely without exaggeration) thousands of musicians who would go on to make great music themselves – often sounding nothing like the Velvets, but somehow cut from the same raw, edgy, white-hot honest cloth, nonetheless. Yet in their moment, they were doomed before they had even begun to become a sideshow attraction, hurling performative realness in the face of a curious-but-disinterested glitterati crowd that was already embodying the superficial fakeness that would be so aptly monikered, both as an ethos and a watchword, as “Plastics” by Buck Henry and Mike Nichols in “The Graduate” barely a year after their first album was pressed.

Frankly, it’s the kind of story that makes for a perfect rock ‘n roll legend, and the kind of legend that deserves to be explored in a film that befits its almost mythic, archetypal underpinnings. There’s nobody more qualified to deliver that film than Todd Haynes.

Haynes, of course, is a pioneer of the ‘90s “New Queer Cinema,” whose body of work has maintained a consistent yet multi-faceted focus on key themes that include outsider-ism, dysfunctional socialization, and the fluid nature of sexuality and gender. Each and any of these interests would be enough to make him a perfect fit as the person to tell the story of the Velvet Underground, but what gives him the ability to make it a masterpiece is his ongoing fascination with music and nostalgia. Beginning with his controversial debut short “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story,” the musical landscape of his formative years has been inseparable from his milieu, and films such as his glam-rock fantasia “Velvet Goldmine” or his post-modernist Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” have dotted his career like cornerstones. Likewise, his painstaking recreation of the past in period pieces like “Far From Heaven,” “Carol,” or “Wonderstruck” has proven his ability not just to capture the look and feel of a bygone era, but to transport audiences right back into it.

In “The Velvet Underground,” it’s more like he transports the era to the audience. His comprehensive chronicle is not just the story of the band or its members, but the story of the time and place that allowed them to exist, in which a generation waking up from the toxic artificiality of their parents’ “American Dream” took creative control of the future through an unprecedented explosion of art and culture. Art was a by-any-means-necessary endeavor that now demanded a fluency across various forms of media, and a blending together of any and every thing that worked to get the message across. And yes, sometimes the media itself was the message, but even within that depressingly superficial reality was room for an infinite layering of style and substance that could take your breath away.

That description of the era in which the Velvet Underground thrived, in which Andy Warhol turned the shallow into the profound (whether he knew it or not), in which music and film and photography and poetry and painting and every other form of expression blended together in a heady and world-changing whirlwind, is also the perfect description of Haynes’ film. Yes, there are famous veterans of the age sharing their memories and their insights, yes there is copious archival footage (including the godsend of Warhol’s filmed portraits of the legendary faces in his orbit), yes we get to hear about Lou Reed’s struggle with his sexual identity – and it’s refreshing that Haynes makes no effort to categorize or finalize that aspect of the rock legend’s persona, but merely lets it be a fact. But even though “The Velvet Underground” checks off all the boxes to be a documentary, it’s something much more. Thanks to Haynes’ seamless blend of visuals, words, history, and – always and above all – music, it’s a total sensory experience, which deserves to be seen in a theater whether you subscribe to Apple TV or not. It puts you right in the middle of a world that still casts a huge shadow on our culture today.

And it’s unforgettable.

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PHOTOS: Best Of LGBTQ DC party

Blade’s 20th annual awards celebrated at Hook Hall



Cake performs at the Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards Party on Oct. 21. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade presented the 20th annual Best of LGBTQ D.C. Awards at a party at Hook Hall on Thursday, Oct. 21. To view this year’s winners, click here.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Arts & Entertainment

First Trans Amazon introduced by DC Comics In ‘Wonder Woman’

DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman



Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

BURBANK – The world of DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive this weekend as the venerable comic book franchise of Wonder Woman expanded with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman, in the first issue of the series Nubia & The Amazons.

Earlier this month on National Coming Out Day, the canon of the Superman series changed for the life of Jon Kent, the Superman of Earth and son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, taking a bold new direction. After initially striking up a friendship with reporter Jay Nakamura, he and Jon become romantically involved, making Kent an Out bisexual character.

In this latest offering, Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala, writers and creators confirmed that Bia is a Black Trans woman. They stressed that she “isn’t a box to tick … [she] is important to her community. Just as Black trans women are important to us in real life.” 

Of special significance to the introduction of the character in the DC Comic worlds was the endorsement of actress Lynda Carter who played the title role of Wonder Woman on television based on the comic book superheroine, which aired on ABC and later on CBS from 1975 to 1979. Earlier in the week Carter tweeted her support of Trans women;

Writing for the DC Comics-Warner Brothers website blog, co-creator Stephanie Williams said;

It’s been a dream to work with the likes of Vita Ayala, a non-binary Afro-Latinx comic writer who has been making quite a name for themselves. And then there is the illustrious and widely talented and dedicated Afro-Latina artist Alitha Martinez who is already in the comic hall of fame for all-time greats. Her passion for Nubia is unmatched. It shows in every cover and panel from Nubia’s Future State story written by L.L. McKinney, her Infinite Frontier #0 story written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, and now the Nubia and the Amazons miniseries written by myself and Vita Ayala.”

Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

I’m so excited about the history we’re creating, adding to, and remixing. The foundation has always been there, but needed some TLC. As Nubia embarks on this new journey as Queen of Themyscira, I hope her rebirth will be met with open arms and the desire to keep her always at the forefront. Nubia, now being queen, is poetic in so many ways, but one that stays on my mind is the very personal connection I feel. As I help to add to her legacy, she’s opened the door wider to my own,” Williams said adding:

Long may Queen Nubia reign, forever and always.”

Nubia and the Amazons #1 by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala and Alitha Martinez is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Along with co-writing Nubia and the Amazons, Stephanie Williams writes about comics, TV and movies for Check out more of her work on Den of Geek, What To Watch, Nerdist and SYFY Wire and be sure to follow her on both Twitter and Instagram at @steph_I_will.

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